Sunday, December 31, 2006

So long 2006

M'colleague doesn't sound to have enjoyed 2006 so much. I've had a ball.

I've had 4 jobs during the year, which is pretty unusual for a quadragenarian I'm sure. Oh yes and I turned 40 and moved house. Quite a lot of high-stress activities and the only damage seems to have been to my waistline. I even gave up biting my nails.

I started this blog to fill the dead time between the end of the Channel4 News and the unconsciousness on work-days away from home. Can't believe it's still going. Even if the readership has averaged just over 1.0 it's been worthwhile. Cheers to my world-weary ex-co-worker for keeping the posts rolling along.

Maybe I'll bore you (and make God laugh) with my hopes for 2007 later, but meanwhile I need to go cook chicken.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Year-End Payback

One item today reminded me of a posting I made last month.

Within the next few days, the UK will pay the final installment on the almost-interest-free loan that stopped my grandparents' generation from starving to death after World War 2.

The idea of solving a war with a big wad of cash seems more appealing than getting stuck in it yourself. In fact the US are masters of the art - Contras in Nicaragua, for example.

Maybe someone American could explain whether there's a law against that kind of things these days.

Not a perfect parallel I'd agree - the US hardly fought WW2 at arms-length. I'm not forgetting the 300,000 or so US soldiers who died in the same war. But contrast with the 25 million Soviets who died and proxy wars start to make some kind of sense.

Oh - and any Americans reading this - please pass on my thanks to your grandparents. And I hope you spend the repayment money on something useful.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I have mixed feelings about Saddam's imminent demise.

On the one hand, no-one can argue with a serious face that the man is a first class monster. His crimes against his own people are on a moral magnitude with Hitler's. His war-waging with Iran and the classic annexation of Kuwait were bordering on lunacy. So, we exterminate him, yes?

Well, do we? It has long been apparent that Iraq is not capable of healing itself. Does his execution quell his supporters? Simple answer: no. As with any despotic regime, there are the next generation of despots sat in little despot green-houses being fed and watered ready for the opportunity to become Head Despot, through fair means or foul -- usually the latter. His death or where he is killed will probably not be announced until the deed is done to avoid any further insurgency.

Incidentally, I love that the word insurgent is a universally embraced term for utter balmpots. Six years ago, only crossword buffs like Stan and I had ever heard that word. Now, it's bar-room de riguer in any political discussion. Funny how we don't have insurgents here, just terrorists. There's a subtlety in nomenclature that should not be ignored for those of us with a lexicalogical bent.

Back on topic, insurgents will continue to insurge whether the moonbat EU gets its stay of execution or indeed the sentence is commuted to life. Uncle Sam will argue it sends a message to those who would aspire to fill his shoes, just as he argues that state-sponsored execution is a deterrent to wouldbe murderers -- and we all know that is a load of fetid dingo's kidneys.

Somewhere in the middle lies the right thing to do. But I'll be buggered if I know where. I would hate to be in the shoes of the person who finally makes a decision on this, for they will be recorded in history whichever way they sway and will be damned by 50% of the future for certain.

Don't misunderstand the point I'm making here. If you go out and kill 5 girls in Ipswich, I have no trouble in frying your arse. This is a moral dilemma in context; it's not one man, it's a nation.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Absolutists United

The Polish Parliament would like to crown Jesus as the next King of Poland. A wonderful story that saves me commenting on Organised Religion and Monarchy in two separate posts.

I'm imagining the reactions of a few people :-

(a) A Polish businessman trying to sell the idea of Poland as a modern, approachable place to do business.

"Kurwa!! They're making us look like a bunch of extremists stuck in the 16th century !!"

(b) An Iranian politician

"Aiiiieeee !!! Why didn't we think of this first. Quick - let's make Mohammed (may his name be blessed) the Sheik of Iran !"

(c) A Jew in Warsaw

"Oy Vay ! Here we go again"

If I were a Christian (which I am not) I would probably take offense to Jesus being demoted from his position as Saviour of the World to being merely King of Poland.

If I were a Monarchist (which I am not) I would prefer a living, breathing human King/Queen who could veto Laws, greet foreign visitors and open bridges.

As a Republican and an Atheist I'm looking forward to seeing how this whole mess comes out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stan's Army

Is there anything our government is any good at ?

Yesterday I described their inability to handle education. In the past I've described their inability to protect our armed forces. Here we go again ...

An Army Board of Inquiry into his death found that the pistol he tried to shoot the Iraqi with failed and he was shot by a comrade in a tank who was trying to protect him but did not know his high-powered machine gun was inaccurate at short range.

This is incompetence worthy of Frank Spencer. And then for want of £167 of body armour, this man died.

Here's what would happen in my army (should anyone give me one for Christmas perhaps):-

(1) Stan's army is never deployed unless we outnumber the opposition 10 to 1.

(2) All front-line troops get all the kit they want. If Stan can't afford it, Stan's army stays home.

(3) Stan's army is only ever deployed for a week at a time. Every deployment is reviewed every week. If there's insufficient gratitude for the work done by Stan's army, then Stan's army come home.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wisdom is painful

I've got problems with a Wisdom Tooth which seems to have grown through my jaw sideways before heading towards the soles of my feet.

It seems bizarre that over 20 years after puberty, my body still has some surprises in store.

The pain can be softened by eating state-of-the-art over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like sweeties, by swilling whisky and by reading articles like this .

It seems the government doesn't want to pay for education which is useful to a person if it isn't directly useful to the State. I find it hard to think of any better use of State money than using it to educate its citizens in something they want to learn.

Knowledge is good, adults learning is good. The State has no imagination if it thinks that there is no advantage to people spending evenings learning together rather than drinking alone.

As to the subject matter, a country of multi-lingual, computer-literate people who know their way round a car engine sounds pretty good to me.

"Education is the transmission of civilization." Now I dare you to tell me that that isn't the job of government.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Happy Birthday Flit - your present went to Kenya

For my friend Flit's birthday, I offset the carbon from the flight she and her partner are going to be taking to Israel.

Quite a 21st century thing to do, but Flit's not a material girl, and I thought the idea would tickle her.

I went with . They calculate that a return flight for two people from the UK to Israel produces 1.58 tonnes of CO2. A scary amount of gas indeed.

They have tree-planting schemes in various remote parts of England. But the scheme that caught my attention was the Kenyan lightbulb scheme.

Here the money is used to provide, free of charge, low energy light bulbs to the Masai Mara region of Kenya. The idea is over the lifetime of these bulbs, the saving in fossil fuels will match the amount needed to propel my friends to the Holy Land.

I'm not blogging this to bathe in a warm glow of green smugness. And the green colour scheme of the blog was never meant to be symbolic. I just found it amusing and relevant and probably something that will become an increasing part of life from now - like £10 Chinese fairy lights that don't work and suffocating anti-terrorism.

Although, anyone looking to buy me a pressie could do worse than offset some of the effect of the 20,000 miles I drove last year (5.2 tonnes of CO2.)

Happy Birthday, Flit, and Nesia Tovah to you both.

Friday, December 08, 2006

How to annoy a Kenny, lesson #1

Welcome to the first in the series of how to annoy Kenny. These gems will allow RFS readers (as opposed to RSS readers [groan - Ed]) to be forewarned when in the company of a Kenny. Kenny, used in this context is a generic Kenny and should in no way, shape or form be construed as being based on any real Kenny, past, present or future.

Kennys are not fond of open-plan offices where people are working on individual pieces of work. Kennys, however, are fond of them in a team environment -- for example, in support centers someone may overhear a problem and know the answer instantly rather than their colleague spending hours re-inventing the polygon.

So Kennys hate open-plan for serious work. What annoys a Kenny is someone else's phone calls at the next desk, their visitors from across the acreage of other desks, their cell phone ringtone, their extra loud headphones that they use to drown out the noise. Etc. You get the picture.

But there is one thing that makes a Kenny want to go postal in such an environment. That thing is more annoying than a tap dripping on your forehead every ten seconds for the rest of eternity. It is those people who work in such an environment yet have meetings at their desks but whisper so no-one knows what they are talking about. It must be very important, but Kennys are paranoid creatures. Kennys would prefer such subterfuge be conducted in a sealed, soundproofed room up in Senior PaperClipVille.

If in the vicinity of a Kenny, either remain silent or speak at a normal volume. Do not mutter, whisper or otherwise obfuscate your speech. RFS will not be liable for any failure to comply with the advice given above.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Divine Visit

Well, to paraphrase a good friend's verbage, I arrived at the paper clip factory this morning, bright and breezy and obtained a PC to use, moved it etc. I fired up all my usual internet windows (multiple IE windows as this PC is tied down for non-power users, read muppets, so I could not use Firefox). I had just finished this mammoth task when three unknown persons approached the desk where M and I were organizing ourselves for a meeting later this morning.

"We have this area reserved for us. We are [insert awesome pause here] auditors."

I, of course, gasped in a rarefied fit of revery. I dropped to my knees, unplugged everything and moved it away, leaving all the power strips, hubs and network cables for our Godly guests.

We did a bit of rejigging which involved fumbling around under desks and we are now operational again. I am compelled to drop to my knees (on my bare knees I might add -- I managed to rip my jeans in the hurry to vacate the Holy desks of A) and worship in that direction at least five times a day. In fact, if they so wish, they can sacrifice my wife to the God of Governance.

I have counted the paper clips for them. I have two that I carry around in my computer bag. Oh, and a couple of power cables...job done. They can float home now on whatever cloud they arrived on, presumably evicting low-lifes as they go.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

15 tons of ice from Grimsby

As Kenny so rightly hinted - I'm pretty busy at the moment. I'm trying to do my usual job using unfamiliar technology. Similar to an English stand-up comedian deciding to do his routines in French for a while. Oo la la. Lots of reading and looking like a twit until I get the hang of it. Apologies to all affected.

I saw this scary sign of climate change - and wondered whether the phrase "15 tons of ice from Grimsby" came from an early Radiohead song.

P.S - Radio Stan has now been visited over 1,000 times. Sounds impressive, but 500 of them were me posting stuff and the other 500 were me checking whether anyone was reading it.