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Saturday, 1 September 2012

A lesson in lighting for women

Women - unite to save your looks!

There are two types of light bulb;

1. Energy saving, compact flourescent, fluorescent
These are the official bulbs you are supposed to fit everywhere. They will make you look like a witch; the pronounced green / blue cast turns the skin a deathly sick green decaying colour like a day-old zombie and highlights all those tiny lines and wrinkles. They make you look as though you're in the terminal stages of an unpleasant disease. If you apply make-up under this light and then go outdoors into real light, you will look hideous and tasteless. Never choose clothes under this light - they will be a different colour in real light, too. 

2. Incandescent 
These are the old type bulbs that the EU has made totally illegal from 1st September. They flatter, smooth wrinkles and blemishes and throw a faintly red/amber cast that's warm and sexy; under this light you look fit, healthy, desirable and to the subconscious male psyche faintly flushed as though sexually stimulated. Make up applied under this light will look sophisticated, restrained and expert in real daylight. This is why professional make-up mirrors have a ring of incandescent bulbs not strip lights. 

Neither the green cast from fluorescent or the pinky cast from incandescent is visible - the brain corrects what the eye sees so that both appear 'white', but the subconscious registers the true colour and conditions our responses accordingly.

Here's a scientific explanation that you won't possibly understand. So please go back to playing with kittens, and remember - DON'T let your tradesmen fit the witch-bulbs or you'll never enjoy male attention again

(pulls tin helmet on ...)

Cameron's political obituaries - so soon?

Barely half way through his first (and perhaps last and only) term in office, both the Telegraph and the Mail carry political obituaries for Cameron. Dominic Sandbrook in the Mail writes
greatness never lies in shirking big challenges. Indeed, history tends to reward politicians who were courageous enough to take decisions and alienate people — statesmen such as the great Liberal prime ministers William Gladstone and David Lloyd George, and Labour’s Clement Attlee, as well as Mrs Thatcher herself. All of them, in their different ways, were radicals. All had a profound sense of mission and a determination to leave their mark on history.
While leaving blank any suggestion that Dave has any sense of mission whatsover. Damian Thompson in the Telegraph is far more explicit
There’s a third reason for Cameron’s failure to communicate. It’s not that he lacks a convincing narrative: so does every other leader in these chaotic times. It’s that he doesn’t really know why he wanted to be Prime Minister. I get the sense that he parked that internal discussion until after he’d got the job, and now he’s too preoccupied to address it. But address it he should, because the British electorate knows exactly what to do with prime ministers who lack a vocation. It kicks them out of office and then spends years mocking them.
Thompson scores a telling hit 
Whenever Cameron speaks, I feel that he’s talking to someone else. Indeed, I suspect that the whole country – irrespective of class, race, gender or sexuality – feels the same thing.
And this is the crux of it. Cameron has never learned the knack of talking to people rather than at them.  

Friday, 31 August 2012

Weeding out the HFE dross

If you're leaving a British school with 3 A* grades at A level and want to continue a higher level education, London Metropolitan University probably won't be the first institution on your list. As North London Poly it undoubtedly offered vocational training of some quality, and a few remnants of that excellence remain. But on the whole, it is a third-rate institution staffed by second-rate academics and sustained by BCC A level scholars and tens of millions a year of foreign fees. In fact, so important are foreign fees that LMU maintains offices in  Beijing, Chennai, Delhi, Dhaka, Lagos and Lahore - and one suspects it's largely these offices that are responsible for the quite proper decision to strip LMU of its foreign admission powers. It turns out that places were awarded (and presumably fees collected from) students who never turned up for class, that places were awarded (and presumably fees collected from) students who turned up to class but didn't have valid student visas, and that few LMU foreign students of any variety could understand English sufficiently to undertake capably a higher education course taught in that language.

If LMU folds, one hopes the Sir John Cass Foundation finds a new parent institution. The 'Cass', like the London College of Printing, Central St Martins, Goldsmiths and a few other institutions, have been the cradle of much London talent, and the new spiv universities have done little but devalue their excellence. The demise of LMU may also mean a crisis for the Women's Library, the archives of the Fawcett Society, the TUC library and the Irish Studies collection, but one hope one will be able to bear these latter losses with fortitude.   

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Hungary nationalises cigarette sales

The war on smokers is very much part of Hungarian ruling party Fidesz's political creed of 'Home, family, work, health and order'. Health is not a personal option; if the State pays your healthcare costs, the argument goes, the State must also regulate your lifestyle. A draft law that would nationalise all of Hungary's tobacco outlets or kiosks and ration them to one per 2,000 population, leaving 5,000 - 6,000 State-run tobacco outlets across the country compared with the estimated 43,000 current private sales points, is due to take effect from the start of 2013. 

However, Hungary being part of the EU, both the EU and other member nations may file objections to this kind of national law whilst in draft form; the consultation ended last week, and neither the EU nor a single European State filed any objection at all.

Be afraid.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Waiting for the Euro

Clegg's daft 'soak the rich' soundbite can be considered as much a part of the silly season as the Clacton lion; the number of taxpayers in a narrow band between the 'squeezed middle' and those wealthy enough to leave UK tax jurisdiction if overtaxed is small. Yet this captive group - tied to their firms or employers, earning say over £100k - are to be token rich victims as the cuts start to bite next year among the poorest deciles. It's politics; it ain't economics.

Similarly all the calls for massive infrastructure funding. Such schemes take years to develop, and over the next two or three the only people who will benefit are architects, planners and consultants. Meanwhile business is sitting on a massive cash-pile they're either too nervous to invest or are keeping to compete in the inevitable shake-up of mergers, acquisitions and battlefield salvage from any Euro collapse.

Keynesian demand-stimulus - dropping fivers out of a helicopter - isn't the way either, not at this time. And don't forget hysteresis, that efficiency-gains implemented by firms in recession mean that if and when production returns to 2007 output levels it will do so at lower input factor costs. Except of course for the public sector, so resilient to shedding labour costs in recession that few efficiencies are ever gained from the economic cycle. 

What I'm convinced is lacking is not will, or capacity, or ability or too few poorer people. It's knowledge of the road ahead. Uncertainty is the greatest risk, and inhibits business and investment decisions more than anything else. And the greatest element of that uncertainty is the future of the Eurozone.

Monday, 27 August 2012

D'Ancona sock-puppets party tax funding

Matthew D'Ancona is normally quite a sensible chap- unless, that is, he plays the sock-puppet and uses his Telegraph column to plug some risible, shite piece of policy being pushed by Tory central HQ. Today's column is an excellent example. He tells us, in effect, that Cameron has decided to put party above country; that Tory electoral gains from constituency reform are worth giving the LibDems what they want in party tax funding. Well, I for one would rather Labour won those seats than have state funding of political parties. What a weak, utterly corrupt, sleazy self-interested rationale.

D'Ancona attempts to rationalise his fatuous nonsense by presenting a false dichotomy. Would you rather have parties funded by rich, corrupt individuals like Asil Nadir or by clean, neutral tax money? He chooses to ignore completely the third alternative - that parties, as private clubs, are paid for solely by their members' subscriptions and legally limited voluntary donations from the public.

The tax-theft developed by Hayden Phillps and  supported by Christopher Kelly is so corruptly anti-democratic, so skewed and biased in favour of the Big Three that it is nothing more than a blatant third-world banana republic scam, filthily corrupt, a foul perversion of democratic process.

The LibDems are history. Today polling just 10% against UKIP's 12%, with fewer than 50k members, with empty coffers and no longer even funded by £1.7m a year of opposition 'Short' money the Parliamentary party must straggle along until the end of this fixed-term Parliament, when the country will put this party out of its misery. For Cameron to pervert the natural process of democratic evolution, to steal taxes to keep this brain-stem-dead party on life-support for the sake of half a dozen Tory seats, will rebound and will cost him far more in the long term. The NO TO TAX THIEVES campaign is a real one, ready on the starting blocks for the state-funding announcement, encouraging voters to vote for any party except those benefiting from Hayden Phillips' corrupt scam. 

C'mon Mr Cameron. Bring it on. Let the people decide.