Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Am An Arse


Xmas Shopping - A Revelation!

As I mentioned previously, I didn't get around to doing any Xmas shopping until the last Saturday before Xmas itself (23rd) and was expecting it to be a complete nightmare in terms of the sheer numbers of people and the lack of anything nice to buy still being in the shops.

Wrong on both counts as it happens. Got into London at about 10.30am, and three (count them, three! All men!) of us got off the tube at Leicester Square. And the place was deserted. Nobody else on the platform, and no-one else on the escalators. This weirded me out so much I turned to one of the other blokes and said "quiet isn't it?".

This weirdness continued when the queue of people I saw in the ticket hall were all tourists waiting for theatre tickets, and not apparently planning on going on the tube at all. Stupidly, I assumed that there would be loads of people already in London, and that I'd be greeted by the mass of humanity when I got to street level.

You know that scene from "28 Days Later" where the guy wanders through a deserted London? It was a bit like that. But more taxis. And slightly less zombies.

So I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to get their Xmas shopping done early in order to "avoid the rush", as it left me with empty streets and quiet shops while I was doing mine. Cheers everybody!


Xmas Spirit 2006

Vodka, as per usual, beat the other competitors into a cocked hat. Sambucca did have a late run, but finished a distant second. Baileys would have been the outright winner - 10 shots on Xmas Day alone - but was disqualified because it's not really a spirit.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Xmas Shopping

Well, the good news is, due to me being a complete idiot, I was under the impression - until yesterday - that Xmas was still over 2 weeks away. Why I thought this is somewhat unclear, but as I have to do a lot of stuff at work that involves me being in March 2007*, I'm blaming that.

Consequently, I've done not a single bit of shopping. Not even cards. And I'm working until Friday evening at 6pm, which means I'll have to run the gauntlet of Central London two days before Xmas. Lucky me! John Lewis, please be my saviour, and I promise to be good next year and not just hang around lustfully in your white goods department.

Fortunately, due to the rather disastrous genetics of my family, there's not a lot of us left, so less people who'll be waking up grumpy on Xmas day to discover the lack of a present from me. And those lucky few who do get presents, sorry they're probably a bit crap. Or really weird.

* Not actually you understand, I don't have a time machine just yet - there's a problem with the folding mechanism or something - but as soon as I "Kill Phil" (working title for the film) again, I should get hold of the one he's got.


Monday, December 18, 2006

The Impossibility Of Time Travel.

Had a long conversation about time travel at the weekend, as you do. And well, here's the thing. If I go forward a year and kill Phil Collins, then come back to the present, give my time machine to someone else, and they go forward 51 weeks and kill him then, how would I have killed him the first time?

And, if this pattern is repeated and filmed, how much money do you reckon we could make out of a film where Phil Collins gets murdered 52 times?

Quick Post, Lots Of Topics

Disney believe Santa is their character.

Residents of a Swedish village want to fjuck off.

Over 1 million innocent people already on Home Office DNA database.

EU passport "cloned in 5 mins", but Home Office don't see a problem with that.

Oh, and Newcastle won. w00t.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Tequila On A School Night.

It is not, I repeat NOT wise to drink several shots of tequila on a school night, no matter how good it feels at the time.

I'm the best part of useless today, but still only second most crap in the office! It seems Scott has his uses after all...

And I'm out again tonight, so tomorrow will be double fun.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thin End Of The Wedge

Just read this article on the BBC. It seems that absent parents who don't keep up payments to their children may have their passports and/or driving licences removed from them under proposals currently being put forward in a White Paper.

I'm sure this will meet with fairly popular approval, however it does raise certain issues in my mind. Firstly, if you know where the person lives to the extent that you can physically go round and remove their driving licence, why don't you just remove goods from their property to the value of what they owe?

Secondly, if you don't know where the person lives and intend to remove their passport from them when they try to leave the country, how do you know you've got the right person? There could be a lot of embarrassed John Smith's in departure lounges, having to explain to angry partners who this family is that they're not maintaining financially.

The thing that really concerns me, however, is that if you start with absent parents, who's next for having their passport and driving licence taken off them?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Becca/Bob Update

For those of you who know Becca/Bob, there's a new update on her site that I got from her dad, Peter, today.

For those of you who don't know Becca/Bob, please read it, and then put your hands into your pockets and donate some money to the "Angels" fund. The monthly cost of her treatment has gone up to £5000, and she's still not getting any funding from the NHS - despite them viewing her being alive at all as some kind of miracle.


Monday, December 11, 2006

I Am A Sick, Sick Man.

Okay, this really made me laugh. And before anyone complains, I'm not talking about the murder of the women in Ipswich, or how they were referred to as prostitutes rather than just as women by the media.

No. It was the comment section that made me laugh so hard I now have to clean my keyboard and my monitor: Stupidly I'd thought it would be okay to read that section while having a quick drink.

Please skim/read the article and then read the comments. You should hopefully realise which one of the first ten had such an explosive effect on me. Genius.

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Backdoor No Fly List

No debate, no discussion, no mention of it before it happened, but blammo, welcome to the UKs own No Fly List!

After a short (voluntary for the moment) trial of fingerprinting equipment at Heathrow, the unsurprising next step has already happened. This piece in El Reg covers all the bases quite clearly (with the usual "ohmygod!" slant from John Lettice) and does leave you wondering just what the Government have planned next.

Particulalrly when combined with this piece regarding the Police's desire to collect DNA from babies so they've got a complete database of everyone born in the UK. Okay, so it's reported in The Sun, but, to be fair, they do actually quote a real person and there's no photoshopped pictures of "what it might look like".


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bah Humbug

I'm not usually one for doing a great deal at Xmas, this year being no exception, but I wouldn't mind actually going on a Company Christmas Party (CCP) for a change.

Not just for the usual excess of alcohol - which I can actually manage quite easily by myself, as mentioned previously - but for the shared entertainment of seeing people you work with get hilariously drunk and generally embarrass themselves for the next few months.

Unfortunately, where I am currently working, we don't do a CCP - my boss likes Xmas even less than I do, and will actually be doing the Paris-Dakar rally over the "festive period" - so I'm actively touting to go to someone else's.

So if anyone would like to invite me to their CCP, I'll consider each and any offer I receive, and then probably turn up. I'll even wear a suit if necessary and pretend I work in a different office. It needs to be somewhere within a couple of hours of London, but apart from that I'm not fussy.

/me sits back and waits for the offers to flood in.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Is A Pagan Festival

Hello to anyone coming here from the BBC.

This is the link which kinda proves what I'm saying.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Function Shift & Paying Twice

Okay, first of all, an explanation of what function shift is. This is where a policy or procedural structure which is designed for one thing, moves to be being used for something else that it wasn't intended for, which then becomes the primary usage.

So, for example, there's a database of children's fingerprints kept so that they can use the school library, but after a school building is burned down, the police use that database to see if anyone in the school matches any evidence found at the scene. Then, because they've looked through the database, the police keep any fingerprints that are in it "for crime fighting purposes" and then look through any other school databases to see if there's a match there. And then keep all them on file as well. Not what the database was originally intended for, but there you go.

Secondly, an apology for this being so damned long.

As you may have heard, there has been a report suggesting that there should be road pricing in the next ten years. Now, from an environmental point of view, this is a very good idea. Cutting down pointless journeys - such as driving your kid to the school in your fricking Chelsea Tractor, rather than making him/her get the bus or walk - is an excellent idea, and I'm sure there may even be less road deaths as well.

In order for this idea to work, the report (and I think the Government) suggest that we'll need to fit a complex piece of kit to the car so that they'll know where the car is and when, so that the charging can be effective. Obviously, you wouldn't be charged as much to use the M25(say) at 3am as you would at 8am or 5pm. And drivers who avoided heavily congested routes wouldn't have to pay at all.

But obviously the people in charge of the scheme *cough*Government*cough* would need to know that these people were genuinely somewhere else at the time, and hadn't just covered up the transmitter with a lead box. Which is why they'd be tracking you all the time, not just when the charging is actually in effect. A bit like they never turn off the cameras reading the number plates of everyone who goes into the Congestion Zone in London, regardless of when you travel into there.

However, there's one small point. We already do pay. It's called Duty. And we pay it on petrol. Handily, it almost exactly works out on a mile-by-mile basis already. What's even better is, if you sit on a congested road with your engine running, you use more petrol going a shorter distance than if you take a less congested route. So you end up paying more if you go on the congested route. Which I think is what the report is suggesting anyway.

With the petrol option, there's no expensive, likely to go wrong piece of electronics that has to be installed in EVERY car in the UK. There's no large scale roll out of a complex database project (which usually fails the second a Government get involved), like the NHS database. Also, there's not really any way to avoid paying the petrol option - unless you drive to France or Ireland to fill up your tank.

The other great thing about the petrol option is that there's no chance of function shift. There's no way that the Government can track any given vehicle for the past 24hrs/30days/6months/year. Or work out where you were having your meeting about getting them out of power. Or having that extra-marital affair. Or sitting when you have to get out of the house and scream your head off.

With the petrol option, there's no way of them deciding to check who was in an area at a certain time "for crime fighting purposes" and then deciding to track every single vehicle and where else they'd been for the previous week.

The Government's preferred option is to install a tracking device, rather than just increase the Duty on petrol. I would suggest - although I'm sure I'll be called paranoid about this - that the reason is, they want to erode any and all personal freedoms and track the whereabouts of every single person living in this country.

Think, if you're not in your car or motorbike, but you're travelling, how are you getting around? If you're on foot or on a bicycle, you and your face will be nicely visible to any of the increasing number of CCTV cameras that cover a large amount of the country. If you're on public transport, more CCTV cameras and a system (Oyster card) that tracks where you travel once on the network.

Complain to your MP, raise your objections to this proposal now, and tell them that if they even express an opinion that could even be taken as marginal support for the scheme, you'll actively get them voted out at the next election. Which would be a big loss for them if they get their 60% payrise.


Being A New Man, From Newcastle, Man

Came in from work, sorted out our internet access again (Zen had a problem today which kicked us off, but I have now f1x0r3d* the router) then made a very nice meal (even if I do say so myself) of griddled vegetables with pan-fried smoked salmon fillet, and then, during the half-time of the Champions League match I was watching on ITV4, re-hung and re-attached the toilet door (which had come off the hinges late last week). I've also done some laundry and taken all the trash out (recycling kept apart, natch).

It's weird. I feel I should now go to the pub, get drunk, have a fight, and then come home and sew my own cuts together, while eating a kebab, just to restore the sense of balance.

Fret not though, I still don't do ironing.

* f1x0r3ed is the opposite of fux0r3d, by the way. As if that helps in the slightest. Oh, wait, this may help.


As It's Coming Up To Christmas

It's fun to stay at the...

I thought I'd try to offend a different religion every week. Next week, the Flying Spaghetti Monsterists.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me!

Despite not wanting to, I had to work on my birthday. It wasn't for very long, but still, it was a Saturday! Then, having watched the Arsenal v Spurs game on TV, had to do more work! Okay, this second bout of work only involved making a sound system work in my local, and I did get paid for it in beer, but the sentiment is the same. Shouldn't work on my birthday.

Foreign Ownership Of Football Clubs

So, at the present time, six clubs in the Premiership are in the hands of foreign investors with Liverpool likely to become the seventh in the next few days. This will mean one third of the Premiership will be owned by chairmen from overseas.

Not necessarily a bad thing, and this won't lapse into some longing for the times when racism, hooliganism and appalling lack of regard for the safety of the fans was a great deal more common than it is now. I do however, question the mentality of some fans of clubs - such as my own - who actively look for the short-term benefit without looking at the potential long-term losses in these overseas investors.

Okay, so you may end up with the situation Chelsea are in: two Premierships in a row, and a team normally only assembled with a hacked version of Championship Manager. Wonderful news for the fans who've been with them through thick and thin: The fans who remember how bad they used to be. Unfortunately this success has come at a price.

Chelsea is now one of the most expensive stadiums to watch football in, not just in the Premiership, but in the world. And you can get away with charging what you want should demand outstrip supply. Which of course it does, as every glory hunting fan in London (and beyond) now claims to have always liked Chelsea and tries to get to at least one game a season.

Unfortunately, Chelsea have also become the image of a fantastically grand-scale money laundering operation. Buy a player, lets call him Damien Duff, from Blackburn Rovers for £17m, pay him, oh, let's say £70k a week (and I'm probably being conservative there) for two seasons (but only really get one decent season out of him) then sell him to Newcastle United for £5m. Right. Good business sense there. The money Newcastle paid for him is less than his wages would have cost Chelsea for the two years he was there, even if he was *only* on £50k a week.

Repeat with, oh, so many to choose from; Juan Sebastien Veron (bought for £15m, let go on a free having spent two seasons on loan away from Chelsea); Adrian Mutu (released from his contract - at a cost of £13.8m - when he was discovered to have a drug habit); Shaun Wright-Phillips (bought for £21m, languished in reserves and on the bench, now probably going for £10m in January sales); and, Scott Parker (bought for £10m, played repeatedly out of position as a winger(!), sold to the Toon for £6.5m).

So, perhaps money laundering is why Abramovich bought Chelsea. Or perhaps he's a great footballing philanthropist? Who knows. But why are so many other, seemingly sensible, people without dirty money to clean looking to "invest" in the Premiership?

Well, how about this.

Today, BT announced it would, in the near future, be launching a service to watch football on your mobile and over its broadband services. At the minute, Sky is pretty much the only way to (legally) watch Premiership football. But this move by BT marks, I believe a change in the paradigm which has potentially HUGE consequences for the consumer.

It can only be a few months before clubs start to sell their own live online footage, charging the fans who can't get into the ground slightly less to watch it somewhere else. And that money is more likely to come directly back to the clubs than it is having been passed through Rupert Murdoch's sweaty Aussie hands. Clubs will start to sell their own television rights (as already happens in Italy) and the "bigger" clubs will get even richer.

So, a canny foreign investor, getting in now, can shell out a relatively large amount of cash in the short-term, take some money from online matches yet still reap the benefit of the Murdoch Monopoly payments for the next few seasons, and then make serious cash from selling their own rights when the current deal runs out.

It is entirely possible that in less than one generation, there'll be no shared experience of watching a big game. Not all football fans will see the same incidents - like Paul Gascoigne being carried off in the FA Cup at Wembley his career effectively ending on a stretcher or like David Beckham scoring from his own half at Wimbledon and being on the verge of being internationally famous - because individual clubs will own that footage. If you want to see it, you're going to have to pay for it.

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