Saturday, October 27, 2007

On UK Housing & Population Projections

Whenever there is talk of the housing shortage the same comment keeps on recurring:

The UK is an island

To which I have to question; that makes a difference compared to a similar sized land-locked country how?

That's right it doesn't. In fact it buts an island in a more advantageous position because that opens the option of building out to sea. Excuse me whilst I remove my tongue from my cheek. But seriously, I know people have a issue with the increased population but use the legitimate arguments like infrastructure collapse, damage the countryside, unfairness in the benefit system or hell even xenophobia if that is your beef.

The UK being an island doesn't mean its population density can't go up to the levels tolerated in Belgium and the Netherlands.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

The 400th Post

2 1/2 years after my first post where somehow I ended up using the term "tugging the swingometer", which should be right up there with "polling the electorate", I have unearthed 398 thoughts from my mind to enter the hallowed pages on Google's servers.

To celebrate, I'm going to let you know a lot more about me by pointing you to an article written about me, by someone that doesn't know me, at around about the same time I started blogging. In other words a guy, David W. Boles, writing about his experience as an INTJ.

Highlights:
Information hound
Distant
Viciously loyal
We do not (willingly) make the same mistake twice
Emotional (Passion gets misunderstood for anger)
Disconnected (to the past/present)
Future thinkers
We don't chat
Sometimes we disappear

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Disappointment of an Englishman

Somewhen last week I heard that you can get 10 - 1 on betting that England will win all three of the major sporting events during the week. There was no possibility of going for that since there was so little chance of winning the rugby that I doubt 20 - 1 would have been fair odds.

However, being a realistic opportunist, the more likely proposition of England losing an away game in Russia on a plastic pitch, losing the World Cup final to a team that trounced them 36 - 0 a couple weeks back, and a rookie coming unstuck on the final race of the season did enter my head.

What a shame I didn't head down the bookies to check those odds...

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Children, Crime & Justice - Part 1

Ernest Norton died as an end result to the actions of five 10 - 12 year old juveniles throwing sticks (or more likely, substantially sized pieces of wood) and stones at him. The children were tried at the Old Bailey and sentenced to two years detention.

This has prompted a debate on the age at which children have to reach in order to be treated as criminals. Currently this stands at 10 years old in the UK; it was 14 years old before the Jamie Bulger case in 1993. This is much younger than fellow Western European neighbours where the range is typically 14 - 18 years old.

The law formerly sought whether the child knew the difference between right and wrong. Nowadays, there seems to be very little doubt from the commentating adults that a 14, 12, 10, 8 maybe even 6 year old child knows the difference.

With the presumption that the child does know what the basic right & wrongs are the debate should centre on why the child would want to do wrong. There are various factors that come into it: parents, schools, peers, consequences, risk of getting caught, enjoyment.

I saw a rather disturbing comment on the BBC News Have Your Say section:
Im not interested in seeing them re-habilitated what they want is punishment.
This comment was when received as it has 27 recommendations at time of writing this. Without rehabilitation then you are just holding a young person away from the world and can expect nothing less than the same activity that took them out of society in the first place.

Punishment is an even more interesting term. To cause suffering (to an offender) for an offence. Punishments are devised for two reasons: to stand as a deterrent of for the act, to provide satisfaction to victims and interested onlookers. To put an end to crime, punishments should only exist theoretically and should not be relied upon. Especially as sentences are seem to be around to perform the latter function a lot more than the former.

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1 Minute & 12 Seconds

Saj Chowdhury is doing the build up on the BBC website for the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix:
I mentioned below it takes Hamilton one minute and 12 seconds to get round 2.677 miles. Why don't you give me a shout as to what you can do in one minute and 12 seconds. Keep it clean kids - it's a family website.
Inspired.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

What's in a name - Customer Service Agents

Charles Wheelan, author of the Naked Economist (yes, I own a copy and it is one of the better pop economics books on the market) wrote an article for Yahoo Finance which introduced me to the job title Customer Service Agent (shows how much I fly). This is a much cooler title than the more typical Customer Service Advisor or Customer Service Assistant and probably more fitting to what a description to what activity your customer service personnel should be performing.

Hardly as extreme as the renaming of Janitors to Sanitation Technicians. Advisor or Assistant are very passive titles. Agent adds a more active element to the title which is much more appropriate as the whole they play acting as a middle man between customer and company.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who Would be an England Manager?

Steve McClaren's job as England manager is at risk after a poor result against Russia in Moscow yesterday. The simple fact of the matter is that England are supposed to be a top 10 team and therefore qualifying for the European Championship is a given. If you can't achieve that with the quality of players England has available then there is no room for doubt that you are not a suitable leader.

Some do say that you can't pin all the blame on the manager. That of course is true. The players in the team have to take their share of the burden too. But there is a difference to running the England football team than most other team of employees. The players are living their dream, you don't have to entice them with money, the trophy is the biggest prize you can offer. There is no better form of performance related pay.

Also, you get to boot out poor performers with no questions asked. Can a manager in any standard line of work do that? Not without a bureaucratic nightmare to go through first. With the mixture of talent, motivation and flexible options it is very difficult to fail if you are an international class manager. Those circumstances mean they have to carry more of the blame than almost any other leader.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cluedo

Prince Philip in the Tunnel with the Fiat Uno.

Comedy genius.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Ever Surreal Tax System

Alistair Darling has fiddled about with the tax system, as any chancellor does, today to produce headlines similar to "Inheritance Tax Threshold Doubled".

Even the BBC gets suckered in.
In their case it's "Inheritance tax threshold raised".
However it's the paragraph they use to flesh out the headline that gets my goat:
"Chancellor Alistair Darling puts up inheritance tax thresholds with immediate effect from £300,000 to £600,000."

Er, no he hasn't. I can't pass on £600,000 worth of assets tax free. And that's because I'm not married or in a civil partnership. Quite a caveat that. Very misleading BBC, get that fixed pronto.

In fact, all he has done is open up a tax loophole that was already there and being "abused" already. That would just make this a tax increasing pre-budget report then. Nice.

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