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Monday, December 23, 2013

New icons for our plastic banknotes

I’ve submitted a new petition:

"Please instruct the Bank of England to use modern, inspirational Britons on the new plastic banknotes. I suggest that England’s greatest living poet, John Cooper-Clarke, should feature on the £20 note, Andy Murray on the £10 (unless Scotland votes for independence next year, in which case Sir Bradley Wiggins), Harry from One Direction on the £5 and Nigella Lawson on the £50."

I hope you will get behind my obviously sensible set of icons for modern Britain by signing up here.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Thank you America: twerking is a crime, as I'd suspected

Scanning the news headlines with half an eye on my way down to the football results, I notice that the forces of law and order in the USA have finally decided to take a stand on behalf of the next generation.

A homeless woman has been arrested after twerking in front of a Florida school bus.

[From Homeless woman charged with disorderly conduct after twerking in front of schoolchildren on a Florida bus | Mail Online]

This is excellent news. Having learned what twerking was, I'd taken it to be merely unpleasant and a typically revolting commentary on our collapsing society, but it turns out that in America, doing it in front of children is a crime (at least, it is if you are African-American). I'm assuming, therefore, that the vigilant men and women of the Lake County police force are even now contacting their counterparts in wherever-it-is that Miley Cyrus lives to have her arraigned. Hopefully, she'll get at least a couple of years in the slammer and we can all be spared ever hearing about her again.

My only concern about this is that the people behind MTV need to be charged with aiding and abetting, or perhaps even maintaining a criminal conspiracy, since they knew in advance and actively planned for Miley Cyrus to twerk in front of under-age children. It will be a travesty of justice if these evil people escape the long arm of the law in this case.

Machine-gunning the pop stars and sending their families to prison camps may seen like a tough line, but you've got to take a stand somewhere to protect the children.

[From a blog from a Citizen of Woking]

I'm not suggesting we adopt Kim Jong-Un's line here: machine-gunning pop stars is out of the question because of the European Court of Human Rights and prison camps are a reasonable alternative. Come on America: bang her up and show us that you care about the children.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What is worse for society? Porn or MTV?

I do like expanding my vocabulary. As a child I used to read the Reader's Digest "It pays to increase your word power" column when I visited my grandparents and found it interesting. I was that sort of child. Anyway, I learned a new word recently: twerking. It refers to a kind of dirty dancing. Here is the word used in context.

She emerged from a giant teddy bear, her tongue lasciviously protruding from her mouth and proceeded to ‘twerk it down’ on to the stage. After this incredibly subtle intro, she pulled off her already scanty outfit to reveal a flesh-coloured bikini and did so to a soundtrack repeating the lines: ‘It’s our body, we can do what we want.’ She then joined in a duet with Robin Thicke while simulating self-pleasuring actions with a giant foam hand

[From Miley Cyrus: struggling to be an adult | Chrissie Daz | spiked]

I didn't see this, but I imagine it was even more disturbing to see than to read about. Interestingly, in the same week, North Korean father of his people and champion of national socialism, Kim Jong-Un, demonstrated a robust approach to pop singers who make pornographic videos by machine-gunning them.

"Excellent Horse-Like Lady" singer Hyon Song-wol among those publicly shot over pornography charges

[From North Korea Reportedly Executes 12 Performers, Including Kim Jong-Un's Ex | SPIN | Newswire]

Machine-gunning the pop stars and sending their families to prison camps may seen like a tough line, but you've got to take a stand somewhere to protect the children. If CallMeDave was really interested in strengthening our society, protecting the weak and creating a moral dyke that can stand fast against the rising tide of deparativity, rather than obtaining cheap votes from idiots who don't really understand how anything works, then he would be launching a campaign to ban MTV, not internet porn. Pornography doesn't pretend to depict reality, whereas the unfortunate children who are fed from the teat of the music industry's robber barons are led to believe that MTV depicts society as it should be. MTV, as Beck famously sang, makes me want to smoke crack. Debbie Does Dallas made me want to get an American girlfriend.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Risky businessmen

I was happy to discover that the real reason for the British banking crisis has finally been uncovered.

Former top drugs adviser to the government David Nutt has made a controversial claim that the financial crisis was caused by bankers' habitual use of cocaine, the Telegraph reports.

[From Bankers' cocaine use caused financial crisis - ex-govt drug adviser]

This seems as reasonable explanation as I've seen so far, but I think David is missing an additional factor. Scientific studies seem to show that men take more risks in the presence of attractive women, and I imagine that sort of behaviour is amplified considerably under the catalytic impact of Bolivian marching powder.

Beautiful women lead men to throw caution to the wind

[From Men Take More Risks When Pretty Women Are Around | LiveScience]

Basically it all went wrong when they let women in. I wonder what Sheryl will have to say about this? Anyway, as far as I can see, broads and blow are a far more plausible explanation for the catastrophe in the British financial system than the line that Gordon Brown endlessly parroted.

"A crisis that began in America" destroyed the British banking system. If it had not been for sub-prime loans in California and Bush's refusal to bail out Lehmans all would have been well… The banking commission, a strange but surprisingly intelligent group of MPs, peers and – only in England! – His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, takes the wishful thinking apart with admirable brutality.

[From Bankers carry on unabashed, unscathed and unashamed | Nick cohen | Comment is free | The Observer]

Mr. Cohen is here referring to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (the Commission on Banking is something different). Oddly, as far as I could tell, the Archbishop of Canterbury seemed to be the most qualified member of the panel, having been a corporate treasurer in a previous life. Some of the others appear to have either no knowledge of the subject at all (Lord McFall was a chemistry teacher) or a bankster heritage that makes me suspicious of their opinions (Baroness Kramer was with Citibank).

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

[posted with ecto]

Saturday, March 30, 2013

In the English film industry, the stunt men work in the accounts department

One of the oddest stories I've seen in the newspaper in months was that of the "fake" film gang who claimed to be making a Hollywood movie in order to obtain some ridiculous sleb-welfare lolly that the (broke) British taxpayer doles out.

The gang submitted claims to HMRC, explaining that they had spent millions of pounds on the film: paying actors and film set managers. Under the tax relief regime for film-makers, they reclaimed £1.5 million in VAT, and nearly £1.3 million in film tax credit claims.

[From Five jailed for fake Hollywood film tax scam - AOL Money UK]

Now, it's absurd that film makers should get this ludicrous subsidy at all. But what's truly absurd about this story is that the film, which went straight to DVD, wasn't that bad! It won a "Silver Ace" award at last year's Las Vegas Film Festival. Compared to an actual British film made with taxpayer money such as Sex Lives of the Potato Men (an unbelievable million quid of funding from the Lottery via the Film Council), it's Citizen Kane.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cyprus Says Deposit Levy to Involve Bank-Share Compensation - Bloomberg

Wow. This is pretty extreme. Cyprus Says Deposit Levy to Involve Bank-Share Compensation - Bloomberg: "The Cypriot government decided earlier today to impose a 6.75 percent tax on bank deposits as high as 100,000 euros ($130,580) and a 9.9 percent levy on deposits in excess of that amount in order to win a European aid package."

I suppose I can see their point. I guess they figure that most of the large deposits are black money from Russia so no-one is going to complain much about it being "taxed" and, in a way, it's better to extract the money from oligarchs rather than from taxpayers.

Many years ago I was living in Indonesia. One day, the government closed all the banks and abolished the highest denomination banknote which if memory serves was the 10,000 Rupiah note. This was essentially a tax on the Chinese diaspora, because the Chinese didn't trust the banks and kept their money in cash. They woke up and discovered that their stash was worthless and, on the other side of the monetary fence, the government's liabilities for the outstanding notes were wiped out.

Perhaps Baronet Osborne might consider a combination of the two. Close the banks for the day, impose a levy of 10% on all accounts with more than, say, the limit for deposit insurance in them, and simultaneously abolish the £50 note. Yes, there would be a bit of squawking from criminals, drug dealers and money launderers, but I'm sure they'd be prepared to sacrifice for the greater good.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Via an acquaintance, I come across a delightful Slovkian lady who has been living in the UK for the last decade. During that time she has been continuously employed, much to the benefit of this country. She rents a flat here and saved up enough money to buy a flat back in Slovakia (for approximately £20,000) which she currently rents out. She calculates that if she continues working for another couple of years then she will have saved enough to buy another. But, she tells me, she is now thinking of going back to Slovakia. Why? Because she doesn't want to be here "when the Bulgarians and Romanians arrive".

As an aside, she says she likes living in England and that English people are very nice and that she only goes back to Slovakia when she needs medical or dental treatment. Seriously. I was going to tell her that the National Health Service is the envy of the world, as I am so often told, but I'm not sure that I could convince her.

Having just paid my tax bill and been left penniless, I'm.wondering where on Earth the money has gone. NHS spending is now £109 billion per annum yet we have been unable to create a service good enough to persuade a Slovakian to use it. I think we're going to have to introduce some honesty into the discussions about the future of the NHS: we're never going to get anywhere propagating the mythical version.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

[posted with ecto]

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gyppy tummy

A friend of a friend tells an interesting story about his daughter's romantic trip to Egypt with her husband of a few months. They had, apparently, seen a last minute "winter warmer" break in Egypt advertised somewhere and decided to leave the grey misery of northern England for a week of sun, sea and sand.

Their problems started when they arrived at the airport in Egypt. A couple of gentlemen approached them and demanded to see their passports. The gentlemen looked through the passports and told the couple that they did not have a valid visa. The intrepid travellers didn't know anything about this, so when the two gentlemen charged them seventy quid each for a sticker to put on the back of the passport, they ate into their meagre holiday funds and paid up. It was all a scam, of course, as they found out when they got to the tour operator bus and compared notes with fellow, more seasoned holidaymakers. By that time, they'd already had to pay a fiver for each of their suitcases to be returned from the intimidating chaps who had snatched them from the baggage carousel before our heroes could get hold of them.

When they arrived at their "all inclusive" hotel, they were told that "all inclusive" applied only to regular meal times and that since they had missed dinner, they would have to order from room service. They had no idea how expensive this was until they got the bill when they checked out, naturally.

After an apparently relaxing day at the beach and a less-than-idyllic day relaxing by the pool (where they were pestered incessantly by the legions of hawkers around the hotel), they woke up on their third day with decidedly gyppy tummies. Unable to venture far from the bathroom, they resolved to write off the day and stay in bed. But by the afternoon, they were feeling really, really sick. So they called down to the desk and asked for medical help. Some time later a smartly-dressed local with limited English language skills arrived and examined them. He told them that they would need a least day to recover and came back and set up drips for them, which he told them there contained water and "antibodies" (which my friend's daughter took to mean "antibiotics"). So they stayed in bed on drips until the next morning when they were feeling a little better. The drips were removed and although their digestive systems remained fragile, they were able to enjoy another day of their holiday.

When they got back, they claimed on their travel insurance for the medical bill. The claim has been refused because the person who treated them wasn't a doctor. So, just a warning to newbie travellers: if you get gyppy tummy, don't just let some guy from the hotel who has seen one to many episodes of Holby examine you and put you on a drip of god-knows-what for a couple of days, not least because your insurance might not pay up...

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

[posted with ecto]

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How I avoided tax

I have a lot of air miles because I've been flying a lot for business. Air miles are supposed to be a compensation for your family, and reward to you, for being away from home so much. So I was excited when my family expressed an interest in a trip to visit relatives in the US, more so because I've been using my BA Amex card enough to earn a free companion flight, hurrah!

However… A round trip to the US city we wanted to go to on BA in economy class was £584. The "free" flight with BA Miles costs 50,000 miles plus £375. In other words, since Gordon Brown started jacking up the Air Passenger Duty (APD), this plus other overhead costs means that it will cost well over a grand to go an visit some relatives with our "free" flights. Hence we're not going.

Who does this benefit? The revenue raised from Gordon Brown's jacked up APD was, in this instance, £0. So the government wasn't better off. Nor was BA, because it makes their "Avios" even less attractive than they were before (I've just booked a flight on Air Austria, which illustrates that point - if Avios were more attractive then I'd have taken a slightly less convenient BA flight). Nor was Heathrow, since I won't be going there and spending any money.

I can understand why it might have been New Labour policy to reserve air travel for celebrities and oligarchs, but why are the coalition propagating this anti-striver levy? You can complain to your MP online here (I just did).

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

[posted with ecto]