Tuesday, August 31, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: First peek at NHS Direct replacement service

Admit it, you know we all do it.

NHS Direct costs £5 million per phone?

Well, according to David Prescott it does anyway. His Save NHS Direct campaign (that's the campaign against the previous Labour Government's policy incidentally), says,

Hmm only 24 phones at a cost of £123m.. no wonder Lansley thinks it's costly!

In all seriousness though, it is rather amusing to see Labour people falling over themselves to "save" something that for all intent and purpose appears to be having a name change and errrr was actually their policy when they were in Government.

Opposition for opposition sake.

Hat Tip: A reader.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Now we're cooking on.... errr honeycombs?

Dear Sunny Hundal and Will Straw.....


I can't help but notice you both took Mark Pack's post yesterday about Matthew Elliott from the "No 2 AV" campaign purchasing the domain "yes2av.org" and have turned it into panty-wetting and girly "dirty tricks" hyperbolic bullshit story of the kind that you both often rail against.

I simply ask, where were the shrieks of "dirty tricks" when the Labour Party quite sensibly registered, and continues to host cameronsconservatives.co.uk? Why no crying foul at the fact that Clifford Singer, again sensibly and cleverly owns taxpayeralliance.org? I doubt Sunny is "looking at whether this breaks any rules".

Or how about Clifford's other site, again very clever, mydavidcameron.com? Did you fill the proverbial nappy Will at that terrible bit of General Election "dirty tricks"? Of course you didn't, you linked it, as did you Sunny and there was no question of complaining about "domain squatting" on someone's name.

Don't you realise that talking about "dirty tricks" when all that's happened is something you've happily promoted from your own side, sort of makes you look like a couple of sanctimonious tits?

It makes perfect sense for the No campaign to register domains that might be useful for it to slate the Yes campaign, just like it made sense for Clifford and Labour to do what they did.

I guess what I'm trying to say gents, and I say this with an immense amount of love, hugs and kisses, is.......... grow the fuck up.

All the best

Phil aka Dizzy

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On that dead spook

Was rather amused to read the following details on Channel 4's website about the building that the dead spook (not officially confirmed or denied as a spook naturally) lived in.
Land Registry documents reveal the block at number 36 Alderney Street, where the body was found, is owned by a private company, New Rodina.

The details of this company are hidden because it is registered in the British Virgin Islands and not listed with Companies House.

The word rodina means "motherland" in Russian and Bulgarian.

The property was bought for £675,250 in 2000 with a mortgage from the Royal Bank of Scotland and has been remortgaged twice, in September 2005 and February 2006.

The documents reveal the owner operated through a law firm known as Park Nelson.

This firm once occupied a rented block in Bell Yard, off Fleet Street, but it no longer appears to exist.

**SHOCK NEWS** Spook lived in property probably owned by the "Company"! Everyone wildly speculate about Russian sleeper agents and someone call Jack Bauer. NOW!

Two Step Guide to spotting "denial"

  1. Visit the following post on Sion Simon's Labour Uncut.
  2. Read the first ten words of the first sentence which states

    "The Conservative MP for the Labour seat of Dudley South"

Here endeth the lesson

An observation...

If I went on Radio 4 and said something like "Yes, obviously Hitler did do some terrible and awful things but he did also get the trains to run on time" it would probably, quite rightly, upset a few people.

Likewise, if I said, "Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who freely dropped chemical weapons on parts of his own population but hey, at least there weren't suicide bombers in the streets of Baghdad" it would also be a bit woolly on the old moral front.

I mention this because this morning on Today I endured the author James Ferguson saying, and I paraphrase admittedly, "the Taliban did some awful things but they did bring law and order to Afghanistan" (listen here.

Moral relativism huh? Don't ya just love it?

Monday, August 23, 2010

This download is an aspiration not a promise

It would appear that Labour leadership candidates are falling over themselves to seem as lefty as possible, we now have the Blairite Andy Burnham producing a manifesto titled "Aspirational Socialism" (contradiction in terms surely?).

Sadly, at the time of writing, I couldn't download it from the link provided.

Clearly the download option is just an aspiration not a promise.

Top Cat lived in a dustbin....

This footage has just appeared on YouTube and was apparently taken outside the Sacred Heart School in Coventry. No idea if its some sort of hoax viral or genuine but hey ho. The "action" gets going at about 20 seconds or so. Some on YouTube are asking for help identifying the woman.
Perhaps she thought it was Top Cat and she was protecting him from Officer Dibble?

London's Metropolitan Jedi Force

Via imgur.com

111 - is that a glitch in the Matrix?

Anyone remember the special telephone line 101? It was a little idea to have a non-emergency phone line that people could use instead of 999 to report crimes that didn't require SO19 to pile in with their H&K MP5s.

It was, naturally a complete waste of time and money, being piloted then slowly dropped having cost the taxpayer £1.8 million

Calls to the line, designed to ease pressure on 999, included such requests as, "can you tell me the times of trains to Brighton?", "I'd like someone to test my smoke alarm." and "Do you know when the next bus leaves for Southampton?"

You'll be glad to hear therefore that our Coalition Government would not be so stupid as to introduce a similar sort of scheme ever again, less face the embarrassment of throwing more of our money away at a service that would be used and abused... oh wait, no... what am I talking about, they are introducing such a scheme.

For those wondering, this is the point at which you put your head in your hands and scream "Oh God no! Not again!".

Note: I've tried to save them some marketing spend by hacking up the old logo as I like to do my bit in these tough economic times.

Anyway, this service is going to "take the pressure off 999 calls" (where have we heard that one before huh?), so we're now going to have 111 which will be piloted in a few areas first (sound familiar?), and will deal with urgent but non-emergency care calls in relation to health issues.

Note: Please ignore the fact that such a service exists already, remember, in the Matrix there is no spoon.

So, how long before this line gets quietly shelved as an idea, and how long before we learn that calls to the service have included such things as "I cut my finger on a piece of paper and it stings, what should I do?"

Still, it's only money right?

Update: How many more repeats are we going to get under the Coalition?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Will Iain Miliband-Smith please stand up?

According to this morning's Mail on Sunday, Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith and the Chancellor, Gideon Osborne have had a bit of a slanging match about IDS's proposals for making work pay better than welfare.

Apparently it all comes down to the fact that IDS's plan would cost the taxpayer an extra £3bn to implement and the benefits of that spending would not be seen for quite a few years yet. IDS has been told he needs to find cuts before he can get the money.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband, when he's not encouraging rumours about Charles Kennedy defecting to Labour, is reported in the Observer as being in favour of offering tax breaks to companies that guarantee to pay a "living wage" of £7.60 per hour.

Apparently, companies that only pay the minimum wage results in the taxpayer subsidising earnings with tax credits and costs between £5.9bn and £6.3bn a year. According to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, if companies took up this idea then it could reduce that cost by between £3.4bn and £4.1bn a year.

Hmmmm let see now.
  • We have two ideas.
  • Both ideas are intended to put more earned money in people's pockets thereby reducing benefit dependency in the long term.
  • One is about nudging people with the incentive of work paying more than benefits.
  • The other is about nudging companies with the offer of tax breaks.
  • One will cost around £3bn.
  • The other will save around £3bn.
Do I need to get a pen and paper to draw a diagram titled quid pro quo?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Graduate Tax: Stop the bullshit

I see that Nick Clegg has pre-empted the review into University funding this morning by coming out strongly in favour of an entirely unfair graduate tax. Sometimes, actually a lot of the time, I cannot believe the bile and utter nonsense that spews forth from the mouths of politicians, and the idea of a specific graduate tax is one such idea.

Let's be clear about something first of all. We already have a graduate tax, it's called the student loans system. You borrow money to pay for your course, books, drugs, drink, bed and board and then only start paying it back when your earnings go above a threshold. There is no need to waste money shifting that system.

Secondly, the idea of shifting it to a system whereby those who go to University and then leave and get a good job have to pay more than those who go to University and get a not so good job is simply replicating the tiered income tax system anyway (something they'll have to pay as well) and also negates the quality of the course that was taken.

Let me put it this way, currently there is a cap on fees so a course at Oxford or Cambridge costs approximately the same as a course at Woolwich Polytechnic, sorry, I mean the University of Greenwich. With no disrespect meant to the lecturers at Greenwich, the fact is that the quality of the course and study at Oxford or Cambridge is going to be better but still cost the same flat price.

Now let's say a graduate from Greenwich doing say Politics, goes on to work in IT and finds themselves well within the 40% tax rate. Meanwhile the PPE graduate from Balliol goes on to be a bag-carrier in a political party earning just over £25,000. The former, in the "Graduate Tax" world will be expected to pay more for their irrelevant and lesser course at the lesser institution than the latter who went to one of the best universities in the world and went into politics.

Tell me. Someone? How exactly is that "progressive"? What we have is a proposal for a system that falsely assumes that earnings are always linked to University education. The fact is though, the vast majority of graduates in this country do not go on to work in an area relevant to their degree with the exception of perhaps law and medicine.

I personally know of someone with a degree in PE, sorry "Sports Science" who now works in the City earning huge amounts of cash. They went to a non-red brick ex-poly, spent three years getting drunk or high, and then buggered off into banking. The fact they went to University is irrelevant to their earnings.

There is, amongst the political class, this rather quaint view that a University degree automatically means that you will earn more, but it's absolute bullshit for the vast majority of graduates that don't come out of Ivy League equivalent red brick institutions. What's more many graduates end up doing things that are so far removed from their degree courses that when they do earn good money, the University education is merely a "three year gap year".

One other quick example for you, I know a guy that works in the InfoSec field and earns 40% tax band money. His degree? Zoology. Need I say more?

The fact is, when you actually look at the graduate tax proposal it's clear who will really gain from it. The Political Class.

It will be the bag carrier greasy pole types, the policy wonks, the NUS presidents and the assortment of other "never done a proper job" politicos on crap money with great quality degrees who'll be subsidised by the graduates from crappy ex-polys with a Desmond, who then work their balls off to earn as much as they can in an area with no relevance to their education.

If you want to fix University funding it's quite simple. Stop the bullshit that assumes that your earnings are necessarily linked to your degree, and instead allow Universities to charge fees that accurately reflect the quality of the institution in terms of teaching, intensity of study and the degree you end up with. This idea of a cap and flat fee on a degree across the board panders to the lowest common denominator principle that infects the secondary and comprehensive education tier.

When will there be a politician brave enough to say that a BSc in Culinary Arts Management from Thames Valley University does not and should not be considered to have the same flat cost price as a MEng in Engineering from Cambridge? What's more, when will there be a politician brave enough to call bullshit on the idea that money earned after University is by necessity linked to the education received at University.

It isn't. Capisce?

P.S. That course from Thames Valley University is real in case anyone was wondering.

Friday, August 20, 2010

eBay Bargain of the Day

That was clever.

I reckon it would give him a heart attack

Friday wouldn't be a Friday without a decent "WTF?". So here we have a song in which a hot chick sings about wanting to sleep with the 89 year old science fiction and horror writer, Ray Bradbury. (NSFW should you decide to not play it via headphones)

Hat Tip: Via email from a reader called Mark.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's MyDavidCameron all over again

Oh dear, the Leader of the Opposition in Australia has found himself stung by a "MyDavidCameron" type Internet piss-take with tonyabbottisright.com.

Perhaps Clifford Singer should sue the Australian Labor Party for IP infringement seeing as it's been officially created by them! *joke*

Libyan hacker targets East Sussex council

Now tell me, what did Seaford Town Council do to deserve this? Poor old Seaford!

Nice that he left his calling card elsewhere and a YouTube profile.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to deal with PETA

You know how it is, you make an advert for your cars that has a cool PG Tips type monkey in it with a so so monkey joke and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) get all upset about it.

So what do you do?

Simples! Make it an invisible monkey instead and make a mildly funny advert much funnier whilst subtlety ignoring PETA's moaning.




Via The Consumerist

Imagine this being pitched on Dragon's Den?

Patent Title: Apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force

Via Google Patents

The 19 Month FoI

I believe the phrase "like getting blood from a stone" springs to mind on this one.
  • 23 January 2009 - FoI request sent to Cabinet Office for "a copy of Tony Blair's response to Sir Callum McCarthy's letter dated 31 May 2005 along with any documents relating to that response."
  • 23 January 2009 - Cabinet Office auto-respond acknowledging receipt of FoI request.
  • 20 February 2009 - Cabinet Office request extension as they wish to balance public interest against UK economic interests.
  • 24 March 2009 - Cabinet Office request further extension on the same grounds and say they will respond by 28 April 2009.
  • 28 April 2009 - Cabinet Office request further extension on the same grounds and say they will respond by 26 May 2009.
  • 22 May 2009 - Cabinet Office request further extension on the same grounds and say they will respond by 23 June 2009.
  • 22 June 2009 - Cabinet Office request further extension on the same grounds and say they will respond by 20 July 2009.
  • 12 August 2009 - Requester asks why 201 days have passed and why it is taking so long to decide on whether to release information.
  • 22 March 2010 - Requester asks why he has received no correspondence for 7 months and request an internal review.
  • 29 March 2010 - Cabinet Office acknowledges request for internal review.
  • 14 June 2010 - Requester draw Cabinet Office attention to ICO best practice on time to answer an FoI.
  • 17 August 2010 - Cabinet Office responds to internal review saying how sorry they are and that they'll have made a decision on whether to release the information very soon.
  • 17 August 2010 - Requester responds to Cabinet Office arguing that the response is insufficient.
  • 17 August 2010 - Cabinet Office responds and releases benign letter from Blair about regulation.
And to think politicians wonder why the public don't trust them huh? Methinks an FoI on why it took so long might be needed.

You're all in denial!

There is a phrase, if you will, that annoys the pants of me and many others, and that phrase is "climate denier". It's used to describe anyone who does not adhere strictly to the idea of man-made climate change or perhaps simply suggests other ways to tackle such a problem that is not in keeping with what the "green movement" believe; often it is levelled at people who simply ask a question that might seem to be straying from the accepted view.

It is of course an absolutely pathetic term that is levelled in order to stop and stifle debate or discussion, and it's purely political.

We now have, thanks to the Chancellor, an equally pathetic term for anyone that opposes what the Coalition may decide to do on spending cuts, which is "deficit denier". A term which, in the words of an article on Liberal Conspiracy,
leaves no room for argument, disagreement or different solutions to our need to cut the defecit [sic]. Instead [Osborne] forces language to fit his political arguments rather than using arguments to persuade us of his policies.
I can't say I really disagree with that, but there's always an amusing angle to these things when it comes to the way I look at the world, I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

Liberal Conspiracy you see is, amongst the UK political blogging world, is one of the sites that just loves to scream "climate denier" from the highest rooftops at anyone who does not agree with them, or anyone who simply comments in a way that does not wholeheartedly agree with a post they may have done on the subject of climate change.

Let me put it like this, Liberal Conspiracy's use of the term "climate denier",

leaves no room for argument, disagreement or different solutions to our need to tackle a warming planet. Instead it forces language to fit its political arguments rather than using arguments to persuade us of their solutions.
If someone ever asked me to describe irony in words I'd be hard pushed, but spotting it is so much easier. Thus it is that we now have two opposing political positions casually throwing the word "denier" around, and the side that started it is trying to use the same argument to dispute the term that it had previously errrr denied was valid.

Spotting these sort of hilarious contradictions in politics, rhetoric and argument really do make my day. It tickles me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Labour HQ staff considering strike action

Strikes huh? Great fun for all involved no doubt, but it's not just BAA staff in the private sector that are rumbling these days, word reaches me that the committed personnel of Labour Party staff at 39 Victoria Street are also getting restless.

Why you might ask. Well, remember way back before the election in April 2009, during the selection process for the rotten borough safe seat of Erith and Thamesmead, a ballot box from the vote that was stored in a cupboard in Victoria Street was found to have ripped up ballot papers in it?

Accusations and allegations flew around at the time that some sort of dirty tricks campaign was going on in, possibly, so it was alleged, to parachute Lord (Philip) Gould's daughter Georgia into the seat.

The row intensified in September when it emerged that Labour's general secretary Ray Collins, wanted to collect DNA samples from HQ staff to uncover who had been tampering with the ballot box, using home DNA testing kits sourced from the Internet.

The staff's trade union got involved at this point it seems, and told the Labour Party top bods that they wouldn't be cooperating with voluntary private dna testing. Which is fair enough, although ironic given the official line from Labour for the last decade on DNA has been "nothing to hide, nothing to fear", but there you go.

Anyhow, that was all in the past, long forgotten you'd think, but no, it seems it may be about to rear its ugly head again. You see, it appears that the staff have now learned that after refusing to play the DNA game, the top bods in the party contacted the police and invited them to investigate the internal machinations of "ballotboxgate".

However, it's believed Inspector Knacker turned down the invite, essentially saying it wasn't a criminal matter and so was nothing to do with them. The staff, having discovered that the upper echelons were still considering them all guilty and were considering coercing them with the police after they refused to cooperate with voluntary testing are now said to be "angry" and "feel let down" by the General Secretary. The result of which is that they're considering strike action in response.

Now wouldn't that be hilariously funny? Labour Party staff striking because their employer was a rogue bastard. Actually the irony would be more delicious than a very delicious thing chocked full with extra MSG.

There's no word on when this might, or if it will happen, but whoever wins the leadership may find that their first test is not taking the fight to the Coalition over the deficit reduction plan, but instead popping along to ACAS because the party they lead have industrial relations problems.

Mind you, they'd have to be a ballot for them to be able to strike over an investigation into ballot rigging. This could actually get even funnier to watch. Pass the popcorn!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not changing the clocks is against the law

So, David Cameron has, in true silly season style, started talking about changing the UK to be on British Summertime permanently, thereby increasing the length of evenings and meaning we don't have to change put our clocks forward or back twice a year. Inevitably the Scottish are pissed off about this because it means kids would have to go to school in the dark.

Here's what the Daily Express thinks about it,
That headline needs a correction though, it should read.
Why do I say that? Well that's simple. It's the law!

Please jump in my time machine back to 2002 when Alan Johnson MP, writing on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, to Bob Russell MP said,

The start and end dates of summer time are harmonised across EC member states through a European Directive. The Directive stipulates that, in each member state, clocks are put forward annually by one hour during the period between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October.
This was repeated almost word for word in 2008 by Pat McFadden.

Does anyone think Cameron is really going to kick off a fight with the Scots and a fight with the EU on this, because I don't. You can't be on BST all year round basically.

This story reoccurs over and over again, and it's sure does help get "X thousand jobs to go as cuts kick in" off the front pages during the slow news month of August doesn't it?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Replacing myself with shell scripts

I've been pretty lax of late with the blog, this has been because of one of those busy periods at work where I have new projects coming out of my ears and need to concentrate on making things work automagically thereby giving me more time for the important things in life. Apologies.

This will be the only post of the day and possibly the rest of the week. Needless to say I'm sure everyone will enjoy looking at the "spending over £5000" document released by Eric Pickles and there will be much mirth and outrage at the use of taxis and spending on fancy food.

As you read such outrage remember this. Much of this information has been in the public domain for years because of written Parliamentary questions but when the economy was having a good times no one seemed to give a crap about it.... well no one except the anoraks like me that trawled Hansard.... I'm not bitter though.

Now I must run, I have to replace myself with a small shell script, then I'll be back.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Headline of the Day

Why wait? Why not just get on and do it!

I'm sure I'm alone in just not seeing the quote marks and am thusly going to Hell.

Confusion of the Day

Perhaps it's because it's Monday morning but excuse me for being a little confused by something. So, there's been much hand wringing and moaning on about Naomi Campbell and the fact she was given some blood diamonds allegedly from Charles Taylor (African dictator/freedom fighter depending on your political viewpoint).

The issue at hand appears to be that blood diamonds are terribly wrong because they're basically mined in a war zone and then used to fund the war itself.

Now here's the confusion. If Charles Taylor had just given Naomi Campbell a big fat wad of cash would it have been considered a terrible issue? Likewise, if you fund a war by using used bank notes why is that not considered in the same light as using a lump of what is essentially coal to fund it?


Update: Am not asking why there is a focus on the diamonds, rather I'm wondering why using diamonds to fund a war is any worse than just using cash.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Tom Harris - attack site

Always knew visiting Tom Harris's blog was dodgy :-)

Note: Firefox appears to be hit and miss sporadically blocking it.

Hat Tip: Anna Racoon

Update II: Google cache version looks like a bit of a hack

I bet there's a website for that somewhere....

Click Image For Larger Version

Where's the Register?

Perhaps I'm being impatient, and perhaps some bag carrier will come along in the comments and explain that I'm an ignorant fool for not understanding the procedures of Parliament, but does anyone know where the new Register of Members' Interests actually is?

The last time any information was published, that I can find at least, was April 2010 before the election. We've had a new Government since then and a Queens Speech opening Parliament, yet knowing what all the newbies interests are seems to be missing.

Given the complete disgrace of the expenses scandal you'd think that getting the information about who has vested interests where would be something that might be put online quickly to help restore some trust. Then again, perhaps I;m being thick and it's going to be published after conference season?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Parish Notice

All, blogging will be light this week due to work getting in the way. It's the silly season anyway, so it's not like there's much going on anyway.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Quote of the Day

David Miliband wins the award for making the most stupidest contradictory statement ever when he noted that David Cameron had,
in three unscripted appearances at press conferences [he] has gone off script
You have to pretty special to be able to utter those words, or perhaps it's a subtle confession that "unscripted" in the Miliband world actually means "totally controlled".

Hat Tip: Dave Osler