Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Thursday, 31 December 2009

2010 and beyond?

2010 and the next decade - who knows what it will bring. Sadly Mrs R and her family are fairly sure they have a good idea what won't happen.

It's unlikely that Harriet Harman will introduce legislation that ensures all people are treated equally, especially if her latest broadside against 'middle England' is to be believed and the 'socially disadvantaged' will get better fire services than those living in leafy suburbs where more people behave themselves and don't have so many chip fires.

It's doubtful that Trevor Phillip's CRE will act on behalf of a white chap who thinks he's been discriminated against, because yet another of Harriet's Laws says it's fine to do that - it's called 'positive discrimination'.

It's unlikely that newspapers will carry reports of Muslims, Sikhs or Hindus being sacked because they want to wear something that represents their religion, and she can't imagine anything going wrong with the idea that forcing almost all adult airline passengers to pass through body scanners at airports will stop potential bombers - because of course nobody under 18 would ever want to be a terrorist and blow themselves up, and nor would a man ever pretend to be a 'modest' woman to avoid checks.

Will exam grades be a true indication of academic achievement (that is valued by employers) in either the coming year, or over the next ten years? - Probably not, not while primary school children are being taught about sexual matters instead of being taught to read, write and do a few sums.

Will our state-educated future-scientists make a difference to the world of the future? - Probably not, not whilst GCSE syllabuses are packed full of general knowledge trivia and health propaganda instead of scientific fact.

Will some bad laws, that restrict civil liberties, be repealed? - Probably not, there are likely to be more laws, that sneak onto the books without Parliament noticing, including one promulgated by police forces who think all photographers should have to carry ID, because all people who take photographs are potential terrorists.

Will the Labour Party win the coming general election? - Probably not, but Mrs R has an inkling that their defeat will not be a massive victory for only one of the other parties. She has a feeling that the BNP might actually gain more seats than thought possible, because many working people feel Labour has sadly betrayed the "labouring" man they claim to represent.

Will people regain their trust in politicians, if they ever had any? - Probably not, the last twelve years have had such a damaging effect that even law-abiding young people distrust those in positions of high authority, whilst the thugs treat them with disdain and contempt.

Will creative taxation continue? - Probably, because governments need money and with the working population dwindling it's hard to raise enough cash directly from wages. So we'll probably see green taxes snowball (snigger) to, apparently, combat climate change - because it's a politically expedient excuse supported by some of the scientific community. Detractors will probably continue to be badmouthed and subjected to ad hominem attack.

Medical science will be likely to advance, but filthy smokers will continue to be blamed for almost every ill known to mankind, from ingrowing toenails to the uptake of vitamins and scurvy. It's likely meat eaters will be next, after alcohol drinkers, because it's reported that red meat makes you blind.

Will the Rigby family be happy? - Yep! We'll continue to mumble, moan and complain at our cornflakes. We're fairly confident we'll ride the coming storm just as our parents did before us.

Good luck, and Happy New Year to anybody who may be reading.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Mrs R went to Tesco earlier today intending to buy box of six tiny Christmas Crackers to put under the Rigby family's tree.

She had a bit of a problem though, and had to be checked out by a supervisor because the little box's barcode carried a secret message telling the computer that the Christmas Crackers are dangerous and Mrs Rigby could be buying them with nefarious intent.

Fortunately the supervisor realised Mrs R was unlikely to be such a person, and she was given the go-ahead to buy the Crackers and take them home.

Some rules really do seem to be, errm, crackers!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Did you read the one about ...

... the Mummies and Daddies who go to, and stay at, University with their children?

No, not a joke, it's for real. Look here!

Not only do Mummies and Daddies make sure their children have packed their toothbrushes and teddy bears, iPods and televisions, they also
... [sleep] on the floor in halls of residence for several days to help their youngsters 'settle in' ...
... had to persuade 'helicopter' parents - who hover over their children's lives - to leave their sons or daughters so they can experience independent living.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

An unusual way to plan a defence strategy.

Today's reports in the media of closing RAF Cottesmore to pay for a few helicopters seem to have met with a little irritation, if comments in The Mail or on ARRSE are anything to go by.

The BBC hadn't any comments for its article, but has opened an HYS asking

What cuts can be made to balance a stretched defence budget? In which areas should defence spending be concentrated?
So that's a fait accompli then! No real need to discuss whether there should be defence cuts, merely where they should be!

What the newspaper articles are saying is that 22 new Chinooks have been ordered - because they're needed in Afghanistan. The first ten might be ready for 2013, so will be a little late because we've already been told we'll be out of Afghanistan before then. There's no hint of when the next 12 might be ready, perhaps it will be sooner than those helicopters we've already got, but that might never fly because they've got the wrong software.

Anyhow, apparently there isn't any money in the Defence Budget to pay for these lovely helicopters so Mr Ainsworth has decided it will be a good idea to get rid of a whole RAF base, the one at Cottesmore in Rutland.

Rutland and Melton is, incidentally, Tory Alan Duncan's constituency.

The MoD obviously thinks that will save the country a lot of money because it means they, the MoD, won't have to pay lots of wages and it won't have to pay for lots of equipment. They haven't thought outside their little financial box, and haven't realised that making people redundant will take money out of the national coffers - even though it's a different section of the rattlingly empty national coffers, because when, and if, the base closes the local supportive infrastructure will crumble and a lot of people will lose their jobs - and will claim unemployment benefit.

Also tucked away in the Mail's article is this gem

Two Royal Navy vessels will also be withdrawn from service in an effort to balance the books
So not only has the Navy got a lovely new boat that can't use its' weapons, it's going to have to lose some of those it's already got.

Phew, this is almost too much to take in all at once - maybe that's why it's all being said at once, because it's hard to focus on more than one tiny part of this news.

Moving swiftly backwards in time, to Sunday 13th December 2009.

What hasn't been referred to in today's reports is the news that was slipped out in an article in The Times last Sunday, maybe it was published when everybody was asleep because it has only four comments.

The article outlines other areas of cuts, and lays the blame fairly on the head of General Sir David Richards, who studied Politics and Economics at Cardiff University, because it says that,
The new head of the army [Gen. Sir David Richards] has ordered a cull of more than 300 senior officers, including two major-generals and up to 32 brigadiers.
Two major-general posts will go, one at 4th Division in Aldershot and the other at 5th Division at Shrewsbury. However, this is just two out of a total of 43 major-generals.
The closure of these divisional headquarters will also see the loss of a number of other staff officers, plus redundancies for civilian staff.
So more people out of work, because the MoD can't balance its' books.

Further into the article is a comment by Major-General Jonathan Shaw, the Colonel-Commandant of the Parachute Regiment, who "warns in the latest edition of the regimental journal Pegasus that
other infantry units are attempting to see its role axed."

The Times goes on to justify this because
No British paratroopers have dropped into battle since Suez in 1956. There are suggestions that the regiment should be broken up and used as forward reconnaissance units for the army’s frontline brigades.
So they've decided that, because an important regiment hasn't been used very often we don't need to keep it? The Paras? Surely not.

It's an unusual way to plan a defence strategy.

Is it any wonder that soldiers prefer to salute their officers than shake somebody's hand - visit Dizzy's place to see the video.

And maybe the military should be allowed to officially declare war on CO2, that way it might be able to claim some of the money that's obviously lying around because Mr Brown has just given away £1.5 million - to help other countries beat "Climate Change".

Monday, 14 December 2009

Climategate - equality means a backward step

It's interesting to ponder whether these scientists have muddled their scientific analysis and research with sociology and social manipulation when looking at these extracts from some of the Climategate emails :-

"A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation." - Paul Ehrlich, Professor of Population Studies

"The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can't let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." - Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

And this next one is, maybe, why there has been such an apparent reluctance to develop alternative fuels that are truly alternative, that don't depend on electricity or oil. Some people don't seem to realise that electricity almost always come from power stations.

"Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it." - Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

These extracts come from here

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Climategate in the Mail ...

The Mail carries a lengthy article analysing the "Climategate" emails.

It's well worth reading but, unless you're one of Mr Brown's 'flat-earthers', it'll probably raise your temperature.

Mrs R was interested to read this red-arrowed comment,
Whatever the sceptics say about the validity of climate change claims,they cannot deny is that mankind is causing extreme damage to the biosphere by extensive deforestation & air polution,rapid depletion of natural recources. Also unfettered population growth is a serious threat to the wellbeing of mankind {or to be politically correct,personkind} These are important issues & I certainly hope they are all included in the current discussions& not just about carbon emissions.
Whilst Mrs R doesn't necessarily agree with the whole of this comment the general idea does seem about right, because it seems that the force and focus of the 'green' movement's propaganda has shifted away from the damage we know man is doing to the planet, and it's been shifted to support a clever scheme involving carbon dioxide and carbon trading - which is making some people a lot of money. It's that scheme and that trading, and phenomenal amounts of money changing hands, that seems to have been the basis of the Copenhagen meetings.

If it's true that data has been manipulated to present a particular politically acceptable outcome it means that we, the public, will be ever more sceptical when honest scientists want to tell us something important.

Crying wolf has always had a downside.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

No Heathrow third runway inquiry?

Surely parts of a village can't be tarmacked over without residents being able to voice their concerns?

Seems so - if this article is true

Ministers are set to rush through planning permission for a third runway at Heathrow without a full public inquiry, the Standard can reveal.

Official documents show the Government is prepared to make the decision itself instead of waiting for a new planning system to be introduced.

Under government reforms all decisions will be made by a new independent Infrastructure Planning Commission, due to start work next March.

But the commissioners cannot take a decision on Heathrow until ministers have drawn up a new national strategy on airports. It means the Transport Secretary will retain the power to make the final decision on Heathrow — and will not have to hold a public inquiry.

Such is democracy.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

... when global cooling was all the rage

Iain Dale asks a few questions about "Back when global cooling was all the rage". In amongst the comments is one from Shinsei, who doesn't appear to have a blog.

Let's look at Shinsei's comment in a bit more detail. (my comments in italics).

Shinsei - I'm sorry to sound slightly irate Iain but it is incredible that you keep posting comments about global warming that are factually incorrect and that you keep posing questions that you claim "no one has ever been able to explain to me" when a couple of minutes on the internet would explain these things simply.

The internet is a wonderful thing, and is also full of inaccuracies, but even so a 'couple of minutes' online will find articles that confirm Iain Dale's memories. A search will also discover many recent publications that ignore earlier scientific discussion and debate - something that's unusual in Science.

There is, of course, personal knowledge too - and that's what Iain Dale is referring to, and so he is not 'factually incorrect'.

It's remarkable how many of the adult population were at school in the seventies, or even earlier.

A high proportion of those were capable of reading independently even before they left primary school and had an interest in things climactic and scientific, especially as at that time there was a significant dip in temperatures and deep snow (40cm) in March 1970, for example. These people's memory is still remarkably acute considering they must all now be, oooh, at least 45.

The best science is checked by peer review - but some of the AGW people still don't want to share their data, maybe that's because when other real scientists check the figures and draw their own graphs a bit of figure-fiddling is easily spotted -
WuWT - 'The smoking gun at Darwin Zero'
Shinsei - 1) There was a mediaeval warm period, no member of the IPCC would deny that, however it was a lot less warm then than the temperature today.

Oh really? Less warm? Lookee here on WuWT
Shinsei - 2) Grapes have been grown in Yorkshire ever since the Romans brought grapes to England.

No, sorry, grapes have not been "grown in Yorkshire ever since the Romans brought grapes to England."

The internet has your answer,
with a little help from the Domesday Book
"... Of the Domesday vineyards, all appear to lie below a line from Ely (Cambridgeshire) to Gloucestershire. Since the Book covers all of England up to the river Tees (north of Yorkshire), there is therefore reason to think that there weren’t many vineyards north of that line."

Shinsei - 2) (contd) ... There are plenty of vineyards there [in Yorkshire] today. ....

Another quick search of the internet discovers a few modern vineyards in Yorkshire, at Ryedale, Holmfirth, Leventhorpe, Skellow and Great Hammerton Mrs Rigby has no knowledge of either them or their wine, she's sure it's tasty - but she doesn't really think that five vineyards in the whole of Yorkshire (2,941,247 acres/4,945 square miles) is "plenty" - but that's her subjective opinion and so is open to debate.
Shinsei - 2) (contd) ... All the documentary evidence though is that the wine made from these grapes in Roman times was pretty dire stuff, as you'd expect from a cool northern climate

How do you know that grapes from Roman wine was "pretty dire stuff"? Have you tasted any? Are your tastes the same as those of the Romans of that period? Have you made wine made from the same variety of grapes and the same species of yeast?

Where is all this 'documentary evidence'? - You ask other people to show their sources, but don't produce any of your own to support your sweeping statements - which, if unsupported, are merely opinion, not fact.

Did you read a book, an article in a newspaper or a scientific or archaeological journal, and was that information backed up
extensive practical and physical research or was it merely written by a person with twentieth or twenty-first century ideas and opinions of how horrible it must have been to have been a wine-drinking Roman living in Britain?
Shinsei - 3) I doubt you were ever TAUGHT at school that the world was going to cool rapidly. There was never a serious or consistent enough scientific consensus for global cooling to get into school textbooks or exam syllabuses. ...

The thing is, it looks as if you weren't there, so can only "doubt" what was or wasn't taught. Try asking people who were, and see what they say. Iain Dale is one of them.

Anyhow, why the big capitals? Not everybody who was alive in the seventies is now visually deaf!

Back in the dark, unenlightened, old days, including the seventies, eighties and early nineties,
children were taught Biology, Physics and Chemistry. They did Cookery/Domestic Science and used scarily sharpened knives. They did metalwork, with help from a metal-meltingly hot forge. In woodwork they using hard, heavy, hammers and newly whetted chisels, as well as needlework where fine, sharp metal needles and big pointy scissors helped make new clothes.

Back then school science teachers let children 'experiment' with nasty things like copper sulphate - because it obligingly changed colour on demand, let them chase mercury with magnets, let them make things go bang and cut open dead creatures to learn how they worked. Schoolchildren didn't die because of it. They were allowed to cook food in hot ovens, then take the meals home to be reheated. Nobody died of food poisoning - and nobody died of overwork either, even though Maths happened before calculators could be carried around in your pocket.

Schools taught how to do
practical Science, how to analyse results and how to draw conclusions from those results. It was seriously frowned upon if results were fiddled with or ignored in order to make them fit a hypothesis or theory.

Children were taught to question their results and investigate oddities and anomalies - not to hide them and presume they were wrong, because the best science teachers knew that it's always wise to look for the unusual result in case it's important. They'd heard of people like Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin 'by chance'.
(Even Wikipedia can be your friend, sometimes.)

Maybe all this is why so many 'oldies' are questioning the science behind climate change and global warming, because many of them have always been inquisitive and have always asked questions because their scientific education was based on finding out rather than being spoon fed - and because they've heard it, or something like it, before and also lived through the banning of CFCs.

Modern schools are struggling to find suitably qualified, knowledgeable and experienced Science teachers, especially those who are capable of teaching across the three disciplines of Biology, Physics and Chemistry to A-level standard. Some secondaries limit the amount of practical work their students can do because an H&S person says it's potentially
too dangerous to let them get their hands on chemicals, which is why so few school labs have fume cupboards and bits of glass that might break.

Modern 'Science', as dictated by the National Curriculum, teaches theories and dogma instead of encouraging investigative, independent and original thought. This, at its' worst, leads to unquestioning acceptance of new theories as scientific fact - many of today's students are never taught the difference, never taught to question the 'experts', never either expected or allowed to form their own opinions, especially not if their ideas run counter to current accepted thinking, and can in fact lose marks in exams if they don't produce the right answer containing the appropriate key words.

And, actually, Mrs Rigby knows that "Global Cooling" was taught in schools - but as a theory, as a possible, as a likelihood, not as a proven fact.

Shinsei - 3) (contd) ... However it probably appeared on a couple of Panorama programmes in the mid 70s. The media gave the global cooling thesis far greater prominence than the actual climate scientific community which, even then, were publishing far more research showing evidence of AGW.

It looks as if you're guessing. My clue is the use of the word "probably". If you don't know, keep quiet otherwise you make yourself look silly.

Shinsei - 4) Even if the world has been hotter in ages past without any man-made influence (which it no doubt has) that doesn't mean that current warming is not caused by human influence. ...

... and of course you have to accept the counter argument that if indeed there is current warming it could be a natural process, that we meddle with at our peril.

A theory is just that, it's an idea, it's ephemeral until it is proven - just like Darwin's Theory of Evolution. As we can't go back to see what happened to the dinosaurs we will never know, for sure, how some of them got to be so big, what they looked like, what colour they were and we'll never know why they seemed to have died out in a hurry. And nor will we know, for sure, why the Galapagos finches have different beaks, although we can make a jolly good guess.
Shinsei - 4) (contd) ... Climate is dependent on numerous factors - solar activity, moon orbits, tectonic plate shifts, tidal movements etc ...

As for tectonic movement affecting climate - I think you're misleading yourself. Tectonic movement theories are positional and have nothing to do with climate, although it can be, and probably is, related to volcanic activity which over millions of years has caused landmasses to move to areas that are either warmer or colder than where they originated. That isn't climate, it's a mixture of geophysics and geology.

The timescale involved is incomprehensible to most people, who think that maps are always going to be accurate because they're written on a piece of paper, and who worry when nature moves a bit of coastline to make it look different from an old picture.

Nature does things mankind doesn't like and things that mankind doesn't understand. Science is our way of trying to make sense of the planet and its' natural forces.

Shinsei - 4) (contd) ... AND man-made CO2 emissions.

Really? Is climate controlled by man-made CO2 emissions?

Prove it!

I haven't yet seen a single jot of incontroversial evidence that mankind has made things on Earth worse by breathing out.

I do, however, know that man's activities used to be a lot dirtier than now, with factories and homes belching out a mixture of sulphur gases that, according to scientists of the time, caused acid rain which killed inland fish and the European pine forests.

The filth spewing out of both homes and industries mixed with bitterly cold, damp, air causing poisonous smogs that killed people. The Thames was so dirty that salmon stopped breeding in it about 200 years ago. If you fell in and were rescued you were likely to succumb to poisoning, and it's mainly because London was an embarrassment that there were the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968, (which extended to the creation of smoke control areas and closure of urban power stations, with new ones built out of sight in the countryside) and also the beginnings of serious regulation of hazardous waste.

I also know that without CO2 plants will die and animals will starve - even primary school children are meant to study food chains, webs and pyramids these days, so there's absolutely no excuse for ignorance.

We need plants to survive, more CO2 possibly means more, healthier, plants - which is a good thing.
Shinsei - 4) (contd) ... The issue at the moment is that all these non-man made activities are not significant enough currently to explain present warming conditions.

Really? How do you know? Who told you, and who told them. And what "warming conditions"?

It isn't being widely reported that USA has had its earliest snowfall for years.

The BBC didn't mention the hard frosts in Southern England last week, that froze some ponds deep enough to support a human - I saw it, I did it, so it happened.

Why are they not telling?

It's mind-numbingly arrogant of mankind to believe that a single successful species - Homo sapiens - that is only capable of inhabiting a tiny proportion of the surface of this planet, can have a greater influence on climate than to quote
"... solar activity, moon orbits, tectonic plate shifts, tidal movements etc"

Have you any real idea how utterly insignificant animals of any species are when the planet gets angry? Hollywood got it wrong - running away from a volcanic eruption and pyroclastic flow isn't a viable option, as the people of Pompei and Herculaneum discovered and more recently the people living near Mount St Helens.

Did you know, for example, that the eruption of Krakatoa in 1833 resulted in a serious dip in temperature due to particular atmospheric pollutants?

Did you know about Constable's paintings depicting weather patterns related to volcanoes?

How about other painters? - Look here where it says, "
Many of Joseph Turner's works depicted sunsets. It is now clear that he was painting glowing skies caused by sunlight scattering off volcanic dust from the immense eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora in 1815."

They called that year the "year without a summer" because it got a bit cold and a bit dark, and crops failed.

And you say nature can't change weather patterns because it is not significant enough!

Shinsei - 5) There are snow drops out in Hyde Park today. I don't remember reading in Tacitus anything similar happening in the first century AD.

It's thought that snowdrops (Galanthus) were brought to Britain by the Romans, who will also have known of autumn and winter flowering variety, Galanthus reginae-olgae, that is native to Greece and Sicily. There's even a picture of some here, nestling amongst autumn leaves.

And anyway, even if Tacitus did mention the odd flower or two, he had much more important things to write about.

Separately, did you ever learn about trading in Dutch Tulips or South Seas investments, and did you hear of the Emperor's New Clothes?

Silly woman!

Angela Epstein writes "proudly" about being the first person to be issued with an ID card. She didn't apply for one, it seems somebody in the Home Office invited her to be first. In the middle of her article Angela says this:-
An ID card is a portable, convenient way to prove your identity without having to carry something like a passport with you — which is murder to replace if you lose it.
"Murder" might not have been the most appropriate word to use, especially alongside a reference to wartime, but never mind. According to the leaflet it's quite easy to replace a lost ID card, it even includes a comfy reference to a passport :-
If you lose your identity card (or passport) you will be able to inform us so that we can cancel it on our system. Then nobody else will be able to use it in any situation where an organisation checks its validity with us. It will already be unusable anywhere a PIN or fingerprint is required as long as you have kept your PIN secret.

You will then be able to choose whether or not you wish to apply for a
replacement card.

If you want to get a replacement you will need to apply to the Identity
and Passport Service either directly or through one of the high street facilities provided by our partners, in the same way as when you first applied. Clearly you may want a replacement card quickly, so this will usually be a much faster process than the first time your card was issued. This is because we can verify your identity against your existing record.
There's no information about how much a replacement card might cost and, unfortunately, the legislation says a bit more about the rules :-
Section 11: Invalidity and Surrender of ID Cards
2.8. Section 11(6)(a) Failure on the part of a cardholder to notify the Secretary of State, where the cardholder knows or has reason to suspect that the card has been lost, stolen, damaged, tampered with, or destroyed. Maximum penalty £1,000.

2.9. Regulations under section 11 The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Notification of Changes and Loss, Theft etc. of ID Cards) Regulations 2009 require a cardholder to notify the Secretary of State within one month if he knows or suspects his card has been lost, stolen, damaged, tampered with or destroyed. A card will be classed as damaged if it or anything on it has become unreadable or otherwise unusable. A card will be classed as being tampered with if it or the information on it has been modified, copied or otherwise extracted for an unlawful purpose.

2.10. In considering liability, the Secretary of State will need to be satisfied that one of those things has occurred; that the cardholder knew or had reason to suspect that it had happened; and that the card holder failed to notify the Secretary of State within the prescribed period.
So, Angela, the law says that if you lose your card and don't tell the Secretary of State soon enough (it doesn't say you can tell anybody else, or an agent of the Secretary of State) you could be fined up to £1,000. If you use your card so often that it gets worn, you could be fined up to £1,000.

What happens if you lose your passport, either in the UK or overseas?

According to Directgov it's easy

What to do about a lost or stolen passport

It is vital you report a lost or stolen passport as soon as possible. If your passport is stolen you should report it to the police at once.

If you want to apply for a replacement passport and are:

  • a British national
  • in the UK at the time of applying

you can report your passport lost or stolen at the same time, following the instructions ...

If you are not in the UK, or you don't want to replace your passport straight away, you should report it as lost or stolen by following the link ....

And the price?

An adult passport costs £77.50 for standard service and £112.50 for the one-week Fast Track service. A child passport costs £49 for standard service and £96.50 for the one-week Fast Track service. The Premium one-day service is not available for replacement passports.
Doh! Angela! Did you read any of the small print before you signed on the dotted line?

Number 10 closed for business?

From the Times, dated 6th December and reporting an event on 2nd September. Mrs R has no idea why it took them so long to publish the details, maybe all eyes are meant to be on Copenhagen and they thought nobody would notice.

Gordon Brown was snubbed by badly injured Afghan veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during a hospital visit and refused to speak to him.

More than half the soldiers being treated at the Selly Oak hospital ward in Birmingham either asked for the curtains to be closed or deliberately avoided the prime minister, according to several of those present.

The soldiers, who have sustained some of the worst injuries seen in Afghanistan, described his visit as “opportunistic” and a “waste of time”.

Furious about equipment shortages and poor compensation for their injuries, one soldier said: “It is almost as if we are the product of an unwanted affair ... he has done nothing for us.”

The article continues

Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, is one of the most seriously injured soldiers to have survived. He lost both legs and his right arm when a bomb exploded on a dirt track outside Sangin.

He said: “I didn’t want to speak to him, I didn’t want to waste my time talking to someone who was just trying to make themselves look good. I spent the day with my family instead.

“Half the lads didn’t want to speak to him and those that did pretty much blamed him for everything. Many of the lads just closed their curtains and hid themselves away.

“I met Prince Charles and Sir Richard Dannatt [when they visited Selly Oak]. I have respect for them. Prince Charles spoke to me for two hours. I really didn’t want to speak to Gordon Brown.”

More straight talking ...

Another soldier, who lost his right leg after being caught in a mine blast in Afghanistan, said that more than two-thirds of the 25 soldiers on the ward closed their curtains. He, however, decided to speak to Brown.

“I wanted to find out how the guy’s head worked,” he said. “I was interested in what he had made of his trip to Afghanistan and what he had learnt from it.

“I feel that even if someone is a moron, he should have the opportunity to defend his moronity. [His response] all seemed rather textbook and not from the heart.

“It is quite obvious to anyone that Brown is not concerned, it is almost as if we [the soldiers] are the product of an unwanted affair.

“The straight fact is this: we don’t like the man, he has done nothing for us and continues to kick us in the teeth over equipment and compensation.”

So what did Mr Brown say about his visit? Did he mention increased compensation? Did he heck!

Here you go!
Two days after his visit to Selly Oak, Brown paid tribute to injured soldiers during a speech in London. He said: “There is nothing more heartbreaking than, as I did this week, meeting a teenager who has lost a leg.”
So he didn't say he would throw money at the problem, didn't say government would provide either additional military resources or an urgent injection of cash to back up the charitable donations that Help for Heroes receives and spends on Headley Court. He said nothing about matching monies raised by limbless soldiers who do things like climb Kilimanjaro so their mates can get treatment if, and when, they're seriously injured. Nothing about pumping public finance to help fund the urgently needed extension.

Zero - zilch - just a, "Look what I've seen", a bit like a child talking about visiting Disneyland. Yet this same government can send millions overseas as an example of the country's largesse.

Maybe the soldiers' behaviour is rooted in the government's failure to acknowledge and act on the High Court ruling that said, as reported in the Guardian in April 2008

Sending British soldiers out on duty with defective equipment may breach their human rights, the high court ruled today.

In a potentially significant verdict for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr Justice Collins ruled that a soldier "does not lose all protection simply because he is in hostile territory carrying out dangerous operations".

In another blow to the government, he rejected an attempt by the defence secretary, Des Browne, to stop coroners using phrases such as "serious failure" in inquests concerning troops who died on active service. Browne had argued this might prejudice subsequent civil action.

The judgement – which the Ministry of Defence said it would appeal – raises the possibility that families of soldiers killed on active service could sue the government for compensation.

The MoD did, of course, appeal and lost, as reported in May 2009

Deploying British troops on battlefield operations with inadequate or defective equipment could breach their human rights, senior judges ruled today, opening the way for potentially huge compensation claims from bereaved families.

Dismissing arguments by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the court of appeal backed last year's high court ruling that sending a soldier out on patrol or into battle with defective equipment could constitute a breach of article 2 of the European convention on human rights, which enshrines the right to life.

and more

Three appeal judges, headed by the master of the rolls, Sir Anthony Clark, said the defence secretary had conceded before the hearing that soldiers who died on a UK base, such as Smith, were covered by human rights laws.

"It seems to us to make no sense to hold that there is a distinction between a person inside and outside of premises controlled by the UK," the judges said.

"If in a British base, why not in a British army vehicle? If in a vehicle, why not when a soldier gets out of the vehicle?"

The judges noted that soldiers were subject to British military, criminal and civil laws, no matter where they were.

"Soldiers serve abroad as a result of, and pursuant to, the exercise of UK jurisdiction over them.

"Thus the legality of their presence and of their actions depends on their being subject to UK jurisdiction and complying with UK law."

Mrs Rigby can understand why the soldiers in Selly Oak were reluctant to speak to their Prime Minister, because it would seem that it was his policies as Chancellor that led to serious cost cutting which now means that soldiers are expected to walk across an areas that are likely to have been mined because there is not enough equipment for them to travel in either wheeled transport or in helicopters.

And meanwhile some nasty little thugs are let loose because the Judge thought their 9 month sentence was too harsh, and an HBOS executive would like £600,000 compensation after being taken to a lap-dancing club.

Civilian MoD staff, who have already received whopping bonuses (whilst soldiers are short of equipment due to funding restrictions) are to be awarded the Operational Service Medal for duty in Afghanistan (interesting to note the ratings of comments left on this story) ... and a Falklands Veteran sells his MM after his security company employers refused to keep his job open while he had surgery to remove an Argentine bullet and pieces of shrapnel from his hip.

Today also marks a sad day because another soldier has died in Afghanistan. It is the hundredth death this year and brings the total of lives lost in that country to 247.

Maybe all this is why the Telegraph is showing a picture of the door of Number 10 with a notice that says

Monday, 7 December 2009

Climate and Copenhagen

It looks as if Mr Gore has decided not to go to Copenhagen, maybe he thought he might get an icy reception.

A bunch of emails from East Anglia University were put online, they've been analysed by all sorts of people who are seriously questioning the validity of the "research" outcomes. Mrs R thinks it's a pity that some still think it's okay to call "sceptics" rude names and turn science into a political football - especially as surveys suggest that "Almost half of Britons believe there is no proof that global warming is caused by man". (even though the term 'global warming' is outdated they still manage to use it to raise emotions) I suppose that'll be the half of the population that don't vote for any political party then!

Will Mr Brown save the world this week when he goes to Copenhagen? He said he would, but maybe he'll just turn up late like he did in Lisbon. Mrs R has noticed that some bloggers think that when Mr Brown offers support to almost any cause it goes wrong, which is a bit like what's happened to the (in)famous hockey stick graph in the article on WattsUpWithThat now they've rediscovered the data for the Mediaeval Warm Period.

Mrs R found this on Obo's site it's well worth watching

Maybe by the end of the week the politicians will have discovered a sense of perspective, and will have stopped throwing our money into schemes that resemble in part both the South Sea Bubble and the Dutch bulb fiasco. Mrs R is more and more convinced that we should remember the expression cui bono - because she's pretty sure it won't be her and her family.

(And if anybody reading this can tell me how to shrink the graph to a sensible size I'll be eternally grateful - and promise to write your name in big, pretty coloured, letters by way of a thank you.)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Prenatal smoking and ADHD.

According to an article in Science Daily
" ... when we looked at the effect of maternal smoking in children with one of our candidate genes, we saw a three-fold increase in risk, and in children with both genes whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, we saw a nine-fold increase," says senior investigator Richard D. Todd, M.D., Ph.D., the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor and director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at Washington University.
If that's the case, and irrespective of the apparent genetic link, Mrs Rigby and her siblings and cousins were lucky to escape.

Both Senior Rigbys smoked cigarettes and almost every visitor to the family home lit up while they had their cups of tea. At that time cafés, cinemas, pubs, buses, trains and railway stations were packed full of smokers, as were work canteens and even the workplace. It was normal, smokers were not outcasts.

Mrs Rigby is sure that, even had her mother not been a smoker, the developing Rigbys would have been exposed to so much so-called second and third-hand smoke via her bloodstream as to make foetal absorption impossible to avoid.

Mrs Rigby doesn't recall her education being compromised by those of her peer group who were incapable of sitting still for more than five minutes at a time. So she does wonder why, with all the health protection practices in place that ensures an expectant mother can avoid the slightest whiff of tobacco smoke, ADHD appears to be on the increase, with
Soaring numbers of children are receiving drugs to treat hyperactivity and depression
Maybe, just maybe, something other than tobacco is the cause.

The Queen's Speech.

The elements of The Queen's Speech are outlined here at the BBC.

Mrs R doesn't think many of the ideas will make the statute books, but she has a feeling that one might, and it's this one :-

Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill

Repeals legislation limiting protests around Parliament. Generally extends to whole UK.

Why does Mrs Rigby think they will make sure this legislation is repealed?

Mrs R wonders if some people think the best time for some protests outside Parliament and other city centres will be after a general election - after an election that will probably see Labour lose office - to show how dissatisfied people are with the result, and demonstrate to the world how much ordinary people hate the Tories/LibDems/BNP, or whoever manages to take seats from Labour.

If this should happen, Mrs R hopes the media will be sensible, will report things properly and explain how it's like a fizzy bottle exploding after it's been shaken, because she knows some people who are very fed up with "the way things are going" but haven't felt they can speak out in case they get into trouble and have their DNA taken and stored by the Police, even if they haven't been found guilty of any offence.

After all, if you have your name on that DNA database you can lose your job, as Lorraine Elliott discovered when, during a routine employment check, her name was found to be on the list - so she was sacked, from her job on the government's national identity card scheme. She plans to appeal to have her name removed, as a special case.

Maybe they'll change that too, and follow the EHCR ruling regarding storage of DNA, but then again, maybe not - it wasn't included in the speech.

A couple of videos.

Mrs R is trying to catch up after taking a few days off, so here are a couple of videos from other blogs.

Tory Bear takes on Labour's latest PPB and tells the truth about votes for women, the NHS and so on

It's here

Grumpy Old Twat shows how inoffensive the 'sexist' M&S Christmas advert really is

Look here

Monday, 23 November 2009

Building bridges with the TA?

From the Telegraph
Structural engineers and military experts are carrying out an urgent safety review of all of Cumbria’s 1,800 bridges.
The Army could be asked to build Second World War-style Bailey bridges over the River Derwent in Cumbria as a temporary replacement for the bridges which have been washed away by flooding, the local council has said.
“The military are pretty good at putting up these bridges quickly, and I imagine the council will be looking into how they can procure these bridges as a matter of urgency.”
Mrs Rigby has noticed that members of the Armed Forces have been conspicuous by their absence in Cumbria.

Maybe Mr Brown will come to regret his decision to cut TA funding, because even though he changed his mind quite quickly a fair number of part time soldiers will have resigned out of disgust knowing they weren't wanted unless they were being prepared to fight overseas - whilst their counterparts in the Navy and Air Force were still being paid and trained as 'weekend warriors".

Sick Britain #1

And meanwhile, in Cumbria, where flooding for the second year in a row has caused bridges to collapse and people's homes to be ruined, our Prime Minister pays a quick photocall and announces that government will provide £1 million towards the clean up - whilst sending £293 million overseas. So he's got his priorities right.

He's been copied by some little low life who also decided to help themselves - to the wheels of a BMW that had been abandoned near Ambleside when the flooding started.

Soldiers skiing in the desert.

You couldn't make it up could you?

From the Telegraph's report of the inquiry into the Iraq War.
Col Power was particularly scathing about the supply chain. ... he said, “I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert.”
Maybe somebody in the MoD didn't have a good grasp of geography, which is why they also failed to provide enough desert boots!

Mrs Rigby does fractions.

Apparently Mr Balls tried to bamboozle Mr Gove by asking him to do some of the Maths our GCSE candidates are expected to master.

Here is the question he asked :-
Work out 3 3/4 minus 1 2/5
(that's three and three quarters minus one and one fifth)

Mrs Rigby once learned all about fractions and things called denominators and factors.

She learned that when you try to add or subtract two fractions of different values you need to change them so the number at the bottom of each fraction (the denominator) is the same. It's easy to work out if you know your multiplication tables, and makes it heaps quicker.

You need to choose the lowest possible number that both denominators will go into, it'll be somewhere in both the 4x and 5x tables - because the first fraction has a 4 as denominator, the second has 5.

4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40 etc

5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 etc

The lowest common denominator (LCD) of these two fractions is 20.

To make the 3/4 part of 3 3/4 into 20ths you multiply both the top and the bottom of the fraction by 5 (5x4=20) and (5x3=15) and so get 3 15/20 (three and fifteen twentieths)

To make the 2/5 part of 1 2/5 into twentieths it has to be multiplied by 4 (4x5=20) and (4x2=8) , giving 1 8/20 (one and eight twentieths)

It's now very easy to subtract the smaller number from the larger, by dealing with the numbers on the top of the fractions. (15-8)

3 15/20 - 1 8/20 = 2 7/20 (two and seven twentieths)

Okay, so it looks long winded, but it took much less time to work it out than to write it down, and Mrs Rigby didn't use a calculator.

When Mrs Rigby first learned to do this Maths calculators hadn't been invented, there were complicated things called Log Tables, but they didn't get used until half way through secondary school, ready for O-level work.

Mrs Rigby is still a little bemused to know that children of 16 are being asked to do calculations like this as part of their GCSE Maths exams, and can even have the benefit of using a calculator to help make things quicker and easier, because she learned to do things with fractions at primary school - which she left when she was 10 years old because her birthday falls in the summer!

Mrs Rigby is even more bemused by the newspapers that reported this and whose reporters turned the numbers into decimals ... and they did that by using calculators!

Mrs Rigby would like to know how modern children would have coped with pre-decimal currency, where they would have had to deal with multiple number bases and complicated addition, subtraction and multiplication just to know how much something cost.

It doesn't seem as if metrication did a lot of good.

As for the point of the question Mr Balls asked - probably not much use really unless it can be related to real life.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The new religion.

Mrs Rigby was interested to read in the Telegraph that :-

Chinese snowstorms kill 40 and leave thousands homeless

Up to 40 people have been killed and thousands more left homeless after unusually early winter blizzards hit north-central China.
caused nearly 10,000 buildings to collapse and destroyed almost 500,000 acres of winter crops
It's an historical event, because
The snowfall is the heaviest in the northern and central provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Shandong and Henan in living memory.
Hebei's provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, has received nearly two feet of snow in three days, the heaviest fall in the city since 1955.

Without being too sarcastic, and trying frantically to link to the story she intended to write about, Mrs R wonders if the people of China should have taken care to switch to the new religion of the green god. They might have been saved from the snow, because the AGW prophets of the green tell us it's getting warmer and so they wouldn't have allowed snow to happen.

You see Mrs Rigby remembers reading about Tim Nicholson who, according to the BBC, said :
... his beliefs had contributed to his dismissal and in March a judge ruled he could use employment equality laws to claim it was unfair
The firm that had dismissed him disagreed, hence their appeal in October against the earlier ruling in March because they felt his views were political.

Mr Nicholson's appeal against his dismissal was upheld by the Tribunal in London because, his solicitor said :
"Essentially what the judgment says is that a belief in man-made climate change and the alleged resulting moral imperative is capable of being a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by the 2003 religion or belief regulations."
The company, Grainger plc, on the other hand thinks that
"This decision merely confirms that views on the importance of environmental protection are capable of amounting to a philosophical belief.
"Grainger absolutely maintains, as it has done from the very outset of these proceedings, that Mr Nicholson's redundancy was driven solely by the operational needs of the company during a period of extraordinary market turbulence, which also required other structural changes to be made within the company.
"Grainger rejects outright any suggestion that there was any other motivation relating to Mr Nicholson's beliefs or otherwise."

Mrs R had a rummage around the internet. The 'Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003' are here and apply to employers and employees, but the rules apply outside employment too. According to Human Rights legislation, as outlined on CivilRightsMovement website :
... religious discrimination is unlawful.
That means we are free to choose our own religion, and should be able to express ourselves because :
The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights with regards to religion and beliefs
but it would seem that :

... the right to freedom of thought including religion and beliefs that are covered in the act only pertains to public bodies (my bold)

That bit, Mrs R thinks, is quite important, but left a loophole that lawyers later closed, because :

In Britain the Race Relations Act 1976 was amended in 2000 to include the clause that discrimination in employment due to religious beliefs is unlawful.

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 provided extra protection to those with or without religions beliefs in everyday life. (my bold)

So ... and please understand that this is a very tortuous train of thought that gets there in the end ...

Mrs Rigby thinks that last sentence is also very important, and should be looked at very carefully.

You see, Mrs Rigby thinks that, if the legal ruling means that Tim Nicholson and AGW-believers can say they hold a 'philosophical or religious belief' in relation to their employment then this has to be supported by all other aspects of Human Rights Legislation, so this ruling suggests that government and other 'public bodies' must also accept and acknowledge that a counter argument against AGW could amount to being without a 'philosophical or religious belief' in the same way as the 'there is a God' and the 'there is no God' believers have their rights respected and supported by law.

The law says that 'philosophical or religious belief' of ordinary people are protected in 'everyday life'.

Mrs Rigby thinks this means that government, public bodies, and other people are not allowed to presume that everybody in the country subscribes to any single one, group, or set of religious or philosophical beliefs. She thinks the government has to allow, and has to encourage a diversity of belief and philosophical ideas, as do all public bodies.

Following on from that, Mrs R thinks that government and other public bodies are not allowed to promote one 'philosophical or religious belief' over another - and they are not allowed to punish or disclaim or attempt to discredit those who do not place one, or another, 'philosophical or religious belief' in a position of greater esteem to or above another. It should also mean that people can choose, whether at work or in their homes, not to believe anything at all, if they don't want to, and nobody should be allowed to put pressure on them to change their minds.


Mrs Rigby thinks the law also means that the government and other 'public bodies' cannot force people to subscribe to a particular religious or philosophical belief - if they could do that they could force us all to be Christians, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Scientologists. Couldn't they?

They wouldn't ever do that, nobody would allow them to get away with it. Would they?

So Mrs Rigby would like to know ...

Why are government, and other public bodies, allowed to spend a lot of public money trying to force us all to believe in Climate Change and Anthropomorphic Global Warming - when there has been a legal judgement that that this is a 'philosophical or religious belief'?

... Still with me?

And why are those people who do believe in the 'religion or philosophical belief' of Climate Change or AGW allowed to call people who don't believe in this 'religion or philosophical belief' horrible names?

How would it work out if, say, somebody who regularly attended a church criticized a person who regularly attended a synagogue for being 'in denial', or said 'we still have a way to go in informing' them about Christianity? Mrs Rigby thinks that somebody would probably be told off, and very quickly too - quite rightly, because nobody has the right to force their 'religion or philosophical belief' onto another. The law says that too.

We are free to believe whatever we choose, that's what the law says, and it says nobody can be forced to follow a religion or philosophical belief. No individual, no employer and no public body is allowed to force their religious or philosophical belief on another, and try to force them to abide by that religion or philosophical belief. The law says we may all practise our religions and beliefs freely, by exercising personal choice - that's what 'freedom to choose' means.

So, because Tim Nicholson has been told that his views on AGW and climate change amount to a 'religion or philosophical belief', and he must be allowed the freedom to practice those beliefs, the same freedom must now apply to those who don't believe in AGW.

Ah, but it seems not!

Thanks to Iain Dale Mrs Rigby read The Times article announcing that :

Global warming is not our fault, say most voters in Times poll
It goes on to say that :

Only 41 per cent accept as an established scientific fact that global warming is taking place and is largely man-made. Almost a third (32 per cent) believe that the link is not yet proved; 8 per cent say that it is environmentalist propaganda to blame man and 15 per cent say that the world is not warming.
According to Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office :
growing awareness of the scale of the problem appeared to be resulting in people taking refuge in denial.
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said
We know that we still have a way to go in informing people about climate change
So much for freedom of 'religion or philosophical belief'. We have both a government minister and an important person with their own department at the Met Office both being paid to promote what a Judge has said is a 'philosophical or religious belief'.

It would seem, at the moment, that only the believers are allowed to have an opinion, and the 59% of the population who do not subscribe to the new 'religion or philosophical belief' and are 'uninformed' or 'in denial' must be converted, at all costs, otherwise the planet will burn up.

Mrs R wonders how long it will take before another Judge comes along and changes the ruling, otherwise Britain will no longer be a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-faith country, it will be a country with only one 'philosophical or religious belief' - with the state ensuring we all bow low to the green deity of Climate Change and Anthropomorphic Global Warming.

Airborn CO2 and Bristol University

From Watts Up With That
Bombshell from Bristol: Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing? – study says “no”

New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.
This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.
The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, letting greenhouse gas levels skyrocket. Dr Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol found that in fact the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has only been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, which is essentially zero.
Read the complete article here

Thursday, 12 November 2009

MoD bonuses and equipment shortages

The media is awash with news that MoD staff have received bonuses totalling millions of pounds, whilst at the same time soldiers are doing without or having to share equipment such as mine detectors
Mr Johnson said the MoD staff did 'difficult and sometimes dangerous' jobs which in some cases warranted a bonus
Mrs Rigby is intrigued to know what MoD staff consider is dangerous about their job, when they mostly sit in a nice chair in front of a carefully designed desk - to make sure they don't get RSI - and their working environment is controlled by air conditioning.

Compared to front line troops who drive vehicles through minefields whilst getting shot at because there aren't enough helicopters, Mrs R knows who she thinks has the most dangerous task.

Apparently there are
... 85,000 civil servants at the MoD, one for every two active troops.
Odd sort of balance, don't you think?

Mrs R ponders on the thought that soldiers go without body armour so the MoD staff can have plenty of pens and paper, and lots of pairs of scissors with which to make cuts - or would they be too dangerous for them to use?


Mr Brown has announced that he will :
... "examine" any questions raised over the bonuses paid to civil servants at the Ministry of Defence.
and :
"If there are any questions asked over the bonuses, I will examine them.
What a truly intriguing thing to do, examine a question.

Mrs R would have thought it far better to examine the issue raised by these obscene bonuses, but she supposes that in the end, all that will happen is that they set up a committee that will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, and this money will come from the MoD budget, further reducing the cash available to the military.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

In Flanders Field

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.

Lt. Col. John McCRae

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Phone call.

The Sun carries a recording of a telephone conversation between our Prime Minister and Mrs Janes, which should be listened to alongside the full transcript. (Hat-tip to Dizzy)

Mrs Rigby is more than a little bemused that Mr Brown felt the need to make this phone call and, actually, she isn't sure how she would react if she answered her phone to find somebody claiming to be the Prime Minister on the line.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Do they understand the science?

According to an article in the Mail
Supermarkets should put doors on all freezer units to cut down on energy waste, [Consumer Focus] the Government's customer body has said.

Sainsbury's said it is looking at the idea of putting doors on freezer and chiller cabinets.

However, today it is pledging to change the gas used to keep its fridges cool in a bid to cut energy use.

The company is pledging to switch to fridges to CO2 gas in all stores by 2030 and has earmarked the first 135 stores for conversion by 2014. This will cut energy by around a third

Mrs R is interested to know that

Chief executive, Justin King, said: 'Fridges are by far and away the biggest source of CO2 emissions in any supermarket through both the energy required to power them and the refrigerants themselves.

If all supermarkets in the UK switched to this sort of refrigeration, the reduction in CO2 emissions would amount to around 2m tonnes a year.'

So what are they going to do?

They're going to use all the nasty CO2 to make their freezers colder :-

The gases most commonly used in supermarket refrigeration are HFCs and HCFCs, also known as ‘F-gases’. Where F-gases have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 2,000-3,000, CO2 has a GWP of just 1 making it many times less ‘damaging’ in environmental terms.'
So, it would seem that according to Sainsbury's, government-run Consumer Focus and the Daily Mail, CO2 is not the worst bête noire, as AGW alarmists would have us believe.

A question of empathy and Mr Brown.

The media and the blogosphere are awash with comment regarding the letter Mr Brown sent to a dead soldier's family. Some are complaining because it is full of spelling mistakes, others say it was a kind gesture and he shouldn't be censured - moreso because he has a sight problem. Some are saying that Mrs Janes should not have contacted the media and is trying to make some personal capital.

Mrs R views it slightly differently. You see, she thinks that Mr Brown, as Prime Minister, represents her. It he and his political party who decides how Britain, and the British people, are portrayed on the international stage.

Mrs R has sent letters or cards to friends or relatives when somebody has died. Mrs Rigby knows that most people keep letters and cards like this for ever, they are a precious memento of their loved one and affirms their belief that the deceased was well loved and well respected. This is why, whenever Mrs R has decided to do more than send a card, it has taken her ages and she's made sure it has been carefully handwritten on decent notepaper.

The easiest way to offer condolences, and to make sure the right words are used, is to go into a shop and buy a preprinted card that contains a message, it avoids having to use your own words, avoids having to write too much and generally fits in with the way most people do things these days. So why, Mrs R wants to know, couldn't Mr Brown use a standard form of letter and simply sign his name at the end? Doing this would have avoided the current wave of controversy, criticism and condemnation, and would have avoided people having once again to take sides.

Mr Brown, as my Prime Minister and my representative, quite rightly contacts the grieving families of deceased troops to offer condolences. It is something Mrs Rigby had assumed he would do as a matter of course, rather than being something special or unusual. He does this as a representative of the nation, not as a private individual - it's the Prime Minister who writes these letters, not Gordon Brown who is only temporarily in the role.

Because of this Mrs Rigby believes he should always put the greatest effort into how such a letter is presented, and believes he should ensure that it is of the highest possible standard. Letters of such personal importance should never be rushed, should certainly never appear to have been written as an afterthought at the end of a busy day. The person who receives the letter needs to know, and needs to believe, that we people of Britain are sorry that their son/daughter/husband/wife/father has died whilst on active service, and that we are indebted to them, for ever - and it is the job of the Prime Minister to ensure that they know this.

Mrs Rigby doesn't think that a handwritten letter scattered with spelling mistakes, including that of the recipients name, is good enough.

More than once Mrs R has thought that, somehow, Mr Brown lacks empathy. He seems to lack the ability to understand how other people feel when he makes mistakes and his own, or his office's, attempts to apologise only seem to make things worse. They seem to dig a deeper hole rather than trying to fill it in. They don't seem to realise that there is always something insincere in a quick apology, more especially when a few moments initial care, and a little attention to detail, would have ensured that no apology would ever be necessary.

BBC radio has reported that Mr Brown takes great care when writing these letters - if that's the case then why so many mistakes? Iain Dale carries a copy the statement issued by Downing Street on behalf of the PM. This are the last sentences. :-
I have at all times acted in good faith seeking to do the right thing. I do not think anyone will believe that I write letters with any intent to cause offence.
This is a typical instance of NLP and is designed to wrongfoot the recipient, to make them question their emotions and feel guilty for being unhappy. This sort of language is designed to ensure that one person, and only one person, retains the upper hand in any argument or dispute.

At the same time the Times reports, Gordon Brown 'mortified' over misspelt letter of condolence (by the way, Times, the words is "misspelled", although it is pronounced "misspelt"!)

Mrs Rigby looked up mortify on Ask Oxford. This is what it says


verb (mortifies, mortified) 1 cause to feel embarrassed or humiliated. 2 subdue (physical urges) by self-denial or discipline. 3 be affected by gangrene or necrosis.
— DERIVATIVES mortification noun mortifying adjective.
— ORIGIN Old French mortifier, from Latin mors ‘death’.
Mrs Rigby has to ask if Mr Brown truly feels embarrassed or humiliated or does the word infer one of the other meanings? She also questions the probity use of the word 'mortify' when referring to mistakes written in a letter of condolence.

Moving onwards, now, and backwards in time.

On Saturday evening (7th November) the BBC broadcast the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and yesterday it broadcast the service and marchpast at the Cenotaph. (video from aol because the BBC one disappears in 6 days) Mrs R wasn't able to watch either broadcast live, so caught up yesterday evening.

First of all she watched the service at the Cenotaph in London and thought she noticed that Mr Brown didn't bow his head as a mark of respect. She thought, first of all, that she was mistaken or that perhaps the camera had panned away at the crucial moment. It seems not, because many, many people are talking about it and are also making all sorts of excuses. Mrs Rigby wondered if, perhaps, Mr Brown was unsettled by the sombre and grand occasion, maybe he didn't want to bow his head to a pointy bit of granite, maybe he forgot what he was meant to do or maybe he decided to break with tradition. The thing is that none of these excuses hold water.

Mrs Rigby has never been to the Cenotaph, but she has watched the ceremony every year for as long as she can remember and has also attended a local service. She has noticed that every single person who lays a wreath also bows their head for a moment. She knows that they don't bow their head to the Cenotaph or to a War Memorial carved out of stone, she knows they bow their head at what the memorial represents - which is to acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives in service to their country, so many that, apparently, if they stood in massed ranks preparing to march past the Cenotaph their line would end at Edinburgh.

Mrs Rigby notes what the Army Rumour Service thinks of what happened yesterday at the Cenotaph. You can read for yourself, here.

Within that thread somebody else picks up on another thing Mrs Rigby noticed while she watched the British Legion Festival of Remembrance, which was a wondrous thing that brought many tears to her eyes.

During the broadcast the cameras frequently showed what the Queen, Royal Family, Mr Brown and Mr Cameron were doing. Mrs Rigby noticed that whenever the camera panned on to MMr Brown during the hymns he was looking down at the service sheet, seemingly checking on the words - unlike anybody else in the Albert Hall and slightly surprising for somebody brought up as the "son of the Manse".

Whenever Mr Brown was shown seated, when he should have been watching what was happening below him, he was fidgeting and his gaze wandering around, almost always across to his right, past the Queen to where Mr Cameron was. It was as if he was monitoring other people's actions instead of doing what he was there for - which was to be Mrs R's representative at a Festival of Remembrance. He reminded Mrs Rigby so very much of a child who finds it difficult to sit still and do whatever they're meant to be doing because of other more-important-to-them things going through their mind that they're incapable of suppressing, even for a moment.

But, Gordon Brown isn't a child and he isn't a private individual, he is Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland representing many, many people. The Festival wasn't very long, not even long enough for Mrs R to put it on hold so she could wander off to make a cup of coffee. So why on earth couldn't such an important man sit still for an hour or so?

Why does Mrs Rigby have to be represented by somebody who is, so often, more than a bit embarrassing?
Read Charlotte Gore's opinion of the Brown letter, take note of the comments.

Read Paul Waugh's thoughts here.