charamei: Ten makes a frowny face: not funny is like this (DW10: Not Funny Is Like This)
The FSS has stopped processing drink driving blood and urine tests and the police are scrambling to find an alternative processor.


You know what else they're going to stop processing very, very soon? What takes a minimum of fifteen months, which is about how long the FSS has left? What's expensive, time-consuming and vitally important to get right?


If the police weren't prepared for the drink driving processing to stop, then there's going to be utter chaos when murder processing stops. (And hopefully, an outcry. We're overdue one.)

If the police aren't already gearing up to take over the roles being steadily dropped by the FSS - which they should be - then this is going to go even worse than I originally anticipated. They should have been working frantically behind the scenes from the moment they knew about this.

I say it again and again: this is a terrible idea brought about by the bad consequences of an even worse idea.

There's a petition. If you're in the UK, please, go sign it. Spread the word. Because it's increasingly clear that not only can the country not function without the FSS (which has always been the case), but the country isn't trying to replace it at all.

And that cannot possibly end well.
charamei: Skience! (DW10: Science)
The more I think about the FSS closures, the more I worry; so I guess the very least I can do is to keep blogging, boost the signal, and hope that somebody takes notice. Once I've got my thoughts in order, I'll write to my MP, too.

Just got off the phone with my mum. Here's a key piece of information that I hadn't appreciated, but makes sense now I think of it: none of the FSS's competitors are making money either. It's quite possible that in eighteen months they'll all have folded.

Why? And what next?

Simply put, this isn't a business. )

On an unrelated note, I find the timing of the announcement very suspicious, and suspect it's been done deliberately to bury the news in the run-up to Christmas. (In particular, I note that Private Eye is skipping next issue for Christmas.)
charamei: Dean Cain is my Superman (L&C: My Hero)
The Forensic Science Service is to be wound up with around 1,600 job losses [...] Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said the service was making operational losses of £2 million a month. [...] The company will close by March 2012 at the latest ...
 – The Evening Standard

First thought: my mum is currently working with their biggest competitor to transform their business. Assuming they keep her on, this puts her in an incredibly exciting position.

Second thought: Not sure what this means for my dad's pension.

Third thought: This icon is for all of you folks losing your jobs, all the people who have suffered through the lifetime of political turbulence that I've only heard of through y'all grousing around dinner tables. You kept our streets safe; you have solved some of the biggest crimes in this country's history, and you've fought the government every step of the way to get your job done. Your job was never as glamorous as the police, or the fire brigade, or even the ambulance crews, but my God, we need you just as much. And you've never let us down. You're my heroes.

Fourth thought: Ayup. Can't privatise an emergency service and expect it to make money, Labour, you fucking morons. And now what? The FSS's competitors have been doing this job for barely five years, and it is not just like any other business. Even with the country's best criminologists jumping ship to the competitors, and my brilliant mother helping to keep things afloat, they just won't have the expertise to keep doing the job as well as it was done. The crime rate's going to go up, I guarantee it.

Fifth thought: This has been the background to my entire life, and although I always knew it was going to happen, it feels more than a little weird.

Onwards and upwards, I suppose. To all of the FSS workers out there, those I know and those I don't - I salute you. You are amazing, one and all, and you never deserved this.
charamei: Ten grins: funny is like this (DW10: Funny Is Like This)
I live in the South-East and commute into London to work. This means that my trains are fucked - so fucked, in fact, that mine lost power on its way home tonight.

The driver's solution?

Yes. "As you can probably see, ladies and gentlemen, I've lost power to the train, so I'm going to try rebooting it."

I'm still giggling.
charamei: NaNoWriMo: I research more for this than I ever did for my thesis. (NaNoWriMo: I Research)
Dinarchus, lawcourt speeches, In Defense of Euthygenes, only surviving fragment (F20):

"The whole place was open."

I badly want this one sentence to have been the entire defense speech, ideally for burglary. It doesn't quite beat the guy who begins with 'Okay, so I didn't read the contract...', but it's along the same lines.

Ah, humanity. Never change.
charamei: Completely mad (DW10: Completely Mad)
After the crop circle in the shape of pi a couple of years ago, you'd think the Doctor would be more careful.

But no. Looks like he's drunk again.
charamei: Books. Best weapons in the world. (DW10: Books)
The latest tax kerfuffle got me thinking, always a dangerous thing in any citizen of a supposedly democratic state.

The two big issues of this election, all parties agree, are the state of the economy and the 'public disconnect from politics' (which, roughly translated, means 'people have noticed that national politicians are all as corrupt and sleazy as one another, and given up'). Both of these are, to be fair, to them, real problems.

I'm particularly interested in something the Tories have been batting about (but that isn't, depressingly, in their manifesto) - an attempt to get people involved in local government via greater autonomy and devolution. I heard some ambitious target to get everyone in the country involved in at least one voluntary community activity come out of Cameron's mouth last week.

Whether or not he follows through on it isn't the point, though. The point is, he's talking about reintroducing direct democracy to combat public disinterest.

In other words, he's effectively reaching back 2,500 years to what Solon did for ancient Athens. And I find myself wondering: is there some way we can do the same for the tax problem?

This is more pie-in-the-sky than blue-sky thinking, but bear with me. )

Maybe I'm crazy, but a little bit of direct economy doesn't sound any less plausible to me than a little bit of direct democracy.
charamei: (DW10: Geeky and pretty)
An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry. - T. S. Eliot Not the most apt quote. More like 'outright war is declared and the foxes slaughter one another to get at just one mangy, non-laying chicken'.

But anyway.

The foxes in today's instance would be the Conservative Party, who know where I live and also possibly what I did last summer. Alas, they are clearly unaware that I am an armchair political scientist with a blog, a tendency to analyse random bits of paper put through my door by political parties, and a desperate need to distract myself today.

They sent me an 'Issues Survey'. It's pretty poor, both in how little it covers (it's one side of A4) and in the way the questions are laid out. So before I send it back, let's go through it! Because political science is fun and socially responsible!

Winston Churchill defines a parliamentary candidate: 'He is asked to stand, he wants to sit, he is expected to lie.' )

Those were my thoughts on yaoi Issues of the Day as defined by the Conservative Party. Now to go and find something else to do so I don't end up stewing all day.

ETA: OH ONE MORE THING. I initially thought this survey was anonymous, but it's not - it's printed on the back of the form letter they wrote to get people to fill it in. The form letter with my name and address on. If I hadn't checked the Data Protection Act box already, I would now.
charamei: Ten makes a frowny face: not funny is like this (DW10: Not Funny Is Like This)
Dear Livejournal,

You and I have never been close, have we? We pass one another in the night, and I only seem to come round your house to water the plants and yell at you when you've trashed the car again.

On the other hand, if you trashed the car less regularly, maybe I'd visit more often.

Seriously, LJ. Stop trashing the car.

And especially stop redirecting my insurance money to pay for your damn car after you trashed it last time, when you ran over those transsexuals! Twice!

Too metaphorical, didn't read: LJ is redirecting links to e-commerce sites through a badly-written Javascript and a server of uncertain provenance. They are stripping out affiliate links and substituting their own - which is, needless to say, unethical, underhanded and illegal. It's occurring on all types of account, from free right up to permanent.

There is an obscure opt-out mechanism, but it will only work if you're logged in.

I make that a fail for every month of this year so far.

I therefore propose that we at DW hold a bake sale on our front lawns, to lure LJ's kids away from the car before it ends up in another drunken wreck. I'll bring the cookies?
charamei: Geek (DW10: Geek)
So a leaflet from the Royal Mint just came through the door. They're doing commemorative Doctor Who coins, although commemorating what I'm not quite sure.

Even putting aside my generalised lack of interest in memorabilia, and the prohibitive prices, they've done a lazy job here. There's a not-very-good likeness of David Tennant, a Dalek, K-9 and maybe the TARDIS. And that's it.

Hartnell through Eccleston? Who're they? Nobody could possibly want to commemorate Tom Baker...

And - and this is where I pull out the 'Who Geek' icon - if the Mint was going to do Who coins, they could at least have mocked up a pandak or two. We know the shape and colour - hexagonal and silver - and there's a perfectly good Gallifreyan alphabet/glyph set that the BBC put together for the new series.

They're aiming for the hardcore fans anyway - nobody else will lay down upwards of £35 for a worthless coin with a Dalek on it. Why not go all the way and give us massive nerdgasms? I know I'd have at least seriously considered buying a pandak*, and see previous comments on lack of interest and the pricing.

Nutella did more work than this back when they were giving out Asterix sestertii free in every jar! Honestly. If you're going to milk the cash cow, do it right.

*This is because I mostly write Gallifrey-centric fic, of course: being able to do weight calculations on their currency would keep me happy for ages. You're carrying how much money in that briefcase, Drax? Okay, but your arms might fall off...
charamei: Skience! (DW10: Science)
Ubuntu 9.10 boot disk: free
Time spent arguing with OS, mistakenly assuming it was a software fault: Three weeks
New physical drive: £50

A functional work space that no longer crashes every two minutes, uncluttered and running my OS of choice? Priceless.


Got the first election pamphlet through the door today, from the Conservatives. It's not exactly inspiring: the most interesting thing about it is that our MP is retiring and the new candidate is the younger brother of a fairly major political figure.

Which, uh. Damnit. That means the party thinks my constituency is a reasonably safe seat, and since I don't intend to vote Tory, I might as well not bother.

First past the post: worst. Electoral system. Ever.

charamei: (Default)
Two weeks ago, I forgot to go to my fortnightly appointment at the Job Centre.

And what happened next worries me. )
charamei: (DW: First Steps Snail Outraged)
Okay, Nice Lady In W H Smith's.

I understand that by not using make-up or wearing clothes designed to show off my assets, in conjunction with having clear skin and fairly wide eyes, I open the door to occasionally being taken for a teenager despite being in my early twenties. I do not, therefore, complain too much when I get kicked out of pubs (even though I don't drink) or carded for buying DVDs rated 18 - and even, sometimes, 15. I understand that you have a job to do, that I do not look my age, and that if I was the age I looked, some things would be inappropriate for me (at least, culturally speaking - but that's a whole other rant).

But look, Nice Lady, carding somebody for buying Private Eye is beyond the pale.

It is not a porno mag. It is not glorifying socially unacceptable behaviour (quite the opposite, in fact). The only bad language I have ever seen in it is the substitution of 'Carter-Ruck' for 'Carter-Fuck', which is in my opinion entirely justified. The only thing a teenager is likely to get out of reading it is increased awareness of things that really matter in the world. Increasing social and political awareness is almost the definition of achieving adulthood, is it not?

...Well, it should be, anyway.

More ironic still, did you even look at what else I was buying? Series 1 of Blake's Seven - dystopian, morally ambiguous Blake's Seven - and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, in which I assume at least one beloved Austen character will be gruesomely devoured by the aforementioned sea monsters. Either one of these would be a more appropriate reason to ask me for proof of age. Either one of them will contain, at the very least, murder.

And yet, you dropped both of those into the bag without fuss and then stopped and worried about the Eye. Good grief.

What is the world coming to when people are willing to let teenagers watch/read gory sex and violence, but not show political interest?

P.S. The look on your face when I pulled out my NUS and University cards was priceless. I'm guessing you were one of those people who thought I was under 15.

P.P.S. In an hour I'm going to watch The Sarah Jane Adventures, a children's show, and I'm willing to bet that that will have more gore, violence and terror than Private Eye. Although probably less swearing and definitely less bankers being dickwads with national funds.


A concerned, politically-minded twenty-two-year-old.
charamei: (DW9: Ridiculous)
'President George W Bush's war-time authority supersedes international laws on interrogation', according to a declassified memo. Oh, the arrogance.

There is so much wrong with this memo - as summarised by the BBC - that I don't know where to begin. Let's start with 'sleep deprivation isn't torture, honest' and work backwards.


charamei: (Default)

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