Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

July, 2012:

How to make your savings safer

All UK-regulated* bank accounts in banks, building societies are covered by the Government-backed Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). So if the bank fails, you’d get back up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution.  Joint accounts get double the coverage i.e. £170,000.


That’s good right? Who could oppose that?  Well I could and do. 


These guarantees appear to protect the customer, but they don’t.  In fact they just give the banks a free-hand to engage in any number of absurdly risky schemes.  And why should the customers care?  Their money is ‘safe’ right?  So there is absolutely no competitive pressure on any institution to act in a conservative or indeed a sane way.  But there is an enormous pressure to drive profits and engage in some really esoteric schemes.  Of course the more profitable something is, typically the more risky it is, but why would you care if you are a banker?  It’s not like the customer cares and anyway, he can always be forced to bail you out anyway, right?


Similarly, let’s make it explicitly clear that there will be no bailouts for any bank or financial institution ever again.  So if a large insurance company want to take on more credit default swaps than they can ever repay, let ‘em go bust and prosecute the directors for fraud.  At least then the positions can be liquidated and recovery can begin. 


So kitty-counters, are you prepared to join with me in the brave new world of thinking for yourself about the security of banks and not being raped for bailout cash for these vultures or are you happy to allow the clowns who have taken us to this point to do your thinking for you?



* Not every account is regulated so do the research for yourself.




All Your Game Are Belong To Us

2012 may be the 60th anniversary of the first videogame: a version of Noughts and Crosses for the Cambridge EDSAC. It certainly seems to be the earliest I’ve ever come across, and I say “seems to be” because there’s always the possibility it’s been mis-dated; I can’t confirm it. Here it is (without the subroutines that actually make it work; by modern standards it’s tiny, but still a bit long to include here):

T45KP192F [H-parm]
T50KP512F [X-parm]
T46KP352F [N-parm]

Somebody might well have had “Tic Tac Toe“ running on the ENIAC in 1948, but Cambridge were among the first to realise that the cathode ray tube memory monitors used at the time could double as displays of useful (or fun) output data: this really is video game… of sorts. It seems fair to give A.S. Douglas some credit, at any rate. You can get an EDSAC emulator, with the full program, here. Nobody in their 20s will find it odd to play a game that was written before they were born (although they might have trouble with the telephone-dial controller) but for those of us who remember the excitement of actually having Pong at home it’s a rather strange experience.

It took a long time before anyone attempted to get a videogame rated by the censors. My memory’s a bit hazy on it: as I recall, it was a text adventure version of Frank Herbert’s The Rats, but I’ve read otherwise. I do know it was 1985, at the height of the “video nasty” scare, and was universally seen by gamers as a marketing ploy: get a rather pedestrian title slapped with an 18 certificate, and it’s instantly transformed into catnip for underage boys. The early videogame entrepreneurs understood how people’s minds work.

How things have changed:

Those who stock games could be sent to prison for six months or fined £5,000 if they are caught selling 12-rated products to youngsters.

All games will now be rated by the Video Standards Council, which has the power to ban products from Britain if it considers them too explicit.

It has the power to say they’re banned. They never seem to learn, do they?

The Kulturminister, Ed Vaisey, called it a “simplification of the ratings system”. Yeah. The system remains exactly the same as it was yesterday (and it’s quite a good one; I’ve no objection to – voluntary – labelling that gives people an idea of what to expect); all that has changed is that it now has the threat of force behind it. The ratchet has clicked another notch.

Dr Jo Twist, chief executive of The Association of UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), welcomed the new system.

Oh, what a shocker. They always do.

She added: ‘As we mark the start of PEGI as the single video game age rating system, we’re delighted to use the opportunity to help parents to make informed decisions about which video games to choose for their family.’

or else.

Beach Volleyball

I used to play volleyball at school and was noted for having a JDAM of a serve.

I liked it because it was mixed PE and that meant there were girls. Obviously this was preferable to always being second-row in the Rugby scrum. I watched some of the beach volleyball last night – GB v the Canadians.

From the commentary…

“The British pair”

“Can she take it all the way?”

“That was an idle toss”

And during technical breaks they are playing the “Benny Hill” theme tune.

Beach volleyball is a travesty. This is a sport that doesn’t need to exist at Olympic level. They have volleyball nets on beaches across the globe anyway (obviously not Shoddy Absurdia or Whitley Bay) so if you want to watch “girls in their summer clothes” you can for free and without the UK tax-payer* footing the bill. Because from what I saw this is a “jumpers for goal-posts” sport. It just doesn’t shift at the rate of court volleyball because it is played on sand. It’s only porpoise is to satisfy the dirty old men of the IOC (the players hugged and patted each other’s bottoms after each point). It was like lesbian porn as imagined by The Pope. Now if you really want genuinely lesbian porn it is freely (or for a small fee) available via the internet from various commercial operations and not the tax-payer.

And more to the point this state-funded hot lezza action was extremely tame and featured girls with almost no tits whatsoever (and the blonde Brit was a right hound). Stomachs you could crack walnuts on but no jiggle on the jump which it would appear to be like what they were aiming for.

So basically they duplicated an Olympic event in a facile attempt to create sex-appeal and created at vast pubic [not an sp] expense out of something that isn’t especially sporting and isn’t especially sexy.

Right. I’m now off to embuggerate Beth Tweddle in five unusual positions. Because if we are to be forced to pay for very soft-core Frankie Vaughn (my local newsagent sells much harder-core stuff – with like tits and muff – and he and his wife are Muslims – Oh and they also contribute to rather than take from the economy) then I want my money’s worth! I guess what I’m saying is the IOC et. al’s attempt at “sexing it up” is expensive, pointless and dismal.

*Not strictly true as such. This was not paid for from tax already raised but on tick. Forever and ever Amen! There will be a legacy alright. It’ll be like inheriting your great uncle’s gambling debts.

Update: Great minds seem to think alike.

Advice sought

Anyone out there done any work with social networking software?

I got to say, this is a subject where I am a complete tyro. I have a Facebook page, I am even friends with NickM on it, but I’m damned if I can see the point. Every time I go have a look at it my mind fills with an overwhelming sense of ‘Why? What is the purpose of this thing?’

Anyway, so that is how ignorant I am.

Right now I have a project where I have to set up a social networking site, and don’t ask why – no answer will be forthcoming. I have had a look around and the relevant packages look to be Elgg, Jomsocial, Dolphin and, maybe, Buddypress.

Anyone want to comment? Anyone set up one of these things and willing to do a little handholding when it comes to the selection? I really and truly have no idea what is and what is not important when it comes to use and features.

Hell’s Bells!

RING IN THE OLYMPICS! Aunique bell-ringing event will soon be taking place nationwide.

Martin Reed, the Turner-prize-winning artist and musician was commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad to create a piece to welcome the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Work No.1197. All the bells in the country rung as quickly and loudly as possible” by Martin, a former attender at Glasgow Meeting, will be performed throughout the UK on Friday 27 July, between 8.12am and 8.15am.

Thousands of people are expected to take part. John [?] Creed wrote to Eye to say “BBC Radio 2 and BBC TV is including it in their programmes. Groups and institutions have organised special bell ringing events throughout the UK, which you can join or just ring your own bell[-end?], whether travelling to work on a bike [but not in the Zil lanes obviously otherwise you are alerting yourself to Lord Coe's Strength through Joy STASI and you will be taken out with a Rapier missile], a doorbell.

- From “The Friend” (The Quaker paper) 27/7/12 edition.

Check out the web site. This actually happened. Our local campanologists enthusiastically but tunelessly went absolutely fucking mental (a technical psychiatric term at 8am and didn’t stop ’till 8-20am. It was as if the bastarding Wehrmacht had landed. This country has gone the totally twatting bonkers. How much are we pissing-up the wall on this farce? How much did they pay Creed for this storming musical composition? I mean Elgar it ain’t is it. And the BBC was tenting it’s collective y-fronts about this. They showed everyone joining in apart from grinches like me. Including a baby with bells on it’s teething-ring. The baby was wearing a “Team GB” T-shirt as well. I found that almost as sinister as the labrador guide-dog with a Union Flag neckerchief ringing it’s little bell. Maybe it’s appropriate after all because it seems to me that we have fallen to a sort of National Socialism conceived by Fred Carno’s frigging circus. I am being unfair to the great impresario there.

Frankly I’m beginning to get really annoyed at this utter travesty. Can we coat Seb Coe in treacle and release the honey badgers? See if he can still run a four minute mile. We are spending a bloody fortune we don’t have to make this country into an international laughing stock.

ZIL lanes in London.

Here’s an interesting point. The Soviet ZIL lanes allowed emergency services such as the fire brigade and ambulances and such to use them. This is not the case for London. Oh, no… There was a bloke on the BBC News who runs a medical products delivery business. He reckons his van drivers won’t be able to deliver. Then there is the boss of the Licensed Cab Drivers Association saying this nonsense is costing his members serious money and there was a florist who was seriously inconvenienced and a plumber just knocking off for the duration…. Great! Really helping the economy that is.

I don’t care about the Olympics

Except insofar as I wish Paris had won the bid.  They would then be saddled with this financial and security monstrosity which will exclude all other news for the next few weeks and is always relentlessly upbeat.  Indeed, I read a rather amusing comment somewhere suggesting that hosting the Olympics is not so much like being the Queen at a garden party at the Palace and more like John Hurt in ‘Alien’


But I was rather saddened at the ongoing censorship creeping into modern life in general and the Olympics in this particular case.  A rather yummy Greek lady called Voula Papachristou spends some of her time practicing the hop, step and jump for some reason.  She was until recently Greece’s representative in this event.


But according to this report


She’s got her self in some trouble for some remarks on Twitter*.  I don’t speak Greek or ever look at Twitter so I am relying on the report for this one, but apparently they claim she mocked African immigrants and expressing support for the Golden Dawn, a fringe but legal party of the right.  Well the Greek Olympic committee didn’t see the funny side and they have kicked her out for the rather woolly catch-all of going against the Olympic spirit**


So I got to wondering, if she has criticised a current hate group like say bankers and expressed support for a left of centre social democratic party, would she still be persona non-grata? 


I don’t think so. 


So, much as I dislike collectivist politics of which race is one of the more primitive strains, I do hope she was more or less a non-runner in terms of medal chances and is deliberately doing this for the publicity rather than another person who holds unfashionable views and is being punished accordingly.   




* Why anyone uses Twitter escapes me, it just seems to get people into trouble

** Missiles on the roof, endless aggressive sponsorship, zil lanes, mad but failing security, total car bans except for the few, lunatic cost over-runs, all tickety-boo but criticise the Greek PM’s stance on immigration and you are in a world of pain apparently.


Anyone want to disagree with my position on this? I am normally a fan of Calallaxy, but for one of Australia’s premier libertarian blogs I’m disappointed with the quality of the arguments, both in the posting and the comments.

So is this moral then Mr Gauke?


How about counterfeiting on a mass scale?  How about using violent coercion to extract monies from people in the form of income tax or consumption taxes?  How about banning certain behaviours on the basis of scanty evidence because it conforms to your own personal prejudice? How about banning free speech and jailing people because they use words you don’t like? How about making formally lawful products illegal again on the basis of prejudice? How about building insane boondoggles whilst letting actual power generation go to rack and ruin? How about promising votes on membership of corrupt supra-national organisations but then thinking, nah?  How about declaring war on people on the basis of lies and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people?


Yes Dave.  You’re the man to give me lessons on morality.

Keith Vaz

This morning – certainly not for first time – I saw Keith Vaz, MP put up by the BBC as a moral crusader. All of this is from wikipedia but I recall it from other media. But let us consider Mr Vaz’s record…

Shortly after being elected in 1989, Vaz led a march of thousands of Muslims in Leicester calling for Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses to be banned

So he doesn’t believe in freedom of speech – magic.

In February 1990, after a bombing attack by the IRA against a British Army recruiting centre in Leicester, Vaz publicly suggested that the Army had stored explosives on the premises.

So what? If the British Army are not allowed to stock explosives then what is the point of them?

In February 2000, the Parliamentary standards watchdog Elizabeth Filkin began an investigation after allegations that Vaz had accepted several thousand pounds from a solicitor, Sarosh Zaiwalla, which he had failed to declare. The allegations were made by Andrew Milne, a former partner of Zaiwalla and were denied by both Vaz and Zaiwalla. He was censured for a single allegation – that he had failed to register two payments worth £4,500 in total from solicitor Sarosh Zaiwalla. Elizabeth Filkin accused Vaz of blocking her investigation into eighteen of the allegations.

You and me couldn’t could we? We are the little people.

In January 2001, immigration minister Barbara Roche revealed in a written Commons reply that Vaz, along with Peter Mandelson and other MPs, had contacted the Home Office about the Hinduja brothers. She said that Vaz had made inquiries about when a decision on their application for citizenship could be expected.

On 25 January, Vaz had become the focus of Opposition questions about the Hinduja affair and many parliamentary questions were tabled, demanding that he fully disclose his role. Vaz said via a Foreign Office spokesman that he would be “fully prepared” to answer questions put to him by Sir Anthony Hammond QC who had been asked by the Prime Minister to carry out an inquiry into the affair.

Vaz had known the Hinduja brothers for some time; he had been present when the charitable Hinduja Foundation was set up in 1993, and also delivered a speech in 1998 when the brothers invited Tony and Cherie Blair to a Diwali celebration.

Conspiring with Mandy and the Hindujas and the Blairs… The fucker is guilty as sin.

But read the whole thing.

Because it gets worse and worse and Vaz is clearly a sheer crook. But I am up to 400 words and that is more than enough for a blog post.

So tell me why does the BBC (and others) regard Keith Vaz as a home of moral probity?

Because he isn’t?

ECB say negative bank rate an option–business.html


This position somewhat strange to put it mildly and I suspect this maybe coming our way soon.


Worth 27 minutes of anyone’s time.


Okay, back to basics in the real world.  I appreciate reality is in very short supply in some quarters, but let’s just remind ourselves what banks do.  They try to attract depositors to lend ‘em money in the form of deposits.  The two primary drivers of this are security and interest payments.  Sure there are a few useful sundries, direct debits and the like, but fundamentally its safety and interest.


The claims of safety have been well and truly battered in recent years by the bank-runs and the bailouts.  Then there’s also the idea now being floated that your money isn’t really yours and the governments should be able to help themselves to 10% of your savings and give you back a sovereign bond in return.


You may recall just how attractive Greek government bonds were and this is the future for all of ‘em more or less, otherwise why the need to compel the trade? 


As to interest rates, well if they expect more than a token amount of SAoT’s hard earned, then I would expect interest rates to be positive in real terms.  They aren’t; I fancy anyone who keeps more than a few quid in the bank to be pretty stupid given the negative real interest rates.  It seems to me to be a guaranteed losing bet.   But at least it is marginally better than keeping it all under the mattress right?


Well not if Benoit Coeure gets his way.  He thinks the ECB may charge banks for depositing with it and so by extension, wouldn’t banks charge depositors?  They can’t just swallow the costs as most are pretty illiquid anyway, so you would think they have to pass on the costs just as they do when interest rates are positive and y’know, sane.  And honestly, would you keep any money in the bank if you were charged to do so?  Could you think of a quicker or more certain way to bust a bank than this? Can he really think this will get ‘em lending more? 


Let’s not even extensively mention the Austrian school which says deferred consumption can be saved and then lent to businesses without expanding the money supply and thus stave off mal-investment but you can’t spend the same money twice by simply counterfeiting some more without there being inflationary consequences leading inevitably to boom and bust.


But for me the reality of all this vile suffering and wholly avoidable poverty can be grasped with this quite monstrous verbage…


Coeure said there was a lack of understanding about the euro zone’s approach to tackling the region’s debt crisis and that he disagreed with those who said the bloc did not have the right tools to fix the situation.


“I would caution those who have doubts about the euro, that they underestimate the political commitment to it at their own risk,” he said. “The ambition to provide long-term foundations for (the monetary union) in less than a decade is a historical step of great significance.”


I had to re-read that.  Well Ben fundamentally you haven’t fixed a damn thing in four years, things are in fact getting worse, so maybe those who think you can’t fix things could be right?  They seem to have the evidence on their side.  Fundamentally the current ECB approach seems to be ‘screw debt repayment and saving, we will print (just wait) and coerce more and more borrowing and play Alice-through-the-looking-glass banking because of a demented attachment to thoroughly debunked demand-deficit theory.  We are politically committed to this so to hell with the economic reality we will now ignore. 


More suicide economics in this quote


He underscored the bloc’s decision to give the region’s permanent bailout fund the ability to capitalise banks directly, a move he described as “crucial to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns that is at the heart of the crisis.”


So now the ECB will just pick banks it likes (and ignore sovereigns it doesn’t apparently until the next time they waiver on the edge) and give them money from somewhere (the ECB does not have a big enough balance sheet for this without some serious counterfeiting) on the basis of what exactly?  The worse run the bank (and thus most indebted) get the most money?  More cash for the most reckless idiots?


You will recall how well government bailouts for industry generally work so now let us do it on a pan-European basis with funny-money. Christ-on-a-bike, this is total madness and the end of the European banking system as we know it is in sight if anything like this is implemented. 


I do not give financial advice yada yada. But if you have half a brain (making you better by half than some European bankers) you may know what to do.




Sunday trading laws suspended for the Olympics


What?  Either these laws make sense or they don’t.  I take the view that they don’t.  They are a silly sop to people who want to take the fourth commandment seriously, and they want you to as well.  So let’s use force.  Do you really think Christianity would be voluntary for long if these bastards had any real power anymore with this mindset? 


Anyway, as a reminder of the injunction 


“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.


So I am not entirely certain how only shopping for six hours in a store of more then 3,000 square feet will not get God all smite-happy (although there has been  a notable absence of such smite-related disasters since we worked out what actually caused things) but you see what I mean.  I suppose you could argue that punishment comes in the after-life ~ God might perhaps think “Okay I see you lived a good life, gave to the poor, were kind to animals, went to church….wait, what’s this?  You sinful bastard, you bought a DVD past four o’clock* in a Sainsbury’s megastore on the Sabbath?  

…….It’s the fiery pit for you chummy”


But let’s assume its okay to inconvenience the national proles with this nonsense, how in the hell is it okay to de facto say “Well we don’t give two shits about you tax-paying plebs, but we can’t have the IOC or tourists inconvenienced except for the obvious security, travel restrictions, limited array of vendors, chunky costs and all that so for a few weeks it’s bye bye to the law of Moses and hello mammon”


* depending on the specific relative rotation of the earth and international time zone unknown in the bronze age when this was written obviously. 


From Direct Line:

Apropos of nothing they offer me home insurance for GBP261.03 pa.

This is based upon…

Owner occupied.

It isn’t.


Sort of.

Period of build 1980-1989.

It was built in 1600. Obviously work has been done since like electricity and gas and stuff. I no longer have to “fetch pit pony” and the letters turn-up by internet because the Royal Mail needs a Moist. They generally tend not to be able to organize a blow-job in a monkey whore-house even if they turned-up a truckload of bananas.

No. of bedrooms: 3.

Two actually but if Direct Line want to extend my home (it is grade II listed mind) buck-shee then grand!

No. of occupants: 2 adults, 1 child.

Well, I’m 38, my wife is 33 and Timmy is 7. Timmy is a cat though. Behaves like a child mind. Well, like a kitten which is much the same.

It goes on. It is all utter speculation. Utter spam because there must be quite a few folks those specs fit.

Lords Reform.

Nearly 60 rebel Tory MPs have offered ministers a seven-point peace deal over Lords reform which could give organisations like RSPB and National Trust their own peers to sit in the Lords, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The final proposals were sent by the rebels’ leader Jesse Norman MP to Patrick McLoughlin, the Tory party chief whip and to Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin on Thursday.

The seven point plan includes a proposal to allow mass membership organisations – such as the CBI, TUC, General Medical Council or even the RSPB – to elect their own peers.

What about the Kitty Kounters? Do we get one? (me!!!) This is appalling. Why can we not simply have a purely elected second chamber.

Goddamn us all!

The Camera never lies apparently

Imagine you hit a guy with a baton, and then pushed him over and he died a few minutes later.  Say you got really lucky and the police ‘made an error’ and said the post mortem showed the deceased died of natural causes.  So far so good (for you).  But hey-ho, a video appears of your action (you know, hitting an unarmed guy walking away from you, when you are with your mates in full riot gear, when he is clearly no possible threat). 


Then another lets say competent (rather than actually honest) post mortem shows that abdominal bleeding caused by the blow was the cause of death. 


Well you might claim that you had not realised the now dead man was walking away from you, because just having his back to you and walking away from you offered no real clue as to the direction of travel.


And you might be dead lucky and have a road-rage incident suppressed (one in which you quit your job on health grounds ahead of any disciplinary, but then  amazingly you rejoined the self same job).


Oh and the inquest declared your victim unlawfully killed.


Well under such circumstances, would you expect?


(a)   conviction and jail time, or

(b)   to walk away free


The Ian Tomlinson timeline for anyone who is interested.


  • 1 April 2009: Ian Tomlinson is caught up in a G20 protest. He collapses in the street and dies
  • 4 April: Police say post-mortem examination show he died of “natural causes”
  • 7 April: Video footage emerges of Mr Tomlinson being pushed to the ground by police officer
  • April 2009: Further post-mortem tests find cause of death was abdominal bleeding, caused by blow
  • 22 July: Prosecutors say there will be no charges as there is no agreement on death cause
  • 3 May 2011: Inquest verdict of unlawful killing
  • 20 June 2011: PC Simon Harwood charged with manslaughter after review of inquest evidence
  • 18 June 2012: PC Harwood goes on trial at Southwark Crown Court
  • 19 July 2012: PC Harwood found not guilty

And the video showing the reasonable use of force

%d bloggers like this: