Brain In Neutral?
Attention Romiley residents who are wondering why their pavements remain cracked and broken and huge puddles gather at roadsides after every shower of rain -- wonder no more. Your local council has spent the highway repair budget on totally unnecessary repainting of white lines.
Some idiot read a Department of Transport directive on Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossings and jumped to the erroneous conclusion that the zig-zag white lines in the middle of the road had to be burned off and repainted as zag-zig lines to make them comply with the directive. The councillors then nodded through authorization for the work to be done -- presumably in their sleep. So dozens of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council's workmen leapt into action and converted central zig-zag lines to zag-zig lines at great cost to the ratepapers.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said of the council that "we will be talking to them". Romiley residents responded with a weary, "Big deal!"
|East Anglian Night|
Left In The Dark
Electricity was still in short supply in East Anglia a week after the storms over the last weekend of October. The gales brought down power lines and the local electricity company wasn't able to get on with the job of repairing them fast enough to satisfy its customers. Halloween arrived to find vast areas of the region still blacked out and the residents looking forward to Bonfire Night (the real one on the 5th) in the same condition if things didn't improve radically.
The company responsible for getting things working again is called 24seven. We have no information on whether the company is French owned, but it would come as no surprise to find out that it is.
The people of Norfolk are now convinced that its name was coined because the average customer takes 24 hours to get through on their (un)help phone line and the company takes seven days to consider customer complaints. [That's consider the complaint rather than do anything about it. Ed.]
On the bright side, members of the astronomy led Dark Skies Association are flocking to the region's dark spots in the hopes of seeing what a night sky should look like when it's free of light pollution from badly designed street lights, signs, etc. All they need is one night when the bloody rain stops. Which rarely happens around the time of Bonfire Night!
Magpie Butler Dodges A Bullet
So the Burrell trial has collapsed in disarray because Princess Di's former butler mentioned to the Queen that he'd taken ‘some of her personal papers' into protective custody. But how does one stretch ‘some personal papers' to cover the vast collection of loot assembled by magpie butler Paul Burrell? And when was he planning to surrender the loot to its proper owners? And what about the missing items? And his dozen or so explanations as to how he laid his hands on the loot?
There's a lot more to this story than will ever come out in the near future.
We Know Who's To Blame
First we get ludicrous claims that the Queen personally brought the prosecution against magpie butler Paul Burrell, then she made the case collapse and she should pay for it. Now, we're getting the Vice-Prez bitching at Britain's Institutions for failing to deal with the public's fear of crime.
The monarch can't be blamed for the actions of people in the legal industry who take her name in vain. It's like saying the Queen is responsible for the routine cock ups and outright disasters of 'Her Majesty's Government' when Parliament has peeled away all powers from the monarch -- and chopped the head off one of them in the process.
And talking about Parliament, who's been in charge of these Institutions since mid-1997, Bitchin' Tone? Who promised he was going to be tough on both crime and its causes? Who let judges refuse to lock up muggers and burglars so that the numbers of muggings and burglaries are now at record levels and rising because the perpetrators know they won't be locked up?
As Vice-Prez In Charge Of Everything In The UK, the figurehead of one of the most meddlesome regimes in the whole history of the universe and the guy in whose backyard the buck is supposed to stop, the Vice-Prez has just spun himself from ludicrous to hypocritical and all the way back again.
Rock 'n' Roll!
The experts still don't know what's causing the earthquakes under Manchester but the count by the third week of the month, as reported to the British Geological Society website, was 102. The seismometers placed in the city centre have recorded a lot more but most of them are Richter force 1 & 2 -- and anything the punters can't feel doesn't really merit much attention. The experts plan to publish a report on the 'Manchester cluster' early next year. Let's hope they have something concrete to tell us by then.
On-Off Chewing Gum Fines
One day, Vice-Prez Blair was all fired up to issue dustmen and street cleaners with books of fixed penalty tickets and send them forth to smite yobs where they litter. A day later, he got cold feet. The great campaign to issue £50 fines to anyone responsible for discarding chewing gum and litter, and other low-level anti-social behaviour, ground to a shuddering halt.
The GMB union had blasted the Vice-Prez's ear with the news that the jobs of street cleaners and dustmen are hard enough and they don't need confrontations with angry yobbos as an added bonus. The union also raised the spectre of vigilante dustcarts in moderately high-speed pursuits of litter louts on busy streets. When someone mentioned the training costs and extra pay to cover extra duties, The Mugger blew a fuse and that was it.
"There was no U-turn," said No. 10's official in charge of lying to the media. "This was not just spin to distract attention from the failure to get NHS consultants to do more evening and weekend work and the failure to resolve the firemen's strike.
"The blame for the whole misunderstanding has to fall on the Chancellor, who was too distracted by his plans to pursue the jobless into their homes to think through the fines issue. The Chancellor's decision not to pursue his pursuit of the jobless was a genuine U-turn."
A spokesman for the Chancellor denied that he had made a U-turn and called the apparent discrepancy between the noises coming from Nos. 10 and 11 Downing Street ‘a failure of interpretation'.
Maybe Foreign Secretary (alleged) Jack Straw could take a break from his pointless apologies to mention to the chewing gum warriors that Singapore came up with a sensible solution to its street-cleaning problems 10 years ago -- banning the import, manufacture and sale of chewing gum.
[Editor's Note: Their resolve is now crumbling in the face of pressure from the United States. As part of a trade deal, the Singapore government has been forced to make sugar-free gum with 'therapeutic and medicial benefits' available on prescription at pharmacies.]
Gone But Not Forgotten
'Dead Presidents' is a phrase in common currency. 'Dead Voters' is the concept of the minute in Kenya. They're not very good at keeping the electoral registers up to date there -- with the result than 1 million dead people remain 'on the books'. Opposition parties are now worrying that the government will use the 'dead vote' to rig the elections due on December 27th.
Maybe someone should check our own electoral registers in the UK to find out if this is how New Labour wormed its way back into power after 4 years of doing nothing but imposing Stealth Taxes and making a bog of things!
Meanwhile, in Kenya's neighbour Zimbabwe, it's now illegal to swear and make gestures at Prez Mug's 40-car motorcade when it hogs the roads and brings the peasants to a full stop. Anyone caught in the act by Mr. Mug's private police force is liable to join the Dead Voters' List as a registered Mugabe supporter.
The Despot Strides Out
Vice-Prez Blair seems to be hotting up his bid to become the World's Favourite Despot. Everyone's to blame but him for the fire brigade strike. The Pope is no longer infallible but the Vice-Prez is keen to take over the holy one's former role as a perfect being. As he assumes personal charge of sorting out the fire brigade, we can be confident that he will bring to the job, the same expertise shown over the Millennium Dome, the Foot & Mouth outbreak, the Railtrack fiasco and the current state of the NHS.
Safe-Hands Tone, they call him.
The crunch point with the firemen seems to be the issue of modernization. In the V-P's own backyard, i.e. the House of Commons, that seems to involve changing the hours so that no one ever has to turn up and doubling the pay on a regular basis. If he had any sense, the fire brigade union's extremely well-off bruiser of a boss would be jumping at a modernization deal along those lines. But maybe he's too busy tweaking the tail of the deputy PM, Mr. T.W.O. Jags, to concentrate on the job in hand.
Dangerous Jobs -- The Stats
On the subject of the fire brigade strike -- Oxford University's Department of Public Health has published some figures on death rates per 100,000 workers for a range of jobs. Fighting fires is more dangerous than being a copper or a soldier (unless the soldier is fighting fires, of course) but, surprisingly, it's a lot safer than many other jobs. Some examples are given below.
It looks like the firemen are suffering from the effects of abundant information -- namely, the more people learn about their job, the less impressed they are. Facts such as their job isn't anywhere near as dangerous as people assumed and they can spend a night shift asleep and go to a second job in the morning can only damage their case for a 40% pay rise. And who knows what else will become common currency as the strike drags on?
20 times >
Danger of being killed at work compared to Firemen
This Is Not A Junket, Honest!
Why are a dozen MPs and a gang of Labour Party bosses going to Gibraltar to 'observe' the referendum on whether to share sovereignty with Spain? Any fule kno that the natives are going to say "NO!" very loudly.
"This is not a jolly in any way, shape or form," said the leader of the junketeers. "Democracy needs to be defended and the Labour Party has to be there to get that job done. We will not be taking a two-day break in the sun. And someone needs to run a 'yes' campaign."
|Albert Hussein of P.E.E.|
Stunning Victory In Gib
Achieving a massive 1% 'YES' vote in the Gibraltar referendum was 'a stunning victory for our point of view', a new spokesman for Vice-Prez Blair announced.
Mr. Albert Hussein, a recent recruit to Downing Street's Public Enlightenment Executive, added that the result had been achieved in the face of disgraceful scaremongering tactics and widespread intimidation in what had been one of the fiercest political campaigns ever conducted.
He also pointed out that 12% of the population had not voted, which means that 13%, not 1%, of Gibraltarians favour shared sovereignty. When one of the journalists accused him of playing with numbers and pointed out that 75% of the British population had favoured an alternative to a New Labour government at the last general election, Mr. Hussein brought the press conference to a close.
Following accepted EU practice, further referenda are expected until, in the words of Mr. Hussein at a private briefing, "the people of Gibraltar get it right -- the way the Irish reached the right decision on enlargement of the EU."
Mr. Hussein is an acknowledged expert in the art of persuasion and he played a significant part in obtaining an approval rating in excess of the magic 100% in last month's Iraqi presidential referendum
Experts are predicting that upwards of 30 polls will be required before the intensely patriotic Gibraltarians succumb to election fatigue and stay at home, allowing the correct point of view to prevail. The government has promised to introduce a new Stealth Tax in the UK in good time to raise funds to pay for the additional referenda.
The Nation Speaks!
Q : Should Paul Burrell have got himself a better ghost writer?
Q : Do you think Paul Burrell has ever met a member of the Royal Family?
Q : Paul Burrell called Earl Spencer a hypocrite for making money out of his dead sister's memory. Do you think that makes Mr. Burrell a hypocrite too?
Noise Polluters Have To Pay
The city of New York plans to introduce a law aimed at mobile phone vandals "before the end of the year". If the intrusive gadget rings during a theatre or cinema performance, the offender will be liable to pay a fine of $50. To whom the cash will go was not specified.
The mobile phone lobby complained that the measure goes right over the top. A spokesman said, "We can't outlaw rude people. We can only hope to educate them."
"And impoverish them if they refuse to learn," a spokesman for the entertainment industry added with a wry smile.
Exactly how much education the mobile phone industry does was not disclosed. Anyone who has ever attended an educational course arranged by the mobile phone industry is invited to write in or email us with details of the content and an assessment of the effectiveness of the course - Ed.
We Brits put up circular blue plaques to announce that someone famous lived in a building. The French go in for marble oblongs. Now, someone has started to take the Mick out of the whole process.
Bogus plaques have started to appear in Paris, announcing thing like: 'On April 17th, 1967, right here, nothing at all happened'; or that a fictitious person lived in the building; or that the plaque was installed on a particular date (with no further information on the plaque).
The busybodies on the city council debated the issue of bogus plaques, insisting that they are devaluing the official ones. To their dismay, they learned that removing bogus plaques is up to the owner of the building concerned and none of their business.
So the plaques are there to stay for the moment and Paris is a little brighter for their presence.
Mad Scientists Kidnapped My Mom's Brain!
Ulrike Meinhof, one of the founders of the West German Baader-Meinhof Group, might have been 'mad not bad' -- but does that make any difference to the victims of her terrorist gang?
Meinhof hanged herself in 1976 at the top-security prison complex for urban terrorists in Stammheim, a suburb of Stuttgart. Now, it has been revealed that her brain has turned up in a jar at a German university following a lengthy search by Meinhof's daughter, Mrs. Bettina Rohl.
After the post mortem, the terrorist's brain was taken to the Tubingen Research Institute, about 20 miles from Stuttgart, for examination. The researchers had hoped to find evidence of a 'terrorist gene'. What they actually found was damage to the brain caused by the removal of a tumour in 1962, six years before Meinhof and her friends began their spree of fire-bombings and killings.
The damage could have changed her personality -- and Mrs. Rohl is now reported to be thinking of taking legal action against the German government to have her mother pardoned posthumously on medical grounds.
[A tangential account of activities of the Baader-Meinhof Group/Red Army Faktion may be found in The War Crimes Commissioner by L. Gordon Range -- Ed.]
|Mr. Jags with minder|
"A great breakthrough in communications technology and road safety," was how Mr. T.W.O. Jags, the Minister of Transport, described the decision to build Doppler radar technology into new mini-masts for mobile phones. The system will monitor active mobile phones in passing vehicles and it will be able to calculate the speed of the vehicle from Doppler shifts in the transmissions received from the mobile phone.
The system will also be able to plot the vehicle's position and detect whether the driver is exceeding the speed limit for his current zone. New legislation is expected soon which will allow speeding fines to be added automatically to the phone bill of the owner of the mobile in the offending vehicle.
Anticipating that the phone may be in use by a passenger in a speeding vehicle, the new legislation will reinforce the concept of joint liability for all those engaged in breaking the law. The fined passenger will have to seek redress from the driver if he or she feels hard done by.
A spokesman for the legal profession issued warm thanks to the lawyers in Parliament for creating yet another opportunity for them to profit from the disputes of their fellow citizens.
Hole Tax Avoidance Causes More Chaos
People stuck in traffic jams complain about holes in the road causing bottlenecks. So the government decided to solve the problem with a new Stealth Tax -- a Hole Tax. The scheme lets them fine utility companies which fail to finish an excavation job on time from £100 to £2,000 per day to give the company an incentive to reduce street congestion. Brilliant! Everything will be right with the world, the politicians thought.
All that happened was that the sneaky utility companies went in for "job doubling". They now dig 2 smaller holes where they used to dig one big one -- but they're allowed the same amount of time on a small-hole job as a big-hole job, so it's easier for them to finish on time, and the end result is that there's twice as much street congestion.
Don't you just wish the politicians would stop meddling and trying to 'improve things' for a while?
The Transport Secretary, Mr. Eyebrows, is planning to extend a 'holes in the road' pilot scheme to the whole country. For the last 8 months, Middlesborough and Camden councils have been charging £500 per day for the privilege of digging up their main roads and £200 per day for minor ones. And if the company has to reopen a hole to fix a botched job, it's £650 per day. Sounds like a nice little earner -- except that it's just a vehicle for extracting more cash from the pockets of the government's customers and sliding it into The Mugger's Black Hole.
Warning : Smooth Road Ahead!
Talking about digging things up, Oxford council put a speed bump in front of a Mr. Beesley's house as part of a traffic calming exercise. He found that the noise of HGVs slamming on their brakes in the middle of the night and clattering over the bump kept him awake, so he complained to the council. The council, of course, did nothing. So Mr. Beasley, a builder, hired a JCB and, with the help of a couple of mates, removed the bump!
Citizens In Action, or what!
Advice To Customers
In the event of a terrorist attack, the British Government advises its customers to wrap themselves in aluminium foil and avoid panic. Greaseproof paper is a possible substitute wrapping material -- or good old-fashioned brown paper if you can still find it. If only newspaper is available, at least 5 layers are necessary to achieve a minimal protective effect.
If you can leave the country, please do so.
Do not attempt to go to a hospital as they are not equipped to handle the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
WoMD? Wot WoMD?
Prez Bush and Vice-Prez Blair are wearing long faces as the war with Iraq looks even further off. The World's Favourite Dictator has invited in the UN weapons inspectors and denied having any Weapons of Mass Destruction. But why is he doing this?
Simple. He's had 4 years to hide everything beyond the inspectors' capacity to find it and he's been able to shift production of chemical and biological weapons out of Iraq to client countries -- the USA has plenty of enemies, remember.
So -- no discoveries of nasties, nothing for the inspectors to report and no war. Result -- misery for the politicians who hope to bolster their ratings on the back of some good old-fashioned slaughter.
Marks & Sparks WoMD!
Marks & Spencer has come up with a new Weapon of Mass Destruction which is disguised as an apparently harmless salad dressing. A woman from Bridport, Dorset, came home from a weekend break to find her kitchen in ruins and the fridge missing its door. She'd made the mistake of leaving a bottle of M&S coconut and lemongrass dressing in her fridge instead of a concrete bunker.
A spokesman for the author of the WoMD said that the dressing was a discontinued line and it was long past its end date, anyway. The company had no comment to make on a report that the CIA is buying up remaining stocks of the dressing and shipping them to Iraq.
I Don't Wish To Know That!
The Cambridge Institute of Socio-Gravimetric Studies has found that naturally clumsy people are 74% more likely to fall over than those with an 'average' rating in their Unco-ordination Index. The pre-publication leaks from the recent research study also revealed that the UI can be raised in 'average' people by the effects of fatigue, alcohol and stress, but rarely to the level of true 'serial clumsiness'. That height is reserved for those unfortunates carrying the gene which the Institute discovered last year.
Make Your Minds Up, Chaps!
The horticultural face of the UK will change dramatically thanks to the effects of Global Warming. Lawns and herbaceous borders will be history as they consume vast amounts of water and we're looking at more or less permanent droughts when the climate changes. Coconut and date palms, citrus fruits and other hot-climate plants will flourish and we won't recognize Olde Englande -- or Olde Scotlande or Olde Walese for that matter -- in a few years' time.
While this set of "experts" is waxing lyrical, let's not forget that another set of "experts" has promised us (a while back) that the dreaded Global Warming will switch off the Gulf Stream, the UK's central heating system, and we'll end up with a climate like Moscow's. [Isn't that where they let the snows of winter bury their cars and they dig them out again in the spring? And they have to wrap their statues up in wooden boxes to stop the frost from ripping them to bits? Ed.]
So it looks like the palm trees and so going to have a pretty thin time of it!
Free Gifts For All!
Walker's reckon they've put £20 notes in some of their packets of crisps [good story -- Ed.] Tesco are now giving away free black widow spiders with some of their packs of Californian grapes. What next? The mind boggles.
What next? Waitrose getting into the act with its own free spiders! Can the rest be far behind?