Saturday, July 19

So you evicted families from their homes, then what?

Now this is what puzzles me about a supposedly extremely intelligent man who is supposed to have a brain the size of a planet. He is supposedly taking the long term perspective, but most of his decisions, ever since he has become the Prime Minister of UK, all he has been doing is to stumble from one mistake to another.

Here's another classic example. There are feral kids around the kingdom, that is not in dispute. After all, their schooling sucks because the schooling system is spectacularly stupid an incompetent in dealing with problem children. The employment situation sucks because the minimum wage problem has come in as well as health and safety rules have stopped them from setting up their own units. The local councils hate them as they lower the tone and nothing much left for them to do but to form gangs, get pregnant, shoot drugs and do crime. So what's the response? The government wants to kick out the families from government housing if the families do not control their offspring and the kids taken into care

Now, I have major issues with this entire exercise. These kids are feral kids, what makes them think that foster parents or carer's can do the job when their parents failed? And chucking the families out of housing will do exactly what? It will create more underclass and crime families.


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Even in USA, Food starvation

This is a serious problem facing developed economies as well, welfare cheque's are not really meant for permanent support, but as you can see, these people are getting hit by the counter-intuitive problem of being poor as well as obese because all they can afford are fattening and starchy food.

Read and wonder.

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The £ 5.50 Monkey Picked Tea

I went to a swanky restaurant in London the other day and after a great cocktail, some very good Argentinean red wine and English rose (yes, I kid you not, it was very nice), an excellent thick rare 700 gram steak, sat back and thought about having a good port and a nice cheese platter, when my eyes fell on this item on the dessert menu.


Monkey Picked Tea: Monkey picked tea is the rarest tea available. According to legend, monkeys were once trained to harvest tea from otherwise inaccessible cliffs but today the term monkey picked refers to the tea's rarity and the hard work put into its production.

It was for £5.50 if I am not wrong, and being the sucker for new and innovative things that I am, I went for it. First of all, my boss took the piss out of me unmercifully by saying, you have simply ordered PG tips, and the restaurant is taking you for a ride. Mainly because of the Monkey bit which advertises the bloody PG Tips.  You can buy all kinds of PG Tips monkey stuff here. But more on the end result later.

But took a photo and then came back to look it up. The basic story is simple and I quote:

This rare Chinese tea is carefully picked by specially trained monkeys in a remote mountain region of China. Legend has it that monkeys were first used to collect tea ten centuries ago, because upon seeing it's master trying to reach some tea growing wild on a mountain face, the monkey climbed up the steep face and collected the tea growing there and brought it down to his master. This wild tea was considered so delicious that other people began to train monkeys to collect this rare wild tea. Nowadays the practice of monkeys picking tea has all but died out, except in one small remote village where they still continue this remarkable tradition.

This video seems to be showing a monkey which the zoo commentator claims to be a tea picking monkey. All I can hope is that I hope the bloody monkey washed his hands after picking its nose but before picking the tea leaves.

Here's an example of the pack. And here's an interesting discussion on this tea.

But I was a bit suspicious because nobody actually mentions the type of tea leaves, all this monkey picking business is good and fine, but what is the actual name of the tea plant? And then found it. Can you purchase this? Well, here it is. I quote the product description:

These finest grade tightly hand-rolled leaves are bursting with flavor and have a lingering fruity aftertaste. This is perhaps the most fabled tea in China, prized for its complexity. This lot was grown in Fujian Province. Legends relate the story of how the tea is named after Kuanyin, the goddess (or bodhisattva) of compassion. This tea is greener than other Tieguanyins, in the style which is popular throughout China.

The often-used term "Monkey Picked" comes from another legend: Local monks convinced monkeys to climb the tall, wild tea trees and bring them the new leaves from above. This tea is one of the few that holds up well to up to three infusions, and produces a rich golden liquor with a spicy aroma and semisweet aftertaste. We recommend this tea as a high quality everyday tea. It goes well with most foods and is good with cakes, scones and the like.

But I am afraid the tea was absolutely horrible, it was musty, dusty and tasted like the tea was made by actually dipping the original old monkey in hot water rather than tea leaves. It was golden all right, but no, I am going to give this a miss.

And this left my boss and rest of the gang rolling around on the floor looking at my face and expression. Still suffering from that incident, every time I ask for a tea or coffee in the office, somebody shouts PG Tips or makes those monkey noises. Sighs, life sucks.

Thursday, July 17

I suppose somebody has to do this

I suppose this job has to be done, but bloody hell, what a job! Nose and stomach of steel!

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Wednesday, July 16

Widow's face

Words fail me

See here for the background to this photograph. Some are dignified for their dead.

Some are obscene about their living. No wonder these people are uncivilised barbarian terrorists. The world knows what their value system is. Guess who they were celebrating? One of the chaps was a man who killed a 4 year old Israeli girl.

Here's a 4 year old girl. May the terrorist and his paymasters rot in hell.

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Tuesday, July 15

I want one of these letter openers

Jobless youth rate higher than in 1997

Now here's a surprise for you. I quote:

The proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds without a job is higher than when Labour came to power in spite of government efforts to reduce unemployment among the young.......blamed the rise on the failure to raise the skills of many youngsters. The New Deal scheme to reduce youth unemployment by providing training, subsidised employment and voluntary work had also failed to maintain its initial success.

What are the solutions? And this is where I disagree:

The OECD said policies such as raising the age to which youngsters must remain training to 18 needed “fine tuning”. It called for increased support for free nursery education; a three-month limit for 16- and 17-year-olds to find work with part-time learning, after which they must return to full-time education or training; more involvement for trade unions in development of apprenticeship schemes; and an expectation that youngsters working under New Deal stay in a job for at least 26 weeks.

See, this is an issue of taking a horse to water but cannot or being unable to make it drink. And here's the actual problem, and I further quote:

One in five youngsters who found work under New Deal held a job for less than 13 weeks, leading to “short employment spells with benefit dependency”.

What these gits do not understand is that for entry level jobs and basic jobs, the difference between the salary and benefits enjoyed is marginal, and in many cases, negative. So what's the point of me dressing up, going to work for a boss who treats me like a coprolite, doing soul destroying work and then ending up after working 10 hours with an amount which is lesser than what my friends earned by sitting at home smoking and drinking and bonking?

Benefit dependency is the issue, link the continued employment to the continued benefit and you will see that economic incentives do work. If you do not work, you do not get the money. And all the kings horses and men, like this whiney article, says, will not make humpty dumpty go back to work again.

Take a look at what Polly is celebrating. She is looking at an estate of 7300 people, and I quote: This vast estate, in much disrepair, had 7,300 residents but virtually no community life, voluntary or council-run. It did have crack houses, prostitution, rubbish tips and violent crime. It did have exceptional numbers of the old, the sick and single mothers.

This is the problem, it was the state's mistakes, the centralised planning, the benefit dependency, the bad public service delivery and the like which landed the estate of Clapham Park in this mess. So Polly is basically saying that the state mucked up, and then the state tried to fix it, and then it again failed. Erm. yes, obviously it will fail, you silly girl, because it was not done by the residents, but to and for the residents by people who never stayed in there. And she is asking for more public money to fix it, keep it going and worse of all, to extend it to other estates and counties where the state has spectacularly failed. Dont you think you should stand back and let the citizens do it themselves?

But here is the problem which goes back to the benefits issue. This state has made a vast swathe of the populace dependent upon benefits and is therefore unable to shift them off it. Take a look at this by-election coming up in Glasgow East. Trace the history of the constituency back and you will see that it has been managed by Labour going back to 1922. Ok? Now let me bring some interesting statistics to bear.

1. From the spectator:

Nick Clegg drew gasps at a reception in Westminster by observing that there are parts of Glasgow where life expectancy is the same as the Gaza Strip and North Korea. If only this were so. Glasgow City, as a whole, has a male life expectancy of 71 years which is actually lower than the 72 years of both Gaza and Pyongyang. But this includes its lush suburbs. Those in the welfare ghettoes of Glasgow East can only dream of such longevity. The life expectancy of its sink estates is worth recording here. A boy born in Camlachie is expected to live to 64.5 — the same as in Uzbekistan. In Parkhead it is 62, the same as Bangladesh. Just outside its boundaries lies Dalmarnock where the figure is 58 — lower than Sudan, Cambodia or Ghana. The lowest is Carlton, where the figure of 54 is lower than even Gambia’s equivalent.

2. BBC:

Figures for unemployment are also higher, with the rate for men over 25 about 10%, rising to 25% for women.

This year, NHS statistics showed that the east end of Glasgow had Scotland's highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions.

3. Blog:

Look beneath the lies, damned lies and statistics, and factor in the number of people on incapacity benefits, and we discover that around 50% of the adult 'working' population is unemployed.

4. Spectator again:

When you look at Scotland on any statistical dataset, it is one big horror story. Welfarism, health deprivation, drugs, drink – there are reams of data about what a socioeconomic nightmare the country is.

5. Financial Times:

Male life expectancy is 63, which is 14 years below the UK average. Unemployment runs at 25 per cent and about 40 per cent of the constituents live on benefits. About 40 per cent of the children live in workless households. Sadly, "household" is not always the most appropriate term. The teenage pregnancy rate is 40 per cent above the national average.

And this is from a city which, and I quote: Yet just a few generations ago Glasgow was the greatest industrial city of the British empire. At one time it produced half the world's ships and a third of its railway locomotives. It could be argued that many people in the UK enjoyed a prosperity that was in part built on the gargantuan efforts of industrial Glasgow.

6. The Times: male life expectancy is 14 years below the national average, 38% of constituents are welfare-dependent, 46% live in social housing, 60% of households have no access to a car, and deaths from heart disease among the under 75s are 83% above the national average.

Now yes, I agree that you cannot be up all the time, just look at Detroit, but hey, look at California, it reinvented it. And it did not do it by handing out benefits by the ton. The problem is that people are now accustomed to living by the state. So now why would you be surprised that the people will keep on voting Labour? As the quote goes, a government which promises to rob peter to pay Paul will always count on the support of Paul.

If you want to get people employed and productive members of the staff, you need to help them but just like pain killers, do not make them addicted to it, otherwise you will end up with estates like Clapham or Glasgow East. (Incidentally, the SNP and the Labour party are both the same, whosoever wins in this by election will do sweet sod all. Here's a prediction, 5 years time and the statistics will be worse! and I am very happy to be proven wrong).

Public service provision by public sector?

There seems to be an inherent assumption that public services such as hospitals, police, roads, infrastructure, garbage collection and so on and so forth have to be provided by the public sector as well, soup to nuts. And this is what bugs the heck out of me.

Recently, at a club for technology, public sector and business executives, a minister came in to talk to us about how the public sector is responding to globalisation. Incidentally, this is a great club, you get to hear some great people and meet even better people. Quite a lot of my knowledge of the public sector provision and senior government workings comes from this wonderful institution, but this time it was a bit of a rambling speech.

What it boiled down to was that globalisation was hitting public services with change on a very dramatic basis while the public sector delivery model was clearly not up to the mark to keep on supporting this. So what he is pushing the public sector to be more risk taking, more entrepreneurial in public service provisioning.

Now, nobody actually objects to public service provision, not if they do not understand what a nation - state is all about. It is about common values, language, culture, geography, history and yes, even public service provision. The fact that there is just one currency note type across the country and everywhere that note is accepted and that it needs public service to make sure that it is fine means that public services are required.

Same with the concept of universal public provision with the post office. In other words, this is a provision which means that the state has to make sure that a letter posted in one part of the country will get to another part of the country, irrespective of the distance travelled, deliveries will be made on regular intervals and so on and so forth. What is actually required is different from country to country. But it is there. Here's a fascinating discussion over what to do with this provision and how to standardise it across Europe. But most importantly is that how do you fund it?

And this is my problem, if the government run public sector does not know how to handle it or provide that public service provision, then instead of trying to get all risk takers and corporatist about it, just put in a regulatory model overseeing the service provision and farm that out to the private sector. Why press the public sector to get excited about this?

Now this is at variance with what is actually happening on the ground. See here for a fascinating story. The private and voluntary sectors are providing a stonking £80 billion of public services, 6% of GDP and I quote:

A government-sponsored study by DeAnne Julius, the economist, revealed on Thursday that those sectors supply a third of public services – everything from National Health Service treatments to bin emptying, IT, back-office functions and RAF pilot training. The market is worth £79bn, employs almost as many people as the NHS and accounts for 6 per cent of gross domestic product, making it a larger industrial sector than pharmaceuticals, automotive or electricity, gas and water. It also has considerable potential for further growth both at home and abroad, the study is expected to conclude.

So the minister and the actual situation on the ground are totally different. And something that I like. Now you might quibble over whether or not the garbage collection is a public service or not but hey, the British public has agreed to do so (and I agree with that) and has outsourced it to private provision while making sure that the service delivery is purchased by government. Neat, no? and as you can see from the article, they are trying to sell this model across the world. Shame the minister did not know about this.

Sweetest things I ever read

This was one of the most romantic and sweetest things I have ever read. I quote:

Ted Howard wrote 98 letters to his sweetheart Mollie during the seven years he spent courting her. However, she tore them into pieces and stuffed them into a cushion after finding someone reading them in 1953.

It has taken Mr Howard 15 years to put the fragments back together. The 82-year-old, whose wife died three years ago, said that the mental exercise helped him deal with his grief.

Letter writing seems to have gone by the by these days and I am to blame equally, just dont get enough time. But yes, that courting by letters strikes a very personal chord indeed! :)

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Sunday, July 13

A Tourist Guide to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

This nearly killed me, I was laughing away like nuts. I think the author is going to get bumped off soon, hehehe. Some interesting quotes:


The male-female ratio of the population is 50-50, even though, according to local traditions in the north, women do not exist. Only men and goats......

Officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it is a country in South Asia bordering the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the People’s Republic of China and the Bollywood Republic of Hindustan. In the north it also shares a dubious border with the mountainous and scenic Holy Divine United Taliban Emirates of Dhamakaistan....

Pakistan is a multiethnic and multicultural society, where 103 per cent of the population is Muslim, while the rest are animals. So in case of a medical emergency, the non-Muslim tourist is advised to visit a vet instead of a doctor. The 103 per cent Muslims are broken up into various sects with each sect claiming their version of Islam being 104 per cent correct and other interpreters of Islam being 107 per cent wrong and thus deserving death.

best was this one:

The main plank of culture in Pakistan is asking “what is the culture of Pakistan?”

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Armed forces 'get free education'

Now this is an excellent step, and kudo's to the government who have thought this up. I quote:

Service personnel are to be given university education free of charge after they end their duty with the armed forces, it has been reported. According to the News of the World, personnel who complete six years service in the Army, Royal Navy or RAF will qualify for the scheme. The government will pay tuition fees to study for GCSEs, A-levels, university degrees or other qualifications.

I wrote about the GI Bill here.

Pictures of Robert Mugabe's Mansion

This set of photographs just blew me away, can you imagine this house? This robber has built this house based upon the blood of his own people. And Russia China don't think there is a problem. Of course there isn't a problem. Except for the exceedingly bad taste in decorating, lol

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Full slide show here.
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