Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Saturday, 24 January 2009

No admissions

Famous last words and all that. Plenty of people have commented on the Gordon's claim that there'd be "no more boom and bust" and how we're now entering a bust having just left a boom. But don't expect his arch twatness to admit it:
In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Mr Brown was told by Evan Davis: "'Boom and bust' - it's been a phrase much associated with you; you're hanging your head as I even say the words."
He replied: "No, I'm not hanging my head at all."
Mr Davis said: "You must regret the emphasis, or almost the hubris in the way you spoke about 'ending boom and bust'?"
The Prime Minister said: "We were dealing with an inflation problem."
Mr Davis replied: "No, but you said you'd end boom and bust and we've had boom and bust. Just admit it, we've had boom and bust. On your watch, we've had boom and bust."
Mr Brown insisted: "I've got to be absolutely frank. We've been dealing with global financial failure."
Mr Davis said: "But it is boom and bust, isn't it?"
Mr Brown said: "It's quite different from anything we've dealt with before."
Mr Davis asked again: "It's boom and bust, isn't it?"
Mr Brown said to Mr Davis, a former BBC Economics Editor: "Evan, you can't spend your time doing television programmes describing the failure of markets, and describing how speculators, and how the lack of ...
Yawn zzzzzzz. Needless to say there was a fair bit more along the same lines and the mind numbing repetitive denial got on my tits. Suffice to say that anyone hoping for him to grow the balls to admit he failed and that the boom and bust he claimed to have consigned to history has happened after all, not just in spite of him but in part because of him, is in for a fucking long wait.


Young Liberals are illiberal

What is it with the word liberal these days? In the United States it's mutated into a word used insultingly by one bunch of authoritarian twats to describe the opposing bunch of authoritarian twats, or used proudly by the latter group of authoritarian twats to describe themselves. That both groups are authoritarian in various ways is evident. That they are also twats is shown by the fact that they can't read a fucking dictionary:

1. Showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; "a broad political stance"; "generous and broad sympathies"; "a liberal newspaper"; "tolerant of his opponent's opinions".
2. Having political or social views favoring reform and progress.
3. Tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition.
4. Given or giving freely; "was a big tipper"; "the bounteous goodness of God"; "bountiful compliments"; "a freehanded host"; "a handsome allowance"; "Saturday's child is loving and giving"; "a liberal backer of the arts"; "a munificent gift"; "her fond and openhanded grandfather".
5. Not literal; "a loose interpretation of what she had been told"; "a free translation of the poem".

1. A person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties.
2. A person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets.
I didn't see "unpleasant bossy bastard who takes it upon themselves to set everyone else rules to live by" anywhere in there. However, I can accept that the English language can change over time and that in a political context "liberal" can now mean simply "someone who is not a conservative". Except in Australia of course, where the Liberal Party are in fact the conservatives. At least I think so - John Howard didn't seem particularly liberal to me, and neither do the Young Liberals:
THE Young Liberals are proposing nine months of compulsory national service to be completed before the age of 24 and which people will not be able to dodge by going to university.
Participants would receive a social security payment and an accommodation allowance if their service required them to live away from home. The plan, to be put at the Young Liberals' national conference in Canberra this weekend, is not restricted to the military. Young Australians could complete their service in overseas aid programs. Or they could serve in hospitals, old-age homes and other community organisations.
Well, there's nothing quite like forcing people against their will to serve in the military or some bloaty NGO, though fucking off overseas to work for an NGO seems fashionable at the moment so the take-up might be mostly along those lines if this nasty idea were ever to become a reality. Begs the question how compulsory it is if people were going to do it anyway, or how voluntary it is really is if the government were going to force you into it if you weren't going on your own. Hopefully it won't:
n 2006, NSW Young Labor, Australia's largest political youth group, proposed a similar idea for compulsory national service to be completed before graduation from high school, similar to a scheme operating in Sweden. It included a provision that it could be served in the community or foreign aid sectors.
However, current president Matthew Walton said Young Labor was not supportive of the idea. He said he would like to know when the Liberal Party threw away its commitment to personal choice and personal liberty.
Good question mate. But in a country where local politics can literally involve throwing shit I'm surprised that nobody has simply called the Young Liberals a bunch of nasty, illiberal little bastards.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The nanny state fucking drives me to drink

Millions are risking their health by having a glass or two of wine according to the Nanny State.
A comprehensive survey claims that middle aged, professional Britons are more likely to exceed recommended daily levels of alcohol consumption than the working-classes, with twice as many drinking every night of the week.
The Government-dictated safe limit is three to four units a day for men, or two to three for women.
The fucking what? The Government-dictated limit? So they've sent doctors and scientists around to everybody to work out exactly how much they can safely drink, and by the most monumental fucking coincidence it turns out that it's almost the same for everyone depending only on gender. Of course they fucking haven't. They just got a board of big nosed cunts with medical degrees to pull a number out of their collective arsehole* and present it to the government of the day, and which has been used as a tool to lecture people by every fucking government since. And now it's a fucking diktat? Fuck off.

By the sounds of it this latest study has got square root of fuck all medical content as it was actually carried out by the Office of national Statistics. It's a fairly safe bet that the statisticians involved are experts on numbers and statistics but pretty weak on medicine and the long term effects of alcohol on the human body, so it's probably also a safe bet that they simply took the "safe limits" as a given and went from there. Now if that's right then fair enough. But if it's wrong, if the limits are far wider than between 3 and 4 units a day for men and 2-3 for women, then the foundation on which the study is based is about as strong as the head on a pint of Guinness.

But really that's not the point of the exercise is it? Like cigarettes if the government really gave a shit about the health issues they'd just classify it alongside pot or another illegal drug, but whether left or right, Tory or Labour, they're always far more addicted to the revenue than the most irredeemable alcoholic is to grog (or any smoker to nicotine for that matter). It's just a fucking pretence of caring thinly covering up a desire to poke and pry into people's lives, and regulate and tax and regulate and tax and regulate and tax and.....

I don't want to understate the effects of long term alcohol abuse, and I've had a couple of family members drink themselves into early graves so I don't want to understate the effects it can have on other people either. It ain't nice and it's bloody upsetting to lose someone you care about deeply because they couldn't leave the bloody bottle alone. But you just can't tell people how to live their lives whether you're their family or a government mouthpiece. That particular cure is worse than the disease.

* I couldn't remember where I'd seen it before, but fortunately Devil's Kitchen rants on the same topic and had a link.

Stupid law

Elavi Dowie is a criminal. He has been caught not once but twice, and the enormity of this is so shocking it's probably worth sitting down, standing around in Manchester selling CDs. This guy actually had the temerity to stand in one place committing his crimes for hours at a time, and clearly this is too much of an affront to civilised society for the authorities to ignore.
Manchester City Council spent £3,000 on prosecuting Elavi Dowie, 31, for twice breaching a 19th century law on street trading.
The law allows traders to spend up to 20 minutes on the city's Market Street. But CCTV footage proved that on one occasion Mr Dowie was hawking CDs of his music for 35 minutes, while on another he stood at the same spot for several hours.
Seriously, what the fuck is the point of this? First there's the ridiculous arbitrary limit implying that 19 minutes and 59 seconds is fine and 20 minutes and 1 second isn't. Why? The average branch of HMV doesn't move at all and trades for a good 9 hours a day or more, yet nobody fines them for it. Is this just because Mr Dowie is getting away without paying rates because he has no premises? I wouldn't be at all surprised.

A spokesman [for Manchester City Council] said: " ... Mr Dowie's activities were illegal and we have a duty to protect consumers, particularly during the current economic climate.
"Consumers who buy products from illegal street traders are unlikely to get their money back if they make a complaint."
And what happened to caveat emptor? And how come car boot sales are allowed given that you're not going to get your money back there if you accidentally buy a shitter? I'm not denying that Mr Dowrie was breaking a law, but what a stupid fucking law.
He said after the case: "I was basically going up to people in the street and explaining to them about my music. The CD only cost £1 and people were willing to buy it."
Yeah, ok, I do get annoyed by people coming up to me when I'm out and about and start trying to sign me up for a gym or flog me an aircon unit or whatever, but if blanking them doesn't work then a polite no usually does. And if all else fails a good solid "piss off" will be effective, though personally I prefer to fake interest and waste as much of their time as possible before walking off. But here's the thing: while Mr Dowrie may have annoyed some people I think it's safe to assume he didn't force anyone to buy a CD (and being only a quid it's not a big deal if it turned out not to be that flash). And where's it written down that we're all guaranteed not to be annoyed when we go out? What Mr Dowrie was doing was little different in effect from legal street traders, charity collectors, and any number of clipboard wielding pests doing market research.

Did no-one ever think that maybe prosecuting someone for something really fucking trivial under a piece of antique legislation might not have been in the public interest, not to mention a world class waste of time and money and a potential PR embarrassment? I reckon this boils down to a bunch of twats being shitty just because they can. The fact that the cost of bringing the case was three grand and Elavi Dowrie was only fined 300 just goes to show that they're useless shitty twats as well.

MPs to show expenses. Or not. Maybe. Who knows really?

First the High Court says that MPs have to publish their expenses in detail so the public can be sure they're not taking the piss. Then the government decides they're really not to keen on the idea of transparency, and having spent so long avoiding any efforts at open government there was now way they were going to start now. So a little legal jiggling and the problem would go away, and it ought to go through because the wicked Tories are just bound to have their snouts in the trough as well, right? But just to be on the safe side a three line whip of Labour MPs will make damn sure of it and they release the news among a load of more interesting headlines. Next, oops! A load of people got wound up, a Facebook group was started protesting it, a LibDem MP tabled an early day motion criticizing it, blogs were blogged and the media meeded. And in spite of the three line whip making it a dead cert Gordon Clown, showing his usual appetite for a battle, backed down. But now it seems that not much has changed after all:
MPs will still not have to volunteer full details of their expenses despite yesterday's U-turn by Gordon Brown, under reforms being voted on by the Commons today.
Proposals from Leader of the House Harriet Harman would merely mean spending being routinely published under 26 broad categories, according to campaigners.
A spokesman for Ms Harman confirmed they would not lead to receipt-by-receipt information on spending being routinely published.
So no real gain in transparency. No real guarantee that seeing, say, "Office Equipment - £5000" doesn't include a big fucking plasma screen for the idle narcissistic bastards to watch interviews of themselves on. Beneath contempt.
The Commons has already spent more than £1million dealing with 1.2million receipts. Insiders said their publication was still expected to take place by July.
Miss Harman said: ‘We didn’t think it was right there should be 1.2million receipts, every single receipt for every ream of paper that’s bought, should be scanned and then published because it would be a blizzard of information at great expense.’
Presumably I didn't need to bother keeping all the receipts for my last UK tax return? I could have just said that I'd already spent 500 quid dealing with nearly 600 receipts, and on that basis they should fuck off? It all seems so simple now. Oh, it doesn't apply to ordinary people? Just those extra special people being employed by ordinary people to represent them in Parliament? Oh bugger. Well, fair enough I suppose. It's not like any of them look dodgy.

Fucking hypocrites.

I work in the land Down Under

Also in the Daily Wail, and like me here in Australia, is Mat Taylor. Mat Taylor is a very clever guy. Before emigrating to Australia he was the finance chief at Fenland District Council in Cambridgeshire, and now he's, er, well he's sort of still the finance chief at Fenland District Council except he works (presumably from home) in Adelaide. Via a Skype video call. Once a week. And gets 20 grand.

Well I don't blame him for moving to Australia. I don't even blame him for moving to Adelaide, which by all accounts is a very nice city and a bit more affordable than it is here in Melbourne. He's a very lucky man. Lucky because if he was in Melbourne I'd be tempted to find out where and piss in his letter box. And lucky, not to say a fucking supergenius, for persuading the stupid cunts on the council to let him work one day a week from 10000 miles away and be paid the same pro rata. Adelaide isn't going to be hard to love when you're getting $42000 a year and six days a week to enjoy it.

As the Pythons put it, you lucky, lucky bastard.

Edit: The Australian's take on it here.

The latest at the Rock

From the Daily Wail (yes, I know):
Disgraced bank Northern Rock will tomorrow lavish £9million in bonuses on its staff - simply for repaying part of its bail-out loan from the Government on time.
The taxpayer-funded handout - equivalent to £2,000 for each worker - was labelled ‘crass’ and ‘indefensible’ last night.
Well surprise surfuckingprise. Northern Rock has been state owned for hardly any time and already the taxpayers are having their hard earned thrown around for a fucking weak reason. Of course these days we expect "equivalent to £2,000 each" to mean 10p for the teaboys and a fortune for the boss, and I did think it was going to be more of the same. But I forgot that with NuLab running it things might be a bit different.
The payout, which applies to all 4,400 staff at the Rock, is only the first stage in an incentive scheme that could see the state-owned bank pay more than £50million to its workers over the next few years.
On an average salary of around £20,000, this equals a bonus of £2,000. Staff can also look forward to another 10 per cent bonus in 2010 and 15 per cent in 2011 if the bank repays its government loan on schedule.
A fourth bonus, worth 25 per cent, will follow for lucky workers if the bank leaves state ownership and is successfully returned to the private sector.
For a worker on £20,000, this means total bonus payments of around £12,000.
Fuck me. I bet the Northern Rock staff must be wishing it had gone tits up and turned them into public sector employees ages ago. Don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go at the staff, who after all must have expected P45s not so very long ago. But it seems that the government have taken it over with no more idea of how to run the fucking thing than the previous lot. I mean Christ, by all means pay everyone bonuses but after the fucking business is making money, eh? And not just for settling up part of a debt on time. How many people get a bonus from their mortgage lender for paying an instalment on time? No one.

Still, at least the new boss isn't getting a big fat lump of cash as well... oh hang on, what did that bit say further up?
The Rock’s new boss Gary Hoffman, 47, who is one of Britain’s best-paid civil servants on a basic salary of £700,000, is also in line for a super-size handout.
Jesus suffer and fuck, he's barely been there long enough for his arse to make a dent in the chair. The best that can be said is that he and the other senior execs aren't getting their bonuses right away, and that's really not much. So typical of both a badly run bank and a government project - money being hosed around all over the show for very little at all.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Children's Minister: Home education 'may be cover for abuse'

Baroness Morgan, the Children's Minister, said home teaching could be a "cover for abuse" in extreme cases.
On the other hand home teaching could also be a way of getting your kids out of a shit house school where they're learning fuck all of any use and giving them a fucking education at home. I'm sure the thought occurred to you Baroness Morgan, but aside from making unfavourable headlines for you and your government what you really want is an excuse to go poking and prying around people who've decided to take the state out of their child's life. Fuck off, you big nosed bitch.


From the Devil's Kitchen:
These fake fucking charities are springing up left, right and centre: see a pro-state charity quoted in the MSM and the odds are that the "charity" is, in fact, little more than a QUANGO. This fake charity will derive a large part of their funds—our money—from the government whose measures it is supporting.

I am thoroughly sick of this: there are so many of them. And, whilst various bloggers have highlighted different ones at different times, I think that it would be a splendid idea to establish a central website—an up-to-date, searchable directory of these fake charities—which people can visit to determine easily and quickly which charities are funded with our cash, and by how much.

I have registered the domain and will set up and style a content management system framework over the next week or so.

Genius idea. That's being added to my bookmarks.

Guilty until proven innocent

Also in the Telegraph, a minor win for the little guy. Another driver has demolished the case against him for speeding by proving that the car isn't capable of the speed that he was supposedly caught at (and if memory serves this isn't the first time someone's shown that Mr Plod's speed gun technology is nowhere near as reliable as it's claimed). But it's not all good news (my emphasis):
Dale Lyle, 21, said he was surprised when he was told a mobile speed camera had clocked him at nearly 100mph in his 1.3 litre Honda Civic.
He contested the case and magistrates told him to provide evidence to support his claim.
The problem is, still, that for motoring offences the burden of proof is reversed. I admire Mr Lyle for not being the pushover that most motorists are when given a ticket*. He'd sold the car but bought it back and had it tested to prove that it wasn't capable of the 98mph he'd been accused of, but that cost him twenty times what rolling over and paying the fine would have been. And now he's got to try and recoup that from somewhere - court, police, CPS, camera partnership... who should pay him back? And what are the odds that they'll blame each other and generally wriggle like hell to avoid any of them compensating Mr Lyle for having to waste money defending himself against a false accusation. Fairly fucking high I reckon:
A CPS spokesman said: "...Any recompense is a matter between the defendant and the court."

*Okay, Dale Lyle was fortunate in being accused of a speed he knew damn well his car was unable to achieve, and since that probably doesn't happen too often most people getting a speeding ticket have absolutely no way of proving themselves innocent and are therefore fucked. This would have a Thank Fuck I Left The UK label but for the fact that it's more or less the same here.

How thick do they think people are?

Now children, does anyone know what this is? Yes, it's toilet paper. So hands up who can tell me how to wipe their arses.

I reckon it's not beyond the realm of possibility that a teacher in the UK might end up asking a class (almost) exactly that in the not too distant future. After all North Staffs is wanking away about GBP 700,000 over the next five years on the assumption that parents there are utterly incapable of teaching their kids how to brush their teeth, so it's not too much of a stretch to think that the kids will all be sent to school with cacky drawers as well. I'm all in favour of schools teaching life skills as well as the regular academic stuff, and actually I think they don't do enough of it, but come on... how to use a toothbrush? It's not rocket science and could safely be left to the parents except on the odd occasion where a teacher might notice that a particular child hasn't been taught properly or at all. Then, and only then, the teacher could talk to the child about it, maybe involve the school nurse (if there are still school nurses - I don't know actually), and maybe show them how to brush their teeth in private so they don't get the piss ripped out of them by their classmates. However, I recognise that the problem with that is it's leaving it up to the initiative of individual teachers, which must surely go against government policy which appears to be to discourage any individual initiative in anyone and everyone. Plus even the slightest hint of extra curricular interest in a child is probably enough to get a teacher labelled as a paedo these days so in modern Britain I wouldn't be surprised if there would be no intervention until a child's teeth had actually turned blue and their breath was setting off the school smoke detectors.

Fuck's sake!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Bikini babe sailors and feminist outrage

Newsflash - humourless feminists go nuts over Navy officer's interview (also reported in the UK media here and here and probably a few others I couldn't be arsed to google for). The Age:
Feminists are calling for action to be taken after an Australian Navy submarine commander suggested that women sailors in bikinis would help boost recruitment.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Commander Tom Phillips from the HMAS Farncomb was asked by a men's magazine if "female sailors all had to be hot and had to wear bikinis, would that help recruitment?".
Commander Phillips is quoted as replying: "It would certainly get the right demographic of young men in. I'm not sure how feasible it is."
Defence Minister Warren Snowden said the comments were "utterly unacceptable".
Chair of the Women's Lobby Australia, Eva Cox, said the comments reflected the "Navy's limited view of women as bodies rather than brains", the Telegraph reported.
Eva, the guy was interviewed by a lad's mag, who asked him a typical albeit inane and laddish question. It was also a fairly leading question and the response shouldn't be too surprising. Actually I felt it was a fairly balanced answer. He did not say that he thought it was a good idea to have female sailors in bikinis, just that it would appeal to a certain demographic, presumably testosterone laden men in their late teens and early twenties, who are also desired by the RAN for other reasons. Oh, and how did the second bit go again?
I'm not sure how feasible it is.
Sounds like he has some reservations about actually putting into practice. Eva, fuck off eh?

The Telegraph (UK rather than Sydney):
"If these comments are to be attributed to this newly appointed commander, I think it will go down as one of the shortest careers in naval history," MP Bob Baldwin said. Australia's Minister for Defence Personnel Warren Snowden told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that the remarks were "utterly unacceptable".
Bob, Warren, see above. And then fuck off.

I think the UK's Grauniad actually has the most balanced take on this:
Now then, the original Reuters story says he suggested female sailors "should" wear bikinis, which isn't quite true. If we scroll down the story we find that, in fact, he was asked by Ralph Magazine: "If female sailors all had to be hot and had to wear bikinis, would that help recruitment?"
Nice to see that someone spotted that it was Raplh's question that sparked the answer. On top of which I can't imagine that Commander Phillips was behind the interview or did it off his own back without clearing it through the appropriate Naval Headquarters and/or DoD in Canberra. I haven't bothered to check but I wouldn't be shocked if it turned out that it was an NHQ/DoD idea to get a senior officer to do a lad mag interview to help recruitment in the first place. At the least they could have easily put the kybosh on the idea if Commander Phillips was in fact the one who thought of it. So why is Phillips getting all the flak from the feminists and politicians? Why not throw some at the magazine for asking a puerile question? Why not chuck some in the direction of those who either approved or were behind it as well? Why not, getting down to the nitty gritty, give it some fucking thought instead of going after the easiest and most obvious target? I can see why feminists and politicians would be offended by a serious suggestion from a Navy officer that female sailors should all look like they're Baywatch extras, and rightly so because it would be ridiculous from pretty much any perspective, but that's not what happened. I feel that the feminist cause isn't being helped much here by the feminists themselves.

Mohammed Asha

So let's get this straight. This guy goes to Britain where he intends to work for the NHS as a neurosurgeon and, due to knowing a couple of people whose minds he was unable to read and who turned out to be a couple of religious nutcases, Asha is arrested, locked up, charged with funding terrorism because he lent them a few bob for (as far as he knew) rent, and finally tried. Now up to this point I kept an open mind and haven't got huge issues with what happened to Dr Asha. Maybe the evidence was a bit iffy, maybe there was enough to justify a trial... dunno to be honest as I was rather busy and didn't follow things as closely as I might have. But we all know what happened next - the jury cleared him of all charges and the judge had a pop at the police for one or two minor, trivial procedural matters (you know, things like grilling the poor bloke without his solicitor being there, nothing important), and he leaves court a free man. Well, actually a not-remotely-free man because the Home Office decided to deport Asha and to lock him up again while they fucked around with the paperwork.

Now I may have got facts slightly wrong here but my impression is that the Home Office had a kind of technically sound case for deportation. As someone living in a foreign country I'm aware that I must meet certain conditions and might be deported back to the north Atlantic shithole where I was born if I don't meet them. But let's be blunt about Dr Asha's situation - he wasn't able to meet his visa conditions because he was locked up in fucking Belmarsh. A just society would look at the root cause of why the visa conditions weren't met and act accordingly, say renew the visa and give the guy at least the same amount of time he spent behind bars to find another position in his field. Nobody can give him back the lost time, and since he apparently did know the terrorists who attacked Glasgow airport and had lent them money it could be argued that his arrest, imprisonment and trial was largely very, very bad luck. But having been cleared the slate should be wiped clean and Dr Asha allowed to get on with his life.

I'm glad to see that this now looks like it's going to happen.
A hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission decided he was not a threat to national security and released him on bail after hearing secret information behind closed doors.
The panel decided that he did not need to be electronically tagged and ordered only that he should report to a police station in Birmingham once a week and that an unspecified sureity should be paid.
Mr Justice Mitting said: "I do not impose any of the conditions customary. We express the view that it is not in the public interest that Dr Asha should be prevented by immigration considerations from resuming work in the National Health Service."
I still find it distasteful that he's still being treated as a criminal by having to pay bail and report to a local police station each week, but as the article says he's not being tagged and isn't considered a threat. And obviously it's a hell of a lot better than being stuck in a detention centre - a prison in all but name. But the thing is, if he isn't a threat then why bail? Why weekly appearances at the cop shop? As far as I can see it's solely because of the Home Office's determination to kick the guy out.
Rupert Jones, for the Home Office, said Dr Asha was a threat to national security and there was a substantial risk he would abscond if bailed.
Wakey wakey. A court has cleared him and an immigration tribunal says he's no threat. If you've got evidence to say otherwise would it not have been a good idea to bring it up at his trial? Or charge him with something else? Failing that we're left with the conclusion that there's more or less fuck all and you're flushing the principle of presumed innocence down the fucking bog along with all the other freedoms that you government cunts find so fucking inconvenient to live with.

Oh, and just to show that the UK is not alone in having some world class shits have a look at the story of Australia's Dr Asha, a guy by the name of Dr Mohamed Haneef. If anything it's worse than what happened to Dr Asha. Funnily enough Dr Haneef seems less than keen on coming back to Oz to practise medicine. Can't imagine why. Actually to be serious I can't imagine why Dr Asha still wants to work in the UK after his treatment there, though if the Home Orifice is anything to go by there's no fucking shortage of brains that badly need fixing.

Friday, 16 January 2009

You've moved abroad - here's your NI bill

Last year I completed my last tax return for HM Revenue and Customs and, after a couple of international phone calls explaining that I was no longer a UK resident and had zero plans to return, put a note on it somewhere explaining that I was gone for good and expected to be thoroughly milked by the Australian Tax Office in future and wasn't really up for paying tax in Britain as well. I think there was a form to be posted back as well since I'm sure there was one particular hoop to jump through which couldn't be done online. I also included my address here in Oz in case they wanted to check my return or get proof that I'd left the UK. Months went by and I heard nothing, so I assumed that it was all sorted. Until yesterday when a bill for about $200 (sorry, no pound sign) of NI contributions landed on the mat. The silly bastards had clearly put my address in the system so the NI Contributions Office knew where to send it, but after another international call it turned out that they hadn't actually mentioned that I'd emigrated. I can't blame the NI people for not being mind readers, and since there are plenty of ex-pats who do keep paying NI it's not an unreasonable assumption that I would be as well. Actually it is an unreasonable assumption and a letter/email asking me to clarify it would have been a good move, but it's probably not realistic to hope for anything so sensible.

Although the lady I spoke to in the NI Contributions Office was both (a) intelligent enough to understand the situation instantly (b) knowledgeable enough to know how to deal with it and (c) good humoured enough not to mind that I said I'd rather barbecue myself than go back to the UK, the whole one-hand-doesn't-know-what-the-fuck-the-other-is-doing experience does strike me as sadly typical of things in the UK. On the plus side she told me that I'd overpaid slightly so after some more form filling I should be due a small rebate, perhaps enough for a slab of beer I'd guess. I'll be raising one to the nameless NI lady as being the first tax/NI person I've spoken to in nearly two decades of work in the UK who really had their shit together. For the rest... well I'm going to need the toilet again before the evening is out.


Priceless. I'm prepared to believe Ed Balls when he says that there's an excuses culture in some schools, but I wonder if the twat has given five minutes thought as to where it's fucking come from.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Black is white

Awarding Tony Blair a medal of freedom George W Bush said "this man believes in freedom". The UK has one of the most (possibly the most) watched and surveilled societies in the western world, and to a large extent this was achieved during Blair's time as PM. At the same time the freedom to protest outside Parliament has been lost and anti terrorist and organized crime legislation is used more to bully ordinary citizens than for its stated purpose.

Believes in freedom my arse.

Lazy Exile

Funny thing about habits. It's not to hard to develop a habit of not doing something that used to be pretty habitual. Hence after a week or so when I was just too busy, a couple of weeks where I was really quite a laid back and happy exile, a short stay in hospital and a couple of months flat on my back recuperating and finally the holiday season, I've fallen out of the habit of getting angry enough to make time to write anything. So my somewhat late resolution to 2009 is to get back into that habit. And maybe quit smoking which should drive my anger levels to new heights.
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