Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking the language.

This is not an April Fool's Day newspaper story but a tale of targetted Policing...

Police are to receive Polish lessons to help them deal more effectively with migrant workers. Constables on the beat, front desk staff and community support officers at Lincolnshire Police will learn basic Polish phrases from February. Polish is the most commonly used language among the county's migrant workforce, according to police. John Horton, the community engagement co-ordinator, said that staff will not be expected to become fluent speakers. He said: "The training is a few basic words and phrases and how to pronounce Polish names.

...John Horton means well but where do we draw the line? In London there are over 300 languages spoken everyday. It is basic etiquette to be able to speak some of the language of your host nation. I feel that these training sessions could be put to better use. These Polish people have chosen to come here and our language should be their problem not ours. Foreign criminals will always play the "I cannot speak English" game when they have done wrong so the best thing to do is to arrest them and wait for an interpretor to assist. As regards learning a basic phrase to use in Polish, one springs straight to my mind, "Go away" because we all know what the Polish migrant workers have done to ordinary British workers pay and conditions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Talk Talk broadband - a year on.

I had a comment posted on my blog today about broadband service here in the UK. The comment was posted by Anonymous - which is sad because I like to stand up and be counted with my posts and comments. The comment is actually spam for Orange Broadband but it made me think.

A year after switching to Talk Talk broadband I am happy and content with the service I and my wife are enjoying. We simply turn this computer on, double click on our favourite internet browser and away we go along the internet superhighway. Talk Talk, it's modem and infrastructure are all behind the scenes and we are unaware of it's workings. We just use an internet browser and our internet experience is very good. I have no complaints about the broadband service we are receiving from Talk Talk. A lot of internet users here in the UK are moaning about the actual received broadband speed compared to advertised speeds. I am not bothered about this controversy, this broadband speed appears fast to me. The actual broadband speed is fast enough and I am never waiting for pages to download. I can only read and touch type so fast - I am the limiting factor here, not the download speed.

Even looking at the cheapest Orange Broadband price of £12 a month - we have saved £144 this last year. That is a big, big saving for exactly the same internet experience.

I am glad that we made the switch to Talk Talk broadband, it costs us nothing and the internet experience is great. I am sticking with our Free Broadband deal with Talk Talk and it is a free lunch - the only catch was the bad switch over.

To any bloggers reading this in the UK, make the switch - it is worth it in the long run and you will save pounds. Your internet experience will be exactly the same!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Free Samina Malik

The days tick by before Samina Malik is sentenced on 6th December 2007 for writing some poetry. I have already posted my views on this sad story. Many other bloggers around the world have posted their views, one idea is to have a World Samina Malik Day by dressing up like her and downloading material from the internet. There is a petition going to Free Samina Malik on which I am the 396th person to sign.

I agree with some mainstream journalists like Matthew Parris that Samina Malik is being prosecuted for thought crime - the state does not like it's citizens thinking about evil acts. Oh yes, you can watch it on broadcast television but you cannot have private thoughts about these acts and certainly not write poetry about them. We have all viewed material on the internet that some people may dislike, whether it concerns pornography, terrorism or violence . The viewing of this material hurts no-one and we should not have a prison sentence hanging over us for viewing this material in the comfort of our own homes. We should all have the right to write a blog - whether it is text style, like my blog or poetry style like Samina Malik's.

To be sentenced for writing poetry - an example of which I have copy/pasted below - is stupid and very short sighted. This is not terrorism, it is poetry and poetic licence should be given, not a custodial sentence...

recast from excerpts found on the web

by Samina Malik

How to Behead

Hold him
Tie the arms behind his back
And bandage his legs together
Just by the ankles
Blindfold the punk
So that he won’t hesitate as much
For on seeing the sharp pointy knife
He’ll begin to shake
And continuously scream like an eedyat
And jiggle like a jelly
Trust me–this will sure get you angry
It’s better to have at least two or three brothers by your side
Who can hold the fool
Because as soon as the warm sharp knife
Touches his naked flesh
He’ll come to know what’ll happen
It’s not as messy or as hard as some may think,
It’s all about the flow of the wrist.
No doubt that the punk will twitch and scream
But ignore the donkey’s ass
And continue to slice back and forth
You’ll feel the knife hit the wind and food pipe
But don’t stop
Continue with all your might.
About now you should feel the knife vibrate,
You can feel the warm heat being given off,
But this is due to the friction being caused.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The religious impulse.

I have finished reading The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail written by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. The edition I read was the 2005 illustrated hardback which is more involved than the 1982 first edition. An introduction and postscript were written in 1996 and the body of this 2005 edition runs to 429 pages.

The book is written in 3 parts. Part one concerns the mystery of Berenger Sauniere who in 1891 removed an altar-stone in the village church of Rennes-le-Chateau and found four parchments preserved in sealed wooden tubes. Two of these parchments are said to have comprised genealogies, one dating from 1244, the other from 1644. The two remaining documents had apparently been composed in the 1780's by one of Sauniere's predecessors as cure of Rennes-le-Chateau, the Abbe Antoine Bigou. Part two concerns the many secret societies that have operated through the centuries.

Part three concerns the bloodline of Jesus and is where this book really hots up. Modern scholars are unanimous in concurring that the Gospels do not date from Jesus's lifetime. For the most part they date from the period between the two major revolts in Judea - 66 to 74 and 132 to 135 - although they are almost certainly based on earlier accounts. The earliest of the Gospels is generally considered to be Mark's, composed sometime during the revolt of 66 - 74 or shortly thereafter - except for it's treatment of the Resurrection, which is a later and spurious addition. If Mark wished his Gospel to survive and impress itself on a Roman audience, he could not possibly present Jesus as anti-Roman. The Gospel of Luke is dated by scholars at around A.D. 80. The Gospel of Matthew was composed around A.D. 85. The fourth Gospel was composed around A.D. 100 and displays a number of quite distinctive features. There is no nativity scene, for example, no description whatever of Jesus's birth, and the opening is almost Gnostic in character.

The book explores how the New Testament was written, edited and changed to meet vested interests. The book then develops a hypothesis of what really happened and why history does not reflect accurately what happened on the ground. The main hypothesis is that Jesus was a mortal rabbi and a royal Jewish descendant, he was in conflict with Rome and went to live in exile in Kashmir. His wife and children emigrated to live in France and Jesus's bloodline continued there through royal inter-marriage.

I am an Atheist and a Republican but I found this book interesting in the way it explains the workings of the Christian church. The book shows how much power can be got from the adoption of religion and how by altering the message you can achieve your political goals. It shows the Christian church to be a calculating business organisation which is deeply involved with politics and has many under-the-table deals. It also shows how people can be swept along by religious crusades and how ideas can become established by the simple passage of time. The book sums up this whole Jesus, bible, bloodline and identity thing in it's conclusion on pages 456 and 457. This explanation of "the religious impulse" is so good that I will copy/paste the text below...

A few years ago it would have seemed inconceivable that a religious zealot - without an army of his own, without a political party behind him, without anything at his disposal save charisma and the religious hunger of a people - could single-handedly topple the modern and superbly equiped edifice of the Shah's regime in Iran. And yet that is precisely what the Ayatollah Khomeini managed to do.

We are not, of course, sounding a warning. We are not, implicitly or explicitly, comparing the Prieure de Sion to the Ayatollah. We have no reason to think Sion sinister - as one might the demagogue of Iran. But the demagogue of Iran bears eloquent witness to the deep-rooted character, the energy, the potential power of a man's religious impulse - and the ways in which that impulse can be channelled to political ends. Such ends need not entail an abuse of authority. They may be as laudable as those of Churchill or de Gaulle were during the Second World War. The religious impulse can be channelled in any of innumerable directions. It is a source of immense potential power. And it is all too often ignored or overlooked by modern governments founded on, and often fettered to, reason alone. The religious impulse reflects a profound psychological and emotional need. And psychological and emotional needs are every bit as real as the need for bread, for shelter, for material security.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The end of the world?

...MOSCOW (Reuters) - At least 30 members of a Russian doomsday cult have barricaded themselves in a remote cave to await the end of the world and are threatening to commit suicide if police intervene, officials and media said on Thursday.

"They have covered the entrance and refuse to come out and are threatening to blow themselves up," an official in the local prosecutor's office told Reuters by telephone. "They threaten to detonate a gas tank and blow themselves up."

"They are simple Christians," a local priest, Father Georgy, told NTV television station. "They say: 'The church is doing a bad job, the end of the world is coming soon and we are all saving ourselves'."

Media reports said the cult members believed the world would end sometime in May next year. Police expected them to emerge when their supplies ran out.

...At the moment I am reading The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. This book makes me wonder just how stupid people can be to follow the Christian faith. This scam has gone on for nearly 2,000 years and yet people are still falling for this rubbish. It does not surprise me that the leader of the cult, Pyotr Kuznetsov, had been detained by police. It said he was a 43-year-old who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that in the last few months he had been sleeping in a coffin. The Holy Bible must be the book choice of nutters all around the world and I think they should be sectioned under the mental health acts. Many Christians complain about the failings of secular society but at least we understand fact from fiction. The Russian Police are protecting these nutters and I am sure they are tempted to turn a blind eye to this suicidal foolishness.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fantasy or reality?

A Heathrow shop assistant who dubbed herself the "Lyrical Terrorist" has became the first Muslim woman in Britain to be found guilty of terrorism offences. Samina Malik, who worked air-side for WH Smith, posted a series of poems on websites across the internet about killing non-believers, pursuing martyrdom and raising children to be holy fighters.

She burst into tears in the dock at the Old Bailey as a jury found her guilty of possessing records likely to be used for terrorism by a majority of 10 to one. Police were alerted after finding an email from her on another person’s computer.

She started writing love poetry while at Villiers High School in Southall, Middlesex and in early 2002 began writing "rap poems" in the style of US rappers Tupac Shakur and 50 Cent, using the name Lyrical Babe. In 2004 she became more interested in religion and started wearing a hijab, changing her writing name from Lyrical Babe to Lyrical Terrorist because she thought it was "cool."

... The jury was out deliberating for 19 hours in this case yesterday. The comments on the Daily Mail website are what you would expect from Daily Mail readers. This real life trial links in nicely with the drama I watched on television the other week called Britz on Channel 4.

The television drama was good entertainment, you could poke holes in the story but it dealt sympathetically with the issues involved. This was a work of fiction and the television company was not taken to court. The programme included jihad and terrorist training, you could make a case for it to be considered impressionable to Muslims. Thankfully we have a right to the freedom of expression in this country and programmes of that type can be made and broadcast.

Is Samina Malik really a terrorist or simply somebody writing as a hobby? All she has done is write some poetry and downloaded some material from the internet. I write this blog and I will download and read material from the internet - this does not make me a terrorist. It should never be a crime to read and write and we all should have the right to freedom of expression. The internet is there and we should all be allowed to view whatever material we wish in the privacy of our own homes. There is no harm in that if we live in a free society.

To give Samina Malik a custodial sentence for reading and writing is silly. To give Samina Malik a custodial sentence for having a fantasy life at home writing poems on the internet is an over-reaction. Young people can have fantasy lives where they imagine they are super heroes, rebels, celebrities, even poets. This does not make them terrorists. Look at the hoards of people auditioning for television shows like the X Factor, these are innocent people voicing there fantasies. They will not become major musical recording artists but cause society no harm or threats. There are even 49 year olds who fantasize about being a journalist and simply write a blog. All these people do not become martyrs and blow themselves up. Was the Terrorism Act 2000 designed to protect us from terrorists, or is it to restrict free speech and to frighten everyone? Who will be the next target of this law because Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command warned "Merely possessing this material is a serious criminal offence."

There is a big difference between fantasy and reality. One is made of dreams and even poems, the other ends in a big bang. Do not confuse the two.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Let's have a burger.

A couple of weeks ago I went out with friends for a meal and had a steak. Having a steak can be a lottery, it can be nice, very nice or it can be bad, very bad. You do not know what you will be getting, the product is inconsistent. My steak was rough and I gave half of it to my dog when I returned home. There was no point complaining because it is the nature of the beast and my friends were very happy with the steaks they had. Never again I thought, I will not take a risk the next time I dine out. So last week I decided when eating out with friends to play safe and have a burger. I chose a double 6oz BBQ burger with all the trimmings at a branch of the Sizzling Pub Company . This meal was gorgeous, tasty, full of flavour and was a meal fit for a king. The price of this dinner was very good and I would certainly eat at this chain again. We all know that with nationwide food chains the product is the same throughout the country and all the food comes on lorries from distribution hubs. What you get in Aberdeen is the same as you get in Penzance.

Today I go out for another meal, this time to a pub in the Green King chain. Due to the success of my previous burger dining experience I chose the double 8oz giant burger with all the trimmings. What a difference, this burger was gross. My dog had a lot to eat today - a whole 8oz burger to himself. One Green King burger was enough and I will never buy one again, it was gross. Where was the beef, I thought I was eating dog food? Again there was no point in complaining because this product is whatever comes down on the lorry. Why did someone in head office decide to buy these awful, cheap burgers? If I was a manager at head office I would sack the employee responsible for buying these disgusting beef burgers and demand that they eat one of these burgers at their termination interview. I have had Green King food before and it is generally good, tasty, with generous portions and value for money. However I will not be having one of their beef burgers ever again. I intend to get my dog food at Pets' at Home not Green King.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Art of Hyperlinking.

If you blog surf or read a lot of blogs you will be aware of the vast difference in quality among blogs. Some blogs are very amateur and childish, others are very professional and adult. Most bloggers will include links - these hyperlinks will send your browser to another webpage. This simple protocol is easy to use but it can be done badly. Jeff Atwood has written a wonderful post on his blog about the Art of Hyperlinking where he lists 2 do's and 9 don'ts. I agree with his views and consider his suggestions for hyperlinking to be best practice. He has set the bar for hyperlinking and I hope that the more sloppy bloggers follow his example.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Newport grinds to a halt again.

Yet again today Newport grinds to a halt as the Gwent Police close the M4 Motorway...

One lane remains closed on the M4 motorway near Newport following a crash involving a motorcyclist. Police and fire crews are at the scene of the accident which happened at around 1440 GMT on Sunday.

The westbound carriageway was closed between junction 27 at High Cross and junction 28 Tredegar Park. The eastbound carriageway was also closed for a time but has since reopened. Congestion on the westbound carriageway goes back to junction 25. An ambulance is at the scene with two fire crews.

...This is yet another example of the Police closing a motorway at the drop of a hat. Time and time again this happens with today's delay being an extra 60 minutes traveling time. There was no need to close the M4 Motorway for 3 hours this afternoon and closing the unaffected eastbound carriageway is the height of bloody mindedness from the Gwent Police. When will our politicians kick the arse of this obstructive Police force or are we already living in a Police state?

Sir Ian Blair clearly thinks the Police can do whatever they please including shoot-to-kill an innocent man. Closing Motorways for no good reason is child's play to these people.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Arrogant minister used mobile phone while driving.

Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, has been criticised by road safety campaigners after claiming he was taking an important work call when caught using his mobile phone while driving. The 37-year-old MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill was stopped on the Tyburn Road in Birmingham in July after being spotted talking on the phone while behind the wheel. In a letter to magistrates he said that he was taking a call about deportation but accepted that he should have pulled over to do so. Mr Byrne, a former police officer, was fined £100 with £35 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. He was also given three points on his licence.

...The arrogance of this politician amazes me. He did not even have the courtesy to appear in front of the magistrates by pleaded guilty by letter and claimed his telephone call was important. I suppose Liam Byrne also considers his job and life is so important that the law and best practice do not apply to him. His time may be so important that he cannot be bothered with a provincial magistrates court. His attitude stinks and I fear he is not alone. I notice daily that the vast majority of drivers who flout the law and use a hand held mobile telephone whilst driving have expensive cars. They are not driving old, cheap or small cars but new, expensive and large cars.

There is no need to take any telephone call whilst driving, even with a hands free kit. Telephone calls are a nuisance and a distraction. Men are not good at multi-tasking anyway and with driving you only get one chance to get it right. My employer will not discipline any driver for not using the telephone whilst driving. I barked at one Service Support operator for telephoning me the other week over a trivial matter that would have been solved by common sense if she had not telephoned me. Nothing is so important that the telephone call must be taken whilst driving. If a caller were to annoy me at work then I simply turn the telephone off.

MP's are supposed to represent us in government and should be leading role models not arrogant self proclaimed important people.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why won't people mind their own business?

Why won't people mind their own business as Robert Stewart was placed on the sex offenders’ register after being caught trying to have sex with a bicycle. Robert Stewart was discovered in his room by two cleaners at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr, south west Scotland, in October last year.

On Wednesday Mr Stewart admitted to sexual breach of the peace in Ayr Sheriff Court, where depute fiscal Gail Davidson described how he had been found by the hostel workers. She said: "They knocked on the door several times and there was no reply.

"They used a master key to unlock the door and they then observed the accused wearing only a white T-shirt, naked from the waist down.

"The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex." Both witnesses, who were extremely shocked, notified the hotel manager, who in turn alerted the police.

...This story is stupid and this incident should never have involved the Police. These 2 chambermaids should have just ignored their discovery, this guy was no threat to them. He was acting in private and they invaded his privacy. He was doing no harm to anyone. Walking in on someone naked in a hotel room must be part of the territory of being a chambermaid. There can be nothing shocking about seeing someone naked for goodness sake. I would have thought that walking in on this guy should have brightened up their rather dull and boring job. I would not have been bothered and certainly would not have been shocked, if I had walked in on someone naked or having sex. These 2 chambermaids were wrong to report their observations to the hotel manager. The hotel manager grossly over reacted when he alerted the Police. Why the Police went for a prosecution is beyond me, what a waste of public resources - have they no real crimes to investigate? And who are the alleged victims of this crime? These 2 women could have been watching television in his hotel room and switched channels and chanced upon a programme featuring naked people. These same 2 women could have emptied a litter bin in that hotel room and found a pornographic magazine. Oh big deal women, grow up and act your age. If I were to chance upon naked people in my day job it would brighten up my day and I would not complain to management. Many a time I have caught the sight of naked buttocks in my headlights as I drive past women answering the call of nature late at night. It never shocks me, it just makes me smile. Life is to be enjoyed and to put Robert Stewart on the sex offenders register is rather sad.

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