Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Labour's Love Lost

It looks like David Miliband has rather botched his oh-so-unsubtle attempt to lever Gordon Brown-Trousers out of Downing St and, indeed, out of his job.

Unless you've been hiding in a darkened isolation tank, away from TV, newspapers, internet and carrier pigeons for the past few days, you'll have at least heard that DM has written some kind of letter / article / shopping list about how the utterly discredited Labour party should progress etc. You will also probably have heard that, in setting out his vision for the future, he mysteriously failed to nominate his boss, the McBean, Gordon Brown-Trousers himself, as the number one choice to lead all right-thinking Labourites into this glorious future.

Not entirely surprisingly, this hasn't gone over awfully well with the Prime Minister's supporters, although I was a little surprised to hear that he still had any. In fact, there have been increasingly strident - and enraged - calls for Miliband to "clarify" his position, praise the PM and categorically deny that he will challenge the Brown-Trousers leadership.

This he has failed to do to any significant degree, and the situation is really crystal clear - David Miliband wants Gordon Brown-Trousers' job, and now everyone who's read the letter, or read of it, knows what he proposes to do when / if he gets it. He's got his proposition out way ahead of his rivals, gained a LOT of free publicity from just about every media source in the UK and can still, if push comes to shove, claim that he was just trying to encourage the party to get over its recent disasters. Neat trick, eh?

Of course, he's also made a lot (well, ok, about three) of enemies amongst those still loyal to the PM, but that will change. Gordon Brown-Trousers is currently about as popular as a mousetrap in a lucky dip, and the chances of him actually winning a leadership contest are not all that good. His supporters must know that, and must also know that if / when he is defeated, his successor will be their boss. It's never a good idea to annoy the boss, and despite the "outrage" at his very public disloyalty towards the PM, I should imagine that quite a few Ministers wouldn't mind working for David Miliband - although they'd probably prefer him to work for them!

Until then, though, Gordon Brown-Trousers IS their boss, and it's never a good idea to annoy the boss! Hence the strident calls for him to sack Miliband for disloyalty, (which, if he has any sense whatsoever, the Prime Minister will not do) and the various other displays of anger against David Miliband. As the Telegraph quite rightly points out, Miliband's letter has plunged Labour into civil war.

Clearly, young Miliband, David, is ambitious. Sadly, he also has ideas above his station. He may have a strange name, but that doesn't qualify him for high office. In fact, outside of his own circle of cronies, I very much doubt if many people know who he is or what Cabinet post he holds - for the record, he seems to be Foreign Secretary, although I didn't know that until I checked.

But, thanks to his own letter, almost everyone in the country now knows him as the scheming, devious politician who wants power so badly that he was prepared to stab his absent boss in the back while he was on a much-needed holiday to get it. Nice. Honourable. Charming guy. Just the sort we need for Prime Minister. Not.

So, in a way, the odious David Miliband has done the country a favour. He has given us a very practical demonstration of what, exactly, is occupying Labour politicians' thoughts as the country plummets into economic and social crisis: POWER. Theirs, to be exact, and the means of hanging on to it at any price. Labour MPs are so terrified of having to find a real job that quick fixes, like dumping the equally odious Gordon Brown-Trousers in favour the first power-hungry Blair-alike they can find, seem smart.

Little do they realise that with every plot, every scheme, every attempted dirty trick - whether real or merely perceived - they are just reinforcing the public's already strong mistrust of their entire party. It no longer matters whether or not Gordon Brown-Trousers is their leader - "They're all the same, the bloody lot of 'em!" is pretty much how the public think of the Labour party, and stunts like Miliband's letter confirm it for them in their own minds.

Barring an almost unimaginable disaster, or some equally unimaginable attempt to NOT hold a general election some time between now and mid-2010, Crazy Cameron will be the next elected Prime Minister (unlike Gordon Brown-Trousers and whoever usurps his position, who will never be able to claim a democratic mandate), and his majority will be huge.

Labour had better get used to the idea of losing, because it's going to keep on happening, no matter how often they change leader, until they are finally drummed out of power altogether. About time, too!

Billy Seggars.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

School Exams Are Family Emergencies: Gordon Brown-Trousers

I'd have thought that most people would, by now, have noticed that the UK - and, indeed, the world - is in deep financial trouble. Everywhere you look, there are pundits babbling about the "credit crunch" but that seems like way too cute a name for what's happening - and what's to come.

Face it, the economy is buggered, and the government's economic policies with it. People are not making as much money as they need, so they are cutting out non-essential purchases, from small luxuries all the way up to bloody big houses. That means the government isn't making as much as it needs in various taxes, forcing it to borrow more than it can realistically afford to repay.

Businesses are in a similar position, but they don't have an entire country's assets to use as collateral, and so they fail because they run out of money. That puts people out of work, and means that instead of gaining income from tax on their wages, the government has to pay out even more money in dole money. Jobless people have even less money to spend, and so the cycle continues.

Oversimplified though that may be, it's all basic economics and shouldn't come as any great surprise to Gordon Brown-Trousers and his fellow government idiots. Indeed, financial alarm bells have been ringing merrily for more than a year, but nobody seems to have noticed until it's far too late to change course, even if this washed out administration had a clue where to go.

Even now, however, I fear that those who think they run the country - and those who, in reality, pull their stings - have totally failed to grasp the extent of the problem. Or, for that matter, to have noticed that there is any problem whatsoever. Take this strange story from the Sun, for example.

No doubt in response to demands from the bankrupt Labour Party's union paymasters, Gordon Brown-Trousers yesterday announced that "Millions of parents will be able to take unpaid time off work to deal with family emergencies." Useful for the few honest individuals who will not abuse this facility, I'm sure. But how many people already "pull a sickie" when they don't fancy putting in a day's work? This new proposal seems little more than a skiver's charter, particularly when you see what will be deemed to constitute an "emergency".

Flexible working hours when a child falls ill may, or may not, be reasonable, although some would suggest that it is the parents' responsibility to arrange adequate care for their children, and if they cannot, they should not have them or should not work. But the absolute limits of sanity have surely been surpassed by the proposal that "days off to give emotional support to children sitting exams" should constitute any kind of emergency whatsoever.

Has the UK become so feeble minded, so absolutely bloody inept, that its offspring - the very future of our once-proud nation - are incapable of sitting a few paltry examinations without needing emotional support? It's not even as though exams are all that demanding, these days!

And for this, for the sensibilities of some snivelling brats without the backbone of a jellyfish, who clearly can't handle any kind of real-world situation and therefore don't actually need an education beyond "the cat sat on the mat", British employers are expected to suffer hours of disruption and inconvenience? Sure, they won't (yet, it's only a matter of time) be expected to pay doting parents for the privileged of buggering off to hold their brood's hand through the incomprehensible terrors of GCSE maths, but what about the man-hours lost to this pathetic idea?

All over the country, office phones will be ringing. "Sorry, Boss, can't come in today, Jemima has a GCSE exam, and it's almost two hours long, the poor dear, you know how they fret, isn't it terrible? I'm sure the clients won't mind rescheduling this afternoon's meeting, we can clinch the deal next week instead... Boss? You ok, Boss?..."

Small companies, in particular, operate in tightly-knit teams. Each member of staff has a vital role to play in the running of the company, and sudden absences wreak havoc on their day to day operations. This is because people are people, not machines, and cannot easily be swapped out for a new one (even if the law allowed it these days) when something goes wrong. Specific individuals are employed to do specific jobs because they are good at them, qualified to do them and have been further trained to meet the exact requirements of their employer.

In large companies, where each individual is just one of many with the requisite skills, this isn't such a problem. But for small firms, which may only be able to afford one fully paid up widget wangler, the cumulative effects of these stupid proposals will be enormous. Deadlines will be missed, orders will be lost, companies will fold and yet more people will find themselves out of work - even those who don't have children, or whose kids have got enough common sense to survive exam season without a nervous breakdown.

Whether Gordon Brown-Trousers really doesn't see the implications of this announcement, is so far gone that he doesn't care, or just doesn't have enough control over his own party to do other than its union backers demand, I do not know. I do, however, know that this almost unspeakably dumb policy will be yet another nail in the coffin of British industry, and, consequently, the British economy, not to mention British citizens.

Nice one, Gordon.

Billy Seggars.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Smokin' Mad Van Man

Gordon Williams, a painter and decorator from from Llanafan, near Aberystwyth, is the latest smoker to fall victim to the UK's increasingly draconian anti-smoking legislation.

He was stunned to find himself pulled over and fined £30 for smoking a cigarette - in his own van. According to the BBC, Mr Williams was told by zealous council officials that his van was his place of work, and, as such, he couldn't smoke there.

While it may well be true that smoking in shared company vehicles is - stupidly - contrary to the Health Fascists' fave laws, Mr Williams' unmarked blue van is his private transport. It is, he claims, insured only for social and domestic purposes, and for taking him to and from work. "I decorate houses, not vans," he added in disgusted answer to the suggestion that it was his place of work.

He has, apparently, paid the fine at the insistence of his good lady wife (I sympathise - Mrs S is just the same, always looking for the quiet life!) but still plans to challenge the fixed penalty. And so he should. If these power-crazed Nicotine Nazis think they can get away with it, they'll be bothering every smoker they clap eyes on. Good luck, Mr Williams!

Billy Seggars.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Brown And Out

I could almost - not quite, but almost - feel sorry for Gordon Brown-Trousers after reading this morning's headlines. Anyone with even the weakest grip on reality couldn't fail to realise that last night's by-election in Glasgow East - a safe Labour seat for over half a century - was going to be a gift for the SNP and yet another crushing humiliation for Labour in general, and the Prime Minister in particular.

And so it turned out to be. An enormous 13,500 Labour majority was effortlessly converted into a 365 majority for the SNP, following a Labour-requested recount, which I gather resulted in the SNP gaining a higher majority than it had after the first count. Classic comedy, if ever I saw any.

I doubt many Labour MPs are amused, though - most of them don't have a majority anywhere close to 13,500, and most of their seats are inherently less "safe" than Glasgow East, which was the 25th safest Labour seat overall, and 3rd safest in Scotland. The need to find a real job, in an unfavourable economic climate of their own making, must now be a terrifyingly probable prospect for an awful lot of Labour MPs.

It's not looking too clever for Gordon Brown-Trousers, either, what with Glasgow East being just 50 or so miles away from his own constituency. The fact is, he's just not Prime Minister material. He can hardly be said to be alone in that, of course - pretty much all of his party would struggle to tie their own shoelaces unaided, let alone run the country. But as the man in the top job, he is the most visible, and therefore most vulnerable, and it seems that even his own people now think that he's a liability in terms of popularity. As one Labour boss told the Sun, "If Gordon Brown opened a funeral parlour, folk would stop dying."

Accurate, in so far as it goes, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Yes, the Stalin to Mr Bean transition is complete, and irreversible, and Gordon Brown is now more or less universally despised (I say more or less because I met a single, solitary someone the other day who actually likes him). But, in the course of his descent into ridicule he has taken his Party's fortunes - such as they were - with him.

The hasty young fellows in the Labour Party - no doubt spurred on by the risk of needing gainful employment - think that a swift change of leader is the answer to their prayers. It isn't. Gordon Brown-Trousers has been at the centre of Government operations since 1997. Most of the appallingly bad economic decisions that are now coming home to roost were of his making. To expunge his influence on current - and future - policy would require a total, massively disruptive change in policy, from core values on up.

Such a change is bound to be divisive, leading to infighting on an almost unimaginable scale within the Party. And yet, it is necessary if the tainted Gordon Brown-Trousers is to be banished. Unfortunately, a party cannot realistically reinvent itself whilst also running the country - not least because the policies that it governs by may be entirely different from those it was elected to implement, although that didn't stop Gordon Brown-Trousers from ducking a referendum on the EU Treaty, did it?

The other alternative, of simply replacing the PM with a friendlier face and soldiering on, won't do the trick, either. People have seen the truth of New Labour, felt the pinch of incompetent economic policy and discovered that political correctness leads only to madness. No matter who took over the top job, they would either be a virtual unknown, or someone who has recently been involved in one New Labour disaster or another, and neither is an appropriate leader for a country in crisis.

No, the only way forward for the Government is to rally around Gordon Brown-Trousers, make noises about mid-term blues and hope that things get better before the next election. They won't, and even if they do people won't easily forgive or forget the current mess, but they will be even less willing to vote for one of the other alternatives.

So it looks like we're stuck with Gordon Brown-Trousers as PM for another couple of years. And he, in turn, can look forward to two years of deepening gloom and growing dislike in the electorate. I'd feel sorry for him, if only he hadn't jockeyed so hard to get the job in the first place.

Billy Seggars.

No News, Good News

The news hasn't been unduly interesting of late. Or, perhaps, the world's descent into insanity is now so inevitable, and so tediously commonplace that nothing in the papers comes as any surprise whatsoever.

Economic disaster looming? Nah, it's already here. It was looming this time last year, and has been on the cards for quite a bit longer than that. Just because the media is suddenly full of "money saving" tips for the hard of thinking does not mean that the credit crunch is anything new.

Taking pictures of local thugs involved in anti-social behaviour is against the law? Yes, probably, in this pathetic NuLab country. Doesn't seem to apply to all those CCTV pictures plod snaps of the public, though, does it?

Reggie Perrin canoe man + wife get time for a) faking his death, b) bunking off to foreign climbs with the life insurance cash and c) being dumb enough to come back to England and fess up. Again, no surprises there.

But, thankfully, the Sun has galloped to the rescue with a small but entertaining crop of silly stories. The Russian high-heeled sprinters are definitely worth a look, especially if reasonably leggy women in running shorts, T-shirts and, yes, high heels float your boat. I can't say any of them do much for me (and even if I could, I wouldn't, cos Mrs S reads this blog on the quiet) but the expression on the faces of numbers 27 and 44 are good for a giggle. The unidentified high heeled ankle-boot wearer in the background gets a sympathy vote too.

Her position, kneeling on the floor, apparently after a slip, is a clear demonstration of why the Health and Safety Gestapo would never, ever allow anyone to choose, of their own free will, to engage, for prizes or otherwise, in a dangerous sprint whilst wearing footwear with heels at least 9cm high. Face it, those miserable gits wouldn't even let us put up the bunting over the race course without a proper inspection.

Meanwhile, former NASA astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, has proclaimed that aliens exist and look just like E.T. Interestingly, NASA has distanced itself from his position, but then, they would, wouldn't they? Don't you just love conspiracy theories? :-) Fortunately for British citizens concerned about the most recent spate of UFO sightings in Wales and elsewhere, US US aircraft worker Michael Menkin has created an "anti-alien" hat that, he claims, will prevent folks from being abducted by aliens.

But Mr Menkin's alien-telepathy-blocking hats have not met with approval from the Welsh Fellowship of Ufologists, who branded them as "ridiculous" and "nonsense". Such a knee-jerk reaction, without giving the rather fetching hats a field trial, must surely serve to cast suspicion on the Fellowship, and I can't help wondering if they've already been infiltrated - and neutralised!

Taking pride of place in the "And finally" spot of this post, though, is the case of Crazy Cameron's missing bicycle. It seems that the pedal pushing Prime Minister in waiting had his transport nicked from outside Tesco in Portobello Road, and he'd quite like it back. Naturally, the thief should be captured and flogged ASAP, but I can't deny that the absence of even one bike from London's teeming roads is a minor victory for embattled motorists.

Never mind all this health and fitness crap, stuff the damned environment, the plague of cyclists afflicting the Capital's streets is getting beyond a joke. It wouldn't be so bad it they weren't all possessed of the typical cyclists' view that they own the bloody roads, and that any vehicle bigger than them is a valid target for shouting, swearing and shaking their fists at.

Unfortunately, they are, and, despite the occasional amusement afforded by watching one of their number get so enraged that they actually fall off their bike - seriously, it happens several times a month - they're nothing more than a menace to other road users. See, even though they expect everyone else to leap through hoops to avoid accidentally killing them, they don't actually have any road sense. To them, traffic lights are just pretty lamps on a stick that change colour at random, pavements are there to ride on whenever there's a chance to terrorise pedestrians and any other road user in a motorised vehicle (bike, car, bus articulated truck...) is absolutely invisible until impact is virtually inevitable.

Cameron should not be encouraging this rabble, either by ignoring traffic lights himself, or, indeed, by cycling at all. The loss of his bike is definitely a step in the right direction!

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Breaking Brown's Golden Rules

It's always nice to have your suspicions confirmed, even in a statement of opinion rather than fact. I have long suspected that the current British Government was ever so slightly round the bend, and this cracking summary of our present and future economic difficulties in the Telegraph sums things up in words that I believe I may have used myself: "Confirmed: the lunatics are running the asylum."

And, sadly, it seems to be absolutely true. Read the Telegraph article if you've somehow managed to miss all the signs of impending recession (as predicted by yours truly several months ago, I might add!) because I really can't be bother to list them in detail. In summary, for the hard of clicking, it's: falling house prices + rising unemployment + lower spending cos no bugger's got any spare cash = major shortfall in public finds, to the tune of £24 billion and rising, meaning that the Government is going to have to borrow billions and billions of pounds to tide it over - if it can.

In order to do so, it's going to have to get rid of the Golden Rule(s) set up by none other than Gordon Brown-Trousers in 1997, when he first became Chancellor and wanted to look as though he really know how to be prudent with our cash. And, indeed, rewriting of those rules is already under consideration. Interesting approach, isn't it - when the rules are inconvenient, change em.

Of course, this is all going to end in tears, both for the Government and the public as a whole. Under other circumstances, I'd be massively amused to watch Gordon Brown-Trousers' humiliating downfall on the very subject - the economy - that he's always used as his unique selling point. But so grave are the implications for many of my fellow citizens that I find my usual glee somewhat curtailed.

The alarm bells have been ringing for quite a while, but it takes a kick in the wallets for most people to notice that something is wrong, and by then it's far, far too late to do anything about it. People everywhere are frantically trying to save money, cut expenses, batten down the hatches and hang on - you know things are rough when just about every newspaper is running "How to economise" type articles - but what are they hanging on for?

If they're waiting for this Government to fix things, they'll be waiting a long time. The problems began long before Gordon Brown-Trousers left the Treasury, and since he's still pulling the strings from Number 10, it seems unlikely that he'll be able - or willing - to fix it now. A new Government seems like a good bet, but that doesn't HAVE to happen until 2010, and I for one can't see Gord and his buddies giving up their cushy little posts until they absolutely have to - it would mean having to get a real job, and most of them wouldn't know where to start! In the meantime, they'll be tinkering with the economy, borrowing yet more money and generally digging us all into an even bigger hole.

And when Crazy Cameron is eventually elected, as he almost certainly will be, what then? Even assuming that he can, and does, put together a competent government that is capable of cleaning up all of NuLab's mess, how long is it going to take?

Years, at the very least. They will have to pay back all the money that this Government so unwisely borrows to keep its ass afloat. They will need to rebuild the economy to get people into work to collect taxes from them to pay for Gordon's debts. They will need to stimulate the housing market and encourage international trade. This does not happen over night, even when there are no other problems to contend with, and, let's face it, Crazy Cameron is going to have a LOT of other things to fix besides the economy.

Broadly, as far as I can make out, the British economy - and, therefore, the British people - are in for a very unpleasant five years or so, at the very least. And, despite my sympathy, and my disgust at what Tony Blair, Gordon Brown-Trousers and the Labour Party in general have done to a thriving country, I can't help thinking that all of those smirking, touchy-feely, new-age, do-gooding nitwits who fell for the grin and voted Tone into power in 1997 have - FINALLY - got what they were so eagerly asking for.

Unfortunately, so have the rest of us. Thanks a lot, guys.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Boxed Off

The Sun has a very sad story this morning. It seems that British Telecom is finally starting to phase out traditional call boxes after payphone usage halved in the last two years, and continues to fall at around 20% per year.

BT claims that thousands of the once-essential telephone boxes are now unprofitable, and is planning to take them out of service. To make the point, the Sun carries a photo of a modern-looking steel and glass phone box, from which just one call has been made in the past year. Located up north in Poynton, Cheshire, it's just one of six in the area that face the chop.

And I think it's unreasonable. Telephone boxes - particularly the classic K6 red boxes - are part and parcel of British life. Even their modern replacements have a certain grim charm, even if it's only to evoke memories of "real" boxes. They provide a sense of familiarity and reassurance, something solid and proof against the the twin torrents of time and the British weather, as anyone who's ever sheltered from a storm in an (unvandalised) phone box will appreciate. Just you try doing that with a mobile phone - YOU are far more likely to provide shelter for IT!

It's mobile phones that have precipitated this national disaster, of course. Useful though they are, I can't help thinking that the world was, in the main, a better place for not being full of people trying to walk and talk at the same time - especially those who just aren't qualified to do it! Before the day of the mobile, you weren't forced to listen to just one half of a conversation as you stood in line at the supermarket checkout, sat on the bus, walked down the street.

Conversations that didn't happen in the privacy of the babbler's dwelling were, at least, safely tucked away inside a relatively sound-proof box, sparing the rest of us from hearing needless repeated cries of "I'm on the bus. No.. THE BUS. YES. BUS. I'll be home in 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES..."

Naturally, the demise of the telephone box doesn't come as any great surprise. I've seen reports of it in the media before, and I can't remember when I last saw someone using a phone box. Not for making a call, anyway. But that's not the point. They were always THERE, just in case you wanted them. Now they are being taken away, and I, for one, will mourn their passing.

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Chairs At Home

There's an odd piece in the Sun today about high-tec deckchairs. Or, to be more precise, sun loungers. The so-called techchair is bristling with gadgetry, powered by solar panels built into the lounger's fabric.

It sports speakers in the frame, headphones, an LCD screen, a nifty sliding laptop rest, a WiFi and Bluetooth antenna, firewire, USB and network ports, docking ports for cameras, MP3 players and video players, and by the user / sitter's feet, a GPS / TXT display. In short, this PC World-devised contraption supports, or hosts, or encourages the use of just about every infuriating gizmo known to man.

Neat, I suppose, if you like that kind of thing, but I am forced to ask - WHY? Don't we spend enough time surrounded by technology? Don't we see enough blinking status lights, hear enough self-satisfied beeps as yet another must-have piece of kit confirms that it's ready and waiting to beep at us again?

I certainly do, and I have no intention of using the techchair, or anything remotely like it. The last thing I need, when I've finally made a little time to relax by the pool, is an electric - well, ok, electronic - chair bedecked with gadgets to first beguile and then badger me. Call me old-fashioned, but a nice, simple deckchair, without any sort of docking ports, or power requirements is exactly what I need.

In fact, after several weeks of increasingly less gentle "reminders" from Mrs S, I finally remembered to purchase just such a simple folding garden / picnic chair from one of those DIY / garden centre superstores yesterday. Now, I freely admit that I'm not a garden chair virgin. I've owned any number of these things over the years, and long ago mastered the art of folding, unfolding and - perish the thought - actually sitting on the things.

Apart from noticeable decreases in size, build quality and comfort over the years, I can discern no significant differences between this chair and its most ancient predecessors - except that it comes with no less than three bright red warning / danger stickers affixed to the frame, and a whole list of things you're supposed to do / not do with it slipped inside the wrapping.

The stickers suggest that you shouldn't put your fingers here, or here, or here whilst folding / unfolding the chair if you expect to keep them - not, I would have thought, something that really needed to be said, in view of their locations, and certainly not something even the most hard of thinking chair operator would need telling twice.

The helpful notice goes into a little more detail, giving clear instructions on how to safely fold and unfold your brand new chair, whilst retaining possession of all your digits. It goes on to insist that the chair should only be used on level ground, and that one should never sit on the arms of the chair, amongst other self-evident proclamations.

Is all this guff really necessary for a simple folding garden chair? Are people really so incurably stupid as to genuinely not know how to work the damn things? Or are the stores just so terrified of litigation from someone claiming to be terminally dim that they try to cover every angle?

Either way, it's a very sad sign of the times, and I dread to think what kind of warnings would need to be plastered all over the techchair before any unsuspecting member of the public could be allowed to sit down and plug themselves in.

Billy Seggars.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Holy Cow Fart, Man

"WINDY cows are having bright red tanks strapped to them to check the gases they let off — in a bid to beat global warming," according to the Sun, under the fantastic headline "This is a real wind farm."

I know, this isn't a new story - livestock farts have been getting the blame for unacceptable methane levels for months, and there have been various oddball attempts at "research" into a "solution". But the (very large) picture of some poor cow stood in an enclosure with an enormous red plastic tank strapped to its back just has to be seen to be believed.

Clearly, the cow in question is at least dimly aware of its predicament, and doesn't look at all happy to be living under the biggest ever fart-in-a-bottle. I just hope nobody tries the old fart-lighting trick, or they may end up with the world's first rocket driven cow - is the world ready for methane propelled cows roaring across the landscape, I wonder?

Hmm, come to think of it, it's probably a neat way to avoid the Government's road tax ram-raid, and save on petrol too. Not sure the cows would approve, though.

But, keeping these strange visions to myself for a moment, isn't all this a bit odd? The article claims that the top trump scientists in Argentina, where this experiment is taking place, believe animal farts to account for up to 30% of the country's methane output.

Fair enough, but surely, that means that this level of methane output is normal - or, at least, natural. I suppose there are rather more cows knocking about than perhaps there would be if humans didn't farm them so aggressively, accounting for some of the output. But, left to their own devices in a habitat that is pretty good for them, any species will quickly become very well established.

Doesn't that rather do away with the idea that humans are behind all this alleged global warming guff? Wouldn't the combined cow / other reasonable sized grazing beasts be contributing a fairly hefty amount of methane to the atmosphere with, or without human intervention? And, if that's the case, who are we to interfere with a natural process for our own advantage?

Still, in the spirit of scientific enquiry, it would be interesting to see how much methane / other greenhouse gasses are pumped out by wildlife - such as wildebeest, for example - in their natural habitat. I can't wait to see pictures of roaming herds of the buggers, complete with bright red methane tank. Nor can I wait to hear the outcry from the eco-warrior camp when someone tries it!

Also in the spirit of enquiry, it might be instructive to strap similar tanks on the scientists themselves, with a view to measuring the useless hot air they expel - probably enough to power a medium-sized town for a year.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

All Smoking Banned By 2035

I wonder how many smokers noticed this small article tucked away in the murkier depths of the Guardian's health pages the other day? Probably not all that many, if only because it's difficult to imagine many of the fiercely PC Guardianistas as smokers - or, indeed, as people.

For those of us still in the real world - or what passes for it in England today - the article, titled, "Health: Doctors urge film censors to give 'pro-smoking' films an 18 certificate" lets a particularly sinister cat out of the bag. For, according to Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the British Medical Association's head of science and ethics, the BMA is plotting - nay, campaigning - to make Britain smoke-free by 2035.

Yes, that's right, smoke-free. Smoke. Free. As in no smoke. At all. Currently, somewhere between 20% and 25% of the population enjoy a smoke, and many more - the majority, I feel - of non-smokers support a smoker's right to do so. The BMA's insane scheme means that a tiny group of meddling busybodies, with no democratic mandate to impose their views on anyone at all, is trying to do exactly that to almost 1 in 4 members of the public.

Roistering Viv and her Health Fascist colleagues over at the Barmy Moron's Association seem to have forgotten that they, as doctors, are public servants. We, the public, pay their wages, and WE tell THEM what to do. And, judging from the rest of their proposals, they are very, very badly in need of someone - ANYONE - to tell them what to do.

Amongst the proposals most in need of a reality check is the utterly pathetic demand that any movie depicting a "positive" image of smoking should automatically be rated 18. According to the Telegraph, that means that movies such as Independence Day, which shows Will Smith lighting up a cigar whenever he kills an alien invader, would be a no-no. And, where such scenes exist, it would be a legal requirement for anti-smoking ads to be shown before and after the movie. Oh, and if a screenplay just can't get along without a smoker, there most be story lines that detail the "consequences" of smoking.

As nuts as this seems, I can easily imagine the Health Fascists baying for this kind of crap, and getting it, too. But there is a problem: if images of folks enjoying a cigg on screen become an 18-only event, what about people who actually, in real life, light a cigg or cigar? Think about some of the other acts that rate a film as 18 - sex, violence etc. They're not generally things you're encouraged to do in public, and I can't help wondering how long it will be before daring to light a cigg on the street will be considered as bad as - or, probably, worse than - ripping your clothes off and banging your other half senseless there.

Of course, if the BMA has its way, we know exactly how long it will be - 2035 at the latest, before your freedom to smoke is gone, never to be seen again. And, even worse, the Department of Health is giving this tosh serious consideration, amongst its other pathetic schemes to stop people from smoking. Did you ever see such a staggeringly arrogant, overbearing example of the Nanny State in action? Come to that, did you ever imagine that such a tiny few over zealous Health Fascists would ever be allowed to exercise such massive influence over so many people in an allegedly free country like Britain?

Until fairly recently, I always thought - well, ok, hoped - that the democratic process kept dictatorship at bay in this country. It seems that I was sadly mistaken on that score. Still, all is not lost. Dr Vivienne Nathanson, of whose antics I have written before, is a doctor and is therefore subject to the ever-capricious regulation of the General Medical Council. I could easily imagine huge numbers of irate smokers venting their fury through complaints to Nathanson's regulator. For those inclined to give it a go, you can find the GMC's rules and regulations on the Legislation page of their web site.

For the rest of us, it looks like we're going to be faced with a fairly stark choice in the not-too-distant future: stand up for our rights and reverse the erosion of our freedoms, or get the hell out of this bloody awful country. Only a few months ago, the idea of simply getting on a plane and leaving was unacceptable to me; England is my home, and I don't see why a few Health Fascists should force me out. But, since then, there has been more of a nosedive than a downturn in the state of the nation.

Our economy is in free fall, the Government is clearly both bent - compare Gordon Brown-Trousers telling us not to waste food while he demolishes a banquet with Mugabe's lavish celebrations and starving people - and incompetent, and the real power seems to lie with unelected quangos and even less significant bodies like the BMA. Political correctness is rife, education is non-existent, healthcare is a lottery, crime isn't so much a risk as a promise, common sense has already emigrated and Crazy Cameron doesn't look to be all that much of an improvement on Gordon Brown-Trousers.

It's a no-brainer, really, isn't it? And but for a lingering attachment to our home, and a faint hope that maybe, just maybe, things might get a little better with a new Government, Mrs S and I would already be long gone - although, probably, not to Niue. I'm sure we can't be the only folks to have seriously considered a move - Canada looks like a promising possibility - and Gordon Brown-Trousers should be very, very worried. Does it not cross his mind that he, and his Government, must be doing something terribly wrong if so many of his citizens are eyeing up new lives just about anywhere but here?

Probably not. After all, that would be less people to vote against him at the next election, wouldn't it?

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Green Rage

According to the Sun, Britain's eco-warriors are so wound up about environmental issues that they are put off friends, partners or colleagues who are less zealous in their planet-saving palaver.

As well as being put off a "love match" as the Sun calls it, the tree-huggers are turning their fury on workmates who print out unnecessary documents, or leave their computers running over night.

Interestingly, the survey - of 2,046 adults across the UK - says nothing about the Inverse Green Rage phenomenon, despite its rapidly growing prevalence amongst Brits with even microscopic amounts of common sense. It is characterised by right-thinking individuals mocking, teasing and generally lambasting any self-confessed recycler until they promise to leave the lights on all day and all night, for ever and ever, amen.

Ok, that's not entirely true. But it is entirely true that many, many more people are put off friends, partners or colleagues who have been bitten by the environmental bug than are put off those who think Global Warming (as it used to be called until it was found to be neither Global nor Warming) is total crap. Face it, when people find out that someone's a mental enviroist, they slap in place their glassy smile, nod politely and back away FAST. We've all done it, and then gossiped about them later.

Not too long ago it would have been knowing looks over the coffee machine. Today, in this unenlightened age of no indoors lighting up, rumour flits between departments as folks gather at the side door for a quick smoke:

"Got a light? Ta!"
"Seen that new bird in Accounts?"
"Nope. What's she like."
"Blonde, big knockers, tree hugger."
"What a waste..."

And so on. Nobody, barring fellow eco-nuts, who don't really count, likes an environmental zealot, and while the zealots may get mad with the rest of us, they are very seriously outnumbered - they've been annoying us for a long, long time, and getting ratty because we all think they're deluded isn't doing their cause any good at all.

But then, what could do their cause any good? Some credible evidence might be a good place to start. So might turning their anger on those who use "green" issues a means of making a profit - ever noticed how "environmentally friendly" products are also financially unfriendly? That just makes the rest of us resentful and disinclined to be further harangued by the office crank.

No, if they want to get anywhere with this saving the planet lark, they need to make if financially and practically viable for the rest of us. I couldn't care less about the environment, and, when it comes to saving the planet, you could pave the whole surface for all I care. But, given the ever-rising price of power, I wouldn't say no to some free electricity.

Being of a slightly technical nature, I can see the obvious pitfalls in doing a Crazy Cameron and nailing a windmill to the side of your house - in and of itself it's never, ever, going to provide enough power to make it worthwhile. But I can also see that, in combination with some other methods, and with a little lateral thinking, such an approach could, for many people - not all people, unfortunately - make a noticeable dent in electricity bills.

With energy prices set to rise by another 40% by the end of this year, that has to be an attractive prospect. And, coincidentally, it's very much in line with the tree-huggers' dreams. So they should quit hassling us about leaving the PC switched on, and start thinking up ways to make this kind of thing work well, cheaply and easily enough for the average home owner to get it up and running in a weekend.

Do that, save us some brass, and, weirdo tree-huggers or not, they'll be heroes.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Rubik's Cube Returns

Remember the Rubik's Cube, that frustrating, distracting, absorbing little puzzle that drove more than a few folks to the end of their tether in the late 1970s and early 1980s? Where, today, you find iPod wearing, cellphone chattering, laptop tapping dorks in every corner, their place used to be occupied by demented, exhausted-looking folks whose fingers just couldn't stop twisting that damned multi-coloured cube.

Like all the best puzzles, it's challenging and addictive. You either "get it" or you don't, and communities of cube solvers sprang up just as quickly as cube-related obsession caused quite a few relationships to break down. And now, according to the Telegraph, the Rubik's Cube is making a comeback - just in time for Christmas.

Of course, to the millions of puzzle addicts out there, it never went away. But the impact of Cube-related obsession on the current, high-tec generation will be interesting to see. However will the brats of today cope with a puzzle that doesn't require them to push buttons? Worse, they'll have to put down their mobiles - texting and cubing just aren't going to go together, are they, so how are they going to call their mates for help? The idea that they might actually have to TALK to someone will fill a few minds that I can think of with dread!

It's no surprise that the the Cube was popular on its first outing, and I predict a fair degree of popularity this time out, too. Although some kids of today won't like the idea of a puzzle you can touch, especially if it means they have to come off MSN to play, their parents will love it. How many people could actually put their hands on a working 1980s (or earlier) Rubik's Cube? Not many, I suspect. But but many will be overcome with nostalgia when they see one in the shops and buy it for their own amusement? LOADS.

How do I know this? Simple, really. Britain is going (or has gone) to the dogs. Economic doom and gloom stalk the land, folks fear for their jobs and lament the cost of living - especially essentials like fuel and energy - and things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Many of us remember the better times of our younger days, even if they were only better from our point of view, and the opportunity to relive even a little bit of those apparently good times is irresistible.

Hence the popularity of Indiana Jones, Dr Who, The Incredible Hulk, Star Wars etc., and now the Rubik's Cube. It may not take the world entirely by storm, as is did first time out, but then it's a different world, with different expectations. Nonetheless, it will give a good account of itself in the festive sales, and I, for one, am glad to see it return.

Billy Seggars.