Thursday, 30 May 2013

Talking About The Economy

The DAX is up, the Nikkei is down, CAC up, DOW down and the FTSE is doing the Hokey Kokey and turning around because that's what it's all about.
Not sure if the 5% drop in the Japanese market is a good thing, doesn't sound like it because one man on the television with an expensive looking haircut said it was a disaster while another man with an equally tidy short back and sides said it wasn't anything to be concerned about because it was just an adjustment to a previously good couple of months for the Nikkei.
All very confusing but luckily i am an expert in all things economy and to put it in simple terms, the markets will rise or fall and there will be a long or short period of inflation or deflation and the markets will recover or crash shortly, in the future or not at all and everything will work out in the end or we are up a well known creek and the oars are missing.
Right, where's my case of Bollinger and the £500,000 bonus?
To some that may seem like i have made it up on the spot and i have no idea what i am talking about but that's what makes me an expert because listening to them, they haven't got a clue either which goers a long way to explain why we are in such a bull market, and that is a lot of bull being spouted st the moment.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Meet Jesus

It has always seemed a dilemma to me that although some of the religions are waiting for the second coming of Jesus, who is going to believe him if he did show up?
The long beard and sandals may be a clue but it also the dress code of drama teachers so if someone turns up adamant that they are the son of God, he is going to be declared a nutter which is exactly what has happened to Alan John Miller who is not only claiming to be Jesus but his partner is Mary Magdalene.
'I have very clear memories of the crucifixion, but it wasn't as harrowing for me as it was for others like Mary who was present' explain AJ, 'I did resurrect quite a number of people ... including a friend of mine Lazarus, who most people know is mentioned in the Bible'.
AJ as he prefers to be known from Queensland in Australia is beginning to attract quite a following including Brits who have sold up in their own countries to move and be closer to 'Jesus' and follow his teachings.
'There were lots of people in the first century who didn't believe I was the Messiah and were offended by what I said and in fact I died at the hands of some of them' said AJ answering the question that he was a loony tune.
Now the 21st Century 'Jesus' is forgoing the old methods and spreading his message through DVDs and the Internet so we can look forward to You Tube videos of him walking on water which he then turns into wine to wash down the 5000 loaves and fish served by his virgin mother.
I'm also quite glad that he discovered he was Jesus later in life, might have had a problem finding the required 3 wise men in Australia if they had to go through the nativity scene.

Australia Best Place To Live

It may seem strange of a place that has almost every type of killer animal and insect you can think of inside it's borders but Australia has topped a poll as the best country to live in.
The Better Life Index from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development used 11 measures including employment, health, income and satisfaction to discover that after the Aussies, the Swedes and the Canadians were the next best blessed with the US 6th and UK 10th.
Only the omission of Finland kept a Scandinavians clean sweep of the top 10 with with Norway (4th) and Denmark (7th) joining Sweden in the top 10.
Switzerland, Netherlands and Iceland made up the rest of the top 10. 
I'm sure the Aussies will be very happy to see that their homeland is the best place to live in, once one of them has sobered up enough to read the report that is.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Arms Industry To The Rescue

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results so it is with amazement that Britain and France can declare a 'victory' in stopping the EU arms embargo being renewed which now enables them to supply arms to the Syrian opposition from 1 August.
London and Paris were the only capitals of 27 EU countries that backed allowing the embargo to lapse this Friday, UK foreign secretary William Hague arguing that even the threat of arms would force Bashar al-Assad to the negotiations.
Leaving to one side for the moment how in a Democracy two countries out of 27 can have their own way, in what World do the British and French live where such bizarre logic as sending even more arms to a place where 70,000 plus have already died is a peaceful move that will reduce the killing?
With no popular support amongst the EU countries to arm the rebels, the UK and France are pretty much going it alone with the imbecilic John McCain cheer leading from the sidelines.
In retaliation, the Russians have taking the 300 previously mothballed S-300 anti-aircraft missiles and have dispatched them to Syria using the same mad logic as Hague that the were a 'stabilising factor' that could dissuade 'some hotheads' from joining the conflict.
A great success for the negotiating skills of our Foreign Secretary then as Syria is now being filled with more and more heavy weapons on either side in the most volatile part of the world.
The lessons of arming insurgents in Afghanistan in the 80's and more recently in Libya as well as the mess we created in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have obviously been ignored as has recent terrorist attacks on their own soil which have not taught the British and French governments anything about the wisdom of sponsoring terror in other countries.
A taste of what to expect if the Al-Queada linked rebels get their hands on Syria is evident in the rebel held city of Raqqa, where shops which sell alcohol and gambling establishments have been brutally put out of business and a Sharia Court has been set up and women are assaulted for not covering their heads or being out alone. 
The rebels consider 'democracy' and elections' as un-Islamic but these car bombing, chemical weapon firing nutcases are who we are supporting.
The murderous, chemical weapon firing Government is who the Russians are backing and stuck in the middle are the poor Syrians who are dying in their droves.
There are no good guys in this fight and we should be staying out of it so Hague and his French counterpart are crazy if they think that pouring more petrol on this bonfire will bring peace.
We were lied to regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya was a scandalous sleight of hand so we can't be fooled again by the deceiving William Hague and our Government over our insane actions in Syria.
With Russia arming one side, the West the other and the loose cannon that is Israel in the mix, this is not going to end well for anyone, least of all the Syrians.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Swedish Riots??

I think if a riot broke out anywhere in the World i could accept it but Sweden??
I have been to Sweden many times, beautiful landscapes, marvellous cities and warm and friendly people and i have it in my mind that when i clock out for the last day, whenever that is, i will up sticks and move to the Scandinavian country so to hear that there was five days of rioting is as shocking to me as hearing the Queen belching loudly in the face of an Ambassador.
Part of me wants to just ignore it, pretend it hasn't happened and continue thinking of the Sweden that i have in my minds eye and not the Sweden with riot police, burnt out cars and petrol bombs.
The riots which were touched off on Sunday after police shot dead a 69-year-old man who was reportedly roaming the suburb of Husby, a suburb of Stockholm, with a machete.
Not in Sweden, that was my place to escape to and now the disease that blights everywhere else has arrived there.
It's all so thoroughly depressing.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Ignoring The Terrorists Message

After the July 7th attacks which killed 52 and injured 770, Tony Blair denied that the attacks were as a result of British foreign policy although the bombers themselves had left video messages explaining that their actions were directly because of what Britain was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obviously as he was directly responsible for the madness and mayhem he along with George W Bush unleashed, Blair was anxious to deflect any blame that he was in anyway responsible for the blow-back from his faulty decision making.
As happens with all these attacks, the condemnation is so loud that it drowns out the justifications of the warped minds but although their actions should be condemned, should we be so quick to ignore their message?
The two men involved in the chilling murder of Royal Marine, Lee Rigby, told us what motivated them, the killing of the soldier was in response to the killing of Muslims by British soldiers in other countries.
The bombers in Boston last month were similarly motivated but if we cast our minds back a decade to the rush to remove the Taliban and Saddam Hussein from power, the increasing threat of home grown terrorism is exactly what we were warned would happen.
It is an uncomfortable feeling that those of us who protested against these wars find ourselves condemning the act but having sympathy with the underlying message behind it.
The government and military will go out of their way to avoid drawing the conclusions that they should from the attack, instead keeping the focus on the abhorrent act and radicalisation of the two perpetrators but there is a difference between listening to what the people who do things like this have to say in order to understand their motivation, and accepting their actions as an excuse or justification.
It appears that we should not even try to understand why these two men were so motivated to kill because to pay attention is to somehow reward the killing, easier to dismiss it as an isolated act of terrorism and question Muslims and Islam but ignore the elephant in the room that this is exactly what we were told would happen when we launched our wrong-headed wars a decade ago and to ignore that is dangerously ignorant.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Not Getting The Chicken Insult

Apparently when Sergio Garcia made the crack about serving Tiger Woods fried chicken when asked if he would cook him a meal, there was an audible wince from the audience.
Woods is said to be 'upset' by the comment and Garcia has been suitable contrite and apologetic as a man who is in danger of losing his million pound sponsorship deal with Adidas is expected to be.
If i had been in the audience i would have been one of the few which the comment would have gone completely over my head as racist because somehow saying that black people like chicken has completely passed me by as a racist insult.  
I did feel slightly less confused when the newspaper reviewer on Sky News this morning asked the same question i asked of why was it racist to the host who did his best to expand on the theme of 'because it is' without actually explaining it. 
To an European ear, the fried chicken comment might seem harmless, but it obviously isn't if you're from the US, it's racist.
I'm guessing Garcia knew it would be taken as so and showed his contempt to Woods and a lack of class by making it and if he suffers a slandering for it then it's his own fault, but i'm struggling to make a connection between black people and fried chicken.
Is there particularly something bad about eating friend chicken that i'm unaware of or is it like saying the English drink a lot of tea or that Essex girls are a bit dim but is worse because it brings race into it?
I expect the answer lies somewhere in Wikipedia but i will play it safe and if Tiger Woods turns up for dinner one day, i will just serve beans on toast unless wheat based products are taboo also in which case i will just give him a cup of tea laced with Bromide and make sure he isn't parked anywhere near a tree.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Punishing The Tax Avoiders

So far this year Google, Starbucks, Amazon and now Apple have been exposed as tax avoiders who have paid far less in tax then they should have but the surprise is that anyone is surprised, the purpose of a company is to deliver profits for its shareholders. That's it, they are in business to make a profit and if that means exploiting tax loopholes so they barely pay any tax then they will.
This leaves us with just two options, one for the politicians and one for the consumers.
Governments have to slam shut the loopholes which allow the likes of Apple and Google to shift their profits across national boundaries to avoid paying what they owe, that's down to the politicians but the second choice is something that we can all do, boycott the tax evaders.
The success of any attempt to change the moral compass of a profit driven company comes down to hitting the company in the wallet and if we don't do that we can't complain.
The tales of sweetheart deals between the UKs Revenue Collectors and the likes of Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs prove to us that there may not be the desire for our politicians to go after the big companies so it would be naive to expect the initiative to come from the Governments so it will have to come from us going without the Starbucks coffee or choosing another mobile and leaving the iphone to gather dust on the shop shelf.
A third option is that the companies will change themselves but as we are increasingly living in a world that is run by and for Capitalists, if you believe that then I know a Nigerian ministers wife that would like to meet you and your bank details.

Why Sell RBS?

It isn't very often we get to quote Vladimir Lenin but apart from advice on how to achieve elegant facial hair, he also said the following: 'What, then, is the significance of nationalisation of the banks?  It is that no effective control of any kind over the individual banks and their operations is possible because it is impossible to keep track of the extremely complex, involved and wily tricks that are used in drawing up balance sheets. Only by nationalising the banks can the state put itself in a position to know where and how, whence and when, millions and billions of rubles flow'.
In short, he trusted Banks about as far as he could throw a Romanov Princess and that was almost a hundred years ago so heaven knows what he would say about the banks today because his words still ring true today, banks are still operating a bundle of wily tricks to separate us from our money.
After the numerous scandals that have been exposed in the banking sector, it would seem that keeping such a shabby outfit in public ownership where it can be tightly regulated is in the public interest rather than the current course we are on of nationalising them before cleaned them up at taxpayer expense and then selling them back to the private sector to recoup the public money therefore handing them to a new set of people set to commit the same scandals as the previous owners.
The UK Government plan to sell off its stake in the bailed out RBS before the general election in May 2015, even though this would involve a loss of around £20bn less than the £45.5bn it cost to bail it out.
So why sell it at all and just run it as a nationalised bank? Why hand it over once we have paid to clean it up and set it straight again and take a hit of £20bn on it just as it begins turning a profit?
When the banking crisis first hit in 2008 there was talk of setting up a Government bank, we already have one, RBS, so why are we even thinking of selling it?
The trouble with Capitalism is that eventually you run out of other people's money, just ask the citizens of Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Ireland...etc etc

Sunday, 19 May 2013

MP's Find Extra For MP's Pay

It was only a few weeks ago that MP Ian Duncan Smith was telling us that he could live on £53 per week but went very quiet when he was asked to prove it so how about living on £1600 per week which is how much an MPs salary is due to go up to, could he do that?
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) who took over responsibility for MPs salaries after it emerged MPs had been fiddling their expenses, have been looking at out Memebrs of Parliaments wages and have decided that the present MP salary of £66,000 per annum is not enough and they want to raise it by between £10,000 and £20,000.
While the average salary has risen by just 0.6% this year and many people are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living, a raise of over three times the £26,500 national average salary is sure to grate with the people these shysters are supposed to represent.
A survey released in January found politicians on average believed they should be paid £86,000 rather than £66,000, with some demanding more than £100,000 and rather obligingly, the Ipsa agreed.
I'd like to see David Cameron and other party leaders defend this one when they have frozen the pay and made redundant tens of thousands of civil and public servants as there is no money available but will be finding an extra £13.2 million from the same taxpayers pot to pay an extra £20,000 to the 660 MPs, many of who are already millionaires.
Over to you Dave, Ed, Nick because remember, we are all in this together.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Eurovision Result

Twenty six songs entered but only one of them could win and after the tears and tantrums and strange men in a perspex box, the dust settles to leave only Denmark standing and throned the country with the best song this year.
The Danes beat the Maltese song about an IT consultant and the Greek song about alcohol being free which is patently untrue but could explain why Greece are in economic crisis if they are not charging for alcohol.
It does annoy me when contestants only sing parts of their song in English. Either sing the whole thing in English so we know what it is about or sing it in your own language so we don't have a clue.
And what about the voting, Britain ended up in 19th place with only Sweden, Romania, Switzerland, Spain, Malta, Ireland and Slovenia giving us any points and the rest of the continent completely blanking us which we should remember the next time they come around with the tin cup because their banks have stolen all their savings.
So it's off to Copenhagen next year to do it all over again but considering the Euro countries are all skint, Denmark might be regretting it when they get the Eurovision bill for hosting it.
They should have just picked an 80's warbler and gave her a rubbish song like we did. We had the right idea, you Danish lunatics.

What Is Bitcoin?

Described as a crypto-currency implemented entirely with open source specifications and software which relies on a peer-to-peer network for both transaction processing and validation, i still have no idea what Bitcoin is but apparently the established financial institutions are becoming wary of it and that has to be a good thing.
One of the side-effects of the catastrophic failure of the banks is the interest in a virtual currency called Bitcoin but i have yet to find a clear explanation of exactly what it is and how it works, or rather an explanation that i can understand.
What i can glean is that Bitcoin is not a currency and that it is not run or administered or has any connection to a central bank such as the Bank of England so therefore free from government regulation and interference. There are also only a possible 21 million Bitcoins available at any time in the world and there are currently 11m Bitcoins currently in circulation.
The first step is to download a ‘wallet’ on your computer or mobile and then buy Bitcoins from places such as coinbase or Bitcoin Exchange. Other ways to get new coins is to either buy them off someone else, or 'mine' them by putting your computer to work at cracking a code that, once resolved, releases a preset number of Bitcoins into your virtual wallet.
When you have a wallet brimming with Bitcoins, you can then visit the places that accept Bitcoins although i couldn't find any of the mainstream retailers who currently accept them.
A few months ago a Bitcoin was worth nearly £250 but today its worth just over £80, according to Bitcoin exchange MtGox.
The Bitcoin Foundation, a body set up to maintain standards across the Bitcoin community, says the Bitcoin is still finding its equilibrium which is why there are such wild fluctuations in the worth of the Bitcoin.
While i am all for sticking to the banks who have caused so many of the problems, there is a downside. There have been several large thefts of Bitcoins, and unlike traditional currency they are not protected by insurance and the thefts are almost impossible to trace so there is almost no chance of you ever getting your money back if it is stolen.
Based on all the evidence, i don't think i will be exchanging my pounds for Bitcoins anytime soon because unless i am very much misreading the whole thing (which i admit is very likely), it just sounds far too complicated, there are only a limited amount of places you can spend it and it was created by a hacker and would be worried that as soon as a certain amount of Bitcoins have been 'mined', there will be a very rich hacker somewhere and i will be left with an empty wallet.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Sonic Screwdrivers Drawn At Convention

Sci-fi fans have not been this excited since they found themselves in the lingerie department of Marks & Spencers but it seems there is going to be a new Star Wars film. Great.
I have always been guilty of lumping all sci-fi fans into a genre labelled nerd, geeks and single but it seems that within their own clique, there is a simmering hatred between types of nerd.
Police were called to break up a fight at the fourth annual between Dr Who and Star Wars fans at the Sci-Fi and Film convention in Norwich.
According to reports, trouble erupted after a dispute over a Cyberman autograph. Seriously, a Cyberman autograph.
A fan who was dressed as the fifth Doctor, one as the 10th Doctor and one as Judge Dredd said: 'We were put in a police car and interviewed by the police and told to stay away from each other'.
"This wasn't a fight with lightsabers and sonic screwdrivers drawn' he explained further 'and we'd like to extend the hand of friendship'.
Head weiner, Dominic Warner, secretary of Norwich Star Wars Club acknowledged there had been disputes between the Dr Who and Star Wars fans members in the past and said: 'It does sound comical. People that dress up in costume are labelled geeks and some people laugh at us, and this just makes it even more so'.
I asked the computer bods at work just why there is so much animosity between the more nerdish of our society and it comes down to sci-fi fans being split into 3 competing camps, the Trekkies, the Whovians and the fans of Star Wars who are not cool enough to have a nickname but like to be known as...
Then i lost interest so made my excuses and left.

I Know You Got Soul

According to the British Religion in Numbers website, 41% of British people believe in angels, 53% in an afterlife, and 70% in a soul.
While i'm not really sure what the difference is between a ghost and an angel, i have no idea whatsoever what a soul is even though i have heard James Brown telling me i had it for the past two decades.
The local reverend described it as 'the imperishable part of every human being that was created by God and lasts eternally after the body experiences death' which sounds much like a ghost (or angel) to me and what about the human spirit, is that the same thing as a soul?
So if the body is just the vessel that carries the God made human soul and every human has one, why have we never detected it and where does it reside?
As i'm in a theological mood, how did God get to have a son and why didn't Eve run screaming like a banshee when a snake spoke to her, i get spooked by parrots speaking, if i heard a snake talking to me about apple trees i'd be out of that garden quicker than an Aussie in a dry bar.
There does seem to be a lot of songs, poems and stories about souls but man has been around for 6-7 million years and in that time a lot of people have come and gone but nobody seems to have seen, heard or witnessed a soul so where does the 70% or 43 million Brits who believe in a soul get the idea that we have one from and in that time a decent percentage must have been sent to hell to languish for all eternity so does God make new ones or are the same ones just tossed back down again?
It's all very confusing which is just as well i am in the 30% who ignore James Brown and the Religionists who tell me i have a soul and don't trouble themselves with the idea of a soul.
If i did i would be asking are souls assigned to bodies by any special criteria, are there billions of souls just waiting to be assigned a body and is it the soul that makes me me and if so, what about Karma?
Luckily i don't have to worry about it. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Venezueleans Full Of It

Hugo Chavez is still warm and his country is up a certain creek, literally.
The country has ran out of toilet rolls and the Government are importing 50m rolls to boost supplies.
"This is the last straw," said Manuel Fagundes, possibly after using his last straw, "I'm 71 years old and this is the first time I've seen this."
President Nicolás Maduro, claims that anti-government forces are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilise the country and announced along with the 50m bog rolls, it also would import 760,000 tonnes of food which was probably not the best time to say it.
Commerce minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of toilet tissue on 'excessive demand' and explained that normal monthly consumption of toilet paper was 125m rolls, but that current demand 'leads us to think that 40m more are required'.
Disappointingly he didn't elaborate why demand had spiked but i'm sure that they will get to the bottom of it.
Might want to cut back on the prunes for a while though, at least until the next delivery.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Eurovision Song Contest 2013

As all the best songwriters and singers are to be found in Europe, we have an annual Eurovision Song Contest contest to see who is the best and this years competition begins tonight with the first semi-final in Malmo, Sweden.
The largest financers of the extravaganza get a bye to the final so France, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and hosts Sweden are guaranteed to be in Saturday's final but the other 33 hopefuls have to battle it out to impress us 500 million Europeans who will be picking up our telephones to boot out 12 nations over the two semi-finals for falling short of the high European standards for musical merit.
The UK has Bonnie Tyler representing us with the better than standard fare that we serve up annually.
Last year we put forward Englebert Humperdink singing a song so slow it almost stopped the Earth turning, but listening to the competition, Bonnie may have picked a decent year to unleash that husky voice on the continent.
Somehow, Denmark are the pre-contest favourites with Ukraine and Norway joining them in the top 3 and the UK being pegged to finish the night somewhere around the 14th place mark but listening to the songs we are up against, it's not a vintage year for Euro music with many dire ballads on the list.
The Greek tune is a bit of a toe tapper and the Finnish entry is catchy but my favourite is the Norwegian song which is one of those that will either run away with it or sink without a trace. 
One thing that is for sure is that we won't win it because it's a massive conspiracy and it is all down to who has the largest number of friendly neighbours and everyone hates the UK we didn't want to win the stupid competition anyway.

Monday, 13 May 2013

How To Become A Saint

Not one to hang about, Pope Francis went on a Sainthood rampage this weekend, handing out halo's to 813 people but as i was not one of them, i wonder just what is the criteria to be in the number when the Saints go marching in.
As luck would have it, the Catholic Church provide a handy cut out and keep guide for anyone who want a street named after them.
Firstly, you must be dead as sainthood is only recognised after your death and once you are pushing up the daisies, the Vatican can start the Saintly ball rolling and first they look if during life you were a devoted Christian, ideally Catholic so if you're not Christened yet, get Christened as a Catholic. If you're a Jew, Muslim or part of another religion, join the Catholic Church and then die.
Now that you are Catholic and dead, there will be an investigation by a 'postulator' to check if you led a selfless, pure, benevolent, virtuous, kind and devout life and performed at least two, verifiable miracles. The healing of an incurable illness or walking on water, that sort of thing. 
If you pass muster on this front, a panel of theologians and the cardinals of the Congregation for Cause of Saints evaluate the candidate's life. If the panel approves, the Pope proclaims that the candidate is a suitable role model of Catholic virtues and a third, posthumous miracle is searched for and if found, bingo, your in the Saint's Club and parts of your body get carted around Churches for Catholics to gawk at and you may get a feast day in your honour.
Of course two miracles when you are alive and one after death may be a bit hard to achieve so the resourceful Catholics have designed a few shortcuts that miss one out the three miracles.
Martyrs who died for their religious cause can be beatified without evidence of a living miracle, they just need two posthumous miracles but the bar is set quite low for posthumous miracles, for example if someone has something nasty and they pray to you and it clears up, that's a miracle attributed to you. Congratulations.
Another shortcut is for your body to not undergo the usual unpleasant changes after you die which the Catholic Church take a sign that you were of the purest faith, or incorruptible, and you are just those two posthumous miracles away from being Sainted and being the Patron Saint of slugs or something because all the best things to be Patron Saint of have already gone.
It won't be venereal disease or hemorrhoids though, lucky St. Fiacre has already nabbed those. 
Good luck.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Tittles, Muntins and Zarfs

It was early in the morning and i was resisting the temptation to scratch the wet tittles (dot above the i and j) with my lunule (white bit at the top of the finger nail) to dry it quicker so as i waited, i absentmindedly watched the crepuscular rays (rays of sunlight) peek out from the dark morning clouds through the muntin (strip separating window panes), mouthing mondegreen (a misheard lyrics) to the Bob Dylan earworm (tune stuck in your head) that i heard on the radio earlier.
I rubbed my Glabella (the smooth part between the eyebrows) as the the fragrant petrichor (smell after rain) wafted to my desk from the pavement as i played with the ferrule (metal part on a pencil) on my purlicue (space between thumb and the forefingers).
My neighbour waved as he went past on his morning jog and i waved back and noticed his gynecomatia (manboobs) under his tight t-shirt which made me wamble (stomach rumble) and crinkle my philtrum (groove between nose and lip).
He was always up and about early, no dysania (finding it hard to get out of the bed in the morning) for him but that middle aged spread must make it hard for him to find his aglets (plastic coating on a shoelace) and armscyes (armholes in clothes).
The clock struck 7 and my tittles were now dry so i shook my head and closed my eyes until the phosphenes (lights you see when you close your eyes) appeared and the paresthesia (pins and needles) in my numb right leg eased. 
After stretching my back while holding my arms akimbo (hands on hips), I took a swig from my bottle of water, holding it with my hand across the punt (indentation at the bottom of a bottle), it was time to go fetch my shoes. Shoes that fit are hard to come by when you have a Morton’s toe (second toe is bigger than your big toe) and it was almost impossible to get an accurate reading on a brannock device (unit that measures the size of your feet).
Now i was late and it still looked like rain so took the desire path (path created by natural means on grass), through the park to save time and using my umbrella as a cane, and with every step planting its ferrule (metal pointed bit at the end of the umbrella) in the ground, running through my late excuse in my head until it became semantic satiation (what happens when you say something for so long that it loses its meaning).
I stopped to buy a coffee from the coffee seller on the way, remembering to use a zarf (coffee cup sleeve) to protect my hands and an Aero bar, and only realising it was a mint one after the first bite and having to chank it (spit something out) and throw the rest in the bin.
Foregoing the usual bandinage (banter) with the coffee guy, i carried on to work thankful that i was megagaltastic (having a large vocabulary).

Friday, 10 May 2013

You Can Trust Me, I'm Tom Hanks

It's known as the prisoners dilemma or split or steal and the amount of times i have been hoodwinked by celebrities who have stole while i split is embarrassingly high but i know what my problem is, i have not been playing with the right celebrities because the Readers Digest have compiled a list of the 100 must trusted American celebrities and i have obviously been splitting with the wrong ones.
Top of the tree and most honest is Tom Hanks, then Sandra Bullock, Denzil Washington, Meryl Streep and author Maya Angelou. No me neither.
Other celebrities you can trust to hold your drink while you pop to the loo are Stephen Spielberg, Bill Gates, Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood, Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Obama, Jimmy Carter, Colin Powel, Johnny Depp,  Muhammad Ali, Ben Affleck, Whoopi Goldberg who are the people i would recognise.
The next 50 are not quite so trust worthy so you take a chance that you may come back from the loo to find an empty glass on the bar are Hillary Clinton, Dwayne Johnson (the Rock), Oprah Winfrey, Adam Sandler, Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Tim Burton, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.
So if you are stuck for a babysitter and you are flicking through your list of American A-list celebrities but are unsure which ones will run around with the hoover and which ones will have your DVD player on ebay as soon as you close the door, go for Hanks or Bullock and only call Hillary Clinton as a last resort or you have a dress with a stubborn stain that you just can't shift.

Turning Back The Climate Clock

The last time the CO2 in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million, the sea level was 40m higher, the Arctic was free of ice, the Sahara desert was a gigantic grassland and there were no humans cluttering up the place.
A lot has changed in the five million years from the Pliocene period to now, such as the concentration of CO2 dropped back to more hospitable levels until around 1850 when industrialisation began pushing the CO2 levels back up again from 280ppm of the time to the milestone of 400 ppm of today and an expected increase in global temperatures of a devastating 6C, achieving in 150 years what took 10,000 years previously.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography estimate that CO2 in rising 75 times faster than in pre-industrial time and has never been seen by human beings and the effects will be catastrophic with mankind hit by a combination of extreme heatwaves, flooding, desertification and general weather related havoc.
'We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks and turning back the climate clock by millions of years.' said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, echoed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) who warned: 'With current policies in place global temperatures are set to increase by 6°C, which has catastrophic implications'.
So what can we expect from a  rise of 6C?
'There are some very basic rules' said Corinne Le Quéré, Director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre, 'more heatwaves, floods and droughts are typical of a warmer climate because you have essentially more energy in the system'.
'Arid regions will get drier, wet ones wetter, the disintegration of the polar ice sheets, causing sea level rises and methane discharges, the collapse of forests, one of the world’s vital carbon sinks and ocean acidification. Once these have been passed there is little chance of turning back the clock'.
The bottom line is life on Earth will be much, much tougher for its inhabitants and that is at current levels so if we are doomed, future species will look back and think due to our own stupidity, we probably deserve it.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

UK Human Rights Go Under The Microscope

Britain is such a lover of horses that we race them, keep them as pets and occasionally make a pie from them but the one we love most is the high one that we clamber upon regularly to shout at other countries for their human rights record.
While we like to hit places like China and Iran over the heads regarding how they treat their own and other peoples citizens, we don't like to mention that sometimes it is our disregard for human rights that get a closer look at, such as this week when the UK faced some uncomfortable from a UN panel who decided the UK's human rights record since 9/11 deserved some closer scrutiny.
Charges of complicity in abusive interrogation, renditions to Libya, the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and the enquiry into the treatment of terrorism suspects that has been kicked into the long grass all came under the microscope although we did our best to delay things by a few years by dragging our feet submitting the requested evidence.
Once it got underway the Chinese diplomat complained that the UK delegation's responses were evasive and gave non-answers to his questions and the Italian committee member became angry and accused the British government of perverting the UN convention against torture to evade its legal responsibilities.
There were also questions about the enforced removal of Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were then  subsequently tortured and doubted the impartiality and independence of a Ministry of Defence enquiry into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and the attempt to have legal claims by veterans of Kenya's 1950s Mau Mau insurgency struck out on time-limitation grounds to be contrary to international law.
The committee is due to publish its conclusions later this month which should make interesting reading and if a copy finds it's way to China or Iran then the next time we mention human rights to them our high horse may not look quite so lofty.

Learning Doesn't Need To Be Boring

The knees of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, must be feeling pretty bruised today as they jerked so fast that he must have strained something.
Exactly what the minister was objecting to was a 'culture of low expectations in English schools who have been using Mr Men characters to teach 16-year-olds about Adolf Hitler.
'Too many teachers were treating young people on the verge of university study as though they have the attention span of infants' Gove said saying that students should be using worksheets, extracts and mind maps, books, sources and conversation in history.
As usual he hasn't done his own homework because the Mr Men project comes after the students have done all the books, worksheets, essay writing and sources as a consolidation exercise of the previous learning, not as a way of learning about history.
Obviously the Education secretary was far too busy to read the online resource for history teachers before shooting off his mouth, the activity is described as 'a great way of rounding off or revising the Rise of Hitler with IGCSE students.
They produce a 'Mr. Men' book about the topic and then read these to primary school / Year 7 students in a team challenge'.
Nothing like the dumbing down that Michael Give is trying to paint it as, just a fun exercise at the end of the learning which shows history doesn't need to be about pouring over books and memorising dates but can be shown in an interesting and entertaining way.
Michael Gove should watch Horrible Histories sometimes which is shows that History can be entertaining and educational and need not be boring and stiff as he wants.

Bye Bye Alex Ferguson

It isn't easy to give any credit to the red-nosed Manchester United manager but even i have to grudgingly admit that Alex Ferguson did a great job at the club.
Yes he was a miserable sod but he won everything there was to win in club football so kudos to him, well done and all that and enjoy your retirement and watch another Scot, David Moyes, try and replace you.
Such a shame it is David Moyes because i liked him and what he was doing at Everton but now that he is Man Ure's manager, there is no choice but to flip into wildly disliking him and hoping that he has a nightmare  time and Man United fail magnificently under his leadership.
Probably won't happen and the reds will carry on dominating the top end of the Premier League for many a season yet but it would have been so much sweeter if they had appointed someone we already disliked to the effort. Very inconsiderate of them.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Kerry Does Moscow

Who would be a US Secretary of State trying to get involved in another war these days when it seems the bunch you are trying to paint as the good guys are doing worse things than the ones you are saying are the bad guys.
John Kerry turns up in Russia just as the UN panel investigating human rights abuses in Syria say it's the rebel forces throwing around the Sarin.
The easy way to swerve that matter is to say: 'We are highly sceptical of any suggestions that the opposition used chemical weapons. We think it highly likely that Assad regime was responsible' as the White House did today completely ignoring the people doing the investigating. Funny how movable that the red line is.
Then Israel, not much liked for good reason at the best of times, had a go at provoking a response from the Assad Government by sending its jets into Syria to drop a few bombs resulting in a swift international rebuke from everyone including the UN and two of Syria's mains regional rivals, Turkey and Saudi Arabia who called for: 'swift action by the UN security council to stop these Israeli attacks on Syrian territories'.
To top it off a group of UN peacekeepers were detained in the Golan Heights by the same rebels who kidnapped 21 UN peacekeepers rebels last month before releasing them with the weak excuse that they were 'holding them for their own safety' as there was some 'clashes and heavy shelling' going on.  
Why the Americans, Brits and French are so keen to boot out Assad and impose a bunch of jihadists on the Syrian population is anyone's guess but i trust Putin and Kerry chat will go along the lines of the Russian telling the American that he can whistle if he thinks he will support them in helping Al-Queada in Syria into power.
The hand of the forces wanting to bring murder and mayhem to Syria as they did in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya is getting weaker with every passing day as the rebels show themselves to be worse than the people they are hoping to replace.
The West has backed the wrong horse and is too pigheaded and arrogant to admit it but it won't stop John Kerry trying, we can just hope he gets back on the plane with a Russian flea in his ear.


Dear People of HAARP,

I live on the south coast of England and it's only May and already i have a sunburned shoulder and been attacked by a pair wasps after my milkshake as i sat innocently in the park today.
We all know that it is you guys making earthquakes and causing volcanoes to explode all over the World because it is all over the internet and David Icke has said it is you controlling our weather and he was a sports presenter on the BBC once so he should know so no point in trying to deny it. 
Please can you either stop fiddling with our weather so it is so hot us pale skinned Brits get sunburned as soon as we step outside our door in early May or fiddle with it some more so that we get some cooler weather until about September, either is good by me.

Thank you


PS...If you want to 'quieten' David Icke for spilling your secrets, he lives in Ryde on the Isle of Wight if you want to cause an earthquake there.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Chemical Weapons In Syria

It seems that Benjamin Netanyahu has been paying attention to Barack Obama because he has copied his line about 'game changing weapons' as Israeli jets strike at targets close to Damascus.
The game changing weapons were apparently sophisticated Fateh-110 missiles bound for Hezbollah which would bring all of Israel into range but Israel's game changing weapons are different to Americas which where chemical weapons which the Syrian administration was loudly accused of using a few weeks ago in Homs, we were also treated to pictures of civilians foaming at the mouth as proof.
The story, as expected, was not quite as clear cut as that and the accusation has been repeated less loudly as it emerged as reported here on CNN that the Americans own U.S. State Department investigation showed Syrian government did not use chemical weapons against the residents of Homs, but the symptoms shown by the civilians was a 'riot control agent that was not designed to produce lasting effects, but became more dangerous when it was released in dense areas and was not dispersed in the air quickly'.
A senior Turkish diplomat told CNN that Turkey also conducted its own investigation into the chemical weapons allegations and found the claims to be unsubstantiated.
In a unusual twist that has not been heard so much about, it was the Syrian Government who alerted the UN to the rebels using chemical weapons in Allepo's Khan al-Assal which killed 25 people and injured 86 others on March 19, urging the UN to dispatch an investigation team.
The UN agreed to investigate claims and appointed Ahmet Üzümcü, a Turkish diplomat who was previously Turkey’s consul in Aleppo, ambassador in Israel and the representative of Turkey to NATO. Syria and Russia said they did not trust a team led by somone with so many ties to the countries critics and more headlines hit that Syria was blocking a UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons, not mentioning that it was the Syrian Government who requested the investigation in the first place.
While further stories include Syrian soldiers turning up in hospitals suffering from the effects of 'inhaling a strange gas', it is all very reminiscent of the Iraq build-up. 
The Obama administration seem to be playing a game of waiting for proof and international backing may be in part due to the to the lessons learnt from Iraq or it could be playing the same game as it did in Libya, wanting to be seen to be a reluctant partner while Britain and France lead the call for more war.
Now that Israel has become involved, it may force Americas hand to become more involved, it was the Israeli's who bought the chemical weapons 'evidence' which has now been dismissed and by being the aggressor and striking out at the Syrian regime, it may prompt a Syrian response which will open the door for America, France and Britain to change yet another regime and weaken the real enemy Iran in the oil rich Middle East.
Just don't believe that whatever justification is finally settled on, it is for the benefit of the Syrian people because the people they are looking to replace Assad with are the same ones that are presently bringing mayhem to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Great Gatsby

There are some books that are claimed as classics and are well deserved of the title and some that feel as if they have been slapped with a sticker marked classic by literary types but don't really live up to it and that's how i feel about 'The Great Gatsby'.
Now that a film of the book is showing at our cinema's the book is being discussed once again and i'm quite perplexed by the insistence to build the book up to be mentioned in the same breath as 'To Kill A Mockingbird' or 'Of Mice and Men' which were amazing books.    
The Great Gatsby was a decent enough novella, set in one summer of Roaring Twenties America, the high end of society at the time, it is a slow builder with a brutal ending and the author,  F. Scott Fitzgerald, does a very good job of creating the era in your minds eye.
I do recall a story of how the book was largely ignored at the time it was originally published in 1925 and it wasn't until the book was given away free to US soldiers during the second World War that it became widely read and that is where i believe the term 'classic' comes from.
The book, read by the 150,000+ military, became synonymous with America WW2 in much the same way that whenever i hear certain songs it takes me back to a certain time and place and my good or bad experiences of that time so The Great Gatsby will hold many memories for the soldiers of that time, passed onto the next generation and that was how this 'classic' was born, a great PR move.
I may be wrong but that's how i see a good, if short, book becomes elevated to a status that it doesn't in all honestly deserve.
That said, i would recommend it as a decent read but i do plan to give the film a swerve.

Friday, 3 May 2013

UKIP Split Rightwing Vote

It is quite funny to see the Conservatives trying to tear down the UK Independence Party who have been drawing away the Conservative voters.
Both on the right, the UKIP and Conservative Parties are scrapping over the same votes and all they are doing is splitting the same voters between them, they are not attracting voters across from the Labour Party who are more Pro-Europe then either UKIP or the Tories.
The effect is that the two right of centre parties damage each others chances while the Labour Party remains on the sidelines watching and waiting for 2015 and the General Election.
While the zinger from Kenneth Clarke that UKIP are made up of 'fruitcakes and loonies' is probably justified, long may there rise continue because while they will never be a threat to the main parties, they are damaging the Conservatives enough to reduce their chances of getting into power and that has to be a good thing. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013


I am not in anyway affiliated to any e-cigarette manufacturer or earn commission or are paid by the e-cigarette industry for using and advising their products, but i should be.
I have been using e-cigarettes for around 9 months now and if got paid by the person that i have driven to the e-cigarette business i could afford to start smoking again.
It is surprising the amount of people i see standing around puffing on a fake cigarette with a glowing red light at the tip now and as i was a guinea pig for e-cigarettes, many friends and colleagues waited to see how i got on with them before diving in themselves.
Now there there is a small collection of us who stand around the bike sheds blowing out nicotine tinged water vapour and more joining all the time and i pass on my experience which is don't go for the smaller pen type ones such as the 510, you won't get enough of a hit from that and you will be forever charging the battery and go for a big one such as the Ego or the Riva.
What seems to happen is that most people (me included) start on the small ones and then find out about the bigger ones later and end up buying one of those so save yourself paying out twice and go straight for the bigger one, the battery lasts 4 times longer, has a better throat hit and you get twice as much vapour as from a 510 style cigarette.
As Imperial Tobacco announced that tobacco net revenues are down 5.9%, it seems that smokers switching to e-cigarettes are actually affecting their profits.
The whole reason for this post is to give some advice to anyone, and there seems to be lots of them about, who is considering packing up smoking and trying e-cigarettes and my advice is to do it but be choosy.
The last time i posted about e-cigarettes i got comments from people linking to their own e-cigarette sites and they were all the 510 small type which are about the size of a real cigarette.
My own experience is that these are not very good and if i hadn't deleted them i could have listed them here as ones to avoid so save your money and go for these types straight away, this is the one i and my colleagues use and this is the bad boy you should be looking for. Good luck and if the e-cigarette retailers turn up leaving messages and links to their sites, ignore them, they are mostly pushing the types to avoid if you seriously want to stop.
Just to make it simple for British readers, here's the one i use but there are plenty of others available.

If anyone from Vapeescape stumbles across this post then some nicotine as commission for the hundreds of pounds of business i have put your way would be gratefully accepted and guarantee future recommendations. You're welcome.   

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


A five-year-old has accidentally shot dead his two-year-old sister as he played with the rifle which he was given as a birthday present last year.
Five year old, rifle as a birthday present. Mad. mad, mad.