About me

Get new posts by email.

About me

Another cack-handed cock-up by Brown

Petrol PumpEvery indication appears to suggest that Brown is going to give in to the current demonstrations on fuel pricing and – at the very least – further delay October’s increase in fuel duty. This will be unfortunate but necessary damage limitation, and will spin well for, ahem, ‘hard-working families’.

If Gordon had made this announcement as part of his disastrous round of mea culpa interviews a couple of weeks ago – as I said he should – it would’ve worked to move on the news cycle exactly when he needed some movement, it would have been a pre-emptive strike against this kind of protest, and it would have played well to the public at large.

Instead, Mr Brown has decided to hand the press to his critics. The fact that the police decided to intervene earlier today only served to make the protesters more angry, and increase public sympathy towards them.

This is yet another relatively simple political situation for Brown’s team to handle, yet they appear to have failed to manage it effectively.

Many political pundits are already saying it’s impossible for Gordon to win the next election. If he doesn’t get a grip soon, I’ll start believing them.

» Image Credit: Original photograph by Rama, modified under licence

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics, , , .

Diary for 26th May 2008

Gordon Brown’s Ask the PM feature on YouTube has 93,000 views. My video of him picking his nose has 750,000 views. Democracy in action. «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, .

Diary for 25th May 2008

Why, five years after the event, does Amazon still badger me with recommendations of A-Level textbooks? That’s one unintelligent system. «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, , .

On dodgy naming…

There’s a pub in central Newcastle which has posters outside perpetually advertising appearances by the drag act Ophelia Balls. Thanks to my sweet innocence, it took me to walk past the pub many tens of times before – earlier this week – the terrible pun in the act’s name finally registered.

Having barely recovered from the shock, imagine my surprise at finding this new product on a visit to Ikea this weekend:

Ofelia Vag

Apparently, it’s part of the bigger Ofelia Collection. Surely they must have noticed…

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

Diary for 14th May 2008

Asda is never a pleasant place to shop, but it was made worse today by the musical accompaniment piped in… The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Why?! «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

Together We Can

I’m being paid to share this remarkably inspiring celebrity-filled video with you – featuring everyone from Tony Blair to June Sarpong, and Stuart Rose to Annie Lennox. Getting all these people to contribute seems quite an impressive achievement, and I hope you enjoy watching.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Video.

Diary for 12th May 2008

I’m amazed by the effectiveness of new Domestos GrotBuster for cleaning tile grout… And I’m not even being paid to say so! «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

The offensive mendacity of Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan SmithToday, new fertility laws are to begin their passage through the House of Commons, with a number of important debates about the current draft text coming up.

Some MPs are unhappy about the lack of a specific mention of fathers in the part of the text regarding suitability for IVF. The current draft has only a provision to ensure that their is an appropriate and stable family environment in which a child can be brought up – the presence of a father-figure is not specified, which is intended to be a correction to a current anomaly.

Currently, fertility legislation states that a father-figure must be identified. However, more recent Equal Rights legislation has superceded this requirement, allowing lesbian couples to have children using bank sperm. It is therefore proposed that the text of the fertility bill should be changed to reflect the reality – failure to correct it would mean that the current state of affairs would be reversed, with lesbian couples unable to have children once again.

Iain Duncan Smith is one of the prime Parliamentary opponents of this amendment. Earlier this week, he told The Observer:

Without fathers, boys join gangs and teenage girls become pregnant

This is obviously something that Mr Duncan Smith believes strongly, as it seems unlikely that he would want to use small-minded, bare-faced mis-truths to offend large swathes of the population who have grown up without fathers unless he had a very good reason to do so.

He surely wouldn’t express such an ignorant view of the causes of teenage pregnancy and urban crime unless his belief was so strong as to think that the end was justified by any means.

And I’m quite sure that he wouldn’t want to leave himself open to accusations of ignorance unless this was a matter which he felt was of critical importance.

Curiously, though, he didn’t believe in the role of fathers strongly enough to support the Employment Bill in 2002 – a Bill which gave fathers far greater entitlement to Paternity Leave.

Nor was his conviction such to compel him to bother to vote on the issue of children conceived through IVF knowing their natural fathers, back in 2004.

And nor did he believe it strongly enough not to vote in favour of the War in Iraq – a war which has left hundreds of British children without fathers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi families fatherless.

If I didn’t know better, I’d suggest this was thinly veiled homophobia from an MP who doesn’t want lesbian couples to be allowed IVF.

Of course, Mr Duncan Smith is far above that, and the fact that he’s voted against Equal Rights legislation time and again lends no weight to the argument: He’s just thinking of the kids.

Of course.

» Image Credit: Original photograph by Steve Punter, modified under licence

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

Microsoft steals music back from paying customers

MSN MusicThe music industry may find that convincing consumers to pay for legally downloaded DRM protected music is about to get a whole lot harder this autumn, as Microsoft has decided to use its immense tech industry muscle to make an utter mockery of the whole business.

In the wake of iTunes making a huge amount of money from selling DRM protected music, Microsoft desperately wanted to get in on the act, and so set up its own competitor – MSN Music. However, somewhat predictably thanks to the ubiquity of the iPod, the draconian restrictions of Microsoft’s PlaysForSure format, and the complexity of the whole system, Microsoft failed to make much of an impact, and so is now closing down it’s MSN Music store.

However, in a move that looks purely incendiary and vindictive, it’s also taking the servers used to validate the DRM licences offline (as reported – with relish – by Googler Mark Pilgrim).

Essentially, if you’ve ‘bought’ music from the MSN Music store, in a few weeks’ time you’ll find that any major change to your PC setup – be that changing devices, buying a new portable music device, or even upgrading Windows – will render your music unplayable.

So, having taken your money, Microsoft seem to no longer care whether the product works any more.

This leaves us with a huge number of unanswered questions, the most pressing of which would seem to be: Will they begin taking the same approach to old versions of software, and stop running software validation servers? Whilst MSN Music and Microsoft Software may be different beasts, it doesn’t seem unfeasable to suggest that this approach to licensing isn’t the corporate philosophy.

Most tech-savvy individuals have been aware for a long time that something like this could theoretically happen, but I’d be willing to bet that many thought that Microsoft was trustworthy enough to continue to allow you to access products you’ve paid for. This no longer seems to be the case.

It’s the strongest argument yet against DRM, and – for that matter – against buying any Microsoft product. If you’re running Microsoft Software, who knows if the next install will work or if the Validation Servers will have been taken offline?

» Image Credit: MSN Music screenshot by Luke ‘Duke’ Newcombe, modified under licence

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Technology.

Diary for 8th May 2008

I am not a horse, and hence have no desire to eat from a bucket. If someone told KFC, maybe they’d stop irritating me with their awful ads. «

This post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. Information about cookies and the handling of emails submitted for the 'new posts by email' service can be found in the privacy policy. This site uses affiliate links: if you buy something via a link on this site, I might get a small percentage in commission. Here's hoping.