Monday, 30 April 2012

Bidet Celebrity Culture Page for Republicans

Overheard in the Caravan:

Hay: "Should we get a bidet for the bathrooms?"

Chairman: "Sorry - I'd rather wash my undies and socks in the washing machine."

A bit of celebrity analysis....

Katie Price talking about the problems with her failed marriage to Alex Reid: "I accept that these were in part caused by my marrying too quickly - we all make mistakes and this was one. However, Alex changed from the man I fell in love with." No Katie, people don't change that quickly; however, expectations do - especially if set unrealistically high in the first place. 

Heard this the other day about the dichotomy American Republicans adhere to; while they will fight to the death for the rights of the foetus, once it's delivered it's all on its own for the rest of its life and Republicans want nothing more to do with it.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Screed for Pensions

Called someone about the floor screed on Friday afternoon, he came out to case the joint yesterday morning and the screed's being delivered at 06:00 tomorrow. That's what I call service.

The trouble is that while we can walk on it within 48 hours, it takes a day per millimetre for complete dryness - that's 75 days before we can subject it to any load.

Here's a conundrum for you:

  1. The state pension system is a pyramid scheme that necessitates a growing population to fund it.
  2. There are simply too many of us.

Analyse, discuss and resolve.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Elected Police Commissioners

If an elected Police Commissioner is the solution, then what's the problem he or she will be addressing, other than popularity? 

Popularity is not usually, in my mind, a solution to anything, except politics - and even then it has little to commend it.

Perhaps Police Commissioners should be elected via a TV game show that runs on Saturday evenings where auditions are held and the masses vote for their candidate's ability to dance, eat bugs and sing.

Ill-advised, is the word that spring to mind, especially when it has been demonstrated that we need a single, national police force, not 43, or however many we currently have.

In any case, what is a Police Commissioner going to be able to achieve that a Police Authority can't? Most applicants will be from former Police Authorities anyway.

£10bn is to be cut from the welfare budget; £10bn is to be handed to the IMF to prop up failing currencies. I know where I'd rather see the money used, and it ain't to prop up Greece and Portugal against all odds.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Genetically Engineered Kitty King Heating

Been playing with a few Android and iPad Apps on my shiny things - mainly to do with freehand note taking and Mind Maps.

Gave the Android phone to Hay to play with a certain App and she produced the following sketch - which is meant to be Kitty, but I think it looks more like a genetically engineered cross between Kitty and Charles I. 

Nice though!

Here's another nice image - the under floor heating pipes being installed yesterday.

Thick Celotex insulation boards were laid on the bare concrete base, the pipes run over that in zones and then pegged into the Celotex. Next comes the floor screed - probably in a week or two.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dumbing Downstairs With Full Confidence of Management

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has the full confidence of the Prime Minister. That's him guaranteed to be gracing the dole queue by the end of the week then.

Was watching an item on the local news last night about a bunch of IKEA managers undergoing a management training exercise comprising rounding up sheep into a pen. If rounding up sheep is such a good management training exercise, then why are shepherds not running our top companies?

Thinking about it, however, I guess rounding up sheep is quite pertinent to rounding up shoppers in IKEA. Doesn't say much for the average shopper though...

The BBC has confirmed a third series of the period drama Upstairs Downstairs will not be commissioned. The show was revived in 2010, where the first episode drew 8.8 million viewers. But the final episode of the last series, attracted 5.22 million.

I never watched it, but that says it all really; the BBC is more interested in audience figures than quality TV and will henceforth be televising only wall-to-wall drivel designed for the brain dead. 

Here are two extracts from the BBC Charter under the heading of Public Purpose:

(b) promoting education and learning;
(c) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence.

I guess that means Homes Under the Hammer, Cash in the Attic, Bargain Hunt, Escape to the Country, The Apprentice and Eastenders. Lord Reith must be spinning in his grave like a top.

I think Ab Fab was the last decent comedy program the BBC commissioned - can't remember  anything memorable since then. Oh for the days of Steptoe & Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Dad's Army, Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies, Fawlty Towers, The Good Life, Yes Minister, Porridge, Father Ted (OK, that last one wasn't the BBC, but I bet they wish it was) - I'm sounding like an old grump (which I am).

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Elderly Cheating

Care for the elderly is once more in the news. Why on earth pay someone else to slap your elderly relatives when you can do it so much cheaper yourself?

A snooker player who accused a fellow competitor of cheating has himself been accused of bringing the game into disrepute by making the accusation. What about the player who allegedly cheated?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Quantum Literacy in Bahrain

Overheard in the Caravan:

Hay: "Your tum-tum is starting to stick out."

Chairman: "Have you not considered that this state of affairs has only existed since your purchase of that bloody exercise bike you keep asking me to use?"

Hay: "But you haven't even used the exercise bike once yet!"

Chairman: "That's totally irrelevant. Have you never heard about quantum entanglement and the interconnectedness of all things? It's obviously a quantum phenomenon!"

Saw an item about literacy in The Sunday Times yesterday. It read: "At present, more than 26% of pupils fail to reach the national curriculum standard expected of an average 11 year-old." One suspects the writer of that sentence failed to reach the expected national curriculum standard for maths.... Think about it.... OK, if you still haven't twigged, think about the meaning of the word AVERAGE and the implication of that..... Still nothing? Oh, I give up!

Gutted the Bahrain F1 GP wasn't televised live yesterday - not the least bit interested in F1 anymore, but desperately wanted to watch the riots.

Fancy a really nice - but incredibly cheap - Tempranillo? Aldi have a beaut on at under 4 quid! Couldn't believe my taste buds when I tried it yesterday.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Went looking at bathrooms in Thornbury yesterday. Spotted this little embellishment and though Hay might appreciate it in our bathroom.

I'm sure you will agree with me that it's not only useful, but essential!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Volte Face in the Fridge

There's me thinking the Conservatives were all against handing money to feckless layabouts with no jobs, and then Osborne goes and hands the IMF £10bn of borrowed dosh to prop up the Euro in countries where it will never work.

In the world of the London Mayoral election we have a Labour supporter (Alan Sugar) telling Londoners not to vote for Ken and a Conservative supporter (Michael Portillo) telling them not to vote for Boris. It's not as if anyone is going to vote Liberal anyway.

Politics is a funny old world these days.

Ever noticed how some women guard the contents of the fridge as if it contained the crown jewels? Hay must have the damned thing wired for sound and movement - she can detect the slightest pilfering of snacks, no matter the time of day. I sometimes hanker for the days I could go into my fridge on the boat and snaffle whatever I wanted without anyone being the wiser.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Granny Tax?

Labour has lost a Commons vote seeking to halt plans to freeze age-related tax allowances for pensioners.  It's called the granny tax and it's aimed at pensioners.

Some think pensioners are hard done by; however, they have things called pensions. Some even have outright ownership of things called houses. Today's youngsters can only dream of such things.

That said, a few of us have learned that you can't put hard earned money into scams controlled by politicians and expect a return - you have to take control of your own old age.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


I was in a queue at Aberdeen airport, waiting for a girl in front to negotiate some form of staff discount and endeavour to pay for 3 items with 3 different cards, when my eyes alighted on a copy of Hello magazine.

The front Page showed B movie actress Liz Hurley and a rather waxlike Shane Warne, with the headline portraying the story inside to be a 'world exclusive' about their love life, wedding plans and other such vitally important news.

What shocked me more than these two people willingly splashing their lives all over a magazine was the fact there is an appetite for these stories.

Never did get to buy what I wanted - lost the will to live while waiting for said girl to make her purchases.

On the way back home from the airport I tuned into Radio 2 to discover some brass band murdering Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. That tune just wasn't meant to be performed by a brass band - it's simply too fast. 

Just because you can, it doesn't mean to say you should.

And just what the hell is an official Olympic Motto? The unofficial one must be 'just get it over with, quickly'.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Times Have Changed

Woman driver on the plane to Aberdeen this morning!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Moral Foundations

Been reading a book by Professor Jonathan Haidt called “The Righteous Mind”, which goes quite a long way in explaining why there are such divisions in politics and religion. 

He suggests gut instinct plays a far greater role in our decision making than the reasoning or rational intellect. The instinct makes the decision and reason then kicks in to instantly conjure up post hoc arguments to bolster the decision the instinct has already made. A case of self-justification, which can lead to conflicts with facts - and sometimes even reality.

He posits 6 basic moral foundations as follows: 
  1. Care for others, protecting them from harm. 
  2. Fairness, justice, treating others equally. 
  3. Liberty/Oppression, resentment toward dominance and restrictions on liberty 
  4. Loyalty to your in-group, family, nation. 
  5. Respect for tradition and authority.  
  6. Purity or Sanctity, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions, etc. 
Now liberals are very high on the first three, while having only scant or no regard for the last three. For liberals the first three are indeed overriding imperatives – protection of the oppressed, the liberty of the individual to do what he or she wants (providing it harms no-one) and justice have primacy over the needs of the group.

By the above definition I am a liberal - I value justice and liberty while not having much regard for patriotism (I agree with Samuel Johnson that it is the last refuge of a scoundrel). Tradition means little to me (it applies friction to the wheel of progress) and I abhor all these interminable commemorations of disasters that happened decades or centuries ago (mawkish sentimentality - just get over it and move on!). 

Conservatives (and especially religious conservatives), however, while being average on the first three are extremely high on the following three. In this manner, conservatives have more moral foundations to satisfy, but the last three take precedence if they come into conflict with the first three - the group is all and they live by a hive mentality.

Additionally, the last three foundations are usually unquestioned by the average conservative, but can lead to some pretty nasty situations if taken to the extreme (think early and mid 20th century Germany). The group has primacy at the expense of the individual - and even possibly justice and liberty.

This is why liberals and conservatives (or atheists and those of faith) have such issues with each other – they cannot possibly see things from the other's perspective, they are simply not wired to do so. There's a wealth of experimental and empirical evidence to support Haidt's theory.

The irony is that we need both co-operating groups for social cohesion and individuals who can stand up for the those who may be oppressed by the groups. We have to lean to work together, somehow, and keep each other in check.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

It's Just Titanic

Apparently it's the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. If you've read a newspaper, watched TV or listened to the radio you'd never have guessed.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Homeopathic Gay Cure?

An advertising campaign backed by a Christian group which has been described as anti-gay, has been pulled from London buses. The ads were paid for by the Core Issues Trust and offer therapy to 'cure' homosexuality. The ads have been considered offensive, especially by Stonewall.

Transport for London has said the advert did not reflect a "tolerant and inclusive London".  Excuse me? Since when has London (or indeed any society) been tolerant and inclusive? It's the nature of humans to form groups that then compete with each other. The only inclusiveness that exists is within these groups of like-minded individuals - if you're not a member of the group, you're a pariah and an outcast.

I'm not so sure these adverts are anti-gay - clearly some people are unhappy with their sexual orientation - perhaps not with the orientation per-se, but more the stigmatisation they receive from some quarters because of their orientation - and would like to change, if only they could. Like gay Catholics, for instance.

However, that said, it shouldn't be considered offensive to want to help someone, providing it's done for good motives. It really depends on what's behind Core Issue Trust's agenda - whether it's a sense of moral outrage at homosexuality, or a genuine desire to help those dissatisfied with their sexual orientation.

If the latter, then I wonder if they would consider providing therapy to those dissatisfied with being heterosexual, but feel they can't make that final step? I somehow suspect not.

However, there is no hard evidence that there is such a thing as a 'gay cure'. It's on a par with homeopathy in that respect, and that ain't banned - you can even get that on the NHS, despite there not being a shred of scientific evidence for its efficacy.

When all's said and done, Core Issues Trust has gotten more publicity from the ads being banned than from running them. Job done!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Zombie Attack in Holby

Heart bypass patients, double amputees, people afflicted by virulent viruses and hideously mangled car accident victims are being discharged from the nation's hospitals in their droves between the hours of dusk and dawn to roam around our cities and towns, dripping their infected blood and gore all over the place and dragging their drips behind them, like a bunch of refugees from a Michael Jackson video, or so the government would have us believe.

This is allegedly to free up beds for breast augmentation patients having new bags fitted at midnight, according to the Daily Mail Tendency.

Holby City overnight release patients

Alan Burnett - he of the mysterious sheep walking Instagram - quite rightly pointed out yesterday that the 'abuse' of the charity donation tax break results in vast amounts of tax money being channelled into charities that the rich donors support, with nary a by-your-leave from the tax paying public who rely on these taxes to fund public services.

He certainly has a point - but that applies equally to any gift aided charity donation, however small, by the hoi poloi, the volume of which I would imagine far outstrips the value from a few rich philanthropists.

The fact remains that the government is falsely portraying this 'abuse' as being to the benefit of the donors - but it simply ain't, unless the charity concerned is off-shore or the donors are themselves the charity.

It seems doing good is now frowned upon by the Conservatives, or at least some of them, by all accounts, and many charities - such as public schools - will suffer as a result. Just think of all those donkeys Alan is condemning to the glue factory, along with all the Boris Johnsons - heartless beast that he is!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Sorry, I Just Don't Get It

Sorry, but I just don't understand how millionaire earners can make charitable donations, claim tax relief on them and be better off, which is what's implied by the latest furore.

From the HMRC's own website:

Claiming back higher rate tax

If you pay higher rate tax, you can claim the difference between the higher rate of tax 40 and/or 50 per cent and the basic rate of tax 20 per cent on the total 'gross' value of your donation to the charity or CASC. 

For example, if you donate £100, the total value of your donation to the charity is £125 - so you can claim back: 

  • £25 - if you pay tax at 40 per cent (£125 × 20%) 
  • £37.50 - if you pay tax at 50 per cent (£125 × 20%) plus (£125 × 10%) 

So, no matter how you look at it, you're worse off than if paying higher rate tax on the amount - unless you are the charity. Am I missing something? As I see it, philanthropists who make large donations give away far, far more than they could ever claim in tax relief. What they are doing, however, is getting the government to put tax money into charities alongside their loss-making donations.

What I think the government should do is to have a closer look at what constitutes a charity.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Social Media Bubble at Mormon Heligan

Instagram! Thought I'd download it and see what all the hype was about.

All I could get was Alan Burnett's rather shaky photo of him walking his dog - or possibly a sheep - it was hard to tell. Buggered if I could get it to do anything else. $1bn? Waste of bloody money, if you ask me. Pure fad!

Lost Gardens of Heligan. Surely they are the Found Gardens of Heligan?

I hear the Republicans have chosen a chap who wears magic underwear and believes Jesus visited America as their candidate for President. Oh well, I suppose each us has something weird about us.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

It's a Conspiracy

I'm convinced that while the BBC is determined to defraud the public with respect to what it gets in return for the TV licence money, the commercial channels are in a diabolical conspiracy to produce so much televisual drivel that the public is forced to join subscription channels in order to receive anything even vaguely interesting or intellectually stimulating.

We have a plethora of free TV channels - or choice - as the marketing gurus would have us believe it's called. However, more is definitely less in terms of quality.

Monday, 9 April 2012

It's the App Economy

Strange, ain't it? We're always being told by how much the economy is growing or shrinking, but no-one ever tells us how much the economy is actually worth.

Getting rather annoyed at this Android 4.0 - blasted phone has slowed to a crawl. Not sure whether it's an issue with Android 4.0, or the HTC Sensation's inability to handle it.

Several half decent Apps have stopped working properly too.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Overheard in the Boat House

Chairman: "I wish we'd called the new house The Boat House, rather than Barnfield."

Hay: "But it's a barn in a field and nowhere near a body of water."

Chairman: "That's the delicious irony of calling it The Boat House."

Saturday, 7 April 2012

What's Best?

Heard on the news this morning that teaching unions are against the continued roll-out of Academy schools - not because of concerns about whether they are good for kids or not, but because they would undermine national pay agreements. Mmmm!

Can't say I'm necessarily an advocate of of Academies, or of comprehensives. Better to have what's best suited to the needs of the kids in a particular area than be drawn into ideologically driven decisions on education. Ideology has benighted education for decades.

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Real Meaning of Easter

The real meaning of Easter (or Eostre, as the Venerable Bede would have it):
  1. Hosepipe bans (what do people not understand about those 2 words?),
  2. Traffic jams as people escape the crush of the metropolis for the crush of the motorway,
  3. Airport congestion as people escape to be in faraway places with fellow work colleagues,
  4. A film on TV staring either Robert Powell or Charlton Heston,
  5. Some arsehole insisting you go on an Easter egg hunt.
I cooked a shepherd's pie last night. Managed to slip some brown sauce into it without Hay noticing. Use of brown sauce is tantamount to sacrilege as far as Hay is concerned, but shepherd's pie, cottage pie or Lancashire hotpot is just not the same without a large dollop of brown sauce.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Difference Frightens People

The Coalition for Marriage has taken out adverts and is putting banner advertising across a number of websites. It wishes to "protect" the word and institution of marriage.

I question their motive. Protect marriage from what and for whom? It's not as if anyone is wanting to force people to marry same sex partners; the desire is simply to open marriage up to same sex couples - and what is intrinsically wrong with that? Who is going to lose out? Who will suffer as a result?

I suspect it has much more to do with a reactionary desire to control others - and, more importantly, marginalise some.

The Advertising Standards Authority is apparently to investigate a Coalition for Marriage advert in Country Life Magazine that claimed 70% of people support keeping marriage as it is, following accusations of it being both "misleading" and "offensive". The Poll was commissioned by Catholic Voice, an organ of a deeply secretive and reactionary organisation with world domination as its aim and having tentacles throughout the establishment around the world.

I suspect most people don't actually give a stuff, as it simply won't affect them one iota - not even the clergy, as the change is not centred on marriage in church. However, opening up marriage will make a significant minority very happy - but that's not the objective of the Catholic church, which has a tradition of spreading misery and oppression wherever it goes. Perhaps the Catholic church needs to reflect a bit on its own problems before telling others how to run their lives.

No, this is to do with nothing more complex that a desire on the part of some to impose their way of living and their 'morality' on others. It's a control issue.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Trick of Looking Years Younger at Uni

Saw this banner advert yesterday:

The trick is obviously to lie through your teeth and use a photo of yourself from 25 years ago (or more likely 40 in this case). Easy really - thousands of women up and down the country do it on a daily basis on web dating sites.

Plans to let universities dictate the content of A-level papers have been given a cautious welcome by teachers and the head of exam regulator Ofqual. In a letter to Ofqual, education secretary Glenys Stacey raised concerns current exams were failing to properly prepare students. Her letter started; "Deer Sur."

My HTC Android phone updated itself to Android 4.0 (Icecream Sandwich - what an utterly ridiculous name for a software update) over the weekend and now gives me the ability to unlock it by face recognition. I'm not sure whether I'm ageing faster than a banana in a fruit bowl, but the bloody thing never seems to recognise my face twice in a row.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Panic Street Preachers

Overheard in the Caravan:

No.1 Son: "Dad, is it true that the news services reported the twin towers before it happened and they found traces of C4 in the debris?"

Chairman: "No - it's just a conspiracy theory - like Elvis is still alive..."

Hay: "...and the government is run by aliens."

Chairman: "Actually, that last one's true!"

Shopping guru, Mary Portas, is running a competition in which the winner will get a slice of a rejuvenation fund with which to revive their local high street. In essence, it's a competition in which the winners are shit.

I guess the secret will be a) not to appear so shit as to be a basket case, and b) not to let the public know your town won the "Shittiest High Street in the UK" competition.

Apparently the government wants to crack down on legal highs. Wonder what they'll do about alcohol?

Critics are still having a go at the government for causing a fuel panic. Methinks the critics (primarily the news media) are ignoring the critical role of the news media when they said; "Tanker Drivers to Go on Strike!" What a load of rubbish the media spouts - as if anyone listens to government minister anyway; we all know they lie through their teeth.

Can't wait for the Olympics to start...... and then finish as soon as possible.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Secularism - Mmmm

I have to admit to being an ardent secularist - "Really?" you may say, "I'd never have guessed." However, we must learn lessons from the American paradox. 

In America, religion is divorced from the state, yet religion exerts a very powerful influence on politics.

In the UK, religion is an integral part of the establishment through the House of Lords, yet (like the rest of the House of Lords) is totally impotent.

Disenfranchise the CofE and its members will rally round in an attempt to regain influence through the formation of voting blocks at elections, resulting in religion playing an important role in the House of Commons, which will be very dangerous and a victory for the powers (or rather lack of powers) of superstition.

Perhaps we should drop the secularist agenda and leave the religious lobby with the illusory power it currently has (or, rather, lacks).