Monthly Archives: June 2010
I need a new mobile phone, but thanks to some marketing failure, I’m getting a new mobile network.
Unusually, I am not using the verb “need” in the usual geek sense, where it is a synonym of the verb “want”, and often accompanied by the positional emphasiser “my precious” when IT hardware is involved. No, “need”: once the onboard hard drive has mysteriously wiped itself for the third time, action is required.
Having been well served by my HTC Athena – which chronicles the past several years by damage to its aluminum case – there is no way this side of a frontal lobotomy that I’m going to embrace the
For those who doubt the Olympic “movement” is about business, not sport, here’s a little knock to your world view.
In a move destined (indeed arguably designed) to annoy rather a lot of people – anyone with a Mastercard or Maestro card, for starters – the London Olympics will only take Visa.
This isn’t just restricted to purchasing tickets, of course; the shops and ATMs on the Olympic campus will apparently also be restricted to VISA’s debit and credit cards.
While I strongly disapprove of the unwarrantedly preferential legal treatment the Olympic “movement” and its trademarks recieve around the world, this is a different matter. Visa is paying handsomely for its sponsorship rights, and it’s only right that it gets something in return.
That’s why I think this is almost unarguably designed to annoy holders of Mastercard or Maestro cards. Make it sufficently incovenient for them – which this will be, if you’re going on a week’s holiday to the games – and they’ll take out a nice shiny Visa branded card for the occasion. And once they’ve gone to that trouble…well, it’s hardly likely they’ll all cancel them straight afterwards.
(Personally, I find it difficult to credit the idea that anyone actually sees a brand promoted as an “Official Partner” of an Olympic Games, and this *improves* their view of that brand.)
No, in this case, my sympathies are firmly with Visa, and firmly against the competition muppets at the OFT and European Commission. These are people, after all, who have changed competition law into a rules obssessed mess, where commercial lawyers (yours truly included) trawling through hundreds of pages of law and guidance substitutes for improving the lot of consumers.
After all, if the OFT and Commission want to get involved in things like this, could they please look at more pressing things than what brand of plastic card silly people will have to use to watch lycra clad wastes of state subsidies exert themselves?
But if we are doing trivialities, Dell’s exclusive deal with Telefonica O2 for the Dell Streak would be far higher up my personal list of inconveniences.
Here’s an interesting little case for lawyers, LGBT activists, and liberals everywhere, and a fine example for fans of dodgy and misleading legal journalism.
Christine (nee Christopher) Trimbrell had gender reassignment surgery in 2000, and applied in 2002 (at age 60) for a pension in her new gender. She reapplied, four years later, after the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was in force, and was refused on the ground that, since she was still married, she was actually a “he” under the terms of the GRA.
Read the reporting of the case (The Guardian; The Independent; The Mirror) , and you might think the Court of Appeal questioned – or even overturned – the horribly illiberal provision of the GRA which requires a transgender person to divorce (or have their marriage administratively annulled) in order to obtain recognition of their new gender.
Read the judgement, however, and it becomes clear they did nothing of the sort – instead their decision dealt with the pre-GRA law, correcting an error of the Upper Chamber of the pensions tribunal, which tried to apply the GRA retrospectively.
That provision of the GRA – no more or less than a Blairite sop to those who want to preserve the tenuous distinction between civil partnership and civil marriage – sails on unaffected.
Begs a question: Were married transgender people better off in this area before the GRA?
Personally I put CND in the same camp as ideological socialists and PETA members, so I’d be loath to agree with Kate Hudson under normal circumstances.
But there’s little I can disagree with in her piece for the Guardian today; holding a strategic defence and security review in which the nuclear deterrent – never mind the Trident system specifically – isn’t “on the table” is just plain silly.
Quite why like for like Trident replacement (not, please note, the retention of a nuclear deterrent per se) should become an article of faith for the Conservative party is beyond me. It’s to be hoped that the value for money review the LibDems obtained over Trident replacement at least engenders a serious examination of alternative delivery systems, or the abandonment of continuous at sea deterrence patrols.
Although entirely expected, there was still something surreal about watching Alistair Darling’s attempts to prebut the Office of Budget Responsibility‘s findings on the state of the economy.
Labour’s best Chancellor since 1997 (small sample size) may be desperate to avoid the double whammy of being blamed for the dire state of public finances AND criticised for misleading the public over them, but it’s still cringeworthy to watch him tell the Guardian “We could have beaten the recession“, ahead of the OBR announcement.
In other news, England could have beaten the United States at football last week. But they didn’t.
For Darling come out at this point and say he’d have ditched ID cards, and to acknowledge the failing of previous Labour policies, sounds as self-serving and false as the statements by the four ex-minister candidates for Labour leader. In some ways, it’s worse – Darling isn’t seeking office, and it’s difficult to see any motive other than defence of his own reputation and record.
It was interesting to hear the ebb and flow of headlines yesterday on BBC radio; some bulletins gave Darling’s defence a mention, other merely highlighted the fact that the forecast for overall borrowing has fallen. And none really pointed up the two issues which should have shamed Darling into silence – the OBR’s forecast is deliberately less cautious than previous Treasury ones, and the structural deficit is larger than previously estimated (increased by more than the decrease in overall borrowing).
How much worse would it have been if the OBR had produced a forecast in the cautious mode of previous Treasury ones? Only the OBR committee and secretariat could answer that, but it’s worth remembering that the OBR’s (less cautious) forecast for GDP growth was 20% lower than the last one produced by the Treasury.
Meanwhile, Labour’s own personal Balls-up followed up his attack on Brown with an attack on Darling. No doubt Ed Balls is aware that if he’d managed to say these things before the election – and acted on them! – he might not now be seeking election as Leader of the Opposition, or sitting on a significantly reduced majority in his constituency.
On a side note, how long will it be before we first hear a Labour frontbencher criticising the ConDemNation for mentioning Labour’s track record on the economy? I hope it’s long enough for the whips to drill the backbenchers in the response: “Would you prefer to mention 18 years of Conservative Government?”
Lewis’s doesn’t need any introduction if you’re from Merseyside. Not John Lewis (that was always “Lee’s”, short for George Henry Lee – the John Lewis store in Liverpool, until JLP took the silly decision to supress the historic brands), but an older department store, more prestigious in its day.
That day was over in the 1970s, but it was a still an impressive experience when I went there as a child in the 1980s. Since then, as the chain it belonged to dwindled and lurched from insolvency to insolvency, it’s slowly faded away, till, on May 29th, Lewis’s closed for ever.
I wish I’d been back in the city then, as I’d like to have visited one last time. Lewis’s was a Liverpool institution in the most fundamental sense – a fixture of the city centre since 1856 – and a little piece of the city’s identity dies with it. Even as a pale shadow of it’s past, Lewis’s was a counterpoint to the soulless and placeless shopping terraces of Liverpool One, which – barring a few notes about the old dock beneath the development – could be in any city in the UK.
It’s been a little while…
The day after the General Election count, I drove to the other side of the country to look at flats. A few days later, I did the journey again to move in. Starting a new job a long way from home is not conducive to regular blogging, especially when it leaves you at the end of a GPRS connection.
To quickly fill in the blanks:
- Coalition: Good
- Raising Capital Gains on small investors: Bad
- Raising income tax personal allowance: Very Good
- David Laws resigning: Unnecessary
- Telegraph: Hacking at its own nose to spite its face
- Labour leadership frontrunners: Muppets
- Diane Abbott running for Labour leader: Wonderful
On that last, I am firmly a #ToryWantingALabourBallsUp. The best possible result of the leadership election – from the position of Conservative or LibDem supporters – is the election of that unpleasant Brownite as Labour leader. It would ensure that Labour cannot recover, let alone win, at the next election – and offers the added bonus of watching Labour’s leader lose his seat at GE2015.
Feuding Millibandies would be good too, albeit you have to think brothers are less likely to foster the kind of top quality internecine bitterness Labour has been riven with in the past decade, while Andy Burnham is a blank slate – and not in a good way. John McDonnell…well, anyway.
For Labour the best possible result has to be electing Diane Abbott. Leave aside the cynical political aspects – how could you better answer a coalition government you deride as dominated by white, upper class men than by electing a black single mother as your leader? – and it becomes clear that Labour has a once in a generation chance to rediscover what it stands for.
Unfortunately, Labour has a history of standing for unsuitable white males who are professional Labour insiders.
Reading the Guardian’s hustings articles today, it’s interesting to see every candidate focusing so much on engagement and reaching out to voters. You have to ask why Balls and the Millibandies took so long to realise this might be a good idea.
Abbott’s not exactly setting the world on fire from a policy point of view, but there’s no stink of hypocrisy around her. The declarations by Balls, 2 x Millibandie, and 1x Burnham that *now* they’ll listen – and while they’re at it, maybe they’ll try increasing the minimum wage – positively reak of it.
I’m realistic: Labour will end up with a leader called Ed, or who’s a Millibandie. Or both. But it might be nice to think that Labour supporters – who whinged so loudly about progressive qualities, commitments to civil liberties, and concern for people the last government abused and failed, when watching the formation of a coalition that actually does have the last two, and knows the first to be a lie – might actual choose a leader who can claim to have demonstrate any of those.
Meanwhile, if – like me – you are proud to be a member of the ConDemNation, take a peak at Polly Toynbee’s latest witterings.
I’d say she was bat shit insane, but we’d need a bigger bat.