Sunday, 22 July 2012

Coe Gets Really Tetchy

Enjoy listening to the bastard squirm

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Greater Switzerland

According to David Cameron
Again, it comes back to this, who are going to be the winning nations for the 21st century. If your vision of Britain was that we should just withdraw and become a sort of greater Switzerland, I think that would be a complete denial of our national interests.
Well, considering that Switzerland are 14 places above us in the GDP per capita table, I do.

Olympic Strikes

From the Daily Mail
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union could go on strike within a week over jobs, pay and other issues, it was announced last night.
Meanwhile, the train company, owned by transport giant Stagecoach, said the public will be 'shocked and angry' that strikes are being planned at a time of 'great national pride' for the country.
Rule of thumb with strikes - you hit people at their weakest. That's why the bus drivers had a strike during the Olympics rather than afterwards. If you do it after, no-one cares. If you do it during the games, you force people to the table.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed unions would be 'completely out of tune' with the public mood if they held a strike during the Games.
Meanwhile, answering questions after delivering a speech in central London, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: 'People should not be striking during the Olympics. People should not be disrupting the Olympic Games.'
Thing is, I really think that the politicians are out of tune here. A lot of people really, really couldn't care that much about the Olympics. Sure, they'll watch some of it, but they'd watch it if it had been in Paris. The politicians are desperate to create a national unifying event, a "blitz spirit" where people come together (and of course, they lead things) when people come together when they want to. We only came together during the war (and the US came together over 9/11) because we have a desire to.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Olympic Fascism Strikes Again

From the Oxford Mail
CHILDREN taking part in the Olympic opening ceremony have been told they shouldn’t wear branded trainers unless they are made by Adidas.
Organisers told the eight Oxfordshire primary school pupils they should wear the German sports label – which sponsors the Games – or unbranded shoes to the Friday, July 27 show.
Can anyone who's still supporting this overpriced EPO festival please, finally, stop talking about the Olympics as being about "community", because there's nothing "community" about telling volunteering kids that they can't wear non-sponsor clothing.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Olympic Cockup: Paris Helps Out

Oh, very funny monsieur
Stand back G4S: the French are offering to send over their gendarmerie to sort out the Olympics security problem. Bernard EmiƩ, their ambassador in London, has said that, despite Paris losing out to London as host city, his men would be happy to serve.
I'm still convinced that Chirac played a blinder over the Olympics. Get Blair at his most vain, trying to outdo the French, promising everything to get the Olympics, then on the eve of the vote make some uncharacteristically rude comments about various cuisines, piss off the representatives from a few countries and Britain gets the games. Chirac was a more savvy politician than to not know that he would piss off some people by doing so.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Olympic Terms of Use

Apparantly, you're not not allowed to link to the Olympics website in a "misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner".

The Good Old Simple Shopper

From the Independent

The firm has been accused of letting the country down just two weeks before the Games, with soldiers forced to cancel family holidays to ensure venues are protected. But a senior Government source told The Independent that the contract with G4S did not include a penalty clause.
The revelation appears to contradict a statement by the Home Secretary Theresa May in the House of Commons. She told MPs that while the contract was between G4S and the Games organisers Locog, she understood that there were "penalties within that contract".
A source said that in fact it was a pro-rata agreement where G4S were paid for each extra security guard they supplied – and not penalised if they did not make the overall target. "The person who negotiated the contract should be shot," the source said.
This has always been my problem with outsourcing, and Milton Friedman (pbuh) warned about this years ago. The government does not get good value. No-one running a business would contract a company to provide security without there being a penalty clause of some sort (the penalty might just be "you're fired" on a rolling contract). But the state didn't even think about it. G4S could just hire as many people as it thought was profitable and forget the rest, and because the Olympic contract requires the government to underwrite everything, the government would pick up the slack.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The BBPA Surrenders to the Smoking Ban

Unbelievable. When the organisation representing pubs isn't campaigning against the smoking ban, then frankly, they're about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Sitting down at the table with the DoH is like trying to negotiate with The Borg.

Olympic Security Costs

From the BBC
G4S is being paid £300m supply 10,000 guards for the Games, but the BBC understands it has not been able to guarantee it can deliver that number.
So, let me get this right. That's £30K per member of security staff for 3 weeks? Even if we assume that they need 4 shifts, that's the equivalent of a pro-rata £200K/ANNUM for each security guard. And they're saying that they're struggling to supply them?

Ah, but back to January
They will be paid wages that start at £8.50 an hour – higher than the London Living Wage – and will receive a security license which permits them to work in the industry for three years.
So, let's assume 10,000 guards, a few hours overlap each day (so say 30 hours/day equivalent), that's around £60m in wage costs. OK, you're going to have equipment costs, supervisory costs and so forth, but even if we doubled that, G4S is still being left with a pretty serious profit margin on this job.

Simple shopper strikes again...

Monday, 9 July 2012

Don't Mention the Smoking Ban

Countryfile from 8th July managed to talk about pub closures where in one village, 3 pubs had closed over the past few years. This piece sums up what was shown on screen:-

BBC Countryfile
This week we are investigating the plight of Britain’s village watering holes, as around four are closing every week. How can this be when everyone seems to treasure them so deeply and tourists say they are the third most important reason for visiting this country?
Yeah, I wonder.
Today we’ve been in the Derbyshire village of Parwich, filming in the Sycamore. One secret of survival here is opening another business in the pub. In fact when you walk in the door it looks more like a family home. But on the right is a door marked ‘shop’ – it used to be the dining room. It may be small but it’s an Aladdin’s cave of household goods - puncture repair kits and packing tape, cauliflowers and lighter fuel.

Janet, the publican/shopkeeper/mother of a toddler, says she simply stocks what people want. What she’d like is for locals just to spend a bit more with her and swerve the supermarket delivery van. It’s a devotional existence, more like a calling than a job. Janet puts in around 80 hours a week and, when she plots income against her time, she receives barely half the minimum wage.
Which frankly means that Janet is a bit of an idiot and not running much of a business and that if Janet quits or retires and they don't get an idiot, that pub will also close.
Most pubs are owned by either breweries or big pub companies. Many of these are in serious financial trouble, some owing billions to the bank. But their spokesman insisted they weren’t leeching money from the local boozer to pay off their debts, blaming instead the government for high duty and VAT on alcohol.
Did all the bright people leave the pubco industry as well? VAT is uniform on alcohol, whether bought in a pub or a supermarket, yet supermarkets are not being hit like pubs are.

The only thing that strongly correlates with sudden pub closures is the smoking ban. To not even mention it seems like a deliberate omission.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Women's Tennis

But the chairman of the Women's Tennis Association Stacey Allaster said she could not believe anyone "in this day and age" would think both sexes should not get equal pay.
She said: "Tennis, including the grand slams, is aligned with our modern, progressive society when it comes to the principle of equality.
"I can't believe in this day and age that anyone can still think otherwise. This type of thinking is exactly why the WTA was founded and we will always fight for.
The WTA is an organisation that provides women's leagues, which is basically, to allow women to compete and win because the odds of ever beating the top men are about nil. It is, by design, discriminatory, designed to allow weaker players (by virtue of sex) to win. Yet, it believes that it should earn as much as men, despite the fact that it can't compete with the men.

I have another beef with women's tennis which is that it's now just a bad version of men's tennis. All the grace and beauty of the women's game has gone, replaced by power players and grunting.