The Information Superhighwayman

I am small and I don’t eat much…

Requalification.

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So…

I have just had a message from the High Council of Master Bloggers and Online Mass Debating and I have been stripped of my title pending requalification. I was still in my probationary period and missing a day without prior notification broke the terms of this.

The High Council are not without heart, however, and have sent me a short exam. If I complete this and pass, I will recover my title and all that it entails.

I shall repeat the questions here, whilst I ponder on which one to do:

1) You must find a fully qualified Master Blogger to act as a mentor and have them send you an approved personality test. These comprise a series of questions such as “What is your favourite colour?”, “How well do you think you know me?” or “If I asked you, would you suck my toes even though I had athlete’s foot?” Firstly, these questions will require short and honest answers from you and secondly you must send your completed test to all of your friends and colleagues and get them to fill in the test and return it. The results of this personality survey must be posted in your Blog for all to see and comment on.

2) You must express an opinion on online security and freedom of speech as it effects you, the Master Blogger. You will be expected to talk at length about your right to complete privacy as you share your life with the world and how encryption on your IMs will protect you from the authorities. You will be expected to show the technical know how in how to do this, and explain the methods to other people. Finally, you should write a short political endpiece on how 1984 is upon us and how the governments of the world are more and more interested on spying on their own people and how your rights to free speech are being eroded more and more every day. The essay should end on a positive note about how you, as a Master Blogger are armed with the Internet Toolset to “Stick it to the Man” and a pledge to do so.

3) For this question you are required to search the journals of a number of other Master Bloggers and to pick out a number of pertinent online tests which you will then answer and place in your journal. Although this question may sound like an easy option, you will be judged mostly on the relevance of the tests to the style of your Blog. For example: If your Blog is an Emo Gothic affair concerned mostly with how terrible your life is then there is very little place for a test that shows that if you were a fruit you would be a Banana. On the other hand, a Blog concerned mostly with the latest in Slash Fiction may very well benefit from the addition of a “What Lord of the Rings Character are you?” test. To obtain full credits in this question you should also comment on the journals where you found the tests, discussing your score there as well as in your own Blog.

I have three weeks in which to complete one of these questions so I shall give it some thought. For obvious reasons I am rather drawn towards number 2.


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I apologise for not making an entry on Sunday. I realise that this is simply not cricket but I was washing my hair. I am a cad, I am a bounder, I should be stripped of my Master Blogger credentials. What more can I say?


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It seems that I have taken back my pole position on the Slippery Slope of Culinary Decline. At this rate I’ll be back to spending weeks at a time living on instant mashed potato and pizza from bins. On the plus side, I won’t have to work out how to format my food weblog.

I was hungry and I haven’t slept properly for ages, ok? I did cook the toast and butter it myself if that helps. It wasn’t my fault that there was an open tin on the side with some dregs of pink salmon in it and it really didn’t taste bad with mayonnaise and paprika.

Come to think of it, everything was just fine until I saw 2 cats staring up at me wondering why I was eating their supper. Bastards.


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So…

Bad news for all private boat owners in Britain, all companies that rent out boats, sell things to boat owners and rely on boats for tourism. The EU Comission rejected Britain’s application to allow private boat users to use red diesel in their engines.

There are 2 tax levels for diesel in the UK, normal car diesel has 48p a litre tax added on, and red diesel, which is dyed with a special dye so that they can easily see if car users are using it, is only taxed at about 8p a litre. Red diesel is mostly for agricultural vehicles but has also been available for private boat users and private planes that use diesel engines (not that I knew there were any).

In fairness to the British Government here, they didn’t want this change; it’s something that has been very much forced on them by Europe to flatten taxation classes on fuel across the union. The government is more than aware that this will devestate places like the Scottish Islands who rely on small boat traffic and of course, the inland waterway operators, many of whom are already saying they will have to close down now.

I am usually very pro European and tend to cringe every time I see an anti-Europe story about some silly new regulation that has been taken completely out of context but this one, well this one really is silly and. It’s funny how Europe is, piece by piece losing all of its boating tradition. A few years ago we lost the fishing industry because of EU regulation, now we’ll lose a lot of the leisure boat industry too; and it’s just an utterly pointless regulation; it doesn’t help anyone – The French and people on the South Coast of England can just pop to the Channel Islands to pick up cheap fuel anyway. Who is it actually regulating here?

To pop it into perspective a little; the tanks on Caresana are 909 litres (200 gallons). To fill them up in Guernsey costs about £365.00, in England a couple of weeks ago it would have cost £435.00. In theory, after December the 31st it will go up to to just over £870 – Double the price. That’s a lot of money.

I say in theory there, incidentally, because there are a lot of issues on how on earth the government will police this. Red Diesel is dyed so that the Government can tell if people are using it illegally but most large boat tanks have been using this for years and will be full of red dye. There are all sorts of other issues which the RYA Page babble on about a bit too.

It is an irony that will be utterly wasted on most that a bureaucratic decision taken in Belgium will probably end a British tradition that made the Dunkirk evacuations possible.


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I just realised that I have been ignoring one of the most important rules of being a Master Blogger, that of starting postings with the word “So”. In American English I believe this is normally used as a way of saying “Me! Me! It’s my turn to speak and I am butting in. Listen to me now dammit!” but for Master Bloggers, it’s just so. So!


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Wooly Liberals.

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Sardonic though this journal may be, it still has my name attached to it so I am not going to take that dangerous step of posting online test results into it. That aside, I spotted an odd looking online test in Sherrie’s journal yesterday called “Do You Want the Terrorists to Win” and scored 96%.

Later on that day, in the mistaken belief that I still know anything at all about anything, I was asked to write an opinion on 9/11 with regard to all of the conspiracy theories. Did I think they had any merit? Did I think there was a government coverup?

Reading over my reply it struck me that contrary to what the test said I was becoming something of a woolly liberal, hell, I am even fence sitting on the spelling of the word wooly now (both are valid).

In the true spirit of oversharing, I shall include a copy of the summary. It’s not edited for publication so it’s not been tidied up much. It’s a bloody journal, live with it!

————————–

I don’t have a single theory but if I had to write one I would say that my conclusion is that the Whitehouse are probably as confused as we are. They know somebody did it and they have more military intelligence than we do but they still rely on the civilian intelligence they get from the newspapers and broadcast news networks for much of their information. Given that this more often than not conflicts with what they say, things must get quite complicated for the poor dears.

After the attacks happened they quickly came up with a party line that al Qaeda did it; even though there are many questions about whether al Qaeda even existed as an organisation at the time. This conclusion was made on the basis of the quickest evidence found, in response to a nation that was baying for somebody to blame and for somebody to strike back at. Having committed to this belief, the Whitehouse had take appropriate action and wars were started which at the time were good for the Presidency, for many large US businesses and for a perceived majority of the American people. By committing to this conclusion they closed the doors on other avenues of investigation which may well be the biggest mistake of this whole affair. Picking al Qaeda made everything simple because they were the one culprit who were never going to deny, argue, or in any way challenge the accusations.

It would be surprising if many people at the Whitehouse actually believe all of their initial conclusions are completely true any more. Some of the conspiracy theories have some bits of merit and equal amounts of bunkum and there is confusion and bad evidence everywhere. At this point in time, unless somebody who actually planned or organised the act ever comes forward, the whole thing is now buried under so much misinformation, conflicting politics and business interests that we will almost certainly never know what really happened.

It is very easy to blame Bush and the Whitehouse but in a country and culture where two people knowing a secret is two people too many, it is almost inconceivable that this was an operation planned, controlled and covered up by them. In Financial Crime 101 the first thing taught is to “Follow The Money”. In this case the money trails simply don’t lead to the government. Big business interests, arms manufacturers, oil companies, the Nation of Israel all fit the frame and religious or political extremists operate outside of normal financial interests so they end up as likely suspects too but in this case, however clever I think Bush may be in secret, I don’t really think he pushed too many buttons that day.
Many truths are out there – Your choice is probably as valid as any.


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Bollocking WordPress.

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WordPress just ate the last two postings I made because sometimes it is a pile of unadulterated shit. Unfortunately it is the best pile of unadulterated shit I have so I will have to live with it. I swear if I see that “Do you really want to edit this post?” message which I have no idea why appears when I hit Publish, too many more times… I will delete the bloody lot.

Baaaah!


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Bedtime, or not.

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It is 7.30am and I have just realised that I didn’t post that I was going to bed a few hours ago at just after 4am. Now I am a Master Blogger I realise that it is vital that I record such events with accuracy so I am feeling pretty crappy about all of this. As it happened, I just went to bed and read Sue Townsend’s “Ghost Children” but admitting that makes me realise that now I will have to write a review of it; quote endlessley from it and all that sort of thing.

All I can say is that it is jolly hard work being a blogger, I am amazed that us Master Bloggers have time for anything else at all!

It is now 7.37 and I am going to have scrambled eggs for breakfast.


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Learning Curves

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I am learning about “blogging” so that I can become a blog expert; after all, that’s why I started this isn’t it? Well ok, it’s not but that’s beside the point.

See, I had a problem, when I went to bed last night, was I meant to report this in my blog so that my 2 avid readers would know I had gone? Was I meant to report my getting up in the morning too? I could have used my mobile phone to report that I had finished reading my book in bed, and was about to go to sleep although that would have annoyed the cat since I would have had to move to find the phone.

It seems that a lot of people now have voice blogs. These sound fun, exciting and useful if I am going to be duty bound to report every time I visit the toilet, I can just phone from the loo and leave the entry then and there instead of reporting it later. Always being one to adopt new technology face on I looked up these voice logs and found this fascinating article. It seems that voice blogging is bad because you have to listen to everything and that is boring – Text bloggers are more interesting and don’t ramble as much so that is ok. I get a little bit confused in this article that they seem to be using the phrase “Voice Blogging” to mean talking. They report going round to some old person’s house who then “voice blogged” at them for ages, over tea and they didn’t like that; apparently they would have preferred him to write it all down so that they could read it in their own time and skip all the boring bits that they weren’t interested in. See! Aren’t blogs amazing, they save all that pointless listening. I am amazed I didn’t take them up so much earlier.

Never fear though people. I am learning! And don’t worry, I won’t be taking up voice blogging, I wouldn’t want to waste your time. I shall write about my ablutions in long hand, like all the rest of the cool bloggers do.


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North American Cars

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I am currently trying to buy a car in Canadia. I don’t want anything special, I don’t want to pay much, I just need something solid that will work well for a few weeks. Unfortunately, it has to be a big chunky 4*4; not for cosmetic reasons but because I need to be in the middle of nowhere in places with no roads in the middle of winter in Canadia.

The European in me is getting more and more distressed. I never really saw myself as a major environmentalist – My view on Global Warming is that if I get rasberries in December and Holland becomes one big swimming pool then that is a generally good thing. The problem is that I am opposed to very literally burning money which I don’t have and wasting fuel the planet is running out of. Is it too much to ask for fuel consumption figures to be posted with car reviews? Is it possible to get fuel consumption figures without digging through tonnes and tonnes of data hidden away in the digital equivalent of a hay-barn? Ha! Is it buggery!

What I find odd is that North Americans have started complaining about the cost of petrol nowadays and with fuel in Canadia at just under a dollar a litre you’d think they’d start to want to know how much of it their 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe LTs are drinking on an average drive from the Lumberjackery to Tim Hortons and back (11 miles per gallon is the best figure I can get, though that is probably US gallons, and I think they are smaller than real ones).

If you are ever bored one day go to a US or Canadian car sales site, have a look for a few cheap cars and then set yourself the task of working out which you should buy in terms of how much fuel they waste. Remember! You can’t use the European figures most of the time because the American ones tend to come with different engine configurations with especially big fuel burning bits. It’s fun, I promise you!


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