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This is how I spent my evening!

taxes

Oh, how we laughed! Self employment taxes have to be filed here by January 31. I won’t owe anything — I don’t make enough — but I still have to go through this dreary ritual.

Actually, not true. I should owe a bit to National Insurance. It told me I did while I was working through the forms. Then I got all done and they didn’t ask me for any money.

I feel like I’m waiting for a trap to spring…

January 24, 2018 — 10:33 pm
Comments: 5

Meet our new plastic fiver

fiver

This thing is our new plastic five pound note. They’ve started appearing over the last month or so. For a little while, there was a gold rush of currency collectors buying up notes with AA serial numbers for stupid money on eBay, but that seems to have passed. Then there were all the people stress-testing them to see if they’d go through the dryer or catch fire.

Now the thrill is gone, and shopkeepers are finding that plastic notes, once folded, never again lie flat in the cash register. Two of them together in the pocket slip around in the most unpleasant way. I start every month drawing £50 in cash in £5 notes for mad money, so I’m getting a big, irritating dose of it.

We have been assured that plastic banknotes have been used in Australia and Hong Kong for ages without any problems so quit your bitching already.

So everybody did. Until today. Today it leaks out that animal fat is used in their manufacture, and the vegans and vegetarians are having a hissy. I can understand a conscientious bunny-hugger of a vegan being upset, but honestly, vegetarians — just don’t put them in your stupid mouth.

Phun phacts: y’all probably know that every color copier and image manipulation program has a built in currency detector to prevent counterfeiting. We were warned about this when our office got our very first color copier in the Eighties (back when they cost a quarter million dollars and were the size of chest freezers). If you try to make a copy of a bill, you get a blank page or a scary warning message. If you persist, you eventually get a visit from the Feds.

We had a routine copier service at work the other day and I got to chatting with the technician. Apparently this is still true. He said you get three tries to copy a banknote and then your copier seizes and has to have a service in person.

I mention this because I right-click-and-copied the image from this article, tried to paste it into Photoshop, and got a scary warning and no image. I’d do it again to show you the scary warning, but I’m skeert. In the end, I did a screen grab and then cropped it down to the note, and we’re just waiting for the knock at the door.

Don’t try this at home.

You’re going to try this, aren’t you?

November 29, 2016 — 7:13 pm
Comments: 22

I want to decide who lives and who dies

niaicday

I have no idea where I saw this, but today is National I Am In Control Day. It’s said to date from the day Reagan was shot, before Bush was sworn in, and Sec’y of State Al Haig declared, “As of now, I am in control here in the White House.”

Then they go on to ruin it by suggesting we celebrate by making lists and using a daily planner.

Pff! Please.

I want the ability to administer small, painful, non-lethal electric shocks with my mind. So when my boss says, “I suppose next time you’ll remember to order a backup printer cartridge,” the next thing she says is, “oh, OW! Wow, what the…?”

I want to be able to reverse the energy coming out of a car stereo, so the signal bounces back and blows it up. In proportion to the strength of the sound, so that guy with the thumping bass lit’rally sees his stereo explode in a shower of metal and sparks all over the inside of his hoopty.

I want prescription drugs legalized, so I can do my own research, decide what (for example) blood pressure meds I should try and prescribe them for myself. And if I screw it up…well, I’m a grownup. I’ll take responsibility. (Okay, this one’s boring, but I really want it).

I want a lot of other things I can’t say out loud. Anything mentionable on your wish list?


sock it to me

March 30, 2016 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 18

Insidious government is insidious

dryjanuary

Dry January is a thing here. Or perhaps an attempted thing. It can be hard to tell how much of a public health campaign is genuine, how much it’s working and how much it’s just one more scolding voice in the howling cacophony of government nannying.

Dry January is funded by an organization called Alcohol Concern, which is a fake charity. Fake charities are a thing here, too.

Here’s how it works:

►Government wants people to, say, drink less
►Up pops a charity, say, Citizens Concerned that Government is not Doing Enough to Make People Drink Less
►All of CCGDEMPDL’s funding, somehow, comes from the government itself
►CCGDEMPDL spends the money lobbying government to do that thing government wanted to do in the first place

Ultimately, if it hangs in there long enough, CCGDEMPDL may get some corporate sponsors or even individual donors, but government remains its biggest benefactor. So it’s government lobbying government to do things government wants to do. Meanwhile, out go big wads of public money, in come a few more cushy jobs for cronies in the governing class.

Astroturf.

I made it almost all the way through (my not entirely) Dry January before I discovered Ginuary! Business lobbying me to buy products so they can make money — that familiar old relationship seems downright wholesome by comparison.


sock it to me

January 27, 2016 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 13

Do it! DO EET!

nramembership

Dunno if you saw over the weekend, Warden from AoSHQ was banging the drum for the NRA. Point being, joining the NRA is the best possible rebuke to the gun-grabbing instincts of our bugfuck crazy lords and masters.

I first joined the NRA in 1999, after the Columbine High School massacre. Yup, they tried to pin that one on the NRA, too. I didn’t know much about the NRA at the time, but I knew that was totally unfair.

And it was. Have you ever been to an NRA gathering? Nicest bunch of sweet old men you could meet. The kind of guys whose other memberships are the Shriners and the company bowling team.

Not a homicidal maniac in the bunch.

Membership has some unexpected benefits. Like, the best damn t-shirts I’ve ever owned, no lie. Good designs and sturdy as heck. Mine are just beginning to wear out after a decade and a half of hard service. Plus, if you wear an NRA t-shirt and scruffy jeans into Whole Foods, you can blend in beautifully for a while…and then enjoy the klunking sound when your slogan finally registers on hippiebrain.

And the postman who delivers an NRA mag to your house every month is a polite postman.

I had planned to buy myself a life membership on my way out of the States, but then the bottom fell out of the property market and I barely made the move by the (financial) skin of my teeth. I really wanted that jacket! I’ve since totally let my membership lapse (if you want the magazine, it’s an extra $10 over and above for ferriners).

Perhaps I’ll grab an associate membership, just to show willing! I wonder if they saved my old member number?

sock it to me

December 7, 2015 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 28

There they are!

The picture that ran with the news article I read about the SotU showed and over-the-shoulder shot of Obama apparently reading his speech from a notebook. In a panic, I flipped through news photos until I found one showing his teleprompters, safe and sound. Whew!

I wonder if he has names for them. Gumby and Pokey. Mulder and Scully. Lefty and Other Lefty.

No, I didn’t watch. I couldn’t. And not just because I can’t bear the sound of Obama’s droning mediocrity.

The State of the Union speech has been a humiliating spectacle for decades. I held my breath for Poppy Bush (he used to trip over his words a bit, remember?). Bill Clinton was the biggest gasbag in history. Gee, that guy could go on. Remember his farewell speech? Hours and hours. He was still talking when they bundled him into a car. W wasn’t as awful as he might have been, but I still held my breath for flubs.

But that’s not it. It’s the whole spectacle of the thing. I actually hate the SotU more when ‘our’ guys are in power, because their behavior reflects on me even a little tiny bit. All that jumping up every twenty seconds, every time your guy says anything at all, barking and clapping like a troupe of trained seals. And the other guys sit and sulk unless The Guy says something so patriotic they kinda have to join in.

Awful. Just awful.

The speech is a big useless pile of applause lines and huge laundry list of junk that is never, ever going to happen and everybody knows it. Nobody even pretends to take it seriously. It has long since outlived its grownup purpose.

Can we kill it, please?

sock it to me

January 21, 2015 — 9:13 pm
Comments: 14

LOL WUT?

Ladies and gentlemen, behold — the levitating chickens of Whiterun.

I’m playing through Skyrim again (because awesome is why) and this time I’m doing it with a few mods. Many game companies have traditionally and wisely encouraged players to build and distribute game modifications — bits of extra programming that add anything from new types of clothing to extra music and sound effects to whole new storylines. These extras don’t cost the company anything and help prolong the shelf life of popular games. Also, they sometimes poach talent from their best modders.

Generally speaking, most add-ons behave well. But occasionally, not. What you’re looking at is a glitch, an unintentional result of who knows which mod I have added. Someone somewhere used an identifier for chicken that someone else had used for the height from the ground of a catapulted stone.

Imagine my surprise today when my brother in arms let go the catapult, and every chicken in the neighborhood shot 50 feet straight up into the air, hung lazily in the sky for a moment and slowly drifted down like rose petals. It was…majestic (though I missed a pic of the first time it happened when, like, fifty chickens did this…I was just too transfixed with awe to remember the screenshot button).

Just a reminder of the strange and wonderful things that can happen when multiple people work on the same body of code. And speaking of Obamacare, more and more pols are ‘fessing up that, yes, actually they realized the law meant that millions of people who liked their insurance wouldn’t actually be able to keep their insurance.

I’m transfixed with awe about this one, too. Did they think that would just…blow over? That the joy of the poor gimps who finally got health insurance would drown the screams of the many millions of not-rich people who took a big ol’ financial hit? The level of denial or magical thinking or just plain stupid here is just…I just have no words.

sock it to me

October 29, 2013 — 11:27 pm
Comments: 22

JK;LOL

This is the message you get when you go to www.nasa.gov (among other sites). And the awesome thing about this is, it’s pure spite. There’s no earthly reason to shut down an existing, fully functional website. It’s not like anyone pays hosting fees day-by-day.

If you click through to the list of stuff that isn’t happening due to the ‘shutdown'(LOL), you get a bunch of hilarious drama queenery. The very first bullet point is:

Vital services that ensure seniors and young children have access to healthy food and meals may not have sufficient Federal funds to serve all beneficiaries in an extended lapse.

Translation: Meals on Wheels and Head Start have will run out of money in a few weeks if this keeps up. ZOMG!

The BEST, though, was the veterans thing. Even though most monuments in DC aren’t actually staffed and even though the Park Police are an essential service and still on the job, some bright spark decided to pay people to put up barricades on the Mall. Pure theater.

A group of elderly veterans from Mississippi turned up to see the WWII monument and (with an assist from their Congressman) — dramatic pause — stepped around the barriers and did it anyway. Park Police wisely stood aside and let them.

Anyway, there’s still time for this all to go horribly wrong, but so far Obamacare sucks and the ‘shutdown'(LOL) doesn’t suck. Such timing.

sock it to me

October 1, 2013 — 8:43 pm
Comments: 32

Nice going, socialists

That’s the front window of a little music shop in Shropshire. The manager, on his way out, paid a sign writer to decorate it thusly.

That’s a great wickedness of the local system of government — the power and incompetence of county councils. It was a Tory government, unfortunately, that decided to cut costs by combining councils into larger and fewer bodies. The upshot is, our local services are controlled by people who live far away, who are apt to see us more as cash cows than a constituency.

At one time — so I’m told — councils were run by local businessmen on a voluntary (or at least modestly remunerated) basis. Now, of course, it’s run by our global professional ruling class (read: smug, self-important lefties) on eye-watering salaries. And those lefties in turn hire scores of other lefties, in the form of Lesbian Outreach Managers and Pet Hair Recycling Wardens.

But, hey, if there’s anything socialist dimbulbs know how to do, it’s make money, right? Cut essential services and raise taxes! Pff! Easy peasy. It’s not like raising prices ever changes buying behavior.

Down here in the sunny South, most towns still have a charming high street (read: Main Street) full of interesting little shops and pubs and cafes. We do as much buying as we can in these places. You pay a bit more, but you get undeniably better goods and help keep the heart of the town beating.

We’ve watched as high streets all over our shopping territory visibly shrink, thanks to…well, read the sign.

sock it to me

February 21, 2013 — 1:42 pm
Comments: 21

Everything is coming up Workforce Update 28


Oh. OH! Can I have a meme? I swear I’ll take care of it. I’ll feed it and take it for walks. Just this once, pleeeease?

It seems someone used the microwave to warm up people shit in Brighton (it’s hard to beat the headline Poo Found in Brighton Council Microwave).

The council being the council, they wrapped the appliance in crime scene tape and stuck a note to it. And left it there for a week.

An update sent round to all members of staff, titled Workforce Update 28, said: “The microwave in the canteen has unfortunately been used to heat excrement and cannot be made hygienic or safe to use.

“Please do not use. We will have it disconnected and removed.

“This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and we will not be replacing the microwave.”

Staff has taken to referring to the whole incident as Workforce Update 28. Which is the meme I want. It’s my meme, and I want it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t pinned down the situation where this phrase would be appropriate. Which of life’s many vicissitudes corresponds to “someone has heated a bowl of shit in the communal microwave”?

sock it to me

July 31, 2012 — 9:53 pm
Comments: 45