Rice adviser: ‘The biggest stupid idea was to invade Iraq in the first place.’

OMG really? Think Progress » Rice adviser: ‘The biggest stupid idea was to invade Iraq in the first place.’

I often wonder how things might have played out differently if our weak-brained PM wasn't such a poodle to Bush and hadn't joined in with the madness...

huh? wha?

People actually bought music from Yahoo! music and from Sony and from MSN?

Yahoo Music buyers are approaching the DRM pain barrier | Technology | guardian.co.uk

and talking about Big Brother...

[Officers are looking for "community-minded" people to watch 26 cameras in three Dorset police stations.]

hey! this would be a great job for all those people that the government wants to get off incapacity benefits. They can sit at home and spy on the rest of us for their benefit payments. Yay!

Big Brother at its lowest eBB as ratings slump

Well I haven't been watching it this year. I know there's two good looking male model types and another good looking ginge bloke. There's a Thai girl who wears glasses... a blind guy, an albino, and some girls - I never know who the girls are because they only choose a certain type who are pretty interchangeable in terms of looks and personality.

I've not watched it this year for just about all the reasons they go through in this article. That and the fact that these days, broadly speaking - there are exceptions, I'm just not interested in this generation of 20 year olds.

It's a prog. that's well past it's sell by date and they've exhausted all their ideas for the format now. Watching people humiliate themselves by wearing stupid costumes - or else sit around being bored - is boring in itself.

Come to think about it - the only times I've enjoyed the show is when Housemates have rebelled against Big Brother. But nothing like that has happened for years. That might say something about the times we live in... that any resistance to everything is now easily squashed... this should worry us.

Big Brother at its lowest eBB as ratings slump | The Sun

Surprise in the post for illegal music downloaders

The big six hey? BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB, and Carphone Warehouse. Ummmmm. I can predict that other, currently less well know ISPs are going to going to start pulling ahead in new subscribers once the big six start criminalising their customers. It's like the corporations have joined together to become their own worst enemy, and forgotten where their money comes from.

Other related musings:

How many years has it been and yet the music biz still hasn't cottoned on that a sound file isn't as compelling a thing to own as a physical object - a vinyl record - a CD - a cardboard sleeve. (But somehow CDs were only rarely nicely packaged - that's were the rot really took hold - long before mpgs and the internets.) So people aren't ever going to want to pay anywhere near as much for them.

The cat really got out of the bag when it became common knowledge how badly the music biz were/are still treating their non-A list artists. Once someone knows how little a share of the sale price goes to the original artist - it's always shocking. Now the internet is here - artists don't have to sell their souls to the giant labels anymore - they can be their own producers and distributers and keep a greater proportion of their profits etc.

Surprise in the post for illegal music downloaders

Cory Doctorow on how
Copyright enforcers should learn lessons from the war on spam

Dont Throw Away Your Capitalism Just Yet - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog

Dont Throw Away Your Capitalism Just Yet - Freakonomics


Nouveau poor watch 4

Never too posh to pawn: From diamonds to antiques - how the upper crust are coping with the credit crunch.


Private companies paid 'bounty' for every jobless they get into work, but Tories claim it's another stolen idea

Eeeerrr... what's really stolen is that it's another stupid unworkable idea from America.

And taking a function that used to be done by the state - (on a shoe string) -privatising it - and it then suddenly costing a magnitude of times more for much worse results. But a least a small handful of people who are close pally-pal matey-mates with the top MPs - get even more obscenely wealthy. Up until the point further down the line when it will turn out they've been fiddling the books - or been up to some other 'hands-caught-in-the-till' fraud stuff. Which will have to bailed out and paid for by the taxpayer. Leaving the unemployed - their 'clients' in a far worse state than if they'd jus left well alone.

I can see this coming - why can't anyone else?

Private companies paid 'bounty' for every jobless they get into work, but Tories claim it's another stolen idea | Mail Online

Trying to do some joined up thinking...

...because our politicians certainly can't be relied upon to do such a thing...

So the Govt. is going to 'reform' the welfare system (yet again).
It effectively intends to punish the long term unemployed by making them do community service (much in the same way criminals are punished when they've done wrong) and intends to get a million or two off long term incapacity benefits and into work. (Like there aren't already more than enough socially dysfunctional mentally-ill, depressed people in all but name, already in work making life miserable for the rest of us. You know the sort I mean. Like Taxi-drivers, Traffic wardens...)

Except of course - no one is bothering to ask were these extra one or two million or even more jobs are going to magically appear from. For instance - local councils up and down the country are always pleading poverty (despite how they consistently raise council rate rates year in, year out) and when they're not currently laying off staff are suffering from strikes were many council workers are finding their wages just aren't enough for them to live on. So are they going to provide these extra jobs? Seems unlikely.

Not to mention we're at a point in time when the unemployment levels are already rising and look set to continue. There's a whole part of the equation being over looked - the bit where there is so much unemployment is because - there simply aren't enough jobs to go round. Duh.

As for the sorts of jobs available - that's changed so much over the past 30 or so years. There used to be mining - coal and steel - that's all but gone. Manufacturing - we used to make stuff and sell things to the world, but China and India does most of that now. For the past few years people have been selling each other their homes at ever increasing prices - but that's stalled now. I know many areas have been letting Land developers build more and more luxury houses and flats for millionaires to buy - but that's turned into a fiasco. I guess there's still a lot of people being on the phone selling 'consolidation loans', debt relief packages, insurance of one sort or another, to each other... but i don't know how long that can go on. I suppose there's always the NHS and care work looking after our increasingly elderly population... or even child care - that's looking after the children of the single mother who's been forced to get a job instead of staying home to look after the child herself she now has to go to work to earn the money she now needs to pay the child-minder... oh and working for the DSS, who'll soon be going mad trying to put these hare-brained reform schemes into operation.

(Job creation UK style.)

Of course another inconvenient, barely mentioned fact is that there are more people in working poverty than there are claiming benefits, and even this doesn't take in to account the millions of working families having to claim 'tax credits' to top up their meager wages - which effectively subsidizes employers and only encourages low pay. (I happen to believe if any company can't afford to pay it's employees a decent living wage then it simply has no business doing business and it deserves to close.) As for most casual 'benefit cheats' those who work and claim benefits - again this is more often due to dodgy businesses not paying their staff - for whatever reason a decent wage - so again the state ends up subsidizing poverty pay. However, when it's done legally - it's called 'tax credits' when illegally it's 'benefits cheating' - when it's a Department of Work and Pensions scheme - it's 'incentive payments' or something equally stupid sounding.

What's more no one is bothering to mention that maybe, just possibly maybe one of the reasons there are welfare cheats in the first place is that the benefits paid out are just way, way too low to actually live on. Gas and electricity prices have shot up the past couple of years - everyone knows food prices have gone up. Dole money hasn't though.

(There was a time when one working class man's wages could support a whole family - with the wife staying at home to do all the domestic stuff. A middle class man could do the same and keep servants. Nowadays it takes two people in full time employment to earn a living wage. Although a lot of domestic drudgery has been eased by things like washing machines, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens etc.)

Whatever - it's become the dogma that having a job - any job, no matter how low-paid, miserable or totally useless seems to be the magic answer to all life's problems. Rather than it being the start of a lot of problems.

So I ask again where are these new jobs going to come from? - because no Government since the 1970s has had much luck with job creation schemes.

Maybe they have plans to split the unemployed into two groups have one where they employ them on short term contracts to oversee the other half doing these lame-ass community work schemes - and when their contracts run out - they'll employ the other half of the unemployed to oversee the newly-made unemployed when they end up having to do their work-for-dole jobs. That could work. It'd be the equivalent of hiring one person to dig a hole and then someone else to fill it in again... but that doesn't seem to matter. So long as the official figures look good and the next batch of politicians can stand up and read them out in Parliament - "double plus good - the chocolate ration is to be increased..."

(Come to think of it - being a Politician seems to be an enormously cushy job. It's all just wearing suits and talking utter rubbish. Couldn't there be a bit more room made for a few thousand more drawn from the long term jobless?)

...and this brings us to the real reason behind all this - it all boils down to trying to win votes. The same way through the late 70s and 80s the Conservatives managed to poach votes from the working class ('here, vote for us and we'll sell your the council home you're already renting - for cheap' etc.) - Labour is poaching the votes from the nasty, small minded, mean-spirited, cruel hearted, vicious, Daily Mail/Telegraph reading little Englander who usually votes Tory. Which is why our two main political parties are becoming indistinguishable from one another. There's no vision any more - just a pandering to the general public and cynical poll chasing.

Other people wot do write better about stuff than I do...

Polly Toynbee:
"Labour's sin-eater has now neutralised welfare reform"

Steve Richards:
A big step forward on the path to welfare reform, but there is difficult terrain ahead.



Tonight I've been watching 'Batman Begins' on Sky One. At long last - for some reason I never bothered to see at the cinema. I've actually even had the dvd of it for about a year (or is it longer?) without ever getting around to watching it.

It must have been giving off negative vibes...

God, it was sooooooooooo boring, so dour, so dreary. It was a chore to watch. I guess it doesn't help that I'm not a Christian Bale fan either. I think he keeps being chosen for parts because they assume he conveys 'brooding intensity' or something - but he just comes across as a soulless plank of wood to me.

Think I'll be getting out my Tim Burton dvds. They're true classics. Now when his first Batman came out I went to the cinema to watch it something like 5 or 6 times.

The interview: Jamie Hewlett

(Got to love that part of this interview were they talk about 'Tankgirl - the movie' and what a disaster it was - and Hewlett says he'll never make that mistake again... because frankly, I don't think 'the Freebies' pilot made for BBC three is any better. Yet they've taken it up as a series. Grim.

The interview: Jamie Hewlett | Art & Architecture | guardian.co.uk Arts

Nouveau poor watch 3

Giving up the gym? Oh boo-hoo - most gyms have been making their money by those people who join - and then after a month or so never find the time to go back regularly, yet never get around to stopping the direct debits for their membership - all just incase they do find the time to go back. Time for the gyms to get less gougey, drop the direct-debits (no more 'free' money for them) and go for more 'Pay-as-you-go' schemes.

As for Sky subscriptions - another complete rippoff. So many channels full of programmes you've already seen from years ago.

Beauty salons - well I wouldn't mind seeing a lot less of those incredibly stupid nail salons that have been springing up in the high streets of Britain.

But there is something really weird going on here. I do think a lot of people are getting a puritanical/masochistic thrill out of all this.

How we are coping with hard times | Money | The Observer

Meanwhile I also noticed that in my ones of local supermarkets (Somerfield) - for the first time ever - they had moved their 'value' own brand up to eye-level on the middle shelves. The space they usually reserve for the big name (and more expensive) brands.

State sponsored slavery on the cards then

Just as the economy is on the brink of a nasty downturn, amid concerns about immigrant workers from the EU, various issues about the minimum wage and even proper wages not being able to keep up with the ever increasing costs of living - the Government pulls this one out (stolen from the Tories no less). Because their previous scheme 'the New Deal' was such a blazing success?

No chance of - oh, I don't know, say creating real businesses that have real jobs for real pay then? Nope - let's punish the poor for having the misfortune of being poor.

Arbeit mach frei.

BBC NEWS | Politics | 'Work for dole' proposals leaked

Fire brigade defends rescue of seagull

Poor seagulls are always getting caught up in anti-bird netting. Hasn't anyone twigged yet that they might be more trouble than they're worth?

BBC NEWS | England | Somerset | Fire brigade defends bird rescue

Abortion and Crime: The Flip Side

China has 37 million more men than women because of it's one child policy of 1979. Blimey. China has a history of of doing pretty stupid things en mass. My leaky memory recalls something about the Chinese spending a year killing off millions of birds they considered a pest - only to be treated to a plague of insects the next year because there wasn't the birds to eat them. Something like that. And to think when genetic testing comes in and parents will be able to chose the sex, eye colour, hair colour etc. of their little darlings... I shudder to think what the long term consequences will be. Don't muss too much with mother nature folks - she's had a lot more experience of doing things than we monkeys have had.

And another thing - with so many men in China - I wonder if there's been a co-responding huge increase in male homosexuality? I'll bet - officially - they'll be none whatsoever. But who knows? maybe China will soon end up as the gayest nation on Earth?

Oh - here's an article about just that subject.

Abortion and Crime: The Flip Side - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog

of course....

of course....
Originally uploaded by groc
and the irony is - as soon as I see a Donna figure I am so bloody absolutely totally buying one. I love Donna.

(I would never have bought a Martha - except she came part of a set.)

The right to peer inside your iPod | Technology | The Guardian

Bolting the stable door after the horse has been long, long gone.

But if people don't start fighting back against this relentless and constant erosion of their right to privacy...

Imagine it - being stopped at customs: "passport, ID card, now hand over your laptop and ipod for examination please."

The right to peer inside your iPod | Technology | The Guardian

'Amy Winehouse would be a great Doctor'

Interview with RTD

'Amy Winehouse would be a great Doctor' | Media | The Guardian

Food waste on 'staggering' scale

You know – this shouldn't surprise anyone. When you think about it – during the past few years with the rise and rise of the big mega-supermarkets hand in hand with car ownership – people have been driving out to these places and stocking up like they were feeding little armies – and wanting a large range of stuff to choose from when they dip into the fridge. Add to that the stupid Government campaign for us all to 'eat 5 a day' – which means good intentioned folk are buying more fresh fruit and veg only to throw it out because they can't eat it – because it simply doesn't last that long (tinned and frozen is just as good if you must insist on stocking up like that.) Part of the real answer is – people should ditch the car, so they can't load up with masses of food they're only going to throw out untouched, buy locally and often – (the mega-superstores are a massive mistake of the Eighties – they (the big 4) shouldn't be allowed to build any more - and they distort local economies in ways that are quite frightening.)

As for supermarkets throwing food out (it keeps their profit margins up) - that's just criminal - at the very least they should give it to local homeless shelters or whatever. It would help their image no end too.

RecycleBank - making waste pay

Well this sounds like a much better idea than some current county council's methods of fining people if they don't recycle and charging extra to take waste away. That only generates a sense of resentment and negativity. There's been a lot of that 'punish everyone' attitude floating around for the past few years.

[By which I mean things like the TV adverts for BBC License adverts (Big Brother is watching you) - Car Licensing (We'll crush your car) - Benefit Cheats - (we'll arrest and interrogate you)]

BBC NEWS | UK | RecycleBank - making waste pay

mmmmm Tyron Leitso

Isn't he scrummy?

(They're repeating 'Wonderfalls' on Sky - and I've gotten all besotted again. Its a crime they canceled this show. Network execs are such jerks.)

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control

You don't say. Why does this come as no surprise whatsoever?

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control - Middle East, World - The Independent

Russell T Davies answers your questions

I'd like to know how Dalek Caan was able to quietly manipulate time lines and set in motion various coincidences - when he was just sat in his casing all the time...

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Russell T Davies answers your questions

groc, groc, groc...

mmmm huh wha...?

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis

Aaaargh! All so effin' stupid people can still go around driving their effin' SUVs - hell - any car.

I'll save a rant I've got building up about bloody motor cars for another time. But for now - what the hell are they thinking growing food to make into oil for cars? Recycling cooking oil from chip shops and restaurants and fast food joints is one thing (where it'd only go into landfill or down the drains otherwise) but ... oh, the stupidity of it leaves me breathless.

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis

Nouveau poor watch 2

Are Brits becoming 'shopping tarts'?

You mean - people are having to swallow their snobbery? What are things coming to? (Although the person in this article who buys their fresh fruit and veg at Waitrose is an idiot. They're usually the most expensive and heavily marked up things in any supermarket.)

robot fetishism

oooh my.

robot fetishism

Faceless 'aliens'

Faceless 'aliens' spotted in crowd at Wimbledon

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom

Errr... why is Viacom so hell bent on making itself THE most hated entertainment company in America - if not the whole world? It's not going to do them much good if they win this case only to find themselves in a massive consumer boycott.

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom

more gay-liens

Devil fetish girl from Maaaaars

Devil fetish girl from Maaaaars

the Kaybens love eyeshadow - so very, very much

kayben the alien

Doctor Who Series 4 figures

Errrr.... why have they put Donna in that really horrible coat? I don't remember her wearing anything quite so ghastly. They should have had her in that nice suit she had in 'Partners in Crime'.

Doctor Who Series 4

downthetubes interview: DC Thomson Editor Bill McLoughlin Part 1

Downthetubes: Given the continued popularity of science-fiction, particularly Doctor Who, do you think a re-launched Starblazer might be able to find an audience?

Bill: This is a difficult one. Probably not! It goes back to SF never having been enormous in Britain. I just don't think there is the audience for it.

(Why does this remind me of that joke about the bookseller:

Customer: Have you got '[insert any name of a book here]'

Bookseller: *sighs* You're the tenth person I've said this to this week. No we haven't. We don't stock it because there just isn't the demand for it.

downthetubes interview: DC Thomson Editor Bill McLoughlin