Life, The Universe and Small Things all covered in one friendly blog.
Remember DON'T PANIC! .

31 March, 2009

G20 Summit

There is something called a G20 summit starting tomorrow. One person who knows this, because he thinks it is all about him and how he is about the save the world, is Gordon the wonder PM. Tomorrow he will stand before elected world leaders and woffle on again like a demented drunk refusing to leave the bar.
The trouble is that it is all in his imaginary world, the one in which he is always right and is so powerful that he stands up an the world goes WOW!

In the real world we know that the summit will do nothing to solve the world crisis because, with the exception of Obama, all those attending are responsible for it. Yet deluded Gordon still maintains that the G20 with "rise to the challenge" in the same way as he "abolished boom and bust" and placed the UK well to work through any recession.

Most of us have not been invited to the G20, we are just paying the alleged £5million an hour it is costing the UK to host it, with its champagne receptions, big dinners, back slapping and Gordon going on and on about how great he is.

There is one conciliation, some top executives in the City have apparently been told to stay at home for the day because of expected demonstrations. So at least for one day they should not be able to crash a bank or building society.

30 March, 2009

Jacqui Smith - It's OK to Lie and Steal

The latest Jacqui Smith debacle says it all about the way our country is being run, or not run, by this government. Not only does Smith fiddle her expenses but the prime minister says "its a personal matter".

No Gordon, it is not a personal matter, anyone else in the country would lose their job for fiddling expenses claims. If this attitude is alright for the home secretary then where does it stop, oops I am sorry I got caught nicking from Debenhams, here ill pay now its not theft.

Yet again she is claiming for something that everyone else has to pay for from their normal wages, an internet package for goodness sake, just part of the £157,000 of expenses she has been paid. Is there anything that an MP actually pays for from their basic salary.

It highlights just how stupid Smith is in that she doesn't even know how much she usually pays for her internet, if she did she would have know not to claim for the movies.

Her husband can't be all the ticket either, they have an internet package yet he is still paying for his porn, oh but that's OK because its on expenses, isn't it.

28 March, 2009

Don't Ask The City Analyst

The rate of inflation is down today, or is that up, hurray, or boo, or whatever we are supposed to say when they announce these things on the news.

Apparently the rate is "more than expected" or was that less that predicted, by the city analysts. This got me wondering what these people actually do, and more to the point why.

I imagine they skulk about in dark basements wearing pullovers with leather patches on the elbows and glasses held together with elastoplast, but other than that I can't guess.

They didn't predict the banking crash nor the stock exchange falling over, the jump in oil prices in the summer or the fall of the Pound against the Euro, and today they didn't get the inflation rate right either.
You would expect that if your job involves looking at a single digit number and calculating by how much it will change in a month there would be a risk you could get it right by accident. But time and again the geeks in the basements are "surprised", "caught out" or just plain wrong.

The only reason for predicting these thing seems to be so that other people can "give a warning" as the news always seems to be of city analysts warning that this that or the other will happen.

Despite all their working out, giving warnings and predicting we are still on a sinking ship with a mad Scot at the helm.

Its not rocket science, so Ill have a bash at predictions for the next 6 months:-
Inflation will rise to above where it was predicted to fall below in the previous 12 months with GDP falling less that was first predicted in the last half of the first quarter of last year. The trade deficit will be below the water line in most regions with a general scattering or barnacles over 3%. There is a warning that house prices will move and mortgage lending will continue.

OK,OK I know its all rubbish, but at least I know its rubbish.

27 March, 2009

Mortgages and Endowments.

I have an endowment mortgage and a fixed rate one at that, so I am stuffed. Like so many others I am now paying way above the present Bank of Brown, sorry England, interest rate and stuck with it for another 4 years.

My mortgage endowment won't pay off my mortgage and when everyone was taking action for mis-selling my company was sending me letters saying how well it was going, all on target to pay out as expected.

Do I keep throwing good money after bad, hoping that things will improve, or do I say enough is enough and cut my losses.

I phoned my endowment company and spoke to a guy with the thickest Indian accent you can imagine, he was using the cheapest telephone head set and sounded as though he was in the shower, of course I don't know that he wasn't.

I am good with accents but it took total concentration to understand what he was saying and I still failed, so I waited until he finished speaking and asked my question.
He launched into reading his screen something about FSA, 4%, 8% , agreed standards, could go up as well as down, any figures quoted were only valid for 2 seconds and then only if there was a ding in the month or was it an R. After 4 minutes he stopped talking.
So how much will I get, I have no idea but all the numbers he said were well below what I was told 22yrs ago.

Two years ago if my endowment grew at 4% it would pay out well over my needed sum, yet now a growth of 4% will be well under my needed sum. Something doesn't add up. It must be that counting has changed since the bankers screwed up the system. Perhaps 4 is the old 1, which could be good news if my mortgage is calculated using the same math.

It's not our fault, is it, we trusted people to advise us about our finances and it turns out that they were at best wrong and at worst crooks.

Strange how the same crooks who crashed the financial system are the ones who moved the call centres to India so no one can find out what is happening to their money.

22 March, 2009

Jade Goody is not news!

Here I go about to upset someone, still that's life or rather in this case its death. I have said before this is my blog so Ill write what I wish.

For some reason the Prime Minister's publicity office has seen fit for him to "lead tributes" to the dead Jade Goodey.
Why Gordon should think it necessary to speak about her above the 1200+ other people who died in the UK today I am unsure. Could it be an idea that if he comments on everything then people will begin to say "wow that Gordon Brown bloke knows whats going on in the country". Well fat chance of that Gordon, we can see through that plan and your still an out of touch bumbling "one eyed Scottish idiot".
For the Prime Minister to be getting involved in this kind of soap opera nonsense, when he has crashed the economy of the country putting thousands out of work, is beyond belief.

I digress. The point is it is only a tragedy for the friend and family of Jade Goodey, most of us don't give a fig and still see her as the overweight less than average intelligence no-body who got famous because too many people think the Sun is a newspaper.

I would not wish cancer on anyone, but she was not the only one to die of it today, she is just the only one who had a publicist and the only one who, for some reason I can not begin to understand, was followed in every step of death by the news media.

I never knew her and never wanted to. Other than to her family she was no one special.
She was not brave or courageous she was just doing what anyone who has a life threatening condition does, try to live, and she was allowed to do that by making millions of pounds and depressing and upsetting millions of innocent people who didn't know her either but were made to suffer her every problem.

For people now thinking I am out of line and "don't I know it is wrong to speak ill of the dead", no it isn't. If that's your attitude then I expect to hear you say Adolf Hitler was a really nice bloke who did a lot for the barbed wire industry.

Another one bites the dust, although I expect there is still plenty of money to be made by Max and others, oh Goodey!

17 March, 2009

The Post Office Bank

I am wondering if I have been living in a parallel universe, where everything that is a new idea here has been tried already.

How can it be that a Post Office Bank is a fantastic new idea, the old post office Giro Bank book I have has entries of me paying in my hard earned £1 pocket money in the early 70's. Has the whole country gone gaga and decided to follow the government trend of announcing old things as new to look good.

An article about the "people's bank" (that is what it would be named) suggested that it would be good for small businesses and also "for the 3 million people in the UK who can not get credit".
No No No, hold on there! The Post Office Bank is to lend money to people who are a credit risk? Isn't this exactly why we are in this mess, because banks lent money to drongo twits who didn't pay the money back.

A better announcement would be that loan sharks are to be employed to run the countries banks.
It would stop any future banking crash if the low life, sorry I mean sub prime borrowers, knew the bank manager would be round to break their legs if they spent the repayment on vodka and fags, they would darn well keep up payment then.

A local post office bank would certainly be useful then, its hard to walk far in a leg cast.

10 March, 2009

Sainsburys Self Check-Out

I was in the local Sainsburys store, when heading for the check-outs I noticed how few staff they have these days, especially at 9.00 am when I am usually ready to head out of the store.

Instead of helpful people they have an array of self service tills.

The small self service tills have been about for a time and are good when you are buying a few items, but the new system is a re-vamped till that you operate yourself with the help of a very annoying recorded voice. Having seen the chaos that other shoppers were in trying to use the new systems, I headed as usual to a queue which happened to be beside the row of self service.

Because I was near several of these I could hear all of the systems helpful commands but as they all merged into one this is a brief idea of what I heard:-

"Unexpected item on belt - Authorisation required - Have you swiped your Nectar card - unexpected item on belt - have you swiped your card - please remove item from packing area - authorisation required - thank you for using sainsburys self check out - please insert your payment card or select cash - thank you for using your unexpected item on belt - please insert your belt into the authorisation card - have you swiped your belt on the self service unexpected item - please select payment belt and insert your assistance into the nectar thank your belt into the sainsburys" Arghhhhhhh.

How do the staff that attend these tills actually stay sane.

If the trend to remove staff from the store continues the logical step is to ask us to stock the shelves before we shop, or maybe we could drive the delivery lorry, stock the shelves select our items then check ourselves out.

Or maybe I should just grow my own produce. If nothing else that seems a quieter option.

09 March, 2009

Community Speed Watch

When I was a kid, if you went running to teacher saying that Jonny had written the rude word on the blackboard (we still had them) or that Sally was responsible for the snapped pencil in the box, it was called telling tales. No one liked you for it, and the friends of anyone you told on would get you at play time.

These days telling tales seems to be positively encouraged, but not by children, this time it is by adults.

The police in parts of the UK don't do policing any more and have been replaced by various groups to do it for them. The most obvious are PCSOs (totally useless) but another group of people are the drongoes who join Community Speed Watch.
They come to mind after a report on the local news saying that some are being verbally abused. You don't say, welcome to the real world guys.

Community speed watch, if you don't know, are set up by the police to stand at the side of the roads and wave speed detection devices at people. They pretend to be community minded but are actually just sad. If you drive past a community speed watch groups, at a speed above the limit, they will write down your number and tell the police. Oh I'm scared already, but not for the reason you may think.

Speeding drivers should be caught, but by the police not a group of sad people who need to get a life. Once they tell on you, you get a letter saying that you were seen speeding. That's it.

If you are caught speeding by a traffic cop you know that the person doing you is a good driver and will go before a magistrate, or judge, to tell them what you did wrong if needs be.
Get caught by community speed watch and you have no idea if they are one of the worlds worst drivers or even totally mental. Why does that matter, simple, hand held speed guns are corroboration of excess speed not proof. Hence they can't prosecute you because that would mean the mad gits from the speed watch going to court and proving to everyone that they don't really know what they are doing, in court or at the road side.

It's not often that I want to see people being abused but if they insist on making themselves available they are surely fair game.
Be careful what you say to them though, they will tell on you.

05 March, 2009

University Challenge Explains the Recession

I saw the last few minutes of the University Challenge final, I had not intended to watch it but it happened to be on before something I wanted to see.

I can not decide if this quiz is funny or sad, in the modern meaning of sad, but I do know that the whole thing was hilarious. How awful the guy on the end must have felt being left out of consultations and being patted on the back when he dared to answer a question, and with little miss know-it-all saying "well done" if one of her team knew an answer before her.

Never mind the quiz, what is far more interesting is the controversy that has surrounded the final, especially how it explains a lot of what has caused the crisis that we now see the world in.

One of the team members that declared "studying chemistry" is actually working for Price Waterhouse Coopers.
So, the lie telling chemist is working for an accountancy firm, that makes perfect sense.
Look at the top people in finance in this country, the chancellor, the bank bosses, the ex-chancellor, none of them have any qualifications in finance and it has not done them any harm has it.

OK they have collectively trashed the world financial systems but they are doing alright Jack.