The future as at best a haze. We can make or break it. My rants, visions, ideas and dreams hope to make a better future. Lets learn to live a better life. Raise your glasses (no it doesnt have to be alcohol - I am using orange juice!), and toast the future!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Reformed Alcoholic From Oxford Street

I cannot beleive they let that gimboid preacher from Oxford Circus on the TV. The one who is pretty obviously a born again after trouble with either alcohol or drugs. The guy is a bit of a menace, as I have seen him become aggresive and violent with bystanders on more than one occasion, and he also does things like climb on packed tube trains and start preaching with a megaphone (sure not to go down to well with tired commuters).

He can preach what he likes, but dont force it upon us, not in my earhole. There is a time and place for it- its called church, and those who chose not to go there shouldnt have to hear it. For any street or door-to-door preachers, the fact is that you are not going to convert me (I am a firm Humanist), you are only going to annoy me. And yes, I will ask awkward logical reasoning questions about your Holy-Books, and point out where they contradict and do not stand up to scrutiny when a door-to-door guy calls.

If you want to use effort to "save" people, it may be much better directed, and much better for society, if you actively counselled the homeless - many of them who require counselling and trustworthy friends more than money will truly help them. If you really want to "make a difference", then get involved in a charity. But the strongly devout have already proved they arent interested in that - only a couple of posts below they were in the news for denying a £3000 donation to a cancer charity because it came from Jerry Springer, The Opera.

I am forced to come to the conclusion that they are just the same as the marketing and legal departments of any mega-corporation - for example McDonalds or Microsoft, who really only care about promoting their product, and are prepared to stamp on anyone who says anything they dont agree with. Religeon is obviously just the most effective marketing campaign ever.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

RONCO - Inside the Shell Egg Scrambler

RONCO - Products
This sounded like a really cool idea. Imagine how disappointed I was to find it was simply a flaying needle. I thought they were doing something cool like spinning the egg or using magnets.

Anyway - I may have to try one, though I am a little timid of the hard boild egg option- given that you have a hole in the bottom, wouldnt the egg flow out while boiling?

I only found out about when reading the BBC artical on the greatest gadgets:
BBCC News - Apple Laptop is 'greatest gadget'

I think great gagdets they have missed is the zip and the palm pilot. My favourite of all time would have to be... my mobile phone. I know its nothing super new, but its the one gadget I cannot bear to leave the house without - it is one of the gadgets that made house-hunting and job-hunting a lot easier and it puts me in instant reach for my wife (a bit of a double edged one that). I dont have a camera phone, and for the moment my phone and PDA are seperate.

Anyway - lets toast the future, and look forward to the new wave of gadgets to come... Lets hope recyclability, and reuse feature as highly as style and function. Have a thought for all the old phones, walkmans and discarded mp3 players.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Row over Springer opera donation

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Row over Springer opera donation
As my name suggest I a humanist, so I find this sort of thing unbearable.
Lets put this into context - although I would probably not watch "Jerry Springer, The Opera" myself, I would fiercly protest the right to create and broadcast such a thing. Anyone who is religeous with half a brain cell can see that it is all a bit of fun, and not to be taken too seriously.

The need for cancer research strongly outweighs your irksome objection to anything outside your own limited definition of entertainment, and this just shows that christians are more concerned with censorship than the possible saving of human lives.

To those who object to having their BBC tv license fees used to air such a show, let me firmly remind you that I object to my taxes being used to fund your arrogant little cults and churches - I object to being preached at in the street and at bus stops, and I object to your right-wing beleifs that only the religeous may have ethics. You can burn your TV license, but I hope you are promptly fined the £1000 for not having them, so BBC can continue to produce work untainted by religeous bullying.

I do try to respect all religeons, but they often offend me in ways only religeon can. This and the whole business with the other play set in the temple just reinforce my beleif that many strongly religeous people are small minded and narrow sighted. Grow up.

BBC NEWS | UK | Councils chew over gum tax plan

BBC NEWS | UK | Councils chew over gum tax plan
While I generally find many taxes annoying, taxing people for anti-social habits (like chewing gum to pay for cleaning up the mess) seems entirely reasonable.

Whats more, in response to one comment on that page (Alan Pope, Farnborough), I say why not tax smokers for the butts. If they are not decent enough to put them out properly and bin them, then why should the rest of us be made to pay for their mess.

I saw the gum board system implemented reasonably well when on holiday in Bournemouth, and it certainly is one way of dealing with the situation, as long as it is well placed. Putting targets, or silly images to actually add a little fun into it could definately help.

Maybe they should put big gum collection posters on the hoardings on the underground (although Chicago seems to do this job fairly well in most stations).

One poster there argued that the tax may make spitters feel justified in that they are "paying for the privilege". To that I say- tax more and raise the stakes. They need be thankful that we dont take singapore measures, and should correct there habits and those of others to avoid such a situation.

I love the idea of a litter lout, having been caught, being made to do litter removal jobs (in community service) for a month - so they are sick of it.

I do sometimes chew minty gum - to freshen breath, but I then responsibly wrap it in a tissue, and bin it when convenient - it doesnt take much, but then I am well known for leaving the house prepared.

My own idea for educating the kids is this, get them to work long and hard on some really nice pictures/artwork. Then later on, stick a peice of thoroughly chewed gum to each of their peices, and let them later behold the ruin to their work - explain to them that this is exactly what they do when they spit gum - only it might be someones work, someones shoes, someones jacket, or the actual city and pavement themselves. Social Responsibility needs to start to be taught somewhere.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Tube trouble again

This evening, the Northern Line came to a standstill. The central line, and victoria line soon followed.
I ended up waiting on a Tottenham Court Road platform for over 30 minutes. It was heavily crowded and the upper section had closed to access. I decided to wait it out, as the buses may have been worse. I eventually got on a slow, packed train, which took me as far as Camden Town (all trains were to Edgeware on the Ch + branch). There was not going to be a High Barnet branch train for another 20 minutes.

One customer did ask them why they did not use the points at Camden town, and route some of the trains bound for Edgeware to High Barnet, and they were not able to give more than a vague answer (I am happy to hear one if somebody knows).

Once we were off the train, we were told to leave the station. I then ended up waiting 40 minutes for a bus - they were coming, but they were all full, and it was ugly - people were right out at the junction pushing to get on, when they had turned the corner, and nowhere near the actual stop. Annoyingly, by the time I had taken the bus, and changed a couple of time sto get to my stop, my flatmate had also taken the tube home - he used basically the same route I did, but he had left an hour later, and arrived 10 minutes before I did, blissfully unaware that there was any earlier problems with the tube!

All of this was caused by one broken down train in Kennington. There are questions to ask though - why was this train not shunted back to a depot, and why was it allowed to create over an hours worth of chaos? Now it may have been to do with the tiny little bit of snow we had (they always end up in chaos when a millimeter of snow falls). This whole situation was not satisfactory anyway, and TFL really need to start testing scenarios, making sure there alternatives. They need to make sure that people who have paid for a service receive it, or something satisfactory when it fails.

I seem to remember buying a TravelCard - not a Travel-When-We-Bother-To-Run-Competantly-Card. Stranding commuters for over an hour should merit a serious investigation of who wasnt doing their job properly - train inspectors (they do run check before they leave depots dont they?), engineers, station managers, signalmen, platform managers and ensure that provisions are put in plce to try and prevent it in future. When it works, the tube is one of the quickest, safest and most environmentally friendly way to get around London, a little more thought, and it really could be one of the best transport networks.

Backing Blair :: Campaign Weblog

Backing Blair :: Campaign Weblog

This is an amusing satire site, it points to the overwhelming fact that the labours would be a good bet if it wasnt for Tony. I will say it again, if you want a real option, think Lib-Dem, they're not Tory, and They're not Tony. If you wander why Tories are a bad option, ask those who actually had the misfortune of living under prolonged Tory Rule, the Cast Iron Bitch and later the Grey Man.

And lets be fair - you would be pretty gullible if you found Mr Howard any more trustworthy than Mr Blair. Give lib-dem a chance - true they might not f*d things up yet because they havent had the opportunity, but we might as well see if they will do something different.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Global blogger action day called

BBC NEWS | Technology | Global blogger action day called

Blogging is a way for many, many people to express their views. For a government to be surpressive enough to imprison people for keeping their online diaries is a serious state, and an affront to freedom of speech.

China has also made its view on these things clear - and let me just remind any government that supressing peoples speach may do more damage to their PR, than actualy letting someone write something that may not be favourable about them. Being viewed as a government with a few faults is less problematic than being viewed as a government with more faults than they are prepared to admit.

I may complain about Tony Blair, and George Bush - but I do respect them for the fact that I am not prevented from doing so. It is one thing I will always bear in mind when comparing our government to others less developed than our own.

Have faith in the future though- these governments, through internal, and international pressure will eventually grow up a little. I imagine their information ministries as 10 year old kid shouting "Im not listening!" with fingers in their ears...

BitTorrent for BBC. Petition

BitTorrent for BBC. Petition
What a fantastic plan this is. The BBC iMp project could be based upon open source and well tried/tested models, thus saving the BBC a lot of effort, and making the thing truly accessible. Heres to hoping they dont use real-media again.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Freedom and Privacy versus sensible policing

While I disagree with a big brother state - lets be clear on my views on privacy.

I dont consider myself a total liberalist, and when forming a full opinion - the world really is not as one dimensional as conventional political banter tries to make it.

My feelings on this are that when you are in your home, your are entitled to privacy. When you are in a public place, then you are not - that is, you should not be indulging in activities which do not hold up to scrutiny in a public place. Sure - a wee on the way home from the pub, or a quickie in the fields is hardly a problem, but vandals, yobs and muggers are rife in the worlds cities.

A great deal of this stems from kids truanting from school - which is also a public place where you should assume no automatic right to privacy (the exception to this being the toilets). A recent case:

These parents are obviously concerned with their kids privacy, but were parents more active in being concerned with their childrens activities (and taking responsibility), then such measures wouldnt be needed. If parents were making sure there kids werent taking knives to city schools and stabbing each other for mobile phones, and parents were keeping track of what their kids did in evenings, then the vast number of youths involved in such situations would drop.

It may seem like a big brother measure - but cameras in the streets or a greater police presence may be the only way to stem the growing crime problems - and also to lower the possibility of terrorism.

L33tsp34k for the luddite classes | The Register

L33tsp34k for the luddite classes | The Register
I find this artical both amusing, and yet important. Many parents are deferring, or simply denying responsiblity for the action fo their kids. I have long been a gamer, but when I saw GTA: San Andreas in the hands of a nine year, old realised that his mother had bought it with no idea of its content - then this artical made a lot of sense.

Beleive me - I dont think games would generally make bad kids, but ratings are there for a reason, and a parent MUST be informed and active in their childs game choices. The actions of any child are directly attributable to the adults around them - so parents need to take resposibility.

There appears to me to be a world of difference between me enjoying San Andreas (and knowing that gangland culture portrayed is more likely to make you fucked up than cool) and a nine year old who may try to emulate what he sees in such a game. Only a very disturbed or retarded adult would be in danger of doing the same. Saying that- the last category may apply to a great deal of the right wing gun freaks in the States...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Property Market Outlook

upl_271.pdf (application/pdf Object)

What an interesting report. How amazing it is that Estate Agents continue to create misleading documents to bring house prices (and their commision) up.

The part I find most alarming is their attempt to rubbish Mr Prescotts admirable attempts to make affordable, environmentally friendly housing.

Equally - bear in mind RICS have a vested interest in keeping cheap property off the market, too much stock lowers prices, cheap stock also, and considering surveyoprs fees are often based on the property price - they want prices to go up. Good quality cheap housing lowers business - bad old crusty places means they get repeat business while the same poor buyer finds time and again that the market is flooded with expensive trash.

Let me assure Mr Prescott - if he builds it - we will buy them. I would prefer a modern build to some damp old period conversion in Canning Town, or being stuck in a rental market with landlords who have little respect for tennents. I suggest the Estate Agents bite a bit of reality - obviously they have let their ridiculous commisions go to their heads and will continue to let the first time buyer market down. I hope the government stamp hard on these dishonest, cynical and misleading businesses, and give people a hope of living in somewhere that isnt a shithole for once.

Trains & Sensors

Trains have had a problem for many years. With the current UK privatised system, different companies have scheduled control over different sections of track for different times. What this means is that a red light may mean that it is unsafe to go somewhere, but it may also mean that it is commercially not allowed. The problem being that drivers are encouraged to save time, and will sometimes skip signals on the assumption that they are commercially driven and none to do with safety. The mistake lies in the fact that they could at any time be wrong. This is a serious issue, which led to tragedies like the paddington disaster a few years ago.
One way of solving these would first be to lift the crappy beaurocracy that led to such a situation in the first place - this is definately the best option.

But even given that, drivers still make mistakes. People run over lights, trains go over points that werent at the position they should have been.

Train companies are currently looking into using expensive to track their rolling stock. But is that really necessary?

Robot People (like ) and safety groups have been arguing for years that trains should have sensors. These were always rubbished as "too expensive" and updating the whole fleet of rolling stock would be a logistics nightmare - surely GPS is even more expensive, and has the same logistics nightmare - it also does not even guarantee the same level of safety. Here are some of the ideas which should probably be considered instead:

Each train has on its front and its rear a long-range sonar proximity scanner, which with a processor, takes into account the doppler shift (that is sounds change frequency when reflected or source from a subject moving towards or away from you) and distance of oncoming objects. It then uses this to govern the maximum allowable speed of the train - or bring it to a stop - this is made failsafe by simply disabling the locomotive if the governing signal is not continuous.

The idea of intelligence in the trains, not the track - only makes sense in the commercial light, not in passenger safety, or maintainability or value for money. It is a great deal more simpler, and easier for a computer to flag if something is wrong, if all points had sensors to indicate their current position, and strategic sections of track had sensors to indicate if rolling stock is passing them. These with some fairly simple electronics and computer systems - could maintain the system, and even in the commercial environment, be used - with an RFID on the rolling stock - to charge companies for there use of rail (meaning they no longer need slots but are actually charged for their usage). Combine with logging speed governers - this would give a much safer, flexible and even commercially viable system than the GPS plan.

Anyway, there are many more improvements to be made on our rail system - but this would be a good start.

Other links:

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Trains & Capitalism

Some people have differing ideals of the true free-market capitalism, and true socialism. The privatised trains are neither. Let me explain this.
A train system has no competing train systems in the same area - indeed the only other way to travel is to choose a different method completely - since there is no direct competition, there is very little motivation to improve.

This motivation, if any comes from government regulation. Although train companies are floated - and therefore shareholder controlled, they receive government subsidies to operate, and the government then fines them for bad practice - this all being tax and ticket payers money - may not make enough of an impact on the companies bottom line, more the treasuries and commuters.

In addition - remember that shareholders, as there is no true competative pressure, are inclined simply to increase shares, and money made - so they will be interested in running the system into the bare minimum, while getting the most out of taxpayers and fares.

Some fresh (or possibly) old thinking is needed on the train system. Privatisation does not work - and although there was a funding gap when they were publically owned, the difference between the amount of money invested by the taxpayer, and the amount of improvement to services, is greater now under the privatised system than it ever was on the public system.

All change please - it is time the shareholders left the trains...

On the apology from Blair

Tony Blair has apologised to the Guilford Four and their families (including the Macguire seven). The thing is, why not apologise to Iraqi's for killing their countrymen in the name of non-existent Wmd. Why not prevent furthar similar miscarriages of justice with current anti-terror laws. Lets be quite transparent about the evidence(once the case is built), lets allow the submission of intelligence dossiers, phone taps and email intercepts as evidence, as long as once they are submitted for evidence they are presented before the court. If a person really is intent on these cowardly acts, then use a very strong prosecuting lawyer and try to provoke/trick them into revealing their true loyalties.

I can’t pretend I truly understand the complexities of dealing with terrorism, but to sacrifice enough liberty to detain without trial and sufficient evidence is not the answer. Maybe we should look to discrediting the terror lords, while addresing root causes such as invasions for oil, poverty, censorship, lack of education, too much religeon and inequality.

Bleak isnt it?

For some one geniunely trying to get on the property ladder in the uk - this is the kind of choice you get:

Consider that average wages in London only just stretch to being able to borrow £120k comfortably - this is a bleak picture. My advice - dont buy anything now, maybe eventually without the first time buyers the market will collapse - and properties will be affordable again. Dont hold your breath though - It appears London is a place to work, not to live in.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Gung Hei Fat Choi

Kudos to Ariel Sharron and Mahmoud Abbass for kicking off a new chapter in the peace process. Maybe the Chinese new year started on this note will bring great progress in the Middle East.

Maybe it will fend off the hen-pecking Isreal have taken for their rather cocky actions of late. I dont see it as a chicken move from either. Lets hope these new plans dont turn out to be more rooster feed!

(Okay - giving up on the Rooster related jokes - it is the Year of The Rooster ya know!)

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Iran and North Korea (DPRK) should not be allowed Nuclear weapons, but I also see the two faced-ness, nor should America. Lets face it, having GWB with power over nukes does feel a little like giving a ten-year-old cowboy wannabe a real Smith & Wesson. Maybe that’s Because GWB has the mental capacity and mindset of said 10 year old. Sigh.. I blame the parents (DNA/Upbringing- its all their fault).

Michael Jackson

Yet another child molestation accusation in the media and courts. I am not sure which disturbs me more, the possibility that he really did it, or that some sick puppy thought that a hoax of this kind was a neat way to get money. Its a bit catch 22 really- the only way to proove innocence would have been to submit to 24hr camera surveillance (this is retrospective). But consider this, if Michael Jackson really did naively share his bed with the minor- it might be considered distasteful & worse to be filmed.

The moral - never trust anyone that much Jacko- not even kids. Ensure that you don't leave yourself open to such accusation. Get some adult friends and leave the kids to social workers, parents and teachers. After all- the real responsibility for their welfare falls firmly on the parents, the responsibility of ensuring the awareness and preparation falls with the government, and grandparents. If you really want to help - go give some money to a decent charity.

Either way, expect the poor kids at the center of this to be truly messed up - fine they might come off rich, but at what cost?

Insurgent Cowards

It appears that hard line Muslim terrorists can’t be that hard. Only a coward shoots two year old children[]. But then George Bush sent US kids to war, and blew up Iraqi children from a distance. The "insurgents", Blair and Bush are all cowards- you should be ashamed of yourselves.
More children die at the hands of insurgents
Are these insurgents so pathetic that they attack non-military targets?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Red Dwarf & Father Ted

A small bit of advice - if you are working on something fairly mindless for a sunday afternoon, and watching back-to-back Father Ted & Red Dwarf episodes - you are guaranteed the wierdest dreams. Still it was fun I suppose.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Turn an eye towards Nepal

It looks like there is something serious brewing here. A perfect place to hide terrorist, massive human rights violations, and the preparation for a genocide.
The king has now sacked the government, he has stopped phone, and internet communications. He has arrested opposition, and student/community leaders to ensure they cannot make any move against him. He has banned the countries National media from publishing any stories which may cast him in a bad light.
In short - these people have been cut off. Their tongues, eyes and ears tied. Is it a much greater threat - at this point - to Global Stability and security than Iran? Iran is still allowing diplomacy, however weakly. But this King Gyanendra has already precluded that.
I realise the rebels were a threat -but was suspending democracy the way to contain it?
Perhaps this is a cry for help - and is it time for NATO, and the UN to declare a presence there? In the name of preventing major genocide, preventing clashes with the rebels(for the sakes of all parties in the state) and restoring peace and democracy to the state. This is not about "regime change", this is not an excuse for a solo invasion, but a mutlilateral effort. Ignoring the situation would be foolish at best.
What do you think?

The aftermath of War

Currently, they have a magazine artical running at the BBC on the Anti-War Marches -

I was in the marches in London. I was there on the 15th feb 2003. I beleived the war was wrong then, and wrong now. Anyone who really thinks that the war has ended is very much deceived.

While it has established a possibility of some form of democracy, this is at the price of stability and peace in the Middle East. While I do support democracy, and freedom, I am not sure we had the right to intervene. What we basically did was launch an unprovoked attack because we were a little paranoid and we didnt like Sadam. I didnt like Sadam either - but this was not the way to have dealt with him.
What the UK and US have done, is the international equivalent of going next door, and beating to death a slightly annoying neighbour - which would make us the guy looking to get an ASBO on neighbourhoods from hell.

In fact there is no single event (beyond perhaps Isreal itself) that will stir up so much hate directed out from the militant Islamic groups.

We have poked the Hornets Nest.. We are only just beginning to comprehend what we have unleashed.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Favourite Places

I feel it is only fair to share some of that greasy PR goodness with sites I really like. So here are a selection of them:

- Stumble upon is a neat way to discover stuff similar to other stuff you really like. A great source of fun. It also gives a good means to share your favourite sites with others. - Here appears to be someone who wants to share knowledge and advance us. It is exactly the kind of invigouration we need. - This is an excellent way of listening to what I want. Most music is pure chaff, but this allows me to filter down to what I really like, and then prospects to find new stuff that is similar...
UserFriendly - I must admit I am an avid reader of the comic. I have lurked as a reader for a long time, and the comments are always good fun too.

I am sure I will think of more stuff I like, but until I do thats all your getting!

I only drink when I choose to

I am not a teetotal - that would imply I am making a commitment never to drink. I only drink when I choose to. I am confident to order an orange juice at a bar and not feel that I am somehow compromising my manhood by doing so. I am happy to remain sober - although it can get strange being the only sober one in a room full of tipsy people.

Dont you find it strange, that one has to go to such great lengths to justify your choice of abstention from a pasttime of consuming something which, on the whole, is actually not very pleasant tasting (with some exceptions), and somewhat damaging. I find it unusual that to gain any respect, one is expected to be fully participant (lunchtime/after work drinks) or fully teetotal.

Of course - the answer to this is maybe to stop worrying as much about what others think - and just get on with what makes you comfortable. The less shallow people won't dessert you just because you ordered lemonade on thursday night.

High Rise Blocks

I have recently being trying to buy a property - a well sized two bed flat in a purpose built block. The problem being that it is a 1960's block, and a local authority one at that.

You see- I have been renting it for a few years, and the landlord finally had enough of being asked to fix stuff and put it on the market. I thought I got lucky when I realised I was able to get a mortgage to afford it - at least on the strength of my credit. The best thing was - by being the leaseholder myself, and bypassing him as a middle man, I would also save a packet.

Now the property (to put this in perspective) is in a rather pleasant part of North London, uk. Its a little leafy (with a few decent parks, and minutes from Highgate Woods), and its very near to a main Northern Line station. The area - while having an ageing population, has a lot of restaurants and a few nice pubs - a bit of a decent nightlife. In fact - unlike many London parts, it really never has had a bad patch, and still maintains a village like community spirit. There are a number of high-rises, but most buildings are fairly low.

The block itself is fairly decent. I know most of the residents, and less than half of the building are actually council tennants. Most of the flats house small family units - as does ours. Its built with brick sides, and concrete front and back. Its well maintained - as there was a broken window in the lobby area on a saturday night during the recent windy storms, and it was repaired monday morning. There are Ten floors, and being on the ground floor - I escape the lifts. The lifts have got stuck a couple of times, which is inevitable given that some of the blocks younger kids play in them.

I thought - at £120k - the property was a steal. Unfortunately - the surveyor thought otherwise. Now there is a lot of bad sentiment towards 60's blocks. This was all due to a mistake that cost 3 lives, and was political suicide for a number of MP's - Ronan Point. Explained breifly - Ronan Point was the first of many post war buildings designed to solve a severe housing shortage. It was mean to house many, in a purpose built block, that was constructed very quickly from blocks - rather like Lego. Of course- it met great opposition from locals - who saw the blocks as an eyesore, and the architects - who didnt like the implications of buildings being created without needing them, and builders- who didnt like the fact that it might displace their jobs - which was nonsense. So when a great gas explosion caused one side of the block to collapse, they started rubbing there hands and pounced on it.

There were some serious structural faults at Ronan Point. Somethign had been missed - it had not been properly crossbraced (a concept which OrionRobots seem to go on about too much). This meant there was a weak link between the vertical parts of the structure, and the horizontal parts.

The concept however, the basic premise was good. Fast forward to the current situation. At the moment - most of the market is too expensive for a first time buyer. Unless you are earning well in excess of £60k, most homes in London are just unavailable. Cosidering that £30 is already over the average wage - the cost of houses is grossly disproportionate to peoples ability to afford them. There is a lack of homes - and tower blocks, well thought out, could really help the situation. Having seen a number of period conversions, tower blocks also strike me as being a whole lot safer. In Tower blocks, The walls are even, the floors dont creak or sag, the windows can be replaced without crumbling old masonry, and you dont suffer the indignity of being woken up by the upstairs period flat tennants crunching up the stairs. With period proprties - that crunching is often accompanied by a peppermill affect because no matter how often you repaint it, the structural damp in the ancient ceilings will always crack it.

Unfortunately - the modern block is a no-no. Although they may seem to be the only affordable property on the market, which is not some tiny shoe-box studio, or rotting period property, the banks just dont like them. Nor do surveyors. Serveyors often refer to Ronan Point. They talk about them having no marketable value - thus ensuring the banks dont lend, and ensuring the only people able to buy them are the cash-only investors. This becomes self referential - takes first time buyer prices up (they can now only go for the more expensive stuff), and ensures no other mortage buyers can get them.

The worst thing about a catch 22 situation is there is no way out. All the surveyors say the same, most of the banks see it the same. Maybe someone needs to intervene, before the only thing a bank will lend on is a property so expensive that anyone who cannot afford a million pound home will have to carry on renting.

Of course - the cynical banks and surveyors let you pay at least £600 for the priveledge of being told all of this. Heres to a few more years renting..

They're not Tory, and they're not Tony

This week, like many others, I had a cold call from none other than the Labour Party. They had two questions - which were "Are you going to vote?" and "Who will you vote?". Now the first thing is it is a bit cheeky, in the face of what is meant to be a secret democratic ballot, to ask that - but I can only suppose they want to know what they are up against in the coming ad campaign.

I gave my answers. I wont consider the tories - so they neednt worry about that, but at the moment, with Tony at the helm - I am really not ready to lend my support to the labour party. And this exactly what I told her. The point is - Tony has made some grave mistakes, and has still not taken an honourable step down (or at least stepped back to see what he was doing). Between his current petty scuffles with Gordon Brown, his unforgivable treatment of the BBC - where Grek Dyke lost his job - even though it was not Greg who published the report, and it was Blair who quoted it in the commons - and without thinking - exaggerated, or incorrectly stated the facts in the report. Tony Blair has also given a great deal of support to George W Bush- when there is not much chance of that political support being returned. George is not interested in the UK. George is interested in one thing - himself. So Tony has, and continues to do a disservice to us all really - and I can carry on building my list of why he should step down.

The green party have some cute environmental ideas, but would only make sense if they were to hold coelition with an other party, and while the sentiment of Respect - the Unity Coelition sounds good, a do get worried with George Galloway being to much of a frontal figure. I am still not sure how much he can be trusted - although I may just be buying into a media smear campaign on his name.

If a party would like to get some brownie points - try thinking about putting the Simultaneous Policy into their manifesto.

Anyway - I have decided after all this to think of voting the liberal democrats. They only need one slogan to win this campaign - "We're not Tory, and we're not Tony". That should be enough. Lets just hope they make a strong enough campaign to get a lead.