At least they can send text messages to give the bad news

10,000 passports were issued to imaginary people last year. If I’d known it was so easy to get a UK passport I wouldn’t have spent so much money and time getting a proper visa.

It admitted 10,000 passports were wrongly given in the past year, but said plans to interview applicants would combat such fraud.

The current level of incompetence (no face-to-face interviews?) dazzles me. If they can’t sort out their own passport office, what in Deity’s name can they do about more complex issues like asylum seekers and illegal immigrants?

Coughing up lovely phlegm

Since I’m crook, there aren’t going to be any gym visits prior to my 6K race (I now laugh at the misnomer) on Sunday. That means I won’t have run a step since early last week.

However, I may not do a lot of running on the day either, as my colds — if serious — end up becoming bronchitis. So if I’m not feeling at least 90% healthy, I’m gonna be walking / jogging lightly.

This sucks. I’m not happy about this bloody cold at all.

This distresses me, as my stamina seems to feel the effects of not exercising extremely rapidly, and I’m going to have start my training again from square one. What’s worse is I’ve actually lost weight these last few months — my hip bones are becoming more pronounced and I can see more of my ribs. My whole goal of exercising and eating like it was going out of style was to put muscle ON.

Yes, small violin.

Bryan Taylor’s election bloog

I always find it funny that there is a BBC correspondent who shares the same name (though not quite the same spelling) as Neil’s pal. And that there’s one named Glenn Campbell (is he a Rhinestone Cowboy — heehee, sorry).

Anyways. Bryan Taylor, BBC bloke, is now posting on the BBC elections bloog. A recent post talked about the SNP first 100 days in power thingy, and noted

… Mr A. Salmond positively welcomes a row over what the SNP might do in power. It means people are accepting that it might well happen and he wants the debate to be about him, in power.

I remember reading that Alex Salmond was ‘ready to rule‘. He didn’t say if he’d be any GOOD at it, just that he really WANTS to be in power. He certainly appears to be more interested in becoming KNOWN as a statesman instead of working to SERVE his country.

If the Scottish electorate deliver the SNP an election victory, I guess they’ll really be getting the government they deserve.

Don’t pretend your reason for war never existed

Eric Joyce was on BBC Radio Scotland this morning, saying the UK was part of the invasion force because Saddam Hussein was a tyrant toward his people.

I’m fairly certain the main reason given for the UK signing up to an invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the non-compliance of Saddam Hussein’s regime with respect to United Nations directives on Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Thanks to the power of the Internets I know my memory isn’t faulty. Thanks to the power of the Internets we know he is just desperately trying to rewrite history to make his party (and himself) look less like utter turds.

This weekend I…

Snow duck
  • watched Comic Relief until I got too tired (I have great respect for Tony Blair for playing along)
  • woke up with a sore throat
  • went to Livingston and checked out DIY stuff at B&Q
  • had beef fried rice for dinner
  • watched CSI:NY (crap) and Grey’s Anatomy (I can see why people like it)
  • got a late text message announcing the arrival of Baby G
  • woke up feeling a bit worse (I am positive there is a curse on me — when I run with no charity sponsorships I’m fine, once I start collecting money for charity I fall ill)
  • made a snow duck and Neil taught me how to throw a snowball (and he claimed he wasn’t having any fun)
  • had lunch at The Newhouse
  • did loads of crafting
  • watched Grey’s Anatomy
  • half-watched Not Another Teen Movie (Holy Crap that was Lacey Chabert?)
Pile of snowballs

Former RBS chairman backs Alex Salmond

A jumble of thoughts about Scottish independence.

Sigh. Salmond plays banker in vital election battle. Labour is probably too cushy, and does need a shakeup, but voting in the SNP sounds like sacking the not-great CEO and replacing them with the grouchy janitor.

I find it strange that the SNP can back more oil and gas drilling while also backing the lowering of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Does the SNP would support increasing emissions in other countries while enriching Scotland in the short-term? What is the SNP’s plan to phase out dependence on oil? And how would that impact the economy? Since the price of Scotland’s oil and gas is uncompetitive because the industry cannot get enough workers (because they don’t appear to be interested in hiring anyone who doesn’t already work there), how can Scotland’s oil and gas industry BE competitive and deliver all these economic riches?

Tourism leaders slam SNP strategy — “Adam said Alex Salmond’s leadership would be enough to direct the tourism sector, even at one remove from cabinet.” That’s what I call ‘cult of personality’ — marketing tool of dictators the world over.

It’s time for a fairer and lower income tax — “The SNP will abolish the unfair Council Tax and replace it with a local income tax system based on the ability to pay. The local tax will be set at a rate of 3p on income excluding savings income.” And dole bludgers get another free pass while taxpayers get hit harder. Why the fuck should anyone work? I don’t see any SNP policy on how they will tackle benefit fraud and instill a motivation to work.

What will Scotland’s currency be? — “The currency shall continue to be sterling until such times as the Scottish Parliament decides to change that position.” And so Scotland will continue to be beholden to another country’s economy? And when / if it adopts the Euro, will dependence on Europe’s overall economy become the next problem?

Westminister should probably devolve more decision-making on Scottish issues to a Scotland-based legislature, and the current state of that parliament is pretty woeful. All they seem to be interested in is creating news-making soundbites, and not engaging in meaningful debate on matters they can decide.

I have a question. As Scotland is part of the UK at the moment, it’s in the EU. If Scotland becomes independent, will it automatically remain part of the EU? It appears not.

Mr Happold said the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland would remain the nation state, a member of the EU, a member of the United Nations, NATO and other international organisations and Scotland would be seen as seceding from it. Scotland would then have to apply for membership of each international organisation it wanted to join.

Mr Happold warned that Scotland would almost certainly lose its share of the shrinking UK budget rebate, that it would lose anything that remains of the EU’s structural fund money, that it would lose power and influence and would have to compete with other emerging European states from Eastern Europe for attention and resources.

That means that an independent Scotland’s nationals couldn’t just go over the border and work in England like the Eastern Europeans. They’d have to go through the torturous and expensive process of getting a visa, like I did.

All in all, I’m sure Scotland COULD go it alone. But are the Scots ready for all the insecurities that independence brings? Singapore went independent and it’s doing much better economically, but the nation went through a lot, and is still going through a lot finding its feet. Does Scotland want the sort of government Singapore has to bring about economic growth and ‘harmony’?

And more on the environment from a non-greenie

Those in the UK know and dislike (for the most part, I bet) the move by the councils to reduce the frequency of waste collection from weekly to fortnightly.

(With the stunning decreases in services, they still increase council tax. Go figure.)

A government report says there are no hygiene concerns as long as food is wrapped properly.

And there’s the conspiracy! It’s packaging manufacturers who have masterminded this dastardly plan! They want us to invest in all this packaging to keep the flies off our garbage as we wait for the garbage collectors to ignore our bins every fortnight because “they’re too full” (that’s a novel excuse).

Seriously, though. The amount of packaging we find today is abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous. This morning I opened a packet of Quaker Snack Jacks, minding the warning to make sure I close it up properly, so I expected to open the bag and find naked, cold, and shivering rice cakes. Instead I found another plastic bag that I had to open. So my rice cakes were insulated.

If it were at all possible, people should vote with their wallet (my mother’s favourite phrase). Stop going to the supermarket, where their products consist of ridiculous amounts of packaging, visit your closest farmer’s market for fresh food and compost the leftovers. Try to avoid plastic bags when shopping, use a backpack or whatever fabric shopping bags instead. Use your recycling bin for… recycling! The garbage bins can be used for other rubbish.

(To be a hypocrite, I use a lot of those small plastic freezer bags when I bring my mountains of food to work. I think I need a lunch box with lots of compartments, because pitted prunes and cheesy Snack Jacks wouldn’t taste good being rubbed together. Maybe I should make some washable, closeable waterproof bags for this purpose. Or just use a number of Tupperware boxes. I have loads of options.)