Sunday, January 30, 2005

Shock! George W Bush is bigger than Jesus! (That must mean Jesus was a pretty short geezer).
The 101 dumbest moments in business awards for 2005.

I like this one:
"Hormel Foods is forced to recall 104,000 pounds of Stagg canned chilli— labeled "hearty beef with a kick of green chilies"— after the kick turns out to come instead from the ground-up parts of a plastic handheld calculator."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

OK, in response to a request from Balders... here it is. The egotistical old get of a Chairman apparently playing football. Don't ask me which one he is supposed to be (perhaps he's the figure running the touchline in the background)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Three days left before the transfer window slaps us in the face again and the disgrace that is our Chairman has spent less on new players than he has on his own fat salary. I know it is wrong to wish harm on people, but the thoughts I have about Ellis are only equalled by the same hateful thoughts I harbour about Thatcher.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The BNP accuse the Tories of playing the race card! Pot to kettle... come in please.

On a more positive note, the Philosophy Football (click on dissenters) people have produced a T-Shirt designed around an image of Great Britain and Ireland created from the names of almost 100 refugees from Isabelle Allende to Emile Zola who have made such a positive contribution to our culture. Less than a tenner... all profits to The Refugee Council.

Sandwell Council's Planning Committee are (once again) to consider an application to turn a pub in a residential area into an all-night casino. Once more into the battle, comrades. We live here and wdo not want this Casino.
Shurely Shome mistake! Shouldn't that be "Compulsory - Make the Tories History"

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Monday, January 24, 2005

I was never that hot at economics, but...

...I thought I understood the law of supply and demand. From the early 1980's the Tory Government's council house sales programme encouraged tenants to buy their council houses for whacking great discounts. Local authorities were not given the capital receipts to plough back into housing, and in any event, who was going to build new houses when they knew the tenants could buy them and leave the council with the debt. Building Works Direct Labour Organisations were privatised with compulsory tendering, did everything as cheaply and proftable as they could, and those houses that were not wanted by purchasers fell into decline. Councils governed by all three main parties started selling off whole estates (or their complete stock) to so-called social landlords who prided themselves on charging 'market rents' comparable to the private sector.

The result? Less houses for those on average to low incomes, greater demand for the 'Barretts Boxes" that were being built... house prices rise due to the shortage, making it even more difficult for those on low incomes to find somewhere to live. Followed by politicians from all three political parties making fatuous remarks and blaming each other. No doubt the construction companies and Rachmanite landlords are rubbing their hands in glee. Those who have got somewhere to live can feel smug about their rising property values... and the banks and building societies jump for joy in anticipation of those self same smug owners having to remortgage to try to get their kids on the property ladder. The economics of the madhouse.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Shock eh? Rat leaves sinking ship!

Just remember this... although a hung parliament is only in Cheesie Charlie's dreams
Letter in The Guardian:

"I'm delighted to answer Mr Smith's question about hung parliaments (Letters, January 19). I am quite clear that the Lib Dems will fight this election on an independent ticket. We will put forward our own policies for government and we would not prop up an unpopular Labour administration which had lost a three-figure majority.

But I am equally clear that there is no question of joining forces with the Conservatives. There is little in their emerging policy platform which I agree with, and there is an irrevocable divide between us on the issue of Europe. If you vote for the Lib Dems at the next election, you will vote positively for us; and I suggest that if there had been more Liberal Democrat MPs in this parliament, with a smaller Labour majority, our opposition could have averted the disastrous entanglement in Iraq."

Charles Kennedy
Leader, Liberal Democrats

Tell that to the Lib Dem voters in Birmingham who saw their votes go to a Lib Dem/Tory coalition!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Images from the war in Iraq (many of which are best not viewed on a full stomach) including some horric photographs taken after the 'liberation' of Fallujah.

.. and Robert Fisk provides the commentary.

Oh gawd...

Apparently Charles Clarke wants to educate young black people on "inclusive citizenship" so that they can learn about our national heritage. Should be interesting!
Tom's back... but will it last this time, or will he be further promoted after the next election and be forced to stop by those nasty whips?

Art or what? Join the debate at Occupied Country.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Lib Dem President Simon Hughes told Radio 5 this morning that it was not right for MPs to defect and that if they did they should resign their seat and fight a by-election. Hmmm. Does anyone remember the Liberal Democrats saying this when Paul Marsden and Emma Nicholson defected to them? (Via Lib Dem Watch)

Not to mention the Founders of their party, David Owen, Roy of the Radicals, Shirley Poppins and Bill Rogers, who all stood as Labour candidates and the switched to the SDP. Come on Hughes, vent your bile on them.

Monday, January 17, 2005

In an age of prima donna millionaire sportsmen, where even the mediocre whinge if they have to put their boots on for less than twenty grand, the sheer hard work, enthusiasm and genuine commitment of Matty Hoggard make him my nomination for Sportsman of the Year for 2005 whatever else happens in the next 11 months.

Lest we forget

On the day the Tories start their election campaign The Guardian has some photographs taken by Don McPhee in his 33 years in their Manchester office.

Battle of Orgreave

The summer of 1984 and the Miners Strike witnessed some of its most violent scenes as battle lines were drawn between the police and pickets at the Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Making ends meet

Striking miners pick coal from pit waste sites during the 1984 strike.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

OK... it's official... there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. All those palm trees hiding missile silos, lorries converted into rocket delivery systems, sattelite pictures displayed at the UN by Colin Powell, all absolute and total rubbish. It would appear that the people who didn't tell us in advance about the plot to crash aircraft into the World Trade Centre were the same incompetents who did tell us about weapons of mass destruction that didn't actually exist. Perhaps someone could give us a ballpark figure, to within a million pounds or so, of just how much money this country and the US spend on "Intelligence" every year.

Oh yes, could someone also tell us, if there were no chemical or biological weapons, exactly what did "Chemical" Ali do for a living?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The emerging Farmers' Market in Bearwood is back again this Saturday. If you are in the locality, give it your support. As featured on the excellent Big Barn website. (Type B67 into the postcode box to find us). Also, if you know a local (to us that is) vegetable producer who may want a stall... let me know.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Just why is this buffoon so upset about not being able to get diet coke?
"Brown wants something better than compassionate Conservatism. Blair does not." So says Roy Hattersley writing in The Guardian. Well it may or may not be true, but at least Hattersley attempts to explain some sort of ideological difference between Blair and Brown, whereas most of the chattering classes appear to define the split along the lines of: I want your job... You can't have it. If Gordon Brown is going to present a credible alternative to Tony Blair, then I would expect Labour Party members to want at least some explanation of the policy differences that divide them. I for one will not just accept Gordon Brown because he is not Tony Blair (although many might do so) or because he is "one of us". i.e. Labour not New Labour. I wouldn't expect Gordon Brown to articulate an opposition to the invasion of Iraq unless he was going to resign, but he has consistently showed himself to be a Chancellor close to the City of London and the US Treasury. Brown has pushed ahead with PFI even more fervently than the Major government, and it was Brown who argued for sticking to the Tory spending limits from 1997 when the first government lost much of the momentum created before the election. So, without more clear policy differences, the Jury is still out for me.

Letter in The Guardian:
If, to restart the peace process, photographic evidence was required of decommissioning, would it not also be in order to require photographic evidence of bank-robbing before abandoning the peace process (Raid was IRA's work, says chief constable).
Neil Hanson
Huddersfield, W Yorks

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Internment without trial for suspected bankrobbers? Not even Blunkett suggested that!

"..Neither Hugh Orde nor the Government has any interest in framing the republicans. On the contrary, this revelation is a source of acute embarrassment for the Prime Minister."

Leaving aside the fact that the British media, including the BBC who are not supposed to have a 'political' stance, have swallowed what Hugh Orde said about the IRA without a jot of supporting evidence, is it not also possible that other people may have a vested interest in 'fitting up' the IRA? Loyalists, of course, dissident republicans possibly... or the British Intelligence service, deeply wounded over Iraq and facing redundancy if their playground in Ireland is taken away? If Hugh Orde is basing his claims on the evidence of people who informed us that we could be under attack from non-existant weapons of mass destruction in less than an hour, should the media and the public not be reaching for a pinch of salt?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Supermarkets move into a thriving high street.. use their purchasing power to force the closure of the local greengrocers, bakers, butchers etc. ... and then get swallowed up by bigger chains or simply move on to an out of town green field hypermarket development. That is what is happening in our town of Bearwood. These companies have no commitment to the local community beyond extracting the maximum amount of profit from them. When Morrisons goes it will leave behind a shopping centre of charity shops, estate agents and fast food burger bars, with tumbleweed blowing down the street. Thanks very much George Monbiot on supermarkets.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Vodafone (annual profit 10 billion pounds) have donated onetenthousandth (one million pounds) to the Tsunami Disaster Appeal. BP gave 1.6 million pounds on a 9 billion pound profit. Puts those kids selling their Xmas presents to shame doesn't it... eh?
Disturbing rumours... (from Ophelia)
Steve at Occupied Country points out that Bob Geldolf has emphasised the distinction between "Acts of Nature" and the "Acts of Man"... i.e. the unavoidable and the clearly avoidable. For instance....

• Number of people who died of hunger on Boxing Day 2004*: 24,000
• Number of children killed by diarrhoea on Boxing Day 2004*: 6,020
• Number of children killed by measles on Boxing Day 2004*: 2,700
• Number of malnourished children in developing countries: 149 million
• Number of people without access to safe drinking water: 1,100 million
• Number of people without access to adequate sanitation: 2,400 million
• Number of people living on less than one dollar a day: 1,200 million
• Number of African children under 15 living with HIV: 1.1 million
• Number of children without access to basic education: 100 million
• Number of illiterate adults: 875 million
• Number of women who die each year in pregnancy and childbirth: 515,000
• Annual average number of people killed by drought and famine 1972-96: 73,606
• Annual average number of children killed in conflict, 1990-2000: 200,000
• Annual average number of children made homeless by conflict, 1990-2000: 1.2 million
*Assuming annual deaths were evenly spread.
(statistics from New Internationalist)

Let us all hope that Jeb Bush's appearance on the international stage is not an indication of things to come.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I've been a bit lax with the blogging after celebrating the New Year watching the incredible Steve Ajao playing blues to cry for. Steve is better known as a superb jazz saxophonist, but also plays wonderful Hendrix-style blues guitar. His solo version of Robert Johnson's Crossroads and John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillun which started off solo and finished off Hooker and Heat style were truly breathtaking... and Foxy Lady and Hey Joe were fitting tributes to Jimi. A great, great night and the Bathams flowed freely... Oh, my head.