Tag Archives: we’re doomed

Pre-prefixes

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I think the English language is now comprehensively broken. There’s no point my railing against it any more. It is busted, kaput, knackered, failed, conked out, beyond repair. It has reached the point where the mechanic has sucked his breath in through his teeth, whistled and shaken his head sadly.

When I hear pre-planned (planned planning?), pre-prepared (preparing to prepare something?), pre-ordered (you order something, you reserve something, you don’t order something before you reserve it … ARGH!), my head does backflips. But pre-used is a whole new pre-order of pre-mangled language.

Pre. Used.

Think about it for a second. I think they mean it’s second-hand. It’s used. Someone has already had the pleasure of using this unit. But if it’s pre-used, surely that’s brand new, never been out of the box, unopened? If it’s pre-used, it’s never been used. It’s… Wait… Um…

Sorry. I think my brain just melted and dribbled out of my left ear. Has anyone got a cloth?

BBC News – UK receives first F-35 stealth fighter jet from US

It has been a long and expensive wait, but Britain has now been handed its first Joint Strike Fighter jet, also known as the F-35.

Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond flew out in person to the searing heat of Fort Worth, Texas, for the official handover ceremony from its US manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

He says it is “the best warplane money can buy”. But it is an eye-watering sum – the current cost of each jet is more than £100m.

After watching Britain’s first F-35 take to the skies, Mr Hammond said “this is money well spent”.

He said it would give the RAF and Royal Navy “a world class fighting capability” with the ability to “project power” off the two new aircraft carriers now under construction, anywhere in the world.

Hammond, stop the warmongering. The UK is not a “world power” any more, and we shouldn’t be pretending we are. What is this “power” you want to project anyway? Planning on attacking Iran on the coat tails of the US are we?

Anyway, £100 million pounds for one plane, for an aircraft carrier we haven’t finished yet. I’m not sure we can afford a second plane, so I propose the RAF and Royal Navy sort out a time share on the one we have got. The US military-industrial complex must be rubbing its hands with glee.

Physicians, I feel your pain | Victoria Coren | Comment is free | The Observer

The government is not “curbing spending” on doctors’ pensions. That suggests the medical pension scheme was running at a loss; in fact, it was perfectly self-sufficient. This isn’t a cutback, it’s a raid.

Andrew Lansley said: “People know that pension reform is needed because people live longer.”

That’s not why pension reform is needed. We’ve known for years that people are living longer – doctors know that better than anyone – and pension contributions were put in accordingly. Unfortunately, successive governments spent that money on other things. Ignoring statistics for life expectancy, blind to forthcoming trouble, they failed to ring-fence pension funds for their proper purpose. It was a Ponzi scheme.

It was exactly that kind of live-in-the-now, credit-card attitude, from governments everywhere, that triggered the recession. They’d planned to pay back the “borrowed” pensions with new money that slid down the magic beanstalk. Now, staring in bafflement at a handful of dead leaves, they want to cover their arses by going back and nicking some more.

They are busting a gut to persuade us that we’re “all in it together” and that any public sector workers who choke at longer hours or slashed wages are “greedy” and “not team players”.

But they weren’t “greedy” 10 years ago, were they? They worked and they got paid. They only became “greedy” after our masters had sold off the gold reserves, borrowed fantasy amounts with fantasy collateral, allowed the banks to gamble with it, watched them lose and lose until the creditors came calling, bailed them out with more of our money, then sat back as it was paid out in bonuses to people who had too many yachts already.

And somehow, the moral is that doctors and teachers and train drivers are “greedy”, simply for wanting to live as they did before. God knows we were treated like idiots all along – but if we buy this new propaganda, we deserve no better.

Ms Coren gets it.

Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012 – chicagotribune.com

A quick review of the long and illustrious career of Facts reveals some of the world’s most cherished absolutes: Gravity makes things fall down; 2 + 2 = 4; the sky is blue.

But for many, Facts’ most memorable moments came in simple day-to-day realities, from a child’s certainty of its mother’s love to the comforting knowledge that a favorite television show would start promptly at 8 p.m.

Over the centuries, Facts became such a prevalent part of most people’s lives that Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said: “Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.”

To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of theU.S. House of Representatives are communists.

Facts held on for several days after that assault — brought on without a scrap of evidence or reason — before expiring peacefully at its home in a high school physics book. Facts was 2,372.

Well written, and right on the button. I’m actually rather surprised that Facts’ close relative, Reason, isn’t also on life support as I write.

BBC News – Think-tank calls for all bank holidays to be scrapped

If public holidays were scrapped it would add £19bn to Britain’s annual economic output, a think tank says.

Why not go the whole hog and make the us work 24 hours a day, seven days a week? That would sort out the economy pretty damned quickly!

The Centre for Economics and Business Research is completely wrong on this. Germany has more public holidays than the UK, and has an economy that appears to be recovering nicely.

The CEBR appears to want us to go back to the 19th century. Wage slaves apparently are not entitled to time off, time to relax and be with their families, or to just get away from it all for a short time. As one of the commenters wrote below the article: “Whatever happened to taking pleasure in life?”

EDIT: Simon Price has rightly pointed out the real story here is not the headline from the press release, but who is behind it. 

CEBR is a right wing think tank, run by a friend of George Osborne, the UK’s finance minister. So, no agenda here then. Why does the mainstream media not pick this kind of stuff up, rather than running with the press release alone? They are doing themselves and us a dis-service.

Change is inevitable

The media is currently on tenterhooks as Yang Guang and Tian Tian, a pair of giant pandas currently resident in Edinburgh Zoo, look like they might actually be in the mood for love.

Good news, if you are a fan of that lovable black and white furry thing, notorious for being unable to breed and eating nothing but the wrong kind of grass.

I used to be a person who worried about the fate of the giant panda, the white rhino, various rare tigers and innumerable other species that inhabit the planet with we humans. I used to worry about the fact that animals were in danger of extinction. We had to save them!

Sadly, no matter how hard well-meaning folk try to save the various species, it seems inevitable that many will become extinct—extinct in the wild, at least. There are active captive breeding programmes at zoos and wildlife parks around the globe whose aim is to breed enough of the near-extinct creatures that they can be reintroduced into the wild.

Presumably, once in the wild, they will promptly go extinct again.

As I’ve got older, I’ve come to realise that trying to save cute animals from the inevitable is flawed. Not wishing to poke fun at the panda, let’s look at some facts about them:

  • They live in bamboo forests in China.
  • They eat the bamboo.
  • This is odd because they’re a bear, and bears generally don’t eat grass as their staple diet.
  • Female pandas ovulate once a year, and remain fertile enough to breed for about three days.

On the face of it, the panda should be left for evolution to deal with. It has nothing going for it, save being cute to look at, and being the poster child of all kinds of well-intentioned eco-friendliness.

Take a look at the white rhino. It’s not as cute as a panda, but it’s also endangered. It’s reached this stage because the rhino’s horn is believed to have medicinal properties in certain Asian countries. The poor old white rhino is killed, just so its horn can be hacked off and sold

All kinds of efforts have been made to prevent this pointless and senseless poaching, yet it continues. It seems the white rhino will soon follow its black savannah-mate, and only be seen in captive environments.

All kinds of animals and plants are in serious danger of going extinct. There are various reasons for this, but the main one is humans. Humans are just too resourceful, and outbreed everything except bacteria. Some of these humans, though, want to retain the status quo. They want to see animals in the wild, and want to help protect them.

This argument is flawed. Something like 99% of all species that have ever existed since this planet began to support life have become extinct. It’s what nature does. Things change. Humans, rightly or wrongly, are accelerating the changes, but that doesn’t mean we should be trying to prevent animals dying out. No amount of hand-wringing is going to prevent an inevitable natural outcome of there being too many humans.

Besides, killing an animal just for the flawed belief the tail or horn is some fantastic medical cure-all really just proves to me that humans don’t deserve nice things any more. We should be pragmatic about nature, let things die out, be hunted and poached to extinction in the wild, because once they’re gone the poachers will be out of luck, too.

My attitude is perhaps a depressing one, but I think I’m being realistic. Despite the WWF’s fifty years of campaigning, little seems to be really changing for the better. In that time, the human population on Earth has virtually tripled. With all the will in the world, I can’t see how we can save other species from extinction when we can’t stop our own species from outbreeding the resources available. In fact, by what measure do we think we are even capable of preventing natural extinction due to human greed? We’re as much a part of the biosphere as any other species. 

So, I say we should let species die out in the wild. They may remain captive curiosities, but in many ways perhaps seeing them in zoos may make us realise just what damage we’re continuing to do to our world. Do not ignore the fact that all things will change, and humans too will one day be extinct—especially if we carry on the way we are now.

Privatising our roads will be a terrible deal – just as it was for the telecoms and water industries

Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. In which case, going by his speech yesterday on overhauling Britain’s roads and airports, David Cameron is mad.

I don’t usually do personal, or rude. But if the prime minister really, truly thinks he can do what his predecessors have done over the past couple of decades and not cop precisely the same woeful mess that they did, then he’s bonkers. Gaga. A few Pret sandwiches short of the full picnic.

Strip away the novelty of a prime ministerial speech devoted to, um, tarmac and what the Tory leader proposes is pretty much what we have heard over and over, from Thatcher onwards. Every British prime minister of recent memory has turned to private businesses and investors to build and run hospitals, schools and tube services. Now Cameron wants them to take over our motorways and trunk roads, too.

via Guardian.co.uk

I can find no words, so I won’t even begin to write any.

 

I have stacked shelves and hosed down urinals. Unlike the elite who are now telling lazy scroungers to buck up | Suzanne Moore | Comment is free | The Guardian

Yes, I understand the support for welfare reform, but right now we have an elite telling lazy scroungers to buck up. Yes, clean toilets, pick cabbages, move towns, sit in call-centre barns, smile enough to make Mary Portas types think you care. In short, deliver the service, that those who have never served, demand. Know your place.

I guess IDS knew his place at Sandhurst just as I once knew mine. Until I realised that most menial work leads to more menial work. The idea that this is the stepping stone is as much of a fantasy as The X Factor. The stepping stone is education. That’s what makes you free, not work. Now the young are to pay for that and work for nothing? And all while most of our political and media class spout lousy morality tales about lousy jobs while undermining even the basic minimum wage. Please.

As the graffiti I saw the other day said: “Sorry, the lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock.” I tell you who really needs “work experience”. Much of this government.

I don’t normally clip the last part of articles like this, but I just had to here. Spot on.

Cameron’s attacks on the vulnerable and needy must be stopped | Mail Online

Let us make no mistake what we are witnessing from our Coalition Government is absolutely, unquestionably, categorically scandalous.

The ritual humiliation, brutalisation, threats and punishment of anyone who is considered ‘a burden to the state’. Anyone who is less than perfect, anyone who dares to find themselves in a position where they need the state to support them. Those people are the subject of shocking and terrifying behaviour at the hands of David Cameron’s Coalition.

Cultural observers could not fail to notice the similiarites between what is taking place here towards sick, disabled, elderly or any group perceived to be vulnerable and weak and what occurred in Hitler’s Germany.

This may not be ethnic cleansing that we are witnessing – and some are already experiencing – but it’s a type of cleansing all the same.

There are hundreds of thousands of people around our country right now who are absolutely petrified for their future. It appears so hopeless. There have already been a number of suicides from people who left behind messages to the effect that they simply could not take the hardship any more. Could not face another winter without sufficient food or heat. And in the UK in 2012. Doesn’t it make you proud?

Some of the actions that are being carried out around our great country – and it’s still great no matter what the idiots trying to make it’s not say – are an absolute living outrage and we cannot condone it in any way shape or form.

This Coalition have long since crossed the line of decency. Their attacks on those who need our help the most are vile, and transparently so, and must be stopped. Else we all live to regret it.

I apologise for linking to an article on the Daily Fail’s web site. I generally avoid anything that homophobic, racist, misogynist comic has to say. However, I sense a change of attitude emanating from that quarter—and this article (I do not know if it appears in the print edition) demands to be read and shared widely.

I’ll make no further comment. I’m getting too annoyed by it at the moment.

Met Police spends millions of pounds on secret aircraft – Telegraph

Last week a Metropolitan Police spokesman refused to discuss its use of the
fixed wing aircraft but insisted it has gone through a “full”
procurement process.

However members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, which scrutinises the
force’s spending said they had never been told of the existence of the
aircraft.

According to Civil Aviation Authority records, the aircraft is registered to a
firm called Nor Leasing.

There is no trace of the firm on any other official record and its business
address registered with the CAA is actually a branch of Mail Boxes Etc,
which offers a virtual office services and mail forwarding, in Surbiton,
south-west London.

Another Cessna was also previously registered to Nor Leasing at the same
address and at another service address in Kensington, west London.

In 1997 one of the original individuals listed as “trading as” Nor
Leasing was John Carnt who at the time was a senior Metropolitan Police
detective.

Superintendent Carnt was the then head of the Serious and Economic Crime
Group, which was set up to combat major fraud, money laundering and art and
antiques thefts.

The pattern of hidden spending is believed to have been established by Tony
Williams, a former assistant finance director at Scotland Yard, who
established a secret web of companies for use in specialist undercover
operations.

But Mr Williams also used the same techniques to steal millions of pounds from
the force to set himself up as a bogus Scottish “laird”. Williams
was accused of stealing more than £4 million from Scotland Yard. He was
jailed for seven years in 1995.

Metropolitan Police Authority member James Cleverly last night said he was
totally unaware that the Met had any fixed wing aircraft.

Mr Cleverly, who also sits on the authority’s counter terrorism and protective
services committee, which examines the force’s covert work, said: “This
is not something that I have been made aware of or have had the opportunity
to scrutinise.

Oh my.