04 Dec 2013
In the interest of balance I just needed to mention this. Nigella Lawson is apparently in court today. I’m not that interested in the story as it seems rather horrible to look at someone’s married life breaking down so publicly. Anyway the Guardian, yes the Guardian, of all places sees fit to include the following line in its coverage:
“Lawson, dressed entirely in black apart from a white collar on her shirt, said:”…
There’s been a very lurid and unpleasant news story doing the rounds this week. In bald terms it sounds absolutely horrendous – so it’s perfect tabloid fodder then.
There’s a woman. She was pregnant. A “secret” family court agreed that medics could then require a c-section on her and then take her baby away. Orwellian nightmare! So says the judge who insists on the state’s agents explaining themselves.
And it is pretty horrible.
But the real oddity is the way the story was reported. It all seems to be about the faceless bureaucrats merciless stealing a woman’s baby, helped by evil medics doing the state’s dirty work. And, reading that link’s comments, this is how people are reading it. Even Liberty seem to say that this is all horrible and they’re the bastions of uber-PC nonsense and protecting scum [/irony], so it must be bad.
On first thought though it does seem a trifle overblown.
Firstly the medics can’t force treatment on someone unless they’re detained under the mental health act. So clearly there are at least some mental health issues in the story. This is quite an extreme response so I’m guess that the mental health issues are quite extreme. Indeed the last line in that linked story says
“Essex children’s services said a health trust had applied for the forced caesarean after telling social workers it had concerns over risks to the health of mother and baby. It said Italian courts had been made aware of the case and ‘social workers liaised extensively with the extended family”.
That sounds very thorough. No doubt the county court weighed the evidence and came down on the side of the county. Of course there can be errors but to contemplate actions like forced c-section I can’t believe they didn’t have some pretty urgent and valid reasons.
The judge asking them to explain themselves isn’t news – it’s what judges do – that’s what going to court is about.
And Liberty didn’t say it WAS horrible they said
“At first blush this is dystopian science fiction unworthy of a democracy like ours. “
Hardly the same thing. In fact it’s pretty much what I’m saying now. Sounds horrible but without the back story (which we rightly won’t get the full details of) it’s impossible to know.
And of course the flip side of this story could perhaps have ended up with a story along the lines of
“Schizo woman kills unborn baby after social services fail to intervene. Sack those responsible for failing to protect this child.”
08 Nov 2013
I love the BBC, it’s brill. People whinging about the licence fee don’t know what they’ll be missing if it goes. Mind you there are always problems with an organisation like it.
Years ago there was a complaint that it was too left-wing. Unfortunately for the righties the problem for them is that most people are naturally left-wing and reality also seems to be. There was a study done last week that suggested that somwehere around 60% of tory voters would prefer the railways and public utilities to be re-nationalised. Makes me wonder if they really know just how loathsome the venal creatures they’re voting for are. Goodness knows what they’ll think about the dismantling of the NHS that’s ongoing now, when it becomes more apparent.
Good job they’re kicking public finances into shape then.. Oh what’s that? The budget deficit has risen? Quite sharply you say? Oh..
So the BBC. Some tory moron suggested the usual “the BBC is left wing” thing and darkly threatened it via ideas such as cutting the licence fee.
Anyway this left-wing bias tag. Question Time was on last night. One of the guests on has been on more Question Times than any one else in the last 3 years. Must be a leftie then. Maybe Tony Benn. No too old. Must be Dennis Skinner or one of the current shadow cabinet, or possibly Alistair Campbell maybe…
No it was Nigel bloody Farage (bloody is his middle name). Rarely will you find a more left-wing agitator…
28 Sep 2013
The IPCC report on Climate Change came out. Frankly we should be bloody scared about what it says because if we don’t get our backsides into gear and actually do something it’s going to be terrible. Start with intensifying storms and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters to acidification of the oceans (leading to the devastation of aquatic life as the smallest things at the bottom of the pyramid starve hence everything else will), to raising sea levels, to potentially major extinctions (some experts currently believe we’re in a mass extinction event now). Bloody hell!
What’s depressing about the whole thing…. well how many things are depressing? I’m not talking about potential outcomes, I’m talking about how it’s being discussed in the media.
The first thing is that huge numbers of normal folk seem to think that it’s all overblown. Is it? Possibly. My opening paragraph will be read by some as hysterical nonsense. Well that’s just a description of the outcome if the bods doing the science are right – the only questions there are “how soon” and “what can we do to stop it”.
And then the “facts” keep changing. Do they? Yes well inconveniently the surface temperature hasn’t risen much since 1998 – hah, caught you. AND the arctic ice sheet has expanded this summer, hah again! OK well 1998 was a massively hot outlier caused by a known climate phenomenon so picking that is like saying “computers aren’t getting any faster ‘cos the US had a supercomputer back in 1998 and my desk top isn’t that fast even now”. And this is the hottest decade on record, and the one before that was, at the time, the hottest on record, and the one before that was the hottest on record etc etc… And the arctic ice did expand – to the 6th lowest level ever recorded. Ah but what about the antarctic sea ice – that’s expanded hasn’t it, they cry. Yes, yes it has. In area. Volume however hasn’t, and major ice shelves are breaking apart like never before. What’s so depressing about this tack is that every single one of the objections has been answered but people don’t want to hear it so they parrot basic unthought through facts as if they’ve landed a stinging blow to those who’ve spent years actually looking at the details. No matter how many times they’re rebuffed they’ll keep parrotting nonsense until someone they’re talking to hasn’t heard the rebuttals and then they’ll both nod sagely and think how wonderfully clever they are seeing something that thousands of profs and PhDs haven’t seen (or refuse to see ‘cos they’re only it for the moolah of course).
So yes, apparently the scientists involved are only in it for their “lucrative jobs”. But apparently the known funders of the denialist campaigns are oil magnates aren’t in it to keep their somehwat immense profits. If you’re looking at funding then surely the billions profit to the oil companies far outstrips the probably less than £100k salaries of the very top scientists (and certainly dwarfs the salaries of the post grads and such – UCL’s website suggests top qualified lecturers get around £40k after many years of work). Do people really think that scientists earn immense amounts of money? Really?
And then it’s all about tax isn’t it. Oh yes those sneaky governments just wanting to find ways to tax us more. What an utterly pathetic argument. That’s right yes the government just wants us to have less money that’s right. Why? Because they do. Oh yes I forgot governments just want lots of money, no doubt so they can spend it on subsiding food and drink at the houses of parliament eh?
Such a depressing thought that I share air with such imbeciles.
So on one side we have a body set up by the UN, presided over by a multinational panel of experts in their topic looking at thousands of research papers, answering every single question put to them by the governments of the UN, yes every question no matter how banal or how often asked before, and kicking out a paper that has to be agreed on by the signatories – no mean feat in science (apparently scientists aren’t easily herded sheep unlike the masses). On the other the fat bloke down t’pub says it’s all bollocks cos he read an article that questions it written by a journalist with no more knowledge of science than a bleedin’ slug. And what good did scientists ever do anyway, with their frankenfoods and bombs and that?
Who are you going to listen to? The level of certainty shown in the report is the same that says “smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease” and “HIV leads to AIDS” – there are denialists who think those things aren’t true too but they’re routinely looked down on and laughed at – because that’s what they deserve.
I’m sure it’s comforting to repeat the mantra “It’s not happening, it’s not happening” to yourself over and over as you slowly crouch into a foetal position as the consequences become clearer and clearer over time. But that’s really not helpful.
We’re an inventive species – we can sort this, or at least have a bloody good go. What benefit is it to NOT do something? Well you’ll save some of that extra tax no doubt. You pathetic moron, you have evolved intelligence, bloody use it.
25 Sep 2013
I really like a telly show called Only Connect. It’s on BBC4 for a reason. It’s a bit tricky. Someone on Twitter described “University Challenge” an easy warm-up for Only Connect. It’s pretty hardcore quizzy and I’d expect naught but clever bods watching it.
Anyway the new series started this week and I caught up with it on the iPlayer. Turns out that parts of it are as tricky as I remember but then other bits seemed easier than I recall, notably the “wall” round and the missing vowels round (was v easy this week).
It also turns out that a vocal minority of viewers took to twitter to pick at one of the contestants. This happens occasionally with female contestants such that there was a story a while back that female Uni Challenge participants are warned about the abuse they may be subjected to on social media. And people say feminism goes too far. But this was a little different – the female in question was clearly either a trans-woman or transvestite man (whichever I’m trying to use the right noun, sorry if I’m just not up to speed). She was clever and quick witted and knew her stuff – a model contestant on such a show and her team won. Fantastic. The show was brilliant and didn’t mention it once, she was introduced by her team captain (her dad) as “my daughter” and always referred to by her chosen name. That’s how to deal with it – IE ignore it, it’s not any kind of issue.
That’s not how users of Twitter dealt with it. My word it was disappointing to see the heartlessness and small-minded pettiness from some tweeters. So she’s not what you expected. So what? Why is that an issue to you? She’s fine, doing what she wants and getting on with her life clearly with the love and support of her family. Lovely to see. Sad that we can’t even rely on clever and educated people to forget tedious bigotry against an inoffensive thing.
09 Sep 2013
Everybody needs good neighbours, apparently. Well it would be nice.
We moved back in December last year into a terrace. The neighbour to one side is a grumpy old woman who chunters away about all that’s wrong and glares at us and tells N off for playing on the street (she doesn’t do this often) when there’s a garden and a park available. It’s a public street, kids can play there if they wish! So N doesn’t like her. Truth be told we don’t either, she has no interest in being nice. So stuff her.
The lady on the other side is an asian lady. Seems to live on her own but occasionally has kids round. I assume they’re her kids and they live with their dad or some such. Shortly after we moved in we met on the road outside and she informed us that “We all keep a space in front of our own house, that way we always have a place to park”. OK then, that’s your opening welcome gambit is it? I guess that we’d one day had 2 cars there and it’d mildly inconvenienced her – having to walk from the other side of the road indeed; who would credit it?
Ah well so there it is 2 tedious neighbours whose lives aren’t going to enhance ours nor blight it particularly.
Ah but then. This 2nd one does keep her car parked very much in front of her house. To the millimeter. The old lady also does this which has, on more than one occasion, left us unable to get our big Galaxy parked in front of our place. Both of these women always have space to the other side of their cars, so they could park and give us more room. That would be a nice neighbourly thing to do. Neither have 3 kids to get in and out without having to go on the road with them all, neither have anywhere near the coming and going that we have. It really doesn’t take a lot to get on with folk does it?
Once we were packing the car for a holiday trip. No car behind us so rear door was up and open to allow packing. Lady 2 comes home and parks so close that we not only couldn’t get the door closed but we couldn’t even stand behind our car to pack it. I can’t begin to count how many times she’s parked so close I’ve been unable to open the rear door; and all the time there’s tons of space at the other end of her car which, if she moved about 1-2 feet along, would give all of us plenty of room.
Well yesterday. I’m busy feeding kids when there’s a knock at the door. It’s this lady asking whether I’ve reversed into her car. Now if I win the lottery this is a fantasy of mine – I’d love to watch her face as I deliberately reverse into the damned thing causing a few hundred quid worth of damage (I’d pay for it of course). I go outside to look and there isn’t anything obvious to her bumper. As far as I’m aware I’ve not banged into her before. I’m sure R would have said if she had. But whatever, the point is that this bloody parking is all she ever seems to care about. How tedious. I did pointedly tell her that we generally reverse with someone guiding as the gap is often so small. Later on I thought of telling her that there have been times where we’ve had to park over the road because there’s not been enough space.
Anyway whatever I said would have been ignored because she’s going to think that we did it whatever. Bloody miserable woman.
R actually did have a different exchange with her once apparently. We noticed some kids toys in our garden which we assumed were her’s so we put them back over the fence. They came back again a day or so later so we returned them again. They came back again. So we left them in our garden. Apparently she shouted over the fence, probably in a haughty tone, that “could you throw our toys back” (or similar). Yes we can. Now how about telling your kids not to chuck them into our garden?
Everybody needs good neighbours. Apparently we’re the scum of the earth for having the temerity to move somewhere and not be silent people who never talk, play music, keep our children silent and most of all insist on having a car that occasionally needs to go somewhere other than in front of the house.
Really don’t like some people.
22 Jul 2013
Please please please don’t read this entry’s title as “Yes THE Prime Minister is right again” – I wouldn’t dream of such a hideous thought.
I learned a lot from the tv show “Yes Prime Minister”. One of the most useful things it taught me was the logical fallacy of:
“All dogs have 4 legs. My cat has 4 legs. Therefore my cat is a dog.”
or in other terms:
“Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.”
I have seen this happen so many times and it seems to be the inevitable result of a media led government.
And what’s the most influential newspaper? Yes, sadly it’s the Mail. They have a massive hypocrisy thing going on where they’ll berate some for their lascivious ways but somehow their own website, which is chock full of scantily clad “celebs” and more shockingly, celebs’ daughters, many under 18, looking “all grown up” in their scanties.
Back in the ’80′s it was “video nasties” – they successfully canvassed for the most draconian fillum censorship in the western world for that one – not only do fillums and videos have to be “classified” and/or censored but they even got a quango set up that censors and vets the bloody video box covers. In recent years the classification board has gone searching for public input and the stuff we
can see are allowed to see now is far stronger than the vast majority of stuff that got banned way back in the 80′s. Oddly the serious violence statistics haven’t sky-rocketed. Could that possibly be because, ooh I don’t know, we’re all adults and don’t need a nanny telling us what we are allowed to see?
Now it seems the baddy is the internet. We must save the children.
OK so am I now backing the pornographers and the exploiters of women, children and whatever? Not really no. I am concerned that, once filters are set up it’s a short hop from “opt in” to “not allowed”. It also won’t take much tinkering to add a few other search terms to the banned list – maybe “demonstration” or “riot” or “sit in” will be banned next after all we don’t want too many people getting involved in direct action – we know best and we’ll keep them ignorant.
In other areas of life the Mail is banging on about how too much government is bad for us – they want lower taxes and fewer public services as a case in point. But somehow when it comes to parents being in charge they feel that we’re not up to the job and it needs government action to “help” us.
Frankly if someone’s giving their children unfettered access to the seedier side of the internet they should be done for child abuse or at least neglect.
Can anyone argue that it’s NOT the parent’s responsibility to keep their children safe? (That’s assuming there’s any evidence that viewing “damaging” material is in any way materially damaging) . Somehow we’re expected to keep them safe in every other way but not when they’re on the computer? Really? How pathetic some parents must be.
I propose a referendum:
Question: Do you adults wish to be treated like adults? Yes or No?
How about the government start treating us like adults? Chance would be a fine thing.
Further problems with the system occur – my mobile provider has an opt-in system in which they ban certain websites that are flagged by visitors to them or picked up via search algorithms. One of these is a daily diary written by a comedian I like. It’s entirely written IE no pictures – there’s no porn, there’s no threat to anyone BUT the language used isn’t suitable for use in a family newspaper – to read this site I would have to phone up my provider and ask them to unblock the “adult” filter – thus opening me up to the entire seedy side they’re stopping at their end. Nice unintended consequence there.
Maybe this website would be blocked under the proposals because there’s an occasional category A swear word.
And depressingly nothing will change – there are many and varied ways to subvert filters – many developed by techies in places like Saudi Arabia and China (wow aren’t we doing well – copying the practices or those 2 places just as any good free democracy should) – some of which are now untappable and impossible to decrypt. What next? Ban all those systems? It would stop political dissenters keeping their anonymity but that’s a small price to pay for “keeping our children (read “your children) safe”.
So I say again – “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.”
Depressing to realise that “something” in this case is a clear nod to publicity (that no sane opposition wanting to be popular would oppose) is a vacuous nonsense that does nothing but push the dodgier users on to untraceable systems thus putting them further out of reach than they seem to be now.
Edit: A tory putting my case (or part of it) rather eloquently here
12 Apr 2013
The call is “austerity”. We mustn’t spend more than we need.
Apparently this doesn’t hold when an elderly lady dies. Whatever your views on this particular old lady it does seem odd that someone who championed the view that public money shouldn’t be spent when private money could do the job is going to be buried at huge public cost. Where’s the bidding process for the lowest priced contractor? She’d be horrified.
Not only that but the blinking parliament was recalled. For what? That process in itself was costly as MPs get money back for cancelled plans and travel and housing costs. I read the Mail yesterday. They were complaining that around 150 Labour MPs didn’t show up to eulogise their sainted Baroness. In any other circumstance MPs refusing to show up for a pointless session thus saving quite a decent whack of money would be lauded by them as making a stand against wasteful government.
Why does parliament get recalled anyway? Previous recalls involved discussions about mobilising to war (Gulf war, Bosnia, Falklands) or discussions about how to deal with terrorist attacks (WTC and Ulster). The only one I can find where it was recalled for someone dying was the late Queen Mother. And I’d argue that this was pointless and wasteful too.
Nothing like a whopping great dose of hypocrisy from both the government and their spokesrag.
15 Aug 2012
Very angry at the mo.
R just checked her phone bill and there’s a £9 bill for something called “payforit”. Then she gets a text saying that some company called KKO Mobile are charging her £4.50 per week for their services (whatever they are, it’s not obvious from the text) BUT if she texts STOP then they’ll stop.
That sounds very dodgy to me. How can they just take money without her authorising anything?
A quick googling showed a whole bunch of forums full of people spitting feathers about the exact same issue. It seems KKO are thieving shysters of the highest order. After complaining the most people are seeming to get is half the money back as a “good will” gesture. Nice business no? Charge people a fortune for a service that none use then only pay back half that fortune.
I’ve spoken to my network provider who say that they can’t do anything. Well they bloody will be doing if KKO don’t pay anything back. Taking this money from my account without permission = taking without consent in my book. Is that not the definition of “theft”?
Can’t put in words just how fuming I am.
02 May 2012
Horrendous day of faffing on Monday.
We got a bigger car on Saturday (Zafira) but it was untaxed. Not only that but previous owner was disabled so we had to go to the DVLA (in Nottingham) to change the tax status of the car.
They needed a valid MOT certificate (got), the V5 cert (got), and proof of insurance. Annoyingly the new insurers wouldn’t send a pdf via email so we’d have to wait for one in the post. Hmm, not a plan with a car with no tax disc sitting on the road.
Phone call to insurers. “Oh we’ll fax you a copy”. As we’re not in the 1990′s we don’t have a fax machine. “Oh go to the DVLA and ask them to phone us and we’ll fax it through to them”. Sound idea.
So we got to the DVLA. “No we can’t get faxes through here.” So couldn’t tax it. Grr. After a think we figured that Ruth’s brother-in-law would have a fax machine. He did! So they faxed a certificate through to him.
By this time we didn’t have enough time to get back to the DVLA before I was due to teach a Pilates class in Belper. So R and J had to stay in Derby while I did that. I reckoned it would be best if I went straight to Nottingham after my class. Once there I noticed all the big signs up saying “We don’t accept faxed copies”. Aargh!
Luckily they’d recently tweaked things to allow faxed copies (but not photocopies apparently). They also allow pdfs wot have been printed (what’s the difference?)
So eventually the thing gets taxed. After lots of faff and driving (about 90 miles in all) and stress.
Hint to remember – never buy an untaxed car!
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