It’s a bomb! No… a shoe. No… a ciggie.

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Danger - smoking can lead to (alleged) terrorism

Good grief. the news is alarmist these days. There were reports of a Quatari diplomat trying to down an aeroplane using a shoe bomb during the early hours of this morning. After an hour or so the real story comes out – he was trying to have a crafty smoke in the toilets and – having immunity – won’t face any charges.

Apparently he was “tackled by air marshals” which obviously means he was a terrorist. I can see how this one panned out. Someone smelled the smoke, had a word with the stewardess and he was approached or warned. It’s likely he kicked up a fuss – perhaps refusing to put it out, or simply being arsey. There will have been an air marshal on board who will have seen the commotion and a passenger in some state of annoyance.

Said marshal will have announced who he was loudly enough for other passengers to know he was involved. He may have had to grapple with the passenger to calm him down.

So our scene is a recognised air marshal confronting a man. A coloured man. Perhaps even a coloured man wearing traditional Middle East dress (I’ve not heard what the diplomat was wearing). These being the paranoid days they are and this flight being within the US the obvious conclusion to jump to – the man is a Muslim and a terrorist.

I wonder how many of the “witnesses” who came off the plane told reporters they’d “seen” the man trying to set fire to his shoelaces?

Much as I hate smoking and smokers who assume the rules don’t apply to them it is a bit of a jump from “sly ciggie” to “shoe bomber”. I’m annoyed this guy’s been released without charge – I assume due to diplomatic immunity – when he has committed a crime. However, I also think it’s a disgrace that as soon as a person from an Arabic country causes a kerfuffle on an aeroplane, witnesses’ instinct is to label him a terrorist with such conviction it makes it into the news.

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Where are the ASBOs when you need them?

This is insane: Loud sex ASBO woman back on the job

I had a chav neighbour for months who had music on until 4 or 5am (in between the screams from his pregnant girlfriend as he beat her). His friends routinely walked into my garden and on one occasion I caught one peeing on my back door. Nothing was done. At all. Police came out, told him off and left again. At which point the stereo went back on.

This woman makes 10 mins of natural noise once in a while and is facing jail. Will someone explain why she’s “worse” than the chav?

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This is why Disclosure is pointless

Santa needs *this* many forms

Many of you will be aware by now that if you take up any position – paid or voluntary – whereby you will come into contact with children then you have to be “disclosed”. This entails filling out a form detailing where you’ve lived for the last three years, forwarding proof of identity and getting letters from the police of any country you’ve been in (for 3 months or more) saying that you weren’t naughty when you were there.

Oh, and it’s not just if you will be working with kids. It’s also if you might. Maybe. One day. Such as one person I heard of who’s teaching in a college for mature students. There’s no rule stating that under 18’s can’t attend classes (though they’ve never had anyone – ever), so he had to go through the rigmarole as well.

Did I mention it’s £35 a shot as well? And, generally, you’ll need one for each employer / voluntary organisation / council / etc? My uncle does Santa Claus for a lot of organisations, hotels and so forth in the area. As of this year he’ll need five or six disclosures to do the same work he’s been doing the last umpteen years.

Of course, all this is for the good of the kids, yes? It stops dirty paedos and child molesters and murderers from getting near our children. Which is a good thing. Only it doesn’t really work. It only stops them if they’ve been caught in the past.

We have two issues here – if you don’t have one, then you can’t work with kids. This is effectively saying “guilty until proven innocent”. Until you get hold of one of these pieces of paper, you’re a potential kiddy fiddler.

Secondly, if you do get one then you’re fine. Obviously not going to try and take advantage of your trusted position to lead children astray.

Tell that to the two girls abused by the student teacher in Glasgow recently.

The simple truth of the matter lies in the single line:

As a teaching student at Glasgow University, Binns would have been fully vetted before his school placement.

“Fully vetted”. Yup. He’d not done it before. Or hadn’t been caught. Or lied on the forms. Or hadn’t previously been in a situation where temptation became too much for him. You can’t fully vet someone. Convicted murderers have passed psychological exams with flying colours, and they’re somewhat more thorough than a check of the criminal records database.

Disclosure is pointless. One thing we constantly hammer into kids in the internet safety classes we give them is that the people who deal in child porn and the like are not stupid. They’re evil, sneaky, underhanded, disgusting, degraded… and quite often very clever indeed.

Identity theft is staggeringly easy to manage. What’s to stop a persistent, previously convicted, offender from assuming someone else’s identity and sneaking under the radar? After all, once he/she has that piece of paper we’re led to assume they’re totally trustworthy.

Once again we’re being led down a pointless path due to scaremongering by the tabloids. And all it’s resulting in is a nice bit of cash flow and some jobs for people keying this data in.

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KFC are at it again

KFC Corporation
Cotton pickin' colonel

Sky News reports that KFC are being pilloried for an advert that was released in Australia which found its way onto YouTube where Americans watched it and jumped on the “racist” bandwagon. I won’t go into more detail here, just read the story.

However. This isn’t the first time KFC have done this, only the last time the internet was a little smaller and I don’t think anyone noticed. In fact, I blogged about it back in 2005! It’s at the bottom of the quoted letter and about another advert that appeared in the UK for a brief period.

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Ryanair “puerile” according to OFT

2008/08/27 Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS EI-DCD
Not that cheap, definitely not cheerful

I don’t comment on new stories too often any more, but it’s nice to see Ryanair getting a hoofing now and again. A lovely report from the BBC about the Office of Fare Trading branding Ryanair’s charging of credit card transactions “puerile and childish”.

The most interesting points of note:

  • Ryanair are charging for card processing by having one free option – this is the law, but a loophole that must be closed
  • It costs Ryanair approximately 30p for each debit card transaction. They charge you £5. Per leg of flight. Per passenger
  • Their spokesman claims that “Ryanair is not for the overpaid John Fingletons on this world but for the everyday Joe Bloggs”. Yet they heap charges on these everyday Joe Bloggs’ and expect then to cough up
  • Also “passengers prefer Ryanair’s model as it allows them to avoid costs, such as baggage charges, which are still included in the high fares of high cost, fuel surcharging, strike-threatened airlines such as BA.” Which is cobblers – name me anyone who likes buying a £5 flight then finding out it’s going to cost them £40 with fees, luggage, check-in and a cab ride as it lands 85 miles from the city advertised after all the buses have stopped.

What is the point in advertising “low cost flights” when people are now figuring out that, while the flights are indeed low-cost, all the “optional extras” such as checking in (erm… can you fly without checking in?), hold baggage, going to the toilet (is this actioned yet?), cabin baggage (soon, I believe?), paying by anything other than MasterCard pre-pay… will all add to the cost?

If I go to BA’s website and book a flight to London at £30 do you know how much comes off my credit card? Exactly £30. I don’t pay a penny extra. And I get a drink and a snack on the flight. Plus a plane seat that doesn’t feel like it was stolen from a primary school pedal car.

I can book a flight that departs and arrives at a reasonable hour to a central airport with good transport links.

And when it lands I don’t get a bloody annoying fanfare on the tannoy telling me how great it is that we’ve landed on time.

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