24 December 2008

Merry Christmas everyone

Having spent the last two months telling everyone "Buggeroff, it's not Christmas yet", I can now officially announce that it is, at last, Christmas.

You all have my permission to begin partying!

21 December 2008

The Five Minute Nativity

Tracing the nativity back to its roots, the wonderful Professor Pierre O'Bollox has captured the essence of the story beautifully.

However, if you happen to be a God-botherer who is easily offended, don't bother going and reading it, you won't like it.

Click here to read the story

22 November 2008

A matter of dedication

If Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, can manage to go back to his constituency almost every week, why can't Ruth Kelly be arsed to visit her Bolton constituency as often?

Mr. Carmichael has a 1,400 mile round trip each week by train, plane and sometimes by boat, whilst Ms. Kelly would only have to do 440.

I think it has something to do with dedication to your job, and an interest in the people you serve. Mr. Carmichael's constituents should be proud of him. He has the longest and most difficult journey home, but still manages it. Perhaps it's because he actually lives in Orkney, and not in London.

This BBC article is a very interesting insight into Mr. Carmichael's dedication to job. Read it and learn.

18 November 2008

Are you missing out on religion?

Not for those who have had a sense of humour bypass.

11 November 2008

Edith Appleton's diary

Edith Appleton was my friend Dick Robinson's Great Aunt. Born in 1877, the tenth of thirteen children, she went on to spend many years nursing, including five years service during WWI when she served on the front lines in France.

Edith's diary is a fascinating insight into the daily lives of the medical staff on the front lines, and how bravely these men and women dealt with the horrors of war.

There are some parts which made me smile, like Edith's joy at having a bath - something we all take for granted these days:

"I don’t fancy bathing in company, but as I have not sat in water deeper than 1 inch since last year the temptation to go is great."

"Up to our necks in water - glorious! The first time for months and months! A dear old nun came trotting in when I was in my bath, felt to see the water was right heat, thought the bath was too full and pulled the plug by a patent in the floor, I was sitting on the hole where the water runs away and was sucked hard into it!"

Edith was awarded several medals for her service, and photographs of them can be found on the website. There's a couple of medals that Dick cannot identify, so if anyone can help, please let him know - his contact details are on the site.

I am very pleased that Dick has published these diaries and I look forward to listening to him talk about them on Radio 4 this afternoon.

01 November 2008

When 'voluntary' really means 'compulsory'

Some pubs in Aberdeen are introducing drug testing as a condition of entry. I don't have time right now to go into just how wrong I think that is (machine faults, prescription drugs, over-zealous Police etc.) but what has really angered me is this statement:

"The test is voluntary, but customers will be refused entry if they do not take part."

So what they're saying is that it is not voluntary at all, it is compulsory. Big brother would, undoubtedly, say "of course it's voluntary, you don't have to go into the pub if you don't want to take the test", but that's just playing semantics/pedantics. It is compulsory and an erosion of our civil liberties.

I can see what will happen; people will see the drug testing taking place and decide not to go into the pub. The Police will say "Oh look! Someone choosing not to go into the pub, they must be guilty, quick! Stop and search them!"

Something else will happen too, pubs will lose business. I don't take drugs, but there's no way I would go into any pub which wanted to test me. To insist on testing people is a presumtion of guilt, which goes against what this country's law is allegedly based upon, innocent until proven guilty.

How would the pubs like it if every customer demanded to test the strength/quality of their beer every single time they ordered a pint? After all, I've been in a few pubs where the beer tasted watered-down.

22 October 2008

The curse of Pipex

The curse of Pipex has struck again. Open University students who are unfortunate enough to have Pipex as their ISP are being denied access to the OU's servers in the evening because Pipex is 'Traffic Managing' and treating the OU client/server interface as a peer to peer network, which it is most definitely not.

Pipex, of course, deny that they are doing this. However, it's a bit strange that ever since Tiscali took over from Pipex, no OU students have been able to access the server in the evenings. This means that they cannot get on with their coursework or access their tutor groups or course conferences, having the knock-on effect that they can't get on with a fair chunk of their studying.

I wonder how many students will hold Pipex responsible if they fail their courses because they couldn't access some of the materials when they needed to?

If there's anyone from Pipex reading this, please, I beg you on behalf of the quarter of a million OU students out there, STOP BLOCKING PORT 510! It is NOT P2P, it is a client/server relationship. Pipex is preventing legitimate use of the service because of ignorance.

EDIT - Sunday 26 Oct - My fellow students and I still can't get into the server in the evenings. I have had enough and I intend to ditch Pipex in favour of an ISP that does actually give a shit, and bothers to respond to complaints instead of either ignoring them completely or keep asking for information such as my date of birth, which is bloody irrelevant and just a delaying tactic because they can't be arsed to resolve the matter.

I find it very sad that Pipex, which once had a reputation for excellent physical service and customer service, has turned into a pile of crap since being taken over by Tiscali.

20 October 2008

and another thing...

It's rather sad that I can only find the time to write in this blog when I'm ill.


I am full of snot, coughing my guts up and generally feeling quite poo.

I was feeling ill at the end of last week but, rather stupidly, overdid it at the weekend and now I'm paying the price.

Last night, I was running a very high temperature, yet still felt freezing cold. I was snuggled up with my hot water bottle, under my winter duvet, and still didn't feel warm.

A hot shower and a cup of cocoa helped a little and, rather surprisingly, I nodded off and slept for 14 hours. I woke up feeling like I've been punched in the head, but I'm not cold any more.

I am now wrapped up on the sofa, laptop on knee, cup of tea in hand and seriously considering going back to bed.

Changing the meaning of words

Have you ever looked at a word written down and thought "that doesn't look right". The more you look at it, the more it looks wrong. You spell it out letter by letter, but it still looks wrong, so you check the dictionary and the spelling there matches the word on your page, yet it still looks wrong.

I have found that the same thing happens with the spoken word; the more you say a word over and over again, the stranger it sounds. Sometimes it even takes on a completely different meaning.

One such word that has been bugging me recently is 'homeowner'. If you watch the television, listen to the radio or read any newspapers, you cannot escape this word. Financial organisations offer loans and 'debt consolidation' agreements to homeowners, the news tells of homeowners struggling to pay mortgages or maintain their level of spending. We are bombarded with media talking about, or to 'homeowners' (sic.) Yes, one word, 'homeowner', as opposed to 'home owner' or 'home-owner'.

It has become a single word, which now presents me with a bit of a problem. Every time I hear the word 'homeowner' I wonder if it is the new term for a person who is unhappy with the service received from a prostitute.

Is it just me?

14 October 2008

Children 'ruining' visits to pubs

So, the Good Pub Guide has finally acknowledged what I have long known to be the truth: a lot of people don't want kids in pubs. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, kids should not be in pubs unless they are sat quietly with their parents, and do not leave their seats unaccompanied. I avoid like the plague those pubs which market themselves towards families, because I know that it will be a noisy hell inside.

When I was a kid, most pubs didn't let kids in, but they did have a beer garden where the kids could play. Nowadays, the little buggers get everywhere and if you dare to complain that someone else's brat is under your table, the parents seem to think that it's your fault and that you are the nasty one.

I was extremely gratified to read that one of my favourite pubs, Ye Olde Man and Scythe in Bolton no longer allows children in the pub (including those in pushchairs - yes, they're still kids, you know!). In the case of this wonderful establishment, I suspect it has an awful lot to do with the limited space in the bar area, one pushchair could cause utter chaos. However, the lack of kids is not the only reason for paying a visit, they also serve an excellent range of ales, ciders and whiskies, and you are guaranteed a friendly welcome. Once a year, the landlord also volunteers to get his head chopped off, but I'll let you look at the website to find out why!

I digress. Landlords, remember, some pubs get trade because they let kids in, other pubs get trade because they don't. Personally, I'll go to the ones who dont.

02 September 2008

Why is the UK populated by people 'passive against crime'? According to leading think-tank 'Reform', it is because we insist that something should be done, but we're not prepared to do it ourselves, relying, instead, on the courts, the Police and the Government.

Actually, I think they're missing a very big point. People don't get involved because, thanks to 'human rights' legislation, the victims or defenders of victims of crime are often treated worse than the criminals themselves. The media is always reporting stories of people who get arrested for having injured, threatened or even just hurt the feelings of criminals.

Let me tell you a little tale. My elderly uncle awoke in the early hours of the morning and heard a noise downstairs. He went to investigate and found a burglar in his kitchen. He shouted, and the burglar threatened him with a knife. My uncle grabbed a bag from the side and hit the man over the head with it. The burglar ran away, but was later apprehended by the Police. What really shocked us, was that my uncle was also arrested, for assault, following a complaint from the burglar. No charges were ever brought, but my uncle, a war veteran and respectable man, never really recovered from the incident and said that he had lost faith in the Police.

Let me tell you another little tale. My friend was walking down a main shopping street when he heard a woman screaming. A thief had snatched her handbag and was running towards my friend. My friend, a very big lad, stepped out and stuck out his arm. The thief ran into his arm and fell, and my friend apprehended him. When the Police arrived, they arrested the thief, and my friend accompanied them to the Police station to give evidence. A short while later, the arresting officer told my friend that the thief wanted to press charges of assault against him, on the advice of his solicitor. Fortunately, in this case, the Police Officer was a sensible human being and thought that this was a silly idea and persuaded the thief and the solicitor that it was not a good idea.

Why on earth would decent law-abiding citizens wish to get involved in preventing and tackling crime, when they end up being treated like criminals themselves?

Until the law is changed, and some common sense applied, people are best staying out of it. Personally, I believe that if someone breaks into your property and threatens you with violence, you should have the right to beat seven shades of the brown sticky stuff out of them. Whilst this nanny state treats criminals with kid gloves, they are not going to reform. However, if they got thumped every time they broke the law, they might change their minds. Instant retribution is what's needed, not months of paperwork and waiting.

Of course, this leads on to the semantics of what constitutes 'reasonable force'. I could go on forever with that one. Perhaps 'equal force' might be more appropriate... ?

31 August 2008

What's wrong with Bolton?

Actually, there's nothing at all wrong with Bolton. It's a wonderful town and I am proud to be a resident.

However, anyone from outside Bolton, who is unlucky enough to read the online version of the local newspaper, would think it is the most dreadful town in England. The paper specialises in little but bad news, and the standard of the reporting is, at best, poor. It concentrates on trivia and the only thing that makes it interesting for the ordinary person is the liberal use of poor spelling and grammar, giving fodder to the regulars of the online forum.

It is very rare that they have many 'good news' stories (with the notable exception of the recent Olympic success of Jason Kenny), and this weekend, it seems as though they were so short of stories that they have approached our excellent fire service for statistics and then made each item into a drama. There is a part of me that thinks that publishing all these stories of bin fires is just giving bored teenagers bad ideas.

A selection of headlines from the past two days:

  • Man stabbed in Bury
  • Arsonist target bin
  • Fire in derelict house
  • Den destroyed in arson attack
  • Rubbish set alight
  • Arsonists target van
  • TV sparks incident
  • Dryer blaze
  • Pan sparks blaze
  • Call to end SATs fails at council meeting
  • £40,000 damage as boyfriend drives car into bungalow
  • Man to be sentenced for animal cruelty
  • Woman jailed for attack on baby
  • Post delivered to empty house
  • Developers face ASBO threat over illegal signs
  • Vehicle destroyed in fire
  • Car destroyed in blaze
  • Arsonists target car
  • Boy suffers burns
  • Man admits raping teenage schoolgirl

Yes, folks, come to Bolton, but don't use the paper as your guide.

27 August 2008

Lancashire's Sacred Landscape: From Prehistory to the Viking Age

I have had the priviledge of reading some of the draft pages of this book, and it's excellent. Get out there and buy it!

21 August 2008

Exam results are out - quick squeal for your life!

What is it with teenagers these days? You see the news reports on the telly of successful young folk receiving their exam results, and they celebrate by squealing and screaming and jumping around and hugging their friends. What drugs are they on?

Don't get me wrong, I'm really chuffed for all of them. They've worked hard for their results, and good luck to them.

What's all the screaming about though? When I got my GCSE results, we were just handed a thin strip of paper with the list of results on and told "there they are, bye then" and that was it. Go home and find a summer job. When I got my A-Level results, we were taken, one at a time, into a private room where a tutor would tell us our results and then, those of us who had applied for university places, were told which universities had accepted us and which had rejected us. (I still can't believe I chose Hull over Durham though!) There was no screaming, no hugging the tutor or our mates, it was a business-like affair followed by a swift half in the pub before going back to our summer jobs.

I really can't be doing with all of this childish demonstrative celebration and it worries me that these highly-strung teenagers are the future of this country.

Or maybe I'm just a boring old bastard with nothing better to do than sit here and whinge.

19 August 2008

Baba O'Riley

When I was a kid, my parents bought me an electronic keyboard. I had great fun with it, and discovered that I could play a brief, meaningless twiddle, and then play it back, speed it up and loop it. My mum hated it, and used to get really annoyed, and I used to giggle and do it all the more.

Recently, Rock Radio has been playing Baba O'Riley by The Who quite a lot, and now I understand exactly why my mum used to get annoyed. Baba O'Riley has to have one of the worst intro/backing tracks ever. It sounds just like the stuff I was doing when I was 8 years old - a tuneless twiddle speeded up to add extra irritation. Every time that track is played, I have the urge to throw the radio through the window.

I'm sorry mum, I truly am. Now I understand the hell I put you through.

18 August 2008

Junk mail ... ?

Why does our office cleaner seem to think that my 'in' tray is a holding bay for junk?

Every day, I put the work I need to deal with into the 'in' tray. Logical, eh? So why is it that every morning when I sit at my desk, I have to clear out random objects such as coasters, used stamps, pens, scraps of paper, used envelopes and bulldog clips? Grrrrr. Maybe I should invest in an addition tray and mark it "Random Shite".

Even better, this morning, I found that my paper recycling box was full of tin cans and bits of plastic. Marvellous.

I just love spending the first 15 minutes of each day putting things back where they were the previous evening. You'd think that after 5 years, the cleaner would realise that I put stuff where I want it, and leave it there.

13 August 2008

Loony Right strikes again

Apparently it's so grim up north, that everyone should move south. Stupid buggers. Can't they see beyond Watford Gap?

The people at 'Policy Exchange' have said that people should be told the "reality" to avoid them becoming "trapped" in less prosperous parts of the country. Oh yeah? So they'd rather just overcrowd the south with people who don't want to be there? How would towns become prosperous at all if people moved out? Surely to make towns prosper, people should move in?

Occasionally, I have to go to London for work-related reasons, and I hate the place. It's full of people rushing around everywhere, and I always get the impression that it's grimy and sweaty. Well, it is on the tube anyway. You get off the train and are swept away in a fast current of people plugged into mobile phones and music-producing devices, too busy in their own little worlds to smile, or even notice when they're shoving other people out of the way. No thanks, I'd rather stay up here.

I wonder how much time these loonies spent discussing this topic before making this ridiculous statement? I had a quick look at their website and saw a quotation from Oliver Letwin, praising them to the heavens. I would be very reluctant to take seriously any group endorsed by that twit.

09 July 2008

Sorry, no kids

Thanks to Ferritt for bringing my attention to this news story about a couple who have complained after the vicar at their wedding asked for their noisy child to be removed from the church because he was disrupting the ceremony.

So, should be kids be banned from weddings? Well, of course that should be down to the bride and groom, and there's plenty of people who will say that of course kids should be there to join in the celebrations.

Let me put the other point of view. I have been to many events, not just weddings, where kids have run riot in church and at receptions and parties. They get under your feet, they're noisy and often a complete and utter pain in the arse, skidding around on their knees and screaming. My own wedding dress was ripped, because of a kid jumping up and down on the train because he thought it was funny to try to make me fall over. Believe me, I was not impressed. My mum didn't spend £500 on a beautiful silk dress just so some brat could wreck it within hours.

Then there's the kids in pubs. Oh how I could go on about that for hours. When I go to a pub, it's because I want to have a drink with my friends, not because I want someone else's brat screaming in my ear and crawling around under the table. Pubs are not places for kids to play. Yes, there are some pubs which do cater especially for kids, giving them fantastic play areas, and I have no problem at all with that, so long as the kids stay in the play areas and don't think that it's OK to play around my feet. Indeed, the sure-fire way of guaranteeing I would not go in a pub, is when it has a big sign outside reading 'Wacky Warehouse' or something similar.

So, you may think that I really hate kids, but you'd be wrong. It's irresponsible parents that I hate. If your kid is being a pain in the arse, don't just let them annoy everyone else, sort them out! Don't wait for someone to tell you that your kid is a nuisance, you should be intelligent enough to spot that for yourself.

I once told off a small child for banging the telephone receiver up and down on top of my television set, and the mother said "Don't you tell off my child, he's only being a little tinker". Through gritted teeth, I replied "He might only be a little tinker, but if he breaks either the telephone or the television, YOU will be buying me a new one". Funnily enough, she decided to deal with him pretty quickly after that. It wasn't the kid's fault - he'd never been told what was, and was not acceptable behaviour. On completely the opposite tack, Smurf once threw someone out of our house because he over-disciplined his child. He hit her so hard he knocked her off her feet. She wasn't hurt, but that wasn't the point. If you can't teach and discipline your children without resorting to violence, then you need to seek help. Best of all, just don't have kids.

06 July 2008

Mmmm, tasty!

I had a bit of an 'aaarrrrggghhhhh!' moment this morning. I went in the fridge to get a new carton of raspberry yoghurt to go with a banana for breakfast. Unfortunately, it would appear that the lid wasn't sealed and as I grabbed it from the top shelf, I tipped it, and raspberry yoghurt spilled all over the inside of the fridge, and all over my mushrooms :o(

I sniffed at the remains of the yoghurt in the pot, and it was well and truly 'off', so that was my breakfast plan ruined. I then spent the next five minutes emptying the fridge and cleaning out the yoghurt and washing the mushrooms.

Not a good start to the day.

23 June 2008

Scottish Shouty Man

I have just got a Freeview box for my office, after many years of threatening to get one. Right now, I am watching the Scottish First Minister's Questions. Sadly I can't concentrate on it very well because the First Minister, Alex Salmond, is shouting the place down, so it's making it really difficult listening.

Mr. Salmond, I can assure you that the microphones are working perfectly. No-one else seems to need to shout, so can you please pack it in, because it just makes you look inept and foolish.

ADDENDUM: It would appear he only shouts at Wendy Alexander. To the best of my knowledge, she isn't hard of hearing, so I guess he's just scared of her.

Hayfever is hell

I am right fed up. Why is it, that the one thing that I know will relieve my hayfever, is the one thing that my GP will no longer prescribe? Kenalog's licence has been withdrawn in the UK for treatment of allergies. My new GP described its use as 'using a sledgehammer to crack a nut'. Apparently it can cause osteoporosis with 'frequent and prolongued' use. Although I have argued that once is year is hardly 'frequent', none of my 3 most recent GPs have agreed to administer it, which I think is incredibly inhumane.

Let me tell you about my hayfever. In fact, no, you can experience it for yourself, with these simple steps.

First, take a pencil and shove the blunt end up one nostril until it starts to poke out your eyeball. Then, using a sealant gun, fill up the other nostril with silicone. Next, take a handful of itching powder and carefully rub into each eye, until you want to tear off your eyelids. Now your eyes should be streaming constantly, with pale green goo dribbling down your face 24/7. When you awake in the morning, your face will be stuck to the pillow, and you have to carefully peel off the congealed and crusty goo before stumbling blindly towards the bathroom to use a sponge to mop off the rest. This feels like you are sandpapering your face. As you pick off the crusty coating on your eyelids, you grimace at being able to see the devastation that is your face. As you move your lips, they crack and sting. Great!

Now you're a bit more awake, let's really get going. Do you have any cleaning fluids in the bathroom? Have a good gargle until you strip the lining out of your throat. Your throat should now itch like hell and any attempt to quell it (including drinking water) will result in pain. Are you getting the idea?

Once you've picked all of the goo out of your eyes and almost stopped coughing (which can occasionally result in vomiting), you're ready to get dressed. Take a bog roll into the bedroom with you, you'll need it to mop up the results of the constant sneezing that you will experience for the rest of the day. Don't forget to take your hayfever tablets, eye drops, throat spray and nasal spray. You may need a holdall to carry it all. Remember to take the bog roll into the car with you, for your journey to work.

When you get to work, go into the bathroom and wash your face, and spend another five minutes picking the pale green goo out of your eyes again. Your face will now look as though you've been punched several times, and you'll feel like it too.

Sitting at your desk isn't so bad, really. You'll still sneeze a bit, and your nose will still be completely blocked, but so long as you keep the windows shut, you should be able to get away with only having to wash your face every half hour or so, not forgetting to apply vaseline to your lips every time to stop them cracking and bleeding even more than they are already doing.

Hometime! Grab your bog roll and head for the car. As soon as the sunlight hits your eyes, expect another sneezing fit of epic proportions. Use the bog roll to clean the snot off your steering wheel and windscreen.

Weekend! Yay! Weekends are great. You can relax for at least 2 minutes, until you realise that every one of your neighbours is mowing the lawn at the same time. They think you're weird because, even on the hottest days, you have to have every window and door fastened tightly shut. Every time they see you, you are clutching a bog roll, and they wonder if it's some sort of fetish.

Meeting new people is always interesting too. They like to tell you all their patent remedies for hayfever. Yes, I know that local honey is supposed to be good, as is elderflower tea. No, I will not put vaseline up my nose - that not only feels disgusting, but my nose is blocked enough as it is, without stuffing another pollen-trap up there. Yes, I know you can get hayfever tablets in the pound shop, but when you need the equivalent of two packets a day, it really isn't much value for money. The prescription-only tablets that I get are supposed to be an adult dose of 180mg per day. I am on 540mg (180mg three times a day), which just about allows me to function enough to eat, work and sleep. The nasal decongestant is quite good most of the time. However, sometimes it's hard to actually get the spray to where it is needed because it hits the barrier of goo up the nose and just dribbles straight back out again. If you are unfortunate enough to inhale whilst spraying it, it goes down the back of your throat, which not only tastes disgusting, but dries out the throat too. The eye drops are also quite good for washing out the eyes, but they tend to leave crusty bits on the eyelashes, which are itchy and not pretty.

I don't care what everyone recommends for hayfever, it never works. I know what worked for me, and it's the one thing that I am not permitted to have.

Roll on Autumn!

17 June 2008

Sally's Biking 4 Brainray

Sally Ann Holmes is a very brave lady, who is raising funds for Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre, who saved her life when she suffered a sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhage six years ago.

Sally Ann and her friend Richard will be biking all the way around the coast of Britain in a bum-numbing 3,500 mile ride. You can keep track of their progress on the website here. Why not have a look at where they are going to be and meet them en-route to give them some support and maybe a bit of company? There's not many feelings better than that of a group of bikers riding together, especially when it's in aid of a good cause.

If you'd like to make a donation to boost their efforts, please go to the JustGiving website and part with some dosh.

Thanks to Saxman of the Yodashire Massive for letting us know about Sally Ann & Richard's ride.

12 June 2008

Tory MP to waste public money on unnecessary byelection

Tory MP, David Davis has announced that he is standing down as Member of Parliament for Haltemprice & Howden in order to make a stand over the issue of 42 day detention. However, he then plans to re-stand for the same position.

Whilst I admire his guts for standing up for his beliefs, I don't admire the waste of public money that will be spent on administering the by-election, and the cynic in me says that it's just one huge publicity stunt to get his name in the press.

The Liberal Democrats have indicated that they do not propose to waste their time and money putting a candidate against him, and it's unlikely that the Labour Party will field a candidate either.

It's all well and good to have principles when you know you're going to win.

08 June 2008

Are photographers really a threat?

I have always had an interest in photography, ever since I was given a Kodak Retinette when I was a child. I never really progressed beyond point-and-shoot snapshot photography, despite Smurf's patient efforts to teach me the more technical side of things. However, I still love taking photos. When I bought a digital SLR a couple of years ago, I decided it was about time that I learned how to do it properly, and regretted not paying more attention to Smurf's advice. Anyway, I decided to sign up for the Open University's Digital Photography course, and I am really enjoying it, although I don't really have enough time to dedicate to it at the moment.

One thing that has been worrying me a lot recently, is the high number of reports in the press about photographers being harassed for taking pictures in public places. Such is the paranoia raised by the some of the less-reputable media, that many photographers are now viewed with suspicion. If you take a photo of kids playing, you're accused of being a paedophile, if you take a photo of a large public building, you're accused of being a terrorist.

I have been fuming about the stupidity of sheeple for quite some time now, and so I was really pleased to read
an article in the Guardian Newspaper by Bruce Schneier about the general ignorance surrounding photography, terrorism and the like. Go and read it now. It makes sense.

In Mr. Schneier's words:

"Fear aside, there aren't many legal restrictions on what you can photograph from a public place that's already in public view. If you're harassed, it's almost certainly a law enforcement official, public or private, acting way beyond his authority. There's nothing in any post-9/11 law that restricts your right to photograph.

"This is worth fighting. Search "photographer rights" on Google and download one of the several wallet documents that can help you if you get harassed; I found one for the UK, US, and Australia. Don't cede your right to photograph in public. Don't propagate the terrorist photographer story. Remind them that prohibiting photography was something we used to ridicule about the USSR. Eventually sanity will be restored, but it may take a while."

Well said, Mr. Schneier, I just hope that those enforcement officials pay attention.

Remember, that under normal circumstances, no-one (including Police, other officials or security guards) has the
right to seize your photographic equipment or demand that memory cards are deleted/confiscated without a court order, even if they think they contain damaging or useful evidence. If an enforcement official erases any of your photographs without your permission, it amounts to criminal damage and that anyone who deletes a photographer’s images without permission could face criminal, civil or disciplinary action.

Be aware, though, that in some circumstances, the police are permitted to confiscate your film or memory cards but they are still not permitted to delete any images because the images could be used as evidence for or against you.

04 June 2008

Professor Pierre O'Bollox

The Professor has been a good friend of mine for many years, and he's always had something of a way with words. I think it would be fair to describe him as an eloquent twat.

Anyway, go and read his blog. Don't read it whilst you're drinking, cos you might need to replace your keyboard...

Bikers' fuel protest

Tomorrow, I shall be joining lots of other bikers in a peaceful protest against the ridiculous cost of fuel in the UK.

The boss has even let me have the morning off work to go. Top bloke!

I will take my camera with me but, obviously, I won't be able to take pictures whilst I'm riding, unless I can grow another arm overnight, in which case, it won't fit in my jacket and will look rather strange...

24 May 2008

What a nice day...

for flying a kite. We abducted next-door's pooch and took him to the beach for the day. I flew my kite and Stretch chased sticks and paddled in the sea.

04 April 2008

and to add insult to injury...

there's a nail in the front offside tyre of my car. Sodding typical.

Bloody annoyed!

Yesterday, the electricity went off. AGAIN. It does this intermittently, and the supply company keep telling us that it is a 'transient fault' and that they can't fix it until the cable actually burns out, so that they can find the break.

Anyway, my neighbour, Vince, told me that the power had gone off at 10:30am, and that he'd rung them and was told that it would be past midnight when it would be fixed because (hurrah!) the cable had burned out and they could finally fix it properly by replacing the cable.

So, given that I'd already decided to stay at Spike's last night, I went round the house turning everything off, including the central heating.

When I got home from work this evening, I opened the front door to be met my a pyroclastic blast of heat. WTF??? The heating was on. I checked the timer and it was set to permanent 'on'. I swear I set it to permanent 'off'. I really did - honest! I assume that the break in the electricity supply had returned it to a default setting of 'on'.

So, having spent most of the winter with the heating off, and me wrapped in a duvet because I couldn't afford the gas bill, my heating was on for 19 hours on a warm day and I wasn't even in the bloody house to reap the benefit.

However, having been home for four hours now, with the heating off, I can honestly say that my new loft and cavity wall insulation works, cos it's still like a bloody sauna in here. Actually, I'm sat on the sofa in just a t-shirt, cos it really is that warm. Don't worry folks, the curtains are closed :o)

27 February 2008

Earth movement?

Never mind bloody earth movement, I nearly had a bowel movement!

5.3 on the Richter Scale, 0 on the Smurf scale. Yep, apparently he slept right through it, but this is hardly surprising for a man who slept through a fire alarm at the TT....

26 February 2008

How do you define fat?

There seems to be so many ways now, of people telling us that we're fat, obese, whatever, but which way is the best?

According to Diabetes UK, if you are a woman and your waist is larger than 31.5", or a man with a waist of over 37" then you are at risk of diabetes. That's me fucked then - my waist is 38", or 36" when I lay off eating bread (and no, I'm not gluten intolerant).

When I was about 20 years old, my waist was 34" and people used to say to me "Oh my God! You're too skinny, are you anorexic?" How come? Well, I'm 5'11" tall for a start. 34" was actually about right for me. If my waist was as low as 31.5", given my build, I think my dad would start to panic that I was seriously ill, just like he did when I was in my mid to late teens.

How can an organisation make a sweeping generalisation such as waist size to determine someone's health? If I were 4'11" then yes, I might be worried if my waist was over 31.5", but at 5'11", then it's a different matter.

OK, so I am ignoring the waist size thing. How about BMI? Well, yes, I'm in the overweight category at 28.7, but how much of my weight is owing to muscle and how much is owing to fat? According to my body fat report, I score 29% - the 'healthy range' is from 21 to 33. So, one report says I'm obese, one says I'm borderline overweight and another says I'm healthy.

Great, so who is right? Should I be paranoid, or satisfied? Actually, I'm neither. I'm not happy. I've tried to lose weight for the past 5 years or so, with no success. I don't eat much junk food, although I admit to scoffing a bag of pork scratchings, a bag of crisps and half a box of After Eight mints at the weekend, but hell, once in a while you've got to let go, haven't you? According to my food diary, I have been eating fewer than 1400 calories per day for the past 8 months (the recommended guideline is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men) , and I have lost a whole 2lbs. I exercise more, eat less and my weight doesn't change.

I give up.

25 February 2008

I'd just like to say...

that I really couldn't give a shit about the Oscars, or 'Arsekars' as they now appear to pronounce them.

I couldn't give a stuff what fashion disasters people are wearing this year, nor could I give a stuff about whose party is the best, or which luvvie wants to thank his or her mother, dog walker or toilet seat-warmer.

It's all self-congratulatory bollocks. Get a life and stop clogging up the news reports with it. It's not news, it's boring and tacky and I have better things to do than listen to or watch it.

02 February 2008

School 1960 vs. School 2007

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

1960 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up mates.
2007 - Police are called, Armed Response Unit arrives and arrests Johnny and Mark. Mobiles with video of fight confiscated as evidence. They are charged with assault, ASBOs are taken out and both are suspended even though Johnny started it. Diversionary conferences and parent meetings conducted. Video shown on 6 internet sites.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't sit still in class, disrupts other students.

1960 - Jeffrey is sent to the principal's office and given 6 of the best. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Counselled to death. Becomes azombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra funding because Jeffrey has adisability. Drops out of school.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car and his Dad gives him the slipper.

1960 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mum has an affairwith the psychologist. Psychologist gets a promotion.

Scenario: Mark, a college student, brings cigarettes to school .

1960 - Mark shares a smoke with the school principal out on the smoking area.
2007 - Police are called and Mark is expelled from School for drug possession. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Mohammed fails high school English.

1960 - Mohammed retakes his exam, passes and goes to college.
2007 - Mohammed's cause is taken up by local human rights group. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that making English a requirement for graduation is racist. Civil Liberties Association files class action lawsuitagainst state school system and his English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Mohammed is given his qualification anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers, puts them in a model plane paint bottle and blows up an anthill.

1960 - Ants die.
2007 - MI5 and police are called and Johnny is charged with perpertrating acts of terrorism. Teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls during break and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.

1960 - Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy. Becomes gay.

28 January 2008

Back to Basics

I was listening to BBC Radio Manchester this morning; they had the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester (Michael Todd) on, talking about youth nuisance, such as kids being drunk, noisy and abusive.

A listener commented that the Police rarely arrest the kids or take them home, they just move them on elsewhere.

Why on earth can't they chuck them in the drunk tank and keep them there until their parents/guardians come to collect them? They'd soon pack it in if that happened. I know that if that had ever happened to me, I'd have been grounded indefinitely.

Yes, I accept that, initially, there would be more drunks than there were places to hold them, but once they realised that it wasn't just a threat, it was a reality, they would soon learn not to do it.

The problems with some of today's youf is that they think that they are untouchable. Nanny do-gooders invented human rights and now, instead of coming down on these brats like a ton of bricks, they just simper and ask them nicely to stop it. Time to get tough, stop being nice and bring back some old fashioned policing.

23 January 2008

Pipex - DNS change

I couldn't get online at all on Monday, so I rang Pipex but their helpdesk closes at 9pm and I was 5 minutes too late. I rang my mate, who is also on Pipex, but she could get online and was OK. She checked the website and it said that there were no service outages.

I rang Pipex from work the following morning and the girl suggested that my firewall was blocking access. I knew it wasn't, because it worked perfectly before, and firewalls don't suddenly reconfigure themselves.

When I got home from work on Tuesday, I still couldn't get online, and rang them again. After being on hold for 17 minutes, at 10p per minute, I got through to a very pleasant chap who started on the standard script of reboot this, unplug that. I stopped him and said I'd already tried all of that, and that the problem was that the DNS was not able to resolve IP addresses. "Ah!" says he. It turns out that they changed the DNS at the weekend, and he gave me the new numbers, and bingo! it worked.

Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to realise that if the ISP was changing the DNS, that they could have e-mailed all of their customers to tell them of the change, rather than just cutting everyone off? Surely they could have put something on their website, so that people logging in from work, like I did, would know about the change and not have to spend ages on the phone trying to sort it out? Or perhaps they just wanted everyone to ring in and pay their 10p a minute to boost their coffers?

07 January 2008

Goth Events

Do you want to know what's on in the world of Goth music? Do you want to publicise your event? Worry not, help is at hand in the form of GothEvent.com, a brand-spanking new site just for event listings. Go on, go and have a look - what are you waiting for?