Saturday, 29 November 2008

I call it - The Independent is dead!

My parent's have bought the Independent from Day 1 (back in 1986 when I was 11) and have had it daily ever since. They were absolutely the right Alliance-voting, sick with Murdoch (I think we had The Times before) demographic who felt totally in sync with the new paper's philosophy.

They have stuck with it through thick and (increasingly) thin.

Since I left home (15 years ago) I haven't really got a daily newspaper but I have read recently in Private Eye how it's been going downhill and become celeb-obsessed under the editorship of Roger Alton (formerly of The Observer - you would have thought that would bode well).

Well, my parents told me in a phone call that they are finally thinking of dropping The Independent because they don't read half of the paper anymore and it seems to be all about celebrities.

I could never imagine them not getting The Independent so I think this is a watershed moment. It may continue but it's definitely not now the same paper.

They are considering The Guardian...

Friday, 28 November 2008

The Arrest of Damian Green - Heads should roll!

If the reporting of this story is correct, then this is truly appalling.

It's inconceivable that someone senior in government didn't know about this. If this is true and they didn't try to stop it, they should resign, simple as. And that goes for those senior in the Met too.

As least this might might make it easier to argue with my Tory in-laws who think my talk of Civil Liberties, dangerous anti-terror laws, breakdown of trust in the police is a lot of fuss and nonsense.

Now one of theirs has been affected they may take a different view.

I think it was Al Franken (or was it Micheal Moore?) who, in one of their books, wrote an ode praying that right-wingers would have all kinds of terrible things happen too them so that they would them do something about them (ie. Reagan getting Alzeimers changed a lot of right-wing attitudes about stem-cell research).

Barclaycard - incompetent muppets who can't cope with Xmas!!


After the fiasco when they took over Goldfish, during which they forcibly issued me with a new card (invalidating my old one) a day before I was going abroad on Holiday and when none of their new phone numbers worked so I couldn't ring them up to tell them, and with them being sneaky gits, now this!

So, last night I finalise my big Xmas shop on Amazon (details of seperate Amazon trials to come!). I sent it all off and I later get an email saying their are problems with my card. I try it again, try re-entering the details and try it again, again waiting for the refusal email everytime.

I decide to have a look at my barclaycard account online. I can see the amount for the main Amazon shop (Amazon can split these up if you use some of thier other suppliers through them - this will be important later) "pending". I check back on Amazon and see that these smaller suppliers have been paid successfully with the same card, hmm. So I ring up Barclaycard.

I explain my problem to a nice Indian Lady, who asked if the transactions in question are for other small amounts which I recognise as being for the individual items coming from a couple of "Amazon suppliers". I say no, it's the larger amount for the main shop that is not working.

She says she'll transfer to the card refusal department but gives me the direct number just in case as they are suprisingly busy!

Helpful hint: If you find yourself in the same position you can avoid all that Indian call centre palaver by ringing their fraud department directly on 01604 254 050.

Anyway, I'm put on hold for ages and I give up and ring the direct number. I get through to an automated system and choose the right option and then wait for ages again. The wait is punctuated with messages saying they had unusually high demand (I wonder why?). I eventually gave up, switched the order to my old egg card (without the cashback - boo) and went to bed.

I have now just rung the fraud people and got through quite quickly. The nice man said yes they're having lots of problems and specifically mentioned that Amazon puts some orders through as seperate items (and as coming from different companies - but he didn't say that). It's obvious to me that this clearly confuses their anti-fraud algorythms.

The bottom line is that Barclaycard can't cope with an Amazon shop from different "suppliers"!

That's just great.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

PBR response - Meh

Well, that was underwhelming, maybe because of the widespread leaking.
Worse though was the sheer size of the wasted opportunity (or maybe even worse that this wasn't in any way suprising).

Whilst obviously I'd have liked them to adopt LibDem tax policies in full, I just wish they'd done something useful and good.

I think this was a 1997-type moment when they got have got away with anything progressive but just didn't bother.

I can't see how the temporary VAT cut will make any significant difference to anything and the rise in NI ( a b*stard mix of income tax and a tax on job creation) is just wrong-headed (but is always used because people don't really understand NI so let it pass more than other taxes).

I remember, back in the day, when it was LibDem policy (or was it an aspiration) to cut NI in preference to other taxes.

It's just so dispiriting, they could have announced some great changes but just didn't. What's this about bringing forward road building? What about shoving investment into new railways or at least something that will bring great benefit to the country in the long term? There must have been capital projects that they wouldn't never have normally been able to get going that they could have done.


Monday, 24 November 2008

I'm considerably more manly than thou

The Gender Analyzer says so. This blog is all man - well 85%. The important thing is that I'm 30% more manly than Jonathan Calder.

Self-congratulation - limited time only, smug levels must drop

I promised (to myself) that I'd never get into this kind of self-congratulatory blog-on-blog smugfest but suffice to say I topped the Golden Dozen! Woohoo!

Well, it gave me a little lift on a cold Monday morning...

Friday, 21 November 2008

Charles Moore threatens license fee non-payment

There was a report on Today that said that Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, was threatening to not pay his license fee if the BBC didn't sack Jonathan Ross.

Well, I think there's a simple 2-stage answer to all of this.

1. Don't sack Jonathan Ross
2. Arrest Charles Moore for non-payment

Monday, 17 November 2008

Baby P: David Lammy finally speaks...and insults Lynne Featherstone!

I was just listening to the World at One on Radio 4 and they had David Lammy MP's first interview on the Baby P case. In my partisan way I thought to myself, "I hope Lynne Featherstone's good work gets a mention". Well it did but not in the way I was expecting.

After some typically evasive New Labour defence (he also received the warning letter from the whistleblowing social worker last year), he said this (bah, it isn't available on listen again yet, but I'll update it with the accurate quote once I get a chance - so from memory):

"But what I want to say to you is over the course of the weekend, 61 headteachers, they have more experience than you or I or Lynne Featherstone who has spent a lot of time on the media over the weekend about this case..."

Hmm, maybe I am overacting but isn't he saying that Lynne is not being a good constituency MP trying to do what's right but is instead just a paritsan media-whore who's only doing this for party political reasons? It makes me mad!!! Let me know if I'm over-reacting.

It's similar to Gordon Brown's saying anyone asking sensible question about this is being party political (ie. David Cameron).

Having said all that, Lammy's clearly rattled about being exposed as a useless New Labour apologist in comparison. However it's such a tragic case I can't really take much pleasure from this (normal service will be resumed shortly with other topics).

UPDATE: The listen again is now available (the quote above is at 26:45 but I suggest you listen to the whole weaselly interview). Quote corrected above.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Baby P chief at Ascot

I'm not going to get into the in and outs or Harringay's dubious role in this (Lynne Featherstone provides good coverage of this).

One thing got my goat though. Yesterday I was in London, so got the Evening Standard and the front page had a big picture of the Sharon Shoesmith, the head of Childrens' Services at Harringay at Ascot, "Weeks after boy's death she enjoys day at the races".

This was last year. It also [sarcasm]shockingly reveals[/sarcasm] that she "enjoyed a holiday with her own children in New York and Los Angeles"!

This awful journalism makes me so angry! Because of this undoubted tradgedy, the head of the department should cancel all "fun" things and she should definitely not take her children on holiday? I mean "taking her children on holiday", how heartless can one person be? How long should this self-imposed joylessness have lasted? 2 weeks, 6 months, a year?

I somehow expected better from the Standard (I expect you London-dwellers will tell me how that's how foolhardy I am). Also a friend must have given that picture of her to the Standard (it was taken from right next to her and no-one else would know who she is). Either they are very naive or incredibly scummy.

The online equivalent of the article doesn't include the picture.

I'm sure she has things to answer for and may even have to go (but like Gordon Brown, I'm waiting for the report) but it doesn't make that front page right.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

More "Anti-Terror" Madness

El Reg is reporting that police are demanding the names of all live music performers in order to vet them for "terror risk"! This is already having an impact:

"UK Music chief Feargal Sharkey told a House of Commons select committee that the policy had already been used to pull the plug on an afternoon charity concert of school bands in a public park organised by a local councillor."


Friday, 7 November 2008

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole - what an arse!

Ipswich's Labour MP Chris Mole has called on the BBC to sack Jeremy Clarkson for a joke he made about lorry driver & prostitutes alluding to the Ipswich murders. He said:

"For Mr Clarkson to make light of murder in any circumstance must be a dismissible offence.

"To do so with complete disregard for the families of the murdered women should make this a matter on which I would expect you to take immediate action."

If a comedian makes a joke is made about Fred West, should we expect the MP for Gloucester to try and get them sacked and are Shipman jokes now off-limits by order of the MP for Hyde?

But it's worse than that, he actually says "make light of murder in any circumstance"!

What an arse!

Sam the shoplifting seagull

I'm sure this local news clip has done the rounds already but I've only just seen it:

Palin was even more stupid than we thought...

Blimey! Liberal Revolution draws our attention to this video.

I think this needs wider attention! She thought Africa was a country? I'm not sure whether to be amused or angry about Bill O'Reilly trying to defend her. I guess this is the kind of Fox Schadenfreude I was looking for on election night.

So, do you feel proud of yourself now Mr. Dale?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Election night thoughts - great result, typically useless BBC

Firstly, Woohoo!!! :)

When I delved into the deeper reaches of Virgin Media's cable offering, I was happy to find that CNN international were carrying the normal US CNN election night programme. Imagine how delighted I was to find that CNBC seemed to be carrying MSNBC!

Oh, oh it's Keith Olbermann! Oh and Rachel Maddow! Looks like it's going to be a better viewing experience than I imagined.

For a while I stuck with MSNBC flicking back to CNN during the ads (lukily the ad breaks weren't in sync) then disaster! MSNBC was no longer there as CNBC had replaced it with their own boring business/finance orientated coverage. Boo!

So during breaks in CNN, I was forced to have a look at the BBC. Oh My God! It was just as bad as I'd come to expect. Dull Dimbleby discussions with Dimbleby at his smug and patronising best. No decent results or analysis and dumbed-down graphics and then that awful smug party. I mean interviewing Ricky Gervais! WTF? I mean what were they thinking? How much did they spend on this smugfest?

They do similar things for UK elecitons too, dumbed down graphics, no useful analysis and smug parties. So they really thing anybody but the likes of me is going to be watching politics at 3 in the morning? We don't need dumbed-down smugness but a proper results and analysis service.

Did I mention smug?

The only vaguely amusing thing on the BBC was Jon Bolton being beligerant and complaining of bias!

So mainly it was CNN all night. Their holographic correspondents was quite funky but didn't really add a great deal and I felt sorry for their correspondent at the Obama rally which was watching CNN and consequently went crazy everytime they were on drowning out anything she had to say. All in all though a competent and intersting results services. Why can't the BBC do this or just save money and stream CNN?

John McCain's speech was gracious but I was feeling for him when he kept trying to stop his crowd from booing Obama with ever more pleading "Please"s. The camera focuses on some knuckle-draggers in the crowd looking very confused and angry. Yeah, that was a campaign to be proud of right there...

Obama's speech was as good as you'd come to expect from him. I particularly liked when all the Bidan and Obama families came out. It was such a feel-good moment. Was that Biden's mum?

Let's see how long I can stay awake today...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A Simple Election Night In

I shall be eschewing twittering, blogging and all the delights the internet has to offer for a simple seat in my living room in front of the TV.

The main reason for this is that the computer is situated in the study and the study is too close to the bedroom. This means that frequent trips from the TV to the PC would disturb my sleeping better half (and you don't want to provoke her!).

Also, what is it with twitter? I purposely don't read anything that's twittered. Does that make me a luddite?

Ahem, anyway for those who are using the net, HuffPo (as the cool kids are calling it)has a page of useful widgets (including a stream of CBS's coverage).

I shall be stuck only with what Virgin Media can offer which seems to be BBC, ITV, CNN & CNBC (both international versions I guess), Radio 4 & Radio 5. I predict much changing of channels as I I anticipate that I won't be able to put up with the BBC's smug coverage for sustained periods!

Happy election nights folks!