Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Land of the giving

The charitable sector is worth billions, so what better way to make money than dipping corporate toes into the land of the giving. With fees, administration costs, and important expenses all adding up, "to do the right thing."  There's a bucket load of money to be had from the hands of the overstretched.

Oh, before i forget, something to take our mind (well my mind) briefly off and away from it all: across the center of centaurus a...

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA) - ESA/
Hubble Collaboration; Acknowledgement: R. O'Connell (U. Virginia)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Internet sense?

"The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday (24 November) that internet service providers (ISPs) cannot be be forced to filter internet traffic and block users from trading copyright music or other files, as to do so undermines privacy rights and the ability of people to freely exchange information." 

All (well apart from the mafiaa, and euro governments bending over backwards to appease the industry)  hail the european court of justice!   I wonder if this means the uk government's digital economy act law of nonsense will now be in need of amending, or perhaps even, ditching?  No doubt the industry will increase turning the screws and pay for more dinners, where thrashing the eurosceptics to make them howl ever louder in public, will be the surprise dish of the day.

Updated 20:08hrs.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Who has your back?

When you use the Internet, you entrust your online conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook. But what happens when the government asks these companies to hand over your private information?  

Please join me in urging Internet companies to stand up for their users when the government comes knocking.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Escaping words

Sometimes, when careering along the s'ighway (and seemingly especially youtube) we come across things that leave us speechless with amazement.

Do enjoy this brief 1 minute 27 second clip.  It will at least bring a smile to the start of the weekend.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

24hour party people - edition uk

You could make it up, but why oh why would you?

Some clever bods in the department for media, culture and sport (dmcs), have popped along with a thought (or superb wheeze) where entertainment venues should be allowed to party from dawn until dawn or, which would be much more pleasing for them, allow them to party until a sufficient number of their members have expended so much energy gyrating, that they eventually fall to a rare condition called supine exhaustium derelictus, causing the remainder of the party to speed by in an air of utter futility.

Asking party people whether their particular venue(s) of choice should remain open 24 hours a day for: live music (would that be a dj spinning plastic?), dancing, or other entertaining moments, is akin to asking a crack-addict whether they'd prefer one rock or thirteen, and all for the same price.  I noticed my hand (gently cradling a now tepid cup of coffee) was trembling; as the normal placid creamy surface started to dismayingly display the most untoward motions, along the uttermost edges of the rim.

How many people in the dmcs, or the ministry for that matter, who came up with the idea actually live next door to, or in the immediate vicinity of, one of these wonderful modern day mini-colosseum's?  I would heartily wager my beating heart, not one bloody lot of them.

When i say live there, i genuinely mean that they actually live there, in the immediate vicinity of the venue day in and day out, and are not just popping in to the townhouse that day because they or their offspring wish to pop to the entertainment venue with, or without, their friends!

But wait, i've gone off half-cock.  Silly me.  Of course, that's just the headlines.  No doubt buried, somewhere amongst the snoozing small print will be the paragraph which says, this will only be allowed to progress in those areas where residential approval and the implementation of appropriate sound-proofing measures, have been classified as satisfied.

You may now burst into a bout of unabashed hysterics.

Currently though it's all part of a consultation.  As we know from consultations in the past, the odds are stacked in favour of the measures reaching the books.  After, however, when things do go tits up (excuse my use of technical terminology here) they'll blankly look at you and simply utter force majeure!  

Apparently "laws which require Government approval for such a large range of public events put a small but significant dent in our community creativity and expression.  If there’s no good reason for preventing them, our presumption should be that they should be allowed." (dcms 2011).

Community?  Yet the government threaten to cut police numbers, decimate education grants, and are probably going to insist councils do away with meals-on-wheels!  Creativity?  The government idly stands by allowing the closure of  libraries then blames wasteful councils.  Expression?  Naturally they'll start on the basis that people wanting to do that outrageous thing of sleeping, aren't expressing a good enough reason to prevent other people from partying.   Apparently they really do want hundreds of  thousands of people turning into red-eyed maniacal insomniacs!

I do hope thay all those happy, sleepingly content, residential areas, which will be affected by this, where there's not yet or not much history of noise nuisance by entertainment venues - of whatever type - do indeed club (no pun) together, to find out where those civil idiots live and drive up and down their roads with loud speakers/hailers, so they (the politicians and civil serv's.) are minutely made aware of a momentary instance of what it's like to endure any amount of unwanted unnecessary noise let alone noise for 24 hours!

On a somewhat diffident note, i would like to know when the right hons. last experienced their craniums unpleasantly vibrating due to coaches & lorries parked outside of their premises with engines running at full tilt, or the last time they experienced their entire body vibrating like a tuning fork by bass so deep it would feel as though their entire body is shaking to bits, whilst the council keystone cops just seem unable.  Again i'd like to wager, not one bloody jot of them.

Yet these are the very same people who will allow venues to go ahead and play music 24 hours a day, because it might be good for someones fiscal pockets.  Certainly not the residents, and certainly not residents attempting to find some sleep in a 24-hour din.  But who cares.  If they're living there they must obviously be poor and taking up far too much space.  Which when you consider that these are the very same people who are more than happy to allow tens of thousands to die each year from air pollution, probably indicates that the few people who will be inconvenienced by lack of sleep due to the possible introduction of these measures, doesn't figure a jot in any of their deliberations, however remote.

Remember, the next time you're jolted awake (if you're in the uk that is) by the sudden thud, thud, thud of music at 4am on a cold clammy winters morning by a venue you swore wasn't there the day before, and your call to the council only produces a "we can't hear anything."  It all started with the slow, drip drip drip of a seemingly good idea, which one day finally makes you wonder "how did this happen?"

(dcms 2011) John Penrose MP, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, Regulated Entertainment, A Consultation proposal to examine the deregulation of Schedule One of the Licensing Act 2003, September 2011 (accessed 16th November 2011 pdf)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Teenage hamsters

I never thought i'd chortle quite so heartily over a story regarding hamsters and how their reproductive behaviour, and apparently by extension our own, can have such a deleterious impact well into adulthood.

But a piece on dr duncan jeffersons site, managed to do just that.  The findings would probably help explain my general mood of, if not sourness, crystal-edged jadedness.

Ah yes, the delightful piece can be found here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

48 percenters

A forwarded link caused a disturbance in my morning ritual of something liquid and preferably coffee, which pointed to breaking (at the time) news of top-cat pay rises which briefly bubbled its way to the top of the uk info charts; before, and seemingly to the relief of many in the corridors of news, being prematurely replaced not even 24 hours later - and strangely to more trumpeting - by the uk coalition governments call to cut the benefits of those layabouts who would dare commit any act of heinous criminality.  Acts such as thieving a bottle of water from lidl or getting caught  trying to manhandle a tv (way too big for the smaller tearaways) off and down the road in a somewhat recognisable wheelchair.  With legislative white papers being made ready for placement before the parliamentary rubber stamp, and soon if they are caught in any act that would add (or not) to their material benefit, as evidenced by many an armchair judge in front of their own legally brought and paid for tvs during the august 2011 riots, for the temerity of wishing to improve  shoddy lives.

I mentioned this was the coalition governments idea, but it contained the hallmark fingerprints (and sticky ones to boot) of hailing from the cranium of ids - well that and he cawed loudly whilst saying so.  A man who would, no doubt, if asked whether the poor should be jettisoned into space to pave the way for new  exploration, i.e., researching longevity for the pantheon of infinitely more deserving - with all patents going to acme corp. - or whether the poor should be offered training so possibly improving their lot -, would plump for the former every time, whilst beating you over the head with his book*.  

I know my mind's truly wondered, when i can imagine hearing "help, the poor" in a kind yet shrieking tone emanating from the head of the once party leader.

The amount of column inches or pixels per inch, foisted on the unmentionable sectors of society fostered the belief that the proportion of ne'er do well's who took part in the fracas would easily number 99%.  Ahh, the gasp of disbelief was almost palpable, when it turned out (admittedly from only those caught and hauled before the beak) that a lowly third (33%, 1/3 or one-third) were actually claiming benefits.  So, what about the other 2/3's who, after a brief spin in the headlights of newsoriety, fell off the press radar faster than an alcoholic vainly attempting to distract you whilst trying to neck your final pint?

More on them in a later post.

Before i leave this ids soupcon, it's best to clear up a few erroneous ideas.  When it comes to equality, poverty and the poor, there's no one more qualified to putt that wayward department (the dwp) of profligacy to the sword.  The only other person, whom i believe could be viewed as only slightly more qualified, has sadly departed.  But i'm sure if genghis khan were still alive today, he'd be more than happy to have ids as his staunchly loyal deputy.

Suppose, for a moment, we assume the figures are correct and 33% of the naughty transgressors were in receipt of the basic jsa allowance instead of a prison stipend.  This safety-net allowance ranges anywhere from £53.45p - for those single criminals under 25, to £67.50 for those hardened single knock-abouts who (no doubt) having spent their formative years submerged in grubby back-alleys stripping narks of their fledgling wealth, then graduating to thumbing through loose and stained copies of "create your own crime wave! Free with every smashed shop window", still managed to trip over the 25 year-old line without having their collar felt - to hard - or spending too many hours indoors.

Basically the government are showing how much they disapprove of such actions, and to ensure the "something for nothing" crowd don't get too big for their boots and ponder future riotous behaviour  - when their existence really starts to turn screw-frighteningly shitty - will set ensure the legislation allows the beaks on high sufficient clout to deduct (or claw) £25 per week from the unwashed's income, as part of the coalition's "get tough on the bastards" approach to re-balancing the country's dire fiscal criminal-induced lot.

For example, if you fell in the £53.45p allowance bracket the new fines (from 2013) would ensure 47% of your weekly income could be clawed back by the government - sorry the courts - as a way of rubbing your evil vile and wicked nose in it, for daring to disrupt the livelihoods and enjoyment of those who are your betters; or 37% of your weekly if you fell into the "you really should know better" category!

As we know the reason touted for this near 50% potential tithe are the riots.  However, i smell a rat.  A rat which was obviously waiting to hatch under lubricious circumstances, the riots dutifully fashioned as a fait d'acomplise..   What does appear swamped by those who think "about time," are people on the other side of the equation actually saying "whoa, hold your horses there speedy.  Do you really want to further impinge the destitute by slicing nearly half of their money without wondering why they took part anyway?" Can probably be counted on two slightly-splayed, overly large fingers.

This new sanction (a word which has apparently become the new dwp catch-phrase) holds a further sting, as it won't be held in reserve solely for those conducting or being part of riotous behaviour.  Oh no, this could easily be any a situation; from falling behind in your credit card or mortgage payments (due to loss of work or reduction in salary), all the way to lobbing a brick through a window and walking down the road with a tv whilst being filmed on the national news, or viewed a few million times from someones mobile phone gatherer.

The day following that announcement, we learnt from the other side of the tracks that the top 100 ftse company directors racked up a 49% annual pay ri-.  Wait a mo.  49% increase on one side, a 47% claw back on the other!  It's the 48% parallel!

It was depressing listening to an advertising executive talking about the time, energy and risk he's put into keeping his multi-billion company upright in the choppy waters of global trade, through recessions, good times and bad.  And so, if anything, his 23% pay rise to £1.5mn was a slight.  Indeed he sounded outraged, as though he had all right to feel outraged at receiving such a pitiful sum.  Which i suppose you would, if you compared your take-home to someone else, like say, sir phillip green or a saudi prince?
And what do our august leaders have to say about the 49% increase in boardroom pay, whilst seemingly agreeing with ids on swingeing cuts for those already on the bottom?



The fact that boardroom pay (for those who believe they're worth it) has on average increased to £4.9mn, that their annual pay rise is nearly 50%, simply garners the term disturbing from our governing politicians; and only due to the glare of publicity that was temporarily sizzled upon them.

Before we get too carried away, do pity the poor ceo's who only received a 43% pay rise, on average.

Along with mr cameron, many of the front & back benchers form part of a happy flock.  Seagulls happy to skewer each other (or anything viewed as weak) at the slightest twinge of an opportunity.  And now the boot is firmly on the neck of the poor, what better way than to bring some of those wonderful ideas they've been mentally toying with for years, firmly into the limelight.

Timing, oh timing.  It is odd that with less than 0.0002% of people claiming some sort of benefit involved in the riots and/or looting, that the governments use of a deep-sea pile-driving rig to combat the issue, is perplexedly worrisome.

In line with this, there's another pronouncement from the leader (david cameron pm) that if you're now unemployed for more than two years you'll be forced to do community service (leg shackles will naturally be provided, free of cost) for "at least six months, to get you out the house, to know what it feels like to work," and not just stare at that box you've no doubt nicked, all day!

What?  Exactly what jobs are out there that the large intrusive hand of government (from the party that always bellows that governments to big, there's too much red tape) will force people to do, that won't be reminiscent of scenes from films involving chain-gangs?

So now they'll force people to do whatever bit of crap they can find them - and call it work - and they'll receive less than the minimum wage those in work receive.  Yes, that really would make anyone feel very special.  But then he has the temerity to continue saying "people will learn new skills they can apply in the workplace."  Would this be new skills like learning how to bring banks and economies to the brink of bankruptcy?  Perhaps they'll learn how to fiddle expenses?  Instead why not assist or help them into decent training courses in the first place, before two wasted years have passed?  Of course they wont.  Doing that would imply the current setup is nothing more than the complete and utter statistical wasting exercise that it is.

The whole trope smacks of mendacious expediency aimed towards their cawing gallery of hawks, which will eventually end with the poorest getting it, at gunpoint.

So in future, remember!  If you want to gleefully sack hundreds or thousands of people, cut their wages, outsource jobs to cheaper labour markets, destroy markets and even peoples pensions, ensure you're on the right side of the 48% club.

My cup of chilled coffee wobbled, ever so slightly.

* Patently this is ridiculously untrue - allegedly - and possibly wouldn't happen in this or any other timeline.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Despite my general aversion to war and conflict, we live in a world where for numerous reasons (greed and power usually play a part somewhere) wars and conflicts play out on an almost daily basis, and there comes a time when you have to defend your liberties, freedom and life, if others aim to squash them.

So i commemorate those brave men & women who have died by the millions in battles and conflicts present and past.  I'm sure there are many of us around today who wouldn't be, and those who would who aren't. 

To the fallen.

from the delightful, and far to happy, duchess of fiddle fart's page.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Unexpected moments.

Sometimes my normal milieu is cracked by seeing something rather unexpected. 

The following short (apparently shot in an hour then edited the rest of the day) from three dutch drama students, is one such moment.  I wish them much success in their endeavours.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Give away


Over the past few weeks i have been patiently waiting for another call from "global computers pc tech you have horrid malware" department regarding the state of my computer.  Yesterday, it finally happened and before those words had chance to pass my inner ear and the electro-chemical signals do their bit in translation, apparently my excitement seeped out whilst i scrambled to pop-on the recording device.

Before i could say, "sorry but it's a very bad line.  Could you repeat that for me," a lengthy pause ended with the call's silent termination.

Very, very disappointed.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Kick the bottom there's a pit underneath.

The coalition government here in the uk continues to show it is more than capable of staring down the barrel of a blunderbuss without flinching - especially when bearing down on the knuckleduster choices of swingeing cuts required to repair the uk's ailing economy.  Proving that  there is nothing they hold dear or sacrosanct, and there's no scum-laden pond they wont dredge, in order to bring the good ship uk back on route.

So, naturally, one of their targets are what the oecd classify as being the relative poor.  Not content with removing those who are struggling with either beans on toast, or cheese on beans (thus saving the toast for a rainy day), from a momentary inflation matching rise in their income that was conferred by using the more accurate retail price index (rpi), they decided to use the consumer prices index (cpi) which is a few points lower, and so cheaper.

But even here, the idea that people already wallowing in the trough of poverty are obviously having far too much fun and wantonly exhibiting luxurious spending habits - oh yes and the inflation rate is a bit too much for them to stomach - the treasury (according to the bbc) instead ponders whether they should use a figure which encompasses the average six months of the year on which to base any allowance raises on.  This from the very same people whose idea of poverty and hardship is running out of a jar of mustard, to slather over whatever succulents they've being invited to tuck into.

I wonder if the relative poor could also use that government wheeze for themselves, and pop into their local tescos or sainsburys, perhaps m&s and query, "i propose to pay for these pack of 12 surprise cheesy bean-balls, by using your average six-month price.  Can you tell me how much, mate?"  Which part of their anatomy would the store guards or security launch them into the street by first i wonder!

But as a sign of how desperate things really are: energy prices are going up, water costs going up, rents and clothing costs rising.  Indeed everything the already ravenously poor have no choice but to generally spend money on, are inflating more than the newly proposed increase in the meager safety line many are bobbingly clinging to.  If anything, the governments latest wheeze will ensure already threadbare funds are stretched to final breaking point.

With not much light peeking over the horizon (unless it's the on-rushing flames of a record wild-fire), the future - especially when you consider the double even triple-digit numbers applying for jobs - looks increasingly bleak, and that is the silver lining.  I seriously doubt all claimants live double lives with bentleys or ocean going yachts!

Let's see when the next independent annual mp pay review comes up, whether they'll do the right thing instead of squealing "we never said we should get a pay rise, it was them," and drop a few digits off their rate.  After all, and someone please correct me if i'm wrong, a £650 (or £12.50 per week)  pay rise to those on £65k pa plus expenses, plus whatever junkets, dinner functions, gifts etc., fall their way probably might not fall into the same category as opposed to a £175 (or £3.04 per week) allowance increase impact might have on those who eek by on £3.5k pa, which might mean the difference between heating, eating or freezing to death.

If they do link allowance rises to average earnings, at what stage would they consider their de-coupling?  Perhaps when average earning increases reach the heady heights of directors or ceo's?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A time of firsts

Oh it brought a tear to the eye watching people around the middle-east and africa rising up against their one time liberators turned dictators, sadly some uprisings were far more bloody than others, and with the odd one or two still raging it at least proves people can only be ground down so far.  

In a year or more, when the scrutinereal eye of the rest of the international community once more lands its myopic gaze over that part of the world, i wonder if they'll be reporting that the newly unyoked have refrained from forcing newly minted yokes on to recently shackled batches, of the most unwilling!

Time indeed will tell.

Then there's yet another tear, as the 99 per centers around the globe protested, saying "enough is enough."  Some protesters doing nothing more than giving expression using one of the last means at their disposal (the others being the ballot, or out and out revolution), earned serious injury after been hit by over-zealous law-enforcement projectiles, bolstering other people into joining the protesters..  The corporate ravens and lick spittle allied against 98.99% of the rest of population, including the armed forces.  That, if anything, should be extremely interesting to watch.

So a hearty cheer for the 99%, and let this be the breath of air that will finally galvanise an almost stupid electorate (don't worry, putting myself in to this category quite heartily, before anyone blurts) into demanding that politicians not do the usual and promise on the ever-never, but put actual legislation into effect.