Monday, 31 May 2010

Corruption & Autostereograms

Bugger me, but both Tory and Lib Dem politicians are heaping praise on David Laws following his resignation for having used £40k of public money to pay rent to his partner. Surely that’s like heaping praise on corrupt councillors who pass contracts to family members?

The fact is that David Laws paid tax-payers’ money for rent to his partner, which has been against the rules of engagement for MPs since 2006. The fact he kept the money within the relationship makes him corrupt. To praise him and suggest he will be back in office before much longer suggests to me that MPs have not yet learned the lessons of the expenses scandal and think themselves untouchable and a cut above the Joe public.

Former Liberal leader Lord Steel said: "His mistake did not cost the taxpayer a penny since he could have been paying to rent a room elsewhere.” That is not the point, Lord Steel – a corrupt councillor passing lucrative contracts to family members also does not cost the tax-payer any additional money, yet it is nonetheless corrupt.

Ever heard of autostereograms? An autostereogram is a single-image stereogram designed to create the visual illusion of a three-dimensional scene from a two-dimensional image in the human brain. In order to perceive 3D shapes in these autostereograms, the brain must overcome the normally automatic coordination between focusing and vergence. That’s usually achieved by focussing beyond the image and then allowing the brain to do the rest.

See if you can read the message hidden in this autostereogram – but click on it first to enlarge it. It may take a minute or so to appear.

If you get it, let me know.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

PM Praises Neat Excuse of MP Caught With Hand in Till

Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday effusively praised the privacy protection excuse given by the now ex-Chief Secretary of the Treasury, David Laws, in his attempt to justify nicking £40k of public money.

Calling Laws ‘a good and honourable man’ for only having come clean after being caught by the Daily Telegraph. Cameron also said that he hoped Laws could ‘serve again’, once the scandal had died down a bit.

Celebrity stalker, Max Paparazzi, said it was inevitable that Laws should end up like this, he was after all an investment banker at JP Morgan and BZW before becoming an MP.

We were in a delicatessen yesterday and I was looking at a jar of harissa. The front of the jar said: “Harissa is a north African chilli sauce, made with garlic and lemon.” The back of the jar said: “Ingredients: piri piri chili peppers, tomatoes and Paprika.” What happened to the garlic and lemon?

Have you noticed that the kids’ bedroom in your average semi-detached is now unerringly referred to as ‘the nursery’? I thought only the aristocracy had kids’ bedrooms comprising suites of rooms that could in any way be described as a nursery.

Apparently the Eurovision Song Contest was held yesterday. Can't say as I noticed. How the hell can you have Azerbaijan in a Eurovision contest?

Ever had a bogie valve? You know, that bit of dried snot well up inside your nose that’s come partially detached and flaps about as you breathe in and out? Had one yesterday and was trying desperately to eliminate it without Hay noticing.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Feline Goalkeepers

I was watching Kitty diving at paper balls this morning and wondered if cats could be genetically engineered to be a bit larger and we could then use them as goalkeepers in the World Cup.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Government Brings Madrassas into the Education System

The UK government has announced it’s outsourcing its schools to committees comprising pushy middle-class parents with a superiority complex, creationists and homophobes.

The term for these new super-schools is Academies, a word previously meaning a school or college engaged in rigorous instruction or training in a particular academic subject, but has come to mean a school led by a group of leaders in a particular field of lunacy who are permitted to dictate standards, prescribe methods, and trash whatever they like in favour of their pet theory. Not only that, but they won’t be inspected by OfSTED until after they start to fail, which is a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

A non-Academy status school.

Those schools not achieving Academy status will be converted into workhouses for the dispossessed and the unemployed, teaching them essential life-skills such as pick-pocketing, squatting and filling in benefit claims forms.

Hay brought home the Lidl magazine with all this week’s special offers, but she tore out the power tool section before I could look at it, thus denying me the chance to drool over power sanders and angle grinders that I’ll never use anyway. She can be so cruel.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

In the News Today

Well, firstly.......

Oh bugger it - I just can't be bothered today.

I'll just leave you with a link.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Daily Star Doesn’t Dish the Dirt on Beckham

A UK tabloid shocked a prurient and celebrity-obsessed readership yesterday by printing a story about allegations concerning David Beckham’s personal affairs, but failing to actually tell anyone what the allegations are.

Publicist, Max Bifford, said that this was a worrying move from a newspaper previously having no compunction about trashing people’s lives and could threaten his business.

A thought struck me just now; did we have as many financial scandals when the House of Lords was filled with nothing but aristos? Can’t really think of any aristo scandals at the moment, which seems to suggest that it's this new-fangled experiment of appointing non-aristos to the peerage that has turned the place into a den of thieves.

Please advise if you can think of any aristo scandals – but not those concerning them being flagellated by prostitutes or sleeping with each other’s wives – that’s what they used to do for a living.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

4th Plinth Gets More Shit

Overheard in the caravan while watching a programme on opera:

Hay: “Opera leaves me cold.

Chairman: “Me too – strangely enough, dad loved it.

Hay: “Did he often go to see it?

Chairman: “What? You mean to the world famous Southport Opera House?

A ship in a bottle has been unveiled as the new occupant of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. The artist, Yinka Shonibare, said his version of HMS Victory, with its textile sails with African and batik prints, reflects the multicultural and diverse capital.

Give me strength!

From Wiki:

The fourth plinth on the northwest corner, designed by Sir Charles Barry and built in 1841, was intended to hold an equestrian statue of William IV, but remained empty due to insufficient funds. A statue of Edward Jenner, funded largely by public subscription, was unveiled on the fourth plinth in 1858, but protests by anti-vaccinationists led to its removal to Kensington Gardens four years later. Later, agreement could not be reached over which monarch or military hero to place there.”

Rather than putting an endless carousel of shite masquerading as art on the plinth, I say we should bring back the statue of Edward Jenner, a man whose work has been responsible for saving more lives than any other individual in history. In fact I’ve started a Facebook campaign.

Jenner resided for a time in Chipping Sodbury, not a mile from where I live.

Read this Wiki article to find out more about the campaigns against vaccination, some of which are extant.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The iPod Generation

Hay’s pet name for me is Badger. This is not due to me having been raised by a family of badgers when abandoned by my parents at the tender age of 3, but due to my beard once having been streaked silver and black in the manner of a badger’s face (it is now all silver).

Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman (reading from Wiki): “Wiki describes a badger as a short-legged, heavy-set omnivore.”

Hay: “Yup, that just about describes you.”

Ever wanted to hack off the head of the guy next to you on the bus who’s playing loud music through his headphones?

Well, it seems that’s just what a bloke in Canada did.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Nu ConDem Plan to Cut Defence Budget by Outourcing the Generals

The ConDem alliance has figured out a way to cut the defence budget – simply use another country’s generals to lead and command our troops.

It is believed that this is only a first step to a much greater use of outsourcing as a means of recouping the budget deficit. For example, your intrepid reporter has discovered that Cameron’s next deficit-busting coup will be the outsourcing of the monarchy to a little known tribal chief in Nigeria who has promised to do the job for a couple of hundred grand, rather than the £110m pa the Royals currently cost the country.

Hay and I celebrated 4 years together last night with a Lidl curry and watching the final episode of Ashes to Ashes. Am I alone in having to get a woman to explain the ending to me? I think I lost the plot several episodes ago.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Synthetic Life Forms Escape From Laboratory

Biotechnologist and mad boffin, Craig Ventner, is in the news for having created a synthetic life-form; however, the life-form escaped, replicated, and the resultant duo are now masquerading as the 2012 London Olympics mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.

They look more like Kang & Kodos – the aliens from The Simpsons and wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Dr Who.

Wenlock & Mandeville are meant to have been inspired by a drop of steel – more like a few drops of scotch, if you ask me.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A Change of Clothes

Overheard in the caravan after The Chairman had been away for two days seeing customers up north and Hay having inspected his travel bag:

Hay: Have you been wearing the same set of clothes for two whole days?

Chairman: Well, I don’t like to unnecessarily…

Hay: Be clean?

Chairman: "You wouldn't understand - it's a man thing."

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Faith, Reason & Tradition

A wonderful quote from Professor Brian Cox: “I saw the fossil of a Creationist once in the British Museum.”

Hay and I have been talking about the arrangement for getting married. As a 55 year-old and a 45 year-old, there’s not much of a reason to get married in the first place; however, it certainly eliminates any of the legal problems associated with the early death of either of us, especially when I’m contributing heavily to the cost of building a house on what is her land and have a gaggle of assorted children from a variety of marriages who may decide to have a go at staking a claim once I’ve departed reality (Hay would maintain I already have).

We would like to get married in the village church; however, neither of is religious in the traditional sense. While we do each have a degree of spirituality and believe in the interconnectedness of all things, we certainly do not believe in an anthropomorphic and supernatural entity that responds to pleas for help, is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent – that’s just too oppressive and Orwellian.

We both need to persuade the local vicar to marry us and our strategy will be to utilise the three pillars of Anglicanism – faith, reason and tradition.

Addressing reason first; if you have the choice between i) a municipal registry office in Yate with an interior redolent of a Premier Inn and a view of the local Morrison’s supermarket, and ii) a quaint, hilltop, Cotswold, country village church with beautiful views over South Gloucestershire, any sane individual would not dispute that the latter (right) is infinitely preferable to the former (left), despite the former looking quite beautiful from the front. That disposes of reason, if not logic, aesthetics and nice wedding photos too.

Yate Registry Office (left) & Old Sodbury Church (right)

Addressing tradition; all of Hay’s family are buried in the churchyard (not the living ones, obviously) and she has family connections with the village going back well over a hundred years. She also wants to become more involved in village life – and the church is (or was) central to the life of any village. Tradition is thus well catered for.

On the matter of faith; our vicar will have to have faith that we exist. In a rather solipsistic manner, we may just be a figment of her imagination and she cannot prove otherwise.

Been wondering whether I should have some abs sprayed onto my gut, like they did for the film 300.

Off to Barrow-in-Furness and a few other stops along the way – I may be away for some time.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Walking on Water

Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman: “I quite fancy going out and having a look at something old today.

Hay: “Look in the mirror.

This can only be a hoax, but it’s rather brilliant as a rather long-winded advert for a particular brand of running shoes.

I may be repeating myself in this next bit, so bear with me – I am 55 after all.

Been thinking about the UK’s ConDem coalition. From the Dem perspective it wasn’t really needed. They could have wielded the light hand of control by using their democratic vote within parliament to prevent anything with which they disagreed, knowing that Labour and a few minority parties would also disagree.

From the Con perspective it was a fundamental necessity.

So, strategically the Cons had to lock the Dems in fully. The only way of doing that was to offer them a share of power totally out of proportion to their actual vote among the electorate (roughly half of the Dems have ministerial positions), thus handcuffing them and in effect buying their allegiance. As we all know, power is a drug that only the most stoic are able to refuse.

A brilliant and strategically perfect coup for the Tories, but something that will come back to bite the Dems in the knackers at the next election after they have prostituted their principles in return for a soiled hand on the levers of power. The Dem electorate will feel totally betrayed.

However, that of itself could be bad news for the Cons at the next election and they now have to address how they are going to swing over the disaffected Dem electorate, whose natural leanings are to the left of centre.

The strategy may have short-term success, but the remaining Dems not invited to wield power will have no option but to rebel against the coalition if they wish to stand any chance of retaining their seats at the next election.

What do people do in the afterlife? Do teenagers fly about writing graffiti on clouds? Do the middle-aged sit around having an infinite number of dinner parties where they discuss mortgages and school fees? Do the elderly hark on for eternity how heaven has gone to the dogs?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Drag & Drop

Discovered something yesterday. I found out that you can drag and drop browser favourites into the browser window. I never knew that before – did it completely by accident.

Drag & Drop

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Cameron Proposes Change to Eurovision Song Contest Voting Rules

David Cameron, PM and leader of the ConDems, has publicly announced his plans to change the Eurovision Song Contest voting rules. In future any Greek votes for Cyprus and Cypriot votes for Greece will be divided by two.

It is believed he’s also considering a change to the rules of the World Cup such that it requires a 100% majority vote from English MPs to confirm and ratify any defeat of the England team. Without such ratification, the result will automatically be a 5-0 win for England, whatever the actual score.

Comrade Cameron

I dedicate this little film to all politicians:

Friday, 14 May 2010

Truly, Madly, Grumpy Drop Zone

Someone in the area is making T-shirts with logos like;

  • Truly, Madly, Grumpy, and
  • I’m Hung Like A Parliament.

I particularly like this one.

I’m somewhat concerned about some signs near the local primary school.

Don’t ask why, but I have images of hordes of school kids dropping out of the skies on parachutes from a flight of Hercules C130 transports.

I received the following e-mail yesterday evening (bear with me and read it all):


Hello Folly,

I'd love the opportunity to talk to you about your resume! Your credentials are very impressive, your background and track record closely resemble some other highly successful individuals. We have worked with many such professionals and helped them realize their dreams to become successful entrepreneurs. Based on your resume, I can see that you are quite accomplished in your field and may welcome the chance to apply your expertise in a more entrepreneurial setting.

Recession has touched us all, but some industries have turned it into a business growth opportunity. Franchising is one industry where success, profitability and economic stability have actually made incremental strides. My role is to carefully select and personally invite qualified individuals to explore franchising in all its potential and you fit the profile.

With your background in management and leadership positions adding weight to your credentials, I am confident that you are likely a great fit. We know you have the initiative, skills and educational qualifications that are the building blocks of a successful business. Finding the missing link - the right franchise opportunity - will be a breeze with our help and advice. The research, qualification and application services I provide costs you absolutely nothing.

Imagine the possibility of applying your experience in a business of your own, increasing your earning potential, gaining the flexibility of working your own hours in a career you enjoy and more importantly never having to worry about losing your job again. It doesn't have to be a pipe dream anymore! Here's a chance at work-life balance like never before!

Please visit and find out more information about my services. Once you are there, fill out the "Get Started Today" form and I'll give you a call within 48 hours to discuss the next steps.

Best regards,

Rachel Taylor
Franchising Coordinator


My response was as follows:


You have so carefully selected me that you don't even know my name and have addressed me as my postal address house name – and only half of it at that.

Now bugger off!


Truly, Madly, Grumpy?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Saving £6bn in Waste?

Mmmm – the party campaigning on a platform to reduce government waste by £6bn renames the ‘Department for Schools, Children and Families’ to the ‘Department for Education’.

I guess that may save some ink in the title, but what about the vast rebranding exercise, the letterheads, the business cards, the computer systems.

That logo’s going to have to go (although it’s rather apt for a coalition). Bring in the consultants at great expense! I guess that alone will cost a couple of million.

Oh – it’s been changed already.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Political Pragmatism and Cricket

So the actual deal done was Tory / Lib-Dem, which I imagine will piss off a large proportion of the Lib-Dem voters.

Strategically it was the best option for Labour. They can now sit back and wait for the cracks to appear in the coalition while getting their own house back in order. A minority coalition would never last long anyway, and Cameron can now be blamed for any ill effects resulting from the necessary and inevitable tax hikes.

Given the Lib-Dems are essentially left-of-centre, I would imagine they will be severely punished at the next election, by which time David Cameron will be about as popular as pope Benedict at a children’s home.

However, having said that, the Lib-Dems had to do a deal with someone, as it was the only way to press through voting reform, and if you’re forced into doing a deal then it’s best to go for the largest party in the knowledge that the deal will have greater longevity than one reliant on a motley collection of minorities having a vitriolic dislike for England and making totally unrealistic demands like the banning of the bowler hat.

My car radio has gone squonk and I’ve lost the ability to pick up FM. This means I can only obtain Radio 4 on long wave. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the misfortune to listen to Radio 4 on long wave – it’s wall-to-wall cricket at present, no matter what time of the day you tune in.

I can’t see why people get so excited about the game, it’s not as if anything actually happens – it’s simply a bunch of blokes ambling around a cricket field. I’ve seen more exciting church sermons and more activity in a Post Office pension queue.

Talking of sport, I wonder if any spectators are going to South Africa to watch the Wold Cup. I don’t know of a single individual who intends to go and yet FIFA is predicting it’s going to beat all box-office records.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Come On Mickey

Overheard while watching an edition of Top Of The Pops from the 80s:

Chairman: “Jimmy Somerville doesn’t half look like that ugly little footballer – what’s his name? Mickey Rooney!"

Hay: “I think you mean Wayne Rooney?”

Chairman: “That’s him.”

So the Lib-Dems may do a deal with Labour.

Whereas they can’t command a workable majority in terms of seats, the Lib-Dems and Labour have between them polled 59% of the total Tory, Labour and Lib-Dem votes, whereas the Tory vote on its own was only 41%. That alone shows that voting reform is needed to more closely reflect the wishes of the electorate.

What Labour must ensure is that a change in the voting system has to be implemented before any potential Labour/Lib-Dem split can occur and the government collapses – else the Tories will be in and voting reform will have to wait another 5 years.

This is far better than that vacuous X-Factor programme – it’s making people re-engage in politics, take notice of policies and determine their own futures.

Last night Hay and I were playing Guess That 60’s TV Theme Tune. Here’s one for you to guess – doo-diddly-dee, doo-doo. The clue is that the protagonist was a spy who worked for M9.

Another good game is working out the words to Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen”.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Rossendale & Politics

Overheard in the car on the way north:

Chairman:Look at all this yellow rape in the fields. I wonder if it changes the local ecology?

Hay:It must – all the flowers mean more insects, which means more birds, which means more cats, which means more dogs, which means more….. what eats dogs?


My opinion of the Accrington / Burnley / Rossendale area was reinforced over the weekend, however I have to retract my opinion of the B&B. It was modern and totally delightful, with attentive hosts who certainly knew their stuff. I can heartily recommend Number 678, which is the name of the guest house where we stayed in Rossendale, as attested by the following photographs.

The above was the view from our bedroom window. A brook babbled along the end of the garden and facing us was a massive escarpment favoured by fell walkers.

It was £65 for the two of us for the one night, with a delicious full-Lancashire breakfast that included real black pudding. We were the only residents and thus had the whole house to ourselves (the owners living just up the road).

However, as for Rossendale itself:

Hideous! This is the view outside the front of the guest house.

Rows of grim, grey, granite houses in what could only be described as a rugged and challenging environment, having the visual appeal of a Puritan jazz festival and less adornment than an Amish barn. It’s no wonder there are Baptist or Methodist chapels on every street corner – there’s so little to do that even religion must at one time have been considered to be entertainment.

Hay and I were of the opinion that the locale could be transformed by the simple expedient of planting a few municipal trees along the roads, changing them into leafy boulevards. The problem probably lies in the fact that these places are above the natural tree line – or indeed the beauty line.

The streets all have grim names from either the Crimean War or the First and Second Fuzzy-Wuzzy Wars of the 1800s. Names like Inkerman St, Alma St, Omerod St, Mafeking St, Omdurman St, etc – battles where the local manhood would be pointlessly sent as cannon fodder for Queen and Empire.

I simply don’t know what possessed the mill owners of yore to set up their cotton mills in these God forsaken places in the first instance. The raw materials came in from the ports of Manchester and Liverpool, and the only indigenous inhabitants of the area were a few hill farmers eking out a pitiful subsistence and living in hovels on the moors. Why not set up your mill near the source of material and close to the seat of consumption, rather than miles away in the middle of an inaccessible and bleak moor?

Before we went out to dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend we called in at a local pub – and it was like a scene from Deliverance. Ghastly, but they served excellent beer.

Here’s my advice to Gordon Brown from a strategic perspective; do not concede defeat, thus forcing the Lib-Dems into a coalition with the Tories.

Once the coalition fails, as it undoubtedly will when the Lib-Dems realise they have been shafted, the Tories will be hated by everyone for having imposed draconian (yet necessary) tax increases and the Lib-Dems would lose supporters in their droves as punishment for them joining the Tories.

Gordon – or his replacement – would then pick up disaffected Lib-Dems and disaffected Tories and usher in a new Labour term.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A Journey Too Far

Off to Accrington to see No.1 daughter and her intended this weekend. Ghastly place – it’s bleaker than Bleak House on a bleak day in the bleakest mid-winter - and somewhat reminiscent of Black Pockrington, a fictional northern town in Tom Sharp’s darkly humorous satirical novel ‘The Throwback’ (well worth a read if you like black humour).

Not looking forward to the B&B. It will probably turn out to be one of those hideous places with humungous gates in black and gold hammerite with concrete lions on the gateposts. Bedrooms will have nylon floral print duvets with pink and cream velour headboards shaped like a clamshell. You can just picture it now – sentimental prints of robins and deer all over the walls. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a squadron of flying ducks gracing the mint-green, washable anaglypta papered walls. The bedside lights will be those garish brass-effect, touch-sensitive jobbies from Argos that you have to beat several times to turn off completely, resplendent with energy-saving light bulbs having the illuminative capacity of a spent Swan Vesta.

It's advertised as being in the 'fashionable' Rossendale area. The words fashionable and Rossendale are not easy bedfellows in my lexicon. The fact it butts on to Coal Pit Lane, has what looks like a factory opposite (according to Google Maps) and seems to have a lorry park out back does not exactly fill me with anticipation and hope. I shall report on my return.

I do hope they serve black pudding for breakfast – I mean the real stuff, not the ersatz, sawdust-filled crap you get down south. I find it rather addictive – almost crack-pudding. It’s one of the few mind-altering substances you can take for years without any nasty side-effects, unlike Chorley cakes, cowheels, tripe, Eccles cakes, Holland’s pies or Wigan kebabs, all of which when abused chronically can make you look like Peter Kay.

We will probably swing by Southport to see mother, who will express surprise at seeing me but will be totally incapable of recalling who the hell I am. When I visited her last week she launched into what I initially thought was going to be a full and coherent sentence - and possibly the precursor to a short yet semi-lucid conversation. However, it petered out halfway through and descended into a jumbled mumble followed by a beaming, if somewhat imbecilic smile. Hope to hell I never get dementia, although the chances are relatively high if it’s genetic (both her sisters – she is one of triplets – suffered dementia before kicking the bucket).

Hay was busy scouring the interweb last night seeing if she could find a restaurant in the area serving anything more appetising than bread and dripping fricassee with a side dish of pork scratchings nestling on a bed of roughly butchered lettuce. I thought it a foolish enterprise and I doubt they have the interweb there yet; I suspect they’ve only just invented language.

My daughter speaks with a very pronounced Lancashire accent, honed over 30 odd years of scraping an existence in the northern wastes of Slackistan. My ear is attuned to it, having been brought up in West Lancs and having heard the raucous calls of itinerant Lancastrian street pedlars, vagabonds, fakirs and mill owners. Her intended, however, has an almost impenetrable Yorkshire accent (with apologies to Alan Burnett), which requires translation in order for Hay to comprehend a single word.

I have solved the problem by merely nodding sagely and murmuring appreciative noises whenever he utters something incomprehensible. Should he subsequently frown or start making threatening gestures, I switch to a vigorous shaking of the head from side-to-side while tutting. It seems to mollify him. For all I know I may be agreeing that the BNP should run the country and people with cats should be forced into labour camps in Siberia.

Friday, 7 May 2010

British Politics Takes a Nasty Turn As Parties Use 9/11 Tactics

UKIP MEP and former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, says he is "lucky to be alive" after a kamikaze stunt went badly wrong when he didn’t manage to kill himself and the Conservative candidate for Brackley in a ball of flame from an exploding light aircraft.

It is thought that the UKIP election banner he was wearing around his head in preparation for the kamikaze dive came off and became entangled in the plane’s tailfin before he had managed to set the autopilot to target the local Conservative Party HQ.

Nigel Farage before take-off.

Intelligence reports from the Daily Mail suggest Farage had recently been on a day trip to the Bora-Bora Mountains of Afghanistan where he was trained in 9/11 tactics by an al Qaeda faction aligned to Sheikh Philip bin Mountbatten.

I was travelling back from a customer meeting in Southampton yesterday and went through a Hampshire village where it looked as if the Lib-Dem and Conservative candidates had been engaged in an escalating war of election posters. I first spotted a small Lib-Dem roadside poster, followed 100 yards on by a larger Conservative poster, followed 100 yards on by an even larger Lib-Dem poster, followed etc, etc, etc for about a mile.

It’s a bit much, don’t you think, when the UK’s population has to rely on Eastern Europeans to decide on their new leader. I wasn’t aware of this myself until I head the news reader saying the electorate was going to the Poles to elect a new leader.

Never in the field of human voting has the fate of so few been decided by so many ill-informed.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Fanning the Flames of Democracy

Just to return briefly to the safe drinking limits; when ships were made of wood and men were made of steel and pansy was the name of a flower, sailors in the English Royal Navy had a rum ration comprising half a pint a day. That was 13 units a day. Compare this to the safe drinking limit of 4 units a day. On top of that they were fed 5,000 calories a day.

Well, by this time tomorrow we’ll know which of the party leaders will have told the most convincing load of old bollocks, not that this will necessarily mean he will be leading us on the road to the most draconian tax rises since King Billy slapped 2 shillings on windows in 1696. I guess that’s where the term ‘getting away with daylight robbery’ came from.

I wonder what little tax wheezes the politicos will come up with?

  • iPod tax?
  • CrackBerry Tax?
  • SUV tax?
  • SMS tax?
  • Chav tax?
  • Obesity tax?

Psychic Bill’s prediction is that the country will be led - possibly after a small hiatus - by a white, Anglo-Saxon bloke of between 43 And 59 with an N in his name and a predilection for not telling the whole truth; however, I am merely a conduit for the spirit guides and so cannot take full credit for the prediction’s 100% accuracy.

Given the poison chalice it is, one wonders why anyone would even want to lead the country in this time of deep economic crisis - unless it was purely a 'power thing'.

In typical, hot-headed, Mediterranean fashion, the Greeks have rioted in protest against their government’s austerity measures. The police responded to a fire-bombing of a bank with pepper (presumably in those large pepper mills you get in tavernas and trattorias the world over), calamari cannons and rounds of rubber baklava.

That’s always been the problem with the Greeks – they had lots of democracy, but little in the way of social cohesion beyond the city limits and hence had big problems taking over the known world for any sustained period. The Romans, on the other hand, had shed-loads of social cohesion, but when it came to the pinch were somewhat light on democracy.

A bit of useless information for you. What shape would you think a candle flame took in zero gravity? The answer is spherical.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

That's Just About The Limit

I was looking at the NHS safe drinking limits yesterday. Do you realise that men are advised to drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week and no more than four units in any one day.

Four units is a smidgin short of a large glass of Shiraz. I think they’re confusing safe drinking limits with what’s commonly called an apéritif. That leaves bugger all room for the wine with the lunch and the digestif afterwards.

According to Hay I’ve been on a diet for the last week, but I wasn’t aware of it.

Yesterday I was looking at some statistics:

  • 1994, Net migration 90,000, unemployment 2.7m
  • 1998, Net migration 150,000, unemployment 1.8m
  • 2002, Net migration 160,000, unemployment 1.5m
  • 2006, Net migration 200,000, unemployment 1.7m
  • 2009, Net migration 160,000, unemployment 2.6m

I’m not certain whether these figures have been cherry-picked, but they suggest to me that there is no correlation between immigration and unemployment.

Combine this with the interesting fact is that the various political parties have consistently stated that the UK needs a steady influx of 150,000 immigrants per year over the next 20 years in order for the economy to grow.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I Krave a New Political Party

Have you heard of Kelloggs’ Krave? It’s a new breakfast cereal consisting of copious amounts of chocolate. I honestly thought it was a spoof, especially when I saw ‘Enjoy Krave as part of a healthy balanced diet and active lifestyle’ at the foot of the advert. As if our kids aren’t already huffing and puffing on their way to school, laboured down by kilos of excess lard, type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arteries. It beggars belief that someone could come up with this crap as a breakfast and then position it as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.

Yesterday we were talking as a family about forming our own political party – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Old & Chipping Sodbury. Here’s the manifesto we came up with:

  • Defence: our own nuclear deterrent – to be made by Bob in his shed from recycled cabbages.
  • Foreign Policy: enforced repatriation of outlanders from Dursley and Yate – they think they can come here to Old Sodbury with their foreign ways and strange accents, taking all our jobs.
  • Education Policy / Crime Prevention Policy: all kids between 12 and 18 to be put in the stocks at weekends and subject to curfew during weekday evenings.
  • Health Policy: culling of the over 60s – Bob can take them out with his rifle on Saturday afternoons on the High Street, using the clock tower as a vantage post for his sniper’s nest.
  • Transport Policy: all lorries to have square wheels and the Old Sodbury Car Share Scheme to be made compulsory (one car for the whole village).
  • Environmental Policy: compulsory composting toilets and enforced demolition of garages (see Transport Policy), with the liberated space being turned over to the growing of seasonal vegetables for the farmers’ market (see Economic Policy).
  • Culture Policy: proper drawings and none of this up-yer-own-arse conceptual garbage comprising unmade beds, dead sharks or daubs made from elephant shit.
  • Security Policy: a 12 bore, cudgel and small, yet incredibly vicious dog in every home.
  • Economic Policy: all currency to be abolished and the stunningly simple medieval barter system to be reintroduced.
  • Green Policy: the village green opposite The Dog to be mown once a week in the summer.
  • Racial Purity Policy: no marriage outside of the village, and preferably no more distant in relationship than one’s first cousin.

Hay wanted to institute a special policy on children and snacking – if you start a child, you must finish it completely and not leave half eaten children lying around.

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Problem of Leviticus

They say a coalition won’t work. I have to disagree – just look at the average marriage.

I had a response yesterday on one of last week’s posts – the one about the homophobic, Christian sex counsellor. An anonymous poster pasted several biblical references about homosexuality, none of which were attributable to Jesus and thus entirely missed the point of my post.

However, this got me thinking about how religious people revere ancient scriptures and treat them as fundamental truths which cannot be challenged.

Imagine, for a moment, if we applied this dogmatic philosophy to other texts – such as elevating the tracts of Galen to a higher status than ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, or Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica’ higher than Einstein’s seminal ‘Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?’ I certainly wouldn’t want doctors treating my ailments on the basis of Galen and many of today’s scientific wonders would not be possible if we stuck rigidly to classical physics.

Perhaps humanists should put together their own scriptures, which in my mind would incorporate (amongst others) the following:

  • Charles Darwin: On the Origin of Species,
  • United Nations: UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,
  • Alfred Kinsey: The Kinsey Reports,
  • Watson & Crick: Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,
  • Penzias & Wilson: A Measurement of the Flux Density of CAS A At 4080 Mc/s,
  • Mrs Beaton: Book of Household Management,
  • Delia Smith: How to Cook.

Please feel free to contribute your own addenda (go on - just for a laugh).

The difference, however, between religious scripture and humanist scripture would be that the letter is not fixed in stone and treated as the ultimate truth. Quite the reverse, books would be replaced by more enlightened books as the generations went by and data was added to the corpus of human knowledge. The canon would evolve, hopefully getting closer to the truth with successive iterations – although there might be the occasional bit of backsliding.

The religious mindset does not permit this, being almost fascists in its claims of ultimate truth from the first draft, which is counterintuitive and simply the height of silliness, as it introduces ‘the problem of Leviticus’.

Leviticus, for the pagans amongst you, contains a plethora of rules, half of which are barbaric in the extreme and have been ditched by most Christians – at least the sane ones. Examples are the compulsory stoning of cheeky children and the acceptance of slavery.

Talking of dogma - I see the pope went to see the 12th century Shroud of Turin - a fake, according to scientific analysis, but still believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus.

Apparently we're suffering gridlock here.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Final Countdown

Gordon Brown is recalling all our troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, intending to position them at the entrance to 10 Downing Street to prevent him being ousted from power.

It is believed that the MoD is being allocated unprecedented amounts of money in order to equip the troops with the latest Inter-Continental Ballistic Nick Griffins and unexploded WWII bigoted old hags with which to defend what has become known as the Führerbunker.

Squads of die-hard Labour supporters have been secretly trained by Al Qaeda in the manufacture and deployment of exploding ink vests that spoil ballot papers when set off in polling stations.

I do feel sorry for Gordon. He is a safe pair of hands, even though he seems to have the PR skills of Prince Philip at his most gaffe-prone. Cameroon is a smoothie with no substance and Clagg is merely a stick with which to beat Labour and Tory MPs for the expenses scandal.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

What a Nice Man!

While he was staying with me over Easter, my eldest son helped out with the paper round. As we occasionally service Sir James Dyson’s place at Doddington House and my son likes science and engineering, he decided to insert a letter into Sir James’ Sunday paper asking if he could have an autograph. Cheeky but direct (he’ll make a good sales director when he grows up).

Imagine our surprise yesterday when the postman delivered a copy of James Dyson’s autobiography, with a personal message from Sir James to my son inside the front cover.

What a nice man.