Dog poo

A U.S. Army soldier using a Schiebel AN 19/2 MOD7 metal detector, public domain photo from navy.Image from WikipediaI responded to a post on Scaryduck’s blog and ranted on a bit. So I pinched my reply to use here:

We’re supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, but frankly we seem to treat dogs like the shit you’re complaining about. It’s not the dog’s fault it needs to done a poo. It’s the owners for not tidying up afterwards.

All dogs should be injected with nano-bots at an early age. Harmless and designed to sit over the arse-opening. On poopage, they’re deposited with the turd and emit a radio signal unique to each pooch. This will allow inspectors with a poop-detector (like a metal detector but smellier) to locate these and identify the guilty party. And pick up the poop for smearage over the relevant front doorhandle.

I’m sequestered in France right now, in a very touristy town. There is a dog shit issue here as well, but not to the scale as back home. Which is strange, as a lot of dogs just run around on their own here. The owners don’t walk them per se – they just let them out to walk by themselves.

Go into a pub and I’ll almost guarantee you’ll see at least one dog sat on the floor, or wandering around enjoying the attention. Dogs in supermarkets, dogs in shops… as long as it doesn’t shit on the floor nobody cares.

Actually, one pup did shit on the floor of the MBC (microbrewery pub) the other week… to a rousing cheer from the locals before the staff cleared it up.

Plod and football

A lovely ridiculous story in the news this morning as some muppet in the government announces that a "Police Pledge" is to be set up. Essentially, this is to force police to do such important things, such as answer the telephone quickly, treat victims nicely and solve more crimes.

So, it’s another set of targets like they already have. Like the NHS already has. And teachers. Which are pointless, ludicrous and involve silly amounts of paperwork to monitor which prevents them actually getting out there and doing their job. I read a lot of police blogs, and also a handful of ambulance / ERT / emergency call centre ones. Across the board, every person blogging and all their same-career commenters are pissed off completely with all of these targets.

Simply, targets don’t help. They just don’t fit with what the job is actually about because the person or people setting them has absolutely no front line experience of the job in question and is only interested in making existing figures look good for their purposes.

What they want to do is appear good to voters by being able to say that their new figures prove everything’s getting better. If you want to know the state of law enforcement, don’t ask a politician. Ask a policeman. Wondering what the waiting time is for an ambulance? For fuck’s sake don’t think you’ll get a straight answer from the NHS Trust – ask an ERT or a paramedic. Want to know the best way to give your child an education? How’s about listening to teachers rather than some fuckwit in an office in Whitehall who hasn’t been inside a school since he left at 16?

I’m sure comments will arise on the relevant blogs shortly, so here are some links. All worth a read:

The Policeman’s Blog (Coopersblog)
PC Bloggs
Police Inspector Blog (Inspector Gadget)
Police Locker Room (Sergeant Simon)

And to think that I did once consider joining the police force. And also fancied a career as a paramedic or similar. And I’m still passing thought about teaching. All three do appeal. But not in the UK. Not any more.

And footie. We won yesterday, which is good. Away from home which is better. Against Spurs which makes me even happier given the verbal diarrhoea expunged by The Proud Cockerel before the match. Thanks for the insults, arsehole. They only make you seem so much more of a loser after the 1-4 towelling we gave your abysmal squad. And let’s face it – if we’re shit what does that make a team who lose to us?

I also got an email on Saturday from a mackem *spit* fan who will remain anonymous. Essentially pointing out that Sunderland had risen above Newcastle and that therefore I owed said persona drink as I’d said this wouldn’t happen. My response:

And a Sunderland fan tries to bend the rules… as I’d expect. After all you’re run by a manager who’s idea of levelling the playing field is to break the opposition’s legs.

Checking the table as of our 1-4 away win at Spurs (you may remember away wins, though I know you don’t get them very often) which means we’ve *now played the same number of games*, we’re two points above you.

I spared her the reminder that Sunderland could still end the season holding the record for the least number of points per game in Premiership history, dependant on whether now-relegated Derby pull their socks up. After all, the mackems are the only team with two positions in the Worst Teams In Premiership History table.

Roll on April 20th…

Cash too expensive for you?

In the news today, a story about a woman taking BT to court for charging her a handling fee for cash. In a way I can see her point – most businesses will actually offer you a discount for paying in cash, while BT will charge you more. Also for paying by credit card, debit card, cheque etc.

Thing is – and I hate to say this as I’m not BT’s biggest fan – for once I think they’re right. You set up a direct debit and BT then has to do pretty much bugger all to get your cash each month. If you pay by cheque, credit card, cash in an envelope, babies’ fingers or whatever then they have to process it.

Should her case come through with her victorious then – after lengthy appeals, I’m sure – BT may be forced to drop the charges. Along with every other company that has a similar fee structure in place. This includes most utilities companies, insurance brokers, finance / loan agencies…

So great. Savings all around, yes? Erm. No. All that will happen is that the fee will be removed and everyone’s basic bill increased to cover the cost of getting money from people who don’t use DD.

The poverty argument used in the article is completely moot. “Many people, especially those on the margins of society and who are on low incomes find it very difficult to find any increase for any bill” it says. Simple solution – organise a direct debit so it’s paid from your bank account. Don’t have a bank account? Well get one. The UK is one of the few countries I know of where banking is – if you don’t go overdrawn etc – essentially free.

Her argument that “On a 10 pound note it says ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ten pounds’, not ten pounds plus a £1.50 handling fee” is bollocks. It’s true – it doesn’t say there’s a handing fee. But she’s not paying a handling fee, she’s paying for the time spent by BT on sorting out her payment which they’d not incur if she used DD.

Buy a book from Amazon and they charge you delivery if you spend less than £15. Is that fair on people who don’t want to spend that much? Why should a person who only wants to buy one paperback help reduce costs for someone who wants to buy three? Because it’s cheaper for the company to ship three than ship one. Likewise for BT, it’s cheaper to collect fees by DD than any other method. Rather than the DD users being charged for everyone else, the ones who create the charge pay for it.

Given that any person in the country can get a bank account (illegal immigrants aside) and set a DD up, she hasn’t got a leg to stand on as far as I can tell. The option is there for her to avoid these charges. It’s an option she can take and has the facility to do so.

Unless I’m mistaken? Are there grounds where someone could be refused a bank account / direct debit? And if this is the case – perhaps based on a poor credit rating – wouldn’t they likely be refused a phone connection anyway?

In fairness, my argument falls apart if the charge levied for non-DD payment is out of proportion to the amount it costs the company to retrieve the cash. Then again, BT could always put this down to the fact that it "costs more to chase people who do not pay". A kind of insurance for itself.

Passport application

Thanks to Viv for mailing this one to me. I don’t often post emailed "jokes" up here, but this one’s worth it:

Dear Minister,
I’m in the process of renewing my passport but I am a total loss to understand or believe the hoops I am being asked to jump through.

How is it that Bert Smith of T.V. Rentals Basingstoke has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a satellite dish from them back in 1994, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date?

How come that nice West African immigrant chappy who comes round every Thursday night with his DVD rentals van can tell me every film or video I have had out since he started his business up eleven years ago, yet you still want me to remind you of my last three jobs, two of which were with contractors working for the government?

How come the T.V. detector van can tell if my T.V. is on, what channel I am watching and whether I have paid my licence or not, and yet if I win the government run lottery they have no idea I have won or where I am and will keep the bloody money to themselves if I fail to claim in good time.
Do you people do this by hand?

You have my birth date on numerous files you hold on me, including the one with all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 30-odd years. It’s on my health insurance card, my driver’s licence, on the last four passports I’ve had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off the planes and boats over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms that are done every ten years and the electoral registration forms I have to complete, by law, every time our lords and masters are up for re-election.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, I was born in Maidenhead on the 4th of March 1957, my mother’s name is Mary, her maiden name was Reynolds, my father’s name is Robert, and I’d be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and the day I die!

I apologise Minister. I’m obviously not myself this morning. But between you and me, I have simply had enough! You mail the application to my house, then you ask me for my address. What is going on? Do you have a gang of Neanderthals working there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don’t want to activate the Fifth Reich for God’s sake! I just want to go and park my weary backside on a sunny, sandy beach for a couple of week’s well-earned rest away from all this crap.

Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to back to Salisbury and get another copy of my birth certificate because you lost the last one. AND to the tune of 60 quid! What a racket THAT is!! Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day? But nooooo, that’d be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You’d rather have us running all over the place like chickens with our heads cut off, then find some tosser to confirm that it’s really me on the goddamn picture – you know… the one where we’re not allowed to smile in in case we look as if we are enjoying the process! Hey, you know why we can’t smile? ‘Cause we’re totally jacked off!

I served in the armed forces for more than 25 years including over ten years at the Ministry of Defence in London. I have had security clearances which allowed me to sit in the Cabinet Office, five seats away from the Prime Minister while he was being briefed on the first Gulf War and I have been doing volunteer work for the British Red Cross ever since I left the Services. However, I have to get someone “important” to verify who I am — you know, someone like my doctor… who, before he got his medical degree 6 months ago WAS LIVING IN PAKISTAN…

Yours sincerely,
An Irate British Citizen.