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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Unbalanced Reactions?

On a side note, the attack by Anders Behring Breivik on the Norwegian Labour Party members made me consider the the reaction to this event. We do seem to have different ways of dealing with the "Far Left" and the "Far Right" in the UK .... the 'Left' is not tarred with the brush of the atrocities carried out in the name of 'Socialism' in this or other countries. Whereas 'right wing' groups are subject to investigation for possible links with a lone gunman from both the Government and of course the BBC, 'investigating'.

When Stalin killed millions in Russia in the 1930's, and again in the 1950's, we didn't purge the communist party of Great Britain (nor did the BBC investigate), even though there were clear and direct links between Moscow and them. In fact we ended up with the communist spy's Philby, Burgess, Blunt, and Maclean and others, because we sat back and let these groups operate freely in the UK. Similarly, when Chairman Mao killed 40 to 70 millions in China, we didn't purge the 'Maoist' groups in the UK, although again there were links with Beijing.

The logic was that we couldn't link the ideologies and beliefs, with the odd lunatic who killed millions in their name ... but as Stalin is popularly believed to have said "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic".



There are also markedly more 'left wing' parties in the UK .... which could simply reflect the 'Splittist' nature of the 'Left', or that they are more of a threat than the 'Right' ... but you would never guess this from the reactions when a perceived 'right winger' goes mad.

More False Assumptions

When a lone 'nut case' (even his lawyer thinks he is insane) goes on a killing spree in Europe, we usually write it off as a 'one off' e.g. The Hungerford Massacre. What we don't usually do is make the assumption that this person represented a 'group', who should be hunted down and purged.

However, the 'mad man' of Norway, who thought he was 'defending Europe' against Islam, by going on a killing spree, has prompted politicians across Europe to promise to probe for any links to him within him in 'right wing' groups across Europe.
Anders Behring Breivik in his 'uniforms'
That may well be a prudent course of action, although all the evidence, which consists solely of his claim to be in a cell (when clearly it was him by himself), his 15 page 'manifesto' that he says took him 10 years to produce, and the pictures of him posing in a wet suit with a rifle etc, all strongly suggests that he is in fact a 'lone nutter'.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Googles Statistics

For reasons that completely elude me, Google provide fanastic web site analytics, but then don't allow you to display information from them, for visitors to see. I have looked around and there are some 'gadgets' and widgets that claim to be able to do this, but they often appear to require you to trust a strangers software with your Google log-in (UID) .... this seems a strange security risk for Google to ask their Bloggers to take.

They could just provide a gadget which allowed you to display some basic site statistics, some of which are very interesting in a masochistic sort of way.

Obviously this is not a terribly well followed blog, but it does get hits regularly every day.  For example the most popular 'all time' couple of posts on this blog are:
Or that 24,765 of the visitors to this blog to-date were from the United States (thank you all), with South Korea at 449 and Russia at 296 visitors bringing up the rear. The analytics, provide a myriad of now, daily, weekly, monthly, all time figures and breakdowns .... they even give you browser usage figures.
  • Internet Explorer (51%)
  • FireFox (24%)
  • Chrome (12%)
  • Safari (8%)
  • Opera (1%)
But my favourite is the audience map .....


How cool is that ..... current visitor usage by world map.  And yet this Google treasure, is locked away for private use, or only available via gadgets, written by who knows who, amateur coders, which may or may not break your templates. Google are usually so sharp, but for some reason they have missed a trick with this tool.   

Amy Winehouse

Very sad to hear the news about the death of the singer Amy Winehouse aged just 27. She was a very troubled girl and in many respects the news is no surprise. But nonetheless, it was still a shock.

Sadly her death was something of a self fulfilling prophecy as she had once told a former personal assistant that she feared she'd be dead at 27 - like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. The assistant revealed in a 2008 interview that "She reckoned she would join the 27 club of rock stars who died at that age."


How much that prediction was playing on her mind this weekend its impossible to say, but she was a rare and undoubted talent, and the world's just a little bit poorer for her loss.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Moral Uncertainties

Now I don't know what its like in the rest of  the world, but in the UK and increasingly in Western Europe, many of the football franchise have been bought up by foreign owners .... they then pump millions (or even billions) of pounds into the clubs in the chase for glory. The latest of this breed are the Arabs who have bought Manchester City FC, and another group who apparently have done the same to Paris St Germain (PSG) in France.

My question, isn't whether having wealthy owners, who then pump money into a club is right or wrong ... its whether its right or wrong where the money originally comes from. Up until now these oligarchs were usually from Eastern Europe or Asia, and were maybe a little bit dodgy, but if they were allowed to make their money in their own countries, who was anyone here to complain about that?

Now though, we are increasingly seeing Sheiks or Princes from Arab countries, whose wealth is arguably stolen from the citizens of those lands .... these Princes were nothing more than the leaders of tribal bands before the first world war ... and little better between the wars. So the question has to be asked, who 'gave them' the oil wealth of nations, to spend as they wished? Sadly the answer was the British and French, who failed to give these countries democracies, but just handed them out to Arabs that they 'could work with' i.e. puppet leaders.

But is it morally correct that a bunch of appointed hereditary rulers can pump a billion pounds into a Western sports franchise such as a football club? Surely, the money should be pumped into the education and welfare systems in those countries, and not frittered away on baubles and playthings?

                                 From owning this to owning this in sixty years

Well maybe that's what the inhabitants in those benighted lands think as well. The recent 'Arab Spring', which has seen pro-democracy protests across most of these lands, may not have been directly created by the wilful misuse of state funds on football clubs, but its surely more than coincidence that this unrest and complaints about the rampant corruption of these Arab states, started after the Sheiks started spending big on high profile 'vanity purchases'?

Sometimes the wheels of history are turned by the smallest of engines ......


False Assumptions

When news of the terrible events in Norway started to trickle out, I like many others assumed that this was yet another in the long line of Islamic terrorist attacks, another '7/7 or 9/11'. But we were all wrong, and the attack on the holiday island and government buildings were all carried out by a 32-year-old Norwegian man, Anders Behring Breivik, and the police have charged him over both attacks (he apparently has freely admitted carrying them out). His 'Twitter' account only had one quote "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."

He is apparently a body-building 'Anti Islamic, Nationalist', and has a particular gripe over what he thought was the pro 'Islamic' immigration stance of the 'Norwegian Labour Party', outside whose offices he planted the bomb. The Norwegian Labour Party also own the island of Utoeya, and its one of their youth rallies, at which the Socialist Prime Minister was due to speak, that he so bloodily attacked.  He faces a maximum of just twenty one years imprisonment for this mass murder in liberal Norway .... doesn't seem enough. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber who shares a similar profile, was executed for his crimes.

The Holiday Island Of Utoeya
So rather than '7/7 or 9/11', it turns out to be more like 'Oklahoma City' with eighty four or more people killed on the island of Utoeya, and at least seven in the Oslo bombing.

Apart from the tragedy of the story, its also a lesson in the psychology of jumping to conclusions before the facts emerge.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

New Bully Boy On The Block

"Such an act has grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and damaged the Sino-American relations" ... these are the words of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in a written statement yesterday. And the cause of these aggressive sentiments? US spy planes flying over the one party, undemocratic, communist state? No. Err maybe the US have been caught spying? No. Oh well maybe the US has retaliated to  the spate of Chinese sponsored cyber attacks on Western businesses, Pro Tibetan sites, Pro democracy, or Government websites and computer systems, by attacking Chinese sites? Nope.

Well what was it that caused the Chinese dictatorship to use such intemperate language?

President Obama had a private meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of a free Tibet.


Too many Western governments get in to bed with China and forget, that this is the direct heredity successor government to Mao Zhe Dong, aka Chairman Mao, the murderer of 40 million of his own people ... not some cuddly proto-democracy. They torture people, run concentration (aka "re-education") camps, and act in all the ways that we condemned the old USSR for.

The fact that we buy all their cheap electrical items is why they are gaining economic power, not because they are adhering to democratic principles of political power. If we stopped buying their goods, and spent a few pounds more on goods made in nicer countries, then they would quickly be a busted flush ... but instead, our politicians cozy up with them, and don't look at the blood on their hands.

So hats off to Pres. Barack Obama, at least he didn't let the threats stop him doing the right thing, even if it was only in private.   

No Armageddon, But 'Carmageddon'

'Carmageddon' is not the latest "Transformers" movie, but what local wags named the chaos that was expected when a 10-mile stretch of one of America's busiest motorways was to be shut down for more than 48 hours ..... 48 mins is enough to bring road chaos in the UK. People were planning to stay at home, they were stock piling supplies and hunkering down for the weekend. And all because one stretch of one of the Los Angeles city's motorways, the 405 freeway, was to be closed for the weekend.

People in LA are really addicted to their cars and it was the major topic of conversation for weeks .... so when the 405 highway was closed at midnight on Friday (so that a section of the bridge could be demolished), chaos was predicted, but so far, all reports suggest that the publicity and the predictions of a traffic gridlock throughout the city, seem to resulted in disruption being largely averted.

405 Highway
In fact traffic was lighter than normal, with the bulk of the traffic apparently consisting of out of towners. In fact, like all the predictions of 'Armegeddon' that failed to occur this year, its perhaps not a surprise that the predicted "Carmegeddon" didn't occur either. "Carmegeddon 2", when they cut down the rest of the bridge, is expected next year.

Sometimes we chattering monkeys, just love to talk up dangers ....

Solar Beauty

We live in a a beautiful part of the galaxy .... not too hot, and not too cold, but just right.

I was reminded of that simple fact, when I saw a graphic depiction of the planets and the sun .....


It would be nice if we could all be reminded of that, before we destroy one of the planets.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

An Army Of Bureaucrats

A quick update. Do you recall all those 'contractor cuts' and staff cuts that were supposed to be occurring in the bloated Dept Work and Pensions? Well the contractor numbers are actually increasing not decreasing in some parts .... I personally know of one more contractor who has just been taken on, on a 6 months contract .... and the existing contractor in that dept that I wrote about? Well he's still there, and heading for his second year anniversary ... he's covering several roles that they can't find any permanent staff to perform.

The latent ability of the UK civil service to resist any cuts is amazing.

As far as I am aware, the only time their numbers were capped or cut in post war Britain was under Maggie T ... Blair and Brown added 100,000 plus more to the payroll to cover their various schemes (while cutting troop levels in the army by 25,000), and it appears that Cameron and Clegg are in much the same mould .... we have defence cuts (and yet more cuts on top of cuts) that mean we have less soldiers and no working aircraft carriers, while fighting four wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the Balkans [Bosnia, Kosovo]), and continuing to posture at the big table as though we can actually exercise independent power.

The UK Has Four Civil Servants For Every Soldier
If wars were won by bureaucracy and bureaucrats then the UK would still be a super power .... but they are not and we ain't.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Coals To Newcastle?

In a funny twist on the Indian jobs outsourcing issue, some major companies have started bringing call centres back to the UK. So far Bank Santander and New Call Telecom have announced these moves .... New Call Telecom said: "Employees (in the UK) are loyal, unemployment rates are quite high. In contrast, in India jobs are plentiful and we suffer a lot from attrition. A similar call centre down the road may offer a more lucrative salary and pull staff away and we need to keep going out there for retraining." So now its the UK that's the 'low wage, low skill, economy' ... a sign of things to come, and something our politicians should be shamed by.

Low Wage Economy Jobs Brought Back To UK 
They also apparently finally realised that Indians don't speak English, and speak a sub language called Inglish ... this, and cultural response issues (they can't take blame, and refuse to take ownership of an issue), meant that using call centres based in the sub continent usually involved spending hours trying to get issues resolved. I myself  have experienced a 'Dell Hell' moment, when I wasted hours of my life that I won't get back, on an issue that took less than half an hour to resolve when I finally insisted on talking to someone in Ireland (US customers refused to deal with Indians, so get an Irish call centre).

Santander said that "This is what our customers have told us is the most important factor in terms of the satisfaction with the bank, and we have listened to them and decided to bring all of our retail call centres back from India."

As result of that experience with Dell I won't ever buy from them again ..... I also favour British based companies in high street banking (National Westminster Bank), and 'O2' for broadband, both of which have kept their call centres in the UK.

I Fought The Law And The Law ....

In a scene that should make politicians the world over cringe, the mayoress of Davao City in the southern Philippines, Sara Duterte, launched her fists of fury and repeatedly punched a court official Abe Andres in the face, after he refused to delay the demolition of a slum area while she negotiated with protesters.


Of course in the UK, we have had our own Kung Fu panda .... old fat-boy himself John "Two Jags" Prescott

 
and others ... Georgia  
 
 
Indian girl slaps ...
 


Iraqi politicians fight it out


Czech politician fight with Shaolin techniques.



Incidentally, a friend of mine hates and detests John Prescott, and he would have given good money to have been in punching range of 'Fatboy' .... he would have kicked his ass.

The End Of The World .... What Again?

The end of the world? Maybe, but not as we know it .... no its coming up to the latest 'End of the World prophecy time. This follows hot on the heels of the geriatric Christian minister Harold Camping, who predicted that the world would end on the 21st of May 2011. Obviously I am still here, and so is Harold Camping and his former followers, although many of these are bankrupt having given away all their worldly goods before the  event, which must make his preaching close to criminal.

H Camping
He has now revised the date, and is now confident that God would spare humanity "hell on Earth for five months" and the apocalypse will now happen on 21 October 2011 ..... but don't hold your breath, or give your house away, because the man is a deluded old fool, who should be locked up for his, and everyone else's good. I mean whats the difference between this and any other grifter routine?  

Which brings me on to the next "End Of The World" moment and how to survive it .... Bugarach, is a small  ancient village in the French Pyrenees, and another bunch of nutcases (in this case UFO and God was an astronaut believers) have evolved the idea that when the world ends, this village and its inhabitants will be rescued by alien astronauts who live in the mountains. This particular bunch of crackpots have combined a misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar cycles, with the ancient astronauts visited earth theories. According to their understanding of the ancient Mayan calendar, at some point towards the end of 2012, the world will come to an end ....... of course its actually just the end of one cycle of the calendar and the start of the cycle again. 

Apparently for some years, rumours have circulated on the Internet (in certain forums), that extra-terrestrials live in the mountain, and come the apocalypse, the top will open and they will emerge with spaceships, and rescue the local inhabitants .... no, really, that's what these headcases believe.

This childish drawing is Graffiti that's appeared in Bugarach
 The local mayor, Jean-Pierre Delord, told the BBC that groups of people that could be 'sects' are believed to be planning to head to the mountain top and some have already taken part in strange rituals. And others, dressed in white outfits, have also been seen holding furtive gatherings in the forest near the village.

Of course the authorities fear another Jonestown Massacre type tragedy (The 'People's Temple' sect founded by Jim Jones 'talked' over 1,000 members into a mass suicide), and a special parliamentary committee has warned that sects may be considering mass suicides in 2012, on French territory .... oddly, in  the next valley there is another tiny village, Rennes le Chateau, which has a fortean significance of its own (ignoring the Dan Jones tosh that the BBC repeat) .....

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Benefits Britain

What happens when the welfare state and the culture it engenders becomes the norm for too many people? Well for a start you get stories like these ....

Clare Jones, a 38 yr old woman from Tonypandy, Rhondda, had claimed she could only walk 25 metres without crutches in order to milk the benefit system, only to be filmed walking freely and then skydiving at 12,000 ft (3,657m) ..... and the excuse for this fraud? Her legal defender stated that she had done the parachute jump after her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And he added that "The jump is suitable for people with worse disabilities than she has including amputations." .... so that's OK then.

Hazel Maddock was jailed and her daughter Jasmine given a suspended sentence after they left Mrs Maddocks mothers body in a bedroom so that they could continue to claim her old age payments .....Hazel Maddock, 61, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to unlawful prevention of burial and benefit fraud. She was given an 11-month jail term. Her daughter got a suspended sentence.

Now these are not isolated cases, in fact a simple search on the Internet prompts umpteen reports of the welfare system fraud that is now rife in the UK. Nearly everyone of us knows of at least one person who is either blatantly defrauding the state (working and getting benefits), or is exaggerating their 'incapacity levels' in order to maximise their benefit levels. I know of one man who claims he can't walk more than 10 yards in order to qualify for mobility benefits, but in fact parks his car several hundred yards away from the pub so that he can avoid getting spotted by the police for drinking and then driving. He is in fact simply grossly fat .....

“..... the party of those ripping off our society"

Now there are Benefit Cheat Hot Lines, so in theory we could report all these cheaters in our midst, but in fact, for everyone of us reporting the fraudsters, there is an army of 'welfare advisers' employed by councils and charities etc, whose sole aim is apparently to widen welfare benefit take up ..... its reached such an epidemic in the UK that even the Labour Party leader felt moved to say that "under Gordon Brown, Labour came to be seen as the party of benefits cheats and bankers" .... “the party of those ripping off our society". Better late than never, but as the architects of the system that makes far too many of the British too lazy to work, its not hard to see that they have no interest in reforming the system that provides them with so many voters.


 

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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....