Friday, 19 September 2008

I do not believe it!!!

This story has been running for a couple of days but still merits comment. Preppy Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had the brilliant idea (or more likely some moron in his office/party headquarters did but he clearly went along with it) that what the great British public would love above all was a cold call recorded message from him. A lucky 250,000 copped his automated message. There was apparently an opportunity after our hero's two minute peroration to provide feedback. An option starting with 'why don't you' and ending in 'off my line' Was presumably not among the options for feedback.

Helpful explanation for Mr Clegg: people hate cold calls and hate automated cold calls most of all. Hate probably understates it. Loathe may be getting warmer. Imagine the happy scene, there you are cooking dinner/putting the baby to bed/transfixed in front of Emmerdale when you are interrupted by the phone ringing. You drop whatever you were doing (preferably not literally dropping the baby) and hurry to the phone. 'Hello this is an automated message from Nick Clegg who would like to talk down to you for a couple of minutes' How many nanoseconds before the slamdown and stream of invective from irate voter in marginal constituency?

How stupid can the political class be? It has to be a sign of their disengagement from reality that they apparently imagine anyone would be remotely pleased to receive such a call or interested in the contents. And they seriously imagine this sort of stuff is going to make the great British public more likely to vote for them? Send for the men in white coats...

I blogged on cold calling back in June - have a look - it's a good laugh (very rude words indeed warning)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Las Vegas

Still far too busy for proper blogging at the moment but a quick peep at Mike's blog (link to left as per usual) reveals that he has been to Las Vegas. Put me in mind of the Gram Pasons song of the same name...

Have the words too..

ooh, Las Vegas, ain't no place for a poor boy like me,

ooh, Las Vegas, ain't no place for a poor boy like me

very time I hit your crystal city

you know you're gonna make a wreck out of me

well, the first time I lose I drink whiskey

second time I lose I drink gin

third time I lose I drink anything

'cause I think I'm gonna win

ooh, Las Vegas, etc

the queen of spades is a friend of mine

the queen of hearts is a bitch

someday when I clean up my mind

I'll find out which is which

ooh, Las Vegas, etc

well, I spend all night with the dealer

tryin' to get ahead

spend all day at the Holiday Inn

trying to get out of bed

ooh, Las Vegas, etc

Cracking stuff, innit!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Yer Rock & Roll 16

Far too busy with all sorts of stuff to do any serious blogging at the moment so have a little reggae...

First clip is Toots Hibbert in his Toots and the Maytals manifestation with 54-46 Was My Number from way back. Don't ask me what the title means. Prison number? Some wag commenting on YouTube comment 'bump up the volume if you not rocking your dead'. Happily, empirical researches reveal that I am still alive ;)

Second clip is Buju Banton - the connection is that he recorded a fine version of 54-46 in duet with Tots Hibbert but annoyingly it's not on YouTube so have his Destiny instead. There ya go...

Sunday, 7 September 2008

I don't usually do memes...

I don’t usually do memes but an invitation from Charon QC has to be complied with. Charon does a law blog (link to left) and asks for 5 favourite non-law blogs to be nominated. He tagged me among others. I think that the good news is that the nominees don’t have to do anything. This is the end of the line. It’s a bit invidious and indeed arbitrary. How do you choose 5 blogs over the rest? Will the bloggers not chosen take offence? Please don’t – all the blogs linked to WR have considerable merit in my opinion – that’s why they’re there. I haven’t nominated Mr Bastard and Never Mind the Bollix because Charon already did. I say this in an attempt to avoid a middle of the night visit to the foot of my bed by distinctly displeased Glaswegian gentlemen.

At its best, blogging creates links between people in different places with different backgrounds, interests and world views. Not only that but the personalities and narratives of people you have never met – and almost certainly never will – can come over. Provided that you don’t treat the virtual world as a substitute for the real one, some sort of faux panacea for actual discontents, then this is a good thing. Okay, on with the nominations…

1. Bug Eyed Blog

Some bloggers put up profile or other pics of themselves but most I wouldn't recognise if I bumped into them in the street. Earl would be most easily recognised by the back of his right calf (above). I confess I'd like to have a beer with Earl one day should I ever find myself in New York. He likes his beer. He also likes movies, applying his mordant wit to a range of topics and his beloved Gia. Total top bloke...

2. Daisy's Dead Air

Daisy is the ultimate ageing hippie (no offence Daisy!). She's a serious Deadhead, a herbalist, a feminist and a polemicist of gale force 9 proportions. She blogs on politics, music and religion mostly. She regularlly confuses the US religious right - which has to be a good thing - they don't get her at all. One e-mailed her plaintively...

'I can't figure out what kind of Christian you are.You claim to be Catholic and then you quote Buddhists and Hindus. You talk about the saints and then you welcome people with gender confusion and affirm their psychosis. You casually use the F-word. What kind of Christian are you, anyway?'

'The fun kind' she replied.

3 Renegade Eye

Renegade is that most rare and exotic of creatures - an American Trotskyist. He also likes movies, tango, flamenco and jazz. What I like about him is that he has created an open blog with a range of commenters, many of whom disagree with him strongly on pretty much everything. This is not the political equivalent of the narrow sect of the saved talking to itself - it's a heterodox free forum. I like that.

4. The Corridor (A Cricket Blog)

I'm an unashamed cricket anorak and here I can indulge my addiction with fellow sufferers. Oh, and the site meter currently shows 1,206,810. Eat your hearts out! Doubleoh, and at the risk of causing transatlantic offence, a quote I came across today: 'there is a limit to what Americans can understand. That lmit is cricket'.

5. Ron Knee

This is the blogger in full on rant mode. I've an immense soft spot for Ronald, even if he does occasionally make me wince. Mainly because he's so bloody funny - and despite outbursts that would make a Tourette's sufferer blush - he obviously has a good heart. Not to mention his revenge against a certain Troll - one of the great moments in blog history - some of you know what I mean ;)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Yer Rock and Roll 15

It occurred to me that I haven't done a Yer Rock and Roll in ages - plenty of clips but not a yer Rock and Roll. It was inevitable that I would get round to Bob Dylan sooner or later and so here is the elderly gent. I only ever saw him live once - at Brixton Academy in the mid-1990s - the conventional wisdom is that he either turns up ready and willing to perform or he - well - just turns up and goes through the motions grumpily. Fortunately, the time I saw him he was willing and able and a fine concert it was too. I'm not going to all the stuff about Dylan's merit or lack of it as a poet etc so straight into the songs - two (very) oldies.

The first is Subterranean Homesick Blues. The clip is well-known - it must be the original promotional video. Watch at the end when our man get completely out of synch as regarding discarding the cards in time to the music...

The second is Highway 61 Revisited. I said I wouldn't launch off about Dylan as poet but the lyrics are very fine. The artwork is by an Italian guy called Giovanni Rabuffetti.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Oh dear...

Things aren't looking too bright on the economic front, are they? The media is full of tales of gloom and doom. Inevitably, I start with house prices - the national obsession - now the picture no doubt variies from region to region but the general scenario seems to be that they are going south at a startling rate of knots. Further and faster than the headline figures suggest, I rather think. I talked recently to someone I know who is in banking in a serious way - 'down 35-40% over the next two to three years' she said. This has causes and consequences. The cause is well-known: the huge losses made by the banks with the collapse of the sub-prime market. Consequently, banks don't trust each other - let alone the punters - and the supply of mortgage finance dries up. I heard on the radio the other day that a couple with a 5% deposit wanting to make a first time purchase had onlly a year ago a choice of literally hundreds of mortgage products. Now they have two - and both are apparently bum deals. So the pool of people able to buy diminishes rapidly. So people having to sell drop the price and drop the price but still can''t sell. When they eventually do the discounted price sets a new benchmark.

Of course, even if not buying or selling, the property crash still impacts on people's perceptions. London in particular is full of people who have for years lived on the feelgood factor of having literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of equity simply by being an owner-occupier (subject to monstrous mortgage). The financial security blanket contracts or even disappears at a rate of knots. Feelgood turns into feelbad,

There are a couple more goodies in the pipeline: Firstly, in October the Government guarantees to the banks runs out if not renewed. Tax revenues must be plummeting and government finances under severe strain. Secondly, you will all have noticed the building sites with banners outside 'a development of 32 (or whatever) luxury apartmments by Spivco'. I always look at them and think 'I bet you wish you so hadn't bothered!' No doubt they do and many have been mothballed but a lot are beyond the point of no return and no doubt there will come a point when the developers cut their losses and dump the huge collection of identical two bedroomed apartments on the market. Watch this space (as it were)...

And apart from that, how is the wider economy? Well, 'apart from that' doesn't come into it. The whole thing is interlinked but the economy, while heading for recession, is also highly inflationary - petrol, fuel and food prices all rocketing. The Bank of England can't reduce interest rates because its primary duty is the control of inflation and the Banks wouldn't take much notice if it did. Sales of top of the range cars are through the floor as are sales of organic 9and therefore expensive) food. Personal savings have halved and a million people have dropped out of personal pension schemes (not that I blame them - they are a load of old rubbish). The only people who are doing well are apparently the discount supermarkets of the Lidl variety.

It's the Chinese curse - may you live in interesting times.

Someone said to me - why not nationalise the banks? Well that's so not going to happen but his argument was that we all need finance - we have a money and not a barter economy - so it's a kind of social service. Except it isn't a service and the only people who make money out of it are the clowns who award themselves stupefying sums of money by way of salary and bonuses for getting it about as wrong as can be possible.

Come the revolution, they'll be first up against the wall.

Okay, time to lighten up. Whatshername Palin has an unfortunate fringe known in the hairdressing trade as an Adolf Hitler. Like the late unlamented Fuehrer, she also has brown hair. With hat tip to Jailhouse Lawyer, imagine my shock at seeing this. Such disrespect!