Saturday, March 31, 2012
mathematics is not my strong suit. not by a long shot. in the efforts to find a new job i have had to sit a number of literacy and numeracy tests. one of them was to see if i could retrain in order to become a security guard (i had been asked by the pen-pusher at the jobcentre why i would want to do that when i have so many years of experience and a degree - he seemed less than impressed with my 'i am 50-years old and unemployed so the experience and degree isn't working.' answer). i am still waiting to hear if i passed that one. the second one was to see if i can qualify to do some free educational courses. the test was computer based and seemed to take forever. the grading levels are linked to external exmas - so level 2 is for gcses, level 4 to degress. it mentions levels 7 and 8 but doesn't tell you what they are for (perhaps one of them is for an honorary degree). as expected i scored high in the english. except the high score just meant that i was (in their words) operating at level 2 or 3. what? shit. that's a bit embarrassing. the maths one came in high as well. again level 2 or 3. which in one way is good, in another it makes me wonder if indeed they are right about exams of today being that much easier than they were were i was a kid. only problem with that is it means my english scores are even less impressive. i tell you this testing malarky is a minefield.
Friday, March 30, 2012
two very pretty arty student types discussing the shock value in art. neither of them seemed to be impressed with the idea of shock for shocks sake, even less so when it involved naked bodies. their conversation drifted from this to the whole idea of how some people make it and some people don't. 'you just have to have the bullshit.' said one. to which the other replied: 'bullshit and the right friends.' i wanted to lean over and tell them both that they needed to get use to it because it happens in all walks of life and not just the art world. but they were young and freshed faced. i spared them my cynicism.
he wins. shocked amazement. gorgeous george galloway has pulled a rabbit out of the hat and has won bradford west. i don't think it will be too hard to work out which section of the community was mobilised in order to get him his victory. he describes it as the most sensational by-election result in history, while the respect website for bradford declares "you can no longer take our votes for granted." i am sure a similiar challenge was raised when he won in tower hamlets - but the status quo returned soon enough. in an odd way it is good to have him back - always nice to have an interesting character in the house of commons, not to mention someone who has a beard. i wonder how much time george will spend sitting in parliament? (according to the website 'they work for you - he didn't have a very good record when he was the mp bethnal green nad bow). he knows his constituency and he plays to their concerns, which may not be held in quite the same regard by the rest of the population. i don't think it is a cynical ploy on his part it does appear to be a bad case of tunnel vision. george galloway, i salute your courage, your strength, and your indefatigability. i wonder where he stands on the pasty issue?
revenge is best served cold (less vat to pay on it). this has not been a good week for the con/dems. the sun and the times have been putting the boot into the government. i am sure it has nothing to do with murdoch getting his own back for the leveson inquiry. just as i am sure that the daily telegraph didn't go after peter cruddas for the same reason. it is all just a coincidence. that's all.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
for awhile there the standard everyone was using was the pay of the prime minister. if you happened to be a public servant of some sort and you were earning more than the prime minister then somehow you were a dirty rotten cheat because there could be no way you were worth more than the prime minister. just couldn't be possible. (which is very odd when you consider the argument that you have to pay the best to get the best - it is obviously an argument that doesn't hold when you are a go getting entrepreneur in which case earning less than the prime minister must be a sign of failure). recently that particular measure has fallen out of favour perhaps because they have worn it to a frazzle. so a new measure has been called for. this one isn't about earnings, this one is about class. to be more precise this one is about proclaiming yourself as one of the people, being part of us and not one of 'them'. yes it is the 'gregg's pasty measure' (gpm). if you eat a pasty (for in truth it can be any pasty, not just a greggs' one) you are one of us. if you don't then you must be one of them. david cameron has confessed to having eaten one - showing that he is of the people. george osborne has been challenged on his pasty eating habits. he apparently failed the test. he must be one of them. david miliband has made sure to be seen in a greggs. it is an odd measure of comradeship and shared communion. the irony of it is that most of the commentators who have challenged cameron ans osborne are not like us - they are part of a media elite. the members of parliament who have heckled them over their eating habits are not like most of us, most of us do not earn the sort of money they do or have the perks that they do. in many ways their use of the gpm isn't so much a way of highlighting the difference between us and the leaders of the con/dem overnmnet, it is their way of convincing themselves that they are still in touch with the common herd. frankly i would prefer that cameron and osborne didn't pander and just be themselves. there is nothing more embarrassing than people trying to be something there are not (think william hague's story of pint drinking or blair's football tales). i know they are from a privileged background and no amount of pie eating is going to change that. no doubt the gregg's pasty measure will be used for a few weeks yet. in its own way it is no better than the prime minister salary one.
i don't drive so i don't care if the tanker drivers go on strike. i quite like the idea that lots of cars might be stranded and the streets empty of motorists, the government has responded to the threat of the strike by having soldiers train to be stand-in tanker drivers. a sensible move on the part of the government. that seems to have been the only bit of sense they have shown. i can understand why david cameron and george osborne (what not nick clegg? no, i mean who cares what he thinks - he is dead man walking) are none too keen on the country being blackmailed by a small group of people, it is just a shame that they didn't show this amount of backbone when it was the financial sector or those earning £150,000 - i guess it is just hard to say no to your friends. while the contingency planning is sensible the sense of panic that they are fostering hasn't been of much help to man or beast. francis maude has shown himself to be a bit of a tit, bless his cotton socks. his helpful advice was for drivers to stockpile petrol at home. not that this act would cause the shortage that they are so worried about, even though the automobile association are saying that there is no evidence that there is a shortage of petrol in the country and, lest we forget, the drivers haven't actually gone on strike. so deliveries of petrol is still getting to the forecourts. not an issue for francis. just stockpile that petrol. have a few jerrycans of it lying about the place. after all what could be the harm in having spare petrol in your house. what could go wrong? the fact that it is apparently illegal to store petrol at home cut no ice with francis maude. in fact for francis that almost makes it better because not only does storing petrol mean that they can avert the problems of the strike but now he can deliver a bit of a body blow to another of the tory parties great hates: health and safety. how dare someone tell mr. maude that storing petrol is illegal and it might be dangerous. what utter tosh, what balderdash. don't these people know that there is a potential, maybe maybe not happening, crisis at the pumps? don't these people know that i am providing them with a workable and sensible solution: store petrol at home (even you people who live in blocks of flats - c'mon you know it makes sense). in order not to give ground to the health and safety wallahs he had to cut the ground out from under them. he did so beautifully, and in doing so he has given us a new excuse. no longer do we have to fall back on the tried and trusted 'i was doing it for research'. now those of us in need of a way out, in need of an excuse can use the francis maude gambit. when being told that his idea of storing petrol was dangerous. he responded by saying his critics were being 'absurdly technical'. the man is a genius. sadly wiser heads at tory hq have prevailed and mr. maude's advice has been quietly dropped.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
sometimes having a quiet cup of coffee you get to hear some odd things. today as i quaffed my strong latte i couldn't help overhear (and it is not like i want to be earwigging it is just people seem to have forgotten how to speak in low tones - i blame mobile phones)a couple chatting about their festival plans. they were both arty types. they were discussing the works they were going to be putting on at forthcoming cultural festivals. they talked about works they had seen that they liked (the play where the actors were on the shelves of cupboards did sound interesting), they talked of places they were going to put shows on. it was all very interesting. then the bit that made me scratch my head. they were talking about films, i think part of the show they were discussing was going to involve clips from movies. they talked about the list of possible films that they could use and there seemed to be a bit of a problem for them because 'yeah i looked at the list and they all seemed to be very old movies including tim burton's 'alice in wonderland' now i know that the internet has speeded up our lives. smart phones mean we are always in contact, ever on the go. but still a movie that has only just been out for two years is hardly old. or is it - have we now moved to the point of instant gratification so that once something is done it is old? i just kept on drinking my coffee and tried my best to tune them out.
the conservative party has given into pressure to release the names of the people who have had 'kitchen suppers' with david and samantha cameron. the 'cam dine with me' scandal (as some wags have called it) is still causing some tremors about the place. i am still not sure why, as most of us have always believed that the conservative party is hand in hand with the rich and wealthy. and we have always known that the rich and wealthy want to influence government in order to make sure that they stay rich and wealthy, so that they can become richer and wealthier. let's be honest it's a no brainer of a relationship. the list of people who have rocked up to dine with dave and to sup with sam seems to be dominated by people who are involved with finance or property. just the industries that will get the country back on its feet again. of course a few commentators have pointed out that the labour party isn't in a better position as it is beholden to the trade unions, who not only contribute a large chunk of change to the party but also have block votes at events such as the labour conference. shall i tell you what the difference is? shall i? we know the trade unions have a measure of influence on the labour party. it is all above board and it is there for all to see. the right wing press may not like it - but they haven't had to do a sting operation to find out about it. not that this matters to some as they see the current conservative scandal as a way to hobble the labour party while not really damaging the conservative party. how? by arguing for a cap on individual contributions to the political parties. this will weaken the labour party more than it will the conservative party by the simple fact that there are more rich people who want to curry favour and influence decisions than there are unions. given that these are also the same people who hire people to make sure they pay the least amount possible in tax it isn't going to be hard for them to work out schemes to allow them to contribute as much money as they want through various proxy donors. the important aspect of unions that is overlooked in this is that they are an amalgamation of their members and capping them as 'individuals' goes against the principle of them being a union. you have to credit the right wing commentators of taking a shitty situation and turn it into a serious and potential devastating attack on the finances of the labour party. a bit like the dining arrangements at 10 downing street - i am not surprised.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
"this is not the way we raise money in the conservative party. it shouldn't have happened. "it's quite right that peter cruddas has resigned. i will make sure there is a proper party inquiry to make sure this can't happen again." so said david cameron. of course what he meant was: he shouldn't have been caught on tape offering access to senior politicians and it is only right that someone that stupid should resign. our internal investigation will make sure we can't make this mistake again. and let's be serious it costs a lot more than £200-250k to get to chat to georgie and me. with this revelation the sunday times has done a number of things. it has made the case for a free press. it has restored a certain amount of credibility to journalism, it may have even gone some way to demonstrating that news international isn't evil incarnate and in bed with the conservatives. now either the investigators got very very lucky or mr. cruddas and the party have had previous form at this. i don't doubt that labour and the liberal demoncrats both have their own funding skeletons. as money is fast becoming as important to political parties in the uk as it is in the usa perhaps it is now time to fully address the situation. there was a time when i would have argued that all that needed to be done was to pass a few laws that mandated that broadcasters and such like had to 'donate' time and space to the political parties in equal measure during an election campaign. i think that time has come and gone. so now i would say let them get their money from wherever they want to and let them offet anything in return for the cash - however the political parties would have to be 'open book organisations' so that the electorate (and more importantly the press) could go over their books to see where the money had come from and what was being offered in the return. sure the conservative party would raise much more money than labour or the liberal democrats, but knowing where the money has come from (and what it potentially means to voters) would have a negative effect on voters and make then think long and hard before they put their crosses next to a conservative name on the ballot paper. i could be wrong - but as this is the tactic used by the right-wing press and the conservative party whenever they cite labour's reliance on funds from the trade unions then i am sure it would work if it were applied to the wealthy giving to the tories. meanwhile the current con/dem government sees yet another 'scandal' at least sleaze under the major and brown governments was at the end of a long period in power. the current lot have just decided to make it an ongoing permanent feature of government.
Friday, March 23, 2012
one of the things i am not too keen on about being poor is having to carry around a pocket full of change. so when i am out shopping i can use as many pieces of copper as i can. thank fuck for self-service tills, though i am sure the people waiting for me to finish are not that keen on watching me pump 15 two pence pieces into the slots. truly i am looking after the pennies, because i have no pounds to look after themselves. there is a great sense of relief when i have been able to use up a large chunk of copper shrapnel to buy some milk or such like. a weight has gone from my pocket and i feel as if i have used money that would just be gathering dust in a jar somewhere. recently my local tesco metro has been playing dirty tricks with me. it has been getting it's own back. i much prefer the sainsbury's self-service - put the money in the slot and it is subtracted from your total. quick, simple and easy. tesco have been clever they give you a dish-like space in which to drop the entire amount into. except it seems to take awhile for it to work. this does not inspire confidence in me so i put in the coins individually. that way i feel in control of the situation. today i was shy a few pennies of the exact change. so i needed to use a pound coin (oh how my heart bleeds when i have to give one of those precious coins up), the total bill was 84p. imagine my annoyance when the change came back in the form of 1 one pence piece, 1 5 pence piece and 5 two pence pieces. somehow the machine knows it is me as this is the fourth time it has done it to me. curse you self-service till. curse you tesco.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
i don't pretend to understand the budget. i am not even sure the economists know what they are talking about. you only have to look at the forecasts and predictions made by people like the treasury, office of budget responsibility or the, ever-changing, ratings agencies, i was struck by a couple of things. firstly there was the tacit admission that in order for much of the 'britain will work it's way out of recession' depended on the inward flow of investment from sovereign states. there is a certain amount of irony that a capitalist democracy is going to be saved by cash from countries that are neither. still part of this influx of chinese and saudi money is that more companies will no longer be british. secondly there were the assumptions behind the dropping of the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p. this isn't going to happen for a year because they don't want to break their promise that the top rate of tax will stay in place while the public sector deals with a pay freeze. which on the surface of it is fair enough. except that when that pay freeze comes to an end the con/dems have already said that they are seeking to move to local pay deals rather than national settlements - expect many regions not to get a pay rise, or a minimal one when the time comes - meanwhile the rich will be getting their tax cut. seems fair to me. (a digression here - the reasoning behind the move to regional pay deals is that the 'high' wages in the public sector distorts the local job markets when it comes to the private sector. the idea is that with pay freezes and lower pay deals private sector wages can catch up with local public sector pay. because that is what will happen - not a case of there is no need to pay more because there is little choice for employees - they just have to accept the lower amount. one of the reasons for lowering tax on the rich was to have them spend more, in the case of the poor or just well off it is a case of clawing some money back from them as their spending in local shops hardly matters. quite why the tories are always keen on a race to the bottom is something that eludes me). secondly there is the odd message that accompanies the cut in the top rate of tax. there have been a flurry of business people talking about how this top rate affects their ability to invest in their companies, the commentators ask sage questions of them - but never once ask how the top rate of personal tax affects the profits of the company, as corporate tax is at a much lower rate instead. if you want to keep more of your money be honest about it and say so - the top rate of personal tax doesn't stop you investing your company's profit back into the company. the rationale for the 5p cut is to make britain more competitive - to get the best people here and to keep them here. now i personally think that the majority of these people are not irreplaceable and that you could easily find several people to fill each of the jobs at less money, but that is another argument altogether. the economy, because it suits many of the leading players in it, has bought into the idea that some of them are indispensable and that they need to be paid an awful lot. for the sake of argument we'll agree that is the case. they continue the argument by saying that the 50p rate was raising 'next to nothing' (though it is an odd world where next to nothing is £1bn). so how is the new rate going to be better, because if it is lower then it will raise even less money, won't it? not so my dear reader. according to george osborne this new lower rate of tax will raise five times the amount of tax from the rich as the 50p rate did. how? indeed you may well ask. simple (sort of) because their tax is now below the psychological 50p the rich will cease and desist from tax avoidance and tax evasion. they will be happy to pay their new top rate of tax. of course they will and i will shit roses. mr. osborne has pretty much admitted himself that there will be an element of having to fight for this money by saying that he has increased the number of staff at hmrc in order to crack down on avoidance and evasion. my prediction is that they will do a lot of work against benefit fraud and not be quite so harsh on those dodgy deals a well placed tax accountant will wrangle. so no changes there. remember the businessmen i mentioned who were complaining about having to pay the 50p tax, i think i would be livid right now with the prospect that i am going to be paying five times more in tax than i had been. yet everyone seems to say that they will go for this psychological drop and be happy with it. frankly i don't think that businessmen who are conned that easily into giving up five times what they were previously paying are the sort of people we really want to be running our businesses. i reckon the reason they are going to be happy is that they are getting a reduction in their tax and they know they will be able to find the loopholes they need to pay even less tax than they were in the past. because the rich, even when they are telling other people how to spend money (eh bob!) are happy to make sure as little as possible of their money is actually spent. in an odd way you have to admire mr. osborne for his faith in the wealthy to suddenly play by the rules and start paying the full whack now that it has been reduced. it is just a shame the rest of us are so cynical.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
the king's cross station facelift has almost been completed. they have opened up the new entrance to the mainline station and all i can say is 'ooooooh' and 'aaaaaaaah' and 'wow'. job nicely done. boris will take credit for it. hate to admit it but i did get confused in the maze of new connecting corridors - that will teach me to read the signs rather than blundering on. even that doesn't take away from the fact it looks pretty darned good.
Monday, March 12, 2012
there is something wonderful about a good voice. of course what makes a good voice for me, may not be the same for some one else. i have not been blessed with a good speaking voice, which is annoying as there are times when i just won't shut up. my enjoyment of people's voices is probably one reason why i am more of a fan of radio than i am of tv. almost as important as the voice is the sound of laughter. i love a good laugh. a good voice can calm, assure and inform. a good laugh is infectious and just brings joy and happiness. i was in a pub, sitting quietly waiting for the burlesque show to start (by the end of the evening i would wonder why i bothered but that is another story), i had gotten there early (which is very unusual for me) and i had plonked myself down at an empty table away from where most of the punters were - they were busy watching the footie on the tv. for a while i read a book and enjoyed the soundtrack of sleaze rock that accompanied the evening. a young lady sat at the table near me. nice legs. she was joined by a couple. they chitted and chatted. i wasn't paying much attention, but as they drank their voice got louder. well when i say their voices i mean his voice. the bloke, who was with two lovely ladies, dominated the conversation, his voice a loud annoying nasal whine, that in itself was bad enough. the ladies couldn't be heard, he could. so there were moments of quiet as he listened to them and then a burst of static white noise as he contributed. another drink and then the laughing started. he had sharp short constipated pig grunt of a laugh. its brevity its saving grace. or it would have been but for the fact he used it at any opportunity. so at every utterance from the women there was an exhalation of laughter. whenever he finished he blurted out a laugh. it became a machine report of grunting, each one devoid of humour or warmth expected from laughter. how i wished the three of them had been more interested in their smartphones than in conversation with each other. guess i am getting less tolerant as i get older. to make matters worse the burlesque was shit.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
i believe i have confessed my love of the daily mail's liz jones. i just want to reiterate it here. i love liz jones. pretty much each sunday she is guaranteed to entertain. the real trick of her column is you are never quite sure if she is serious or if she is just one big wind-up. in this particular case it might be her sub-editor who is playing about with the concept of irony, or it may just be a very stephen fry like sophisticated play on words that goes above my head. she begins her piece about why people should not be complaining that there was no warning before the showing of graphic images in the witchcraft torture trial. liz, you see, lives in the real world and not disneyland. liz is an adult who can cope with all that the adult world throws at her - whether it be graphic violence or men who do not match her standards. from the horrors of torture on the tv she some how manages to say how something similar happened to her. (not the torture, but spineless busybodies complaining about adult things happening in the adult world). there she was in a nice restaurant telling a friend all about her hi-jinks at the recent paris fashion week (a girl and her clothes). i am sure the prestigious hotel/ restaurant she was in appreciated the name check as well as the mention that it was empty at breakfast aside from liz and her friend. liz's language was dotted with profanity. oh there was a family there. the father had the temerity to approach liz and ask that she did not swear while there were young children present. liz had to ask her friend if she had sworn. friend said she had. liz isn't concerned that she doesn't realise she is swearing, or that she is swearing in a loud voice. no she is just concerned for the man's wife - how can she be married to such a lickspittle who quails at hearing a few cuss words. men in liz's world should not only be conversant in industrial strength language, not only should they use it at every available opportunity they should also be ensuring that their children learn it at an early age. to punish the wife liz continues her, very interesting, conversation in hushed tones. here is where stephen fry learns about irony and the exquisite use of language to convey subtle layers of multiple meanings beyond what appears on the surface. this is a lesson in more than just semiotics. this is a lesson that barthes and saussure would have paid good money to have sat in on, listened to, mulled over and bowed down before. remember we live in the real world, not disneyland. the adult world where we have no need to be warned that harsh nasty things might appear on our tv screens. in the piece the offending word appears several times. this is what shocked the man, that shallow worm of a man, was upset by liz's use of 'p*** off'. i shit you not dear reader. while liz rails at how this man should not be offended by her use of earthy language she is making sure than none of the mail on sunday's readers have to suffer the pangs of torment as they have to decide do they get up in arms at her use of swear words only fit for the feral youth and the plasma tv watching benefit scroungers or do they stand up against the ever present nanny statism with its pc gone mad affects on daily life. what a sweet dilemma she has constructed for her readers - move over the gordian knot and zeno's paradoxes, liz has brought moral and ethical philosophy into the 21st century. that my friends is the genius of liz jones. that my friends is why i am in love with liz jones.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
it is a truism that money talks. it is equally true that politicians love money, doesn’t seem to matter what the colour of their politics they do love the colour green. in what is a busy year for london we also have the mayoral elections. effectively this is a competition between ken livingstone and boris johnson. if i am honest neither really inspires. in today’s evening standard there is a bit about how a millionaire businessman will double his gift to boris’ re-election fund if he likes what mr. johnson puts in his election manifesto. two of mr. johnson’s rich backers say that boris is good for business and that business is the foundation on which our economy is built. one of them is a hedge fund manager the other is a property tycoon, both businesses have proved how stable a foundation they are in recent years. the piece also points out that mr. livingstone is getting some of his funding from the unions, sorry i should say ‘union barons’, as they are called in the report, they may as well have called them ‘union robber barons’ just to make sure the readers got their point. not just satisfied with that they make the claim that because he has accepted union money he might be held to ransom by the unions. they don’t explain how that actually works – it is just enough to throw that thought in there. it is just a shame that they had started the whole thing off with sir john beckworth (property tycoon) saying he would double his £25,000 to mr. johnson if he liked the cut of boris’ jib. stanley fink is giving £33,000 to boris. the two unions cited are the transport salaried staff’s association (tssa) has given mr. livingstone £25,000 and aslef (associated society of locomotive engineers and firemen) has given £20,000, between them the two unions, representing thousands of london workers, are giving less than two businessmen. not that the evening standard makes that point, nor do they make the point that perhaps the idea that one or two rich businessmen could influence policy for london is inherently unfair and damaging to democracy. that isn’t a problem. a union doing the same to mr. livingstone is very bad as far as the evening standard is concerned. maybe the evening standard would be better off if it campaigned for elections that don’t involve large financial war chests. or a change of rules to ensure that no one can serve for more than two terms. but then if i were the editor of the evening standard the flavour of the coverage would be ‘anyone but boris.’
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
the bbc’s 5live featured vince cable quite heavily the other day – there was the nissan announcement, there was the mansion tax and there was the letter. mr. cable had sent a letter to david cameron and nick clegg basically saying that the government had failed to lay out a ‘compelling’ view of how britain was going to emerge from austerity. nothing new there and nothing that could be argued that is really contentious (at least to those of us who haven’t signed up to the con/dem project. this was being portrayed as vince cable taking leadership of the awkward squad. i don’t agree with that particular vision of what mr. cable was doing, i don’t have a problem with members of the government disagreeing with each. i think it shows a certain amount of strength and maturity that a government can contain within it dissenting voices (a skill that labour lost in its final years). for all organisations there should be someone, or some mechanism, that points out weaknesses or issues with policies. if you can’t dissent while in government then what good is democracy? some in the liberal democrats agree with me as they say all that mr. cable was doing was showing creative thoughts and sharing ideas. others might argue that if he really isn’t a position to moan as he is n the best place to affect the change he wants. the crucial thing was the letter was private and was never intended for public consumption (have to like a coalition that is happy to leak against itself). it is only because the letter had become public that people were discussing it. a tory bod was asked to speak about it; i believe it was tim montgomerie of conservative home fame. he made the point that the letter had previously appeared in the financial times and he couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about. his implications being that not only were the bbc behind the curve on this, but that they were trying to cause trouble. the retort was that the full text of the letter hadn’t been published. this cut no ice with tim. the headline in the times? “cable lashes coalition.” the headline in the daily telegraph? “coalition lacks vision, says cable.” looks like tim’s non-story isn’t quite as old as he thought it was.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
3g is back. gorgeous george galloway is going to be standing for parliament. he is going to be contesting the bradford west seat in the forthcoming by-election. i can't point to much he did when he was my local mp, but it will be good to have him back in politics. i wonder just what 'cause' he is going to use to whip up the necessary local support for him and the respect party this time. not sure a possible war on iran is going to work all that well. he should have run for london mayor - that would have been an intersting story, and interesting contest.
Monday, March 05, 2012
i don't smoke. i am glad of that. i tried to smoke, i was barely in my teens, parents were at work and so i thought i would spark up. i drew the curtains in the front room. i picked up one of mum's (or it could have been dad's) fags. they were probably a pack of senior service. i had it in my mouth - thinking i looked as cool as fuck. i had the lighter in my hand. i clicked the switch. flame on. no matter how i tried i couldn't get that fag to light. no amount of huffing or puffing worked. the fag stayed unlit. i never smoked. i suppose the other thing that prevented me from ever really trying to smoke was that both my parents were heavy smokers and i wanted to be different from them. (oh and maybe all the health warnings that started to crop up while i was in my teens). jump forward to today. story on the bbc about how there is pressure on george osborne to increase the cost of cigarettes. there are several benefits to a price increase. firstly there is more money to the treasury and in these days of austerity that is a good thing. secondly it is thought that by hiking up the price people will wean themselves off cigarettes, the only problem is they are addictive and if it were that easy everyone would be doing it. of course the increase in the price of cigarettes hits the poorest hardest and is the main reason why there won't be quite the uproar as there has been for a minimum unit price on alcohol. but i have an even better solution to the problem of getting people to cut down on smoking. it still involves them buying cigarettes, but it is a practice that is frowned upon by the powers that be and gets those who sell cigarettes in this way into a lot of bother. but to me it seems the perfect solution. let retailers sell singles - at the moment they can't, they can only sell packs. person buys a pack it is quite likely they are going to smoke them all and in a short space of time. they buy a couple of singles then they have to make another trip to the retailer to get their hit. result fewer fags smoked. i have solved the problem. thank me later.
Friday, March 02, 2012
according to a report in the daily telegraph if you won't to be seen to be an expert you need to point. the finger alerts people to your authority. the report says that children learn from an early age that the finger pointing rquates to something important. so if you have to tell someone something you want them to take notice of you need to use the finger. just in case you need some tips on which fingers to use. this one is effective in some situations but is more antagonistic than being an expert.
Thursday, March 01, 2012
(i had written this last night - and about nine tenths of the way through the computer decided to just lose it. this version will not be quite as good as that one). len mccluskey is the general secretary of the unite union, britain's largest union. as such he weilds a lot of power and influence. unions are necessary, in fact they are vital, they should be there not only to protect the employee at work or to improve the employees conditions at work, unions should also play an important role in the social and economic health of the country. the con/dems, sorry i mean the coalition government, have embarked on an austerity drive which is supposed to help us recover from the financial crisis which had been created by the financial services around the world but the con/dems conveniently blame on the labour government. a large plank of the austerity drive is cuts to the public sector. most people are sympathetic to public sector workers. it is a sympathy that can easily be lost. one way of losing it very quickly, i would argue, is to call for strike action and acts of civil disobedience during the olympic games (they probably won't do it against the paralympic games just in case they have to criticise themselves for offending the disabled community). while there is tactical sense in targeting the olympics - it is also one that involves great risks as it will easily be seen as a combination of greed (i refer you to the antics of the rmt union) and blackmail. neither will sit too well with people who are suffering economically themselves. you would like to think that len mccluskey is just sending up a warning shot and this will lead to sensible discussion. but you just can't be sure. mr. mccluskey was elected to the role of general secretary with a large majority of the votes. 15% of those eligible to vote did. mr. mccluskey's salary is somewhat above the average wage his members get and i am sure his pension will be a healthy one. perhaps mr. mccluskey is just upset he didn't get a ticket or two in the olympic ticket ballot?