Wednesday 30 April 2014

Yes, Well, There's A Reason For This...

There has been an increasing effort by some game-makers to address more substantial topics and themes. Last year's Papers, Please is a bleak yet affecting study of the lives of a series of would-be immigrants who must convince the player, a border control agent for a fictional 1980s eastern block nation, to grant them passage. At one point in the game, an elderly man approaches your booth. His papers are in order but, before he passes through, he pleads that you also let his wife into the country, even though she doesn't have the correct documentation. She is next in line. You are free to choose: uphold bureaucracy or keep the family together?
Cart Life is an equally effective study of contemporary life in America on the poverty line. As you scrape a living, selling coffee or newspapers, you begin to feel the grim pain of systemic unfairness and economic failure. The sense of injustice when one character is evicted from his motel room for keeping a cat is devastating. These examples are potent, but it remains rare that a video game's story is discussed seriously in artistic terms.
Games are meant to be fun. Do these sound like fun? Except, of course, to a 'Guardian' writer?

Post Title Of The Month

MacHeath on a very peculiar experiment:

Quote Of The Month

LegIron on the joys of Wales:

"There is a single track railway that crosses the estuary at Borth on an old wooden bridge that looks like this. Oh, it’s all very picturesquee but that bridge is very, very old and often closed for repairs. The only other way out is over the mountains by tractor or well-waxed racing sheep. 

 Nevertheless, it is a popular holiday destination even though the locals hate everyone to an extent that makes Royston Vasey seem like a left-wing multiculti paradise."

Post Of The Month

Battsby on the EU...

Seems Pretty Able-Bodied To Me…

Kristian Cavanagh, defending Frank Carberry, said his client accepted the inevitability of an immediate custodial sentence. He asked the magistrates to take into account his clients ill health.
"He suffers from diabetes, arthritis and glaucoma and as a result is registered disabled," said Mr Cavanagh.
Which, strangely enough, didn’t stop him assaulting three able-bodied men with a stick and threatening them with a knife.

But I bet it stops him working...

Nor did pregnancy, offered as mitigation for not turning up to court, prevent his daughter from helping poor old dad hand out a beating:
Krystal Savoie, defending Nekole (sic!) Carberry, 27, of Wallace Gate, Bishopbriggs, said she was five and a half months pregnant.
A pre-sentence report described her as vulnerable and raised concerns about the effect of a custodial sentence would have on her.
It worked. She got a suspended sentence…

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Yeah, We Can All See What His Degree’s Really In…

Stuart Horton, 47, quit his job at Domino’s over a notice warning staff they must speak in English or face disciplinary action. Now he says his studies at Blackburn College have inspired him to take the pizza giant to industrial tribunal.
Stuart said he felt he had to stand up for colleagues who spoke English as a second language. He said his job as a team leader was made much more difficult when staff couldn’t make quick checks with each other in their own language.
Then he’s clearly not ‘team leader’ material! But what gave him this insufferable attitude to the needs of the company that paid his wag…

Before taking up a management role in the food industry he worked as a government enforcement officer. After quitting his job at the branch in Blackpool Road, Ashton, Preston last winter, Stuart took up studies at Blackburn College with a foundation degree in Community Policing and Justice Management.
Oh, great. A grievance factory. Like so many nowadays.
A spokesperson for Domino’s Pizza Group PLC said: “To ensure a good flow of communication in our stores, the use of a common language is condoned at work to avoid confusion and to create a more welcoming environment.
“It is also paramount that all safety aspects are adhered to and for this reason a common language is vital. The tone of the poster in question was a little strong and this was addressed directly with the franchisee.”
And would he leave it at that? Well, perish the thought!
He said: “My teachers are really supportive. They tell me that if I believe in this I must act and change it. I’d like to go into law or teaching after this is all over.”
Fabulous! That’s just what the law (or teaching) needs. More people like you…

Allow Me To Translate…

Police were called and the matter was handed to Broxtowe Borough Council, but the owners are not going to be prosecuted because it is their first offence.
Miss Dicken said: "A dog warden came to see me and said they were not going to prosecute and that the dogs are actually really nice and it was a terrible accident.
"I am absolutely disgusted. There needs to be a change. It should be made law to prosecute on the first offence."
“Well, it’s a lot of work, and really, madam, the sort of owners that let their children walk these types of dogs aren’t very nice and it’s a real bother to get them to court and there might be repercussions from them and I just can’t be bothered. I mean, I’m a public sector worker, after all, so what’s the worst that could happen?”

Why Politicians Should Resist The Urge To Have An Opinion On Everything...

Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central, described the incident as ‘profoundly saddening’ but said he was not in favour of stringent security measures that would keep staff and pupils ‘behind high fences’.
She was stabbed by one of her pupils. In class. Just where does this cretin think we should put those fences...?

But then stupidly inane comments seem to be the order of the day:
Detective Superintendent Simon Beldon said: ‘We would like to reassure people that this has been an isolated incident and there is no ongoing risk to pupils or staff at the school.
The situation is under control and officers, including safer schools officers and members of the local neighbourhood policing team, are currently at the school and are liaising closely with staff.
When a pupil stabs a teacher repeatedly in front of his classmates, the situation is very, very far from being 'under control'.
The alleged killer comes from a respectable middle-class family. His mother works as a human resources manager for a local firm and his father is a council executive.
How the term 'respectable middle class family' has changed. Once, it meant 'child of married teachers/bank managers/vicars/career army'.

Now, it seems it means 'child of divorced policy wonks'.

Monday 28 April 2014

Going To Give The Money Back Now, Mr & Mrs Perry?

The parents of a 10-year-old boy who died after being hit by a car in Oxfordshire, have called for changes to the road layout.
Freddie Perry was killed as he crossed the road outside his house in Oxford Crescent, Didcot, on his way to play with friends.
Lea and Judith Perry want a 20mph speed limit and restricted parking on the residential street.
So touched were the locals that they clubbed together to support the bereaved parents and raise funds.

And now?

Well, we learn that the car that hit him likely was travelling at 20mph and the cause of the accident was him running out from between parked cars while engrossed in a phone call. At the age of ten!

If I’d donated or supported their cause, I’d be feeling more than a little aggrieved right now.

Perhaps You Need To Read The Legislation Again..?

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We visited a property in Mill Hill Street and found the pit bull-type dog.
“The dog escaped from the property and ran towards Bower Street and attacked a Alaskan Malamute.
“The owners of the dog said that they were unhappy with the dog’s behaviour and 09:10 AMagreed to have it put down and they did so on Tuesday.”
The spokesman said the dog was not a banned breed and had not attacked anyone previously.
Ummm, hang on:
Four types in particular were identified by the Act:
Pit Bull Terrier (The English Staffordshire Bull Terrier is not on the list)
Japanese Tosa
Dogo Argentino
Fila Brasileiro
The Act also covers cross breeds of the above four types of dog. Dangerous dogs are classified by 'type', not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is prohibited under the Act will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited 'type'.
So, any arrests? If not, why not?

Luckily your Liverpudlian colleagues aren't quite so complacent.

Yet More Evidence Of The Total Uselessness Of The RSPCA…

RSPCA officers were called to the Arctic Ranger pub in Hall Road, Orchard Park, after a council worker reported what he described as "disgraceful and inexcusable" conditions.
And they are – the pictures show an utter mess, a place so filthy you wouldn't keep a dog in those cond… 

Philip Hoggard, 50, who owns Stella, a Staffordshire bull terrier, lives above the pub and says he cares for the dog.

He said: "The dog is in no danger whatsoever. "I was getting complaints from the council about the dog howling when she was inside the pub, so I let her out.

"I put her out at about 6.30am before I go to work and take her back in at 7pm latest.

"I feed her every day. She is not abandoned."

You leave the poor animal in a rubbish-strewn back yard on its own all day? Why would anyone get a dog if that’s the only life they could give it?
An RSPCA officer visited the yard after it had been cleaned and issued the dog owner advice on how to care for the dog. However, the dog was not removed because the RSPCA said there was not sufficient evidence of neglect.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Champion, The Mystery Horse!

"Like a streak of lightning flashing cross the sky"... well, more the M62, actually:
Student Olivia Wynn took a picture of the galloping animal from the passenger seat of the car she was driving back from a day trip in York in with her mum, Deborah just by junction 27 near Birstall, West Yorkshire.
All lanes were affected for almost one hour when the horse hurtled through a fence near junction 28 in Tingley and attempted to travel the wrong way along the east-bound side at evening rush hour.
Police say they have no idea where the animal came from, or who it belonged to...
 Gosh, what a puzzle! Can't you check the tattoo or microchip?

No. Silly question, I guess.
Inspector David Peach, of West Yorkshire Police, said: 'We tried to corral the horse to safety but whilst it had been running free, it had caused severe damage to its leg and when it was finally rescued, it was in considerable distress.
'The only humane option was to put it down. The only right thing to do was to put it out of its misery.'
One assumes that, because you were presumably closer, you managed to accomplish this with less than nineteen bullets this time?
In a Twitter alert, West Yorkshire Police RPU, who were called to the scene following calls from several bewildered motorists, said that it was 'running all over the place' and warned drivers to be careful. Police officers stopped lanes and slowed traffic until they were able to approach the horse.
They are now trying to arrange for repairs to be made to the fence to prevent it from escaping again.

Hang on, I thought you said you'd no idea where it came from? And that you destroyed it?

FFS, 'Mail'... managed to spell it right in the article!

I Don't Think Don Henley Meant This...

...I think, when he sang 'You got to carry weapons, 'cos you always carry cash', he meant firearms:
A drug dealer was found with more than £17,000 cash at his home and a cosh-type weapon in his car, a court heard.
Whew! Thank goodness for the UK's strict gun control laws, eh?
Dobie, who has 18 previous criminal convictions, was jailed for two years by Judge Crowson and shouted “I love you” to a woman in the public gallery on being sent down from the dock.
Aww, how romantic!

Sunday Funnies...

And there's far more of 'em than us..!

Saturday 26 April 2014

Well, It Sounds Nuts To Me…

Tesco is changing labelling to meet the requirements of EU legislation that comes into force in December. A spokesperson for the supermarket told us: "Our first priority is always the safety of our customers. We only display these warnings on products when there is a risk of cross contamination."
Well, hurrah! The EU, saving us all. Right?

Oh. Wrong!
Will these potatoes contain peanuts? What about this fruit juice? Preposterous questions maybe, but Clare Hussein is still asking herself them after she noticed that Tesco changed its "may contain nuts" advice on a raft of unlikely items. She has a daughter, aged three, with multiple allergies.
"These products literally changed their allergy information overnight," she says. "When you attempt a weekly shop for your family and find that everything from baked beans to pizza, butternut squash and more is suddenly labelled as potentially unsafe, it leaves you with extremely limited options for feeding your family."
Hussein, from Portsmouth, has started a petition against the store's "blanket labelling" at It already has more than 13,000 signatures.
Why not petition the EU, Clare? Tesco aren’t doing this off their own bat.
"People say: 'Shop somewhere else,'" she says, "but it's not as easy as that. I went into the greengrocer last week and they had nuts hanging in the doorway."
Oh, so you – like the EU bureaucrats – consider that ‘a risk of contamination’, then?

Surely that tells you that it’s not Tesco’s fault that they have to err on the side of caution..?

Be Silent, Cripples!

...and let your kindly guardians tell you what it is you want!
Scope is a charity whose mission statement is that it exists "to make this country a better place for disabled people and their families". Yet it has decided to close 11 residential care homes under its control, including Hampton House in Northamptonshire, because it wants residents like Nicky to "integrate with society". Many of the most vulnerable disabled people are now facing the prospect of being evicted.
Ah, 'charity', that word that's come to mean almost the opposite of its usual meaning these days...
Why is this happening?
Good question. Why, then?
Well, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by the UK government in 2009, seeks to promote disabled people's full inclusion in society. So the consensus among disability charities now seems to be that disabled people want to live more independent lives within the community in smaller dwellings.
Because why ask them what they would prefer? The progressives have spoken and It Shall Be So...
And the charities have come under a lot of pressure from the disability rights lobby to close what they describe as "segregated" residential care.
Ah, activists. Of course. They know best. Why listen to anyone else? the last five years the charity has already shut residential homes because it argues that people like my sister and her friends should integrate with society and would be better off in small units. Peter Walker, the organisation's regional director, told a local newspaper that the charity was looking to close care homes like my sister's "because we don't think this kind of old-fashioned care home offers disabled people the kind of say that everyone else has over where they live, who they live with and how their money is spent".
Rather like those starry-eyed idealists that insist zoo animals would 'rather be free', the fact that the residents might not feel that way, may in fact prefer safety and security to the dangers of freedom, is but a minor triviality.

They'll soon adapt, the poor dumb creatures.
I can understand why residential care may seem "old-fashioned", and that charities feel it is progressive to move people out into the community, but in the case of severely disabled people who are vulnerable and helpless, like my sister, residential care can be vital. In my sister's care home some residents have lived together for nearly 40 years. So not only are these the places where they live, but the depth of friendships they have formed in them is immeasurable. They are, in effect, big families. Closing the homes they love would be cruel and insensitive.
Gosh, doesn't she realise that these charities are motivated through love and compassion? That they know what's really good for their charges, even if those charges stubbornly insist they don't want to leave their plantation?

Mark Atkinson of Scope replied in the comments:
We will continue to meet and talk with residents and their families to explain the proposals and support that we want to offer. When consultation starts, we will support each disabled adult to understand the proposals, take part in consultation with an independent advocate if they choose, and take time for us to seriously consider alternatives before making a decision about each care home.
Which I fear seems to come very close to being a meaningless PR piece designed to soothe ruffled feathers, before they go ahead and do what they planned to do anyway.

So...when did charities begin to lose their way, and start to become exactly what they were always set up to alleviate?

H/T: BendyGirl via Twitter

It Appeals Because Many Of Those Minds Aren’t

sharp, that is:
For those immune to the draw of the bright lights of Vegas, or who see gambling as a "tax on stupidity", it may be hard to understand why it appeals to so many of the country's sharp young minds.
Hmmm, let’s hear their stories, then:
"After receiving my student loan payment one day, I took a large chunk of it and decided to have a really good go at making some money online. I got on to a winning streak, and before I knew it I had thousands in my gambling account. Unfortunately I was only allowed to make small withdrawals per day, and when I went back to the site the following day to make the next withdrawal,
I decided to see if my luck was still in/b>. I lost my remaining funds within an hour."
Sharp as a billiard ball, that one…
"It's time to open up a conversation about gambling in universities," says Trevor David, Gamcare's lead training and development consultant.
"For the first time, student finance officers have been coming to us and requesting we come to events and give information to students," David continues.
"Universities seem to be becoming aware that there is a growing problem."
Yes, but not with gambling, per se. It’s with the growing number of people for whom ‘deferred gratification’ is an alien concept.

Friday 25 April 2014

Not Before Time!

Talking is just an important a skill to learn as reading and writing to combat the image of the “grunting, monosyllabic teenager”, a leading headteacher and former senior adviser to Tony Blair says today.
Hurrah! Is this finally a bid to erase the street-dialect-speaking, slang-slinging, Jafrican-accented suburban white kid?

Because bring…it….ON!
“Speaking eloquently is a moral issue because to find your own voice both literally and metaphorically and be able to communicate your ideas and your passions is crucial to how they [young people] are going to be a success in the world,” he said.
“If you can speak and articulate yourself properly that will happen.”
He said that some people believed “the silent classroom is the good classroom” when in reality it meant “the death of learning, unless there’s a particular reason for it”.
He said he liked to go round classrooms in his school and hear children talking to each other, discussing things, debating and questioning.
“High quality talk” was at the centre of his school’s day - from morning assembly to round table classroom discussions with the spoken word “built into the DNA of the school”.
As long as it is high quality talk, and not meaningless babble about the latest reality show or school gossip, then fine. Good luck finding an OFSTED inspector who can look up from his ticksheet & judge the difference, though...
Janine Ryan, of the English-Speaking Union, which has run 50 workshops in schools under the theme “discover your voice”, said: “If the young people are silent, it doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say... it can be that no-one has ever asked them for their opinions before.”
I find that hard to believe - aren't they consulted on every tiny thing nowadays?

Maybe The ‘PinkStinks' People Have It Right After All…

A knifewoman in a pink onesie arrested on a Burnley street was said to have earlier sent threatening texts to a woman after a dispute, a court heard.
Grace Taylor, a 21-year-old mum-of-one, had a large bread knife tucked up her right sleeve when she was detained in Brunshaw Road, at 7.45am.
She was said to have started sending messages to the woman at about 5.45am, telling her she was going to go round and ‘bash’ her.
Ah, such a fragile flower of femininity...
Taylor, an amphetamine addict who has a record for unruly behaviour, is banned by a restraining order from her own grandmother’s home because of her conduct. She claimed the knife was for self-protection.
Well, of course she did..!
The defendant, who also has pink hair, was spared jail by Judge Beverley Lunt who warned her it was the only chance she would give her.
*sighs* Beverley, Beverley... When will you learn?
David Temkin, defending Taylor, said she had instability in her life and was ‘crying out’ for long-term supervision and assistance.
One can only hope that child doesn't live with her then...

Oh, This’ll Work, After All, The Mother Is The Decision-Maker In These Families…

isn’t she?
Police battling to prevent young Muslims heading to Syria to fight in the country's bitter civil war will gamble that they can persuade women in the community to inform on family members determined to head to the war zone.
Yeah, good luck with that. Frankly, I’m in the camp that says we should encourage as many to go (and hope for it to be a one-way trip) as possible.

However, the authorities may have good reason for fearing the effects:
Counter-terrorism officers, fearful that some of those fighting in Syria will return to Britain radicalised with the ability to carry out violent acts on British soil …
I’d say they were already radicalised. It’s not like there’s a need to go to Syria to hear inflammatory rhetoric, is it?
Asim Qureshi of the civil liberties group CAGE, said: "In light of the increasing hostile environment for British Muslims expressing sympathy for the plight of the Syrian people, CAGE is concerned that the police campaign has the potential to result in a McCarthyite witch hunt."
Qureshi continued: "We view this as a duplicitous attempt by the police to exploit the natural anxiety of mothers in the Muslim community to assist them in their counter-terrorism work."
I’m thinking of taking up a collection to buy him a ticket.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Commendation? They Deserve Condemnation!

Judge Stokes said Penny presented a “significant risk” to the public.
“You overreact to events that most people would simply shrug off,” the judge said. The judge publicly commended Pc Gary Dickinson, whose hunch led him to believe Penny was responsible for the attack.
And why did a 'hunch' make him suspect Penny? Well, it wasn't that much of a hunch, really...
Penny was previously cautioned for an incident which involved punching children in the face and throwing them into a canal, the court heard.
His convictions include common assault, involving an argument with a man in the same park and threatening him with a Swiss Army knife, in 2010.
So, basically, it was a case of PC Dickson thinking 'Hmmm, might it be that explosive nutcase we previously did sod-all about...?'
In mitigation, Walter Bealby, said psychiatric reports indicated Penny was of “limited intellect”.
Almost as limited as the authorities that allow such people to remain at large, maybe?
He said: “When Penny observed him leaving a gate open, that’s a breach of the countryside code and to Penny, with the way he thinks, it was a much more serious matter than it would be for someone else.
“He comes from a good family and his mother, a midwife, is in court. She’s a devoted mother and is distraught about the situation her son is in.”
A bit of remorse about the situation his victim's in wouldn't come amiss...

I Look Forward To The Met Police Campaign To Close McDonalds…

Police were called to the scene following reports of six men smoking drugs outside the betting shop. A large crowd began to assemble in the area which meant there was a significant police presence, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said.
*sighs* That’s Brixton for you
A witness, who did not want to be named, said: "The side entrance to Brixton McDonald's was cordoned off and at the main entrance people were shouting. There was just a general mess. That is the second time in the last month that I have seen something happen on that corner. It is fairly regular."
Ooh, sounds like it’s a recurring problem in the community. Better start cracking down on the licensing and opening hours, eh?
No arrests have been made.
What a shocker!

Ah, Brighton, What A Rich Seam Of Blog Material…

Parents living in the Hurstwood block of flats in Findon Road, Whitehawk, Brighton, discovered the needles hanging inside their letterboxes on Saturday.
Never let it be said the authorities don’t know just how to deal with this situation!
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “We were sorry to hear of this incident and took swift action to board up Ms Macdonald’s letterbox as soon as she made us aware of the situation. ”
That’ll stop drug addicts committing anti-social behaviour! (And also the complainant receiving any letters, but still…)
“We know who it is but the council and the police shrug it off. I want the council to move me somewhere else and they just don’t want to know. No one will even come down and speak to me. I’m scared to live in my own home.”
The cynic in me wonders…

…but honestly, the way councils are today, the idea that they’d be keen to protect the poor unfortunate drug addicts real victims isn't so far-fetched, is it?

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Well, Worry Not, Teachers – There’s A Solution!

A survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) of their members reports that 90% said their school or college asks for contributions towards school trips related directly to the curriculum.
More than one in ten said contributions were requested for musical equipment used in lessons and 13% said parents were asked for cash towards pens and paper.
Just say no. Simples!
A primary teacher in a Surrey state school said: “When contributions aren’t made it means we always make a loss on trips or incoming theatre groups, and pressure is growing to not do them.”
Really? I bet it’s not growing to cut back on the nonsensical Green schemes and other unnecessary politically-correct events you run, is it?
A head of department in a secondary school in Cornwall told the ATL: “We have cancelled a trip, which was linked to the curriculum, because the contributions meant there was a significant shortfall.
We’ve also found that in the past four years or so, far fewer students come on expensive trips, eg to a museum in London, when travel costs are high.”
It makes a mockery of state education if activities that support the curriculum end up not happening because there is no cash, depriving kids of a full learning experience.
When that ‘full learning experience’ leaves us with children unable to read or write to a high enough standard to be employed, while giving them an unshakable sense of entitlement, I think I’ll be less than concerned that they didn’t get to see ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ performed by wheelchair-bound transgender activists in London.

Put It Down Now, It’s Got The Taste For Blood

What? No, no, not the Akita
A young mother has been jailed for four years for savagely biting a chunk off a woman’s ear in a row over…
Oh, this’ll be great! It always is, when the term ‘young mother’ plays a part…
… the choice of music at a pub disco

And where did she get the impression that this sort of overreaction was acceptable?

Why, from the usual place, of course:
Prosecutor Andrew Kershaw said Blackburn had a conviction for battery and a reprimand for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
A reprimand..!? It’s a wonder they didn’t make her write out 100 times ‘I must not commit assault’, isn’t it?
In mitigation, Blackburn’s barrister, Tina Landale, said it was a spontaneous assault in drink and her client was shocked by the consequences.
Well, yes. She probably expected to get let off. Again.

A Very British Murder...

Frenchman Soufiane Essabri, of Rathmore Road, stabbed and battered 30-year-old Latvian Andrejs Ivanovs during "an extraordinarily violent outburst" in December 2012.
It's not really one for Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes, is it?

Tuesday 22 April 2014

More Of That Wonderful Diversity...

Chairman of the bench Oliver Haywood heard today the pair knew each other and unemployed Safi had been overheard shouting at the woman by a team of netball players using the park nearby.
Prosecutor Trude Scott said: "The witness said children were around there looking at the couple because it was loud.
"She saw Mr Safi shouting at a lady and she sat down. "He lifted his arm up and hit her on the face.
"She screamed and seemed quite scared."
Mr Haywood heard how the woman had a red mark to her face but refused to make any allegations against Safi.
Defending Safi, John Middlehurst said the victim’s cultural background meant she is regarded as her parents’ possession and it was up to them who she did and did not see.
Mr Middlehurst requested the court did not write to the victim to let her know the outcome of the case.
He said: "If they get a letter referring to this it will create very difficult problems for her - far worse than the problems of this case so far."
The court heard Safi had two previous convictions for affray and the possession of an offensive weapon in 2009.
He was sentenced to a 12 month supervision order and made to pay £85 in costs and £60 in a victim surcharge. The costs were reduced from £350 because of credit given to him for admitting the offence.
Can't we put it towards a one-way ticket back to Afghanistan?

Your Staff Are Being Racially Abused? Stop Calling Us! You’re A Nuisance!

A town centre takeaway has been warned that it could be shut down following a catalogue of police call-outs after closing time.
Food Factory in Bradshawgate was brought before Bolton Council’s licensing sub-committee because of police concerns about behaviour there.
No, it’s not a case of the staff chasing customers out of the place with cleavers, but a case where they are being abused:
The incidents included staying open after hours, violence and racial abuse aimed at staff from revellers.
I look forward to the police closing the Tube network or the Croydon tram line the next time someone racially abuses the staff or other passengers then...

Still, could have been worse for them; at least they didn't sell someone a dodgy takeaway. The police arrest for this now?

Question: How Can You Tell UKIP Is Scaring The Right People?

Answer: Look for their usual fallback position:

Or as I like to say: What if my auntie had balls, then she'd be my uncle!

That was one of the Great Thinkers Of Our Time reacting to the new poster campaign.

Monday 21 April 2014

Well, There’s ‘Scrutiny’, And Then There’s Scrutiny

As Quiet Man notes, it’s take awhile. But the expected backlash has begun. And John Ware comes out fighting:
Lutfur Rahman is Britain's first directly elected Asian mayor.
He’s not, of course, Chinese. Or Thai. This is the BBC’s version of ‘Asian’…
On 22 May, he seeks re-election. He says he aspires to the highest standards of transparency and probity and that he welcomes scrutiny. Two weeks ago, on Panorama, we scrutinised the way he's run this most diverse of boroughs.
Heh! Extra large box of popcorn all round.

Though I’m finding myself unable to root for either side in this.
Instead of welcoming this, the mayor employed a major City law firm and a PR company at huge public expense to try to get the programme stopped.
While the BBC fought back with their lawyers at their viewer’s expense. That’s somehow different, I take it?
I often think how I would feel were I a Muslim in post-9/11 Britain. I suspect that I, too, would feel a sense of victimhood, for Muslims have been under a relentless spotlight.
Hmm, sympathy for the BBC is dimming somewhat…
But that should never stop the BBC from raising valid questions about the way a council is run and public money spent. The idea that any BBC programme would be motivated to do this by racism or Islamophobia is unthinkable, as anyone who has worked for the BBC knows.
Oh, perish the thought! I’m sure you should, like Caesar’s wife, be considered beyond reproach in that! 

OK, I’ve made up my mind. Can they both lose..?

Yes, It Is Indeed An ‘All Too Typical Story’…

A pregnant drug dealer has been jailed after she left her one-year-old son alone at her Worcester flat while she went out to sell drugs.
The court heard she had previous convictions for drug offences and dishonesty and was in breach of a community order with a drug treatment requirement.
*sighs again*
Barry Newton, defending, said Niblett was 30 weeks pregnant and she had pledged to be clean of drugs by the time her baby was born.
“Hers is an all too typical story of a long standing heroin problem and acquisitive theft to support it,” he told the court. Niblett had been remanded in custody since the offence and being in prison while pregnant had a “devastating effect” on her, he said.
Mr Newton said she had been coerced into selling the drugs by a man who had made threats towards her.
Ah, yeah, of course. There’s always a man to blame, eh? Luckily our justice system won’t hear of any such attempt to pass the bl…

Recorder Satinder Hunjan, said Niblett had left the child at home in an “appalling and neglected condition”.
She had a long criminal record but he accepted she had been coerced into selling drugs.

Ah, The ‘Thinking Skills’ Course…

…we know what that means, don’t we?
A motorist who was caught drink-driving twice within two weeks has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Nor was it just a simple case of drink driving.
Bolton magistrates heard how Scott Byrne, aged 27, of Woodbridge Drive, Tonge Moor, was stopped driving a VW Golf on Manchester Road, Bolton, on October 11.
He was almost two times over the legal alcohol limit, had no insurance and resisted arrest.
But don’t worry, there’s no danger of any punishment!
Byrne pleaded guilty to all the offences and was sentenced to two months in prison, suspended for two years.
He will also be subject to a 7pm to 7am curfew for 16 weeks and must attend Thinking Skills sessions for six days.
Note that – ‘must attend’. Not ‘complete’, not ‘pass’. He just has to sit there for six sessions!

Sunday 20 April 2014


...yes, that makes tons of sense!

What's This Supposed To Mean..?

...that she's joining the 'Mile High' Club..?

Do Not Pass 'Go', Go Directly To Jail...

...wait, that one's probably taken!
An innovative schoolboy has invented a board game about life on the Winstanley Estate.
Life is What U Make It aims to educate players about what it is like growing up in the area.
Inside every Community Chest is a stash of drugs and you really, really don't want to 'take a Chance'..!
Players reach a part of the board called the ‘Gang Member Strip’, where they chose whether or not to live a life of crime. Those who chose the gang option have a number of obstacles thrown in their way, which those who choose an honest life manage to avoid.
In real life, it's so often the other way round.

Sunday Funnies...

Ah, 'Trespasser' - I could never get through that game either, but probably not for this reason...

Saturday 19 April 2014

Someone Else Takes Exception To The Misuse Of 'Vulnerable'...

Helen Pidd on the rise of 'poverty porn' tv:
…local MP Austin Mitchell had written to the station boss demanding he cancel Skint's commission and "consider the ethics of the trend Channel 4 has embarked on of demonising the poor and making poverty entertainment".
Not everyone agrees.
The vicar says he wanted to showcase Shalom's "vital" youth work, which like all universal youth services, is under increasing pressure. It currently survives from a Comic Relief grant, topped up with council funding that was recently cut by two-thirds.
He has little time for some of the anti-Skint campaigners, who assume participants are too weak or ill-educated to understand the consequences of letting cameras into their living rooms.
"You keep hearing them being called 'vulnerable', but believe me, many are as vulnerable as a Sherman tank. They're no shrinking violets by any means. They want their stories told."
Heh! Quite. Often, these people know exactly what they are doing. Who, one wonders, is doing the manipulating?
At the public meeting, much talk was of the damage Skint could wreak. One teacher was in tears as she predicted the confidence-zapping effect such a programme could have on her pupils.
Most of the kids from these areas exhibit a worrying overconfidence, actually...
Steve Maxon, former deputy head of a Scunthorpe school near where the first series of Skint was filmed, said the programme, broadcast last May, may have caused irreparable damage.
'May have'..? Put up, or shut up!
"There are families there not speaking to each other any more as a result," he said, complaining that she show was "hugely demoralising" for an a town already lacking in self confidence.
Can a town actually 'lack confidence'..?
The meeting ended with the authoring of a letter to send to Channel 4, Keo, Ofcom and beyond, saying: "Our town is a wonderful place to live, and however desperate a Skint TV channel is to increase its ratings and advertising revenue, they have no right to portray it otherwise."
They have every right to do so. What right do you have to demand they stop?
Katie Buchanan, head of documentaries at Keo, believes her firm has been a victim of the fall-out from Benefits Street. She points out that the Nunsthorpe public meeting had been convened by Steve Chalke, a charismatic Anglican pastor who runs over 40 schools under the Oasis banner, including one on James Turner Street. Chalke has led the charge against Benefits Street – among his claims are that there are children at that school who haven't attended since the programme aired.
Which is a matter for the truant officer, of such a thing exists.
But Skint, says Buchanan, would "celebrate the resilience and ingenuity of these deindustrialised communities". They are listening to the objectors, she insists, but to pull out of the project would be a "dereliction of duty".
Well, really, it's down to the chosen interviewees. If they don't want to take part then it...

None of the participants from Scunthorpe had raised objections, she says, and series two would be broadcast later this year or early next.
Game over, objectors!

Been On Holiday, You White Socially Powerful Person, You..?

Gosh, it seems ages since we heard from SE Smith, doesn’t it?
Socialising as I do with many people who have had opportunities to travel, conversations about different corners of the world come up frequently, and those conversations often make me deeply uncomfortable.
I suspect there’s a long, long list of things that make this woman ‘uncomfortable’. Not, however, doughnuts, judging from her photo.

She’s usually carrying on about disability issues, but she’s clearly branching out this time:
One such example is the "the people are so beautiful!" conversation, in which the residents of a given nation are described as gentle and kind and loving, so warm and welcoming. This creates a mental image for me of noble savages, of a simple, "pure" society that isn't, you know, troubled by the realities of the world for the rest of us; the old "first world problems" slang term strikes again.
Right. Of course.
Here's the problem with this conversation: it's a reminder that the traveller is an observer, and most of the people I know who travel are from colonial nations, with positions of power and privilege in their home societies (otherwise travelling would be likely to be difficult).
So, an Easyjet full of Essex lads and perma-tanned ladettes jetting off to Majorca is really a display of colonial power? Fancy…
When you are a white, socially powerful person travelling overseas and you're describing the people you meet in simplistic terms, you elide the reality of their lives and turn them into Disney sideshow attractions there for your entertainment, rather than human beings going about their daily lives.
Oh, good heavens!
The people who describe human beings in this way often have scores of pictures, including images obviously taken without consent that discomfited the subject. There seems to be a general idea that invasive photography as a tourist is not only permitted but encouraged, to document these "beautiful people" in their "natural habitat" – their saris and salwar kameez, their yukata and other traditional dress, their strange and funny ways of cooking and farming and living! When people object to being photographed, tourists are offended, and they're even angrier when people ask for compensation in exchange for a photograph, as though photographing someone is a right that should just be naturally extended.
We’ve been here before, haven’t we? There’s no ‘right’ not to be photographed unless you decide to live in Hungary.
When I hear people described as "beautiful" en masse like that, it gives me a little shiver. I know that the speaker isn't talking about the individual beauty of a specific person ("I met a beautiful girl in the supermarket today"), but an agglomerated mass of apparently indistinguishable blobs. It carries extra gross weight when people go on to add that they actually are referring to physical beauty, something I commonly hear from white men travelling in Asia who apparently don't think there's anything wrong with saying "Asian women are just so beautiful".
Don’t worry, SE. No-one will ever trouble you by saying that about you

”I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.”

Costas Lapavitsas and Alex Politaki become the latest Greeks to demand to watch the world burn:
In December 2008, in Athens, a "special security officer" shot dead a young student, igniting demonstrations, strikes and riots. Young people were at the forefront of the protests, in a country with a long tradition of youth participation in social and political movements. Several commentators at the time spoke of a "youth rebellion".
Following severe austerity measures in 2010-11, there were again mass demonstrations and strikes, culminating in the "movement of the squares" – protests against the destruction of private and social life. Young people were again prominent, lending enthusiasm and spirit to the movement.
Hurrah! Hurrah for 'young people'! They'll leas us into world socialism before the...


Then there was nothing. As economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013, the youth of Greece became invisible in social and economic life. The young have been largely absent from politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe. On the fifth anniversary of the events of 2008, barely a few hundred young people demonstrated in Greek urban centres. There was no tension, no passion, no spirit, just tired processions repeating well-known slogans. Where were the 17-year-olds from five years ago?
They grew up..?
The answer seems to be that the European youth has been battered by a "double whammy" of problematic access to education and rising unemployment, forcing young people to rely on family support and curtailing their independence.
Translation: they realised they couldn't live forever on political fervour. Unlike Laurie Penny.
Matters cannot continue indefinitely along these lines. Frustration is mounting among both young people and their parents. But if those who make policy refuse to acknowledge the problem, major change could be delayed for a long time. The result would be a massive accumulation of sullen anger across Europe, with unpredictable outcomes. Those who care for social development had better take notice.
"Yeah, you just watch out, world! You wouldn't like us when we're angr - ooohh! Squirrel!"

Friday 18 April 2014

"She loves to laugh, she loves to sing, she loves everything..."

OK. Maybe not everything:
A partygoer bit a stranger on the face as she danced in a cage in a night club after drinking to celebrate her birthday, a court has heard.
Katie Bateman turned on the man in the club because she is suffering from a stress disorder as a result of traumatic events in her childhood, it was said.
One which clearly doesn't stop you going to nightclubs and starting fights. That's handy.
A psychologist's report showed she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder which makes her prone to panic attacks and depression. She was forced to leave a hearing at Exeter Crown Court when she became distressed as the Judge was told of the evidence against her.
I think we have an Oscar contender!
Her sentence was adjourned for reports by Judge Erik Salomonsen.
The Judge told her she would not face an immediate jail sentence.
And why not..?

Emmanuel Kalejaiye Had The Most Imaginative Defence Ever!

“I intended to protect my mum and there were two men wearing masks, they looked like balaclavas.
“They disarmed me and put me down on the floor and tied my arms behind my back. They sealed my mouth and put a black bag over my head and took me downstairs.
“They untied me and put something in my hand and got me down on my knees and said ‘stab your mother’.”
Kalejaiye said he had assumed the item in his hand was a knife.
He added: “I tried to resist but they pulled up my arm and pushed it forwards into something. At the time I could not work out what this was.”
Gosh, it’s a puzzle.
He also claims he was made to write down a “murder plan” by the gang of five masked men.
As you do.
Kalejaiye also said the gang found a bag containing a pair of pink jogging bottoms and a pink hooded top he had bought from Primark.
Earlier, the jury heard how the items were bought as a “joke” as his mum had told him his appearance would improve if he wore bright clothing.
He said: “They ordered me to put them on.”
Kalejaiye said he was later ordered to move his mother's car to make it look as if she had gone to work. At the time, he was still wearing the pink clothing and his mother’s pink flip-flops.
The trial continues. I can only hope to get such an interesting one when I go for jury service next month.

I wonder if the court canteen serves popcorn?

Update: Oh, seems the jury didn't believe him. Well, I never...

I'm Shocked, Shocked, To Learn That The MSM Is Faking It...

The front page of today's Daily Mirror is a horribly poignant picture of a child weeping from hunger to illustrate its story on food banks in Britain. It's a real picture of a real child, but it was taken in San Francisco in 2009. It's not a fake, then. But is it a lie?
Well, your first clue is that it’s in the ‘Mirror’, Andrew…
For most people this isn't a question worth asking. They'll answer it, of course, but their answers will actually be to a rather different question: do they feel morally outraged by the benefit reforms? If yes, then obviously the picture is true in every sense that matters.
Ah. ‘Fake, but accurate’, then? Tell me, how'd that work out for Dan Rather?
There is one final twist. If you go to the Flickr page from which the picture was lifted, it turns out that the little girl, the photographer's daughter, is not crying because she is hungry at all. She is crying because an earthworm she had befriended spurned her advances and wriggled away. And the really awful lesson of the Mirror's front page is that we belong to a species more easily moved to tears by the escape of a pet earthworm than by children we don't know going hungry in places we take care not to see.
It would have been far more poignant if she'd been weeping for the debasement of modern journalism, wouldn't it?

Thursday 17 April 2014

Gosh, Yes, It's A Hard Life On Benefits...

Defending, Cassandra Blige, said he was a recovering alcoholic and was attending treatment programme in Trinity Road, Tooting.
The couple, who have seven children aged one to 19-years-old, were also struggling to cope with recent bereavements.
Miss Blige said: "Mr Hardiman is a recovering alcoholic it's fair to say he was a chronic alcoholic. But he accepts full responsibility that these animals were neglected.
"It was a chaotic household and the parents weren't taking full responsibility of their household. They couldn't cope having animals as well as seven children."
Hmmm, couldn't cope, yet could somehow afford...

Makes you think, eh?

Well, I Dunno, Can’t Be Too Careful, Chris…

The head of West Midlands police has criticised the “desperately unfortunate” decision by Education Secretary Michael Gove to appoint a former head of anti-terrorism to investigate an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to take over schools in Birmingham.
Well, who did he think would be best placed to investigate it? Certainly not anyone in his own organisation!
Chief Constable Chris Sims warned that the appointment of Peter Clarke, the former head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, sent the wrong message about an investigation that followed claims religious hardliners had threatened to overthrow secular heads.
“This is a desperately unfortunate appointment. Peter Clarke has many qualities but people will inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as national coordinator for counter terrorism,” he said.
“This is about governance of schools, it’s about social cohesion and the implications for schools operating in an area that’s predominantly from one ethnicity,” the chief constable told The Independent.
“I want to be absolutely clear… that this scrutiny hasn’t become a counter-terrorism investigation.”

Keep On Runnin’ Part II

With its reputed ability to disembowel a human with a single blow, it is not the kind of creature one normally expects to encounter in the gentle countryside of the Home Counties.
But a swathe of Hertfordshire is on high alert for a 6ft tall bird which has escaped from its enclosure where it was kept as a pet.
The media are whipping up quite a bit of hysteria over this – you’d think it was dangerous.
The creatures are omnivorous, often eating insects and small vertebrates, as well as their preferred large-leafed plants, and they are said to be – usually – of a timid nature. However, the RSPCA have warned locals not to approach the runaway rhea if they spot it. Instead, they should report sightings to the organisation.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “They look nice but they are so strong it’s unbelievable. They aren’t listed as a dangerous animal but can kill you with one strike of their feet because their claws are six inches long. They will also go for your eyes with their beak.”
Well, yes, that’s just a natural defence mechanism against predators and other threats.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

No Longer Chasing Ambulances, Because Buses Are More Lucrative!

Kelly Watts and her son Dylan caught the 1C Yellow Bus servicefrom Tuckton Bridge after the youngster had finished nursery.
But as the toddler made his way to his favourite seat at the back of the bus, the driver pulled out and the tot was flung onto the floor.
*gasp* Not that would be a problem if mum was holding his hand, or paying attention…
“The bus driver didn’t wait for him to sit down and pulled out straight away,” she explained. “My son went flying.”
The mother of one is now calling upon bus drivers to ensure children are sat down before pulling out.
She said: “They wait for elderly people to sit down. It should be the same for kids.”
Clearly, Kerry, you’ve never been on a bus in my neck of the woods – they certainly don’t wait for pensioners to sit down (although they should do..)!
Jenni Wilkinson, head of marketing at Yellow Buses, said: “This matter is now the subject of a claim from Kelly Watts and is, therefore, with our insurers. In view of this we're unable to comment further.”
I really hope they don’t offer her cash to go away, but I suspect they will. And then we’ll have even more claims like this one.

Blaming Everyone But The Perpetrator…

Litter bugs in Barking and Dagenham should watch out as an environmental charity launches its annual Great Litter Count this week.
They are just counting it, not clearing it up? Isn’t that the equivalent of those people who decorate dog mess with spray-on paint?

But no. Actually, it’s more sinister than that…
Keep Britain Tidy is asking the public to help it find out which brands are the most littered on our streets. Volunteers can count litter anywhere, at any time and can upload their results using an easy online form.
Subject to no verification whatsoever. How scientific!

And the purpose? I mean, what do we care where the people who drop litter get it from in the first place?
With this information, the charity is aiming to work with the companies whose products are most often dropped on the ground to reduce waste left by their customers.
Ah! Of course! Blaming the provider of the service, not the person who misuses that service.

It’s the progressive way!

The Man With No Name…

…well, actually, he does have a name, but Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter thinks it should be kept secret:
Mr Salter would only identify the man as Christopher H, claiming he was worried about the safety of children connected to the dead man.
Ah, you can do a lot, can’t you, if you just claim it’s ‘for the children!!!’…
The Oxford Mail opposed Mr Salter’s unusual decision, saying he could not hold an inquest in public in which the deceased person was not properly identified.
Mr Salter said: “He has a highly unusual surname and it is my decision not to make public the surname of the individual. He is not anyone well-known, just a normal person, but we have an unusual surname.”
He recorded a verdict of a drug and drink-related death.
Very curious…

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Us, Be Responsible? OUTRAGE!

Farmers trying to graze sheep on their land claim they have been abused and threatened by dog walkers.
Members of farming partnership WD Carr said they could be fined if they do not maintain the field at the conservation area at the top of Coombe Rise in Saltdean.
But when one farmer started to put up a sheep-proof fence around the open-access land a dog-walker threatened to “knock his lights out” if sheep were put in the field. Another pet owner allegedly threatened to cut down and vandalise the fence.
And why are they so concerned?
Michael Carr, 55, of WD Carr Partnership said: “The dog walkers' problem is that if there are animals in the field they would have to keep their dogs under control, on a leash, while they pass through it.”
Whip out your twelve-bore and tell them you’ll let Fido have it if they don’t...

” And she's terrible partial to the periwinkle blue, boys. Have I made myself clear, boys?”

Essex fire service will spend £28,000 carrying out safety checks at travellers’ sites.
For fire risks. Obviously.
Ukip county councillor Kerry Smith, who sits on the fire authority voted against the proposals. He said: “This is a complete waste of money.
“Residents usually have to phone and ask for a fire safety check, so I’m not sure why travellers should have special treatment.”
Because they are special
A spokesman for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “We have a duty to keep all families safe, particularly those identified as being vulnerable.
“We have a range of early intervention programmes for all targeted wards where we have identified groups of people at risk.
“The cash also goes towards educational seminars for the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit.”
Anything less ‘vulnerable’ than a traveller, I’ve yet to see…

Keep On Runnin'!

The Met Police thought they had found her but an elite woman athlete from Sierra Leone is still missing after finishing the London Marathon
Police said Mami Konneh Lahun, 24, vanished after finishing the event in 20th place. She was due to fly home later today but did not return to her temporary accommodation following the race.
The runner had been staying at an address near Greenwich since arriving in the country on April 7.
She'll blend in well there!
Scotland Yard said she had no known links with the UK and did not have a mobile phone.
 Nope, she'll stick out like a sore thumb!

Monday 14 April 2014

”This has resulted in her effectively being a prisoner in her own home… ”

Well, that seems only fitting…  
Farah Rashid, defending…"She had admitted that she did not care for the dog as she should have and I'm not trying to find excuses, but she didn't beat the dog and as witness statements prove she had previously cared for the dog well."
Give it up, Farah, if that’s the best you can do.

She got 18 weeks and will probably serve less than half that. And they’ll feed and water her during that time. She’s lucky I’m not in charge of the prison.

Important Cycling Safety Tips

A coroner warned cyclists of the danger of ignoring red lights after finding this caused the death of a young woman at the notorious Bow roundabout.
Mary Hassell spoke out after hearing from police that Venera Minakhmetova “most likely” cycled through a red light prior to being killed instantly under the wheels of a HGV loaded with concrete.
The family, clearly, don’t accept this:
However Ms Minakhmetova’s sister Dina, who attended court with her mother and aunt, told BBC London afterwards that she doubted she would have jumped the lights.
“She was always suspicious about this roundabout...When Venera went there it wasn’t safe,” she said.
Nothing’s safe if you are going to ignore the road signals, is it?
HGV driver Mark Stoker said he had not seen any cyclists in the bike lane, or in the advance stop area 17 metres ahead, as he waited at traffic lights. GPS and tachograph data from his vehicle showed he was travelling at 13mph at the time of the collision.
He told the inquest: “I was three-quarters of the way round and then I just heard a metal noise and stopped straight away and realised what had happened.”
Oh, those awful lorries! Good thing St Boris is going to ensure they all meet stringent new safety…

The vehicle was fitted with sensors to detect cyclists alongside, had an audible warning telling road users when it is turning left, and was fitted with warning stickers telling cyclists to stay back, he said.
A lot of good that did.

But you can’t legislate for people who choose to take risks despite the warnings. Oh, and it probably helps not to be drunk too.

I Think I Can See Why Police No Longer Bother…

A burglar who stole from a former colleague's home has been given a chance because of difficulties surrounding his girlfriend's pregnancy.
The court heard he had 25 previous convictions for 61 offences but Recorder Jonathan Carroll said he would defer sentencing him for his latest crimes for six months because of problems with his girlfriend's pregnancy.

I just…

Sunday 13 April 2014

The Great Southend Wigwam…

The mystery is solved – this curious structure that appeared on the Victoria Interchange last week is down to none other than everyone’s favourite fakecharity, Sustrans.

You’ll remember them from money-squandering ideas featured on this very blog. This is clearly another.

White Dog Bird

Warwick University students are being forced to run the gauntlet of angry swans.
The birds - who are going through their breeding season - are said to be behaving particularly aggressively on the campus in Coventry at the moment.
So far, so normal.
One 24-year-old student at the university, has been capturing images of the swans confronting terrified students.
“These swans are very annoying, and the students feel as though they’re being bullied.
I’m from India, and they attack me especially, they focus straight on me.
“We’ve been warned that the swans will be a bit feisty at this time of year, but they go for me all year round.
“I think they don’t like too many Indians in England - maybe the swans here are a little bit racist.”
According to the song, everyone is…

This Headline Really Needs An 'H'...

...doesn't it?

Sunday Funnies...

There ain't nothing new under the sun...

Saturday 12 April 2014

A Loss Of Social Decency, Nell..?

Nell Frizzell has a problem with the Internet:
There is a rule when it comes to the internet: if you can think of it, then it probably already exists. There are thousands of strange and brilliant blogs and Facebook groups to prove the theory.
She then lists some of the ones she personally likes. They are OK, clearly. They don’t do much for me, but, well, horses for courses, and all that.

But there’s one she does have problems with:
Women Who Eat On Tubes has 15,400 members and counting on Facebook. The David Bailey fan page has, by contrast, just 1,782.
For those of you who haven't seen this latest example of public transport trolling, allow me to explain.
Well, I don’t think you’re going to be very informative, since you clearly believe this to be ‘trolling’ and so haven’t the faintest clue about…well, anything .
Women Who Eat On Tubes is an open Facebook group where people post full-frontal pictures of women eating on the London underground. So far, so invasive.
Because scoffing a greasy dripping burger on public transport (or a box of fried chicken) isn't at all ‘invasive’ of others' personal space?
What tips the balance just that little bit further is that the photographers also upload the time the photo was taken, the food the woman was eating and the tube line that she was travelling on.
I have huge reservations about people taking photos of strangers on trains in the first place. Particularly when those people are made easily identifiable and the subject of anonymous, derisive, malicious humour. But this group sticks in my gullet for other reasons.
And, of course, it’s the ‘Is it ‘cos I is a woman?’ excuse:
Firstly, Women Who Eat On Tubes highlights, once again, that age-old, tiresome comparison between sex and food. I hate that plus-size models are so often photographed chewing on bloody steaks or drizzled in honey.
*sigh* Sometimes, Nell, a cigar is just a cigar…
I don't think we should follow Hungary's model and make it illegal to take a photograph without gaining the permission of everyone in frame…
Well, that would be unenforceable. Which is, I suspect, the only reason you aren't calling for it.
… but the trend towards photographing strangers feels like a loss of social decency. We are losing our grip on what it is to be human. We are forgetting that other people have feelings too.
Except those people who might object to you stuffing your face on public transport, I suppose?
Finally, as someone who relishes eating whatever I want, wherever I want, whenever I want, I hugely dislike the fact that women eating on the tube is even seen as noteworthy. To enjoy food alone and to eat without shame are vital parts of becoming self-sufficient. And self-sufficiency is the surest path to unshakable happiness.
Yes, people objecting to your gustatory habits are oppressing you! How dare they not celebrate your freedom to shove a kebab in your capacious maw on a packed Northern Line train!
So, what is the answer? Sophie Wilkinson, a journalist, discovered a photo of herself uploaded to Women Who Eat On Tubes last week. After emailing the photographer, complaining to Facebook and approaching Transport For London, Wilkinson's attempts to address the situation were frustrated by the fact that to take photos of strangers on the tube is not illegal.
So, there’s no answer. Other than to wait until you get home.

Oh, you could try a ‘sit in’ if you want, but you won’t affect anyone other than your fellow commuters who will just view you as even more of a nuisance than if you were shovelling fries into your mouth...

Update: The Facebook page has now been pulled. Are they happy now that the company has rolled over to appease them?
Speaking to the Standard later, Ms McKay said she was still planning to hold Monday's protest as she said the original group "reflected a wider issue".
She said: "I am really glad that it's been taken down. I am quite surprised. But I think it reflects a wider issue. There were still 20,000 people who loved that group. There is still a message to be sent out."
Clearly not. And they won’t be happy until they’ve punished the thoughtcrime of liking a Facebook page.

Or perhaps they’ll never be happy? They seem the types, after all…

”And the award for best comedy show of 2014 goes to…”

”…Panorama: Don't Cap My Benefits, BBC One!”.

Mainly because if you didn't laugh at this pathetic attempt to drum up sympathy for those affected by the government benefit cuts, you’d cry…
Councils such as Brent are also struggling because, in 2011, the government cut what they could pay private landlords.
Laurence Coaker, Brent's head of housing needs, said some private landlords were losing £200 or £300 a week, so they evicted tenants and refused to relet their accommodation to the council.
"By putting on a cap, which is for the whole country, it hasn't worked for London or the South East," he said.
"What we're having to do is to find accommodation which the households can afford by claiming the housing benefit, but that's outside of Brent, and families don't want to go there, understandably, because they've lived in Brent all their lives."
Well, it turns out, ‘all their lives’ is a bit of hyperbole in a lot of cases:
Large families, such as that of Awes Osman, who originally came from Somalia and has lived in Brent for 23 years, are worst hit.
‘Large families’..? On benefits? Well, why not? The taxpayer’s paying!
He has seven children and the rent for his four-bedroom house was around £500 a week, but that is the total amount of benefits he received after the cap. The council believed his only option was moving to cheaper accommodation, in Birmingham.
"I've never been to Birmingham. We lose everything if we go to Birmingham. If we lose the school, that will be the biggest damage. And we have to lose our job as well. I live all my entire life in London," he said.
You’d ‘never been to England’ at one time, but you sure adapted well to that, didn't you?

No, ‘Guardian’, This Is NOT ‘A Failure Of The Jury’… fact, the jury succeeded where the CPS failed. As your columnist, Joshua Rozenberg, points out:
Evans is only the latest in a series of high-profile defendants to be found not guilty of sexual assault. Inevitably, questions are being asked about why the CPS brought charges in the first place. It is, after all, the job of the CPS to filter evidence obtained by the police.
Before bringing a prosecution, the CPS must decide whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction and whether a prosecution would be in the public interest.
Note that: ‘the public interest’. Not the interest of the pressure groups fighting to change our justice system (and disgracefully being given a sympathetic ear by the establishment).
Those who objected to the more cautious approach that used to be taken by the CPS complained that prosecutors seemed particularly reluctant to allow cases of sexual assault to go to trial.
These are notoriously difficult for juries. Often, there are just two witnesses to the alleged offence: the complainant and the defendant. Juries must decide which one of them is telling the truth. The most telling charge against the CPS is that it has been too willing to listen to those who told it to bring charges even if the evidence was not very strong, and simply "leave it to the jury to decide".
But the message from juries to the CPS is very clear: if you produce the evidence, we'll convict the defendants. But if you don't, we won't.
Don’t worry. Kier Starmer has plans to fix this!

Friday 11 April 2014

What's In A Name..?

The latest addition to Brighton and Hove’s night- time attractions has been criticised...
Oh boy! *settles down with popcorn*
...for its “overtly sexist” name. New speakeasy-themed night- club Dirty Blonde, which held its invite-only opening night on Thursday, has been criticised by equality campaigners for its provocative name.
Is anyone of any worth complaini...

Oh. Thought not:
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “It’s disappointing that this club has chosen such an outdated name.
It's disappointing that there were clearly so few candidates of any worth you were electable, but... *shrugs*
“I thought that we had moved on from the overt sexism of the past, but this club appears not to mind alienating half of its potential clients.”
Because Caroline doesn't realise men can be blonde too...
Ian Freeman, a spokesman for Dirty Blonde, said the bar name has “no relation to feminist or male issues” but was simply the name of a cocktail of vodka, vermouth, banana liqueur and pineapple juice that company CEO Reuben Harley tasted in a New York speakeasy.
It sounds horrible, but so long as I don't have to drink one..
Mr Freeman said: “It is never our intention to be sexist. We want to attract people of both sexes to our nightclub.”
This is Brighton, chum - set your sights a little higher. I'm pretty sure there's more than two sexes there..!

John Harris Wakes Up And Smells The Coffee…

Let's face it: increasingly it feels as if the Tories will win the next election, possibly outright.
Heh! I bet there were some frosty glances his way at the ‘Guardian’ watercooler after this…
What underlines the sense that Tories are on an upswing is the fact that they, and the right more widely, have come up with a solid vision of the future, and may yet persuade a sufficient share of the public to buy in.
Meanwhile Labour’s vision of the future is…well, not 'the future' at all:
And the left? Another lesson of history is that Labour wins when it does a good impression of owning the future – witness 1945, 1964 and 1997. On a bad day, though, it can feel like many of the people at the top of the party want to return to some mushy, statist version of social democracy redolent of 1993.
Funny. He clearly can’t see that Cameron’s government isn’t really all that different.
What Marx and Engels would call the mode of production has long since changed. But have enough people on the left actually noticed?
Well, no. How many on the Left actually work, after all?

And a good half of them don’t seem to realise that Thatcher isn’t prime minister any more…

Are They In League With The PinkStinks Loons..?

But no, it's not the usual suspects, but the equally loony LimpDumbs:
Liberal Democrat politicians have taken aim at the bright new pink paint job on a former jeweller’s in Surbiton saying it spoils the building’s appearance.
The garish yellow colour scheme of the shop a few doors away is OK, I suppose?
FP Turner and Sons, which closed on Christmas Eve last year, has been painted bright pink by its new owners.
And now Liberal Democrats in Surbiton have started a petition to ask the owners to change their minds.
Why a petition? Why aren't they demanding it comply with building regu...

But the petition admits: "Planning law cannot help as it specifically allows for the application of paint to a building, even in a conservation area."

Thursday 10 April 2014

Frankly, Karen Kay, Your Child Has More Problems Than His School…

Her nine-year-old son Jason Kay is now terrified of having a shower on his own and has become afraid of the dark, she said.
… the class at Eastfield Primary School was played the clip from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie, including the dramatic music leading up to character Marion Crane being stabbed to death and her screams, earlier this week.
The school in Anlaby Road, west Hull, insisted the purpose of the lesson was to "establish mood created by music".
But that doesn’t appease the fearsome Mrs Kay. Not one little bit…
"He now feels he has to take his plastic sword and knife with him every time he takes a shower or goes to the toilet.
"He is always asking an adult to guard the door while he does whatever he has to do in the bathroom.
"This has had a massive impact on the way he thinks and I am furious with the school."
I’m, frankly, amazed that you think this story isn’t going to get the poor little chap bullied into the middle of next week!
"I don't mind admitting that I get a bit scared when I hear or see any type of murder scene, so it is no wonder Jason is so frightened – he is nine years old."
Philip Larkin was right, wasn’t he?


The System Is Working – Let’s Change It!

Andrew McDonald (former IPSA head) bewails the current antipathy towards MPs over expenses:
Like the mother-in-law joke, the grasping MP has found a place in the British public consciousness. And the caricature is not going anywhere fast.
No, clearly not.
The system introduced by Ipsa after the 2010 election has worked: more robust rules, an end to second mortgages funded by the taxpayer, the John Lewis list consigned to history – and with a cumulative saving to the taxpayer of £35m and counting. And all of this backed by transparency: details of every claim published for public scrutiny. The egregious behaviour evident in 2009 has stopped: MPs want to work within the rules.
Until they can find a way to bend, rather than break, them, I suppose.

But wait, isn’t this good news?
How much better it would have been if decisive action had been taken before the crisis did lasting damage to our political system. That lesson – the need to take prompt, radical action, ideally in concert with the other parties – has application elsewhere. I would want to urge early action on one front, widely acknowledged to be a problem but as yet unreformed. When Sir Hayden Phillips reported on the funding of our political parties in 2007 the message was clear: they were in decline nationally and locally and looking to make up for the shortfall in their funding by securing large donations.
Yeeeeeessss…? And how is that my probl…

Oh. Of course.
The main contours of a solution are now well established: caps on donations; tighter controls on general election spending; tougher regulation of third party expenditure, and greater transparency on the sources of party income. And yes, any solution will require a significant increase in public funding of parties. Of course the taxpayer funding will be unpopular, but surely it is preferable to the next scandal over party donations and the further erosion of trust in our political system.
No. No, it isn’t. The new system works. Let’s stick to it.