Tuesday, September 23, 2008

[windows] not the operating system

By windows, I mean the opportunities we get, which then close down and are lost forever.

Admittedly two films triggered this off.

The first, a mind-numbing piece called
The One and the second, the Sith episode of Star Wars. The concept, of course, is that chances arise and if grasped, then we move on to the next part of the adventure. If we don't, we stagnate or fall into something even direr.

Some of you have managed to build up your nest egg and are entitled to a calm, dignified retirement, which you must no be doubt worried about at this difficult time. Some of us have somehow, through a conjunction of circumstances and with a flawed mental set, not managed that in the first place.

My life so far has been a series of windows and there is a hunger inside to just settle down and become a good citizen, somewhere where the authorities accept me ... but it never seems to turn out that way. It seems that many of you are trying to do the opposite just now - trying to get out and forget all your woes.

At this moment there is a fair amount of posting on this blog and while it seems as real and permanent as it did in Russia, it is in fact an illusion.

I must move on from here in the not too distant future, as I have over the past months and the blogging will cease again for some time. This time the freefall must cease and it must be my own place and my own subsistence job. It may be a tall order getting internet connected this side of Christmas, as each autumn day brings us closer to winter but I'll try to get posts up.

There's constant mail from Russia just and it involves getting winter clothing over here and so on and every move is to get set up, to start putting roots down again.

In The One, when a person was teleported, he first broke into fragments and then these fragments were brought together and reunited at the other end. In real life, many fragments are forever lost and replaced by new ones, not unlike cells in the body.

This is double-edged.

For better or worse, this hunger to reunite the fragments and just make a go of life had almost got there in Russia. Stupidly [in hindsight], all remaining property, money and the like had been gathered into the one flat over eight years, networks were in place and the life there was one of dignity, respect, not bad hours and reasonable money in Russian terms.

Fool that I was in thinking it could continue and as some of you know - one stroke of a bureaucratic pen and it was back into freefall. Bureaucrats - the second scourge of society.

Getting off that, as it's a fruitless thing to dwell on, my friend noted ,at one point in The One and the Sith, just how many films these days pursue the same theme of the move to threat, the destabilizing of society, the bureaucratic tightening, the sea of troubles and then the flawed earthly Messiah who becomes increasingly convinced he's a god, a deliverer [did you see Brown's recent speech], sweeping in to the rapturous applause of people hailing the chief [anyone remember 1997 or the Nuremburg rallies], only for the screws to be slowly tightened, bit by bit, according to the Grand Plan.

Last minute false messiahs are as illusory as the rest of the business. Solace can be found but not in them, nor in a circle of stones.

Monday, September 22, 2008

[unreconstructed] and richer

Disgraceful example of out and out sexism

Damn - this means I'll never earn enough :)

Men who grow up thinking women should stay at home may be labelled "old-fashioned" - but could end up well ahead in the salary stakes.

A US study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggests that they will consistently out-earn more "modern-thinking" men. On average, this meant an extra $8,500 (£4,722) a year.

One UK psychologist said men inclined to wield power in their relationships might also do this at work.
Outrageous thought.

[tourism] dangerous these days

Check out these paragraphs about the same topic and see how much meaning you derive from them. Then click on the video and see if that enlightens you further.

Dix-neuf personnes, dont onze touristes européens, ont été enlevés dans le sud-ouest de l'Egypte, près du Soudan, par des hommes armés qui réclament une rançon, a annoncé lundi le ministère égyptien du Tourisme. «Il s'agit de banditisme et non de terrorisme», a tenu à indiquer le ministère dans un communiqué, sans préciser la date de l'enlèvement des otages, le lieu de leur détention, ni le montant de la somme réclamée par les ravisseurs.
Ihre Geiselnehmer sollen Gebirgsnomaden sein: Die in Ägypten entführte Reisegruppe mit fünf Deutschen ist außer Landes gebracht worden - laut Regierung in Kairo befinden sich die elf Touristen nun im Sudan. Die Suche nach dem Versteck läuft, doch das Terrain ist schwierig. Kairo - Dramatisches Ende eines Urlaubstrips: Fünf Deutsche, fünf Italiener, ein Rumäne und mehrere ägyptische Begleiter sind in Ägypten Opfer einer Entführung geworden. Die Urlauber waren in der Wüste in der Nähe der Grenze zum Sudan unterwegs.

Now try the video.

[minimum wage] beneficial or detrimental

The minimum wage in the UK at the moment appears to be £5.52 an hour and in the U.S.A., the federal minimum wage is $5.85 per hour, effective July 24, 2007.

Proponents say that the net effect of a minimum wage policy guarantees a base living standard for all workers, does not significantly effect unemployment, increases work ethic, stimulates the economy through consumer buying, decreases social welfare payouts and helps business.

Opponents say that the net effect is to hurt small business by excluding low cost competitors, reduces hours worked by workers,raises prices of goods and creates inflationary pressure, causes outsourcing and hurts the really disadvantaged in the lowest positions, making some employable people now unemployable. This then adds them to the welfare system.

They say that the policy should be one of maximizing work opportunities by encouraging small businesses, topping up wge packets with earned income tax credits and indirect money saving across the board, e.g. reduction in hidden taxes.

Anyone in my current position needs to have enough to cover, flat rental, gas and electricity, transport to and from work and a minimum for food. The flat rental cost needs to be below that and in this part of the world can be around £90 a week if you're lucky, with up front costs to get started.

Against that is unemployment benefit of £56.20 on current information [which I'm not eligible for] and housing benefit of around £50 [which is possible]. For someone who has lived here for years, that then leaves, in round terms, about £15 for all utilities, clothing, transport and food. For me it doesn't. For many graduates, tricky little clauses in the eligibility for the dole effectively exclude them.

In realistic terms, once employed, these benefits disappear anyway and one is reliant on the weekly wage which, if you work a 35 hour statutory week, comes out to £193.20 per week. The advantage, if one works a rotational shift, is that one can find other work as well. Such work is available and living, though very tight, precluding any frills and subject to landlords bumping up the rental in line with inflation, is a possibility. Just.

From an employer's point of view, using my friend's analogy, if you have, say, a flower delivery service, you need to have people to deliver flowers. Assuming you run a good business, then you'll be paying above minimum wage, plus rebate on usage of the employees' cars. Otherwise you won't be attracting employees who have a certain amount they're paying out to survive.

The higher the minimum wage goes, the less people you can employ and the harder they must work to compensate. Thus the higher the turnover of staff and the more you need to retrain, before even looking at taxation and the like. With no minimum wage, you can employ far more people at a lower rate, this stimulates the economy in a small way but you are just one of many and the economy overall benefits.

It seems a sort of catch 22 to me. Maybe you could look over this post and tell me where the fallacies are and what it missed. I don't claim to have any authority in this matter.

Those Commercials

I remember as a kid seeing some of the best commercials I've seen in my entire life. True, there have been some good commericals this year but these are some of my favorites:

I still use these bags today!

Make 7-Up yours!

Classic Halo 3 commercial

One of the best Super Bowl commercials I've ever seen in my entire life! I still remember laughing the first time I saw this, way back when!


This reminds me of when I went to Sardinia, not speaking a word of Italian. I said in Spanish (and they understodd me) that I'd like some chips and water. Keep in mind this was at 10 p.m. at night. They say, "Prego!" (You're welcome). I look at them and ask, "Prego?" They say, "Prego!" This goes on back and forth for about two minutes until the waitress had enough and walked away.

A good way to end this roundup.

Those Songs...

Alright, so we all know those songs whose lyrics have passed into pop culture long after their heyday is over. Well, two of them I knew quite well but had not heard them. The first is "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash. I was going to embed it here but they don't allow embedding. Anyway, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAkfHShATKY

I had heard about the song some time ago in a computer game review book back in the mid '90s and finally heard it for the first time in 2006.

The second video needs no introduction:

I actually got dressed up as an Egyptian pharaoh for Breakfast Club, like I usually do. The first video they're blasting from the TV in the bar when I got inside nice and early at 7 am yesterday before the game was this song. Someone looked at me and said, "Hey man! You gotta get up there and dance! You're dressed the part!" Indeed, I was...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

[password mystery] who and for what

I didn't intend to post again this evening but a curious thing happened today and we were discussing it. Certain ideas occurred to us as to what it meant.

Basically, this came to one of my emails but not the usual one:

Sorry, we are unable to release your password because the information
you have provided does not match our records.
Details of the request:
For account: bloghounds@email.com
Password be sent to :
Request from IP address :
Request Date/Time : 2008-09-21 14:27:08 GMT

Someone seemed to want to sign in to bloghounds email, which is the one we use for new membership requests. This person pretended that he/she had lost the password and asked for it to be sent. The weakness in this argument is that how would he/she know where it would have been sent? And why would anyone want to get into the bloghounds email anyway?

The alternative was that he/she was not interested in getting in but wanted to go through the question and answer thing to get them to send the password but somehow didn't get the answers right. Again, why would anyone want the bloghounds password? It only works with that account and there are other passwords for the other sections.

Any ideas on this?

[new uniforms released] for pollies and bankers

Calvin Klein* have released new uniforms for the pollies and the senior bankers to more accurately reflect their level of competence and allow the general public to see one coming.

On the left, a white suit symbolizes the pollies' preferred image but the black tie and shoes symbolize their hearts and level of competence.

On the right, this remarkable suit will now enable you to recognize a banker approaching a decision and allows you to intervene before he does any more damage.

Calvin Klein are confident the uniforms will catch on with the general public, if not the wearers themselves.

* Disclaimer: Calvin Klein wish it to be known that they have released nothing of the kind.

[miracles] believer or sceptic

Really like this one - here is the summary:

* Martyr in Naples from 305 A.D. had his blood collected by a nun into a phial - blood now dried, of course;

* Twice a year, on specific religious festival days, the blood turns liquid;

* Locals believe if it doesn't liquify, disaster will strike;

* Five times it hasn't liquified and disaster struck, last time in 1980 when 3000 died;

* Sceptics say it is the moving of the phial on those two days which turns the blood liquid - rest of the year it stays untouched. Some say thixotropy.

Do you believe in miracles?

[murder] when is it and when isn't it

Categories of murder and manslaughter, in general and simplistic terms

United Kingdom

Murder with malice aforethought [including transferred malice], attempted murder, manslaughter voluntary and involuntary [death by dangerous driving a sub-category] and accident. There is no duress or necessity in English law. There is mens rea [guilty mind] and strict liability [statutory].

United States

First problem is dual sovereignty - state or federal. Under the general term homicide, murder is included, with degrees.

1st Degree is pre-meditated, planned out or particularly cruel. 2nd Degree is not planned out. 3rd Degree may be called manslaughter in some places.


Closer to the US in the two degrees and then manslaughtrer and infanticide.


Varies by state, generally as in English law but in NSW, provocation is a defence and in Victoria, killing an unborn child when it might have been born is an offence.

To specific situations

You'll remember the man who stabbed an intruder in his house who carried a machete and was jailed for stabbing him 16 times. The judge considered he'd used excessive violence and had meted out his own punishement. This one brings in all manner of considerations and we've just been discussing it.

I took the point of view that when the burglar entered the front yard, this was trespass and needs discretion - what if it was kids chasing their lost football? However, the moment there is an attempt to force entry to the swelling, the law must change to Englishman's home is his castle and it doesn't matter a damn how much violence you used to protect your family.

My friend mentioned a US state, [perhaps Texas, not sure], where if you gun down an intruder, they give you $5000 and any legal fees plus the county will sue the court which passes a negative judgement against you. That sounds only a little OTT to me but it seems to have reduced crime of this nature by 40%.

Considerations and opinions on them


The whole homicide legislation needs to be rewritten into priority order by degree and nuance, with fixed penalties attached to them, except for 10% discretionary leeway to take into account specific instances such as those below.

Mitigating circumstances

Including intent [mens rea], severity, reasonable care, justification and result.

More situations

* Wife drives him out of his tree with her nagging yet hasn't left him - he snaps, doesn't know his own strength in his rage.

* Wife stores up the hatred of an abusive husband for years and then plans and carries out his killing; alternatively, she snaps one night and stabs him.

* Euthanasia.

* Two youths play a game of chicken with guns - very real possibility of death or accident, weapon goes off and kills one youth.

* Assassin aims for a politician, politician moves at the last second and bullet kills his wife instead.

* Assassin is CIA Manchurian Candidate [diminished responsibility].

* Monster threatens society e.g. Stalin.