Category Archives: You decide

Cluster bombs

Did you know that we in Great Britain are now proud signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions?  We signed up yesterday.  Sadly our cousins in North America, China and Russia are still happy to use cluster bombs to blow up their enemies.  Their enemies are clearly unarmed civilians and children as, according to the group Handicap International, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians, and 27 percent are children.

Love has commented on the historic moment and The Daily Mash has their own unique take on it  

Hilary Clinton supported the unrestricted use of cluster bombs so I don’t see a change of policy from the incoming US foreign secretary.  Hopefully I’m wrong about that and that nice Barack Obama will brief her and get her to support a change in policy.  He’s good at the message of change after all.

I shall be writing to my MP like a proper grown up person and asking him* to seek further restrictions on the use of these despicable weapons.  I would certainly like to see a ban on production and sale as well as use and I’ll be asking him to push for that.  If you want to do something then you could sign the ePetition on the government’s web site or you could write to your MP.

The idea is to stop more injuries like this:

*I know who he is but you can find out who your MP is from www.theyworkforyou.com

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Economist help required

Money, its a crime.  Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie.The newspaper headlines this week are packed with political tales of which party is promising the biggest tax cuts.  I’m not an economist so you’ll forgive my ignorance I’m sure.  Didn’t the world’s governments just throw trillions of tax payer’s money at the financial markets to prevent them from collapsing?  Did I just dream that or something?

Please correct me if I’m wrong about this but these trillions of dollars have to come from somewhere don’t they?  The £500 billion that my government took to pay the banks so that tey could lend it back to us with interest, that came from the taxes that we pay doesn’t it.  It could be direct taxation from income, taxation on the things we buy or taxation on business that produce things or sell services.  Every time there is a transaction of some kind the state takes a cut. 

They use this money to pay themselves, keep the NHS functioning, pay for the two wars that we’re involved with, give cash to Europe, pay for unemployment and pensions, pay for roads, libraries, policemen and women, pay for social care of all kinds (we can see how well that is funded), education for our children, independent scientific research and a whole host of other things. 

Taking £500 bn of that money away means one of two things to me, as I’m not an expert at all.

  1. They will need to cut spending on all the publically funded things that they could have spent the money on.
  2. They’ve borrowed it and will have to pay it back with interest.  This will mean that there will be less money to spend on publically funded things.

I’m sure I’m going to just go out there nwo and put my ignorance on my sleeve for all to see.  If there is less money in the pot to spend on things because it’s been spent already then doesn’t this mean that the state needs to recoup that loss in order to keep spending by raising taxes?  Or reduce public services.  One of the two.  Surely?

Reducing taxes will reduce the amount of money the government can skim and less money will be coming in to the public’s coffers.  Have I got this wrong somewhere?  OK, people will have more money in their pockets and so might spend more which will lead to more transactions where the state skims a bit off the top but if that is the case then why not cut the tax burden right down to nearly nothing and the country will be rich.  We’ll have wonderful public services because we’ll all have cash falling out of our ears and the state will be there to pick up our scrappings.

Tell me lies, Tell me sweet little liesI suspect that it is a Big Lie to get votes.  Come on politicians, you can be honest with us, we’re not stupid.  We understand that things might be tough and we might be a bit skint for a bit, tell us that and let us bite the bullet now so we get it over with all the quicker.  Honestly, we’ll thank you for it in the end.  A Big Lie just makes us distrust you all the more.  So, stop that.  Stop it at once.

It can’t be that easy?  What have i missed?

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Bad Mood

There are some people in this world who just don’t seem to understand that they irritate other people.  I am not one of these.  I know that I annoy lots of people, I know that I am pedantic, sarcastic and occasionally mean.  I can be intolerant of views and downright condescending when people do things that go directly against the actions that they could take if they bothered to look at the evidence.  People on diets tend to receive my scorn for example.  Diets are utterly ineffectual except for temporary weight loss.  What is need instead is a change in eating habits for sustainable health in most people coupled with an increase in exercise.  People who try diet after diet but lose no weight need to give up diets, go for a walk and eat their greens.

This isn’t about diets.  This is about people who are annoying but don’t know that they are annoying. Mrs The Pain in our office is one such person.  She wrongly believes that everything that she says is cute, funny and amusing.  In fact this is rarely the case.  Most often what she says is just plain stupid.  She also seems to think that the world revolves around her.

I got to work this morning with my usual alacrity.  I have a modest walk to work of about two miles which usually warms my muscles and gets the blood flowing so my excess heat can be dissipated and I don’t overheat.  However Mrs The Pain thinks that I will be freezing cold when I arrive at work because she drives to the door and then sits in a chair gossiping on the phone.  Despite assumptions about talking and hot air this doesn’t warm a body much.  Mrs The Pain also wears clothing suitable for a central heated house, heated car or summer walk on the beech.  She makes no change for approaching winter weather except to turn the radiators on in the office.

When I arrive at work it is always uncomfortably hot.  Typically it’s 25ºC (77ºF in American) which I would usually consider to be hot.  The radiators are all on and the windows are tightly closed.  In previous winters I’ve sat down and opened my window till the temperature drops to a more acceptable 21ºC although I’d be happier at 19ºC.  I’d take off surplus clothing but I already wear the minimum.  Apparently opening a window when you’re too hot is an issue that makes people complain and “piss off to another office” isn’t an acceptable response.  I’ve tried underhanded tactics like turning the boiler off and I’ve tried being reasonable but she persists in keeping to her own view that it is too cold so the heating goes on.

A compromise would help.  I could be a little too warm and she would wear a cardigan, she could leave the heating off and I could leave my window closed.  I’ve suggested as much but Mrs The Pain is unmoved.  If she is cold then the heating goes on.  I’ve even turned the boiler up and the radiators on full and taken the day off so she can experience a day of being far too hot.  She doesn’t care.  Her view is the only one that matters.

Anyway, today I arrive at the office and it’s like a furnace.  I hang my coat up and go outside to cool down but comment on the heat politely in the hope that she’ll turn it down a notch.  Apparently this means that I am in a bad mood.  I wasn’t until I’m told by Mrs The Pain that my being too hot and asking for some consideration in a shared office is a sign of my own bad attitude.  Now I’m in a stinking mood and am plotting how to torture, kill and dispose of her corpse.

Any suggestions?  We don’t need a patio at work so my first plan is out.  Such a shame really, no-one would ever think to look under a patio for a body.

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Filed under Modern Etiquette, Reasons to be cheerful, Shitbiscuits, You decide

Good for America

Barack ObamaWell, you’ve probably heard by now that Barack Obama is President elect of the United States.  Good for them.  It looks like they’ll have a leader who will make some real change to the way they conduct themselves as a world power. 

With a bit of luck we’ll get swept along too and stop going to war so much and stop colluding in the kidnapping and illegal imprisoning of free citizens in Cuba. 

Maybe we’ll stop pandering to big business and make an effort to help the people who make this country great and keep big businesses going. 

Maybe we’ll borrow an energy policy or two from US that will stop us being so reliant on the middle east for oil. 

Maybe we’ll see Obama’s medicare plan start to work and change the trend of our own NHS so that it is no longer allowed to slowly crumble.

Maybe education reform will ignite an interest in England on our own education system so that we have tests to assess learning and not tests to put schools in league tables.

Maybe the welfare system will be reformed to act as a safety net for people and not a way of life.  We should protect our citizens from hard times, not coddle them so they never seek to rise above our own limitations.  A raise in the minimum wage would be a start as would a change to the tax system.

Maybe a tax system that takes from those most able to afford it will be borrowed from Obama’s ideals and the average Jo Plumber will have a few quid extra to spend or save for old age, his parent’s retirement or his children’s education.

Maybe a separation of Church and state rigorously enforced by the new President will encourage our own government to end the peerage for religious leaders and keep the state and personal faith of her citizens apart for the preservation of both.

Maybe the interference in Iraq will end and allied troops will be able to finally withdraw without the nation erupting in civil war and hundreds of thousands more being killed and leaving the people open to the vile hate mongering of the enemies of the West, the Taliban and the message of al Qaeda that paints us as thieves and invaders.  Which is true for Iraq at least if not Afghanistan.

Maybe our own policy on war will change to reflect Obama’s idea of international cooperation and mutual defence rather than preemptive attacks and occupation.

Maybe the idea of equality for race, sexuality and gender embraced by the American people will spur our own flagging ideals a little.

Maybe the world will improve just a little because of the good decision of the American people yesterday.

I hope so. Time will tell.

EDIT:

Equality suffered a setback slightly today.  Proposition 8 defining marriage as an institution between a man and a woman got through 52% to 48%.  What that means to 18,000 gay marriages is anyone’s guess.

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Paul Newman not dead. Now working in IT

I’ve just got an email from Paul Newman.  It’s a newsletter espousing the virtues of webcasts as training tools and as a method of extending reach to potential customers.

That aside, even though it was interesting, the writer was Paul Newman.  He’s not only the star of dozens of excellent and entertaining films, the producer of a fine range of salad dressings, a magnificent philanthropist in his own right and a supporter of the First Amendment in writing with an annual award of $20k but now he’s risen from the dead to work in IT.

I’m sure he’ll revolutionize the industry.  He’s been a success in almost every other part of his life.  I’m sure his second shot at it will be just as good.

Do you have any dubious links to fame like me?

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Banks to lend you your own money

Taken from the Daily Mash.

THE government is to invest £500bn of your money in British banks so they can lend it back to you with interest.

The historic move is being hailed as a lifeline for the financial system as long as nobody asks too many questions.

Julian Cook, chief economist at Corbett and Barker, said: “The government will give your money to the banks so the banks can start lending you that money, probably at around 7% APR.

“Thanks to all the interest you’re paying on your own money, the banks will make billions of pounds again and normality will be restored.

“After a few years of this the government will cash in the bank shares it bought with your money and use the profits to build a huge fucking dome somewhere.”

He added: “In case you hadn’t already worked it out – the entire global financial system is predicated on the assumption that you’re an idiot.”

Chancellor Alistair Darling said the decision had been taken in tandem with the banking industry, adding: “They used a lot of dirty words I’d never heard before and one of them had an angry looking dog.”

Meanwhile, Emma Bradford, a sales manager from Bath, said: “Why doesn’t the government just give my money to me so I can buy stuff from businesses who will then make a profit and put it in a bank?”

But Mr Darling insisted: “Shut up.”

I think the summary of the bail out of the banking industry is just about perfect.

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Cervical Cancer Jabs

Following on from yesterday’s rant about the Metro and it’s reporting of superstitions I have an honest enquiry about the HPV cervical cancer vaccinations.

The purpose of the jabs is to provide some level of immunity to the papilloma virus which manifests as genital warts and an increased chance of cervical cancer.  The virus is responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers.  It isn’t a replacement for proper screening but should save a few lives anyway.

Putting aside the irresponsible actions of St Monica’s Catholic School who “unanimously came to the conclusion that vaccination against it is a personal matter for parents to decide in consultation with their family doctor and their children.” even though a private course of injections costs around £500.  Putting aside that they claim that it is not a moral issue (it isn’t, it’s a medical issue) the faith based teaching ideals must have had a strong influence on the decision. 

How is it even a moral issue?  I ask this is all seriousness.  It is true that if nobody had sex the virus would be eliminated within a century or if people restricted themselves only to one sexual partner forever.  This would have to be everybody of course, not just the girls at St Monica’s. 

Let’s assume for a moment that it is considered moral to wait till you marry to have sex and that we should encourage that very Victorian idea.  If a male partner has sex with someone else and becomes a carrier of the papilloma virus that transmits to the woman (who only ever had sex with her husband) then she is at risk.  I’m not even talking about unfaithful men here, what about divorce or death?  I would think it very rare for one man and one woman to be exclusive for their entire lives.

I don’t consider it the moral course to place this sort of restriction on people.  Even if I did it would be impractical to enforce.  Not everybody thinks the same after all.  As people will continue to have sex with one another whether I like it or not then we should take steps to ensure that people are not spreading disease through sex.  An immunisation programme seems the obvious limiter here.  Remember that you need only have sex once to get the virus, it isn’t something that only occurs through promiscuity.  That’s just more Victorian thinking.

Returning to my question.  Given that the purpose is to limit the spread of the virus and provide protection from infection by HPV can anyone please explain why boys are not being immunised as well?  True, boys cannot get cervical cancer, the lack of a cervix ensures that, but boys can still carry the virus and spread it.  Wouldn’t immunisation for boys as well as girls make the effectiveness of the vaccine much greater?

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Polly Ticks

I have a question.

Can anyone think of a reason why my views should be represented in various political forums by 15 people?

According to the Write to Them website my district councillors are Terry Hart (Labour) and Susan Stocker (Liberal Democrat), my county councillors are Ann Buckley (Liberal Democrat) and Anne Edwards (Labour), my MP is David Willetts (Conservative) and my ten MEPs are Peter Skinner (Labour), Ashley Mote (Independent), Sharon Bowles (Liberal Democrat), Nigel Farage (UK Independence), Daniel Hannan (Conservative), Caroline Lucas (Green) and, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, (Liberal Democrat).

My political views are so much in the minority, it seems, that I feel compelled to point out that I haven’t voted for any of these people.  Not even one of them.  I’m also ashamed to admit that I have only heard of two of them.  Willetts, because I have an unreasonable hatred for the shiny faced little git and Terry Hart because I remember getting a leaflet through the door from him.

I’m disappointed to discover that Terry Hart isn’t the same Terry Hart who was an astronaut.  If he was the same guy then I probably would have voted for him.

Do I really need this many people representing me?  Isn’t one person representing me in national government, one in local government and one in Europe enough?  Do I even need that many?

Political views on the size of government are welcome.

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Large Hadron Collider Rap made me laugh

I keep hearing scaremongers wittling on about how horrible things will be when the experiment to create a small scale “Big Bang”.  I’ve read that we’ll be sucked into the void and DOOM DOOM DOOM.  All because those nasty irresponsible scientists can’t leave well enough alone.

What a load of foolishness.

If you want to find out what CERN does you could do worse that look here.

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Learnt\Learned

“Learned” and “Learnt” mean the same thing. The “t” ending is from the older English spelling while the “ed” ending is from the newer American spelling. Either are valid. They are both past tense of the regular form.

Another example is “dreamed” and “dreamt”. Verbs have a tendency to shift spelling to become more regular.

Which do you prefer?  I shall be using the “t” ending exclusively from now on.   Just because I can.

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