Saturday, April 28, 2007
Interestingly, nothing from the hereditary ruling class. Have they worked out who I am and where I live?
S-E (paranoidly avoiding work)
Friday, April 27, 2007
Instead, we have "Alex Salmond for First Minister". Go on, explain that one.
I would also note that we have "Christian Peoples Alliance - Leader Teresa Smith" and "Solidarity - Tommy Sheridan".
Well, at least that will stop more arguments with my wife 'cause she couldn't believe I was going to tactically vote SNP. They, even under their assumed name, have lost one by being such fucking prats. Makes the "smug useless gits" look nearly vaguely competent.
Oh well, Independent for councillor(s) & Tory, once more, for consituency and list, I suppose. Hell, when I finally thought my vote was going to count.
What a bunch of utter wankers. No wonder we have pathetic turnout election after election.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Just look at this:
Amerikkka is the ugly country of warmongering capitalist US imperialism where criminal gangs of mimes roam the subway at will abusing cats and setting cars on fire.Now, all good Pratchett readers will know that Lord Vetinari has criminalised mime. But in the real world? WTF is a "criminal gang of mimes"? And abusing cats (as opposed to eating them)?
The mind boggles. Read and enjoy. Weeping optional.
Now, just in case you think I have gone soft in my absence, I still believe Terry is a mendacious fool and wholly unworthy of any form of elected or otherwise public office. I will still use TerryWatch to fisk or take the piss out of him or even just be rude about him. I will continue to have the odd go at Rayleen. Not because she is Terry's daughter (although that is how I became aware of her existence) but because she is yet another cretinous adherent of the incompetent Scottish Labour "handout society" statist freakery.
I have a few comments to make, though.
Why are people sending Terry racist mail (or email, or blog articles or blog comments)? Semi-literate cretin that he is, he is still a white European male. A stupendously obese and ridiculously ugly one, but a white European male. But, they probably are not. They are probably sending him mail disagreeing with him about immigration and asylum - subjects on which our Hero is publicly verbose ('though illiterate - look at the link rather than the amended title :) although, when it comes to actually trying to help people, useless and evasive. And we all know that disagreeing with Nu-Lab needs to be criminalised.
Secondly, Terry seems to be surprised that he has upset people all over the world:
they (Strathclyde Polis) went on to confirm that the hate mail had been sent from such diverse places as the Philippines, Holland and Russia.Hasn't this idiot worked out that the internet is, to be blunt, a world-wide (North Korea not-exempt) accessible resource? Does he really believe that readership of his drivel should be limited to the benighted inhabitants of "Whitesbridge, Fischer, Baronscourt and Ferguslie"?
And, finally, why does he think that the polis would, in violation of their duty of confidentiality to victims and the Data Protection Act 1998, give details of an alleged crime to J Random Punter, even if he is that blogger of taste and wit, "Right for Scotland".
Two wrongs do not make a right. Terry is the human epitome of egregious wrong. But, sending threatening letters is also wrong, you utter fools.
Vote agin him next week, if you can. Or Rayleen. Or any of the Nu-Lab vermin. Get them out of our lives for good.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I would be reasonably happy to say that I was disappearing off to some far-flung corner of the empire to quell a native revolt (or a revolting native). But we don't have an Empire any more and the UN Charter is more than slightly anti the whole quelling idea.
Anyway - unless Blogger (or just this blog) gets hacked, there will be no new content up for a couple of weeks while I have minimal internet access and then attend my profession's annual three day new-toy and beer fest. Comment moderation will remain on but will be very intermittent so my apologies.
|Your Personality is Very Rare (INTP)|
Your personality type is goofy, imaginative, relaxed, and brilliant.
Only about 4% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 6% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.
Just to be clear - I did that after I had drink (significantly) imbibed last night :) I can't remember exactly what I rated last time I did a Myers-Briggs test, but alcohol doesn't seem to affect it much.
However, I just wanted to share a few short points with you.
Better off out. I could say more but that is accurate & concise.
The Welfare State (including pensions)
Root and branch reform - split benefits overtly into "citizenship entitlements" - you get these if you meet the basic criteria (pension, child benefit etc) regardless of your income and "hardship benefits". We can then massively simplify the latter and concentrate on keeping the total marginal rate of taxation & benefit withdrawal, in the light of additional income at levels which do no discourage working.
The Health Service
Be honest. We cannot afford for everybody to get the best of everything. Ensure that clinical best practice is what drives the provision of care, not pointless bureaucratic targets. Dr's Crippen and Rant to run a special anti-idiotarian hit squad.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
To be re-named (again but, come on, it's only £50k) "Jester in Chief to Her Majesty's Court at Westminster" and the current incumbent to remain in post for life. Wearing of motley and false nose to be mandatory.
Gone, immediately. If industry needs help from government, it isn't doing its job correctly.
There should be much more but I have run out of time. Have fun.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
He is Lex Luthor, I appear to be Dr Doom:
You are Dr. Doom
|Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.|
Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz
Just to check the (limited) brighter side of my personality:
You are Spider-Man
|You are intelligent, witty,|
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Ho hum. I'll take Spidey. M-J is rather cute (yes, I know, well behind the times.)
What? Lacking or without "feck"?
Apparently, according to the Shorter Oxford (I don't have enough bookshelf space to keep anything longer), it is of Scottish or Northern English origin, with "feck" meaning "the better part", "the purpose" or "efficacy".
So rather than being a faux-polite way of writing "fuck" (in a pronounced Irish accent), the current use of "feckless" is actually appropriate to the (putative) original meaning of the source word.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Try it yourself, here.
Hat-tip to Ian from Shades of Grey for the link and thanks, again, for linking to educational conscription.
Firstly, let's stop pretending that the nuclear deterrent has anything to do with defence. Pull it from the MOD budget and stick the cash under the Cabinet Office where it belongs. Obviously, given Trident and the probability that any replacement will be SLBM, then a largish chunk of this will be handed back to the Royal Navy to pay them for operating the system. This will remove some fairly large distortions from the system.
Secondly, we need to decide what sort of defence we want. We need a core protective element - I don't believe that Britain is likely to be attacked by anybody other than the French in the near future but we do have the odd outpost here and there. I believe that we need to strengthen the Army's current deployment posture so we can be fighting 2 medium conflicts deployed at any one time (i.e. what we are not quite managing to sustain with Iraq and Afghanistan at the moment) without having people returning from one operational theatre and straight out to the next (as just happened to an acquaintance). More importantly, the RAF and Royal Navy need to re-equip to play their part in these conflicts.
Thirdly, we need to sort out procurement. Too many projects are too big, too European, and fail. Let's just buy what we need - this will generally, although not exclusively, mean buying American. The money saved can be used to create new industry in the very limited areas affected - although the expertise of British design shops and specialist manufacturers will ensure that we will end up supplying a reasonable quantity of components. However, stuff we can trivially make here, ammunition for example, let's bring that back in house. I actually have no problem with re-establishing Royal Ordnance as a government "agency".
And additionally, by service:
New (Naval) post, separate from FOSM - reporting operationally to the Cabinet Office and budgeted through them.
Yes to the carriers (and enough Type-45s to protect them in deployment). Yes, some anti-submarine.
New littoral protection ships - corvettes, if you will. These can carry a couple of helicopters (but not the Merlin) - small and carrying a big kick - Apache Longbow will do; heavily gun armed (155mm not 4.5" - for NGS), gun and missile protection systems. Close-range anti-submarine only - limited anti-ship (these are not designed to get in to battle with other ships.) Design them for shallower water ops, probably on a SWATH hull. We may even call them "monitors".
Bin the Astute class and replace it with a proper SSGN - similar to the Soviet "Oscar" class, carrying enough of a mix of missiles (SLCM & anti-ship) to really make it a contributor to littoral warfare.
And we'll have another Commando, if we can manage it, please.
Hmm, this is going to piss the (heavy) cavalry off. Firstly, if we are going to be doing peace-keeping, we need a new class of armoured vehicle - let's call it a battle-wagon. This needs to be able to transport an infantry section safely around a town, be appropriately armoured against IED and light anti-tank weapons (i.e. the ubiquitous RPG) and with appropriate support fire-power (0.5" chain-gun and a heavier cannon.) Just to keep the purple-trouser brigade from leading a revolution, let's give them a whole bunch of decent recce vehicles to replace the CVRT. Small and fast, a comprehensive sensor outfit, and a decent anti-infantry weapons fit. Possibly back to wheels rather than tracks.
We need new light artillery. I really think that the Royal Regiment would like some of these.
Replace the SA-80 with these or something extremely similar.
Give the Army Air Corps back all tactical helicopters & greatly improve combat transport lift capability. This might actually be something that the Gremlin can do.
(Actually, if I had my way I would reform the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service but that is probably not politically realistic.)
Okay, stop Typhoon at current levels of delivered. Concentrate on ground-pounding for the combat air side. STOL capability means that JSF is certainly the medium term answer. In the mean time, let's see if we can lease some of these and these.
You lose tactical heli-lift - we'll argue about Chinook later. Whoever is running it, in theatre heavy heli-lift needs to work and it needs to be under tactical command of the Ground Component Commander.
If we keep going with this piece of euro-crap, you need to remember that we also need strategic airlift - so C17 or similar. At the same time, let's modernise the movers' fleet: a nice modern jet liner, either of these firms will do one for you - economy seating, a bit more cargo space (the average squaddie packs even more than your mother-in-law), and a reasonable suite of defensive design, build and tricks.
Let's concentrate on support in the field.
I will make it clear, right up front, that I believe we currently have too much government. This is a bad thing. However, no matter how much government we have, the costs of it need to be shared out in a fair and reasonable way. Hence this post will not be about how much money we should spend but about how we should collect it.
The current tax system is too complicated: too many exemptions, too many accountants, too much ability for the seriously rich to avoid paying their dues. Most tax allowances need to go. The current system of 'tax credits' is a statist attempt to pretend to be doing something while ruining the lives of far too many of what used to get called the "deserving poor". Both need to be radically changed.
Changing the core tax system will need to be done in a careful and sympathetic manner. Gordon has already moved us to a 2 tax band system, now we can abolish NI (don't you think it strange that the only tax hypothecation the pols of all parties are willing to accept is the one that allows them to pretend income tax is 11p in the £ lower?); and steadily increase the tax threshold until it is comparable with the National Minimum Wage.
We need to sort out the confusion about spending versus saving - if pensions saving is a good thing (yes), then the pension fund dividend rebate should be restored. Inheritance tax: do we keep it? There are some arguments for this (apart from the socialist envy-fuelled ones) - money spent (call it trickle-down or whatever) is a different force in the economy than money saved (which tends to become capital available for investment) - but, overall, I am not in favour.
Oh, the current method of funding local government is broken. This needs to be fixed.
Tax credits - the main problems here seem to be the complexity of the system (which makes it difficult to claim) and the lag in assessing benefits (as it is based on last year's earnings). It is the latter that leads to the most egregious failings, with large claw-backs hitting the still poor because the system fails them. Now (mostly) if you earn £10000 one month and £100 the next, over the two month period, you will pay the correct tax for 2 months earnings of £10100 - how, if tax credits are so bad, can this work? The miracle of PAYE.
So, a modest proposal for whichever Brown-nosing weasel Gordo makes Chancellor. How about the tax credit people issue everybody who applies for a tax credit with, let me see, a new P2 (PAYE Coding Notice). This can include an additional code which expresses the base entitlement. As the actual entitlement drops off with earnings, it would not require the work of
any mathematical genii for the credit to be automatically calculated and added to basic pay.
Monday, April 09, 2007
He, she or it (he, for convenience), seems to think that we are running for election:
I have in the past critised (sic) Labour for complacency - mind you I can see why when all their opponets (sic) can offer is mudslinging rather than effective policies to deal with the issues of the day.Spullink (sic) aside, I thought I would start to answer this here. I am not running for election; I have no interest in running for election; as a Tory in Central Scotland, even if I happened to be Adam Rickitt, I would stand no hope of being elected. However, unto the day of each challenge someone must arise else hope has fled.
So, I will be posting, over the next few days, a few policy ideas. They are my own - they may be crazy. Some of them will be impractical. Shout at them - not a problem (though, apologies, I will be leaving comment moderation on.)
A specific challenge to "The Cynic": blogger is free - unless your policy ideas are "unquestioning acceptance of the Nu-Labour manifesto", in which case you really should take your medicine more regularly - post your policy ideas. I am sure we will criticise - some of us may help, some of us will fisk with evidence, others will merely mock. However, you raised this bar - jump it.
PS: erm, the incompetent spelling. Doesn't it remind you of somebody? Troll or sock-puppet? Let the court of public opinion decide :)
PPS & Update: RfS had his own opinion on it here. Pre the cynic.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
The SNP's chosen colour scheme of black on yellow does lead to some truly hideous templates, but that is not my main point. Look at this blog - Alex's Talking Points. Now this guy was one of the list MSPs for Central Scotland in the last parliament and is running again. Technically, he was one of my representatives in the cess-pit of Holyrood.
What a blog. Four posts last month, a welcome post and three extracts from his election literature. Excuse me, he decided to call it "Talking Points", not me. I know we get at Terry for insisting to reply to every comment individually but given that the only 2 comments on his blog are from me and I did ask him some questions, would a reply really be out of order?
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
One of the miracles of (not that) modern banking - the Direct Debit. According to BACS, they are "one of the safest ways of paying your bills." Safer than standing orders, because they should only be called upon when you actually owe the money and better than standing orders because they allow variable payments.
Except that there is a world of a difference between theory and practice. Think about what a Direct Debit mandate does. We all deal with various organisations whose fundamental competence we doubt (eg our local unitary authority, energy utility and, if you are south of the Tweed, water company). DD gives the minimum wage Sharons or Dwaynes in each of those (or, worse still, their computers) an unlimited tap into your current account. If they ask for the full sum of your available balance, they will get it. So DD is not a risk free endeavour.
I first began to suspect that all was rotten in the state of DD a couple of years ago. At the time, I was being paid into a personal account and then transferring most of the dosh pretty much immediately into a separate joint and several (with my wife) account. I cannot remember which insurance policy she was renewing but my wife told me that the monthly payment option had been reasonable and that there would be a new direct debit appearing. True enough, one did. On my account.
Just to be clear - my wife had managed to set up a direct debit on an account to which she was not a party. No trouble, no "we already know who you are but you are going to have to 'prove' it anyway" KYC bollocks. On the phone, to an insurance company, and a DD against my account. All she needed was my account number - not regarded, in the banking world, as confidential data. Now, we were going to be paying the money and it wasn't of an great significance which of the two accounts it came out of. I was just staggered that the system permitted this. A bit of judicious investigation, back at work, realised my fears - this was not a one-off error on somebody's part. There was no security control step that had been skipped. This was the system working the way it was designed.
And then this week. Well, a couple of days ago, in a brief respite from
It was, I admit, partially my fault. I had a savings contract for £100 per month which had completed at the beginning of March. At that point I could have, and probably should have, cancelled the DD. But wait? Isn't DD a pull not a push mechanism? The intermediary organisation shouldn't have demanded money that they weren't owed. Or so you would have thought.
So, clearly having to do a bit of grovelling, I called my bank's telephone banking - not a problem, they mentioned the direct debit guarantee and just asked me to call the intermediary first. So I did. What did they suggest? Once they had confirmed that they had made an error, they would send me a cheque - 5 to 8 working days.
Admittedly the amount of money is not significant (to me, at this point in my life), the bank are happy it was somebody else's error, but this is simply not the way the system is supposed to work. The safety net put in place has not functioned. This is another aspect of UK banking, amongst many, that the normal public need to be extremely wary of.
Oh, and I have, now, cancelled that direct debit.
Proof as follows.
Assume that 13th Jan is on day 1 (of 7) - it doesn't matter which. Jan has 31 days, so 4 weeks & 3 days, so 13th Feb will be on day 4 and so on - table below.
|Month||Normal Year||Leap Year|
As you can see from this, in both cases, all 7 numbers / weekdays are used. Therefore regardless of which day of the week the year starts (or 13th of Jan is on - these conditions are equivalent for this argument), there will always be at least one Friday 13th. Also, you can see that the most there can be is 3 in a year - if Feb 13th is a Friday (for normal years) or if Jan 13th is (for leap years).
So this year July 13th will be a Friday (although you could have got this trivially from any calendar) as 2007 is a 7 = "Friday" year (and is not a leap year).
Inspired by posting the TerryWatch poll for this week. Now back to being rude about things :)
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
"Razor's Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War", Hugh Bicheno (buy the paperback which is essentially edition 1.5).
It is not an eye-witness account, although he did go and tread the battlefields.
It is not an evidence-free damnation of Maggie or the Conservative Government, although he really, really does not rate the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or its Ministers:
The result was to encourage Argentine aggression, exacerbate Kelper distrust and to mislead ministers into believing that hard decisions could be fudged indefinitely.
It is not a panegyric for the British military: their leaders, the men or their kit.
It is just a very, very good book.
One final quote that will appeal to Wat, Fabian and Lewis:
where 'public' came to be seen as in some way morally superior to 'private' by a large proportion of the population, despite the fact that everything run by the British government, including defence, delivers lower quality service at significantly higher unit cost than comparable institutions elsewhere in the developed world.
It is actually much easier to get to their thoughts about what they would do in power from my politically irrelevant site than from theirs. Why?
I can only think of three reasons:
- They are all a bunch of complete cretins.
- Their web design team is either non-existent or a bunch of complete cretins.
- They have already given up all hope of being any force for good in the next Scottish Parliament.
In the second case, they should employ a decent design team and keep the bloody site up to date.
As for the last case, well - what about this?
Monday, April 02, 2007
Update: Manifesto is now up here. Still not headline on the home page, though - "Standing Up for Families", from 28th March, is still their main point. Says something about how they see their election chances, doesn't it?
Today saw the launch of the Scottish Conservative manifesto for the May Holyrood elections. Just what difference this will make is unclear, given that the last 2 weeks have seen the launch of their "Defeating Drugs and Cutting Crime" manifesto and their "Standing Up for Families" manifesto. Just for the record, they also have manifestos for affordable homes and a "buzzing economy".
Given that they have absolutely no chance of forming the next Scottish Executive, what is this positive deluge of electrons, and the odd shiny dead tree copy, meant to mean for us? I would remind you that tactical voting aside, I am a life-long Tory supporter (and they will get my list vote at the election). Despite the odd recent bit of common sense, this from David Mundell's speechwriter (yes, they are allowing him out in public again):
there is nothing here or otherwise coming from them that the seething mass of the Scottish electorate will even bother to ignore. So let us have a look at the message (as stated, from the BBC summary, not from the unavailable reference document) and see if we can spot a missed opportunity or two:
In his stealthiest tax yet, he has paid for his 2p cut in income tax by abolishing the 10p rate and putting national insurance contributions up for professionals like doctors. This is a tax con, not a tax cut and will place a disproportionate burden on those worse off.
- Scottish Government - a minor proposed reduction in MSPs and more power to the egregious numpties that form, for example, Renfreshire and Falkirk Councils? I am also unsure that community councils would survive the rapid and toxic politicisation that would overcome them if they ever were actually given spending authority.
- Communities Okay, so helping the poorer sectors of society buy their homes is a reasonably good thing but surely some form of loan guarantee scheme (just as we do for exports) would have allowed the private sector to take on more of what I assume we must now call "sub-prime" lending?
- Environment Nope. This is bollocks. Mind you it is Cameron / Goldsmith style faux-knitted-yoghurt bollocks so I assume they had to include it.
- Justice Better - possibly 3 out of 10. Drug treatment and treatment orders - good. More authoritarian reduction in the rights of the oppressed citizen (abolition of double jeopardy) - very, very bad. Briefings for victims - intent good - but I bet you are going to need all of the additional coppers to meet the demand so, overall, bad (as they are spending our tax money). More elections - bad - more money & no real accountability. Polygraphs - why don't we just pick a treatment that would work - normal people can beat the polygraph without too much trouble, never mind sex-obsessed perverts.
- Transport Opposing more road charging - good. Everthing else here is symptomatic of small-minded autocrats.
- Economy More small-mindedness. £20 million per year is going to do what for Paisley, Cumbernauld and all the rest of the mid-C20 eyesores town planners have inflicted on us?
- Education Parental choice and head-teacher independence are good in and of themselves but are not new, newsworthy initiatives. Where is the thought and the enthusiasm?
- Health Yawn. I hope the additional IT is better project managed than the national projects.
You know what this is? This is the random posturings of a bunch of failed pols who truly and honestly believe that they are not going to be the next Scottish Executive. I believe that but I am not running for election. They have given up already and the electorate know it. The Scottish Conservative Party is a minor irrelevance - like the Greens without character, cause or self-belief. I despair.