Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Long time no blog...

Gosh it's been a while. Almost long enough to forget how to work this "Blogger" thing. Not quite, though, so here I am again. If anyone is still here, patiently waiting for me to pipe up again, then do say "Hi".

Well, the snow came and went, and I am now a devotee of Land Rover. They really are quite fun. Stepping back into a BMW was a bit of a shock, though - so close to the ground! And so fast! I think I had better get thoroughly acclimatised to the BMW before dragging the 911 out of the garage, otherwise my head may explode.

The additional time and effort of coping with the snow while still keeping up with client demands does mean that not a lot of time was left for blogging, though. Sorry*.

Some news did catch my eye. None of it was (on its own) enough to justify a whole post on its own, but it does add up to a nice point. You see, we have had 13 years now (almost) of a regulation-happy government. Over that time, the nest of regulations has become steadily more impenetrable, and steadily more self-contradictory. For example, if I hire someone new I must ask to see documents proving their entitlement to work here, but I dare not ask this of a UK citizen in case they take offence at the implicit racism. And how do I know they are a UK citizen, until I have seen their documents? But that is just one isolated example.

After all this time, however, the thicket has become so dense and so twisted that it has started to hurt its maker. Over the last few weeks, the regulations began to hurt what the Government itself wanted to do. We have heard the following:

- Schoolteachers who couldn't get to their place of employment used to go to the nearest school that they could reach, so that they could cover for other absent teachers. That way, children (who are often very local) can still be taught. Now, of course, they cannot becuase their CRB checks are specific to their place of employment. So although they are fully CRB checked and it is officially recognised that they do not pose a threat to the children of village 'A', they are somehow unsafe to teach the children of village 'B'.

- Airport scanners will protect us from terrorist bombs, albeit with the downside of revealing full images of our large anatomical parts**. We can't use them to scan children, though - that would breach child pornography laws. Am I the only one who is relieved that Al-Queda members are all infertile and therefore will not possibly be able to locate a child to carry the bomb for them?

- Farmers would once-upon-a-time invest in snowplough attachments for their tractors, and would be paid to go out after heavy snowfall and clear the worst of the snow away. They won't now, though. Why? Because Customs & Excise now come down hard on any use of red diesel on the public highway.

- Local Authorities were offered bulk road salt at a reduced price last year, but declined. Why? Because Whitehall said they needed 6 days' supply and they already had that. If they bought more, then questions would have been asked. People could have been disciplined for taking some initiative wasting public money.

- Schools that could have stayed open didn't. They knew that only some of their pupils would have made it - and that the rest would have been classed as unauthorised absences, with all the attendant attention from Ed Balls that this would have attracted. So the target set in order to keep pupils in school resulted in pupils being unable to go to school, as it was closed.

See? Regulation hurts.

*unless you enjoyed the break

**Together with, as Stuart Sharpe pointed out in the House of Comments Podcast, small body parts.... for some gentlemen...


  1. I know. Five good spots and the recruitment one. How long are your arms?

    I did not want to clear the snow from the pavement outside our house in case I was marked out as a Labour supporter so I surreptitiously sprinkled dishwasher salt on the pavement. I then thought how disgraceful the neighbours had not cleared the snow on their sections of pavement but then realised that some of them may have been thinking the same.

    I am not sure 'Nanny can get stuffed' is a wholly appropriate label. Just sayin'. ;-)

  2. Hi :)

    "See? Regulation hurts."

    And the Law of Unintended Consequences bites hard...

  3. The other employment one is that it is now illegal to sack someone for being terrible at their job, meaning that more are likely to lose work when the whole ship sinks.

    Oh, and "hello".

  4. Good to see you're back in action.

    We can't use them to scan children, though - that would breach child pornography laws.

    Which presumably means that the scanners are a form of pornography. Is enforced participation in pornography a violation of human rights? If so, perhaps there's a further conflict here. Except that it probably isn't such a violation under this government - failure to participate in pornography is probably regarded as odd and somehow discrimminatory.

  5. I hadn't thought of that one, Albert.

    What a nightmare. First the government force me to donate to charities that I didn't really want to donate to, and now they force me to take part in pornography if I travel by air.

    I think I'll stick to being a stowaway.


    p.s. Welcome back, Mr. P. My blogging was also cut back by snow - in my case, I spent hours shovelling. Much more therapeutic than blogging.

  6. XX - Local Authorities were offered bulk road salt at a reduced price last year, but declined. Why? Because Whitehall said they needed 6 days' supply and they already had that. If they bought more, then questions would have been asked. People could have been disciplined for taking some initiative wasting public money.XX

    More like diciplined for not following the "Government" line that we are all going to die from global warming, so do not need such wintery thinking. Because the "Government" say it is NOT ever going to happen again.

    (And Julia, why can you not get this kind of "Comment as" sign in thingy to Google? It would save me having to open a new account every time I want to reply on your site. :-) )

  7. Measured - does that make you an undercover Labour supporter? ;-)

    Hi Julia - but at least that law often bites the right people...

    Hi Blue - tell me about it ... we are deep in that hole at the moment. Not something I am enjoying.

    Albert - Oooh, that is a good point. Of course, you might solve that problem by asking for volunteers who were ok with the task. But as a passenger, how happy would you be knowing that the one who was looking was the one who was most keen to look? Or would you prefer that the job was done by someone whose heart wasn't in it (and who might therefore miss something)?

    Mr B - Look on the bright side. I guess all that exercise shovelling the snow means you now have the right physique to be a porn actor?

    FT - I do agree. Have you noticed that the Met Office consistently predicts warmer weather than we actually get?

  8. you might solve that problem by asking for volunteers who were ok with the task.

    Good point. I wasn't so much thinking of the person viewing as the person viewed. You might as well have a law saying "Only people who are prepared to be viewed pornographically may fly." But yes, there's an employment issue here as well. Or would it make more sense just to say it isn't pornography after all?

  9. The met office may. Never look at it. But ours is accurate to within the degree normally.

    But then Berlin has three universitys, (All with climatology departments) two airports, (each collecting and publishing their own weather reports), the Ministry that is responsible for weather forecasting, and the Bundeswehr weather station. So we should not really be surprised at the accuracy.

    But even so, we are short of grit as well.

    We do not use salt here because it hampers the plant life or something equaly as ridiculous.

  10. Albert - I believe that pornography is (like beauty!) in the mind of the beholder. Personally, I'd hate to have that job, but I suspect that those processing applications for work in airport security will see an upturn in CVs sent by teenage boys.

    I suppose it will make a change from laughing at people's passport photos, though.

    FT - I visited München last week, in the mnidst of our snow chaos. You had grit on your pavements to die for... :-)

    The locals told me not to denigrate the UK just because of the snow chaos. They pointed out that München had also ground to a halt on the day the snow fell. I pointed that that our snow had falled a week ago and that we were still in chaos.

    As regards your multiplicity of weather measurers, it is almost as if competition has driven them to ever higher levels of accuracy. Gosh...

  11. XX FT - I visited München last week, in the mnidst of our snow chaos. You had grit on your pavements to die for... :-) XX

    Wouldn't know about München, I am in Germany.

  12. :-D

    And we English thought we had a monopoly on the North/Soiuth divide!

  13. Thank you for that one, P.

    No, I do not support Labour overtly or covertly. They are so irresponsible.


    mmm...pornography. I think Albert rather overlooked purpose and yes, that is dependant on who is watching. While I do think these things should occur in private, isn't it wonderful to think you can do a striptease by just turning around without having to take your clothes off? I am sure someone will find fault with my hypothesis though.

  14. You're welcome, M ;-) Re-assure yourself with the knowledge that the suggestion was so obviously ridiculous as to be clearly in jest!

    I'm most unsure as to your hypothesis, although I can see its merits. I fear that much more investigation would be needed before I could reach a conclusion. 8-)

  15. "I guess all that exercise shovelling the snow means you now have the right physique to be a porn actor?"

    Well, I really wouldn't know what sort of physique porn actors have.

    But if you mean a body like this, then I think it will need more than just some snow shovelling to get me into shape.

  16. a body like this,

    Whatever turns you on, Mr B!

  17. Well, there are many different types of bears and as Patently stated, beauty is in the mind of the beholder so I think you chose a role model well, Paddington, especially as you are a bear. It isn't your father, is it?

    Albert, if I have to submit to pornography in order to fly, how do I ascertain what the thoughts are of the person viewing? This is a further erosion of privacy but it might be worth it to prevent me from being blown up (assuming the scanners detected the right compound). What is concerning is that now there may be grounds upon which to place these scanners in police stations or at the entrances of prestigious buildings for example. Who draws the line?

    As for the investigative work you propose, P, I think such a project would have to be put out to tender as it is a tender process. Those who decide to compete should submit outline plans of what they propose. I am aware that government guidelines could suggest bullet points are avoided for security reasons. Shall we suggest a deadline for submission is imposed? I look forward to receiving your proposal, P. ;-)

  18. Measured, I wouldn't want to defend what I've said on this because I think the mistake is in the government calling it pornography. However, if they call it pornography, then there is an interesting discussion to be had about whether people should be forced to participate in or view pornography in order to fly or have a job with an airline.

    might be worth it to prevent me from being blown up. Quite. But then if turned into a principle, that would need care, how far does it go? - strip search of every passenger if that was found to be more effective than scanning and saved lives? Or we could just ban flying altogether - that would not just save us from being blown up in mid-air but also save us from 100% of causes of death involved in flying. It would also cut down on Global Warming.

    I'm off to suggest it to Gordie - he looks like he could do with some new ideas.

  19. Albert, you may wish to read Sharpe's Opinion, and not just for the nice things he says about me!

    Your point is valid. But a strip search may not be enough, as small bombs can be hidden even better than that. Think: is your trip worth a full body cavity search? (Should make the wait in the security queue feel less bad by comparison, though.)

    M - a good point, given that metal detector arches are now appearing in public buildings, schools, and some tube stations (I think). I wonder how long the scanners will have to spend "on probation" in airports before there are calls to improve security in schools, hospitals, museums, offices, shops...

    After all, if we have nothing to hide, then we have nothing to fear...

  20. Patently,

    Feeling your way, are you? I am hoping you may wish to do more than scratch the surface on this one. How far can this be taken and how much is it going to cost? Is it worth it? Do we really live in a society where there is the expectation that no one is to be trusted?

    Albert, I think that air travel may prevent wars because it enables so much affordable face to face communication. On this basis I would argue air travel must persist even if it is at a high price. Given the number of planes there are, perhaps it is acceptable to allow one or two to blow up as long as it is not so easy as to become a common occurrence. Perhaps human life is so sacred we must go to great lengths to prevent its loss, but there again the more people there are, the cheaper it will become.

    Now as any lady penguin should be, I am quite modest (especially with those I don't know, not that the Home Secretary cares) but I don't have anything to hide. That does not mean I want to flaunt it all to strangers, not even the nice man in the scanner. Perhaps they could always have a woman in the scanner as I am sure men would want to join the queue for the 'woman manned' scanner (assuming men think differently). Hang on, they can't just have women scanners as that would be discriminatory and there are laws about that. ;-)

    Goodness knows how those with an orthodox upbringing feel. Is it a case of needs must? A minority spoiling it for the majority?

    I was thinking that the actions of the person being scanned could also have the effect of making the material pornographic - a flick of the hips? I reckon sadly concerns over modesty will seem to have been old fashioned in a few years time, so perhaps we should just bite the bullet so to speak.

  21. "Furor Teutonicus said..."

    You're still having problems with Google? How odd!

    I've got no idea what this 'pick list' option I've seen on a few blogs now is, but I'll have a look over the weekend and see what Google have to say for themselves on the comment issue.

  22. Only with the type of "log in" thing you have Julia. (Among other bloggers),.

    Though this is why I am rather confused on the issue. How does THIS system (here) reccognise my pass word, but "your" system doesn't?

    Of course trying to get an answer from Google is like trying to get Incapability Brown to resign.

  23. Sorry Patently, just ignore us. ;-)