Competition Time!

Yes, I think this competition does indeed deserve mentioning.

What would be the correct and appropriate method of doing away with the pecksniffs, puffballs and pikers who rule over us?

So far we\’ve had plain and simple hanging, gibbets, sharpened cockroaches, mangonels, trebuchets, jet engines….

Much adoration and many geek points for the most truly innovative and appropriate method. Add links in the comments as you post or suggest, please.

Polly Today

Sorry, no comment on this. Other than Mr Pike Bishop\’s wonderful put down of a couple of months ago (from memory, apologies).

Gordon Brown might not be turning out to be the Prime Minister you thought he would be Polly, but he is turning out to be the Prime Minister we knew he would be.

Ah, the line preserved here.


Bleedin\’ Communitarians

There\’s also a cultural objection to the new ways of seeing, which is the one Davies makes. The biggest defining feature that TV has had, in comparison with other art forms such as theatre, film and literature, is that millions of people watched the programmes at precisely the same moment – in the way they still do for a football match or news of a terrorist attack. And every format had its own time of day – breakfast, afternoon, evening, late night – or of the week: a Saturday-night drama being tangibly different from a Sunday-night one, for instance.

Is TV being seduced too easily by new technology into losing its most unique aspect – community consumption?

There really must be better things tto do with one\’s time than think, write, or read about how we don\’t all watch TV programs at the same time.

The atomisation of society, cultural alienation, the anomie of modernity…..all because we watch Dr. Who at different times.


Ah, Already

Re the earlier point about screams of profiteering:

Britain\’s largest mortgage lenders were last night accused of fattening their profits at the expense of increasingly stretched homeowners as two leading firms ignored the third interest rate cut from the Bank of England in five months and pushed through price increases on some of their most popular home loan offers.

Didn\’t take long.

No note of the fact that wholesale inter-bank rates haven\’t moved in lock step with base rate cuts and that it\’s the former which determine the costs of mortgages.

Well done The Guardian, informative and comprehensive as ever.

Oh Lord

Please save us from idiot regulators:

Internet service providers could face a new tax to help pay for unprofitable programmes shown on ITV and Channel 4, which may in turn lead to higher broadband charges for consumers.

The levy could be imposed by the Government on the service providers and websites within the next few years, under proposals published yesterday about the future funding of "public service" programmes which make little or no money for commercial broadcasters.

So why do these programs make little money? Because no one wants to watch them. So why should there be any public subsidy to them? They are clearly producing less value than they cost to produce: this is known as making us all poorer, a destruction of value.

And why should people who deliberately use a different technology, the internet, pay for the failures of an old one, TV? Should we have taxed the car makers to support the buggy whip manufacturers?

This is as silly as taxing dustmen so that Dukes can go to the opera….oh, wait, we do that don\’t we?


You\’ve got to laugh, eh?

A council has used powers intended for anti-terrorism surveillance to spy on a family who were wrongly accused of lying on a school application form.

Those exceptional powers, those that would only be used in the most important and urgent of cases, are employed to check up on a school application.

What next? 42 days for not paying your car tax? Incommunicado, that is, for we wouldn\’t want anyone to know so that someone can nip down to the Post Office and apply for it for you now, would we?

Can we hang them all yet?

We Will Hear Screams of Profiteering

From the usual sources:

The Monetary Policy Committee cut its base rate from 5.25 per cent to 5 per cent amid growing concern about slowing growth in the economy.

But some lenders increased the rates on some of their loans hours before the announcement. Yesterday morning, Nationwide – the biggest building society – and Alliance & Leicester said they were increasing rates on their new fixed-rate mortgages. Woolwich made a similar move this week.

Other lenders are expected to follow suit. This is because the interest rates banks charge each other to borrow money have not matched recent cuts in the Bank\’s base rate.

It\’s actually more basic than that. The authorities do not control anything other than that Bank base rate. All other interest rates can be influenced by that rate, to be sure, but the influence lessens the longer term the loan: and mortgages are, almost by definition, the longest (or almost the longest) term loans in the market.

It\’s always been true this, it\’s just we\’re seeing at the moment that the influence is less than usual.

But, whatever the truth of this, we\’ll have articles around the place insisting that this is just the bastard banks profiteering off the backs of the borrowers.

Vote Yes!

To the Lisbon Treaty.

The Irish Young Fine Gael Party says that it\’ll give you a big dick/big tits.

Any of you with photoshop skills who might like to adapt those images, please do and let me know the resting places of them.

Dicks/Tits for Europe offers just too, too many opportunities for mockery.

Bend over and take one for Europe?


My first interview was Jeffrey Archer in 1986 for the Wimbledon News where I started as a reporter. That is also where I met Piers Morgan. Both are criminally insane egomaniacs who really should be on anti-ego-inflammatory medication. But they are great characters and I like them both a lot.

Lindsay Lohan

I came across the same phenomenon when researching an article on Sienna Miller: the 18th-century idea that young actresses are little different to common prostitutes is alive and thriving through 21st-century technology.

Umm, no, not quite. There is indeed a certain level of young actresses who are so thought of but they are referred to more often as a MAW (Model, Actress, Whatever). The W part being the clue. Ashley Dupree being an example, although the lower levels of B movies and so on are full of this sort of personnel.

It\’s Said That…

Hard cases make bad law. In this case I think it might be the other way around.

Abu Qatada, described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, won his fight against deportation yesterday as the Court of Appeal delivered two blows to attempts to remove suspected terrorists from the country. Three judges blocked the deportation of Abu Qatada despite a “no torture” guarantee given to the British Government by Jordan.

The man (and the others affected by the ruling) seem like scum buckets to me, to be sure. But they are indeed human beings and as such have natural rights.  Fair trials, no torture and the like. And as we are (for the moment at least) a country under the rule of law, a law which acknowledges those natural rights, then they cannot be sent to a place where those rights are abridged.

The hard part is that such seeming scumbuckets get our protections: the good part that such protections are indeed enforced by the law.

As Larry Flynt memorably pointed out, if the law protects shits* like me then you can be sure it will protect you too. That\’s the whole point of it.


* (I paraphrase from memory, you understand.)

Glorious Bureaucracy!

What a waste!

Thousands of shops, restaurants and cafés will be forced to register their staff with a new child protection agency and have their criminal records checked if they employ children for weekend or summer holiday work.

Any staff responsible for supervising children under 16 will have to be vetted. The measure is in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, which was passed in 2006. It was originally intended to screen teachers, nursery staff and youth workers more effectively by requiring them to register with a new quango, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), but ministers have decided to extend its scope to businesses.

The ISA will conduct enhanced checks through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and give individuals – at a cost of £64 each – a “seal of approval” for working with children. The measure also covers work experience.

So anyone who tries to do what I did successfully at the age of 14, get a job washing up in the back of a curry house for two nights a week during the summer holidays, will now find that businesses don\’t want to employ them as all of their staff will have to be checked: even if it\’s just the supervisory staff that would be three or four people, £250 quid say. Something they don\’t haveto pay if they hire a 17 year old.

But the most up-to-date estimate from the Home Office, which now includes businesses employing under 16s, is that 11.3 million people will have to register.


The group has also discovered that the Government’s estimated cost for setting up and running the ISA for the first five years has grown from £91.6 million to £246 million as its scope has increased.

Umm, no, a most misleading figure.

The Government says that the ISA will be “self-funding” but employers will have to bear the £64 cost of registering each staff member,

£64 times 11 million people is, ermm, £720 million or so a year. Oh my! How Excellent!

We\’re headed into a recession and we\’re going to price young workers out of the market and cost businesses the thick end of a billion pounds for, umm, paperwork?

Can we hang them all yet?


This lorries thing:

Thousands more foreign lorries will be attracted to Britain\’s roads by a European plan to give them freedom to compete with domestic hauliers.

Supermarket chains that use British lorries to transport goods between depots and stores are among the businesses that will be able to cut costs by using foreign companies.

Being able to ply for trade in this manner is called cabotage. I have to admit I thought this had all been dealth with years ago. Just another part of the free movement of services.

I Knew It!

The Green movement is trying to kill us all:

German scientists are warning householders of the health dangers posed by storing organic waste, saying exposure to it, particularly to the moulds that develop as the material decays, can cause skin problems and even breathing difficulties.

Harald Morr, a leading pneumologist, who is also chairman of the German Lung Foundation, said studies showed that airborne mould spores from organic waste could lead to allergic reactions, asthma attacks, hayfever-like symptoms and itchy skin lesions.

"Even just opening the lid of a bin containing organic waste can cause mould spores to be stirred up which, if breathed in, can damage the lungs," said Morr. "The more spores breathed in, the worse the repercussions on one\’s health can be."

See, there\’s a reason why we developed systems for carting this crap off and sticking it in a hole in the ground.

Having rotting food around is dangerous to life. So let\’s go back to the old system, eh? We collect it once a week, stick it in a hole in the ground and then collect the methane that results and have some luvverly renewable power.

It\’s also vastly cheaper, as well as better for our health, to do this.

Oh Joy!

The pound slumped to a fresh record low this morning, bringing more bad news for British holidaymakers as it pushes up the cost of continental breaks.

Ahead of the Bank of England\’s decision on interest rates at lunchtime, sterling fell to 80.27p against the euro in early trading, after hitting 80p for the first time yesterday.

For someone whose income is denominated in either dollars or sterling (dependent upon source) but who lives in euros (like me!) this is of course not good news.

On the other hand, that sterling mortgage to buy a house in Portugal is looking pretty good.

Ho hum, swings and roundabouts, eh?

Grayling on Wealth and Happiness

This sounds remarkably like something I said yesterday. Said rather better, of course:

For most people it is likely that wealth has to improve in order for their happiness level to remain constant; if their wealth were to decline, so would their happiness.

Not so much the level of wealth, but the direction it\’s travelling in.

This has a ring of familiarity to it as well:

The other confusion concerns wealth. If a person has a million pounds in the bank and never touches a penny of it, or a huge mansion and never occupies it, it is the same as if he had neither the money nor the house. What this shows is that wealth is not so much what one has, but what one does with it.

A man who has a thousand pounds and spends it on a wonderful trip to the Galapagos Islands is a rich man indeed: the experiences, the things learnt, the differences wrought in him by both, are true wealth.

If you would like to know how rich a person is, you need to ask not how much money he has, but how much he has spent.

Adam Smith makes very much the same point in Wealth of Nations: and goes on to point out that it is true of countries as much as men. Having the pile of gold isn\’t what makes you rich, it\’s the having of the things that pile of gold bought which does.

Or, as I put it, it\’s the imports that make us rich, the exports being just the shite we do to pay for them.*


*(What, you didn\’t think that thought was original, did you?)