Gotta love the Olympics. Not only is it costing many times more than was originally budgetted, not only are the organisers quite open about taking bribes, not only are they going to screw up public transport with their Zil lanes, and they're happy to close down small businesses and put loads of poor people out of work. They do, of course, bleat about how building the stadiums for their pointless events employs so many people, but it only employs them temporarily, whereas many of the businesses they closed down were well-established and could have been expected to provide employment for the long term.
But now we find out - and are shocked, of course, because we could never have predicted this - that landlords are evicting tenants from housing near games venues so that they can rent them out to rich visitors. The only thing that's surprising about this is that some landlords are doing it illegally at short notice, and that the press have only just noticed. I knew that it would start happening in about January, as tenants would need two or three months notice to quit and then landlords would need some time to spruce up the properties before the scum they'll be renting them to arrive.
Of course, after the Olympics have been and gone, rents will go back down, but not to current levels. Having had their refurbs paid for by Olympic vermin, landlords will be able to set their prices higher than they are now.
Olympic ticketing fiasco shows the Olympics aren't wanted
The lottery by which Olympic tickets were allocated is universally known to have been a poorly-organised disaster. In particular, you should consider that money to pay for tickets was taken from peoples' credit cards as early as the 10th of May but it's only today that LOCOG could tell people what tickets they'd actually got. That's a bit odd, cos I would have thought that they'd have known that, and therefore been in a position to tell people, back on the 10th of May.
But there's something more interesting hidden in the numbers describing the ticketing fiasco. 700,000 applicants got tickets, and 1.2 million didn't. This means that less than 2 million people in the entire country wanted to go and see any of the events, and 58 million didn't. Just 1 in 30 people are interested. For those one in thirty, the government has bent over backwards, introducing oppressive laws restricting trade and free speech, fucking up public transport and, of course, pissing billions of pounds of Londoners' money up the wall. All of this, for something that just one in thirty people give a shit about. For god's sake, no-one tell the government how many people care about football!
The Filth currently have an incredibly stupid poster campaign going on, encouraging people to waste police time and money by phoning their "anti-terrorist hotline" about nothing at all. Of course, the real objective is to keep the sheople scared so that the state can use the excuse of TERRRRRRRRRRRR to trample even more on our civil liberties.
Here's my remix ...
And if you want the much bigger Photoshop version (which contains all the font info) so you can play this fun game, it's here (5MB). Do please post links to your versions in the comments, and I'll grab 'em and put them here as well.
Some people are whining "where were the snow ploughs?" and "why weren't the roads gritted" because of the current SNOWAGEDDON. Of course, grit doesn't do any good either on top of or below 8 inches of snow. And in the last paragraph of this article a chap from Westminster City Council makes the obvious point that snow ploughs are only any use if there's somewhere to plough the snow to.
The chap from Camden is a bit silly though. Speed bumps are irrelevant. Why? Because if he had spent money on purchasing, storing and maintaining machinery that is only useful for maybe a day or two every twenty years and whose only purpose is the relieving of irritation (I could understand if it was life-saving, such as an obscure fire-fighting tool, but people not being able to drive to work easily is only an irritant) then he would have quite rightly been lynched by the tax payers for wasting their money.
We can wish anyway. Of course he wouldn't have been lynched, the British sheople prefer to register their dis-satisfaction by writing ungrammatical letters to the local press (circulation: 15,000; readership: none) but still voting for the same useless cunts every few years.
And I predict that in a few months time, quite a few completely useless snow ploughs will have been purchased by the various London boroughs, only to be stored away, not properly maintained after the first few years of inactivity, and sold at a loss to northerners in about 2015.
update: Norman Baker, Lib Dem transport spokesman, reckons it's an absolute disgrace that things go a bit pear-shaped when we have such unusual weather. He compares us to Sweden. As everyone knows, Sweden is an equatorial country where it only ever snows once every seven hundred years, so it's very much worth their while investing in the means to cope with it. I wonder where Mr. Baker thinks the money should come from to buy, store and maintain all the equipment needed for us to cope with unusual weather without the slightest interruption. And I don't just mean unusual snow. He would, of course, spout the same drivel about unusual heat, unusually heavy rain, and presumably freak tsunamis.
Surprisingly, it's someone from the Local Government Association, which represents a band of prize pillocks, who is making the most sense, saying "if we had hundreds of gritters on stand-by for a day like this, a day which happens once in every 18 years, we'd have to divert resources from somewhere else". Fuck me, I do believe we've found a public servant who can actually perform basic arithmetic!
CAMRA will tell you that 30-odd pubs close every week, and that this is a terrible thing. What they don't tell you is how many of those pubs are like this one, which the owners want to demolish. The Parchmore Tavern is at the top of my road, and has been a crappy pub for all the time I've lived here. The beer was bad, it was dirty, and it didn't attract a particularly pleasant crowd. I suppose it's a bit similar in that respect to the Fountain Head nearby which has also closed - indifferent beer (although better than at the Parchmore), could do with a clean, and not very welcoming.
I'm glad to see the back of pubs like that. They obviously closed because they couldn't compete with the other local boozers - of which one is excellent, two are good, and one is merely OK but does good business because of is location.
Your typical CAMRA member would at this point pipe up and say "the pubs were profitable and have only been closed so they can be turned into flats by an eeeeeevil developer!". He would be wrong, of course. Developers aren't building a damned thing these days :-)
Oh, and another thing CAMRA people don't say so much about is how many pubs are opening. Probably not as many as 30, and no doubt lots of them are the sort of pub that CAMRA disapprove of, but the situation is nowhere near as bad as they like to make out.
On Saturday I took some Canuckistani friends to Hampton Court. We took a boat from Westminster - which, incidentally, I heartily recommend, travelling by boat is a great way to see London, and there's a bar - and on the way we overtook this.
There are apparently not going to be any more hand-outs of public money for the 2012 Olympics. Well, none from central government anyway. Who knows how much Londoners will be forced to pay through our local taxes?
But that's not what I wanted to write about. The interesting bit is what the new mayor said:
"This was a project, an Olympic Games, that was won, secured, commissioned at a time of economic plenty.
"We're being asked to deliver it in a credit crunch and with what people say is a recession looming. The International Olympic Committee understands that."
Boris ain't exactly the sharpest tool in the box, but he seems to be saying that the budget has increased because it's now harder to secure credit (that is, interbank loans and large commercial loans cost maybe 2% more per year). So that 2% a year equates to 5.325 billion pounds. Or an extra 133%. Even if they were counting on borrowing every single penny of the original 4 billion, there's no way in hell that an extra 2% a year would cost 5.325 billion quid. For that to be the case it would have to be a roughly fifteen year loan. No-one in their right mind would give such a loan to a company that will spend money for five years like it's going out of fashion, then really coin it for a year, and then never have any income ever again. At most the loan would be for six years. So if the "credit crunch" is to blame, then the crunch would have to have put interest rates up by 5%. Which it hasn't.
So, Mr. Johnson, where has the 133% cost increase really come from? Were the original bidders innumerate? Or did they simply lie? Those are the only two possibilities. Yes, I can understand some cost over-runs. But that much simply can't happen accidentally.
There's a Zeppelin pootling around in the skies of London! Sadly it's only carrying tourists who want to see the city from the air and it isn't going to bomb the Home Office, but even so - a Zeppelin!
It's a real Zeppelin, made by Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik. Unfortunately it's somewhat smaller than its ancestors, but even so, compared to the advertising blimps that occasionally spoil the view, it's huge. And it's a Zeppelin! How cool is that!?!?
The 2012 Olympics, which are to be held in the east end of London, in England, and which are already billions of pounds over budget, will now have to be bi-lingual in English and in a little-known language spoken by just 750,000 people. Of those 750,000, a mere 50,000 live in London (making up just 0.6% of the population), and of those 50,000, there can't be more than 10 who aren't also fluent in English.
Naturally, the extra costs incurred in hiring people fluent in Welsh for no other reason than that they are fluent in Welsh, and in translating printed and electronic materials, will not be covered by the Welsh Language Board.
As many of you will know, I'm a member of the Liberal Democratic party. That means that I get occasional emails from them. Today's says:
" With your help we can still ensure that Brian Paddick is the next Mayor of London... More people are coming to the same conclusion that we have: Brian Paddick is the only serious candidate for London Mayor and the only candidate deserving of a first preference vote.
" This race is far from over and we can win it with your help. "
Yeah right. Not only does he have no chance of winning, even if he did have a chance I'd not vote for him. Whoever wrote that really is sadly deluded.
Why? Because the only real power the mayor has is over transport. Ken Livingstone has an excellent record in this area, whereas Paddick has spouted a load of rubbish. He has said in the past that he wants women-only carriages on tube trains; that he would fund free wi-fi across London by slashing London Transport's communications budget (you know, the one that they use for informing people about things like tube lines being closed for maintenance, and about bus diversions; and the wi-fi would only be for the inner boroughs but you can bet that people like me in the outer boroughs wouldn't get a discount on our taxes); he has horribly illiberal ideas about increasing use of ANPR (although he rather stupidly wants to link it to "GPS technology" to identify cars entering London); he has delusions of grandeur and thinks that the mayor will have even a tiny bit of influence over building a new rail link to, errm, Scotland.
But worse than all that - he's ex-filth. He spent thirty years in the Metropolitan Police "Service". An organisation that he had to know was riddled with corruption and still is. I don't recall ever reading a single press article about him arresting officers for corruption and for wasting police time. That means that he tacitly approved.
Now, it's true, if you read his manifesto, there's a lot of good stuff in there. But read it sceptically. Make sure you ignore any part of it that promises things that have already been put underway by Mr. Livingstone, and any part of it that's not within the mayor's power. What you'll be left with is a lot of silliness, lots of very vague promises, and maybe just one or two good ideas. Sorry, but one or two good ideas ain't enough to defeat someone with a proven track record.
So, I'm going to vote for Livingstone. Johnson will be my second choice. My votes for the ineffectual members of the ineffectual London Assembly will be for Lib Dem candidates. Voting Lib Dem there can't do any harm. Won't do any good either, of course, apart from to piss the Supreme Leader off.
update: predictably, Paddick came a very distant third
A couple of weekends ago I went to the Three Peaks go tournament, on the 10th and 11th of November at Ingleton in Northshire. It was my first tournament of the year because I've been a goddamned slacker busy for every other tournament so far this year. I won three out of my five games, which was nice. At the tournament I met Anna, a fellow Saaf Landan go-ista who had talked last year about setting up a club, seeing that all the other London clubs are a bit inconvenient. She talked about it again, and four days later on Thursday the 15th, the Putney go club had its first get-together, at the Queen Adelaide on Oakhill Road.
The aim is to Go weekly on Thursday evenings, which will occasionally clash with London.pm, but I can live with that. So I'm Going again in a coupla of days time. And also hoping to get to the East Midlands tournament next Saturday.
Update: I got to the East Midlands tournament just as the draw for the first round was being announced, so missed out on that. But the two games I did play were very close indeed, with margins of 0.5 and 1.5 points - one in my favour, one against. Actually, I did play three games, but my first was against another late-comer who is much stronger than me. With nine stones, I lost by 20-ish points, which is about right for an 11 grade difference between us.
According to some terribly earnest do-gooder on the TV (I apologise - I wouldn't normally watch, but the local PropagandaNews was on just before the rugby), "ten years ago one in four prostitutes was a foreigner, now it's the other way round". That is, she's claiming that one in four foreigners is a prostitute. Given that London (I assume she means in London!) has over two million foreigners living in it, that comes to over half a million hookers.
It was on the telly so it must be true.
My copy of the A-Z has 120 pages of indexes, with approx 500 streets per page. That's 60,000 streets, or roughly ten hookers per street. Assuming they each work 40 hours a week, there should be, on average, 2.3 hookers on every street at any time.
This is, of course, a Good Thing, as it means that there's Competition, which will drive prices down and quality up.
Thanks to the AWESOME POWER of mobile interweb, I'm writing this on the bus to work. Sitting oposite me was an extremely fat woman. But for the last mile, while the bus went past several stops, she has been standing right in front of that seat leaning on the seat back for support. Why she would do this I don't know, but she has refused to move and let someone else take the seat. It's at times like these that I am grateful for our absurd gun laws, as I doubt that a jury would pay much attention to my "she had no manners and deserved to be shot" defence.
In the middle of a discussion about the wondrous device that is London Transport, I mentioned that most people on it should be skinned and used to make fine leather goods. After all, Commuter Skin would be nice and soft and could be used to make leather goods for babies.
I was shocked and appalled to discover that the phrase "Baby's First Biker Jacket" does not (yet) appear anywhere on the interwebnets.
Ken Livingstone has promised to increase the congestion charge again, to £10, if re-elected. Good for him! Contrary to the bleatings of his political opponents - including, sadly, some of my fellow Lib Dems - central London businesses are not harmed by the congestion charge. London has since long before the congestion charge had fuck-all parking available and so people have long relied on the clapped-out public transport infrastructure. When buying large items from central London shops, they have for ages arranged for the items to be delivered to them, or have used a cab to get home with them, simply because even if they could have driven to the shop for free, they'd have not been able to park anyway.
When the congestion charge was introduced, there was an immediate decrease in traffic, and an immediate improvement in the quality of service of buses. Cab journeys likewise became quicker and hence cheaper. It seems reasonable to suppose that another increase in the charge will lead to further improvements along these lines without, for the above reasons, doing noticeable harm to businesses.
Where I do not agree with Mr. Livingstone is his desire to increase the area covered by congestion charging. Yes, this will bring in more revenue which, as explained above, is a good thing. However, the area outside the original congestion charge zone did not - and still does not - suffer from as bad congestion, and just happens to have a lot more easy parking. Extending the area covered will indeed harm businesses there and I am not convinced that the benefits gained make up for this.