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Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 08:14 pm
Smokey and I are throwing ourselves around in attitudes, as it’s very hot (for Britain) and very humid. I’m all miserable and sweaty, and I’m sure I can say the same for Smokey but she only sweats through her paws. She has quite sweaty paws, though, and was once found to be allergic to a specific type of kitty litter for that reason.

In other news, I’ve done the first pass of ripping my DVDs to soft copy. I’m left with a few irritations – some of the seasons of Criminal Minds didn’t rip properly and I’ll have to rip them again, this time into MKV files. Plus the titles got somehow mixed up (it was obviously my fault) on the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films, and I’m going to have to go through them patiently and make sure the right title is attached to each film. But it is mostly done.

I’m still following what’s coming out about the Grenfell Tower fire – the worst case of a fire since WW2, I think, and was totally avoidable if Kensington and Chelsea had just listened to the people who lived there and actually spent money on the place where it was needed. ‘Not political’ indeed! Ptui!
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Friday, June 16th, 2017 01:06 pm
According to the news this lunchtime, the number of people known to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire has risen to 30, with that number due to rise still higher.

On the BBC News website, “Architect and fire expert Sam Webb said: "We are still wrapping post-war high-rise buildings in highly flammable materials and leaving them without sprinkler systems installed, then being surprised when they burn down.

“"I really don't think the building industry understands how fire behaves in buildings and how dangerous it can be. The government's mania for deregulation means our current safety standards just aren't good enough."”

I do believe that this fire was caused by corners being cut by the local council, the cladding used not being correct for the use to which it was being put, and the fact that cladding was in place was at least partly – from the paperwork mostly – put there so that posh people living locally weren’t offended by the sight of a scruffy block of 1970s flats.

I spent most of Wednesday morning in tears, and then had to go and be interviewed for a job. Not surprisingly, I didn’t do especially well at the job interview.
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Friday, June 9th, 2017 08:36 am
Election result is a hung parliament - fun and games ahead, and, I'd guess, another election in a year to eighteen months when it all falls apart.
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Thursday, June 8th, 2017 01:40 pm
Have voted. Go me. Fingers crossed.
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Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 02:19 pm
Our Prime Minister, Theresa May, has called a snap general election for June 8. Because we don't have enough shitty politics going on as it is.

She's picked that date because her party (the Conservatives) are so far ahead in the polls that she thinks they are unassailable and the opposition (Labour) are in what you might kindly call disarray largely (IMO) because the Blairite right of the party are hell bent on undermining the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. From this you might guess (correctly) that I loathe Blair and his followers with a deep, poisonous loathing.

We can but wait to find out what happens.
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Friday, November 11th, 2016 12:20 pm
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae
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Thursday, November 10th, 2016 04:39 pm
I discovered today that my Aunt Irene died on the 1st of November – I got a letter from her son who lives in Australia. She didn’t have a note of my phone number, but had my address. Odd, because I put my phone number (and email address) into all my Christmas cards, and I always sent her one.

She was a dear. Straight spoken, always, but someone you could rely on in a pinch. She was amazing when my father died in 1997. She came down to our place from Doncaster and helped me and my then sister in law nurse my father until he died. For eight weeks, she was there, talking to him, fetching drugs (and his doctors were always updating his pain meds), cooking, whatever needed doing. She and I did most of it, because my sister in law’s children were toddlers meaning she couldn’t stay for long and my mother was no help because she’d disappeared into a weird 1941 world of rations and blackout. I’d always loved Auntie Irene for her wit and her kindness, but after that she could do no wrong in my eyes.

I probably won’t be able to go to her funeral, what with the cat’s teeth and new glasses, but I will raise a glass to her on the day.

International news

Trump won? TRUMP won?! What madness is this?

He’s a lying liar who lies like a cheap rug. I could not forgive him that impersonation he did of that disabled journalist, let alone his attitude to women. What a scuzz-bucket the man is.
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Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 10:30 pm
I'm on the snopes.com feed, and I look at what's trending there a couple of times a day, whenever I check LJ.

Is there no lie so absurd about Barack Obama that the right won't lap it up and regurgitate it? Today's whopper was that, "I heard that the White House Easter Egg hunt included plastic eggs filled with quotes from the Koran."

Not surprisingly to those of us with a brain cell, this turns out to be untrue - and from a satirical website, no less - but I think I've read accusations of one sort or another against Barack Obama every day for three weeks now. There seems no story so nutsoid that some loons from the Tea Party don't take it at face value and repeat it. You would think after this length of time, they'd learn to check veracity and source before posting onwards, but it seems not.


Meanwhile in Britain, "Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that Westminster has been replaced with a bouncy castle, and our political class with hysterical children. As the long anticipated rise of the SNP looms closer into sight, the Conservative press seems to have wet itself in fear."

That's from here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/newspapers-are-preparing-for-coup-and-labour-is-doing-nothing-to-stop-them

The problem (as they see it) seems to be that the polls show that there may well be another hung parliament (where no party holds an outright majority) after the General Election on May 7, and that the balance of power may well be in the hands of the Scottish National Party (SNP). Further, they are afraid that Labour will be able to form a government in coalition with the SNP, plus other progressives like the Greens.

The reason for this, for those who don't follow UK politics, is that the current 'third party' the Liberal Democrats, are massively unpopular with the voters who blame them for the shit the Conservatives have doled out over the last five years. Polls show them as tanking.

Therefore the Tory (Conservative) papers, largely (but not completely) owned by Rupert Murdoch (curse every cell in his body) are shitting bricks, as are the tax-avoiding businesses and the very wealthy. They really don't want any species of Labour government. (Please let Labour win. Professional troll Katie Hopkins has threatened to leave the country if Labour win. She's less attractive than Piers Morgan.)

Now, I would rather have a Labour government than a Conservative one, that is, if I were forced to choose between only the two parties. I would prefer, though, that the government be formed by the Greens, as they are the nearest to socialists that we have standing (except for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, a group of democratic socialists, though even I'm not daft enough to believe that the TUSC stands any chance of getting enough votes even to save its deposits).

From the article, I am very concerned that this will turn out to be the case, "If they [the Conservative newspapers and media] can possibly get away with it, they will find any way they can to declare Cameron the winner, even if it’s going to be almost impossible for him to command a parliamentary majority. In doing so, they will seek to make it impossible for Miliband to govern."

From my experience it has always been harder for a left (OK, Labour are not a left wing party these days, but let's not get hung up on that point, we could be here all night) coalition to govern than for a Tory+ coalition. After all, Cameron has been ruling as a coalition government for the last five years and behaved from the start as if he'd had a landslide majority. He didn't.

Worst would be Tory plus UKIP. Then I'd have to move to Scotland.
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Thursday, July 11th, 2013 03:00 pm
The MP's pay body has recommended a pay increase of 9% for those poor downtrodden MPs of ours.

I haven't had a pay increase above 1% for any of the last seven years. As far the buying power of my pay is concerned, I'm currently around 16% worse off than I was in 2005.

MPs pay increase should be linked to that of civil servants, IMO.
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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 04:00 pm
I hate this government so very, very much. They would look good on a lamppost, like Mussolini.

The Spending Review. Yes, that’s what it’s about. For welfare claimants none of it is an improvement.

The key policy elements of the settlement include:
• 7 waiting days at the start of UC, ESA and JSA
• Increased requirements at start of claim, including an English language test for JSA, mandation* for CV and UJ (Universal Jobmatch) registration
• Increased signing, weekly for at least 50% of claimants
• UC claimants subject to full conditionality to verify claim every year
• Increased requirements for IS lone parents
• Looking at pilots for new ways of encouraging ESA(WRAG) to take steps to improve their health and significantly increasing requirements for claimants over 3.5 years on JSA

Seven waiting days at the start of a UC, ESA or JSA claim. Now, that’s seven days without money for the poorest people. My savings are such that I could last seven days without pay, but many people, including many poorly paid people, are skin-close to borrowing from loan sharks to keep the wolf from the door as it is.

Increased requirements for the start of claim…we may live in England, but nowhere is there a requirement to be able to speak English. Speak what you like has always been the rule.

Besides, I can think of at least one or two situations where the outcome of this would be very unfair indeed. Think of the situation of a woman who has come here as the wife of a Pakistani man. She speaks only Gujarati. He’s abusive and she leaves him, leaving the children behind her. She can’t go to family: they will shun her because she left her husband. She can only claim UC/JSA – but now she can’t because she doesn’t speak English. What does she do? Her only option is to return to her abuser, because she can’t live any other way.

It’s not that unusual a situation in the district where I live. One of my colleagues has a wife who manages a Jobcentre in central London. Where she works, about 65% of the clients don’t speak good English.

The mandatory registration on Universal Jobmatch means putting your details on a site known to be unsafe (see what Johnny Void has to say about it) and known to be glitchy, in a way which means the staff at your Jobcentre can see what you’ve applied for and harass you to apply for unsuitable jobs in places you can't travel to. It’s a rubbish idea and someone’s going to be killed, I swear it.

The rest of the ideas are appalling, too. It’s as if they think that there are jobs to be had easily which people are not applying for. If there were decent** jobs to be had, people would take them. That’s how it’s always worked in the past and it would work that way now, too.

* Is mandation even a word? I don’t think it is.

** Properly paid, not part time zero hours contracts, or weird jobs which don’t exist when you make further enquiries.
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Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 04:22 pm
York Mosque praised for offering EDL protesters tea.

For those who don't know, the EDL is the English Defence League, a generally very nasty group of right-wingers.
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Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 06:20 pm
I draw to your hopeful attention an epetition asking the government to lay Richard III (newly discovered under a car park etc, etc) to rest in York Minster, rather than in Leicester.

I view York as a far more fitting place for him than Leicester, with which place he had little to do in life.
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Monday, December 17th, 2012 12:46 pm
You know the theory that there are scads of families out there where there are three generations who have not worked? And they're all living on benefits? And the people in them are so used to not working that they no longer want to work?

I turns out that when researchers went out in Glasgow and Middlesborough (both areas with substantial worklessness) looking for examples of such families, they did not exist.
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Monday, October 22nd, 2012 05:01 pm
On Saturday I went on the TUC’s march for a Future that Works (stupid name, not at all catchy) and I’ve uploaded a few photographs.

None of them are very good because I did the short march for the crocked, which started from St James Street, and it took a long time for people to start forming up, and by the time they’d started and formed up I’d lost interest in taking photos.

Turnout was about 150,000 or so. Not as many as on the march in March, which was disappointing. But then I don’t think the big unions pushed it as much as they could have done. Our union really rammed it down our throats, which probably explains why there were so many of us compared with our size and so few of some of the bigger ones.

In other news

I’m carefully taking blood sugar readings every day at least once a day and so far I’ve come up with the following things that are reliably not good for me to eat:

Mashed potato

This does make some kind of logical sense given what they’re made from. But why those two, when syrup filled flapjacks are (comparatively) fine. Must be the oats, I suppose.
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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 02:03 pm
I didn't write this, I found it on the Guardian's "Comment is Free" under an article about "Development fat cats gorging on private sector values." But it puts so well how I feel about the current government and all their doings. The writer called themself, "Bullingdonknobheads". Cut for long political rant )
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Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 03:19 pm
Shocking article here. It seems Worcestershire county council has just announced its proposal to shut away disabled people in care homes for the rest of their lives – openly admitting that it is a policy based on finances not necessarily on the individual’s health or care needs.

The moral of this story is don't live in Worcestershire, though really I can see all councils following their lead.
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Friday, June 29th, 2012 10:55 am
People in the UK may have seen the headlines about that guy, somebody Diamond, from Barclays losing his bonus for cheating - something to do with fixing lending rates. (I confess I didn't read the articles and therefore don't fully understand what he did.)

Anyway, one of the newspapers (I think it was the Mirror, but it might have been the Sun) today has as its headline, "Sign on you crazy Diamond", calling for Diamond to resign.

Which I thought was rather clever.

ETA: His name turns out to be Bob Diamond which confused me, because I thought he was something to do with football.

I don't think today is one of my better days.
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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 03:47 pm
I barely have time to breathe, I'm so busy, and yet very little of it is of a kind which can be repeated. I don't even have any opinions other than 'this government stinks' which can be repeated.

Having said that I came across an entry on the "Where's the Benefit" blog the other day (yesterday) though it was actually posted on the 17th. Shocked headline as fat disabled woman has fun. It appears that the Telegraph now views the idea that someone who is fat and disabled might want to go out an enjoy themselves as evidence that she is (a) faking and (b) therefore not entitled to benefits. OK, the article is more nuanced than that, but not much.

It's not the article quite so much as the stupid little questionnaire thing. That really got my goat. Now I'm someone whose idea of amusement is a committee meeting, but as one of the people who made comments said, you'd think by now I'd be used to this kind of hate, but I'm not. It's almost like you don't dare be fat, disabled or (worse) both in public.

They can fuck off, frankly. The idea that there are Torygraph readers concern-trolling my menu choices is enough to make me eat a litre of chocolate ice cream just to be contrary.
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Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 04:39 pm
But here's a further opportunity to do so:
cancer patients to face welfare to work tests..

As one of the commenters on the Grauniad website said, "Remember, we're all in this together*.

*applies to chemotherapy patients, the disabled, students, working families, pensioners and public sector workers. May not extend to bankers, those employing aggressive tax avoidance strategies, property developers and millionaire members of the Cabinet."