Tuesday, 25 November 2008
I intend to post on the efficacy of such things as the pedal-powered Powerplus Gazelle generator once I've sold enough to buy one. In the meantime, keep well, warm,safe, and unless you are a Nulab politician, your job.
Friday, 21 November 2008
Honestly, if it wasn't for important questions like Yorkshire Puddings, I would stop blogging and just read Old Holborn instead.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Remember the old socialist slogan "Unity Is Strength"? Well "Diversity Is Power" is the new version for those who seek to control society by fragmenting it and removing trust. Totalitarian government prefers regulation, which it enforces from above, to trust, which individuals develop from the grass roots upwards.
Please state which county you live in or from which county you derive your culinary style.
More conventional divisions of England place the border between the Humber or Wash and Severn or the real Watford Gap where proper custard on puddings ends. I reckon that North Staffordshire is the southouthernmost county with pudding apartheid but I welcome all comments.
How wonderful and versatile is the humble batter mix - from YP to pancakes to toad-in-the-hole - surely three recipes that can hold their own internationally. And, digressing slightly, what about the Staffordshire oatcake, that perfect accompaniment to a cooked breakfast or the thinking person's wrap when filled with bacon and chaze, duck* - honestly, that overhyped Mexican tortilla rubbish or those dreadfully grey, hard and dour Scotch oatcakes are no comparison.
*duck is the standard term of endearment in the Potteries or Five Towns (why did Arnold Bennett omit Fenton?) or Stoke-on-Trent. Chaze is the local pronunciation of cheese just as watter is water.Many would say the the best tasting oatcakes are from Hanley but the shop owners are apparently Port Vale fans** so I can't give them 10/10 :-).
** Didn't I just write about my dislike of football in the previous post? Well, call me contradictory but I support Stoke City in a let's hope they stay up in the Premier Division, I'm glad when they win sense but never in the actually watching football sense of proper supporters.
And so Port Vale are always second to Stoke City except when they are playing someone else (and as there's a couple of leagues in between them, that's most of the time now). Well, at least Port Vale aren't Manchester United....
Monday, 17 November 2008
Cap the ticket price to see a football game at £5.
The salaries of players and managers may need to be reduced as a result.
But it will benefit fans at a time of economic belt tightening.
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Mr Blackwood complains that the interviews were information gathering exercises without time taken to sympathise with him. That is how it is meant to be. Claim processers and Advisers have to obtain specific information on a person in a time set by senior management and they are penalised if the procedures (ie boxes are not ticked) are not completed in time or the target number of interviews per week are not met. Don't bother to argue that the customer was late or unprepared or hostile, the performance indicators must be met so that good statistics can be fed up the line to senior management.
Mr Blackwood would have liked more time spent helping him with his job search. Update: no he wouldn't. So in return for Jobseeker's Allowance the taxpayer should accept his word that he was looking for work without the adviser checking. Some people claim JSA and live off their savings or spouse's earnings while indulging in their hobbies. Well, as he can string words together into a sentence and doesn't fall off his chair, the policy is that he cannot receive additional (outsourced) help until he has been claiming for six months. Unless he is disabled, ex-services or non-English speakers or out of prison or a drug addict in which case immediate referral is available. I would bend the rules as often as possible for clients like Mr Blackwood by referring them under one or other of the first two categories - it helped them and helped me because I scored more points if they got jobs.
One unsavoury aspect of the procedures and performance driven culture was the belief that a certain number of claims were fraudulent because the claimant was working. Suspected fraudsters were called in for random mandatory interviews to disrupt their lives and induce them to sign off. Because say, 4% of claimants in a sample had been discovered to be working and claiming (easily done because of the complexity)and inefficiency of the benefits and tax credit system) then at least 4% of claimants had to be made to sign off through more frequent attendance interviews. If that target wasn't met, then the adviser assigned this additional and difficult task (because additional interviews had to be shoehorned into an already full diary pre-filled by others) had failed to meet a performance target which affected the annual appraisal and pay increase.
So to any customers of Jobcentre Plus who feel they aren't carried the extra mile in their difficult job of finding a job, please understand that better service costs more and that the staff want to help but can't. Blame James Purnell instead of shouting at the equally stressed and demoralised person across the desk whose biro you take.
Friday, 14 November 2008
However, I'm puzzled how the DWP were able to terminate the procurement process midstream, albeit with significant bidding compensation to Paypoint (just like the £5million Virgin got in the failed Northern Rock privatisation), and hand the contract to 2015 to the Post Office. I thought that the EU Procurement Directive banned practices like this. As always where the EU is concerned, please go to EUReferendum to get the definitive answer. Forelock tug to Dr North. It would appear that governments can ignore EU law at will.
On a personal note, I remember the time spent in the Job Centre by everyone encouraging customers to open a basic bank account or a Post Office Card Account in the months before giros were phased out. I'm glad that effort hasn't been wasted.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Forelock touch to The Englishman for this story.
Please take this opportunity to sign the 10 Downing Street OlympicPrudence Petition in the right hand column which asks for Mrs Jowell and Lords Coe and Moynihan to be jointly and severally liable for any budget overruns.
So, let's see Leon's VK Scene from Bladerunner (available in a range of versions from all good dvd and video suppliers, or you could download or rent a copy). It's a great film and one of my favourites.
*Koppen Climate Classification hot desert.
Actually, it's much deeper.
Anyway if you are worried about the weather in the Midlands' premier city please check with the excellent Bablake School Weather Station for urban weather or Coventry Airport EGBE for that rural weather.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Read this five page story by Herman Melville and this Emo Phillips joke with an open mind:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"
Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over
Saturday, 8 November 2008
I wish him, his family and the American people the best of luck for the future.
I wish we in England had someone of his calibre instead of the sixth-form debating society of Cameron, Clegg and Brown and so on down the ranks who vie with each other to outdo their condemnation of Ross and Brand while ignoring the important questions they have no influence over nor genuine interest in. As Sir Winston Churchill might have described them, "mice in hobnail boots". How's that Hazel?
Friday, 7 November 2008
"Mrs Palin was also revealed to be under investigation by state lawmakers over alleged abuse of power.
She was accused of violating ethics rules when she fired the state's top law enforcement official, allegedly because he refused to sack her former brother-in-law. Mrs Palin denies any wrongdoing."
And this is what the New York Times wrote on 3 November:
"ANCHORAGE — A report released on Monday by a state board found that Gov. Sarah Palin did not apply improper pressure to try to dismiss a state trooper who was her former brother-in-law and did not violate state ethics laws in the firing of her public safety commissioner."
I couldn't find a similar report on the BBC News website. Why?
It makes me wonder what the 175 extra BBC journalists were actually doing in the USA* - it would appear they were certainly not reading the online editions of the major newspapers. At least Adam Smith or Steve Zackaranda, formerly of the Birmingham Post group, was honest about his journalistic endeavours/ cutting and pasting from the BBC in his tired and emotional Youtube resignation video. With thanks to The Daily Pundit.
*very nicely, thank you.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
What is needed is a public inquiry into the whole sordid financial sector from Treasury, Bank of England and FSA downwards, followed by some exemplary prison sentences for the guilty men. Returns for shareholders and rewards for senior managers should be bread and water rations until the taxpayer is repaid every last penny. And then a properly staffed and paid* regulator should watch it like a hawk.
Finally, England should be proud to earn her living by making and selling things other than magic beans.
*ie bonuses for convictions.
Monday, 3 November 2008
I remember a scouse Principal noting on a minute that since the amount of money involved was very small no futher action would be taken because of "de minimus". So, dear reader, I corrected it to read de minimis (de takes the ablative case [plural in the phrase de minimis non curat lex] and not the subjective or vocative) and unfortunately the cock discovered my correction. As a result, Latin was forbidden on minutes originating within his bailiwick. Ironically, henceforward I was persona non grata .
But Latin is a beautiful language whose study, in addition to the pure intellectual joy one gains by mastering it, offers insights into other European languages. If money is wasted on translation services ( if someone wishes to live in England they must learn English) and if even the most Prescottian chav can text abbreviated nonsense on mobile phones (I didn't know that the majority of their users had opposable thumbs) then time should be found to teach Latin in all schools. Or why don't people turn their tellies off when a soap or a phone-in talent/ donkey parade is on and read a book, learn a skill and think for themselves.
Sir Frank Whittle
Heinkel He 178
Dr Hans von Ohain
I'm republishing this post because I've just bought an excellent DVD from http://www.quantafilms.com/ about the greatest son of Coventry for a miniscule £4.99 downloaded or £17.99 if you buy it on disk. There's an article about the making of the DVD by Nicholas Jones in this November 2008's Aeroplane Monthly and Model Engine News January 2008 has more information. And no, I have not been paid by any of the above.
It's proof that if the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Waterloo, the wars of the Twentieth Century were won in the sheds of the Midlands aka infamously as "that area stuck between London and Yorkshire". But the author of that careless slur*, definitely not an aerosceptic in this case, believed this was real. Really, the effects of propellor torque, instant change of cg, roll/yaw coupling, progressive structural failure** leapt out at me immediately shouting CGI***, but then I've seen my balsa and tissue efforts destroyed in a flash many times.
*altered after protest to Paradise.
** So I'm an aeroplane flying jacket? We all have our obsessions.
** *Computer Generated Imagery, ie why Lord Mandelson casts a shadow on telly.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Don't send British Troops to Congo or Rwanda!
Update: I didn't do anything!
*OK, so Rwanda was a German colony mandated to Belgium by the League of Nations after WWI, but there's still no British connection.
But the truth is that VAT can't be waived without the agreement of the European Commission and the other 26 EU member states. So Alastair Darling announced announced that the Government will waive VAT on the sale of the X-Factor Help For Heroes single, by making an exceptional one-off charitable donation equivalent to the sum of the VAT receipts collected on sales of the single. "I very much support the Help For Heroes campaign and the efforts of the X-Factor contestants. In recognition of this I am proposing effectively* to waive VAT on the sale of the X-Factor Help For Heroes single, and will do this by making an exceptional one-off charitable donation equivalent to the sum of the VAT receipts collected on sales of the single".
So after doling billions out to the banks without a debate or vote in Parliament, the "government" finds a measly £500,000 of taxpayers' money to offset the tax bill to help the recovery of servicemen and women injured on duty. Wouldn't it have been just as fair to put a swear box in BBC Broadcasting House?
When will the media accept that Britain's independence has been prostituted to the EU by our professional politicians of all parties from Heath onwards? Why isn't Britain offended by the explicit messages on Britannia's Grandfather's answerphone saying that Liberty has been shagged by all and sundry?
* my italics
Seriously, please vote for whoever you wish on Tuesday and show the world that the beacon of democracy shines brightest in the USA. It doesn't really matter to me which candidate wins because I place my trust in the innate goodness and sense of the American people that is embodied in and outlasts every President.