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25 January 2007

Where's the Money?

I have noticed that whenever a government minister is taken to task over the neglect of some important public service, the response usually includes this kind of thing ... "There's only a finite amount of money; the important thing is to spend it wisely and efficiently".

And I've noticed that this argument never seems to apply to military adventures in other people's countries. When the idiots who proposed the illegal and unnecessary pre-emptive invasion of Iraq nobody said "There's only a finite amount of money." In fact there appears to be an endless supply of money to be spent year after year after year in pursuit of absolutely nothing but death, destruction and chaos. The money will always be there for as long as it is deemed necessary, but as soon as you mention health, transport, welfare or education it will suddently become a finite amount.

20 January 2007

Stopping a Run on Benefits

Nobody likes a benefits cheat, so my day made a bright start when I saw the news that one Paul Appleby - a 47 year old ex-miner - was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court to ten months in prison for illegally claiming and receiving over £22,000 in disability benefits in the past four years. Apparently he had asserted that he was unable to walk without the aid of two walking sticks or a frame. During this period, however, he managed to run in several marathons, including the London Marathon. The least he could have done was to carry his walking frame with him, but sadly (for him) he was filmed by the Department of Work and Pensions, cheerfully running exclusively on his own two legs with a broad smile on his face, completing the course in just over three and a half hours.

16 January 2007

Surfer's Soliloquy

To BLOG or not to BLOG, that is the question —
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous comments,
Or to take arms against a sea of e-mails,
And by opposing, end them. To cry, DELETE
No more; and by deletion say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. CTRL, then ALT
DELETE, perchance to live! Ay, there's the ESC,
For in that real life what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this “virtual” coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of “virtual” life,
For who can bear the dark blue screens of death,
The spammer’s songs, the offers of viagra,
The pangs of “virtual” love, the law's delay,
The insolence of chat rooms, and the loans
That have no merit and the gullible takes,
When he himself can’t clear his overdraft
With a bare cheque book? who would be a bear
Of little brain in this computer’d life,
But that the dread of something after DEL,
The real-life country from whose bourn
No surfer returns, puzzles us still,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the hue of pixel resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And variations of dot pitch and R G B
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And so I stay confused .. F1 for help.

William Spokeshave

10 January 2007

Global Warming Warning

It's January, and the sun is shining in a clear blue sky. The outside temperature is 7 degrees C.

When I first moved to North Yorkshire in 1966 it was a fairly safe assumption that within a day or two of Christmas it would be difficult to get out of the front door because of snow drifts. Snow and ice would be on the ground for weeks on end, and journeys across the North York Moors would only be possible after the snow ploughs had cut their way through, leaving 10 ft high walls of snow on either side of the road.

There's a sledge hanging up in my garage for my grandson to use when he visits during the winter. It has been used about three times in as many years.

Ten years ago my normal winter working clothes invariably included thick shirts, thick polo-necked military-style jumpers, and thick top coat. I am now going out in the winter wearing short-sleeved T-shirts and a light casual jacket.

It's all very pleasant, of course, but the downside is the increasing frequency of freak weather incidents causing damage, injury and death. We can argue until the cows stop farting about whether or not mankind's activities are causing the climate change. It could be part of the normal long-term cyclical changes that have always occurred. I suspect, however, that we have a great deal to do with what is going on. Even if we take the official American government line that our energy use has nothing to do with it we still have to recognise that the change is happening, and we had better damned well be prepared for the consequences.

My grandson is upset about not being able to use his sledge. My biggest worry is how upset he and all of our grandchildren (and their children) will be when flooding, shortage of drinking water, crop changes, intolerable temperatures, economic downturns, mass migration and consequent conflict and war become an everyday part of their lives.


Talking of hot spots, I see that the Venuzuelan President is threatening to nationalise a number of major industries, including some in American ownership. No prizes for guessing who the next South American President to meet with a mysterious accident might be!

03 January 2007

New Year Resolutions I'm confident of keeping in 2007

I will not take up smoking. (I gave it up 40 years ago)

I will not have an extra-marital affair. (Haven’t had one in 44 years of marriage)

I will continue to drive on the left. (Always a good idea in Britain)

I will continue to be about 20 pounds over-weight. (It’s best to acknowledge when one is beaten)

I will continue to despise racists and religious fanatics. (There’ll be plenty of opportunities)

I will not vote again for a Tony Blair government. (He’s going to resign before the next Election)

I will continue to be sceptical of David Cameron’s Conservative Party. (He’s all froth & bubble)

I will never again be a member of a Political Party. (Unless it’s my own)

I will attend Church regularly (just as soon as there is only one Christian Church)

I will take the religion of Islam seriously (just as soon as there is only one version of it)

I will not take my car to the local shops when I can walk or ride a bike.

I will continue to dislike George Bush (but promise to hug at least two Americans)

I will maintain my Blog irregularly and unreliably.

I will maintain contact with my friends on the same basis.

I will feel bad about my irregularities and unreliability.

I think that’s enough to be going on with.

Happy New Year!