Religion can be a very bad thing at times

I don’t venture into the area of religion very often, partly because I’m not overly interested from more than a sociological/philosophical perspective and given it’s a minefield that brings some seriously deranged zealots out of the woodwork at times it’s just simply easier not to.

Sometimes I’m truly inspired by the human species, from what we’ve achieved in our relatively short history. Most of all I admire that as a species we have developed learning, perspective, philosophy, an ability to question and understand both our surroundings and place in the cosmos. When you look at it from that perspective, we’re pretty damn special.

On occasion I sometimes despair about our species. When you read the ranting of someone who clearly hasn’t got a clue what they’re on about. When you comprehend the way that people use nationality, race and religion to divide and control others and seeing what truly horrendous things we can do, both to each other and our planet, it’s a shameful mark against what we are and can be.

With that in mind, I deliberately try my best not to use generalisations, not to group people together, put them in a box and label them but today is an exception of sorts.

According to the reports coming in from the Sudan. Thousands of people are marching calling for the execution of Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

That a country could have developed a legal system that would allow someone to even be imprisoned for such a thing is truly ridiculous. That people can be so easily whipped up into such a frenzy of outrage is equally baffling from a reasoned person’s perspective.

We as humans are capable of so much, but to think that fellow members of my species can be so truly stupid is just that little bit depressing at times.

How will reaction to this play out over here? Can we look forward to our own reactionary nonsense in the scream sheets calling for a halt to aid to the Sudan, playing to the simple-minded tit for tat perspective despite most of the aid we give to the Sudan, doesn’t actually go to Sudan per say, but to Darfur and should the refugees there be punished because of the stupidity of some people in Khartoum? A reasoned response would be no it’s not their fault but could they end up being the victims thanks to others?

Disclaimer:

In an attempt to ward off any people who believe that I’ve insulted them in any way I’ll add a few words. I’ve actually read a fair proportion of the Qur’an, admittedly a fair few years ago and not all of it mind you. I may well one day get round to the rest but from memory and forgive me for not having one to hand to look up the reference but I assume all this comes from the bit that forbids the iconification or physical representation of the Prophet Muhammad.

I will add that personally I think this is a very good idea. Although not religious myself I feel that from those people who I’ve discussed such topics with who are religious from different faiths including Islam that what most impressed me was their belief that their relationship with God (whichever one) was something deep inside them, not some physical representation that they needed to show or worship.

I also recognise, unlike it seems many Western commentators that describing Islam in terms of one homogeneous faith is simplistic and as much a misrepresentation of reality as for someone to bundle all Christians of all denominations together. Like Christianity and other religions it has it’s over-zealous protagonists who use scripture to promote their own agendas. It equally has it’s moderates who happily get through life with their faith as a part of them but not mobilising them to such actions. It’s also got its share of people who are happy to declare themselves of the faith but either don’t worship or undertake actions that are contradictory to it’s teachings; bit like my Catholic mate who blissfully ignores his churches teachings on contraception because he’s not daft and doesn’t fancy an STD, but he’s still a Catholic.

That said, it’s a bloody teddy bear and some primary school kids, get some perspective.

Virgin trains – a bit crap

For anyone of a rightward leaning perspective who believes with unwavering conviction that the private sector is always better than the public, responds to customer demands and offers better quality service, a quick call to Virgin Trains will dispel all these myths.

Here’s the scenario. I want to book a train for Mrs Penguin to go to London for the weekend. This little adventure took place on Wednesday. I wanted to send her off on Thursday and to come back on Sunday so that she could have a well earned break away for a few days, see some old friends and have a bit of fun without worrying about such things as nappies and feeds and all the other mundane daily activities that revolve around looking after Little Penguin.

Not hard one would think to book a train ticket for the following day. I started off on their website that, erm, didn’t work, it was down. OK, it happens to us all from time to time so off to the telephone booking service. The premise is simple, book ticket with my card for Mrs Penguin to pick up tickets at the station the following day.

On to the phoneline, which rather wonderfully starts with an automated service. I personally don’t mind automated services that much, the ones that give you options to press buttons one, two or three but I have an absolute hatred of those voice operated ones because, they are simply crap. After not being understood for a few minutes I get passed to a human being. Sadly this human being seems to have even less a command of the English language than the automated service and insists on repeating back to me exactly what I’ve said and confirming every aspect of the booking three times before we proceed to the next part.

Getting through this was a bit of a job in itself but we get to the last part about paying by card. Is it me taking the journey? No, I’m booking it for someone else, I want them to pick the tickets up at the machine in the train station. Sadly though this isn’t possible, it’s my card and you need the exact card the tickets were booked on to retrieve the tickets on top of the code number they give you. Now strangely enough I couldn’t do without my card for four days as it might come in handy for such things as getting money from a cashpoint so this wasn’t an option. The only other option would be to have the tickets sent but even the special delivery option they have costs

What’s Hutton up to?

Few days old but wanted to cover it. This little bit reported by the BBC.

At first glance I instinctively thought not another bit of sideways privatisation of public services but then I realised something. There’s not actually anything that new about this announcement, in fact it’s almost identical to announcements made in January and last December so what’s the story here?

Well as far as these proposals go I’m not too overly keen on what Hutton is saying. I’m just getting the vibes that it’s another bit of state organisation bashing and how wonderful the private/voluntary sector could run things, which having worked in all these three sectors I know exactly which two I would certainly not trust with the job, one in particular.

However if that is the way things are going, or if some smart arse in the civil service has pointed to a way of ‘cutting’ the cost of the civil service by outsourcing services therefore them not being classed as a cost of the civil service, yes that one was in Yes Minister and it’s still used today then so be it.

Equally, if John Hutton is serious about improving services then he need look no further than his own department. From personal experience I’ve dealt with a wide range of governmental and local governmental departments over the years and up there as probably the most pisspoor would be the DWP. I’ve had so much trouble with them fucking up this that or the other that I am personally sick of the sight of their envelopes when they drop through my door.

So if John’s up for a challenge, I suggest sorting out his department first before going off in pursuit of all those naughty single parents who just, might just wish to be around in their child’s lives post 12 years old because sadly, much as it may be the case that in some sectors of the economy that family friendly working hours are available, for many of those single parents in our country, who it’s fair to say often inhabit the lower end of the social spectrum, it ain’t such a rosy picture.

We’re not talking about well educated middle class single mothers who can do a bit of work from home, run an internet e-bay store, we’re talking about those who do the shit end of the job market where if you’re not available to work when the employer wants you then you can piss off and if your kid is sick and has to take time off school then you ain’t gonna get paid for the time you take off which for those on low incomes is a big fucking deal.

Oh, and on a personal note, yes John should do something about the DWP because they are sodding useless, don’t listen, don’t read the things you send them, give factually incorrect advice, process claims on the basis of evidence and then change their mind without even informing people, cut off people’s benefit without telling them and as the Secretary of State is ultimately responsible, ie if you take them to tribunal it’s you vs him, then I can personally claim to have taken John to tribunal and given him a thorough arse kicking, not that anyone from his department had the guts to turn up to argue their side because they were simply wrong.

So this brings me back from my little rant about the ineptitude of the DWP. What’s John up to repeating what is old news? Equally us Labour Party members all had an e-mail from John the other day laying out these new plans so why’s his profile suddenly jumped?

Anyone would think he was mounting a bid for the leadership of the Labour Party or something….

Daily round-up

Nope, not attending to pests with a well known brand of weed killer, I’m doing a bit of an overview and catch-up of the days events.

I’ve been out most of the day and busy with fatherly duties and attending to a visitor from Germany most of the evening so I’ve been a bit slow to catch up on what’s been going down in the wider world today.

So first up is the launch of a ‘new’ website by tweedle dee and tweedle dumber. My first impression was what’s the point? If the objective of the exercise is to encourage debate through the use of t’internet then someone might have told them it’s already been going on for years and they obviously just missed it.

Of course after a quick squiz through their comments section they have it appears successfully managed to attract a large number of the usual have a go at the Government brigade and Tory trolls which then begs the question, so what has this site achieved apart from becoming another forum for attack by those who do not like either the Government or the Labour Party?

For me it shows that an idea has been hatched by people who truly do not understand the online medium and were they to follow anything that is actually going on in recent online political discourse, one would assume they wouldn’t be so daft as to put a link to the Tory, sorry independent thinktank Policy Exchange. If by their claim that they wish to debate policy and direction within the Labour Party then by all means link to organisations that broadly share our common values. If their position is to entertain the views of a North American Neo-Conservative dominated organisation who’s aims are the antithesis of everything that any right-minded member of the Labour Party should believe then personally they can fuck right off.

So in summary, pair of losers launch pointless website that will achieve nothing other than more daft headlines and media speculation about the state of the Labour Party and foister claims of challenges and infighting which are pretty much in the wishful imagination of the Daily Mail et al.

Next up, and we’re on to Policy Exchange again. This one sort of took me aback slightly. Having a reasonable knowledge of the kind of right-wing rubbish that comes out of the charity status think tank I wasn’t quite aware that this was their sort of thing.

However reading the Metro on the bus today I came across an article based on research done by Policy Exchange. I’m assuming there’s only one thinktank in the country called Policy Exchange so here we go. Was it a study of the impending impact of mans activities on the future of our planet? Was it an evaluation on the proliferation of nuclear technology to states that may wish to support terrorism? Was it even a nice bit of we should privatise everything and leave the free market to sort things out? Nope, it was an investigation which revealed that Britons are the most unfaithful [to their partners/spoues] in Europe.

Well that’s nice to know, that Policy Exchange’s contribution to the discourse on British society is that we’re the most likely to shag someone else while in a relationship. (I’m using the “we’re” term there to include myself as a Briton but certainly not in relation to my own practices towards fidelity just in case you were wondering). For some strange reason this little piece doesn’t appear on their website amongst all the other titbits where they’ve been featured in the more high-brow end of the media. Of course to know Policy Exchange turns out this drivel for the tat end of the printed press market makes you wonder why Iain Dales resigned in the first place.

Finally there’s this story in the Guardian from last week that I meant to write on but didn’t. LibDem Councillors back a BNP Councillor to be on a committee. Brief outline, they did this, their group decided not to take action because like good little children they promised not to do it again, they then expressed no regrets about it and the party suspends them. In all fairness the LibDems are doing the right thing in suspending them while it’s investigated and of course were they found to be supporting a far-right party in such a way they deserve nothing more than to be booted out of the party.

I only mention this because I’m sure this is one of those situations where myself and my old friend LibDem Colin Ross would put our party allegiances aside and stand up for our principles as Colin so eloquently put it in this post a while back.

You know it’s strange though, because there’s not been one little squeak from Colin over this matter or a call for these two Councillors to be thrown out of his party. Strange that isn’t it?

Finally, finally, word reaches the Penguin that Walsall Council has been receiving enquiries from various people regarding the nature of Colin’s employment paid for by the hard-pressed tax payers of Walsall, sorry Colin, just to let you know, it wasn’t me, I never got round to it, another one of those jobs on my long list of things to do.

Being an arsie consumer and a sad day for Willenhall

Two days ago I got a letter from my Building Society (Portman) informing me that following their evaluation period their branch in Willenhall has been earmarked for closure along with branches in Albrighton, Bewdley, Bloxwich, Cradley Heath, Oakengates, Perton, Tettenhall and Wombourne.

This miffed me rather a bit, for two particular reasons.

Firstly, when the merger took place or takeover depending on your view between what was my Building Society (Staffordshire) and Portman we were all assured about the commitment to providing services and this wasn’t as some people expressed the view, a takeover and asset stripping by a bunch of southern arseholes (apologies to any readers from the South of England but such views were expressed).

I’ll admit I voted for the merger on the basis of promises made and perhaps a belief in the higher moral principle of the mutual sector which had been based on previous good experience.

However as it would seem, yes, it has been a takeover by a bunch of southern arseholes who don’t give a stuff about their Staffordshire customers. Notably they have not seen fit to close any branches on their own previous turf, just ours.

Equally now, thanks to their readjustment a nice big office block on the Wolverhampton ring road (the previous headquarters of the Staffordshire) now stands empty so this begs the question about what we as customers actually got out of this deal? Apart from a couple hundred quid sweetener. Personally I’d have preferred not to have the money and keep my local branch open.

Secondly, this means that Willenhall, for the first time in its history (post Building Societies existing of course) will not have a single Building Society in the town. I remember myself a time when there were five but sadly it seems that these days have gone. I could understand if Willenhall was some backwater village with half a dozen houses and a few sheep, but with a population of over 30,000 it’s hardly that.

Building Societies have long been the place where people on lower incomes have been able to save as opposed to banks who aren’t interested in such customers. Sadly this means that these people on low incomes and particularly pensioners will be hit the hardest.

For myself I’ve always been with the Staffordshire as have my parents. They set up my first account with them when I was born to put some money away and so did I with my son. I’ve always saved with them and even though it wasn’t the cheapest option I took out my mortgage with them as I would rather do business with a local company that puts money back into the local community and economy.

So what to do now. Probably a few years ago I would have accepted the situation but as I near 30 I’m increasingly vindictive with my consumer habits. If companies piss me off I simply won’t use them again and take my business elsewhere.

So that’s it, come the end of April when Portman merge with/get taken over by Nationwide, this customer will be treating them with the contempt for which his years of loyalty have been treated and taking the merger money and buggering off to the West Bromwich Building Society. At least they do a lot more community stuff and actually have far better customer service anyway.

There’s chips in those ther’ bins

Been having a few thoughts about the idea of sticking microchips in people’s bins to charge people according to how much rubbish they put out.
I’ve reached the conclusion it’s a crap idea and here’s why.
1. This is another example of over use of technology to address a problem that could be sorted out in a lot easier way, encompassing yet more databases and IT systems that lets be honest the public sector doesn’t have a good track record on.
2. I’m not going to go as far as brand it a new Poll Tax but I think you’ll get my drift that this is a structure of charging people according to waste produced. How do we account for the fact that on the whole, those with larger families occupy the lower socio-economic strata of our society and therefore would be hit harder even though they are the ones least able to adapt to the new situation or afford it?
3. This system is another example of the privatisation of society. Bear with me on this as I give a little example. I live on a main road in the centre of my town (Willenhall). My wheelie bin sits outside my house about two yards from the public footpath. On a daily basis all odds and ends from coke cans to chip wrappers end up in my bin, deposited by passing pedestrians and I don’t mind one bit. Being quite environmentally aware we don’t get anywhere near filling our bin on a weekly basis so if other passing people’s rubbish ends up in my wheelie bin then quite frankly I’d rather have it there than blowing around the street. (actually as my house is set back and creates a natural wind trap it all ends up on my drive anyway). This is what I would term a bit of the old social society. I’m allowing my bin to be used for the common good, in this case making my road a bit cleaner. Equally I’m also offsetting the work of Walsall Council by picking up what is street litter that blows onto my drive and putting it in my bin. Now I’m sure I’m not the only person who does this although the wind trap situation probably makes it more acute an issue in my case but if we are to be charged according to what goes in our bins then this encourages those such as myself who perform this civic duty to say no, this is my bin, for my rubbish and screw the state of the street because that’s the council’s job to clean up.
Equally, what would happen if I removed the ‘street rubbish’ from my drive and brushed it back onto the public highway? A charge for littering? So there you go, the increasing privatisation of life, the concept that we retract from such civic and publicly minded activities into a defensive personal sphere for which I personally believe there’s too much of already. Not to mention people being suspicious of their neighbours who might be sneaking a bag into your bin while your not looking.
4. This system assumes the issue can be addressed by individual households. Yes, there is scope for changing certain practices but not a lot so the return is actually less than might be imagined. People will continue to consume their usual products for which in many cases there is little in terms of alternative. This then becomes a highly complex, open to errors and contention by householders and quite frankly a pretty crap way of raising part of local taxation.
5. Again, social class and opportunity. Some items that at times are quite heavy are deposited by households who do not have access to a vehicle to take it to the local tip. This then means that removal of such items are placed in the hands of either the local authority or private contractors for which there is little conpetition in service provision, meaning that those least able to pay are hit hardest by a removal cartel between the local authority and maybe, if they’re lucky a private company. Not to mention the incentive to fly-tip.
Right, that’s the criticism. Here’s a few answers.
The onus of this scheme is very much on the householder. Why? A quick rumage through our household waste reveals that the vast majority relates to either plastic wrapping/containers and nappies.
Let’s do nappies first. Yes, we have a little bundle of joy. If I’m honest I would ideologically prefer to use terry towels, however I bow to the wishes of Mrs Penguin on this one. We’ve done the bit about poorer people having larger families so obviously they’ll get hit by this but there are two other things to consider.
Nappies are quite heavy, in weight terms they’re easily the largest proportion of our household waste when it comes to sheer weight. It does not take a genius to work out that for some families, particularly those who may have a hard time making ends meet, that when posed with whether to put the nappies in the bin and incur a fair bit of extra tax or to flush them down the toilet will take the latter option. Which incidentally reminds me of the case of a Councillor in Sandwell who told me about their neighbour doing this, blocking up the drains and all the sewage backing up till it overflowed in his place. Not a nice prospect.
Now before someone tells me there are nappies that you can get that are re-usable and have an inner disposable section that can be safely flushed down the toilet, yes, I already know. I wasn’t aware of them when our first child came along but should another little bundle happen upon us then I think that’s going to be the option, however, the only place that sells then that is even remotely close to me is the Waitrose store in Wolverhampton which is a bugger to get to on public transport and therefore again another example of the system being worse for those who don’t have their own transport.
So that leaves plastics. Things like bottles of pop or milk, well there’s not much that can be done, I’ve made a few small greenhouses out of some for various plants but the supply outstrips the demand so they have to go.
Plastic wrapping is kept very much to a minimum by the fact that we try to grow some of our food and purchase others lose or at least with as little packaging as possible. Almost forgot, non-recyclable paper. Things litle Tetra-Pak and this really annoys me. The milk we buy comes in non-recyclable plastic bottles. We buy this mainly because we cannot source glass milk bottles or recycle those in cartons. Here’s an interesting fact for you which comes from my time living in Finland.
In Finland you can’t get milk in plastic bottles, it all comes in Tetra-Pak cartons which you can quite happily throw in with the other paper in the recycling bin. You can’t do that in the UK, because, at least the last time I checked (a few month ago) the UK does not have a single recycling facility capable of handling Tetra-Pak – how bloody silly is that?
OK, more solutions and here I’m getting into the real nub of the issue.
Again, from my time in Finland, the first thing I noticed when living there was that as you walk into any supermarket, even the small ones, the first thing you come across are these bloody big machines, usually painted green. They have a little hole in them where you put your bottles. The machine scans what type of bottle it is and the digital readout tots up how much money you get on a token that you can then use at the checkout.
Now here’s the really clever part. We’re not just talking your average glass bottle of beer here, no, they do plastic too and anyone who happens upon a stay in Finland will notice this. Plastic bottles are considerably thicker than they are here. Your average bottle of coke or whatever in th UK is under a millimetre but in Finland they’re a good 2 millimetre thick. Why? Well, it’s simple, they’re more durable. So instead of the situation here where plastic bottles are un-reuseable there they are sent off, cleaned, filled with something new and put back on the shelves. They’re also very clever in that instead of the vast array of sizes and shapes you find here, (this goes for glass bottles of beer etc as well) there’s only a few different shapes and sizes so sorting out the bottles is far easier too, all they need is the different brand label stuck on them. This has the benefit of not needing as would be the case in the UK to send off all the glass to be melted down and bottles re-made which requires a lot of energy. You simply wash them out and re-use them, not hard really when you think about it is it?
That brings me on to the final subject. Our over emphasis on individual households. The system in Finland is geared, as it is in Germany too to a lesser degree, on these processes taking place through the retail stores. It ups the bulk, eases the distribution system and allows for a far more efficient way of doing the whole recycling process than the route we are going down.
What it requires? Well, not much really. A bit of regulation to harmonise shapes and types of containers, the requirement for supermarkets to do this and that’s about it. Far more efficient and for the householder, a lot easier too.
I might note that things haven’t always been this way in the UK. I’m probably just about old enough to remember Lucozade coming in glass bottles wrapped in orange plastic. I remember taking the bottles back to the store for a few pence when I was a kid. Ironically we seem to be moving in the wrong direction on this when the solution is so simple. Oh, and I lived in Finland nearly ten years ago so if they were doing that there then, when why the hell can’t we do it here now?

The English language and the Beeb

Last night, this article appeared on the BBC website and by mid-morning today, it was gone again which seems a rather short shelf life by their standards but it raises some interesting points.
Apart from it being a rather poor piece of journalism compared to the usually high standard of the BBC, it begs more questions than it answers, shows none of the usual background information on which it is based and ranks, quite frankly among the kind of crap you’d expect to read in the Daily Mail.
Let’s run through the information that it gives us.

Not exactly recent news but interesting all the same

This topic will become a bit of a theme as time goes by but I am very much an open source supporter when it comes to pretty much everything software related.
I use it because it is the best methodology for development in programming and with a few exceptions, it all tends to be free unlike the propriety world of Microsoft.
This site as I mentioned in my very first post, is built entirely utilising open source systems and given that some other poor bugger sat down and wrote the software that I’m using I feel it my duty to pay my thanks by acknowledging the fact.
Now legally speaking you haven’t got to do this, it’s purely one of those ‘netiquette’ things, one of those unwritten codes adherred to by honourable techies. That’s why this really annoys me.
No, not the Express & Star, although there is plenty to annoy me about the crap it produces dressed as journalism. What I’m referring to is that a couple of months ago they completely overhauled their website and from a techie perspective I was quite impressed and decided to have a look at the architecture behind it.
Low and behold I find a very familiar content folder in the sites page source. It is that of a nifty little bit of open source software called WordPress which is basically a blog system. Now I searched high and low for some acknowledgement but for some reason the Express & Star doesn’t feel a need to do so.
If you doubt my words, as indeed you might, then try this link.
Hey presto, their WordPress login page. Now being the curious person that I am, I decided to e-mail the Express & Star on the 25th of October to ask them why they don’t acknowledge the use of WordPress. I am still waiting for a response.
So for those who enjoy playing around, I suggest you look here as some muppet doesn’t know how to use an htaccess file.

Musings on identity

I’ll admit I’m leading into a bit of a rant today, but no foul language I promise. My subject is the issue of car license plates and identity. Now before someone tries to be clever and post something about identity not being purely a question of geographic location, I’ll add that I’m fully aware of this and maybe that will be the topic of another post, but purely in terms of the this post I am considering primarily that facet of personal identity that is derived from a geographic context.
Just so that everyone is clear where I’m coming from, I thought I’d start of by giving you my concept of identity as I see myself. First and foremost I’m a member of the human race, yes, our species of homo-sapiens that have come to be the dominant species on our planet. Secondly I’m a European, being that I have spent every second of my life within the generally agreed area of what constitutes Europe. Thirdly I’m a Brit, an Englishman, a Midlander, a Wulfrunian and whatever term could be used to describe someone as coming from Willenhall. I am completely happy with my identity/identities as they are, I neither see one nor the other as being more or less important. I also see no reason to openly display affiliation to one or the other as a preference.
So now the gripe. A few years ago we started to intoduce number plates on new cars that have the GB emblem and a litle EU flag above it. However, it seems common that people stick little England flags over this part of the license plate, presumably as some form of expression of hatred for the European Union and to display their nationality as they see it.
Before I start to get comments about being an England basher and being unpatriotic I would add that I have no problems with the display of the England flag in many different contexts, be it hanging out of windows, across streets or even those little flagpole things that people put on their cars during football championships. I’ve also been known to hang the flag out during the European and World Cups myself.
However what I don’t agree with is the deliberate defacing of car number plates that are there for an official reason.
Now the legal requirements in the UK do not need to have the GB and Euro flag element on the number plate contrary to what rabid anti-European’s might like people to believe in this being a conspiracy to rob us poor Brits/English of our identity. However, from my point of view they just seem sensible and here’s the reason.
Should one want to drive on the continent, it is a requirement that the car must display the internationally recognised national identifier tag of ‘GB’. To not do this is an offence. So for all those people who stick England flags over their number plate, sorry, but you’re daft behaviour means that you’re going to have to fork out more money for another ‘GB’ sticker should you ever pop over to France on a beer and fag run. Doesn’t this just sound that bit illogical?
A final point. Having made clear that I personally am quite content with what I see as my own identity, lets take the English identity here as the example. Were I to own a car with a GB and EU flag number plate then I would feel no desire to whack an England sticker over the top as an assertion of my identity because I’m quite secure in how I see mine.
Which beggars the question, does the need to do such a think show a deepseated insecurity in those who need to outwardly show such a pointless assertion of their nationality? It truly is as pointless as the argument that suddenly we are less British if we have the Euro. I’m sorry for all those who think that their identity is defined by a few coins in their pocket, or a sticker on their number plate but I happen to think there’s a bit more to it than that.
Oh, and I am just waiting for the Sun headline about some dipstick pulled over by the French police for not showing a GB sticker after he’s plastered an England flag over his plate. It has to happen some day.

Parental Advisory – may contain explicit language

I’m not taken to swearing in writing very often, I will as a policy try to keep it to a minumum, but from time to time I intend to let go, so you have been warned.
Our subject is; some dickhead from the Press Complaints Commission, in fact their director Tim Toulmin wants bloggers to adopt a voluntary code of conduct. Alert, we’re in the territory of twats who don’t know what they’re talking about. To express such a view is to misunderstand the whole nature of both the net and the blogging culture. I won’t expand too much or I will be here all night. But suffice to say there are fundamental freedoms of expression that thrive out in the blogosphere. Yes some people are fuckwits who write such purile crap that it’s likely they’re only talking to themselves, which is probably the best thing. Equally, there are those whose writings are well thought out, come with the authority of good research and background knowledge and afford respect within the community. I think what he is trying to say is that if a newspaper libels someone or is discriminatory, they can be sued or prosecuted.
Yes, there are some allegations made against individuals on the net which are wholly untrue and should the victim of such false information seek to sue the author assuming it contravenes any laws either here in the UK or where the site is hosted (it get’s tricky then) then they are fully entitled to do so.
However, having been on the receiving ends of threats from LibDems to sue me in the past I would simply say this; and if you are wondering, it’s my personal code of conduct. Write what you like about who you like as long as it’s true and you’ve got the evidence to back you up. If you know this then you can safely tell those who threat to sue to fuck off and stop wasting your time. I can guarantee that anything I write has been fairly well researched or comes from the vast expanse of daft information that I have absorbed throughout my lifetime. However, to believe that someone is a fuckwit dickhead wanker twat is purely my personal opinion and is not libelous in anyway, and Mr Toulmin, today you fall into this category.