Archive for July, 2010

Vampiric Cricketers

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , on July 22, 2010 by awickerman

You can now buy a biography of an Indian cricketer complete with a front page made (partly) of his blood.

This will not end well when Goths and fans of Vampire novels find out about this new book making possibility,  it will end in tears. Tears and exsanguination.

Return of the Nuke

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on July 15, 2010 by awickerman

After some probably ill-advised detours I think it’s time to return to something engineering related. So I bring you the news that the planning permission process for the next generation of nuclear plants is generally considered a pointless time wasting sham by all involved.

OK this may just be confirmation of something you previously suspected, but at least you can now l0ok at the pretty Hinkley Point C sub-contractor website. While there you may note the fact the preliminary works (which need no planning permission but have only purpose) are starting soon while the actual work on the power station has already been scheduled in for next year.

Barring a horrific nuclear incident this is going to happen and all the ‘inquiries’ into it have already been comprehensively fixed, which is very reassuring for those of us who like a reliable electricity supply.

The Death of the Guardian

Posted in Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by awickerman

The inevitable death of the hypocritical and tax-dodging Guardian drew a step closer as the parent group (which was itself set up to avoid death duties) announces another colossal loss.

If nothing else this is richly deserved on ground of hypocrisy. The Guardian has spent years  using every rule in the book to avoid tax while at the same time bashing everyone else for ‘tax dodging’, including getting things so wrong over Tescos they had to issue a grovelling apology and were damned near sued out of existence.

If not paying loads of tax is as ‘morally offensive’  as the paper’s columnists claim then damn well stop using off-shore trusts. Indeed the ‘moral’ thing to do would be to pay the death duties the paper’s owners so successfully avoided all those years ago, sure the penalty interest on the bill is probably quite steep but this is about morality not crass commerce!

Still with such epic haemorrhages of cash, and this is before the ConDems put all public sector jobs online for free instead of exclusively into the Guardian, I doubt they could afford they have the cash to afford their high moral tone. Which makes their coming bankruptcy all the sweeter.

Death and Taxes

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Rantings, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by awickerman

A random post about the US. Not living in the country, or indeed being that bothered about it, on the subject of US healthcare reform my indifference is almost boundless, if only BBC News shared that attitude.

However this story did get a reaction from me, mainly one of ‘thank Buddha on a tricycle I don’t live there’. The idea of the tax man being involved in health care is a terrifying one, almost as bad as the idea of using doctors to run the tax service in fact. As the article (almost) says a fair and compassionate tax man is an entirely mythical beast, which bodes ill for anyone getting ill in America in the next few years.

Still at least when you die in hospital because the tax man has sent you forms instead of medicine you will know you’ve died in a tax efficient manner. There’s the added bonus that the tax man can get right on to applying inheritance tax to your estate instead of waiting to be told your dead. Sure that does mean there’s a double perverse incentive for the tax man to kill people not cure them (saving money and getting to tax your grieving relatives  early) but I’m sure they’ll be fair and compassionate…  Oh hang on.

The perils of Google

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Almost Beyond Words with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2010 by awickerman

A job last week required I search for a bizarre string of acronyms, the details of which are both dull and irrelevant. Top result on Goggle was this terrifying masterpiece;

The horror, the horror.

In all honesty my world was a slightly better place before I knew people were (a) interested in Belgium number plates, (b) felt the need to produce websites on the subject and worst of all (c) that there are at least 26 of them judging by the poll.

Great Questions of Our Time #342

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , on July 3, 2010 by awickerman

This sentence either makes no sense or is posing a great philosophical question.

The Highways Agency has agreed to erect two fences and to plant some hawthorns to protect the naturists’ modesty and peace and quiet.

Assuming it is deliberate it does pose the question; If you are a nudist do you in fact have any modesty?

Inexplicable Demands

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Rantings, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by awickerman

Train operating companies, you would hope, would know something about how the railways work. It is therefore inexplicable why ATOC (the Association of Train Operating Companies) wants a “swift and rigorous” review of railway investment.

This is the British rail industry we’re talking about, nothing is swift and nothing is rigorous. Actually that’s unfair; much rigorous work is done, it’s just always ignored due to the paralysing fear of change or the fact it might cost more money. With the railways already being a colossal money pit (in stark contrast to the roads which turn a ‘profit’ for the government) it’s obvious why rigour is officially discouraged.

Their main points seem to be that the rail/train interface should be under unified control (theirs) and that a more commercially minded approach is needed. The later is debatable, certainly everyone else in the world manages to maintain their railways cheaper than in Britain but I’m not sure that’s a commercial issue. That’s an arse covering, fear of litigation problem. The former though is a common rail complaint which puts ATOC in the unique position of agreeing with the RMT, they both want unified control. It just the RMT want to bring back British Rail while ATOC want a fully privatised railway under their control (and no Railtrack emphatically didn’t count, it was never even slightly independent of government control and interference).

Quite why railwaymen are so keen on train operators controlling the track (or vice versa) I’ve no idea. I know why the RMT want it (nationalise everything!) and why ATOC want it (more money!) but why does anyone else want it, and want it they do. As a counter example no-one argues that air traffic control, runways and airliners should be controlled by the same people so why are the railways special? Indeed as the same people who want unified control normally looks enviously at German railways (with their cunning ‘timetable huge gaps to allow slack’ system) it should be remember that Germany operate a franchise system for train operations. But as that fact is inconvenient it will doubtless be ignored.

For all that getting ATOC involved would be handy, there are dozens of unglamorous but useful jobs that Network Rail aren’t interested in but would help train operation (it should come as no surprise that NR view actual trains as a necessary evil). But as passengers are way down the bottom of the priority list, only just above the taxpayers, there’s sod all chance of that happening.

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