Monday, 31 March 2008

Not A Sausage More

According to the Telegraph (and an awful lot of other media outlets, too), eating just one sausage per day is enough to increase your risk of developing bowel cancer by one fifth. And it's not just sausages, either; any processed meat, including bacon, ham, pastrami, salami and hot dogs, is just as dangerous.

Come to that, ANY cooked red meat increases the risk, but to a lesser degree than processed meat. All of which means that, as far as the World Cancer Research Fund is concerned, we shouldn't be eating any processed meats, and no more than 500 grams of cooked red meat (beef, lamb, pork) in a week.

God help us when Dawn Primarolo and her band of new-age Puritans get hold of this one! Before you know it there will be demands for butchers to take red meat off display, with a pound of sausages to be sold only to over-18s who can prove their age and who specifically ask for sausages - spur of the moment purchases will no doubt be discouraged. Meanwhile, all processed meat products will be required to sport a Government health warning - you know, something like "SAUSAGES KILL" or "BACON SERIOUSLY HARMS YOU AND PIGS AROUND YOU".

Consumption and preparation of these deadly foods will not be permitted in enclosed, or semi-enclosed spaces, leading to a sudden upsurge in winter BBQs which will, in turn, be banned by the environmental lobby on the basis that they encourage the use of patio heaters. Of course, these dire predictions sound impossibly, unbelievably stupid - but you just try to imagine how today's equally dumb anti-smoking legislation would have been viewed in, say, 1988.

The time is coming when, under the stern gaze of the Nanny State, beer, fags and the English breakfast will be things of the past - dangerous curios for our descendants to marvel at as they sip their tasteless boiled water and chomp their nourishing vitamin pills. Yet, if only Gordon Brown-Trousers and his health fascist side-kicks realised it, most people do not like being told what we should do.

Sure, information like this scare-mongering research is useful, particularly if the research is well founded. But we don't want to be forced into following it. Rather, we like to make up our own minds and, having done so, resent the hints and threats and sneers from those around us who have reached a different conclusion.

Let's face it, nobody lives forever. No matter what you do, or how cautious / paranoid you are, you will end up dead sometime in the next 100 years or so. You can either quiver and quake your way to a miserably tedious demise, taking heed of every health fad that comes along, or you can eat, drink and smoke whatever you like, when you like, where you like for as long as you like. The price might be that you die a little younger, but at least you'll have enjoyed getting to that stage, unlike your dull, dreary, credulous colleagues.

To those who are even now scheming to avoid the great British Sausage, Egg, Bacon, Beans + Fried Bread (and very particularly to those scheming to make everyone else avoid it too) I have just one thing to say - get a life and pass the Ketchup!

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Chocolate Ban

In my last post I mentioned the Californian kids who are beating a fattening food ban - and making a tidy profit - at school by bringing sweets into school from home and selling them to other students. Their initiative shows just how foolish it is for those in authority to impose their views on the rest of us - particularly where those views relate to matters of personal choice, such as what we eat, drink or smoke.

Unfortunately, the extent of this stupidity doesn't seem to have been realised on this side of the pond, where, according to the Sun, there are plans afoot to ban chocolate bars, crisps and fizzy drinks from vending machines in 130 hospitals across Wales. The ban will be rolled out in ALL UK hospitals within two years, the article says.

Are they mad? Have the folks who run the NHS completely lost their marbles? Who the hell do they think they are to tell folks what they can eat or drink? And what will stop visitors from bringing chocs in for those imprisoned in an NHS hospital - and maybe selling a few extra to the other patients at the same time?

It just goes to show that the mindless buffoons who dream up this kind of crap are incapable of learning from their mistakes - or, I suspect, of even realising that they've made any. For example, on my travels I regularly drive past a large(ish) hospital. In line with the tide of health fascism that is sweeping the land, bosses there have decreed that the entire premises are to be a no smoking environment.

All of the (very expensive) smoking shelters that were so recently installed have been ripped out, and I am told than any member of staff caught smoking on the premises - even in their own car in the car park - faces disciplinary action. They can't very well discipline patients and visitors, but looming security enforcers seem to imply that lighting up is not a good idea, even outside.

Does this stop people from smoking? Do you think it would? No, of course not. They simply walk 50 yards or so from the hospital exit to the public street that lies beyond and, as soon as their feet step outside NHS property, they light up as they always have. The difference, of course, is that the public footpath outside the hospital is now packed with refugee smokers. No matter what time of day I drive past, there are dozens of them clustered around in groups.

Amongst their number I have regularly observed semi-ambulatory patients, clad in pyjamas, dressing gowns and slippers, towing a drip stand in one hand and clutching their smoke in the other. What kind of country requires the sick to vacate their beds and head out into the street in their dressing gowns so they can enjoy a cig? Not that these poor, victimised smokers are in any real danger other than catching a chill in the middle of winter. For, if they should collapse outside on the pavement, there are usually any number of nurses, doctors and paramedics puffing on their own cigarettes. No doubt they would be only to happy to help out a fellow smoker in distress.

If the Health Gestapo can't stop these spirited rebels from igniting a very noticeable cig, how the hell do they think they're going to stop folks from munching a surreptitious crisp? It's not going to happen, is it? All they will achieve is a degree of resentment across the whole of society that is currently the sole preserve of smokers.

Beware chocoholics - you may mock smokers, but you're next!

Billy Seggars.

Sugar Pushers

Politically correct health fascists in Los Angeles must be in despair. In a 2005 move designed to combat child obesity in California, all schools must now restrict the sale of fattening, sugary snacks to pupils.

Unfortunately, in the ultimate proof that you cannot force people to do or be something they do not want to do or be, rebellious students have become "sugar pushers", bringing large quantities of the forbidden sweets and snacks to school in their bags, and then selling them to fellow pupils. These enterprising individuals are carrying up to $40 in change, and are even disrupting lessons to carry on their business, according to this article in the Telegraph.

And, although I can see the benefits of a healthy lifestyle (as long as nobody makes me have one), I have to say I applaud these crafty kids. Modern-day Puritans are everywhere, on both sides of the pond, just waiting to take away your freedoms "for your own good", and it won't do.

The Nanny State loves to micro-manage, forever telling us what we must, and must not, do. Smoking is already almost a lost cause, anyone who dares to question the global warming propaganda put out by the tree huggers is treated as a social outcast even though there is not a shred of evidence to support the mental enviroists, and those who would buy - and worse, eat - a burger and fries are unclean in the eyes of the health fascists. Before long, anyone who dares to be a smoker, or slightly over weight, will not be allowed access to the health care they have paid for in years of hear-earned taxation - the only exemptions will be binge drinkers, who are seemingly perfectly entitled to litter our streets with alcoholic detritus.

There is no hope of common sense from any of the major political parties in the UK. Gordon Brown-Trousers is a cowering wreck, Crazy Cammeron can't decide on a policy and then keep it for a few days running and the Lib Dim man (can't recall his name right now, so insignificant is he) can't even control his own front bench crew. Shame.

The only ray of hope I see on the horizon is these sugar pushing kids; they have the intelligence to know what they like and devise a means of getting it, the guts (literally and metaphorically) to flout the demands of the Nanny State, and the acumen to make a profit in the process. Clearly, rebellion is the only way to get anything done and repel the health fascists' constant interference in daily life.

Unfortunately, unlike our ever-eager, ever-enthusiastic American cousins, rebellion is not a major part of the British character. Yes, we will sometimes fight for our beliefs, to the death (the enemy's death, for preference) if necessary, but it takes a lot to get us that annoyed, and, I fear, by the time we get that mad with Nanny, we'll have let her make it illegal to overthrow her - or even dream, in the privacy of our own minds, of doing so.

The British way of life is therefore doomed, defeated unopposed by our own apathetic dislike of bad form and the in-built desire to not make a fuss. Its echo lives on in California's sugar pushers, but the Old Country is finished, replaced by a dour, gloom-infested, hell hole where we are taxed to death for the privilege of having no privileges. Will the last person to leave please turn off the lights - the tree-huggers will be round to complain if you don't!

Billy Seggars.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Slow and Stop

Yesterday's loony news from the British Government was that shops may be forced to remove displays of tobacco products and sell them from under the counter like some kind of illicit material best bought under plain cover from a seedy shop on a dingy back street. Madness, but, perhaps, not quite as mad as today's gem!

For, according to the Telegraph, proposed new "eco-towns" will impose a speed limit of just 15mph. Now I'm no mechanic, but isn't it the case that crawling along at 15mph produces MORE pollution than zipping down the motorway? Could be wrong about that, but I kinda gathered that was the point behind all those barmy car-sharing schemes etc. Clearly, the Minister involved (Caroline Flint) hasn't heard of that! Or maybe she's just figured out that Global Warming is little more than a giant (tax-productive) scam on behalf of the polar-bear hugging fraternity.

Either way, much as I think this scheme is unworkable and, in fact, utterly insane, I believe it has an unintended advantage. Think about it - these "eco-towns" will be honeypots for all of those mental enviroists. Folks who think recycling everything in sight is their public duty, second only to forcing the rest of us to worship the trees along with them, will flock to these places in their droves. And, at at top speed of 15mph, they won't be leaving them any time soon! Hurrah!

There are a whole bunch of comments on the Telegraph's article, many of which express common sense views on this subject far more eloquently than I ever could. But I commend this particular comment, made by someone going by the name of Thought Police to everyone's attention - it's just so, so true:


The Ministry Of Liberty reminds all citizens that preventative measures provided in law to enhance State Control and eliminate Unnecessary Thought are for the benefit & protection of all Comrades equally and to Save The Planet.

ACCORDINGLY, Citizens should be advised that appropriate measures for the further enhancement of your personal protection are scheduled. These include, but are not limited to DNA, Fingerprint & National Identification Databases and Individual Identification Papers for use by the authorities. Children's fingerprints will be data-based within five years. All Fingerprints will be recorded at points of departure beginning immediately with LHR Terminal 5 and selected termini, spreading to all points of departure in the near future.

Effective immediately, Required State-Approved Personal Advice, for your protection, health & safety will be aired on TV & Radio and seen in the Printed Media


Citizens should standby for further announcements.

By Order

Posted by THOUGHT POLICE on March 25, 2008 6:08 PM

Well said TP, whoever you are!

Billy Seggars.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Much as I despise the vast majority of them, I have always assumed that politicians - particularly those that make it to the heart of Government - cannot be completely stupid. I mean, if they were truly thick, how would they manage to scheme and plot their way to power in the first place?

Sadly, this article in the Telegraph is forcing me to reconsider. It seems that Dawn Primarolo, public health minister in Gordon Brown-Trousers' increasingly out of touch government, thinks that shops should be forced to take cigarettes and other tobacco products off display - if they want to sell them at all, they would have to be kept out of sight under the counter.

Primarolo said, "It's vital we get across the message to children that smoking is bad. If that means stripping out vending machines or removing cigarettes from behind the counter, I'm willing to do that." I note that she doesn't bother to ask whether the rest of the British public are similarly willing. After all, she's a born-again health fascist - how could anyone possibly disagree with her?

Well, I could, for a start. Firstly, kids don't start smoking because they see cigs on sale in a shop. They start smoking because their mates, parents and relatives smoke and they get in on the act by "borrowing" one or two smokes from the people around them. Only then, when they have tried it and decided that they like it, do they invest any of their own cash.

Secondly, kids are a bit brighter than Prawn Dimarolo. Despite the best efforts of the education system, many of them can read and there are bloody big health warnings on every packet of cigarettes sold. As if that isn't enough, they are surrounded by a constant barrage of propaganda and threats about the risks of smoking. Kids KNOW what smoking is supposed to do, and hiding them under the counter is not going to discourage them from lighting up one little bit.

On the other hand, it will glamorise the act of obtaining smokes. The cool and trendy kids in the gang will be the ones who manage to get their hands on 20 Silk Cut to consume over their equally ill-gotten alcohol - you know, much like the ones who get their hands on any amount of other completely illegal narcotics. Funny how not being able to see Heroin in the newsagent doesn't stop people - including a fair few in the House of Commons, I suspect - from obtaining it, isn't it?

It will also cause chaos in busy shops and petrol stations. Picture the scene - you're queuing up to pay the grossly inflated, tax-heavy price of filling up your shame-ridden 4x4 when, in front of you, a similarly engaged victim of government sponsored highway robbery asks for 20 Lambert & Butler. The cashier reaches behind her, flicks them off the shelf and over the scanner in one practised movement, and the transaction is complete.

Now let's try that again with the cigarettes hidden out of view under the counter:
Customer "20 Lamberts, please"
Cashier [dives under counter, scrabbles around, emerges] "Sorry, we haven't got any"
Customer "20 Bensons, then, please"
Cashier [dives under counter, scrabbles around, emerges] "Sorry, we haven't got any of them either"
Customer "Well, what have you got?"
Cashier [dives under counter, scrabbles around, muffled voice] "Berkley Blue, Berkley Red, Berkley Green, Embassy Filter, Embassy ..."

It won't be long before someone (maybe you) gets very, very annoyed, will it? This utterly stupid idea is bad for customers, whether they are smokers or not, bad for shop keepers and, worse, will not have any impact on the number of people who smoke. It's control for control's sake, and nothing more.

The idea is to further ostracise the already-beleaguered smoker, of course. Not content with forcing them to step outside if they want to light up, and considering the possibility of imposing a smokers' licence, this fascist government now wants them to experience feelings of shame and guilt as they surreptitiously ask for a perfectly legal product.

According to Wikipedia, "Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers the individual subordinate to the interests of the state, party or society as a whole. Fascists seek to forge a type of national unity, usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, racial, and/or religious attributes."

Yep, I'd say the NuLab Gordon Brown-Trousers government fits that description rather well, and their treatment of individuals' rights just about proves it. As for Dawn Prime-A-Rollup, well, she started out in the political hard-left, giving her the nickname Red Dawn - not difficult to see where her true ambitions lie, is it? Control, control, control, and suppression in the name of ... well, whatever crap New Labour dreams up today. According to the Daily Mail, MP John Reid, having got a few drinks down him, propositioned the young Primarolo a few times in the late 80s and early 90s, and fear of this indiscretion leaking was one reason for his failure to challenge Gordon Brown-Trousers' succession to the NuLab leadership. There's no accounting for taste, but I can understand why he'd need a little Dutch courage before making his move!

Apparently, Primarolo's bizarre under-the-counter policy is going by the name "out of sight, out of mind", although, if ministers really think that smokers won't buy tobacco if they can't see it they really have lost the plot. Even so, the name is apt; those nutcases that have concocted the idea, and those that support it, are so far out of their minds that they couldn't see sanity with a really big telescope.

Billy Seggars.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

That's MR Patient To You, Doctor

I'm astonished! Staggered! Amazed! Sadly, despite my most heartfelt desire, Gordon Brown-Trousers has not resigned (yet), but the Telegraph contains an almost equally unbelievable story - it seems that the British Medical Association has had a good idea!

Unlikely as it may seem, the medics' talking shop best known for its standard response of "it'll adversely affect patient care y'know," followed by "No! NO! NEVER. We'll go on strike... Oh, go on then, if you insist..." when faced with a novel suggestion has come up with one of its own. Well, ok, not actually come up with. But it has, at least, been paying attention to the thousands of patients who really, really don't like medical staff addressing them by their first names.

And, having finally noticed that we don't like it, they're urging nurses to stop doing it. About bloody time too! The medical profession is all-to-ready to forget that we, the public, pay its wages, and the respect appropriate from a public servant to their master is very definitely due to us from them. Never mind all the bowing and scraping and begging to make an appointment with them, they should be obsequiously grovelling to us as they beg to be allowed to cure our every ague!

But, before I get carried away with this (admittedly appealing) concept, I can't help noticing that the BMA doesn't seem to be saying anything about first name terms to doctors - it's just nurses who get to demonstrate respect, according to their worldview. And, whilst that explains a lot about doctors, it won't do. Doctors, too, are public servants, and must act accordingly. I don't expect my bin man (sorry, council recycling and finance sink operative) to indulge in chirpy banter as he carts away last week's pizza boxes, and I don't want my doctor to be metaphorically grubbing through that garbage and telling me what I should / shouldn't be eating, drinking, smoking etc either.

They should be doing the job they're very well paid for, not setting the world to rights on my (and other patients') time - they can do that after work, if they feel so inclined, just as long as they remember who pays their wages.

Billy Seggars.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

No Tech Please, We're British

Our Great Leader, Gordon Brown-Trousers, aka the McBean, has got a new bee in his bonnet. Well, actually, his headgear is probably home to a whole swarm, but this one has to take the biscuit for stating the bloody obvious.

According to the Telegraph, "Computers should be kept in sitting rooms rather than children's bedrooms so that parents can see if they are looking at inappropriate material, a report commissioned by Gordon Brown will suggest." No, really? Who'd have thought it!

But the revelations don't stop there. "A review of the impact of video and online games on young people by Tanya Byron, the television psychologist and parenting expert, is likely to recommend that, whenever possible, children should use computers under the watchful eye of their parents." Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs! I've never heard of Ms Byron, but the revelation that she's a psychologist - and a TV psychologist at that - doesn't fill me with confidence. Nor does the second string to her bow. Parenting expert? What the hell's that, then?

The article doesn't mention whether or not Ms Byron has any real knowledge or experience of computers and Information Technology (and by "real" I don't mean some toy town course like an ECDL or even a crappy AS Level in ICT), but I'd have thought that a fairly detailed knowledge of the kit under discussion might have helped.

Surprisingly for a psychologist, she makes a very valid point when she says that "parents must bridge the technological "generation gap" by making sure they know as much about the internet and video games as their computer-literate children." You would be amazed at how many parents have absolutely no clue about how all this fancy gear works, or where the potential risks lie. And even those who are dimly aware of the problem are largely stumped for a solution.

Courses in computing for parents would probably help, as would some well written, simple articles explaining just what the hell their offspring are talking about. IMs? MSN? AIM? SL? I know what they're wittering about because IT is my line of work, but for many parents who don't need to know the ins and outs of this stuff as part of their daily lives it's just so much meaningless jargon.

Even so, the world of IT changes quickly, and new toys, erm, sorry, applications come out all the time. Keeping abreast of it all is very much a full time job, and expecting parents to keep up with everything is asking a lot. On the other hand, computers are integrated further into our lives every day; many parents will work with them, even if they don't understand their nuances, and all kids are expected to use them for their homework. It's quite common for households to have 2, 3 or more computers around the place; one for each of the kids, one each for older progeny who are students or working but living at home, at least one for the parents. Imagine putting all of them in the living room - it would be like living in a data centre!

And then there are laptops. Laptops are becoming commonplace - kids need computers for their homework, and, not living in ever-expanding houses, parents buy laptops instead of desktop machines; they're smaller, easy to carry around, don't take up as much space and the price isn't all that different these days. Oh, and they almost always have a wireless network connection that allow them to share a single internet connection from anywhere in the home. Households with three or four kids, each with their own internet connected laptop are not uncommon, and are becoming more common every year. How does Ms Byron propose to handle that situation?

Again, the answer has to be education. You cannot hope to stop kids from accessing material online that you'd rather they didn't see; they're curious, intelligent, in many cases they know more about IT than their parents and no matter what parents do they WILL find a way to get at what they want, if not at home then at school, or at their friends' houses. Much better to teach them how to avoid problems, and what to do if they encounter something nasty than to fool yourself into thinking they never will - whilst, of course, taking other precautions like keeping an eye on what they're doing.

Naturally, the education system in use today isn't up to the task - or, in fact, up to any task. I recently showed an 18-year-old ICT AS Level student a copy of the A Level paper I sat (and passed!) 20+ years ago and they went pale. "Shit! You 'ad to know all that? Beedin' 'ell" was the response. Teaching kids about word processors and spreadsheets is all very well, but it doesn't help them with the realities of a connected world. It doesn't teach them how the technology works, or about the risks it presents or how to deal with them. Nor does the much-vaunted ECDL (and other "hands on" adult computer courses) teach parents how to protect their youngsters from online threats - or even identify what those threats may be to any great extent.

Sadly, empowering the individual is not what this Government is all about. Far from it, in fact. They seek control, legislating to get it where necessary, and protection of vulnerable members of society is not part of that agenda - unless they can be used as an excuse to impose new laws to take away our freedoms, of course! They very much prefer a society that is proficient in the limited use of IT, dependent upon it for work and leisure, but is largely unable to control its real power - that way, they can reap the rewards of productivity and needn't fear the spread of anti-government propaganda. What a wonderful place the UK has become.

Billy Seggars.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Civil Serf Fallout

I see that buttock clenching terror now stalks the corridors of power in the wake of the Civil Serf fiasco. Of course, we all knew that the Powers That Be were never going to allow rank and file civil servants to make them look fools - they probably don't want or need the competition - and recently proposed "guidelines" show exactly how terrified Ministers really are.

According to 24dash, Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson, writing on his own blog, suggested a draft "code" for Civil Service bloggers, including "Be nice", "write as yourself", "keep secrets" and "think about consequences." That's particularly worrying in view of his further comment that Whitehall bloggers are also under an obligation to "stop it if we say so". He doesn't say if that's the point at which they have to start thinking about consequences, but it sounds like a veiled threat to me!

Let's just put all of that into context - they want to know who the bloggers are so they can be sure to impose consequences on those who don't keep secrets, and won't stop blowing the whistle when they're told to. Nice. Can't help wondering if such restrictions apply to Mr Watson himself, though, and, indeed, to such nonsense as Number 10's YouTube channel, which amounts to the biggest load of propaganda I've seen in quite some time.

Broadly, upstairs are in such a pathetic mess that they daren't let anyone speak out lest yet more bad news should Velcro itself to Gordon Brown-Trousers. There is no real need for a "blogging code" for Civil Service bloggers, because the common sense eventualities are covered by the Civil Service's own code of conduct and, where appropriate, the Official Secrets Act.

All that lies behind this initiative is an effort to save the blushes of yet more worthless Mandarins, Ministers and Labour Party big wigs. And it will probably work, too, for a while - after all, in these times of serious economic uncertainty, many folks wouldn't be willing to risk their cushy Civil Service jobs to speak out against the all powerful state, would they?

But, in the long run, it won't make much difference - somebody, somewhere, will take the opportunity to drop their boss in the crap, just because they can. And the code takes no account of bloggers who don't work in the Civil Service but know people who do. Information leaks - over a pint, over the garden fence, in all sorts of ways - and there's practically no way the terrified wastes of space in Whitehall can control that.

The truth will out, and the truth is that we'd all be a lot better off without the current Government.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Roughly Justice

"A lamentable picture of historic failure," is how Justice Secretary Jack Straw describes the unbelievable state of affairs at Leeds Magistrates' Court. According to the Sun, staff at the Court were so bad at record keeping that they had to "guess" at the outcome of some cases because nobody knew what had really happened.

Cases involving 2,206 defendants were not recorded, making a complete mockery of justice in the area - doubtless some guilty parties will have been recorded as being found innocent, and, worse, you can bet that some innocent parties will have been found guilty, too. In a further 555 cases involving drug dealers, alleged sex offenders and violent criminals, amongst others who failed to turn up at Court, warrants for their arrest were simply torn up.

If you read something like this in a fictitious account of events at a Court, you'd dismiss it as too far fetched. And yet it's been going on since 1980, by all accounts. Britain's civil Courts are infested with incompetent jobsworths who sometimes seem incapable of knowing their own name, let alone knowing what their job is or how to do it, although, with care and perseverance, it is usually possible to coax them into remembering. But one expects rather more of the criminal justice system, and it comes as something of a shock to find that mere admin staff have been making up the results of criminal hearings for decades.

Lamentable it certainly is, to say the least. Perhaps, rather than devising pathetic definitions of Britishness and the means of proclaiming it, the former Attorney General would better serve Britain and the British people of all backgrounds by ensuring that the Courts and Court Service were fit for purpose.

Billy Seggars.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Civil Serf

Damn! I seem to have missed out on something interesting! Sadly, until today, I'd never heard of a blogger called Civil Serf, but from what I've read of her(?), the loss is entirely mine.

According to the Times (and just about every other news source, too), "The Civil Serf - as she calls herself - claims to be a 33-year-old fast-stream civil servant ready to expose the daily chaos of the Labour government machine while lampooning ministers and highlighting the idiocy of mandarin colleagues. There are also moans about drunken advances from the opposite sex. "

Foolish behaviour and sex-mad politicians? Yep, that sounds pretty close to the mark. Unfortunately, her bosses seem to think so too. Her blog has been pulled offline, and, so says a spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions, nobody has yet been disciplined but there are suspicions as to the blogger's identity.

Disciplined? Sounds a bit radical, doesn't it? Well, yes, maybe, but then you have to realise that Civil Serf has been taking the lid off some very touchy subjects. Like the forthcoming budget, for example, about which she said, "High up on the list will be both child poverty and incapacity benefit. On these issues the little ‘p’ politics between my director-general and our private office has reached fever pitch with one accusing the other of scaremongering about spiralling costs. I’m getting restricted e-mails, night-time meetings and all sorts of other shenanigans."

She, if it is a she, of all people should know that the Labour Party, and the pathetic Government that it pretends to run, do not like it when their dirty little secrets get out. They will figure out who she is, and they will... well, what will they do? The Civil Service has a code of conduct, of course, and no doubt disciplinary action could be take against her. But won't that make her a martyr? If they don't set an example, won't others follow in her footsteps? Won't they do that anyway? And what of the need for revenge? Ooooh, the degree of hand-wringing must be almost unbearable for those in the know, and respect is definitely due to this blogger for bringing it about!

And, of course, there's always the risk that other people will find out who she is, offer her a lucrative contract and let her write what she likes about the hitherto-unmentionable oddballs who think they run the country. That must be the scariest prospect of all - in the know, out of their control and (reasonably) well paid to be scathing about the shoddy way this country is run. You can see why they're screaming for disciplinary action, can't you? Pity there's no chance of any befalling Gordon Brown-Trousers just yet.

Good on you, Civil Serf!

Billy Seggars.

Storm Crazy

Is it just me, or has the UK gone storm crazy in the past few days? The media has been full of dire warnings since the middle of last week - apparently some terribly powerful storm was due to wreak havoc on coastlines (and, presumably, inshore) at the same time as terrifying high tides battered inadequate sea defences. The result was bound to be doom and gloom, death and destruction on a grand scale, and free news for any journalist who can pick up a pen (yes, I know, that excludes quite a few of them).

So much hype - if that's the word for the propagation of bowel-twisting terror - has gushed forth from the newspapers, television, radio, the Internet and, I assume, a few carrier pigeons, that it's been quite hard to keep any sense of perspective. But, amongst the breathless reports of imminent devastation, I gleaned that the projected storm wasn't going to be as bad as the Great Storm of 1987, and that the barometer wasn't expected to reach a new record low, or even substantially threaten the old record.

Hmm, not all THAT bad, then. Still, as a fan of spectacular weather - as in spectacularly powerful demonstrations of natural forces - I've been keeping an eye on the sky for the past 12 hours or so. Storm? What storm? It's rained a bit, it's a bit breezy, there's been some bright sunshine. I see no sign whatsoever of torrential deluges and howling gales. Shame.

Still, undeterred in my quest for meteorological mayhem, I turned to the Telegraph. Bound to be something worth reading in there, right? And sure enough, the headline was promising: Power cut as severe storm batters Britain. Aha! That's more like it!

And then I read it. Apparently, some 4,500 homes in the West Country and South Wales are short of leccy because a falling tree "crashed through power lines". Crashed? Well, I suppose it might have done, but couldn't they just have said that it knocked them down? Hardly wholesale destruction, is it? I read on...

An 11,000 ton tanker carrying gas oil and 13 crew has run into trouble off the Isle of Wight. A lifeboat is alongside if an evacuation is deemed necessary. So not exactly a critical situation, then, is it? Particularly since it's now at anchor, and will be towed to deeper water later. Panic over, if there ever was any to start with. Interesting to see that the gas oil gets higher billing than the 13 crew, though. Next...

To it's utter dejection, the Telegraph is forced to concede that there have been no reports of major damage, but keeps its hopes aloft by reminding us that the "extreme" weather will continue throughout the day. Good show...

And then, just as I was starting to think that this whole storm had been a bit of a false alarm, I read that, at the dreadful time of 04:00 AM, the roof blew off a garage in Solva, St David's, west Wales. Responding instantly to this crisis, a spokesman for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service was quick to point out that the errant roof had ... damaged a house roof, too, and water had entered the property. Nail biting stuff, but nothing to the drama unfolding in Pembrokeshire...

At 3 AM, an hour before the unfortunate Welsh garage was so rudely divested of its roof, the tin roof of a garden she dramatically, erm, became loose and was daringly secured to an adjoining bungalow. The drama! The heroism! I bet the shed owner could hardy watch, eh?

Face it, it's crap. The media, dancing to the tune of someone who will no doubtless never be revealed, has been feeding us tales of forthcoming devastation for nearly a week, and what's happened? Nothing much. It's been a bit windy, the sea's a bit choppy, there's been a drop of rain. Pretty much as you'd expect for the time of year, in fact.

No amount nocturnal shed re-roofing is going to turn this fiasco into a catastrophe that can, even remotely, be blamed on global warming, binge drinking or smoking. In short, it's a non-event which the Nanny State has used to yet again dish out yards and yards of pointless "advice" - don't go near the sea in gale, be careful if you have to drive etc. In short, something that could easily have been an "and finally" item tacked onto the end of just about any news bulletin in the past few days became major news.

Headlines, big, screaming and doom-laden were not required - and I wouldn't care, but it's not even a slow news day! Still, it makes a change to get the ongoing humiliation of Gordon Brown-Trousers off the front pages, even if we've got to fabricate a natural disaster to do it.

Billy Seggars.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Outdoor Sex Is Biggest Turn-On

When it comes to hanky-panky, 85% of Brits like to get their thrills in the fresh air, according to this article in the Sun. Which, I suppose, goes some way towards explaining our national obsession with the weather! Also might explain why British Transport Police have invested £25k in a virtually silent mini-helicopter with still and video cameras on board!

Apparently, a playful spanking is a big hit for 77% of horny Brits, while either being tied up or tying up a partner will rope 70% of us into a bondage fantasy. I'm not at all sure what purpose this survey may have, apart from convinving folks that they're not as weird as they thought they were, but I'll certainly be looking at people in a new light down the local tonight.

As for the joys of open-air procreation, I shall put it to Mrs S, but I anticipate a response along the lines of "you want to WHAT???". I mean, how often is the weather really suitable here in the UK? I can't imagine 6 inches of snow (not uncommon here) making an ideal love-nest, though I suppose it must work for Eskimos. And what about Thistles? Hedgehogs? Small creatures choking to death on plastic bags? No, somehow, a duffle coat, a flask of hot soup and a band-aid don't do it for me, and the thought of British Transport Police and their colleagues observing as Mrs S and I engage in outdoor duffle coat divestment puts the tin lid on it.

Billy Seggars.

Microdrones - The New Spy In The Sky

The Telegraph reports that British Transport Police are now using a Microdrone - a small, almost silent, remote controlled helicopter - to crack down on metal thefts on railways. The contraptions can record still and moving video, and beam pictures back to their operator, who can be up to 500 yards away. They're also capable of squirting water at people, which, apparently, the bobbies can later identify as "their" so-called SmartWater.

From a technological point of view, it's very impressive, and I can't fault the legitimate use of such a device in the sort of operation BTP have in mind - after all, theft of metals from a railway could be a very dangerous thing (for the public, obviously. Who cares what happens to the thieves!).

But what about illegitimate uses? And who else has got these things? Yes, they're expensive - about £25,000 - but that's not such a huge sum, these days. The manufacturers suggest they can be used for all kinds of things, including police work and journalism. I just bet they can, too! Unfortunately, that doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence - would you fancy the idea of a silent helicopter hovering outside your bedroom window, say?

I certainly wouldn't, and I should imagine quite a few politicians, to name just one group of inherently sleazy individuals, wouldn't like it either. Of course, the thing has (so we are told) limitations - it can only fly for a maximum of 20 minutes, and can't go to far from its controller. But, somehow, I don't find this incredibly comforting.

Sure, the device reported in the Telegraph and elsewhere, both today and previously, sells for £25,000. But it occurs to me that something offering essentially the same functionality could be built by a half-competent geek tinkering away in his garden shed for an awful lot less than that. In short, it only sells for 25K because that's what the salesman asked for! Oh yes, it has fancy software and comes in a swish-looking case etc. But how much of that is essential to the business of getting off the ground and snapping pics by remote control?

Very, very little, I'd be willing to bet. There are many, many websites out there featuring dedicated, inventive geeks. They showcase projects, all done at home, or in the shed or garage, demonstrating how some propeller head stripped down a domestic appliance and rebuilt it, either better, or differently. And these contraptions work. Sure, they might not have all the finesse of a £25K commercial product - after all, for that kind of money, it's got to at least look good! - but they work well enough to get the job done. And they compete amongst themselves to see who can do the weirdest, coolest things.

One of these Microdrones looks like just the kind of thing they'd want to replicate - and improve on. Any day now, the plans for a cut-price mini-spy will appear on the net. Goodbye privacy.

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Uniformly Stupid

The Queen is, apparently, saddened and deeply concerned to learn that servicemen and women from RAF Wittering have been ordered not to wear their uniforms in public because residents in Peterborough have been hurling abuse at them. I don't blame her, either!

It seems that some intellectually inferior members of the public who don't approve of British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking out their displeasure on members of the Royal Air Force. I'm afraid I can't think slowly or inefficiently enough to figure out the reasoning behind that - surely, even the most retarded local must realise that the RAF, like all of the armed forces, exists to carry out the orders it is given by our elected government? Or do they really think that the military just pick a target - and, maybe, a whole campaign - for fun, spend millions and millions of pounds worth of taxpayers' money and don't even need the nod from upstairs?

Clearly, that's not the case; soldiers, sailors, airmen and others all deserve nothing but respect from the public. There's no doubt that the UK, like any country, needs a military. If the current generation of servicemen and women had not joined up by choice, we would ALL need to do some degree of national service in order to compensate for their absence. Would those who are so quick to attack them - and slow to think - like to do their job for them? I suspect not.

All of which is not to say that I'm totally happy with the way Iraq, in particular, has been handled. But that is the fault of the politicians who insisted on the campaign, not the brave individuals whose duty it is to carry it out. Those folks are doing their (very difficult and dangerous) job, putting their lives on the line to follow the orders of a democratically elected government, as they are supposed to do.

To attack them for doing so is nothing short of disgraceful, and I hope the individuals concerned are thoroughly ashamed of themselves. They won't be, of course, because they're too thick to realise how stupid they look, but we can dream, eh? As to more practical retribution, a couple of possibilities occur to me. Most attractively, I'd like to see the miscreants given over to a few brawny airmen - or, since they are almost certainly macho guys, a few airwomen - whilst everyone else, quite by coincidence, looks the other way for an hour or so. Justice would, I am sure, be meted out with typically martial efficiency.

But there's a problem with that approach, quite apart from the inevitable - but easily ignored - whinging from the wimpy almost-people in the Human Rights lobby. No, the real problem is that I don't see why the RAF should have to waste its time and effort thumping the folks it's paid to protect.

Wouldn't it be better to scoop up all the moronic, Neanderthal, unthinking disgraces to evolution (you'd be able to recognise them by the way their knuckles scrape the floor as they walk) and dump them in the middle of Iraq or Afghanistan? If they survive they might learn something, and if they don't we won't miss them one little bit.

As for the validity of the order to go out in civvies only, I'm not too concerned by that. Yes, of course, our brave lads and lasses should be able to wear the uniform with pride. But equally, they have a right to expect that it's not going to get them attacked. And if they ARE attacked and they - either through provocation or simply self-defence - give a few locals a bloody good hiding, who's going to end up looking bad?

You just know the aforesaid bleeding hearts from the Human Rights protecting, tree hugging community will apply spin as required until you end up with headlines like "RAF beats up local youths! 230 local youths were hospitalised yesterday after picking a fight with one junior airman. They are expected to claim compensation after the RAF is done with the Court Martial which will, of course, destroy the lone victim's career."

That won't do, and I can see the logic in avoiding that sort of situation by removing the source of the threat. It's not fair, but it's sensible until something more permanent can be done about the dim witted elements of society who would pick a fight with them.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Brown's Betrayal

So he's done it, then. Gordon Brown-Trousers has won his bid to ride roughshod over the House of Commons, the British electorate and his own party's credibility by denying us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

By a majority of 63, the cowardly man at the head of what is, temporarily, the British Government, has signed away so many rights and powers to Brussels that he might as well have declared himself - and the rest of the House - redundant. I fail to see any point in him going to work any longer, because, as a result of this day's work, he's nothing more than a puppet of various faceless European bodies. Odd that he should have plotted and schemed and connived so long to get into Number 10, just to hand away his new-found powers, isn't it?

The Telegraph has the whole sorry story here, including the abject humiliation of the Lib Dims, but it's all rather tame, shell-shocked stuff. After all, what can be said that hasn't already been said, loudly and clearly by around 88% of the British people - we don't want this EU Treaty. And, knowing this, the tooth-sucking former Chancellor, who finds himself leading a Government collapsing from within on a daily basis, has gone ahead and done the very thing that he KNOWS the people he is supposed to be leading do not want him to do.

Back in 1990, the then Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, made some very shrewd observations on the EU, the objectives of the European Commission and where things were heading. She was talking about the proposed European Currency, the future intentions of the European Commission and the Labour Party's inability to deal with their schemes to create a Federal Europe by the "back door". Check out this heavily edited clip of Mrs T's speech from YouTube, and then compare it to the craven behaviour of our current Prime Minister.

Specifically, at around 2 minutes, she said, "Yes, the Commission DOES want to increase its powers. Yes it is a non-elected body and I do not want the commission to increase its powers against this House..."

And at around 3 minutes, "Of course the President of the Commission said at a press conference the other day he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the senate. No! No! No!... What is the point in trying to get elected to Parliament only to hand over your Sterling, only to hand over the powers of this House to Europe?..."

And, at about 9:40, "I think when the proposals for EMU came out, it was said immediately by my Rt Hon Friend the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, that this was not really about monetary policy at all, it was really about a back door to a Federal Europe. A Federal Europe taking many many democratic powers away from democratically elected bodies to non-elected bodies. I believe fervently that that is true, which is why I will have nothing to do with their definition of economic and monetary union."

Well said, Mrs Thatcher! Clearly, she could see what was on the cards almost 18 years ago, but the British people, passive as they are, have been led by the nose by a succession of increasingly disreputable politicians until we reach the disgraceful state in which we find ourselves today - a British Prime Minister signing away so much power that he is now effectively toothless.

What a shambles! And what a disgraceful, disrespectful, dishonest way for our own Prime Minister to treat the electorate. This betrayal of trust goes far beyond mere political skulduggery - it is a crime against the very democratic foundations of our society.

You see, "promises" made in an election manifesto aren't really promises, as such. They are an indication of what the party in question (and this applies to ALL parties) will do if it is able, if the sky doesn't fall, if nothing unforeseen happens to prevent it. Nobody really expects them to be cast iron guarantees, and nobody is really surprised when all those optimistic financial estimates melt away like ice in a volcano once they come into contact with reality, making some of the other promises unachievable. Or, if the politician is really cunning, unachievable yet, without much increases in taxation, less backsliding etc.

That's fine, it's just the rough and tumble of politics, and it's rare that a broken election promise has really devastating consequences for a politician, not least because a) nobody can remember what they were, and b) they'd all be hoist with their own petard if they tried it. But there is nothing unexpected, unplanned or beyond the Government's control about this situation. At the last election, ALL of the major parties promised the public a referendum on the issue of the EU Constitution. The name of the Treaty may have changed, but its content remains substantially the same - so say many other European leaders. Sure, one or two points may have been massaged, but it's not all that different. And there is no pressing reason for the Government NOT to stand by its promise - unless, of course, it is afraid to lose.

That's really what it's all about, isn't it? Our cowardly Prime Minister knows that, if there were to be a referendum on this issue tomorrow, his party would lose in a spectacularly catastrophic way. And if that happened, if a poll showed that a Treaty devised by the leading lights of this Government, signed by the Prime Minister (albeit some time after all the other leaders had signed it!) and in support of which the Labour party had campaigned for a "yes" vote was unwelcome to, say, 88% of the electorate, what then?

Wouldn't the Government, humiliated by a resounding rejection of a Treaty that was central to its foreign policy, have to resign? Would they retain sufficient authority to cling, limpet-like, to power even if they wanted to? No, of course not - they would have to go. And that is what Brown-Trousers fears most of all. That's why he bottled out an election a few months ago, and why he's sold his own country down the river today. Hmm, isn't there a word for people who do that?

Unfortunately, Crazy Cammeron isn't a patch of his formidable predecessor - his efforts to take the Prime Minister to task on this vitally important issue lack lustre, to say the least, and the fact that he will probably end up as PM when the electorate finally catch up with Brown doesn't fill me with joy. Nonetheless, I doubt very much that people will forget about Lisbon.

Sure, there will be new crises to deal with, new outrages to be furious about as the Brown Government lurches from one chaotic disaster to the next - that's always the way in politics, and the indifference many people show towards politicians is indicative of that. But the betrayal of democracy itself is something special, and I suspect indifference is gradually shifting towards resentment. People will remember that Gordon Brown broke his promise for a very long time, and they will not look kindly upon him for proving to them once and for all how untrustworthy politicians can be.

He wanted his chance to show people his vision for the future (well, so he said - I think he just wanted to stay in Downing St a bit longer) but he's blown it. His vision is a nightmare in which we can't trust a word the Prime Minister says. Yes, I know, we don't trust politicians anyway, but in his case it isn't because he's a politician, it's because he has deliberately deceived and manipulated the public on a matter of national importance - there's a difference!

Billy Seggars.

Monday, 3 March 2008

The Case Of Dr Hootan Roozrokh

Back in January this year, beleaguered British Prime Minister Gordon Brown-Trousers announced his support for a new scheme that would allow doctors to remove organs from (hopefully) deceased patients without needing consent from either the patient or their relatives.

I assumed that the whole thing was yet another media stunt to divert attention from the ever-deepening vat of embarrassment in which his Government found (and still finds) itself. Indeed, in this somewhat sarcastic post, I likened the proposals to an ultimate recycling scheme, and pointed out that the National Health Service would not, by its own admission, be able to cope with the influx of spare parts if the farcical notion should ever be implemented.

I also said, "And what about the risk of patients being polished off before their time so their squishy bits can be recycled? Burke and Hare would look very tame indeed compared to widespread premature organ donation!" Human nature being as it is, it seemed like a natural - if not inevitable - extrapolation from the basic concept.

Little did I know when I wrote those words that something of the sort is already alleged to have occurred in California, USA. According to this gruesome story from CNN, "A respected California transplant doctor faces charges he hastened a comatose man's death to retrieve his organs -- a far-reaching case that could impact the nation's organ donation industry."

According to CNN, Dr Hootan Roozrokh is alleged to have brought about the premature death of 25-year-old Ruben Navarro by ordering the excessive use of drugs on February 3, 2006. Navarro had suffered from a debilitating nerve disease since the age of 9. Needless to say, Dr Roozrokh denies the charges against him, which include one of "dependent adult abuse" for allegedly administering excessive amounts of a drug cocktail that included morphine and Ativan.

The case is complex, to say the least. Clearly, the patient was about to die, and was, I assume, willing to be an organ donor when he had, in fact, died - hence the presence of Dr Roozrokh and his team. Further, speed is vital in such operations. So much so that, by the time Navarro actually died, there had been an eight hour delay which left the needed organs unusable.

Equally clearly, Dr Roozrokh will probably argue that, whatever he may or may not have done (and you can bet he will say he didn't do anything wrong!), his ultimate objective was to save lives which COULD be saved - unlike that of poor Ruben Navarro. Doesn't that count for anything?

Well, yes, I can see how it might. But surely there must be ethical lines that we cannot permit doctors to cross? Can it be right to kill one patient so that another may live, even when they're already on the wrong side of Death's door? What if, by waiting just that little bit longer, you lose both patients? Aren't you then effectively killing the one you could save, just as surely as you'd be killing the one you couldn't if you'd acted sooner?

Perhaps not. Perhaps it is their illness which kills them, rather than the doctor who won't kill to save them. Or is that just an easy way of letting the doctor off the hook, of avoiding moral debate? I'm a logical kind of chap, and I can see advantages in hastening the death of a terminal patient to save the lives of others.

But nothing is ever that simple, is it? At what point do you decide to take that step? How long do you allow that patient to live before you kill them off for the spares? Taken to extremes, you might as well do them in as soon as the terminal diagnosis is made, but that could rob them of months, or years, of life. Come to that, nobody lives forever - why not compulsorily remove vital organs at the age of 30, whether there's anything wrong with the donor or not? That way, you're more or less certain to get something in reasonable condition, aren't you?

That's obviously nonsense, but it illustrates the point - you can't just decide to kill one patient to save another. Even in borderline cases, it's so full of risk that it's just wrong. But what about cases in which, knowing all of the above, the donor and their relatives agree to be killed off ahead of time in order to save lives? Wouldn't that be acceptable?

To me, yes, it probably would, and I'd most likely be such a donor myself. But there's another problem. How do you know that's what really happened in every case? Might not doctors adjust records a little? After all, it's happened before - think Harold Shipman!

All of which is presumably why, according to CNN, transplant surgeons usually aren't even in the room until the patient is declared dead. This case looks set to open a huge can of worms that could have a very unfortunate impact on organ donation, both in the US and here in the UK, and I'll be watching it closely. But, whichever way it is ultimately decided, it turns the spotlight back onto the risks associated with compulsory organ donation, and shows that my original post, albeit somewhat flippant, wasn't necessarily too far off the mark.

Billy Seggars.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

I Want A Referendum Too

It's not been a good day for Gordon Brown-Trousers. Just as he must have been starting to hope that his more recent crises and catastrophes had buried the hugely unpopular EU Treaty, and all the trouble that came from the cowardly way in which he weaselled out of Labour's promise to hold a referendum, the thing is back to haunt him.

A bunch of mini-referendums, organised by the cross-party I Want A Referendum campaign, show that, in the biggest test of public opinion on the Treaty so far, at least 88% of voters would demand a referendum. The polls, held in 10 marginal constituencies, including those of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and Jim Murphy the Europe Secretary, also showed that 89% of voters thought Britain should reject the Lisbon Treaty out of hand, according to the Telegraph.

Overall, this is not good news for the increasingly embattled Prime Minister, although it seems to have pushed the scandal surrounding Gorbals Mick from the front pages. It's coming to something when the best thing Gordon Brown-Trousers can hope for is a new scandal to drive the current fiasco (whatever that may be at the time) from the front pages.

Fortunately, his time as Prime Minister will be strictly limited - there must be an election some time in 2009, and 2008 is already well advanced. Conditions in the UK are very, very unlikely to improve in that time, what with the upcoming recession (What recession? Wait and see!), a sleaze-ridden Government that just doesn't know how to play it straight and now this pesky treaty doing yet more irreparable damage to the Government.

The concept of a Crazy Cammeron led Government does not appeal to me in the slightest, but he can't be any worse than Gordon Brown-Trousers. And that is what is going to cost Labour the next election - the idea that, no matter how crap the blue guys are, they can't be worse than the reds are now.

Hardly a good legacy for the tooth-sucking former Iron Chancellor, is it? But, you see, the thing about iron is that it rusts in the rain, and, right now, it's not just raining but pouring on Gordon Brown-Trousers. There is no way for him to magically keep his head above the deluge, because, to switch metaphors for a moment, he is utterly surrounded by problem after disaster after fiasco. All the crappy little stunts he and Tony Blair pulled to keep themselves at the top are coming home to roost, but Tone has jumped ship and it's Gord who's going to cop for them. No matter how he backs away, there's always some new problem waiting to tap him on the shoulder.

And it's taking its toll on the McBean, isn't it? Hasn't he aged considerably in the few months since he practically kicked Tony Blair out of Downing St? I wonder if he's not coping well with the job he so badly wanted? After all, up to now, his coping strategy has always been to be a long way away when trouble struck, and stick to ruling the Treasury with a rod of, well, Iron. But you can't do that when you're PM, and you sure as hell can't micro-manage everything - there's just too much of it!

No wonder he's not looking too clever, eh? Just goes to show, you should always be careful what you ask for - you might get it!

Billy Seggars.

Laughing All The Way To The Landfill

Pity the poor eco-friendly saps of Worcestershire and Kings Lynn (beautiful place, well worth a visit if you get chance) who have been dutifully, if mindlessly, carrying out their recycling duties, as decreed by their local authorities.

No doubt many of them - well, ok, the more gullible residents - have been getting a warm fuzzy feeling as they conscientiously sort through their garbage, setting great rafts of it aside for recycling. But, despite their misplaced nobility, it is their less environmentally aware neighbours who are giggling this week, as it transpires that tons and tons of the lovingly segregated recycle-fodder have been carted off to landfills, just like common rubbish.

Imagine the shame, the horror, the humiliation that must have descended on those mugs who've been "doing their bit", only to find they, in turn, have been done - by none other than their local authority, no less. Never mind guys, you obviously get off on good deeds, and you can take heart from the knowledge that your misplaced environmental enthusiasm has filled my life with malicious mirth for many hours.

Despite my delight at the pious recycling brigade's humiliation, however, there's a more disturbing aspect to this story. Naturally, nobody - least of all the local authorities involved - is admitting to taking their constituents for a ride, ripping them off and generally making them feel (and LOOK) stupid and put upon.

Oh no. No, you see, it's the Government, isn't it? According to Friends of the Earth recycling bod Michael Warhurst, anyway. Apparently, they need to be clearer on how councils can recycle effectively. Pull the other one! To say that I am not this Government's biggest fan is a massive understatement, but I really don't see how this can be laid at the already-besieged door of Gordon Brown-Trousers.

A similar sneer is due to the "comingling" excuse, which suggests that residents aren't all that careful about cleaning things they put out for recycling. Apparently, improperly cleaned garbage, or, say, broken bottles mixed in with other materials, make it impossible to recycle the whole lot, and it ends up in landfill. CLEANING??? Oh, BOY! Can it really be that, in the not too distant future, we are going to be expected to CLEAN our GARBAGE before we put it out for recycling?

Firstly, I have never heard anything so bloody ridiculous in my whole life - or, at least, not since I last heard Gordon Brown-Trousers' excuses for not holding an election last year. Can you really imagine the Great Unwashed bothering to clean their rubbish before binning it? In many cases, they're not even all that quick to throw it away, let alone clean it first! Secondly, isn't that going to consume vital resources? Like water, which we're all supposed to be conserving against the day the Lake District looks like Ethiopia, apparently.

Frankly, it's all a load of rubbish, as this unfortunate (for the tree-huggers) shows only too well. Recycling might not be a bad idea in theory, but in reality it's got to be convenient and effective or people just won't be bothered. Add in extra hoops for them to jump through, make it apparent that you're scamming them and making their life difficult for the privilege of doing so, and people are not going to play along. That's what's happened so far, and now the wheels have fallen off - bet there will be a lot less material out for recycling in the affected regions next week. Or whenever they get around to emptying the bins there.

Billy Seggars.

Saturday, 1 March 2008


I am sick to the teeth of hearing, reading and seeing environmentalist claptrap, and this article from the Telegraph has just shown me WHY that irritation has been steadily growing for quite some time.

Quite apart from the fact that I think the science behind the hype is somewhat precarious, to say the least, it's the knowing, smug snobbery of the latter-day eco-warrior that really, REALLY gets on my nerves. So let me get a few things crystal clear - I'm not convinced there's any environmental crisis brewing, and, if there is, I'm even less convinced that it's man-made, and, even if I'm wrong about all of that, it's not going to be a significant problem in my lifetime.

Therefore, I am not particularly concerned about declining numbers of polar bears and a raft of other species. Changing climates, if changing they be, are the way of the world. It's been happening for millions of years, and will continue to happen no matter how many plastic bags you fail to buy (or, if Gordon Brown-Trousers and his new-found buddies at the Daily Mail have their way, accept for free). It will go on happening whether or not you drink bottled water from a plastic (shock horror) bottle.

And, make no mistake, when you conscientiously don't drive your Chelsea Tractor, and pay up whatever financial eco-penance our money-grubbing government chooses to impose, you are not "saving the planet". Saving it from what, exactly? It's a bloody big chunk of rock - you think it's going to stop existing because you didn't cycle to work this week?

Sure, if the whiskery tree-huggers are correct, our actions might (I said MIGHT, by way of discussion - I don't actually BELIEVE it) bring about some changes eventually. But the planet will not be destroyed, just changed. No, the thing you're trying to save is your own sorry skin. You're trying to stop changes to the world AS YOU KNOW IT. And that is both truly stupid, and, in the long term, impossible.

So get a grip, wind in the snobbery and don't be surprised if Joe Public starts to get a little bit annoyed when he finds that just about everything he wants to do, or is used to doing, or needs to do attracts a condescending frown from the eco-snobs. We don't like your attitude, buddy, and soon we're going to lose patience with your fads.

Billy Seggars.

All is Vanity

Ok folks, here's a shocking - and probably unique - confession. I don't have an account on Facebook! Nor do I have one on MySpace, Bebo, Twitter or any of the other trendy social networking sites. And, as if that weren't bad enough, I don't plan to get one.

Yep, that's right. I have no use for, or interest in, all this Web 2.0 social networking bull, and I certainly don't want to be in constant contact with a bunch of like-minded folks (i.e. sheep) who do. I can do all the communicating that I want, need and intend to do via email and instant message, resorting to fax and telephone where necessary.

So I am at something of a loss to explain why, according to the Telegraph, "Three-quarters of people who post their images on social networking websites have confessed to 'cheating' by touching up their pictures." To my complete astonishment, the article goes on to say that Brits are the vainest of all Europeans, with over 75% of social networkers "touching up" their pictures before posting them online. Of the folks dumb enough to do this, it seems that the over 55s, with 49% of them digitally enhancing their mug shots.

Firstly, who has the time or inclination to do research like that? Haven't they got ANYTHING better to do with their life?? Secondly, the same comments apply to those who bother to upload their images, and doubly so for those who arrange a virtual face lift on the sly. You sad, sad buggers.

Trust me, absolutely nobody on Earth gives a damn what you look like. And if, by some remote chance, somebody is interested, how long do you think that will last when they figure out the pic has been doctored? Somewhat less than a femtosecond, I should think!

When you consider that, according to this bizarre research, better than three quarters of Brits involved in social networking sites are so brazenly vain and deceptive, is it any wonder that I have no time for the concept? Yes, I suppose it might, somehow, just possibly be useful in a limited way, but is the value worth the aggravation of hanging out with tossers like that?

Not to me, and, I suspect, not to many other people too. The social networking bandwagon has hit a pothole, the bubble has sprung a leak and (I DEARLY hope) the whole phenomenon is heading back to the obscurity from whence it so recently emerged.

Maybe now the rest of us can get some work out of the MySpace-obsessed masses, at least until the next fad comes along!

Billy Seggars.