Thursday, 28 January 2010

Legislator or Dictator?

Whenever a topic is raised that involves censorship or the legalisation of something that is currently illegal opinions and reasons always clash. I will point out that I will not air my views in this post. I am merely observing an argument.

Lets look today at two topics. Prostitution and Cannabis. I think the key to considering both arguments are not to let individuals decide what is morally right or wrong but instead to consider the merits of legalisation for society. We need to look at the problems currently faced by society and look at if these would be solved, reduced or increased if they were legalised. Sex between consenting adults should be legal surely? Regardless of if payment or reward is part of the act. Morally I see the objection. What of people who can't for one reason or another go on a date? Should they be denied the joys of the flesh? A basic human instinct? 

Sexual relations are handled differently in countries around the world. Most countries encourage varied forms of monogamy, others polygyny. Even in the case of monogamy, there are numerous countries that impose no restrictions on prostitution, unlike a majority of the communities within the United States and the UK.

In order to discover if legalization is proper, one has to first familiarize oneself with the U.S. prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and the legalization of abortion in the 1970s. The implementation of prohibition was a result of an abolitionist philosophy and caused great harm to the country through lost taxes, increased crime rates and higher suicide rates. Similarly, when the U.S. abandoned its abolitionist stand on abortion, the country benefited from fewer deaths from botched back alley abortions. This proved prohibitionist thinking to be baseless and actually detrimental to communities.

There are many benefits to legalized prostitution. The benefits include (1) allowing law enforcement agencies to respond to more important crimes, (2) freeing justice systems from nuisance cases, (3) helping women who are trapped by prostitution, and (4) preventing teens from being ensnared into prostitution.

When data from countries that ban prostitution is compared with data from countries that do not, many startling discoveries can be observed. Countries without anti-prostitution laws have less murders, less rapes, and prosecute/imprison less people. HIV/AIDS is less of a problem; suicide rates are lower as are divorce rates, too.

Critics of the legalization of prostitution offer no alternative to a troublesome problem. These people would rather adopt the status quo model, which virtually abandons lower strata, low socio-economic prostitutes. Instead of managing the problem, these critics view the continued downward spiral of this subgroup as acceptable.

The critics of legalized prostitution rest comfortably within relatively new moral codes. The religions that now reject prostitution once used to manage it. However, even though religionists publicly denounce prostitution, too many hypocritically entertain like services and commit adultery. The Catholic Church has covered up institutional paedophilia at the expense of demeaning religious values and the lives of those who aspire to follow them*.

Enlightened people within civilized societies pride themselves on the contributions made to others who are less fortunate. Low strata prostitutes clearly rest within the domain of the less fortunate, but the countries who cling to anti-prostitution laws choose to abandon these people and thereby negatively affect the crime, health, and general safety of those nations. One must reconsider whether or not those countries are truly civilized.

The same argument can then be applied to Cannabis. Is there any reason not to legalise it? The people who use Cannabis will use it regardless of it's legal status. Currently the Cannabis trade around the world turns over billions of dollars in revenue. This could be taxed, regulated and would in one swoop reduce gun crime, gang fights, and access to cannabis by minors. There is absolutely no reason why a substance such as cannabis which has no worse effect than alcohol or tobacco on a persons health remains illegal.

Is it time to rethink why such things are illegal?

*references - Liberator, M. (2004) Legalized Prostitution: Regulating the Oldest Profession.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Back scratching!

Really scraping the barrel for post ideas today you may think!
Well ok maybe but I thought earlier in the shower about being single and scrubbing your back. What do you guys use? What is the favoured method? I have a sort of loofah strap which is ace and is so abrasive it you could sand the paint of an armoured car with it. I love it, I almost draw blood with it :) 

I personally don't think that there is enough inventions out there for back scrubbing, 

How about a large loofah mat that you could attach to the wall in the shower and rub against like a bear would? or how about a large round headed brush that could be battery operated and have a revolving head? Or how about rent a scrubber? you could pay someone to come round once a week to give your back a good scrub with a pumice perhaps? Maybe a good franchise idea here?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

We had joy we had fun...........

Today has been one of those perfect days. The sun was shining and there was a premature feel of Springtime in the air. 
My thoughts turned to Summertime and days spent doing whatever it is we do in Summer be it having BBQs, walking the dog, going out on the Motorbike or just lazing around the garden. Then I thought, that is it! That is the holy grail. The meaning of life! Surely? We enjoy the colours of Autumn (read Fall if stateside) endure Winter, enjoy the coming of Spring but we live for the Summer. So enjoying Summer is the meaning of life then? Time spent alone or with family, In our homeland or overseas, all time spent is more enjoyable when basking in the rays of our sun.

With this in mind could we live with perpetual sunshine? Do we need Winter just so we appreciate the Summer? Just as we need bitterness to appreciate sweetness? Would living in perpetual sunshine result in a happy and more content sense of being?

I may have mentioned that I have been wishing to move overseas. I haven't decided on a destination as yet. Southern France and Spain appeal although the language barrier could be an obstacle. That said there are more expats in Spain than anywhere else in the world. The USA appeals massively too although immigration is to stringent even for Brits. 

Why do I want to move, one reason really, I hate, no actually I'll rephrase that I HATE WINTER in the UK. I can't ride my bike, I can't wash or polish my bike/cars. I can't sit in the garden reading, I can't cook outdoors, I can't watch the sunset with a glass (or bottle) of wine. I'm so happy in Summer, I wear nothing but shorts and vest tops. I love the colour that my skin turns. I love the late nights, the songs of birds, the smell of BBQs and the taste of cold beers. I can enjoy the planet on which we live when there is sunshine. 

What is your favourite season and why?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Pillows, soft hard, fat, slim. What do you prefer?

I recently stayed over at some friends house in the spare room. I had an horrendous nights sleep due to the pillows being hard and thin. If I didn't know any better I'd say that they were like paving stones in a cotton slip (obviously they weren't) I have duck down pillows at home, 3 including the dress pillow. They are plump but oh so soft and deep. I love them, I truly do. There is nothing finer than to put your head on those pillows at night and leave the mad world behind for a few hours. I have a really thick and fluffy duvet to match too. 

I'm getting more and more intolerant of crap pillows. I find very few hotels have decent pillows either which makes for a most disturbing nights sleep. In addition they also have sheets and blankets instead of a quilt. How on earth can you sleep under sheets? Especially if they are all tucked in, Arrrrrgh!

 I can't believe how fussy I have become given that a few years ago I would sleep in the car whilst following the British Rally Championship around the forest stages of England. I would have a sleeping bag and a rubbish pillow. I t must be my age, I've hit 40 now and I'm a big comfort lover.

What pillows /quilt/sheet combo do you prefer?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Power to the people

I'm a bit of an oddity when it comes to politics, I'm a big believer I suppose in the Laissez-faire or free market economic ideals. I don't like unions, I don't like censorship, I don't like the level that government intervene. 

That said, I'm not easily placed in a left or right wing camp either. I have things that I believe work and things that don't. 

What has impressed me recently however is the sheer power of social networks, This was apparent during the run up to Christmas when Rage against the machine took the Christmas number one slot of the UK music chart all thanks to one couples silly idea of starting a Facebook campaign for a bit of a laugh! Jon and Tracy Morter from Essex started a group on face book entitled "Fed up with Simon Cowell's latest karaoke act being Christmas No. 1?" and with the viral power of Facebook the membership of the group grew within days.

The couple had suggested a song from the rock band "Rage against the machine" as an alternative. Incredibly, they succeeded and Simon Cowell's X factor winner had to settle for second place.

Jon Morter came up with the crazy idea after hearing that bookmakers no longer take bets on what will be the Christmas number 1. The X factor winner traditionally bags the top spot and Jon thought that was just wrong. So, it would seem did hundreds of thousands of people across the UK!

So, have we turned a corner now? Surely activist groups must have pricked their ears up at this small coup? The next couple of years will be really interesting. 

In the past, the meek and inoffensive people of Britain have demonstrated in our traditional "oops sorry, excuse me, thank you" sort of way against things like fuel tax increases. Truck drivers drive slowly in convoy for a few hours to express their displeasure, or drive to Downing St to present a petition. I've often admired how the French deal with it..... 
They park their trucks in the road, let their sheep wonder about, block all the ports and generally just bring the country to a standstill until they are heard. That is pure people power and I can't help but like it.
It is one thing to elect a government democratically but what do you do when that government start to act against the will of the majority? Maybe, following the success of Jon and Tracy Morter's Facebook campaign we will start to see very strong, organised protests and even protest votes organised through Facebook. Interesting times ahead!

In the words of Robert Lyndsay aka Citizen Smith "Power to the people"

What Facebook campaign would you like to see?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Make a killing writing iPhone Apps

Apple have really played a blinder over the past few years. The iPhone is one of the best products to hit the mobile market in a long time. 

The winning combination of sleek looks, quality construction and the simple yet brilliant design of using fingertips to navigate around the device has appealed to millions worldwide. Another reason for the success of iPhone is the huge number of applications available from the itunes App store. For those of you who don't know, an application is a little piece of software that can do anything from make noises like a Jedi light Sabre to connect you to Twitter, tell you the weather in your area or turn your iPhone into a spirit level. 

Apple have created an opportunity whereby ANYONE can become a software developer literally overnight. For just $99 per year ANYONE can become a development member. All you need then is a Mac computer, some time, and a little knowledge.

The app store has thousands of apps, some are free (they gain revenue by also displaying advertisements) some are just 99p (or cents) whilst others such as TomTom software are around £50 ($80) Apple take a percentage of app sale revenue but the developer gets the lions share.

Even the most stupid apps make money. There was one available called iSteam which gave the effect of steam on the screen when you breathed into the microphone. In truth you'd probably only use it once or twice to demonstrate the genius of your new phone to your mates before deleting it. the developer grossed a cool $100,000 from this app. 

Another App called iFart which, you guessed it, played fart noises was earning the developer $10,000 PER DAY!
You can see then the potential that becoming a developer offers. In addition to creating your own apps, developers who know there way around can command exceptional fees for creating apps on behalf of corporations who want to get in on the iPhone party.

I've done a little bit of digging as it does seem something that with a little effort could bring exceptional rewards

Sams Teach Yourself iPhone Application Development in 24 HoursiPhone apps are written in the programming language "Objective-C" and Cocoa touch. These languages although not easy can be learned within a matter of weeks if you are dedicated enough to learn. There are some great resources out there (and some crap ones) a good place to start would be to read this book, "Teach yourself iPhone Application Development in 24 hours" this book assumes you have no previous knowledge of programming but does rely on you being able to use (and own) a mac. Another good book is from the renowned "dummies" series iPhone Application Development For Dummies

Both these books will have you writing iPhone apps by the time you have finished them. You then simply need to take what you have learned and come up with an app that people will want. 

If you do hit the big time, remember me when you are ordering your first Bentley! :)

What sort of app would you like to see on the iPhone?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Trust in a bottle!

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian Psychologist who discovered or pioneered a theory of "conditioned reflex" In addition to other methods Pavlov recorded that a dog would salivate before being given food. He then conducted tests which involved using a stimulus such as ringing a bell just before he fed the dog. After repeating this procedure the dog then associated the sound of the bell with food. Pavlov then observed that the dog would salivate when the bell rang even if no food was present. This was a "conditioned reflex"

NLP (Neuro Lingusitic Programming) is a modern program of psychotherapy not generally accepted by the Psychology profession but embraced by Hypnotherapists, stage magicians and business training companies. I have studied NLP in depth over the years and adopted some of its methods with reasonable success whilst developing sales training programs for my staff. 

An important part of NLP is anchoring. This essentially follows the Pavlov theory in so far as an Anchor is a a memory or feeling triggered by the senses. For Instance, When I first visited Egypt I used Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil, whenever I smell the stuff now it takes me right back to that holiday in Egypt, the feeling, the ambience. It has become an Anchor for me. Whenever I hear "Bat out of hell" by Meatloaf it takes me back to being a kid at the Ice Rink, at the end of the night the speed skaters were allowed on, the lights were dimmed and Meatloaf was played, another Anchor.

A huge industry has now sprung up around these Anchors, Marketing gurus understand the concept well and use them to the full potential when selling to us.

It is amazing just how powerful our senses are in influencing how we feel and what we do. Supermarkets buy aromas to simulate the smell of freshly baked bread. They pump it into the air around the bread aisles to stimulate sales of fresh bread products.

I've spotted a couple of products lately when browsing through affiliate sites. One is Pheromone Spray and the other is Trust Spray. Both are targeted at men who are wanting to attract females although I did spot one that claimed to be specifically for Gays. How or if these sprays work I have no idea but they do rely on Anchoring facts to sell them.
The Pheromone spray seems straight forward, It would appear that we are each programmed to be attracted the the natural niff of our sexual opposites much as animals are. If pheromones can be reproduced in a laboratory then  it is perhaps safe to assume that they would attract the opposite sex, or a pack of randy dogs, or they may just make you smell as if you haven't showered all week! who knows?

I do not know what aroma is involved in these so called "Trust" sprays that would appeal generically. For instance, You may well have trusted your Uncle Bill as a child and he may well of had the smell of tobacco on him. This would subconsciously make you trust people who had a tobacco smell on them. But this doesn't mean the same smell would work for your friend. Their Uncle may have been very mean and cold and also had a smell of tobacco so for them the anchor would be reversed. The smell of tobacco on a person would make them avoid that person.
I'm using tobacco as an example, Kind Uncle Bill may have carried the smell of petrol or treacle toffee or Chanel, you get my point. that Anchor would be personal to you so how can a generic trust smell be produced?

NLP is a really interesting subject if you are involved with dealing with the public or selling or negotiating. Check it out.

What Anchors do you recognise in your life? A certain smell, a certain song, 
Liquid Trust         Pherone Formula V-5 Pheromone Cologne for Men to Attract Women, with 5mg of Human Pheromones      Sourcebook of Magic: A Comprehensive Guide to NLP Change Patterns      NLP: The New Technology of Achievement

Monday, 11 January 2010

Monday controversial subject - GOD - fact or fiction?

I deliberated for a while before writing this post, In fact as I write it is only Monday and so I was going to schedule this post to go live as the Friday "controversial" post. I am aware that there are subjects or subscribers of different religions who read this blog and I do not wish to offend, alienate or otherwise any particular religion or reader. 

I do hope however for some interesting and thought provoking replies.


Ok, so God, What is God? According to Wikipedia, "God is a deity in theistic and deistic religions and other belief systems, representing either the sole deity inmonotheism, or a principal deity in polytheism.[1]" 

At this point it starts to get confusing so rather than discuss topics such as Monothesim and polytheism we'll just stick to the basics and discuss how God or the belief /disbelief in God or a God affects us personally and the world we live in.

I will at this juncture disclose that although I do not like labels, I suppose my belief/disbelief would put me somewhere between the atheist and agnostic camp therefore I have no bias towards any religion.

So to explain my standing a little, at age ten I lost my Mother to cancer, Ovarian Cancer that had spread to her lungs before she even knew that she was ill. She was just 34. So, at the age of ten I simultaneously lost my belief in Father Christmas and God. There was no other reason for Mum to die other than she had Cancer, that was it. It wasn't her time, she hadn't committed a crime. The simple fact was, she had cancer and it had taken her life. 

And that event formed my belief. I couldn't accept that a creator of such outstanding talent could build in a flaw into mankind such a cancer without correcting his mistake. If Ford make a car with a steering defect then they issue a recall notice and all the defects are repaired. Why wasn't this the case with God? I could only work on facts from that point onwards. And the facts as I saw them age 10 were :

1) Father Christmas couldn't possibly have visited every kid in the world in one evening. Where was his factory / warehousing situated? Father Christmas it seemed was an imaginary character used to keep kids "in check".

2) God simply cannot exist (If Father Christmas couldn't be everywhere in one night then nor could God)  Where is heaven? We have been to the moon, surely we should have found it? God was an imaginary "concept" used to keep society "in check"

3) Cancer kills

So since the age of 10 I have lived without any influence from the church or religion of any kind. I'm aware that there are Christians and Mormons and followers of other religions who read this blog and who have blogs that I follow. I wont pretend to understand the differences between religion. Nor will I attempt to understand what religion offers people. I guess it offers strength and focus certainly in times of trouble. I suppose that I understand that although I had to find the strength within, I suppose there is little difference.

I know in general that most religions believe in an afterlife. It is this one point that prevents me from saying I am an atheist. I certainly believe in spirits. I was having this conversation with a friend the other evening. When a person dies and you see the body then that is all you are a looking at, a body that the person used whilst on this earth. But where has the life gone?  The spirit that gave this person a unique personality, a sense of humour, a set of beliefs, an education. So I believe an energy, a spirit, call it what you will, does exist and that is what gives us life. A body will decompose after death but what becomes of this life force? Does it go to earth as electricity would? Does it go to heaven? if so where is this heaven?

As a race we have developed so much over the past 2000 years that we are able to prove and disprove pretty much any theory. 2010 years ago Somebody died named Jesus. I actually do believe this bit. Well I believe he actually lived. I'm not sure how we would know either way if he was born in a manger to a married Virgin. (I may have gotten this bit wrong so please correct me) I do believe however that there is a strong possibility that Jesus was not dissimilar to David Blane for instance in so far as theatricals were concerned. I believe he had good intentions however and that his legend was created by fanatical followers. 

Anyone who follows Motorsport will have heard of the late Fangio. You will hear stories of his driving abilities that portray him as a racing god. Yes he was good, yes he won some races but he got infinitely better once he had died. And the more years that pass the more legendary he has become. If truth be known he wasn't that good at all, not by modern standards. Schumacher has surpassed all Fangios achievements against much stiffer competition. But legend, and myth has created a racing god by whom all others who follow are judged.

King Arthur is another classic example. A Mythical tale of King Arthur and the knights of the round table were made even more potent by stories of a sword named Excalibur. A 12th Century fanciful book tells how King Arthur led the defence of Britain in the 6th Century against invading Saxons.  It is widely believed that although King Arthur didn't actually exist per se, the character was based an an actual Romano-British leader. 

I would dearly love proof that King Arthur existed all those years ago. Truly I would. The recent movie "King Arthur" starring Kiera Knightly and Clive Owen is a fantastic story of bravado and gallant actions. The chances are however that he didn't exist. At least not as King. 

Regardless of if he did or he didn't it wouldn't change my life today. I'd still have bills to pay, I'd still worry over my Fathers health. 

So back to religion. As far as I am aware the main cause for war and terrorist acts around the world today is differences in religious beliefs. This is where it gets really difficult for me to understand. In the UK there are many churches/places of worship. These are still relatively popular although numbers have waned over the years. The people who frequent these establishments strike me as being caring, sensible and upright citizens. Why then are there followers of religion around the world who are willing to pilot an aircraft filled with other humans into a building? Why are there faithful subjects who are willing to strap explosives to themselves in the name of religion?

If someone could provide me with something concrete then it would change my perspective. I've looked at different religions at various times in my life with curiosity. The one that appeals to me most is Buddhism as it seems to rely more on inner beliefs and strengths rather than external beliefs. It is more a philosophy than a religion.

So what place does religion have in a modern society? Which religion is right? They obviously all can't be right.  What does the church mean to you? Is it a security blanket? A social centre? Why can't subjects of each religion just coexist in peace? Do you have blind or absolute faith or do you have no doubts at all to the existence of your God?

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Ok, I must confess, before we go any further,I am mind numbingly drunk as I write this so 1) forgive any typos and 2) forgive anything I say.

It hit me tonight whilst I was out and growing older by the hour. The minute we put down roots then that's it, game over. We are then tied to an area for life like it or not. Ive had several thoughts this evening, none of which I'm willing to share on this blog in public but that reinforce the fact that I am tied and bound to my life. 

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't turn the clock back on lots of things but to those of you reading this blog who are young enough or luck enough to have not yet put your roots down then please take my advice and proceed with caution. 

DO NOT settle down until you are 100% sure that it is the right thing to do.:

OK, rant over, i'm pissed, need to sleep, it's terribly important! :)

Friday, 8 January 2010

Friday controversial thread - The right to die

Below is a story published on 31st Dec 2009 by It seems that the courts of the world are recognising peoples right to choose to die. 

What is your view?

HELENA, MT – Montana physicians, terminally-ill patients and Compassion & Choices, the nation’s largest and oldest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life, today hailed the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling that terminally ill Montanans have the right to choose aid in dying under state law. There is no further appeal from this decision, as the Montana Supreme Court is the highest court available to decide State issues.
Compassion & Choices Legal Director Kathryn Tucker, co-counsel to the plaintiffs/respondents, said, “This case was about the right of mentally competent, terminally ill patients to request a prescription for medication from their doctors which they can ingest to bring about a peaceful death. The Montana Supreme Court has determined that this is a choice the public policy of Montana supports. Montanans trapped in an unbearable dying process deserve, and will now have, this end-of-life choice. This is the first state high court to find protection of this choice, and makes clear that in Montana, patients are able to make this choice and physicians can provide this care without risking sanction.”
Roberta King, of Missoula, the daughter of plaintiff Bob Baxter, said, “My father died without the peace and dignity he so dearly wanted for himself and others. He feared when he filed this lawsuit that he would not live long enough to benefit from it. I’m sure he would be deeply gratified that other terminally ill Montanans will have the choice and comfort that aid in dying affords them.”
Dr. Stephen Speckart, a Missoula cancer specialist and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said, “This decision affirms that a terminal patient’s fundamental right to self-determination will guide end-of-life health decisions. I regularly treat patients dying from cancer, and many of these deaths are slow and painful. Terminal patients will no longer be forced to choose between unrelenting pain and an alert mental state as they approach the end of their lives from terminal diseases. The comfort this brings to their last days can have an immeasurable benefit.”
Missoula attorney Mark Connell, who argued the case to the Supreme Court on behalf of the plaintiff physicians and patients, described the decision as “a victory for individual rights over government control.” Connell added: “The Montana Supreme Court has now recognized that, where intensely personal and private choices regarding end-of-life care are involved, Montana law entrusts those decisions to the individuals whose lives are at stake, not the government. I know Bob Baxter would be very pleased that the court has now reaffirmed that these choices should be left to the terminally ill people in our state.”
Steve Johnson, 71, of Helena, is terminally ill with brain cancer, hailed the decision and asked the Montana medical profession to provide patients like himself with aid in dying. “I approach the end of my life with a clear mind, and I would like to work with my doctor to minimize the pain and maximize the peacefulness in my dying. I would like my physician to be able to respect and honor my choice to die with dignity. Adults like myself should have the option, if terminally ill, to request physician aid in dying.
It’s only compassionate to minimize unnecessary suffering at the end of life, and to let me make the choice about how much suffering to endure, based on my own values and beliefs,” said Johnson.
Montana State Sen. Christine Kaufmann, Rep. Dick Barrett and twenty-nine other state legislators; the American Medical Women’s Association, the American Medical Students Association, and a coalition of Montana clinicians; the American College of Legal Medicine; the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana; the Montana Human Rights Network; the Northwest Women’s Law Center; terminal patients’ surviving family members; Montana religious leaders; and Montana’s leading constitutional law experts had urged the Court to find in favor of the terminal patient’s right to receive aid in dying from their physicians.
Compassion & Choices encourages terminally ill patients to call 800 247-7421 if they would like information about aid in dying, or suggestions on how to open a dialogue with their physician and loved ones.
Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Fiat 131 replica abarth For Sale (1980) on Car And Classic UK

Fiat 131 replica abarth For Sale (1980) on Car And Classic UK

What a fantastic car. I had one of these in Orange when I was a teenager. Ooh I'm tempted! What a great track day toy!

Just as much presence as a Mk2 Escort but with that certain je ne sais quoi.

Fiat 131 Abarth #1 1979 Rally Costa Brava Winner A.Zanini/J.Petisco 1/18 Kyosho

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Facebook, good or bad?

When Facebook first became viral it was a real novelty, We could connect with friends who had moved away, we could announce social events and share photos with family and friends alike. When its creator developed the code he probably had no idea how successful the concept would become. 

Fast forward to 2010 and Facebook is now almost 6 years old. I registered back in the early days but soon realised that a huge part of my day was spent reading pointless status updates, poking and superpoking friends, commenting on photos and playing poker. I witnessed my employees at the time spending time with facebook on their computer screens, we then had our IT people restrict access to the site on work computers only to then have employees using their mobile telephones to access Facebook instead!

So other than being an unacceptable invasion of privacy and a nuisance for employers what other effects is Facebook having on society? 

When my ex wife had an affair that was responsible for the end of our marriage, I became aware of her infidelity by spotting unusual activity on her itemised mobile phone statement. This was the late 1990s and was a time when SMS text messaging was in a growth period. Everyone suddenly had a mobile telephone and so instant communication had become a part of everyday life and as a result affairs sky rocketed as people discovered as I did the extent of their partners activities. 

Facebook is now the catalyst behind 20% of divorces. Lawyers have said that 1 in 5 divorce petitions contain Facebook references. That is a shocking figure that is only set to rise. More and more companies are now embracing the business opportunity that such an invasive venue provides. Facebook is able to target very specific demographics as it has access to location, age, income etc. It is almost impossible to escape being lured in to Facebook now, itunes have been running a "12 days of Christmas" promotion on the iphone that enables a free download of an app, movie, song etc for each day over christmas. In order to download the app you are encouraged to connect to Facebook, this I guess would then alert all your "friends" to what you have just downloaded and therefore trigger viral downloading by others. 

The Viral aspect of Facebook is awesome. it really is an advertisers dream. Recently as you may know a Facebook user managed to use the viral power of Facebook to influence the Christmas number one song, no doubt to the amazement of Simon Cowell. Will society harness the people power that this exercise has demonstrated?

So what does the future hold for Facebook? Will it become a venue for just kids? Will people continue to publish their entire life in hour by hour segments for all to see? Who knows? It's all about clicks, getting clicks through to advertisers, that is how the whole thing works. In addition, we are by nature voyeuristic, that is why the program Big Brother is so successful.  I can't help to worry about how dangerous it is to have people in your neighbourhood knowing your every move and thought. How many times have you surfed Facebook jumping from friends list to photo albums and back again simply being nosey about people who you know well or not so well? Rest assured, people are also poking their nose into your life too!

The services of a condemned man

Some years ago the UK government agreed to the Kyoto protocol. Several major countries such as the USA and Australia refuse to be bound by it's terms and yet our limp wristed goody two shoes leaders decided that our small nation should be involved despite it providing even more red tape and tax burdens for our ever decreasing business community. 

The Kyoto protocol is concerned with reducing so called "greenhouse gas emissions" the commitment from the UK government has seen all manner of ridiculous changes such as the legal requirement to have "energy saving" coated glass in all replacement windows and new houses. This caused so much grief in the once buoyant "window industry" ( I used to own a window factory) as machinery needed to be changed, pricing structures, handling procedures etc. In addition, the government set up a body called FENSA which is an acronym for something stupid in order to "police" the window industry to ensure that they were meeting the new standards. This involved another army of limp wristed inspectors driving around the country checking on window installations. The green house gases involved in manufacturing this coated glass, manufacturing new equipment to handle and process the glass, the administration and day to day running of FENSA is incomprehensible.

The government then turned its attention to motorists. The latest scheme which went hand in hand with the global credit crisis was a "scrappage allowance". I think the USA run a similar scheme called Cash for clunkers? The aim I think was two fold. Boost the ailing motor industry and get dirty old polluting evil cars of the streets. What a stupid scheme. My father runs a 10 year old VW golf which is in immaculate condition and is regularly serviced. It's emissions are lower than some new cars available today and yet his car qualifies under the scheme to be scrapped! Furthermore, we are seeing classic cars go to the crusher in the UK under this ridiculous scheme. 

The Government then introduced new "road tax" rates depending on how green your car is. Some cars today are actually qualifying for free road tax as their emissions are less than a cigarette lighter. At the other end of the scale however drivers are heavily penalised for driving anything bigger than microwave oven. I like big cars, I always have and as you may know if you read my blog I have recently bought a Range Rover Vogue. This attracts an annual road tax fee of £440 because the government believe that Range Rovers are the creation of the devil.

This morning I was delighted to see that over 4" of snow had fallen overnight. First I received a phone call from my eldest daughter, could I run her to work as she couldn't move her car? no problem. My driveway goes uphill as do some of my neighbours drives. I jumped into the Range Rover at 7.30 am, fired up the engine, switched on the heated screen, heated, seats, heated steering wheel and waited for a few minutes, all the while pumping toxic nastiness into the atmosphere. I reversed up the driveway with ease and went to collect my daughter.  

Mission completed I returned home to see several neighbours desperately trying to clear a path on their driveway to get their environmentally friendly but hideously inefficient cars off the drive. Needless to say NONE succeeded. 

If you look at this photo, It was taken from my bedroom looking up my driveway. You can see the incline, you can also see just one set of tyre tracks, they belong to my devil car, the condemned vehicle, the anti-christ of motoring.  You may be able to make out the marks in the snow on the right where neighbours have tried to get their cars to move without success. 

Needless to say, I have offered my services to a number of neighbours this morning, and have successfully driven two of them to their place of work, The Range Rover has played its part in keeping the UK working today. It doesn't need the services of the salt spreading trucks or snow ploughs and all the associated greenhouse gas that they emit. It doesn't rely on recovery patrols to rescue it. How many people wont make it into work today? How many of those people will now be sat at home with the heating turned to override? How bad is that for the environment?

So the poor Range Rover may be a condemned man in this age of fanatical environment care and it is taxed heavily as a result, but just how well thought out is this Kyoto nonsense? The world is known to have a changing climate, we have had ice ages before. Apparently, the whole of mankind only contributes 5% to global warming, the rest is naturally occurring! 

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Phantom of the Opera

I haven't posted for a few days. I have been lucky enough to travel down to London to watch Phantom of the Opera that has been playing at Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End since 1986. For those of you who haven't seen the 2004 movie adaptation I urge you to get a copy and watch it. For those of you who are lucky enough to live within travelling distance ( I drove a 500 mile round trip) of either London's West End or Broadway then I urge you even more to go and see the theatre production. 

Originally a novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux in 1909 the story was given the "Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber" treatment in 1986 and to this day remains a must see production. 

Having watched the DVD many times I was eager to see the stage show. I've got to say it was simply stunning. Her Majesty's theatre is relatively small with just an 1100 seat capacity but it has so much character. From the start the production was breathtaking. The set changes are seamless and the effects are technically brilliant. The story stirs more emotion on stage than the DVD can manage despite me having a superb home cinema. An unforgettable performance that will stay with me forever.