Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Charlatan's Act Part Five

Being the fifth part of the Book of the Four Gods.

And so the Four Gods did search
They crossed the lands and moved amongst the people
Looking for those who would understand.

And the Four did find those amongst the people
and brought them to the place that is no place
and showed them the universe.

Some did fall upon their knees and worship the Four;
and the Four were displeased

Some did shout and scream and call the Four devils;
and the Four were amused.

Some looked and did return to impose new rules upon the people;
and the Four were saddened.

And then amongst the Wise Ones of the Cfungi was found Farout of the Thereman tribe.
Farout was brought amongst the Four and she was silent.
And the Four did show her the universe and she was silent.
In the place that is no place the Four did wait and she was silent.

The silence grew to fill the place that is no place and the Four waited.
Then finally she spoke
"I have some questions"
and the Four rejoiced.

Here endeth the first book of understanding.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A bit of traffic

This afternoon through Stourport caused, it appears, by the delightful combination of Sheer Volume Of Traffic (SVOT) and Sheer Volume Of Pedestrians (SVOP). With the crossings having extended timings and going on and off almost constantly the extra traffic through the town led to stop-start behaviour mostly of the stop variety.

Not helped of course by the idiots on the road themselves. A couple of cars decided to overtake the queue leading to the OGL island on Worcester Road despite the fact they could clearly see there were cars coming the other way. Apparently shocked at cars driving towards them they tried to barge into the stationary queue to little avail as someone got honked off at them being their in the first place and stayed resolutely in place in the one lane.

Mitton Street was surprisingly clear except for the car parked outside the mower place which buggered up all the traffic trying to get into Vale Road what with the traffic trying to get into Lion Hill all up that lane. York Street only had one vehicle parked on the right sadly it was right next to the crossing and opposite the bus-stop; see we can't get past a stopped bus when you park directly opposite it.

Amazingly no cars parked outside Drinker's World opposite the car-parking bays that shut-off half of that lane, but still plenty of people who can't work out that the area in front of the Crown is a road and stand there gormlessly trying to cross over to the Bridge Inn because there isn't a crossing point under the bridge and they can't be arsed to walk up to the crossing while at the same time blocking vehicles trying to access the car-park.

Only five cars parked on the double yellow, no loading at these times lines at the right-hand side of High Street, with just the one parked opposite the recessed bus-stop and that a car rather than truck, so bonus there.

Oh and just one elderly couple trying to cross at that exact same blind corner that has two tactile crossings at each end of its short length.

As per usual once you got out of the town at either end everything cleared up. Heh and councillors wonder why everyone jumps to 40mph on Vale Road or Dunley Road.

Anyway you know same old same old.

Proceeds of Crime

Something was nagging me about a story highlighted by Devil's Kitchen regarding the confiscation of money. To recap the original story Police found stash of money at someone's home after reports of a burglary, as the owner couldn't produce a legitimate reason for its existence the police "Instigated proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act [POCA]" and had it confiscated.

The nagging bit was the Bill of Rights 1689 which states quite clearly

That all Grants and Promises of Fines and Forfeitures of particular persons before Conviction are illegall and void. [sic]
So if we read the story correctly the POCA allows forfeitures without conviction which contradicts the BOR. Oh dear.

Time to look into POCA which given the number of SIs attached is quite difficult. Anyway the key section is Part 2 Section 6 "Making of order" that is when the Crown Court can proceed.

There are two conditions that need to be fulfilled before proceeding, the first is split into a three-part "or" stripped of legalese they boil down to:

1) You've been convicted in the Crown Court, or
2) You've been convicted in another court and sent to the Crown Court for sentencing, or
3) You've been convicted and sentenced in another court and the prosecutor is asking for a confiscation order to be made.

From that we don't even need to continue to the second condition (does the Court think it's appropriate) because we can see that the Bill of Rights hasn't been contradicted. You can only have a confiscation order made if you've been convicted So all is right, except let's go back to that original story -
The un-named suspect was arrested on suspicion of money laundering, but released without charge
But even though they did not charge him, police instigated proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act, or POCA, as the man could not provide a legitimate explanation of where the money came from
So how did they start proceedings if he hadn't been convicted and that's the first and main condition required? Well the only the only get-out is in section 28 for that and again we get a set of conditions but this time the first one is a three-part "and". Again stripped of legalese

1) Proceedings for an offence were started but weren't finished, and
2) The defendant absconds, and
3) The defendant has been absconded for two years.

This would be fine if the man in the story had absconded, no mention of that so we assume not. So how does this warrant this quote
specific criminal conduct need not be proved for forfeiture orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act
It's correct because POCA doesn't come into play until after a conviction and it doesn't deal directly in what that conviction was for. However a conviction has to occur to mesh with the Bill of Rights.

How about:
A forfeiture hearing was held at Neath Magistrates Court where the police application was granted.
So first off we're not told what this man has been convicted of (though I guess undeclared earnings would be possible) and then we're told the forfeiture application was from the police which isn't possible.

Okay woah there all that is for a criminal case, a civil case is a whole other board game and is dealt with in Part 5.

This is where things go strange. This part allows proceedings through a civil rather than criminal court for forfeiture involved in "unlawful conduct" the definition here of said conduct
Conduct occurring in any part of the United Kingdom is unlawful conduct if it is unlawful under the criminal law of that part.
Er try that again. Something is unlawful if it's criminal? Doesn't that make it a criminal offence? The entire proceeding boils down to:
3. The court or sheriff must decide on a balance of probabilities whether it is proved
(a) that any matters alleged to constitute unlawful conduct have occurred, or
(b) that any person intended to use any cash in unlawful conduct.
In other words you're being convicted in a civil court. But civil courts are dispute courts, the old you owe me money, no I don't arguments. What has happened here is the Director of the Assets Recovery Agency, which isn't staffed by the police,

[Update: ARA was discontinued and moulded into SOCA, but otherwise everything still applies]

has initiated proceedings against this man and he's being convicted by a judge, not a jury, on the "balance of probabilities" rather than "beyond reasonable doubt" and no specific criminal charge needs to be made. That means without being able to demonstrate a "legitimate" source for the money the court decided on the balance of probabilities it was obtained unlawfully and thus should be turned over to the ARA [SOCA].

In other words it's the OJ Simpson trial where the criminal court found him not guilty, but the civil court found him liable.

So to sum up the entire section of Part 5 appears to be a con-job to allow the police... sorry the ARA [SOCA who are the police] to confiscate property from people against whom the CPA can't get a criminal conviction. A return to the 'We know it was you wot done it' school of policing perhaps?

[Update - great quote form SOCA themselves regarding Asset recovery -

Where a law enforcement agency or prosecution authority has a criminal case after 1st April, which it has been unable to prosecute successfully; it will be able to refer it to SOCA to consider adopting it for civil recovery and/or assessing for tax
Yup we couldn't convict you in a criminal court so we'll try the civil court instead. Oo two bites at the apple]

Two Houses that I know of

Via The Daily Quail who highlighted an illuminating section of the Times interview with Cameron.

Call me Dave elitist? Out of touch with the 'normal' voters? Nah why would a quote such as

"I own a house in North Kensington which you’ve been to and my house in the constituency in Oxfordshire and that is, as far as I know, all I have."
make you think that?

As far as I know I've only got two houses, what you might have one you've forgotten about or that your wife hasn't mentioned - oh yeah happens to me all the time. There I am sitting down to dinner and suddenly the thought strikes me "Don't I own a house in Scunthorpe, or was it a field? Maybe it's the wife's. Ah well nothing to worry about".

So we've had an MP who forgot his mortgage had been paid off and another who isn't sure how many properties he owns. These are the ones who are supposed to enact laws and legislate on behalf of a population whose median wage is about £25k a year. Oh lots of empathy there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Election leaflets - Conservative

Two from the Conservatives a general with a bit of county European one and a pure county one. Both three-part fold-outs. Starting with the general one.

Cameron behind a lectern with "Vote for Change" emblazoned both upon it and behind him. Cameron is caught mid-speech, but it leaves him looking as if someone's swiped his glass mid-gulp. Anyway we're British we don't do 'change'.

Inside and still with "It's time for change" really? "The longer Labour are in, the worse it gets" hmm kind of reminiscent of another government don't you think? Underneath we have a selection of newspaper headlines two from the Daily Mail, three from the Daily Express, one from the Sun (or to be precise (, one from the News of the World and finally one from the Daily Telegraph; so no inherent bias there. At the bottom of all that is a two-headed Brown contradicting himself as to the EU referendum we are/aren't getting "Make Labour's next U-turn an EU-turn" oh very good.

Next page and oh not again "Change in Europe" Yeesh David why don't you just marry Barack. Apparently we need members who will stand up for Britain and put our interests first - so you're advocating a vote for UKIP then? Then a list of all the good European things the Conservatives have done with a tick and a cross under the Labour heading, sadly they've had to add one tick in the LibDem column and seem to miss out UKIPs entirely; is that because they'd be identical?

Under this they expand on some of the points above while adding in new ones I liked "Protecting British Consumers" by limiting mobile roaming charges - so that's the Conservatives protector of the little people against the big bad corporations... eh? Most fun was "Taking a lead in reforming MEPs' Pay and Expenses" and not just because of the correct use of an apostrophe, but then you can guess why I found that so amusing.

Then a bit of local stuff for in "Worcestershire" which is of course wrong because our designated European classification is "West Midlands" which is what they've written on the map they provided presumably in case we didn't know where we live. Five points next to it and three use the words "British" need I bother. Also a sprinkling of local photos around the map - see we're local.

Then our candidates themselves, no bios and I've never heard of any of them despite two already being MEPs.

Fold-out is a photo of David with some NHS nurses captioned "David Cameron talking with NHS nurses. Conservatives are campaigning for improvements to our Health Service" Presumably by privatising it all? Anyway full marks for talking with rather than talking to. Underneath is, once again, "Plan for Change" sigh. "Our Positive Plans" hmm does that imply you have negative plans too? Okay a missive from David himself - Voting's important, Brown's an oath-breaker and this'll show him what you think; we've got a plan, but you need to vote for us to find out what it is. I'm guessing it has something to do with the word change.

Back page is purely Worcestershire stuff and how they've helped us by opening new markets, cutting red tape, allowing farmers to use dangerous pesticides... no sorry allowed farmers to use perfectly safe pesticides that EU scaredy-cats are frightened of. They helped the flood victims by gettings getting lots of money for our area, but nobody can use it because of boo-hiss government failings. Oh and they've stopped our sheep from being forceably tagged, presumably saving it up for one super-tagging system where we all get one.

Local county leaflet next.

Green field and a tree, wait that's the Conservatives logo, oh how clever. "For Better Services and Lower Taxes"... yeah sorry how does that work? We pay in less and get more out, you must really be super efficient.

Oh it folds out upside-down I pick up the field page and unfold it down and it's upside-down, unfold it up and it's correct, hmm. So the front page with the field is a simple set of boxes with quick and easy points. Our Conservative led county council is apparently the best performing council in the West Midlands - god help us all.

Then a little graph about the nasty tax raises the county has had under the Labour/LibDems as opposed to the Conservatives nice gap of four years between the two when no-one had overall control. I've been trying to find a year-by-year history of county councillors and all I can get are the standard 4-year elections that show the Conservatives being the majority party since 1997, which is when the graph starts. Ah silly me those pernicious Labour and LibDems joined forces to scupper the sensibly low tax rises proposed by the Conservatives. Also interesting in that there are all tax rises surely a Conservative-led county council would be looking for tax falls?

Okay some fluff about all the great things the Conservatives have done the first set are a bit unquantifiable such as "Ensuring that local people feel safe and secure in their communities" by encouraging thugs to target visitors?

They've also improved "investment in rail and bus services" sorry who's invested? These are after all private enterprises. "Helping to create the skills needed for a 21st Century workforce" teaching basic pronunciation of "Do you want fries with that?". Oo and they've provided an extra £3m for pavements and £2m for flooding, note providing not spending and doesn't indicate exactly where in the county this is being provided for.

Turn over and our two prospective Conservative County councillors John Holden and Mike Salter... "Strong voices for Stourport Division" hmm both District councillors for Mitton who seemed to take several years to realise that a brand-new housing estate had opened up in their ward that needed some help.

"Your priorities are our priorities" well that's a bit presumptuous isn't it? "Continuing to Find Ways To Tackle Anti-Social Behaviour"... noooooo! "Oppose Regional Government's House Building Proposals" um why?

Things they've achieved - hmm are these things they've proposed or simply voted for in council? Was it them who got the new lights for Raven Street? Odd because a Google search of produces no minutes detailing the proposals? Ah well.

Finally a message from the pair of them. Proud, blah, vice-chair, blah, influence issues in my community, blah, Deputy Mayor, blah, Vote for us.


Half-term traffic

Damn it's nice when most of the kids are off school, sure the afternoons are a little more hectic but the morning and evening drives to and from work are a dream. There's just no traffic, yesterday morning I came to a stop twice - once because a lorry in Gilgal realised it need to stray into my lane in order to progress so I kindly let them and secondly because some bright spark thought that the morning rush-hour was the best time to send out a road-sweeper trundling along at 5mph.

Coming back instead of grinding to a halt before reaching even Cook's Garden Centre I'm slowing down next to Worcester Street Motors; but nothing's going to fix that island except traffic lights.

As mentioned the only 'problem' is the afternoons when pedestrians abound and seem to be under the impression they have right-of-way over the roads regardless of traffic coming at them; also I swear someone's been fiddling with the timings on the Dunley Road Pelican crossing. The light turns red, people cross and they're either up and crossing the bridge or walking past Walshes Meadow before it starts to change back.

Oh and it needs to be stressed that the area in front of the Crown by the Bridge is a road that's why the pavement stops at Engine Lane and we have a junction marker along the edge. The number of cars grinding to a halt because of pedestrians walking about in front them is stupid.

Election leaflets - UKIP

Which came first the BNP or the UKIP design? They're both quite primary with UKIP going for a magenta and yellow design. "SAY NO" on the front with the O being made up of the EU star circle, yawn.

A picture of Churchill with an incorrect V finger salute palm forward also means screwing their layout by splitting their Say No list to one above his head and three by his arm. So "... to the UK paying £40 million a day.", "... to unlimited migration into the UK.", "... to EU control of our lives.", and "... to 'no say'.". All scary thoughts except that last one which I found a little esoteric say no to no say my head hurts.

Vote UKIP and call free on 0800... blah.

Inside "Help UKIP MEPs Say No" how many standing in the West Midlands um I don't know yet. Okay "Out of Work" "Over two million migrants have arrived in Britain since 1997. Today there are 2 million unemployed in out country" oo see what they did there; making you think that either all those migrants are unemployed or that if those migrants hadn't turned up we wouldn't have that many unemployed.

"Ripped Off" Apparently the EU costs Britain more than £40m a day; now is that Net or simply what we pay without taking into consideration what we get back?

"Over ruled!" Three-quarters of Britain's laws are imposed by Brussels? Actually they're not they have to be implemented via British law in Parliament; oh sure we'll get fined if they aren't, but they're not "imposed"

"Say No to No say" yes the confusing one "No one under the age of 52 has been given a say on EU membership" literally true except no one over the age of 52 has been given a say on "EU membership" either. The 1975 referendum was whether we should stay in the, now defunct, EEC. The EEC was an economic union, the EU is an economic and political union. Either UKIP don't know or understand this, or they're deliberately confusing the matter.

Right a page of text. UKIP like proportional representation, possibly because it's the only way they get voted in. They've voted against this that and the other. Kind of ironic to have to be in the organisation you want to leave.

Back page is a little confusing - headed with "your local candidates" we get one profile for Mike Nattrass, then a rephrased repeat of the front page No's then some quotes from people whom I assume are not our local candidates; which means we have one "local candidates"

[Update - Wow that's a bad layout the quotes from the other people are in fact the other candidates]

Basically like the BNP UKIP is a one-issue party; sure it means they can concentrate on that, but as we've discovered locally (having our own local one-issue party) it can mean they're a bit blinkered and that other important issues can bleed off to the side and be ignored.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I managed to play a couple of demos over the weekend.

InFamous was mildly impressive. A nice open sandbox that allowed me to run, jump and climb where I liked; didn't constrain me as to how to take down enemies; controls were a little tricky and weren't helped when the instruction screen misses out on telling you which button you use to shoot with!

The demo gave you a fat load of powers and switched your karma halfway through, reminds me of The Suffering in a way and that's not a bad thing. It was kind of fun, some grumbles over a couple of the more powerful enemies that had a tracking ground attack that could slip under vehicles and catch you unaware and the goals themselves could have been clearer. For example first mission riding a train the rail is disconnected and you have to power up the connection box - and that is where exactly? 'It's under the track' states your helpful remote companion, get close enough and you can press triangle to alter your viewpoint to highlight it, don't get close and you're peering around like a blind man. Likewise tasked to take down the enemy on the water tower - and which one would that be? Getting there I stray into an area that prompts me to destroy the tar barrel - and once again that is located um?

But no it was fun and I enjoyed it and like many games once I'm into it a lot of the problems now will become familiarised enough not to show up.

Another demo was Red Faction: Guerilla; I have the first two for the PS2 and enjoyed them even if they did get a bit samey. This time around they've shucked the FPS breadcrumb corridors and gone all third-person sand box. The mission I was on (or the demo) had a time limit which irked and didn't really give enough time to mess around.

Okay it didn't set my world afire, the graphics were bland and red, there was little sense of impact in hitting things which you'd expect from a game touting it's destruction physics, and it got annoying trying to work out which of the grey things I could bash and which of the grey things would explode if I tried to bash them.

Enemies constantly spawned up on ATVs so much so that when I stayed put for a bit I ended up with an ATV car-park and the disembarking enemy animations were pretty basic the old I cannot shoot you because I'm in the middle of a disembarking animation.

I don't know it was just boring, I even got bored beating up the buildings just didn't seem any purpose to it and also got annoying picking up the 'shards' that they left behind that seemed intent on falling halfway under something explosive or some more rubble that you couldn't really hit.

No not impressed.

I've also seen the video footage for Batman: Arkham Asylum which could prove to be interesting provided it can keep to a minimum the repetition of swing up to point, swing down, beat baddie repeat.

Anyway the interesting thing is the different sets available. With inFamous Amazon are offering a Beta key for Drake's Fortune 2 which as I didn't like the first one is of no interest. Game are offering an in-game weapon extra, but only as part of the collectors set. Amazon too are offering an extra in-game weapon but for Red Faction - yawn.

However it's the Arkham Asylum collector's set that's the biggie. Sure you get the game, some fluff, behind the scenes video and an extra map, but you also get a 14" batarang plus stand. You get a batarang! Moreover the vanilla game is £37.96 and the collector's at £59.99 means you get all this for a miserly £22.


[Update - Seems everyone's offering different promotions for Arkham Asylum decisions decisions]

Accomplishments and Trophies

Spent Monday afternoon with The Artist, his wife and the too energetic Devil Child. Somehow the conversation turned to the awards system on both the XBox360 and PS3 with the interesting statement by The Artist that he saw no point to them.

He was getting fed-up of reviews using them as a longevity/re-playability index, because he didn't care. Now me I like the trophies I'll quickly jump back into a game just to get one, but I can see his point as some of them are truly pointless. Killzone 2 for example awards you a trophy simply for completing each game section at any skill level, a feat you have to accomplish just to progress, in The Darkness you can gain an Accomplishment for collecting every phone-number/envelope and dialing/posting them; unlike Bioshock they don't add anything to the main story line so it's collection for collections sake. Oh sure you might argue it encourages exploration, but it doesn't. They're either directly in front of you as you progress or tucked into dead-end corners that serve no other purpose.

On the other hand you have Burnout Paradise which is rather mixed - visit a repair shop for the first time, which is an instruction in the tutorial; sure you don't have to but who isn't. Then you get something like visit a repair shop in the middle of an event which sounds silly, but is a nice reminder that it's possible to do. It's even got the collection via Super Jumps, Billboard smashs and Gate smashs; but each of these indicates possible short-cuts and opening new areas you may not realise exist and so add to the game.

That's where the lazy awards system fails - the questions that have to be asked "Does this enhance the game? Does this encourage the player to do something different? Does this remind the player they can do something?" Visit a repair shop in a race - yes; complete a section of a campaign you have to do anyway - no.

I would say that as they're new developers are still finding their feet with them, but I can't as the 360 has had them since inception and the multi-platform ones are identical. I suspect they'll get better, but even the latest release InFamous seems to be a collection hunt - collect all these, kill this many, travel this distance; 29 out of 50 trophies with another 3 being complete the game Good/Bad/Hard and 1 more for getting all the other trophies.

As Sony still haven't integrated the Trophy system into the internet as Microsoft have done you don't even gain any bragging rights by posting you score on your blog/myspace/whatever page.

So really if they don't get their act together what really is the point?

Damn weather

I just wish it would settle - clear blue skies followed by an overcast day and that 'It's about to rain' feeling, followed by a overly warm night where my sleep wasn't assisted by "No Sleep Tonight" by The Faders running through my head. No idea where that came from; rather appropriate though.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gotta love those MPs

So after the warm-up act of Anthony Steen claiming we were all just jealous of his big house we get Nadine Dorries.

Ah Nadine Dorries always good for a laugh - "What the Telegraph are executing is almost a McCarthy-style witch-hunt" yep that's right going after all these law-abiding citizens who just happened to claim money for things they shouldn't, all after trying to keep the public from finding out.

But that's okay because "So, to my constituents and no one else, I am sorry." yep just ignore the fact that it's been all of us and not just your constituents that's been funding your lifestyle. So how sorry is she?

Well according to her the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) has "always been counted as part of an MP's salary" "always been known and has always been counted as part of an MP's salary" "It has always been the way it has been done and everyone knows that,"

Oh well that's all right then if everybody does it, then it can't be wrong. Someone please point her to the history section concerning the Nuremberg trials and see how far 'everyone else was doing it' got them.

So there we are happily digging graves for these MPs when they come along grab a spade and start helping us out - nice to be truly equal for once. Well at least until their party leader comes along and asks them what the hell they think they're doing.

If we keep on at this rate of deselections and resignations there won't be anyone left from the front benches left in Parliament - oh wouldn't that be a shame?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

People are only human

I could have started off with "To err is human", but the truth really is that to err then cover it up and blame someone else is human. It's sad that the default reaction of people to mistakes is

1) Hide it
2) Deny it
3) Admit it

and this applies to so much in life we barely register it. It's always someone else's fault, now if you're in power this means firing someone; if you're not then there's little way to vent your frustration. So how would you feel if someone turned up and said "You're right it wasn't your fault it's someone else's"? Well sadly being human we'd problem feel quite justified.

And this is what every political party does. They all take a bunch of powerless people who are angry at the way society currently runs and say "It's someone else's fault"; then once hooked they reel you in by telling you exactly who to blame be it 'foreigners', the EU, the wealthy, the poor, the religious, the non-religious. They'll all blame someone who's not like you.

It's not your fault you're unemployed it's those foreign workers taking those jobs you didn't want to do. It's the bankers fault for the crash, not the fact you wanted cheap loans and 110% mortgages. It's the MPs fault for the faithlessness in politics, not yours for voting them in or not bothering to vote at all. It's not my fault my business fell it's all the red tape I have to deal with.

It's all someone else's fault and I'll tell you whose. I'll deal with it all for you if you just give me the power; just vote for me.

Congratulations you've resigned

So here's your £70,000 a year pension and a peerage. Yeesh who does the speaker think he is - a banker?

See it's great when you're at the top, even if you completely screw up so badly that all your colleagues gang up to see you go you still get a fat wodge of money and prestige.

Parliament out of touch with reality; nah why would anyone think that?

Ex travel MPs have claimed £86,781,205, with travel £92,993,748. With 39, 645,100 over 18's in this country that means that it is costing us each about £2 a year in expenses; doesn't seem much when you put it like that. Assume each of the 645 MPs also get their £64,766 wages and you can add on an extra quid. More for cabinet ministers so let's say altogether the cost of MPs is around £5 per year for each of us. Again doesn't seem much, but like so much it just adds up to a whonking great sum for them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Election leaflets - BNP

Oddly enough the first one that I've received. Yellow and blue; eye-catching, but not too eye-straining. Front page tag reads "People Like You Voting BNP", well no because people like me don't vote BNP; not being funny but people like me would hold the same values as me and well those aren't the same held values that would lead some to vote BNP.

Next line is "Use this as a WINDOW POSTER" with the unvoiced "and get your window smashed in". Next yellow on blue "Putting British People First" um first where? I mean if I had a choice between hiring a skilled 'foreign' worker or a unskilled British worker I wouldn't want the British worker to be put first; nor would I want any company I dealt with to do that.

Ahhhh it's got a ickle recycle badge how green and eco and not suiting the colour scheme.

Okay inside we have "British Jobs For British Workers" yet it's amazing how many British workers just don't seem inclined to do all those ultra-shit low-paying jobs that 'foreigners' do, unless of course the BNP doesn't include ultra-shit low-paying jobs as "British" amazing what you can do with definitions. Ah look they're blaming globalisation, yeah remember that when all those £10 DVD players vanish off the shelves.

Oh dear "Because We've Earned the Right!" with Trafalgar, the Somme, Dunkirk, D-Day, The Falklands; all written underneath. Err I wasn't at Trafalgar and I very much doubt any job-seekers were either, I mean it'd be great to add to the CV wouldn't it?

There then follows a section on "Why We're All Voting British National Party" with the smug looking Doctor, the model grandparents, the soldier and ahh the mom and little kid on her shoulder how cute.

Smug Doctor wants an end to "health tourism" yeah let's stop all those people going over to the continent for treatment when they can sit here and wait; oh hold-on do you think he meant the other way around?

Grandparents don't think it's "fair" that "bogus asylum seekers" are scooted to the front of the queue. Not telling us which queue mind, or who that they've obviously been reading a certain tabloid newspaper which is happy to talk about 'bogus' asylum seekers living the life without providing well um proof.

Soldier-boy is "fed up with being sent ill-equipped into foreign wars" so the BNP will spend more money (i.e. raise taxes) for equipment? "The BNP will bring our troops home"... ah yeah that would be cheaper. Oo sinister time "and ensure that British soldiers are not abused on the streets of our cities by Muslims" so would that be by removing the right to free speech and demonstration? Would that be just for Muslims or a blanket ban on all non-'British'?

Mother and ahh cute kid wants our taxes invested in "education and job creation" and "not wasted on paying bureaucrats or bankers' bonuses" yeah can't really fault that one much.

Oo a quote "'Because it's not racist to oppose mass immigration and political correctness - it's common sense!'" and who said that then? Come on don't be shy - gosh they're not putting unattributed quotes on their leaflets are they in some sort of attempt to make it look like someone important said that? That would be naughty.

Key Pledges time: Opposing the "dangerous drive" to give "80 million low-wage, Muslim Turks the right to swamp Britain". So that would be leaving the EU then as if Turkey joins then anyone can come over?

Ah next is "Campaign to get Britain out of the EU" which is really the first pledge again. Apparently they'd use the £60bn saved to restore the NHS and invest in British jobs; hmm presumably the same British jobs we could well be losing if we leave the EU.

"Our MEPs wil give 10% of their salaries to the 'English Fair' fund" basically to celebrate St. George's Day. So that'd be our money being forcibly removed from us to pay for MEPs going to some organisation I can't even locate on the internet. Wow with this level of publicity I bet they do some great organising.

At last the back page and "We Say What You Think" missing out a 'will' and a 'should' there I think anyway; unless their policies really do revolve around talking about what a huge bunch of prats they are.

"NO to EU Rule & the Euro" yeah okay it is getting annoying.
"NO to Immigration & Unemployment" yes let's ban unemployment make it illegal.
"NO to High Taxes and Rip-Off Britain" what and leaving the EU will help the latter will it?
"YES to putting British People First" but we're British we don't like queue jumpers even if they are us.

"British Jobs for British Workers - Because We've Earned the Right!" no, no we haven't unless being born here counts and then you'd have to add in a large amount of Muslims etc. who were also born here.

Yeah great leaflet, shows they're not a one-policy party in any way at all does it.


Just an incomplete list of things that annoy me.


Drivers that don't indicate or indicate too late to be of use.
Drivers that think they need their full headlights on during the day.
Drivers who leave 3 car-length gaps in queues.
Stop-start in queues despite the fact I can clearly see the cars at the front of the queue haven't moved.
Slowing down because I can't safely overtake a cyclist only for them to hop up onto the pavement.
Cyclists who hop down off a pavement in front of me.
Pedestrians who treat the road as a pavement.
Pedestrians who think that because I've stopped at a crossing it means the light is red.
Travelling at the speed limit looking behind me at a clear road, rounding a bend, looking again and finding I've a vehicle trying to get into my boot.
Large amounts of surface water on the road.
Potholes, particularly ones that you knew were going to appear.
Vehicles parked on where they shouldn't.
Poorly laid-out car-parks.


People who just stop suddenly in front of you.
People who start coming up/down steps on one side despite the fact that you're already heading down/up them on the same side.
Shops that narrow the aisles with displays.
Shops that keep moving merchandise around.
Shops that put all the perfume counters next to the entrance.
People who think cigarette butts aren't litter.
Groups of people who spread out to take up all the width of the pavement.
Groups who stop to chat in the middle of the pavement.
Groups who stop to chat in the middle of a shop entrance.
Shops with changing rooms that don't provide external seating.
Useless error messages from computers

I'm sure I'll think of more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yay I'm back

Everything tickety-boo; sticking to a diet of toast and the King of Soups - Cream of Tomato. Does anyone not like tomato soup? Avoiding tea and coffee for a bit just having water, water with cordial, and maybe some fruit juice. Stay with that for a week and let everything settle.

In an attempt to maintain some exercise over the wet weekend I had a root through some old boxes (moving them about and going up and down knackered me) and found my old Warhammer 40k 1st edition rulebook re-reading it for the first time in ages was quite revealing in comparison to the modern fluff.

No Chaos gods, no enforced Emperor-worship; it's all pretty much pre-Horus Heresy information. Also interesting to see the first mention of some major items despite the alterations they've gone through. Leman Russ gets two quotes (and in later versions becomes a Primarch); the Eye of Terror is a region banded by warp storms that opens every few decades (now the birth point of Slaneesh and a permanent tear in real space); Adeptus Mechanicum gets only a minor side panel and have their main bases on Earth (now their own cult and based on Mars), Standard Template Constructs appear and are just as important.

Okay if you're not into it it's of no interest, but to see the foundations of what the game has become just sparks the geek historian in me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

No ill effects from lack of food

summer buys is gummi bears


Hello Mr Marmalade would you like to buy a tree?

And on the seventh day God looked upon his creation and said "By 'eck I'm knackered. I'm off t'pub for a quick pint. None of you gobshites touch those trees while I'm away y'hear?"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our very own Dr Richard Taylor

Will be appearing on the Politics Show (West Midlands) on BBC1, Sunday at 12pm. He'll be talking about... oh guess why don't you.

Have to remember to record it if I'm non compus mentis.

Roman inch-loss diet

Woke up shivering on Wednesday morning, couldn't get back to sleep then threw-up; then couldn't get back to sleep because I was too hot.

Spent most of Wednesday either in half-doze or throwing-up. Woke up Thursday morning with diarrhoea, spend Thursday in worship. Felt better Thursday night and only woke up a couple of times.

Threw-up this morning.

Since Wednesday I've had half-a-slice of toast and half a digestive biscuit. Numerous glasses of water occasionally with an added something, a couple of coffees for something hot and a dyaretic however it's spelt to replenish salts etc.

Dragged myself into work and feel knackered for it.

Annoyingly I don't seem to have lost any weight, but my trousers feel rather baggy.

MPs 07/08 Expense Map

Data taken from TheyWorkForYou using MP's overall ranking. 1 to 645 most expenses to least expenses, RGB values such that Rank 256 is RGB (255,1,0) therefore darker and redder the most lighter and yellower the least. Green's are newly elected and thus have no expenses.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dog doesn't eat dog

As per a throw-away line in the previous entry I noticed this morning that Susanna Reid wasn't wearing any rings including her wedding ring; just the sort of thing I notice and I wasn't the only one as in a piece about the sale of a flawless diamond a message was read about about her diamond-less fingers and she raised and waggled them.

Now as memory serves she's married with three kids that fact that no comment about having them sent for resizing or losing them was made is significant. So has she split up from her husband?

Why am I asking? Well apart from the fact she's damn fine looking there's almost no chance we'll ever find out because of the unwritten rules of the news - what happens in the newsroom stays in the newsroom.

So while they'll all gossip about Peter and Katie's split we won't hear about anything that happens to anybody in the news room unless it's 'good' news about pregnancy (Sian) or marriage (Kate Silverton) just don't expect inside gossip on Derek Draper from GMTV (married to Kate Garraway). Unless Private Eye pick it up, after all as I recall it was them and only them that discussed the alleged common assault by a newspaper editor on her celebrity husband.

What's news and what isn't? Whatever they decide.

[Update - 10/8: The ring vanishes again]

MPs expenses - LibDem non-response

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party in case you haven't been keeping up, appeared on the BBC this morning to tell us why we should vote for his party. With the current news this turned into a Q&A on expenses and the now ring-less Susanna Reid asked what with the leaks about Labour and Conservative expenses were their going to be any embarrassments for the LibDems?

Clegg's answer "We don't know what the newspaper will print in the future"

Wrong answer, that's 'Yes our members have been claiming for stuff we don't think they should but it depends if the newspapers find out about it or print it'

The answer that would have raised my respect would have been something along the lines of 'Our party rules state that members should only claim that which they feel they should in order to do their jobs, and it's up to an individual's own conscience to determine that.'

See don't blame the party blame the individual whom we treat as an adult capable of making their own decisions. But nope we get a weasel and then he tried to point out that the LibDems tried to get the rules sorted ages ago and blah blah blah.

Once again - the rules aren't a problem it's the people to whom they apply.

Oh and as per my previous article I'm colour-mapping the UK as per 07/08 expense claims with info taken from TheyWorkForYou, I'm about half-way done and it's done my geographic knowledge of the UK no end of good.

Monday, May 11, 2009

MPs expenses - return of the Tories

So having put the Labour cabinet through the ringer it's time for the Conservative shadow cabinet. Nice that we can't point a finger of bias at the Telegraph, even more so that they allowed the moral outrage to build up against Labour before point out the Conservatives were doing exactly the same thing.

Most of the discussion is about second home 'flipping' - buy a house and claim the money for doing so, do it up and claim the money for doing so; then either buy a new one and sell the old one or switch the 'second home' to your other place so as to do that one up.

However the true lead story of the Telegraph should be this one about Kelvin Hopkins total additional cost allowance for 2004-05: £296. The biggest shocker being the fact that he lives in the same street as another MP who has claimed nearly £14k in the same year in order to run a second home whereas Mr Hopkins just takes the train in.

He also delivers the quote that should be read out at Parliament to all those looking to blame the 'system'

"The rules are clearly nonsense but even if they are nonsense, they shouldn’t be abused."
Full details of Mr Hopkins expenses as well as other MPs can be found at They Work for You. Ranked 585th out of 645 for 07/08

Just to put the entire second home claim etc. into context my local MP who lives (not so obviously) in Worcestershire and thus has to travel a lot further than Luton is listed 07/08 as 640th out of 645 for expense claims; incidentally he's not a member of one of the main parties.

[Additional - You know it would be interesting to plot on a map expense claims by constituency to see if any form of pattern emerges]

Smart energy meters

Cropped up on the BBC this morning that the government plans a roll-out of smart energy meters by 2020. Interesting that the major points regarding this plan were about cost - who is going to foot the bill; interesting to contrast with the row over compulsory water meters.

The arguments that came up for water meters were that people would stop using water and that would lead to problems in terms of public health, and yet no-one here suggested that some would start to cut back on energy usage to a similar detriment. Not cooking food properly, not washing in hot water, using candles for light.

Perhaps it's because we've always had energy meters that we don't think about it that way; perhaps it's because, unlike water, we can switch energy suppliers.

I don't know I'm in two minds about this proposal.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Expense claims

Not the actual expenses themselves per se but the justifications that have been pouring out. Harriet Harman sat on the GMTV sofa to be grilled by Ben, presumably thinking she'd get an easier time than if she'd appeared on the BBC. She was wrong, nice that she prevented Ben from slander by commenting that he shouldn't use the word "fiddling" in connection with expense claims.

It was the delightful statements that rules couldn't have been broken because the expenses had been paid, a claim that could only have some sort of validity if the claims that had been rejected had also been published. Given what has 'legitimately' been claimed I think it would be scary to see what had been rejected; ah but of course MPs wouldn't try to put in claims they knew would be rejected because they're all so honest.

[Update thanks to the Telegraph we can see some of those rejected claims such as £200 for a pram by David Milliband; £600 for hanging baskets by Margaret Beckett; and £19.99 for an Ikea Bathrobe by Andy Burnham. Ah yes all essential expenses incurred in their duties as MPs

Also worth looking at those expense claims not rejected Honestly how can I do my job without eyeliner or if I have to worry about moles in my garden?]

Likewise trying to shift the blame by stating that they know the rules need looking at. What is really being stated here is that MPs will try to get away with as much as they can within the rules even if morally they know they shouldn't be claiming for it.

Imagine a worker having to stay at a hotel as part of their job, they claim the room and board back; but I'm betting there are rules about exactly where they can stay and how much they can spend on meals - no five star hotels and champagne breakfasts here. What would happen if they tried to add on mini-bar costs or pay-per-view movies as expenses, they'd get rejected. Even if the rules were stretched to allow it what do you think anyone would think highly of them for bunging it on expenses?

With all this bleating on about the rules allowing this or having to change the rules to prevent it, it covers up the fact that the only reason we're talking about this is because MPs are exploiting those rules. We wouldn't need the rules to be changed if we had honest MPs who didn't try to claim for things they knew had nothing to do with their function as our representatives.

Now sure you can say that about any rules, in fact we wouldn't need them at all if everyone was honest, but these are MPs; they have to be cleaner than clean and if they don't understand that or don't want to work that way then they should resign.

No excuses, no 'it was all within the rules', no 'everyone else is doing it', no 'I thought mock Tudor beams were a legitimate expense'; just go.

Unforeseen consequences

It seems I can't travel down Vale Road in a morning and not have someone try to cross the three-lane road. As normal I blamed the pedestrian footbridge that got built across the canal; and then it struck me it was because of the footbridge.

Yeah I know duh isn't that what you've just said, well yes but all the pieces just slotted together. The only reason to try to cross the road right after coming out of Mitton Close is because you can now continue straight across the Lidl car-park and over the bridge and into Lombard Street where the school, Tesco and Co-op are. Prior to the bridge you had to walk around to the top and bottom of Vale Road which is where the drop kerbs and splitter triangles are situated.

By linking up the town to the Lidl via the pedestrian access it also created a new gateway from the Lidl side to the town which is why people are risking lives crossing a three-lane road rather than walk around the edges.

In the same way I can predict that creating the Basin Link and directing people through or to Coopers Lane will result in more people simply crossing the road at that point rather than walking up to the crossing. I say more because the number who stand outside either pub and try to cross the road there is bad enough.

You can't put up railings because it's a vehicular access so the only solution I can see is one I've suggested before - fitting a subway under the bridge at that end. The path already exists at one end and can be easily extended at the other, arches in the bridge already exist and people already duck underneath them to get from one side to the other, the only problem I foresee is with drainage.

Okay enough about that what I'm talking about is the knock-on effects that don't get seen, like the canal bridge that results in more people trying to cross a road we also have the houses at the end of Worcester Road on the site of the old pub that's resulted in more traffic trying to join just before the OGL island and more traffic trying to turn right into it.

Having to judge two oncoming lanes of traffic to turn right and being unable to do so if there's a car in that road anyway due to the narrowing means a hold-up. As that lane is also too narrow due to a cock-up in measurements when it was relaid this builds up traffic around the island, shunts back to Gilgal, which shunts back to Vale Road, which passes through the town. Just because more people are using a particular road.

Oh and yes I've already suggested that it's switched to just two lanes with a short right-turn lane taking up the slot left by removing the island's unnecessary and partially dangerous right-turn lane.

See it's all about thinking in isolation, the footbridge is a good example of this, but the traffic lights at the top of Vale Road present this better.

As I've mentioned many times the merger system on Gilgal doesn't work well especially in the mornings and this is due to the amount of traffic joining it from these traffic lights. And that's because the flow never stops, there's a small delay when they change over and a larger delay when you have traffic coming from the church and going straight or right; otherwise the flow never ceases. In isolation this is fair, if you don't have to have an exit empty then you seet it up so you don't but coupled with roads further on a hiatus is needed.

Ah well when (not if) the town becomes grid-locked someone will then try to sort it out.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Child Poverty

I dealt with this back in 2007 but like an annoying weed look what popped up in my news feed.

Choice cuts:

The annual study into poverty laid bare how thousands of children cannot afford basic treats
More than half a million children do not celebrate their birthday or special occasion because of lack of money
with 31 per cent of all children [...] unable to take a week's holiday with their family.
The poverty line is defined as when a household's income, after tax, is worth 60 per cent or less of the national median income
Yeesh they're not even bothering to hide their shoddy definitions any more are they. Oh no we only have enough money to put a roof over our heads and keep our family fed poor old us.

Honestly 60% or less of the median income, we can only be thankful they didn't go for average.

For those still hazy on statistics the median is the imaginary point where you can split whatever it is you're measuring into two equal portions. So in this case the income where half the households earn more and half earn less.

Then they take 60% of this figure (because 60 is magical, no I don't know why it's 60) and that's the poverty figure. So something that starts off almost rational becomes less rational.

Because the poverty is only relative to everyone else in that country. Try telling some kid in Zimbabwe that technically he's better off than some kid in Britain and see what happens.

Now in order to show how silly this is I was going to plot the data of household income to show exactly how far off from the magic 60.1% target they are and then demonstrate what the plot would have to look like to have no-one below that 60% figure. Except there's no data. Oh well there is data but it's been handily bundled up ready for us and I want it raw. Take this for example, handy eh? Except without the raw data behind it there's nothing I can do with it.

Again for those hazy quintiles are similar to the median but split by 20% rather than 50%, think 100 people lined up in order of income then stick a flag between each group of 20.

So I can't find any data that hasn't already been averaged or split by county or basically re-presented from the raw, heck even a simple 0-£1000, £1001- £5000 with number of households would do, but nope we've just shown the end figures.

[Update - Wikipedia does give me household income figures for the USA. Taking these figures as read and using the same poverty line we get a figure of $26,633 which means roughly 30% of all households are in 'poverty'. If we want to raise them all above the line (and assuming every household's income is the maximum for that group) the USA would need to find roughly $373bn dollars a year to give to them. Yeah I can see that happening.]


Has been in the news with the magnanimous decision by the government to abide by the Court of Human Rights Decision to destroy the DNA data of innocent individuals that still resides in the DNA database; gosh how nice of them. Of course this being a police state they're not simply removing the data of all unconvicted people straight away, oh no they're going to keep it on record for at least 6 years from the arrest date for minor offences, 12 years for major ones.

Although in no funny what is amusing is the excuses that the sympathisers are trying to use to explain why the data shouldn't be removed at all. An example of which can be found in the Telegraph

Mark Dixie was arrested after a brawl in the pub where he worked and had his DNA taken.

He was not convicted but his profile remained on the database. Within five hours, he was arrested for the murder of 18-year-old Sally Ann Bowman nine months earlier.
Yeah follow the timeline there. Now if he'd had his DNA taken at the time of the brawl, then had it retained and then it was discovered at a murder scene and used to arrest him you have an argument.

However all this presents is the case that DNA results should be compared to DNA evidence from past crime scenes to check for a match. Something I would have expected to be done anyway. For legal comparison consider an officer stopping a car for erratic driving and checking on the licence plate to see if it was stolen or has unpaid fines attached to it. That's not retention of a person's DNA that's retention of evidence from a crime scene.

So as I've said there's an argument that DNA evidence retained could lead to an arrest in the future, but oddly advocates seem to be missing or unwilling to use that point. Perhaps because it would draw too much attention to the method of operation of the database itself; how is the data stored, what methods are in place to prevent corruption of data, who has access to it?

It might also lead to an bias - your DNA was at the crime scene now we're going to work out how you did it. For a scenario that could lead to this consider travelling by train, or bus or any public transport. You're sat in a chair and you leave a hair (and follicle) behind. You get off the train and someone else gets on and sits in your seat transferring the hair to their coat. They get off the train and are murdered. Congratulations you're now Prime Suspect because your DNA was found at the scene and it's up to you to prove why it was there for purely innocent reasons with the repetition of "I don't know" probably being the result.

Meanwhile the real killer gets away because all resources are directed to find out 'how you dun it'.

It's flawed technically and it's flawed morally, but heck when has that stopped any government?


Once again this subject appears on GMTV and once again the presenters completely undermine the message with giggles about how bad they were at the subject. Yes that's right kids don't bother learning maths and you too can present a TV show.

Emma obviously not reading her cues came out with "[percentage] of 11 year olds have the same maths skills as 7 year olds [repeating what was printed on the screen presumably in case we couldn't read and then added] this is despite them moving to secondary school at age 11"

Which I interpreted as - a percentage of 11 year olds have the same maths skills as 7 year olds despite being 11. Yeah.

Ben in a throwaway remark asked what 21 plus 19 was "I don't know" it's 40 you dunce yeesh it's 30 plus 10, or 31 plus 9 or 20 plus 20.

Coincidentally I had something similar just the other day "What's 172,000 divided by 21,000?" He'd grabbed the calculator and tapped in one seven two zero zero zero divide two one zero zero zero and wanted confirmation. I grabbed my calculator and tapped in one seven two divide two one and said "172 divided by 21 is about 8"

"Huh?" came the reply "I wanted 172,000 divided by 21,0000"

Even if I didn't have a calculator I could have gone 21, 42, 84, 168, so about 8. Pushed I could see that 172-168 is 4 which is a fifth of 20 so it's about 8.2; pushed again I could see that 4 becomes 40 which divides to 1 leaving 19 which becomes 190 and I already know 8 is 168 so it's really 8.18 or 8.19.

Seriously how hard is any of that?

My favourite bit was the despite funding totalling £X million maths skills are still low. See if you spend money you expect results end of story. Yeah if I hire some people to shift a heavy slab of something and it takes 10 people to move it, me hiring another 1,000 people won't shift it any quicker. It takes a paradigm shift in that I hire a crane.

So spending a wad of cash on this subject may not result in any differences if you're still teaching it exactly the same way you were prior to the cash injection.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Things not to do in cars

I won't talk about the guy driving at 50mph with a mobile clamped to his ear, I'll ignore the woman eating an apple as she drove past at 30mph, nor will I mention the woman applying her makeup while moving slowly forward in a queue; nope I'll talk about kids.

Little bit of fun getting out of the drive due to a blockage, when it was gone I checked I could pull out and saw a car coming towards me so I waited. She slowed down, was she letting me out? Nope she then sped up again. As she passed me towards the bend I guessed why she'd altered her speed - she wasn't looking where she was going, she was leant over the passenger seat and looking at the back seats.

Pulling up to a junction she was now facing forward, nope around she turns again before pulling out. Now moving slowly in a minor queue a young girl stood up on the back seat and leant over the front passenger side, then sat down, then a young boy stood up in the front passenger seat and crawled over to the back seat.

Driving down High Street the car was now a few ahead of me and I could hear some kids shouting, nothing about until we all moved forward and the angle showed me that it was one of the kids from this car with the window down, head half out and having a shout.

P460 KAR, might want to teach them proper behaviour when in a vehicle

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Burnout Paradise take 2

A delightful waste of time over the Bank Holiday Weekend I managed to gain a few more achievements on Burnout Paradise for the Playstation 3; a surprising one being "Find all the Events around Paradise City". Yup I've only just gone through every set of traffic lights which should demonstrate just how damn big this place is; and I still don't have "Visit all the Car Parks in Paradise City" or "Visit the Airfield".

I was never that into the pure races, but I've been getting the hang of them now. Likewise I found the Burning Routes too annoying, they require you to be in a certain vehicle and that means either leaving the game or locating a junk yard to change and then trying to remember out of the 75 cars (of which I currently only have 25ish) which one I wanted. See you can't pull up the map while in the junk yard to see the events and the cars themselves provide no indication of whether you've already done the Burning Route with that vehicle.

As such I've only just picked up the "Complete 5 Burning Routes" simply down to trying to remember a Burning Route event and then getting to a junk yard without getting sidetracked by Private Property smashable barriers or cruising in circles wondering how to reach that Billboard up there. In the end I'd find a junk yard and then as I approached called up the map, checked the nearest event, cancelled the map and drove into the yard; only to discover that I didn't yet possess that particular car. Drive out, repeat.

I've also got the soundtrack switched to Random so I've only just really realised they had "Epic" by Faith No More which makes damn fine event music; shame I can't set it that way. See you get four options for each track - Play, Don't Play, Event, and Freeburn. Problem is Play is inclusive of both Event and Freeburn, so you can't say - play these tracks for Events these tracks for Freeburn and these tracks when I'm just cruising around; they need an extra option: Cruise.

So I could then set tracks to Cruise and they'll only play when I'm not in an Event, I can set tracks to Play so I'll get them at any time and I can set tracks to Event so I only get them during an Event.

Might pop over to the forums and suggest it if someone hasn't already.

TV programme timings

As alluded to in a comment I've been watching the Great British Menu and though I could (and well might) dedicate an entire entry to its faults this isn't the time; see it's time that I'm complaining about.

The Great British Menu finishes at 19:00 on BBC2; I then turn over to watch The One Show, [sigh] the things I do to keep abreast with what's 'popular'. This should be easy as The One Show starts on BBC1 at 19:00 and yet I've never seen the beginning of that programme. Even if I change channels just as the closing credits of the Great British Menu start I still miss the entire opening credits and introductions.

So what gives? There are no live programmes going on that could overrun (or even underrun) every programme is for a fixed time, the 'adverts' are for a fixed time and yet programmes simply can't seem to start or finish at the times stated in the listings magazines.

It could be something as simply as the listings being wrong, but it's difficult to believe that any channel would start a programme at 18:57 when it could be started at 19:00.

Worse yet these aren't the only programmes to fall like this, when recording Dr Who despite my box starting up 15 minutes ahead of schedule it would often only start recording 30 seconds in because the BBC hadn't sent or delayed a start signal. The commercial channels seem particularly guilty of odd timings. A programme scheduled to run from 19:00 to 20:00 may start just before 19:00 and finish at 19:55, then adverts then the next programme starts at 20:01.

Again I have to point out that every programme is a known length, every break is a known length with the only exceptions occurring for the rare live events or breaking news. Heck you can see this in the regional news broadcasts that are spliced in to the national ones; they start at this time, end at this time. You can clearly see this when it goes wrong and you're left with either the national news logo at the start or the reporter gets cut off at the end.

So why can't they apply this to the normal running programmes. My guess is that they could, but don't want to. If the timings are all slightly out then you have to stick to their channel, may sound odd when you consider the start of this entry was about BBC1 and BBC2, but not if you consider that they are in reality rivals.

If you know that the programme on the other side may well have started already, or may not have started it's possible that you simply decide to stick with the channel you're already watching.

Anyway I'm writing to the Radio Times about it as my original complaint deals with their corporations channels.

[Update - Oh typical the very day I complain The One Show starts at exactly 19:00 and not the normal 3 minutes early. Of course this had nothing to do with the Party Political Broadcast that occurred before it which has several laws attached to determine start times and running lengths. However just to keep things in step The Great British Menu overran by a couple of minutes]

Friday, May 01, 2009

Black Knight Edit

Friday fun the original followed by an edit in Photoshop Elements 6.

The Black Knight triumphant

Swine Flu take 3

A friend of a friend story, but from a good thread of sources.

Someone came back from another country (not Mexico) but heavily populated by such. Heard about the flu and phoned up the local surgery with "I've been mixing with Mexicans abroad and don't feel too good".

"Come on down" came the reply.
"I don't think I should" he said. " I think someone should come to me"
"No don't worry about it"

Went down, sat in the waiting room with everyone else, got diagnosed; now in quarantine.

Oh yeah that's going to help now, did you quarantine the others in the waiting room?

Come the elections ignore the national parties

So May the 1st and we have the local elections arriving next month (4th June). This means an upsurge in campaigning from all parties and a flurry of leaflets through the door. For those feeling cynical about how you only hear from your councillors when election time rolls around don't blame them blame yourselves and your gnat-like attention span for politics.

So what's with the title of this entry? Well it's an attempt to remind people that the local elections aren't the national elections; okay everyone got that? For those who already know this (and I guess you will being intelligent enough to read this blog) feel free to repeat it slowly to your less intelligent friends.

Ignore the politicians and especially ignore the media who will try to use the local elections as some sort of weathervane as to national mood. Slap anyone who says they're going to use the local election to "Send a message" to the national party. Wow how brilliant of you, you're going to vote for someone you may not like to spite a national party who don't know you or particularly care about you.

The national party don't care about the messed-up roads on the Millfields estate, they don't care about the Central Networks hole left for a week on Areley Common, or the dangerous corner on Lickhill North; they've bigger fish to fry.

Remember if the local elections go in favour of one party the national party line will be that "It sends a message" if it goes against them the line will be that "It's only local politics and has little bearing at the national level" and it's that last line that's the closest to the true thinking of the national party.

This is one of the few true moments that you can be totally selfish and no-one will ever know about it - so vote for the person who is likely to make your life, in your locality, better and keep the party politics out of it.

Rip-off motorway services

Appearing on the news this morning on both channels a Which report that motorway services charge more for petrol and goods then supermarkets; in an additional report Which stated that the sky was blue and grass green.

What was worse was said services trying to run the poor old us scam by stating, accurately, that they didn't have the same degree of purchasing power of supermarkets. Stop being whiners, look we all know your prices are higher and yet amazingly people still buy things from you; why? Because they've left the house in a hurry, or are organised and suddenly realise they're low on petrol or forgot some bottled water.

It's called supply and demand; high demand, low supply. You don't like their prices buy from somewhere cheaper, oh they're the only ones around tough should have thought about that before you left.

I mean Gods what are they supposed to do say 'oh we must compete with supermarkets' they don't that's the whole point and the reason they can charge what they do; get supermarkets opening up service stations and I'll bet they'll be charging more then their town-centred siblings.