All posts by John Band

In Australia, it means ‘food poisoning’

People appear to actually be slightly surprised, shocked, and even upset that Gordon Ramsay’s gastropubs use pre-made food.

People are silly.

Absolutely everyone in foodservice, outside of the very top end (which gastropubs charging £15 for a main course are, obviously, not) uses pre-made, bought-in dishes. Indeed, Ramsay is a step higher than most: at least the dishes he serves are made to his specifications in his own factory…

If you fancy a fun (note: may not contain actual fun) game over the weekend, then print out Brakes Foodservice’s premium catalogue, and cross-match it to dishes on sale in your local gastropub or mid-priced restaurant…

Did you forget to take your medication?

I recognise that reading the comments on CiF is a surefire route to apoplexy and insanity. However, this is an excellent bullet-pointed list of Mad Things That Angry Right Wing People Believe, and hence worth reproducing:

In response to your puzzling question, what specific ‘freedoms’ have we lost? And please be specific. Although it was not directed at me personally I trust you will not object to an input from one who has served the crown in the defence of the freedoms our forefathers fought for. How are these for specifics?
• We are no longer able to share a joke with our ethnic or gay friends in case we are in the earshot of interfering snoopers who will report us for racist or homophobic remarks.

No, incitement to racial or homophobic hatred is illegal, making racist and homophobic remarks is entirely legal (whether you’re doing so as a joke with your ‘darkie’ and ‘bender’ mates who secretly despise you, or out of actual bigotry). Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

• We cannot object to the relevant planning authorities regarding the siting of Gypsy encampments as this is invariably translated by officialdom as a racist offence.

This is just mental. Obviously you can object to the relevant planning authorities about anything. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

• Photographing policemen in uniform is now an offence under the terrorism act. God knows why, because if a uniformed policeman is not undercover, his occupation is plain for all to see if one wanted to put a bullet in his head.

No, it isn’t. The CPS has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the intention behind taking the photos was to help terrorism. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

• We are not allowed to take photographs of railway stations, airports etc under the terrorism act.

Yes, you are. There isn’t even any legislation at all that could be misinterpreted as banning this. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

• We are not allowed to take photographs of our own children, never mind anyone elses, in various school group activities as we are all suspected paedophiles.

This has the grain of a point, although it’s got fuck all to do with the government and everything to do with other bloody parents complaining.

• We are not allowed to smack our children but teachers and parents, alike, are subjected to verbal and physical abuse by delinquent children. Only the other day it was suggested we should be banned from shouting at the little treasures.

Smacking children is entirely legal. Nobody sane or important has suggested banning shouting at children. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

• We are not allowed to shout abuse at politicians, particularly at party conferences, for fear of being detained under the terrorism act.

…whereas in the past you’d have been detained for breach of the peace, and also let go once you stopped being a tosser.

• We are not allowed to carry out a peaceful demonstration in the vicinity of Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament or now even coal fired power stations.

This one has a point, although it remains to be seen exactly what the power station demo busts were about.

• We are not allowed to eat or drink whilst driving for fear of persecution or should I say prosecution. Actually it amounts to the same thing.

Evil ZaNuLiebour, making me *look what I’m fucking doing* whilst in control of a two-tonne missile.

• We cannot travel on the tube, with or without a haversack on ones back, in the certain knowledge one wont be shot seven times in the head under the shoot to kill policy.

On the plus side, if you look Irish rather than suntanned, you’re probably less likely to be shot seven times in the head under a shoot-to-kill policy than under prior governments.

• We cannot smoke in public places unless of course one is a member of parliament and enjoy the comforts of the Commons bar.

Smoking is allowed in outdoor public places, and banned in the Commons bar. Otherwise, spot on.

• We cannot buy wine in a supermarket if accompanied by a minor.

So the government is responsible for one supermarket cashier being an idiot now? It’s legal to buy wine in a supermarket when accompanies by a minor. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

• We cannot go into hospital without fear of contracting MSRA or other bugs.

MRSA emerged in the 1960s, is lower in the UK than most other countries, and rates are falling. Otherwise, spot on.

• We have lost the rights to justice when any criminal act is carried out against us by a thief or violent thug.

What does this even mean? You can kill someone entirely legally in self-defence, and almost all violent acts against ‘civilians’ (ie not drunken fights between twats) are punished by imprisonment.

• We cannot walk the streets without being under surveillance but yet the criminals including some elements of the police always seem to escape detection by this means.

CCTV is massively important in bringing criminals to trial, and indeed in exposing misconduct by coppers. Yes, they sometimes make the tapes disappear when it suits them (Menezes comes to mind), they should be punished for this.

• We have lost all rights to question the spending of our public servants in local and national government.

What the blazing, flaming fuck? Every right-wing git spends every second of their waking day questioning the spending of public servants in local and national government…

• We were denied the right of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as promised in the Governments manifesto.

Yes, technically true. We have a parliamentary system rather than a plebescite system because most people are idiots who shouldn’t be allowed to operate machinery, never mind determine complex constitutional arrangements – nonetheless, once the government had made that idiotic promise, they should have kept it.

• Our DNA will be stolen from us and kept on file if arrested for any minor offence even if not subsequently charged.

…whereas if it were only ‘if charged’, that’d be OK? Yay extra-judicial punishment. We should either keep *everyone*’s DNA on file or nobody’s; anything in between is daft. (I’m probably in favour of a… in general, I don’t really give a fuck about ‘privacy’ freedoms, it’s ‘not being coshed round the head and locked up’ freedoms that matter).

In short, a couple of real things, mostly nonsense. That’s a pretty good summary of the current government’s critics, wouldn’tyasay?

Relatedly, I’m now going to vote Labour in the next election, since my new house is in the same constituency with the same, excellent MP I had two houses ago. And not the revolting bastard who ‘represented’ me in my last house, in between flirting with faded TV starlets and cosying up to evil religious loonies.

Da do ron ron ron da do ron ron

On reading of Phil Spector’s murder conviction last night, and the suggestion that it might devalue his (indisputably great) achievements, my first thought was ‘anyone who thinks that is a tit’.

That starting point got me thinking about historical figures who, despite providing unequivocal net good to society, were despicable bastards in their private lives.

In that frame of mind, I read this:

Once upon a time I was a communist, before that I was a catholic. Rather like Terry Eagleton I was able to make the transition between the two quite comfortably because I could do so without having to encounter liberalism along the way.

…and was reminded how grateful I am to random chance for the fact that Henry VIII happened to evolve where and when he did.

The rest of the piece is here, although sadly it doesn’t quite live up to that awesome line.

Top 5 Things That Have Made Me Happy Today

Still mblogging, so can’t face messing about with links. If anything intrigues and confuses you, google is your friend.

1) Stephen Frears’s High Fidelity. Best geeky boy film ever, one of best love stories ever, terrifyingly accurate insight into my past relationships ever, etc. I know Nick Hornby also relevant but I’ve boycotted praising him after the embarrassing nonsense that was How To Be Good.

2) Man skills. The power went off. I made it come back on. Woo!

3) My excellent flatmate. For being impressed by both 1 and 2, for making me move to the official Best Part Of World Ever, for general aceness, etc.

4) Getting messages from my 80something grandparents written in txtspeak. U R BTH DOIN IT RITE. I hope in 55 years time I’m equally able to use Direct Mindreading 4D Lasers as well as the average 15-year-old.

5) Being right about #amazonfail being nonsense. Come on people, corporations aren’t just evil for fun, and society has thankfully reached the point where hating t3h gayz is pretty much as mainstream-unacceptable as hating the Jews. If a big, mainstream, plc-not-fanatic-owned company appears to be banning all gay books of course it’s because they’ve been hacked/trolled/troll-hacked rather than because they’ve decided Do Be Evil is their new maxim.

(in a rare example of positivity, I’m not compiling a detailed ‘things that have made me unhappy’ list. This was made easier by the fact that #amazonfail, emailgate and the worst of my Holiday Weekend Hangover all happened yesterday.

Although grumpy new neighbour whose idea of a greeting was to say “all of this (apparently shared) terrace is mine, only the door and doorway is yours, go away” and slam terrace door is today’s main fail. What the hell need is there to be such a tool? Even if the estate agent lied and the neighbour is actually right, anyone who isn’t a ‘needs electric drill in head’ tosswit would surely go for something more like “Nice to meet you too. I’m sorry, this area is part of our flat and that’s in the deeds, but welcome to the building and would you like a cup of tea?”. Fuckmonkey.

They call me Black Stacey

As you may have noticed, I haven’t updated for a while, as I’ve been in the poorest country outside of Africa (*) with only a mobile phone for connectivity. And while my mobile phone is more of a mini-laptop, it’s not really conducive to full-on blogging.

And while I haven’t checked rates, I’m fairly sure GPRS roaming charges in the few bits of the country where GPRS works are a billion dollars per kB…

So my online presence has been confined to Twittering (I hate ‘tweet’ as a verb to describe anything other than bird noises). You can see the latest updates on the left of the scren, or you can follow me by clicking the link there.

When I get back I’m planning to blog on:
* amusing historic leaders of Hispaniola
* French versus English colonialism
* How nearly all the mistakes made in decolonisation were visible 150 years before in Haiti
* the Citadel and King Henry Christopher
* NGOcracy and the new colonialism – not a bad thing
* the death of solitude

That’s mostly so I remember and feel obliged to actually write at least some of them, although do feel free to critique and throw peanuts based on the titles…

* my phone suggested ‘outside of France’ as an autocomplete here, which is inaccurate but bizarrely appropriate.

Yes, it’s another exciting round of Easy Answers To Simple Questions

DK:

do you think it just slightly possible that [Polly Toynbee's] attitude, and that of her fellow [Guardian] commentators, might possibly have led to [advertisers] feeling—during these turbulent times, when costs need to be cut—that GMG, whose employees constantly attack said companies, can just fucking whistle for their business?

No. I would happily stake my life on the fact that absolutely none of the companies withdrawing advertising from GMG’s local papers have done so on the basis of the Guardian’s left-wing editorial stance. For one, that would obviously be insane; for two, the DMGT and Johnstone local titles are doing just as badly as GMG’s.

Worried about stabbings? Don’t be

Here’s a nice report by a real statistician on how London’s low murder rate is nothing to worry about unless you’re a gibbering paranoid ignorant fool.

Unsurprisingly, it’s received almost no media play at all. I mean, what news value is there in a study proving that the ‘OMG t3H knife crime!!!!’ narrative is bollocks and that there’s nothing to worry about…?

Barclayery

As far as I can make out with reference to the Grauniad/Barclays tax evasion dossier:

1) Barclays has done nothing illegal
2) Barclays hasn’t receieved any aid from the UK taxpayer.

…so this isn’t an issue.

Should Barclays request aid from the UK taxpayer at any point, its activities should, obviously, be taken into account when deciding how much of a haircut its shareholders deserve to be given. But at the moment, it’s trying to stop the UK taxpayer from making it take ‘aid’, which is kind-of the opposite…

A note to excitable conspiracy theorists

No-notice, turn-up-and-go international travel out of the UK will not, ever, be banned.

Rather than reading incoherent rants in half-witted newspapers and drawing conclusions from the information they leave out, read the actual details of the eBorders scheme:

[Passenger] data are only mandatory when they are requested to be provided at the time when passengers are on board in preparation for departure and it is no longer possible for further passengers or crew to join the service. When it is requested before that time it only needs to be provided to the extent to which it is known to the carrier.

In other words, the 24-hour rule for data communication only applies to data that the carrier happens to have, and there is no requirement at all to collect data right up until the point where everyone has boarded the plane, train or boat in question and it’s about to set off. The e-Borders programme will do absolutely nothing to restrict people’s freedom to travel – it just means that information on where they’ve been will be passed onto the government afterwards.