Archive of Postings for January 2014


Sterling Area To Return?

In April last year Grandad raised the problem of competing schemes for the future currency of Scotland - should there be a Yes vote on the approaching referendum. Since then there seems to have been no real progress. True the Scottish Government’s (ie the SNP’s) guide to an independent Scotland covers the subject in its 670 pages. But it reads more like a party manifesto and list of good intentions than a workable plan. The official position being stated in the guide as - “The expert Fiscal Commission Working Group concluded that retaining Sterling as part of a formal Sterling Area with the UK would be the best option for an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK”. But the use of the words expert and the rest of the UK made the sentence much more contentious. Is there also an amateur Fiscal Commission Working Group somewhere? Did the experts really include views of the rest of the UK in this purely Scottish assessment?

ScottyCurrency200Today the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, was in Scotland for his first official visit. And as a result all sides were restating the views for and against the official best option on a future currency and role of the BoE. These views were much the same as they were last April. All that has changed is that the vote deadline has moved that much nearer.

So time for a new approach. One that could unite all the factions behind a well-loved symbol and product of Scotland. A new currency in the form of a shortbread biscuit featuring a West Highland Terrier. The new Westie would clearly prove popular with tourists. It could be sold by the tin full at every tourist stop. Plus climbers, mountain bikers and hill walkers would have the reassurance of knowing that if caught in some sudden storm they could always eat their small change.

Obviously the Westie would be unsuitable for high value purchases but then the banks want everyone to use electronic methods anyway - so no objections there. And the national economy would also benefit from the fact that the Westie would have a limited shelf life. It would loose its value if not used quickly. There would be a constant demand for more fresh Westies to be made - with most of them being exchanged for hard currencies like dollars and euros.

Clearly the Westie is a solution that has not been proposed before. But that means there are no preconceived objections or opposing factions. The bad news is that it as likely to succeed as a Yes vote come September - according to Grandad’s bookmaker.

tags: Scotland, vote, independence, currency, decision



Hasn't This Been On Before?

The BBC TV's UK repeats of shows have reached farcical levels … for example five broadcasts of the Chronicles of Narnia in a month. Last night was the 18th overall showing for the first and Saturday night prime time viewing will be the 10th showing of the second of these movies.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe
    BBC One Fri 26 Dec 2008 17:50
    BBC HD Fri 26 Dec 2008 17:50
    BBC One Thu 24 Dec 2009 14:15
    BBC Three Tue 5 Jan 2010 19:50
    BBC Three Sat 9 Jan 2010 20:00
    BBC One Thu 23 Dec 2010 15:50
    BBC HD Sat 25 Dec 2010 20:00
    BBC Three Sat 25 Dec 2010 20:00
    BBC HD Wed 29 Dec 2010 20:00
    BBC Three Wed 29 Dec 2010 20:00
    BBC One Sat 24 Dec 2011 17:50
    BBC Three Fri 30 Dec 2011 19:55
    BBC Three Mon 2 Jan 2012 19:55
    BBC Three Wed 12 Dec 2012 20:00
    BBC Three Sun 16 Dec 2012 19:50
    BBC One Tue 24 Dec 2013 13:30
    BBC Three Sat 18 Jan 2014 20:20
    BBC Three Wed 22 Jan 2014 19:50

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
    BBC One Fri 24 Dec 2010 17:15
    BBC HD Sun 16 Jan 2011 20:00
    BBC Three Sun 16 Jan 2011 20:00
    BBC Three Sat 22 Jan 2011 20:00
    BBC One Sun 1 Jan 2012 14:50
    BBC Three Tue 3 Jan 2012 19:00
    BBC Three Sun 8 Jan 2012 19:00
    BBC One Mon 24 Dec 2012 14:00
    BBC One Tue 31 Dec 2013 13:20
    BBC Three Sat 25 Jan 2014 20:15

If enough complain then the Corporation may act - but probably by removing the previous showing dates from the BBC TV web site. It’s not as if these movies are not available elsewhere - or viewers have lost the ability to record and time-shift programmes of interest.

Now the BBC may not be any better if the channels presently paid for by the TV tax were switched to commercial funding. But the Corporation is, in effect, operating a business model that looses over 3,500 million per year - the amount it gets from taxation to make the books balance. Much of that loss is down to corporate obesity. Time for a slimming plan ...

tags: BBC, expense, repeats, TV, tax, obesity



Climate Science

AccountDoctor160At the start of 2013 the Met Office predicted that the year was likely to be one of warmest years on record at an estimated 0.57C above the long-term average. By the end of December they were reporting that the mean temperature for 2013 was, in fact, 0.08C below that same average. Outside the Met Office predictions of a cold Winter were shown to be well off target as the UK mean temperature for December came in at 5.7 C. That’s 1.8 C above the 1981-2010 average and so the warmest for 25 years.

Now many Grandads might have expected this mild weather to have triggered some Global Warming stories but they were notably absent. Instead the media seemed only to be interested in freak or extreme weather. So scare stories about predicted November weather in October’s mass media led the Met Office to state the science simply does not exist to make detailed, long-term forecasts for temperature and snowfall.

Fine but somewhat at odds with the Met Office’s 2013 launch of Climate Service UK. A consultancy product hoping to provide assessments of how a changing climate might affect business and society. According to their PR it will support climate-smart decisions to make society climate-resilient, meet international capacity development objectives, and provide a framework for ensuring that public investment in climate science can be used to maximum effect.

So that’s two more buzzwords - climate-smart and climate-resilient - to watch out for in 2014. Let’s see how often they turn up in future Government handouts. And perhaps Morrissey could work them into lyrics for a Eurovision song?

tags: global, warming, change, climate, met office, selling, services



Go Fast .. Go Slow

Man3Jan 2012 - The speed limit on Britain's motorways will rise to 80mph after ministers judged that motorists driving above the 70mph limit were 'perfectly decent people'. Former Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the current limit was 'out of date' and a higher one would bring economic benefits when introduced in 2013. The rise to 80mph will be the first change to Britain's speed limit since 1965 ... It never happened.

Jan 2014 - The speed limit on one of Britain’s busiest motorways is to be cut from 70mph to 60mph under a controversial plan to meet European Union pollution targets. The first ‘environmental’ speed limit is set to be imposed within months on a 32-mile stretch of the M1 – for seven days a week, from 7am to 7pm. The limit will be in place for several years, and any driver caught breaking it faces a hefty fine and penalty points on their licence ... This won’t reduce pollution when so many vehicles using this route are trucks limited to 60mph already.

So you may be thinking that our civil servants and politicians don’t know what they are doing most of the time - but in reality it’s closer to all of the time. It’s 2014 and we are still dealing in miles. The civil servants and politicians were supposed to have switched us to kilometres in the 1970s. No wonder that China thinks that we are no longer an effective world power ...

tags: speed up, slow down, stop, go, clueless, government, environment, transport


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