Thursday, June 30, 2016

So Long, Boris

They're coming and going at a dizzying speed today. In August 2014, I remarked on the decision of the then-Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to announce his intention of returning to Parliament as soon as he could find a suitable constituency. There was, indeed, one awaiting, the very spot where I have the honour to reside. I wrote at the time
... he then intends to position himself as the next leader of the party and will bide his time before knifing D. Cameron in the back in the traditional way.
At first all went well. Our man was selected as the candidate for Uxbridge and Ruislip South. At the General Election he was elected to Westminster. His mate, good ol' Davie Cameron, made good on his reckless promise to hold a referendum on British membership of the EU. Boris cunningly bided his time until Davey-boy returned from Munich Brussels clutching a bit of paper with some "terms" on which would make everything all right. He then shoved the long awaited knife right where it would do the most damage by declaring himself for the Leave side.

All that was now needed was for a narrow victory for Remain, horribly embarrasing our Dave and leaving Boris free to put himself forward as the man who could unite both sides of the fractured Tory party. But this was where it all started to unravel. Leave won. Ah well, thought Boris, my old pal Dave will clean up the mess. Wrong. Within a few hours of the result being known, Cameron had pulled out the knife and got in his own retaliation as he announced his resignation, leaving the "victors" of the Leave campaign to do the really hard and awkward work of handling the exit negotiations.

Still, the masterplan to rule the world was still on track, in a way. Boris could now stand for leader. His good ol' pal in the Leave Campaign, Micky the "slithy tove" Gove would back him all the way and together they would form the dream ticket.

Today that plan went horribly wrong. The Tove, deliciously, gave our Boris just a few minutes advance notice that, far from supporting him, he was going to run himself. Oh dear. Our hero is not used to being treated thus. Facing a real contest and having convinced many of his untrustworthiness, this morning's press conference turned into something that had not been planned. Instead of announcing his candidacy for leader of the Conservative Party, Boris chose to duck, chicken out, withdraw in a dignified manner, fearing insufficient support.

What will our classically trained orator do next? Obviously, he will retire to his country estates to read philosophy, write his life story and grow vegetables . Don't write him off too soon. In Roman times, he would by now be lying down in a long, hot bath with a nice sharp blade to hand and an amphora of Falernian wine to numb the pain of the slashed wrists. We live in gentler times, however nasty social media and the tabloids may become. The time of Boris the Statesman must surely come when whoever wins the forthcoming contest retires, utterly exhausted, in about fifteen months.

Statements of Intent

The leadership of the Conservative Party: a Statement

I wish to clarify my intentions with respect to the leadership election shortly to commence. I do not have the confidence in any of the declared candidates to unify our country and take us forward in the wake of the historic decision to destroy our links with our biggest trading partnerkick out the nasty foreigners / forge a new destiny amidst the open seas of international commerce and therefore am now undergoing consultations to see if there is a basis of which I can take the British people kicking and screaming into the nineteenth  twenty-first century

The leadership of the Labour Party: a Statement

I wish to clarify my intentions with respect to the leadership election likely to commence shortly. I do not have the confidence in any of the declared candidates to unify our country and take us forward in the wake of the  vigorous campaign for Remainthe lacklustre attempt to stay in / the inability to listen to our natural supporters and to state clearly what we believe in rather than what we are afraid of  and therefore am now undergoing consultations to see if there is a basis of which I can offer to the British people the same old stuff a glittering new future in the twenty-second century (when, experts assure me, is the earliest we can expect to be returned to power).

The leadership of the United Kingdom Independence Party: a Statement

What a bunch of narrow minded racist thugs they really are.

The leadership of the Liberal Democrat Party: a Statement

To be issued if and when the party should reappear as a serious political movement.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Night of the Couldn't Quites

Rooney has scored from a penalty. England have their dream start
Oh dear, Sterling couldn't quite get his head to that
Iceland have scored
Kane just couldn't quite keep that one down
Iceland have scored again
Sturridge has crossed but Vardy couldn't quite reach it
Iceland are defending easily against a static attack
And there goes Alli but he couldn't quite curve it toward the goal
Iceland are celebrating victory
Hodgson is walking down the tunnel. He couldn't quite manage to select a decent team.

Thanks to the ITV commentary team for setting the theme.

[Iceland beat England 2-1 in the first knock-out round of the European Championship. England had more than 2/3 of the possession and managed 4 shots on target. Iceland had 5: Ed]

Friday, June 24, 2016

Bye, Dave

A year ago David Cameron stood triumphant amidst the electoral wreckage of his opponents in the General Election. Today, having lost the referendum, he announced his own departure within the next three months.

How will he be remembered? As the man who kept things running after the financial turmoils of 2008? Or the man who rashly and needlessly forced the UK out of the EU, triggered the breakup of the UK, provoked other countries to consider leaving the EU, enormously encouraged its enemies and strengthened those with contempt for democracy on the right?

I suppose I can revisit this one in about ten years and answer the question. Assuming we still have a functioning power supply, internet and I can afford the bills.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Staggering Up To The Finishing LIne

A referendum is not the same as a general election. With an election we know that in five years we have another chance to express our views; in the meantime the MPs themselves reflect and express the views of their constituents. With a referendum we are bound to a single decision and may never, or at least, not in our lifetimes, have the chance to change it. If the result of an election returns a government whose policies fill one with dread, there is always hope to reverse them. There is little hope of that with the EU referendum, especially if the result is to leave. For a reversal would require the EU to let us back in as well as a change of heart at home. On the other hand, if the vote is to remain there is nothing to stop the leave campaign from firing up again in a few years. This one-sidedness about the vote is a very good reason to ditch such exercises altogether, except where they are genuinely reversible for both sides.

The arguments are going on right up to the wire but I made up my mind a long time ago and have heard nothing to change it since; indeed, the vicious anti-immigration line taken by the leavers  (subtext: anti Black, anti Brown, anti Irish, anti Jewish/Muslim/Hindu/Sikh, any recognisable minority really) has only confirmed my views and even persuaded some on the leave side to switch. Listening and watching the news is now a form of agony; one is waiting for it all to be over and to know where we are. The don't-knows are so numerous that no opinion poll has any value. What sort of world will we wake up to on Friday?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Don't let foreigners tell you what to do.

Rupert Murdoch, that well known non-British person wants us to leave. So your choice is clear.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Unforgettable, who are you again?

If you wish to stand as an MP you need two things: A deposit of £500 and the written support of ten electors in your constituency of choice. It seems reasonable to suppose that the ten backers will then shift themselves on polling day to put their marks in the appropriate place on the ballot paper.

Alas, there are some candidates who are unable even to sway those who have apparently desired to see them elected. In the bye-election results for Tooting, South London, last night there were two who stood out in this regard. Bobby Smith got 9 votes. Maybe one of his nominators got lost on the way to the polling station, or the attraction of the local pie shop and an afternoon in the pub watching England actually win a tournament match proved too much.

But what can we say about Smiley Smillie (other than something obvious about the name)? Five votes. Five measly votes, out of 31,763. This person (I have no idea of the gender) could not even persuade half of his own backers, people who had taken the time to sign a nomination form, possibly even using their own pens so to do, to make the effort of crossing the street to a local hall, submit their name to a stern-looking official, take a piece of paper into a flimsy wooden booth and inscribe a cross on it. It's not as if they got confused about who they were voting for. You don't easily forget a name like Smiley Smillie.I'm doing my best to forget it now and it's not an easy task.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Lemmings - a fable for our times

The lemmings were fairly happy in their meadow but bothered by other, rather foreign-looking lemmings who came in from time to time. "Let's rush away from these horrible strange lemmings," said some of them, "because everything will be wonderful once we have taken control of our meadow". Some wondered if rushing away was the best thing because it was not at all clear what awaited them. "Trust us," came the confident reply. "The important thing is to rush off and that will show these awful foreigners what we think of them, they'll be begging us to let them follow, you wait and see."

As the lemmings dashed off the herd instinct took over so that all them joined in, even those who thought there was a fair amount of room in the meadow and that anyway lemmings faced enough dangers from owls, wolves and the like and that they should all stick together; they were united and singing songs about how great it was to be in control when they all fell over a cliff and were drowned in the raging seas far below. Even those who said it would be all right.

The End

Film rights are available. Terms and conditions apply. The names of all lemmings have been changed to protect the innocent.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Windows 10

I took the plunge this week and updated from good old Windows 7 to the shiny new incarnation of this long-running title. Microsoft has been nagging me all year, with its nasty trick of including the upgrade in its normal updates, and when I marked it to stop it going ahead, putting it back on the approved list without telling me. However, it is free so musn't grumble too much.

In the past I have migrated to new versions of Windows by buying a new PC; it's been so long since I last did an in-situ upgrade I can't remember what it was (Windows 3.1?)

I am miffed at the following which really should not have happened:
  • Nearly 3gb of files were downloaded last year. When I started the upgrade the whole lot were downloaded again. Why? Either the first lot should never have been sent or the last lot were not needed. 
  • Despite all sorts of assurances that settings would be retained, the video driver for my relatively new graphics card, GTX 960, was overwritten and replaced by a much less capable Microsoft driver. Yes, a Windows 10 version was available from Nvidia, makers of the graphic chips. My anger is that Windows did not tell me it was ditching the driver.
  • Similarly with the audio driver. There was no sound until I forced Windows to run a diagnostic test whereupon it sorted itself out. I then had to reinstall a piece of software for making recordings because the system had got confused about which audio driver did what.
  • The next day, when I did a restart, the system started doing updates which took about 20 minutes to complete. No warning that I would have to wait or chance to delay them. Just an irritating little swirly dot shape on the screen. Updates the day after an installation? What were they? I clicked on a popup that told me that the system was updated, expecting to see some details and all that happened was that the popup went away.
  • My date and time formats, set to normal UK (dd/mm/yy) changed to American (mm/dd/yy)
  • My currency format, £, changed to $.
  • Many of the desktop icons have been replaced by black oblongs. This seems to be an intermittent fault and the proper icons sometimes come back after I go in and out of the settings commands. There's a few comments on this behaviour on the web and it appears to go back to Windows 8 and even 7. But no acknowledgement of it from Microsoft. [Update: it seems the problem was created by a registry tweak to remove the pointless little "shortcut" arrow that goes over the icon to show that it is a shortcut, even though you know that already since you are the person who put the shortcut there in the first place. Hopefully a better tweak will come along]

That's the gripe list so far. Everything else does seem to be working. My desktop looks exactly like the old one (apart from when icons go black, as mentioned above), there's some funny little tile things if you click the start  Windows button but I've deleted the pointless ones (like Twitter which refused to update live tweets from people I follow).. My most complex piece of software is probably Skyrim with a number of mods. It failed to load until I removed them; now I am slowly putting them back one by one to see which is the culprit and the finger is pointing at one of the graphics enhancements.

Moral of this story: Don't upgrade to 10 if you are not confident about changing settings, reloading drivers and reinstalling software, or if you don't know someone who can help. Go for a new computer instead.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

You're absholved, oshifer

In the middle ages in England, anyone accused of a serious crime could avoid the death penalty by pleading that they were a cleric. The test was to ask them to read a line from the Bible on the grounds that literacy was sure proof of a priestly education.

In these modern days that test is no longer much help and anyway the law is the same for men (and women) of the cloth and the rest of us. Or is it? Here's one man who firmly believes in the Benefit of Clergy. Stand up, (if you're sober enough), our hero Gareth Jones who, despite his important post as vicar of Saint Mary the Virgin at Great Ilford, told the police where to get off when they found him being drunk and extremely disorderly. Not content with having a go at a paramedic, he then lashed out at the police who were attempting to restrain him, although he was too drunk to stand up.
At one point he shouted “I have diplomatic immunity”. When asked from which embassy, replied: “The Vatican, you’re fucked.”
 Many of us have long suspected that the Church was moving closer to Rome. With this confirmation that the career of a serving police officer is about to be investigated by the Curia, and the threat of excommunication hanging over Scotland Yard, we have the proof.