Monday, April 30, 2007

Banning Kids From Drinking

Okay, so if the title reads like that, then it sounds perfectly reasonable to the casual reader that children should indeed not be drinking alcohol. If it was re-worded to the more contentious "Nanny State Rides Again" then you might get a different set of opinions.

Basically, a one-issue group has issued an ultimatum to the Government that children should not be allowed to drink alcohol AT ALL before the age of 15. It may come as a surprise that they're allowed to anyway, but as long as the alcohol is purchased by an adult, children as young as 5 are legally allowed to consume booze.

This is normally done in their home and under parental supervision - such as having watered down wine with dinner - but can take place in bars or restaurants where food is served (although then there is a specific list of what alcohol can be consumed).

If Alcohol Concern's message really is one of trying to curb underage drinking, shouldn't they be actually encouraging parents to introduce small amounts of alcohol into their children's lives from an early age, rather than the teenager suddenly trying to drink their own body weight in booze the second they get hold of it illegally?

I've spent a lot of time in States where drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and it makes the allure of alcohol all the more appealing. If Alcohol Concern manage to persuade our Nanny Government that this should become law, the demon drink (and I do accept that there are a LOT of problems associated with it) will be in higher demand among pre-teens than it is at present.

"What do you mean I can't have any? I didn't want any before, but now you've taken it away from me, I'm desperate for some!"

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Friday, April 27, 2007

New Post On Becca/Bob

Evening all, just got back from seeing the Lostprophets at The Scala and saw an email from Becca's Dad, Peter, in my mailbox. I've been fearing getting a mail like this and, while I may be reading between the lines here, I have to admit, things do not sound good.

I raise a drink to you Bob, I hope you get to have one soon.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Mucky Pup Quiz

Went down to Islington again last night - missed last week due to being in Wales on work business - and was joined by Jamie. Our team of two fought bravely to be joint first at the half, but eventually ended up second by 7 points. Normally, I'd have been delighted with this, seeing as the winning team had five people to our two.

However, I'd been watching the team who eventually beat us from early in the first half. Normally I wouldn't, but as it was unusually quiet this week I could see pretty much everyone quite easily. From my vantage point I was convinced that one of their team was cheating and using his phone to get answers. When he then pulled out a large tube map to find out which four stations on the Underground have the word "Saint" in them, I had my suspicions confirmed.

But generally, I guess I was pleased with the result. Apart from Jamie missing his last train home and leaving his phone and wallet in the taxi before he eventually got to mine to crash on the sofa at nearly 2.30am.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Political Brinksmanship

Doesn't this just smack of political brinksmanship? So if an opposition party don't agree to the extension of the holding without trial period, they can be accused of being "soft on criminals" in the next election campaign?

It stinks. We hold people longer than is necessary, and release them without charge and without recompense should they have lost their jobs in the intervening period.

If you can't be sure that someone is likely to have committed a crime, then do more groundwork on the evidence collection side until you have a case which can be proved in less than four weeks. It's fairly simple. Then you won't have cases like the brothers in East London who were held for weeks while their house was taken apart over a "suicide vest" that simply didn't exist.

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Monday, April 23, 2007


First of all, Happy 25th Birthday to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. I got one of the 16K versions when they first came out. It melted the carpet in the lounge because the heatsink was screwed. I sent it back and got another one which worked perfectly. That was sold to Steven Shotton a few years later and I upgraded to the 48K version.

I still work in IT, Steven still works in IT. I think the ZX Spectrum was part of the reason why. Fantastic little machine. Happy Birthday.

Secondly, Boris Yeltsin, you may have been drunker than an Irishman on St Patrick's Day in Boston, but good lord, you did entertaining things while in charge of Russia. I, and probably the vodka makers of the world, salute you, and raise a little water in your honour.

Rest in peace, at least the hangovers won't be as bad now.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Alan Johnston

You may know that Alan Johnston is a reporter for the BBC who went missing in Gaza on March 12. For more information about him, please click the link. Thanks.

Alan Johnston banner


Monday, April 16, 2007

Oobie Doobie Doobie

Watched the return of Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield on Friday night. Overall, it was pretty damn funny, particularly the Laurel & Hardy/Brokeback Mountain skit which was wonderful. The funniest part for me - being from Newcastle - was the rich London couple who have Clive the Geordie as a pet.

I've managed to get the sketch off YouTube - don't know how long it'll be up there for before the BBC lawyers take it down - but it is over a minute into this. It is worth it though, in my opinion.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adverts YET again

New Paramol Advert

I just watched this advert and correct me if I'm wrong, but they seem to be suggesting that period pain is similar to the pain you get from being fisted.

The Triple Velvet Kid

It's not just because I despise children that I think this is a genuinely disturbing advert, is it? Or is it because it's genuinely disturbing?

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Kurt Vonnegut Dead.

Deeply saddened by the news that Kurt Vonnegut has died.

Read "Breakfast Of Champions" when I was about 13 or 14 and it really changed the way I felt about fiction. Got me back into books, in fact, and influenced the authours I read today and, on occasion, the way in which I write. He will be sadly missed.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Housing Market

I know I'm not the first to point this out - and I doubt I'm going to be the last - but what the hell is going on with the housing market in this country?

Where I currently live (North London) we pay £850 a month between us to rent a two bedroom flat. That rent includes Council Tax and Water Rates and I consider it to be a pretty sweet deal. Yes the kitchen could be bigger and the bathroom would be greatly improved by a shower that worked, but otherwise, it's not a bad place to live.

I've just been looking to see what the cost of buying a similar place would be. And I was utterly astounded. For a one bed in Palmers Green I'd be looking at £160k. Assuming I don't have a deposit of any great size, that would mean a mortgage repayment of about £1k a month. Which is more than we're currently paying for somewhere twice the size, and there'd still be Council Tax, Water Rates, Buildings Insurance etc on top of that.

How in God's name is *anyone* supposed to buy somewhere when it costs that much?

And it's not just because I'd want to buy in roughly the same area I currently live in. There's just not a lot out there. If I wanted to live in Tottenham or Edmonton I'd still be looking at £120k for a one bed - unless it's in a tower block, and you can't generally get mortgages on the upper floors of tower blocks - which strikes me as bonkers.

Surely if no-one comes onto the bottom of the property ladder, then there's no movement? It's just people churning through similar properties higher up the ladder, trying to make a small profit. The potential for buying to let is similarly restricted (unless you already own lots of property and can get a relatively cheap mortgage) as the mortgage repayments per month are higher than the money that can be made back from rental income.

And yet, the price of houses continues to rocket.

I think - and here's my prediction for the year - that within 12 months; the housing market will have slowed and begun to cool; interest rates will have risen by over 1%; and more houses will be repossesed.

So yeah, basically, I'll not be looking to move house within the next year.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

ID Cards, Yet Again.

I was just reading this article about how in 2004 the Government expected a third of people to resist the ID Card they're planning to issue. It's relatively interesting in regards to that alone, but there's more in there to note.

Two things in particular leap out. Firstly, the Government supressed the report and actively tried to stop Mark Oaten MP from releasing it under the Freedom of Information Act, and it took the Information Commissioner himself to force its eventual release. Even then it took a tribunal to back the Commissioner before the Government would relent.

Secondly, in the last paragraph, the article says "if (Labour) wins the next election, (it plans) to bring in new legislation to make it compulsory to own - but not necessarily carry - a card." Now hold on just a minute there, was I asleep when they announced this? I don't recall hearing this before, so I've just mailed the Labour Party to see if it's true.

If it is, I'm going to start a campaign to get people to vote and deliberately spoil their ballot papers. I cannot agree with a party that intends to make this compulsory, and I can't actually agree with either of the other main parties.

Dissent is the only thing left. Use it before that gets taken away as well.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Talking CCTV Cameras

Okay, so it's the people watching the CCTV who do the talking, rather than the cameras per se, but you get the idea. You're busy doing something that someone considers is inappropriate, and out of nowhere you get told to stop doing it.

Now, I'd consider what I had been doing, and whether it was inappropriate, then either do what I was asked, or ignore it completely. What exactly can they do? Send the police to arrest me for doing something minor? Keep the image and show me on Crimewatch? I really don't think so. Particularly as I may be deaf and not have heard a word of their admonishments.

What I actually want to know is, do the cameras also have microphones to go along with the speakers? Because if they do, then I would love to get involved with a long and involved conversation/argument with whoever was operating it explaining that I took a dim view of this intrusion into my civil liberties.

I note that the trial of this system took place in Middlesbrough, and worked quite well. This isn't really a surprise. The Smoggies have only recently discovered electricity, so having someone who isn't there talking to you must be like some kind of witchcraft to them. The poles on which these things are sited probably have piles of wood propped up against them ready for a new moon burning.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hurt - The Sad Kermit Version

I'm a great fan of the Nine Inch Nails original, and even more of a fan of the Johnny Cash version, but this, this is special.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

New Becca/Bob Post

Just received an email from Bob's dad, Peter. That can be read here.

It's happy and sad at the same time. I'm really happy that she had a great birthday, and I'm really sad at the thought of how much pain she must be in. I don't mention it on there, but she had to pretty much be propped up for the first photo, and the bottle that she's got in her hand in the second photo, is morphine.

Kinda puts anything you have going on in your own life into a bit of perspective. As they say in 'Spinal Tap', "a bit too much perspective".


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