Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pity About The Other 364 Days Of The Year...

It's that time of year again! The time of year when we copy the US, dress up, eat stuff we'd never dream of eating at any other time of the year (pumpkin soup? Err, no, thanks...) and have spooky fun, while...

But wait! Hold up there! Fun? Oh, no. No, no, no, no...

When there's something strange endearingly cute in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call? The police, of course!

And it's not just them...

Not to be outdone...

Yes, even the turnip-munchers aren't left out...

Well, this spells trouble for Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood...

Do these scare you? Well MAN THE FUCK UP! They're only kids!

Yes, every police Twitterfeed has gone into overdrive, promising dire retribution and the flames of Hell* to anyone who upsets the gentlefolk of the parish on this one night.

Yeah, yeah. Try calling them tomorrow to report ASB. Let me know how it goes, won't you? But I hope you aren't the ones that get arrested...

*sod all, because the lines will be jammed with idiots like they always are...

Post Title Of The Month

Al Jahom on the rise of 'cyberchondria':

Quote Of The Month

Dick Puddlecote pins Salford Council to the wall over e-cig hysteria:
"E-cigs (which are not alight) constitute a fire risk now? And emit second hand smoke despite not involving anything being burned? Do Salford councillors have extraordinarily large feet, bulbous bright red round noses and a car that falls apart when they slam a door?"

Post Of The Month

A well-deserved, from-the-heart post from 'Counting Cats...' takes the crown for October.

But ‘Everyone’ Didn't Fail Him…You Did, Chief Con Gargan!

Nick Gargan, chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, admitted the city had “failed” to protect Mr Ebrahimi, who was beaten and set alight in July.
‘The city’? What, all of it? Oh, spare me! ‘The city’ didn't fail him at all…
Mr Gargan echoed many local voices when he said he found it “hard to understand how such an event can happen in such a tolerant city” .
Well, clearly, because ‘a city’ isn't tolerant. A city is made up of people, and some of them are tolerant and some are not, and the latter are why we employ – at great expense – a system of uniformed guardians to keep the peace.

Sound familiar to you, Gargan? Sound a bit like it might be your job description?
Mr Ebrahimi rarely left his council house on Capgrave Crescent in the Brislington suburb of the city.
“He was terribly misunderstood by the community and something should have been done to put this right,” Mr Gargan said.
“Who can say why he was being picked on? He was different, disabled and Iranian.”
‘Who can say’..? Why, I can say, Gargan. He was picked on because there were absolutely no consequences for doing so, and that’s your failing.

Oh, sure, some of it is down to the courts and what they laughably consider punishment these days, but it’s hard to say that they wouldn't have stepped up to the plate this time because no-one from your command did anything other than arrest him.

Yes, him. The victim! Not the howling mob!
The block in which Mr Ebrahimi lived is made up of around 100 maisonettes and flats facing towards a central courtyard.
Unable to work, he spent his days tending to his flowers and looking after his cat. But there were no flower pots outside Mr Ebrahimi’s empty home and the few neighbours who agreed to talk to The Independent spoke of their sense of shock and disgust.
One local resident, who wished not to be named, said: “It was disgusting. The whole community is in shock, we just want the whole thing to go away.”
Yes, I expect you do. But it shouldn't. At the very least, you know the identities of the others in that mob, and you’d sleep easier at night if you publicised them. To Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t waste time with Gargan, or the other backpedalling authorities desperate to avoid the blame or to insist that they aren't the only ones to blame. These vigilantes want to live by the sword, time they had a taste of the flip side of that...
The crime would have been visible to the whole courtyard but another resident, who admitted “emotions were high”, thought that threats of violence were “all talk” after the Iranian’s arrest and said few residents saw anything.
*hollow laughter*
Speaking to BBC Radio Bristol, Mr Gargan said: “When all the dust has settled down on this case we need to sit back as a community and reflect on what went wrong and why wasn't that poor man better served.”
Here, have a mirror. Take a look.

More frightening than anything else you'll see this Hallowe'en...

That’s why. He wasn't ‘better served’ because you aren't fit for the position you hold, you weasel-faced excuse for a police man..
This call was echoed by the city’s Mayor George Ferguson, who told the Bristol Post he was “proud of Bristol” as a “tolerant place to live” but that “it is vitally important for everyone involved to sit down and look at what could have been done differently”.
Try sacking your chief constable. That might help!
In a statement released via solicitors, Mr Ebrahimi’s family said that he had been the victim of hate crimes for several years and it hoped all those who “failed” him would face justice.
So do I. And I know who should be at the top of that list. It’s the man whose resume reads like a bad joke about 'shiny arse graduate entrants who've never done a day's coppering in their lives' :
”Nick began his career in 1988 as a police constable with Leicestershire Constabulary under the Graduate Entry Scheme, after studying Politics and French at Leicester University.
Soon after joining, he attended the Accelerated Promotion Course.
In 1995 he was seconded to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, working at the London bureau of Interpol and then at the British Embassy in Paris where he was heavily involved in the investigation into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, Mr Dodi Al Fayed and Mr Henri Paul.
He gave evidence at the eventual inquest in London. Nick returned to Leicester in 1998 and rose through the ranks to become chief-superintendent.”
It’s about time his rise was brought to a halt. Or we might see this man’s features presiding over yet more of these cases, maybe as head of the Metropolitan Police next time.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Welcome To The Modern World Of Churnalism!

Bridget Christie can’t cope with conflicting information:
I'm not reading any more of these contradictory studies. Weren't we all told by a different study that it was better for our children to mix with other children? If children aren't supposed to be in nursery, according to this study, and not be at home because of that other study, is there a third option that's being kept secret by the super-rich?
Join the club, Bridget! Might I suggest you do what all the sensible people do and just ignore them all?

But of course, the inclusion of the term ‘super rich’ is a clue to her real agenda, which is not simply to despair at the never-ending stream of churnalism poured forth, but to have a pop at the perennial ‘Guardian’ favourite – ‘inequality’.
Childcare providers reject these findings. Anand Shukla, of the Family and Childcare Trust, said: "Research shows children who attend nursery are better prepared for school and have better social skills such as co-operation with peers." Plus, their parents drink less Oxford Landing because they haven't got them all day. So – and I'm no Oxford academic so bear with me – from what I can work out, we shouldn't put our children into nurseries because they will have emotional and behavioural problems, but we shouldn't stay at home with them either. If we could also try not to be poor, stressed out or have any mental health problems ourselves, that would be great.
Or, if you’re not prepared to put up with the stresses and strains of family life, not have any kids? Just a thought…
Elizabeth Truss, the education and childcare minister, said that large numbers of children in childcare were "running around" with "no sense of purpose". Should a child have a sense of purpose? I'm 42 and I haven't got one.
Well, clearly. We can tell, because you're writing for 'The Guardian'...

‘They Work For You’..? Oh, No They Don’t!

A heartfelt letter from an eight-year-old girl to Stephen Timms, the Shadow Minister for Employment, has highlighted the crumbling living standards experienced by a growing number of families in Britain.
Oh, this'll be good. *gets popcorn*
The handwritten plea, presented to the Labour MP for East Ham at his regular constituency surgery, asks the politician to intervene on her family’s behalf because “my parents keep telling me we don’t have enough money.”
She describes how they are all sleeping in one room so they can rent out their spare bedroom and pay the rent and says that “we now even find it difficult to feed.”
Odd phrasing. Oh, well, that’s UK education for you, I guess!
She encloses her school report to show how well she is doing in her studies and says “I am a hard working girl that wants to learn more and more but due to the financial situation of my parents I am unable to attend teaching lessons and swimming lessons on Saturdays because my parents say they don’t have enough money.”
*wipes away a tear*
Mr Timms told The Independent: “It’s difficult to draw any wider implications from this letter but certainly there are a growing number of people on the verge of destitution because of the bedroom tax, welfare reforms and immigration changes. ”
Wait. What? What have immigration changes got to do with...

Oh. I see.
“You can just see it from the number of people using food banks. The problem for this family is an immigration one. They have been denied leave to remain so they can’t work. However the government has not said they will remove them yet so they have no chance to appeal and put their side of the story over. ”
So why don't they just leave?
“This family is only surviving because of help from friends and handouts from the church. Her parents also brought their daughter’s school reports to the constituency surgery, which showed she had all A’s. She obviously a remarkable little girl facing a very tough time but who knows if she will even be here in a couple of years?”
Back in her own country, I'd hope, and not wasting the time of our MPs who are supposed to be working for the people who pay their expenses...

Even The Church Has Now Had Enough…

St Alban the Martyr Church in St John’s Road, Westcliff, has sent a note to residents nearby saying it “urgently wants to do whatever it can to stop” people sleeping and drinking in its porches.
No, it doesn’t mean its parishioners! It means the homeless.

Which prompts a flood of angry comments insisting the church should be more ‘charitable’, though just how many of them would be happy to have these people living in their porches, it’s hard to say…
The Rev Phyllis Owen, associate minister at the Grade II listed church, said: “I’ve been at St Alban’s for eight years.
“When I first came here, in the middle of winter when it was particularly cold or wet, you would sometimes get a couple of people in the porch.
“I would say to them, ‘you can’t stay here’, and they would leave after a couple of days.
“But in the last two or three months, we have had a lot of complaints from neighbours about noise. Police have even had to be called.”
The situation in Southend has been getting steadily worse in the past few years. Rarely a day goes by when there are not at least 5/6 ‘rough sleepers’ begging (or demanding!) change from passers-by in the high street.
She added she is trying to work with other services, including the homeless charity, Harp, in Southend, to get the homeless people help.
She claimed she had also been told one of the rough sleepers had been offered permanent accommodation and help, but preferred to stay in the porch.
Bring back the Vagrancy Act!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

If Only It Was Just Bodies...

Now that he is dead, no one wants his body. Rome's mayor refused permission for Priebke to be buried anywhere in the city, and Vatican officials banned any Catholic church in the city from holding a funeral. Even his German home town of Hennigsdorf, near Berlin, doesn't want him back.
It seems we cannot allow our enemies the dignity of a proper burial. After the attack on the Boston marathon, morgues in the city refused to accept the body of bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The idea that evil men do not deserve human treatment even in death goes back to Creon, the mythological King of Thebes, who let refused to allow his enemy Polynices to be mourned or buried: "It cannot be."
It is, indeed, a totally ridiculous state of affairs for a so-called enlightened society to be in.
Nothing much seems to have changed. Do we really have to fear the dead so much that we need to make their bodies disappear?
Well, it's not just their bodies, is it?
At the time of the 47-year-old's sentencing, April's parents Coral and Paul told Dyfed-Powys Police they wanted the three-bedroom home to be razed to the ground.
However, owner Mark Ford is believed to have recently told locals he plans to re-let the cottage, because public authorities are not prepared to buy it from him and knock it down.
Yes. We've been here before..
A neighbour of the Jones family said: "I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to live there."
"In the interests of decency and respect to April's parents the place should have been knocked down."
We laugh at the quaint notions of the pre-advancement civilisations, but really, aren't we just the same?
Locals in Machynlleth do not blame Mr Ford for advertising the cottage.
"Given what has gone on there, this seems rather distasteful," said another neighbour. "But you can only really feel sorry for the poor guy.
"He is probably paying a mortgage on it, is left with an unsaleable property and has very little option."
 Plus there's that housing shortage to consider...
"While I have every sympathy with him, you would think that someone in authority would have made a call, and compulsorily purchased the place.
"The area is doing its best to pick up and move on but it is particularly hard when those in authority aren't intervening to make sensible decisions."
Why on earth should it be up to 'someone in authority' to indulge the superstitions of the community with everyone else's money?!
Machynlleth councillor Michael Williams said: "I certainly think the right thing to do would be to demolish the cottage.
"But not for one moment do I blame the property owner.
"He cannot be held in any way responsible for what happened there and should not have to bear the financial loss himself."
So...the taxpayer should?
"With the spending cuts being imposed on Powys County Council and the police, I don¹t think it¹s reasonable to expect them to pay either.
"Perhaps the Home Office should step in - it has a big enough budget to be able to absorb the cost of buying the cottage and knocking it down."
But the Home Office doesn't have any money, either. What you are expecting the taxpayer to do is subsidise your squeamishness.

You Can Put In All The Zebra Crossings You Like…

…but you can’t legislate for people who won’t use them:
The family of a "wonderful son" - killed when he was hit by car after stepping off a bus - have spoken of their loss and led calls for safety improvements on the road where he died.
It’s a very sad case, but, as a driver, I see this situation all the time. In fact, I know that, if I'm approaching a bus that’s stopped at a stop just a few yards from a zebra or pelican crossing, I need to watch for those who would rather dart out suddenly from the front or back of the bus because they cannot be bothered to walk a few yards to cross in safety.

And no, I'm not talking about children. These weren't children, either.
Robert's death reignited concerns about road safety among Coulsdon Road residents and sparked pledges from councillors to push for action.
Coun Terry Lenton, for East Coulsdon, said she had previously called for a zebra crossing at the spot, at the junction with Cearn Road, where Robert and 51-year-old Ms Maudsley where hit.
And what’s the point, when it wouldn't even be used by most people if they had to walk a few yards?
Alison Tucker, 43, who lives metres from the scene of the fatal crashes with her husband Lee and four children, said: "You have to walk right out into the road at that bus stop to see whether anything is coming. We need to do something. It is such a worry."
That’s rather odd, as is the claim that ‘more lighting’ is needed as, unless this is a very old Google image (indeed, 'Cearn Road' doesn't seem to exist, being 'Cearn Way' at the point it meets Coulsdsen Road), the road seems quite straight and well lit.

Naturally, the 'speed = automatic death' merchants have to butt in:
ArfurTowcrate says...
Yesterday - 14 October 2013 - Conservative Councillor Michael Neal was busy on Twitter wondering who would pay for traffic calming and 20mph zones. It's a bit rich for Councillor Terry Lenton to now say she wants a meeting with council officers to see what can be done after the latest avoidable death on our roads. She'd do better to lobby her fellow councillors to take road safety seriously, and tell them to stop thinking only about people who travel in armoured cars and instead consider the needs of pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.
Perhaps those pedestrians could bear in mind the laws of physics and not dart out into the road? The fact that the police made no arrest in either case is telling, isn't it?

If This Is ‘An Improvement’….

…what on earth would ‘a decline’ look like?
Kurt Swindlehurst, 21, who had no insurance, or licence, clocked up 60mph in quiet residential Burnley streets, shot across a main road without stopping, and almost hit a wall when he finally abandoned the Volkswagon Golf, and made off. Officers in pursuit lost the car in a cloud of smoke as it accelerated away from them in the night-time incident on June 10.
Swindlehurst, who has 63 offences on his record, has breached court orders 20 times, but was said to be complying with his most recent sentence, and was growing up, and not breaking the law as much, Burnley Crown Court was told.
He had served time on remand for the offences and had been on a curfew for 65 days, the equivalent of a 10-month sentence.
A judge gave him a chance to show he was trying to go on the straight and narrow and didn’t jail him.
No surprises that it was our old friend, Judge Beverley Lunt…
Philip Holden, for Swindlehurst, said he had ‘quite a dreadful record’, but it had trailed off in the last couple of years and showed a marked improvement.
Apart from this little incident, you mean? And, presumably, all the ones they didn't catch him doing...

Monday, 28 October 2013

Taking Your Work Home With You…

A tax worker faces years behind bars for an elaborate scam to con her colleagues out of more than £160,000 cash and fund her lifestyle.
Well, she was qualified for it..! Talk about gamekeeper turned poacher...
Kevan, of Central Avenue, Southend, was responsible for running a bank savings club – a legitimate scheme to encourage people to save for Christmas and withdraw their money with added interest to buy their seasonal presents.
Lesley Chipps, prosecuting, explained to Southend Magistrates’ Court: “She took control of the club.
"Then she e-mailed colleagues and offered a rate of interest above that offered by the bank.
“She inflated the interest to encourage people to save in the scheme.
“Several victims placed money in that account on the basis the interest rate was good.
“Mrs Kevan used the capital to pay interest to people and used it to support herself and her lifestyle.
“If there had been a run on the £200,000 investments and everyone wanted their money back, there wouldn’t have been sufficient funds to pay that. “There would have been a shortfall of £160,000.”
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Wouldn't you think tax inspectors ought to know that?

Labour Promise Everyone The Moon On A Stick…Again!

Labour will ban shifts to which only foreigners currently have access as it seeks to shift the immigration debate away from benefit tourism and towards the way in which British people can be locked out of the UK labour market.
Can someone define for me ‘a shift to which only foreigners have access’? Because, for the life of me, I can’t imagine how…
Labour claims that some labour agencies are recruiting only foreign workers for specific shifts, such as Ukrainians for strawberry picking, without even offering the chance of work to UK citizens.
Oh, really? And I suppose if that weren’t happening (if it even is…), the UK unemployed would be biting their hands off?

Tell that to Danny James
The party will also call for an end to employers exploiting foreign workers by paying them the minimum wage, but then charging them extortionate amounts for accommodation.
Good luck with trying to write that legislation!
The plans, Labour claimed, were the first serious attempt by any party to deal with some of the challenges posed by the exploitation of low-skilled migrants, which can undermine local wages and jobs as well as challenge integration.
Suddenly, Labour needs the good honest working Englishman? Hmmm. Must be an election coming up.

"Fellas, it's bin good t'know ya!"

Well, if the Met Office has looked at the right bit of dried seaweed and the MSM's hysteria has, for once, proven to be correct, we are in the teeth of STORMAGEDDON! just about now. And as MacHeath reminds us, we do love a good panic, especially about the weather.

I wasn't blogging at the time of the last Great Storm, and who knows if I'll have any power or connectivity to Tweet this one?

As I work in Southend, I may well be at home twiddling my thumbs for some of the morning, as the rail companies have been told by Network Rail to prepare contingency timetables. My little iPhone weather app is showing alarming symbols (a windsock?! Really?):

So, here's a cheerful tune to ride out the 'hurricane' with. Sing along, everyone!


Stay safe, everyone!


One (small) tree down on the green in front of the house & my neighbour has decided to move his wheelie bins into the back garden (we did ours last night). No other casualties.

Update 2:

I have braved the outside to bring you pictures of the awesome power of the forces of nature!

Roads blocked! Send helicopter!

No, send International Rescue!

OMFG! The storm blew this man's entire house inside out!!!!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

It's Almost English, But Not Quite...


And Now, Geography Awareness With US TV...

Watching a US sci-fi show on my iPad the other day, and this happens:

"Have a look in the stock image files for somethin' British-lookin', Chuck.."


I just...


I Say, Minister!

An unfortunate typo in a 'Telegraph' article about civil servants and their privilege holidays...


Proofreading is your friend.

Sunday Funnies...

Well, since it'll be Hallowe'en in the week... enjoy!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

There’s Never Any ‘Narrowcasting’ In The Progressive Media, Oh, Dear Me, No…

Matthew Goodwin on the case of Pavlo Lapshyn:
Security officials have spent at least 50 years shaping law enforcement tools around the assumption that terrorism is at least cell-based with chains of command. But disrupting group dynamics, infiltrating organisations and exploiting weak links in a longer chain suddenly appear redundant in the fight against isolated individuals, who might never even have met a fellow believer.
Instead, the Breiviks of the world engage in extreme "narrowcasting", visiting the same websites day after day, encountering little that challenges their worldview.
That sounds rather….familiar! Read a lot of CiF comment threads, have you, Matthew?
He admired the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik…
Which is bad. Very bad.

On the other hand, admiring Che or the likes of William Ayers or the Reverend Wright, that’s good, and what every good progressive should do.
This is why, this week, one of the UK's most senior security officials has warned about the lone wolf threat, claiming activists driven by a hatred of immigrants and Muslims are often more skilled in using explosives, harder to track, and not constrained by the weaknesses that undermine groups.
So we should all panic. Apparently.

Ah, Those ‘Traditional Ways Of Life’…

As expected, the progressive media has greeted the unwelcome news that a Roma couple had somehow acquired a blonde child totally unrelated to them with all the feigned horror of neighbours interviewed on TV who just can't believe that nice Mr Jones at No 24 is a serial killer.

And the first order of the day is clearly to throw cold water on any speculation that criminality might be a big aspect of Roma culture:
Dozens of people from the Roma community in Farsala who know the family, told The Independent the couple looked after little "Maria" well and cared for her deeply.
"We're poor nomads and we may not know letters but we love and look after our children," said one Roma woman as she carried her granddaughter in her arms.
Around her, groups of young children swirled, were laughing and playing in the early hours of Monday evening. Nearby, a man fixes his car while his wife cleans the windows of their home.
Awww, how heartwarming! Surely such a ‘community’ couldn't be all bad?
In some Roma settlements, illegal activities such as drug dealing and the trading of stolen goods are known to take place. But many protest that criminal elements represent only a small fragment of the community.
But…how small? Isn't that the question we should be asking? Because it doesn't seem very small to me:
The Roma couple charged with abducting little "Maria" are illiterate, and had registered their family in several towns.
They claimed they had 14 children, making declarations that would have meant Dimopoulou would have had to have given birth to six children in less than 10 months. Ten of the 14 children are unaccounted for.
Police have said the two suspects received around €2,500 euros ($3,420) a month in child welfare subsidies from three different cities.
The director of Athens' records office and two senior officials have been suspended while an investigation takes place. It is not uncommon for such papers to be falsified in Greece, by people from all walks of life.
Yeah, yeah, sure. Everyone’s at it. It’s no reflection on the people who are continually arrested for it, right?

The saddest thing about the whole affair is not the ‘persecution’ of the criminals, but this aspect:
Since it published Maria's picture, it has received thousands of calls and emails from parents around the world, hoping that she may be their lost child.
I know where my sympathy lies.

Definitely An Example Of #FirstWorldProblems

During the 2010 World Cup, a group of Dutch women were arrested on suspicion of ambush marketing, after they attended a match in bright dresses branded by a beer company that wasn't an official Fifa sponsor. Now think forward, not to the 2014 tournament, but to 2018, when technology like Google Glass could be the hot tool for these kinds of stunts.
*baffled* And..?
"I think Google Glass is something we will see a lot of young people wearing: they'll be walking around and maybe they'll see advertising," said Sean Hayes, senior partner at law firm IPG Legal. "Maybe you'll go to a Fifa game, and on that screen you'll see advertising for Pepsi, but the official sponsor for Fifa is Coca-Cola."
This may sound like lawyers thinking up worst-case scenarios whose solution will invariably involve paying lots of money to lawyers.
Well, yes. Yes, it does. And there's a good reason for that.
But in the shorter term, they highlighted some realistic concerns for broadcasters about third-party apps curating conversation, content and ads around their shows.
This is a new world for me - I mean, sure, I like to Tweet occasionally while I'm watching something, but it seems there are huge numbers of people for whom watching a show isn't a complete experience without that...
"Second-screen is what you'd call a lawyer's paradise," said Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm from Dutch law firm Bureau Brandeis, who noted that there's little controversy around apps that simply provide a home for social chatter around a show.
"If you're not affiliated to the original producer, you can have a conversation about The Voice, for example, on the second screen, and we'd all agree that wouldn't be contradictory to copyright or trademark law," he said.
"But what happens if I'm using The Voice's trademarks on my second screen, or running my own election where I'm not choosing the candidates for their quality of singing, but on whoever looks best or tells the best jokes? You could put a gambling aspect into that, and on top of all that you could include your advertising."
Nope. Still sounds a lot like lawyers thinking up worst-case scenarios to me!
Thijm suggested this is where broadcasters will want to do something about the second-screen app, but admitted that it's still unclear what kind of action they could take, and whether it would be successful.
Well, the much-trumpeted 'success' in shutting down pirate sites proved to be less so, didn't it?
This doesn't just apply to second-screen TV apps like Shazam and Zeebox, or football-specific apps like The Football App. It can apply to the larger social networks too: if Facebook knows lots of football fans will be using its app during a World Cup match, it can sell ads to whatever brands it likes for that period of time.
"We really need to rethink our product placement and media regulation rules, because it doesn't work: why should I impose all these strict rules for broadcasters and television, and not have them for my iPhone and iPad?"
 The world is changing, and our laws haven't kept up? Say it ain't so!?!
Thijm predicted that the answer will not be to create more regulations for second-screen apps, but fellow panelist Dr. Ralph Oliver Graef from German firm GRAEF Rechtsanwälte, said that governments must take a clear decision.
"Either they have to down-regulate the broadcasting law, or up-regulate the other stuff," he said, while pointing out that there are plenty of other unresolved legal issues around the world of second-screen apps.
More legislation, aimed at your mobile phone and tablet? We'll see.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Isn’t All Council Work ‘Haphazard’?

Allotment holders have been told their number is up if they fail to mark their plots correctly.
Beware the council-employed number-marker squads!
Fed up with not being able to find various plots, Brighton and Hove City Council has issued a warning letter to those holders who have not clearly numbered their allocated area.
As a deterrent, officials have said they will “haphazardly daub” electric lime green paint on sheds and posts in any plot which is not properly labelled or numbered.
Well, would we expect anything less from council employees?
In recent days, a reminder sent out to all allotment holders alongside the annual rent bills said: “Tenants who continue to leave their plots unnumbered run the risk of having their plot numbers painted on the side of any upright object by our maintenance |team.
“We have sourced several pots of paint in a particularly unpleasant shade of electric lime green and plan to begin haphazardly daubing large plot numbers on to unnumbered plots in the New Year.”
That’ll show you! It's one up from The Comfy Chair!
Steve Miller, a site representative at Eastbrook Farm allotments in Portslade, said he felt it was a good idea.
He said: “On some of the larger sites it can be quite difficult to locate various plots.
“If the officers got it wrong on their inspections and sent a notice to the wrong person, then they would probably get quite annoyed.”
And you wouldn't like them when they were quite annoyed…

Well, Is It, Or Isn’t It?

Rachel Welch, project manager at, isn't convinced self-harming is on the rise.
It's just we are more aware of it, says the 35-year-old. Indeed, even the Bible includes stories about self-harming and the World Health Organisation has long recognised it as a problem, not just in the West but in developing countries.
It seems that you don't just have to reach for the razor blades:
"If you think back," Welch says, "you may well remember someone in your youth who bit their nails furiously to the point of bleeding or who pulled out their hair. I knew one woman who always wore shoes a size too small because she said each step reminded her of just how awful she thought she was. When I self-harmed as a teenager, I used bruising. Like these other people, I didn't think of it as self-harm, though, because the label wasn't around and there was no real understanding of it."
Which sounds a lot like most modern panics, come to think of it, doesn't it?

You're a little slow? Nonsense! You have 'learning difficulties'!

Your kids are undisciplined little hellions? It's not your parenting skills, they have ADHD!
"And it certainly didn't occur to me to contact anyone to help make sense of what I was doing. We had no phone except one static landline where everyone could hear you and I wouldn't have known who to call anyway," she says.
"Nowadays, people are much more likely to know about self-harm and they can contact organisations like ours, ChildLine and others privately by phone or online."
Yet again, another facet that can be applied to modern ills - the burgeoning 'help and awareness' industry that grows up around them. And they don't want to give up their often hard-won positions.

Certainly not by taking a long hard look at whether this is an increasing problem or not:
But Sue Minto, head of ChildLine, believes the increase in cases has been dramatic.
Yes, I bet you do...
"In 2011/12, self-harm appeared for the first time in the top five main concerns for 14 year olds. This dropped further to 13 year olds in 2012/13, indicating that more young people are self-harming at a younger age," she says.
While some headlines have blamed a society increasingly obsessed with body image (which may help account for why girls are more prone to self-harming), Minto believes a more serious problem is the 24/7 online culture.
"In my day, if someone was bullied, they could find escape at home, but that isn't available now. Before you know it, something you said in confidence to one friend, or something unkind that someone else has said about you, is up there in neon lights for anyone to read for any amount of time."
Because absolutely no-one thinks that turning off the computer or mobile phone might be a solution, do they? And you aren't going to suggest it.

Nor are all the other vultures greedily picking over the corpse of our society:
Then there's the fact that families are increasingly fragmented and the inequality gap is widening.
"Research shows that under-12s, in particular, are very watchful when their parents are stressed and often internalise it," says Fiona Pienaar, head of service management at children's mental health charity Place2Be. No wonder so many more young people turn to self-harm to cope, she says.
"People report that the pain – and blood, if cutting is involved – can make them feel they are alive, when otherwise they feel numb or insignificant. People also talk about the overwhelming tension that can build up in their body, which hurting yourself can release. Then there's the way that physical pain can push away emotional pain. Many people, for example, report banging their heads against a wall when dreadful thoughts seem to take over. And others talk about wanting to punish themselves."
There's only one group I'd like to see punished. I think I might have to find a handy wall, quick!

I Don’t Think Sunglasses Are Going To Help Him…

A taxi driver who hit a woman on a pedestrian crossing as he was driving the wrong way down a one way street claimed he had been dazzled by the sun.
Yes, well, umm…
He was fined £165 with £105 costs and his licence endorsed with five penalty points.
Charges of failing to stop after an accident and failing to stop at a pelican crossing were dropped.
Wha..? Why?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Once Is Happenstance, Twice Is…Well, Just Scotland, Clearly!

Catherine, who also owns a German shepherd, said Sandy was attacked after he had a seizure while lying on a couch in the living room.
She explained: “I went to get the mail and went into my bedroom for about two minutes. I thought the German shepherd and Gizzmo were in the hall. That is when Sandy must have had his seizure.
“When I came out, I saw Gizzmo attacking Sandy. The dog grabbed hold of his neck near his voicebox and missed the artery on his neck by a ¬centimetre.
“I just ran over, grabbed Gizzmo and booted him away. Then I called the ambulance.”
Oh no! What an unforeseen…

Oh, wait:
Last August, the Record’s sister paper the Hamilton Advertiser told of claims Gizzmo ripped part of Sandy’s ear off as he had a fit.
But yesterday Catherine denied the dog attacked Sandy last year.
She said: “The dog has no history of doing this. I wouldn't have it if that had happened. I’d have had him put down.”

The Real Concern Is Not For Who You’d Expect…

Kingston Council has been criticised in a report examining how two troubled teenagers were left with potentially life threatening injuries after a triple stabbing in Chessington.
The two teenagers tried to rob a drug dealer near Sir Francis Barker recreation ground in Chessington on May 30 last year hours after walking out of a courtroom with a community sentence for another offence.
Well, I’d call that ‘their just deserts’, myself..!
The serious case review, published today, outlines how police and social workers, focused on "procedures not outcomes" for the boys, who had both been involved in previous criminal activity and had spent time in prison.
While the report says the incident may have been unavoidable, it criticises the borough's multi-agency working which allowed the pair to each skip more than a year of school.
It also says no-one recognised "that the escalation of their criminal activity could mean that they were at greater risk of significant harm".
Them. Their harm. That’s what concerns the report. Not potential harm to anyone else who happened to cross their path, whether a criminal themselves or an innocent member of the public.
It also called the failure to provide formal education to the teenagers "unacceptable".
And here they have a point – what stopped the council forcing them to attend school? Why is the council not taking itself to court, the way it would take anyone else?
Deborah Lightfoot, the newly appointed chair of the Kingston Local Safeguarding Children's Board, which commissioned the report, said: "The case is unusual in that it involves two young men who were simultaneously victims and perpetrators of crime.
"The events probably could not have been avoided but there were significant issues for us to learn lessons from and improve services.
"Professionals were not sufficiently aware of the implications of this anti-social behaviour. We were also looking at the individual and not looking at the impact of the two young men together.
"We are using this serious case review to ensure that across the local partnership the front line professionals are aware of these sorts of issues."
Which cut-and-paste effort probably cobbled together from all the other reports tells you nothing…

The police, however, are keen to make a point:
Kingston police borough commander Glen Tunstall, also newly appointed, said: "Stop and search is an effective tool. Had we done one more stop and search before they got to that location we wouldn’t be here.
“It is unclear whether we could have stopped these events from occurring."
Heh! Pick the bones out of that one, progressives!

TANSTAAFL, Barking & Dagenham Council...

The council is trying out a new strategy to tackle child obesity by offering all pupils in year eight free use of leisure facilities in Barking and Dagenham.
'Free'..? Or are the ratepayers stumping up, again?
The pilot scheme launches on October 28 - the beginning of October half-term - and will run until March 31.
All children aged 12 and 13 living in the borough will get to use leisure activities such as swimming, Junior Gym sessions and others delivered by the community sports team.
They can also have free access to both the borough’s leisure centres at Abbey Sports Centre in Barking and Becontree Heath Leisre (sic) Centre in Dagenham.
So, the council normally provides these facilities for a fee, but is waiving it. Hmmm. I bet the heating and lighting will stay on, and the workers aren't providing their services for free.

So someone's making up the shortfall, aren't they?
Council leader Liam Smith commented: “This project is a great example of the work the council is delivering, not only to increase active participation in sport but also help address wider health issues.”
No. No, it's not. The 'work the council should be delivering' is taking away the rubbish and keeping the parks cleaned and the roads maintained.

Not jumping on the 'obesity crisis' bandwagon.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Welcome To The Real World!

Students have been “let down” by private landlords in Brighton and Hove according to the Student Union.
Oh? How?
A survey by Sussex University's Student Union revealed students looking to rent accommodation can find it a stressful and expensive process.
Ummm, newsflash, folks, it’s not exactly a walk in the park for anyone else, either…
In its annual Rate Your Landlord report, based on the response of 1,586 students, the union found a third of students felt under pressure to pay fees immediately in order to secure a house they had viewed.
Yes, again, just like anyone else anxious to secure a property. Welcome to reality, kiddies. Get used to it.
Almost half of all respondents received their deposit back in full but among those who had their deposit withheld (either in full or partially) only a small percentage felt the deductions were reasonable.
But were they, in fact, reasonable? Who cares how the students ‘felt’ about it?
Sophie van der Ham, Students' Union Welfare Officer, said: “This report shows that students are a particularly vulnerable group of users renting in the private rented sector.
“Often students are living independently of their parents for the first time, and don't have the experience and information needed to make informed decisions about properties.
“Students need specific, accessible and clear information available to them about landlords, letting agents, properties, and their rights.
"There are also inequalities and specific issues within the student population, with non-UK students at a particular disadvantage when they are required to provide a UK-based guarantor to letting agents.”
Well, can’t the Union provide that information? What else is it spending its money on?
The union is lobbying for greater regulation of the private rented sector as well as a reduction in the fees students must pay to private landlords and an improvement in property standards.
Ah, right. Because if they have to pay more for their accommodation, that leaves them short of union dues money, I suppose?

I Am Genuinely Baffled…

Trees, planters, benches – and even a fountain – could be installed to attract people to Victoria Gateway
… and as a guide to help blind pedestrians.
You ‘help’ the blind by putting obstacles in their way? Who knew..?
Southend Council will look at ways to encourage people to congregate in the former roundabout outside Southend Victoria train station.
I repeat…why?
Labour councillor Judith McMahon has also called for the disused fountain outside the Civic Centre and police station in Victoria Gateway to be relocated to the junction, which went through a multi-million pound revamp in 2011.
So, despite that multi-million down the drain, it’s got to be dug up yet again, at a cost of how much, all to ‘attract people to congregate there’?

I'm baffled. Are Southend Council thinking of bringing in a ‘standing around tax’?

Wow, Even The Nano-Violin Is Too Big For This One...

...and the 'Give-A-Fuck-Ometer' just exploded:
Twenty-nine single mums - all aged under 25 - are being evicted from a hostel and could be relocated hundreds of miles away after the mother and baby unit was closed following funding cuts.
Oh noes! *fetches tissues*
Since the women received a letter last month stating they had to leave by October 20, housing organisation East Thames has offered them new accommodation as far away as Manchester, Birmingham and Hastings.
Oh, right. Not exactly Outer Mongolia, then?
The majority of the young mothers grew up in Newham and are reluctant to leave their friends and family. Jasmine Spone, 19, was staying on friends’ couches until she moved in 15 months ago when her daughter Safia was born.
She said: “We want our children to grow up around our families. I’m 19 and I have a baby and we both need support.”
Well, tough! You should have thought about that before you saddled the taxpayer with another mouth to feed, shouldn't you?
Another, Javea Samuel, 22, mum to three-year-son Jofiah, fears she will have to drop out of college if she is forced to move away.
“I can’t move outside of London. I’m trying to make a life for my son and get myself off benefits,” she said.
They do have colleges (and jobs!) in Manchester, Birmingham and Hastings, you know...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Karma – I Love It!

The trial of a man facing a charge of dangerous driving has been adjourned at Bolton Crown Court.
The usual reasons..?

Safvan Patel, aged 27, of East Park Road, Blackburn, is accused of causing the death of Jack Hindley on June 4, 2011.
Mr Hindley, aged 61, of Bromwich Street, The Haulgh, was killed while crossing Moor Lane, at 11.45pm, after a night out with friends.
The court heard Mr Patel had broken both his legs in a road accident
*wipes away tear (of mirth)*

Karma seems to be doing a better job than our useless justice system lately...

But This Is More Than A Burglary...

Louise Scholes returned to her home in Russell Gardens, Hamworthy, on April 26 this year to find it had been ransacked, with windows smashed, glass shoved into her children’s flower pots, and their fish tank destroyed. Also their pushchair and trampoline were slashed.
The bathroom was smashed and the fridge-freezer put in the kitchen, flooding the property; furniture and electrical goods were destroyed and games consoles, jewellery and cash stolen. These included her grandmother’s rings and her children’s holiday money.
It wasn't just a burglary. But that's how the law treated it:
Daniel Jones, 34, of Blandford Road, Poole, was sentenced by Judge Samuel Wiggs at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to one count of burglary, although it was suggested that other people had been involved in the crime and not arrested.
Then he should bear the sentences they would have got on top of his own until he tells the authorities who the were...
Miss Scholes… said she was pleased with the sentence, but disappointed he wouldn’t have to pay compensation.
“I thought he was going to get off with a suspended sentence so I am pleased he has gone to prison, I don’t believe he is remorseful at all,” she said.
“But all of my possessions and my kid’s toys were destroyed, and we don’t have insurance, and it will cost the housing association a lot to repair the house.”
 Incredibly, despite his horrendous record and the reasons for his actions, that matters not a jot to the legal system:
The court heard that Daniel Jones, who has eight previous convictions covering 18 offenses – including handling stolen goods, criminal damage, battery and racially aggravated assault – targeted the house as he believed someone else lived there against whom he had a grudge.
Speaking in mitigation on Friday, Kevin Hill said: “Mr Jones made his remorse clear to the police at his interviews. He had justified his actions at the time on the basis of a long-running family feud, but he was clearly quite wrong.
“He had taken a lot of alcohol at the time, but when sober at his interview he said he was appalled at his behaviour as he has family of his own.”
But wait! Someone is to be compensated, after all!

What? No, silly! Not Miss Scholes. Other - future - victims...
Jones was also ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.
That's just adding extra humiliation on top, isn't it?

Computer DPA Says 'No'...

Hundreds of disgruntled runners who took part in the inaugural Bournemouth Marathon Festival have accused event organisers of withholding information by failing to provide full race results.
Given that the whole point of these races is ranking, what gives?
GSi Events Ltd, the team behind the BMF, has published the top ten runners in the various age categories, but is refusing to publish all the results on the grounds of data protection… a spokesman for GSi events said: “All runners’ personal data and information, including running times, are treated with great respect.
“As such, result information is exclusively available to each individual.
“Runners simply have to log in to get their times, splits and finishing position within the race.
“They can then choose to share this information as they see fit.”
Hmmm, given they've already published some info (did they check with everyone first, or was it in whatever T&Cs of joining they put out?) it sounds a lot more like they just can't be arsed to spare the manpower to get the data displayed.

But why not just say that?
What people are saying on Facebook
• John Wheatley: “It is quite ridiculous to quote data protection when virtually every other race in the country publishes full sets of results.”
• Steve Greenaway: “I certainly would not have bothered with their race if I’d known ahead of time that you would hide the results.”
• Mark Dutton: “If data protection is the reason, how and why are my details posted on”
• Stuart Park: “I was 84th in my age group but do not know if there were 85 or 850 in many age group, surely that’s not a secret is it?”
I guess GSi Events won't be getting many entrants in the future. Vote with your (tired and blistered) feet, folks!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Neighbours, Everybody Needs Good Neighbours...

If this story is even half-way true (always a consideration with local newspapers), heads had better roll:
An internal police investigation is under way after officers "abandoned" two young children with a stranger following the arrest of their mum.
Liza Butler, of Old Lodge Lane, Purley, was left to care for the toddlers, aged just one and three, despite repeatedly stressing she did not know them or their mother, who is her neighbour.
She is, as neighbours often are these days, a stranger. That didn't seem to matter much to the police:
Miss Butler said: "They asked me to watch the babies while they spoke to the mum and then asked me if I could carry on looking after them when they took her away.
"I kept saying to them I cannot keep these children, I don't know them and I don't know this woman.
"I think I've said good morning to her once. I don't know how long she's lived there, I don't know her name, she doesn't know mine. I don't know her.
"No one was taking a blind bit of notice to me. They did not take my name. No social services came. The children were just abandoned in my care. "
And so Miss Butler decided that what's sauce for the goose...
Miss Butler left the toddlers with another neighbour, Natasha Brown, while she went to pick her own children up from school. The arrested woman's 18-year-old son collected them two hours later.
Miss Brown, 27, said: "We were asking what we should do with the kids because they didn't know us and the policeman just said that wasn't their problem.
"I don't really know them so I thought it was wrong, but I felt obligated to watch them.
"It seemed like the police didn't really care about the kids, only about getting the people they wanted in the van."
I guess there's no tickbox for 'ensuring the kids are safe'. Or, if there is, just about any stranger will fit the criteria to allow them to tick it!
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We can confirm we have received a complaint in respect of a warrant executed in Old Lodge Lane, Purley on September 30.
"This is now subject to a local complaint investigation and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."
The usual refrain. We'll see.

And yet, doesn't it also illustrate how fragmented we've become as a society? Once, this police action would have been as normal as can be, because the woman's neighbours would have known her, would have had a common bond, a shared identity in 'their community', and there would have been no issues with this practice. But then came the permissive society, and multiculturalism, and transitory culture, and a whole host of things designed to improve our lot.

Progress. They really should find another word for it.

Who Says Schools Are Short-Staffed?

Pupils at a Bolton primary school have been banned from playing traditional playground games of tig and British bulldog
Oh, let me guess - because they are British?
… because they are too dangerous.
Ah. Right. It’s the ‘elf ‘n safety mob who are to blame. Well, makes a change, I suppose…
Parents of youngsters at Egerton Community Primary have been told in the school’s weekly newsletter that children can no longer play “rough games” in the playground.
Students at the Cox Green Road school can use the playing fields when the weather is good but the majority of the year will have to spend break times in the playground.
The letter says: “What we have observed is a situation where children were being hurt because they were not moving about the playground safely and because they were playing games that, in a smaller space, were causing them to have accidents.
“It is not acceptable for us to accept that children will get hurt while playing and it is our job to ensure that the playground and playtimes are organised well to ensure safety.”
Which didn't go down too well with the parents.
Mrs Jackson, a teaching assistant at another school whose two sons attend Egerton Community Primary, added: “Accidents happen, it’s normal, it gives children the opportunity to measure their own risks, and it’s a learning curve for them.”
Another mother with two children at the school, who asked to remain anonymous, added: “I just think children need to be children, we can’t wrap them up in cotton wool.
“I do understand it is for the safety of the children and that the school wants to prevent accidents but there are so many benefits children get from playing games like tig. Accidents do happen but it’s all part of growing up.”
But the school doesn't want to consider these benefits. And they don't watch the news or take note of recent judgements, either.

And so wedded to the idea of ‘organised playtime’ are they, they've even created a dedicated role!
Sam Mitchell, headteacher of Egerton Community Primary School, said: “Following a number of injuries to pupils, the school reviewed safety in the playground and has asked pupils not to play tig and British bulldog.
“Instead, to improve safety and enjoyment for all children, the school has introduced play areas identified for a range of activities co-ordinated by a play leader.
“Children have been asked to respect each other’s play and safety and have told us that they are enjoying their new playtimes.”
And nor are they the only one to do so:
St John’s RC Primary in Darwen Road, Bromley Cross, currently has no playground restrictions in place but ensures that break and lunch times are monitored both by staff and Year Five playground mediators, who are trained to help children play carefully.
‘Playground Mediator’. Do you get a little blue beret?

And next time you see a teacher's strike (probably when they want to do their Christmas shopping) just pause to wonder how many actually are teachers as we'd understand the word...

Really? Why?

"I am not surprised about what has happened. I think this sort of thing will be happening more and more.”
Has someone declared open season on school dinner ladies and no-one told me?

Sunday, 20 October 2013

I Wonder If The Undertaker Offers A ‘Two For One’ Deal?

An Eltham scaffolder "settled the score" with his brother by plunging a carving knife into his chest following their other brother's funeral, a court heard.
The family split into two factions with an official wake at Charlton Park Rugby Club while the defendant and others went to the Edmund Halley pub in Burnt Ash Road.
Is there an unspoken theme here?
Mr Wright said: "It was therefore friction between various members of the Hayes family and extended family that led to violence.
"Too much drink had been consumed by some, tempers were frayed and bearing in mind the events of the day and family history, emotions were running high."
Well, I’m sure, but even so…!

“Freeze! Fancy Dress Enforcement Squad!”

Speaking to the newspaper, Charlie said: "They said my truncheon - which I'd specially shortened - was a lethal weapon."
"I was in bits. I told them, 'we're just having fun - I do this all the time'. But they told me to free Darren and took me to a room. They demanded my name and address - everything."
OK, I admit, I rather lost it at the ‘shortened truncheon’ remark… *stifles giggles*

It seems the police concern is not so much for the hideous consequences to society of letting a dwarf run around handcuffed to a man dressed as a horse at a racecourse, but for the fact that he used official police equipment:
A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said … “The items were genuine police issue, the baton being a prohibited item and capable of inflicting serious injuries on a person. The handcuffs were also law enforcement issue, supplied only to those with powers of detention and arrest. ”
And absolutely not to be used for fun, ever! It might bring the police into disrepute, by God! And we can't have that. These days, it's their job to do that...
“There was no reason for the man to be in possession of police equipment as replica items are widely available for fancy dress purposes. While we have no doubt that the prank was good-spirited and well-intentioned, we must take the safety of members of the public seriously.”
The 'safety' concerns being...what? He's a dwarf!

And When They Leave School...

...they can become headline writers for 'The Daily Mail'!


Sunday Funnies...

I'm astounded the Sharovipteryx isn't something dreamed up by Dougal Dixon...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

What The Kiddies Are Doing In School (When They Aren't Learning To Read And Write And Add Up)..

What links the growing use of emergency food banks in the UK with the rise in the amount of food we throw away?
Ummm, absolutely nothing..?
The answer is an innovative idea cooked up by Bristol pupils.
Students from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Clifton have developed a clever solution aimed at reducing the mountains of grub going to waste every year, while helping deliver more meals to food banks.
They say online supermarket customers should be given the option of sending one of the items they buy through 'buy one get one free' (BOGOF) deals directly to food banks. Using the new facility, customers would simply have to click on a box to send the second item in the BOGOF deal to a food bank.
And it would be magically transported to them at no cost on a cloud of unicorn farts?
They believe big supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Tesco could deliver the donated items to food banks on a daily basis. The pupils say the 'Buy One Give One' (BOGO) idea gives customers an alternative to dropping food off for food banks at stores.
Ah. Of course. For free.

To cut out that whole tedious business of doing it yourself. Get Big Business to do it instead! Their time is free and won't be added on to your next bill, of course...
It was dreamed up by a group of nine pupils in Year 8 and Year 9 as part of a 'Future Problem Solving' project. The children look at global issues and learn a six-step process to work at solving them.
W...T...A....F?!? Id this sounds like a hideous pile of socialist wank, that's because that's exactly what it is. And the little moppets are, of course, lapping it up:
In a letter to Tesco, one of the students, Alfie Poynter, said: "I saw first-hand that people need food banks to survive. The people that go to foodbanks are just normal people but they need this place in order to get food for whatever reason.
"We are really excited at the prospect of food banks being helped by grocery chains like you, providing a facility for people to donate while they do their weekly shop online."
Bronnie Kenchington, the school's head of learning enhancement (Ed: …) at the school, said BOGO was a simple but effective idea. She said: "In their research they found out that much domestic food waste comes from BOGOF offers where people buy fresh produce, take the free item and often never use it and throw it out, rotted.
"This brought about a discussion on how wrong it was for good food to go to waste when people in UK have food shortages."
So, when you ponder the dismal exam results next time, content yourself with knowing that our schools are busily churning out the next generation of Low Information Voters, eh?

"When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?"

Well, the police, it seems:
James Creighton, 25, decorated the outside of his house with skeletons, bloodied corpses and cobwebs in a display dubbed Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The bar owner transforms his house in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, every year to raise money for the Cancer Research UK charity in memory of his grandmother Betty, who died from the disease in 2009.
Awww, how heart-warming! Isn’t it nice to hear a…

But he had a nasty shock when two police officers knocked on his door to tell him a parent had complained it was frightening children.
Mr Creighton said: “The police came round knocking on my door. They said they were sorry to disturb me but they had a complaint from a member of the public who walks past my house in the morning.
"Apparently their child starts crying every time they walk past my house. “I was shocked - more to the point that the parent couldn't come to the door themselves and speak to me personally, but had to get the police involved and waste their time."
Oh, please, don’t waste any sympathy on them! They are wasting their own time, and trying to resolve the situation by making you compromise, rather than having the balls to tell the offended party that what you are doing isn't illegal and so they have no jurisdiction, now mind how you go sir/madam...

And this is yet another incident which gives the lie to the constant police whinging about how they are so stretched and short of staff, because if that were really true, they wouldn't feel obliged to hot foot it round every time some cretin gets it into his/her head to screech about being 'distressed'.
"Police have asked me to put black tarpaulin along the fence so the kids can't see it, but why should I do that? It ruins the whole rest of the display for everyone else.
“All the other kids love it. It is just this one who doesn't like it."
Yes, and sadly, today, that one person wields power beyond measure, because the police have become the kind of spineless, 'let's see if we can work out a compromise here', social workers with uniforms and radios, and not the simple crime-fighting service they were envisioned to be.

No more, it seems, do new recruits long to kick in doors and face hardened villains with shooters. Now, it seems, they long to broker 'peace' between Mrs Grimethorpe and Mrs McTavish over noise issues with the former's kids and the latter's barking dog.

Well, if that's the case, can we make them wear the blue berets of the UN Peacekeeping Forces and no longer have to pretend they are 'our finest boys in blue'?
Inspector Simon Tabert told the BBC that officers had visited Mr Creighton "to discuss the matter." He said: "We had a complaint (from a parent) that it was so realistic, it was going to upset their children.
“Mr Creighton offered to create a barrier, but it's my understanding we did not ask him to do so.
"We asked him to tone it down, because people were being distressed by it."
Then you are every bit as much a snivelling little weed of a man as the complainer, and as for your role as 'Safer Neighbourhood Team Member, a role you seem unusually proud to claim, it seems what Stevenage really needs is someone to keep them safe from cretins like you and your team...

As Leg-Iron points out, it is indeed a funny old world.

My Parents The Tories Don’t Understand Me!”

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett worries…
I worry even more for those unlike me, whose parents can't offer anything, even love. Those with perpetually skint but not-so-nice parents, or those coming out of care.
I worry for young mums, with kids to support.
"Young people" are not a homogenous group in need of arbitrary policy – they are adults, quite vulnerable adults, actually, with different needs and desires and circumstances. You can't just slap a Neet label on them and order them back to the tech. You can't just force them to borrow 27 grand for a course they don't want to study.
If they are adults, they can shift for themselves, surely? Isn't that what 'adult' is supposed to mean..?
But then, I suppose if they're in work or education, rather than at home, thinking about other things, such as how spectacularly shafted they have been by the previous generation, then they're that little bit more malleable.
Ahhh, yes. The perpetual cry of today's perpetual childults - 'Waah, everyone else got all the resources and I'm left with nothin'..!'
I probably sound angry, and that's because I am. Over the years I've seen a raft of policies that make things tougher for young people, from the scrapping of education maintenance allowance to workfare to tuition fees. I've felt increasingly alienated by the government's failure to limit the power of the buy-to-let landlords who impoverish us, and the failure to provide us with affordable housing. How can young people hope to engage with a government that seems to hate us so much? How can that government expect to get our vote, when the time comes?
Since all the statistics seem to show that your generation simply don't bother, I guess they aren't worried.
The Conservatives don't understand.
Awwww, diddums! Have a sulk in the pages of CiF rather than your bedroom, then.
They don't understand that some of us don't have parents who can see us through, and that those that do still crave, nonetheless, independence.
Really? It’s a strange sort of ‘independence’ that demands everyone else fund your lifestyle choices, isn’t it?
And as they age, they'll expect this feckless bunch of worthless youngsters to fund their soaring medical bills and spoon-feed them, and nod politely when they make politically incorrect comments about immigrants.
Oh, those wicked racist elderly people! Can't wait for them to die, can you, Rhiannon? Much better to import a bunch of immigrants to do that job of caring for them, leaving your generation to think grand thoughts and be employed by...

Well, by whom? Doing what?

Friday, 18 October 2013

More Of This, Please!

A father has warned he will defy a teachers’ strike and take his children to school on the day it closes. Business leader Paul Yates-Smith said the only alternative was for Saltdean Primary School to compensate him for his lost income and childcare costs.
Hurrah! He stands no chance of getting it, mind you...
In a letter to the school he said: “I am afraid I am unable to support the closure of the school for your industrial action.
“I shall be bringing my children to school for them to receive the education that they are entitled too (sic).
“I would also like to point out that as parents our time and income is severely affected by this action.
“If you are not able to staff the school adequately, it is only fair that you pay the same fine that you recently pointed out we as parents need to pay for unauthorised absences.
“Please notify me which entrance I should bring my children to on October 17 or where I should send the invoice for the fine your staff should incur for unauthorised absence.”
If only this was enforceable. Wouldn't it be great?
In a letter to parents addressing the strike action, head teacher Suzanne Morgan said the decision was taken to close the school following a risk assessment. She wrote: “Teachers deeply regret the disruption caused by strike action.
“However, they feel they have no alternative other than to demonstrate the seriousness of their present concerns.”
Hollow words, as always. As Mr Yate-Smith points out, there ARE alternatives:
Mr Yates-Smith added: “I’m fed up of getting just five days’ notice when teachers want to go on strike.
Why can’t they arrange for supply teachers to come in?
“I’m not convinced the school has made any effort to ensure my children get an education on the day.”
Of course they haven't. They don't need to. They know they are protected from any consequences of this action.

Isn't it about time this changed?

Couldn't Afford A Gold One?

A Met spokeswoman said: "Both suspects are described as black males aged between 18 - 25 years old, having short black hair and wearing dark coloured puffer type jackets and dark coloured tracksuit bottoms.
"One of the suspects may have a silver tooth."
That, frankly, is the only unusual thing about the whole story...

Well, It Would Appear The Situation Isn’t ‘Resolved’ At All…

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: "We were called to a report of an aggressive dog in the Tuffley area at around 11am last Wednesday. A postal worker suffered a bite to the hand during the incident.
The situation was resolved when the dog was returned to the control of its owner in Emerald Close."
Eh..? Gosh, another one for my new dictionary!
"Strong words of advice were given but inquiries are ongoing into the incident. We are not aware of any previous reports to police about the dog."
Emily Smith, of Emerald Close, said many residents are terrified of the dog and use the back doors of their homes to try and avoid coming into contact with it.
She said: "I used to leave my door open so the children could play outside. All the residents used to have little street parties but we feel we can't do that because the dog is always growling and running out of the house."
Felicity Faith, who lives just off the square in Russet Close, has been getting her mail but said: "When I walk my dog I am always on the lookout to see if the boxer is around. I should not have to walk the long way around the estate to visit my friends."
And did no-one call the police? Or do they just not bother, knowing nothing will be done?

Meanwhile, in Scotland:
Other people who were in the street and heard screams for help went to Ms Wallace’s aid and eventually managed to pull the dog away from her.
Witnesses reported seeing 32-year-old McLaughlin emerging to stand at her gate and watch as the attack was taking place.
Ms Emmerson said the badly-injured victim was taken to Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital to have treatment for injuries to her face, arm, hand and chest. The bite to Ms Wallace’s arm had left a gash that required nine stitches and she also had to have stitches in the cut to her face. Her pet had to have a bite wound dressed and closed up with five staples.
It was stated that police had subsequently raised concerns over the accused’s ability to properly care for her dog and observed that she “seems not to care about the damage it had done or to care about what had happened to the victims.”
But unlike this side of the border, the police aren't content with 'strong words of advice'...
Animal welfare officers took possession of the boxer dog and held the animal in kennels, pending the outcome of the case, as there were concerns it had been out of control when there were young children in the area.
Sheriff Tom Ward told her: “Your dog caused very bad injuries and, in these circumstances, it is uppermost in my mind that it should be destroyed as you cannot take care of it and it presents a danger to the public.”
He deferred sentence until October 8 to allow McLaughlin to seek legal advice and warned her that he would also be considering the imposition of an order banning her from keeping a dog.
I hope he does more than consider it.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Long On Rhetoric, Short On Detail…

David Madden (assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics) rages against ‘gentrification’:
When gentrification is criticized these days, it tends to be done in terms that muddle the issues. The least useful way to criticize gentrification is to obsess about an area's character, coolness, or even worse, "grit". Lamenting the proliferation of cupcakes and cappuccino is a staple of reporting on places like Williamsburg or Dalston. But this kind of story reduces something that's all about inequality to middle-class agonizing over authenticity.
It also makes it rather amusing to read, but never mind. I'm sure you've got a serious point to make, haven't you?
The leading myth is that the only possibilities for neighborhoods are gentrification or urban decay. Well-meaning liberals sometimes think cities face a choice between the bad days of the past and a gentrified future. Urban theorists invoke this same theme with the idea of the city as a ceaselessly changing organism that can either gentrify or stagnate. But these are all deeply misleading arguments, because they offer a false choice. No serious critic of gentrification wants to maintain the status quo. Instead of either gentrification or decay, cities could push for more equal distribution of resources and more democratic decision-making.
Ah. I suspect this is the new dictionary definition of 'more democratic', which actually means that the people who pay for this and drive the changes should get less of a say. And I'm not wrong, as it turn out...
Another myth is that gentrification actually trickles down to help everyone. Evangelists for elite-dominated urbanism sometimes argue, as New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg did recently, that attracting the super-rich is the best way to help those city-dwellers he quaintly calls "those who are less fortunate". But the trickle-down argument for gentrification ignores the fact that the "very fortunate" invariably seek to bend municipal priorities and local land uses towards their own needs, usually to the detriment of their less powerful neighbors.
Yup, thought so. This is a man intent on spending other people's money on other people.
Probably the most damaging myth about gentrification is that nothing can be done about it beyond wrangling a few tokenistic concessions from big developers. But gentrification is not an unstoppable force. It's true that it has its roots in political-economic processes – the commodification of housing, the neoliberal transformation of the state and the growth of economic inequality – that require action at large scales. But there are many policies which, even in the short term, would produce a more democratic and egalitarian city: more and better public housing, rent control and regulation, community control of neighborhood space, expanding social welfare, strengthening progressive labor unions, and empowering social movements that embody the political ambitions of the urban working classes and poor.
Did he leave anything out of the Big Socialist Wishlist there?
Even today, it's not too late to unforeclose urban politics and build an alternative to the city of gentrification and inequality. The opposite of gentrification isn't urban decay; it's the democratization of urban space.
Chalk another one up for that new dictionary.