Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Conservatives are the new New Labour

George Osborne today claimed that the Conservative party are the party best placed to continue with Blairite policy. That seems a very odd thing to do given the kicking that the electorate keep giving Blair. If the Conservatives were trying to appeal to me, then the worst thing they could do is say "we'll be like Blair we will".
The assertion is that New Labour are abandoning the centre ground for a move leftwards, but I see no evidence for this. Instead, it's the Tories making a cynical grab for a perceived popular standpoint. However, it's to the detriment of party unity, as evidenced by the resignation of front-bencher Graham Brady as Cameron ditches any pledge to expand grammar schools.
So let them stew. They still don't know what they stand for and don't really have any ideas beyond saying the word "choice" umpteen dozen times per interview.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Not coming over here, not doing our jobs

Your strawberries will cost more this year. And for why? Because there aren't enough migrant workers willing to come here and pick them.
Ungrateful buggers; not coming over here and not taking our jobs.

How to get arrested in Russia

Get punched in the face.
I suppose Tatchell (among others) had it coming, the way he viciously headbutted that blokes fist.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dear continuity announcers

STOP TALKING OVER CREDITS! Especially when the theme tune is a masterpiece the like of which the Doctor Who theme is.
Additionally, production people: stop shrinking the credits into a tiny box while the continuity announcer talks all over the credits. Some of us are actually interested.

Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, STOP IT.
If you would.


cheers

Great idea

Today's amazing policy idea:
Stop and search anyone. With no suspicion. Presumably because it worked sooooo well before.
John Reid is due to quit in a few weeks. Can he not be forced to shut up in the intervening period so we don't have to put up with any more of his rubbish like this?
Meanwhile, Whitehall wants us all on a DNA database. Given that witnesses to crimes who are not under any suspicion are routinely added, as are suspects who are later released, with no chance of ever being removed, it's a logical step. Well, I say logical, but only from the illogical standpoint at which we find ourselves now.

I don't know if the Gordon Brown premiership will be much different to Blair's. It can't possibly be worse. Roll on July 27.

EDIT: Again, Henry Porter puts it better than I can.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Super cricket

As England start another Test against the West Indies which is doomed to end in a draw again, here we go back to 2005 when England were really, really good and Steve Harmison's radar actually worked, as classically shown with this glorious slower ball to Michael Clarke at Edgbaston.
Also, the dulcet tones of Mark Nicholas to call it. Top commentator who shunned the Sky dollar in a Benaud stylee.




Also, anyone remember Simon Jones? (More Mark Nicholas on the soundtrack)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Queen

You can tell the Queen had been in Huddersfield today because on arrival back in the town this evening, there were so many union flags adorning the town's buildings, it was like a mass BNP rally.
You could tell something was afoot this morning, as the streets were actually being cleaned. It's annoying that the rest of the time we walk to work through streets covered in gum and tab ends and that it takes something out of the ordinary to get some cleaning done.

Tagged - whatever that is

Many thanks to the inimitable Jerry Chicken for 'tagging' me. Apparently, I must now impart 10 items of information about myself, and I'm only really doing this because the tagger reckoned I'd pooh-pooh him. So I'm pooh-poohing his pooh-pooh (etc in a Blackadder style).
Not sure I'll find 10 things that are particularly interesting, but anyway:

1. Although I work programming computers, there are few things in life that bore me more than programming computers. This also means that when you find out what it is that I do for a living, it does not follow that I can fix your printer/wireless network/Skype phone (whatever they are) so don't bother asking and ruining dinner. In fact, it's come to the point where I'm tempted to make up jobs that I could be doing instead and tell people that. Taxidermist perhaps. Maybe topiarist. Or something not beginning with T. It'd make for more illuminating conversation and would indulge my mischief-making gene.
The only reason I'm still doing it for a living is that I don't know how to do anything else that pays this money. Maybe one day I'll wind down and do something I actually want to do, but it'll do for now. Also, I own no Red Dwarf t-shirts.

2. I'm not sure what my marital status is. I signed something once, but I'm not entirely certain what it meant. And it was a long time ago now, so what that thing I signed meant might not be the case any more. Or not. I don't know.

3. I was brought up as a Catholic and this is quite probably the reason behind my atheism - i.e. it quickly became obvious that, in the words of The Specials, it's all a load of bollocks. Reciting the same things time and time again every week to get you somewhere when you're dead just didn't add up. And it's bread and wine, not some old bit of flesh and blood. A kindly Irish chap waving his hands over it isn't going to magic up some chemical transformation to convert a wheat-based wafer into meat or some horridly sickly wine into blood. I'd rather have the blood actually. That altar wine is disgusting, something I learned at a young age, snaffling cheeky bits of it when tidying up after mass when I was an altar boy. I have tried other wines since, but still none of them do it for me. I blame the church for the amount of lager I drink.
Oh and the Salvation Army is nonsense too. Fair play on the soup kitchens and all that, but why the tambourines?

4. My great aunt Edith Robinson was the first civilian into Belsen when it was liberated by the Allies in 1945. Working for the Red Cross at the time, she was often deployed literally hundreds of yards behind the front line, hence she came to be there. It was only when she died that I found any of this out. I also found a couple of boxes full of photos. Harrowing stuff and it really ought to be in a museum. One day, I might get round to sorting through it all and getting it into the public domain. I ought to really.
Having seen the pictures, reading the nonsensical outpourings of Holocaust deniers riles me more than it did before. And it annoyed me a lot before.

5. I wasn't there when York City beat Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford. Neither was I the year after when we beat Everton 3-2 at Bootham Crescent. The first season I went to football was 1983/4 when we were plying our trade in what was then Division 4. The first game I saw was a 2-2 home draw with Reading and I really enjoyed it. That season, we were unstoppable, winning the division by a mile and ending with a then record 101 league points. It was brilliant and it felt really good to be a small, 9-year old part of it. Shame, then, that the subsequent 23 years have largely involved misery. I don't get to many games these days - not as many as I'd like to. Football largely bores me, but it's totally different when City are involved.

6. I really hate bananas. No, I really hate bananas. Everything about them. I think the sight of them is merely a trigger for how it will smell when it's opened, but I've come to hate the sight now as well. They have no redeeming qualities. I hate things that are banana flavoured. At Scarborough one time, I had a go on one of them grabby claw machines that was full of sweets and got two out. One Refresher and one generic yellow thing. I gave the missus the Refresher as they're nice and I know she likes them and popped the generic yellow thing into my mouth. Suddenly I was retching against the taste of banana and desperately needed to spit the offending item out, but could I find a bin?
I used to hate flying, but after a period of time in which I flew a lot I got used to it and now it doesn't bother me. I don't envisage the same happening with bananas.

7. I was once shouted at by a 'yoof' in Huddersfield. "You fucking Jew bastard", he shouted, apropos of nothing. This took me aback slightly, so I asked him why he'd ejaculated that particular phrase. He merely repeated his assertion of my fucking Jewish bastardry. I pointed out that my religion (if I had one) couldn't possibly be obvious and why would it matter anyway? I could see he was confused, so I offered to show him that I wasn't Jewish if it really meant that much to him. His reply was "you fucking gay Jew bastard". You can't argue with logic like that, so I went on my way.
It's not the only time I've been subjected to anti-Semitic abuse, but the other time was in Castleford so it kind of goes with the territory.

8. I started writing a sitcom once. At the moment, it's a loose collection of jokes - sarcastic quips, witty asides, one liners, physical gags and something about farting - in my head and some on random scraps of paper. If it ever actually makes it to a manuscript, I'll be utterly amazed, let alone making it onto film. The problem as I see it with my comedy writing is that it's actually really hard. And in the words of Homer Simpson, if something's hard to do it's not worth doing.
Strangely enough, that slogan was on my socks on the day I got married. When I kneeled down at the front (Catholic wedding, you see. They love a good kneel), my mum could read the slogan quite clearly.

9. Our Expression of Interest in applying to become resident in New Zealand was accepted yesterday. The NZ immigration service is checking to see if we are who we say we are and then we'll be invited to apply. Still lots of work to do on this, but we're underway.

10. Back in the day, I set out to fill the Panini '86 football sticker album. You remember the things, surely? Happy were the days when the playground rang out to the strain of lads hunched over massive stacks of pictures of Kevin bloody Keegan going "got, got, got, got, need, got, need". I was one sticker away; then Chelsea reserve keeper Eddie Niedzwiecki. All those stickers. All that money. And for what? Thanks to Eddie Niedzwiecki, bugger all. It's all his fault.

I'm now going to go and mither Asim with this. He's been everywhere. I bet his will be more interesting than mine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fahrenheit 451

This one sort of snuck by me. In need of some reading material yesterday lunchtime, I picked up the pub's copy of the Mirror and tucked away was a story which didn't really make the more usual sources I use for news. A man was freed on bail yesterday having been accused of possessing a book.
I hadn't noticed that the possession of certain pieces of literature had become illegal. I myself own several works that call for the overthrow of established methods of government. Are the works of Rousseau, Marx and Engels, Paine etc also to be proscribed? Once you start banning the possession of certain pieces of literature, it's easy to extend it to cover more. Then what? Burn the lot in the style of a Bradburian fantasy?
The pamphlet this man is accused of possessing may have some abhorrent stuff on it - I don't know; I've not seen it - but to start criminalising ownership of certain publications is a dangerous step.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mornington Crescent

Listening to a few old editions of the self-styled antidote to panel games I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, I'm getting a tad annoyed with the game Mornington Crescent. What's the point, especially when you're performing in front of an audience who aren't from the city of London? Why not a game based on the bus stops of Carlisle or the souks of Marrakesh?
Load of rubbish in an otherwise amusing use of half an hour.

Monday, May 21, 2007

You know you're getting old when....

...you find grey nasal hairs.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A reason for the apathy?

In a nation where turnouts rarely exceed 45% in any sort of election, you'd think that MPs would be doing all they can to re-enfranchise the electorate and ensure people wish to get involved. Apparently not. MPs would rather shy away from their public, the very people who voted them in. This is the only reason I can think that there was no massive groundswell of opposition to the Private Members Bill which seeks to exempt members of both houses from the Freedom of Information Act.
It was thought to have been defeated last time, but here it is again and opponents have failed by five minutes to talk it out of Parliamentary time, hence it now going to the Lords.
Labour's tacit support for this bill is the most worrisome aspect. This is legislation they introduced and came into effect less than two years ago which they are now seeking to revoke. I cannot think of a single time where a government has sought to so radically alter their own legislation so soon after it has been introduced.
Again, we find ourselves in the strange position of relying on the Lords to chuck out this nonsense of a bill. This time, I'm not so confident that they will.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Best game show in history

Quizzlestick, product of the collaborative minds of Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish. I would watch this.

5 terms you could have used instead of.... urban regeneration

  1. Upbuilding
  2. Flaternisation
  3. Office space embiggenisation
  4. De-uniquification
  5. Homogenisation

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Penalties

The penalty shoot-out is a thing of beauty (with the caveat that your team is not involved). There have been many attempts at finding a different way of settling a drawn game in knockout football, but none have even matched, let alone surpassed, the penalty shoot-out.
And yet it is a source of annoyance. I cannot stand being told that:
  • Nobody likes to see a game settled like this
  • Penalties are a lottery
Both are assertions which have now passed into commonly accepted truth, but both are wrong.
The first sentence of this post make the first point a mockery, and I know I'm not alone. The second is also rubbish and merely a reason given as to why the English national side are so bad at them. Believing this to be true, they are bound to fail against sides that actually practice penalties in the event they may come to that point on occasion during a knockout tournament - not an unreasonable thing to do.
Yesterday's shoot-out between Southampton and Derby was marvellous, coming at the end of two marvellous games. It capped it all beautifully. Long live the penalty shoot-out!

Pub quiz

You know you're onto a loser when you have to correct the questions in a pub quiz.
Examples from last night:
"Who won the light heavyweight contest between Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather jnr last week?"
It wasn't a light-heavyweight contest.

"Who was the drummer commonly referred to as 'the fifth Beatle' and was the focus of the film Backbeat?"
Where do you start? The drummer replaced by Ringo was Pete Best, but the focus of Backbeat was the bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe. What are you actually asking?

We ended up missing out by a point. Bah.
Oh and it's John McClane not John McLean who was Bruce Willis's character in Die Hard. And it's not a trilogy any more.

Foreign policy

See this story? It's very serious and has large implications for the whole of the Middle East and isn't funny.
However, the link on the BBC homepage to the story says 'Raid shatters Gaza ceasefire' which I read as 'Reid shatters Gaza ceasefire' and mistakenly assumed that the home secretary had really and truly stuffed things up. The worrying thing is that my version is entirely believable.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Love thy neighbour

Aborting the idea of having a weekend in the Lakes, we stopped in on Saturday night. With a typically dull TV schedule, we settled upon the 3-hour (or however long it was - could have been days) 'extravaganza' that is the Eurovision Song Contest. I know, I know. I don't need telling and I was perfectly aware of what we were letting ourselves in for.
Twenty-four songs of varying quality followed the excruciating presenting duo and interspersed with Terry Wogan quips and that's fine, as it's kind of what it says on the tin, but it all falls down when the voting begins. Vote for your neighbours is order of the day. It gets very predictable. Here are the votes from Bosnia: 8 for Slovenia, 10 for Macedonia, 12 for Serbia. The votes from Serbia: 8 for Macedonia, 10 for Bosnia, 12 for Slovenia. Cyprus: 12 points for Greece. Only Sweden and Finland survived from Scandinavia, and were duly awarded the big points from their neighbours. It's not a contest any more, just a load of songs and some mutual, neighbourly backslapping.
And I've no idea why I'm bothered by that.

Business action plan

I have had an idea which will surely see me earn my fortune.
Wait for it......



Easter Scotch eggs.

A big breadcrumbed shell of sausagemeat with loads of those mini Scotch eggs inside. Brilliant idea, I'm sure you'll agree.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Diego Corrales

Boxer Diego Corrales died earlier this week following a motorcycle accident. He was just 29.

A true warrior of the squared circle, here's why he'll he be missed. This is the incredible 10th round of his second fight with Jose Luis Castillo, which came at the back end of a proper slugfest of a fight.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dear bloke on this morning's train

Yes I did have my headphones in. However, that doesn't render me deaf or reduce my spatial awareness, as you supposed aloud, presuming I couldn't hear you. Indeed, so good was my spatial awareness that even if I wanted to budge up a bit in order to allow you to get your bag down, I was aware that I could not. You had the option of waiting for a matter of seconds or displaying your own limited knowledge of how objects interact. You obviously chose the latter.
And I could hear your tiny dummy spit. I just couldn't be arsed responding. Frankly, Neil Kinnock was more interesting. Which says a lot.

Hope you were late.
John

The UN in irony corner

Zimbabwe are being widely tipped to take the chair of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.
Yes, that's sustainable development potentially being under the stewardship of a nation with inflation running at 2,200% (and presumably much more by the time I finish writing this bit), unemployment at 80%, electricity being rationed to four hours per day, and all on top of a regime noted for it's widespread human rights abuses and electoral fraud. What a great choice they'd be.
If nothing else, I hope the fact that the issues facing the average Zimbabwean are being brought into focus for a while may prompt some action, but I shan't hold my breath.

Going, going....

...but not quite gone yet.
Today's the day that Blair finally tells us when he will step down. It'll be in seven weeks time, apparently. Which is fine, as it gives me plenty of time to book the day off and organise the drinks for the massive piss-up.
The seven weeks is to allow time for the new leader of the party to be named, but I'm not sure seven weeks is what it takes to say the word 'Gordon' followed by the word 'Brown', as I don't see Michael Meacher or John McDonnell gaining enough support to mount a challenge to the Chancellor. It's kind of sad when the only real contest is for the deputy leadership.

It's often said that you judge a man by the company he keeps. Cosying up to Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Bush, Merkel etc, as opposed to the left-centre parties in the relevant countries speaks volumes about the direction Blair has not only taken the party, but also the country.
And the legacy is often how outgoing prime ministers are remembered and his will consist of pretty much one word: Iraq. Kinnock was on the radio this morning talking about how it's odd that a prime minister so active in pushing for military action in Kosovo and Sierra Leone should be vilified for Iraq, conveniently forgetting the total lack of mandate for war in Iraq and the lies that were presented as evidence in favour of conflict. Everything else he's done - good, bad and indifferent - will forever be overshadowed by that. He might not like it, but it's true.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How shopping should work

Notes from my journal.

12:00. Leave office.
12:07. Arrive at shoe shop. Head towards mens section.
12:10. Having failed to secure favoured pair in requisite size, acquire second choice.
12:12. Leave shop, having paid for goods.



If it's ever any more complicated than that, I am not interested.

Metrics

Where can I start with this? It's just such a massive waste of everybody's time and energy as it's a total non-issue. The problem has been the packaging of it to the public. It's not Europe trying to nick your weights and measures. It's making things easier for you. A pound can still be a pound, it just needs defining as 454g rather than 16oz. A pint is still a pint, whether it's 568ml or 34.7 cubic inches. I don't buy the comment in the article that imperial measurements make it easier to sell to the US, as their imperial measurements are ever so slightly different to the British.
SI units fit together. When I was doing my Chemical Engineering degree, we once did the same calculation two ways: SI and imperial. The SI method gave you a figure in simple to understand units. Do it in imperial and there is a mass of different units, none of which fit. I wish I had the piece of paper I used just to illustrate the difference.
Harold Wilson's administration began the conversion to metric in 1969, but it ground to a halt before the roadsigns changed, for reasons I'm not able to find with a brief online search. I saw for myself the gradual change that happened in Ireland. For many years, roadsigns were in two units until the miles were gradually removed. This is a help in adjusting, although out in the sticks you could go past one sign in miles, go a bit further up the road and see another sign in kilometres and wonder if you were going the wrong way as the number was bigger.
And to finish, here's a question. Have you got any concept of what an acre is?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Knackers

Another season in what everyone's come to know as the Conference (BlueSq Premier next year folks, with a *cough* lucrative TV deal on Setanta) following defeat to Morecambe yesterday. And trip to Wembley either, which I had prematurely been looking forward to. Typical Conference refereeing in both legs hurt us - you could argue for sendings off of Morecambe players in both games, especially Stephen Drench's Harald Schumacher-esque clattering of Clayton Donaldson which left our star man pretty much a passenger for the rest of the game - but not as much as our inability to take our chances. That and giving two uncharacteristically soft goals away.
It hasn't been a bad season though - we're improving year-on-year.
If we're to continue this upward trend, we must retain Billy McEwan as manager and we need to find a replacement for Donaldson now he's gone north of the border. McEwan has a good record in unearthing gems from non-league football or league reserve sides and he needs to do it again. Still, now that Sky no longer have the rights, we may win a televised game at some point in the near future. Which would be nice.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Russell T Davies is a charlatan

Bringing Doctor Who back to the screens is brilliant and worthy of applause. However, Russell T Davies, the man responsible, needs to learn his Who history. In a recent interview in the TV listings magazine we get, TV & Satellite Week, he claimed it was he who first made the Daleks fly, countering their famed inability to go up or down stairs. Rubbish! They were flying at least as early as the Sylvester McCoy days, probably before. Therefore, I call Davies out as a charlatan and a hack.

It really shouldn't bother me this much, but it does.

Still not equal

The resignation of BP chief executive John Browne wouldn't normally bother me greatly. That he felt the need to lie over aspects of his private life, lies which have prompted his stepping down, does. It also raises questions over what is and isn't in the public interest. The allegations initially raised about Browne misusing company funds to help his former lover - strenuously denied by both Browne and BP, I should add - are. BP is one of Britain's biggest companies and as such is a barometer for the economy. The salacious tittle-tattle that goes along with it, I would suggest are not. Once the misuse of funds allegations are shown to have no legs, that should have been the end of it, but Associated Press seem to have gone after the gossip angle subsequently. By lying, I feel Browne's admitted that sexuality is still important in big business and Associated Press's actions show that it still sells papers and, consequently, there isn't equality.
In terms of the running of the business, it doesn't make much difference. Browne was due to step down soon anyway and his successor was already named and being eased in. This has just accelerated the process.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bloody Virgin

I've had about enough of Virgin Media. Everything they do is ever so slightly more annoying than the hated ntl did things. All the menus on the TV are slightly more inconvenient. Useful, if unnecessary features are no longer there - again, slightly more annoying. Fewer channels for the same money and now an internet connection that only works intermittently.
Thought is being given to sacking the bearded tosser and his slightly annoying 'service'. Bah.