Sunday, 19 December 2010

A Million Angry People

I posted earlier today about the lack of rebellion. It seems that I may be wrong. First read this litany of what is wrong with this country’s government. Then read, if you haven’t already, about the surrender of our sovereignty noting in particular the last two paragraphs. Follow the ‘lawful and legal’ link to an article titled ‘Living by the Rule of Law’. Finally read Richard North’s call for a Million Angry People. Now will you do something?

I Must be Wrong

A series of links led me to this blog. Alarmed by what Ian Parker-Joseph had written I pasted part of the BIS quote into Google and arrived at the Top Stories section of the BIS website. Writ there for all to see, it says “The key to the new measures … will be the principle of copying out the text of European directives directly into UK law.” Is that not admitting that we do not run our own country anymore? Are we really paying 650 MPs a minimum of £65,738 per year just to cut-and-paste?
Maybe I am wrong in thinking that we are a sovereign state, which by definition is a state which administers its own government, and is not dependent upon, or subject to, another power. Perhaps the majority of this country is happy with being ruled by Brussels because that is the only reason I can imagine for the complete lack of criticism, lack of protest and lack of rebellion.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Words

On the drive in to work this morning I had two occasions to think about words. The first was when I heard that there had been a bad accident at the roundabout near Bracknell Sports Centre. Unfortunate for somebody as that was, I recalled that the offices opposite were occupied by a company called cadence. I have always liked the word cadence, I am tempted to say that the word has it's own rhythm but I shall refrain.
Later, a cyber-security expert was asked how a business could defend itself against denial-of-service attacks to which the expert replied that there were a number of ways that a business could ameliorate the threat. Ameliorate, isn't that a lovely word?
On the other hand  there are words I dislike. The words I dislike most are seersucker, gingham and especially bap.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Absolutely Crackers

Do you recall parliament debating The Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010? No, neither do I. I can tell you that these regulations stem from this countries requirement to implement (or transposition to use the government's terminology) the European Directive on the placing on the market of pyrotechnic articles, 2007/23/EC (see discussion paper here).

Following the consultation exercise this was then discussed by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, JCSI, as can be seen in the annex (search for 1554) to the report of the meeting dated 21 July 2010 here. The annex lists the regulations under the title 'Instruments subject to annulment' which sounds a bit odd since the legislation doesn't exist. However, the way that Statutory Instruments are handled are explained in a word document snappily titled "Statutory Instrument Practice. A manual for those concerned with the preparation of statutory instruments and the parliamentary procedures relating to them" (follow link from here). On page 65 it explains how the negative procedure works. As far as I can tell it is this negative procedure that the JCSI are applying to the proposed pyrotechnic regulations. As you will have understood if you have ploughed through the 'use of negative procedure' explanation, the instrument is laid before the house and if either house resolves within 40 days that the 'address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the instrument be annulled, no further proceedings may be taken under the instrument after the date of the resolution, and Her Majesty may by Order in Council revoke it'. In other words if nobody does anything in forty days then it becomes law.

Thus there never was any debate about these regulations and they are now law. Amongst these regulations are the fact that Christmas crackers are category 1 fireworks. In regulation 15(2) it states that the 'minimum age limit for supply of category 1 fireworks is 16 years'. So now your shopkeeper will have to check the age of the people to whom it sells Christmas crackers. All because the following 12 people didn't think it would be a problem:

Lord Campbell of Alloway (Conservative)
Lord Clinton-Davis (Labour)
Baroness Eccles (Conservative)
Earl of Mar and Kellie (Liberal Democrat)
Lord Rees Mogg (Crossbench)
Baroness Stern (Crossbench)
Mr George Mudie MP (Labour, Leeds East) (Chairman)
Mr Robert Buckland MP (Conservative, South Swindon)
Michael Ellis MP (Conservative, Northampton North)
John Hemming MP (Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley)
Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP (Conservative, Bridgwater and West Somerset)
Toby Perkins MP (Labour, Chesterfield)

Is that how democracy is meant to work?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Wind Farms

Wind farms are stupid. When we need power, the wind doesn't blow. This week is a pretty good example of this phenomenon.
Take a look at this article from the Independent in September, it states that "The 100-turbine Thanet wind farm ... brings the UK's total power from onshore and offshore wind to more than 5GW". I have no reason to dispute this figure but I would contend that it is misleading. Looking at the table below one learns that currently wind farms are producing 141 MW (the table comes from here) which, if the 5GW value is to be believed, is a paltry 2.82% of their maximum ability.

Did I mention that the temperature is low at the moment? That means that we need electricity to help keep us warm. This graph is a good illustration of the amount of electricity we need, as you can see we currently need between 42 GW and 60 GW.



The wind farms are managing to furnish, at best, 0.3% of that requirement.

Pathetic and a waste of our money.



Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Your Money or Your Life

You may well be aware that at the moment letters from HMRC are being sent out to individuals who have paid too much or too little tax through the PAYE system. As far as I can ascertain this is because the individuals were given the wrong tax code, whatever the reason, it seems to be universally agreed that the root cause is due to HMRC.
Imagine my surprise then when I heard that HMRC are proposing that we move to a system where your employer pays your gross salary to them, they make the tax deductions and then put the net amount in your bank account. The details are in this consultation document. What made me laugh when I read it, was the first line of paragraph 5.13 which read

“HMRC would be responsible for ensuring deductions were correct”.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Averages

From an article in today's Daily Telegraph, "... it is logistically impossible for the average man to have more partners than the average woman." Discuss.

Friday, 18 June 2010

A Challenge

If manufacturing output in the UK, excluding oil and mining, in 2005 is 100 what value do think output was in 1990? In 1980?


The answers are:

a) In 1990 the output index was 93.3
b) In 1980 the output index was 77.2

Clearly rumours of the death of our manufacturing ability are exaggerated

These values were taken from the Governments own statistics that as you can see here.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Other Peoples Money

Last night at our parish council we had our annual look at the finances. This is the time when we are presented with the balance sheet, then the income and expenditure sheet and finally the annual return. We all scrutinise the figures whilst trying to make sense of it and make sensible comments. Then we have to all answer yes to the following questions:

1. we have approved the statement of accounts which have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations and proper practices.
2. we have maintained an adequate system of internal control, including measures designed to prevent and detect fraud and corruption and reviewed its effectiveness.
3. we have taken all reasonable steps to assure ourselves that there are no matters of actual or potential non-compliance with laws, regulations and codes of practice which could have a significant financial effect on the ability of the council to conduct its business or on its finances.
4. we have provided proper opportunity during the year for the exercise of electors' rights in accordance with the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations.
5. we have carried out an assessment of the risks facing the council and taken appropriate steps to manage those risks, including the introduction of internal controls and/or external insurance cover where required.
6. we have maintained throughout the year an adequate and effective system of internal audit of the council's accounting records and control systems and carried out a review of its effectiveness
7. we have taken appropriate action on all matters raised in reports from internal and external audit.
8. we have considered whether any litigation, liabilities or commitments, events or transactions, occurring either during or after the year end, have a financial impact on the council and, where appropriate have included them in the statement of accounts.
9. Trust funds- in our capacity as the sole managing trustee we have discharged our responsibility in relation to the accountability for the fund(s)/assets, including financial reporting and, if required, indepenent examination or audit.

Our internal auditor has to answer a similar set of questions. The form containing the return figures, our answers and the internal auditor's answers is then sent to an external auditor. This is all to ensure that we are not abusing the parishioners' money and quite right too. The last thing we want is for people in a position of trust taking advantage of the money handed over by the people that they should be serving. Bear that in mind whilst you read this http://tinyurl.com/2eudr86.

Monday, 10 May 2010

A Right to Free Speech?

Amongst the fuss and palaver about proportional voting systems and coalitions you might have overlooked the fact that a dangerous criminal was brought to book today. Paul Chambers, 26 has been fined £385 and told to pay £600 costs after being found guilty. He has already lost his job as a trainee accountant as a result of his arrest and prosecution.
This convicted criminal will find it hard to get work and quite right you might think. His crime? To tweet “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”.
Not the cleverest comment, some might even think it is not funny, but can you honestly support spending tax payers money on a prosecution and condemning a man for the rest of his life just because of a tweet. Words fail me.
For the full story see here and here.

Will it be a Lib-Lab Pact After All?

So, Gordon Brown has announced his resignation and Clegg has opened negotiations with the Labour party. I think that this could be the end of David Cameron and his disastrous policy of, er, not having a policy. The inability of the opposition party to capitalise on an abysmal thirteen years in power must surely lead to the Tory party tearing itself apart. Let us hope that something more like the real Tory party emerges from this act of self-destruction.

STV or AV?

The Electoral Reform Society have published a news release titled “STV & the parliament that might have been”. The release shows three tables which illustrate how the results of last week’s poll would have been had we been using either the single transferable vote, STV, or the alternative vote, AV, systems. The tables are as follows:





It looks like we would have been stuck with a hung parliament whichever system had been used. The question is would STV or AV always result in a hung parliament as many suspect? A quote from Dr Ken Ritchie, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, would seem to support that when he says “The parliament that might have been would also have brought a hung parliament. But with STV, coalitions, cooperation and debate aren’t aberrations, they are the rule.” Do we want to have a coalition after each election?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Result Misery

There is one thing that has been bothering me during the recent campaigning and that is every time a politician talks about halving the deficit, interviewers and analysts respond as if the topic under discussion is halving the debt. Why has nobody pointed out that they are not the same thing? If I spend £15,000 last year when I had £10,000 income and then prudently halve my deficit this year to £2,500 then my debt will have increased by 50% to £7,500. How is that better? It is just less worse than it might have been. Running a deficit of any size increases debt and I was led to believe that our debt was already too high.
Still it may be just a pipe-dream that I will ever see this country with a negligible debt. Take a look at the post titled ‘Tackling Our Fiscal Black Hole - People Ain't Dumb’ by Wat Tyler on Burning Our Money which states that just to reduce our ‘government debt back to the maximum safe sustainable level relative to national income (the maximum level reckoned by the IMF and others to be 60%)’ we need to:
cut spending or increase taxes by £180bn pa. Which in round numbers is the equivalent of:
  • £7000 pa extra taxes/ lower spending per household;
  • increase in the basic rate of income tax to 65p; or
  • increase in the standard rate of VAT to 57%; or
  • 25% off total public spending

Just look at those numbers, 65% income tax, 57% VAT. We really are in a bad way.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Which Button Would You Click?

Click for larger image


During the course of installing Adobe Reader this morning I was presented with the dialogue box illustrated above. The second sentence asks "Once instalation is complete, stop installing all other applications?" Which button would you click on and what do you think would happend then?

Friday, 9 April 2010

What A Tangled Web

A European Parliament press release issued on Wednesday 7th April starts with the sentence “The Constitutional Affairs Committee gave its support on Wednesday to a modification of the Lisbon Treaty that would allow 18 new Members of the European Parliament to take their seats during the ongoing legislature.” The essence of the release is revealed in the next paragraph where it state “The number of MEPs needs to be increased because the June European Parliament elections were held under the rules of the Nice Treaty, which sets the number of MEPs at 736, while the new Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1st December 2009, allows 751 seats.”
Those of you that are good at mathematics will have noticed 18 MEPs in addition to the existing 736 MEPs will result in 754 MEPs not 751. The reason for this apparent discrepancy is because Germany is to lose 3 of its MEPs. However, there are strict rules governing the curtailment of a mandate so Germany will retain its 99 MEPs until the end of this parliament meaning that there will be 754 MEPs after all. This is the nub of the problem, the Lisbon treaty does not allow for a parliament to have 754 MEPs which means the treaty will have to be amended. It the amendment is approved by parliament it will then have to be ratified by the 27 Member states.
As pointed out by Daniel Hannan in his blog, the Conservative party has committed itself to a referendum on treaty changes thus, it would seem, that we have the prospect of a referendum far sooner than one might have anticipated. Inspecting the online Conservative manifesto one finds that it says “A Conservative Government would change the law so that never again would a government be able to agree to a Treaty that hands over areas of power from Britain to the EU without a referendum.” Since we are one of the countries that will see an increase in the number of its MEPs, we are to have one more, I hardly think that this comes under the heading of handing over power from Britain to the EU. I suspect that, delightful as the prospect might be, we will not be granted a referendum on this particular matter.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Who is Responsible for my Daughter?

I decided some time ago to opt out of the NHS Summary Care Record scheme and a letter from our local Primary Care trust explaining all about the scheme was the trigger for me to do something about it. I rang the telephone number in the letter and requested an opt-out form. Three weeks later I rang again to be told that they would note my request and send a form but was I aware that I could collect a form from my GP? Thus, a week later, I left work early specifically to get to my GPs before they closed at 18.30. On arrival I asked for two forms as, at that time, my fourteen-year old daughter was inclined to opt out as well. They only had one form but suggested that I could download one from the internet but they did not know where on the internet.
Fortunately, a blog that I occasionally read called Big Brother Watch wrote about opting out and provided the very link that I required. I duly printed two copies and set about filling them in. Then I noticed that he form clearly states that it should be completed "by the individual (data subject) making the request." Leaving aside the awful phrase data subject and whether it adds any value to the sentence, I was confused about whether I could fill this in for my daughter. So, I rang the NHS Care Records Service Information Line on 0845 603 8510 and enquired as to how I should proceed. The gentleman on the other end told me that I could complete the form for my daughter but my GP had the right to ignore my request if he or she thought it in the best interests of the child.
So who is responsible for my daughter?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Through the Back Doorway

There are some odd beliefs in our world and I think that this is one that is up at the bizarre end of the spectrum.
Does this sentence actually make sense "Frequencies of Brilliance is referred to as a self-remembrance work because the activation that occurs as the body is touched awakens at the quantum level your spiritual aspect"?
I challenge you to read all of the following passage which is taken from this page on the same website. If you do get to the end, would you be so kind as to let me know what it all means?

The Self Healing Prophecy, What is It?

The Self Healing Prophecy is an energy that began to be anchored on our planet by the Pleiadians in November 2008 in a Public Transmission in St Paul, Minnesota.

These energies are going to continue to anchor until the year 2012, they are here to assist us in the transformation of our self realization process, and in the transformation of our planet from a 3rd dimensional energy to a 4th/5th dimensional planet.

The energies of the Self healing Prophecy are here to begin to align you with aspects of your natural birthright, which is abundance on all levels. You will begin to utilize other levels of the Prophecy energy as it will assist you to open up to working with your natural state of physical self healing, and becoming conscious in co- creating your world and co- creating your abundance on all levels. You will begin to align with higher light aspects of your Self, resurrecting yourself from the self judgment and opening into a new sense of freedom within your life and within your self. The Prophecy energy is designed to awaken you into a new lightness of spirit and a new sense of yourself within this world and your place within the Universal Consciousness.

The Prophecy accelerates your ability to move into a new awareness of your role here on this planet and aligns you to the support that is here for you within the Universe. As you awaken to the truth of your alignment and place with this Universal consciousness you can open up to the unlimited aspects of Self that links you into a deep understanding and knowledge of your place within the whole. These energies will move you deeper into a state of oneness, back to meet the truth of yourself and the Unconditional love that exists within this connection.

So that as you open to yourself to this truth, this love creates an openness towards all people in your world. Your heart will be able to transform itself with these new energies, and you will begin to work within your Sacred heart. Your new compassionate heart will begin to transmit the love out, so that you will begin to feel the true connection to other people through your heart, These heart connections are important. They are important for your planet right now because of the changing energies that are taking place, these new heart energies are needed for the awakening of all human beings, for the soul connections and the soul groups that will be coming together.

The Prophecy energies will assist soul groups to find each other, and help each group to come together and do the work that each one of you have come to fulfill at this time.
The Prophecy energy is also designed for you to become more aligned with the Spiritual energies in a new way, with a deeper and more conscious connection to them, so that you can work in partnership with Spirit and with energetic realms.

The Self Healing Prophecy energy will assist you in this transition of a new way to consciously live, so that you will move and be able to align yourself to your personal purpose here on the earth, and be able to be active with your purpose.

You will be able to do this more readily because you have an access to Spirit, so you will be able to utilize the help that is available for you within the spiritual realms on a conscious level. It’s going to help you to consciously re-align yourself to your energetic blueprint which you created for yourself before you came to this planet to live your life. This blueprint is like a map for this lifetime, your mission for yourself, having access to this will bring you a deeper understanding of your mission.

As the inner war with yourself changes, the inner wars with other people in your life also changes. The separation begins to end and love takes the place of separation. Your world is going to transform with this conscious love growing.

As the love begins to grow within your world, with yourself and others, and Spirit you will begin to take your place and feel your place within your world, within your Universe and be able to utilize on a conscious level the help and support that is here for you during this transition time on your planet.

Know that we the Pleiadians play an important role with you as you begin to work with this Self Healing Prophecy energy.


Should you want to avail yourself of a practitrioner of the above arts then the College Surgery Partnership has one, see here.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Highway Robbery

As I was filling my car with petrol last night I was pondering the cost of the liquid that was pouring into the tank. A little research here reveals that the government levies a duty of 56.19p per litre of unleaded petrol. Given that VAT is calculated on the price of the petrol and the duty, this means that the petrol I was purchasing for 110.9p was actually being sold by the petrol company at 38.19p per litre. This means that I was being charged a staggering 72.71p per litre which is equivalent to a tax rate of 190.4%. It is sobering to note that the duty will increase by 1% above inflation every 1 April from 2010 to 2013.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Equivalent of 2,018 Words.


I could not resist posting pictures of Andrew and Rachel from our recent holiday in Sharm El Sheikh.

I Couldn't Have Put it Better

I cannot recall ever agreeing with an opinion expressed by George Monbiot in his articles in The Guardian. However, yesterday he wrote an excellent article on a topic which, as he points out, should have resulted in greater coverage and discussion. Thus I find myself in a position that I never expected to be in, namely, endorsing the sentiments of and encouraging you to read this.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Petition

If anybody still reads this blog then they will know that I fall into the skeptic camp when it comes to the issue of anthropogenic global warming. If you feel the same then you might be interested in signing this petition.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Could you be a Primary School Matematics Teacher?

Here are four questions from a test comprising "27 straightforward maths questions" which were presented to 155 ­primary school teachers for the Channel 4 documentary series Dispatches. The number in brackets at the end of each question is the percentage of the tested teachers who answered the question correctly.

Q1: The mean height of a group of four people is 2m. One more person joins the group and then the mean height is 1·9m. What is the height of the new person? (14)

Q2: ABCDE is a pentagon. Name all its diagonals. (25)

Q3: Assume 5 miles = 8 km. If I travel at 40mph, how long will I take to cover 32km? (32)

Q4: 112 x 22 = 2,464. What is the value of 1.12 x 2.2? (54)

See here for the story in the Guardian complete with the answers and here for the Despatches web page on the topic. Note that the second episode will be shown tonight at 8.00 pm.

The source for this entry is the redoutable Frank Chalk.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Blowing hot and cold

Time magazine has an article titled "Another Blizzard: What Happened to Global Warming?" which is an example of a weather-is-not-climate article. I have no argument with people pointing out that today's weather in X neither proves nor disproves global warming/anthropogenic global warming/climate change*. What worries me is that it doesn't make sense. The beginning of the fifth paragraph says:

But as far as winter storms go, shouldn't climate change make it too warm for snow to fall? Eventually that is likely to happen — but probably not for a while. In the meantime, warmer air could be supercharged with moisture and, as long as the temperature remains below 32°F, it will result in blizzards rather than drenching winter rainstorms.

So, warm air becomes supercharged with moisture as long as it is below 32°F? As far as I know, air at less than 32°F will hold as much moisture as air at less than 32°F has always done. Warm air must surely mean air above 32°F in which case it is not below 32°F. In which case this snippet is nonsensical.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1962294,00.html?xid=rss-topstories#ixzz0fETxKg1Z


* delete the terms you don't like.