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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Olympic class response

Over the past few days there seems to have been a growing reporting of police and military tactics which are being used and which may be used during the London Olympics. My previous post, which covered the presence of machine-gun totting police at a peaceful NHS protest, has been viewed by a lot of people who like me; were pretty shocked and concerned to see this in the UK.

Then later in the week we saw the police at the Tottenham Court Road incident dressed in paramilitary gear, complete with facemasks. One slightly deranged and angry man needs that sort of response? Part of a pattern or is there something else going on?

The machine gun police officers were a silly mistake, a show of bravado or an attempt to intimidate, which backfired spectacularly. The Tottenham Road incident was without doubt a huge over-reaction but may also have been used as a training exercise for the police. A practice for what though? The London Olympics of course.

Earlier this evening the was a further bit of news in the same vein. A plan was announced to site a ground to air missile unit on top of a residential building not far from the Olympic stadium. A couple of residents were interviewed with one saying it’s worrying and another who said it is needed to protect the stadium.

My take on it was that it must be a gesture at best. Basically what goes up must come down. An attempt to attack the stadium from the air by a group wishing to make a point would have to be very, very lucky to make it as far as the stadium but what if they did? The missile battery would be pressed into use, it would track the incoming threat and then fire a missile at it to ensure it was brought down at a safe distance from the stadium. Now safe is an interesting word to use in this context.

Safe will result in whatever type of airborne threat being damaged to the degree that it can’t continue so it will then fall to the ground along with the remains of the missile itself. Whilst the stadium is in a less populated area in London it’s likely that the debris will come to earth with a bang and might result in damage to property and even injuries or worse. again this sounds like more of a gesture than anything else.

You may also have heard from the MSM that the US is sending an aircraft carrier, which will be stationed at a point where it can “assist” should there be an incident, which may require more of a response than perhaps the UK can muster?  How embarrassing! It’s not like the UK doesn’t have an aircraft carrier with powerful jets ready to fly and deal with any potential threat. Well, we will have a in a few years time although it might be a wee bit longer to actually have some working jets on board. On the brighter side however, if we break the first aircraft carrier we will have a spare almost ready to go.

Have previous Olympics had this level of security? Are we only finding this out because it’s here? Will the police use this as a way of introducing a more paramilitary reaction to some incidents? Will we lose any further rights and liberties because police tactics will necessarily change for the Olympics and can’t be put back in the box?

Who knows? I don’t intend to watch much if any of the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.  I do hope that people who like such things enjoy, I also hope that there are no incidents at all, never mind one, which may require masked police, backed up with ground to air missiles!

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Politics, Sport

 

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BBC The Apprentice – Lording it in the boardroom – Episode 7

There you are relaxing on your day off with your mates, playing computer games and slobing out and there’s a knock at the door. Someone heads off to see who’s there and comes back with your boss who tells you, you’re going to be travelling and should get ready to leave. Lord Sugar strikes again!

And they’re off on the London to Edinburgh East Coast line although First Class. Lord Sugar describes the destination as “the food capital of Scotland. Just the capital of Scotland would have done really.  Lord Allan says that pavement gastro food is very popular in London but the more distant areas haven’t yet caught on to this. Oh really? What about the French, German and Italian markets not to mention the farmers market and the Sunday market in Stockbridge? Not to worry, lets not spoil the idea with a pinch or two of truth.

So the teams have to come up with gastro food, which they can make in the street and sell at a premium. Game on.

Lord Sugar chooses Adam Corbally as the Project Leader for one team and the other is Jenna Whittingham.

They start straight away and make plans on the train journey, which takes 4.5 hours. Katie comes up with a suggestion that one place they could sell their product would be at a football ground before a match. Conveniently Hearts are playing Rangers and she feels this is a good opportunity. Adam has hit his iceberg and he’s already sinking. Not to be deterred however, he ploughs on at full speed and decides that his team will use cheap ingredients so they can make a much larger profit, water is pouring in and its too late to close the water tight doors. Gastro food made from cheap ingredients, its just not going to happen.

Jenna has taken on board the quality of the food, which is needed, and her team have decided Parliament Square is a good place to be. It’s a busy place, certainly, especially with Johnnies (tourists).

Both team set up and start trading. £5.99 for a portion of meatballs and pasta at a football match was never going to work. Also the kick-off is a 12.30 and most people will have self catered or if they haven’t they’ll be hitting Greggs and those burger stalls outside the ground. They’ll spend £3.00 for a burger or a steak bake and a can.

In Parliament Square the stew made from good quality meat isn’t flying over the counter either. The Johnnies have had their breakfast not long ago. So Jenna decamps to Princes Street beside the Royal Scottish Academy. Now the Johnnies walk past that spot before heading up to Parliament Square. The same people who would have been their customers if they’d stayed where they were. Also Princes Street is one long eyesore due to the tram works so locals and tourists avoid it. It’s closed to traffic so everyone has to head to George Street for buses further reducing the foot fall.

Adam drops his prices and tries again but its not happening and they decide to head to the Grassmarket. This is a very busy place for Johnnies because it’s very close to the Castle and a lot of walking tours either start there or pass through. It also has a large number of cafes and restaurants of all types and costs. Not an ideal pitch. Stephen and Katie make a deal with one of the tour bus managers (all the tour buses are owned and run by the council) so they can pitch to the people on the bus who will be so excited at the prospect of some gastro food they’ll jump off in the Grassmarket and eat rather than staying on the bus. This doesn’t work.

Both teams then reduce their prices to get rid of the stock they have.

Boardroom time. Adam is taken to task straightaway. Basically he didn’t follow the brief and didn’t manage properly. The proof comes when the profits are reported and Jenna wins.

The showdown sees Adam slightly embellishing his involvement and the decisions he may have made. Lord Sugar fires Katie.

Come on. Adam was way, way, way off the mark and Azhar has been hiding since the start. Katie definitely made errors but Adam should have carried the can.

The best quote of this episode was Lord Sugar responding to the £5.99 price point for the meatballs and pasta at the football. He says that they spend less than that on strikers up there. Funny indeed.

Other episodes –

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 3

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 4

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 5

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 6

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 8

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 9

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 10

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 11

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 12

 

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Cars – 2

Things started to go a bit awry once the Americans started putting catalytic converters on cars, all in the name of reducing emissions, which of course made its way to the UK. They made car engines less powerful so more petrol was used to achieve the same speeds as before. Cars got heavier too, which reduced injuries and deaths, although cars again, required more petrol than before. Efforts were made to improve miles per gallon, especially when we had the fuel shortages in the 70s.

All in all, cars have been a great boon for most people. Traffic jams are pretty tedious and the taxes that have been levied on cars and motorists despicable. It’s a pity that something, which came along and improved people’s lives, has become an enemy to others.

Some people dislike SUV or 4x4s because they pollute more. More than what? A Smart car? You can’t tell by looking at a vehicle how “environmentally damaging” it is. You can never really tell anyway because there are so many different factors involved.

What are the alternatives then?

I saw a chap, who lives locally, coming back from grocery shopping. His backpack was fairly full but he also had re-enforcements in the shape of his dog which had panniers hanging down it’s sides, one of which was full of stuff. He normally cycles everywhere, sometimes with one of his children in a seat on the back of the bike. Nothing wrong with cycling even if a lot of cyclists haven’t enough experience or have taken any training in how to survive as a cyclist.

Cycling is great. It’s even greater if you live somewhere reasonably flat. It’s less great if you live somewhere where it rains a lot. It’s also not so great if where you live can be windy. Then, there are cobbles to consider? Wet or dry? Wet and you slide all over the place. Dry you get shaken to bits if you manage any sort of speed at all.

It is genuinely great for keeping fit though. More cycle paths, not just lines on the road though, real segregation to protect all road users and pedestrians.

The war on cars continues apace but like all of these things, which some people deem to be dangerous or unhealthy, it is a double-edged sword. The government rakes in billions of pounds from motorists. Reducing the number of cars will reduce the amount of tax money received. What then? A tax on bicycles and licenses for people who use them. What about those wee scooters which school children scoot to school on? Tax them too. Walking? Oh yes it’s a must and a tax on shoes and shoe mending. A tax on zimmer frames also.

It’s an ill wind and all that. (Especially if you’re cycling up a steep cobbled wet street into an ill wind and rain and it’s taking up way, way, way, too much of your time.

 

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Did you hear the one about the Scotsman the Australian and the American?

Getting close to the famous and powerful can be pretty exciting for some people. For others just getting close enough could result in some business or influence being put their way. This is pretty shabby. Unfortunately it seems to be a scam that our politicians have been using to fill their party coffers.

The disclosure of the Tories practicing this and using the hard sell technique usually used during some sort of “hustle” stunt is pretty low rent. If you’ve seen “The Real Hustle” you’ll be familiar with the techniques used to separate punters from their cash. In the video, which was made by The Sunday Times, the hustle techniques was used on the Tory rather than on the intended victim. The Tory was given a huge carrot by being offered a potential £250K “donation” and the pound signs in his eyes got his mouth going and rest as they say is history.

At best it’s tacky and at worst criminal. Some politicians will, no doubt, use this episode as a way of pushing for taxpayer funding of political parties. This would be a dreadful way to go. Taxpayers already fund MPs who then go on and do what they are told by the party whips or follow their own agenda, which does not match with their constituency voters.

Now, The Sunday Times is a News International newspaper belonging to a certain Mr Murdoch. Is it just co-incidence that the Sunday Times investigated this? And, more recently, old Uncle Levenson being provided with emails by Ruperts son showing the politicians digging even deeper holes for themselves?

I’d like to think and hope that this will be a trend providing a number of exposes over a period of time which will show politicians, policemen, TV people and of course slebs as being less than innocent.

The main question is – why do we put up with this? We’re in a double dip recession organised specially by a couple of dippy toffs and all the MPs want to do is this trivia nonsense?

I quite liked the description of the lunches being held by the SNP with the rich and the powerful, which also featured various ministers. It sounded pretty low rent in comparison to our friends in Westminster who do grand on a… well a grand scale I suppose.

It sounds like the SNP take guests to the Holyrood café in the parliament or maybe they push the boat out and go to a local restaurant, like Greggs, although nothing too fancy mind. Let’s hope they don’t go too far down the food chain however and end up taking people to one of the Fish and Chip Shops up the Royal Mile. (It is however, worth remembering that doing so would render dishwashing unnecessary). The Fish and Chip shops are fairly handy and the SNP and their guests could easily walk to them saving additional costs on travel.

The big questions would be is it a fish or a pie or a fried Mars bar supper and do you want brown sauce with it? I suppose there would be further decisions to make also. Like who wants Irn Bru or the diet version and will anyone go the whole hog and have Red Cola? Obviously the SNP and their guests would have to stand outside to eat, whilst the Johnnies – tourists – filed past. Making sure that they put the wrappers in the appropriate bin would of course be a priority.

Can you visualise Alex standing on the pavement in the High Street with Donald Trump on one side and Rupert Murdoch on the other? Donald would start in about the windmills and Alex would tell him he caused more noise with his unending (although very much closer to the truth than Alex would like) hot air than the windmills do.

Rupert on the other hand would be enjoying the banter and telling tales out of school or Westminster about the Call me Dave and his entourage, who fawn over him although asking him to go in the backdoor is a bit iffy to be fair!

If a crowd formed around about them that wouldn’t be a problem. One telephone call by Rupert and the Polis would be there in numbers to protect the magnates and Alex. No doubt a pretty spiffing account would appear in the papers the next day.

“Wee Alex” first in the queue, “Doanuld whaur’s yir winmulls” next and “Rupert the “Berr” dining out at the Scottish Taxpayers expense! It’s okay though, John Swinney would ensure that there was still change out of a £20 note!!! Would they take their wives? Steady now, think of the additional cost! Good grief let’s not get carried away here.

Now that scenario would be a bit of fun.

Grand on a less grand scale.

We know how to do things in Scotland.

Oh yes!

 
 

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Cars – 1

The availability of reasonably priced cars made a significant difference to ordinary people. From the 50s and 60s onwards more people became mobile although the quality and dynamics of the cars available were perhaps not as ideal as they should have been. Cars at that time rusted significantly and fairly quickly and they didn’t steer or stop too well either.

No matter though, as long as you managed to remain unsquished, your chosen car could carry you to various places where you could partake of whatever amenities and enjoyment were available. It wasn’t unusual for people to go on a ‘Sunday drive” during which they’d maybe park in a lay-by and set up a table and chairs then eat some sandwiches whilst enjoying a great Scottish view.

Cars were also the main means of going on holiday back then. You could drive to Blackpool or Scarborough or tour the highlands or wherever took your fancy. The roads weren’t ideal and you spent a lot of time in traffic jams in the towns you passed through at times. I remember going on a touring holiday in a 1964 Mini, which had two adults and three children, squeezed inside. It had seat belts in the front but they were those static ones so you had to adjust every time you got in. They weren’t used much to be honest as it wasn’t a requirement in law.

The tour took in Gairloch, Skye and Invergordon and various places in between. We had a tent, which was carried along with all the other stuff we needed in a trailer, connected to the Mimi via a tow-bar, which was bolted to the rear bumper! And it survived the whole trip!

The west coast was wonderful, warm and really enjoyable but the east coast was horizontal rain. My Dad, ever resourceful had put a roll of polythene in the trailer because it might come in handy. In Invergordon the tent started to leak through the walls so my Dad got the polythene out and opened it out to it’s full width. He then borrowed a couple of clothes poles, as you do, and put the polythene right over the tent and out a bit at the front so we had this sort of roof which was held up with the clothes poles.

We now had a watertight tent and a good bit of room in front of it. Next step was to set up the primus stove and stick on a pan of chips. Yes he’d also brought the chip pan! We were the envy of the campsite!

A car was a great thing to have. There weren’t a lot of them on the road and parking wasn’t nearly such an issue either. A car was great value since it meant you could go where you wanted when you wanted.

What that ultimately meant, was that the car was actually a time machine. It was a time machine because it was quicker than walking, cycling or going by bus or train. It saved, everyone, who had one or had access to one, time, time that they could use for other more pleasurable things.

It also meant that people could shop wherever they wanted rather than shopping in the local area. This must have been the start of the High Street beginning to change significantly. My Mother used to drive to a cheap supermarket, which was more like a cash and carry since all the goods were on pallets and still in the cardboard packaging. It was cheaper to shop there even when the petrol costs were taken into account. Petrol was cheaper then too but everyone still complained when the prices went up which of course they did.

Walking is our default, running is quicker an saves you time, cycling faster still, bus, train, car, plane and ship and various other things all save us time and give us time back to use as we see fit.

When you get on a plane to anywhere it doesn’t go as fast as it should. It goes as fast as the economics decide. That’s a cheat. In years gone by speed was the essence of travelling even when people were travelling for fun. The faster you got there the more you could do when you were there.

Greater mobility = greater choice. Personal transport = more time being saved to use in other ways.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in General, Technology

 

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Go on… Give it a try… you know you want too.

The Scottish Enlightenment was, to a degree, enabled by the change in the relationship between man and god. The importance of man was elevated and, whilst religion was still hugely important, god was made less of a deity as far as mans standing then allowed. The elevation of mans dominion allowed man to better use the resources available whilst developing technology and all manner of differing ways in which progress, which could be made, and life improved.

The importance of this change cannot be overstated and the changes kept on going for a long time with stunning advances in so many differing areas. The rise of the greens and the extreme environmentalists from the mid 1930’s now jeopardises the progress that humanity has achieved. The National Socialist Party in Germany were a real force to be reckoned with in many, many ways and their love of things green combined with a might to make things happen is a lesson for us all.

Today, our way of life has altered very substantially from that of 40-50 years ago. My grand parents would now be well over 100 years old if they were still alive and they would be shocked at the ludicrous controls and regulation, which we are all subjected to on a daily basis. They lived through two wars and they knew well the freedoms that they had and gained subsequently were hard fought and cost the lives of millions of people.

The greens are really a diverse group; they are a huge number of smaller groups who believe different things all under the banner of environmentalism. Unfortunately, the tools they use are all based in gaining power over the population through increasing regulation with draconian punishments to enforce their decrees. They appear to be anti-humanity. Even when they are doing good as they see it they fail to see the bigger picture or take into account cause and effect.

DDT is the prime example. Huge efforts are made by various charities to raise money to provide protection for populations, which are subject to mosquito exposure. Their favourite remedy is to provide mosquito nets, which are used, mainly at night, to protect people from the bites and the malaria, which is transferred in the process. On the face of it this seems a reasonable aim.

The nets work but not in the longer term. They are not replaced quickly enough if they are damaged and they are difficult for the people who need them to look after them. DDT works because it is sprayed on the walls of all the rooms in the houses. The mosquito lands on the wall and is exposed to DDT which kills it pretty quickly. A very simple solution. Spraying the nets can also improve dramatically the reduction of the likelihood of being bitten. DDT also greatly reduces the population size of the mosquitos and will eventually exterminate them completely.

Of course DDT has been banned since the 70s following the “Silent Spring” book which contained opinions which could not be backed up scientifically. Although there is little to fear from DDT when applied in the correct dose it is still banned. DDT is like every other chemical known to man. If you are exposed to too much of it you will become ill, just like aspirin, alcohol, etc. etc.

The greatest shame is that millions of people have died due to mosquito bites and the malaria, which follows. We are all to blame for this; those who recognise the need to use DDT, those who believe the greens and their banning of DDT and the greens themselves.

It is to all our shame that we have quietly got on with our own lives, watching the odd fundraising for Africa programme, send in a few quid and then gone back to our own lives. You would think that the greens would want to alleviate poverty in Africa and in other areas of the world?

Of course one of the other great tenets of their religion, for that is what it is, is to reduce the worlds population. How will they achieve this? Like Solent Green? Like Logan’s Run? Through a planned, systematic, industrialised process which will handle millions of people who want to leave the planet to save it?

As with all things green I’d like then to show us the way. Not just talk and write about it but actually take part and demonstrate how they will reduce the population. The same goes for giving up our industrial and materialistic society.

If they feel the planet is over populated, and they’ve been saying this for a long time especially during the 70s, then those who feel this way should get off the planet. Simple. Those who wish to go back to an agrarian economy should do so and not be allowed any modern tools, seeds, and anything developed since the point in time when the way of life was how they would like it.

Go on… Give it a try… you know you want too.

 

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Police with machine guns attend a peaceful demonstration by NHS supporters in London

In the UK it is generally viewed that we have the right to demonstrate, voice our views and show our displeasure should things happen which affect us in a manner in which we disagree or we feel we are losing more of our freedoms or being financially disadvantaged through government actions. You may like to take a look at the following link, Campaigning for Health, and follow the link to Latent Existence which provides individual accounts of what actually took place.

I am surprised that not a single politician has picked this up. I call on everyone who views the picture and reads the blog article it came from to alert his or her MP/MSP/MEP and members of the MSM if possible. I shall also tweet it following publication of this blog.

The picture shows policeman, and there were more, with a machine gun attending a peaceful march by NHS staff and supporters who wished to register their opposition to government NHS policies. This did not take place in Libya, Syria or Bahrain but in the UK in the middle of London. The threat to public disorder was so great that it needed this type of police response? NO! The MSM were there and didn’t see this? Unlikely. The BBC wasn’t aware of it happening? Come on that just isn’t the case. This is a serious incident where the police have, for whatever reasons, allowed it to take place and no one has been taken to task about it.

Apparently we live in a democracy. This is proven because we get to vote a few times for local councillors, Members of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament and members of the devolved parliament/assembly.

Firstly the EU Parliament has no power and decides nothing so there’s no democracy there then. The other three? It’s very likely that the same three major parties will field candidates in all of these with of course a central control over policy and activities. The party whip is our enemy. It stops voter representatives from actually representing their constituents in deference to the main aims of the party they are members of.

So our democracy may not be as we are encouraged to think that it is. The various uprisings in the Middle East, which have been termed “The Arab Spring”, are based on the populace in these countries pursuing democracy by unseating the leaders of their countries because they do little to help the populace and are aloof/remote/disconnected, pay lip service only to the populace whilst gathering riches for themselves.

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been in the news this weekend as Bahrainis used the GP to protest about their government/rulers. The BBC seemed to think it would be better that the GP was cancelled which is quite odd. You would have thought that the BBC and all the other press commentators etc. would have thought it would be useful to the protesting Bahrainis to have the glare of the worlds press shining on their attempts to gain democratic change?

The French presidential elections were also in the news. The BBC seem to be supporting Sarkozy although it looks ever likely that he will not be chosen by the electorate as the next President of France which will undoubtedly result in further problems within the EU and the Euros zone.

The fact that the far right party in France secured 20% of the vote causes major concerns for the BBC and many politicians, commentators and the left leaning. I have read many comments being made about how dreadful this is and how it should not be tolerated with the fascist word being bandied about. In this case it is those that claim free speech as being vital in a society that are pursuing censure and wish to exclude the far right and their supporters from legitimate democratic participation.

I have no wish to support the far right or the far left for that matter also. I do not, however wish to see fascism on our streets and on our TVs in the form of supporters of a left leaning stance seeking to silence, disrupt and stop everyone’s right to legally voice their political opinions.

In the UK it is generally viewed that we have the right to demonstrate, voice our views and show our opposition should things happen which affect us in a manner in which we feel is unacceptable. You may like to take a look at the following link, Campaigning for Health, whilst also following the link, to Latent Existence within the article, which provides individual accounts of what took place.

This is beginning to look like we have entered a period where the main parties, the establishment, senior civil servants and their policies are so detached and remote from the electorate that we are now voting for fringe parties and independent candidates. Whilst this may effect some change it is seems unlikely that it will stop the actions being taken when people go out onto the streets to legally express their views.

Of course machine gun totting police would deter people from protesting. Is this where we now find ourselves? What is the next stage? No protesting? Limited protesting? How far away is a European Spring? I’m just being silly? It couldn’t happen here?

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in BBC, Politics

 

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