Friday, 2 December 2016

LibDem's Midnight Running IP Addresses

Overheard on the telly:

Host of Points West: "Discussing drink / drive initiatives in the area, we have the Head of Road Safety, Avon and Somerset Police, Inspector Kevin Rowlands."

Chairman and Hay, simultaneously: "So that's what he's doing these days."

So the LibDems ousted Zac Goldsmith in Richmond on a platform of remaining in the single market. Can anything be read into that? Richmond contains a high proportion of graduates (who generally voted Remain in the referendum) and the area did indeed vote Remain in the referendum by a long chalk, so I guess not, but to overturn a majority of 23,000 is no mean feat.

Time was when your IP address gave a pretty good indication of where you were logging into something from. These days it's pot luck. Mine regularly shows up 700 miles away from here as some Godforsaken hamlet in deepest, darkest Scotland where it's debatable as to whether they have internet in the first place. The only thing you can guarantee is the country (and even that's no guarantee in England, Scotland and Wales).

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A Goat, Cats' Whiskers and Indian Mutinies

Various groups are petitioning the government to replace the tallow that's used in the production of the new £5 note. One is reminded of the cause of the Indian Mutiny - the pre-greasing of musket cartridges with tallow and/or pork fat, which offended a number of religions - well, basically all of them in India. Vegans are also getting in on the act now. We may laugh, but imagine the uproar in Britain should dog fat be used.

December at  last; finally we can start thinking about Christmas. No.2 Son knows exactly what he's getting for Christmas - the write off of his £52 mobile data bill in exchange for no Christmas money. He racked up £52 in data above his 3Gb monthly data allowance, and that was in addition to the previous month's £82 data bill that he had to pay me. There was a slight gap between the bill for the previous month and me slamming a bar on his data usage on Vodafone, hence the £52. You'd think teenagers were a bit tech savvy, wouldn't you...

Lidl Petit Chebra goat's cheese - one of my staples. Can't get through a week without at least two of these cheese logs. Comes in a dual wrapper; the outside is a sheet of plastic and the inner wrapper is paper, the sole discernible purpose of which seems to be to stick to the cheese.

I always have to remove it. Seems senseless to have it there in the first place as the outer plastic wrapper serves its purpose in full.

Our neighbour's two cats regularly enter our house, much to the chagrin of Kitty, who doesn't really get along with other cats. The black one is pure mischief, whereas the ginger one (is one allowed to say  that these days?) just sleeps all day and when he is awake just sits there looking at you quizzically. I'm never sure whether it's a look of cool detachment or whether he's just simple.

Yesterday Hayley was away in Newcastle, No.1 Son was ill in bed, No.2 Son was in his caravan (with no idea how to connect to the printer) and I was in the kitchen. Suddenly our printer spat out a couple of pages of a More Than pet insurance application form. I have no idea how that happened, unless the cats were communicating with it via some cats' whisker wi-fi method and trying to tell me something.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Someone put this conundrum on Facebook recently (you have to determine which tank(s) are full first) and it brought an old joke to mind.

A chap was walking along a canal and spotted someone  on the other side fall in and start to flail around in the water. The poor chap obviously couldn't swim and was in danger of drowning. Suddenly another chap dived into  the canal and pulled the drowning chap to the side, dragged him half out of the water, such that his lower half was still in the canal, and started to administer Holger Nielsen resuscitation (an old technique that's no longer used). Well, water came pouring out of the half drowned chap's mouth, and kept pouring out, and kept pouring out. The first chap who had witnessed the whole event looked a bit pensive and then called out to the rescuer; "Excuse me. I'm no hydrodynamicist, but it strikes me that unless you get that chap's backside out of the water you're going to pump the canal dry."

Ref yesterday's paradox: could it be that May is waiting it out for enough Labour voters to drain to UKIP (as paradoxical as it may seem) so the 17m Brexit voters are evenly split, with neither Labour nor UKIP being a large enough threat in their own right, and then calling a snap election on a Remain platform and calling for the LibDems to join her in a dash for first past the post?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Political Paradox

UKIP's new leader, Paul Nuttall, says the Labour Party is split. He's right - but UKIP, a party that's essentially right wing and hoping to attract left wing Labour voters (which I'm sure it will), will also be riven from top to bottom between right and left wing views within its growing membership. The only subject that unites them is Brexit; what are they going to do about the deficit, the NHS, education, climate change, taxation, transport? All these issues divide the left from the right. Am I the only one who sees UKIP essentially as a paradox?

That's not to say Labour and Conservative aren't also suffering from the same paradox. The LibDems are, to a certain extent, immune, as it's difficult to be simultaneously both far left and far right if your position is essentially in the middle ground.

Are we about to see UK politics polarised between isolationists and anti-isolationists, with the rest of policy - the bit that actually affects everyone far greater than the EU - in a permanent muddle, causing total and utter political confusion? The LibDems could emerge as the only party without a split personality and a coherent policy. We are indeed living in interesting times.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Christian, Cuban Oppression

A female Christian teaching assistant is claiming discrimination against a school for telling an autistic pupil that she disapproved of gay marriage. It was in response to a question from the pupil. The school maintains the assistant did not present a balanced view to an impressionable 14 year-old. I find it ironic that this woman is claiming discrimination for a view that is in itself discriminatory. I just wonder what the teaching assistant's view about disciplinary action would be if another, say Muslim teacher had told a pupil, when asked about his beliefs, that it is a woman's role to be subservient to men or that Jesus was not the son of God? Except in the context of religious studies (in the multiple and not the singular), schools should not be a platform for religious expression. She should have politely told the pupil it was none of his business.

Been thinking a lot about Castro - ruthless dictator or the saviour of the Cuban people? Whatever your opinion, beyond any shadow of a doubt, he was the product of American support for the corrupt Batista regime; without America there may have been no need for a Castro, or indeed a Guevara. If the charge of ruthlessness sticks to Castro, it must equally stick to America. Castro gained control of a fantastically corrupt and dirt-poor country, provided the population with universal education, healthcare and jobs and the Americans were out to get him by any means possible, including exploding cigars and depilatory unguents to make his beard fall out - could he have been anything other than ruthless when his enemies were American backed? American 'democracy' had failed miserably and the place was ripe for communism.

He does have a touch of the Liam Neesons about him in this famous photo. In others he has an air of Brian Cox - the actor, not the physicist rock star. Image is indeed a strange thing - the enduring image from the Cuban Revolution is not Castro, but Guevara, who was there for a nanosecond and then moved on - a revolutionary rock star.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

British Mobility Christmases


Hay: "On my last trip to Nice I was told by two people that I look like Emma Thompson."

Chairman: "You look nothing like Emma Thompson. There again, the British all look alike to foreigners."

I  wonder how long it will be before councils have to widen pavements. Once we're all in mobility scooters there won't be room to pass or overtake.

When you think what Christmas comprises, it's basically a weekend off work and a Sunday roast. Why the hell does it take some people 4 weeks to organise it? When I was in my 30s I wondered why my parents did less and less each year for Christmas, reaching the point where they didn't even bother with a tree. As I get older and into my early 60s I'm beginning to realise why, but in my case it's nothing to do with being disinterested in Christmas, but more the mass hysteria that now surrounds it. Perhaps our capacity for hysteria is the same as decades ago, but modern technology affords a greater ability to become hysterical.

Hay and I went to a town-edge DIY superstore yesterday to return some unused paint and buy some light bulbs, but came home again when we could find absolutely nowhere to park in a normally two thirds deserted car park - Christmas shoppers were using it as an overflow for the town centre car park, which was gridlocked. 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Smart Meter Diet Advice

I've been taking daily electricity readings for the last 3.5 years in order to see how much I'm using versus the electricity generated. Yesterday we had a smart meter installed - and of course it was set to zero. I'd neglected to take the old meter reading before the switch, so my readings for yesterday are all squonk now. On the positive side, I realised I'm paying less for electricity than I thought.

Looking forward to my new panettone diet - Lidl has a price discount!

Advice from the Chairman - if you don't have the readies to pay for somethingin the sales, don't buy it. Better still, don't buy it anyway - you probably don't need it.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Animal Candle Underpants

Overheard while watching The Supervet:

Chairman: "There's a symbiotic relationship between man and dog, unlike man and cat, which is totally one sided."

Hay: "A bit like man's relationship with woman."

Black Friday. What a load of over-hyped nonsense. No doubt the unsustainable national credit card debt will notch up by yet another few points today.

I finally got my IKEA mail order candles on Wednesday. 4 of the 6 large candles arrived broken in the middle. 5 days now for them to respond (according to the website) and then another 10 day wait for the new delivery (assuming they're not broken too) and I may just get them before Christmas.

Hay ordered kitchen and bathroom tiles by mail order last week in separate consignments. All of them arrived broken - to give the firm their fair due, they replaced them all and gave us a 10% discount, but they can't be making any profit on that. It happened with the tiles for first cabin we built too.

Do you remember in the 50s and 60s your mum insisting you went out with clean underpants in case you were involved in a traffic accident and had to go to hospital? I always imagined some form of underpants triage taking place at hospitals with the nurse saying; "He hasn't got clean underpants on - put him to the end of the queue. I blame his mother"

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Representation of Safeway

No taxation without representation was a mantra of the nascent USA. In the USA a company is treated as a person through the concept of corporate personhood. In EU law, corporate personhood is established via certain 'human' rights, but without many of the drawbacks. Corporations can claim the right to a fair trial, which not only effectively enshrines their current equality with real people before the law, but means that, for example, corporations cannot be made to incriminate themselves, which may allow them to conceal relevant documents in criminal cases.

Here is an interesting read on the subject in pdf form from Corporate Watch.

The question is, if corporations are accepted as persons, should they be allocated a vote, especially on issues which will affect them more than the average person, such as Brexit, for example? Analyse and discuss.

Health tourism is estimated to cost the NHS £500m a year. When considering how this could be reduced, one has to consider what percentage could actually be recovered (some may not be able to pay and others may simply not pay and skip the country) and the cost of policing/recovery. 

I hear Morrison's is to relaunch the Safeway brand.  Isn't that a bit like rebranding comprehensives as academies and expecting improved results? We've got two of these academies within about 5 miles, and they both need improvement, according to Ofsted. A bit of a damning indictment on ideologically driven policy.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Gem├╝tlichkeit Blood & Cinnamon Girls

What's our fascination with German markets at Christmas? They're popping up all over the show. The Bath one starts tomorrow and has been a feature for many years, but I'm buggered if I ever saw a stall manned by your actual Germans.

They should just call them Christmas markets. However, it could be said that our Christmas was a German invention that the Victorians latched on to. Christmas trees, cards, gingerbread, cinnamon, cloves, etc.

Giving my 15th donation of blood to the Blood Transfusion Service on the 29th. If you're reasonably fit, I would urge you to donate, especially at this time of year when we know there will be many road accidents, and especially if you're O- (apparently they're short of O in general and O- in particular). I'm O+, which makes me what's called a Universal Donor, meaning my blood can be given to virtually anyone without an adverse reaction.

Bringing the two subject together....