Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy new year Zimbabwe?

Mugabe's own Zanu-PF party appear to have had enough of him. It's a good job really. In 1998, the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition, were beaten in elections marred by widespread fraud, intimidation and rigging and that seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of the Movement and their supporters - the stuffing that wasn't knocked out of them by police/army/militia batons, that is. Hence, I feel the last paragraph in the article I linked to is more than a tad unfair. Subsequent elections allowed Mugabe to seize enough power to change the constitution at will and basically be an even bigger tyrant than in the preceding 28 years. Which he's done reasonably well if youlike that sort of thing.
Widespread shortages of... well, everything really, have been afflicting the populous. A quarter of the population have fled the shortages and hyper-inflation (a figure of around 1100% is widely quoted).
Having Zanu-PF continue to govern but without Mugabe at the helm must surely be preferable to the continuing with the current situation. You can but hope. If factions within Zanu-PF can oust him in 2008, Zimbabwe's future - and Africa's along with it - may not be quite as bleak as it has appeared fated to over the last ten years.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bad Manners (and friends) at Bradford Rio

Full of cold and feeling sorry for myself, I nearly didn't bother with this, but I'd already forked for the ticket. Besides, I always think a good, hot curry is great for colds and if Bradford's good for anything it's a curry and one of the best places is Omar's. Famous for it's massive naan breads, they do great food at good prices. A chicken dopiaza and a family naan between 3 of us did a great job before heading to the gig at Bradford Rio. It's a reasonable venue. Decent enough size, although the bar is a bit small and the choice of drinks is limited. Stella at £2.70 was the only viable option for me in the face of a Carlsberg onslaught. As you may have expected for a Bad Manners crowd, skinheads, Doc Martens and braces were the de rigeur fashion items. But not dressed like that, I never felt like I didn't fit in or belong. A lot of folks are instantly put off by the skinhead look, but you should really know the roots of ska in the Caribbean and the whole history of Rock Against Racism. In other words, it was a boisterous, but good-natured crowd.
Ostensibly a Bad Manners gig, I was also interested in the support - Splodgenessabounds, the Macc Lad and The Ruts.

It was Dave Goodman of Splodgenessabounds that kicked things off with a few choice ditties including the one hit single, 'Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please', among some festive tunes like 'Tommy the christmas tree' and the Rolf Harris classic 'Two little boys'.


We were promised the Macc Lad - i.e. Muttley of the Macc Lads on his own. It didn't happen. Instead, some of the Bad Manners band played a few Macc Lads numbers for our listening pleasure. Not bad, but a bit disappointing that Muttley didn't make it. Still nice to hear 'Sweaty Betty' and 'Fat Bastard' live, as well as versions of 'Johnny Be Good' and The Police classic 'So Lonely'.
Final support act were The Ruts. Long-time favourites of mine from the punk era. Obviously not the original line-up, given that Malcolm Owen died 26 years ago, but the feller they've got in was very good - very enthusiastic and suitably angry. Paul Fox on the guitar was simply awesome. The passion was still there, but I can't help feeling folks that age should be getting angry about a lack of NHS dentists or putting their kids through college rather than 30-year old problems that inspired the whole punk movement. That said, some things are still relevant, like Jah War and the whole Blair Peach thing that isn't too far away from racial tensions that exist today. Managed to get a couple of really low quality pictures:



Warm ups done, it was time for the main event.
Buster Bloodvessel is a national treasure. One of the great showmen in the country in my opinion.


The whole place was rocking. Much pogoing, plastic pint pots flying, as all the ska classics came out. Guns Of Navarone is a personal favourite. I saw the Skatalites last year and their version was very different to these guys and neither can be faulted for interpreting a classic. It was the first time I'd heard Woolly Bully outside of Bradford Bulls' Odsal home, and therefore the first time I'd heard it without wanting to throttle someone. It was also the first time in many years that I'd not heard anyone singing "We all hate Leeds" when Tom Hark was played. Sadly I had to duck out for a lift home just two songs into the encore, so missed the inevitable rendition of Lip Up Fatty. Still, Special Brew and Ne-ne-ni-ni-na-na-nu-nu just about made up for it. Apparently, they finished with Lip Up Fatty and a quarter-hour version of the Can-Can.
All that bouncing, pogoing and ska jerks and everything really does work up a sweat. I cant help thinking that someone is missing a trick - a ska workout video: it'd be a winner.
Great gig, wild atmosphere, good laugh all following a good curry. Cracking night out all round.

Well he's dead

Saddam Hussein was executed this morning. And I'm conflicted. No-one would try to argue that he was a thoroughly despicable man - George Galloway excepted, perhaps - but I find it hollow and Bush's whooping and hollering merely exacerbate that. The other charges he was facing will obviously not now be heard, so there's an element of him having escaped justice, a bit like Pinochet in that regard, as well which feels a bit empty.
I would have thought that if I was ever to support the death penalty it would be in a case like this - a man responsible for murder on a massive scale and continued and brutal abuses of basic human rights. But I don't. I can't. And so I won't.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hallelujah

I get annoyed when I hear the same old christmas music played here, there and everywhere. I can't imagine being a captive audience to it all day long. So I fully support this initiative to get in banned in shops and other workplaces.
Except for my song, obviously. But then no-one will ever tire of hearing that....

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A pause for reflection

Another turbulent year is drawing to an end, and as usual I'm in reflective mood. I'm surprised I took up this blogging lark and even more surprised that I've kept it up. I am utterly amazed by the geographical spread for both blogs.
Here's a map showing where people have been visting this one from since August:


And here's one showing where folk visit Treiziste Diary from:


Every continent bar Antarctica covered.
Speaking of Treiziste Diary, my first attempt at blogging, it's been liberating to ditch my allegiances to Leeds RLFC. Not for their lack of glory this year, just to show me what life is like without feeling like I have to go every week. I never though the Catalans supporting thing would become something I actually wanted to do and now I'm all tied up in sang-et-or.net... It's notoriously difficult to get stats and information about Rugby League in France. What we've built - or are trying to - is a one-stop comprehensive site for everything you could possibly want to know about the Catalans Dragons. And if we make you laugh en route, so much the better. Giving up the commentary gig at Leeds was a wrench, but if you stop enjoying something, you'd be a fool to carry on. Met some great people in the course of the year, and some complete scrotes. Seeing the guys over from France was great, but we learned a few days ago that one of them, Axel, was involved in a car crash and is in a coma. Courage, Axel. Our thoughts are with you.
Work hasn't been such a success. Bought out by an American conglomerate, the outlook for the Leeds office still appears gloomy, even if I do have some reasonable work to do after having a proper whinge at my manager. Looking for alternative employment has been a thoroughly depressing experience and has lead in part to a potentially life-changing decision, more of which later.
If you're a regular visitor, you'll have noted my increasing exasperation with the manner in which Great Britain is being run. I'm not going to call Tony Blair a short-arsed despotic maniac because he's a lawyer, but I will say that if he's not a despot, he's sounding like one ("it's for your safety", "if you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to fear") and putting the laws of a dictatorship onto the statute. Another factor in this life-changing decision.
I started the year a single man, planning a divorce (or rather burying my head in the sand until it went away) and facing the prospect of being alone for the first time since 1993. That was scary. And I'd written off all chance of reconciliation at one stage, but over the summer it all came back together again. It's not been easy and probably won't be so for some time yet. We've tried making a fresh start and again this leads into the big decision.
I might as well get on with this now I've built it up so much. We've decided to move to New Zealand - in principle at least. They are crying out for people with my skills and virtually begging qualified and experienced teachers to go - which suits us just lovely. We really like the look of Wellington, but wish that just one NZ website would refrain from mentioning the fact that Lord Of The bloody Rings was filmed there. There's lots of things we need to do before we're in any position to go, and it wouldn't be before the summer of 2007, but that's the plan. It covers my three main gripes of the year - a more liberal society, better chance of finding work and a complete and utter fresh start for our relationship. I'm not so naive I see the move as a panacea and know it'll take a hell of a lot of work, but it's a goal.
What else? Yorkshire stayed in cricket's top flight against all predictions. York City continue to improve as we seek a way back into a proper league. GB Rugby League and England cricket and football reverted to type, so normality is restored there. My top sporting moment was the last minute Ian Hindmarsh try as the Catalans won their first ever Super League game at home to Wigan, although the Colin Lloyd v Raymond van Barneveld game a couple of days ago at the Circus Tavern was pretty bloody spectacular.
My favourite news story of the year is the one about the Bishop of Southwark getting really pissed and then denying it blind while we all scratch out chins saying 'yeah right'. Just admit it! We'd like you more.
Iraq and Israel dominate the negatives - Iraq because the UK and the US have made such a fuck up out of it and refuse to acknowledge that or change tack while there's still a chance, Israel because they continue to play the role of oppressor and victim and do illegal things like bomb half of Lebanon to smithereens while going 'they started it'. The attempts of the big players in the region to destabilise an already fragile government in Lebanon in their ridiculous chess game is the biggest threat to global stability.
The other one is the heating up of the atmosphere, which nobody in power seems to have the will to do anything about. It will kill us all if we let it.
Russia worry me. Putin's Cabinet is almost full of ex-KGB and we've seen what happens to anyone who dares criticise this fact. The fact they could theoretically switch off gas and oil supplies to half of Europe means no other government can really criticise them either.
But all is not lost. Good people exist. The good people of America who gave that fucking moron Bush a good kicking in the mid-terms, for example. The ballot box can work people! I don't understand why the British don't use it themselves as our turnouts are pitiful. If we increase out turnouts here, I believe that the recent rise in the far right vote would all but disappear. Those tossers have no place in any sort of government. While the likes of the Mail and the Express continue to pour out their hateful bile, people will see it as a good idea, but I believe it's largely reactionary rather than opinion-forming. These nazi twats were beaten in the 70s and can be beaten today.
I'm not all negative. I do have hope. I believe in humanity and humanism. I think it will out in the face of increased religious nuttery and seemingly resurgent nazism. That's you and me, people. We can make a difference.
We saw the arrival of another niece - Matilda - taking the niece/nephew tally up to six. And they're all great.
I wrote a song! Hopefully I'll have music and a video ready for a christmas 2007 release.
I managed to maintain my years old new years resolution and not gamble. Had a bit of a wobbly moment, but rode it out.
And my knees are OK (largely). Still a bit of residual arthritic pain which I'm just going to have to live with, but I can go up and down stairs and I'm walking as quick as I ever did once again. Need to keep on top of things and make sure I keep doing my stretches, but I'm amazed at the results of the physio.

May I take this opportunity to wish all my readers, wherever you are, a very happy non-denominational winter festival of your choice and every good wish for 2007. Thanks for reading and I hope you continue to do so next year.

cheers
John

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some christmas revelling of my own

Works christmas do last night at Jongleurs comedy club in Leeds. Food - meh. Wine - gah! Beer - pfft. Still, all paid for by someone else so it ain't all bad.
Eddie Brimson compered. He was pretty good.
Some Aussie bloke with a moustache was on first. He was.... OK I suppose.
A feller from Oldham was on second. He was pretty funny.
The fact I can't remember these guys names tells you everything you need to know about the quality of their respective acts.
Headlining was Junior Simpson. I remember when Juinor Simpson first broke on to the comedy scene about 9 years ago. And he's still using the same material. And it wasn't that good in the first place.
Left to get a train about half eleven. The next train would have been at about 1.15. I didn't fancy another 2 hours there. I shall do the rest of my revelling with friends and family.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dear Christmas revellers...

We both know you don't really drink for 363 days of the year, with just your birthday and christmas set aside for getting completely rat-arsed. I can generally cope with the fact you're an amateur drinker who can get in the way of a serious professional at this festive time, but if there's any chance that you could just restrain yourself a little? Your system isn't trained to cope with this sudden, massive intake of booze and is very likely to result in some projectile vomiting, such as the five examples I encountered on the 20-minute walk from house to station this morning.
Bit of advice: when you feel yourself getting squiffy, try slowing down the rate of intake. When you start seeing double, stop. Don't get into rounds - drink at your own pace. Nobody will think less of you. Basically don't be a fricking idiot and please, please, please don't spew in areas where I'm likely to be walking in a few hours time.

All the best for the festive season
John

A perturbation of the universe

Something is wrong. My morning train arrived in Leeds...... early.
I'm now sat in the office in fear of what has to go wrong to balance out this freak occurrence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Another day, another Stevens report

A busy chap is Lord Stevens, former Metropolitan police commissioner. Last week he published his report into the death of that royal bird in Paris t'other year with the staggering conclusion that a car being driven at well over 100mph into a solid concrete pillar in a Parisian tunnel by a driver who had been drinking whilst on prescription drugs was an accident. Today, he concludes in his report into corruption in football that some transfers are a bit sus.
I eagerly await the next report from this pillar of the investigative community. I'm not sure which is due next: is it the one about sky colouration? Perhaps the report into how come water isn't dry? Or maybe the one that finally gets to the bottom of what it is that bears do in the woods.

Waxworks

I have never understood why these places exist. The ones in Tussauds in that London look like they've been done from a bad photo of the subject and that's bad enough. The ones in (e.g.) Blackpool look like they've been done using the London one as a template. And Skegness must have used the Blackpool ones etc etc in a downward spiral of shitness.
But to get too far into that would justify the existence of waxworks museums in the first place. Why? Someone please tell me the point of these places.

Extreme ironing

Following England's third capitulation in an Ashes Test in quick succession, I went channel surfing and caught a bit of extreme ironing. All very good, but half the time the iron wasn't plugged in. How do they expect to shift any particularly stubborn creases with no heat? They've gone too far for the extreme and forgotten about the ironing.

The government, IT and ID

This government and all governments before it has a shocking record on IT projects. Routinely handed out to one of a small band of suppliers, they are always over budget and late - very, very late - and invariably don't work properly. This not working properly is one of the major sticking points of the whole ID cards (see this blog passim) thing - i.e. if it's not terribly secure, any Tom, Dick or Harry could swipe your identity like that. The possibility of this unnecessary system being hugely expensive, given the track record of government IT projects, is another angle from which to attack it.
In order to save money, according to Home Secretary John Reid, there won't be a new, single ID system. Instead, three existing systems will be used to see this through. This further proves that the government has no idea about what this type of project entails. This will not save money. You have three existing systems, designed (hopefully) and developed to do a specific thing. You now have to mangle those three systems to do something new. You then require interfaces to be developed to ensure these three systems can talk to each other - bear in mind these systems could each be from a different supplier and/or on different platforms, but almost certainly will not have been designed with communication channels to the other two in mind. These aren't going to be 10-minute jobs. They are time consuming and difficult tasks. Trust me. I've worked on similar.
And what are these three systems? The only one we know of is the Dept. of Work and Pensions Customer Information Service. Would checks on ID, therefore, also flag up issues with benefits? Not exactly a fanciful leap of logic.
The proposed ID card system is an utter farce and will remain so. This half-assed attempt to justify it by trying to make it cheaper just exacerbates that fact.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dear TV advertisers...

Can I assume that all your horrible christmasified adverts will cease in 6 days time? If not, please reply here and I'll sort out alternative arrangements. Like taking an 8lb lump hammer to the TV. Or your head, whichever I get to first.


best regards
John

Bishop on a beer scooter

The Bishop of Southwark's having a rough old time of it. On leaving a drinks reception at the Irish embassy (I'll not stoop to stereotyping the Irish nation here, tempting though it may be) it initially appeared that he'd been mugged. This was quickly scotched by police as evidence emerged he may just have been pished.
Today, he was on the radio protesting his innocence and how he couldn't possibly have been drunk. Frankly, his evidence just doesn't stack up. What is not in doubt is that he has a bump on the head, is missing a mobile phone and can't remember a lot. "My injuries are compatible with being mugged", he said. Yes, your grace, but not remembering large chunks of an evening, losing personal items and waking up with mysterious cuts and bruises is, in my extensive experience, entirely compatible with being rather drunk.
He also claims that it would be impossible for an inebriated person to get home in the manner he apparently did, saying "I defy anyone who had too much to drink to make that journey". But we've all done it - one minute you're in the pub, next thing you wake up on top of your bed, fully clothed and dribbling a bit with no idea how you got there. It's the well known beer scooter effect.
The Bishop just isn't making it any better for himself. I'm sure his flock would have a lot more respect for him if he'd just come out sand say 'Look. I had a few. I banged my noggin' on something and lost my phone. Sorry.'

Monday, December 18, 2006

Democracy - American style

You will no doubt remember the recent mid-terms in America which saw the Democrats take control of both houses. The public spoke and spoke in favour of the Democrats. Now at the stroke of a pen, the whole shape of American politics could be altered. In South Carolina, Senator Tim Johnson recently suffered a stroke. If he becomes unable to serve (normally this only occurs following a death, but that's not set in stone), thn the Republican governor of the state, Michael Rounds, would appoint a replacement. In some states, there are laws to say that the governor must select a replacment from the same party as the person who vacated the seat. In South Carolina, there is not and it would follow that a Republican would be appointed. If this were to happen, the Senate would be split 50-50. The Vice President's only real job is to chair the senate and in this situation - were no power sharing deals brokered - would have the casting vote.
The political landscape of America could be changed overnight without a single vote being cast by the populous. And this is the country that seems intent on telling everyone else how to run their democracies and when those democracies (Palestine, for example) don't return the government the Americans want, then sanctions are proposed.
It's ridiculous. It's so ridiculous, I can't think of an easy simile. How about 'it's as ridiculous as the prospect of a Lib Dem MP dating one of the Cheeky Girls'? Oh bloody hell....

Friday, December 15, 2006

Serious Farce

The crushingly inevitable has happened. An investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into allegations of bribery and corruption at BAe in regard to a deal with Saudi Arabia has been dropped. With the Saudis saying they'd take their wads of cash for new fighters to France if it wasn't dropped, it smacks of blackmail and it screams to anyone who is interested that rule of law doesn't apply when it comes to arms deals with abhorrent regimes. It's a farce of the highest order and pours shame on the government, BAe, the SFO and - if more shame were possible - Saudi Arabia.

More bank nonsense

A recent report concluded that banks are taking the piss with penalty charges (as referred to in the linked article for which I apologise for the ridiculous use of a question as a headline in what is very much a Mail/Express stylee). Today's 'no shit Sherlock' story in relation to banking concludes that while banks reflect changes to base rates instantly on borrowing, they're not so swift in applying them to savings.
I don't expect there to be any changes any time soon on either of these items and both have had justification attempted with a whole load of utter blather. It'd be nice to see a bit of equivalence and consistency, but that's never been a commodity banks have traded in, so I shan't hold my breath.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Daft sayings: 2

It's always in the last place you look.
Of course it is. Only a moron trapped in a buffoon's body would find the item they've been looking for and then go and search somewhere else.

Spam

Why? I'm not going to reply to a Nigerian 319 scam e-mail. Neither am I going to panic, let alone click several links and fill in my bank details on a form, when billing@jewelryadviser.com sends me a mail titled "Visa overdraft has exceed".

And the spiced ham product is pointless as well.

How Congress works

Say you're American. And that you fancy running for Congress. Then you get elected. Suppose that you then get appointed to be the chairman of the house intelligence committee. Would you think to learn something of the current issues concerning America in terms of their security? I know I would. Silvestro Reyes has different ideas.
And this is the major power in the world today. It's times like these I almost wish I believed in a god, because it would represent our only chance of being saved from these morons.

More train nonsense

You've not doubt read my thoughts on the whole train privatisation thing. Putting that aside for a moment, let's have a look at Virgin Trains' recently announced £1.4bn subsidy. This private company require this hand-out from the state to cover increased costs of running their trains on Network Rail's tracks - Network Rail being the state owned maintenance company.
Essentially, the money leaves the state, goes to a private company and is paid back to the state. Which is bloody ridiculous. Virgin Trains have undertaken to run trains on these tracks and the 'risk' in terms of cost is - or at least should be - their problem. Not ours.
Another 1.4 billion reasons why the rail network is, to put it bluntly, fucked.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sus

Finally, someone is paying attention. Hats off today to Andy Hayman, the Metroploitan Police's assistant commissioner, says of the powers available to stop and search anyone the police fancy if they reckon might be up to something terroristy "[W]e have to question the way we use a power that causes so much pain to the community we serve but results in so few arrests or charges. Is it worth it?"
In this writer's opinion, Mr Hayman, no. It isn't.

Disappointing headline of the day

Today's disappointing headline of the day once again comes from The Guardian for this piece headlined "Archer back in court".
Sadly it's just a TV show. Shame.

Redressing the balance. A bit

I'd hate for people to get the impression I'm only ever critical. Today, proposals have been laid out to overhaul the bus 'system'. The article I've linked to there points out that the proposals stop short of the full regulation that there is in London, but it is a start. Bigger companies (and I'd be a fool to be the First to point the finger) can flex their muscles at present to force smaller ones out by flooding routes. It's not a service - less well-used routes are neglected as they don't generate enough revenue - which public transport really ought to be. This should be an opportunity to give the public that use buses more of a say in when and where they're run rather than the balance sheet being the driving factor.
We're lucky in West Yorkshire as we have a fairly strong passenger transport executive. The article I linked to mentions York where no such thing exists and it is an utter farce. Routes and timetables were changed every week or two when I lived there (and that's a long time since now) and nothing much has changed. I really hope this goes some way to change things. Sheffield, too, has long been held up as a 'shining' example of deregulation in action. It'll be interesting to see what, if any, difference this makes.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blair in irony corner

Tolerance is "what makes Britain, Britain", says our dear leader today. So new immigrants must "conform to it or don't come here".

The irony-o-meter almost blew there. What a great new slogan for Britain. 'We're tolerant. So if you're not, bugger off'.
The man's either lost it or he's one of the great undiscovered stand-up talents.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The official start of christmas

Sat in the pub this lunchtime, I heard Paul McCartney's godawful Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time. This signals the official start to the festive season. I managed to last until December 18 last year before the soon-to-be-less-well-off ex-Wings frontman's dirge hit my ears, but that was exceptional. Today is more or less average for the first hearing.
As well as the former Frog Chorus warbler's ditty, a number of other christmas hits were played in the pub. And they're pretty much all shite. The Pogues are an exception. It got me thinking though. All these artists have a 50-year pension plan with their festive tunes as it appears on a new album every fricking year. So I'm going to write one - one with a strong theme of social realism. Watch this space.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Save the Holmfirth Picturedrome

You may have noticed previous mention on here of the Holmfirth Picturedrome who have recently hosted such luminaries as Half Man Half Biscuit and Billy Bragg among many others (and hopefully a trip to see the Clone Roses there early in 2007). Now it appears that world's worst pub chain Wetherspoons want to turn it into one of their shite pubs. I don't like Wetherspoons pubs. Soulless places which seem to aim for the lowest common denominator and usually succeed. They'd need permission for a change of use from the council, as well as to alter the interior to suit pub requirements cf those of a working cinema and music venue. It's the last independent cinema in the area. It's also the only music venue in the area I can think of that isn't a pub and as such able to hold any number above about 40. Both of these facts make the place worth saving, as does it's history and architecture. Trouble is, history and architecture don't pay the bills.... But bloody Wetherspoons..?? I despair.
I'll be keeping an eye on this one and making my feelings known to the council at the appropriate time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Be careful out there

If you're going to have an accident at any point, do make sure that you do it somewhere within easy access of a hospital with an A&E department. Otherwise you could be in a spot of bother.
The chutzpah of the government to claim that protests against making the vast, vast majority of people travel further for emergency care will actually cost lives is quite breathtaking.

Tiiiimmmmmber

Nothing collapses like an England cricket batting card. Why am I surprised any more?

Trident rusted

20 years is a long time. That long ago saw most of the current Labour cabinet being vehemently anti-nuclear. Now that Trident is coming to the end of it's useful life, the tune is very different. It would be "unwise and dangerous" to remove our "ultimate insurance" policy, according to our Dear Leader. Insurance against what or whom exactly? Back in the '80s and the Cold War, there was far more justification for maintaining an arsenal of nukes. Today, there isn't that Mexican stand-off we found ourselves in back then. We're constantly being told about the perceived threats to Britain and a nuclear assault from a nation state simply ain't one of 'em. Nuclear weapons are not going to be a deterrent to, for example, someone intent on blowing up themselves and others on a packed tube.
Blair also says that "it is not utterly fanciful [to] imagine states sponsoring nuclear terrorism from their soil." Au contraire Tony. It is utterly fanciful.
And to rub salt in, Blair conducted a Cabinet meeting about the replacement. It wasn't a discussion, it's not open to debate, even in that circle of arse-lickers, lickspittles and hangers-on. It's being pushed through Cabinet and through Parliament with nary a word.
And it'll cost £25bn. That's one hell of a lot of teachers, nurses, doctors etc etc etc.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Billy Bragg at the Holmfirth Picturedrome

The Bard of Barking brought his brand of socio-political folk to Holmfirth last night. As the picture below signifies, the whole tour is an anti-fascist thing - hope not hate - and second up was a rendition of the old Woody Guthrie number, All You Fascists.


The tour will encompass those areas afflicted with a large far-right vote and a number of BNP councillors. Kirklees has a few - Dewsbury, Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton - hence his appearance in the area and tomorrow takes him to Burnley. Bragg's home town of Barking recently voted 11 of the twats in and he said that he wants to learn from Burnley how to kick them out again.
It's all very worthy, but there is a massive element of preaching to the converted. I don't imagine any rabid far-right supporter would have gone to see him in the first place, let alone having their mind changed should they have done.
Perhaps the most relevant thing in terms of anti-fascism was his highlighting of the far-right website Redwatch. I can appreciate people who don't know about this. It's a website that publishes names, addresses and pictures of anti-fascist activists and encourages the kind of twat that supports the BNP to take direct action against them, i.e. violence. It needs shutting down and there were postcards already addressed to Ian Blair exhorting him to take action. Consider one posted, although the number of times I've called the BNP lying racist scum, I'm slightly disappointed I'm not on there.

It's not all politics at a Billy Bragg gig. There's a lot of humour too, both in the lyrics and in the chat between songs. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable night. He measures his enjoyment of gigs by his teabag count. Last night was a three-cups-of-tea gig. That's good, apparently.


He said he'd be back. If he is, I'll definitely go.

Pointless statistics

Everywhere you look these days, there are a glut of pointless statistics to dazzle and impress you. They come in two main areas - advertising and politics. A typical example is the current TV ad for Lexmark printers. According to them, 75% of top companies in some sectors use Lexmark. Who decides who these "top companies" are? Does a use of one Lexmark printer constitute them being a customer or do they need to have a service agreement with them? Without these questions being asked and sufficiently answered, the statistic is meaningless. See also creams that reduce signs of ageing by up to 60%. Nonsense.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Price 'em off the trains, price 'em off the roads

Following recent news of train fare hikes way above inflation, we now get the news that road pricing is very much on the agenda.
I give up. Pricing motorists out of their cars is a noble aim if we're ever to get on top of the shite that we as a population pump into the air. It will not work if there is no viable alternative. I've said this so often I'm getting fecked off with it. So if at the same time as you plan to bring in road pricing you are also pricing people off the rails, how do you expect it to be anything other than a revenue -generating exercise?