Thursday, April 26, 2007

Keep your fantasies off BBC Radio 1 .

BBC Radio 1 provides a great service to listeners here in the UK. It offers a superb mix of contemporary popular music with relevant chat and interviews. It is ideal for the young and young at heart. I like it because it is fresh, jolly and refreshing, with no advertisements that blight commercial radio stations. I feel the station has the balance right and serves the listener well. The output of the station is very professional, well respected and a credit to the BBC.

I was shocked today to read that it's remit is under threat ...

The BBC has been urged to make religion part of the Radio 1 remit in a submission by Catholic and Anglican church leaders.

They claim that Radio 1's young target audience has a "thirst for spiritual input" that is greater than in older age-groups. "Unless religion is appropriately included in the Radio 1 licence, audience needs may not be met," they said.

...I disagree with this submission very strongly. I feel that the listeners needs are fully met, there are numerous radio stations here in the UK and competition to retain listeners is fierce. All radio stations offer free output to the listener and choice is very good. Adding religion into the output of BBC Radio 1 would be wrong, it would be a huge turn off for the listeners who would abandon this excellent radio station for another station that is religion free. If these churches want to spread their vision through music then they should apply for a radio licence and set up their own broadcasting station. If their message is so wonderful and inspiring then listeners would tune into their music with religion station.

It should be a free market where the listener can choose, so the church should keep away from BBC Radio 1. I do not want their religious fairy tales spoiling a very good radio station. I know the church has problems recruiting believers to their fantasy beliefs but if they want to get media bandwidth they should have to pay for it like any other single issue group.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The great television competition phone call scandal.

The great television competition phone call scandal continues to roll on here in the UK. Another story today in my newspaper relates to the ditching by GMTV of its contract with Opera Interactive Technology, the company which runs its phone-in competitions, after a BBC investigation claimed that callers had been cheated out of millions of pounds.

I agree that members of the public have been cheated by the underhand operation of these competitions. What these companies have done is wrong, morally wrong in anybody's book.

I cannot understand why so many viewers have been conned. Surely these people must know they have an extremely low chance of winning any prize and the cost of a phone call is an expensive gamble. These people should realize that however these alleged competitions are operated they are simply a gamble, nothing more than a telephone raffle. I find it hard to sympathize with these viewers who have lost money because they are so naive. It should be obvious that these alleged competitions are great money spinners, it is easy to do the maths. Even if only one in ten viewers makes a telephone call, they are raking the money in. How can people be so dim, is it greed and wanting something for nothing? I am sure it is and these people should realize that there is no such thing as a free lunch and income is earned from work not a telephone raffle.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The new fridge freezer .

On Saturday our fridge freezer packed up, we had it from new over 7 years ago. It would not be worth getting it repaired so we bought a new fridge freezer. This new appliance is a Hotpoint RFA52 and is almost identical to our old fridge freezer, maybe the cabinet is a shade narrower. We bought if from Curry's for £199 which is a fair price to pay for a grudge purchase.

Gail telephoned Cardiff Council to arrange for the collection and disposal of our old fridge freezer. On the council website it encouragely say's...

Bulky household waste

Too large... Too heavy... Too much...

We can provide a collection and disposal service for large, awkward and bulky items of household waste. We will collect fridges and

freezers, general household furniture items and bulky green waste. We are here to help you dispose of your waste in a responsible


Items that can be collected free of charge

* beds
* settees
* wardrobes
* cooker
* fridge
* washing machine
* light fittings

...We have a weekly collection of a black wheelie bin for general, non recycleable or compostable waste and a fortnightly collection of green bags of recycleable items or a green wheelie bin for compostable waste. We thought that our council would suggest collection of our old fridge freezer within 14 days. Wrong, the earliest collection they could offer us was 13th June 2007, that is 7 weeks away! I just cannot understand this delay of 7 weeks, we live in a busy city - not in the sticks.

I am all for not wasting money but you would imagine that a large and successful busy city would have rostered household bulky item collection routes. The funniest thing is that the telephone operator told Gail that we must ensure that the fridge freezer is fully defrosted upon collection. Two things here, one we would not have bought a new fridge freezer if the old one was still working and two, any fridge freezer will defrost if left outside for 7 weeks.

I just hope the council do not extend it's services into budget funerals, wait and collect.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

European Union's Racism and Xenophobia Directive.

On Friday I read about the EU Racism and Xenophobia Directive and I would like to give my input. I agree with the stance taken by Chris Mounsey, the 29 year old behind The Devil's Kitchen blog when he wrote on 19th April 2007 about this directive .

We must stand up against this restriction on our blogging. If any reader does not like what we have written on our blogs then they should close their browser window and read something else. Reading a blog should be no different to television viewing, if you do not like the content of a programme then switch to another channel. We do not have many freedoms in this country and we are losing more and more freedoms every year. We must not lose our freedom of speech and uphold our rights to free expression on the internet. If we do not stand up to this then the next thing they could bring in against us could be the thought police.

We must not become dumb citizens.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sadriyah market, Baghdad.

In my workplace people moan and whinge about everything. Thursday was no different for me, people were still in their little secure worlds as I was confronted with the front page picture in my newspaper of the horror that had happened at Sadriyah market in Baghdad. I too was going to a market that day, to park my coach whilst I was having a rest break in London's New Covent Garden Market. This is also a busy working market but we in the UK are safe and do not have to witness and survive the horrors of Sadriyah market in Baghdad...

Billowing clouds of oily black smoke rose into the sky over the Iraqi capital after four bombs tore through crowded markets and streets leaving the ground covered in charred bodies and severed limbs. "I saw dozens of dead bodies," said a witness in Sadriyah, a mixed Shia-Kurdish neighbourhood in west Baghdad where 140 people died and 150 were injured. " Some people were burned alive inside minibuses. Nobody could reach them after the explosion. There were pieces of flesh all over the place. Women were screaming and shouting for their loved ones who died."

...That gives me a shiver, burned alive in a bus and some people whinge about this and that with their cherished league tables. Some people just make me sick with their petty concerns and lack of perspective.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What is it with beards?

I have a beard, it is not a problem, it just grows. My beard grows until I trim it, sometimes it grows longer before I trim it back. The past week my wife has been nagging at me every day for me to trim my beard. Why, I am happy with my beard and I will trim it when I am ready. Also in the past week 2 workmates have had a feel and a tug of my beard and claimed it was getting rather big. Another workmate this morning wished me hello by calling my name but stating that he thought it was John the Baptist rather than me.

It is my beard, it just grows and I just do not know why people are so bothered by it.

This afternoon was rather warm and to stop my wife from nagging I reluctantly trimmed my beard. Gosh, I got a shock with the wind whistling around my cheeks. I felt quite naked going outside into the street.

Next time I feel like ignoring everybody else, not entering into any discussion about the length of my beard, resist the constant nagging from my wife and trim my beard when I want to trim it.

I do not tell other people when they should get their hair cut so they should leave my face alone. My beard will never hurt them and I do not care if it makes me look a little older. I do not feel any different or younger with my beard trimmed short, I feel the same everyday. Whenever I do trim my beard I always get a shock with the draught on my cheeks for the first day after trimming!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It should be Holiday Watch, not Jihad Watch .

7 weeks tomorrow I will be going away on holiday to Agadir in Morocco. So I should be reading up on the internet about the joys awaiting me in Morocco and the tourist resort of Agadir. Nice thoughts should be in my head like the photo a blogger posted featuring goats in trees because the grass on the ground had gone.

Instead I read alarming reports about suicide bombers caught in Morocco. Then our Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice for Morocco warns...

There is a high threat from terrorism in Morocco. In May 2003, 45 people were killed in a series of terrorist attacks in Casablanca. These attacks were against relatively soft targets, including hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners or those with Jewish links. Although the Moroccan authorities arrested and imprisoned a number of those considered to be responsible for the attacks, there is a high threat of further attacks. In August 2006, the Moroccan authorities arrested a number of individuals allegedly plotting to attack a number of targets, including noticeably Western interests. Arrests of terrorist suspects have continued since then. A suspected suicide bombing took place in an internet cafe in Casablanca on the evening of 11 March 2007, killing one and injuring at least four others; there were no foreign casualties. Three suspected terrorists blew themselves up, killing one policeman and injuring another, during police raids in Casablanca on 10 April. Another suspected terrorist was shot and killed during one of the raids.

Today I open my newspaper and read about Islamist bloodshed returns to Algeria as suicide bombings leave 30 dead fully aware that Algeria shares a border with Morocco. Also...

Some American intelligence analysts have accused the organisation of sending jihadis to Iraq, and trying to create an extremist arc in North Africa that could unite the various militant groups across the region, particularly in Morocco, Nigeria, Mauritania and Tunisia.

I am fully aware that there is a risk of terrorism anywhere in the world today. We could be attacked again here in the UK but it is worrying that we may be flying into a terrorist hotspot. Then again if tourists do not travel abroad those countries suffer and the terrorists have won. People need to stand up and be counted. I should not be detered from travelling abroad by the risk of terrorism and confined to our country for my holidays.

There is no easy solution to these problems and each country must find it's own solution. The world is not becoming a safer place which is sad when you consider just how better educated people have become. It is a big world and I hope that I am not in the wrong place at the wrong time. I enjoy my freedom and trust our government to cancel any holidays if the risk of terrorism is too great.

I do hope that the situation in North Africa improves and that I enjoy my coming holiday just as much as my last 2 visits to Tunisia.

Monday, April 09, 2007

How much for a story?

Much has been said about fees going to any of the released 15 British service personnel for giving media interviews. My view is that they are welcome to the money, it is their story to sell. It is their lives that were put on hold and if media organisations want a good and exclusive story then they should enter the marketplace just like any other newsworthy story.

Nobody should have their potential income stopped for giving media interviews whatever job they were doing.

I have just watched the Faye Turney interview broadcast tonight with Trevor McDonald. It was a tidy interview and drew a good line under this story. It made good television and left the viewer to make up their own minds about the tale and her actions. She earned whatever fee she was paid and it was far better for the viewer than the usual press conferences put on by top brass.
Ajmal Naqshbandi.

Following on from my post about Daniele Mastrogiacomo his story has now become even sadder. Ajmal Naqshbandi has been beheaded by the Taliban...

The kidnapped translator for an Italian journalist was beheaded in southern Afghanistan yesterday, according to a spokesman for the Taliban.

Ajmal Naqshbandi, a freelance journalist and translator, was kidnapped with Daniele Mastrogiacomo of the Italian daily La Repubblica, and a driver in southern Helmand province on 5 March. The driver was beheaded and Mastrogiacomo was freed on 19 March in exchange for five Taliban militants.

The Taliban made a similar demand in return for the release of Naqshbandi. " We asked for two Taliban commanders to be released in exchange for Ajmal Naqshbandi, but the government did not care for our demands, and today, at 3.05pm, we beheaded Ajmal in Garmsir district of Helmand province," said Shahabuddin Atal, who claimed to be a spokesman for the regional Taliban commander, Mullah Dadullah.

"When we demanded the exchange for the Italian journalist, the government released the prisoners, but for the Afghan journalist, the government did not care," Mr Atal said.

Tom Koenigs, the UN's special representative to Afghanistan, condemned the killing and called on the authorities to bring those responsible for Naqshbandi's death to justice.

The prisoner swap that secured Mastrogiacomo's release was widely criticised as an incentive for more militant kidnappings.

President Hamid Karzai defended the exchange, saying the case was threatening the survival of the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi's, government. But he ruled out further swaps.

The Taliban have also claimed they kidnapped two French workers from the aid group Terre d'Enfance and their three Afghan staff. The five, based in the southwestern Nimroz province, went missing last week.

...What an awful tale, another tale of just how bad man can be to fellow man. It also shows how little someone's life can be worth, the Taliban rated Daniele's life equal to 5 prisoners yet they only asked for 2 prisoners to be released in exchange for Ajmal. President Hamid Karzai has made an error of judgement in my view and Ajmal was his victim. Sadly I fear the same fate may come to the 5 missing aid workers based in the southwestern Nimroz province. The Taliban clearly do not mess about and I feel these beheadings will continue for a long time to come. It is a lawless region and consensus must develop among the population for stability to resume. To negotiate for the freedom of captives is a challenge that must been seen through. Our government has shown with Iran that diplomacy can win and President Hamid Karzai should follow this example or heads will roll.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Making humour out of the Iran situation.

The days roll by and 15 British service personnel are still being held in Iran. The news is not very upbeat and nobody appears to be offering any jokes to lighten the ongoing situation. Mark Steel however can be relied upon to bring some satire to this story...

This is a possibility everyone's missed - maybe the Iranians, in an effort to show the West how modern they've become, thought they'd put our marines in a house they couldn't escape from and show them each day on television in an Anglo-Iranian Big Brother. Now we've seen all of them, it will be time to start voting them off. The next broadcast will start with a voice telling us: "It's 4.57pm and Faye is still smoking in front of the map."

Chuckle, chuckle!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

3 years and still no change.

3 years have gone by today and still no change. Jayme Parsons of Port Talbot still treats his mother like a second class citizen. He does not give her any Christmas or Birthday presents yet regularly gives her a load of crap over the telephone. This wanker will not speak to me on the telephone and simply slams it down when I answer it. He will not allow me to take his mother to their sink estate home in Port Talbot to see her grandchildren. He will not let time heal previous disagreements and move on. He is such an arsehole that I wash my hands of him totally and I will not piss on him if he is on fire. If anything ever happens to him and he needs to come home to his mother then he will not get access into my home.

He has burnt his bridges which was his choice but you cannot expect anymore as the kid is as thick as shit.

If his mother dies before me, then he will not get a penny from me when I die.

His brother by comparision is a different kettle of fish, a fine and decent young man. This probally explains why Christopher will have nothing to do with him either.
How far have we come?

Yesterday I wondered just how far we had come in engineering over the last 10 years? Rather than drive one of our regular coaches I was given a coach borrowed from another depot. This was not a new coach but a DAF engined Plaxton made in 1997. Rather than a coach with an automatic transmission, this coach had a 4 over 4 manual gearbox which is unusual on a coach.

What a difference this was to drive compared to our usual Volvo B12B , also on a Plaxton body but with an I shift automatic transmission. The manual gearbox lets the driver give the passengers and himself a really smooth drive than is simply not possible on an automatic. You can never drive an automatic as smoothly as a manual, it just cannot be done. Even with heavy London traffic the manual is always the smoother drive.

Although the outfit we are under contract to stipulate coaches to be under 7 or 8 years old, this model I drove yesterday was giving the passenger a better ride than a younger model. Why operators are buying new coaches with automatic transmission is beyond me. For all the alleged advances in engineering in the last 10 years there has been no improvement in the ride quality for the passenger or driver.

Private cars have advanced a great deal in the past 10 years but clearly after yesterday's driving experience coaches have not moved on.

The mirrors on this old coach were also far better than the current model with reduced blind spots.

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