Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Drug Race

The government’s chief advisor on drugs, who has criticised government policy of devaluing and distorting evidence and not using evidence-based decision-making, has been sacked. There’s simply no room for truth in politics. I hope to hell he has a case for unfair dismissal.

If members of my immediate family (i.e. those sharing my surname) refuse to admit, for example, an Australian Aborigine to our family by not actually marrying one who wants to become a family member, are we guilty of racial discrimination under the Race Relations Act?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Is The Chairman Superman?

Hay is getting suspicious of me; she’s realised that Superman and I are never around at the same time.

Last week she spotted some workmen in the local shopping precinct puting up the Xmas decorations while dressed in shorts and T shirts.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has urged Christians to "stand shoulder to shoulder" in rejecting the British National Party. He told the News of the World the party's leader was a "squalid racist".

Lord Carey wrote an opinion piece in The Times in 2008 in which he said: "Immigration must be kept under control if we are to retain the essentials of British society that have been built up over the generations. If this scale of immigration continues, with people of different faiths, cultures and traditions coming here, what will it mean to be British?". That sounds suspiciously like what Nick Griffin, the BNP Fuhrer, was saying on Question Time last week and was being castigated for by the other panelists and the media.

Went to the Gatcombe Park Craft Fair on Sunday. Hideous – knee deep in mud and lashing rain. I’d mistaken No. 1 son’s coat in the back of the car for mine and thus got a good soaking. Hay bought a couple of hair grips which were hand-crafted from recycled tofu for £17, which with the £20 entrance fee charged by the licensed bandit on the gate worked out to £18.50 each. Spent most of my time snaffling the free cheese samples and booze on offer. The food prices were somewhat high, but we’re so seduced by supermarket prices that we forget how much it costs to produce real food, rather than the bland, homogenous, perfectly shaped crap we get from the hypermarket barons.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Question Time for Signatures

Had an idea – an inter-Blogger house swap group where we switch houses for our holidays. I somehow think I’d get the better end of the deal.

8.2m viewers of Question Time on Thursday evening – not to mention the iPlayer watchers who couldn’t face staying up beyond 10:35pm - wow! And some people have the nerve to say the BNP isn’t voicing any valid issues? Having said that, I’m sure a goodly percentage were watching just for the Lions vs Christians aspect of good old car-crash TV. I’d hazard a guess, however, that most BNP supporters would rather be watching X-Factor than Question Time.

"OK, Nick Griffin, apart from the abuse of women, legitimising rape and intolerance of other religions.... what have you got against Islam?"

I had to admire the man for appearing when he clearly knew he was being set-up – but there again, if he knew that then he used it to his advantage and I am vindicated in my assessment of him being a skilled and articulate operator, and thus very dangerous. There’s no denying, if you read the BBC website comments and those on newspaper websites, that he’s garnered massive sympathy, if not outright support. Griffin clearly has his ear much closer to the UK’s heartbeat than most politicians, as do all demagogues who prey on prejudices and fear.

Martin McGuiness was convicted for being caught in a car containing 250 lb of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as for being a member of the IRA. He is now Deputy 1st Minister of Northern Ireland. The Pope was a member of the Hilter Youth and therefore aactually a de-facto Nazi. So you can’t necessarily say that a leopard can’t change its spots. For Christ's sake, Regan was a bloody actor!

As for the rent-a-gob studio audience – pathetic! As for the other panel members – incoherent, especially Jack Straw, who rambled on like a drunk fell-walker and avoided answering a pointed question as to whether the rise of the BNP is due to Labour’s failure to address the immigration issue. Warsi and Huhne were essentially agreeing that there’s an immigration problem, but then rounding on Griffin for having the temerity to say so, and even worse, having a plan to address it - which they apparently don't.

Shame on the BBC for allowing this charade to proceed in the manner it did. All power to the BBC for not kow-towing to the jack-booted forces of anti-racist fascism, for silencing those with a different view to you is itself fascism.

Definition of Groupthink:

  1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
  3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid (ad-hominem attacks).
  5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty".
  6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  8. Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

That has a resonance on two fronts; the recent banking fiasco and the failure of successive UK governments (or their opposition) to adequately address the immigration issue through the illogical fear of being labelled racist by a voluble minority of mind-police operating for the anti-racism industry (for an industry it certainly is).

You could almost say that being anti-racist is the new black, if you’ll forgive the pun.

I think, however, that the first question we have to ask of our politicians is whether the country is indeed full (we stand at 61.4m). I admit I don’t know the answer. Many are touting this as a valid reason to halt or slow down immigration – but we need to know the facts before we go spouting dogma. There’s no doubt that people who come here and work add to our wealth through taxation – and service some critical sectors of the economy that the common or garden Brit wouldn’t touch with a didgeridoo.

Some facts about UK population growth in the last year from official statistics (allegedly):

  • 791k births – 24% of which are to mothers who were not UK born,
  • 512k immigrants, and
  • 395k emigrants.

Not sure how many deaths there were, but they must logically be fewer than the number of births, or else the population wouldn’t be growing – innit?

That’s an overall increase of 908k heads per annum (less deaths), 54% of which are either foreign-born or born to mothers who are foreign. Is that sustainable? Is that enough to keep our pension system going? I simply don’t know and will therefore refrain from judgement – unless forced to through the absence of an answer.

Once the question of whether we are full has been answered we need to know the true effect of immigration on social cohesion. Obviously, again, there’s a lot of unsubstantiated dogma flying around, but from the viewing figures of Question Time and the mutter from the gutter, many indeed think it an issue.

What we must bear in mind is that in matters such as these, perception unfortunately has a habit of becoming reality, no matter what the facts are, as perception informs judgement if facts simply aren’t available, aren’t corroborated, or simply aren’t promulgated widely. Again this is a question to which I don’t know the answer and will refrain from judgement – unless forced to.

What I will say is that I’m an immigrant. I will also say that we are by nature tribal creatures; evolution has made us that way for survival and expecting millions of years of evolution to change within a couple of hundred years is asking rather a lot from it. There’s a thin veneer of civilization keeping us all in check, but I fear it’s only wafer thin and more cultural than evolutionary.

In 1968 Enoch Powell – he famous for his Rivers of Blood speech – prophesied that by the year 2000 10% of the UK’s population would comprise immigrants and their descendents. According to the 2001 census it was actually 15%. It is an issue for many and it can’t be swept under the carpet any longer, or else the far right will take advantage of it.

However, as Hay pointed out to me yesterday, global warming may render a mass influx of immigrants a fact of life that we can’t hide from by trying to lock the country down. Perhaps Prime Minister Nick Griffin has an answer to that one.

Have you ever analysed your signature? Mine evolved to its current state during my late teens and became autonomic in my early 20s. I physically cannot replicate my signature if I consciously think about the strokes as I do them.

The two dots at the end (none genuine without the two dots) are a mystery even to me, although I suspect they may be vesitgial, surreal, pointillist, impressionistic representations of the final two letters of my surname. I’m a bloody artist and I never knew it.

This signature could be worth a fortune – if you managed to get it on one of my cheques.

Looks a bit foreign, doesn’t it?

If I take a while answering any comments, forgive me. I'm currently on the M5 motorway - probably somewhere around Exeter - headed for Truro to collect No.1 son.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Get Your Xmas Presents Now!

Didn't manage to watch the Question Time on TV last night as it was on an hour and a half after my bedtime. Will catch it on iPlayer tomight though. Trawling through the newspaper headlines shows Griffin as not having done much for his image, but looking at the reader comments on the newspapers and the BBC website comments suggest a large majority think it was a charade with Nick Griffin being treated to the ad-hominem attacks favoured by those with no counter-argument and a desire to simply shut him up.

I particularly like this comment from a reader of The Times:

“Well, I've thought long and hard about this and, in spite of his state of denial and his slipping and sliding, I still think that, in the interests of impartiality, it was right and proper to allow Jack Straw on to Question Time.”

Ordered a book from Amazon last night. This morning I received notification that it had been despatched – by Royal Mail. Won’t be seeing that in a hurry then.

Hay has found me the perfect Christmas gift – a Gentleman’s Willy Care Kit – just what every discerning gentleman needs.

Or how about the Gentleman’s Ball Scratcher (below)?

Here are some of the reviews of the Ball Scratcher:

“I had always found the standard 'hands on' approach to be fairly successful, but this product offers a little more. The long handle really facilitates access to those awkward areas and the cold metal can be quite stimulating. Fortunately the makers have gone to the trouble of fashioning a distinctly feminine hand, so the homophobic have nothing to fear from this product.

“PS. Following a rather unfortunate incident at a party, I would advise against leaving it in the kitchen after use (especially on a sweltering summer's day). It would have taken a braver man than myself to disabuse thirty-or-so guests of the notion that they had been using a rather trendy 'cocktail stirrer.”

“I've been using the ball scratcher for almost a day now, but have to say that it should be used with care. It seems to have upset several of the people whose balls I've tried to scratch with it. Maybe it's best kept for personal use.”

On holiday next week, so I may be a bit sporadic.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

A Strike At Right Wing Wine

My younger daughter has a problem when drinking red wine – it stains her teeth purple. I have a suspicion this is caused by her once having used one of those chemical stain removers for whitening teeth, which has probably had the side effect of making them porous.

Here’s a tip from The Chairman’s store of folk remedies; after each sip of red wine drink a bottle of white. Not sure if it will work, but it should make your wine drinking much more enjoyable.

I’m led to believe that models overcome this problem by drinking red wine with a straw. No wonder they always carry straws with them – and here was me thinking they were for Coke.

It strikes me of late that the anti-free-speech forces of political correctness and censorship are orchestrating an ill advised witch-hunt against the British National Party. I made an effort to have a look at their website last night and was astonished that there’s very little in their policies I can vehemently disagree with. My only problem is whether, given their history as the openly Nazi National Front, I can trust them once in power; but there again I have a problem of trust with smarmy, self-serving, fat-cat politicians of every hue who, once in parliament, seem rather prone to become subverted by the temptation to feather their own nests and lie through their teeth.

The BNP’s leader, Nick Griffin, is on a TV debate tonight – the prospect of which is causing some politicians’ arses to twitch like a bunny’s nose and they are desperately trying to prevent the BBC from giving Griffin a platform. I, for one, will be very interested to see how the Conservative, Liberal and Labour luminaries on the panel react to the debate and the uncomfortable issues the BNP is airing - and the three larger parties seem to ignore at their peril.

Whatever his views (some of which I have issue with), you have to admit that Nick Griffin is a skilled and articulate operator who has single-handedly transformed a lunatic fringe activist group into something the other parties fear and want gagged. Many member of the traditional parties merely pay lip-service to the politically correct agenda in furtherance of their careers, while privately holding some pretty abhorrent views that are more extreme than even Nick Griffin’s – but that’s politics the world over.

I find it laughably ironic that while Griffin stands on a platform advocating free speech, the anti-fascist lobby wants to suppress his right to free speech.

The UK postal workers have gone on strike. Union bosses are using the excuse that the government and the management want them to go on strike so as to be able to privatise the Royal Mail. So what do the union bosses do? They go on strike. That’s either sheer lunacy or an illogical argument.

Actually, it's both.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Drug Wars

The news is full of reports of crazed drug gangs fighting turf wars in our streets. It seems that these turf wars are over an intelligent designer drug called ‘Bliss’.

Bliss apparently makes one become extremely irrational, but only at certain times – specifically on Sundays when they believe the laws of physics are temporarily suspended.

The wars are being fought by the main cartels responsible for spreading this heinous drug; the infamous Vatican Cartel and the Canterbury Cartel, the latter of which is locked in a bitter internal feud over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and the temperature at which sherry should be served.

Reports from the streets say that the Vatican Cartel, headed by the infamous Ratzo XXVIIIIIII has been luring ‘caporegimes’ away from the Canterbury Cartel by offering them dispensations to the Vatican Cartel’s strict code of ‘omerta’, such as allowing them to live with their wives, but not boyfriends (the Canterbury Cartel's caporegimes are renowned for being able to do virtually anything, providing it doesn't frighten horses or involve small children).

The head of the Canterbury Cartel, Dr. ‘Mad Dog’ Williams, is thought to be ‘rather peeved’, but has so far failed to respond in any meaningful way. It is suspected a high level meeting of the two rival bosses will take place under the auspices of The Commission. Great pains will be taken to ensure the bosses do not come armed with warm sherry or Bliss-infused wafers.

You can read the full story here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Che Lives

There was an all-pervading smell of hay as I walked into the caravan yesterday evening. Not altogether unpleasant, but I’d hate to be there if it started to rot.

One of my commentators yesterday suggested that the new airport scanning device will only encourage bombers to hide their bombs elsewhere. I have to agree; a suicide bomber who is about to top himself in the furtherance of his misguided aims will have no problem with inserting said bomb up his jacksie for a couple of hours and ignoring the discomfort and secreting the detonating wires between his cheeks.

There’s been a furore in the UK over a journalist’s opinion on the life and death of one Stephen Gateley – an ex member of a popular beat combo from several years ago. Her piece can be read here. Personally I can see no problem with the article – it’s an opinion piece after all - yet it has created an almost unprecedented backlash from the gay community. I somehow suspect that it’s yet another case of the offenserati massing, but this time it’s the professional gay offenserati who are seeing what is not actually there and then stirring up a mass campaign.

The journalist in question, Jan Muir, has said that she suspects the campaign has been orchestrated by a few. Offendees deny this, but there’s no denying that Stephen Fry was a key instigator and he’s the most followed Twitterer in the UK.

I’m currently reading a book about Sri Ramana, a highly revered Indian mystic whose life has many parallels with the life of Buddha. Unfortunately the book is written by a westerner who likes to pepper his writings with various Sanskrit and Hindu words which leaves the average western reader baffled. He used a few Indian words, provides a translation in parentheses, and then continues to use the Indian words throughout the rest of the book. He’s one of these hideous up-their-own-arse westerners who like to portray themselves as adepts and holders of secret knowledge and do their best to make what they write as esoteric as possible. Why can’t these buggers write in English when they are native English speakers and obviously writing for an English speaking audience? It strikes me as somewhat egotistical, which is rather ironic when you consider what Sri Ramana stood for.

Research suggests that almost half of working fathers do not take their right to two weeks' statutory paternity leave because they cannot afford to. Some 20% of men among the 4,500 parents polled feared asking for flexible working would harm their careers. Bollocks! They’re merely using that as an excuse; they’re simply doing what any sensible man would do – escaping from home to find refuge and peace at work.

Hay and I watched a DVD of Motorcycle Diaries last night; the story of Che Guevara’s journey across South America. It makes you realise what made him such a committed socialist and an icon an entire generation of young people who were dissatisfied with the old guard’s way of conducting politics. A much misunderstood man who fell foul of the Americans when they were busy propping up avaricious right-wing dictators all over the world.

God alone knows what the world would have made of him had he lived to a ripe old age and died in his bed, like Castro will. He would probably have been nowhere near as iconic.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Rain in Spain

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay and The Chairman are placing boards against the caravan to block in the hay they have put under it as insulation. They are trying to ensure that the tops of the boards are pressed close to the caravan sides to ensure rain can’t get into the gaps.

Chairman: “Where does the rain come from mainly?”
Hay: “The sky!”
Chairman: “No, I mean which direction?”
Hay: “Down!”

A new airport scanning device that uses ‘see through’ technology to create a full, naked body scan of passengers may contravene child protection laws, and thus the system will not be used on passengers under 18. An interesting conundrum illustrating where the best possible deterrent to airline suicide bombings cannot be used effectively because of a conflict with people’s (in this case children’s) rights.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Hypnotic Decimal Rabbi

A rabbi has been sacked after allowing protesters against the financial services industry to use his synagogue as a starting point for their march and showing his support for the protest. It is thought that he pissed off several of his flock who happened to be bankers. Mammon and God don’t sit as easy bedfellows, although they obviously do for some of this rabbi’s flock.

Remember the story from last week about the cat that was registered as a hypnotherapist? Well Hay and I have been having a bit of a problem with our internet connection; the router is in the Caravans’ house with a Wi-Fi extender pointed at the caravan about a hundred yards away. Usually we get an excellent connection, but of late it’s been rather poor and we’re now convinced that Cat has registered herself as a hypnotherapist and is hogging the bandwidth while handling her clients in the office up at the Caravans’ house.

24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in a minute. What a ridiculous system. I think I’ll start a movement to have the decimal day reintroduced – 10 hours in a day, 100 minutes to an hour. Makes much more sense. One of the few sensible ideas the French had, although the Chinese used a decimal time system for several millennia.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Placebo Holes & Hay

Researchers at York University have conducted randomised clinical trials on the efficacy of copper and magnetic bracelets and have reached the conclusion that they are no better than a placebo at relieving arthritis.

These devices are marketed to old and vulnerable people and they can cost up to £60 plus. An outright scam perpetrated by the unscrupulous.

Here’s a story from yesterday’s New Scientist on how they’ve actually caught the placebo effect in action within the spinal nerves.

A friend gave me some good advice on how to get rid of all the 40 odd tonnes of clay spoil from the footings – dig a hole and bury it.

Hay bought 30 odd bales of hay bales yesterday to stuff under the caravan for winter insulation. Had to put it in Caravan’s garage to prevent it getting wet. Just hope to hell the damned stuff doesn’t undergo spontaneous combustion when under the caravan.

Children should not start formal learning until they are six, a review of primary education in England says. Needless to say, despite a huge body of evidence from experts and the fact it works in Wales, Northern Ireland and vast swathes of the continent, the government and the Conservative opposition have rejected the idea with no evidence for their position whatsoever. So much for evidence-based decision making.

Personally I believe boys shouldn't go to school till they're 55.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Bonus Culture

Goldman Sachs is in the news for reviving the bonus culture that has been blamed by pundits for the financial meltdown. High bonuses for short-term achievement foster a culture of high risk investment, so how about linking the corporate taxation of banks to their bonus pot in order to encourage the longer view? The higher the short-term bonus, the higher the tax they have to pay.

Apparently some high street banks in the UK are already offering 95% mortgages to home-buyers. This will create yet another unsustainable house price bubble.

Despite signs of an ease to the world’s financial problems, if these kinds of activities are allowed to continue, I fear we are nowhere near being out of the woods.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Black Hole Omniscience

I’m going to let my mind wander into uncharted territory in a thought experiment kicked off by a discussion with Braja. Feel free to shoot me down.

I’m starting with an extract from The Black Swan:


This multiplicative difficulty leading to the need for greater and greater precision in assumptions can be illustrated with the following simple exercise concerning the prediction of the movements of billiard balls on a table. I use the example as computed by the mathematician Michael Berry.

If you know a set of basic parameters concerning the ball at rest, can compute the resistance of the table (quite elementary), and can gauge the strength of the impact, then it is rather easy to predict what would happen at the first hit. The second impact becomes more complicated, but possible; you need to be more careful about your knowledge of the initial states, and more precision is called for. The problem is that to correctly compute the ninth impact, you need to take into account the gravitational pull of someone standing next to the table (modestly, Berry's computations use a weight of less than 150 pounds). And to compute the fifty-sixth impact, every single elementary particle of the universe needs to be present in your assumptions! An electron at the edge of the universe, separated from us by 10 billion light-years, must figure in the calculations, since it exerts a meaningful effect on the outcome. Now, consider the additional burden of having to incorporate predictions about where these variables will be in the future. Forecasting the motion of a billiard ball on a pool table requires knowledge of the dynamics of the entire universe, down to every single atom! We can easily predict the movements of large objects like planets (though not too far into the future), but the smaller entities can be difficult to figure out—and there are so many more of them.


So much for any celestial being having omniscience. To have knowledge of the location and velocity every particle in the universe first of all contravenes the Uncertainty Principle (the act of observing itself affects the velocity and/or location of the particles being observed, or to put it another way, the particle's momentum is left uncertain by an amount inversely proportional to the accuracy of the position measurement – at least in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics), and secondly, to store those parameters for processing (and all information is stored in matter) would require something many orders of magnitude greater than the entire mass of the universe – albeit potentially within a very small space. That entity itself would need to self-realise and know about all the ‘particles’ comprising itself too – leading to an infinite mass, or black hole.

If God sits in a black hole, he’s unable to communicate with us, let alone interact with us, as all information is lost in a black hole and no information can escape. The same goes for us communicating with him. The mere act of trying to be omniscient (assuming it’s possible – and it should be for a God) results in God being bottled up incommunicado in a black hole.

The only way God could interact is if he were part of the universe – not only part of it, but the universe in its entirety, including us.

That’s really an argument for pantheism (with a not necessarily sentient God) and a deterministic universe devoid of free will. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the free will concept, preferring instead to believe we have the illusion of free will. Human brains are especially well adapted to making us see patterns where there are none and rationalising the irrational.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Prohibition, Brains, Hypnotic Cats & Metaphysics

British MPs are working toward a total ban on the display of cigarettes. Rather than chipping away at an activity which is currently fully legal, why the hell don’t MPs vote for an outright ban on smoking, thus driving the sale of cigarettes into the hands of the criminal fraternity and starting a new round of prohibition – a particularly distasteful method of social engineering pioneered in America and which invariably leads to unintended consequences.

I’ve never heard of such an asinine aim emanating from the mouths of idiots. Former Labour minister, Ian McCartney, who proposed the legislation about vending machines said tobacco was still "the only product in Britain that can be sold legally, which routinely kills and injures its customers". Oh yeah, what about alcohol?

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett has donated his brain to a dementia research facility. Well, not yet – he still needs it. Although on second thoughts, he’s an MP (albeit a reasonably likeable one) and it’s therefore debatable as to whether he does actually need it.

In a landmark ruling a pet moggy has been registered as a hypnotherapist. Some people are complaining that this shouldn’t be possible, but have you ever looked into a cat’s eyes? They’re definitely all hypnotists and very good at getting us to do what they want us to do.

Here are some interesting stories to keep you occupied:

A brief metaphysical thought: If God is omniscient then he has perfect knowledge of what he is going to do and he cannot change that, so he cannot simultaneously be omnipotent.

A parting down-to-earth thought: Sven-Göran Eriksson is the Director of Football at Notts County Football Club. Does anyone have a clue as to what a Director of Football does - beyond drawing a huge salary?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Evolutionary camouflage

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay has spotted a bright orange and white cat hunting in the field.

Hay: “Look at that cat. It’s a living contravention of the theory of evolution. He’s white and orange and hunting something in a green field, totally oblivious to the fact he’s as well camouflaged as a white and orange cat in a green field. “

On a related subject, here's an extract from The Black Swan: “Most of the debate between creationists and evolutionary theorists lies in the following: creationists believe that the world comes from some form of design while evolutionary theorists see the world as a result of random changes by an aimless process. But it is hard to look at a computer or a car and consider them the result of aimless process. Yet they are.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Strategic Black Swans of Family Values

Overheard in the caravan:

It’s Sunday and Hay and The Chairman are about to go out for a walk. Cat is in the caravan, having wandered into it earlier.

Hay: “I’m just going to tell Caravan that Cat is in the caravan.”
Chairman: “Why?”
Hay: “In case Cat wants to be let out while we’re out.”
Chairman: “And precisely how is Cat going to let Caravan know that she wants to get out? Mobile phone?”

I was looking at my Linked-In contacts yesterday and noticed one of them had labelled herself as a strategic thinker. I roared with laughter on seeing that her job function was that of an HR Manager. Anyone who has dealings with Human Remains knows that the words ‘HR’ and ‘strategic thinker’ simply cannot appear in the same sentence. HR departments are renowned for being as strategically inclined as Amy Winehouse. HR, by its very nature, is purely reactive in terms of hiring people as and when other departments tell them they need some bodies – not predicting what roles will need to be filled and pipelining them. Unfortunately HR is a necessary evil resulting from bureaucratic intervention in the business process by government busybodies and the EU.

I tried to find some info in strategic HR and came up with this. It’s several pages of management-speak that be coalesced into four words; ‘total and utter bollocks’. See if you can glean anything worthwhile from the mishmash of verbiage.

I’ve been reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A very interesting read about the effects of hard-to-predict events, such as, for example, 9/11. Did you know that there were at least another 1,200 American victims of Osama Bin-Laden’s 9/11 atrocity who have been forgotten and will never have a public memorial? As a consequence of 9/11, thousands of people the world over refused to travel by air, irrationally fearing it was now unsafe. Instead they took to the roads, where the risk of death is many orders of magnitude higher than from flying. It’s been estimated that about an extra 1,200 people were added to the road death toll as a direct consequence of 9/11 – and that’s in America alone.

We have the Caravans and Hay’s sister over for dinner on Saturday evening. Poor old Caravan sounded as if he was on a 15 second obscenity delay as he kept offering contributions to the previous conversation to the one in process.

Hay’s sister was telling us the benefits of being a therapist to mental health patients with insomnia and paranoia – the insomniacs are up all night cooking you cakes and the paranoiacs bring you their own food, being under the delusion that they are trying to poison themselves and thus refusing to eat it themselves.

We were discussing The Boy Cameroon’s plans to campaign for the Prime Ministership on the platform of British family values. We decided that this must surely mean kids moving away from their oppressive families after leaving university and setting up shop and the other end of the country, returning home only to place their parents in care homes for the elderly and selling off the house.

We also discussed the invention or discovery that has contributed most to humanity, settling on the wheel. Unfortunately the chap who invented it never got the recognition he deserved, but given President Obama has received the Nobel Peace Prize for doing bugger all, the inventor should certainly get a posthumous Nobel Prize for Physics.

A man whose contribution to a rape investigation resulted in the rapist being caught has donated his £10,000 reward to the victim. What a marvellous gesture.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Doors

Just look at the first video and then the 2nd.

Why have I called this post 'The Doors'?

A conversation to think about:

Neo: Well I suppose the most obvious question is, How can I trust you?

Oracle: Bingo. It is a pickle, no doubt about it. Bad news is there's no way if you can really know wheter I'm here to help you or not, so it's really up to you. Just have to make up your own damn mind, to accept what I'm going to tell you or reject it. Candy?

Neo: DO you already know if I'm going to take it?

Oracle: Wouldn't be much of an oracle if I did't.

Neo: But if you already know, how can I make a choice.

Oracle: Because you didn't come here to make the choice, you've already made it. You're here to try to understand why you made it. I thought you'd have figured that out by now.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Swiss Numbers

Why are Swiss bank accounts called Numbered Swiss Accounts? All bank accounts have a number!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Pile Reversal, Cricket & Piracy

I’ve previously waxed lyrical (if you’ll forgive the depilatory pun) about beard pile reversal. Seems it has now spread to my bonce. Had a rather severe haircut a few weeks ago and I’ve gradually discovered that my natural parting has migrated from the left side of my head to the right. Having had rather long hair and a centre parting for a number of years it was not apparent thus far that a migration was underway.

Kenyan clans are presently rearming in anticipation of a 2012 political poll. Why can’t they just settle their differences over a game of cricket?

I heard on the news that some Somali pirates were captured after mistakenly attacking a French warship. These chaps obviously need some leadership and lessons in basic ship identification if they want to make piracy a career. I wonder if I should apply for the position.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Never a Borrower Nor A Lender Be

Last night I suggested we play hide and seek. Hay pointed out that there aren’t too many places to hide in a caravan.

In the UK both the government and the opposition have announced that they intend to freeze public sector pay. With the predictability of a wet summer the dinosaur public sector union leaders responded by threatening industrial action – oh what a surprise!

The news of the politicians’ intentions was followed by an announcement by British Airways that they are freezing cabin staff pay for 2 years and making 1,700 staff redundant.

I wonder what alternative reality these public sector union leaders are living in, ‘cos sure as hell they’re not in reality as we know it. I certainly can’t see me getting a pay rise in the next 12 months – not while the Retail Price Index is standing at -1.3%, and the annual wage rise is there solely to counter inflation. Many in the private sector are already having their pay cut - recession, after all, means negative growth.

There again, union leaders are paid to prevent pay freezes and pay cuts – it’s their sole purpose in life, so you can’t really blame them for acting the way they do. It’s like trying to stop a dog barking.

We must not forget, however, that MPs are public sector workers too! I hope they remember it.

When all is said and done, anyone who has thought: “Can I really afford this loan?” is responsible for the mess we’re in. Those who took on debt beyond their means to service it can’t blame the bankers for their own greed. Every single one of us knows the level of debt we can sustain and don’t need a banker to tell us what that level is, no matter how much cash they throw at us. Bankers are just a convenient scapegoat for mass greed and over-consumption. Bankers are merely unintelligent creatures who adopt the herd instinct.

Coca Cola is promoting healthy drinks. Whatever next – union leaders urging pay restraint?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Regressing To The Mean

Yesterday I found a bit of varifocal lens at the top of the new spectacles that is suitable for reading. Never realised it was there till I was looking at my computer screen over the top of the specs and then moved my head ever so slightly up. It’s only a very thin sliver, but enough to make it unnecessary to tilt my head fully back such that I’m almost looking at the ceiling to see the writing on the screen. It’s deep enough to read a couple of lines, but not much more.

Caught the tail end of ‘The Sky At Night’ on TV last night. Old Patrick Moore looked as if he’d had a bit of work done; he looked a bit too shiny – almost wind tunnelly, if you get my drift. Hay commented that he’s probably the least likely person in the world to have ‘had a bit of work done' on his vizog.

Been reading the book Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland. He highlighted an interesting phenomenon – or rather lack of it – in the financial markets. Sutherland was a professor of experimental psychology at Sussex University and he noted how people who use the services of hedge fund managers could get better, or at least the same returns from their investment portfolio if they used a pin to select the companies they invest in. He highlights a phenomenon called regression to the mean, whereby following a particularly good year, or a spectacularly bad year, companies’ fortunes regress to the mean. Hedge fund managers tend to select companies that undergo a rather large surge in profits, only to find that such companies under-perform in subsequent years – precisely because their fortunes regress to the mean performance level. He postulates that it would be better to invest in companies that have fared spectacularly badly in the knowledge that their fortunes will improve in the following year as they regress to the mean performance, and once they have, withdraw the investment and pump it into another company which has performed uncharacteristically badly.

I became aware of Pat Condell yesterday, which is surprising given his popularity. Look up his video monologues on YouTube – they’re well worth listening to as he speaks volumes of sense about organised religion.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Magical Tapas Tax

Here are the promised videos of the rollerballing.

On Friday evening Hay and I went to La Tasca, a tapas bar in Bath. Despite Hay having a 50% discount voucher the bill for the evening came to a whacking great £75. Tapas are such a Bloody rip-off. You don’t realise how much money you’re racking up in an attempt to have a decent meal comprising a variety of miniscule snacks that are exorbitantly priced for the amount you get.

La Tasca is a chain that owns several other brands and it has no genuine Spanish provenance that I can discern. In a move to counter the multi-brands encroaching on their market I think ethnic restaurant owners should club together and provide accreditation to the genuine article – Genuine Spanish Restaurant, or Genuine Italian Restaurant, etc.

I see the ‘artist’ Tracey Emin, that doyen of New Socialism, is about to skip the country to reduce her tax bill. The words hypocritic, talentless and cow come to mind. She is noted for giving quite vast sums to charities, but she obviously doesn’t see the donation of tax money to keep country running as a priority, preferring to choose where her cash goes. If we all took that line then the country would be a wasteland.

It has been alleged that Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, missed out on the Presidential Medal of Freedom because some US politicians believed she encouraged witchcraft. That’s a bit rich when Jesus was meant to have changed water into shiraz, walked on water, raised the dead and conjured fish en croute from thin air. If that ain’t witchcraft then I don’t know what is.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Dangerous Sports Club

Hay bought Perry a rollerball present for his 50th birthday, but he hadn't been able to take advantage of it till yesterday. They do two types; dry and wet - the latter involving the addition of 30 litres of water to the ball before take-off.

Seeing as the ball requires two people, he asked Hay if she'd like to come too - she jumped at the chance. Here's the result.

Perry has difficulty with the harness.

Lunchbox nicely strapped in.

Our intrepid rollerballers prepared for take-off.

The death contraption.

A view of the inside, from the outside.

A missed dive by Hay.

A helping hand.

A missed dive from Perry.

Ready for take-off.

Narrowly missing a passing car.

Disgorging rollerballer No.1

Followed by No.2


Align Centre
Shell praying to the gods for a sale delivery.

I have a video, but can't post it till I get it on YouTube, so look in again tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Tony Blair - Come So Far, Yet So Far To Go

What’s this about Tony Blair being touted as the President of the European Council? Was there an election while I slept? Never mind this being a blow for democracy, it’s a blow against democracy. It’s all very well having a rotating Presidency for 6 months to avoid a total nutter gaining too much control, but if you’re going to have a permanent President, should the bugger not be elected, just a little bit?

Montblanc, the German makers of expensive trinkets for the gauche and image conscious, has launched a $25,000 pen having an engraving of Mahatma Gandhi on it, along with an eight metre golden thread that can be wound around it, representing the spindle and cotton Gandhi used to weave simple cloth.

Winding an eight metre gold thread around a pen is something I do every day and I can see the immense practical value of this. As for depicting Gandhi on a $25,000 pen – that’s about as incongruous as using an image of;

  • Nicholas Van Hoogstraten to market ethical investments.
  • The Dalai Lama to market Rolls Royces, or
  • Mother Theresa to market MacDonald’s.

Montblanc should surely be using the image of the ex boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Fred Goodwin, to represent the epitome of excessive and conspicuous consumption. Yes, I vote for the special edition Sir Fred Goodwin Montblanc pen, which comes with a £703,000 lifetime pension guarantee.

Better still - the Mother Theresa commemorative diamond encrusted Rolex.

Listened to Chris Rea’s ‘Come So Far, Yet So Far To Go’ yesterday. Sublime foot-tapping stuff!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Labouring The Sun

The Sun newspaper (I hesitate to call it that) has come out in favour of the British Conservative party, after having supported Labour for the last 12 years.

Now for those not from the UK, The Sun is a tabloid paper mainly containing football, news about celebrities, sport and lots of tits. It is not really noted for its in-depth political analysis – unless the story concerns a woman MP who has large tits.

If the readers of The Sun take any cognizance of the editor’s political leanings (and I see no reason why they should), then at a stroke the IQ of Labour electorate has jumped several points, while that of the Conservative electorate has plunged by an equal amount.

I always thought that papers reflected the views of their readership, not dictated it. Start telling them how to vote and you soon start pissing them off as it’s tantamount to telling them they have no brain or opinions of their own – although in the case of Sun readers……….

I was listening to a programme on the radio yesterday about autism. On getting home I did an autism spectrum questionnaire compiled by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge University (yes, he's related to Sacha) and so did Hay. She came out with a score of 16, indicating she’s quite normal (for a woman), whereas I had a score of 27, showing me to be at the autistic end of the normal section of the spectrum. I just make the excuse that I’m an alpha-male, as autism has been described as being the equivalent of having an ultra-male brain.

What’s your score?