Mark's any musings

Freedom, system thinking, politics, science, education, economics, pirates

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Timmy's golf enterprise

Timmy's new enterprise is Algarve Golf a scheme to offer discounts on golf and golf related stuff. Not a golfer myself (a good walk spoiled) but I'm happy to support Tim.

So it's Algarve Golf

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

All padded up

I am now the happy owner of an iPad (32GB WiFi version) it's very nice. So far I'm finding that lots of my iPhone apps are pretty poor on the iPad, so I'm looking for new ones. So far helvtweetica is proving to be a pretty good twitter client until Twitter get their act together with an ipad version of tweetie.

Any recommended apps i should try?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Budget thoughts

Today, George did a little tinkering.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Milliband brothers to share Labour leadership

David and Ed Millipede to stand as joint leaders as: Dedward!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, 7 May 2010

That's it, then

So callme Dave has blown it; big time.

There seem to be few options available to the country, but they all include the implementation of PR. Once that happens there will begin an eternal hegemony of "progressive" social democrat government. The only way a small govt party may ever get in is if sovreugn default is the only economic option and rioters kick the LabLib alliance out.

Well done Dave, well played.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Party funding

My new system - pay to vote.

At the polling station pay £2 to vote, which goes to the party you vote for. Ban donations. Simples.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Difference between parties?

Tories: Spend as little as they can get away with; tax accordingly

Labour: Tax as much as they can get away with; spend accordingly

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Hello little blog o mine

I haven't been in here for a while. Distracted by my burgeoning Twitter addiction.

I loved the NAHT lady on the radio this morning. She wants to ban methadone, but not criminalise anybody caught with it. That's kinda what banning something entails. Let's not ban drugs and spend the police, courts, war in Afghanistan and prison money, plus some of the savings from reduced crime on helping people over come addiction, ensure clean supplies of drugs and equipment. Work on the root causes of why people want to take drugs - mostly because their life is shit. Do you think criminalising someone makes their life less shit - really?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Poster fun

These clever marketing chaps at CCHQ don't understand the internet do they? My version of the poster is:

Make yours here:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 14 January 2010


First post of the year 2010, it's been a while since I have seen something to make me angry enough.

Here's my MP Andrew McKinlay asking Brown why the Kajaki turbine is not yet installed.

The turbine was delivered by British troops in September 2008 in the biggest British military action since WW2 (says the Telegraph)

Brown of course has no answer.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Mark's Any Munchings

Happy Christmas!

I hope you had/are having a great Christmas

Update: Thanks to John Ward for the title of this post, which he put in a comment on my Facebook page. Cheers, John!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Money Money money

Brown has pledged £1 million to help Cumbria after the floods. Children in need raised £20 million.

A secondary school operating budget (80% spent on salaries) is £6 million

Brown's offer to Cumbria is a flyspeck, it wouldn't begin to replace a fallen bridge.

I can see that ordinary people can't get their heads around the sums of money involved in govt but Brown should have got it by now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Anti-democratic bastards

1. Hugh Orde - elected commisioners will make police "political" and less democratic. WTF

2. Windbag Kinnock - Europe is too big and complicated to hold an election for president, it would be chaos.
America manages it!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Paul Clarke - another thought

If I found a sawn off shotgun in my garden, I'd call 999 straight away, not touch it and wait for the boys in blue go come and take it away. I'm guessing 2 nice boys in blue would knock on my door and I'd escort them to the garden, they'd take it away and thank me for reporting it.

It strikes me I might be nieve here so here's the scenario Paul Clarke may have thought of: I call the police and report a sawn off shotgun has appeard in my garden. Two van loads of armed police in riot gear break down my door at 2am, handcuff me while naked having dragged from bed and roughed me up a bit. I protest and fight back, so they shoot me.

Perhaps I can see why Paul Clarke preferred to present it to a senior officer.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Breaching a taboo

There is a lot of upset following Terry Henry's handball assisted goal that put Ireland out of the world cup.

Rules in football are broken all the time, especially considering what may or may not be a dangerous tackle, or whether a foul is professional or not. But handball is taboo, the foundation of the game. If other rules are changed, and they do get changed from time to time, remember screaming "Steps" at the ref when an opposed goalie took more than three paces while holding the ball? Doesn'tstter now. But handball is different, without the handball rule, football would be a different game, rugby maybe.

Is this is why the wailing is so loud?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Fraser in the NOTW on benefit culture Fraser Nelson on the welfare trap. The readers comments on the accompanying article show that folks don't get it - it is, as Deming would say, the system that drives the behaviour of the people. Hopefully this view of the welfare state and it's clients is gaining a foothold.

(shame about FN's idocy re AIDS)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Don't get your hopes up

When I saw this headline I thought they meant something else...

never mind

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Apple magic mouse - first look

Apple have a new mouse out:

I went into the Apple store today to take a look: Wow! this thing is brilliant. People will be buying Macs just so that they can get one.

Book Review: Why Your Boss Is Programmed to Be a Dictator by Chetan Dhruve

This is a nice little book. Chetan is a systems thinker and he uses this technique to analyse the behaviour of bosses. I'm pretty familiar with this way of thinking and the worldview that goes with it, but possibly someone who is new to it would take more convincing of Chetan's argument.
The conclusion of the book is that to change managers' behaviour you need to change the way they are appointed. Sadly this is unlikely to start happening any time soon where I work, so it leaves me a little depressed to think that there is nothing I can do about it, other than leave.

Thinking about the boss problem, a cause is the ownership structure. Not only, as Chetan says, are all the bosses afraid of their bosses, the CEO is afraid of stock market analysts - maybe this is an idea Chetan could explore further.

Chetan is not able to propose easy fixes, because the causes run deep, but perhaps this book will be the beginning of a movement.

The book is an easy read and entertaining with a good selection of anecdotes & stories to illustrate his points.

If you liked "I want you to cheat" by John Seddon you'll like this.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


...stop digging.

In the Telegraph

"MPs are to be offered a pay rise to make up for a loss of income from expenses claims under plans drawn up by Gordon Brown to quell a growing back-bench rebellion."

They can't miss a chance to show off their they-just-don't-get-itism, can they?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Legge up

Over at Samizdata there is an excellent post:

about the Legge report. I so hope the MPs refuse to pay and try to take the whole thing to court - they'll look like a bunch of tools and never ever see public office again.

Did they not read this part of the form

"I claim reimbursement of these costs which I incurred wholly, exclusivly and necessarily in the performance of my Parliamentary duties.

There are major doses of they just don't get it to be found everywhere. Even my favourite socialist Frank Field is whining about his cleaning & gardening bills.

So I popped over to Frank's to give him some advice, from a non-party voter.

Update: Frank hasn't published any comments; I wonder why?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Jan Moir of the Daily Fail

Twitter's take:

"Jan Moir is a Daily Mail (UK) columnist who wrote a column questioning the circumstances surrounding Boyzone singer Stephen Gately's death. People are tweeting their thoughts on her take, which are largely negative."

Says it all really.

If you haven't done so yet, pop over to and click on Jan Moir in trending topics. She is a class act.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

iPhone apps

Here's a list of the apps on my iPhone:

Facebook - nice interface for simplified facebook access

tweetie - fot twitter - good for managing your account, adding follows

TweetDeck - better for reading tweets than tweetie, but not as good for managing the account

Google reader - newsreader, easy to use

To Do's - very simple to do lists - should come with the iPhone

google app - voice activated search is awesome

Google earth - just like the PC version, but multi-touch control is better

Tunein – iCarRadio - hundreds of radio stations streamed across a GSM signal

TVGuide - now & next tv guide

Evernote - online storage of lists, links &photos

Jotnot - document scanner using the built in camera, squares up a document and ads contrast

Flixter - search for movies showing at local cinemas

Taptu - directory of iPhone optimised websites

iMathematics - maths handbook of formulae with scientific calculator and wolfram alpha access

Sky News - top news stories

Telegraph - simplified news interface

Wikipedia - optimised wikipedia interface

AccuWeather - location aware weather forecasts withhourly and 15-day forecasts

rightmove - how much is the house for sale in your street?

Ocado - online grocery shopping, very nice & simple

Amazon UK - iPhone optimised interface

eBay - iPhone optimised interface

BlogPress - post to your blogspot blog

AroundMe - find shops and sevices based on current location - yellow pages search tool

Yelp - similar to around me , slightly different database

Rise&Shine - bed side alarm clock

WiiTrack - find WiFi hotspots

Bell&Ross - clock based on the famous watches

FREE Wi-Fi - durectory of public wifi access points

RulerPhone - measure the world around you using the iPhone camera

iHandy level - electroic spirit level and angle finder

StepTrakLite - pedometer

Zipix Lite - fixes exposure and contrast in photos with one click

Shopping List Lite - make a shopping list and check off as you go

Flickr - search and upload to flickr

ITN News - similar to sky news app

NetNewsWire - newsreader - I prefer Google Reader, but this is a usable RSS reader

Microsurface - play with the touch controls using your photographs

Jaeger-LC - catalogue of beautiful watches

IcanHasCheezBurger - lolcats

XKCD - web comic

fix my street - complain to your council, it works!

urban spoon - restaurant finder

Tioti TV - tv guide, better than TVguide with more functions

Pirates lite - dualling pirate ships ahoy! Arrr

FreeCell - card game, free because you have to se an advert before each game

ParaPanic - save the cartoon parachutists

Sol Free - selection of patience card games

StoneLoops - match the coloured stones

GumDrops - match the coloured drops

Minesweeper - straight from windows

Centipede - by Atari - faithful recreation of the arcade game

Bejeweled - match the coloured jewels, by Popcap

Paper toss - throw balls of paper in a wastevasket (better than it sounds)

Pac-Man - faithful recreation of the arcade game

DietWordPop - word building game

Distant Assassin - shoot the cartoons

Solitaire city - another patience card game

UNO free - SNAP with a twist

Maze finger - drag your finger around the maze - harder than it sounds

iDaft - play your own mix of Daft Punk

TonePad - your own little Tenori-On

Tap Tap revenge - guitr hero type game

touch chords - learn guitar chords

iShred - guitar simulator

fluid - touch control demo, realistic liquids

Shazam - identified music tracks being played

Guitar rock another guitar hereo type game

Nubi D0 - to do list - more comprehensive than To-Do

Yahoo - search, directory and utilities

Autodesk fluid - another touch demo

Ruler - measure small things with an on-screen ruler

Chain Rxn - addictive bouncing ball game

SketchBookX - draw with your finger

Sky Sports Football Score Centre - real time football results and game information

ECB Cricket - excellent live cricket scoreboards

Yetisport - throw the penguin

RedLaser - fantastic bar code scanner and price comparator

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Dave's graphs

At last a politician has said it. A lone parent with two children pays a marginal withdrawal rate of 96% at an income of £150/week.

Here is a pile of figures and graphs observing the take home income for people in different circumstances with different incomes:
Yup, it is the government's own document - they know; yet still they do it.

I'm guessing Call Me Dave was shown page 43, there's Tracey in here council flat with two young children. If she gets a job making £150/week, she'll be allowed to keep 4p in the pound of what she earns. That is like a tax rate of96%! How hard would you work for 4% of your salary?

But it's worse than that: if she lived in rented accommodation, rent paid by housing benefit, until she earns more money, she would need to exceed £450/week to reach a point where working pays more than 4% of gross earned income. They should have shown Dave pg. 58

Hang on! What about the people down the street, nice hard-working married couple, surely they can't get caught in the benefit trap? They're on page 109.
Steve and Wendy, three kids: Aiden 6, Molly 7 and Kylie 13. They live in a rented house.
They have to earn £640/week (£33,600/year) before their marginal withdrwal rate drops from 90% to 70%!!

So, Dave has found this out, he has said he thinks it must stop - I wonder what his policy will be?

Here's the graphs:

Tracey, in a council flat or house:

Tracey, in a private rented house or flat

Steve & Wendy:

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Is Gordo on Tamazepan?

I'd be surprised if he wasn't.

Can you imagine how stressful his job is ( and how much his own incompetence has increased it) and how that would lead to depression or bipolar disorder.

The only way a normal human could do that job without getting stressed and depressed would be if they kept themselves in a state of complete denial.

So the question is: can someone do the job under the influence of anti-depressants? Or should someone who can do the job without be allowed to?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Labour 'could save schools £2bn'

From BBC News:

Education spending could be cut by £2bn by axing thousands of senior staff and "discipline" over pay, the schools secretary for England has indicated.

Ed Balls, the first minister to suggest possible cost-cutting moves, told the Sunday Times one option was to merge comprehensives to form "federations"

ED, look - why have you taken 12 years to propose your idea to save £2billion per year, with no impact on learning in the classroom. You have just admitted to wasting £24Billion for nothing. Good job!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Straw finally sees the light

Prescribing heroin reduces criminality. No shit, Sherlock.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, 18 September 2009

John Seddon talking to the Tories?

A good summary of John's ideas, from a participant in one of the workshops.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Where's you bin?

New bins came today

A blue for recyling and brown for composting to add to our existing green rubbish bin. Still getting weekly collections.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Child safety hysteria

There is a lot of noise in the news and blogs about the new child safeguarding process. It seems to me that a lot of this is mis-informed, lead by the Daily Mail shock horror reporting.

The new system consists of a new body, the Independent Safeguarding Authority which will hold a database of every adult who works with children or vulnerable adults, including volunteers. The information in this database already exists but is distributed across the counties.

A similar system currently exists today, of Criminal Records Bureau checks performed locally and List 99, kept by the DfES.

The key is to apply the system at the point of recruitment. When a teacher is hired, a football coach joins a youth football club or a school governor is appointed, a CRB check is made and a certificate is issued. This is done each time someone joins an organisation. If you are a school governor who teaches swimming in your spare time and teach in a Sunday School, you will have three certificates, each with a three year expiry. This has been going for years and is not controversial within schools, sports clubs, churches etc..

So what is different about the new scheme?
  • The CRB database is national rather than local. This means convicted paedophiles cannot get away from their record by moving to a different county.
  • You only have one entry in the database, no matter how many organisations you work with. It will save some of the bureaucracy, for example today, if a school changes its name all the CRB certificates have to be re-done. A new application is not necessary when you move job.

  • There is no expiry or renewal process. Any new conviction information will be added on and passed to employers immediately.

  • The old CRB scheme only covers criminal convictions. The new one includes recorded suspicions that were never tested in court. To me this is the really controversial element, hardly picked up in the Daily Mail hysteria. Malicious accusations are made all the time of teachers that a child does not like - these could find their way onto a record with no method of appeal and wreck a career.

The scheme will not apply to parents giving lifts to other children, unless it has been arranged by an organisation. If parents have their own rota for collecting from cubs that can continue. If Cubs asks you to volunteer as a driver to drive children unknown to you, you need a check.

Does it brand everyone a paedophile? I don't think it does. I have a CRB check for my work as a school governor, I don't think the people reading my application form suspected me to be a paedophile, this is just the system they have to find people that are, a needle in a haystack. The people setting this up and running it know full well that paedophiles are very rare. But as with bombers smuggling knives and explosives on planes being screened by X-ray machines and metal detectors, the screen that is supposed to stop them has to apply to everyone to work. Or consider the US Visa waiver form - are you offended that the US Govt thinks you are a Nazi or have convictions for Moral Turpitude? No, of course not, you know they are just covering themselves. The system will work, to the extent that it makes it less likely that known paedophiles are working with children, due to the "theatre of security" designed into the system.

The system has two functions: one to deter known paedophiles from applying for jobs or volunteering with children. and two to protect schools and clubs against employing someone with a criminal record involving child abuse. People with criminal records that don't involve children will still be employable, the Rehabilitation of Offenders act ensures this, the only exception is for child abuse convictions. You won't be barred from being a scout helper if you have 3 points on your licence or even if you did 18 months for breaking & entering.

Will the system completely protect children? Of course it cannot do that, there will be paedophiles today working with children who do not have any previous history. But there really are paedophiles out there, using the loopholes in the current system to access children. The changes to the system arose from the Bichard enquiry following the conviction of Ian Huntley for the abuse and murder of Holly & Jessica. The old CRB system did not catch, or more likely deter, Ian Huntley, hopefully the new system will deter future Ian Huntleys.

The information here was gleaned from a course I attended run by the child protection officer at my local council.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Jeff Randal making sense

Great post from Jeff today:

I hadn't twigged that is the Chinese buying gold. Gulp.

Monday, 7 September 2009


Now he has been demoted, does he have to get by on reduced rations?

-- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Funnies today

You're having a boring week then two hilarious things hit the news in one day:
Chelsea banned from registering players until 2011.
Farage to stand againt Bercow at the GE.

-- Post From My iPhone