Ampers

You can find detailed information about me on www.ampers.co.uk but, in a nutshell, I came to England in 1955 from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Homepage: http://ampers.wordpress.com/

Come on over, the sun’s out, the water’s warm, and there’s a Piña Colada waiting for you on the beach.

As many of you know, Ampers’ Rants has moved to www.ampers.me.uk and we will be living there from now on. At the same time, I decided to register my own name for the Ampers’ Rants website. This way, if we decide to move again, you won’t have to worry as this link will always find us.

However, we are also on Twitter, and you can find us hanging out at AmpersUK there.

I have enjoyed our friendship and it will be a pity to lose touch with you, especially as many of you seem to come from all over the world (96 countries at the time of moving) – when you come to London, hop on an 82 bus and ask to be put off at ‘Ampers Towers’, it’s a huge building, you can’t miss it.

Ampers


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England won the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest – The UK lost.

The United Kingdom (they came 11th) may have lost the contest but England were the real winners.

43 countries voted, and 41 of those voted in English not French.

France, of course, voted in French, and the Belgian representative was a Walloon (a French speaking Belgian) so naturally did as well, but no one else did.

Out of the twenty-five groups singing, 21 sang in English, three sang in their home language (Serbia, Spain, and even the French singer sang in his home language which was Corsican). Those adept at mental arithmetic will notice I have missed one out. This was the Greek entry and this was sung half in English and half in Greek.

Without wishing to denigrate France, a country I love and visit often – especially Paris where I worked between 1959 and 1962) surely there is a case now to drop French from the languages required to host the show, making it just English and the language of the host country? This would be fairer to the people in the country who are hosting the show.

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Children – should they have ‘rights’? – A compelling answer to this question…

Mirna is an educational psychologist from Stellenbosch. She taught at several schools, amongst others Stellenbosch High School, Bloemhof Girls’ High and Jan Kriel School for learners with barriers to learning. She is a mother, loves art, the ocean and children.

Children

I have been writing on the effects of divorce for the last couple of letters and would like to conclude with this short but powerful voice for the rights of children to be respected when a family is going through a divorce.

I found this at Children in the Middle-and added thoughts I found important for children going through a divorce. It really succinctly encapsulate the essence of going through a “good” divorce.

Children of Divorce’s Bill of Rights

  1. Recognize that we love and need both parents.
  2. Don’t turn us into messengers. Mom and Dad should talk to each other directly.
  3. Don’t say bad things about our other parent.
  4. Don’t grill us about what is going on at our other parent’s home.
  5. Don’t ask us to take sides.
  6. Don’t make us feel like we’re being disloyal to you if we enjoy being with our other parent.
  7. If you have something angry to say to our other parent, don’t say it around us.
  8. We do not want to be used as weapons against the other parent.
  9. Do not bribe us or give us gift because of your guilt or revenge. More than anything we need your time, patience and attention.

If parents who are divorcing could follow these guidelines – they can ensure to go through the separation with less trauma and more secure children. 

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but they make a lot of sense to me.

I would wager that the many parents we read about who kill their children rather than let their spouse have them have not followed these rules. God, but they must really hate. Yes, I know they must be unbalanced, but why and how did they get that way?

Ampers

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I watched this and didn’t know whether it was exciting or frightening – you decide!

Sony showed this to attendees at their Annual Shareholder’s meeting in 2009 but I have only just come across it and think it needs a wider audience.

The frightening thing is when they talk about first year and third year students…

Tell us what frightened or excited you below in the comments!

Ampers

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Which is best for Britain? A monarchy or a republic? You decide!

The following is part of an article from the Adam Smith Institute and you can read the rest of the article here.

Camden Council has effectively banned a street party planned by republicans to coincide with the royal wedding. This is a shame, since those opposed to the monarchic principle should be allowed to express their views. It is not as if they were trying to occupy part of a public space in perpetuity; it was just a day’s party they planned.

It does highlight the debate between those who support our constitutional monarchy and those who favour replacing it by a republic with an elected head of state. To those of a libertarian bent, what matters is not how democratic or representative is either form of government, but how friendly they are to liberty.

On an empirical level, constitutional monarchies have been quite friendly to liberty. A monarch who inherits the office feels no popular mandate to impose their views on everyone else. They did not have to claw their way to the top, but simply inherited it, and are conscious of the limitations this implies.

Our constitutional monarch occupies the top slots, not only as head of state, but as head of the armed forces and the judiciary. As such, they deny these posts to ambitious self-seekers who might wish to use them to promote an agenda. A monarch who simply inherits the position can act as a focus for the nation more easily than someone elected as head of state via partisan politics.

Many, if not most, of the theoretical arguments would win the case against a head of state who came from a family that had emerged by the blood and chance of history to occupy that position from birth alone. Yet in practice the record of modern constitutional monarchies has been a good one for tolerance, for the rights of dissenting minorities to do their own thing, and for upholding the rule of law and the rights of free speech.

The bit that convinces me, hands down, is the passage I have highlighted above, in red. It makes good sense to me as we all know what partisan politics have done for our country since the second world war.

Politicians are, on the whole, hated more than estate agents, and certainly more than bankers. The right question to ask here, is a simple “why?”

It is because they are self-seeking, and on the whole, in it for the power or the money. Certainly not for the peoples of these islands.

Ampers.

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Lest we forget – Ishinomaki – Black Water

A short documentary film about Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture one of the hardest hit areas of the 11th March 2011 tsunami.

This documentary deals with the city, the people and relief efforts completed by individuals living in Tokyo to send relief supplies to a center for disabled people in Ishinomaki.

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One 71 year old that leaves our politicians standing – a man to be greatly admired.

Colour and excitement returned to the City yesterday as Glencore announced a former French foreign legionnaire, Algerian war veteran, author, explorer and financier as its new chairman.

Photo of Simon Murray CBE

Simon Murray CBE (via Vodafone)

Simon Murray (pictured) will be tasked with leading the firm’s up-to $11bn (£6.7bn) float, valuing it at about $60bn, the details of which were confirmed yesterday.

The move heralded a return to the days when interesting and complex characters, rather than faceless executives, ran the City.

Earlier this week, Murray said: “This is very exciting, but you are talking to someone who has been chased by a leopard. You are talking to someone who has been shot at with a machine gun and missed.”

Murray, whose tales of derring-do include carrying two severed heads in his backpack during his time in the French Foreign Legion, was born in Leicester in central England. As a teenager in 1960 he joined the Foreign Legion on a whim, going on to fight for five years in Algeria. He later wrote a bestseller, “Legionnaire”, about his time in north Africa.

It was made into a film in 2002.

Educated at Bedford School, one of England’s oldest public schools, Murray was turned down by the British Army before signing up with the Foreign Legion.

“I think perhaps I was just a young buck without much confidence in himself setting an extreme challenge to see if he could hack it in a man’s world,” he says in his book.

He has since run a 240km race in the Moroccan desert, climbed Mount Everest and become the oldest man to walk unsupported to the South Pole. Glencore unveiled its blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) to the market yesterday, following months of speculation.

According to Wikipedia, he has been awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by H.M. The Queen, and the Order of Merit of the French Republic and is a “Chevalier de La Legion d’Honneur”. He holds an Honorary Degree in law, from Bath University and attended the (SEP) Stanford Executive Programme in the US.  He also trekked to the South Pole in his sixties.

Murray married long-time sweetheart, the former Jennifer Mather, with whom he has three children. Jennifer Murray was the first woman to fly around the world in a helicopter.

What a family

Read the full article in the City A.M. newspaper.

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The left, and right, are getting into a real tizzy over the NHS, there is an answer…

Everyone is asking the wrong questions.

The right questions are:

1. Is the NHS working?
And,
2. is it working to the best of its capacity?

We really need to answer these questions, not just of the NHS as a whole, but of each section or department.

Once we have these answers, and only when we have these answers, can we decide how, with the same money, whether we can improve it.

It is not enough for the Conservatives to say, “Yes, we have already asked these questions.” They must prove it to us by itemising each department and not only giving the answers to the above questions in relation to each of the departments, but list what they are doing in each department to improve matters, and by what yardstick they intend to be judged at the next election on each department.

But Governments, whether the Coalistion or Labour, hate (a) explaning too much to the general public, and (b) hate giving any sort of yardstick with which to be judged.

They say the people get the Government they deserve. (Yes, the Libyan’s did nothing about Gadafi for many decades so don’t cite that as an answer against this statement.)  We, in Britain repeadedly get the Government we deserve, by ignoring the smaller parties and never giving them a chance to mature. So, at the next election, I can categorically assure you, you will have a Socialist or Conservative Government – and can you honestly swear that one is better than the other?

On the 12th April, 2010, The nurses union stated:

“The RCN is committed to working with the party that wins the election to improve care for all during this tough financial period. This manifesto makes clear that up to £20 billion will have to be saved in the NHS over the coming years.”

They must have been convinced that Labour were going to win!

And AV is no solution to these problems either.

Ampers.

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28 MPs who secretly handed their fiddled expenses back, and the civil and criminal crimes of other MPs.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, of all the Members of Parliament who fiddled their expenses, twenty-eight MPs have been given the money they publicly handed back, back to them quietly and without publicity. These are substantial amounts, and the top five who received their “cash backs” in terms of amounts, the total came to £29,910.98!

The following interesting comment was submitted by the nom-de-plume of  dipsplepskik#

What would expect from a group such as this ?

This is unbelievable, but can you imagine working for a Company that has a little more than 600 Employees and has the following employee statistics…

29 accused of spouse abuse
7 arrested for fraud
9 accused of writing bad cheques
17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 have done time for assault
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
14 arrested on drug-related charges
8 arrested for shoplifting
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
84 arrested for drink driving in the last year and collectively, this year alone, they have cost the British tax payer £92,993,748 in expenses!!!

Which organization is this?

It’s the 635 members of the House of Commons, the same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of the population of Britain in line.

What a bunch of bastards we have running our country – it says it all…

And just to top all that they probably have the best ‘corporate’pension scheme in the country!!

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Education, education, Education – he had that part right…

… pity he didn’t follow it up.

Pity nobody has followed it up, both before him, and afterwards.

The girl in this video probably went to a private school. The video is all about changing outcomes from using the right words.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this is not necessarily true if the words are chosen by a poet or educated person.

Enjoy the video, but do reflect on the message right at the end…

Ampers

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Nightmare in Elm Street

Just had to split two blogs from WordPress as someone else needed to adminster one of them.

What a nightmare.

I’m too old for all this.

Still all working OK now – I think. :-(

Ampers.

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Amazing and incredible technology arriving from Japan in the near future!

You  will not be able to know what is ahead  until  you  have seen the four pictures
and read the  explanation of what  they are, our future is here, incredible! what  an age we live in.
Look closely and guess what they  could be…

Photo

Are they pens with cameras?


Photo

Any wild guesses? No clue  yet?


Photo

Here  is how it works:Ladies  and gentlemen…. congratulations! You’ve  just looked into the future…
You’ve  just seen something that  will replace your PC in the near future.


Photo

In the revolution of miniature  computers, scientists  have made great developments with blue tooth  technology…
This  is the forthcoming computers you  can  carry within your pockets .
This ‘pen sort of instrument’  produces both the monitor as well as the keyboard on any flat surfaces
from where you can  carry out functions you would normally do on  your desktop computer.

Photo

This idea has been around for some time though


Photo

But now, the light comes from the actual phone or PDA



I don’t think it will replace the Notebook as such, but in the future I can imagine that larger laptops will replce the desktop and the above computer might will replace the Notebook.

Ampers

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Devil take the hindmost

There is nothing new about the idea of an Alternative Voting system.

When the idea was last mooted in 1931, Winston Churchill spoke up against it as elections being determined by “the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates.”

Churchill said of AV “it adds new features of caprice and uncertainty to the conduct of each individual election… Imagine making the representation of great constituencies dependent on the second preferences of the hindmost candidates. The hindmost candidate would become a personage of considerable importance, and the old phrase, ‘Devil take the hindmost’ will acquire a new significance.”

As with so many things, Winston saw the danger to democracy clearly.

I am not too sure whether I believe the statement from the No 2 AV campaign which suggest that around 35 constituencies could have their outcomes determined by the second preferences of BNP voters.

However, if they got only one seat, that surely would be one vote too many?

Hat tip: Guido Fawkes

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A civilised rally against debt in London 14 May 2011

Join their Official Page here for updates and debate: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rally-Against-Debt/215405205140114?sk=wall

A well mannered, polite rally for civilised people who don’t wish to see
their hard earned money being spent on pointless government
initiatives and instead would like government spending
to actually fall and our national debt to be cut.

They don’t think that it’s fair for us to continue borrowing money to live a lifestyle that we simply can’t afford – burdening our children with unnecessary debt that they will have to pay back.

Any visits to Fortnum and Mason’s by protestors will only be to marvel at their selection of quality goods and perhaps make the occasional purchase.

Bonfires will be strictly forbidden: it’s out of season anyway

Trips to see Vodafone and other high street chains will result in congratulations to the company for providing jobs and growth in the UK.

And a caveat on their Facebook site: “Offensive posts will be deleted. This is an event for people who want to come to our event to support what we stand for, not an opportunity for defamation or hate. We reserve the right to delete what we do not like and don’t really mind if you have a problem with this. It is our event after all, not yours.”

Offical hashtag #RallyAgainstDebt or #RAD

Official Website: http://rallyagainstdebt.org/

What a bleddy marvellous idea!

Ampers

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A fascinating South African newsletter

I get this regular newsletter from PeterJasie in South Africa. (Make sure you click on the English link!) He is retired and spends a lot of his time holidaying all around Southern Africa and his newsletter is a mixture of useful information, travel information, recipes, often a “letter from Zimbabwe” Mirna van Wyk articles (she is an educational psychologist from Stellenbosch) and lost of other snippets of information.

Here is an extract from his latest newsletter – but first, one of his photographs.

Photo of an African night sky

African skies by Peter Jasie

Venda Myths and Traditions

The Venda people were one of the last black tribes to migrate south of the Limpopo River. When they moved in to South Africa they found a beautiful, bountiful area, which they promptly named Venda (pleasant place) and settled there.

Lanky, yet graceful, the Venda people are warm and friendly. Their history began in the valleys and mountains of Limpopo Province, where their forebears established a great civilisation centred round Mapungubwe.

Though ruled by kings, the position of women in Venda culture is unusual in Africa in that they are encouraged to occupy senior positions in society. It is common for a woman to inherit her father’s estate where there is no apparent male heir.

Children and the elderly have their own role to play. This is linked to the recognition and worship of the ancestors. Having just joined the earthly plane, the children are still close to the ancestors. The elderly are also close to the ancestors because they will soon join the spiritual realm in death.

In Venda tradition there are many sacred sites, especially Lake Fundudzi high in the Soutspansberg Mountains. Even today, it is believed this is where the White Python – the god of fertility – lives.

Lake Fundudzi
A must see is definitely the sacred “Lake Fundudzi” situated in the Thathe Vondo forest, the home of the mythical python and white crocodile. The python is the god of fertility in the Venda tradition and the legend tells us that a Venda man had a broken heart because of the loss of a great love. In his sorrow he walked into Lake Fundudzi at which time he turned into a python. Young virgin Venda maidens still perform the famous Domba-python dance in this area to honour this god of fertility. It is also believed that the white crocodile lives in this Lake. This crocodile might have really existed because this Lake is still today populated by large crocodiles, and an albino crocodile might have once lived in the lake where young, virgin Venda maidens were once offered to them. Lake Fundudzi is surrounded by mountains and special permission has to be obtained to visit this sacred Lake. No-one washes or swims in this lake.

Sacred Forest
Also in the Thathe Vondo forest is the so-called “Sacred Forest”. The Thathe Vondo forest has giant hardwoods (jakkelsbessie, yellowwood), a wide variety of ferns, creepers and a wealth of plants and trees which makes the forest nearly impenetrable on foot. The Sacred Forest is a mystical place, where no ordinary Venda person may walk and as a visitor one may not walk off the dirt track going through the forest – hikers are not allowed. In the Sacred Forest, two mythical creatures keep guard namely the white lion (the spirit of Nethathe an important chief) and the thunder and lighting bird called Ndadzi which according to myths flies on the wings of thunder. One can speculate further about this bird and its origin, and the origin of the Venda people.

Domba
The Domba is not a tourist attraction but a ceremony with deep meanings, and it is not possible to witness many parts of it (teaching, ritual bath.). The public is only able to see the dancing which is the occasion for men to choose future wives for their nephews or sons. To see such a dance one gets goose bumps running up and down your spine looking at the bodies movies together to their own rhythm.

Tshikona
This is traditionally a male dance in which each player has a pipe made out of a special indigenous type of bamboo growing only in a few places around Sibasa and Thohoyandou but unfortunately these have almost disappeared. It is quite something to listen to the pipe which has only one note and they have to play in turn in such a way that they build a melody.

The Tshikona is a royal dance, each sovereign or chief has his own Tshikona band. Tshikona is played at various occasions for funerals, wedding or religious ceremonies, this can be considered as the Venda “national music/dance

Tshigombela
The Tshigombela is a female dance usually performed by married women, this is a festive dance sometimes played at the same time as Tshikona.

Tshifhasi
Tshifhasi is similar to Tshigombela but performed by young unmarried girls (Khomba) – womenfolk.

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Die ware Suid Afrika – vandag (in die Engels se taal)

The song is sung in Afrikaans but you don’t have to know the language to understand what it is all about, the video explains it very well
Now ask yourself what story does the video tell and reflect, is it the truth or is it a lie – ask yourself, is it really happening in South Africa as we watch?

Read what Wikipedia has to say about the deaths of Afrikaans farmers. Here is an extract from Wikipedia to save you following the link:

Genocide Watch has theorized that farm attacks constitute early warning signs of genocide against Afrikaners and has criticised the South African government for its inaction on the issue, pointing out that the murder rate for them (“ethno-European farmers” in their report, which also included non-Afrikaner farmers of European race) is four times that of the general South African population. There are 40,000 white farmers in South Africa. Since 1994 close to three thousand farmers have been murdered in thousands of farm attacks, with many being brutally tortured and/or raped. Some victims have been burned with smoothing irons or had boiling water poured down their throats.

I was brought up amongst Afrikaners as a child and although they can be a prickly race and if you get three of them on a street corner talking politics, you will never get one agreeing with another. Having said that, they are a warm and friendly people. One story was, my mother with her British accent was travelling a long journey on a train and five Afrikaners (a family) got on the train. When they found out she was a Brit, they exchanged a few polite sentences with her, and lapsed in their Afrikaans and ignored her. When it was lunchtime, they got out their large hamper and automatically set out six places. They wouldn’t have dreamed of not sharing their food, even with an accursed Brit (in the Boer War approximately 27,000 Boer Women and children died in Kitchener’s “Konsentrasie Kampe”) – I will leave you to work out the translation. Here’s a tip – Hitler copied the idea from the British and used it in WW2.

Finally, Look at our British Parliament and the way our politicians behave. Would you like foreigners to look at our parliament and say, “look at those Brits, that’s the sort of people they are”. Or would you rather them look at parliament and say “look at those politicians, the poor Brits having to put up with them”. If you are American, just transpose Americans for Brits. It is very much the same in South Africa, the shower running the country pre 1994 did not reflect the white races, and as you watch the video and wonder how these killers can get away with three thousand murders – and wonder further whether the ANC government have turned a blind eye, reflect that the people in Government do not reflect most of the black races at all. Just like Britain. Just like America. Look at Iraq, our governments are even worse than the ANC!

Ampers

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An army of Lions lead by a sheep?

An old African saying reads: An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.

The question to ask here is, which of the following seems like a sheep, and which one seems and sounds like a lion?

David Cameron – sheep or lion?
Nick Clegg - sheep or lion?
Ed Milliband - sheep or lion?
Nigel Farage - sheep or lion?

Take a look at this website – I show an extraction below:

Annual Costs of EU Membership

The net cost of the EU to Britain is £20 billion pa. But the actual cost is much more than that.

The European Union costs us £65 billion gross every year.

That’s about £1,000 each every year for every man, woman and child in the UK. And it increases every year.
Direct and Indirect Costs of the EU

Estimates of the true cost of the EU are difficult to come by. MPs have called many times for a cost-benefit analysis, to prove or disprove the benefits of membership. Successive Governments, both Labour and Conservative, have refused, on the grounds that the “benefits” are self-evident. In truth they are afraid of what such a study would show. The Bruges Group have finally produced an authoritative study.

(http://www.brugesgroup.com/CostOfTheEU2008.pdf)

The second question to ask is what can you do with an extra £1,000 for you, an extra £1,000 for your spouse, and an extra £1,000 for each of your children each and every year? Or, to put it another way, what could our country do with an extra £65B each year to go towards paying off our debts?

This is a very hard question to ponder over, so I’ll go away and leave you to it!

Ampers

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Cuddly furry animals explain Quantitive Easing

Please don’t drink your coffee anywhere near the keyboard when watching this…

Ampers

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What Unions in schools is about

But, relax, this isn’t about Britain. It is about America.

I mean, surely it can’t apply here… can it?

Ampers

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Ebaynomics

by Anton Howes

We’re all now familiar with the way the online exchange market eBay works. However, it should also be seen as an example of how unregulated free markets can work. In 2010, 90 million people from across the world, often unable to speak the same language, and totally unknown to each other due to adopted pseudonyms traded $2000-worth of goods every single second.

Without any government input when it came to advertising standards or fair trading, or any of the usual regulations we see with conventional off-line markets, a whopping 98% of trades managed to get a positive rating. This shows that trust can be built between and amongst people who will never meet, and may even conceal their identities.

You may argue that this is simply because of the rating system, something put in place by the eBay designers, and that this provides a justification for a similar government scheme. But then eBay, like all other markets is entirely voluntary – we buy at our own risk but try to reduce it. Even if eBay had not built in its own ratings system and provided free Buyer Protection, the huge demand for these services would have prompted someone to design them in any case.

Whilst government may wish to get involved, the chances are it would be a waste of taxpayer money, and would displace both consumer wariness and voluntary approaches more open to innovation. Furthermore, regulations always respond to the last disaster. But consumer ratings are likely to be more immediate and effective, whilst also changing seller behaviour without the need for intrusive or expensive top-down rules governing everyone else too.

Read the full article at The Adam Smith Institute

My own monika is “ampers” on eBay and I have traded 158 times with a perfect 100% record.

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It could never happen here.

I was watching the story unfold in Egypt over the last few days and thought “This could never happen in England.”

For one thing, successive governments have made us far too reliant on the state and no matter how evil the politicians become, the people who actually have the time to take to the streets won’t want to knock the status quo.

Yes, I know of the students riots and the poll tax riots, but these are riots with a hidden agenda, orchestrated by a hidden agenda!

Then there is television and radio. No way will people riot in the street if they have to miss EastEnders or Coronation Street, not to mention the Archers or Neighbours!

Finaslly there is the molly-coddling of the young. I grew up in Africa and had access to a little bit of danger – in fact I had access to a huge amount of danger but my parents never found out! Kids nowadays aren’t allowed the slightest bit of danger so grow up into pretty strange human beings.

There are many other examples, but these should suffice to explain why we have been slowly conditioned by our political masters to be completely docile. Even young soldiers have difficulty coping, mentally, with war any more. They come home a bag of nerves and need serious treatment, even those who haven’t been physically wounded and it’s not their fault! And our government doesn’t do enough for them when they do!

We could never riot tomorrow, but we could start to toughen ourselves up politically. Here is a 5 point plan if you want to take a more active part of life in your country. I have also added a bonus item!

  1. Take more of an interest in politics. If you have digital TV watch, not just BBC or ITV news, but watch Sky news as well – they keep winning the annual prize for being the best news programme. Go to meetings, the Adam Smith Institute have many free meetings in London. Attend the occasional local council meetings, this is permitted and you can see how awful democracy works locally. Understand what ALL the parties stand for, even those you hate. I keep an eye on them all, even the obnoxious BNP!
  2. Watch less TV. You are going to hate this but don’t watch any programme which is not self-contained into one showing. This means the soaps and anything that is serialised. This locks you into the TV. Get a good magazine which shows next week’s programmes, highlight only those you really want to watch. After a few months, become even more strict, choose one weekday and one weekend day where you will not turn on the TV. If you really “have” to see a programme, watch it next day on iPlayer or record it! Work towards eventually getting rid of TV and take control of your life again.
  3. I know you have a computer as you are reading this. Investigate RSS feeds and how they work. I use Google Reader to “collect” any additions to a lot of websites and read them all at once. You can read every article in your newspaper’s on-line edition very quickly this way. Read my blog on how it works at http://ampers.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/google-reader/ this can reduce an hour’s searching for news ino 60 seconds!
  4. My mother used to say to me “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.” This is an ideal philosophy to have when watching or listening to anyone in the political classes spouting on the box or in print. Ask yourself Cui bono (who benefits) or Cui malo (to whose detriment) or perhaps, what is their hidden agenda in saying this? All this is important as there will always be a hidden agenda, and whatever they do will usually be to our detriment and to their benefit.
  5. Know where you are on the political spectrum. Those of you who are a little older and can remember their school maths, will understand it when I talk about the ‘x’ axis and the ‘y’ axis. With politics, knowing where you stand in the political spectrum is important. The ‘x’ axis tells us where we stand between left and right but this is only a third of the picture. More important and counting for two-thirds, is the ‘y’ axis. This tells us exactly how much of a statist, centist or libertarian we are. If you aren’t sure, the statist believes the government should run the economy and also run people’s lives. The socialists are statists. A centist believes the government should run the economy but people should run their own lives. It is debatable whether the Conservatives are true centists but they lean a little towards that position. Libertarians are at the top and believe people should run their own economy and their own lives. To work out what you are, go to http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz and complete the ten questions. However, so that you can get proper results, spend a few minutes with every question, no matter how cut and dried they seem to be, and consider the implications of each before you tick the box.

    For example. Should we legalise drugs? Instead of letting your emotions run riot, mull over the fact that, for decades, we have not halted illegal drugs, we are not just losing the battle, we have lost the war. And it is costing the country billions. If we legalised drugs and you could buy them cheaply in Boots, then they would be ”clean”. Every drug dealer in Britain would be out of work, kids would not have access to drugs at the school gate in return for “deliveries”, muggings and burglaries would go down. If you still say “no” tnis is OK as you would have thought it through and would be making an “informed” decision..

  6. Bonus: This brings me to my last point, Thinking things through. You will never be free of the current political oppression unless you learn to think for yourself, to think everything through before making any decision. This will also help in your personal and business life.

My own politics are for me. I am not running this blog to try to influence you, but to attract like-minded people who like what I have to say and follow me.

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Wine tasting at home.

Photo of wineIt is sometimes difficult for an amateur to go to an wine tasting event with so many professionals using such flowery language but it doesn’t matter too much.

When you taste wine and you feel you haven’t the ability to smell the nose or taste the wine in such an expert way, don’t worry about it.

There is another way!

Use numbers. Score your wine out of twenty points. When you examine to colour, give points between 0 and 3 depending on the clarity and brightness of the colour and the size of the lip around the wine. Then give between 0 and 7 for the nose and how it pleases you. Finally give between 0 and 10 for the taste of the wine. 0 is equal for buying it for your mother-in law, and 10 for whether you intend trying to make an impression on a young millionnairess with large eyes.

When in a restaurant, and the wine waiter pours a sample for you to taste there should be enough in the glass to sip a couple of mouthfuls. Otherwise you cannot swill the wine around the glass to get a decent nose of the wine. A waiter without the experience will give you a quarter of an inch in the glass, don’t be afriad to say to them, I need at least two centimetres to be able to test the wine.

First of all look at the colour of the wine over a white light or a white table cloth. Look for cloud or foreign objects in the wine. Then swill the wine around the glass and sniff – you will soon know if there is something funny there! If all seems fine, take a decent mouthful and swirl the wine around the mouth before you swallow. This will give you the final judgement to see whether it is corked or not. One bottle in ten is corked but that isn’t quite as bad as it seems.

If you take corked wine in levels between level one a little corked, to level 10, very corked, different people’s palates can decide whether it is corked or not. Rather than the person at the head of the family testing, it is best to allow the person with the most experience of wine to make this important test. This way if the wine is corked and he can taste it, it can be exchanged. If someone who doesn’t know tests it and accepts it, then your experienced person will be saddled with a bad wine and his evening will be ruined.

If you want to test the difference between an old wine and a fresh wine at home, then buy a new wine and then also buy the exact wine, but a few years older. Then when you taste at home, open both bottles and taste the fresh wine first, followed by the old wine. This way you will learn that age with the right wines improves the wine magnificently.

A word of warning though. If you are happy with the low priced wines you are drinking, and for any reason, you are not prepared to pay more for the nectar of the gods, do not go to wine tastings at all. There is no point whatsoever in educating your palate if you are not willing to pay more.

I did, and am forever crippling myself buying wines which I find hard to afford on my pension!

And my mother-in-law stopped speaking to me.

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For our new immigrants

You are probably wondering about all the terms for this country. England, Britain, United Kingdom and the British Isles.

So here is the definitive description.

Great Britain consists of England, Scotland, Wales and various islands scattered around the landmass.

The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That’s right, Northern Ireland is not in Great Britain.

The British Isles consists of the United Kingdom and Eire. That’s right Eire, an independent country, is still situated within the British Isles.

Learn this by heart as we will be questioning you later and failure to get it right will be drastic for you.

Ampers

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Why I moved to OpenSource

I am often asked why I moved over to Linux from Windows. A question which is difficult to understand when replied to verbally, but a little easier when written down. A few years ago I had a wonky hard drive and kept on having to reformat and reload Windows. After I had done this a few times I received a message on my screen asking me to ring a number (Microsoft’s) immediately.

The guy on the other end introduced himself as Microsoft’s fraud department and demanded to know why I had tried too many times to use the same disk to load up Windows. I was furious and called him a few names and told him I had trouble with my hard drive. He wanted to know where I got the disk.

I suddenly saw how I could have some fun at his expense and said a lady in a London club gave it to me. He became very alert and asked me details of the person. I gave her name and a Reading phone number which he wrote down and suddenly he said, but that’s a Microsoft head office number in the UK. Yes, I said, I am an IT Journalist and she gave it to me at a Microsoft event in London and if he’d prefer, I could scrap this disk and get her to send me another one. He then grudgingly gave me a code to enter into my computer to release Windows. I was amazed that he believed me though!

But it got me thinking. I evidently hadn’t bought the software but the cost is expensive for most, and that this proved most windows products are only on loan, you are not entitled to do anything you like with them, as you wood a book for instance. Lend it to a friend or resell it. Similar to DRM and Music CDs, they are not yours, you have to obey the rules laid down by the music company. Even Kindle books for example can’t be lent to a friend, it has to stay on your Kindle.

It was then that I decided that I would never rent anything again. I would only buy products which were mine to dispose of how I wished. With music I had to be allowed to make up a backup copy and MP3 files for my portable music. I had to make this concession else I’d never buy CDs.

I flirted with several distributions of Linux and decided to settle down with Ubuntu as it seemed the best behaved. And two years on, I have never looked back. I have a choice of a single click download of 43,000 programs which automatically put themselves in the right menu on my computer, I have just counted the number of programs I use, it comes to just over 100! And, these don’t include the administrative files there to help you run the operating system.

Who should run Ubuntu? Not an easy question to answer, but at the lower end of the scale, if you just use your computer to use email, browsing on the web and word processing, then you should definitely seriously consider it. Get the following three programs for Windows or the Mac: Firefox Browser, Thunderbird email and LibreOffice. Google for them. Use them for a few months and, if you are very happy with them, change over to Ubuntu and load the same three programs into your computer and you are away. Easy Peasy! If you want to remain with windows, remember, the free LibreOffice reads, and saves to, Microsoft Office so you can avoid paying such huge prices for that program.

There are some good programs for editing photographs (Picasa from Google is available on all three systems) and music playing, cd ripping, video editing. And a terrific help forum where you get answers in no time at all. Look at www.ubuntu.com

Most other users would probably benefit unless they either use their computers for serious gaming, or Adobe’s more serious software – although “The Gimp” is almost as good as Photoshop and is available on all platforms.

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Batteries in mobiles and laptops to run 100 times longer

A team of electrical engineers at Illinois University in the US believe their method will enable mobiles and laptops to run for up to 100 times longer between charges.

It focuses on changing the way a device’s digital memory works, as this consumes much of the charge.

At the moment mobile phone memories contain thin metal wires. Every time information is accessed, electricity is passed through them to retrieve the data.

The electrical engineers thought that if the size of the components used to store and retrieve the information could be reduced, so could the amount of electricity.

They have discovered a way of using carbon nanotubes – tiny tubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – instead.

The full article is in the Daily Telegraph

Ampers

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The big Society is all about ubuntu

I’m from Africa, you will know about what the Big Society is all about if you come from that neck of the woods.. We called it Ubuntu.

The following is a short description – it’s very hard to describe it in a shorter fashion – I am not religious and am a committed “deist” – this is slightly different to an atheist as, although we disbelieve all notions of religion, we do believe there is some sort of superior force, in my case, nature is that superior force. I have added this as I am quoting a Bishop who, incidentally, I believe to be one of the most sincerest of all the people in South Africa.

Bishop Tutu gives his interpretation of ubuntu which is the best I have seen to date.

“Ubuntu is a concept that we have in our Bantu languages at home. Ubuntu is the essence of being a person. It means that we are people through other people. We can’t be fully human alone. We are made for interdependence, we are made for family. Indeed, my humanity is caught up in your humanity, and when your humanity is enhanced mine is enhanced as well. Likewise, when you are dehumanized, inexorably, I am dehumanized as well. As an individual, when you have Ubuntu, you embrace others. You are generous, compassionate. If the world had more Ubuntu, we would not have war. We would not have this huge gap between the rich and the poor. You are rich so that you can make up what is lacking for others. You are powerful so that you can help the weak, just as a mother or father helps their children.”

All this has been lost in the West though our affluence. Perhaps, when times become harder, we will learn how to inter-relate and help each other. In a way, the hard times ahead may bring rewards.

Finally, here is an example of ubuntu at work.

Ampers

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The case for decriminalising drugs – by Milton Freedman PhD.

Although I have been saying everything he says in the following video, he says it a lot better than me.watch the video and look at some of the benefits I have listed after the video…

This is excellent and I have downloaded it from YouTube and put it on my phone to show others. There is nothing here that I don’t instinctively know and am amazed that everyone else doesn’t know it as well.

I hate hard drugs, I am already hooked on strong coffee and South African Brandy. This is really too much for me as it is!

But if we took drugs out of the criminal offence bracket there would be no dealers recruiting kids outside of the school gates to get them to deliver drugs in return for payment with drugs.

Muggings and burglaries would go right down as drugs would be cheap enough from Boots or the corner shop.

A&E wings of hospitals would have less injuries to treat, every night and double on weekends.

The police would be able to live with any cuts as we wouldn’t need half as many as we do now.

Tens of thousands of drug dealers all around Britain would be out of work. Now this bit pleases me!

One could go on, but this is enough, I need another coffee… badly!

Ampers

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The difference between Barclays Bank and the Gardian Media Group

The following has been lifted unashamedly from Guido Fawkes website, Order-Order.com

 

On Saturday morning The Guardian decided to give UK Uncut a front page boost.  The protestors managed to shut down three dozen of the 1,720 branches of Barclays bank. Surprised they found any branches to occupy given Saturday opening hours.

The gist of the shabby story was Barclays bankers are evil tax dodgers. The evidence was a hatchet job with the paper making the spurious claim that Barclay’s only paid 1% tax on their £11.6 billion profits. In arriving at a profit before tax figure of £11.6 billion, The Guardian has added the profit from the ongoing business (£4.5 billion) to profits from a disposed business (£726 million) and the gain made on disposal of that business (£6.3 billion) to reach a total of £11.6 billion.

What they chose to ignore however was the total tax take Barclay’s had to pay; payroll taxes, bank levy, non-recoverable VAT, employers NI, SDRT and so on. Over the weekend Tim Worstall and the FCA Blog tore chunks out of the piece:

The article compares the cash paid to HMRC in respect of UK corporation tax in 2009 (£113 million) to the profits generated by the consolidated Barclays group worldwide in 2009. In the UK, tax is paid in arrears, so 2009 taxes would relate to widespread 2008 losses, not 2009 profits.

Multinational companies such as Barclays pay tax in a number of jurisdictions. Generally speaking Barclays only pays UK corporation tax on profits it generated in the UK.  Anything earned outside the UK doesn’t get taxed here. So it’s a howler to compare the UK corporation tax payment to the global consolidated profit. Most of those profits were taxed where they were made.

In 2002 (under Gordon Brown, Chuka), the UK government introduced the substantial shareholdings exemption, a corporation tax exemption for UK businesses disposing of a substantial shareholding in a part of their business. The idea was that businesses should be able to restructure their businesses without having to worry about chargeable gains implications. Barclays are heavily criticised by The Guardian for using it.  The last time that Guido saw this being used was by the, err, Guardian Media Group to save themselves some £60 million of taxes in 2008:

“In 2008 GMG sold half of Auto Trader publisher Trader Media Group and made an exceptional (one-off) profit of more than £300 million. No tax was payable on the return from that sale because under UK law GMG qualified for SSE”

In 2008 The Guardian made £302 million in profits and paid no corporation taxes. The CEO, Carolyn McCall, was paid an £827,000 package. Yet we don’t see the UK Uncut crowd kicking up a stink about The Guardian’s tax structures or their fat cat pay and bonuses.

Over the weekend the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (half-a-million a year since you asked) tweeted about Barclay’s offshore holding corporations. Guardian Media Group holds hundreds of millions in assets in a Caymans Island domiciled offshore corporation.

Guido put it to the GMG press office that GMG has £223.8 million invested in an overseas/offshore hedge fund managed by Cambridge Associates which trades currency derivatives. They don’t deny it and have declined to confirm the fund’s structure for tax purposes.

Guardian readers seem to be under the illusion that it is owned by a not-for-profit charity. The Scott Trust was wound up in October 2008 and the Guardian is a for-profit-privately-owned media business, the well paid directors of which confirm in their annual accounts that they operate tax strategies in line with their fiduciary duty to the shareholders – just like any other business.

The old Scott Trust was set up in 1936 to avoid inheritance taxes and wound up in 2008 so that GMG could cynically exploit the SSE capital gains tax shelter to pay 0% in corporation taxes on their £302 million in profits that year. GMG claim that it was about modernising the holding structure, in fact it was a disingenuous cover for corporate venality.

For three quarters of a century the The Guardian has been shirking taxes, Guido has no problem with them acting in their shareholders’ best interests. The hypocritical cant from them however about others doing the same is beyond contemptible…

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The truth behind the Barclays Corporation Tax furore.

From the Telegraph:

Barclays paid out just £113m in corporation tax in 2009, despite making a pre-tax profit of £11.6bn, according to chief executive Bob Diamond.

The revelation came in a letter to Chuka Umunna MP, a member of the Treasury Select Committee (TSC), who put Mr Diamond under pressure to declare how much of the £2bn in tax paid by Barclays to HMRC was in the form of corporation tax.

The vast majority of the tax paid by Barclays was pay-as-you-earn and national insurance contributions, while corporation tax accounted for 5.7pc of the total bill.

Mr Umunna said it was “shocking” that Barclays had paid so little in corporation tax in 2009.

“This revelation underlines the government’s failure to take the robust action needed to make sure that the banks which caused the crash pay their fair share, and will stick in the stomachs of small businesses struggling to borrow and ordinary people feeling the pinch of the government’s austerity measures,” said Mr Umunna.

See if you can spot the error. A clue is that the present Government only came to power in May 2010.

Hattip to: Working Class Tory

I honestly thought, from the noise the left were making about this, that it was the Tories who let the banks off all the Corporation Tax – and now it turns out that the Labour Party made them this enormous present.

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How fast is your laptop?

Watch this video for true enlightenment.

Ubuntu Light: Live fast from Immprint ltd on Vimeo.

As you can see, this is the way to conserve your laptop battery each and every day.

Ampers.

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A comparison of Cameron, Cleg and Milliband

Watch this video and you will be enlightened and will, forever, know the difference. Thanks to my good friend Max for this gem – Lord knows what he would do if they took his editing software away!

Ampers

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How the Government steals your money

John Maynard Keynes wrote…

“By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens…. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

So have you stocked up on beans or gold yet?  Have you taken Guido’s advice?

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon, if we don’t figure out a way to exit QE we will inevitably suffer double digit inflation. This is not an accident, it is as the Chinese have pointed out, the deliberate intention of policymakers in Washington and London to inflate away their debts. The cost of that policy will fall hardest on savers and pensioners who will be the collateral damage of this policy.

It is entirely cynical of Mervyn King and Ben Bernanke to scaremonger by talking of a bogus threat of deflation…

Thanks to Guido Fawkes at order-order.com for this reminder, he has a really good website and often gets the political news before the newspapers..

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Britain, crime and the law

The following was written by Working Class Tory and was nicked from his blog – but I know he won’t mind as long as I have acknowledged the author and given a link to his website! This, in turn, was nicked from the National Review On Line, but like my blog, full acknowledgements have been given. When something is good and of great interest, it moves around!

Britain has the highest crime rate in Western Europe, despite having a third of all the closed-circuit television cameras in the world to oversee the population, and despite having more or less abandoned a suspect’s right to silence.

There are whole areas of the country in which the weight of the state in the economy is not far short of that of the state in Soviet Russia.

Thanks to state-sponsored social pathology, more than a third of the population is entirely dependent on the state for its livelihood, and would starve without it.

The last government created a new criminal offense every working day for ten years, such that no citizen can possibly know what is legal and what is not.

Arbitrary and constantly changing regulation makes life a nightmare for anyone running a business or a service.

While expenditure on education doubled between 2000 and 2007, the proportion of British children learning a foreign language declined by 75 percent.

In short, the British state is a swamp of corruption, all the worse for being more intellectual and moral than straightforwardly financial.

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The two Eds – it gets worse and worse

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) told the incumbents at the Treasury (Gordon Brown and Ed Balls) as early as 2004 that it was borrowing too much and spending too much.

But our illustrious duo totally rejected the IMF findings and, further more, bullied the officials into keeping schtum (silent) and not to broadcast their findings to all and sundry. During this time Ed Milliband was the economic adviser to the Government.

A new report finds that information was not only withheld from the public, but from the IMF as well, by our then Government.

In addition, IMF officials were intimidated and because of the withheld information, regulators at home and abroad failed to spot serious risks to the financial sector and the economy.

The story gets worse but I will keep it short here and you can watch this unfolding over the next week or so. One high point in the following week will be PMQs (Prime Minsters Questions) in the House of Commons. On Sky News at noon on Wednesday for half an hour. Look out for fireworks there.

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WE HAVE MOVED!!!

Ampers’s Rants have decided to move.

Please note our new address. There will be no more posts here.

If you have added your name to be notified, you can also add your address at the new website:

www.ampers.me.uk

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How the Irish invented Dance

This is hilarious, you must have your sound up! No point in telling you the length as, after you have listened for a few seconds, you will stay for the duration, but don’t worry it isn’t too long!

Keyboard warning – put your tea or coffee on the table before starting the video below

Ampers

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Is the Government finally listening?

Nick Clegg; we’re restoring hard won British liberties

Today the Government is publishing a Freedom Bill. A piece of legislation that brings together a raft of measures to restore hard-won British liberties that have been lost in recent years.

Read this exciting article at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/8317257/Nick-Clegg-were-restoring-hard-won-British-liberties.html

Naturally there are many who will say this isn’t going far enough, but it will only be those who don’t understand the nature of committees. The more you put into a bill, the less chance it has of getting everyone behind it.

This will do for starters surely?

And remember, it is up to all of us to persuade them to have a “Mark Two”.

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The sad thing about the Big Society

What really saddens me is that we have had to have the Prime Minister remind us of what living in the world is all about. Where I come from, in Africa, they understand what it is about, they even have a word for it, “Ubuntu” and I am not talking about the Linux software!

But I don’t blame the people over here for this, it is not their fault. It is the fault of various politicians of either party since 1945 who have built into our psyche that the State will look after us from the cradle to the grave.

The Big Society has not been invented by David Cameron! It was around long before the second world war. It is practiced in some parts now such as the military, and until twenty years ago very much in the East End.

It is about small things that make a difference. Helping a neighbour who is ill with their shopping, saying good morning to an elderly person who lives alone and smiling at them. joining a club to get to know your neighbours better. helping a local charity group. Clubbing together to protest at a council injustice. All these little things help grow a community.

Naturally the socialists rubbish the notion of the Big Society, and it isn’t just because it was the Conservatives idea. The whole idea of the big society is against everything they belive in. Their whole philosophy is that the state rules all. Everyone has to be dependent on the sate as, the more people who are, the more votes tend to go to Labour. If everyone learned to do everything for themselves, and to work instead of being on benefits, the Labour vote would deteriorate very quickly and they would never get in to rule the country again.

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Banking in the UK

When people see my cheques they are surprised that I bank with a building society instead of a “proper” bank. OK until last year I used to bank with Citibank as they issue Euro and Dollar accounts complete with chequebooks and credit and debit cards. But I am retired, no longer in business, and no longer need the services of an international bank – although I have kept my sterling account still live. In addition to this, I no longer have any “real” money to play with!

Last year I decided to move to Nationwide. There are some points which I do like. For example, when I pay in, I don’t have to use a paying in slip, I just hand the teller my Nationwide debit cart and the cheque or cash, and she swipes the card on her till and it is done. Citibank do this but as we normally used Lloyds to pay in as Citibank only have six branches of their own in the UK (and have a special arrangement with Lloyds) this wasn’t a help to me. However, I am not aware of many other banks being so up to date.

The other thing I like is they send me a text every Saturday showing me the account movements since the previous Saturday so I can see if there has been any funny business. Not sure if they offer a text if your account is below a certain amount, but this would be very useful to younger people out there.

Finally, they are giving me around 3.5% p.a. interest on my meagre savings and that is very fair considering the 0.5% bank rate!

If you look on the Internet you will see a string of complaints about every bank and building society out there. I was with Citibank for around a decade and never made a complaint. This was probably due to the fact that I had never been overdrawn and obeyed their rules. No doubt if I had broken any rules and they chastised me, I would have been angry with wounded pride.

The staff in my local bank are always exceedingly polite with me but that is probably because I keep my account in credit.

If you are unhappy with your bank, sit down and have a long think at the reason for it. Could it be a little of your own causing?

Finally if you are unhappy with your bank, changing to another bank can be fraught with difficulties. Also, the entire bank structure doesn’t revolve around one branch and if you have bad people in one branch, consider just changing branches. Moving then is a lot simpler. Especially if you have a chequebook and debit card, and a lot of standing orders and direct debits!

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Why we should sack our police and employ Ghurkas

February 3, 2011: For the last five months, India has been celebrating and honouring a retired Ghurkha soldier (Bishnu Shrestha) who, single-handedly killed three bandits, wounded eight and drove off another 30. This incident occurred five months ago, and since then Shrestha has been given medals, cash and accolades for his outstanding valor and prowess. The Indian Ghurkha regiment he recently retired from persuaded him to return to active duty so he could receive a cash award and a promotion. Bishnu Shrestha father had also served with the same unit, and retired from it 29 years ago.

All this occurred because Bishnu Shrestha was on a train where about forty bandits, pretending to be passengers, suddenly revealed themselves, and, armed with knives, swords and pistols, stopped the train in the jungle, and proceeded to rob the hundreds of passengers.

When the bandits reached Shrestha, he was ready to give up his valuables, but then the 18 year old girl sitting next to him was grabbed by the robbers, who wanted to rape her. The girl, who knew Shrestha was a retired soldier, appealed to him for help. So he pulled out the large, curved khukuri knife that all Ghurkha soldiers (and many Ghurkha civilians) carry, and went after the bandits. In the narrow isle of the train, a trained fighter like Shrestha had the advantage.

Although some of the bandits had pistols, they were either fake (a common ploy in India), inoperable, or handled by a man who didn’t want to get too close to an angry Ghurkha. After about ten minutes of fighting in the train isles, eleven bandits were dead or wounded, and the rest of them decided to drop their loot (200 cell phones, 40 laptops, lots of jewellery, and nearly $10,000 in cash) and flee. The train resumed its journey promptly, in case the bandits came back, and to get medical aid for the eight bandits who had been cut up by Shrestha (who was also wounded in one hand). Shrestha required two months of medical treatment to recover the full use of his injured hand.

Read the rest of the piece at: http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htinf/articles/20110203.aspx

Forty to one? This surely means we could hire a thousand Ghurkha ex soldiers for our police force and “retire” 40,000 of our police. That would go a long way towards saving on expenditure. And, if we let them keep their khukuris, we’d also save on trials, and reduce the prison population. Every way you look at it, it has to be a plus

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It’s easy to put fear into the politicians.

I was watching the story unfold in Egypt over the last few days and thought “This could never happen in England.”

For one thing, successive governments have made us far too reliant on the state and no matter how evil the politicians become, the people who actually have the time to take to the streets won’t want to knock the status quo.

Yes, I know of the students riots and the poll tax riots, but these are riots with a hidden agenda, orchestrated by the Labour movement. Have you noticed that the riots are always when the Conservatives are in power? And, that the Labour Government always seem to “break” our country, and the Tory governments always try to fix it? Not that they ever make a good job of it!

Then there is television. No way will people riot in the street if they have to miss EastEnders or Coronation Street, not to mention the Archers or Neighbours!

Then there is the molly-coddling of the young. I grew up in Africa and had access to a little bit of danger – in fact I had access to a huge amount of danger but my parents never found out! Kids nowadays aren’t allowed the slightest bit of danger so grow up into pretty strange human beings.

There are many other examples, but these should suffice to explain why we have been slowly conditioned by our political masters to be completely docile. Even young soldiers have difficulty coping, mentally, with war any more. They come home a bag of nerves and need serious treatment, even those who haven’t been physically wounded. And our government doesn’t do enough!

We could never riot tomorrow, but we could start to toughen ourselves up politically. Here is a 5 point plan if you want to take a more active part of life in your country. I have also added a bonus item!

  1. Take more of an interest in politics. If you have digital TV watch, not just BBC or ITV news, but watch Sky news as well – they keep winning the annual prize for being the best news programme. Go to meetings, the Adam Smith Institute have many free meetings in London. Attend the occasional local council meetings, this is permitted and you can see how awful democracy works locally. Understand what ALL the parties stand for, even those you hate. I keep an eye on them all, even the obnoxious BNP!
  2. Watch less TV. You are going to hate this but don’t watch any programme which is not self-contained into one showing. This means the soaps and anything that is serialised. This locks you into the TV. Get a good magazine which shows next week’s programmes, highlight only those you really want to watch. After a few months, become even more strict, choose one weekday and one weekend day where you will not turn on the TV. If you really “have” to see a programme, watch it next day on iPlayer or record it! Work towards eventually getting rid of TV and take control of your life again.
  3. I know you have a computer as you are reading this. Investigate RSS feeds and how they work. I use Google Reader to “collect” any additions to a lot of websites and read them all at once. You can read every article in your newspaper’s on-line edition very quickly this way. Read my blog on how it works at http://ampers.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/google-reader/ this can reduce an hours searching for news ino 60 seconds!
  4. My mother used to say to me “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.” This is an ideal philosophy to have when watching or listening to anyone in the political classes spouting on the box or in print. Ask yourself Cui bono (who benefits) or Cui malo (to whose detriment) or perhaps, what is their hidden agenda in saying this? All this is important as there will always be a hidden agenda, and whatever they do will usually be to our detriment and to their advantage.
  5. Know where you are on the political spectrum. Those of you who are a little older and can remember their school maths, will understand it when I talk about the ‘x’ axis and the ‘y’ axis. With politics, knowing where you stand in the political spectrum is important. The ‘x’ axis tells us where we stand between left and right but this is only a third of the picture. More important and counting for two-thirds, is the ‘y’ axis. This tells us exactly how much of a statist, centist or libertarian we are. If you aren’t sure, the statist believes the government should run the economy and also run peoples lives. The socialists are statists. A centist believes the government should run the economy but people should run their own lives. It is debatable whether the Conservatives are true centists but they lean a little towards that position. Libertarians are at the top and believe people should run their own economy and their own lives. To work out what you are, go to http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz and complete the ten questions. However, so that you can get proper results, spend a few minutes with every question, no matter how cut and dried they seem to be, and consider the implications of each before you tick the box. For example. Should we legalise drugs? Here you would mull over the fact that, for decades, we have not halted illegal drugs, we are not just losing the battle, we have lost the war. If we legalised drugs and you could buy them cheaply in Boots, then they would be ”clean”. Every drug dealer in Britain would be out of work, kids would not have access to drugs at the school gate in return for “deliveries”, muggings and burglaries would go down. OK, you might still say no, but at least you would have thought it through.Bonus: This brings me to my last point, Thinking things through. You will never be free of the current political oppression unless you learn to think for yourself, to think everything through before making any decision. This will also help in your personal and business life.

Ampers.

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Are you bored with your present situation?

Get a hobby!

Ampers

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Mobile phone companies charging new VAT for December

Take a look at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8286170/Mobile-phone-firms-charged-20-VAT-for-Decembers-calls.html

It seems like several cellphone companies are charging the new rate of 20% VAT a month earlier.

I am not accusing the companies of dishonest practice but of pure laziness of not wanting to work out which parts of the bill attracts which rate. But it should be noticed that they are erring in their favour not ours.

Ampers

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I could separate the Banks investment arms from their high street banking in five minutes flat!

I have been following Cameron’s attempts to persuade them to split up over the months and wonder at the ineptitude of it.

If I were Prime Minister, I would make a phone call to the newspapers saying that the Government will be withdrawing the £50,000 savings guarantees for peoples savings as from 31st December 2011, and after that will only guarantee the savings of savers who save with banks who do not have an investment arm.

There, it will be done.

You can bet your bottom dollar than by the end of this year, most of the banks will have separated the two business otherwise they would have dead high street branches.

Ampers.

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This would never be allowed in the UK

Here is an advert for Nandos Fried Chicken shown on South African TV.

Yes, we do have our own brand of blonde Essex Girls in South Africa, as you will see in this short clip!

Alas, even if you are going over there for a holiday, there’s no point in giving you her phone number, she’s fully booked until 2015.

Ampers.

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What is Ubuntu

Ubuntu, in Xhosa or Zulu means a shared progress0 for the help of all. The Linux program Ubuntu was based by a fellow South African, Mark Shuttleworth, on that premis and it has expanded rapidly in the five or so years it has been in existence.

I have been dabling with Linux on and off for ten years now, First with SuSE and then with Ubuntu, and for the last two years have used Ubuntu solely on my desktop and for one year on my Notebook and on my Netbook.

And have never looked back, or spent a penny on software.

Take a look at their latest software. It is quite impressive.

If you only use a wordprocessor, spreadsheet, browser and email program, then it is foolish not to use this. If you also like software to edit and watch videos and photographs, then it is foolish to use anything other than this. If you like to play music and edito mp3 files for your cellphone, then this is the operating system to use.

There is only one “lie” in the entire video. It states there are thousands of free programs available. This is wrong but I understand why they have said this. There are, in fact, tens of thousands of free programs and I have said this here as I am sure my readers will be able to get their heads around this fact.

Ampers

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A False Identity

This is something we normally associate with criminals or people in the security services, but with social websites and the all invasive Internet, it might be more useful if we all create a false identity.

Name. Use a nickname with your surname instead of your real first name whenever you are on the Internet. Make sure it begins with the same initials as your first name. Have a false address, but one that is nearby where you have a relative or good friend who will pass on any mail which might arrive for you. Phone: If you have to give out a telephone number, use your cellphone number. Make a list of everyone you give out the cellphone number to as you might want to change it every two years when you change your phone contract. When you make a list, you need to put their email address on the list as it will then be easy to send out a blanket email to those who need to know your new mobile number.

Email address: Get a Google Gmail account. This is useful as it allows you to add a “+” sign before the “@”sign and add an identifying code as part of your email address. For example, I signed in to Majestic Wine once, and used ampers+majestic@gmail.com. Six months later I got an email spam from Aviva addressed to ampers+majestic@gmail.com. I telephoned the CEO at Majestic who was dismayed (I wonder why) and said he’d ring me back after making enquiries. The story when he rang me back was that an ex-employee must have sold the list on! I now use numbers as these don’t stand out so much, such as ampers+0324@gmail.com and have a list of who I sign on with these numbers. Very useful.

History: Write out a potted history which is similar to your own but different enough to foil any criminals who may want to impersonate you in your non-Internet life. But keep it to less than one A4 page in size Leave room for adding extra data when a website asks for what you feel is intrusive data.

Birthdate: Change your date of birth to one in the year after or before yours. Use your relatives or your friends birthday month and day so it is always in your memory. In other words, change it but make it easy on yourself.

Facebook: If you have a Facebook account, your friends don’t bother to read your personal information there, so slowly change it all to fit into your new identity. Strangers who pretend to want to be friends will harvest this incorrect information and you will have protected yourself from these people.

This article is not intended to be the “be all and end all” of what needs to be done. It is intended to get you thinking along the right lines to protect your identity from thieves.

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Use the “nudge” Mr Cameron!

Our government is, naturally, worried about the habit of over-drinking amongst the British.

However, as usual, and this applies to both major parties, they are clueless on what to do about their problems.

I can tell you that most of our ails concerning smoking, drinking, carrying weapons, bad behavour etc are caused by a dearth of education. We have to start teaching parents how to bring up children as Governments have molly-coddled the population so much, they expect the Government to do everything for them from cradle to grave. Because of this, certain swathes of the population no longer have any idea of parenting.

However, this will, naturally, take time and we should start addressing the problem now.

I read, in today’s London Metro, a letter by Frank Jacobs, of London E3 of a suggestions which would reduce the number of pubs which are closing at an alarming rate, and encourage the heavy drinkers to start drinking socially by bringing them off the streets and back into clubs. By all means increase the duty on bottled and canned beer, but at the same time, reduce the cost of draught beer.

I think this is a very good suggestion but I would like to take it one step further. Inform breweries what this is going to be on a brewery by brewery basis, and if any brewery pub manager sells too much beer to someone which causes the police to be called, either in the pub, or when that person leaves the pub, the duty reduction will cease for all that breweries pubs for three months, the first time, six months the second time, and twelve months the third time. After the fourth time it should be permanent.

This would “nudge” the street drinker back into the pubs whilst, at the same time, “nudge” the breweries to put the interests of the communities above the interests of the shareholder.

Ampers.

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Tell them why you’re leaving

The English don’t complain verbally, they just complain with their feet.

This may be a way of punishing the shop or supplier, but is it fair to your fellow Englishmen?

For example, if you don’t like a shop because the staff are rude to you, complain to the owner and tell him you don’t need “rudeness” and won’t be shopping there again. For example, I use Virgin and will leave for Three when my contract expires. I will tell them it is because Virgin charge me 10p to call them, and Three don’t charge anything.

OK it may be too late for me, but if enough of us complain about the same thing, the supplier may change his ways.

British management is renowned all over the world for being at the bottom of the list of countries with regard to employer employee relations. This can be partly because we don’t complain. If you hate your boss and you want to leave, state the reasons in full; send a copy of your resignation letter to the managing director (but be fair, add “copy to managing director” on your letter. The MD will do nothing at the time, but if the next person who leaves gives the same reason, he’ll start asking questions and if three do the same…

If you are stuck with a supplier because you are under contractual obligations, start a notebook with all the things which occur that has upset you, date each item. Write a report on all these just before your contract expires and tell the CEO why you are not renewing.

If you are not happy with the Government, write to your MP and tell him why. But to be effective, this has to be for genuine reasons. Of course, this is more potent if your local MP is of the same party as the one in power at the time. The same applies to complaining about local issues to your councillors.

There are advantages of us turning into a race which complains about everything that is not right. Eventually, it could strengthen the country as a whole and your local community in particular.

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Now back on Twitter

If you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em.

So I have rejoined under a new name: @AmpersUK is the new monicker!

Ampers

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