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Monthly Archives: July 2012

The reasons why Westminster will never allow Scottish Independence.

Could you stick with me for a few sentences with this one please? I’ll take it that you will then.

Can you imagine a moment in time when one of the major political parties in the UK were given the opportunity to follow a strategy which would ensure they would achieve power in future elections because their biggest opponents would no longer, or perhaps only rarely, be able to muster enough MPs.

What do you think they would do? Immediately embark on making the strategy a reality. Of course they would. They would be rushing into it. They would try to achieve this at the earliest opportunity. They would be hungry for it. Desperate for it.

And yet, just such an opportunity exists. The Conservative Party has just this opportunity. But are they doing anything about it? Surprisingly not. Why not? Because in so doing they would seriously and significantly wound England to such a degree that even their greed and lust for lasting power can’t even be contemplated.

So what is this remarkable opportunity? Scottish Independence. The English, along with the anglicised Scottish political system and establishment cannot afford to allow Scottish Independence to become a reality. The loss to the English Exchequer of the monies flowing from Scotland along with the loss of status as an oil based economy would hugely impact on England’s place in the world and it’s ability to continue spending at anything like current levels.

Like the vast majority of Scots I don’t wish the people of England any ill will. The problems that Scotland dislike are the same problems that the people of England also take issue with. Politicians and the establishment. All of these issues lie at the heart of the way the politicians and the establishment seek to abuse, control and threaten the people of the British Isles.

Do you consider this not to be the case? Is this a convenient sum of disparate events and possibilities carefully brought together to form an even more convenient conspiracy theory? Yes you say. It’s all tosh. Scotland does not pay its way and has to be subsidised. It has always been so. Peak oil is here so the North Sea is a busted flush. Scotland, without the support of England would fail very badly following a successful vote for Independence.

Then why should England feel it necessary to maintain Scotland financially? Why burden the English taxpayer with this additional cost? Doesn’t that seem odd? Why won’t the UK Treasury provide the details on how much taxation has been received from the Scottish sector of the oil exploration and production? Something to hide perhaps? No perhaps about it.

The investment in North Sea oil exploration and production has increased dramatically in the past year and it will increase even more as will the tax receipts to the UK Treasury. Peak Oil? 40 years is a long time for a peak is it not? That’s what the latest production timeline estimate is.

Back to the Conservative Party then. The Labour Party has managed to achieve majorities in the Palace of Westminster on the back of Scottish Labour MPs. To my mind that disenfranchises millions of English Conservative voters. The same is obvious in Scotland when a large Conservative majority results in a Conservative government in London.

So all the Conservative Party needs to do is support Scottish Independence, difficult when they also stand for the union being maintained. But, let’s be honest here, politicians can easily argue that black is white and vice-versa so rearranging the facts of the union argument can’t be that difficult? Especially, given the size of the prize for the Conservatives.

Unfortunately, for Scotland, Independence is but a dream. The UK could never allow it to happen. They have two years to wreck it and make it impossible. Sit back and watch it happen.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Politics, Scottish Independence, SNP

 

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The London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

They went ahead and did it then. London 2012 burst into life last night, well I say burst, it probably did if you’d been there but it just appeared in the telly otherwise. It was better than I though it would be. Danny Boyle, oh Danny Boyle, we love him so…

I wondered what the johnnies (foreigners) made of it. Are they au fait with our societal history? “And did those feet, in ancient times, walk upon England’s mountains green”. Well one largish hill anyway. It was well done though although the rolling up of the grass bit wasn’t as smooth as it might have been. I was waiting for the rolling out of the windmills and the like, solar panels, electric cars, biofuel…

Was a bit leftie? No. Not one bit of it. It was hugely and almost entirely leftie. Womens rights to the fore. A tale told of the sixties, seventies and eighties with two main ethnic characters. The BBC suggesting that London was probably the most race diverse capital in the world. Over 300 different language groups they said and that’s just during one episode of Eastenders I thought.

We didn’t have to listen to Call me Dave, does he not speak or interact with his wife at all now? We did get Seb Coe talking. Yawn. The message is we must encourage all of our children to take up sport, which will solve all of societies ills.

Last week we were being told that music was the saviour of our children and should be given a lot more time in schools. Now it’s athletics. Isn’t athletics mainly the realm of the university and public school types? Not all sport though of course and not all ABC groupings based to ensure stereotyping.

The Olympics costs a fortune to stage. Where does the money come from? Ticket sales? Not enough. Sponsorship? Not enough. So where from? Easy answer. The taxpayer. The Olympics has rarely, if ever been a commercial success. But its sport you cry, it’s not about money. Really?

Really? There’s a lot of money to be made by successful athletes. Good for them. But, and there’s always a but, they don’t create wealth beyond a vey small group of advisers etc.

The vast majority of students in schools leave to take up jobs. Jobs which will pay for the lifestyle they want or will end up affording. Very few of those will be based in full-time participation in the arts and sports. The arts are something we all enjoy at a level we like be it a gig, a movie or a musical/play. The arts are a distraction for the rest of us looking in. A distraction from the bills, work, office politics, relationship issues, health issues, family stuff, safeguarding our children, etc. etc. etc.

What we really need is an Olympian economy. An economy where real business stars come to the fore and encourage the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. We need the economy to be capable of making things at a price and quality, which people all over the world will want to buy again and again. We need an economy, which will provide full employment. We need an economy that is based on the right level of governance, which ensures fair play, and moral adherence.

Most of all we need our children to leave education understanding how the economy actually works so they know how wealth is created and how a proportion of that wealth has to go into providing small, accountable and real democratic government. Low taxation and the responsible spending of taxpayers money would of course be encouraged.

A lot of world records will be broken over the next couple of weeks. Human ingenuity almost guarantees this since sports science moves on a pace. Is it important for a human to be able to run 100 metres in 9 seconds? No. To some it is necessary because they want to and they can. Like climbing Mount Everest, walking to the North Pole for the first time or circumnavigating the globe. Or the Guinness book of world records. Somewhere on the planet someone will be getting ready to eat 40 Greggs sausage rolls in under 90 seconds. If they do it, it will be a world record, their world record.

Danny succeeded. His reputation is intact. Johnnies the world over will be scratching their heads and wondering what it was all about though, but no matter, Queenie will be having a long lie. Seb will be preening and officiating. Some athletes will be getting sweaty and either making progress or be losing out already.

I’m sure I saw a zombie during the nightmare scene last night. It wouldn’t have been a Danny Boyle production without at least one zombie. There may have been a few more in the crowd you know. Paul McCartney was on stage…

I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in BBC, The London 2012 Olympics

 

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The London 2012 Olympics have arrived, oh goody.

The new message from the BBC is that if you aren’t a huge fan of the Olympics you are a sceptic and a spoil sport. We are all to get behind the games and cheer every part of it’s organisation, content and of course the UK athletes as a whole. The BBC are great and good and know better than we do what is best for us

Thank goodness for the BBC.

I’ve certainly been sceptical of the games. Large corporations throwing money at it to ensure their name is to the fore. Then there is the elitism. The people with privilege are above everyone else obviously. No queuing for them, the best seats, Zil lanes and lavish corporate entertainment. You see this all over now at sporting events, concerts and large events.

I used to go to the British Grand Prix. My first was the last race at Brands Hatch and over the years the enjoyable experience at the races dwindled. It became more and more expensive, the grandstands at the start/finish line were almost all set aside for corporate guests. The truth was that the organisers weren’t interested in the motor sport fans they just wanted the money from the corporate sponsors.

When we went in early in the morning to the circuit to stake out a good viewing place, the stands were pretty much empty and they didn’t fill up until a few minutes before the start and they were empty within minutes of the end of the GP. The people who sat in those seats were corporate guests not motor racing fans, yet they had greater access, better seats and much better facilities all round.

Olympians dedicate themselves to their chosen sport and their specialist event. They have to because it’s dedication, which wins the medals and accolades. This is the same for all sports and it’s probably why so many sports people are, shall we say, less communicative and less interested in events outside their bubble. I’m always surprised when a sports person is cast as being less intellectual than they should be. I mean, come on! Wake up and smell the roses. All they have done, all of their lives is work relentlessly to be the best they can be in their chosen sport to the exclusion of almost everything else.

There are those who manage both their sport and their wider education and experience. Good for them. It takes all sorts though.

We haven’t, yet, reached the point where the BBC will start lingering on how wonderful various athletes are. They will do this during the build up to the moment before medals are won and lost. Afterwards, anyone winning it or coming close will be lauded. The others? There’s always next time.

We can’t all be world-class athletes or sports people. Most of us have dabbled or continue to dabble in sporting activities but we didn’t want to be gold medal class enough, to make it our lives work. We are still good people who, in the main, contribute to our society. We survive; keep roofs over our heads and food on our plates. We have children and we protect and nurture them all of their lives and we have fun in the time which is left. No medals or adulation in that although it’s vital to the continuation and improvement of our society.

I just don’t see me watching much of the Olympics. Well I say that but here is one sport I may give the briefest of glances at. Beach volleyball. I am led to believe, mainly by myself, that these ladies are supremely fit and dedicated athletes who exert an almost unique amount of skill in pursuit of success.

My wife has a colleague who plays beach volleyball and volleyball in general. Apparently she also plays hardcore volleyball! If such a thing exists I’d wager that if it was televised the viewing figures would be immense, but I’m also sure the BBC wouldn’t broadcast it.

Maybe Channel Five would?

Just a thought in the interest of showing good quality sport on TV. Honest!

 

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Dont pay the plumber in cash!!!!

Plumbing the depths of the taxation system.

That Gauke chap has provided us with his insightful and ethical views on Tax. How nice was that? It’s immoral, apparently, for people to legally reduce their tax bill. Tax avoidance is very bad in a “straight to the burny fire” way. Tax evasion is very, very, very bad in a “dragged out into the street, beaten to a pulp and then hanged from the nearest lamp post” way.

Before gong any further, let me also mention that this highly moral chap has a wife who is a tax lawyer. Yes I know lawyers are generally taxing and other things as well. A tax lawyer is retained to ensure that the given client stays within the tax laws amongst other things. Will this, maybe, also ensure that the said tax bill could end up lower than might have been the case without the legal advice?

Anyway, everyone needs to pay the tax they are due to ensure hospitals stay open (isn’t PFI costing billions needlessly?), schools are maintained (isn’t there a huge long list of dilapidation due to years of neglect through a lack of spending tax receipts and also PFI?) and the police and fire brigade have the resources they require (they seem to have more toys, special needs and spanking salaries than seems necessary and fair).

Our taxes go to support the country. That is the governments projects such as cancelling military aircraft costing billions of pounds, PFI or whatever it’s called now costing billions of pounds, fighting overseas wars costing billions of pounds, staging the Olympics costing billions of pounds, please add to the list as you see fit… you know it will be a long one.

The taxes or the National Insurance part supposedly go towards the costs of the NHS and to provide pensions for all the people who are retired or will be retiring at some point soonish. It’s such a shame that successive governments haven’t actually saved any of the tax receipt or NI money for pensions. They just spent it like they do with every single penny they can possibly get their hands on and more of course.

Yes people should pay their taxes but at a rate, which is sensible and fair whilst the government should spend and invest the monies received with caution and responsibility. They don’t however. The levels of duty on fuel, alcohol and cigarettes, road tax, energy bills and everything else has long since gone over the reasonable level. Then there’s the small matter of the money thrown at the EU, MPs expenses and money provided to foreign nationals who come to live in Britain and who rely on money provided by the tax payer.

Now what about the plumber which Mr Gauke says should never be paid in cash since the VAT is lost to the country? If the government reduced VAT and taxation to a level, which was sensible and fair, this wouldn’t be an issue. It’s a well-known fact that the lower tax levels are set the more money is actually paid.

There are legitimate reasons for paying people in cash. A cheque takes at least three days to clear and even longer depending on what excuses can be made by the banks to hold on to people’s money. Cash still goes straight into your account in most banks although the RBS used to only allow access to it to the next day.

When things are tight, as they are now, we all need to tighten our belts and we will consider ways of saving money wherever we can. The criminal activities of the banks, who gambled with money they neither had nor could ever have, resulted in huge losses which have been transferred to the taxpayer. The banks privatise profits and socialise losses. What a jolly protected system for them to enjoy. Too big to fail or too big not to fail? The latter I suspect.

So, Mr Gauke, perhaps would serve the people of the UK better if he and the government and the establishment got their own house in order and stop dipping increasingly into taxpayers wallets and then wasting the proceeds.

He might also like to look up the dictionary and check what “hypocrite” means. Does he qualify perfectly considering the actions of your wife?

 

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Portobello cafes.

I keep, and will continue to keep, banging on about government and councils making decisions without considering the full impact and cause and effect. Last week we went along to Portobello to sit and gawp at the sea and read our books. Good grief how old does that sound!

We were amazed at the huge piles of flotsam and jetsam, which had been removed from the beach following the floods of the previous few weeks. Lots of wood for sure.

We walked along the High Street and went into Earthy, which is, as the name suggests, a greenie style shop. It seems to sell the same sort of stuff as lots of other shops but the goods are significantly more expensive. I’m assuming it costs the greenies a lot to save the world. The bread was really fresh and nice although the brownies were not quite as good. They also seemed to sell weeds. Well they looked like weeds to me anyway. Probably they were weeds but special ones, which would help and encourage the biodiversity wherever they were planted. But they would still look like weeds. Weeds are, apparently, flowers in the wrong place.

Anyway we headed back along the High Street to the car and thought that a cup of something hot and scone would be a good idea. Did I mention that we are on diets again? We spotted a nice wee cafe, Annie and Belle (they are on Facebook but no website as yet). You know those wee cake cafes, which are normally bulging at the seams with Yummy Mummies? Well one of those.

It wasn’t too busy so we went in. Not a lot of tables and chairs and more retail space than I thought sensible. The coffee was good and the scone changed into carrot cake since the scones were sold out, the yummies go there first. Well it was after three and they may well have been a bit peckish earlier. It was well priced and the ladies who owned it were pleasant.

Later that evening Mrs TT and I were discussing the wee cafe. Why so much retail space? Those cafes rely on the number of covers they can get into the space and the number of customers who fill them in rotation. The business cant survive if it can’t sell to potential customers in the right number.

The reason for the retail space is that Edinburgh Council stipulated they wanted a mix of food and retail shops on the High Street. The cafe got permission to open only on the basis that they would also have a retail area and a regulated number of covers. Since the cafe opened a number of shops have closed down due to the financial climate and I would have thought almost any shop would be a good idea on their High Street. The other cafes along the High Street are not in the demographic as the wee cafe.

No doubt there is a policy, which has been worked out by experts who know how to regulate a high street to ensure it has balance and longevity. The erosion of local high streets hasn’t just come about because of supermarkets, it came about because some shops just didn’t adjust to the changing retail environment and evolve to remain attractive to their target customers. Remember, niche is king and a short-term niche success is also a successful monopoly.

All businesses of all sizes and types have to do this. Any business you can name has to have a level of uniqueness, which ensures customers will want to buy their goods or services. Earthy was doing just that. They were appealing to the better off greenie types. People go there to buy stuff, which appeals to their beliefs. Simples.

The Council don’t come under any pressure to evolve. The council aren’t told that they can only operate in a certain way or they will be punished in a certain way. The Council doesn’t deliver services against competition on a level playing field. Do they ever measure cost v service delivered? No. Not in any true sense. They get money they spend it and they then regulate the collection of further monies as they see fit to ensure they can operate as they see fit.

Councils should be accountable to all the people living in their area. That’s all council management of course along with the councillors. Any operating out of agreed, measured and monitored operations should result in the repercussions being as serious for them as it is for anyone else who gets things wrong and messes up.

Where’s the brownies? Ah yes. Eaten. This isn’t a bad diet you know.

 

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Bradley is yellow.

Bradley Wiggins will win the Tour de France today when he finishes off a nice Sunday afternoon cycle with a number of his chums. For Bradley to have achieved this is amazing, and it has required a significant amount of planning, time and skill by a large team from UK cycling and of course his team mates in the Sky team.

The team includes Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, with Bradley and Chris currently in first and second place, which almost guarantees a winner from the UK, no matter what. It’s just a fairly laid back run in today into Paris with the yellow jersey paid the respect of no one trying to beat him on the last day.

There will be the usual sprint finish of course, which should provide Mark with a further stage win. The acceleration he showed on Friday was amazing. The other riders were left blown away and the two cyclists who were leading the stage almost at the end, could only spectate as their lead evaporated.

We shouldn’t forget David Miller from the UK either. He also managed a stage win with his sprinting. David was caught using performance enhancing drugs a few years ago and was only allowed back this year. He is very open about his drug misuse, which is refreshingly different from other ex-dopers. Doping has been rife in the tour over the years although it seems much reduced this year.

The riders on the tour are the greatest athletes in the world. There is no other sport, which requires such dedication, phenomenal endurance and resilience. Cycling hundreds of kilometres every day, cycling up ridiculously steep climbs and riding tactically, not to mention avoiding the crashes and the loonies at the side if the road.

The bikes are incredible, weigh less than a postage stamp and are extremely aerodynamic. This helps but of course it’s down to the rider and the team to get the most out of them.

In the UK pedal bikes are looked down upon, even now when more people are using them for cycling to work, sport and recreation. I used to cycle over 70 miles a week for pleasure and to keep fit. It was very enjoyable although the standards of car driving were pretty appalling and dangerous. Having said that, driving around the city presents lots of examples of cyclists who put themselves in danger and don’t seem to accept they have a responsibility to be safe and stick to the same rules as everyone else.

In London, which is pretty flat, warm and dry mostly, the number of cyclists has risen dramatically and the dangers have increased also. Boris’s bikes have added to the number and they seem to be fairly well used. Russell Square had been altered to separate cyclist from cars etc. and was also done on some of the surrounding streets. They removed the measures though because Russell Square is the TV company’s base for the Olympics.

In Vauxhall, they have painted lanes on the pavements for cyclists to use. The trouble is that it is only one bicycle wide so overtaking needs the use of more of the pavement.

I’m sure that Bradley’s win will make cycling ever more popular in the UK. No bad thing although perhaps cyclists should have a bit of statutory training before they hit the road as it were. Yes it rains, it’s windy and it’s frosty at times. It’s very hilly in Edinburgh and I learnt very quickly that there are very, very few roads, which are flat and days that don’t have some sort of wind.

Bradley should win the BBC sports personality of the year this year. He might even win a gold medal in the Olympics as well. Not much rest time between then and now though.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in General, Health, Science, Sport

 

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Olympic shambles.

The rumour on the street is that the Olympics will be starting soon in London. Apparently much has been made of that age old tradition of the Olympic flame being carried around the country. This grand old tradition, was introduced in the 1930s by the National Socialists in Germany known better by their more familiar and shorter “Nazi” name.

Our own legal meister Kenny Macaskill however has just recently confirmed and endorsed the level of enthusiasm bubbling away for the Olympics in Scotland. The Scottish events will be sold out then? Well they’ve been giving tickets away for free for the football held at Hampden. Even the lure of watching Spain isn’t enough to part people from their money. Oh dear.

Are we getting any benefit from the games? Not that seems to have been reported anyway. Apart from the claim that loads of jobs have been created but only for a few short weeks. I’ve only spoken to one person who has tickets for an event in London. It’s the swimming he is taking his daughter to the venue because she wants to be a competitive swimmer hopefully.

In years gone by I have followed various athletic Olympic disciplines on TV during the games. Having seen the nonsense which was the torch relay with the over the top security pushing old men and wee boys around with inappropriate force the Olympic tradition looked pretty rocky and ridiculously corporate in reality. The moment which Steve Redgrave rowed single handedly whist a policeman sat in the boat behind him was the most ridiculous thing ever. A crazed person might have jumped in the water and capsized the boat and the policeman onboard would have fallen in. But then would there have been anyone on hand with the correct level of expertise, certification and elf’n’safety knowledge to save him?

Then we have the Zil lanes, the crazy looking opening ceremony, missiles on the roofs, security scares, the BBC getting so over excited and politicians trying to ensure their place hobnobbing with the great and the good. The athletes? They’ll get their moments.

We have the Olympic rings stuck on the grass at the Mound, thankfully the bid to get them on the castle was kicked into touch. Shops are full of Olympic tat they can’t shift. The BBC advertises their intention to cover every sport in every venue. Oh goody.

G4S has become the latest whipping boy. The coverage from the grilling their Main man got has been interesting. The MPs can’t believe their luck. They get to ask hard questions, be rude and be as arrogant as they want whilst the rest of the country look on. It is a ridiculous shambles but any less of a shambles than these MPs and their fellow MPs in Westminster have managed for years? Any chance of a similar set up with MPs being grilled live on TV because of their expenses shenanigans? Of course not.

I don’t think I’ll be watching much or any of the Olympics this time around. I’m sure a lot of people will watch and enjoy it. I’m also sure that the BBC will say its a huge success no matter what as will the organising committee, Boris and Call me Dave.

Recriminations? Oh yes. Who will have been responsible for the games losing money? Who will be responsible for the shambles yet to come? Maybe we will get an enquiry into it? Let’s hope. The squirming will certainly be Olympic quality.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in BBC, Politics, Sport

 

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