Don't Panic
  • A survey in 2009 found that the top three careers for five to 11 year olds was sports star, pop star then actor. This is unfortunate for society at the best of times (25 years back kids aspired to be doctors and teachers) but especially so in a week that saw more shame smeared over these would-be heroes.

    Carlos Tevez refused to play for a team that pays him £250,000 a week; Rio Ferdinand lost his legal case against the Mirror and was revealed as a liar and an unsuitable England Captain (John Terry's clearly the man for the armband); Titus Bramble was suspended from Sunderland over allegations of sexual assault and possession of a Class A drug. One thing's for sure, the underrepresentation of English players on the pitch doesn't prevent them achieving the most disgrace in their spare time.

    It has been said that these millionaire miscreants bear some of the responsibility for the recent riots, because they earn far too much for doing very little and use all their spare time and vast

    Read More »from Why are footballers still treated as role models?
  • There is a massive housing shortage in Britain. This is the main reason the government says planning laws must be relaxed, to allow builders to deposit Barratt-style, mock-Tudor monstrosities in the middle of areas of outstanding natural beauty. So if they want to pave paradise to put up a parking lot why the sudden urge to evict 200 gypsy families from Dale Farm in Essex? The eviction from the site is going to cost as much as £8 million and increase homelessness.

    It has been reported that some gypsy families have already fled to another site in Luton, where the struggle could start anew. Some gypsies should be fairly accustomed to travelling and it's probably an easy process to move if you live in a caravan but is the plan really to hound them from place to place, like Custer's cavalry chasing the Indians? Are the remaining static homes going to be bulldozed, casting Basildon Council as the Israel of Essex. Much like the Israelis' love to follow up a good bulldozing (or ancient olive

    Read More »from Dale Farm, developers and the green belt
  • Freegans eat out of bins. They're different from tramps in that they don't actually have to, as they're often posh trustafarians like most squatters (or people who study art history at university.) That said these toff wombles (or 'urban foragers') are onto something. Dumpster living or bin raiding is a form of 'ethical eating' and is a reaction against the wastefulness of the supermarkets, the industrialisation of food production and the exploitation of animals.

    None of these issues were crossing my mind when I lunched on all the uneaten Marks & Spencer's ready meals I recently excavated from the bin in the office kitchen, all items were just moments out of their-sell-by-date.

    This week it was announced that new legislation is to make it mandatory for food to be labeled with either a 'best before' or 'use by date' that will encourage consumers not to view their perfectly good food as a potential bio hazard until it is actually unsafe, which is what the sell-by-date has been found to

    Read More »from Supermarkets, labeling and waste
  • death-penaltyIs the death penalty still a bad idea? The Republican Party don't think so as they all cheered rapturously when candidate Gov. Rick Perry's record tally of sending 234 prisoners to their deaths was mentioned at a GOP debate last week. The question alone caused the audience to applaud and Perry had them eating out of his hand by promising more "ultimate justice."  Sound politics as the previous record executioner from Texas made it all the way to the White House.

    Luckily we don't live in Texas, where they own around 51 million guns (more than all of the European Union combined) and the Encyclopedia Britannica is banned because it contains a formula for making beer, however that hasn't prevented suggestions that we could benefit from some of their judicial wisdom, especially concerning the administration of the death penalty.

    The issue was back in the headlines in early August when blogger Paul Staines started a campaign to get people to sign an e-petition to force Parliament to debate

    Read More »from Does the death penalty now make sense?
  • Moving couple

    This week the National Housing Federation forecast that home ownership in England will slump to 63.8% over the next ten years, that's the lowest level since the mid eighties. Lenders' requirements for huge deposits and the banks' reluctance to lend are some factors preventing first time buyers getting a foot on the property ladder. Despite this, prices may actually be rising due to a shortage of supply, thanks to successive governments not building enough homes.

    Seven years ago Two Jags Prescott pledged to build starter homes that would be sold for £60,000 in a scheme that became known as Design for Manufacture, of the places that did get built none were ever available for that sort of cash, costing more like £250,000. The current government has its own initiative called FirstBuy, where they will work with house builders to provide £250m to help 10,000 first-time buyers raise deposits to buy homes.

    The BBC quoted Campbell Robb from homeless charity Shelter as saying: "Homebuy can be a
    Read More »from How I’d improve the housing market for first time buyers
  • GCSE results published this week show the gap between girls and boys is widening, with girls outstripping boys, particularly when it comes to the top grades. Not only does this give the papers a legitimate reason for only printing pictures of young girls (in crop tops) clutching their exam results, it raises the question of when this superior academic ability will be translated into success in the job market.

    Placing the exams-are-getting-easier-debate in detention for the time being (A -C pass rates rose for the 23rd year in a row) the national figures show one in four girls, that's 26.5 per cent, got an A or A* this year, compared to 19.8 per cent of boys' exams - a gap of 6.7 per cent, which is the widest it's been since 1994.The gap also widened at A —C with 66 per cent of boys gaining at least a C, compared to 73.5 per cent of girls', a difference of 7.5 per cent. It seems more work needs to be done to uncover why boys are falling behind as Andrew Hall of exam board AQA was quoted

    Read More »from Girls’ exam results don’t equal career success
  • The riots took place during the school holidays, during term the chaos is normally confined to the classrooms of Inner City London, Croydon, Liverpool, Manchester etc. The youthful majority of the rioters are the first generation of children who have grown up in schools where discipline and order have been replaced by child-centric learning and an emphasis on parental choice.

    Successive governments have robbed teachers of their ability to control the classroom as they face allegations of assault, human rights or sexual abuse from children and confrontation with parents, who now side with their misbehaving children rather than backing up the educators trying to teach them. These kids know their rights and know they have it in their power to ruin the careers of teachers and escape punishment in a system overly concerned with protecting their interests with reams of checks, balances and the associated paper work.

    The Prime Minister has said he wants anyone convicted of violent disorder to

    Read More »from Let’s return to a clip round the ear culture
  • Anders Breivik wanted to wear a uniform and take on Islamic fundamentalism. Rather than donning a variety of oversized Action Man outfits and slaughtering unarmed, mostly Christian Norwegians, surely he should have joined the Norwegian Army that has been fighting the heavily armed and extremely extreme Taliban in Afghanistan?

    At least when Islamic fundamentalists target civilians in the west it has some form of logic - they are blowing up the decadent kafirs who have invaded their homelands (thanks for that, Tony.) So why did Breivik do the same thing, targeting the very people in Europe that he claims to want to defend? Probably because he was extremely violent and of below average intelligence, so it's no wonder he admired the English Defence League.

    This week Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson as he is often referred to), the 28 year old founder of the EDL, was convicted of leading a gang of 100 Luton Town hooligans in a street battle with Newport County Fans. He was charged with

    Read More »from Anders Breivik and The English Defence League
  • Why is it that minor royals like Prince Albert of Monaco or our own Prince Andrew go to seed so badly? Jowly with bloodshot piggy eyes, flabby and white of hair, or terribly bald (by the way can't Prince William do a Rooney, the rapidity of his hair loss is painful to behold for a fellow receder).

    He's not a royal but a special mention has to Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, who's aging faster than the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You would think that a life of luxurious leisure would render one forever young.

    But wait, Prince Andrew on the other hand, must actually be working because this week it was announced that he is retiring from his role as 'UK trade ambassador.'

    Only Britain would appoint a man who has never worked in a business, much less run one, as trade envoy. Andy's lack of anything approaching business experience feeds into the suspicion that the role was created to a) give him something to do and b) allow him to spend a huge number of his mother's

    Read More »from Farewell ‘Air Mile Andy’
  • Burglaries are up 14% in 2010/2011 according to this week's British Crime Survey, despite falling by 9% the year before. The reversal of the downward trend is surprising because housebreaking was becoming an outdated crime-like apple scrumping (and about as financially rewarding.) This month I didn't bother renewing my contents insurance because, after a quick inventory, it occurred to me that nothing I owned was worth anything, mainly thanks to globilisation and the digitization of home entertainment.

    Nowadays you can pick up a decent, brand new TV and DVD player for peanuts so what must the resale value be like off the back of a lorry? DVDs are rapidly going the way of the major stockists like Woolworths and Zavvi with most people opting for Love Film or piracy, meaning that thieves will probably end up dropping your DVD collection off at a charity shop …Well, you never know.

    Criminology Lecturer James Treadwell from the University of Leicester, the producer of the study last year,

    Read More »from Old crimes make a comeback


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