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Category : Workplace survival, contemporary
Weather control didn't exactly exert itself, snow-wise. The token Xmas Day scattering soon melted in the streets and lingered only on dustbins, wheely bins and shed roofs. And the ice on birdbaths was only wafer thin. So the nett result was that we got cold and soggy rather than cold and snowy. The overnight snow going into Boxing Day was a bit more persistent and birdbaths froze solid. Come Holiday Monday, however, there was just ice on the pavements where they hadn't been salted and snow mainly on parked cars.
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Vice-Prez Bliar wishes it to be known that he has never met anyone called Blunkett; in fact, he has no memory of ever having heard the name before and it does not appear on any correspondence in his filing system.
One of the NFL's greatest defensive ends, and a man celebrated for his leadership qualities, has died at the very early age of 43. After 8 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reggie White took advantage of the newly introduced free agent system. He moved his No. 92 shirt to the Green Bay Packers and became an essential member of the team which won Super Bowl 31. Following a brief period of retirement, he enjoyed a last hurrah as a Carolina Panther before stepping off the pitch and onto the road to a certain place in the NFL's Hall of Fame.
The man who played Detective Lennie Briscoe in the long-running TV show Law & Order [shown on the Hallmark channel in the UK] has died of cancer at 69. His first goal was to become another James Dean or Marlon Brando, but he was unable to find similar anti-hero leading man parts. His initial successes came in the theatre and he received a Tony Award in 1969. Shortly afterwards, he met the mobster Joseph 'Crazy Joe' Gallo, who was rubbed out in 1972.
A committee of the Welsh Parliament is hard at work thinking up a new name for Mount Snowdon. The people who monitor such things say that global warming is driving the snow line up the mountain relentlessly. The current rate of retreat is 100 feet per year and experts predict Snowdon will be completely snowless by 2013 if present trends continue. Which is why the Welsh Tourist Board feels that the mountain needs a new name (excluding the word 'snow') to avoid falling foul of the Truth In Advertising Act.
Fact : We received half the average November rainfall last month and it was the driest November since 1956. Whoever it was who came up with this idea will get an argument from anyone who had to pick a path round Romiley's pavement puddles in November and avoid the spray from speeding motorists charging along half-flooded roads.
Believe it or what!
At the beginning of the month, there was actually a character on the wireless who reckoned he was writing a computer program to identify which countries, and which individual companies, are causing Global Warming. Why? So the victims of Global Warming can claim compensation from them!
p.s. Vice-Prez Bliar's official Xmas card comes in 2 versions, both with a picture of himself (looking scruffy) and Cherie (in an old dressing gown). He didn't dare include the word Xmas on Version B for fear of starting an uprising of Moslems and other non-Xtians.
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Vote for our pal Tony
Zapping burglars with extreme prejudice should be okay in a decent society, says the outgoing commissioner of the Metropolitan police. Sir John Stevens would rather invaded householders didn't use guns, but knives, clubs and electrocution engines should be okay.
An inspector of the Norfolk police has been sacked for corruption. But despite the discovery during a money-laundering investigation of £75,000 in banknotes buried in his back garden, the Can't Prosecute Service decided a caution was a better idea than prosecution.
If you want money out of a hole in the wall cash machine, don't got to Banbury in Oxfordshire unless you're planning to clear out your account. Romanian card skimmers have 'done' every single one of the 28 ATMs in the town over the last few months.
Vice-Prez Bliar has failed in his attempt to abolish the job of Lord Chancellor. The legal manoeuvring involved proved too much for his limited legal expertise. So he's drawn a line under the whole affair and no one is to mention it again.
Attention anyone with cash in a bank account which has not been used for several years
The government intends to declare your account 'dormant' and steal the contents. Customers are advised to close down all such accounts forthwith and spend the money before the Mugger can perpetrate his act of general larceny.
The government plans to deploy an army of Light Police, who will hand out fines if they think people are illuminating their neighbours excessively or making life too difficult for nocturnal criminals. Vice-Prez Bliar clearly thinks his customers' love for him increases with ever passing of a new and badly drafted regulation.
Another burglars' charter
Having undermined the pensions industry with stealth taxes and caused its collapse; apart from the bit that handles inflated pensions for politicians; the government proposes to solve a self-created problem with another stealth tax.
France & Germany have been in breach for the last 3 years of the eurozone rule which states that a country's national deficit should not exceed 3% of national income. The EU could have imposed fines of billions of euros but this generous organization has decided to do nothing at all after these criminal nations (and biggest voices) promised to do something about their offences next year.
Get yer clichés out, darling!
The usual suspects have been going on about how the robbery at the Northern Bank's HQ in Belfast was "brilliantly planned and executed with military precision". Then American author Jeffrey Robinson went on the wireless and torpedoed the clichés. The robbery was so well organized that the gang didn't know just how much paper they would have to move around, so they were exposed for hours loading it into their van, which had to make two trips.
Tough on victims, not tough on the causers of crime
11.7 million 'significant' criminal offenses were committed in 2003. Perpetrators were convicted of comitting less than 3% of the offences. Those responsible for the other 97% of the crimes were either not caught, given a fine which they didn't pay, cautioned or let off.
Rumours are emerging from the Home Office that Home Sec. Blunk agreed to publicity about his alleged affair with Mrs. X. 'to make him seem more interesting and more human to the electorate'. This is thought to be a tactic in the jockeying for position in the competition to replace that busted flush Vice-Prez Bliar.
How curious it is that the official inquiry into Blunk's conduct will apply whitewash only to the first of the above charges. Are we to assume that the rest will be filed and forgotten?
New Words for the New Millennium :
The Foreign Sec. is in trouble for applying the official 10, Downing Street Code of Conduct to his statements about the failed coup in Equatorial Guinea. After denying knowing anything about it, evidence is emerging that he knew the date of the projected coup, the names and addresses of everyone involved and the names and addresses of the people who sold them the guns and bullets. Mr. Straw is now seeking to square the discrepancy between his words and the truth prior to drawing a line under the affair and moving on.
Kilroy, who thinks he should be First Minister of UKIP, was greeted with a bucketful of 'slurry' when he turned up to do Any Questions? in Manchester on the first Friday of the month. Let us hope his assailant has a good supply of the stuff left because the UK has many more similarly deserving targets.
Good News: New Labour has given us a Freedom of Information Act.
Grab 'n' grab tactics backfire
The Mugger, architect of New Labour's Tax, Stealth Tax and waste the proceeds financial policy, has over-reached himself. Multinational companies are deciding that his tax regime is too greedy and they are choosing to set up shop elsewhere in Europe. Spain and Denmark are doing very well, and Switzerland and Ireland are also sharing the benefits of our chancellor's inept meddling.
The more you fail, the more you get under New Labour
John Glieve, whose serial amnesia at the Home office helped to sabotage the Budd Inquiry, gets a knighthood in the New Year Honours List for services to Blunk and his alleged mistress's alleged nanny.
New Labour's 'bash the toffs' ban on hunting has a huge hole in it and given that it was written by lawyers, the hole must be there by design. If a hunt lays a 'drag' with an artificial scent and the hounds 'happen' to chase a fox 'by accident', then everything is okay.
Warning! A mathematics professor has calculated that Xmas shopping switches from stress-free to stressful at 12:30 p.m. on December 4th. So if you're reading this item after that deadline, and you're worried about your blood-pressure, you are advised either to forget about Xmas buying this year or to get someone else to do the shopping for you.
theObserver gave its readers the Xmas bonus of a 10p price rise, allegedly to pay for all the new supplements & stuff. Which left the customers wondering if they could be allowed to pay, say, 70p for the newspaper and not have to bother with the '& stuff'. Suggesting this to the editor has failed to provoke a response.
The BBC's viewing figures are at an all-time low. Is anyone surprised? Not if the growth of digital TV is taken into account. Most people would rather watch Dad's Army, Inspector Morse, films, new-to-them cop shows and sci-fi series, the Time Team and other educational stuff on high-number channels than the dreck served up on channels one to four.
Tesco is selling CDs and DVDs from an outlet in Jersey. Items costing less than £18 can be sent from the Channel Isles to the UK mainland free of VAT. Even including the cost of postage & packing, CDs are one-third cheaper than on the mainland and DVDs are 40-50% cheaper. Sounds a great deal until the Mugger puts a stop to it.
Bartons Pickles takes up the slack!
The nation is alleged to have gone into mourning when a factory fire stopped production of Branston Pickle last month. Panic buying followed and there were rumours of Branston varieties changing hands at breakwallet prices. But Bartons Pickles of Merseyside laboured heroically to fill empty spaces on supermarket shelves, and the company reports that its products are still selling well even though Branston is back in production again.
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A nice little earner!
The ID Card Bill has a built-in notion that the scheme cannot be used to raise extra income for the Treasury. But there is also built-in evasion of that ideal. Anyone who refuses to buy one faces a fine of up to £2,500. And failing to keep personal details up to date, e.g. not registering a change of address, will be worth a fine of up to £1,000.
The Mugger gets another alibi in place
We always knew the Mugger, in his pre-Budget report, would find someone else to blame for his Black Hole. Vice-Prez Bliar's wars in Afghanistan then Iraq have caused the imbalance in the Mugger's books.
Looking for a safe (but boring) place to live?
The local council has switched off the lights on the Bury St. Edmonds Xmas tree in case the power supply cable jumps up and electrocutes any customers. Earlier, the same council banned street decorations in case they set fire to buildings. And in the summer, hanging baskets on lamp posts were banned in case they fell on customers.
A hot time in the old town?
The people fighting the envious Socialist ban on hunting are threatening to hold demos in the capital when the International Olympic Committee freeloaders inspect London next year. The hunting ban begins on February 18th, which falls within the IOC's jaunt from February 16th to 19th. So things could get highly entertaining for a day or two.
New Labour ordered its MPs to vote for its Compulsory Euthanasia Bill under a 3-line whip, which carries the threat of excommunication. No wonder the word 'shameful' is being tossed around in a New Labour context with the same frequency as 'cronified' and 'corrupt'.
It seems to be a rule of life that if some self-important git (Simon Hoggart, say) sets himself up as a guardian of public morals and pontificates about the failings of others, he'll end up on the sleazy end of a sex scandal sooner or later.
The Budd Inquiry has come up with a new twist on a tired old theme. Instead of finding that no one is to blame, Budd decided that someone at the Home Office did fast-track the visa application of the alleged nanny of Blunk's alleged mistress. But he couldn't find out who did it because corrupted civil servants are saying they don't remember anything about the incident and the incriminating documents have been shredded.
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Phishers In Action
Good News! Boozing helps you to live longer. A Danish professor has found that light drinkers live several years longer than teetotallers and people who 'booze for Britain'. A British prof reckons regular light drinking reduces cholesterol levels and blood pressure. A prof at Harvard University says 2 drinks a day for middle-aged people reduces the risk of heart attacks. And a prof at Aberdeen University has shown that light-drinking women have stronger bones and suffer fewer fractures.
The Latest Scare : Eating red meat gives you rheumatoid arthritis, a study at the University of Manchester has shown.
Bad News: lead from old pipes in drinking water can cause cataracts.
Extinction Warning: Anyone who has ever used a laptop computer will know they get very hot underneath. And for men who perch them on their laps, that can lead to cooked nuts and infertility. Which suggests that Nature doesn't approve of laptops and natural selection is rigged against their users!
The Latest, Latest Scare : South-East Asia will export deadly avian flu to the West in 2005 and so many people will croak that the property market will collapse and Johnny 'Two Jags' Prescott won't have to cover the South-East of England with new housing.
A little extra fat to provide insulation for the coming extra-cold winter and energy for the immune system in the flu season is not a bad thing, says the Professor of Biology at the University of Indiana, USA.
Bushmen in the Kalahari desert chew a succulent plant Hoodia gordonii to suppress their appetite when hunting. So extracts from the plant are now being positioned as the ultimate slimming aid. Which offers the prospect of fatties being able to starve themselves to death while feeling no pain.
The Agriculture & Environmental Biotechnology Commission was established to monitor ethical and social issues related to genetically monstered crops. Environment Sec. Margaret Bucket expected the commission to be a toothless pussycat but it has consistently refused to roll over and let Vice-Prez Bliar tickle its tummy.
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A United Nations' committee has proposed that the Security Council be expanded from the present 15 members to 24 members to give 'developing' countries a bigger say. Which raises the interesting prospect of the UN emulating the European Union by introducing qualified majority voting and eliminating the veto. It would certainly make life more interesting if the will of the UN could no longer be thwarted by one dissenting voice with dubious motives.
Apple is in trouble with the European Commission for racketeering in the UK. The firm has been charging British customers 15% more for downloading music tracks than customers in mainland Europe and 60% more than customers in the United States.
Congrats to the Scottish team which won the elephant polo world cup in Nepal this month, beating the home-team favourites.
Eight US soldiers are taking their government to court over their service in Iraq. They have all reached the end of their periods of enlistment and they are trying to stop Prez Bush extending their tour of duty. The Yanks are running into severe problems in Iraq due to insufficient bodies and equipment shortages. Press-ganging troops who have served their time is the preferred solution to the manpower shortage.
Prez Bush, Vice-Prez Bliar and their minions are actively trying to prevent a count of the civilian dead in Iraq. Which raises the obvious questions: "Why?" and "What are they trying to hide?"
The Dutch have had enough of immigrants lurking in enclaves and ignoring their way of life. From next year, all immigrants from outside the EU will have to take a citizenship exam and a proficiency test in the Dutch language. Anyone who flunks will be fined and/or chucked out of the country.
Congrats to Michael Crichton for not nicking the title of a Romiley Literary Circle author's novel for his latest epic.
Prez Putin, Tsar of all the modern Russias, is worried about his image. He has been slagged off a whole heap for his despotism and political criminality so much so that he wants the Russian parliament will pass a law excluding from Greater Russia, all foreigners who are cheeky to the Prez and rude about the increasingly totalitarian state of his country.
Congrats to the Miami Dolphins for their last-gasp win over the usually unstoppable New England Patriots. This month's third Monday Night American football match resulted in a 28-29 victory for the home team, which was playing for pride rather in any hope of reaching the post-season phase of the race to the Super Bowl. For the Pats, it was just a hiccup on their march toward home field advantage in the play-offs.
What do you do when you're short of a space-filler?
You bung in a story about Adolf Hitler, that's what.. The latest one is that he was a tax-dodger, who preached putting the public welfare before personal interests but who paid virtually no income tax. [Sounds par for the course for politicians in the light of recent experience. Ed.]
Congrats to Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts for exceeding Dan Marino's 20 year record of 48 touchdown passes in a single season. But to be fair to Dan, it's not comparing like with like as the rules of American football have been altered considerably since 1984 to make scoring a lot easier (in the interests of keeping the TV audience happy).
Congrats to Viktor Yuschenko for winning the election in Ukraine despite being poisoned by the head of his country's KGB and serial fraud in the last try at an election. Ya, boo, sucks to his opponent for making routine noises about taking it all to court because he didn't steal this election, too.
The woman at the CIA who decided that Iraq was overflowing with stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons has been sacked. The agency is having a purge of its analysts and senior managers in the hope of replacing them with people who know what they are doing.
Mad scientists at Warwick University have come up with the idea of putting a dwarf sunflower seed in mobile phones with a biodegradable body. The idea is that the phone case can be chucked on the compost heap when it is no longer fashionable and the owner will receive a bonus sunflower in due course as a 'thank you' for helping to save the planet.
Google is planning its own version of Project Gutenberg, which offers out of copyright classic works of literature as text files. The plan is to scan Oxford University's Bodlean Library and the collections at Stamford University, the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the New York Public Library plan; around 15 million volumes; and make their content available on-line over the next 10 or so years.
Flashing Xmas tree lights which don't meet EU electrical standards are being blamed by BT for screwing up digital TV pictures and making broadband internet connections freeze up.
Squint or you'll miss it
Can you imagine anything dafter than trying to watch a full-length film on the scooty little screen on a mobile phone? The film will be stored on a Digital Video Chip, sparing the viewer the wallet-busting 30p/minute for a 3-hour block-buster, but what is the viewer going to see of a Cinemascope film? And how can someone watch the picture if he/she has the phone to his/her ear to hear the sound? This is obviously such a daft idea that it is bound to catch on big-time.
An Air France Concorde crashed in 2000 after hitting a piece of debris on the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris. The operators of the airport were to blame for failing to check the runway for junk before the aircraft took off. Now, the French government is seeking to shift the blame onto Continental Airlines. A piece of one of their aircraft fell onto the runway and the French are trying to argue that it was made of the wrong sort of metal, which 'made the accident more likely'.
Americans with bums the size of all outdoors are being blamed for wrecking furniture on the cruise liner Queen Mary 2. Dozens of seats made by a French company have to be replaced. Luckily for Cunard, the ship has been in operation only since January of this year and the seats are still covered by their 1-year guarantee. But prices for American customers are expected to rise for the 2005 season to fund further seat replacements.
Undetected travel bonus
A lucky customer at Roissy airport near Paris received a bonus gift from the local bomb squad on the first Saturday of the month. One of them tucked a 150 gramme block of plastic explosive into a side pocket of a blue bag as part of a training exercise. Unfortunately, the baggage handlers loaded it onto an aircraft while the bomb squad was fetching a trainee sniffer dog. The latest news is that recipient of the souvenir has either not found it or decided to keep quiet about it.
If you want to avoid a road accident, stay at home on December 15th. LloydsTSB Insurance reckons that the number of claims made on this day last year was 172% of the rate for other December days. The Department of Transport agrees that December is a max month for shunts. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
A 9-year campaign to abolish tolls on the Skye road bridge has finally ended in victory for the customers. The prime minister (of sorts) of the Scottish Parliament has announced that the charges will be scrapped with immediate effect. Islanders have been hauled into court regularly for refusing to pay to get home, but all that has ended now.
Heads, you win . . .
Under the Freedom of Information Act, which comes into force on 2005/01/01, motorists will be entitled to know where all speed cameras are located. Unfortunately, if they want a map of precise speedcam positions in a given locality, they will have to pay an administration fee of £18.50 plus VAT plus postage & packing (if applicable) plus any other add-ons the bureaucrats can think of.
Big but unbeautiful
The Boxing Day earthquake off Sumatra, rated 9.0 on the Richter Scale, is a contender for the worst natural disaster in living memory. Many tens of thousands of people were killed by tsunamis around the edges of the Indian Ocean, property damage is in the billions, and the death and destruction reached as far as Somalia, 3,700 miles away. Seismic sea waves raced up rivers 12 hours after the earthquake, demolishing towns and drowning the inhabitants.
The rail companies have devised a cunning way of generating extra income over the holiday season. They brought in a dodgy new universal computer booking system and when it crashed, as they knew it would, they were able to tell customers that discounted fares were unavailable and travellers would have to pay the full fare on the day of their journey. Which meant that anyone hoping to go from Manchester to London on a Virgin train for £22 had to stump up an extra £160 or forget about the day out.
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