Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sith Happens

Bumbling deputy prime minister John Prescott has decided to relinquish one of the perks of his job. After initially insisting he would stay, he has, after the controversy it provoked, announced he will leave Dorneywood, his official country home in Buckinghamshire. So where will he go now?

Well, judging by the picture The Guardian have used, he's off to a galaxy far, far away to master the dark side of the Force.

Daft Prescott, anyone?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Galloway watch and the left's continuing love of tyrants

The Rt. Dishonourable George Galloway was in the news again this weekend, this time for comments he made in an interview with GQ magazine (question to GQ: why?) stating that it would be “morally justified” to assassinate Tony Blair and that it would be morally equivalent to Blair “ordering” Iraqi deaths. Not that GG would personally favour such an action, you understand:

“Such an operation would be counterproductive because it would just generate a new wave of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiment whipped up by the press. It would lead to new draconian anti-terror laws, and would probably strengthen the resolve of the British and American services in Iraq rather than weaken it.”

So basically, he doesn’t advocate the assassination of democratically elected leaders on the basis that it would be bad PR.

Speaking of draconian, Galloway subsequently defended his comments from Cuba, where he has been schmoozing with Fidel Castro, the unelected dictator who personally oversees the dismal totalitarian communist regime that his nation’s 11.3 million inhabitants are forced to endure. This communist dystopia where opposition parties are forbidden, basic human rights are ignored and pro-democracy campaigners are thrown into prison for life is so often held up as a beacon of 'working socialism'. Never understood that one at all. Just because of the state-funded health and education system provided by the bankrupt (ideologically and economically) government? Wowee.

Yet another great example of leftists taking sides with monsters (I’m saying that Galloway is the leftist and Castro is the monster here – although there’s a strong case for the reverse also). Galloway, of course, has a well documented track record in this area. He has described Castro as the living person he most admires, but of course it wasn’t that long ago he was giving Saddam Hussein and his butcher sons colonic irrigation with his tongue and fingers. Combine all this with his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year and the evidence is more overwhelming than ever: there is no barrel this man will not scrape, no backside he will not kiss, no indignity he will not endure as long as he is in the public eye.

Equally atrocious were the recent comments of London’s very own fuckwit-in-chief Ken Livingstone who, on a visit to Beijing in April this year, compared the Tiananmen Square massacre to the Poll Tax riots. Contemptible. More recently, courtesy of Mayor Ken, we have been subjected to a visit from bandit-turned-socialist, self-styled saviour of Venezuela Hugo Chávez (it wasn’t an official state visit either – our esteemed mayor arranged and passed the cost onto us lucky taxpayers). Chávez was received by a drooling mass of soft-headed admirers at London’s City Hall. Why? As far as I can tell, for little reason other than the fact that he nationalised his country’s oil industry and hates George Bush. Chávez, like Castro, presents a ‘man of the people’ image whilst simultaneously crushing dissent and free expression in the name of socialist revolution. He also considers Robert Mugabe to be an ‘ally’ and a 'true freedom fighter'. Enough said.

Why do the hard left laud these tyrants? Castro, Chávez, Che Guevara, Lenin. As role models go, this lot are no better than Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin or Pol Pot.

Everyone should see this

Like The Beatles? Like juggling? I wasn't too sure about the latter until I saw this, but it's amazing to watch this fella in action. You need sound to appreciate it though, as it's set in time to the finale of Abbey Road (arguably the finest work The Beatles ever did).

The view from my window

For the last couple of weeks, Andrew Sullivan has been running a feature where readers send in a picture of the view from their window, and he puts them on his blog. A sort of experiment in humanising the blogosphere, it's actually been quite interesting seeing the diversity of places where his readers live, work and surf the web from.

So in the spirit of that exercise, here's mine. Check out the lovely draining. Also in the background are some of my shirts drying in the breeze. Ooh, the excitement!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Return of the mack

Rejoice! Rejoice!

My broadband has been switched on. And a day earlier than they told me, too. So I’m back, with an 8.1mbps connection speed. A real bastard. It’s like shit off a shovel (never did understand that phrase – surely shit, propelled only by gravity, would still be very slow? Can anyone clarify?).

Anyway, it’s good to be back and I intend to make up for lost time. For there is much to talk about. I suspect.

Where shall I begin?

Friday, May 19, 2006

There are times when silence has the loudest voice

A combination of moving house, temporarily losing broadband and waiting to get my PC repaired has made blogging very difficult. Basically, my only access to the internet is at work. And much as I would like to spend all my working hours blogging away, my employers would probably have a very different view.

So unfortunately things are going to be a bit quiet around here for the next week or so. But I hope to return with a vengeance in the very near future.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

GlaxoSmithKline, basic stock market principles and atrocious grammar

Über pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has been successful in obtaining an injunction against animal 'rights' campaigners, who have been targeting GSK shareholders and threatening to publish their names and addresses on the internet unless they sell their holdings in the company within two weeks. The campaigners object to GSK’s business dealings with Huntingdon Life Sciences - a long-term target of the bunny cuddling, animal-worshipping fundamentalists - who conduct animal research for medical purposes.

I saw some protesters near where I work a couple of months ago, hoisting their placards in impotent rage outside a branch of HSBC. I was tempted to make some signs of my own with names and pictures of people I know who would most likely be dead if it were not for sophisticated pharmacology derived by animal experimentation. Presumably the animal ‘rights’ movement would prefer that.

As for this feeble intimidation campaign of GSK shareholders, well, where do we begin? Clearly these people spend far too much time in the company of small furry animals and forgot to engage their brain before embarking on this. They threaten to publish details of targeted shareholders unless they sell their investments within a fortnight? Well, sell them to whom? Here’s how the market works: holder of GSK shares instructs to sell. Interested party pays cash for shares. Interested party becomes new holder of shares and therefore new investor in GSK. So all you’ve really done is transferred the investment to somebody else. Somebody else you’ve got to research, and then presumably write to, informing them that if they don’t sell their shares within two weeks you will publish their details on the internet. You’re just making more work for yourselves! You’re also making money for the brokers who take a commission on every transaction. Yes, your intention is to intimidate people into selling, thus driving down the share price and hitting GSK where it hurts, but it’s not going to work is it? There’s always a buyer for every seller. There’s always going to be people putting up cash for a stake in the company.

Perhaps not the smartest people in the world. As if to illustrate this point, The Guardian has quoted an extract from the letter that was sent out (in crayon, I suspect):

“The only way to hold GlaxoSmithKline to it’s [sic] PROMISE is to target it’s [sic] financial vulnerability. We are therefore giving you this opportunity to sell your shares in GlaxoSmithKline.”

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) describe animal research as ‘animal torture’. Never mind that, what about the above torture of the English language? “It?s” promise? “It’s” financial vulnerability? I have a rule: never trust the words or intentions of grown adults still unable to use an apostrophe in its (did you see that?) correct context.

Talk about dumb animals. Maybe we should experiment on these people instead?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Political meltdown

Local elections should, of course, be contested over local issues (“This is a local election, for local people. There’s no place for you here!”); they should not be an indication of popularity for the current government. But then, bungling and incompetent home secretaries should resign when they oversee a state department that has spectacularly failed to enforce its own policy regarding deportation of immigrants released from prison – something that caused the biggest stink since Le Pétomane followed through. The point is, things don’t often work the way they’re supposed to. Therefore, the people that bothered to vote in yesterday’s local elections (and I must confess, somewhat shamefully, that I wasn’t one of them) were inevitably going to treat it as an opportunity to pass judgement on Tony Blair and his government. Not surprisingly, engulfed as they are by a seemingly never-ending litany of disasters and embarrassments, Labour were given a swift, hard kick in the ballots.

Blair’s response this morning was to reshuffle the cabinet (that old adage about moving the deckchairs around on the Titanic comes to mind), in an attempt to reassert his rapidly dwindling authority. Unsurprisingly, Charles Clarke has been booted out as home secretary to make way for John Reid. Embarrassing, because Clarke was originally brought into the third most important position in government in place of David Blunkett, who stepped down over the infamous fast-tracked visa scandal. Meanwhile, John Prescott has been stripped of his ‘super ministry’ (responsible for, erm, ‘super’ things), but keeps his title of deputy prime minister, effectively making him the country’s most prominent eunuch.

I’m personally finding it difficult to care about any of this. Interesting events, to be sure, but I’m so indifferent to all the political parties these days, their relative fortunes and dips in public opinion are of very little consequence to me. It seems clear that Tony Blair is fast coming to the end of his days as PM: the problems of the last week or so have underscored this. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a vote of no confidence sometime later this year, followed by a quick transition to Gordon Brown.

Of course, I may be wrong. I don’t know. What do you think?