Mostly Bollogs, I'm afraid

But occasionally, a glimmer of truth.
If you find one, please let me know.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Look up Spiv on t'internetz. Google it. It will tell all.

Then I'll tell you what one is, and why Vince doesn't want one.

A Spiv is not someone who doesn't work. A spiv is someone who works bloody hard, actually. DelBoy Trotter would be a Spiv. Private Walker in "Dad's Army" was one.

What they do is to see market opportunities that for some reason or another other people fail to exploit. That may be because they're seen to be immoral (such as selling Jew's teeth), because they're illegal (such as selling cannabis), because they're not available (such as selling parachute silk in the war) or simply because you didn't think of it first.

Vince describes bankers as Spivs. Maybe so. But they're not. The reason is that the common factor with all Spivs is that they don't "engage with society", which is a polite way of saying that they may deal mainly in cash and therefore may not declare everything that changes hands to Messrs Revenue and Customs.

And why, the fuck, should they, I ask in all seriousness?

If I have a job, and I earn a pound, the government gets some. They may get as much as 50p. I then have a window cleaner, because I don't like heights. And he charges me money. If he charges me a pound, I have to pay him two of the pounds I earned, leaving me fuckall, and the government gets another (as much as) 50p. The window cleaner now has 50p, I have the square root of jack shit, and the government has £1.50. Explain why that's right. Go on.

So, ladies and gentlemen, become a Spiv. You know it makes sense.

NOW do you see why Vince doesn't like them? Because the don't pay his wages.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


I'm trying to explain to someone how non-preemptive multitasking operating systems work.

Windows used to be one. It is now, apparently, preemptive, and if you believe that you believe most things.

What it means is that the whole issue is run by the System, and when the System feels like it, it hands over "control" to a specific function to do a small and insiginficant job, and expects control to be returned to it immediately after that task has finished.

A preemptive one differs in that whilst the specific function is still mid-operation, the System can grab control back and go off and do something else.

It's quite simple.

Oddly, this also describes the System which we call the State.

Every now and again, when it's all gone tits-up, it needs re-booting.

It's the only way.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


There are somewhere near 60,000,000 people in Britain, so I'm told. Might be more, might be less.

Huge number, isn't it? If you got 60m penny chews and laid them end-to-end, they'd stretch across 75,000 cricket pitches and cost £600,000. That's a statistic. It's there to put things into perspective.

The government is responsible for these 60m people. It's a huge job. Or is it?

Even if you could put all the information about each person inside a penny chew, think of the room it would take up?

Er, actually, you can. And quite quickly too. And it's not the size of a penny chew, it's teeny-weeny.

I have a system here, which I wrote when I was pissed 12 years ago. It puts the equivalent of all the information necessary to know about a person onto a thing called a database round about 10 times a second.

In fact, it puts it onto two simultaneously. Maintaining referential integrity and creating logs for recovery purposes, if anyone knows WTF that means.

It could quite easily put it onto 10 or 100 if it wanted to, but we were a bit skint at the time.

This database thingy runs on things called computers. One of them is 12 years old. The other packed up once so is only 8 years old. Neither cost more than £200.

See all these statistics?

Here's another one. If I put all the information about everybody on these things at the same rate as I do now, it would take 69 days, or 10 weeks, to get all the information on.

And it wouldn't even get warm. The only reason I do this about ten times a second is that I haven't got enough decent information more often than that. It would work much faster. And still not get warm.

And it would cope with dozens of people accessing it simultaneously which is all that's required. And given something worth more than £200 and a bit of airconditioning it could do considerably better than that.

There's a thing called Twitter. It has a few more than 60m users. And some of the noisy sods are plastering it with information at an obscene input rate. Bizarrely, it manages to tell anyone who's interested what these people have said, too.

Now, Mr Government, particularly Mr HMRC, which band of muppets built the piece of shit that still doesn't work? How much did it cost? Anyone looked carefully at the procurement officer's new garden shed/swimming pool/mansion on Venus?

I think we should be told. Or let me do it. I'll do it for a new barbeque and a holiday in Portugal. In a month.


Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Well, I remember 1966. Like it was yesterday. "They think it's all over ..."

The last time we (the English) won the World Cup. I could name the team. One great midfielder, a Mr Nobby Stiles, is selling his World Cup medal. He's not doing it because he's skint, he's doing it because he's concerned that when he dies things may not go according to plan and his kids won't get equity.

I would like to see that medal kept by Nobby.

Is there some way we could club together and buy the medal, so Nobby keeps it until his death? Perhaps it could go to a Museum where people could see it, afterwards. Then everything is hunky dory.

Perhaps someone, someone quintessentially English, with a heck of a lot of followers, and possibly a footie fan, such as Stephen Fry, could set up a PayPal for the cash. If the goal (excuse the pun) was realised, and the medal not bought, then perhaps the money could go to charity. I'm not good on charities, perhaps someone else could look at that. Maybe the Bobby Moore foundation.

What do we reckon, girls?


Here's an idea.

Empty your own bin. I do, because I have to. We don't get a collection. I put everything in a bag and take it to the tip. Well, half a dozen bags, because I'm anally retentive when it comes to rubbish.

Cans (lots of them). Bottles (quite a few). Cardboard. Paper. Plastic. Sundry recyclables. Rubbish (not very much).

Takes seconds. The tip is on the way to somewhere. Most tips are.

I also mow a grass verge for an older lady. I do this because if it gets scruffy people park on it, and fuck it up. The council mow it using a stupid machine, about every few months, and don't do it well. So I spend about ten minutes a week doing it properly, with a lawn mower with a roller, and a strimmer. It's a work of art. It's shamed many others in the road to doing theirs, and a couple of old'uns have asked me to do theirs too, and bung me the odd bottle of wine (which I don't need, but how can I refuse?).

Just saying. Because it will be worth it when he bin men turn up, and the vergemowers. Just for the looks on their faces. Take pics.

And they might think about striking, but then, of course, they might not.

I know what you're thinking. What about when the tip operatives decide to strike and close the tip? Simples! Just take your rubbish to the council offices and leave it there. Or to the police station. Give them something to do. Or find your local Labour candidate's house and put them, carefully and neatly, in his garden.

Just a thought.

Pre-emptive strike

Will we ever have a gay or minority ethnic Prime Minister?

Liam Rhodes (@LiamRhodes on Twitter) will be writing today on this subject. I suspect he has an agenda. I, on the other hand, being a 6' caucasian male with no disabilities apart from a healthy mistrust of the State, do not.

I don't care. The last two Prime Ministers we had were warmongering media whores, one of whom was quite clever and had more than half of the country fooled for nearly ten years (that didn't include me), the other being a phone-chucking megalomaniac who was ceritifiably insane, which was, luckily for all of us, the downfall of Fabian Labour.

At the moment we have half a Prime Minister who's an old Etonian. I don't care which school he went to. The other half of the Prime Minister had the other half over a barrel and, again luckily for us, didn't go with the phone-chucker. So things could be worse.

Unfortunately, the Etonian, apart from having his strings pulled by the other half and concentrating his efforts on AV/PR and fixed-term Parliaments, none of which I care about, is distracted from running the country properly because of his infatuation with Big Society and determination to rob any bank account that he reckons belongs to the state, so that makes him Not Much Better. His banker and friend from Eton, Mr Osborne, is intent on reducing the deficit (which needs doing), so that gives the Labour Drones something to moan about. Which is nice. I look forward to seeing if there is actually anything, anything at all, that the state does for me, and which I might miss if it disappears. Such as having the grass verge mown.

This is the trouble, though, with having Prime Ministers who have a single-issue fixation, like Big Society.

"Right, Marv, you prattler. Get to the point!" I hear you both cry.

"Here is the point." I answer, eagerly.

I don't give a fig whether the Prime Minister is gay, black, green, catholic or a lesbian muslim nun in a wheelchair. I really don't. Some of my best friends are lesbian muslim nuns in wheelchairs.

But what I do know is this: if someone who is overtly gay, black, green, muslim, catholic or comes from Venus, they will always have that issue at the front of their minds. And they will spend a lot of time fighting for it, overtly or covertly.

That is NOT what the country needs, nor what the country wants.

Over to you, Liam.

Monday, 13 September 2010


MPs are moaning about IPSA. I can see why. I have a better idea; it is fair, and based on the private sector model, which works.

This is how it operates.

MPs do work, and in the course of their work they have to buy stuff. Being good MPs, they have credit cards because they are worthy. Most things can be bought using these credit cards.

When they buy things, they put on a form, electronically, what they bought and why they think they should have it paid for by the firm.

If the expense is small, like a stamp, for instance, or perhaps a phone call, it is ratified by a couple of their immediate bosses, these being the people who voted for them. So if it is less than (say) £1, only half a dozen people need do this.

If it is a significant expense, say £10, then perhaps twenty people need to vote for it.

If it is a HUGE expense, say £100, then perhaps a hundred or so constituents need to decide that it is justifiable.

In the case of stupid claims, say for a duck house, removal of wisteria, coffee in a place such as Starbucks, or Christmas cards, MPs would have to find a load of people who were either certifiably insane or very misguided, which would be unlikely so, sadly, they would have to pay out of their own pockets, much like the rest of us do.

I have spent quite a lot of time working out this new system which I believe to be right and proper, fair, and just.

I hope you like it.

Let me change your mind

My mind is mostly made up.

However, thanks to my ability to listen to other people, and the fact that my mind is more open than most, and that I still believe in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy, it changes. Now and again. I have a couple of favourite twits whose views are somewhat opposed to mine and every now and again they tweet something which makes me sit up and listen.

I won't embarrass them by saying who they are. I suspect they know.

I think it's important that people are receptive to other people's ideas and opinions. Parliament is supposed to be a place where our representatives, that is the MPs we voted in, listen to other MPs in debates. Once those MPs have said their pieces, our MP votes either for the motion being debated, or against it, or abstains because he doesn't care either way, or because he doesn't understand. Or because he hasn't bothered to turn up.

Am I about right so far? I suspect that this is supposed to be the way it works.

But it DOESN'T work like that. They have whips and stuff, and direct MPs to vote the way they want them to. This is when I like rebels, ones who have the courage to vote against the party line. People like the famous Dennis Skinner, beast of Bolsover, whose party I despise but whose tenacity I admire.

I have been in Portcullis House, a building opposite the Houses of Parliament. I saw some people there, people whom I would have cheerfully shot, but since I don't agree with humiliating people in public, I left the elephant gun at home. I'm not sure what I was doing there, in an MPs office, when he was not my MP and was (and still is) a Labour one. Subsequently I have discovered that he is one of the biggest troughers, too.

Anyway, I was sitting there yawning whilst my colleague was gabbling away to this chap, and I was watching the telly, which was more interesting. I don't know if it was CCTV or the BBC, I suspect the former. The sound was off, so I had no idea what was being debated. There seemed to be very few people in the chamber, which was odd as there are supposed to be about 650 of them, somewhere.

And then a bell went. A bell like a very olde-fashioned doorbell. And on the screen, a little picture of a bell appeared. "Bollocks," thought I. Fire. Still, that means we can do a runner, and I can have a fag, and it's beer time. But no. The bell meant that there was a vote, and they needed some numbers. I don't know who works the bell, whether it's a party bell or a Parliament bell or whether it's on a timer so it goes off every hour or something so the proletariat think they're getting value for money. But up we get, and are politely told to bugger off, which suited me. We made our way downstairs, my mate still gabbling on to the anonymous MP, to the tunnel. The tunnel goes from Portcullis House to the Houses of Parliament, but we didn't go through the tunnel, we left the building and made our way to the nearest pub, which is what I'm best at.

Mr MP explained that the bell meant that it was time to vote. Whilst the debate was going on, he never once looked at the telly so, even if he COULD lip-read (which I expect he can because all MPs have super powers), he had NO IDEA what the debaters had said.

So then he voted. To get the numbers up.

Someone who knows lots about how Parliament works will now explain to me what this is all about. Won't they?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Superstring theory, P-Branes, and God.

I couldn't think of anything to write about, so I chose something dull and pointless. And, incidentally, something about which I know next to nothing.

A few years ago, Dr Prof (Emiritus) Stephen Hawking dictated a book called "A Brief History of Time". Not a bad book at all. Went into some stuff about cosmology. Easy stuff, that everyone could understand. Black holes and exciting things like that. Event horizons. Remarkable drawings of toruses (tori?) and where light goes when space bends.

At the end of the book, Hawking indicates that there is some sort of God, who was/is/will be responsible for the Big Bang, when a great big pile of not much turned into an even bigger pile of hydrogen, which got very hot, and turned itself into helium, then argon, neon, nitrogen, oxygen, berylium, strontium 90, uranium, McDonald's Big Mac and Fries, Nectar Points and, eventually, people.

Every schoolboy knows that the universe is expanding, and that the further away you get from the middle (I don't understand this bit, for I don't know exactly where the middle is) the faster it expands. Everybody knows, also, that the speed of light is the only constant, and that the outside bits of the universe are expanding approximately twice as fast as that. Which is clearly cobblers.

So, I can understand this. Even the guitarist from Queen can. Jolly fun.

But, near the end of the this book, Hawking goes into explaining string theory. This, in itself, is not too difficult to understand. But in order for "what the fuck is happening" to fit the theory, it needs a bit more embellishment. Superstring theory. P-Branes. Vibrating wotsits that have to purr around a good half-dozen dimensions to work at all, and in at least 26 to work properly.

Fair enough, I say. At this point, I sort of give up. I can work in dimensions, in the same way as I can work with the imaginary number i, even though it isn't a real thingy.

The last sentence of this book finishes: "we will know the mind of God".

No, we won't, Stevie Boy. No. I knew that at the time. But NOW, Mr Hawking has come up with another theory, which is based entirely on the last theory, except that he has got a huge hole in it.

Now, a chap called Ptolemy, who was a famous mathematician and astronomer in Greece (or wherever he was from, I don't do research), a few thousand years ago, worked out that all the planets, and the sun, went round the earth. Fair. He was standing on the earth, and we are egocentric. If you're not, let me know, and I'll explain why you're wrong.

He spent a lot of time outside doing plotting of where the planets were, relative to him, and found that they were not entirely in proper orbits. Proper being where he would've liked them to be. So he invented all sorts of constants and bodges and kludges to put them right. He was hailed a hero.

Hawking, and all of the clever chaps, would like everything to fit into their model. They would have liked to have a GUT (Grand Unified Theory) of everything, explaining why everything does what everything does. But it doesn't go like that. It DOES, however, if you invent dimensions, and try to shove the results into those frameworks. It DOES.

So, sadly, the latest theory has been born. Trust me, there will be another one in my lifetime. If not many more. When the observed data won't fit, the boundaries will change, another squiggle will be invented, and Yay! It will all fit again.

Look. It is what it is. I don't need to know any more. And you clever bods probably don't know very much more than me in the grand scheme of things.

What we DON'T need, at this cycle in the development of "I've got a God and he's better than your one so we're going to start a fucking WAR" humanity, is someone like you agreeing with the prick Dawkins and starting yet ANOTHER bloody spate of man-against-man stupidity.

So I won't be buying your new book.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


Stay with me here, you'll be thinking you're reading the wrong blog.

A week or so ago, I needed to get a printed circuit board made. It's too complicated for me to do myself, and it's four-sided so I wouldn't know where to start.

I was recommended a firm called PCB-Pool (God know why they're called that) who could do the job quite cheaply, as long as I don't mind waiting about a week.

I took matey's advice, and now I understand why he recommended them.

A chap rang me to ask a couple of questions, and it was a good job he did.

Within a day, I was sent a .PDF file showing me the masks, as generated by them.

A couple of days later, I was sent Tin Strip pictures.

Another couple of days, and I received UV curing photographs, then Surface Finish.

And now I have a tracking number for the delivery, which is now in the depot in Cork awaiting its next movement to England, and thence to me!

"Right, Marvo, very interesting," I hear you say, "and your point is?"

And here is my point.

I like information. I don't NEED to know what is happening with my board. I don't need to know what they're doing today, or whether they've even started it. But I LIKE to know. It's INTERESTING. It won't get here any quicker, but it's like when you boil the kettle. The little light goes on (if you have a little light). After a short while, you hear the noise of the bubbles rising from the element. If you have a transparent kettle, you see the bubbles too. Shortly afterwards., the noise changes to the big bubbly noise of nearly boiling, and then you can have your tea/coffee/gravy. A watched kettle DOES boil.

If I'm waiting for a train, and the sign says 12.42 when the train was due at 12.36, it's 6 minutes late. I can work that out. The train might come soon. It might not. It might be cancelled, or it might have fallen off the track, or the driver might have driven the wrong way and it might be in Birmingham. And I am now seriously disgruntled. However, if the sign says 12.42, and the 12.36 is expected at 12.57, then although I am slightly pissed off that I'm not halfway to London by now, I don't really mind because I know it's coming and I've only got 14 minutes left (yes, I know you think it's 15 minutes, but it ticked over to 12.43 while I was typing that bit).

See what I mean? It might only be me. I doubt it, because I wouldn't have thought that the PCB people did this JUST for me. I don't think that East Midlands Trains put that system in just for me, nor do I think they did it for their own benefit. My suspicion is that there was another reason. Customer Service. Look after people. Tell them what's going on.

Because if you DON'T do that, then people will go somewhere else for their service. To someone who DOES tell them what's going on. Someone who treats them as they should be treated. Someone who realises that we are the customer, and we need to be looked after. Need INFORMATION.

Don't we, The Coalition? Because if we don't get it, we might just go somewhere else for our service.

Monday, 6 September 2010


I have been reading history books. Some of them are deadly dull but there are some exciting bits.

I like the stories, for that's what they often are, about when the underdogs decided they'd had enough.

Oddly, when this has happened in the past, people have been pecked at, slowly but surely. The powers-that-be, or should it be the powers-that-were, had niggled away for a long time until there was nothing left but for the poor old blighters to cry "ENOUGH".

And in most cases, the oligarchy, the inbred cousin-shagging double-dealing troughsnouters thought they were all safe and cosy in their beds.

Nero. He fiddled. It's not clear whether he was playing the violin or himself. Or perhaps someone else? But Rome burned.

Marie Antoinette. Laissez-les manger brioche, she cried. Let them eat a rich, eggy bread. Or cake. Didn't matter much, the peasants, revolting as they were, lopped off her head.

Kerensky. What do you mean, who? You thought it was Tsar Nick, didn't you? Nope. Kerensky, leader of the Provo Government of Russia. The plebs, again, got the hump and, shouting "Aux armes, citoyens!" (I don't know any Russian), stormed the Winter Palace.

And every time the poor victims thought they could sleep soundly in their beds. Because they had the power, the money, the army. But at the end of the day, it just doesn't cut it.

Mr Bliar said of the pending shoe-chucking party at Waterstones that "The police are wonderful - they'll do anything we ask them".

In American history, when the Lone Ranger was all of sudden surrounded by Indians, he turned to his faithful friend Tonto, and pleaded "What are we going to do now?"

Tonto replied "What do you mean 'we', white man?"

I think some of us have had enough. And I think there are very many more of us than our esteemed oligarchy think.

Lock your doors, won't you?