Archive for March, 2010

What is OpenSource Software?

OpenSource software is often confused with  Shareware and Freeware, which it isn’t. Shareware and freeware are compiled programs and the source code is not available to the user.

OpenSource is more of a concept, than anything else. It is, granted, free, but where it differentiates from Shareware and Freeware is that it comes with the source code (this is the original code in text format that anyone can see and make changes).

There are many who think that OpenSource is the future for all software and I will attempt to give an example, using smaller numbers, which hopefully illustrates the concept.

A software house called “Widget Software” sells their program for £300. They have 10,000 customers which they have to support. So they employ a large support team for this task. In addition, they have to continue to upgrade the software as requests for extra features from their clients pour in.

Then, one day, the company decides to embrace the “OpenSource” model. They release the source code on the Internet and, at the same time, set up a Forum for users to help each other. The companies user-base grows to 100,000.

They now have a fixed fee support contract which is charged out at £50 a quarter. Out of all the extra users, many are from corporates and smaller companies who are happy to pay for the support contract once they download the program and can see it will do what they want. Companies hate free as they want to be able to hold someone to task if they are not able to use a product for what it is designed for. Already they are increasing their turnover.

And, of course, they don’t need to upgrade the product because users are doing this. An OpenSource licence allows people to make changes to the software on the condition they send back the changes to the company if they wish to pass their improvements on. Which is fine all the way around. Therefore, Widget Software can reduce the number of engineers as they will have less work to do, so their profit increases.

This is the scenario that many in the computer industry think may the way to go. I will quote the example of Canonical Limited. They started using the OpenSource movement to create the Ubuntu version of Linux, who then gives their server and desktop software away free of charge, including the source code. The forums are full of very helpful people who spend ages helping newcomers to this operating system. And, after a few years, Canonical Limited who offer support contracts to larger organisations have grown their staff to over 200 people at the last count in 2009.

As an example, one of their best customers are the French Gendarmerie Nationale, who have a number of servers running Ubuntu and have recently moved 20,000 desktops to Ubuntu and the next 80,000 desktops are being moved over in 2010 and 2011. Certainly a vote of confidence.

I moved over to Ubuntu in my 70th year and, quite frankly, found it much more intuitive than Windows. Instead of the £300 Microsoft Office, I use the OpenSource OpenOffice which will read and save in Microsoft formats. I also use Firefox web browser which is so much more advanced than Internet Explorer. For Email I use Thunderbird. All these programs are available on Windows, the Mac and Linux so I initially moved over to them when I was using Windows and when I was up and running with each, I only then moved to the Linux operating system.

One thing to mention about Linux, if you have an old computer in the attic, which runs Windows at such a slow speed, you may well find it comes to life with Linux

There are thousands of OpenSource programs available (18,000 at the last count) but most of them only run on Linux alas.

As a voluntary organisation, The Finchley Arrow has made a conscious decision only to use OpenSource software with the proviso that it only uses the ones that run on all three platforms (Mac, Windows and Linux). This means that if a new volunteer arrives and wants to take a job which relies on software, they can download the software from the Internet for free, no matter what computer they own. We even produce our newspaper using an open source desktop program called Scribus.

I personally save around £500 a year using Linux. This is with software savings, hardware savings as we no longer need to change the computer every three years, and support savings as we get tremendous help on the Forums and can do it ourselves, even at age 70!

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Saturday schools

The Tories have said that they would bring back Saturday schools to help poorer children.

This is a good idea, but I came up with what I thought was a good idea a few years ago.

To have a one Saturday morning a month school for children from the age of thirteen to teach them about the things in life that schools don’t prepare them for. Things like how to plan with written goals. How a business works through project management. How to negotiate (not selling) with people such as their manager, their bank, buying a new car or home, even their parents! A little simple programming so that they can understand how algebra, trigonometry and geometry relate to programming, so they can see a useful reason behind these subjects. How to relate with others, understanding their needs and aspiration and how to interact with them. A little about national economics. Perhaps a little about all the political parties, not just the Socialists and the Conservatives.

These pointers are not a be all and end all, but are included to give the reader ideas with which to expand. A morning of three hours once a month for two years would prepare our future generation for the future. And, at the same time, enriching their lives.

But nobody thought it was a good idea so it died a natural death.

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Definition of Socialism

I first saw this quite a while ago, but it seems to be doing the rounds again. It is a perfect example of socialism!

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

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Travelling tourist class

I noticed that the Government have ordered all senior admirals, generals, field marshals and air chief marshals to travel second class to save money.

However, Cabinet ministers may travel first class.

If Cabinet Ministers can travel first class, then their equal counterparts in private enterprise should be allowed to travel first class as well.

So I guess McDonalds are going to have to move their hamburger servers around the country by first class travel in future?

Ampers.

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This warrants wider distribution

Here’s a guide on how to deal with the Police from Spyblog

Spy Blog Hints and Tips for attending this sort of anti-surveillance state public event:

  1. Tell all your friends and family about the meeting, eben if they are not interested in attending themselves, at least have someone worry about you if you are late home from such a meeting.
  2. Although there will obviously be journalists at this particular event, tell any other journalists or broadcast media contacts you have about it – these issues affect them and their readers / audiences, it not not just a a London thing.
  3. Switch off your mobile phone(s) when you are within, a couple of blocks, or Tube or train or Bus stops from Euston. Even if you do not make or receive a voice call or send or receive an SMS text message or use your mobile phone internet connection, then your phone will register its Location every 10 minutes or so with the nearby mobile phone Cell tower base stations, simply to be ready for any such normal mobile telephony uses.This will generate Communications Traffic data including Location Based Services data, which will be trawled through, en masse, by various police and intelligence units with an interest in trying to identify and track some or all of the attendees of this meeting.
  4. Take note and photographs if possible, of anybody seeming to record or photograph vehicle number plates of nearby parked cars or the people entering or leaving the meeting rooms / building etc.
  5. If you are “stopped and searched” under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44, you do not have to give your name and address (although this can be demanded if you are actually arrested under the vast swathe of other legislation ).
  6. Remember that Police Community Support officers have no powers under the the Terrorism Act 2000 section 44, unless they are being physically supervised by a real , sworn, Police Constable in Uniform (plain clothes or undercover police also have no section 44 powers)
  7. Neither Police Constables nor PCSOs can demand that you delete any photographs or video you have taken on your camera or mobile phone (that is potentially “destruction of evidence”) .
  8. This is a peaceful meeting, but just in case you are arrested, or stopped and searched etc. do have the contact details of a firm of solicitors who deal with criminal law and human rights etc. Say nothing until you have access to proper, independent legal advice.
  9. Do not rely on keeping these solicitors details in your mobile phone – that is one of the first things that will be taken away from you by the police – memorise them and / or keep them on paper as well.
  10. Set a security PIN code on your Mobile Phone. This will not prevent the police from examining it forensically if you are actually arrested, but it may be enough to prevent casual, illegal, snooping by Police Constables or by ill trained Police Community Support Officers.
  11. Delete all your stored SMS text messages (sent, received and draft). These can be forensically recovered or reconstructed from central records, but again, there is no need to give anything private away to nosey snoopers who might have your phone in their possession.
  12. Ideally, do not take your normal mobile phone to such a meeting – use a cheap / disposable, prepaid, unregistered mobile phone, with little or no Friendship Tree history or stored contacts or SMS messages.
  13. Since this meeting will be in the run up to the General and Local elections, do please make very clear your views on the creepy Labour Surveillance State and its counterproductive effect on innocent people, to any politicians who might be trawling for votes at or near the meeting.
  14. If you are going to publish any photos or articles or emails or blog entries or tweets or other reports about this meeting, especially if you are inspired to participate in or plan some sort of peaceful action against the Labour Government or Whitehall, or other tentacles of the surveillance state, then please bear in mind our http://ht4w.co.uk – Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers etc. – Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

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Hang ’em high!

I always assumed that the “best before” dates on food were written by companies scared of being sued. For example, with fresh food, they had to assume that some people were too poor to have a fridge, and some of those people would store the food in a hot kitchen.

I have now read, in today’s electronic Telegraph that “The Food Standards Agency” (FSA) fears much of the food is being wasted because people do not understand labels.”

The latest figures show almost 3 million tonnes of food is thrown away because consumers think it is about to go off, and that the biggest problem is people throwing away food because they think that the ‘best before’ date means the food is no longer safe to eat. This is just not true!

Take steak: It is said that the best steak has to be “hung” for three weeks. Being “hung” in domestic premises just means you leave it in the fridge before eating it.

WARNING
If you are like me and like your steak “bleu” then you must sear both sides first as germs only rest on the outside of a steak, and the intense heat of searing will kill them off. For the same reason, as mince has too much contact to the air, hamburgers should always be “well done”. This is bad news if, like me, you like your steak “bleu“. And even those who prefer rare or medium should choose well-done when given the choice.

Ampers.

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Labour concede they are wrong to keep harping back to Thatcher days

When Cameron mentioned that Gordon Brown’s decision to sell our Gold was a disastrous move (it has now quadrupled in price since then) Labour spinners insinuated this was ancient news and he was wrong to bring it up.

Forgive me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Margaret Thatcher the Prime Minister before Gordon Brown was Chancellor? In fact weren’t there several Prime Ministers between her and Brown?

So we can only assume that Labour will no longer mention the Thatcher years.

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Go for it, Nigel

I will let the video do my talking. It is about Nigel Farage, who I have to admit is one of the more charismatic politicians in Britain, talking about the aims of the UK Independence Party in a televised interview.

The interesting thing is that I first saw it on a Conservative MEP’s blog (Dan Hannan).

Ampers

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Use your car, dammit!

So a family large enough to need four bedrooms with a job in an area where houses all cost more than a million for that size says. Dammit, I can’t afford an extra 20,000 in stamp duty, I will move to a cheaper area and drive. So their one car family becomes a two car family, and the husband pollutes the London atmosphere by driving into work.

Does this mean that Darling knows that the “climate change”  business is just a way to tax us more so people using their petrol engined cars doesn’t really bother him?

Or that he hasn’t thought it through?

“That man at the back, could you speak up… what did you say?”

“Both?”

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Which argument is right?

I hear many arguments for pulling out of Europe. Which one is right for you?

Is it the fact that we have given away our sovereignty to a political body where the majority of the centre hate the Anglo-Saxon with a passion?

Admittedly it is not so bad with Eastern Europe coming in from the point that many of their politicians do like the English. However, from another point, these countries are not bringing in funds but draining funds.

Is it because, out of twenty-seven countries, Britain are one of the three major contributors handing out funds, decided by other countries representatives, to the 24 other countries?

Or is it that the billions we hand out could be used to build more hospitals, build more schools, kit out our soldiers with the right gear?

Maybe you would be pleased to learn that the tax burden on our shoulders could be reduced?

Which one works for you?

C’mon “Call me Dave” – get us out of the political European Union.

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Is Blogging a waste of time?

According to “Working Class Tory”, his latest blog gives a resounding No!

Here is the extract:

This is for two reasons. The first is that blogs regularly influence the mainstream news stories. The second is that blogs are essential for balancing the liberal bias in the media. James Delingpole:

What I always find equally heartening is when you look up an article online by, say, Polly Toynbee or some crack-papering fraudster from the Met Office and find its inconsistencies and idiocies being torn to shreds by a readership far more intelligent and on the ball than almost anyone in the liberal commentariat.

And this, I think, is the crux of the matter. The main reason so many left-liberals so loathe and fear the internet is that it is a medium that favours the libertarian right. It completely bypasses all those institutions that Gramscian Marxists fought so hard to capture: broadcasters like the BBC, the liberal-dominated print media, the seats of learning. It allows real people to say what’s really on their mind, unfettered by politically correct pieties. It is part of the same grassroots phenomenon that has seen the Tea Party movement flourish in the US and it expresses a wave of public revulsion at the dishonesty and cant of our political leaders, as well as a yearning cry for liberty in the face of growing dominance by the state.

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Plastic Policemen

According to this mornings Telegraph, more than 2,000 police community support officers have been investigated for misconduct and more than 160 charged with criminal offences since the role was created.

There have been at least 2,233 investigations into PCSOs for alleged misconduct. By comparison, a total of 16,300 PCSOs are now serving nationally.

Since the role was created 167 PCSOs have been charged with crimes, while 276 have been dismissed.

In one case, a PCSO resigned last year after he was found to have an arsenal of weapons at his home and to be a member of the British National Party.

This is one in seven of all  these “civilian policemen”.

Full article here.

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Pensioners to show ID for bus travel

Pensioners could be forced to carry identity cards to qualify for free bus travel, a Government minister has said.

Published: 7:00AM GMT 18 Mar 2010

Campaigners last night attacked the plans, with some suggesting that it could stop retired people who are opposed to the controversial scheme from using buses altogether.

The Home Office estimates that more than 17 million cards will be in circulation by 2017 – although the Tories have pledged to scrap them if they win the general election.

Full story here.

This government is determined that, by hook or by crook, they will force us all to have identity cards.

The real purpose of these electr0nic, biometric identity cards is so they can have an “audit trail” of everything any citizen does, and everywhere they go to, at the exact times of travel, stored on their huge mainframe computers so that, at any time, day or night, they can check up on where you may be or have been.

With Councils paying members of the community of spying on each other; with the labour government having introduced 4,300 new laws since 1997 (that’s an average of one a day); with the government creating a huge amount of non-jobs, and turning a blind eye (although they say otherwise) to people on benefits, they create permanent voters for their party. The Labour Party know they can’t openly turn Britain into a dictatorship, but they can stack the odds up in their favour. And I haven’t even mentioned how they fiddle with postal votes.

I, for one, will not be surprised if Gordon Brown wins the election and has another term to fuck up the Anglo-Saxon even further. How the left hate us.

Ampers.

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How to price a conference

There are lots of opportunities, in life, to attend a conference to learn more about a subject that is going to be useful to you. However, some of these conferences can be expensive and it is often difficult to decide whether you will receive value for money if you pay and attend. Notice I didn’t say whether the conference is value for money, but whether it will be value for money to you.

We can approach this dilemma in a reasoned way. Take the cost of the course. Add to it the cost of getting there and, if you are going to lose money by attending, add that cost as well. So now we have the gross cost of attending. For our simple example, we will assume the cost is £500.

How much do you earn in an hour? Gross of course! If dividing your annual salary by the number of weeks in a year, take into account your holiday entitlement to get the true weekly cost, then divide by the number of days you work in a week, then by the number of hours in the day you work. Here, do not include overtime. Let us assume this figure is £25.

Now divide your hourly figure by the gross cost of attending the course. Which is 20.

Round up, not down, any decimals to get a whole figure. That is the amount of good ideas you will need to get from the conference to break even. These have to be real ideas that you will put into practice and use for at least a year. If you think an idea could be beneficial to you for the rest of your life, you can count it as two ideas for the purpose of this exercise. So, in the above example, if you don’t think you are going to get twenty good ideas, then the conference is over-priced. There may be other reasons you need to attend the conference for, such as networking amongst your peers, but at least you know what you will eventually be paying for.

Most conferences contain a detailed list of all the points that will be covered. Go over them carefully, and make a tally of any idea that you think you could glean from that section of the conference.

I have used this, whether successful or not, I could never be totally sure. However, those conferences or seminars I did eventually attend all produced the required number of new ideas I have adopted, and often many more. So, in my opinion, the costs were never wasted.

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Half a million dogs put to sleep.

These could well be the headlines that Labour will not want to see if they go ahead with their plans to make people insure their dogs.

The figure that many seem to think this will cost is around £600 a year. But, pet insurance does go up each year, so nobody knows where it will end up.

And, how many poor families will not be able to use the insurance and will elect to pay £40 to have their beloved pet put to sleep rather than see it starve through its owners lack of available funds?

How many votes lost can one equate to such a headline? Half a million perhaps? Especially when most pet dogs are harmless.

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Shall I or shan’t I… vote?

“No, they are all as bad as each other, I’ll not bother!”

Well, dear reader, you are right in your first assumption but, as to your second, I have a better way.

But, first of all, highlight the next paragraph as we will return to it later:

If 1.8 million voters vote and the winning party receive 1,000,000 of the votes cast, it can claim it has a mandate for running the country.

Now, supposing you, dear reader, decide to go and vote for an independent or one of the minor parties, together with eight million other non-voters. What would be the benefits?

  • 1. Getting 10 times the number of votes than expected, even though they don’t get an MP elected would give the somewhat jaded enthusiasts a new lease of life to try harder next time
  • 2. Might get some parties one or two MPs, or three at the most. This could give them a little clout if there is a hung parliament.
  • 3. Make a real difference to the party claiming a moral mandate.
  • Let me explain the third point. Refer back to the paragraph I asked you to highlight and bear it in mind when you read the following.

    If a party wins the election with a total of one million votes, and ten million votes were cast, there is no way that party can claim a moral victory. Signals will be sent to the electorate that there is something very wrong if a party can run our lives with only 10% of the total votes cast.

    So I implore you, rather than stay away, come along and protect your right to vote before the powers that be decided to take this right away from you.

    Ampers

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    Funniest video spoof I’ve seen!

    This Video came from “Grumpy Old Twats” blog, he’s a wizard at changing things. It’s well worth watching until the alterations.

    Ampers

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    I was wrong about Michael Foot

    He couldn’t have been as bad as I thought.

    Foot wrote to Enoch Powell, after a speech in 1976, saying:

    What a theme, and what a speech, and what a speaker, and how Oliver Cromwell himself would have been thrilled to hear the parliamentary cause elevated to its rightful pre-eminence… Writing as an impenitent Leveller who still begs to differ with you (and Oliver Cromwell) in so many matters, I still cannot withhold my wonder and excitement at what I heard there today.

    Mr Foot also described Powell’s failure to become leader of the Conservative party as “a tragedy for Enoch, and a tragedy for the rest of us too”.

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    What a daft way to stop your spaniel eating the milkman

    By Jeremy Clarkson (TimesOnLine)

    As we know, one man once got on one plane in a pair of exploding hiking boots and as a result everyone else in the entire world is now forced to strip naked at airports and hand over their toiletries to a man in a high-visibility jacket.

    In other words, the behaviour of one man has skewed the concept of everyday life for everyone else. And we are seeing this all the time.

    Last month a Birmingham couple pleaded guilty to starving their supposedly home-schooled daughter to death. Now, of course, there are calls for parents who choose to educate their children at home to be monitored on an hourly basis by people from the “care” industry, and possibly to have their toiletries confiscated.

    Then we have calls to ban sexually provocative pop videos from the television until 9pm and put Loaded magazine on the top shelf. Will this prevent teenage boys from seeing girls’ breasts? Well, whoever thinks it will has plainly never heard of the internet.

    We see the same sort of overreaction to paedophilia. Just because one man in your town likes to watch schoolgirls playing netball, you must apply for a licence if you wish to take a friend’s kids to school in the morning. And I now run the risk of having my camera impounded by the police if I take pictures of my children playing on the beach.

    Likewise, if I decide to take a picture of St Paul’s Cathedral I will be hurled to the ground by anti-terrorist officers and possibly shot six times in the back of the head — just because one person in Bradford once made a speech about the infidel.

    We seem to have lost sight of the fact that throughout history 90% of people have behaved quite normally 90% of the time. Agatha Christie, for instance, was home-schooled and at no point was she forced to eat breadcrumbs from her neighbour’s bird table.

    Of course, at the extremes, you have 5% who are goodie-goodies and who become vicars, and 5% who build exploding hiking shoes and starve their children to death.

    It’s this oddball 5% that is targeted by the tidal wave of legislation. But making it more difficult to teach your children at home will not stop kids being mistreated.

    It just changes the pattern of everyday life for everyone else. This is what drives me mad.

    We now think it’s normal behaviour to take off our clothes at an airport. But it isn’t. Nor is it normal to stand outside in the rain to have a cigarette or to do 30mph on a dual carriageway when it’s the middle of the night and everyone else is in bed. It’s stupid.

    And last week the stupidity made yet another lunge into the fabric of society with the news that government ministers were considering new laws that would force everyone to take a test before they were allowed to keep a dog.

    No, really. Because one dog once ate one child, some hopeless little twerp from the department of dogs had to think of something sincere to say on the steps of the coroner’s court. Inevitably, they will have argued that the current law is “not fit for purpose”, whatever that means, and that “steps must be taken to ensure this never happens again”.

    The steps being considered mean that every dog owner in the land will have to fit their pet with a microchip so that its whereabouts can be determined from dog-spotting spy-in-the-sky drones, and that before being allowed to take delivery of a puppy, people will have to sit an exam similar to the driving theory test. The cost could reach £60, and on top of this you will need compulsory third-party insurance in case your spaniel eats the milkman.

    So to ensure that someone in the north called Mick doesn’t shove his pit bull into a primary school playground to calm it down, I will now have to computerise my labradoodle and answer a lot of damn fool questions about when my dog should be on a lead.

    In other words, the normality of dog ownership will be skewed. Instead of spending your free time with your pooches, throwing balls or tickling them under the chin, you will be forced to provide tea and biscuits for someone from the department of dogs while he inspects your cupboard under the stairs for evidence that they’ve eaten the cleaning lady.

    You can read the rest of this article at TimesOnLine

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    A good example

    The following video from YouTube, and you can ignore the contents as that is not what this blog is about, describes how it is possible to put a particularly complex point across to a wide audience, in less than sixty seconds. Well done Daniel.

    Andrew

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    BBC and it’s attitude to South Africa

    I have just watched Panorama and the first thing I notice was the commentator speaking with their “special voice of doom” they reserve when they talk about South Africa.

    When the government was handed over to Mandela in 1994 I had the feeling that the BBC were beside themselves with fury that the blacks didn’t rise and kill all the whites. But it really does show just how unintelligent the BBC’s executives really are.

    We, who grew up in South Africa, were not surprised at the orderly transition, and neither are we surprised at the violence in the country at the moment.

    It hasn’t developed out of frustration as the average black South African is far more intelligent than the average Brit. I am talking averages here remember. They didn’t expect a sudden change as they were intelligent enough to (a) know that it would take decades and (b) knew that there would be corruption in their government and that they would have to live with it.

    The drugs came into South Africa when the whites handed over control, and came mainly from Nigeria. The Drug Lords there knew there would be a vacuum where “law and order” was concerned and moved to Johannesburg to take full advantage of the lack of law. They did move to the Cape afterwards but were recognised as the Coloureds in the Cape had a much lighter skin and they were often caught. They had to review this and recruited Coloureds to act for them and now the drugs have spread to the Cape.

    Another thing the BBC don’t understand about the blacks is that a black will tell you what he thinks you want to hear. I once saw a BBC journalist almost cry when a black told him that the wished the whites were back in government. Well, I can tell that BBC journalist not to worry, the black was only telling you what he thought you wanted to hear. You have to get to know a black extremely well, be invited to eat with his family, and they with yours, before he will open up and tell you what is really in his heart.

    The BBC will continue to paint an awful future for South Africa when they should be encouraging them to do better. The basic difference between this poor pensioner and the BBC high rollers is that I send money that I can ill afford to a charity in Johannesburg regularly to help the blacks, the high rollers don’t send a penny to help them. Do I know this? Of course I do, it’s called a basic instinct!

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    Who to vote for?

    Listening to both parties claims, and the pundits comments, and hearing Cameron stating that if Labour win the next election then interest rates will go up, I find myself with a difficult decision to make.

    Do I put England first, and vote for the government who will put England back on the map – at the expense of my savings dwindling even further? At present on half a percent, that works out at 41.5p per month per £1,000 – and that’s before tax. Not even enough for a cup of tea in a workmen’s cafe!

    Or do I put the well-being of my wife and myself first? And vote for Labour, the party which will continue to destroy this country, but who will cause interest rates to soar?

    What would you do?

    Ampers

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    Who was Joshua Norton?

    Monarchy In The USA


    This precis was written by a South African called Pat Conlon, who owned and ran a South African restaurnat in San Francisco, he has done his homework well and, although there are more links at the end of the article, unless you are really interested, there is no reason to travel further. This is an amazing story and is not an Urban Myth! It is a true story.

    The Story of Emperor Norton

    Joshua Abraham Norton, America´s first and only Emperor, was born in London, England on February 14th, 1819. Details of his early life are rather sketchy–almost all that´s really known is that his family moved to Algoa Bay in South Africa during his infancy, where his father prospered as a merchant. It isn´t until his arrival in San Francisco aboard the Dutch schooner Franzika in 1849 that the record begins to fill in

    Norton came to America with a nest egg of thirty thousand dollars, with which he opened a business selling supplies to gold miners, and set about buying up the land that would eventually become San Francisco´s Cow Hollow district.

    By 1855, Norton was one of the most respected businessmen in San Francisco, having rebounded from the fire of 1853 and profitably diversified his operations. Already his friends were referring to him as “Emperor”.

    It was at this time that he hit on the bold idea of attempting to corner San Francisco´s rice market–the city´s large immigrant Chinese population providing a captive and hungry market, at a time when the only way rice (or almost anything else) arrived was aboard cargo steamships. Investors were quick to sign on, and in a matter of days Norton owned, practically speaking, all the rice in San Francisco. For the first few days it looked like yet another daring success for the Emperor, when two ships, well ahead of schedule and brimming with rice, steamed lazily through the Golden Gate. One shipment he might have been able to buy up as well; two was a backbreaker, and in a matter of minutes Norton was ruined.

    He spent the next three years in court, and emerged penniless in 1858. Packing together his meager belongings, Norton disappeared for about nine months; no record tells where he went. He returned suddenly in the late summer of 1859, proudly walking the streets in a beaver hat and naval regalia, arguably mad. By September, Emperor Norton was no longer able to contain his secret. He walked into the offices of the San Francisco Bulletin and presented them with this single sentence, which they ran on the next edition´s front page:

    “At the peremtory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the past nine years and ten months of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States, and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.”.

    Norton I
    Emperor of the United States
    September 17th, 1859

    That day people on the streets began greeting Norton with deep bows and curtsies. The tacit public acceptance was immediate and profound, and San Francisco had a wise and caring monarch to reign over its gilded age.

    Norton I ruled by proclamation, and it didn´t seem to faze him if not all his edicts were carried out. If taxes or water rates were too high, he commanded that they be lowered; if there were inadequacies in the city services, he ordered improvements. On the eve of the Civil War he temporarily dissolved the Union, and after the Prussian victory in 1872, he ordered a week of continuous celebration and thanksgiving. Bay Area newspapers competed for the honor of posting his proclamations, and more than once they devised fakes to generate sales and interest, a practice against which the Emperor railed angrily.

    Few monarchs ever had Norton´s common touch; he abjured seclusion and luxury. He attended every public function or meeting, always arriving by foot or bicycle rather than coach, and performed daily rounds of his capital´s streets, making sure the police were on their beats, and that cleanliness, harmony and order prevailed. If he noticed someone performing some kind act or other, he might spontaneously ennoble them, from which practice the expression “Queen for a day’ was obtained. The titles were especially popular with children, who would follow him in groups, looking everywhere for liter to pick up or old ladies to help across the street.

    Norton´s personal expenses were few. He ate free of charge at whatever restaurant suited him, had three seats reserved for him at every theatrical performance (one for himself and one each for his famously well-behaved dogs, Bummer and Lazarus); the city itself actually paid for his uniforms and the local Masonic Lodge paid for his small apartment. Nonetheless, whenever necessary, Norton had his own currency printed, which was accepted everywhere without question–at a time when U.S. paper money was still regarded with distrust in California. He also had the option of levying taxes, for which his normal procedure was to walk into the offices of an old business friend and politely announce an imperial assessment of ten million or so dollars, but could quickly be talked down to two or three, or perhaps a cigar, with which he would walk out entirely satisfied.

    Still though, this wasn´t really legal, and feelings towards Norton I amongst the police were rather mixed. In January of 1867, in fact, he was arrested by an overzealous policeman “to be confined for treatment of a mental disorder,’ and held at the police station pending a hearing. The public outrage was immediate; every newspaper editorial denounced the action, and there was the real possibility of a riot. Chief of Police Patrick Crowley himself opened the cell doors, and issued a lengthy public apology to the Emperor. Norton himself was magnanimous about the whole affair, and from then on his relations with the police became much more congenial. He let their annual parades and inspected the new cadets; members of what he now called his Imperial Constabulary saluted him when he passed.

    Norton I was a great believer in progress and innovation, and many of the ideas for which he was sometimes regarded as mad have become realities. He issued numerous proclamations proposing and then finally commanding the construction of a suspension bridge linking San Francisco and Oakland, complete with his own design sketches. His planned San Francisco terminus is within a block of where the Bay Bridge abuts now, and a plaque on it bears testimony to his foresight. He was also convinced that travel by air would one day become common, and commissioned panels of researchers and designers to create plans for airships.

    The historical twilight of monarchy was gathering, however, and Norton made it part of his mission to restore whatever luster he could to it. He sent frequent cables to fellow rulers, offering surprisingly well-informed advice, or reflecting on the complex responsibilities of rulership. Many of the responses he got were in fact forgeries, created by his friends to make him happy, but many were not. King Kamehameha of Hawaii (known as the Sandwich Isles) was so taken with the Emperor´s insight and understanding that towards the end of his life he refused to recognize the U.S. State Department, saying he would deal only with representatives of the Empire.

    Norton I died quite suddenly of apoplexy, on January 8th, 1880, on the corner of California and Grant, on his way to a scientific conference. He left no heir. San Francisco went into a period of deep mourning for three days. Ten thousand people, from every walk of life, lined up to view his mortal remains; his funeral cortege was two miles long. At 2:39 that day, during his funeral, San Francisco experienced a total eclipse of the sun. Fifty-four years later, Norton´s coffin was reinterred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma–once again, flags throughout the city were lowered and businesses closed their doors. About sixty thousand people attended the ceremony, which was accompanied by full military honors and dolorous taps.

    This is only a short precis of his story, for more amazing revelations, take a look at www.zpub.com/sf/history/nort.html. This is an Emperor Norton site. It is part of a “Site Ring” and from there you can visit all the sites of the ring.

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    Climate change is not the problem

    The whole world is going mad. Am I really the only sane person? Everywhere I look there are articles, news and comments about “climate change” and nothing about the fact that the earth’s resources are drawing to an end or that the population will double in forty years!

    Oil, copper, uranium just to mention a precious few. Already these are no longer plentiful and are already costing us more to get them out of the earth than they did twenty years ago. It is estimated some of them will be too expensive to mine in twenty years time and by forty years time they will all be too expensive to mine.

    In January 1970 there were 3.91 billion people. In December 2008 there are 6.868 billion. This is an exponential graph and therefore is estimated to double in forty years time.

    (To my friend who said nonsense, people are killing and dying all over the world, it won’t happen, all I can say is, yes, they have also been doing this since 1970 and it doubled.)

    Do look at Chris Martenson’s presentation, then you will be forewarned and will be an expert on economics, the earth, and population explosion after 20 easy chapters. Apart from knowing more about what is happening, you will be in a better position to plan for the future. That has to be a plus… doesn’t it?

    Ampers

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    The Right Honourable Robin Cook MP

    I often think that perhaps Robin Cook was one of the very few politicians who actually deserved to have the word “honourable” in his title. Here he is giving his ministerial resignation speech to parliament. Although not shown here, I have been reliably informed that he actually received an “unheard of” standing ovation after the speech.

    There have been questions asked about his death, two years after his resignation; someone has made a fair, if not conclusive appraisal, on this website.

    I think the most interesting comment that Robin Cook has made is as follows:

    “The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the ‘TV watcher’ to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money.” -Robin Cook

    The above quote and YouTube video were taken from an excellent article on Fred Face’s blog and is well worth the read.

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