Thursday, 31 March 2011

Nostalgia For The Eighties...

It's my formative decade - I'd love to see a return of the music, the films, the clothes...

OK, maybe not the clothes! And certainly not the hair, either.

But one thing I don't want to see back? Broadwater Farm:
As Commissioner Godwin answered to members questions, including Assembly Member Val Shawcross, the public started to heckle and shout questioning why Detective Constable Stuart Hobkirk told a judge in court earlier this week the musician had stabbed himself in front of officers at his Warlingham home on March 15.

Deputy Mayor of London for Policing Kit Malthouse tried to intervene and asked for order, but the public continued to chant, at which point Mr Malthouse interrupted the meeting and left the chamber followed by other members.
So much for that 'quest for the truth'...
The public started chanting “No justice, no peace” as they left the chamber and building.
Can we stop with 'the public'? These people aren't 'the public'.
Speaking outside City Hall after the meeting, social justice campaigner (Ed: SNORK!) Lee Jasper said: “Boris, the City, the commissioners, the IPCC, they had better be aware that this is the community at boiling point and we are ready to take action. We are back to the 80s. This is uprising.”
Sounds a lot like incitement to riot, to me.

I know a few police officers read this blog. So if you have to patrol the fetid swamp inhabited by the likes of Lee Jasper's 'army', remember the words of a fictional cop from a - hey, surprise! - Eighties tv show.

And be careful out there.

I’m Going To Open A Butchers/Greengrocers In Henlow…

…and I’m going to call it ‘Meat And Two Veg’!
some residents in the historic village of Henlow in Bedfordshire are failing to see the funny side of a newly opened business.
Purse-mouthed small-minded idiots…
A petition and letter of complaint has been handed to owner John O'Toole, decrying his bakery's choice of title: Nice Baps.
John said: 'A little petition was handed in and I had a letter from one of the local schools who said they thought the name was trashy.’
Wait, what? From a school?

…a teacher at Henlow's Raynsford VC Lower School wrote to John claiming she was worried about the 'effect' the name may have on impressionable children.

She refused to comment on the issue last night.

Yeah, I’ll just bet she did! I bet she didn't clear it with her headteacher first... Luckily, the local councillors aren’t quite so keen to indulge these po-faced loons:

Cllr Wiles said: 'Henlow Parish Council is keen to support local businesses and welcome the fact that the shop in the High Street is being used rather than standing empty or being converted to housing.

'As far as we know no planning application would have been required and we certainly haven't seen or commented on one.' He added: 'To date we have received one letter from a local resident expressing some concern over the name of the shop, plus a couple of verbal comments about the colour scheme. 'The letter will, as per normal procedure, be considered at the next full council meeting, which in this case is due to be held on April 11.’

Should have held it tomorrow, it’d be far more appropriate!

I Thought This Was A New Theme Park At First!

Officials are changing their plans for a wet zone for drunks in Colchester.
Oooh, will it have water slides and… Wait. What?
Councillors proposed an outside, police-free alcohol zone to rid St Botolph’s Circus underpass of antisocial alcoholics.
Ah. Right. Of course.
It is thought the wet zone will now be an indoor drinking area and will be set up on a trial basis, but officials would not reveal where the proposed location is.
Presumably, they will tell the drunks?

How To Make £1230 Turn Into £50…

…and better yet, have it paid by someone else!
Unemployed Ben Emerson, 21, targeted seven businesses in Rochford town centre and caused £1,230 damage in the early hours of October 8 last year.
How? Simple – drunken vandalism:
Emerson broke the windows of the Royal Tandoori restaurant, the Beehive Tearooms, picture framing company Frame It, insurance brokers Genesis Risk Solutions, Aztec event organisers, Haynes Florists and the Marlborough Head pub.
And the penalty for this? Does it fit the crime?

Well, what do you think?
He gave Emerson a year-long community order, told him to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, and ordered him to pay £50 compensation to each business – the total of £350 will be deducted from his benefits.
The insurers will have to swallow the rest, which will then push up everyone’s premiums.
Deputy district judge Booker told Emerson: “The incident is a very sad one, because you’ve had a good character up to this present time.

“You’re a young man, and now you’ve blemished your record.

That is in itself your punishment.”
It’ll have to be, won’t it? Because, by god, the justice system is incapable of providing one….

...And On, And On, And On...

Salt shakers are being removed from counters and table-tops at curry houses, fish and chip shops and cafes in a council-backed health drive.

Will it ever stop? Even the dreaded 'cuts' don't seem to be curtailing any council's desire to meddle and interfere and nanny...
It means thousands of customers in Greater Manchester will have to ask for salt if they want to add it to their food.
And when they do, will they get a query as to why they want it? Will they have to submit themselves to a lecture first?

Probably, if this mouthy cow is any indication:
In Stockport, five shops have already signed up to the 'out of sight, out of mind' scheme and the council hope it will spread.

Among them is Taylor's Fish and Chips in Woodley, where manager Anne Wallace says customers often ask for salt without thinking.

She said: 'We just wanted people to stop and think. Don't just shake it for the sake of it.'
Firstly, if they are already asking for salt, then you must already be carrying this policy out. Why tout it as something new?

Secondly, your job is to cook and serve food - not to tell the customer what they want or need, and certainly not to wonder if they need salt. It's to keep the food hot and tasty and reasonably-priced, the salt and vinegar refilled, and to keep your damn nose out of what the customers want to put on their fish and chips!

If they want plain old salt and vinegar, OK. If they want ketchup, fine, it's a fruit after all, and probably counts as part of their five-a-day. If they want mayo, they're probably foreign, and the kindest thing you could do for them is show them the quickest way back to civilisation.

But what you are not in business to do is lecture them. Not even with the council's backing. No matter how good it might make you feel.
Councillor Jones said the council's latest move could actually be counterproductive.

He said: 'British people don't like being ordered around. If you actually want people to use more salt, then tell them not to. It's a foolish thing to do.'
Indeed. I'm not planning any trips to Woodley, but if I were going, I think I'd visit this emporium and order some fish and chips. With as much damn salt as I wanted.

And then I'd eat them, with evident satisfaction, right in front of this withered old hag....

NuPuritan Bandwagon Rumbles On…

Health officials are asking north Essex people to keep a daily record of the amount they drink during April.

Anglian Community Enterprise, which is responsible for community healthcare in north Essex, wants the records kept as part of an alcohol awareness campaign.
I thought the NHS was in a dreadful state, with staff being cut left, right and centre, and people being denied vital health care?

Yet somehow they - and the equally cash-strapped educational system - always find the staff and money and time for this sort of thing
Alix Sheppard, health trainer, said: “It is aimed at the vast majority who consider themselves social drinkers but who are still probably drinking more than is healthy for them.”
Translation: “We’ve struck out with the underclass alcoholics, who just ignore or assault us, so now we’ve turned to easier prey, the middle class social drinkers who won’t yell ‘gerroutavityaponce!’ and throw bottles of urine at us..”
“It’s not unusual to want to take a little time out and have a drink or two.

The problem with alcohol is often one drink leads to another. Regularly drinking too much has health risks.”
Translation: “You want a drink? YOU CAN’T HANDLE A DRINK!”
To take part in the survey, call 0800 7313133 or e-mail healthtrainers@
Oh, I’m tempted! I wonder if I can make their surveyors blanch..?

Le Mot Juste

Yobs have left a mother heartbroken after destroying a memorial to her son.
Vandals kicked, smashed and ripped up candles, a cross, flowers and a guardian angel statue placed on Littlemore roundabout in memory of 21-year-old Rishi Khera.
How awful!

Wait, what? On the roundabout..?
Mr Khera died in July 2008 when his silver BMW hit the roundabout on Oxford’s Eastern Bypass before crashing into a lorry on the opposite side.
An inquest in 2009 heard Mr Khera did not have a driving licence, was over the drink-drive limit, was speeding and not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
Mrs Khera, 40, of Lockheart Crescent, Cowley, said: “We are all devastated.
“It was a special place for us, somewhere we would go once a week and on special occasions to remember Rishi.

“I am absolutely heartbroken. What kind of mindless scum would do something like this?
And a commenter beat me to it:
Mark L., Faringdon says...

“I am absolutely heartbroken. What kind of mindless scum would do something like this?”

-The same sort of scum that drive without a licence,drunk and speeding.
Well played, Mr Faringdon, well played…

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I Note You’re Not Saying ‘Guilty, Your Honour’…

A teenager accused of murdering a 15-year-old boy at a rail station today admitted kicking him because "everyone else was doing it".
Kids, eh..? Always got to follow the crowd…
"I kicked him," he added. "Everyone else was doing it. It was stupid, I don't know what to say."
I can think of something…

Living With Predators (Again)

Ten years ago, and nearly two decades after the infamous Lindy Chamberlain case, a boy of nine was killed by two dingoes on an island in Queensland – grim proof that Australia's native dogs do attack children.
As if any doubt really existed…
The Queensland government took drastic steps to protect visitors, culling dozens of animals on Fraser and fencing off resorts and camping grounds.
And has that helped?

Well, yes and no:
Now critics say the clampdown has gone too far and that Fraser Island's dingoes, accustomed to scavenging in rubbish tips, are dying of starvation.
I can’t help but feel that this is a self-limiting problem.

If the island can’t support the current number of dingoes, then allowing the die-off might be in the species’ best interest.
Some conservationists are even warning that the animals could go the way of the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, which was hunted into oblivion in the 1930s after being blamed for livestock deaths.
Which is just ridiculous. This isn’t the only population of dingoes, though it is the only ‘genetically pure’ one:
Banished from populated areas, many of Fraser's 200-plus dingoes are starving, their advocates say. They also believe the introduction of ear tagging has made the dogs less effective hunters, while the practice of "hazing" them – firing clay pellets to move them off beaches – causes injuries and stress. Ian Gunn, a veterinarian at Monash University in Melbourne, says: "When you see the condition of these animals... if I owned them, I would be prosecuted for animal cruelty. If this continues, the dingoes on the island will become extinct."
Yes, but you don’t own them, do you? They are wild animals, and we don’t (usually) interfere with their health and well-being.
Critics of the separation of humans and dogs on Fraser – who include Bob Irwin, father of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin – point to the dingoes' co-existence in the past with the indigenous Butchulla people. But Mr Harper says the island's 350,000 annual visitors cannot be expected to know how to interact with them safely.
Quite. We’re talking about townies, here. The sort of idiots that feed bears in Yosemite, or get too close to female moose with calves in Canada.
Both sides of the debate brandish photographs showing, variously, healthy looking or emaciated dingoes. Karin Kilpatrick, secretary of Save Fraser Island Dingoes, says the removal from the island of wild horses known as "brumbies" – previously a food source for the dogs – "created a hunger situation". That, and a sharp increase in tourism, led to problems never before experienced, Ms Kilpatrick says.
"Tour operators say they are seeing very few, and those that they see are lacklustre in their fur and they look depressed," she says. "Some have diarrhoea or are limping – we believe that's because they are having to travel long distances to find food."
Then cull the weak ones. In the absence of a natural predator, and the unwillingness to allow them to slowly starve, that’s all you can do.

Giving The BNP A Helping Hand…

The temporary jobs, which offer thousands of pounds for work in the summer, are billed as the internships ‘that could change your life’.

They provide students with invaluable work experience at a time of soaring graduate unemployment.
Not all students, oh no. Only the special ones.
But critics yesterday told of their anger at the decision by the Civil Service and the Metropolitan Police to exclude all but certain ethnic minorities from applying.
It seems to come back to something Leg-Iron wrote about collecting people, rather than employing them.
The Metropolitan Police said: ‘This scheme assists us to understand the needs of the diverse communities we serve.’
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ‘We think the Civil Service should represent the people we serve and we make no apology for that.’
Anyone wonder just how they manage to say that sort of thing with a straight face?

And why is the government not getting a firm grip of its public servants, and ensuring that they are aware that this sort of this is counter-productive to true equality?

Blog Title Of The Month

Angry Exile raced away with this one about the story that Australian scientists were doing some research into the effects of drinking in space:

Post Of The Month

Sadly, this month's award goes to The Moose, who posted this column on self-defence and then (hopefully temporarily) hung up the blogging keyboard.

Quote Of The Month

It's the ever-reliable DumbJon with this on the Prince Andrew paedo 'scandal':
As I understand the left's current position on paedophiles, it's that they should be allowed to move next door to a playground or a primary school, but not hang out with Prince Andrew.

Hey, I'm sure his bodyguards will protect him.

Sadly, Because Years Of Indiscipline And ‘No Punishment’ Have Allowed The Real Animals To Roam The Streets…

’Why would anyone think it's OK to do something like that?'
I’d like five minutes with these wastes of oxygen. Just five. I think that’s all the time I could manage, without feeling the need to scrub my skin with Dettol.

The Course Of True Love….

…errr, sort of:
She plunged a kitchen knife into his back after catching him in his boxer shorts with her best friend.

But after dodging a jail sentence Candy Lyons said she is sorry and is now getting ready to marry 37-year-old Rob Goldthorpe – the man she nearly killed.

The heart beats eternal. Well, it does if your aim is off with that knife…
Mother-of-two Candy said a “red mist” fell when she came downstairs to see her tree-surgeon partner of 11 years Rob in a compromising position with her best friend Laura Plumtree.
She’s clearly the forgiving sort, and he’s clearly the forgetting sort:
Now almost two years to the day since the incident in March 2009 the Crawley couple, who have a daughter, Poppy, now six, are making wedding plans and say they are “stronger than ever.”
And no-one’s concerned about the welfare of the child?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Learning That Actions Have Consequences…

At 3pm on Saturday, Adam made a spur-of-the-moment decision to join the sit-in at the luxury London grocers Fortnum & Mason.
All jolly good fun, eh, Adam? Whoops! Guess not:
Yesterday, though, the 25-year-old teacher from west London found himself facing a criminal charge and fearing for his career.
Not so jolly fun now, is it?
He was one of 138 people at the demonstration who have been charged with aggravated trespass after being arrested by riot police outside the store on Piccadilly, and spending up to 24 hours in cells at police stations around the capital.
Oh noes!
Adam is so fearful that his arrest may lead to recriminations from his employer that he asked for his name to be changed.
If you’re convicted, you have to tell them anyway. Cretin.
He said: "It was the first cuts protest I had attended. I was on the regular march [TUC-organised] and then I met three friends. We decided we wanted to join UK Uncut, so we went inside Fortnum & Mason. It was very peaceful, no violence and no one asked me to leave. I did not think I would be arrested at any point, I had not even thought about it. What the police said to us all before we left was that the only people who could be arrested would be those who had committed criminal damage. I thought I haven't done anything like that so there was no way I could be arrested."
Should someone so obviously naive be a teacher in the first place? I bet the kids run absolute rings round him…
He added: "I am upset by the dishonesty of the police and very angry at how long they kept us [in cells]. I worry that if I get a criminal record, it could affect my work. I want to keep working in education and you don't want the kids reading about this sort of thing or their parents – they could make a fuss."
And they’d be quite right to do so.
Fortnum & Mason said the loss of trade during the protest would cost it about £80,000 but physical losses were restricted to the theft of a number of bottles of wine or champagne and slogans which had been daubed on to the exterior of the building.
I hope, for Adam’s sake, that those slogans were at least correctly spelt…

Letting Some Sex Offenders Slip Through The Net….

…because it’s just too damn embarrassing to admit to it:
Denise Fergus, whose toddler son James was tortured and killed by Venables and his accomplice Robert Thompson, is now demanding a Government inquiry amid claims of a decade-long ‘cover-up’.

And she questioned whether Venables would have been cleared for release in 2001 if the Parole Board had been aware of the incident at Red Bank secure unit in Merseyside.
Quite. She believes the establishment (by which she presumably means state employees) planned to release him no matter what.

What else could explain this?
The guard has not been prosecuted over the sordid episode, which took place when the killer was 17.
Because if she had been, it would have had to be reported, there being no option of ‘super-injunctions’ at the time.
It was reported yesterday that five independent sources were aware of an incident of sexual misconduct – and Red Bank’s attempts to cover it up.

An inquiry into the events leading up to Venables’s recall to jail, conducted by Sir David Omand last year, made no mention of the episode. But Sir David confirmed at the weekend that he knew about the allegations.
So why was a predatory sex offender – which is what this woman was, since she was in a position of authority, something we are always told is significant – allowed to quietly slip away?
Mrs Fergus said: ‘The Parole Board should go back to 2001 and review its decision on Venables since it was clearly based on lies and deceit.

‘I want a full inquiry to get to the truth about what went on while they were in those secure homes and how false reports were given to the judges.’
They claim they weren’t false, the abuse simply occurred outside of the period that the report covered:
Ministry of Justice officials yesterday denied any cover-up. A spokesman said: ‘Sir David Omand’s terms of reference made it very clear that he was reviewing the management of Jon Venables from his release in June 2001 until his recall to custody in February 2010.’
And simply turning a blind eye to any inconvenient details he uncovered from any period beforehand…

Something stinks.

‘And We Haven’t Featured In Midsomer Murders At All!’

Dear, dear Yasmin (again!) on the awful neglect of Muslims in tv and cinema:
West is West, the sequel to the phenomenally successful film East is East is in the cinemas. Fans have had to wait a long time for this moment. The first film blew us away.
What follows is the usual ‘Wah! Muslims are always portrayed as terrorists or religious fanatics!’ rubbish.
Success, however, does not always nudge the gatekeepers to open their minds and eyes. In general, the British film and TV drama industries are deeply uninterested in most stories by and about British Muslimsa term I use broadly to mean all those from that background, believers and not.
In other words, even if you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all, you’re still a ‘British Muslim’ as far as Yaz is concerned…
A series of assumptions lock arms and prevent entry to Muslims, perhaps because Muslims are thought too dangerous – fatwas and all that – or too touchy. And many are. So what? Most of us would like to see our diverse lives and dreams reflected, frontiers pushed out.
Then get your own money put behind these sorts of projects, and get out there and get them done. How hard is that?

Surely your fellow ‘British Muslims’ will help?

Oh. Right.

But by far the most mind-boggling assertion is this one:
When 9/11 happened, he says: "My professional life was shadowed because of my surname – same as Saddam's." The director's chair with his name on it was suddenly a threat. Thankfully Barack Hussein Obama has helped ease things.
Yes, because everywhere you go, ol’ Barry insists on his full name on every piece of publicity and documentation, right Yaz?

Progressives Were Waaaaaay Ahead Of Them, Paul

Paul Harris (US correspondent for the Guardian) has his panties in a bunch over the comedy-gold televised ‘Sheriff Joe and Steve Seagal’ show:
In a post-Jersey Shore world surely nothing could emerge from reality TV that could actually shock?
If the answer was ‘No’, you wouldn’t be writing this, would you?
This week, a bizarre incident unfolded in Phoenix, Arizona, involving 115 roosters, an out-of-control sheriff, several tanks, a Swat team, a suspected cockfighter, a bomb robot and – like a muscular, suntanned cherry on top of the whole pile – faded action star Steven Seagal.
Oooh! Do tell.
Police suspected local man Jesus Sanchez Llovera, 43, of running an illegal cockfighting ring (the huge flock of roosters on his property no doubt being the clinching clue). So they decided to arrest him. While he was at home. Alone. Unarmed. With no police record of owning any weapons.
In other words, they brought in overwhelming force, just in case their original info was wrong.

Why do you find that surprising?
So, instead of pulling up outside Llovera's house and knocking on his door, Arpaio assembled a mini-army of police deputies, two armoured vehicles, a fully-armed Swat team and the bomb robot. They descended on Llovera's house and smashed his windows, knocked down his gate with one of the tanks and arrested him. Seagal, dressed in combat fatigues and sunglasses and sporting a gun on his hip, was riding in one of the police tanks. Seagal's film crew taped the whole thing. No doubt, after heavy editing, it will make for a few dramatic moments of television.
Hey, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.
The reasons to be stunned and shocked at this barely need describing and should appal anyone of any political background
Translation: ‘It appals me, so it should appal everyone else, too, or they just aren’t human!’.
First off is the cost: across America, cities are slashing policing to the bone to cope with severe budget cuts. Yet, in Arizona, the needs of an ageing action star's reality show resulted in a raid that some lawyers estimate would have cost thousands of dollars.
The Yanks directly elect their lawfolks. If the good people of Arizona think this is a waste of their tax dollars, they’ll be able to do something about it.

If they don’t, well, who are you to complain? You don’t, after all, live there.
Second, it has emerged that Seagal has a contract with the sheriff's department that allows him free reign to go along on any arrests the sheriff makes. In a country notoriously – and often admirably – obsessed with individual freedoms and constitutional rights, why has so much privilege in the realm of law and order been granted to a reality TV star?
Because he’s more than just a tv star – he graduated from a police academy in California and he's a reserve deputy sheriff in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, as one of the commenters points out.

Don’t you do any of that, ummm, research stuff?
Finally, there is the horrific blending of policing and entertainment that this incident represents. The two should be kept utterly apart.
There goes most of Channel Five’s programming then…
Arpaio, for his part, denies staging the whole thing for Seagal and his show. What about Seagal's thoughts? In his low, grumbling monotone, he explained to one local TV reporter the reasoning for his presence on the raid. "Animal cruelty is one of my pet peeves," he said.

That's nice. But keeping idiotic reality TV shows away from the operation of a police force and the administration of justice is one of mine.
Frankly, I fail to see how Seagal and the sheriff could possibly bring law and order and the justice system into any further disrepute, following the last several decades of progressive theories...

And hey, anytime the states get tired of Sheriff Joe (unlikely, which is what really annoys you, eh?), there's a lot of people who'd be just delighted to see him take over here!

Just When You Think Yasmin Has Said The Most Stupid Thing She’ll Ever Say…

…she manages to top it:
My husband, daughter and I should have joined fellow-citizens who marched on Saturday against the cuts demanded by fundamentalist, doctrinaire Tories and their helpful little Lib Dem friends.
And no doubt you’ve a good reason why you didn’t?
But I had earlier agreed to speak at the annual conference of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions ( ICAHD)…
How fortunate. But presumably your family went without you? No?
Several people in the audience wanted to join the marchers too, but the plight and pain of Palestinians mattered more. Of course.
Hell, Yaz, there were fringe-issue loons on that march of all types. What’s a few more?
That doesn't mean the London demonstration was decadent and self-serving.
Indeed. The fact that the people marching were mostly decadent and self-serving is what makes it that…
On the Today programme, they were really tickled by the "funny" and "witty" posters, as if that was the point. The sneers and distractions made no impact on the people who are fighting for their own lives and the life of our nation.
Eh..? Who’s at risk of being killed, then?

Since when has a moderate scaling back of the amount of government spending been DOOM! And CATACYSM!..?
Over the past year we have heard reasoned arguments and genuine concern from nurses, teachers, doctors, academics, and charity workers; from bosses, local government staff, arts organisations, writers, journalists, civil servants, students and their parents; from socially conscientious entrepreneurs, childcare experts, psychologists and other mental-health workers; from Keynesian economists, environmentalists, refugees and asylum-seekers; from black and Asian equality and human rights activists; from actors, playwrights, comedians, school governors, trustees, funders, the police, fire-fighters, industrial workers, ordinary bank staff and on and on.
Apart from the mention of ‘ordinary bank staff’ and ‘industrial workers’, it’s hard not to notice that Yaz’s carefully selected list of ‘ordinary people’ is made up mostly of people dependent on the state.

Even the entrepreneurs are qualified as ‘socially conscious’. Presumably, those not sufficiently socially-conscious are those hundreds of thousands who didn’t go on the march?
Sticks were thrown, we were told, and Boots somewhere "was forced to close its shutters". RBS had paint thrown over it and poor (not) Fortnum and Mason was brutally violated. It shouldn't have happened but it is nothing compared to the vandalism of this government.
See, it’s not nice, admittedly, but it’s perfectly OK to riot in central London and destroy the property of a third party if you can claim that you are doing it to protect others from even worse violence. Yaz here is clearly on the same wavelength as fellow rent-a-mouth 'New Statesman' blogger @PennyRed, as Charon QC points out.

So I guess, by that logic, the Israelis are getting the green light from you to raze Gaza to the ground the next time there’s a car bomb, eh?
Even if five blind and deaf men and women and one pushchair had turned up, for sure the next day there would have been reports of "mayhem".
I can’t see how even the ‘Mirror’ could fake that, Yaz…
This time next year we will be living in a country we barely recognise and only a lucky few will thrive in.
Yes, yes, the living will surely envy the dead… *yawn*

”…this could be a case for Mulder and Scully...”

Probably not, though, as it clearly wasn’t fooling the ‘Daily Mail’ reporter:

Carer Miss Manning, 34, shot the film two weeks ago after putting hidden cameras in the family's home in Holbrooks, an area of Coventry. The 52-second clip shows a wardrobe door opening before a pink swivel chair moves slowly backwards towards the wall.

While cynics might scoff and suggest the chair could have been moved by a length of strategically placed fishing line

Indeed they might…
Miss Manning, who lives with her partner Anthony, 25, in the house, added: 'One medium came in and said our house is a portal, a kind of bus stop for spirits, which they use to pass into our world…’
Perhaps the UK Border Agency should be informed..?

Lisa is now begging her landlord Whitefriars to re-house her family.

She scatters the house with salt, puts up crucifixes and wears crystals while she waits to hear whether the family can move to another home.

Wow! She’s got all the options covered, hasn’t she? If her real desire is to move house, that is, and not keep away spooks.

Monday, 28 March 2011

That Definition Of ‘Insanity’…

…is ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result’, right?

Well, progressives have that one down pat:
Children should be given more say in the running of their schools, England's Children's Commissioner says.
Why, yes, of course that’ll work…

Dr Maggie Atkinson also calls for their voices to be heard when education policy and other laws affecting them are changed.

She adds that they have a right to be heard under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
That’s the same convention that’s plastered the high street with the nonsensical ‘Children have a RIGHT to play!’ posters?

Well, they can safely be ignored, then.
Speaking at the annual lecture of education charity National Education Trust, in London, Dr Atkinson said she wanted a system where children and young people were taken seriously in the running of their schools.
Why stop at schools? Why not let them have a say in council discussions on rates rises, or traffic management?

I mean, they don’t know any more about that than they do about running a school, but hey, think big, Maggie!
She said: "The quality of just about every setting, in and beyond schools, can be richly informed, I dare to say improved, if the voice of the child or young person has a legitimate place and they know it will be heard, whether or not they always get what they say they want.
Frankly, I think we hear far too much from ‘children and young persons’…
Dr Atkinson quoted Article 3 of the UN Convention: "Everything we do must have the child's best interests at heart."

She added: "If that means adapting to issues through the eyes of the child, so be it.

"The demands of this article on the adaptation of our professional practice should not be underestimated as we change laws on education, and on its inspection and regulation."
Welcome to the brave new world, comrades!

Surely the unions will have something to say to protect their members’ interests?
General secretary of the Nasuwt teaching union Chris Keates said giving students a voice in school could be an extremely powerful aid to learning.
Oh. Guess not.
She added: "Unfortunately, all too frequently the Nasuwt has encountered practice in some schools which can only be described as the abuse of student voice.

"Children and young people under the guise of student voice are manipulated and used as a management tool to monitor teaching staff.

"Feedback from young people is manipulated to undermine individual teachers. Pupils are used inappropriately to observe classroom practice and to interview staff."
Riiiiiiight. The only possible drawback to this that you can see is the potential for pupils to be used as informants against poor teaching methods…

Is it any wonder that education is doomed in this country?

Coming Soon To Granny’s Care Home, Dizzy J And ‘Fang’….

Young offenders in London are to help train dangerous dogs which have been abused by gangs in an attempt to help the animals find new homes.
Which are the ‘animals’ we’re talking about here, I’m confused? And who could dream up such a barmy scheme?
The scheme called Project Lead is being launched by Kensington and Chelsea council and is partly to cut the costs of housing dogs privately because local shelters are full.

Boy, I bet the liability insurance they’ve had to take out will negate that saving before long…
Battersea Dogs Home says 50 per cent of its intake is Staffordshire bull terriers. Staff at the home put the rise down to "irresponsible" dog-breeding and popularity among young people in the capital.
Yes, indeed. Not just any young people though, right?
Project Lead will teach the young offenders training techniques and also includes a scheme where they take trained dogs into care homes using the pets as therapy, to help bridge the gap between young people and the elderly.
So when granny is in hospital with severe throat lacerations, don’t accept the care home’s explanation that it’s just a large papercut from falling awkwardly on her copy of the ‘Radio Times’…

Judges Say The Funniest Things!

The judge Mr Justice Alistair MacDuff told him: 'The tragedy here, mainly for Shelley Barnes but also for you, began when you invited her into your home.
'Up to that time yours was a blameless life and you had, and still have, much to commend you. The trigger for this wicked crime can never be known, what it was that caused you to act so out of character and take her life away.'
I’m not sure quite what a man who strangled and smothered a woman to death over an alleged (note that, ‘Daily Mail’, alleged….) theft of £15 would have to commend him.

But I’m not a high court judge, so what do I know?

‘High Risk’ – A New Definition

A ‘high-risk’ sex offender has gone missing from his home in East Lancashire.
Yes, you read that right – ‘from his home’…
Police think he may be in the Blackpool area, and officers believe he poses a significant risk of reoffending.
In which case, why was he released?
“Sex offenders are managed in the community by police and partners, a system which aims to prevent them committing further offences.
“But if they do not comply with the obligations of their licence, or Sex Offender Prevention Order, then we will take robust and positive action to locate them, as we are doing in this case.”
Thank you for closing that stable door now that the horse is twenty miles down the road and looking for his next victim…

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Diversity, Like Beauty, Should Only Be Skin-Deep…

Ryan Clements writing on the stunning new game from Team Ico, ‘The Last Guardian’:
When I attended the Last Guardian demo at the Tokyo Game Show last year, the trailer shown was both beautiful and touching. As Director Fumito Ueda spoke, I listened closely to every word, filtered through a translator.

But during the Q&A segment of Ueda's presentation, a reasonable question was asked: Why do all of Ueda's games feature a male protagonist as opposed to a female?
And was a reasonable response proffered: ‘Why not?’..?
Ueda noted a few reasons, but seemed to settle on the idea that "girls wear skirts," and giving players camera control in this type of game could lead to inappropriate moments as the girl scampers around the environment.
I’m not sure why he felt the need to explain himself. Surely as the games designer, with a proven track record of innovative games under his belt, he can put whatever he wants into his game?
But I was confused. "Girls don't have to wear skirts," I thought to myself. "Why is this an issue?"
Because you’re making it one.

I play a lot of games. It’s never occurred to me that I ‘deserve’ to have a female character avatar. Some games allow that, some don’t. The ones that don’t aren’t any less enjoyable for it...
Ueda's other reasons were just as unsettling. He notes that girls of that age wouldn't be strong enough to traverse the environment properly, or at least in the same way a boy could.
Which instantly sets the ‘men and women are interchangeable’-indoctrinated male journalist off:
As Ueda's answers were translated, it was difficult to tell what was a serious answer and what was a jest, as soft laughter followed some of his responses.
So, thwarted, he left. But as the game’s release date approaches, he gets another bite at this cherry:
Months later, I was given the opportunity to travel back to Japan and see the first gameplay demonstration of Last Guardian, as well as sit down with Ueda for a private interview. It was a perfect opportunity to clarify Ueda's comments and put the issue to rest.
What issue? Why, the one that’s been bugging him since that last encounter, of course. No, not ‘is the game any good’, which is all you’d think might be of concern to a games journalist…
I explained to Ueda that I attended his demonstration at TGS the previous year and was confused over the "joke" he told regarding the team's choice to use a male character instead of a female character, all because of a skirt. I asked if there was a real reason that the characters in his games are male.

My question was translated, answered, and returned to me. Ueda explained: "That's one of the reasons, of course. But another reason is that -- if you particularly focus on this title -- there is a scene where the boy is on the back of the Trico, for example, or climbing the wall. If we replaced the boy with a girl of the same age, she probably wouldn't be physically strong enough to do such movements."
Why is this such a big deal to this journalist?
Ueda continued to explain that another reason was more technical in nature. This is where the translator had some difficulty conveying Ueda's answer to me, but essentially he explained that with the character so small on the screen, a "girly look" would be difficult to convey, i.e. long hair and a skirt.
Back to that again.
I'm sure my troubled expression was noticeable, and Ueda asked me a question: "Would you have preferred a girl?"

I said that I didn't, but that I was struggling to uncover a deeper reason for Ueda's choice, outside of these "technical" limitations.
Because there has to be one, you see. This journalist has to uncover the secret misogyny he is certain lurks at the heart of this decision.
I responded by noting that a girl of that age could have just as much strength as a boy, especially if she was trained or grew up in a harsh environment that required strength to survive. And a simple costume design choice would avoid the skirt issue.

After more translating, Ueda concluded, "Yes, one is a more technical reason, because it's not easy for girls to make acrobatic movements -- I think it's unrealistic. Maybe that's just my personal [opinion]. But also, many of the players are male, and it's easy for them to use the boy character."
An undoubted reality, though I suspect this game will garner more female players than the others, in spite of the lack of a female avatar. There’s something very appealing about the creature in the game - the way you need to gain its co-operation, rather than directly control it - that, I suspect, will appeal to more females than to males.

But does that put to rest all Ryan’s unanswered questions?
I left the interview feeling even more uncomfortable than before. I assume most westerners can agree that the challenges Ueda raised with introducing a female character into Last Guardian are non-issues and, more importantly, border on sexism.
They aren’t ‘non-issues’ at all. They are his issues, and he’s the games designer! If he’s wrong, the market will punish him.
There's a tremendous cultural gap between me and Ueda, who is communicating to me from within the context of his culture. In my limited experience, I've found that Japan has a much different perception of gender and gender roles than the United States. To Ueda, claiming that a girl is too weak to traverse a game world isn't an insult -- it's a natural assumption.

It seems to me that those who claim to value diversity really only value diversity that is skin-deep. The cherry blossom, the tea ceremony, the kimonos, the language, yes, but the culture? The real differences?

Oooh, no, not if it conflicts with our own cultural viewpoint! We don't want any of that...
Even still, I'm disappointed in Ueda's reasoning. I don't consider his words to be malicious, nor have I lost any faith in his ability to develop phenomenal games. Had he just answered with a simple "I prefer using a male character -- it's a creative choice," I would've been content. But he didn't. His answers reflect an unfortunate stagnation in Japanese game development.
But I suspect you wouldn’t have been content at all, would you?
He expected that a girl couldn't climb a wall. He expected that a girl would wear a skirt. Do I still respect the man and appreciate his good works? Absolutely. But even brilliant minds like Ueda's need to differentiate between legitimate creative decisions and ones that are informed by archaic expectations.
And I repeat – let the market decide.

If the game sinks, and the company find out (after evaluation) it’s because of the lack of a female avatar, that will resolve future issues. If not, and it’s a huge success, your assumptions have been proved groundless.

What have you got to lose, Ryan? Only your belief that you - and your culture - are right and everyone else is wrong…

”Oh you can’t trust a special like an old time copper…”

Actually, it seems you can trust them. To make as big a PR faux pas as any paid Essex policeman:
Ninety motorists were stopped by volunteer police during a burglary crackdown.
Eh..? Why motorists?
The crackdown aimed to target crooks, such as burglars and thieves, travelling into the town on the roads to commit crime.
Ah. Right. So, how many did they catch?

Errr… none:
Of those, three motorists were given fines for offences including speeding, driving without a valid MoT certificate and riding a motorbike without L plates.

Four motorists were also given notices to rectify faults on their vehicles.
And 83 motorists will now, when Essex Police are whining about the cuts affecting their vital safeguarding of the county, look back at this and (ignoring the fact that these aren’t paid members of the force) think ‘Good!’…
Special Sgt John Wright said: “Criminals often use the road network to come to this area to commit crime, and it simply won’t be tolerated.

The message we have sent out by mounting this operation is don’t come to Billericay to commit burglary and other crime, as you will be caught and justice will be served on you.
But you didn’t catch any of them, did you? You just inconvenienced 83 innocent motorists.

Daffodil Danger Again

Young vandals have been putting lives at risk by ripping up daffodils planted on Colchester’s Avenue of Remembrance and hurling them at cars.
Blimey, who knew they were so damned controversial?
The town’s mayor, Sonia Lewis, said she was horrified to be told about the incident by residents and motorists.

She said: “One gentleman told me he had to pull to the side of the road because there were so many flowers thrown at his windscreen.”
I’m a little puzzled by this, because how the hell do you fling a daffodil hard enough to hit a car? Even if you keep the bulb on?
“It is such a dangerous practice, although I’m sure these youngsters saw it as a bit of fun.”
Don’t make excuses for them, love, that’s what their court-appointed youth worker is for…

You Know What, I Think You're Right...

'At that point, I think Ms McNeill regretted starting the argument.'

It does rather beg the question of just why BA would feel the need to suck up to a failed former PM, though, doesn't it? Or why his staff should feel they have any clout with the media:
Mr Brown's office was contacted on Friday. Yesterday afternoon, his spokeswoman sent a text message saying 'I assume you have read the BA statement and are now not ­running the story'...
That'll be another mistaken assumption, then...

Sunday Funnies

It's never too comforting to look at origin stories...

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The True Face Of The Anti-Cuts Protest

From the 'Guardian':

Paint-splattered police officers look on as protesters attack Topshop on Oxford Street during the anti-cuts march in London.
They must not be listened to. Are you listening to that, Cameron?

Cut more, cut harder.

Always Behind The Curve…

A group of US senators has asked smart phone firms to cease distributing apps said to enable drivers who have been drinking to avoid police checkpoints.
Wow! There really IS an app for that! How does it work, then?
The applications are said to enable users to alert one another to locations where police are stopping motorists.

The senators said the apps put innocent people at risk and asked the companies to remove them from online stores.
Ah. Right.

So if these apps are withdrawn, they’ll just have to go back to using other methods. Like Twitter hashtags.
"Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern," Senators Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Harry Reid of Nevada, Charles Schumer of New York and Tom Udall of New Mexico wrote.
The companies don’t seem inclined to agree, however:
A Google spokesman noted that the letter did not name specific apps but said, based on the senators' descriptions, that they did not appear to violate the company's content policies.
Checkmate. Your move, gentlemen...

A Thankless Task…

…defending the actions of the underclass:
A man was attacked with a fence post after singing songs about Reading in a Didcot pub.

Martin Rendell and Adam Purse lay in wait for the victim after a group of men from the Berkshire town sang “We’re Reading, we’re Reading, we’ll kick your head in” at the Wallingford Arms, in Broadway.
Obviously, if opposing chants were heard, they must be too awful to see in print.

What does rhyme with ‘Didcot’ anyway?
Graham Bennett, defending, Purse, of Malvern Close,said: “The Reading group were plainly aggressive towards the Didcot group and challenged them in aggressive fashion before the violence ever took place.

It was never Mr Purse's intention that matters should develop in this way.
You’d have better luck with that argument if your client hadn’t have lain in wait for the victim afterwards, frankly…
James Reilly, defending Rendell, of The Oval, said it was “a drink-fuelled matter – a one-off”.
Oh, well, maybe that’s a bit more plausible?

Rendell, who was jailed for three years in 2008 for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in Grove, was jailed for three years.
I guess not…

Vibrant Enrichment In Sheffield!

Extra police patrolled the streets of a Sheffield community last night – one week to the day that an 18-year-old man was killed.

Detectives investigating the death of 18-year-old Abdulla Awil Mohamed, from Burngreave, used the occasion to renew their appeal for witnesses or anyone who has any information to come forward.
Hmmm, who could the culprits possibly be? White supremacists?
Officers patrolled Coleridge Road, Darnall, where the Sheffield Hallam University engineering student died after he was hit by a car which had mounted the pavement.

Police also patrolled Staniforth Road, Darnall, where there had been another disturbance on the night Abdulla died.

There were a number of incidents in Darnall on the night of the murder, which are all being looked at to establish possible links with the fatal incident.
Residents claim mobs of rival youths had clashed
Ah. Say no more.

Any suspects?
Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 19, of Swarcliffe Road, Darnall, Muhibur Rahman Jahangir, 19, of Flaxby Road, Darnall, Aminur Mohammed Rahman, 20, of Jubilee Road, Darnall, and Nizamul Hoque, 19, of Willow Drive, Handsworth, have all been charged with murder.
Ah. Say no more indeed.

I remember Sheffield. One of my aunts used to live there. I remember it as quite run-down, clearly a faded old industrial town gone to seed, but still the sort of place where strangers smiled at you in the local shop, and less than an hours drive would see you in the middle of beautiful unspoilt Yorkshire countryside.

I doubt I’d recognise it now, were I ever to be stupid enough to go back…

Could be worse, mind you. Could be Leicester!

And I know that Yorkshire of my childhood still exists. But how long will even those places resist?

March 26th - The Contenders

On Friday afternoon, the 'Guardian' helpfully presented a random (heh! riiiight...) selection of the people who will be marching in the capital today to protest about 'the dreadful Tory cuts' that aren't actually cuts at all, as any fule no...

Here's their selection, and their stated reasons:

Anthony Jones (first time protestor):
"I teach English in a London secondary school and see first hand, daily, the adverse effect an unsettled home life can have on a child's education. "
Hmmmm. Seems to me you are marching outside the wrong venue, then. Shouldn't you take your placard to the houses of those who bring children into the world whilst being unfit to care for them?

Michael Mansfield (QC)
"This is the same coalition that assured us frontline services would be preserved..."
So go march outside the offices of the council fatcats (usually Labour) that have elected to cut those front line services in order to maintain their little empires of HQ penpushers and Diversity Outreach Co-ordinators...

Paul Long (UKUncut):
"At 3:30pm we will meet at Oxford Circus and together we will swoop on a secret target."
And you'll no doubt now be watched by all the police spotters.


Darren Lockley (bus driver):
"I fear my family will suffer from the sudden and drastic cuts undertaken by the coalition government. They have already been biting the community – one of my children's school is a decrepit building, which was built in the 70s, a mass of concrete with rotten windows and broken doors. "
And you never thought to march during the three terms of Labour rule that did...nothing?

That's your reason blown out of the water then!

Michael Chessum (National Campaign Against Having To Pay Our Way):
"From the NHS, to housing to higher education, the coalition is a threat to everything that ordinary people fought for and won in the 20th century."
Except, presumably, those millions of 'ordinary people' who voted them in and will be staying at home, enjoying the weekend with family, working or otherwise not joining in with your little temper tantrum in the capital?

I've no doubt my comments will have been zapped by the mods by now, so I've reproduced them here.

But if this is the best they can do, a bunch of unrepresentative people mostly concerned with keeping their own personal gravy train on the tracks, I really, really don't think the coalition has much to worry about...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Maybe, Mary, Your ‘Sixth Sense’ Is Simply Wrong?

Mary Dejevsky, eavesdropping at the hairdressers:
Within the sound of Big Ben, heated conversations were going on between stylists and clients about how the Government was intent on privatising the NHS, how disabled people were going to have to choose between enforced work and penury, and how cuts in benefits were going to drive "the likes of us" out of London.
Well, obviously what’s being discussed in Mary’s hairdressing salon is also on the minds of milkmen in Derwent, plumbers in Devon, and used-car salesmen in Gwent, I think you’ll find…
I happen to disagree. This is not how I read government plans at all, and I have access to the statements and other primary sources to support my quite different and more benign interpretation.
So why don’t you put them right?
But you don't start challenging the consensus in the hairdresser's. You don't start arguing with your taxi-driver either, at least if you want to get where you are going…
Funny, I’ve often said ‘Actually, no, I believe that…’ and remained unscalped and not abandoned in the middle of nowhere.

So it can be done.

All right, so a couple of anecdotes taken from a single day hardly warrant elevation to the status of a MORI poll as evidence for the state of the nation. But there are times when a sixth sense tells you that the weather is about to change.

And mine tells me that, after a relatively quiescent nine months, give or take the odd student demonstration, the Coalition has started to lose its battle for voters' hearts and minds.

Evidence for this, other than the overheard conversation? None. It's just Mary's 'sixth sense'.

And I don't get the same picture from my friends and colleagues.
It might be objected that there was never a time when the Coalition really had the public on its side; that its Conservative-Liberal Democrat make-up was always a minority taste, well before it embarked on any policies. Anyone who believes that, though, must explain why autumn and winter have both passed so peacefully, despite a host of threats from a wide variety of vested interests, and why, through all these months, Labour was unable to harness so many malcontents to its cause.
I think you’ll find that, despite the best efforts of those malcontents, spring and summer are going to be the same.
Efforts to drum up indignation on behalf of those who really will lose from next month – parents on higher-rate tax who will forfeit child benefit, households with double the average income who will no longer qualify for tax credits, those whose pay falls within the new threshold for higher rate tax – generally failed dismally. The higher personal tax allowances produce far, far more winners – which is why George Osborne in his Budget on Wednesday repeated the trick for the next financial year.
Indeed. And this weekend, we have the unedifying spectacle of the Labour Party and their hangers-on wreaking havoc in London, in a few hours from now.

And if you think that the tide is turning against the coalition, just wait until you see how quickly it’ll turn against the demonstrators, should last march’s disgusting scenes be repeated.
So why, if the consensus for benefits reform, in particular, was demonstrably there, and ministers generally did a good job of highlighting the ample opportunities to reduce waste in the public sector, has the public mood changed?
Maybe because it really hasn’t. And you’re wrong?

Hair Of The Dog - Yr Doin' It Wrong!

As well as kicking Roxy the black and tan rottweiler, Vincent McCormick was seen by horrified onlookers trying to pour a can of lager down her throat.
The court heard McCormick had been given an exemplary discharge from the army but was suffering from mental health problems.

McCormick has also had another rottweiler and a Staffordshire bull terrier. He told the court: “I have always been a pet person.”
Yeah, sure you have...
McCormick had originally denied the three offences.

He had claimed he had only been playing roughly with Roxy and the witnesses had exaggerated the incident.
'Some bitches like it rough' clearly isn't a very good defence strategy, unless you're into rap music.

The Price Of Fear: £80

When a mother of five reported that she had been raped by two East European men, panic spread through her community and ethnic tension led to street violence.

Despite the arrest of two suspects, the crime remained unsolved and angry residents confronted police chiefs at a public meeting to voice fears for their safety.
Yeah, you guessed it...
Yesterday it was revealed that the ‘victim’, Susan Bradley, 41, later admitted to police that the attack never took place.

But instead of being taken to court for perverting the course of justice and facing a jail sentence, she escaped with an £80 fixed penalty for wasting police time.
Any reason for this bizarre decision?
...police say it was the ‘best disposal’ taking into account the woman’s ‘previous good character’.
Oh. Right. Presumably the two totally innocent men you arrested were of 'previous good character', but now their DNA is on the database regardless, right?

Still, at least you named her.
They refused to name the woman, but Bradley was identified by members of the community.

Still, maybe she's learned her lesson?
At her home yesterday, the jobless mother, who recently separated from her partner of 17 years, was still claiming to be a victim. Despite not contesting the fine for wasting police time she said two men had sex with her that night but she had not consented.

Bradley said: ‘I admit I had a lot to drink that night. They didn’t injure me but this has really affected me and my kids’ lives. They can’t even go to school because of all the rumours.’
That'll be 'no' then...

When Two Tribes Go To War….

..the best thing to do is sit back with a big tub of popcorn and watch the fun:
Soaring food inflation is the result of "immoral" policies in the US which divert crops for use in the production of biofuels instead of food, according to the chairman of one of the world's largest food companies.
Yes, it’s Humanitarians vs Green Fruitcakes.

And Obama has manoeuvred himself right into the middle of it, with unerring accuracy and precision:
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestlé, lashed out at the Obama administration for promoting the use of ethanol made from corn, at the expense of hundreds of millions of people struggling to afford everyday basics made from the crop.
… he reserved especially pointed remarks for US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, who he said was making "absolutely flabbergasting" claims for the country's ability to cope with rising domestic and global demand for corn.
That hasn’t pleased the famously-prickly Obama (mal)administration:
Speaking to farmers earlier this month, the Obama administration's agriculture secretary said he found arguments from the like of Nestlé "irritating".
Note that: ‘irritating’. Not ‘wrong’, or ‘malicious’, but ‘irritating’.

Very telling….
Mr Vilsack said: "The folks advancing this argument either do not understand or do not accept the notion that our farmers are as productive and smart and innovative and creative enough to meet the needs of food and fuel and feed and export."
They only have so much land and so many hours in the day, though, don’t they?

'Never Too Old To Learn', Eh?

Ben Chu is a rather confused young man:
My 84-year-old grandmother was rescued by the Big Society. Or was it the big state? Or was it the doctrine of state multiculturalism?
Blimey, I don't know, Ben, she's your grandmother. Make up your mind!
Chau Yuk Sim arrived in Britain from Hong Kong in 1960 with two young boys (one of them my father). Along with my grandfather, who had arrived in the UK a few years before, they set up a laundry in Sheffield and worked long hours doing tedious manual work. When the Chinese laundry industry collapsed, thanks to the arrival of domestic washing machines, the family moved into the restaurant trade. But in the mid-1990s, after a life of hard work, things went wrong for Chau Yuk Sim. She separated from my grandfather and found herself living in a grim Sheffield council estate. Speaking only limited English, she felt unsafe, isolated and unhappy.
Yup, that'll do it, every time...
Salvation came in the form of an organisation called Tung Sing in Manchester that houses elderly members of the Chinese community.
So, more separatism is the answer?
She values the weekly contact with her Cantonese-speaking support worker, Christine Sin. My grandmother also benefits from the services of a Manchester charity called Wai Yin that works closely with Tung Sing in providing help for the elderly Chinese.
It sounds like she's determined to avoid actually living in England...
Some have a different objection to organisations such as Tung Sing and Wai Yin. By providing translators for people whose grasp of English is shaky, the argument goes, these bodies promote cultural segregation.
They're certainly doing a bang-up job with your grandmother, aren't they?
But translation is not a straightforward business. My grandmother has been in Britain for six decades. Many other elderly Chinese Tung Sing residents have been here just as long. I agree that she, and they, ought to have developed a surer grasp of English when younger. But we are where we are.
What happened to 'you're never too old to learn'?
You could cut funding for organisations that provide translation services, but then you would merely have confused old people unable to communicate properly with doctors, council workers and utility companies. That would not encourage integration, only misery.
In other words, Ben, they're hostages. We go on funding these services, or old people suffer.
What was it that rescued my grandmother? The Big Society, the big state, or multiculturalism? My answer would be: all three.
Would it? Would it really? And just what would they have 'rescued' her from, exactly?


A sustainability-themed version of Top Trumps has been launched at Kingston University.
Eco-construction trumps look at the qualities of different construction materials, such as the toxicity, durability and ease of recycling.
I'm sure it'll be a huge hit...
The game was developed over six months as a teaching tool for surveying students, by Kingston University PhD student John Clarke.
Indoctrinate 'em young!
Mr Clarke said: “At this stage, my calculations are provoking debate among sustainability experts, which I see as a positive thing – I am taking their feedback on board as I develop the cards.”
I wonder just what the 'debate' is..?
"When I became interested in eco-construction, one of my biggest challenges was to persuade my Dad.

"He was a self-employed builder who spent his working life trying to keep costs manageable, so it took a while to persuade him that what seemed a more expensive, sustainable building material could make more economic sense in the long run."
I bet it did!
"Now Dad’s come round to my way of thinking, I’m confident I can win over anyone."
Better not hire Mr Clarke’s dad to do any building work, folks. It’ll cost you…

”I cut down trees, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavatory…”

“…and occasionally get attacked by knife-wielding lunatics.”

But that doesn’t scan so well…
A tree surgeon was recovering in hospital today after being stabbed in the head by a woman during a row over his work.
By a woman..?

The 48-year-old was attacked after he asked the woman to stay clear from council workmen cutting branches in Chiswick High Road. They had cordoned off an area around Prebend Mansions to protect the public when she tried to barge through.

One of the tree surgeons told her to stay clear for her safety but she pushed past him.

The woman then returned 45 minutes later with a nine-inch kitchen knife and brought it down on the tree surgeon's head.

The victim's co-workers believe the hard hat he was wearing took the brunt of the attack and might have saved his life.

Whew! Safety first, eh?
Ian Darvill who was also supervising foot traffic beneath the tree said the woman was intent on doing maximum harm to her victim.
When they catch her, bet her defence is that she didn’t

So, any clues to the identity of this woman?
Mr Darvill said he and his colleague had asked the woman to wait for just a few seconds while large branches were cut down.

"We were just asking her to wait for a few seconds while branches fell down.

"She started hurling abuse at us saying I can walk where I want innit and that sort of thing."
"She was absolutely crazy. She knew what she was doing when she came back with the knife but she was definitely a crackpot."

A witness said: "The woman attacked him with the knife and then calmly walked away."
OK, here’s the bit I don’t get. Several – presumably quite physically robust, given the profession – men allow a woman to walk away after stabbing one of their colleagues?

Is this totally-unjustified chivalry, or are we really down to the stage where people won’t even defend themselves from obvious criminals because of the fear of retaliation from their identity group, or police enthusiasm for arresting the victim?

Superintendent Paul Martin, deputy borough commander, said the workman suffered a fractured skull and was in stable condition.

Police are hunting a black woman, aged about 30, about 5ft 8in tall and wearing a hat.

Great description! Now, if only she isn’t smart enough to remove the hat

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Inexorable Rise Of Mumsnet* Continues…

Employers are poor at promoting family-friendly policies, according to a survey of British mothers.
Oh, let me guess…
Most rated the UK behind countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece for general family friendliness, campaigning group Mumsnet found.
They're a 'campaigning group' now? *sigh*
More than four out of five said having children had made it harder to progress in their career, while three out of four said they were less employable.
Well, yes. That’s hardly surprising, is it?

I wouldn’t want to employ a woman of childbearing age either, in the current climate.
Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said: 'Other countries seem to welcome families with open arms but in the UK parents often feel their children are seen as an annoyance.’
Mostly, these days, they are an annoyance.
'At Mumsnet we want to work with business and government to change this, and that's what our Family Friendly campaign is all about.

'We want to see workplaces where parents don't have to deny that their kids exist. We want firms to state on the door that employees don't have to feel bad about asking to go to sports day.’
“‘We want’ doesn’t get..”, as I was always told.
'Being family friendly is good for business too. Companies shouldn't spend time and money training staff only to see them walk out the door once they've had children because their workplaces don't fit with family life.'
If it really was ‘good for business’, Justine, you wouldn’t need to hector and legislate, would you?

* Maybe it wasn't Skynet we were all supposed to fear..?

Bonfire Of The Vanities, UK Edition…

Hugh Muir watches as the flames are fanned:
There was anger, there were tears and it was standing room only in the Karibu Centre. Not everyone knew Smiley Culture, the reggae artist who died last week during a police operation to arrest him at his home, but everyone knew his music.
He was a musician? Oh, well, clearly a normal, non-psycho type. Just like Phil Spector.

Oh. Wait.
Now he is dead, in questionable circumstances.
Really? What sort of ‘questionable circumstances’ are those, then?
The authorities say Smiley, who faced drugs charges, stabbed himself through the heart while officers conducting a fresh drugs search were in another room.
Yes, and..?
His relatives insist that is highly unlikely.
But it’s perfectly likely that the cops decided to stab him to death, right? A two-bit coke offender?

When cop-killers and child-molestors no longer fall down the station steps?
They intend to fight this all the way and they'll have help. Hello again Lee Jasper.
Oh, gawd!
Remember Lee Jasper? He was a streetwise race activist, then equalities director during Ken Livingstone's London mayoralty.
Indeed. And then we remember why he isn’t any of those things any more.
He was hurried from office by hotly contested allegations – personal and professional – relentlessly pursued by the Evening Standard.
Yup, it was the media that did for him. Poor Jasper, just can’t catch a break, can he?
Smiley's relatives contacted Jasper, and he chaired that community meeting at the Karibu.
Because nothing says ‘We just want the truth!’ like hiring a known race-provocateur, does it?
It looked like something out of the 1980s I told him the following morning. But surely things are different now; black officers, black investigators on the police complaints body; all the things you campaigned for. Why are we back to this?
‘Because it’s a great paying gig!’ Jasper didn’t say…
"There was small-scale, incremental progress," he concedes. "We don't have the horror of black men being murdered and the police doing nothing. But it's a mixed bag. Look at the deaths in custody; look at stop and search, up by 70%."
You really can't trust the system, Jasper says. Not without community pressure to keep it honest – it's likely to be a three- to five-year battle. "But Smiley's relatives are extraordinary in their strength and dignity. They are certainly not naive."
If you’re eliminating the possibility that they aren’t naïve in hiring you to ‘get at the truth’, then they are complicit in whatever follows, right?

On their own heads be it, then…
So here comes a campaign, similar to those before, but boosted now by social media. Stand by for leaflets, meetings, the poignancy of a funeral. Testimony in favour of Smiley Culture; headlines spun against. And expect to hear quite a bit more from Lee Jasper.
I think we’ve already heard enough…

”What are we supposed to use, harsh language?”

The deliberate use of pain to restrain young people in custody should be banned immediately, a report has recommended.
And replaced by…what?

I mean, the study did consider alternative options, didn’t it? Instead of just whining about something?

And who was calling for this anyway?
The views of 89 young people were canvassed for the study by the charity User Voice, which is led by former offenders who work with marginalised groups in the criminal justice system.
Ah. Right. We’re letting the former poachers set the gamekeeper's agenda, are we?
One girl described the use of restraint as "disgusting" while a boy said being restrained had made him feel "helpless".
And nowhere is there anything about what they did to need physical restraint. Nowhere.

Somehow, I doubt it was for nothing.
Mark Johnson, the founder of User Voice, said: "I recognise that members of staff in the secure estate can work with some of the country's most troubled children. However, physical force should only ever be used as a measure of last resort and must be done in the safest possible way."
And maybe that’s exactly how they are using it? And if you are happy to see it used in that event, why the call to ban it?

And the next time some spitting, swearing, punching ‘young offender’ decides to lash out, perhaps you should be summoned from your bed in the middle of the night to deal with it?

To Paraphrase Buffy: "A cry for help is when you say help in a loud voice..."

...not when you go on a spending spree with stolen money:
The partner of a pound shop boss who stole £9,500 takings and fled to Spain has described the theft as a ‘cry for help’.
*gets popcorn*
Last week Mark Atherton, 29, pleaded guilty to stealing the cash from Pound World in the Mall Shopping Centre, Blackburn.

Yesterday Jamie Crossman, with whom Atherton fled to Benidorm, defended his long-term partner - and pleaded for him not to be jailed when he is sentenced.
And why shouldn't he be jailed?
He said: “His actions were a cry for help — a moment of madness — but it was me who pressured him to go to Spain.

“I know he must be punished, but a community order is best, and he needs to be offered emotional support, like counselling.

"Prison would be far too much for him. He couldn’t handle it.”
He could handle spending the loot in Benidorm, though, couldn’t he?

And since you've just admitted you knew the money was stolen and you encouraged him to flee the country, shouldn't you be facing a little bit of jail time yourself?
Mr Crossman said: “We were spending the money on going out and drinking a lot. I locked the money away so it wouldn’t all get spent.

“Mark just wanted to go home, but I persuaded him to stay. He would lock himself away for hours on end. He definitely felt remorse.”
He might have felt guilt. That's not really the same thing.
Mr Crossman said: “Eventually, we realised the money was going to run out and we began arguing more and more and I ended up moving into a different hotel.

“The next day, I called in to the hotel and asked ‘where’s Mark?’ The reply was ‘on a plane back to England’.”
So you both felt so much 'remorse' you didn't stop partying until the money ran out, and now you're facing the music you are wriggling frantically to try to get off the hook?

*checks sympathy bank*

Oh, look! It's run out.


Judge Anthony King fined the company £11,000 and ordered it to pay £20,000 costs and a £15 victims’ surcharge.
That’s a huge sum. No wonder Mr Marshall wasn’t too happy…
After Friday’s sentencing hearing, Mr Marshall said the garden centre welcomed more than 300,000 customers a year and had recorded just three accidents in a decade, compared with 23 accidents in the past year at the council’s Abingdon headquarters.
I wonder how much the council got fined?

Of course, why would they worry anyway? It’s not their money, is it?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Kevin Johann The Teenager

When I was sixteen, I dropped out of school, and sank.
And now here you are, writing for the ‘Indy’, who are apparently only too happy to accept any old rubbish.

You’ve clearly not done too badly…
In his new series on Channel Four, ‘Jamie’s Dream School’, the TV chef gathers together twenty disaffected kids who have dropped out of school with lousy GCSEs. He then asks some of the smartest people in Britain to teach and inspire them.
For a TV show. Not for a serious look at the standard of teaching and the quality of young people in this country.
From the moment I started secondary school, I instinctively hated it. I remember on the first day being given a timetable, looking at it, and thinking: “Who are these people? How dare they tell me what I’ll be doing every Wednesday afternoon at two o’clock?
I can see why he gravitated to journalism...
I spent most of my school-days in the arcades at the Trocadero Centre in central London. There, a United Nations of bunking kids from across the city would master Street-Fighter II , PacMan and Mario Kart, our version of the three Rs.
Of the kids I hung out with then, some of us have gone on to be successful, and some have continued to sink. What was the difference? It wasn’t intelligence: people smarter than me didn’t make it. Nor was it determination, or decency, or discipline. It was something much simpler – and it is what the teachers at Dream School have found to be the key with their kids. It was forming a bond with a loving adult.
Oh-er! Just where is this going?

It’s ok, he means a teacher, one who is prepared to put up with his stroppy nature and coax him to achieve:
I’m sure it wasn’t easy to offer that first encouragement to a kid who acted like he didn’t want or need it. But my sense of self began to change. I began to think of myself, for the first time, as somebody who was competent, and good at things.
Just what ARE you good at, then? It clearly isn’t journalism.
I’m not naïve about this. It’s a ferociously hard job to nurture and love kids like who behave in this way.
Surely the question we should ask is ‘Is the effort worth it?’. Looking at your contribution to society, I’d have to say the jury’s still out…
The rapper Plan B has talked about how his educational misery-go-round was only ended when his school set up a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) – a calm place where he could be taken out of lessons to go to be given one-on-one attention by sympathetic and consistent teachers who wanted to hear why he was having so much trouble.
*grinds teeth*

And that cost how much, and gave us…what? A rapper? Bargain!
There were a few (too small) steps towards it under the last government: All over Britain, SureStart picked up poor babies and toddlers to help their mothers bond with them. PRUs massively grew. Voluntary groups like Kid’s Company were much better funded. Kids falling behind in schools were given guaranteed one-on-one tuition, in the program called Every Child A Reader. Now even those baby-steps towards baby-sanity are being dismantled by the Tories.
Good. Let’s start celebrating success, and not cosseting and rewarding failure.

Bit Of A Wild Goose Chase?

Police are appealing for information to identify the person who removed their electronic tag and placed it around the wing of a Canada goose.
Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. Which local scumbag is now sans tag?

Or rather, which tag recently showed its wearer as in the middle of a pond or flying at 500 feet?

I mean, they do monitor these things, don’t they?
Two members of the Friends of Kelsey Park had observed the goose becoming increasingly distressed in Kelsey Park on Monday (March 14).
They managed to capture the bird and remove the tag, before handing it in at the Elmers End Safer Neighbourhood base.
Ah. Clearly not.
Enquiries are ongoing at SERCO to identify the offender concerned.
Those tags are clearly so closely monitored and foolproof, aren’t they?

Just Vile…

Louise Hewitt, 26, of Torquay, Devon, who has learning difficulties, feared for her life during the brutal nine-hour torture ordeal, which has left her permanently scarred.

The vicious gang even forced their blood-soaked victim to clean up the mess caused by the attack, which she did because she 'was so anxious to please'.
Predictably, this will strengthen calls for there to be a special ‘disability hate crime’ law when what really needs to happen is a good long overhaul of the justice system…
Miss Hewitt's ordeal began after 38-year-old Karl Cook - with whom she shared her home - accused her of making an accusation against him and his young girlfriend Mary Willoughby, 22.
‘With whom she shared her home’..? No more is said.
Encouraged by Mr Cook, Ms Willoughby began to repeatedly punch and kick Miss Hewitt in the face. The attack continued for several hours, until they got bored and wanted to 'spice up their sport', the court heard.

The pair then frogmarched their victim to another Torquay flat, where they joined Lisa Hill, 26, and 27-year-old Kelly Taylor. There Mr Cook 'started to get into his stride and he told the victim she would be subjected to ten different beatings', the court was told.
Premeditated sadistic savagery. Why should these people ever again see the light of day?
Judge Graham Cottle jailed Mr Cook, Ms Willoughby and Ms Taylor for a total of eight years each. Ms Hill was given three years as she played a lesser part in the incident. The sentences were concurrent.
He singled out Cook as the instigator of the attacks even though the women were the ones who meted out most of the violence.
Unfortunately typical. For a certain type of woman.