Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thought for the day

Once it was said that knowledge was power. Now that knowledge is there for anyone’s taking, it has become clear that only power is power, and that it is still acquired by humans in the way that humans have always acquired it - through violence.

- Deborah Orr


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The end of September

The driest September since records began in 1910, they say: only one-fifth of the usual rainfall. The fifth warmest too, but well below the temperatures of September 2006. Still only a 5 or 6 degree difference between night and day, and it's not yet been below 11°C at night. And 27°C here yesterday afternoon, just before this sunset.

The summer flowers are still all blooming madly. I can't bring myself to change the pots and troughs for the winter varieties, yet. Mr BW is busy deheading pansies - I got 14 trays for £1 each yesterday, and they need to last until I can bear to compost the surfinias.

Earlier in the week I went into a Small Local Town poundshop to get some gardening bits. I couldn't find any. I was told that, "We've put them away so we can get the Hallowe'en stuff out." Yesterday I went to a garden centre, to be met by this:

Seasonally unseasonal, clearly.

Now, am I sending a gloating email to a certain supermarket's new CEO who didn't heed my words of warning about carefully reading customers' complaints and taking them seriously, lest they take their custom elsewhere (on top of the previous e-thread, obviously)?
Tempting, very very tempting...

I suspect certain of their staff are as disillusioned with the management's attitude as I am...

Posted at 11:02 AM | Comments (6)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Seen at the village hall where the Patchy Ladies meet

Clearly put together by not a gardener (black plastic inside the felt liner).

You should see the interior of the hall; recently re-decorated by clearly not a decorator.

Let's not get into how we have money for yet another war but not enough for [insert public under-funded venture or service of choice]... Not in my name governmint. I fully expect another head to roll soon.

UK debt clock (£1.33 billion - growing at £5,169 per second, currently £21K per person, or nearly £100,000 per child). The daily interest payment is more than we spend on education. Or defence. £25 billion given to banks since April 6th. I'll bet that 99+% of the population don't know that.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Carbon dioxide

New Scientist shows that the world is on track for the worst-case global warming scenario - carbon dioxide emissions are not being curtailed.

Information from here states:

Direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The large majority of these emissions comes from international flights. By 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected to be around 70% higher than in 2005 even if fuel efficiency improves by 2% per year. ICAO forecasts that by 2050 they could grow by a further 300-700%.

One person flying from London to New York and back causes roughly the same amount of emissions as the average person in the EU causes through heating their home for a whole year.

Figures I read last week (can't now find the source, drat, but it was a reputable site) were that aircraft flight currently contribute 9% to our national emissions, and, on current/already approved growth predictions (and taking account of predicted cleaner-burn jet engines) will be contributing 50% by 2050 (but, cf this from The International Air Transport Association (IATA) - the trade association for the world’s airlines).

And yet there are plans afoot to build more airports in the UK. Madness.

Makes you wonder if all that energy-saving and recycling is actually worthwhile, doesn't it?

Carbon capture:

This is what a squash that has been in the Aga for 44 hours looks like.

Posted at 11:45 AM | Comments (6)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thought for the day

Resources are precious. Space is precious. Your self-respect and the respect of others are precious. Use them wisely.

- Dan Charnas


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Update on previous issues discussed here

One of my favourite expressions, oft-applied to organisations and people who have, let's say, low moral and ethical standards, and oft-muttered empathetically to those who share their tales of corporate cons with me, is, "All you have to do is wait."

And now the waiting is over, at least for one company.

I'm sure that several of my long-term readers will have been sharing my delight in the news about T£$co's decline in recent times . And now they've been caught fiddling the decimal points in their official reporting. Well, OK, a bit more than decimal points - it's a quarter of a billion pounds of over-statement of profit for the last six month's trading. Tut tut.

(Great graphic at the top of that last link - so good that I'm borrowing it...)

"Every Little Helps Hurts!" can now be replaced by, "We are an equal opportunities company: we shaft our customers, our suppliers, our shop-floor staff, and our shareholders!").

Alas, as Mr BW pointed out to me, the 30+% reduction in its share value in the past 3 months isn't just hurting its individual shareholders, it is hurting anyone who has a pension that is market-based and isn't a SIPP. As a FTSE 100 company, T£$co shares will be in most pension managers' portfolios.

Having shopped enthusiastically at Aldi since 1997 when one opened in Local Large Town (when most people now singing its praises were still accumulating debt on their plastic), I'm also delighted to see that Aldi's market share has gone up 29% in the last year. It's nearly overtaking Waitrose as the UK's 6th supermarket.

I've fallen out of love with Sainsbury's too. A couple of months ago I had cause to return a defective product and had a very bad experience in-store, which I reported to their Executive Office who basically told me to BOGOFF. So, I now use Aldi, Costco and Waitrose (no longer any more expensive than the average supermarket). And Morrisons, but only when I have a voucher (which is currently most weeks). I smiled when I read that Sainsbury's market share has fallen recently too.
*smiles knowingly in the cauldron direction*

And, it's a while since I muttered about the perils of contactless cards. Z's post about overwhelming technology made me comment. I've added a few bits and reproduce it below:

No-one should be complacent about contactless cards. I know directly of 3 people who have had problems with these cards already, and have heard tales of several more. I have researched them extensively, and can confidently say that it's the next big bank story of huge losses, just wait and see.

Field day for thieves, and card cloning (just by someone who has a dodgy card reader standing close to you when you have one in your bag or pocket). And huge problems with 'card clash' on London's transport network now that Oyster is not the only electronic payment method.

Here's what Which? says. And here's what the BBC said a year ago - contactless card fraud had cost £13,700 the previous year (when contactless was very new and not widely accepted). That's quite a few maximum £20 payments.

I'm now finding banks refusing to issue non-contactless cards when I request that new cards issued with built-in contactless be replaced, so when this happens I am putting in writing that I will never be using it and that I will not accept any transactions that appear on my accounts that have been made using contactless means. They give me all sorts of blah about them being safe and me not being liable for transactions that I say I haven't authorised, but it's the potential hassle factor and the time it will take to prove/sort out.

I'm sure they are great for lazy people who don't keep track of their spending (or care about it) but how long does it take to put in a PIN? With modern readers, seconds. Considering how long some people spend on social media sites these days, a few seconds for the (relative security) of PIN authorisation is nothing.

Posted at 12:57 PM | Comments (4)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

At The Coven, it was clear that some things were getting hugely out of proportion


Saturday, September 20, 2014


Friday, September 19, 2014

New Rules for the United (not Untied) Kingdom

English people, I'm sorry, but the National New Flag Design Colouring Competition has had to be postponed, for a few years at least.

I thank the people of Scotland for finally getting the English people to understand the unfairness of the division of resources between the different countries of the Union.

I've spent years (and many blog posts) trying to get English people to understand that the antiquated Barnett Formula (which even Joel Barnett, its inventor in the late 70s has repeatedly publically stated is out-of-date) gives between £1,600 and £2,000 (depending what is included) more in formula funding for each Scottish person than for each English person (nearly 20%).

There can hardly be an English person left now who doesn't now know about and resent the fact that they pay for hospital parking, prescriptions, and social care in old age, let alone higher education tuition fees, when those north of the 'border' don't pay a penny.

More and more English people are now asking why the majority of the UK population have not been allowed their own vote, and have now at least heard of 'The West Lothian Question' which dates from 1977 - why Scottish MPs can still vote on matters that affect only England (don't forget that we only have £9,000 a year tuition fees in England because Scottish MPs voted for them).

So - the Scots want to stay. Presumably because they know when they're onto a good thing.

But, hopefully things are now going to change.

As David Cameron has said this morning, "We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must be heard."

And good old Nigel Farage (never one to miss an opportunity to recruit some more Daily Wailers to his side) has now waded in to ensure that the Barnett Formula question doesn't go away.

However, as punishment to the Scots for their attempted treason, and for wasting so much of the UK's money, so many trees, so much political time, and for monopolising the English news and current affairs coverage for weeks and weeks, the following will apply, with immediate effect:

  1. Your current fishy 'leaders', Salmon[d] and Sturgeon, who led the treasonous attempt to leave will be replaced by another fish: Goldfish (Brown). He fucked over the whole country when UK Prime Minister, so now let him fuck over his own people.

  2. You upset the Queen. Therefore self-adhesive postage stamps will be withdrawn. You can go back to licking the queen's backside to atone for your treason.

  3. Your national drink will henceforth have an 'e' inserted, and be forever known as 'whiskey'. The Irish deserved to be acknowledged and rewarded as they haven't misbehaved recently after all.

  4. 45% of you may feel battered after the result, but, you've fried your chances now. Mars bars will no longer be sold in Scotland. It's for your own good.

  5. We must reduce your taste for blood. Haggis is banned.

  6. Neeps and tatties will be replaced by salad. Dundee, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, and Glasgow (the most treasonous places) will be covered in polytunnels in order to grow enough. It will be served undressed. All the Scottish unemployed will be found work in these glasshouses, because they dared to throw stones. Lettuce hope they soon see the error of their ways.

  7. Scottish pound notes are no longer accepted in any retail outlets south of the Border. They are a complete pain to get accepted in shops anywhere south of Northumberland anyway.

  8. Any people who work in call centres in Scotland that take calls from people in England will receive intensive retraining in intelligibility. We'll have you all speaking properly, like the Queen, yet. Even if you're a boy.

  9. An amnesty on bagpipes has been declared: provided that they are handed in to the police in the nearest English town to their present location by midnight (for destruction), no further action will be taken. Anyone still in possession of these inflatable screechers tomorrow will be rounded up and sent to a remote Scottish Island where they can blow away to their hearts' content, without offending others (especially the English on New Years' Eve).

  10. 2nd January will no longer be a bank holiday in Scotland. You can now go back to work on that day, the same as the rest of us.

  11. The Westminster government is now fully aware of just how much space you all have in Scotland: there are more people living in my county than there were 'yes' voters in Scotland, after all. Consequently, you will now benefit from the use of Scotland as the Prison Country for the UK (that will free up some good quality self-contained accommodation in gated communities for the English homeless), and as the place for all asylum seekers and other non-useful immigrants to be sent for resettlement. This might involve the relocation of Hadrian's Wall, but, then again, if they're sent to the grouse moors, the Glorious 12th might take on quite a new meaning. That should please the Tory Guns.

Any more ideas to add?

And is anyone else concerned by those 3,429 rejected ballot papers?

  • 16 were missing the official stamp (sorry Alasdair, you shouldn't have posted your chip paper in the slot after you'd had a wee dram)

  • 691 people had voted for both options (oh dear god, I thought the Scottish education system was supposed to be better than the English?)

  • 168 people put their name on the paper (sorry Angus, I know your teachers told you to always put your name on the paper because it might at least get you one mark, but this wasn't an exam)

  • 2,554 were otherwise unacceptable - presumably blank or with willies drawn on them (sorry Bruce, if you bothered to get out of bed to go to the polling station - which you rather quaintly chose to call the 'polling place', you might at least have made your mind up before you went)

    Posted at 11:11 AM | Comments (7)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

This image makes me really sad

A Map of Every Device in the World That's Connected to the Internet (caveats in the link's comments)

And this makes sombre reading too. An update on a 1972 forecast about where the world is heading. Looking like it's bang on target.