Monday, 31 August 2009

Democratic Party of Japan Win Election

In a remarkable result the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have lost the election ending 50 years of almost unbroken rule in spectator fashion. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) have won 300 of the 480 seats. This marks a real start to a two party system in Japan, I hope new administration deliver the change obliviously desired by the people.

Oh and take note Brown, revolutions do happen by the ballot box.

Enoch Powell 'Rivers of Blood'

Daniel Hannan has created controversy again, this time speaking of his admiration for Enoch Powell. Powell is of course largely known for what's referred to as his "Rivers of Blood" speech on immigration. As you would imagine Labour and Co have leaped on the bandwagon with such comments as:
is it acceptable for the modern Conservative Party to attack the NHS and praise Enoch Powell?
So is it acceptable? I've often wondered with Powell's speech whether he struck a nerve, reading his speech in full, he does raise issues about the down side to immigration that are pointed. I do find however this issue almost polarises people into left - for and right - against, but you do have to be balanced. Much like the welfare state, there are pro's and cons. It's counter productive not to acknowledge that and try to address it, because by not doing so it can entrench peoples views.

In context with the time many people who felt alienated, unrepresented and vulnerable responded to his speech, others called him a racist. I always cringe at such terms, we should never just shrug our shoulders and say "racist", however irrational, feverish and at times just over the top some opinions maybe on immigration. Because everything needs a pressure value, it never takes much to tip the scales. History is littered with such times the scales tip for good and bad. Sometimes something so inconsequential can be the thing that lights the fuse.

The idea that Daniel Hannan is the Conservative Party though is quite a jump in logic, he is no more so than Frank Field or Tony Benn are the Labour Party. The Conservative Party today responded in the same way they did in 1968, they've distanced themselves from it. Yet is what Hannan said so bad? I expect politicians to have a mind of their own, otherwise they're just there to vote how the party tell them to. Agree or disagree with Hannan at least he has an opinion.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Lockerbie bomber 'set free for oil'

This story is really starting to develop in two directions, firstly what went on behind the scenes in Westminster and secondly what Megrahi knows.

In the Sunday Times is an article that states:
Gordon Brown’s government made the decision [to release Megrahi] after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.
I think I speak for many when I say "no s£$t Sherlock". How low this government would sink for oil has been firmly established since 2002. Yet that's not what really interests me, this does. Megrahi is calling for a public inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing and:
He has documents which have not yet been disclosed to the public, and documents that were being prepared for his appeal which he dropped last week as part of his hopes for returning to Tripoli.
It would be somewhat poetic if spending so much time dealing in back rooms, this government over looked the very simple notion of truth and human nature. If Megrahi is innocent he will release those documents, he will want to clear his name. Which leaves the question hanging in the air, if it wasn't him, who was it? Just how deep does this rabbit hole go?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Kennedy Curse

LIFE have a feature on the "Kennedy Curse", when I think of the Kennedy's it tends to be John F Kennedy and Bobby, I hadn't realised they were such a large family. Looking through the photo's of them, you can't help but be struck by how incredibly sad the circumstances surrounding all their lives were, fate certainly didn't deal them a good hand.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

MS Paint Fail

Click on image to enlarge

In what could have been a possible homage to the Michael Jackson of IT, Microsoft have apologised for editing the above photo and changing the black man's head to that of a white man. Who indeed must be the chosen one as the holly light shines upon him, those light beams are simply radiating from his cheek.

Update - Abduzeedo has a post on some funny Photoshop Disasters.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Five Days Later . . . . . .

Brown comments on the reception Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi received in Libya. This is going to be another "sorry" situation, he will say anything to not say something that even resembles an answer.

For every 1,000 cameras in London ...

An internal report released by the Metropolitan Police under Freedom of Information laws disclosed that: "For every 1,000 cameras in London, less than one crime is solved per year." Well I'm so glad that the man who dropped litter is now rotting in jail with no chance of release, it makes the fact the UK is the one of the most monitored countries in the world worthwhile.

I truly don't understand why the government and police can't be targeted in using CCTV, it's becoming like a police replacement system. There have been many reports now that say having CCTV in car parks reduced theft and attacks on people, it also clearly makes sense to have CCTV outside and inside tube stations. So why not put the resources where they would prevent or be of use, rather than being so ridiculously indiscriminate. CCTV can not nor should it, replace a police officer on the street.

Mandelson's UK File Sharing Policy

Mandelson has personally intervened in the Digital Britain report saying that previous plans would take too long to implement. Under his proposal, "internet service providers would be obliged to block access to download sites, throttle broadband connections or even temporarily cut off access for repeat offenders."

So while Lord Long Pretentious title sits back slipping a Whiskey, listening to his wireless and happy with his days work. Just a little point, how on earth is this policy going to work? And why is there no mention of prosecution before cutting peoples phone line?

Torrent sites allow you to download legal files as well as pirated copies so how will they know without looking? People share connections, you can hide your IP address, encrypt and if you base the disconnection on the bases of how much you download, won't people that legally buy or stream films and music be effected?

The internet is incredibly adaptable, the only thing the government could do to stop file sharing is pull the plug. This proposal is unrealistic to say the least. The best thing the music and film industry could do, rather than just trying to sue everyone, would be to work with the digital download industry, as they can not continue to be elitist in an internet age.

Monday, 24 August 2009

The Internet - Stephen Fry Joy

There's an audio post by the wonderful Stephen Fry, about the ashes win, how hate is easier on the internet and he speaks about joy, it's a lovely audio post. Highly recommend listening to it.

Is Gordon Alive?

Has Gordon Brown been seized by Mighty Ming the merciless? Or has Lord Long Pretentious title tied up Brown in his basement? The Lockerbie controversy unfolds, silence, England win the ashes, silence and a new series of X-Factor starts, silence. It's unheard of that Downing Street won't pass comment on just about anything that captures the public's attention.

Last time I checked Brown was still Prime Minster of the United Kingdom. Downing Street have maintained that the decision was "none of its business". Indeed the initial decision was just that, the political fall out however is their business, you can't just bury your head in the sand, we are still an "United" Kingdom. Either support the decision, as it was Scotland's to make or at least help politically, don't just play out the rope for the SNP to look bad.

Politics for self interest, is politics at it's worst. Particularly from someone who is meant to represent the UK on the international stage and has the platform to do so.

Update - Gordon's alive and given a response to the ashes win.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

District 9 Film

There is an interesting new sci-fi film gaining buzz on the internet called District 9. The premiss is fairly simple, it's about a fictional world where extraterrestrials have become refugees in South Africa. They live in District 9 which is a slum. It's not particularly subtle in the point it's making, Johannesburg > South Africa > apartheid > xenophobia. That's about as subtle as an alien bursting from your chest.

Yet from the trailer the way it's been filmed i.e like a documentary really draws you in. The "monsters" are clearly being used as prisms to reflect our bigotries and phobias back at us. The film has a website, where you can watch some of the interviews with people, as you can imagine the things being said are remarkably familiar - "How much money is being spent keeping these non humans in District 9?", "I don't want my tax money going to non-humans".

Sci-fi is at it's best when it takes what's in front of our eyes and twists it to reflect our world in another, in doing so it shows us something about human nature, our weaknesses, strengths and phobias. This film looks like it could be brilliant or utterly pants, I'm hoping for the former.

It's release date in the UK is September 4th.

Update - There are some clips and other trailers on Apple's website, the eviction one is particularity good.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Lockerbie Bomber Freed

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi convicted of murdering 270 people on the Pan Am flight 103, has been freed from prison and sent back to Libya on compassionate grounds. On first hearing this news I was very opposed to his release, I was a child at the time of this terrible crime, yet I remember the pictures of the plane wreckage vividly.

Having however listened to Kenny McCaskill and researching into the trial, that opposition muddies somewhat. Being judged not by a jury but three judges, doesn't make me hold the conviction in high regard. Nor does the fact that this bombing couldn't have been carried out by just one person, yet no real investigation has been made or other people arrested. Something echoed by the victims families who attended the trial.

Clearly politics are also at play in this situation, the foreign secretary has issued a Public Information Immunity certificate on documents previously unseen, stating that to publish them would be to the detriment of UK national security. Which certainly adds to questioning the conviction and suggests bigger factors at work here.

Yet those doubts weren't what Kenny MacAskill spoke of in his statement, he said:
The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.
Reading through MacAskill statement in full he's also being political, yet that sentiment above I whole heartily agree with. We do not have capital punishment in this country, on evoking it justice became about punishment not revenge. There is doubt cast on the conviction, with it a possibility that this man is actually innocent, combined with the need to uphold our values for all, thus I think his release was the right decision. He has such little time left to live and his release demonstrates in action the values that we claim to support as a civilised society.

I wish his release however had triggered a long over due investigation for closure, yet perhaps his death will deliver those answers, along with a sense of justice for all the families who lost loved ones on that flight in 1988.

Update: There's an interesting interview in the Times with Ali al-Megrahi.

LondonPaper To Close

Damn I'll never be in the "lovestruck" section now.....

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Just A Polite Note

I'm currently working on a project that's taking up a lot of my time, I'm finding it impossible to focus on writing posts. I hope to have some time in a few days.

Friday, 14 August 2009

NHS "Debate"

I've been trying to avoid this health care "debate", largely because when politicians jump on the bandwagon you know it's a) getting hysterical b) in bad taste. I don't agree with Daniel Hannan's view point, yet he's not making policy he's stating an opinion, which he is perfectly entitled to do.

What bothers me about this "I love the NHS" campaign is now the word "unpatriotic" is being used, by all people a Labour MP Andy Burnham. It's a health service not the British flag, the founding principle however is something quintessentially British, a sense of fairness, something a little amiss now.

"Unpatriotic" is a word that gets used like a trump card by governments, it is irrational and feverish. Yet patriotism is not blind devotion it is as Alexander Solzhenitsyn said:
unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them.
Criticism is not unpatriotic, the lack of criticism is.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was unsurprisingly found guilty yet again by the regime of Burma. The court sentenced her to three years in prison but that was immediately reduced to 18 months on the orders of the military government, who also said she could serve the time in her Rangoon home. This of course would keep her out of the public eye while elections take place in Burma. Yet also seem lenient in the wake of public opinion. It doesn't however change the fact she is a political prisoner.

I have a great deal of respect for Aung San Suu Kyi, what a remarkable woman. She won the 1990 general election, she should be Prime Minister. Instead was put under detention by the military regime and prevented from assuming office. She has spent the last 19 years imprisoned, isolated, under house arrest or unable to leave Burma. Yet she endures with such calm dignity, as if she knows her day will come.

This sentence presents a chance for it to come sooner, the international community needs to unite, until now they have been divided on how best to deal with Burma or acting in isolation. The fact the regime lowered the sentence shows they are not immune to international pressure or completely unconcerned. That is something to exploit and I truly hope they do.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Tories Plan Access to NHS Files

Now this is an interesting idea, allowing NHS patients to be able to access their own medical records on-line. I've long thought one of the problems with the NHS is how secretive Doctors and medical care is. Information is almost sacred and you as a patient are for some reason overlooked in the process.

To really address what's wrong with the NHS, the way information is shared needs to be looked at. That isn't by any means the only problem, it is just symptomatic of the centralisation that has happened under Labour. It's oblivious that putting a politician in charge of the NHS is an issue, as what does a politician know about running a health service? It needs to be run by the people the work within it.

Yet the problem with the Tories idea is - will the they be as inept as Labour are at IT projects? Microsoft being suggested doesn't fill me with confidence. As the privacy issue this idea provokes will seriously need to be addressed, as though I want access to my files I don't want every hack out there looking at them.

It is enviable that all medical records will be digitalised, as written ones are passed there sell by date. Storing them, loosing them, damage and with people moving around the country a lot more than they used to, written records can be spread between the places you've lived. Yet how it's implemented is the big question or perhaps how well it's implemented is more accurate.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Adams in the Telegraph Is On Form


Oh The Irony . . . . .

The actor who stars in the Government's swine flu advert has contracted the virus. Someone didn't wash their hands.....

Thursday, 6 August 2009

MoD Wasting Billions

An internal review of the MoD's procurement processes has found that as much as £2.5 billion of taxpayers' money is being wasted every year by the ministry, it was reported last night. (
read story)
It's amazing how often these reports come out and tell us what everybody knew for years. One day I'd like the cynical suspicion of the public be proved wrong and for it to turn out that we're not governed by incompetents.

Is that too much to ask?

Jack Grants Ronnie Biggs Release

It appears that Ronnie Biggs's medical incapacity has suddenly made him not a risk to society any more and Jack Straw has granted release. In reality Biggs will stay in hospital but from Friday the three prison guards that have been at his bedside around the clock will be removed. What difference you may ask is there to a few weeks ago? As in the picture above he doesn't look like a man about to rob a bank or go skiing, Jack said:
In this case, I have had to consider the medical evidence against well established criteria – specifically whether death was likely to occur soon and whether the prisoner was bedridden or severely incapacitated. The medical evidence clearly shows that Mr Biggs is very ill and that his condition has deteriorated recently, culminating in his re-admission to hospital. His condition is not expected to improve.
That doesn't sound convincing, I wonder if the difference is the judicial review of Jack's decision to reject the Parole Board's recommendation, will now be dropped since Biggs has been released.

Harriet Charges In

This week is like a little taster session of what it would be like if Harriet Harman was prime minster, I would liken it to Boudica on her chariot.

A review of rape conviction rates was to be released on Monday, however Harman has sent it back to the drawing board. It's understood she wants a:
more radical overhaul of the law which could include targets for prosecutors and police to secure more convictions.
Targets though Labours answer to everything, are not the answer here, you just put pressure on the courts to find someone guilty, as reports already show it has a terrible effect on justice. Increasing the likelihood of wrongful or unsound conviction is just stupid beyond words.

A lot of rape victims don't go to the police straight away or sometimes never do, largely because most rapes are perpetrated by people they know, only a small percentage are by strangers. For juries it's more difficult to say "guilty" if it's not based on physical evidence. A lot of cases are a question of whether the victim did not consent and that is a very difficult thing to prove.

For Harman to step in like this however suggests that "radical overhaul" means something really radical. Switching so the accused has to be the one to prove that the victim consented, this would drastically increase conviction rates. Yet politicians getting involved in justice is a recipe for disaster, the effect of their involvement in law can clearly be seen in how terrorism is dealt with, like a Salem witch trial.

To change the premiss of the law i.e you are innocent until proven guilty, is a scary prospect, largely because the impact is so far reaching. As much as I want more justice for victims of rape, we can not be populist about law, it must be objective, factual and fair. Whatever this review comes up with though, there will always be a large amount of people that won't be able to prosecute, making sure there is the care available to help them is so important. As that may be the only way they can move on in their lives. Consequently more than anything, I hope Harriet's involvement doesn't push this review into an area of non practical support.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Man on Wire

I just watched the documentary Man on Wire on the BBC's iplayer, it's about:
In August 1974, French wire-walker Philippe Petit spent nearly an hour walking, dancing, kneeling and lying on a wire which he and his friends had strung in secret between the rooftops of New York's Twin Towers. Six years of intense planning, dreaming and physical training fell into place that morning
It's a remarkable documentary, Philippe is a very engaging storyteller, he pulls you into his plan from the start, just as he did to those that helped him. He is enchanting, full of ego and self-confidence, brazenly well aware of the fact that he used people and then cast them aside. Yet as a policeman who arrested Philippe said, he knew he was seeing something unlike anything he'd ever see again. A true description of this film and Philippe Petit.

Photoshopped Real or Fake

I obviously create quite a lot of photoshoped pictures for my posts on this blog and I came across a game on LIFE's website, can you guess what's real and what's fake?

Play the game.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Fat Cats . . . . .

Wonderful cartoon from Morten Morland.

Harriet Harman - It's Raining Men

I really wish Harriet Harman wouldn't presume she speaks for all of female kind, while making sweeping generalisations. Giving women the opportunity to get into politics is one thing, it's another thing entirely to stack the cards so that regardless of ability women gain. How can anyone respect that? And why would women want that? Earning things in life is so much more rewarding, to know it was you who did it, you achieved it.

Yet there in lies the problem with parliament, how many people regardless of gender got the job on merit lately? Harriet Harman should be arguing for that, as it won't matter how many women hold those posts if they didn't deserve it, likewise for anyone. I don't adhere to the idea that a feminist is a women who lacks ambition. Harriet needs to roll up her sleeves and stop complaining, it's starting to sound like an excuse, you can't legislate for every equality in life.


My internet went down for over 12 hours, I was lost, alone and traumatised. Yet most of all I couldn't help but wonder what on earth I did to entertain myself before the net.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Brown Televised Election Debate

Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council, AKA the prime minster, seems to be agreeing to a TV debate between party leaders, on Browns behalf and in his absence. Which begs the question, what's Mandelson up to?

I watch PMQ's and say without doubt, this is going to be awful for Brown, combined with his body language issues it will however make for very entertaining viewing and a YouTube hit in the waiting. Which does make you wonder why Mandelson would risk this, other than perhaps being a secret Tory, the most likely answer is he knows he has nothing to loose and it could mark the start of a new narrative for Labour. With Brown's approval rating at 19%, how much worst could it get?

Cameron could make a mistake, he has however had a lot of practice at PMQ's, the only real mistakes he makes are pursing the wrong line of questioning and seeming too aggressive at times. The wild card here is Nick Clegg, this would give him good air time and when Clegg's on form he's very articulate, honest and pointed.

Mandelson using this debate as a way to springboard an offensive against the Tories, but also to try to re-engage voters, just seems a little Thelma and Louise to me.

Gary McKinnon Hacker

Gary McKinnon lost his latest High Court appeal, it seems likely now that he will be extradited to the United States. Clearly what he did was wrong and he shouldn't be exempt from the law. Yet that should be proportionate, he is not a terrorist, he is the sort of guy that would stand outside of area 51 with tin foil on his head, while holding a sign saying "the truth is out there".

Why make an example of such a person? I would like to think that after a change of administration that the hysteria over terrorists would have calmed down. This is a good opportunity for Obama to show that. For our government it's also a good opportunity to address the US-UK extradition treaty's inequality. Tony Blair signed the treaty with the US, yet he would have signed over his Mother to George Bush. It's a product of appeasement, that needs to be redressed in 2009.

MPs Second Jobs

Another MP earlier this week resigned over the new rules banning second jobs, bringing the total of 33 MPs stepping down at the next election. Labour MP Howard Stoate practises as a GP and will stand down due to believing the change would "diminish" his work in parliament.

It is important that MPs declare their interests from not just second jobs, but investment. For example if they work in some capacity for a company, it's going to be highly likely the company will get a contract from the government, likewise if they have shares in companies. I don't think it unreasonable given a judge or jury would need to declare an interest that may jeopardies or influence their judgement, that they do.

If MPs only work in parliament though they can end up just closed within the insular world of the Westminster bubble. That's really counter-productive, as what do they know about life? The average salary is £25,000, earning £80,000 to £150,000 a year and having everything paid for you doesn't gain you life experience.

Howard Stoate's work as a GP would have got him meeting his constituencies and made him a part of the community. I've always found that an issue with my MP, he has no vested interest in my local community. Which is the key factor here, if the job isn't only self interested I don't see what the issue is. The problem comes when it's just about money and a job for the boys. Being transparent about that leaves a paper trail and accountability. To go as far as having no second jobs worries me, parliament will become more insular and detached than it clearly already is.