Monday, November 29, 2010

Who the hell is Justin Bieber?

Your Reaper must be getting old. The worrying thing is, old age appears to have hit me early. I'm not even 30 years old yet and already I'm struggling to keep up with the latest names to come from the pop music scene. Until I was around 16, I used to know who was at number one each week, then I noticed that I didn't really give a shit about that, so stopped checking.

Now, for some reason or other, I still listen to Radio 1 in the car. Perhaps to give the impression that I've still got it, and perhaps also because I know that switching over to Radio 2 is an admission that I'm officially getting old. Mainly however, it's because all the commercial stations are crap. Admittedly, Radio 1 do vary their music selection a bit more than other stations, but there's still far too much rubbish on it from the likes of Cheryl Cole, and too many rap (with a silent C at the front) songs as well.

However, I must admit that the name Justin Bieber is one that had almost passed me by completely. I'd heard the name mentioned on Twitter before, but never bothered enquiring on who he was or anything. I just assumed it was something to do with Glee or something equally shit. Not so. According to Wikipedia, he's "a Canadian pop-R&B singer" who was "discovered in 2008 by Scooter Braun, who happened to come across Bieber's videos on YouTube and later became his manager. Braun arranged for him to meet with Usher in Atlanta, Georgia, and Bieber was soon signed to Raymond Braun Media Group... and then to a recording contract with Island Records.". There's me told, eh?

It also turns out he's a 16-year old guy who still sounds like he's 10 years old. So when I heard that he was appearing on The X Factor last night, I can't say I was expecting much. I was expecting to hear sub-standard dross, in much the same way that whoever appeared before him on the show also played sub-standard dross. I can actually say that, in the end, it was even worse than that. He "played" two of his songs, and both were absolutely fucking dismal. In reality, he didn't "play" anything. Heck, he didn't even sing - it was just his record in the background as he danced and bothered to sing little bits of it. The dancing was okay I suppose, but there's a small problem - we were told you were going to be singing your latest song, and you only sung bits of it. That's misleading the audience slightly, isn't it? And given that Cowell got into some trouble a while ago regarding the "auto-tuning" scandal early in this series, I would have thought he'd be keener to avoid yet more.

Naturally enough, a 16-year old boy is going to get quite excited when he sees an attractive woman in front of him and he couldn't resist the opportunity to say hello to Cheryl Cole, who was sat in front of him, making a "call me" gesture with his hand in the process. I wonder how his legion of 12-year old fans are going to respond when they see his kind of woman is the toilet attendant-bashing kind?

More importantly, how many people are honestly want to go and see him after that performance? People are not going to pay good money in order to see someone prance around a stage for two and a half hours without bothering to actually sing anything. Your Reaper hates saying this, on the grounds it makes him sound like the doddery old bastard he doesn't want to admit he probably is becoming, but there really isn't much to say about these modern day musicians.

How long until Bieber's name is long forgotten about?

Linking to Other People's Grim Reading

1. Dick Puddlecote on farcical new regulations for London's taxi drivers.
2. Counting Cats In Zanzibar say farewell to Leslie Nielsen.
3. Katabasis thinks that "Cablegate" could lead to Turkey not being allowed into the EU.
4. Slugger O'Toole with a video from 1998 predicting Ireland's economy crash.
5. Anton Vowl writes about the "war on Christmas".
6. Twenty Major details what the Wikileaks cables say about Ireland. Well, sort of.
7. Ambush Predator on privileged students wanting more privileges.
8. The Fuel Injected Moose wishes Andrew Lansley would shut the hell up.
9. Dioclese has opened voting for his Cunt Of The Year awards. Do go and vote!

Someone's been watching a bit too much telly

How the Grim Reaper
deals with complaints.
This one's been spotted over on Digital Spy, who saw it in the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph. It concerns a local councillour in their area called Wendy Mills. By the looks of it, this Mills woman is completely up her own arse and is hooked on power. This despite the fact she really is quite a pathetic advertisement for local authorities - and that's saying something.

She's been complaining that not enough people are getting fines for littering and has one target in particular in mind, whom she believes has repeatedly got away with throwing their cigarette ends on the floor. So who is this anti-social person that Mills is accusing of getting away with it? It's Dot Branning out of EastEnders.

Yes, seriously. So angry was she by Branning repeatedly throwing cigarette butts on the floor that she wrote a lettter of complaint and sent it to the BBC. Now if this were a sensible world, the BBC would have taken one look at Mills's letter, forwarded it around the office so that everyone could have a bloody good laugh at just how ridiculous it was, and then send her a reply along the lines of "Fuck off and stop wasting our fucking time", only in more polite language than your Reaper expresses. Fat chance. The Beeb actually gave a serious resonse to the letter. Here it is:

"I was sorry to read you were unhappy with scenes featured in this programme. I note that you felt Dot Branning was seen dropping her cigarette butts on the ground, which you feel was inappropriate. Good drama rarely involves the portrayal of the normal, the well-adjusted or the well-run.

Writers of compelling drama scripts are, by the very nature of the medium, more likely to focus on the dubious than on people who are quietly going about their daily lives in a responsible manner, taking part in all sorts of activities, professions or sharing a particular belief. As littering is a problem within society, the EastEnders team are simply reflecting what happens in day-to-day life.

I appreciate that you feel that Dot should maybe be apprehended by the council for these actions. We're guided by the feedback that we receive and to that end I'd like to assure you that I've registered your complaint on our audience log."

Wendy Mills obviously has no life whatsoever and the residents of Wellingborough would be wise to ask whether they really want such a woman working for them. However, more questions should be asked of the BBC. How much money did they waste putting together a reply to this stupid complaint? How much time was taken on preparing it?

Oh well, it's nice to see licence payers money is still being wasted. A good old British tradition continues unhindered.

Norman Baker - today's Idiot of the Day

And it's barely past midday. So what has Norman done to deserve today's award? Well, Norm has quite rightly observed that there are large swathes of the country which are covered in snow at the moment. He correctly points out that this is leading to some disruption on the roads, although he omits to point out much of the disruption is caused by people driving on gritted roads at 30mph for absolutely no reason whatsoever. At least that's what was the case when your Reaper was taking his girlfriend into work this morning, but I don't know about everyone else.

So far, so accurate. So what exactly is Norman's suggestion for dealing with this? How does he believe people should get on with their daily lives and their work during this cold snap? Well, he believes that we should all be working from home. Oh yeah, that's really going to fucking work, isn't it?

Norm, not even the Telegraph is taking you seriously on this. The first picture that comes up on that page is one of firefighters clearing the snow from the entrance to the station so that their fire engines can get out safely. Tell me Norm, how do you suggest firefighters should work from home? That snow isn't going to shovel itself off the drive, you know. Neither are fires simply going to put themselves out simply because it's a little bit cold.

What about shop workers? Retail workers across the country are hardly going to be able to serve the customers - the ones who've walked through the snow and through the cold in order to get into the shop, the ones who are contributing to the wages of the aforementioned retail workers - over the phone or online, are they? Are customers simply supposed to call up a certain phone number if they're unable to find something in the shop or have any sort of problem? Us lot are used to having to ring up Indian call centres for contacting large companies and the service is generally rubbish. Exactly the same would happen if all the staff decided they weren't prepared to risk stepping in the snow. And who the fuck would open up the shop and close it again at the end of the day? Who's going to cash those tills if no one's actually in the store?

Let's take another group of people - those in manufacturing? The few people in this country who still actually fucking make stuff that we can sell to other countries. How exactly are cars going to produce themselves? We know that a fair amount of that is now done by robots, but technology has only advanced so much - human beings are needed to get these products out there at the end of the day. Humans are required to test the products to make sure they work before being sold, humans are required to flog the bloody stuff and humans are required to transport the stuff to its final destination. How's any of that going to take place if you expect everyone to work from home?

You really haven't thought this idea through, Norman - and it shows.

You utter arse.

Still, we know for certain from this kind of rubbish that you're keeping up the Liberal Democrat of proposing unrealistic and impractical solutions to shit because you thought you'd never be in power.

Difference is, you are now. Kind of. But it's only the plebs who'll suffer from your stupidity, isn't it?

Underwhelmed by the WikiLeaks leaks

My god, these "revelations" from the WikiLeaks documents are boring. Some of them are listed on the Mail's article, but you can head over to Teh Grauniad if you fancy knowing more, alongside dreary analysis about how great Julian Assange is. Yeah, might be something to do with him leaking you stuff, you Guardianista bastards...

So far, we have discovered the square root of fuck all that we didn't really know or suspect beforehand. It's claimed, for example, that the US administration believes that Gordon Brown was "paranoid", "weak" and "unstable". Tell us something we don't know! It's claimed that Mervyn King believes that David Cameron and George Osborne showed a 'lack of depth'. Once again, it's the political equivalent of discovering that bears shit in the woods.

"Look up there Gordon - there's
some people who don't think
you're mad!"

What else is in there? Well, the USA is revealed to be a paranoid and contemptuous nation, requesting specific intelligence on individual MPs from this country whilst slagging off every country there is. Again, can we honestly say this is something that nobody foresaw? Your Reaper certainly can't.
Mind you, this stuff about these leaks being dangerous for the world's security is ludicrous and being over-done. The world finding out that the US administration thinks that Nicolas Sarkozy has a "thin-skinned and authoritarian personal style" or discovering that they believe the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Dinnerjacket is "like Hitler" really isn't in the same class as someone publishing the passwords for the American defence system, is it?

Your Reaper eagerly awaits the next set of revelations, which will no doubt be even more boring than the first.


An open letter to A Very British Dude

Dear Jackart,
Hello. I'm The Grim Reaper, and this is my blog. If it's your first visit, welcome. Whilst looking through the blogroll, I noticed a piece on your site called "Why people drive like twats". Since driving is one of the subjects that affects me on a daily basis, I was immediately interested and thought I would read it. Like much of what you write, it makes a lot of sense to me. The main sentiment that people drive like twats is fundamentally solid and your assertion that a lot of drivers don't know how to deal with cyclists is essentially correct.

However, there is one thing that your piece does not explain, and as a car driver, it's something I really would like to be able to understand to ultimately gain a greater understanding on this subject. Namely, what is the appeal of cycling? From what your Reaper can deduce, cycling appears to consist of sitting down on a funny-shaped, uncomfortable seat and cycling the bike around about 10mph in order to get to various destinations whilst normally freezing your arse off. This does not sound an especially pleasant form of transport to me, especially when you consider you will be inhaling fumes from cars and everything else on the road.

Compare cycling, meantime, to driving a car. You get to sit down on a normally comfortable seat and you are protected from the elements due to the car having things such as a roof and a door. You also have a heater which, after being on for just a few minutes, will keep the inside of the car nice and warm. Quite useful when the weather is decidely Siberian as it is at the moment, I would have thought. Depending on the roads you need to use, you get to travel at anywhere between 20mph and 70mph, considerably more than you would be able to get whilst cycling and assuming you leave the windows closed, you won't be breathing in anyone else's fumes.

Quite simply, driving a car appears to supersede cycling in every way to me - it's faster, it's warmer and it's more comfortable. Perhaps I am missing something here? If I am, I'd be delighted if you could explain to me just what it is about cycling that you find so appealing. Because right now, I'm tempted to agree with the white van man's advice for you to "get a car"...

Kind regards,
The Grim Reaper
*P.S. I'm not a white van man driver, and never have been. Though you're right - the majority of them are cunts.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's off to work we slide...

Al Jahom's written something up this afternoon about a rather poor article up on the Telegraph's website about our so-called worst driving habits. Now, an admission - your Grim Reaper isn't the best of drivers out there, but I know what my limits are. I'm told I'm pretty good behind the wheel, but I'm well aware that whilst out on the road, I'm constantly learning and constantly trying to do better.

Unlike many drivers that I saw this morning, of course. Many roads in this area - probably similar to your own - haven't been gritted and are covered in compacted snow and ice. The main roads are fine, but the problems start once you're off them. Now, I've been taking things slower than normal on these roads, especially on the corners, but not everyone else seems to have realised that weather conditions are rather different to normal. Whereas road conditions have deteriorated by 100%, a good number of drivers have adjusted their driving speed and style by... well, 0%, to be completely bloody honest. They'll only have themselves to blame if they're involved in an accident, I suppose. Just don't have a crash when I'm anywhere fucking near you, you morons.

Anyway, the Telegraph's "Our 10 worst driving habits" list goes as follows:

1. Not holding steering wheel in ''correct’’ 10-to-two position - 46%.
2. Not applying handbrake at traffic lights - 37%.
3. Accelerating between speed cameras - 31%.
4. Exceeding urban speed limit - 28%.
5. Drinking and eating while driving - 21%.
6. Coasting with clutch down - 14%.
7. Using horn through frustration - 12%.
8. Passing through amber or red traffic lights - 12%.
9. Not concentrating - 11%.
10. Putting car’s nose out at junctions - 7%.

Al Jahom says of the list "The more I think about it, the less sense it makes", and I can't help but agree with him.

Meantime, here's Al Jahom's own list of things that give him road rage.
1) Driving too slowly for the conditions and failing to allow quicker vehicles the opportunity to overtake.
2) Failure to observe proper lane discipline.
3) Indecisiveness, poor observation or timidity.
4) Flashing of headlamps, or gesticulating, at anyone with the audacity to drive more assertively than you.
5) Inability to recognise the correct speed limit on NSL sections of road.
6) Baby-on-board signs – and moreso, ‘Princess on board’ signs.
7) Use of foglights when visibility is good.
8) Caravans & Horse Boxes. Always.
9) Failure to indicate correctly and in a timely manner.
10) People who wear a hat while driving.

Strangely enough, I find myself having far more in agreement with his list. Though people clearly not concentrating whilst driving pisses me right off...

Total waste of skin

He's a stunner, isn't he, ladies?
Ladies and gentlemen, your Grim Reaper would like you to meet Keith Macdonald. He is 25 years old and does not know exactly how many children he has. He claims that he is the father of eight children. However, depending on whom you ask, the figures 10 and 11 are also bandied about. It's also claimed he has 6 more children on the way, or 8 if you believe one of his numeruous former lovers. In other words, he probably has somewhere between 14 and 19 children.

He isn't dating any of the women whom he's had these children with - until now, allegedly. It appears that he's engaged to be married to his latest 32-year old lover, whom is naturally enough, pregnant with his child. Currently, he pays £5 a week in maintenance payments to support his children, and that probably won't change with the arrival of more children. If we take the number of children to be 19, it means he's giving a little over 25p per week to each one of his offspring.

What I really don't understand about all this is how such a repulsive man is able to impregnate so many women. Your Reaper may well have a face for blogging, but not even I look this bad. I can only assume that there must be some women out there who have no standards at all. It's not even as if he has decent work or prospects. From what I've read about him in the past, he hasn't held down any job for more than a few weeks and he left school without any qualifications at all - he was most probably far too busy trying to seduce women from bus stops, his destination of choice for picking up new conquests.

I would wish him good luck and say that I hope he could turn round his life, but I'd be lying. Unless he's prepared to spend every single hour of ever day for the next 20 years working away, I don't seriously see what chance he'd have of being able to support his children, himself or anyone else. And I can't see him being prepared to do that. No, Macdonald far prefers to live on disability benefits. Apparently, he claims he has a "bad back".

Doesn't seem to stop him spending all his time having sex and making lots of babies he can't support though, does it? This lazy cunt is probably the biggest waste of skin around in the UK today. And this is a UK which has Nick Clegg living in it.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, it looks like Macdonald could well be bringing yet more children into the world, having recently declined an offer from The Sun newspaper to pay for him to have a vasectomy. What a shame to those unborn children who'll be forced to call this "man" a father.

Not even our politicians show us this much contempt

Take a look at the following picture.

Nothing unusual? It's a picture of the Irish Government's Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keefe with one of his government cronies, some bloke called Niall Blaney and an "unidentified man", according to the Irish Mail on Sunday. They're out drinking at a boozer in Dublin. What are they celebrating? Well, a couple of days ago, the Irish government was forced to cut the wages of state workers. Unsurprisingly, Irish MPs aren't being touched - their salary remains exactly the same as before. The Taoiseach, despite being possibly the worst that Ireland has ever seen, remains on a salary which is almost as high as the one Barack Obama is on.

Your Reaper would think that, in the circumstances, the politicians which got Ireland into this situation might have the sense to shut up and keep their heads down. Perhaps they might even get on with doing some work to get the country out of the mess it's in thanks to them? Nah. Far easier to go down the pub and to tell any journalist who has the temerity to dare asks whether he thinks it's appropriate for the minister to go out drinking to "fuck off", isn't it?

Cunts, the lot of them. I'm amazed the Irish aren't staging a violent revolution yet.

So, who will be next?

For a bailout, that is. This afternoon, European finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to finalise the details of the £72billiion bail-out. That's €85billion, for the benefit of my readers in the Republic of Ireland. There seem to be quite a few more of you than normal this week around, so hello to you all. Anyway, now that the Irish bail-out is effectively a done deal, questions are being asked about who's going to be next.

Portugal, Italy and Spain are just three countries that could well soon be forced to take part in a tussle to get hold of that lovely European Union bail-out money. If there's any left, that is. Unless our leaders are prepared to resort to printing money on a scale that would leave Robert Mugabe blushing with embarrassment, there's no way they'd be able to afford to fork out the money to get all these countries out of the shit.

And our political leaders would never do anything that stupid, would they?

Oh wait. They probably would.

We're fucked.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I suppose it's not all bad

Your Reaper is most likely going out tonight with his girlfriend to see a film. So I thought I'd finish off for now by noting that, although there's a lot of bad stuff going on at the moment - the mess that Ireland finds itself in, the never-ending blunders from this useless government and so on - that there's some goodness to occupy ourselves with too.

For example, I notice that Simon Cowell's money-making machine is going disastrously awry this year. Fresh from revelations at the start of the week that Wagner appears to be in the top half of the public vote each week on The X Factor is the news that one of this year's favourites, Matt Cardle, seriously thinks that Wagner could now go on to win it. This despite the fact he can barely sing a note. Meantime, Ann Widdecombe's making a travesty of Strictly Come Dancing, but as long as she's annoying that smug, porcelain-faced cunt Craig Revel Horwood, that can only be something to welcome.

Other than that, there is, of course, the weather. Your Reaper doesn't especially like driving in the snow, but in my part of Northern Ireland, we're yet to see any of the bloody stuff, so I'm not complaining. Yet. However, like Anton Vowl says, we might not actually be doomed because of the snow. It also means we get to see lots of cute pictures, such as this one of a little dog having some fun. Try and enjoy it, I say. And don't forget to complain a lot when you notice the council's forgotten to grit your road yet again this year.

Oh yes, and life's never all bad when Kelly Brook, pictured right, is around. Although why she's dressed up as a bird is not quite clear...

More blogging sometime over the weekend.

Rupert's still not getting it

Your Reaper was considering writing up an article about Rupert Murdoch's latest attempt to make money from the digital world - launching The Daily, his attempt at an iPad newspaper. The idea is that a team of around 100 journalists would spend their day putting together the paper and then tomorrow morning, you'd press a button on your iPad and it would download the entire edition for you to read and enjoy. Erm... okay, Rupert. If you think it's gonna work, good for you.

Sadly, I don't. I was going to write the full reasons why I didn't think it would work, but occasionally here in the online world, you notice that someone's already done it, and not only that, but done it better. So instead of simply re-hashing an article that I've seen elsewhere and doing a poor job of it - like you people prefer to do in the traditional media - I'm just going to link to the original article at Gawker instead. That way, a great article gets seen by more people and it saves me wasting my time.

No Google journalism to be seen on this entry, Rupert. Indeed, there's no actual journalism involved in this entry. We could say much the same about your newspapers, couldn't we?

Round and round in circles

The Grim Reaper has obtained a document detailing
Labour's current policies. Here it is.
Your Reaper is beginning to understand why some libertarians feel they're just repeating themselves. Take this story, for example. The Beeb's reporting that Ed Miliband has declined an opportunity presented to him by student leaders to go and take part in some protests against tuition fee increases. Now, that's fair enough and a surprising example of the Labour leader showing good judgement. Let's face it - even Ed Miliband is clever enough to realise that these people are toxic, and it would be incredibly damaging to the Labour Party if they were down there if protests got violent, as they have before.

Of course, your Grim Reaper would love nothing more than to see the Labour Party's image being badly hurt, so I would naturally urge him to re-consider. Thankfully however, he's not ruling out joining future protests, so we may yet see Ed getting Red with his Comrades.

"Are you a journalist with a tight print deadline? Looking
for someone who'll say anything to defend the Tories?
Then give me a call right now!"
No, what's really bringing back the déjà vu on this one is the Tories response. Baroness Warsi, who is increasingly becoming nothing more than a rent-a-gob for journalists desperate to get a story printed before the deadline, accuses Ed of not being able "to make up his mind on anything. He spent this morning dithering over whether to attend student protests, who the 'squeezed middle' are and whether he agrees with his shadow chancellor on tax policies. No wonder Labour's policies are a 'blank sheet of paper'.". Hmm...

Funnily enough, I don't recall hearing you making such similar criticisms of David Cameron when he first became Tory leader. When he took up the job, he in December 2005, he did something which would look very familiar to anyone looking at what Ed Miliband is doing. He set up a policy review. And not just one, oh no, but six. Yes, a policy review covering six areas to help the party put together its next manifesto. Back then, Labour pounced on him to accuse Cameron of having no policies, of being a man of style rather than substance. Those criticisms are, of course, entirely correct, even now. Wrongly but understandably out of tribal loyalty, you've defended your leader against these charges on many occasions in the past. You've also accused Labour of being opportunistic when having a pop at Dave back in the day.

Which seems to be exactly the same thing you're guilty of now. Short memory, Warsi?

Oh yes, and you still haven't explained why your boss told you not to appear at an Islamic conference a few weeks ago. Any chance of getting that explanation now?

You told the truth? You're not gonna get far...

Well, that's what appear is going to happen to Howard Flight now, after his comments about child benefit changes encouraging the poor to "breed". He's probably correct, but that doesn't matter. He's made comments that are deemed politically unpalatable.

As for Call Me Dave, you're a gutless, cowardly cunt. Why on earth do you now think you're the arbiter of right and wrong? Didn't you read The Grim Reaper's post two weeks ago declaring that position has now been filled by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown? Even though in fairness, any MP from Plaid Cymru is going to be even more opportunistic and shameless than even you.

Anyway, a reminder once again...

That is all.

It's from da street, innit - and other such bollocks

Boatang & Demetriou have a piece up on theirs asking about "the street", that very modern expression and asking what on earth it all means. The entire piece and its conclusions are something your Reaper agrees with in their entirety, and I highly recommend heading over there so you can read it yourself. It's very, very good. The sort of stuff that B&D should focus on doing a lot more of.

What I'd specifically like to have a go at scything now is N-Dubz themselves. Like many people in the music industry today, N-Dubz are three talentless cunts who can't sing for love nor money. The band basically consists of a relatively attractive woman called Tula Contostavlos, who is nicknamed Tulisa, and is pictured on the right. With her are two monkeys who can barely string a sentence together between them called Dino Contostavlos (stage name "Dappy") and Richard Rawson. (stage name "Fazer") Their Wikipedia profile is full of the usual stuff about them all having tough backgrounds, coming from council estates, yadda dadda da...

They are truly charming people, as I will demonstrate. Dino Contostavlos (I refuse to use that stupid nickname of his again) was found guilty in 2008 of two counts of assault after he reportedly spat in a girl's face while drunk on a night out. This is the sort of character we're dealing with here. He's also been accused of making death threats on more than one occasion, and he was once escorted from a plane alongside Richard Rawson by police after allegedly threatening other passengers. Probably the most famous thing he's for, however, is taking offence at something that was said about him on the Chris Moyles Show. Says Wiki:

"On Tuesday, 12 January 2010, N-Dubz appeared on the Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1. The show received a text message from a Chloe Moody in Boston, Lincolnshire complaining that Dappy was 'vile' and 'a little boy with a silly hat' and that N-Dubz were 'losers'. Dappy secretly copied Moody's phone number from the studio console and, the following day, tried calling her and sent threatening messages including: 'Your [sic] gonna die. U sent a very bad msg towards Ndubz on The Chris Moyels [sic] show yesterday Morning and for that reason u will never be left alone!!! u say sorry I will leave u alone u cunt.' Moody claimed that she continued to receive messages after declining to apologise but N-Dubz management later apologised on his behalf and offered free tickets to one of his concerts, but Dappy has not apologised to Moody personally."

Rawson, meantime, was caught driving without car insurance last year in his BMW and was banned from driving for 6 months. He was also caught using a toy paintball gun alongside Dino Contostavlos caught firing at passers-by and fans in Newcastle, with one girl having to call the police after being hit on the arse. Lovely people, aren't they?

So why exactly are these people allowed to be where they are? Your Reaper isn't stupid - he knows full well that pop stars have rarely been beacons of propriety and I don't expect them to be. Unlike many, I don't view them as role models, indeed, there's only around two people who I view as role models and both of them are members of my family. Now, I don't especially care if they take drugs and the like - I'm a libertarian, so you know what my stance is on that. But this is going way too far. The actions particularly of Dino are reprehensible and show a person who appears to think of no one but himself.

Or does it say more about society than about N-Dubz that they're so successful? Worryingly, I fear it does.

P.S. If any N-Dubz fans happen to come across this piece and wish to reply, that is your right. However, at least try to get the spelling right on words. Send me text message-style comments and you'll just be laughed at.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And people say there's not enough politics on the blog

Microdave left a comment on a post your Reaper wrote on Tuesday about the EU's outrageous attempt to interfere in the running of Ireland, saying they musn't hold the election until after the budget is passed. Microdave seems to post links to high-quality content no matter where he goes, and this one's no exception. Nigel Farage is having a great time at the moment, and here's a video of him tearing the likes of Herman Van Rompuy a new arsehole.


Whilst on this topic, I also notice that the Daily Express has now become the first national newspaper to officially say we should get out of the European Union. It's many, many years too late but a welcome move. My only concern is that I don't think it would make enough of a difference. If it was a bigger newspaper like the Daily Mail that was saying this, the likes of Cameron would be genuinely worried. The Express, however, is far easier to dismiss. So unfortunately, I fear it won't be anywhere near as significant as people would like it to be.

Cowen tells the Irish what they've long suspected

A novel solution to the banks problems?

Probably not a picture from the Bank of
Ireland's art vaults. Okay?
The Bank of Ireland has, for several years, had a rather large art collection in its ownership. Altogether, they have around 2000 pieces of art. Though chances are they probably don't own this nude portrait, pictured on the left, of the beleagured Taoiseach Brian Cowen which mysteriously appeared in one of Dublin's major art galleries in March last year. Nor, does your Reaper suspect, did they invest in the other picture which appeared at the same time which showed Cowen resting on a toilet.

Last night, at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, they sold some of what they've got - exactly how much, I don't yet know - and raised around £1.26million. That's €1.5 for those of you from the Republic of Ireland who may stumble across this.

Apparently, all the money raised from this is going to community-based arts projects. At least that's what Bank of Ireland are saying, anyway. All well and good. Nothing wrong with raising money for a good cause, even if it is being done by a bank which is desperate for some good publicity following a warning that their profits could be down as much as 40% from last year.

However, your Reaper has one question on his mind.

Just why does a bank own 2000 pieces of art in the first place?


McKeith visits this page, tell her that Spiderpig is actually a spider.
She'll disappear very quickly after that. Or faint.
Your Reaper has been watching I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here since the first series and I've always rather liked it. I haven't written anything about it on the blog as of yet, though. Reports say that Gillian McKeith is likely to be the first person who'll be voted out of the jungle tonight.

Gillian McKeith, quite simply, is a woman who has no integrity whatsoever. This is the woman who was found guilty by the British Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency of "selling goods without legal authorisation whilst making medicinal claims about their efficacy". This refers to her selling herbal sex aids with names such as "Fast Formula Wild Pink Yam Complex" and "Fast Formula Horny Goat Weed Complex". They were both advertised as having been proven to promote sexual satisfaction in a study. As far as I know, nothing of the kind was ever proven and McKeith was forced to stop selling them through her website.

Mind you, you'd better not criticise her for it. The woman is notoriously litigious. Ben Goldacre has had numerous legal threats from her whenever he has the temerity to ask questions about her advice or her qualifications. Aside from suing The Sun newspaper back in 2004, she also once threatened to sue Google for linking to a website that was critical of her, and another website which hosted what Wikipedia calls a "humourous animation" of the woman.

If you've got a spare two minutes, have a listen to "The Gillian McKeith Song" here by Brett Domino. You can actually download it now, I'm told. I can almost see it being number one this Sunday...

Why ARE the police the way they are?

Via GrumpyOldTwat, your Reaper sees a disturbing video taken during yesterday's student protests. I'll let you have a look at it first before I go on.

Now, let's get one thing absolutely clear first. The Grim Reaper has absolutely no time at all for students who are determined to get violent at these protests. Absolutely none whatsoever. If they get locked up by the coppers when they do that, they have no one but themselves to blame.

Police dealing with a heavily-armed protester yesterday.
That said, the clip appears to show serious questions need to be asked about the modern day police farce and the way they do things at these events. From what I can deduce here, the police appear to kick out what look like peaceful protesters and then resort to some "kettling". This is basically the technique of getting everyone into one area rather than having them spread out over several - it's meant to make policing easier. Except one problem. It's a load of bollocks.

By using this technique, you're effectively forcing protesters who are there peacefully into the same area as the ones who are determined to cause havoc and trouble. It also means those people are going to be stuck there until the police decide they can leave - which in some cases can be several hours. And you wonder why people feel stressed after being kettled in for about eight or nine hours in a tight space?

It makes you wonder why police actually use this method. Since they won't tell us, I have to try and work out why myself. I have one or two theories about this, and none of them make for positive reading. The first is that the police are essentially holding the Government to ransom. Before anyone says "okay, now you're really off your rocker", let me explain. The Government are well-aware that a lot of the reforms they're proposing will be very unpopular and could cause far more protests than this. The police, in return, are saying "if you cut spending on us, we won't be able to deal with these protests. So if you want to get your own way on this, you'll have to keep paying us".

Another theory is that the police are simply doing the Government's bidding by using this technique. Kettling doesn't appear to prevent violence, it just seems to aggrevate the problem. Government knows just as well as your Reaper that scenes of violence do not play well with the public and that support for the students - and I emphatically never have been a supporter of these students, incidentally. Therefore, the more violence people see at these protests, the easier it will be for government to win the argument for higher tuition fees.

Have I got a point here, or am I just wearing my tin foil hat?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Newspapers do get it right sometimes

Your Reaper first spotted this in the newsagents and had a bloody good laugh about it. Nonetheless, I notice that Angry Exile has also come across it.

If only newspapers were always that blunt. I'd do anything for a front-page headline where some politician or other is called a cunt. Perhaps Obnoxio The Clown should edit his own newspaper...

Grief shouldn't influence policy

A few days ago, your Reaper came across the very sad story of a teenager from Monkstown in County Dublin who died after inhaling helium from a birthday balloon. 13-year old Jordan McDowell had been celebrating her birthday and had some balloons in her bedroom when the incident happened. She was found dead by her mother in her home a few weeks ago. It was most likely a case of her suffocating after inhaling the gas to get the squeaky voice you'd get from inhaling helium.

Like I said, this is a desperately sad story, but unfortunately, the predators of the media pounced shamelessly to milk the family's grief for all it was worth. Only on Monday night, UTV Live (UTV is the company that owns the ITV1 broadcasting licence here in Northern Ireland) ran a long report on this story and you can read their report here. It makes for pretty shameful reading, although I must emphasise none of that is the family's fault. They are in a terrible state at the moment, which is understandable enough. Yet the way journalists from the likes of UTV and other media outlets were coaxing them along by interviewing them in such a way was utterly disgraceful.

Since then, this has become a real talking point. This lunchtime, I was over at my girlfriend's grandparents house, and they had the radio on in the background on BBC Radio Ulster. The programme on in the background was called Talkback, hosted by Wendy Austin. It's basically a phone-in show. Now, with this being on the BBC, I did half expect that the debate would be reasoned, sensible and rational. Not in the slightest. As much as I love the people of Northern Ireland, I can't help but wonder about the sanity of the callers who were ringing in. These people made the racist taxi driver who I knew several years ago sound like the voice of reason.

The programme also contained one of the most disgraceful examples of bias I have ever heard from the BBC - and let's face it, this is an organisation which does bias on a daily basis. They had invited on a spokeswoman from a body that was responsible for setting out standards in the balloon industry. The person in question said that it was not their duty to educate people on the dangers of helium, that it was up to people themselves to educate themselves. A sensible line of thought to you and me, but not to the Beeboid presenter, oh no. She went completely doolally. In the end, the only thing Wendy Austin didn't appear to accuse the spokeswoman of doing was kidnapping Madeleine McCann. It was absolutely ridiculous.

Why does nobody ever think anything through?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Linking to Other People's Grim Reading

1. GrumpyOldTwat asks why the media aren't reporting on Muslim protesters.
2. GrumpyOldTwat again, this time with an exclusive statement from Brian Cowen.
3. John Redwood thinks the Irish bail-out has started off badly.
4. The Boiling Frog notices that Ken Clarke has been caught out lying.
5. Harry's Place discusses the UK's approach to dealing with Islamic extremism.
6. Mark Wadsworth talks about changes to council housing tenancies.
7. The Quiet Man on road safety campaigners "thinking" of stuff.
8. Ambush Predator writes about the serial litigator Pauline Scanlon.

And if you really fancy reading something silly...
9. Archbishop Cranmer believes that Gerry Adams should be the next Taoiseach. Seriously.

The Irish bail-out - the interference begins

CUNT OVERLOAD: Might Cowen meeting Brown be
one of the reasons Ireland's so deep in the shit?
And they only accepted the bail-out on Sunday...

Yet already, they're being told off by the European Union about the plan to hold a General Election, most probably in January or February next year. One EU diplomat, who the Telegraph disappointingly hasn't named said "People are watching the situation closely... From our perspective, it is important that the government is able to represent Ireland in the talks. It would be very unpleasant if there was no one to talk to. That would be very irresponsible.".

Indeed it would. However, it doesn't stop the diplomat from being a complete arse. The elections aren't being held until AFTER the bail-out and emergency Budget are passed, so your Reaper fails to understand just what his problem is. Or is it simply that the EU want a desperately weak government to remain in power in Ireland so that they will be easier to control? He won't tell us. Strange that.

Mind you, his view of Green Party and Fianna Fáil rebels as "rats leaving a sinking ship" is pretty accurate. See how nice I am finishing on a positive note on this entry, eh?

A question to student protesters

Your Reaper hears that there were protests at three universities yesterday. One is the School of Oriental & African Studies, which, despite its name is actually based in London. The other two are the University of the West of England in Bristol, a former polytechnic, Manchester Metropolitan University, another former polytechnic. Nationwide protests are expected tomorrow.

Now, my view on this is easy enough to understand. You certainly won't need a degree to make sense of the following, anyway. I believe that the students are perfectly entitled to protest. If anything, it's something we need to see students doing a lot more of, and not just over issues that affect them directly. Where are the protests of yesteryear, for example, when students were always on the streets wanting to get things done? Admittedly, they didn't always want the right things, but at least the passion was there. At least the political involvement was there.

So, to any students reading this, I totally disagree with your reason for protesting, but under democracy, it's your allowance to protest. I shall support you on that much, and that much only.

However, I have to ask just one question to the protesting students. If you believe that the proposed rise in tuition fees is unacceptable and wrong, how exactly do you propose instead that your university education is funded?

It is a good question and your Reaper bets that not one of them will have a sensible, well-constructed answer to it.

Of course, if any students are out there reading this, feel free to try and prove me wrong. Prove that your three years at university that we're paying for isn't being entirely wasted...

Why the mass cash withdrawal won't work

Your Reaper has had this post in his Notepad file that he uses to prepare posts on the blog for some days now and finally has an opportunity to use it. I notice that Eric Cantona, the former footballer, has been filmed in a newspaper interview saying that he believes there should be a mass cash withdrawal from cash machines and bank branches in order to signal our unhappiness with them. The movement has gathered some momentum and looks place to take place on December 7th, although how many will actually take part remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, there is a rather practical problem to Cantona's proposal. Let's imagine for a minute that on December 7th, hundreds of people are queuing outside a cash machine in London's Oxford Street. From what I know about banking, the amount of money that is put into cash machines is strictly controlled and once that's gone, that's gone until it gets filled up again. The same presumably happens inside the branches. They're not going to be keeping hundreds of millions of pounds in their vaults for a number of reasons. Not just the risk of theft, but also the risk of fire. Don't want all that money going up in flames, do we?

Next, banks only keep a tiny amount from their own reserves inside their own tills. No more than around 10%, on average, so it wouldn't be physically possible for everyone to obtain their money at the same time.

Then of course, you have to consider that this protest is happening on a Tuesday. A lot of people are going to be at work during the bank's opening hours and can't get out of the office or whatever simply to take part in a protest. This problem wouldn't be prevented by holding the protest on the weekend or a bank holiday either. The branches would be closed, meaning even more pressure is put on cash machines, meaning in turn that they would go empty even quicker.

What this silly idea from Cantona would ultimately cause is disruption for customers going about their regular daily business, disruption for businesses trying to get on with their banking, and disruption for banks who have already got enough to deal with. Heck, this idea isn't just silly, it's potentially dangerous. Does Cantona really believe it's acceptable to attempt to deliberately cause damage to the European banking system? Has he also failed to consider that it would be the poorest in our society who would suffer were this to take place, and not the richest? Clearly not.

As for talk that this action is irresponsible on the grounds it could cause a run on a bank, however, such talk is misplaced. Given the widespread publicity this is currently getting, the majority of depositors would already know that the extra demand on the banking system was down to a protest and not down to underlying problems with the bank. Therefore, confidence in the bank wouldn't be hit in the same way. It would cause problems for banks that had to close in the middle of the day, but that's nothing that couldn't be resolved by the next day.

It's also worth mentioning that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects all deposits up to £50,000, so most of us need not worry if the worst happens. Although how the Government is suddenly find the money to pay all those depositors, God only knows.

Your Grim Reaper has a proposal, on the other hand, which would render actions like these meaningless. The answer, quite simply, is to make banks ensure that they always have enough money available to pay off every single depositor the bank has. That way, even if there was a run on the bank, they would - just about - survive it. Any banks that failed to do this would have its directors and executives taken to court to explain themselves, and ideally, would spend a long time in jail afterwards.

Oh, and whilst we're at it, let's have a regulator which lets banks get on with what they're supposed to do, but deals quickly, sharply and properly with any misbehaviours on their part.

Can we put an emissions tax on Polly Toynbee yet?

Via Democracy Live, your Reaper learns of a statement that was made by George Osborne yesterday afternoon. You can watch it here.

There seems to be some palaver this morning about the Irish corporate tax rate. Most of it is coming from Pollyanna Toynbee, who says that the 12.5% corporate tax rate in Ireland is a form of "tax piracy" which we should be demanding ends.

Polly, what fucking planet are you on? As the Boy George said yesterday:

"On corporation tax, I think it is well known that this has
been the subject of discussion in some European capitals,
 but not here. We believe countries should be free to set
their own tax rates."

In other words, countries which have democratically elected governments should be able to decide what exactly their own tax rates are, and not simply be told to set them at a certain level by foreign powers. It's part of living in a democracy, you know Polly.

Still, nice to see you're being slaughtered by Grauniad readers in the comments section as usual.

IPSA in the post-Tom Harris age

Tom Harris just before he was told this news about IPSA
by The Grim Reaper this morning.
It's just as well that Tom Harris has called it a day on his blog, because this is one story that he would definitely be crowing about until the cows come home. It's emerged that the running costs of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority - the body that's in charge of MPs expenses which replaced the Fees Office following the expenses scandal last year - are 50% higher than under the previous regime. Just eight months into its existence, it's run up a bill of around £6.6million.

Most of the costs, admittedly, are due to the cost of setting up the organisation in the first place. An organisation, which your Reaper probably doesn't need to remind you, shouldn't even exist. A new body to police expenses wasn't needed after the expenses scandal. All that was actually required was a much simpler solution. MPs could, quite simply, have started behaving better and started just claiming for genuine work-related expenses and not nonsense such as duck houses and luxury sofas for their second homes. But that would be expecting far too much of our MPs, wouldn't it? No, far rather to put in place an expensive new body which MPs, by their own admission, don't especially like and whose competence has been questioned.

Still, it's only our money they've wasted by creating this pointless organisation, isn't it?

MPs - my contempt for you is total.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Should we be helping out the Irish?

"What do you mean, that pizza is going cost £77billion?
I'll have to go to the fucking IMF again now!"
The UK government is now offering approximately £7billion worth of what's being defined as "aid" by them and a "bail-out" by the rest of us to help get the Republic of Ireland out of the almighty mess it's now in. Well actually, that's not entirely true, is it? As is often the way with the official narrative, scratch the surface and you begin to find that all is not as plain as they say. The deal is essentially to save the euro.

Which is why I'm slightly divided over this. Now, we're not obliged to contribute to this as we're thankfully not part of the Euro - frankly, this is one of few things that we've got to thank the likes of Gordon Brown for. However, we're chipping in the equivalent of about £300 per household because Ireland is our closest trading partner. In total, they're receiving £77billion from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to add to the roughly £70billion they've already got. What no one seems to have considered is how on earth a country with just under four and a half million people living in it are supposed to pay this off
But that's alright - the bankers, financiers and politicians have all made their money already, haven't they?

It pains your Grim Reaper to see a country which he has a lot of admiration going down the pan in this way, but I suspect that we're making a huge mistake here. This bail-out appears to be nothing more than a way of stopping the Euro from completely collapsing, and we now appear to be complicit in that attempt. This afternoon surely, there are a lot of questions to be asked of the coalition's alleged Euro-scepticism. Namely in the sense that any claims Tories make about being a Eurosceptic party have now been completely blown out of the water.

John Redwood must feel like a very lonely soul in the Conservative Party these days.

Politican sacked for telling the truth

No, you're not missing anything, dear readers. The coalition government has not been rocked by a resignation. Well, not today anyway. No, your Reaper is talking about the Japanese justice minister. Well, now the former Japanese justice minister. Earlier today, Minoru Yanagida was answering a question in Parliament, following some criticism of a speech he'd made to supporters in his local constituency of Hiroshima. In the answer, he said:

"Being justice minister is easy, as I only have to remember
two phrases, either of which I can use in parliament whenever
I'm stuck for an answer. They are 'I will not comment on
specific cases', and 'We are dealing with the matter in line
with the law and evidence'."

Just about any justice minister in the world will be able to testify there must be some truth in that reply. Indeed, how many times have you heard any politician in Parliament using those stock answers? Listen to parliamentary proceedings for just one afternoon and you'll hear those two lines being used in bundles. It's just a joke. It's not the funniest joke in the world, but it's straight out of the school of Yes Minister.

However, it appears that Japan is just as full of humourless droids as the United Kingdom is, and apparently "critics were quick to accuse him of lacking respect for the parliamentary process". What, telling the truth is now a sign of lacking respect for the parliamentary process?

No wonder we've got the politicians we've got!

Ed Miliband hails the return of Old Labour

ED MILIBAND: "I'm back in charge!
Did you miss me and my
donkey jacket?
Well, that's certainly the impression that your Grim Reaper is getting this afternoon after reading Ed Miliband's re-launch interview in The Grauniad. A re-launch which seems to have already gone decidely quiet, according to Guido Fawkes, but no matter. Nothing else, it seems, would explain some of what he comes out. Take the idea that anyone earning more than £150,000 paying a 50p tax rate, for example. I think the idea is despicable - it's essentially a tax on being successful. Before anyone asks, your Reaper entirely supports the idea of those who earn most money paying a little more tax than everyone else, but this simply isn't the way to do it. Oh, and taxing people at half their earnings definitely isn't the way to encourage them to vote for you, Ed.

Now then, having already announced that he's sticking by the 50p tax rate and wants to make it permanent, what does he come out with? Ah yes, they've launched a policy review which will consist of independent (will they really be independent, though?) think-tanks doing some of the work and shadow cabinet ministers doing work specifically in their own department. Ed notes that this is a way of "...start[ing] with a blank page [in terms of policy, but not in terms of values]". Aside from having already pre-judged one outcome from the review, he's also leaving Labour open to accusations for the next few months that they have no policies. Which, as it happens, was exactly the same accusation they levelled at Cameron and the Tories when he took charge. Call Me Dave would have to have a heart of stone not to chuckle at that charge coming back to bite them on the arse.

MICHAEL FOOT: "Labour leader? Sorry, you must
have the wrong man. Try him up the page."
Besides, is a policy review really a good idea? Admittedly, Labour's policies were part of the reason why they failed to win the election, so it's understandable that they might decide they want to change some of those policies. There are some good signs - there is talk in the air, for instance, of introducing a "contributory principle" to the welfare state. That is, the idea of people only getting out what they've paid in. Although, of course, the coalition are already doing this, and much of it at the moment is precisely that - talk. How much of it will actually happen? I also must admit I welcome the fact that the rules Labour Party leaders are elected under are finally going to be subject to review.

Unfortunately, Labour already shows signs of falling into the old traps which lost them power the last time. Obviously to a libertarian like myself, this is a wonderful sight, although I take no pleasure from seeing that the coalition are actually managing to be even worse than the last government. Already, they are talking about continuing with silly gimmicks such as the ASBOs, (despite them widely being seen as a badge of honour) and much gossip is in the air about increasing the minimum wage even further. Are they actively TRYING to create more unemployment? Your Reaper wouldn't like to say, although it would certainly fit in with Labour's style of thinking when it comes to having as many people as possible dependent on the state, wouldn't it?

As for Ed's laughable claim that he's going to stand up for the "squeezed middle classes", why do you think they're squeezed in the first place? Or are you going to claim that a completely different Ed Miliband, an imposter, was in the last government and that you only magically turned up during the Labour leadership campaign earlier this year?

Oh, you did? My mistake...