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Monday, 30 Jan 2006


Ministers are considering plans to let adults appoint someone who could block life-sustaining treatment if they were too ill to do so themselves.
The Mental Capacity Act, which comes into force next year, gives people the chance to appoint someone who can instruct a doctor on their behalf.

Under plans to implement the act, they would need to indicate if this included powers to refuse life-sustaining care.

But critics have said the proposals amount to "back-door euthanasia".
Read the full BBC story, "New powers over death considered", here:-

I often wonder who the "critics" are, just as I often would like to meet the ubiquitous "they", who seem to be responsible for so much.

And it's easy for all and sundry to trot out the usual, tired exclamation of: "It's such-and-such-bad-thing by the back door!" And they often do.

But why on earth are these critics claiming that this proposal to allow "powers to refuse life-sustaining care" is euthanasia by the back door? It's clearly not. It's euthanasia crashing through your front garden in a sodding articulated lorry.

That's what it is.

Saturday, 7 Jan 2006

I have just enjoyed listening to Roy Hattersley and Kelvin Mackenzie going head to head in the argument over educational selection (Grammar Schools vs Secondary Moderns etc) on the "Any Questions" show on Radio 4. Each of them had some good points, made fairly unequivocally. Great radio.

But did I hear it right when the debate came to an end, with Roy Hattersley "proving his point" by essentially resorting to making a personal attack on Mr Mackenzie? One might have expected it to have been the other way round, given that Hattersley is supposedly the man of politics and debate while Mackenzie is the man of tabloid hysteria. But no.

I had thought that Roy Hattersley could not go lower in my estimation. He managed to today.

But then, I confess that I have long considered Hattersley to be an arrogant and overstated man, basking in the light of his own ego, so perhaps I should not be so surprised.

Tuesday, 3 Jan 2006

I'm watching some tv and finding this "How to be a Property Developer" show informative.
Property developer Gary McCausland follows the progress of two couples who have been given 250,000 pounds and six months to see if they can make money from buying and selling property. Will it be easy as they think to make a quick profit, or will they make some horrible - and costly - mistakes along the way?
The question, "Will it be easy as they think to make a quick profit, or will they make some horrible - and costly - mistakes along the way?" has to be rhetorical.

Mr McCausland is coming on all strong man with his pointless, after the event, so-called sodding "advice" about how the participants have screwed up. I've just watched him commentating on the admittedly poor performance by a couple of girls buying a crap property at auction. What does he expect? - they are total amateurs. He winces as they are taken for a total ride by an unethical auctioneer who takes offers "off the wall" to get them to bid up to a silly price. Okay, it makes good tv but why not tell them a few things beforehand? It seems cruel and it annoys me.

The deal must be that the participants agree that they won't get much in the way of advice. Or is it simply that they are just arrogant and don't bother doing their homework or look for advice?

Still, the good news is that we punters are so much the wiser now.

Monday, 2 Jan 2006

I had to write something about this.

When you get a headline that says something like "Prescott in blow" you have to wonder if the fellow has twatted someone again. But no, in this case, the only twat is John Prescott himself.

Get the full story from the BBC here.

Don't misunderstand me; John Prescott actually went up in my estimation when he wellied into the bloke who egged him (or was it custard pie? I forget) in public. It was very straightforwad and honest of him. And I should probably have done the same or at least wished I had, if I had been in the same predicament.

No, really. But then, I am not in politics. And I am not the deputy Prime Minister of my country, so my responsibility to behave reasonably in public might be just a tad less, don't you think?

Prescott was, according to himself, an 11-Plus failure. But he did rise above his Secondary Modern constraints, studied at Ruskin College and got a degree subsequently from Hull University. The ideal of Secondary Modern schools was good but it is probably fair to say that the implementation was poor. If a basically bright kid failed to reach the standard in the 11-Plus, in many cases they did not get he best opportunity in life, if indeed getting the best opportunity is concomitant with an academic education. It is great that Prescott went on to better himself at Ruskin, after leaving Secondary education with next to no qualifications at 15 years of age. It does, however, frighten me crapless that a man so incapable of convincing me of his intelligent thought with any lucid speech actually got a degree. Something is wrong.

That Prescott is using the popular press to express his displeasure with his Prime Minister's education policy direction is interesting to say the least. His apparent loyalty to Blair to date has in my mind been inexplicable, knowing that had interstellar travel been possible the two men wold have been born in separate solar systems. Perhaps this is the final straw for Prescott, maybe he is throwing his toys out of the cot.

Perhaps - even - Prescott is an unwitting stool pigeon in a clever game of Bair's; I just do not know.

However, that the deputy Prime Minister is publicly expressiing his disagreement with his Prime Minister is just amazing. It's even more unprofessional, in my opinion, than the clear blue rift water separating Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

In another account of John Prescott's recent indescretions, we find that he is more comfortable with Class War.

He said:-
"I see a bit of 'class' is coming back now with Cameron and his outfit. The Eton Mafia. We [Labour] are always better against class. When it's a class issue.

"It's the Eton mob isn't it? They used to fight their wars on the Eton playing fields. Now they win elections on the Eton playing fields. I always feel better fighting class anyway - bring the spirit back into the Labour Party."

What the hell is he talking about?

"It's the Eton mob isn't it?" What is, exactly?

This is a man who publicly defines himself, and really the labour party itself, in terms of Class Struggle. I think this is a good enough excuse to disband the Labour Party, were the definition true. Hello John, Marx is dead, and so is his philosophy, you moron. If all you are is a violent reaction against something, how negative and uncreative is that? And moreover, if it is something that does not even exist any longer, then you're an anachronism. Class? What class?

This must be a fantastic representation of all that Tony "Pimp" Blair is trying to get away from. "New Labour" means "Not Old Labour", for sure, and John Prescott is making it so very clear that he is not New Labour here.

And anyway, while we're talking about class here, who the heck is driving the Jag? I mean, the Jags. Both of them. Not me, and I think I identify myself as one of those awfully terrible middle class people that benefitted from a Grammar School education who works hard, pays his taxes and struggles to raise a family in New Labour's Police State Britain, and whom Prescott is now attacking. The duplicitous hypocrite.
Okay, I'm cross.

Look - I'm a busy bloke. No, I'm no trail-blazing CEO of a FTSE 100 company, but I have things to do, people to see and all that, just like lots of people.

I buy stuff. I actually take the time to research the stuff I buy - sometimes too much time. But when I research something, then buy it in good faith, then find it is lacking in some "duh"-obvious feature and I furthermore find that the company that makes it does not seem to care about the situation, well then I get mad.

This has happened. This is techno-nerd stuff, but I bought what should have been a super product called a network-attached storage appliance - an external hard disk that connects to your network via ethernet. Such a box of tricks is ideal for backups and for sharing music files on your home network, say.

I ordered a particular device from an online supplier called Insight ( The particular device I ordered was not available so I took the alternative suggested by my account manager. I explained what I was looking for and the alternative - a Buffalo LinkStation Network Storage Center with 250 GB of disk - seemed just right.

Now this hard disk device is pretty cool. It works on Windows and Mac networks. It is quite easy to set up and use, and it has buckets of disk space that is quite quick to access... except when your network uses a Windows domain, rather than a bog standard peer-to-peer network, in which case it is pants. Guess what? I have a Wndows server managing a Windows domain.

But how was I to know this? Product specs? Documentation? No.

Now, I had been thinking, why was my workstation on the domain failing to work with the device, while my occasionally attached (and non-domain) laptop worked fine with it? The penny finally dropped, I checked a couple of techie web sites and found out that indeed a Windows domain was no place for this particular storage device. No matter that the product's admin interface includes a place where you should enter the domain name of your Wndows domain if the device is to be used in such an environment - that's just a bare-faced lie.

But heck, I have to check for sure - after all, this is bloody ridiculous - so I call the Buffalo Technologies tech support, take time that I'd rather be spending with my children speaking to a man called Sven in Holland (okay, I cannot remember his real name) who resignedly admits that this is a genuine limitation of the device, I'm not the first to call about this problem and he doesn't know why management have not done something about it. I said, "I'd sort of hoped you would tell me it's a known problem but there is a new firmware upgrade that fixes it." But he said that there was no such fix and that's just the way it is at the moment. So - we arrange for me to submit a formal product complaint so that I can get my money back from Insight.

No-one wins in this situation. I am sure that the interim interest on the profit that Buffalo got from my purchase wil be outweighed by the cost of them settling the issue. Insight lose time and money and, let's face it, credibility with me. I've lost valuable time - which equates to money. Oh yes, I've learned something, but frankly I would rather not keep learning that the world is full of duplicitous twats in marketing. Well, perhaps my valuable lesson can help you, dear reader.

As a result, I have decided that I will not be buying any product bearing the Buffalo marque again. I will make it one of my small personal missions to spread my negative news about this company as far as I can.

So why am I behaving so childishly? If Buffalo had made it plain that the device would not work in a Windows domain environment, then I would not have bought the ruddy thing. And to hear that their management knows about the problem and are so far doing nothing about it really pisses me off stupendously. So I am bloody well going to get my money's worth. Screw them.

I have also formally advised Insight of the limitation with this product and told them that I expect them to revise their product notes for the Linkstation. I wonder if they will pay heed to my advice. I lie: I don't wonder at all; I categorically expect them to do bugger all. Watch this space for updates.

Happy new year! Beacon