Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

What does that make me, Johnny Affluent?
Dan Hill - In the pub, when it was implied he was slightly better off than the surroundings of his accommodation suggest.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

And on the sixth day God invented conditional formatting.

Jason Bushell

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rationalizing the NHS

BBC Radio 5 Live is holding a debate on restricting free NHS provisions according to lifestyle choice and similar categorising of the population.

So that means smokers, drinkers, the elderly and the obese.

The NHS seems to have been chosen as the battlefield to fight lifestyle choices that will make you unhealthy. I just don't think that this is going to work.

Smokers and drinkers pay levies on their abused substance of choice. The obese person could either be unemployed and contributing nothing to the system, a trucker who does make a contribution or a senior manager/director who pays a significant chunk of tax into the NHS. Do you want to pay for bean counters to work out the means testing to deal with this?

The elderly could have been paying in for all their life. Again, do we rely on a bean counter's assessment?

It all seems to me to steer away from cost savings if that is what we are looking for.

Pricing is a powerful means of influencing behaviour. It will only work if it is entirely fair. Setting up such a fair system with regards to the NHS is not going to be possible with the current information available to make the decisions. The data protection act will probably get in the way of the provision of such information for many years to come.

To stop these undesirable lifestyle choices we are going to have to find another avenue of attack.

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Quote of the Day

I'm not fat. I'm just a couple of inches too short for my weight.

Source: Phone in listener on Radio 5.

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My Donation Game

Right. Here's a scenario:

I invent a game, invite two of my competitive friends to play and 60 million people or so to observe.

Turns out the rules are clear but so complicated that even I can't follow them. Naturally I feel a bit stupid to save face I inform the observers that the other players can't follow the rules either and fail utterly to take any sort of responsibility for inventing the game in the first place.

The observers have figurative rocks and have to throw them at either me and/or the two other players. Who do you wager gets class C stoned?

If I create a process that my colleagues can't follow the first place I look is to the process itself.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Negligent Attitude to Tax

I caught myself out a couple of hours ago. When reading that Council Tax will rise 4% this year I immediately thought "oh good. Is that all."
Compared with the rates of 8%, 12% and 6% a couple of years back my first instinct was that a relief. Still high, but not stupidly high.

Turns out that its closer to 5% for Hampshire after delving into the smaller print. This is what I get for premature optimism. Council Tax remains the most unpopular tax in the country and considering it isn't even 15 years old after replacing the very short lived Poll Tax it's what we can call successful by any measure.

It's surprising haven't bother to take an easy point score off the Tories. The Tory installed Poll Tax was a disaster. The Council Tax they designed to fix the problem only 3 years later has proved to be not much better. Labour could have easily gone "Look, the Conservatives evidently didn't know how to create a fair tax system. We can improve on it by..."

You should expect to see such a redistribution plan appear in next year's election manifestos. One or the other party has got to take the lead on this issue.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pun of the Day

Goes to the Beeb on the news that the Scots are pushing the US to lift the ban on haggis.

You are offal but I like you

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's time to switch off

I can't help it. It must be a really pathetic rebellious streak that tunes me up to get irritated by patronising two word concepts designed to offer catchphrases to world catastrophes.
"Global Warming"... Not scary enough for you, fine.
Lets try "Climate Change"... Hmmm, good but doesn't offer enough personal responsibility. After all it is your fault.
"Carbon Footprint"... There you go. Get out of that without moving. Because you can't move. Because that requires energy. And you can't do that. Using energy is bad you know.

And finally lets have a "Credit Crunch".
It's not a bloody credit crunch. It's reconciled stupidity.
Borrowing money you can't afford; stupid. Lending money to people who can't afford it so you don't expect to see much of it back; stupid.

Each new term that the media picks up and runs with just sounds more and more cutesy each time offering never to stir up the severity of the situation it is supposed to represent. Give it a proper name if you want it taken seriously. Sheesh.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Change is not a buzzword

Change is an inevitability when you hold an election. Unless you really think how things are now are really great and you wouldn't want things any different.
Never going to happen.

Sheesh.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Test of Gordon's Mettle - Public Sector Pay

The big political issue of the year is the economy according to pundits and this month it comes the free vote on MP's pay. Members of Parliament currently earn in the region of £60,000 a year with expenses roughly doubling that. Last year their pay rise was pitiful. Something like 0.66%. That means they should have the right to start barking about a decent wage increase just as much as the doctors, nurses, police and other workers in the public sector.

The difference between the two is that MP's get to vote on their pay award. It is not dictated to them from upon high. Oh, unless you count the voting public as the standards agency in these matters.

It is absolutely unthinkable that the pay award should be any higher than 1.9% the same figure that all the other public sectors have to live with. This is the ultimate topic to cast judgement on the government practising what they preach. The opposition have the right to go higher because they probably don't agree with the 1.9% limit on the public sector as a whole but aren't in a position to do anything about it. The matters nothing because the government hold the majority.
Quite frankly the amount of unrest within the police service disturbs me greatly. The prospect of a few hundred people acting on self-interest (considering billions do this daily) scares me even more. It's fortunate that these few individuals are supposed to have self-interest that represents our own.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kenya & Pakistan Keep the Middle East Out of the Headlines

And that's exactly how you know that world affairs are in a very shaky state to start the year. The only part about the Kenyan situation that interests me is that since it has kept Iraq and Afghanistan off the news it must be bad.

So taking a quick peek into what's going on beyond alleged vote rigging I came across an interesting quote from the US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
"We're not going to dictate the outcome of any discussions between the two parties,"
Don't you love it when top ranking Americas say that. That means one of two things:
Kenya is so unimportant in the global scheme of things that the Americans genuinely do not have any vested interest in the result of who runs a country (how often does that happen?).
Or someone is lying...

Also strange that no-one is piping up against the presence of nuclear weapons in a country as unstable as Pakistan at the moment while continually kicking up a stink about Iran.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

This is Why No-one Watches ITV

Tonight ITV is dedicating one and a half hours worth of primetime TV to a programme on binge drinking. A worthy endeavour; you have my attention. Lets read the description shall we:
The Truth About Binge Drinking
As debate rages over Britain's apparently increasing `booze culture', former Liberty X star Michelle Heaton participates in a timely social experiment. Under the close supervision of medics she drinks an amount greater than the recommended level of alcohol for 30 consecutive days. The intention is to reveal the full price binge drinkers pay for their habit
Lets get this straight. You're doing a programme on binge drinking by getting a vaguely recognisable celebrity to drink 30 days straight. Excuse me whilst I scratch my head a second...

... ok, what you have got there is a programme on excessive drinking. May I present an unscientific but realistic table profiling an alcoholic against a binge drinker.

Day

Amount drunk by an alcoholic

Amount drunk by a binge drinker

1

Lots

None

2

Lots

Recommended

3

Lots

None

4

Lots

None

5

Lots

None

6

Lots

Shit loads

7

Lots

Shit loads

8

Lots

None


Words fail me when it comes to drawing a conclusion on how wrong the title of this programme seems to be.

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So What Happened? 2007

A somewhat delayed review of the year. Quite frankly this post has suffered the same fate as my general posting activities over the past six months. 2005 was the best year of my life. 2006 struggled in the shadow of the year before and managed to be reasonably successful none the less.
2007 has proved to the most difficult to manage to date.

It's only now I look back and see what a great springboard into the year I had. Debt free with a finance system that worked; a completed first module in a degree, spiritual progress and acknowledging the possibility of love once more.

I was restless. It was a do or die year. In April I would hit 3 years in the same job. In May it would be 3 years since my last relationship. It was also time to start building towards a financially secure future. I was deeply concerned with becoming static and I didn't want to start feeling so comfortable so as to fear change.

A year of mixed success but of true blessing. Blessed with the knowledge of "you are what you think". Best idea with that little trinket is to set goals accordingly, of course.

I've never been in great shape. Not bad fitness wise, seeing as I've climbed mountains and still have running in me after 90 minutes of football, but never great shape. It's only striked me last year that this is because I've never seen it, never visualised it and certainly have no idea what to do with it should it show up.

The fitness of the mind has always been what I've valued when making the choice between the two. The reason this whole issue is important to me now is because of the intrinsic link: healthy body, healthy mind. Going to have to plan and visualise now to increase my cerebral skills.

Why mixed success? Well, at work there were 2 more failed job applications and this was followed by finally being rewarded with promotion in September. Significant because since I entered the last job in 2004 I always believed that 3 years would be enough and then I would have to move on setting an arbitrary date of my 25th birthday. What do you know; 4 days to spare...

In play, I fell in love and it was unrequited. Afterwards I had a relationship and it ended. I got down to my ideal weight and then went up again.

What is truly, truly interesting is what I discovered didn't make me happy like I thought they might. Not that they didn't make me happier or life better. I just expected more I suppose.
A new job didn't make me happy.
A woman in my life didn't make me happy.
Money hasn't made me happy, yet.

Interestingly enough these are all things tied to this world we literally share. Literally in that, you could have the same money I do, you could have the same job or the same woman (though not as the same time as me I would hope). Which makes me think that I should be turning more attention to the world that we don't share, the world that is mine. This is the world of words, images, thoughts, beliefs... faith.

I think about humanity and spirituality so much and suppress it greatly since their are no religions, political parties or even individuals that share my views. Life is about sharing stories. Perhaps this is a habit I should break.

In 2008 I would like to see my corporeal needs take a back seat and have my spiritual development come to the fore.

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