Category Archives: You decide

Women Drivers

No, this isn’t a bad and sexist joke.

Saudi authorities arrested a female activist on Sunday who launched a campaign to challenge a ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom and posted a video on the Internet of her driving, activists said.

The YouTube video, posted on Thursday, has attracted more than 500,000 views and shows Manal Alsharif, who learned to drive in the United States, driving her car in Khobar in the oil-producing Eastern Province.

“Police arrested her at 3 a.m. this morning,” said Maha Taher, another female activist who launched her own campaign for women driving four months ago to spread awareness of the issue.

It seems that women want a bit more freedom in Saudi. Good for them and good for Alsharif for making the stand to get her point across.

While there is no written law that specifically bans women from driving, Saudi law requires citizens use a locally issued licence while in the country. Such licences are not issued to women, making it effectively illegal for them to drive.

Sexism by the back door. It isn’t illegal for a woman to drive but the authorities are denying them the ability to drive. That should be straightforward to fix. Right?



Filed under Religion, You decide

An Eye for an Eye

In a literal application of the sharia law of an eye for an eye, Iran is ready for the first time to blind a man with acid, after he was found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry him.

I know that many people will see this as justified because throwing acid in someone’s face and blinding them is clearly an horrific crime. We rightly feel anger at such violence and want revenge on the perpetrator. We want to see justice done.

This isn’t justice. This is violent revenge torn from the pages of barbaric Sharia law. This is retribution, not justice.

Majid Movahedi should be imprisoned for a very long time. He should compensate Ameneh Bahrami, his victim, for the rest of his life and he should be made to see how vile his actions were. The law should be dispassionate even as we cry out for revenge, even as we understand the anger of the victim. That isn’t justice.


Filed under Religion, You decide

Jesus vs Batman

Jesus vs Batman

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Filed under You decide


According to the US government, our government and the popular media: We are supposed to accept that troops can raid a foreign country without their permission or knowledge; execute a man who has not been tried for his crimes; throw his body in the sea so there is no evidence for what happened; and call this last ‘respect for his religion’.


They don’t have to produce evidence of his crimes or have a trial. There is no need for a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict, what we would call a jury. Indeed there is no impartial and rational examination of evidence at all.

Is this justice? Why are people celebrating it?

He may very well have been guilty of horrible crimes but even Hermann Göring got a trial.

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Filed under You decide

Excel Spreadsheets

A bit of an odd question but what sort of Excel templates would people and small business like to have in your opinion?

I must admit to making mine on the fly but I know a lot of people like to use templates for things like invoices, stock tracking, time sheets, etc.  I’m thinking of making a bunch so that I can improve my Excel skills in the new version of MS Office that is due for release this year (The first half of this year apparently).  Even if it is just some VB code that creates pivot table or some formula that calculates holiday entitlement for someone who works unusual hours I’d be interested.


Filed under You decide

How much is marriage worth?

An incoming Conservative Government will give £150 tax break to married couples, which equates to just under £2.88 per week.

In England and Wales, it costs £30 per person to give notice of intent to marry or register a civil partnership. A register office ceremony costs £40. A marriage certificate costs £3.50.  At best this means that a marriage costs a minimum of £103.50 so that means that the return on investment is 36 weeks however there are extra costs to marriage.

If you’re having a ceremony in approved premises other than a register office, you’ll be charged for the presence of the Registrar and for the building. Contact the register office and owners of the premises for exact costs.  One source says that the average cost for a wedding is £11,000 which I could well believe.  That is a ROI of 73.5 years.  Longer than most marriages last.  That’s 11.5 years by the way according to 2007 figures.

I must therefore conclude that marriage is not a financially viable option in the face of Tory bribery.  It would have to rise to £18.39 per week to be a realistic bribe and that only just covers the cost of investment.  To be worthwhile it should be in the region of £60 per week.  That’s more than 20 times the proposed bribe.

Nick Clegg had the following to say “being married to Miriam is the best decision I have ever made. I didn’t marry her for £3 a week.”

For those who don’t know Nick Clegg is the other one, the one who isn’t Gordon “one-eyed Scottish idiot” Brown or David “hug a hoodie” Cameron.  Nobody knows what he really looks like.  I mean they see pictures of him but forget them almost immediately.


Filed under You decide

Right to Privacy

Internet data-retention law comes into force

Internet service providers will have to retain details of Internet communications, including email, under UK law which came into force on Monday.

The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 require service providers to retain details of user Internet access, email and Internet telephony for 12 months. ISPs must also be able to respond to access requests by law enforcement and other designated authorities.

The details of UK citizens’ communications to be retained include which websites people have visited or attempted to visit; the sender, recipient, date and time of emails; and the caller and recipient of Internet telephone calls.

Read more

What this means is that every web site, email and telephone call that you make not only can be monitored if you are suspected of some heinous villainy but will be monitored and retained for 12 months. 

Quite how this will help to stop terrorism or organised crime escapes me.  I could take a laptop to a Witherspoon’s pub or other free Internet access location such as almost anywhere where people have set up free wifi access points for me to use. (Thank you).  I could use a free Internet mail account with some bogus details to plot my nefarious activities.  If I wanted to I could set up a simple device on my laptop to mask my network card’s MAC address.  A simply dongle, router or disposable mobile phone would do.  I would be anonymous again.

Presumably the EU is operating on the assumption that people who want to blow things up are stupid as well as misguided.  The two do not automatically go together. 

I wonder what happens when I email one of my American, Canadian or Australian chums?  They can track my sending an email but not what happens to it?    If I send it to a googlemail account it could literally go anywhere and remain private.  Actually I could set up my own email server, dial into an Australian ISP and route messages that way.  I believe that there are still Aussie Internet hosts that operate out of remote sheep farms and such.  I don’t want to stretch the bounds of national stereotypes too far but I’m sure there are a few.

This law is simply an invasion of my privacy and the privacy of anyone else in the EU.  I will be writing to my MP and MEPs (you can find your’s here and here) asking them to campaign to repeal this pointless and intrusive law.


Filed under Bad things happen, You decide

Simple question

Why are banks “too big to fail”?

Back in the olden days there was a saying that went like this:

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. 

The general idea being that a distribution of eggs throughout several container would mitigate the loss of one container and damage to said eggs whereas a single container results in the loss of all eggs if the container somehow fails.  In banking the analogy is that the banks are the baskets and the eggs are our money.

Fairly obvious really.  Why is it then that banks and other large corporations are allowed to grow to such a size that failure of any one of them can result in disaster for the whole economy?  Shouldn’t there be some kind of monopolies commission, government body or something in place to stop companies from growing too large and threatening the stability of society?  Just a thought.

This is also an excuse to post this picture:


Filed under Modern Etiquette, You decide

Are you a hardcore atheist?

Stolen from Hemant.

  1. Participated in the Blasphemy Challenge.
  2. Met at least one of the “Four Horsemen” (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) in person.
  3. Created an atheist blog.
  4. Used the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a religious debate with someone.
  5. Gotten offended when someone called you an agnostic.
  6. Been unable to watch Growing Pains reruns because of Kirk Cameron.
  7. Own more Bibles than most Christians you know.
  8. Have at least one Bible with your personal annotations regarding contradictions, disturbing parts, etc.
  9. Have come out as an atheist to your family.
  10. Attended a campus or off-campus atheist gathering.
  11. Are a member of an organized atheist/Humanist/etc. organization.
  12. Had a Humanist wedding ceremony.
  13. Donated money to an atheist organization.
  14. Have a bookshelf dedicated solely to Richard Dawkins.
  15. Lost the friendship of someone you know because of your non-theism.
  16. Tried to argue or have a discussion with someone who stopped you on the street to proselytize.
  17. Hid your atheist beliefs on a first date because you didn’t want to scare him/her away.
  18. Own a stockpile of atheist paraphernalia (bumper stickers, buttons, shirts, etc).
  19. Attended a protest that involved religion.
  20. Attended an atheist conference.
  21. Subscribe to Pat Condell’s YouTube channel.
  22. Started an atheist group in your area or school.
  23. Successfully “de-converted” someone to atheism.
  24. Have already made plans to donate your body to science after you die.
  25. Told someone you’re an atheist only because you wanted to see the person’s reaction.
  26. Had to think twice before screaming “Oh God!” during sex. Or you said something else in its place.
  27. Lost a job because of your atheism.
  28. Formed a bond with someone specifically because of your mutual atheism (meeting this person at a local gathering or conference doesn’t count).
  29. Have crossed “In God We Trust” off of — or put a pro-church-state-separation stamp on — dollar bills.
  30. Refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
  31. Said “Gesundheit!” (or nothing at all) after someone sneezed because you didn’t want to say “Bless you!”
  32. Have ever chosen not to clasp your hands together out of fear someone might think you’re praying.
  33. Have turned on Christian TV because you need something entertaining to watch.
  34. Are a 2nd or 3rd (or more) generation atheist.
  35. Have “atheism” listed on your Facebook or dating profile — and not a euphemistic variant.
  36. Attended an atheist’s funeral (i.e. a non-religious service).
  37. Subscribe to an freethought magazine (e.g. Free Inquiry, Skeptic)
  38. Have been interviewed by a reporter because of your atheism.
  39. Written a letter-to-the-editor about an issue related to your non-belief in God.
  40. Gave a friend or acquaintance a New Atheist book as a gift.
  41. Wear pro-atheist clothing in public.
  42. Have invited Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses into your house specifically because you wanted to argue with them.
  43. Have been physically threatened (or beaten up) because you didn’t believe in God.
  44. Receive Google Alerts on “atheism” (or variants).
  45. Received fewer Christmas presents than expected because people assumed you didn’t celebrate it.
  46. Visited The Creation Museum or saw Ben Stein’s Expelled just so you could keep tabs on the “enemy.”
  47. Refuse to tell anyone what your “sign” is… because it doesn’t matter at all.
  48. Are on a mailing list for a Christian organization just so you can see what they’re up to…
  49. Have kept your eyes open while you watched others around you pray.
  50. Avoid even Unitarian churches because they’re too close to religion for you.

Only 21.  Tsk, I’m barely atheist at all.  Of course I blame the high number of USA specific questions for my low score.  Dollars indeed.  Flipping monopoly money, English ten pound notes have Charles Darwin on them, that’s hardcore.


Filed under Atheist, You decide


I hate this advert.  It is too effective, too emotive and too frightening to ignore.  How do we break the cycle?


Filed under You decide