Tuesday, 14 August 2007

not leaving on a jet plane

Amongst all the "toing and froing" about air travel, the airline companies have set up a campaign group of there own “flyingmatters” (funny how it’s legit for them to do this but not for those who are against airport expansion). Flyingmatters mealy mouthed director Michelle Di Leo was on Newsnight last night, making the most outrageous justification (it got two shouts of “bollocks” round chez BLTP) for air travel yet.

Apparently air travel isn’t for tedious self indulgent honeymoons or pointless could have done it over the phone business meetings or even another excuse to have big boring sheds full of dull shops (every airport ever built), no if we reduce air miles we will “disproportionately disadvantage the poor” because they rely on cheap long haul travel. So BA and there jolly friends are basically just avuncular caring uncles giving the poor of the world lifts to see their mum. God these people are smarmy scum, I bet she went home and poured herself a large glass of vigonier after that one, smug in that she’d found a way to cast global warming protestors as heartless middleclass dilettantes, content to prevent the poor huddle masses of the world being able to rush home to their dying Granny’s sick bed.
What Ms Michelle “my teeth have fallen out because I’ve lied so much” Di Leo didn’t point out is that the poor will be the biggest losers from global warming, as they live on the land which will flood first, farm the crops which will we be unsuited to new weather conditions and will generally suffer most when the global economy struggles.. When global warming starts to kick in big time the poor of the world will have more to worry about than the chance to die of deep vein thrombosis while flying coach class,

Ps flyingmatters are so new they don’t have a website

Want to do something go here.

Monday, 6 August 2007

No, the Putney that's 10 miles away....

Ways to improve and Promote Public Transport pt 2

If we want to encourage people to use public transport particularly casual users we have to make tickets simple. The oyster card is a good idea but if booking office staff are poorly trained what’s the point? On Sat I wanted to go to Putney, after lots of faffing around the ticket seller at New Cross told me I needed to buy an extension. I duly forked out my £3 quid extra only to find out on arriving at Putney that it’s in zone 2 and I didn’t need to buy an extra ticket. Your casual user would see this as deeply annoying (I will try to claim my money back) which is why they continue to drive. So if we want to promote off peak use of trains etc why not train station staff to read maps, use ticketing software and perhaps know where Putney is.

Ps for all station staff here’s a link to help you find Putney it’s down there bottom left!

Make Stations nicer
While returning from Putney I noticed that for some reason Putney is “the home of London’s most innovative estate agent Hammond and Gordon” (or some such, I won’t flatter them by looking them up) I now this as attached to the top of the “Putney” sign on the station is another similar sign telling me the same.
Firstly being an estate agent in Putney isn’t innovative at all, as apart from chain pubs, over priced springbok off licences and a Waitrose that’s all there is in Putney. Hundreds of this ill-gotten slimy breed and their grim (Q: Is it a cappuccino bar or is it an estate agent A: No it’s the lowest pit of hell with some minis parked outside) offices. The sign should read “Putney home of more soul eating deadeyed property scum than any other London borough”.
This rather low selling point wasn’t my main issues, which was sparked by seeing this and all the other advertising on Putney station. The place is full of the stuff all I could see from where I was stood were adverts. No maps, no time tables just ad hoardings. This shows the station operating company’s priorities, because on a shabby, creaky 1940’s (?) station with no disabled access their main concern is raising revenue from advertisers. None of this revenue is however spent on training staff sees above, decent covered seating, toilets or lifts. The same has happened on the tube, with TFL staff wasting time sorting out flat screen ad displays rather than updating the platforms, tracks etc. I am not suggesting we do as they have done in San Paulo and banning all street adverts but can we have the money spent of decent clean safe stations not used to buoy up shareholder profits.
Ps. On the subject of street clutter, one of the notable things about Venice is the lack of street sign junk. It can at times look a bit too tidy but better that than mounds of tat promoting west end shows everyone knows about, dodgy evangelists and plastic surgeons.

Ban Car adverts
In this world of global warming and terrible traffic congestion can we ban car adverts that lie. How many car adverts sell the false idea of the freedom of the open road. The new Astra ones are classic examples peddling the myth of empty roads you can drive like Collin McRae on. How come most ads for other products can’t get away with this sort of untruth and are laden with caveats. But car makers can push the falsehood that we all drive over twisty Scottish mountain roads on the way to Tesco.

Link to previous post

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Lastminute.com crass email update

Recently I got a crass and offensive email from lastminute.com (making light of the flooding and the bad weather) I wrote and complained and have had no reply. I sent it to ASA, and today I got a letter saying they are passing it onto the Independent Advertising Standards Authority Council. I will keep you informed of any further developments.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


The post below won't update: It should say Son of THE Manse. But blogger has glitch and is showing an old version. I know my typing is poor but I do try.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Various Rants

Son of a preacher man.

Gordon Brown has made mention himself of and not countered references to by others of being “a son of the Manse”. For those who don’t know a “Manse” is Northern/Scottish name for vicarage, usually referring to the non-conformist side of church I believe. He’s being using it to back up his claims to be a stout, trustworthy, honest and blameless. I am only raising this because there has been some talk about bloggers talking beyond the area of expertise, well without going into too many details let’s say I’ve lived in Manse or too. So I am in ideal place to discuss this issue.

Wasn’t it Wellington who said “Jesus was born in stable; it didn’t make him an ass”
Just because you are raised in the church it doesn’t guarantee your moral superiority. In fact coming into too close a contact with organised religion can be a sullying experience at the best times.

Also of all the forms of Christianity in the world, is the austere Scottish the form we want to all follow. I not slandering Gordon’s dad but in my experience elderly church men aren’t always the most liberal types. Presumably Gordon is not claiming this part of his inheritance. Nor is this Manse background the most rock and roll, lots of stewed tea, dry sarnies, long joyless services, ping pong and Missionary collections for the kids, church meetings and committees for the adults is the sort of life Gordon wants for us all.?

Lastly I take my text for today from the Gospel according to St Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien of Cricklewood. In her sermon on Atlantic records she explains in full how trustworthy the “Son of preacher man” can be, after which we will pass round the collection plate.

Billy Ray was a preacher's son
And when his daddy would visit he'd come along
When they gathered around and started talkin'
That's when Billy would take me walkin'
Out through the back yard we'd go walkin'
Then he'd look into my eyes
Lord knows, to my surprise

The only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man
Yes he was, he was, ooh, yes he was

Bein' good isn't always easy
No matter how hard I try
When he started sweet-talkin' to me
He'd come'n tell me "Everything is all right"
He'd kiss and tell me "Everything is all right"
Can I get away again tonight?

The only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man
Yes he was, he was, ooh, yes he was (yes he was)

How well I remember
The look that was in his eyes
Stealin' kisses from me on the sly
Takin' time to make time
Tellin' me that he's all mine
Learnin' from each other's knowin'
Lookin' to see how much we've grown and

The only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man
Yes he was, he was, oh yes he was

(The only one who could ever reach me)
He was the sweet-talkin' son of a preacher man
(The only boy who could ever teach me)
Was the son of a preacher man

(The only one who could ever reach me)
Was the sweet-talkin' son of a preacher man

Going Underground
On the subject Gordon Biblical background is he prepared to make reparations, (the bibles full of such stuff) for the tube PFI fiasco. The single fundamental lie about the PFI scheme was that it moved the risk for new development from the public to private sector. And yet virtually every scheme that has failed has been bailed out by US the Tax payers. The Metronet case is no different. The deep scam in all this is that PFI companies claimed because they where taking the risk they should get paid more than say a public sector company and so they where. In fact they went to the banks and said “look give us a low rate because if it goes belly up the government will bail you out”. This has been the case and so companies have got loads of public cash and low rates on their borrowings, they then go broke and the directors pocket our cash.
The solution Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and all Labour ministers should be surcharged for wasting public money, the share holders should be surcharged too and we should buy back the infrastructure at the price we sold it. And issues bonds against the land to build stations which are nice to sit on, hospitals that aren’t hell holes (like the new Homerton) and schools that are good places to learn rather than plaster board creaky sheds.

Houses of the Holier than thou
Also this week Gordon has been talking about housing. Well done its important issue, more so in my opinion than even health and schools. One thing he and his ministers have avoided and haven’t heard them pressed on was how they are going to sell lower houses prices to the house price obsessed nation.
I thought it was disingenuous of Brown as economist to talk about ways of increasing the supply of housing without mention the effect on the wider market. As we are all free marketers now surely we won’t mind that if supply is no longer outstripping demand that prices will go down. It is the great untalked about issues even quite liberal people love that their house is worth thousands more each year. No one will admit that is all being paid for by the people at the bottom, first time buyers and renters who are funding the high prices. Gordon brown will be out of a job if he ever really did anything to affect the price of semis in Crouch end. It seems Polly Toynbee (I wrote this on Sunday evening) had the same Idea as me doh!

Over the Top
Seen on the BBC Radio 2 website
“Chris Evans
Our 21st Century Samuel Pepys spills forth on his blog.”

BBC Hyperbole reaches new heights, I know Old Sam’s Diary involves a lot of day to day stuff much like Mr Evan’s but he did experience Britain’s last revolution, the execution of a monarch and the reform of the Royal Navy. Chris’ talents however don’t stretch much further than playing "Mr Blue Sky" by ELO every other day and pretending to be excited about it being Friday.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Too much Charity

Can you sponsor me?
Have sponsorship events gone too far?

Let me set out my stall I think charitable giving is a good thing. People should be free to give their money to whatever cause they choose? I am always impressed with the huge sums people raise. My only observation is, are the events getting a bit too elaborate?

In the olden days you did a sponsored spells and got penny per word you got right or similar. I also remember trudging round a polluted lake in Stoke on Trent once to raise some cash and more recently we powered our way down the Thames to win the Great River Race last year. If we are honest the rowing was the main thing and the charity bit was an added bonus (at least as far as I’m concerned)

My main problem with sponsored events is, why should I care if you do all this running etc? If a friend asks for sponsorship and it’s an appropriate charity (I’ve never refused yet) I give them a donation and wish them well. I never give a price per lap etc. I’m also happy to see their sweaty race pictures but my giving isn’t dependent on them finishing.

Which brings to the item that started this all:
I got a request to sponsor an acquaintance for a cancer charity. The guy in question is doing a triathlon for very personal reasons and I wish him every success but just look at what he’s doing (see below). I hope he completes it all, but isn’t this Herculean task a little out of kilter with me bunging him a few quid. I mean if you want to cycle along the Great Wall of China do so, but do you need to justify it by being sponsored? Lastly I must stress that I’m not slagging off the people involved, it just seems that we have got into a strange potlatch with these things which may be getting out of balance.

I think if you can afford it, a direct debit (direct from the charity to cut out the chuggers) claiming the tax back is the best way to give, that and by volunteering your time. So why not go off and sign up for one now, maybe a lesser know one who needs the money or maybe a local one you can have some direct involvement in.

Here’s the event is it excessive? I’m not sure. But good luck to them.
The Swim - The English Channel
The Cycle - The day after the swim – Dover, Crawley, Bath, Gloucester, Cardiff, Worcester, Sale, Penrith, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Doncaster, Northampton and finally finishing at Twickenham in London (10 days. Total miles = 1120! Cycling 100 - 120 miles a day)
The Run - London to Paris - 262miles in 10 days

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

How to improve public transport

I have't owned a car for almost 20years. I could afford one but choose for various reasons, cost, the environment, not liking driving, living in Londonnot to. So in effect public transport is my car. So I am keen for it to improve, not only to make my life better but also to encourage car users to use it. Here's some ideas prompted by a train journey to brum.
1. We all know the usual gripes about people on buses etc ie playing music on phones and eating horrible smelling food. (how does this happen a Chinese smells lush when you are eating it, but on the crowded 353 it turns your stomach) so these need to go.
2, On trains loose the annoying announcements.
3. On virgin trains can we loose the joint window blinds. Yesterday an annoying bloke in front took it upon himself to plunge us all into the darkness without asking, he then pushed the blind up and down as we went into cuttings etc and it got darker. I appraised him of this annoyance and he then tried to claim the blind was doing it by its self! so Mr Branston loose the blinds.
4. After i spent £100 on ticket could the train companies please check it at least once.
5. 4 or 5 times recently the train companies I have been travelling with haven't put the seat reservation so what happens, the train pulls in 2 minutes before it due to depart (another annoying trend) and 300 people have to fight for seats.
6.More trains the way the government set up of rail, encourages the train companies to lease fewer trains so we get over crowding. The 6.30am commuter train yesterday from New Cross was so crowded people had to force themselves onto it. Weekends are no better.
7. why didn't my oyster work in Brum. Oyster should be countrywide on all transport, including the merseyferry and those cliff lifts at Scarborough.
8. close Bagelmania horrible bread dreadful coffee.
9. open WH Smiths to competition it's rubbish.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Braying while Hull Floods

Poste on my other blog: I normally keep my rants to my other blog this made me so mad I've double posted!Bill Hicks was right " all advertising people should kill themselves" we all get spam my crap mobile compant insists on sending me texts to download rubish like Mika videos but earlier today I got one of the most crass bits of spam ever.Those nice multi millionaires at last minute dot com and their braying gimps in marketing sent me this. the subject line was "severe weather warning" and the email attachment opens with a picture of someone sheltering from a storm on a sea front. The charming strap line "will the last person out of the country turn the lights out!" tee hee can you seem what they've done those little post modern scamps, BRITAIN HAS HAD THE WORST FLOODING IN YEARS 30,000 PEOPLE IN HULL HAVE HAD THEIRE HOMES RUINED BUT THE 12 YEAR OLD GITS AT LASTMINUTE WANT US TO BLOW OUT CREDIT CARDS ON SOME CRAPPY CITY BREAKS IN SHANG HAI TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL! there is no pit of hell low enough for these people ( I know i know,the real hell is saved for tyrants etc).You'd think low cost hoilday merchants the day after Live Earth would keep their heads down but no ! I'm going to email them to complain and also to advertsing standards council or similar

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Wrting on the wall : slight return

Can Bloggers complain about graffiti i.e. random words displayed in public areas it’s a mute point except this page isn’t stuck in the middle of the high st, you have choose to visit it (in this case not in great numbers) and if it was really offensive it can removed with a click of mouse. I am also not keen on censorship.
Which brings a round to Bansky. I’ve long had a dislike for him stemming from a great dislike for graffiti in general. The Guardian art critic lays it out a lot better than me and nails a few things I have not had time to crystallise.
Firstly he’s not very good his images are momentarily amusing or diverting but offer little from a lengthy viewing ( anyone who comes back with a load of post modern “that’s the point” sub 6th form cultural studies nonsense can kiss my Derridda). Many of them have little going for them beyond than you use to get from those jokey posters they sold in Woolies .
He’s not as edgy as he likes to think, his books are probably published by some subsidiary of Murdoch or Sony. Once you take their shilling your statements are compromised.
Lastly he is the justification for all the other tagers, graphers and window scratchers who de face our communities. If you like graffiti you have simple option you can pay some youth to tag you bed room, or your front windows, or have some hoody scratch the windows of your car or better still your glasses so you can stare at it all day. All the fawning adulation of Banksy and his ilk mean the poor parts of town will continue to be covered in this crap for years to come. If graffiti was really positive and enhanced an area wouldn’t Hampstead or Blackheath be covered in it? So can we have less of this showy shallow bad adman’s artist please?

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Drunken Images

Minor Grape: As usual on the front of the paper, which of the worlds several thousand intoxicants does the Guardian choose to illustrate a drink driving story...... you've guessed it a pint of flat looking bitter. It's not paranoia it's a 1000 year old class war. I don't think the world's most famous recent celebrity drink driver was mashed on 6 pints of Broadside was she.
ps I don't like using stats but here's a quote from Decanter magazine.
"France has one of the worst road safety records in Europe. Of 7,242 road deaths a year, 29.5% involve drivers who are over the drink-drive limit. In the UK (whose population is almost identical to France's) the figures are 3,400 and 15% respectively!"

Monday, 11 June 2007

Village Idiots

Most of you will have noticed a particular abuse of English over the last few years the inclusion by the property industry of the words “Village” randomly after place names. I.e Marylebone Village, Blackheath Village. It’s a way of making part of an exclusive area that bit better by attaching the supposed charms of village life to a formally urban location.
It presumably stems from Dulwich village etc which does have the air of a Village, a posh one mind with crap shops and snooty pubs.
And that’s the problem villages are only attractive to those who have never live there. Your typical village will have a grocers come post office that sells little more than atora suet, split peas and old copies of woman’s own. The pub if it’s got one will be full of small minded regulars or have a stroppy landlord. There’s no where to walk and precious else do.
The other side of village life people eulogise is the supposed friendliness of them. That’s if you are white and local that is. Since when has everyone knowing your business being a good thing, you only have to turn to popular culture to see that from everything from the Salem witch trials to midsomer murders that small village life leads to deadly consequences.

So when estate agents call a place posh place “something village” presumably they are targeting the narrow minded nosey bigoted suet buying murderer market and good luck to them.
What brought this all to mind is I often eat my lunch opposite the Molinare film and TV facilities village. In other words a TV studio where they make Jamie Oliver programmes etc. In this case village in the title may be accurate because media types will have more than their usual share of back bating gossips, misanthropes, they ruin the local pubs oh and I bet the shops crap too.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Drunken Thinking 2 those crazy Dutch

Further to my previous post on drinking laws.
Found this it, shows that "problem drinking" may be cultural after all, powdered alcohol for kids anyone?

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Caring for Carers

On a more poignant note a good article about the effects of long term illness on the carers, this guy’s story is echoed many times elsewhere. The thing the NHS has not yet to fully grasped is that the most potentially distressing symptoms of diseases like MS are the psychological effects on the patient and carer. The mental health issues always seem to go untreated and yet depression etc are often harder to cope with than even intense physical pain. In fact because the carer becomes depressed this can get in the way of them seeking help for themselves and the “caree”. So until counselling, rest bite care, therapy etc are built into the care plans, carers will continue to end up not only grieving for their lost loved ones but mentally damaged and unwell from the whole process.

Drunken Thinking

A couple of things
Today firstly
Drink. The recent report(ing) and measures to curb drinking are as usual flawed. The first thing to say is the Guardian report is accompanied by a picture of the naked torso of a man carrying two and half pints of lager (in skiffs). Yet the reports states that the at risk groups are young people and older people drinking at home. These groups don’t drink beer as a matter of course, it’s either alcopops or wine so why is the picture not of some midriff bearing 12 years old or middle aged female hand reaching for the wine box and the Pringles before settling down to watch Doc martin? (I refer you to the Saxon verses Normans debate) In fact if everyone drank beer, because it’s weaker and greater in volume and therefore more filling, drunkenness rates would go down!
Now, to look at the measures to fight this, taxing the majority of drinkers to tackle the behaviour the minority of “problem” drinkers. All the offences committed by drinkers and vendors are already covered by other laws. Throwing up in the street: illegal. Selling to minors is illegal. Selling booze to someone in capable is already an offence.
So what needs to happen is to target and sensibly enforcement existing laws before we start punitative taxation.

As for home drinking this is a tricky one because it is down to increased prosperity. I.e. the group that’s drinking too much are richer than before. In times past drinking wine at home was a rarity with a bottle for special meals or special occasions. Now a days wine is cheap and peoples buy it, like any other grocery in bulk. This group that are over indulging are doing so also because wine we drink is stronger than the blue Nun et al of yore. Many of this group aren’t sure what a measure is and drink huge glasses of wine. Also home drinkers are free from social stigma so can go to bed (or sleep on the sofa) plastered without the rebuke of their peers they would get down the pub. The only way to counter the home drinkers is to close tescos and sainsbury which is a good idea but isn’t going to happen.

The other problem with all this is the puritan mealy mouthed nature of New Labour and the double standards of the political classes in general with their late bars, Chianti sodden holiday homes and expense account mullard meals.

Monday, 4 June 2007

It Pays to advertise

The web is a funny place according to a comment on my blog a Portuguese(or possibly Brazilian) online tshirt vendor is interested in my views on "booking fee rip offs". Or is it just spam anyway welcome Rodrigo?

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Monkey Business

Started watching a film about the Monkees channel 4, in the first five minutes they repeated the same wrong story about Mike Nesmith's Mum inventing Tippex, she didn't she invented liquid paper. If the can't get this right what hope is there for the rest, so I turned off.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Book off and die!

In life there are lot’s of things to be angry about slavery, poverty, religious intolerance the list goes on , personally I channel my anger for these through, development charities, how I vote, writing to my MP or the papers and yes blogging. However there are small things in life that get us as angry for which there is no agency through which to vent our rage.
Even admitting to being angry by this minutia is shaming but here goes.

I loathe booking fees.
Here is a list (off the top of my head) of things a gallery, concert venue etc needs to pay for to run events: staff, heating, lighting, water, insurance, rent or similar, licences for performances, local and national taxes, security, repairs, publicity and on and on. Why then is buying and booking the ticket the only thing added on to the cost of entry. There’s no “surly gallery attendant charge”, or “can’t get a simple order right vague Goth bar staff tax” nor even “wears all black with complicated jewellery and has too many needless foreign trips and long lunches gallery curator” fee.

So why a booking charge? In the old days if you wanted to buy a concert ticket you could queue at the box office and pay your money for no extra fee. Or if you lived in sticks like me you could go to EGS records in town, and pay some cash. To aid our transport to the bright lights of Sheff or Leeds EGS also put on a coach for which they added a modest charge.

Compare this today, most concert venues don’t have box offices, even if they do they still levy a booking fee, so most times you have to buy over the web where for no reason you are stung for extra amount for your ticket. Sometimes this amounts to upwards of 20-30%. We recently bought Glastonbury tickets at around £150 now Mr Eavis with his strange beard includes the cost of his dodgy bogs, litter collection, generators for the stages, stewards etc in the ticket price but not the cost of booking it, even though you can only buy them over the web. He won’t for instance stop milking and pop inside his farm house for your tickets if you turn up to pay cash. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to pay the whole cost of the show and a fare mark up for profit, but booking fees smack of profiteering. Now the usual excuse is that the Credit card companies charge the venue for using their system, but this is nonsense when you can only buy tickets over the web, again the electricity company charge for “juice” but there’s no sur-charge for utilities.

Another insidious thing, a favourite with cinemas is the booking fee per tickets scam which is their way of saying “yes you want to come see the latest block buster, we will not only have bad projection, deafening sound, over priced snacks but even before you get here. we are going to wee in your metaphorical popcorn by charging 20% extra to listen to a load of recorded messages. Oh and when you do turn up the ticket machine won’t work so you’ll have to queue up at ticket booth anyway and pay £1.50 more than those who turned up on spec.

Take the Hayward gallery (great exhibition see here for my review) but what’s with the booking nonsense. I tried to book on line but this didn’t work (I couldn’t remember my pass word) why can’t you buy stuff without logging in?

Now the online booking fee is £1.50 I think per ticket. So because of the password nonsense I have to book over the phone. It’s a premium number and I’m put on hold and have to listen to how great their online booking system is arrggh! Now when I get through apart from the women insisting on trying to post me the tickets (it was the day of the event) it goes fine apart from the £2.00 booking fee! So let’s get this right you charge me while I am on hold and then have the gall to charge me more just for ringing up.

Later at the gallery you still have to queue for ticket pick up (admittedly not as long as the on spec crowd) and then I had to wait 3-4 minutes while they printed mine out.

Let’s look at parallel problem: postage fees. Bearing in mind most tickets are online and so have to be posted why is postage extra when most tickets are bought within national boundaries. Also what post office do theses people use, even taking into account special delivery rates the cost of a ticket, an envelope and postage are usually 60% higher than if you or I queued up behind the smelly women who wants to register a car with no id, money, or intelligence. I know because I’m a pedant and I checked, I took the ticket and envelope into the PO asked about special delivery and the ticket that had cost me £4.60 extra should have cost around only £2.40.

So let’s review booking fees are a rip off, promoters should include the whole cost of the event in the price of the tickets, if they want to over charge could they have the good grace not to do so blatantly.
How can we fight this, short of not going out I don’t know may be you’ve some ideas? So where was I ,ah yes tipping…….

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Oh No Bono Hymn not very good

Anglicans finally wring last ounce of poetry and beauty out of art:

Spreading from Ireland church services are using the songs of U2 as the basis of communion celebrations. Not content with polluting the air with dire christian rock, the happy clappys want to appropriate good tunes and mangle them too.
Sure religion has produced great art Bach, Tallis, van der weden, and much great architecture. But rarely does it sit well with rock and pop, because Coldplay aside they are generally not earnest, joyless and worthy forms (unlike young Christians).

Most Christian rock seems to be couched in bland evangelical language, it's all "fill me with your light" or "he is with us, let us praise him". Hardly "I was born in a crossfire hurricane" or " I met him on Monday and my heart stood still". What these arm waving literalist don't understand is that songs like" I still haven't found what I'm looking for"work on several levels and don't need some leaden foot bunch of junior accountants and Sunday school teachers to kick it to death just to win over some deluded alpha course members.

One of the joys of great religious art is the mix of the sublime and the profane, It's the hard iron nail in the all too human wrist mixed with the beauty of the human eye. It's the purity of a choristers top note coming from the body of a farting and xbox obsessed 12 year old.It's not about pub rock lumpenly played on tinny synths and fretless basses. Good religious art has a beauty and majesty that can lift even the heart of the unbeliever. It's not there to fill churches as the "U2charist" smacks of.

There was a piece in the paper about liberal types like me being racist about who is and isn't allowed to be a Christian in music. For example it's alright for black singers to sing about god because they are simple children, where as white people are meant to be rationalist and move on from these primitive beliefs. That's not may case at all, I'm happy for people to sing about their beliefs , but they should be any good at it. Bad art is bad art, singing about god doesn't redeem it. The only fear I have about so called "born again" Christian types is their obsession with proselyting, they are not content to live a life of Christian virtue and let that be an example to the others, no they have to with oleaginous piety tell people about it. Am I being unfair well half way through writing this piece a Jehovah's Witness rang my bell to "tell me about a passage they wanted to share with me" (if I was being coarse this could be quiet an offer!)
So you can sing about whatever you like just do it with some passion , joy, humour, style, wit and most of all talent. That way you won't offend man's ears and you may just win of God too.

ps. the acoustics in most Anglican Churches make rock bands sound rotten.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Cheats prosper

I know, I know it's sour grapes but has italian footbal proved conclusively that it's free from systemic corruption?

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Nessles big bunch of scum part 3

Found this Indian Milk powder ad proving Nessles do target the vulnerable , a westernised mother rewards her toddler with a powered milk drink. It's from an Indian ad agency site I think.

Nessles big bunch of scum

I've subtitled Nessles reply to the guardians article showing they are still promoting milk poweder over breast milk. my bits are in yellow.

We're not trying to undermine the baby-milk code
(Just disregard it and do what we like)
Nestlé is committed to the health of mothers and infants in the developing world, says Hilary Parsons
(Nessles wants to make money in as many markets as possible selling expensive milk to poor people regardless of its health benefits is just one of them)
Hilary Parsons
(Corporate zombie who seemingly can sleep at night despite spouting errant nonsense all day)Tuesday May 22, 2007

Joanna Moorhead's report on infant-formula marketing in Bangladesh failed to highlight a
(Nessles is very good at hiding its dodgy schemes and is very litigious.)
single violation by Nestlé of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes
(Obviously they could be nice and not push the code to its limit, they could choose to be moral and not need a code)
(Milking it, G2, May 15). Indeed, she herself doesn't believe that we are in breach. Instead, by
(Nessels doesn’t like free speech because they like to lie and don’t like getting found out.)
Presenting contacts with health professionals - permitted under the code - as "aggressive" marketing, the article claimed that Nestlé is exploiting grey areas.
For example, Save the Children alleges that Nestlé gives health professionals pictures of
(Save the Children say Nessles gives out leaflets to doctors but I’ll use allege because it sounds dodgy, oh and doesn’t Lactogen sound posh like a medicine, when it’s just powdered milk).
Lactogen to pass on to mothers in order to get around the code's prohibition of direct contacts between mothers and companies. The article describes these leaflets as "to all intents and purposes flyers for the product concerned". But giving information to health workers is permitted by the code.
(Again Nessles could act morally and not push their products, which if they were any good wouldn’t need to be marketed in dodgy ways)
Had the article illustrated a copy of one of our so-called flyers, readers may have been more sceptical of the assertion of exploitation.
Nestlé sells three types of Lactogen in Bangladesh. The products have different formulations and feeding frequency. Should an infant consume the wrong product, this would have an adverse effect on the child's health. The leaflets are essentially a safety measure to ensure that the right product is bought for a child of the corresponding age and that the mother understands how frequently she should feed the child.
Featured prominently on the front of the leaflets is the statement: "Nothing is a substitute for or equivalent or superior to breast milk." Though the author states that she saw no evidence of Nestlé-sponsored pro-breastfeeding literature, on the back is important advice for mothers including information on breastfeeding, a warning that partial bottle-feeding can have a negative effect on breastfeeding, and advice that the costs of infant formula should be borne in mind before deciding to use it. This does not sound much like a flyer!

(I can’t go on anymore female adult literacy in Bangladesh is around 30% with much lower figures for poorer women. The idea that they could read even basic labels is risible and they take home the clear message of what’s best for their child by the big picture on the front of a tin of Lactogen. A twelve year old with one lesson in media studies could decipher the message being given out here. Now’s not the time to discuss the uneven hierarchical power balance inherent in the medical profession but suffice to say that the message that women with sick children get is that powered milk is best because the high priest/doctor says so. Hillary next time your in Selfridges spending you ill gotten gains, you might ponder why the Clinique assistants are wearing white coats )

The article also highlights the fact that a cake and a plastic pen were given to health professionals - as if such items would persuade the paediatricians of Bangladesh to endanger babies' lives by recommending infant formula over breastfeeding. Incidentally, the pen illustrated alongside the article does not promote an infant formula but mentions NIDO, a milk powder for general family use.

(Try this next time you spend lots of money on advertising at work, when your boss asks “why did we spend 10 grand on cheap pens” just say “ well sir they are just cheap pens they don’t influence the consumer, they don’t help build our brand, so I don’t really know why I did it do I get a raise?”)

Far from trying to get around the code, in developing countries, Nestlé voluntarily applies the entire WHO code - whether the government does or not. In fact, Nestlé is the only major infant-food company in developing countries which: does not give free supplies of infant formula to hospitals; refrains from marketing cereals and baby foods for infants younger than six months; and does not advertise follow-on formula (for infants more than six months of age).
(We’d like a big badge for acting morally (RE: not advertising :that’s if they do, if free pens aren’t advertising large road side hoarding or radio jingles may not be too)
This is the action of a company committed to improving the health and nutrition of mothers and infants, rather than one trying to exploit grey areas of the code.
(Nessles wants to make money in as many markets as possible selling expensive milk to poor people regardless of its health benefits is just one of them)

· Hilary Parsons is Nestlé's head of corporate social responsibility
(Hilary thinks she’s a nice person but has a worry in the back of her mind that with every word she utters she’s moving further away from a normal decent human being and becoming a hollow amoral beast)
Unicef site if you missed the link earlier for stats on how goddamn poor the place is.

an internal Nessles document showing how much they spend on everything including advertising (which Hillary seems to think doesn't work, see also the cheap mugs they buy from china)

Saturday, 19 May 2007

The stupidest person in Britain

Call off the search we've found them the most stupid vacuous person in Britain.
Natalie Hanman a guardian journalist who has written this post modern nonsense "she doesn't find the Simpsons funny". She's one of those people who "don't get comedy" and therefore are morally suspect. This joyless bunch seem to think that serious people can't have a sense of humour. The opposite is true in fact, good comedy has deeper underlying truths than any amount of po -faced hand wringing, which is what she seems to promotes. Usually people who "don't get comedy" are shallow and vacuous and take themselves far too seriously and don't fill their time not laughing (as is the case here) with anything profound, moving or insightful.
ps. This is further proof that the Guardian is dumbing down and becoming more trite and media based.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The Milk of Human Kindness?

Corporate Pr who’s words turn to bitter ashes in their mouth and who’s teeth will fall out because they told one lie too many. of the week
Robin Tickle.

Q: Should we still boycott Nestle et al ?
A: yes!

Piece in G2 today which careful lays out how large food manufactures are systematically bypassing legislation to prevent them promoting formula baby milk over breast feeding.

The article is balanced and seemingly well researched with interviews with mothers of sick children, doctors at clinics and government officials in Bangladesh who’s job it is to try stop these companies breaking or dodging laws.
One of the most annoying bits of the whole thing is when the press officer for Nestle “Robin Tickle denies that tear-off pads equate to promoting Lactogen. In fact, he says, the device is "essentially a safety measure. The pads are distributed as information to healthcare workers which ... is allowed under the code. Individual sheets of these are then indeed handed over to mothers, but only after the infant formula has been prescribed by a doctor."

You can see him in is ill fitting suit, smarmy hair cut, reeking of fag smoke sat at his semi-plush desk in sunny Croydon, a house full of Ikea furniture in New Addington, grim honeymoon picture from Mauritius on his desk, a bag of oversized head golf clubs in the boot of his bottom of the range Audi. Speaking this tripe and still believing he’s a good guy, “at least I don’t sell cluster bombs” I bet he thinks, with his long list of excuses to trot out at neighbour’s barbecues, when they rib him about “junk food”, as they all chew on their farmer’s market organic sage and apricot bangers, necking Tesco warm chardonnay. How can they live?

So what can we do?

Well don’t buy Nestlé stuff (a mea culpa for my promotion on my other page it was a moment of weakness) this page will give you the details.
Any spammers could send their junk to address bellow.
You could write to Nestles at their cheery stalag in Croydon and ask them how they sleep at night.

Nestlé UK Press Office, St George's,House, Park Lane,Croydon, CR9 1NR

I also think on a cultural level we should go back to calling Nestlé “Nestles” (rhymes with trestles).

This is a good idea for two reasons
1. Its faintly childish (they do make sweets after all).

2. And also it will reduce their caché, at the moment they sound a bit posh like Condé Nash or Givergncy, Nestles sounds like a grotty night club or cheap and cheerful greasy spoon and it will wind the bu##ers up more than not buying Branston pickle and Caramac.

One last corporate Irony Nestles logo is picture of a mother bird feeding her young.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Blair Blaairr Bleurghh!

What’s the point of all these “Blair years“ supplements and extended news programmes.
Do the media think we’ve forgotten what’s been going on?

I think it’s all needless and just exercise in them using their picture and clip libraries.
But as we know that will never happen, he will bugger off and get millions for his boring diaries, which nobody outside the media will read.

I am most annoyed with his “I did what I thought was best” defence, which is the sort of nonsense no parent or teacher would stand for. “Tony, why did you spill paint all over the shed floor?”“Well, I thought it was the best thing for the shed, the garden and most of all the good people of this family”.

I’m also sick of this idea that New Labour failed because we expected too much. Not that they didn’t deliver on their promises but that somehow us the voters wanting clean hospitals, 3rd world debt relief, safe transport, well educated children etc put a burden on the government that was excessive. They squandered two terms of massive majorities with prevarication and a lack of conviction.Meanwhile, people will still die in Iraq, the world’s poor will still get ripped off, our taxes will get miss spent and lying and spin will become the norm.

One thing which has always soured Blair’s time in charge is the presences of Alistair Campbell on our screens. Has there ever been a more hateful none elected figure? On Channel 4 last night he was his usual repellent self, he had the brass neck to suggest that the media and voters are responsible for his spin. Receiving a moral lecture from him (as at the time of 45 minute dossier) drove me to turn over.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Small electric cars are killing the planet slight return!

and killing people too it would seem... I'm not one for bashing "green" products but a useless electric car which isn't safe isn't much good to anyone. Their owners should get on a bus, you've never seen anything dangerous happen to a bendy bus have you.....

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Small electric cars are killing the Planet?

One thing I’ve noticed working on the fringes of Soho is that there are a lot more electric cars on the streets, those pokey little ones pictured above. These cars should be banned.

Now before anyone pops a vein I’ll explain. Global warming is a fact, it is getting worse. It will have terrible consequences, some of which we don’t yet know about. Man’s use of energy is making it worse. By reducing energy use we will help solve the problem and also save fossil fuels which are finite. To do this in the UK we will have to make between a 20-40% cut in car use, this will mean some people have to give up cars; most will have to use them less. We will have to have a radical change in how we live basically planning our towns, so we can walk to work, to school or make short journeys on public transport. When we travel abroad we will stay longer and go less often, no one will fly to Shanghai for long weekends. I think I should number these bits so I don’t have to repeat them (this is “green exposition no 1”).

"BUT" the people who drive these little electric cars will be saying “...we’ve already swapped to sustainable transport” and the answer to that is hooey!
Little electric cars are not sustainable because you can’t do anything in them that you can’t do on foot, on a bike or on public transport. They are crap for shopping as they are so tiny. The school run for most families would impossible as they are 2 seaters. They have limited range (100 mile tops). And yet to not do the above very well they use up loads of energy to in their production.
They are about a quarter of the size of a black cab but over there lifetimes 4 of them will not be as useful a one seemingly gas guzzling cab in fact I think 10 of them would just about match a cab for usefulness if not more.
The only reason they are useful is as an example of bad environmental behaviour. Like carbon offsetting, they are a way of rich people appearing to be greener without changing their behaviour one iota. In fact because they occasionally go to Waitrose in their electric bubble car the media types who drive these cars can justify to their selves spending half term flying to Patagonia.

You can tell how much use electric and other urban cars are by the fact that at least 60% are parked at any time. So the test from now on should be, would you be better of walking and the answer will be most of the time yes.

One other thing, when anyone is challenged on their car use (my close friends and family included), they always justify it by recourse to other people, as in without it I couldn’t take the kids to school, I have to visit my aged mum etc. What the don’t say is I like driving and will do almost anything including flooding the country I live in order to not get on a bus or walk to the off licence. Sadly all the justification in the world won’t stop global warming, having sensible tax systems that encourage informed environmental choices (ie. axing low road tax, free parking and no congestion charge for tiny electric cars) and that don’t placate deluded self serving media types will.

Ps don’t ya think the picture of the bike covered in baskets shows how resourceful us humans are when we put our minds to a problem.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Do you hate the observer womens monthly magazine?

a whole site devouted to pouring bile on the most depressing colour supplement yet. enjoy!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Pork (well turkey ham) Barrel Politics

Bernard Matthews is to be compensated for having to destroy healthy birds on a farm his own company infected with bird flu. As we’ve seen with everything from BSE to the hunting ban, the farming lobby refuse to pay for their own mistakes.
Lets take an example from another field, my friend’s a freelance ad man, now so far he’s doing well, but say the government bans booze ads (one his main sources of work) he won’t get far trying to claim some “compo” from us all. He’ll have even less chance if he messes up his own business and the work stops coming in. But your average farmer (or in this case super rich one) can feed sheep’s brains to sheep, spread foot and mouth around the country and yet can still come cap in hand to the rest of us for a hand out. Oh and don’t get me started on the fishing lobby….
Update Sat 21st
There's been a general outcry about all this, although one suspects "Tubby" Bernard will still get his cash. One thing I read was that farmers should get subsidized private insurance (as in Spain). Which seems just another expensive way of us paying up, how about they pay their own insurance like every other business.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Stuff and Nonsense

The nonsense spouted in the copy advertising cosmetics and so called “health” products is everywhere. I usually don’t read it as it’s just annoying. But stuck on the tube, I read the following from a Perfectil skin and hair formula made by Vitabiotics.

“a powerful combination of bio-active ingredients including high-grade marine collagen complex, pine bark extract, black currant seed oil,”

Regardless of if any of this junk works what struck me was that this “high class” product is basically made from waste.

High-grade marine collagen complex: collagen is a protein found in our bodies, in joints, skin etc. Marine collagen is extracted from fish skin and shark bones, basically fillet some rock salmon eat the flesh stick the rest in your veins.
I know why they specify “marine” because normal collagen or “boiled up cow’s knee caps” was “tainted” (literally and figuratively) by BSE a while back. But in these days of falling fish stocks (I originally typed “falling fish sticks”) especially shark numbers maybe this isn’t the best source of collagen.

Pine bark extracts: They don’t say which of the 100-125 species of Pine it comes from but I’m sure pine bark is a by-product of making chip board; you can get it delivered by the trailer load to mulch your garden.

Black currant extract: the thing that struck me about this was how did they know? I mean blackcurrant seeds are tiny so who thought of extracting anything from them. Well probably when you are stuck with at least 13 billion of them. Yes, by the time Smith kline Beecham have made millions of gallons of “tooth kind” they are stuck with a lot of pips. Luckily along came those nice people at Vitabiotics and took them of their hands.
Now I am not against recycling it’s just the cosmetics industry sells it self via a sheen of exclusivity, stark pure laboratory’s or cosy clean nature. It’s obviously that Perfectil is made from the scrapings from Europe’s industrial complex’s dust bins not quite the glossy image they wanted to portray.

Lastly on the subject Ribena our heroines of the week must Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo two 6th form age chemistry students from New Zealand. Who in the words of Mr BLTP Senior (my dad) “did their Sums”. Basically they wanted to test theory that high priced/quality fruit drinks contained more Vit. C and were therefore worth the extra cost. They did the appropriate Vit. C tests and found that “ready to drink” cartons of ‘Bena had negliable levels of Vit C. Cue lots of bluster and spin from SKB, So well done Jenny and Anna.

Thursday, 29 March 2007


I am not going to start bandying around the word fascist, it’s used far too much about things that aren’t nearly as terrible, but am I the only one to be slightly unnerved by the title “Ministry of Justice”.
Such is the power of Orwell’s fiction that most New Labour phrases sound like Newspeak. The “Ministry of Justice” just sounds un-British. Whatever the pros and cons of the new system, one suspects there will more taxes wasted, more mangled language and less freedom and of course less justice.

In fact the first character that sprung to mind wasn’t Winston Smith but Judge Dredd. Although nominally set in a post nuclear war America, Mega city one is a very British creation. Like all good pop culture it carried deep truths in A candy coloured wrapper. Perceptive and well written Judge Dredd, whose central character is a cloned quasi-totalitarian policemen, has been an good predicator of our present (rather than some mystical future). Sure we don’t regularly use hover cars or have pills instead of solid food but the list below shows the many areas where “Toothy’s” predication have come true.

So don’t say you weren’t warned when our flat screen digi boxes crackle into life with the beaming face of Chief Judge Blair.

On the spot law enforcement
Riot foam
Banning of sugar

Excessive electronic surveillance
There was a long story on the “get ugly craze” in Judge Dredd that mirrored the whole body piercing tattoo nonsense
Dredd was arresting huge obese “fatties” long before channel 5 BBC3 had nightly programmes about food obsession.
2000 AD even had a celebrity graffiti scrawler, Chopper long before the sad little man that is Banksy was still smearing the contents of his nappy on his playpen. Chopper’s tag was a smiley face funnily enough, just to show Banksy’s lack of originality.

I sure there are plenty more examples putting aside the fact that we have a government that tramples on basic civil liberties, uses armed police and brute force to enforce it’s ill-written, ill-begotten laws.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Aqua con gas!

Saw this in yesterdays' Observer. What truly annoys me about this stuff is the off hand way it's dealt with. All journalistic conventions seem to dissolve when it comes to so called "health" coverage. Dr Briffa is a particular culprit. If half the bold claims he makes are true the Observer , government etc should be investigating them as they are very serious. In one past article he dropped in that tap water had been linked to bowel cancer. I think this is quiet an important claim seeing as 95% of the population comes into contact with tap water every day. But this and many other claims go unchallenged and pass the "green pencil" intact. The following dispatch contains three statements that warrant further explanation .
I appreciate that space is tight so they could always link to a web page with the evidence etc on it. Here is his latest bit of nonsense from the observer food monthly magazine 25Th march 2007 from the "what's in your basket section".
"Sparkling water
There's some evidence that sparkling water can reduce risk of heart disease in women. But it can also cause 'dental erosion' so it's best drunk through a straw"

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Sign of the times

This sign says everything you need to know about the rubbish way private landlords looks after property. I needn't add that there are no security cameras on our estate. What's more depressing is not only have they defaced a tree but probably wasted 5 mins and £30-40 quid putting it up.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

F1 Fumes:update

See link at end for observers response to many similar complaints to mine.
Just a quick one. Firstly smoking is bad for you. Smoking has however been part of culture for almost 500 years. In a slight but absurd way the Observer has re-written this history, in one of the Guardians groups famous wall charts, put out to tie in with the start of the Formula One season they show interesting cars from the sports history. They are all there Maclarens, Ferraris and Tyrells, all with their sleek lines and gaudy paint work covered latterly with sponsor's logos. All except the cars formerly known as Marlboro Maclaren and more simply John player special these have had the names of tobacco sponsors omitted. This bizarre form of censorship is presumably so kids don't put cigarettes firms on their walls. In terms of modern obsessions this is strange as the Parmalat Brabham is shown, Parmalat are Italy's largest processed food producers, one of the cars (another Brabham) also sports a Martini logo and another Bitburger , a brand of beer. So it's OK to show binge drinking pushers and artery cloggers but not the peddlers of gaspers. It's pathetic. I speak from personal experience when I say even though the JPS Lotus was the best scalectrix car we had, looked cool and won loads of grand prixes I was never tempted to have puff. Sadly I can't say the same for cheese and vermouths alcoholic cousins.
All I would say in response is that the Observer should had explained this all in advance. As this is an intersting part of culture rather than blandly censoring their publications. I would like to see if they would omit walter rayleigh from a tudors wallchart as a tobacco sponsor! Not that in this touchy world a wallchart on the tudors would get printed.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

stars in our ears

Woken this morning by a text arriving in (on?) my phone , I should learn that anything arriving that early won't be important but my curiosity dragged me from my pit. The usual bleary eyed hunt for the phone followed only to find that vodaphone had decided the best way to make me buy more phone tat was to wake me up on Sat morning with a multimedia text. I immediately deleted the text, the title line was enough "Paris Hilton's birthday bash". I won't grace PH with any more talk, I'll just make a general comment. This message was the product of 10's of peoples time and effort and the arrow point of one of the countries most successful companies and this is how they want to greet their public. Last Saturday they didn't send me text reminding me of the lunar eclipse, or perhaps a pancake recipe (on shrove Tuesday) or even a corny joke no a bland tedious celebrity. If you go to their boring "walled garden" of an Internet site there's nothing of interest. I had some "free" downloads from my phone package to use but postage stamp sized pictures of z list celeb in "hand bras" was all the had to offer me, I couldn't even pay for a copy of tetris. I'm sure they are missing out on loads of sales from the likes of myself because of their narrow media led obsessions.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Our endless sense of entitlement will hang us all Pt2 Grand designs

Grand Designs is probably one of the most obscene shows on TV. It ranks alongside all the second homes abroad shows as an outstanding niche viewing. Out of the worlds population the number of very rich people is less 1% and the percentage of these who build their home must be low and yet channel 4 and its sister channels dedicate at least 6 hours a week to them. The programme wallows in the immoral wasting of huge sums of money on palaces to vanity to of their creators. Every week the show has the same plot a couple have the idea for some big old house they proceed to overspend, budgets double and treble, plans expand etc. Often perfectly decent houses are knocked down without a hint of recycling anyway. We are invited to ooh and ahh at vastly expensive sinks, acres of the Yorkshire dales are quarried for “impressive wet rooms”. Towards the middle there’s some problem with window that’s too big “oh what will they do?” Then at the end (after they have forked out more cash) it’s all ok, the rich people have a lovely home to swish around in and everyone coos at their dramatic use of space, luxury bedrooms and spectacular living rooms. It is an orgy of spending and waste, where deluded posh people are cast as heroic champions, it’s Ayn Rand gone mad (der). The only good thing about the show is Kevin Mccloud who against my better judgement I quite like, he seems a decent sort (would probably stand his round) but even he can’t redeem this cesspit obscenity
It got so bad that I stopped watching as I found it so annoying but while waiting for something else to come on I flicked through it a few times. This week’s series opener was some architects spending again obscene amounts of money to turn a Yorkshire ruin into an ersatz castle. The witless couple obviously have never heard of the “grandfathers axe” paradox and spent the thick end of £1,000,000 building their own castle with a thin veneer of the original on the outside. The new twist to this bloated hour and half programme (why are channel 4 programmes always so overly long) is that c4 favourite the after show follow up show. In this show “Kevin McCloud is joined by interior design guru Naomi Cleaver and award-winning architect Deborah Saunt” to stir the preceding 1 ½ hours pot of ordure and basically slagging off or praising the builders for their use of stone taste in chairs etc. This witless worship of needlessly expensive housing is truly decadent, they rarely touch on the sorts of housing most people live in (they vaguely justify it all with the formula one trickle down excuse) and just foster an atmosphere where the spending of vast sums of borrowed money is seen as normal and desirable.
Over to Phil and Kristy as they help a picky gay couple buy flats in London and Paris arggggggh!

Monday, 26 February 2007

Stars in our eyes

It wasn’t long before I got round to celebrity. I didn’t want to because I’ll be just putting my shoulder against this particular wheel and in terms of momentum the celebrity bandwagon has enough to move a lead zeppelin (don’t you just love a tortured metaphor).
But I’m getting to where I can’t escape it and it is worrying me for all the usual reasons, it detracts from other areas of life. It’s Sunday and with the Observer comes their food monthly ,magazine and like most of the Observer it is kept a float on a lake of celebrity custard. Out of the 89 pages 10 at least contain solely or partly stories about or hung on celebrities. This is impressive in magazine that has 32 pages of recipes about 21 pages of full page adds. Basically most of the editorial not involved in béchamel sauce and “frying off” duck breast is based on celebs. That’s without four pages featuring Oliver Peyton (restaurateur) who now he’s a judge on a TV show is slipping into celebland. Now the chardonnay supping editors will point to the long piece on fair trade but whoopee do, a serious paper writes a serious story do they want a badg? Why do all the other stories have to be about celebs. A pub review is solely about a member of Take That. We have to have random nutritional advice hung on the fact that Christopher Lee likes a ryvita. The celeb shopping basket feature ,I thought at first it was a spoof as an early one had what’s in Shane McGowan’s basket!
We have discussion of celeb bars that only 1% of London let alone the rest of the county will visit. If a deli is good it shouldn’t matter if Meg Mathews is a regular visitor. This whole thing came to mind after I picked up a free sheet on the train, in the food section they had article on London chippies, which was themed about chippes of the stars arrgghh. This meant that the only chippies covered where in the areas celebs hang out so they missed the really good one around the corner from me that Paul McCartney pops into becsue it'in south london.
It won’t stop but it will get worse, it is so bad already that it‘s almost a cliché to rail against it, you appear a prig or snob. But I am truly not interested in most of these people. It’s not news. Take the Oscars times past you’d go to sleep and wake up and they would have happened. Occasionally some Brits would win, mostly not, occasionally Richard Gere would say some daft mostly not. Most people couldn’t tell you what day they were on, pr who won, or who hosted it. Now the BBC even cover live the 5am (LA time) press conference to announce the nominees. TV shows preview the ceremony and tie themselves into the whole show, the event will be raked over afterwards for at least a couple of days particularly in women’s mags as their fashion Tricoteuses click away as this years lovelies face the guillotine of sartorial disapproval. Which other competition voted for by oap’s get so much publicity’s, are there any leek growing competions that could do with more coverage. After all your average show leek takes more time to prepare than your average starlet.
And it goes on, the Today programme reports on the latest celeb break up, every TV show has a celeb angle to it. You know the game will up when David Attenborough in tones over shots of penguins " the emperor penguin is the Posh and Becks of the animal kingdom"!
ps for the photo I typed "celebrity overload" into yahoo and the first picture was of I think Jordan which I thought was appropriate.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Face of Justice

They have arrested someone for the recent parcel bombing campaign I fear that regardless of his innocence or otherwise he will already be found guilty by the public by virtue of his photo.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Eat ya Greens

It will be a long battle but the forces of the irrationality have received a check today. Gillian McKeith, self styled food guru has been forced not to call herself "Dr" in print and TV media adverts. See the excellent Ben Goldacre's article in today's Guardian. This strange women has been plaguing us for years with her ill informed quackery and it's good that someone has seen fit to bring her to book. The only sad not to this happy news is that the Guardian/Observer will, if not today, print an article by one of their own lifestyle gurus, that will be full of all the unproven,unscientific,self serving nonsense that Mckeith is fond of. We will see lazy phrases such " organic food being free of chemicals" printed without shame and going unchallenged. The problem won't change until the anti-science bias in the media and government is rectified.
For more of Ben's excellent work see his site.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Our endless sense of entitlement will hang us all Pt1

I was on the tube the other day, looking round the adverts, they were the usual mix of insurance, vitamins, phone cards and holiday ads. One advert jumped out it was for hotel website alongside the usual claims and discounts next to the smiling blonde call centre women was a picture of a Maldives island hotel. You know the usual cluster of thatched cabins on stilts sticking out into a clear blue Indian ocean, two jet skiers scudding along in the background. So much, so what’s new it’s staple of the holiday brochure always portrayed as the acme of honeymoon location. A once in a life time place to swan around in wearing linen and chatting to all the other newly wed couples fresh from Baltimore, Stuttgart ,Lyon and Penge. What could be better. Well what did attract me in this ocean of blandness was a little addition to one of the huts, it was a cantilevered swimming pool. Sticking out over the bluest Photoshopped water was another fresh water pool, hot tub spa whatever. These are swimming pools for people who I suppose would send their cream cakes back for light dusting of chocolate on the cherry.
Presumably being surrounded by crystal clear water some people just aren’t satisfied, they want fresh water. In fact I’m sure there are people who spend whole weeks on these islands without ever dipping their toes in the sea and spend all day flubbed out in these hot tubs necking a stream of drinks in preparation for their air freighted prawns and steak. In fact they probably proudly joke about in over priced surrey pubs “ yes Colin never left that pool, he said the sea was full of turtle piss didn’t you Col…..“
I don’t need really need to outline that heated and treated, fresh water pools half a mile out into the Indian ocean may just be the straw that breaks the camels back ecologically speaking. I also don’t need to remind you that we are riding on the back of this camel and it’s the only one we’ve got. It’s this sense that we can meet every need whatever the consequences, that we have everything and so become jaded with everything. That there are people who fly half way across the world to sit in idyllic spot above a paradise ocean but within half an hour are bored and need bubbles blown up their fundaments. It’s because “your worth it“. We all do it on a lesser scale, you’ve had 4 meetings today so it’s a takeaway and DVD, you’ve had the kitchen for 8 years so you get a new one with self closing doors and “cooler” draws . It’s selling ford escorts because they can connect to your phone, it’s the paying £2 a week for someone to clean your wheelie bin. We can’t meet these needs because by their nature they are unmeetable. There will always be the hotel hot tub with better pulsating bubbles, disco lights, aroma therapy vapours, gold taps, gold and diamond taps……

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

At last someone is talking sense

Here's the first post I wanted to have a blog where the cause of Liberal liberty can be fought and debated. Where the government can be held to account.
After months of nonsense, double talk and dissembling from New Labour here's someone close to the government prepared to stand up for legality, liberty and truth. see the text below from the guardian
'There is no war on terror'
Outspoken DPP takes on Blair and Reid over fear-driven legal response to threat Clare Dyer, legal editor Wednesday January 24, 2007
Guardian The director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, put himself at odds with the home secretary and Downing Street last night by denying that Britain is caught up in a "war on terror" and calling for a "culture of legislative restraint" in passing laws to deal with terrorism.
Sir Ken warned of the pernicious risk that a "fear-driven and inappropriate" response to the threat could lead Britain to abandon respect for fair trials and the due process of law.
He acknowledged that the country faced a different and more dangerous threat than in the days of IRA terrorism and that it had "all the disturbing elements of a death cult psychology".
But he said: "It is critical that we understand that this new form of terrorism carries another more subtle, perhaps equally pernicious, risk. Because it might encourage a fear-driven and inappropriate response. By that I mean it can tempt us to abandon our values. I think it important to understand that this is one of its primary purposes."
Sir Ken pointed to the rhetoric around the "war on terror" - which has been adopted by Tony Blair and ministers after being coined by George Bush - to illustrate the risks.
He said: "London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, 'soldiers'. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a 'war on terror', just as there can be no such thing as a 'war on drugs'.
"The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement."
Sir Ken, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, told members of the Criminal Bar Association it should be an article of faith that crimes of terrorism are dealt with by criminal justice and that a "culture of legislative restraint in the area of terrorist crime is central to the existence of an efficient and human rights compatible process".
He said: "We wouldn't get far in promoting a civilising culture of respect for rights amongst and between citizens if we set about undermining fair trials in the simple pursuit of greater numbers of inevitably less safe convictions. On the contrary, it is obvious that the process of winning convictions ought to be in keeping with a consensual rule of law and not detached from it. Otherwise we sacrifice fundamental values critical to the maintenance of the rule of law - upon which everything else depends."
His comments will be seen as a swipe against government legislation allowing the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists without trial, later held incompatible with human rights by the courts, and the replacement law that permits suspects to be placed under control orders instead of being brought to trial.
Sir Ken referred to the government's opt-out from the European convention on human rights to pass the detention law - possible under the convention only if the "life of the nation" is threatened. "Everyone here will come to their own conclusion about whether, in the striking Strasbourg phrase, the very 'life of the nation' is presently endangered," he said. "And everyone here will equally understand the risk to our constitution if we decide that it is, when it is not."
The criminal justice response to terrorism must be "proportionate and grounded in due process and the rule of law," he said. "We must protect ourselves from these atrocious crimes without abandoning our traditions of freedom."
or go to this link