Monday, 30 April 2007

YesBut time is nearly up.

On 2nd May, Tony Blair will celebrate being British Prime Minister for ten years. I guess he will be in a very small minority, the vast majority of the populace are just waiting for him to resign - its been a long time coming.

Blair will resign as Leader of the Labour Party later this week, or possibly as late as next. As soon as Labour elects a new Leader - which will take about five weeks - Blair will offer his resignation as Prime Minister to the Queen. She will then - though she doesn’t have to - invite the new Leader of the Labour Party to form a Government.

What will Blair do after he moves out of Downing Street? Undoubtedly write his memoirs - to remind everyone how great a Prime Minister he was. He will make a heap of money on the speaking circuit in the USA - justifying the invasion of Iraq. Then what?

A man with an ego the size of Blair’s will want to remain in the public eye. A career as a TV pundit is out of the question - it would guarantee the turn off of every TV in the UK. With a bit of luck, he’ll see his future lies across the water in the USA, and we will get rid of him - but I can’t see Cherie Blair giving up her carrier to live in the USA.

Its popular for ex US Presidents to set up their own Private Foundation. And let’s face it Blair has always thought of himself more as a President than Prime Minister. How ironic if the Prime Minister who has taken this country into more wars than any previous Prime Minister, establishes a Foundation for World Peace. Yes that could be the kind of thing he would do in keeping with his self-image of being a saint. No he will want to remain on the “World Stage”.

Lets think, working for the European Union? No way the French would veto that. The United Nations? The man who ignored the UN when with Bush he invaded Iraq. Nope

I don‘t care what he does, as long as we never hear or see him again.

YesBut click here to see today's YesBut's image

Sunday, 29 April 2007

YesBut how about nice cup of Chai?

I have to eulogies the glory of Twinings Chai, described on the packet as “a tea with the mellow flavour of Indian spices”.

To say “drinking a cup of Chai“ is an understatement, it is a ritual. The boiling of the kettle with the puffs of steam. The selection of the cup. Pouring the boiling water into the mug. The gentle lowering of the teabag into the still steaming water. Then there is the wait as the black tea with the additional flavours of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and star anise infuse for five minutes - watching as the crystal clear water slowly turns into liquid gold. Removing the tea bag, allowing the last few drops to drain into the cup. Adding just a dash of milk, before finally stirring in three-quarter teaspoon of pure natural set honey. Initially taking just a sip and tasting the rich black tea, waiting as the taste buds slowly detect a hint of the added spices followed by the honey sweetness which mingles in the mouth.

Sweet Chai brew is also produced by Yogi Tea, but to my taste the drink is too dominated by the spice flavours and does not have the required sharp contrasting taste of black tea.

I wish I could be as enthusiastic about other Twinings infusions, but regrettably I cannot. Its Lemon & Ginger tea is a misnomer. Undoubtedly to comply with the Trades Description Act it must contain some ginger, but in such small quantities it is hardly detectable. The same can be said of its Ginger, Orange & Honey infusion, which tastes like very diluted hot apple cider, with an orange peel tang - I’m being polite. I could compare it to cat’s pee. But having never drunk cat’s pee I would be doing it a disservice in comparing it to Ginger, Orange & Honey infusion.

But for now I sip my Chai, perfection - and all is well with the World. And I can concentrate on writing my blog.

Just thinking aloud

Click here to read more.

Today's Image - Heatwave

It must be true if the newspapers say so, click here to see.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

YesBut if I catch them I’d tag their . . .

It costs Londoner’s over £100 million per year to clean up the work of graffiti vandals. It’s ugly and is nothing but visual pollution. It is so extensive on London's South Bank between Westminster and Blackfriars Bridges that a dedicated team has had to be employed to remove the garbage.

Particularly in this area of London it is undiluted criminal vandalism. Why? Because there is an area set aside under the podium of Queen Elizabeth Hall for graffiti artists to practice their art. (Who am I to judge if it is or isn’t art).

By no stretch of the imagination can these daubers be regarded as artists, they are simple minded egotists. At least the paint sprayer’s activities can be removed. But these dumbos aren’t content with paint. They need to leave permanent reminders of their activities, by scratching their tags on bus and train windows.

I guess they are the twenty-first century’s equivalent of Rene Descartes’ philosophical supposition “I think therefore I am”.

"I graffiti to prove that I am."

Yes it proves they are, criminals, mindless, cretins who should be locked up and the key thrown away.

Click here to see images of the area set a side on the South Bank for graffiti artists.

Friday, 27 April 2007

YesBut it was acceptable language then.

I endevour to avoid offensive language in my blogs. It is used only when unavoidable in the context of the subject of the blog. Today’s blog does contain very offensive racist language. To enable you to choose whether to read the offensive passage, a further warning is given immediately prior to the offending four lines in the blog.

At the weekend I came across an autograph book given to my maiden aunt on her 17th birthday in 1919. The pages are filled with messages, sketches but mainly poems written there by her friends. All very innocent. Her own entry was the verse:
The eye that never shed a tear
A now rusty sawing needle is threaded through the page.

On another page, IR in July 1920, stuck an envelope on a page, outside is writtenFor Ladies Only”, lift up the flap and inside is written “Aren’t Men Inquisitive?”

On the last page Elsie Davies on 4th August 1919 wrote:

By hook or by crook I will be the last To write in your book.

D. Jones wrote:
Smile awhile
And while you smile, another smiles
And soon, there’s miles and miles of smiles
And life is worth while
While you smile.

All very innocent, which makes turning the page and reading the next verse written by A. Williams, even more shocking and offensive:

God made the niggers
He made them in the night
He made them in a hurry
And forgot to make them white.

Let me place the verse in the context of the time and the people who wrote in the book. My Aunt was born in 1902 into a Welsh devout protestant (non-conformist) Christian working class family. The family members and her friends would have worshipped at a Welsh Methodist Chapel at least twice on Sundays and in addition attended two Bible Study / Pray meetings each week.

Each week they would have made a financial contribution to the Methodist Missionary Society to “help the poor little blacks in Africa and the little slant-eye yellow children in far off China”. The money would have been given, to compensate for God’s failure to have ensured that these poor children hadn’t been born Christian, and in gratitude that they had been born not only into a Christian family but also Welsh - and everybody knows they only speak Welsh in heaven.

Unlike today, the verse would not have attracted any undue attention - “poor little black children they deserve our love and sympathy”.

Today's Image - Furnace Pond

Click here to see "Today's Image".

Thursday, 26 April 2007

YesBut a world class park?

As promised yesterday, YesBut’s ace photographer was sent to photograph the park recently constructed at Potters Field.

So this is what More London promised to be a “world class park”. I have seen more exciting looking window-boxes.

No giraffes, lions or wilderbeasts not even a rabbit or teddy bear and certainly no hunting lodge - how disappointing. And where is the boating lake? This is another case where, a design looks great on paper, (more likely computer), but when it’s built people say “are you joking this cost £3million?”. The trees they planted must be an extremely rare species - perhaps they were hand reared by vestal virgins in the heart of the Amazon forest.

The words “World class design” have been used in reference to the 2012 London Olympic facilities. The mind shudders at the thought of what we will get for +£9.0 billion. Perhaps the athletic track will be white washed lines painted in the local park.

Don’t even think of using Potters Field as an Olympic venue, unless marbles or tiddlywinks become Olympic sports. I can see now a line of little children marching with plastic buckets full of sand to construct a long jump pit. Though they will require men with barrows to collect enough sand for the beach volley ball venue. Where will they get the sand? Well at low tide on the south bank of the River Thames between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges a strip of sand is exposed, (there is a seven metre difference in height between high and low water in central London each tide). Sorry Mr Sand Artist I guess you’ll be losing your sand in 2012.

Click here to see more photos of the world class park

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Potters Fields

Within the shadow of London's Tower Bridge there is a patch of grass and dirt which obtained a degree of notoriety in 2003 as the site chosen by David Blaine to spend 44days without food, in a suspended Perspex box. For the period, the 30 year old magician was taunted and ridiculed by Londoners and tourists alike.

Then last year the area was fenced off and a sign put up announcing to the world:

“Potters Fields is about to be transformed.
A new design to create a world class park. . .”

Three million pounds was allocated for the project. My imagination raced away trying to imagine what the world class park would look like. Would it be a safari park, with herds of wilderbeasts, lions and giraffes? At dusk tourists could sit out on the hunting lodge’s balcony drinking their gin & tonic watching the animals comedown to the watering hole. Or it might match the grandeur of New York’s Central Park, or London’s Hyde Park with a boating lake and expanse of green lush grass.

Progress on the construction was slow. Small areas could be viewed through viewing holes in the surrounding fence, puzzlingly the activity didn’t quite equate with what would be expected for the creation of a world class park.

Then the fence was removed, and all was revealed.

Please control your excitement and anticipation, YesBut's ace photographer has been sent post haste to the new park, and the photographs will be posted on the blog tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

YesBut why a new blog site?

This blog was started to provide a forum for my: thoughts, sometimes rants, observations on daily events and, occasionally, and to I let my imagination wonder off in uncharted regions.

Over the months, I have realised I would also like to spend time to explore individual topics in more detail, and let my thoughts evolve over a longer period of time. To accomplish this I have stated a new blog, YesBut - Thinking Aloud.

The first topic I am exploring is morality and who has sufficient authority to define ethical standards.

Please click here to read the blog and to make your own contribution to the exploration.

While my offerings to the new blog will be made on an occasional bases, as and when I think I have a contribution to make on the topic under examination, but I will continue to use this blog to get my daily blogging fix.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

YesBut they are true heroes

So, seven hours after the start, the London Marathon is over for another year, no it’s not. Yes most of the spectators have gone home, the workers are removing the crowd control barriers and the road sweepers are cleaning the roads, but there are a few runners still out on the course, making their agonising way towards the finish.

Over five hours after Martin Lel won the men’s race and Zhou Chunxiu the women’s, the true heroes are digging deep to find the last ounce of energy to carry their weary painful body to the finish line on their rubbery legs.

Enough words, I give you the men and women of courage:

Click here to see more photograhes taken during the day

YesBut run on

Londoners are not in favour of hosting the 2012 Olympics, mainly because they resent having to make a contribution to the estimated £9.3 billion costs. (Yes £9,300,000,000 that's US$18,600,000,000 a lot of ‘0s’).

But their attitude to today’s London Marathon is so different, maybe because it is sponsored by Flora and is not a burden on the tax payers!No they love it because it's such a great event. Londoners will join with tourists to cheer on and encourage the runners. They do not care who wins the race, every runner is treated as a winner, their attention is on the fun runners who through sponsorship will collect millions of pounds for charities. It claims to be the largest annual fund raising event in the World; last year £41.5 million was raised for charity.

Families will be there shouting encouragement, “come on dad only two miles to go”, “go Mom go we are proud of you”. Runners drained of all energy will be revitalised by the love and warmth radiating from the spectators.

And now it’s time for me to go to join the crowds and shout my encouragement, “your nearly there, go go go, you can do it”.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

YesBut I only want to go for a walk.

I truly detest tourists. I am easily pleased; all I want is to go for a walk unimpeded. But tourists are totally oblivious of other people and their surroundings. They stand as a group, blocking pavements or walkways with gormless smile on their face waiting for their photograph to be taken. While another member of their family stands looking at the camera as if it’s a piece of advanced technology that has just dropped from outer space - “It isn’t working you dumbo because you’ve left the lens cap on“. While this is happening, they expect people to walk around them, and not interfere with the photo-shoot.

Then there are their football shirted snot-nosed ice-cream eating brats. Well ice-cream eating is a misnomer. The ice cream they don’t manage to rub on their faces they dab on passers-by’s clothes. And if it isn’t ice cream its grease dripping ketchup saturated hotdogs bought from a East-European illegal immigrant who hasn’t washed his hands since immerging at Dover from underneath of a truck transporting Polish frozen turkey giblets. One bite of the sausage and instant diarrhoea.

They are merely a nuisance while they are standing still, when they move they become positively dangerous. They absentmindedly push their pram not looking where they are going. If a year ago they hadn’t thrust their appendage so decisively, they wouldn’t be encumbered with a pushchair now.

Why can’t they be contented and stay at home - take a chair out to the garden, have a barbecue get drunk on cheap vodka, and allow their kids to play football with a tin can while eating Pot Noodle.

Go home and leave me alone.

Friday, 20 April 2007

YesBut we should have the right to know.

Today the House of Commons debated a private member’s bill to exempt Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords from Freedom of Information Act inquiries.

David Maclean said he introduced the bill because “When we write on behalf of constituents we must be able to look them in the eye and say that in all circumstances what they tell us will not get out.”

But the bill would also have the effect of exempting MPs and peers from having to disclose their expenses.

This was yet another move to dilute the powers of an already emasculated Freedom of Information Act.

The bill was fortunately scuppered by opponents who by filibustering talked-it-out.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

YesBut was it worth it?

A neighbour’s last ten years has been particularly stressful, including litigation and court cases as she fought what she considered exorbitant charges claimed by her landlord. Last month she had a stroke which has left her paralysed and speechless - there is no hope of recovery, she has now been transferred to a nursing home. Undoubtedly the stress had a detrimental effect on her health. While others shrugged their shoulders and paid up, it was her nature to fight. I am left wondering was it all worth it?

We get caught up in events, which at the time we consider so important. If my neighbour knew that in ten years time she would be lying in a bed helpless, would she have put herself in such a stressful situation.

Some years ago there was a photographic exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, on the topic gardeners and gardening.

One of the photographs was of the aptly named gardener, Alan Bloom, underneath was a quote:

“I have reached an age at which peace of mind and harmony are the most precious of all life’s blessings”

I copied it into my little book of sayings, which I periodically take out to contemplate.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

YesBut anyone but Brown

When John Smith suddenly died in May 1994, Gordon Brown wanted to succeed him as leader of the Labour Party. But his good friend Tony Blair persuaded him that the Labour Party would have more chance of beating the Conservative Party if Blair became the leader. Brown claims a deal was struck, which in return for Brown's support Blair would resign as Prime Minister during a Labour Governments (one rumour says first while another rumour says second) term of office. Ever since the Labour Party won the 1997 General Election Gordon Brown has been brooding and seething wanting Blair to resign and allow himself to fulfil his destiny of becoming Prime Minister.

As we approach the tenth anniversary of Labours victory on 1st May, Blair is finally on the point of resigning. At last Brown could drop his sullen look and start to relax. But will at the last minute, the prize he has been waiting for be snatched from his grasp?

For the truth is Brown is not a winner. More importantly Labour Members of Parliament know he is not a winner- and to hold on to their own jobs at the next General Election, they need a Leader who can defeat David Cameron and the Conservative Party.

For months the Blairite faction of the Labour Party has been looking for an ABG (anyone but Gordon) candidate. But there isn’t an obvious strong candidate. So they were having to content themselves with Brown taking over from Blair during the summer. But, and there are lots of buts in this story, questions are now being asked over Browns competency as Chancellor of the Exchequer – is he responsible for the shortfall in funds in pension schemes? did he sell off half of the UK Gold Reserves cheaply? The image of the sound prudent “Iron Chancellor” is starting to crumble. And Labour Party MPs are starting to panic.

Is the young David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs the answer to their prays? Each night Labour MPs pray "please God anyone but Gordon".

My prediction:

  • Gordon Brown will become leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister.
  • Due to the British “First past the Post” voting system and the anomalies in the way constituency boundaries are drawn up, the Conservative Party require far more than Labour of the popular vote to win a majority of seats. Consequently Labour will win the largest number of seats at the next General Election, but they might not get an overall majority. The Conservative Party will then win following General Election.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

The population of the USA is circa 300 million.

There are 200 million guns in private ownership in the USA.

Yesterday a gunman shot and killed 32 students in Virginia Tech, before shooting himself.

The United States Constitution, Bill of Rights Second Amendment states:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Monday, 16 April 2007

YesBut the weather

Saturday morning, small Welsh town, people shopping dressed in summer wear: women in short sleeved tops, men in shorts, flip-flops on feet and children with sunglasses crying for ice cream. - nothing unusual. But, the described scene and the photograph wasn’t taken in June or July, but two days ago on 14th April 2007.

The daytime average temperature for April is 5°C (min) - 13°C(max). Shoppers’ should have been dressed in anoraks, perhaps if there was a cold wind with a scarf wrapped around the neck. But this Saturday the temperature was 22°C.

Who can deny the existence of global warming?

Saturday, 14 April 2007

YesBut are you aware?

I am away from home for a few days, so I've had to resort to using a borrowed computer. Strange browser - no tabs to open a new window, no nice drop-down menu with all my bookmarked web addresses, and worst having to remember my log-on names and passwords.

When you are confronted by the unusual you realise how, in a routine day, your actions are performed on autopilot without thinking. We can go through the day without being mindful of our actions.

Novices when commencing Zen meditation training are often asked “which shoe do you put on first?”. At first sight there is no obvious relationship between meditation and whether you put your left or right shoe on first. But it’s a measure of how mindful they are.

Which shoe do you put on first?

Trevor Leggett, head of the BBC Japanese Service for 24 years from 1946, Zen scholar and Judo expert recommended as training in mindfulness: right handed men when shaving should hold the razor in their left hand.

I once heard a Tibetan Rinpoche describe London as a mindful capital. When getting on and off an underground train an announcer says “mind the gap”. The gap, neither the train nor the platform.

Mindfulness the continuous awareness of the moment between two points in time, just before a dog lands on your head.

Friday, 13 April 2007

YesBut the date

Friday the 13th, need I say more – lets be careful.

And look at the date, 13/04/2007!

1+3+0+4+2+0+0+7 = 17.

Seventeen must be someone’s unlucky number. On the other hand it might be the winning number for this week’s lottery draw.

Being knocked down by a double-decker bus while watching TV in your own home, now that’s what I call bad luck.

Have a good day

Thursday, 12 April 2007

YesBut is this Security gone mad?

There I was quietly tapping away at the keyboard; thunderous RRRRRRRR BUBUBUBUBU. Went outside looked up, and there’s this thumping big Seaking helicopter hovering overhead. Down drops a rope soon followed by a troop of SAS dressed in full combat gear. Before you can say “YesBut”, YesBut is spread-eagled on the floor rifle in my back.

Turned out to be an exercise, to see how quick the Security Services could react in the event of this blog was hijacked. Don’t know what effect it had on hackers but it scared the hell out of me.

Bit over the top I thought! Told them I already had CCTV coverage, and am planning to upgrade by installing one of those talking CCTV cameras. They advised I should require everyone before they log on to remove their footwear - just in case they have a shoe-bomb; also to have their iris scanned and voice and fingers prints taken.

How can you take a bear’s fingerprints?

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

YesBut style of Government.

Over the last couple of days, some odd ideas have immerged from the UK Government.

It is talking about introducing the requirement for sea anglers to obtain licences to fish. The reason given - to protect fish stocks. Have you ever heard such a load of claptrap? What is the total annual catch of all rod fishing in the UK, compared to that of one North Sea trawler? Most fishermen only manage to drown a few lugworms. How is the legislation going to be enforced? Will there be fishery officers patrolling the beaches and jetties to arrest kids who haven’t got a licence? Let’s be realistic.

As I type this blog the Government is sending out mixed messages over the trial of a very watered-down “Megan’s Law”. The Government is, or it might not be, floating the idea to trial in three areas, a pilot scheme giving the public the right to find out from the police whether there are paedophiles living in their area - but the paedophiles would not be identified. The objective being, parents would be more vigilant if they knew there was a paedophile living in their area. Experts are appalled by the proposal, as it would result in known paedophiles going into hiding - unsupervised by the police and probation service they would be more dangerous. And in any case parents should be vigilant, irrespective of whether there is a paedophile living in the area. Whether the scheme will be introduced is now in question, as in less than a day the Government is backtracking.

At the weekend the Royal Navy gave permission for the fifteen sailors and marines released by the Iranians to sell their stories to the press. Monday the Defence Secretary Des Browne banned all serving military personnel from selling their stories to the media.

Can you hear the creaks of a Government under stress starting to fall apart?

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

YesBut better safe than sorry.

All that looking at antispyware programs and reading about viruses has made me quite paranoiac. If “They” can attack my computer, then just think what They could do to this blog. The mind boggles at the thought. But as you might have noticed I’ve taken some security precautions. Installed CCTV to watch the blog while I’m away from the computer. After seeing what school kids do at the local newsagents - one distracts the shop keeper while the others are stealing sweats and magazines - I thought, that’s it, no kids allowed near this blog.

Then if the blog gets popular, lots of people viewing it at the same time, you know what would happen? Everywhere there are crowds - pickpockets. Innocent old lady from Minsk reading the blog, next thing she knows some thief has stolen her foot warmer. Before I know it I’m being sued by an old woman from Minsk. Not me. Sought legal advice, told if I install a warning sign I would do all that is required from a prudent blogger. So forget about sueing me, look after your own family jewels.

To be extra careful, I’m also warning you about thieves taking your iPod MP3 player. If you are sitting there listening to music- music suddenly stops, you might assume you’ve gone deaf, no, some scumbag has thieved your iPod. But don’t blame me I’ve warned you.

Then I thought what if there’s some techno geek, walking down the street, reading this blog on his mobile phone or laptop with wireless connection. Gets so intrigued by the content and the rapier wit and repartee, that he doesn’t notice he‘s come to a side street, steps off the pavement and splat, knocked down by a horse-drawn-hearse. [If the next of kin are smart they could do a deal with the Undertaker (sorry Funeral Director) get 50% discount off the funeral costs. Well let’s face it, not good publicity, going to dispose of one body and picking up another on the way]. But being a good citizen, I’ve taken a precaution of warning you - look both ways.

Come to think of it, safest thing for both you and the blog.

Monday, 9 April 2007

YesBut it’s all in the Mind

This week's Horizon program on BBC2 was about Nick van Bloss who suffers from the neurological disorder Tourette’s syndrome. The illness causes uncontrolled body movements- twitching, blinking and hand movements -and obsessive-compulsive disorder - the uncontrollable need to perform actions in specific ways repeatedly. Experts believe the syndrome is caused by over production of the brain chemical dopamine. As a child Nick was told by his teachers to stop blinking and twitching - as if his behaviour resulted from a lack of self-control.

I am fascinated by the brain, its workings and the associated mind. “Normal” dopamine production results in “normal” behaviour. But how much control has a “normal” person over their behaviour, given it depends upon the amount of dopamine production. Increased dopamine stimulates sensory awareness which causes sensory overload, which in turn alters the way the sensory world is perceived. This altered state can be a boon in artistic activity. If the increased production rate was the “normal” rate, then we would have a different prospective on the World.

The brain is fascinating; the most complex human organ, with one hundred billion neurons interlinked by a chemical and electrical communication network. This network is the source of the cognitive mind, with its function of: cognition, perception, volition, memory and language. Physically alter the brain and the way the mind functions is changed. Similarly experience a traumatic occurrence and the mind can be dramatically influenced. We perceive the mind as us, and us as our mind - this is my body and my mind. But who is the observer who claims ownership of the body and mind? Is the observer separate or integral to the mind and body? Stimulate the production of dopamine and the mind’s perspective is modified, does that mean the “observer” is replaced by a new “observer”.

Buddhism gives the answer, there never was an observer, and there is only the ever changing conjoined mind and body.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Rewarding our heroes.

So the 15 Royal Navy personnel captured by Iran, have been given permission to sell their stories to the press. Good for them, they deserve compensation for their horrendous ordeal- having to wear those ill fitting suits - anyone would crack under such pressure.

I wonder will Leading Seaman Faye Turney buy a new scarf with the £100,000 she is reported to be getting from selling her story to ITV1’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme and to a newspaper.

I wonder how much compensation the widows and children of service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan get?

Saturday, 7 April 2007

YesBut all at Sea

Sections of the British press have been highly critical of the 15 Royal Navy personnel. They have been accused of at worst cowardice and best weakness in signing statements admitting they were in Iran waters when they were arrested, and their subsequent toadying fawning attitude towards Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I think you are not entitled to criticise these men and woman, unless you have yourself been subjected to psychological stress and manipulation. I admit given a choice as they were "If we admitted we had strayed, we would be on a plane back to the UK soon. If we didn't we faced up to seven years in prison". I would say “where do I sign”.

What I do condemn them for is their subsequent behaviour and particularly the news conference. They made them selves look like snivelling cowards - a couple of nights in a cell and they would confess to anything. They should have made a statement that they were pleased to be home, thank those who had worked for their release - end of story.

Clearly the Royal Navy has come out badly from the whole affair. Brought into question is whether the HMS Cornwall is the right vessel to patrol the Gulf? Particularly as its deep draft prevents it from going into shallow waters. How were the Iranian boats able to approach the Navy boats undetected? Why was there no air cover provided by the Lynx helicopter? What is not in question is the ill preparedness of the crew - you would think they were going out for a pleasant row on a boating lake on a sunny afternoon. They were as well prepared as Freddie Flintoff was in his pedalo.

One final question who is Chief Petty Officer Gavin Cavendish?

Friday, 6 April 2007

Social Engineering

Yesterday the Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly published an action plan to work with Muslim communities to isolate, prevent and defeat violent extremism. A study by Durham University was published alongside the plan, which claims “the traditional leadership need a new approach to counter radicalisation and better connect with young people“.

The key points of the plan are:

  • Strengthening leadership and governance in mosques.
  • A framework of new standards for imams engaged by the state who will go into areas where individuals are susceptible to extremism such as prisons and universities.
  • Helping communities build stronger civic and religious leadership.
  • Rolling out good practice guidance nationally to encourage the teaching of citizenship in madrassahs and supplementary schools.
  • £6 million of new allocations to around 70 local communities.

Obviously the Government is faced with a challenge of countering the radicalisation of young Muslims. But should this be done by the Government getting involved in social engineering? Is the involvement of the Government with an imam likely to increase or diminish his influence? The largest body the Muslim Council of Britain, has fallen out of favour, leading to claims that ministers are talking only to those prepared to agree with government.

Why are young Muslims susceptible to radical influence? Two factors:
  • A sense of alienation with British society.
  • British foreign policy, in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

These factors are equally likely to be felt by all sectors of society, but they aren’t likely to become suicide bombers. Actually there are other groups in British society which have caused more deaths than Islamic extremists.
Gun carrying Afro-Caribbean gangs

Why isn’t the Government paying equal attention to the Afro-Caribbean community? Is it because the deaths are mainly restricted to within the community? As for drunk-drivers, how many millions of pounds worth of “don’t drink and drive” campaigns have failed to prevent the slaughter on the roads?

The above argument is deliberately disjointed and lacking supporting evidence - just like the Governments latest plan.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Danger nothing to do!

Do you suffer from itchy fingers? Sitting by your computer, are you tempted to fiddle, delete a program or download a new program? Next thing you know you either have a blank screen or the computer is taken over by an alien entity - flashing warning DO NOT SWITCH OFF THE COMPUTER OR EVEN MOVE WHILE THIS PROGRAM IS DOWNLOADING. Panic what have I done? How can I turn the clock back, so nothing has happened? Been there got the psychological scars. Now have seared into my brain cells:

Start > All programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.

But all the bad experience hasn’t stopped me from roaming the byways of cyber space, looking for free downloads. I suppose its “free” that grabs me. What ever tempted me to download a program which will translate my blog into Garza, a language that died in 1828? I have downloaded so many anti-spyware programs that my computer looks like the cupboard you keep your junk in - you open the door and the contents spews out onto the floor. The computer does nothing but run spy ware programs - Alert Spywatch has detected a spyware, no sorry ignore that warning it’s just another anti-spyware program that‘s been detected.

Some of the free downloads available:

NTFS Reader
Access any NTFS volume from a machine running FAT, as easy as pie.

Fractal Forge
Yes, you've probably all seen a fractal generator before but this one is flexible and fast. It all comes flooding back...

Fed up with Internet Explorer? Do you wish you could kill it completely? You can

Can’t understand them, but I just love reading the descriptions.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Iran incident, UK crises.

Hopefully Iran and Britain are getting closer to negotiating the release of the British Naval personnel.

The incident was caused when the crew of two British Naval patrol boats were arrested by Iran, but the crisis was caused by the subsequent inept handling of the affair by the British Prime Minister. Anyone who read the Islamic Republic News Agency’s initial press releases would have seen Iran was seeking a low key negotiated resolution. It only became a crisis when Big Mouth Blair claimed the sailors were arrested in Iraqi territorial waters. No one with smallest amount of common sense or knowledge of the subject would have made such a statement. But it is typical of Blair’s approach to diplomacy - let us not forget that Blair has taken Britain into more wars than any other “Peacetime Prime Minister”.

Why was it foolish for Blair to claim the incident occurred in Iraqi territorial waters? The Maritime boundary between Iraq and Iran was established by the Algiers Accord in 1975. However at the time it was recognised the border, in the open sea outside the Shatt al-Arab waterway, was defined not in reference to a well established coastline, but to moving mudflats; consequently it was agreed the position of the border should be reviewed every ten years. No such review took place as Saddam Hussein “tore up” the agreement in 1980, at the start of the 1980 - 1988 Iran Iraq war. Consequently neither Iran nor Britain can claim the boats were in Iran or Iraq waters.

The situation was aggravated when the UK briefed the press using maps which delineated the boundary with a thick red line. It must be realised, the question of the location of the border is as sensitive an issue to Iran as the ownership of the Falklands and Gibraltar is to Britain.

Over the weekend, Britain seemed to recognise the prudence of following traditional and well established diplomatic procedures to establish contacts with Iran. This however was not helped by Blabber Mouth Bush, referring to the sailors as “British Hostages”. Then his partner Blair could not resist throwing in his three pennyworths with his belligerent mutterings.

This World will be a safer place when Blair and Bush finally leave office. Hopefully they will shut up long enough for the diplomats to do their work.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Have medical prescription will travel

On 1st April NHS Prescription charges in England increased to £6.85 per item. On the same date medical prescription charges in Wales were scraped.

If you live in London and have more than three items on a prescription, it will be cheaper to buy an Advanced Return train ticket and travel to Cardiff to obtain your prescribed medication, than go to your local pharmacy..

Sunday there was a program on BBC Radio 4 “Battle for Birth”, looking at the history of maternity practice in the NHS. Even within the last thirty years expectant mothers, as a matter of routine had to suffer the indignity of being shaved and given an enema. It was NHS policy for all women to give birth in Maternity Hospitals; and they were not allowed out of bed for two weeks after giving birth. How things have changed; today because of financial constraints 9 out of 10 NHS Health Trusts in England and Wales cannot afford to run antenatal classes. A recent survey by the Royal College of Midwives revealed two-thirds of maternity units are understaffed and an additional 3000 midwives need to be recruited.

NHS National Health Service is a misnomer, it should be PCHS Postal Code Health Service.

Monday, 2 April 2007

That’s News to me.

The ITV has won the rights to televise live FA Cup and England football matches from August 2008. From that date football will cease to exist! The BBC lost the rights to televise cricket Test matches live and suddenly, as far as BBC Television News was concerned no Test Matches are played. Sky has the rights to the ICC Cricket World Cup, how much coverage, apart for the murder of Bob Woolmer, has BBC News devoted to reporting the event? Zilch.

Writing Saturday’s blog, I looked up coverage by Middle East news organizations of the British sailors captured by Iran. To my surprise I saw their main concern was reporting on the 19th Arab summit. I say surprise, because there had been no reference to this meeting by the British television news organisations. This I find astonishing, when you consider the main topic of the summit was to reach a way to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict. It’s recognised by all, apart from Blair and Bush, the lack of the resolution of the Palestine-Israel dispute is at the heart of the Islamic militant movement. Solve this dispute, and the risk of Islamic terrorist attacks in Britain and USA will be diminished by 99%. Yet the meeting was unreported.

Over a hundred people are killed in an Indian train crash and there is no mention on British TV news. An 84year old woman dies in a train derailment in Cumbria, and there is saturation television and newspaper coverage.

Newspapers print stories they think will sell newspapers. The BBC broadcasts stories it thinks . . .? Well its difficult to identify the BBC’s methodology, it claims to have more reporters in more countries than any other news organisation; but it tends to follow than lead. How many scoops does it have each year? Not many, if any.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

1st April

You can imagine my joy when I received official notification that this blog had won the Google Blog of Blogs Award for 2007.

Immediately I knew what I had to do. A blog without readers is merely computer code floating in cyber space. It is you the reader who makes the blog tangible and existent. Consequently I have great pleasure in sharing the award with you.

To claim your share of the prize enter your details as a comment or send an email to Grumpy@Tesco.Net.

Finally on this joyous occasion, may I wish you all Happy All Fools Day.