Monday, 24 September 2012

More Toxic Debt

The Business Secretary has just announced plans to create a special bank to make long term loans to companies, bundle collections of loans together into 'financial instruments' and sell them to insurance companies and pension funds.

That sounds to me rather too much like the activities that bankrupted Northern Rock.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Kowtowing to Policemen

I'm astonished by reactions to a recent encounter between Mr. Andrew Mitchell M.P. and a disobliging junior policeman.

I gather that when Mr. Mitchell was cycling away from Downing street, the policemen on duty refused to open the gate for him, demanding that, instead of cycling out, as he was accustomed to do, he should instead dismount and wheel his bicycle through a pedestrian gate.

I can think of no security matter that would justify that request; the main gate must be routinely opened for ministers in motor cars.

Perhaps the policeman in charge dislikes bicycles, or dislikes Mr. Mitchell, or was just lazy. Whichever it was, he deserved to be rebuked, demoted and re-assigned to some less important duty.

Much has been made of the word 'pleb' that Mr. Mitchell is alleged to have used. It is a word not much used these days; I think that I should have used 'oaf', 'lout' or 'thug', but people can't be expected to make nice linguistic distinctions in the heat of the moment.

Mr. Mitchell did not need to apologise and should not have done so.

On the other hand the police need to be taught that they are our servants, not our masters.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

What has become of Blancmange

When Blancmange was served on its own as pudding for school dinners I detested it, but in recent years I've found it a useful component in a trifle.

Chocolate blancmange, poured over chocolate cake mixed with raisins, and soaked in coffee and rum, is the basis for an excellent chocolate trifle. I finish it with a layer of cream beaten with a coffee liqueur, and decorate with chocolate flakes.

Raspberry or strawberry blancmange works better than custard in a standard fruit trifle, where the base is sponge cakes mixed with stewed raspberries and covered with raspberry jelly.

Noting that my stock of blancmange powders was low, I tried to buy more, but failed in each of two supermarkets. I wonder if there has been a regulation about the sale of foods that wobble ?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Busy Day Offline

Broadband was down to day until around 8 pm.

Free from the distractions of the virtual world I had a most successful day.

I defrosted the refrigerator, did some washing and ironing, made the bottom layer of my birthday trifle (Saturday will be the day), pottered about in the garden, fed the cats several times and frustrated Senior Cat's bid to steal Junior Cat's lunch, and discussed my private pension with my financial advisor.

Now I'm screwing up courage to see how many emails and CIX conferencing messages await my attention!!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

News from the BBC

I watched the BBC 24 hours news channel for a while this afternoon. Scrolling across the bottom of the screen was the following:

"French Prosecutor confirms the 4 year old girl who witnessed her parents shot dead in the Alps has returned to the UK her seven year old daughter is out of an incuded coma"

I checked carefully, watching the message several times. That's what it said !!

I wonder who composed it ?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Testing the System

I've just added Sasha to the email list, and want to test that the change has taken effect, so, although I've nothing special to say, I'm blogging nevertheless.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Muddled Heads in High Places

I've just discovered that the new Health Minister, he whose name is so easily mispronounced, believes that homoeopathy works.

Such patent inability to think clearly should debar anyone from holding any high office, but to put him in charge of health is to publicly jeer at rationality.

The Prime Minister is as much discredited as his minister.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Restless Buttocks

When I've shopped in the city centre I catch the bus home from its terminus, so lots of people on their way into town have to alight before those waiting to travel home can board the bus.

I sit patiently in the bus shelter until the hubbub subsides, and then amble onto the bus when there is no longer a queue.

I'm usually the only one to do that. The others, even some tottery folk even older than I am, cluster round the entrance to the bus, obstructing the departure of those alighting, and then stand in line to watch each other enter, their buttocks quivering in anticipation of I know not what.

Are they really people, or just ineptly programmed robots ?

Monday, 3 September 2012

One Dimensional Retail

Shops often refer to categories of goods as 'lines' but never as planes, surfaces, or spaces.

I can understand that some people like to keep their Mathematics simple, but restricting geometry to one dimension is definitely overdoing it.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Strange Pricing

I recently bought a new vacuum cleaner. The price was £399-99 but there was a £200 discount for surrendering a used vacuum cleaner, so I paid only £199-99.

I've been puzzling about the economics of that transaction.

Is the nominal purchase price artificially inflated to persuade people who trade in that they are getting a bargain, or has someone discovered a lucrative use for old vacuum cleaners? I doubt the second. The discount was only a few pounds short of what I originally paid for the old cleaner.

I suppose that the great majority of purchases of cleaners are made by people replacing an old one, who would therefore be attracted by the large discount. On the other hand people buying their first cleaner might be annoyed at having to hunt for someone else's broken down cleaner to get a decent price for a new one.

Perhaps the secret is wedding presents. First buyers of cleaners will often be newly married couples who may have wedding present lists of overpriced household goods at some department store. Those who pay the artificially inflated price may be relatives buying wedding presents.

The moral is, don't give household goods as wedding presents. Write a cheque instead.