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I loved the touchpad on my old laptop. It was just so easy to use, no wrist aches... I bought myself a cute infra-red mouse with scrolly-wheel, but sorry, I think after a touchpad (with such delights as hold-drag and tap-click), a mouse of any sort is a retrograde step.

Question - I can open my Pearl catalogue and see lots of mice. Chunky bog-standard mice. Mice that look like mobile phones. Mice with faces. Mice with built-in fans for the seriously wussy. There's probably erotic mice to go with the erotic manga-girl-with-huge-tits mousemats.

But you know what there isn't? A touchpad.
One single sodding Synaptics touchpad to plug into the PS/2 or USB port.



Arrrgh! PANDEMIC! Arrrrrrgh!

Okay, so the WHO has decided to finally call the monster-flu-of-certain-painful-death a PANDEMIC. It's sure to make loads of tabloid front covers, but really all it actually means is that the flu is continuing infection in two different parts of the world (i.e. Japan/Australia and Europe). That's all it means.

While some news outlets are making allusions to the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed over 50,000,000 people (and I think is the illness referred to in The Secret Garden), we must keep in mind some obvious things. Firstly sanitation and medicine are a lot more advanced now than back then. Secondly, you might not realise it, but Swine Flu is present in 70 countries, is increasing infection in most of them, and has already affected 30,000 people. In correlation with those figures (source BBCi 2009/06/12) the flu has claimed 140 lives.
In keeping with my three-figure prediction of 26th April (a month and a half - quite a long time in infection transfer/gestation terms), the figure is overall. There is no immediately available figure of deaths in developed vs developing nations, nor are there figures for how many deaths were purely related to the flu and how many had 'other complications'. To know what I mean: AIDS cripples the body's immune system, but it doesn't tend to kill by itself. If an AIDS sufferer catches pneumonia, they're probably a goner as the immune defences won't offer any resistance. Is it fair to say the person died of pneumonia (which is what actually did them in) or that the person died of AIDS (which is what put them in the vulnerable state in the first place).
Likewise Swine Flu - how many fit and healthy people from a developed nation, could be walking down Farnham high street on a sunny Tuesday in July, have caught this flu and dropped dead because of it? What's that statistic? Because that figure, contrary to 30,000 known infections, will tell us if any worry is necessary or if it will just be like a version of the boring normal winter lurgy, only in the summer...

Mom reports that on her radio they're saying the WHO are also very concerned that the flu as it currently is may mutate into something quite nasty when the next round of winter flu comes. While that is a possibility, is this really anything new? One year (2005?) I was struck down three times with flu - in December, in January, and less so in March. Why? Probably because it was a rapidly mutating flu and having been already established it was fairly simple for it to evolve and jump back. My immune system would know type 1 but not know type 2. Get over that, type 3 comes. There may have been a dozen mutations, if not more, thankfully I only encountered three forms. That was three too many.
We can certainly hope and pray that Swine Flu, like SARS, makes a few headlines and then fades away. But if it doesn't, if it evolves, this is not unexpected. It's just proof that Darwin is mostly right and Creationalism is mostly not. ☺


Go go, Gordie, goodbye!

He's a stubborn old bastard, isn't he? Had his eye on the premiership for ages, gave Blair the sereptitious shove, now he is clinging on for dear life because he's damned well not going to be ousted. The general public hate him (local elections: the BNP (not-quite National Front) got a seat while Labour scored lower than the green party! this is unheard of!), his own MPs have been bailing (though one might wonder if they jumped before they were pushed, at least we're done with Hazel-bloody-Blears), but he is simply not going to go. He reckons he alone can fix the problems. Hell, on Question Time a Labour MP (name escapes me, it's the 2009/06/11 transmission) was making out like Gordie was the only person who could rescue the world's economy and Obama praised him highly as nobody else (no Sarkos, no Merkels, no Obamas) could put together such a package. I'd love to hear an American's take on that. In fact, anybody suitably qualified in mental health please email me to explain the extent of this delusion!
[Gordie! Master of The Universe!] (say it with a deep echoey voice)

I suppose there is one good thing about Gordie staying. There is still a Labour party. While I don't have much time for them [I lie, I have no time for New Labour], if he stepped down (or better, dissolve parliament and force a general election), the landscape would be quite strange with blue on one side and yellow on the other, and a teeny-tiny patch of red sat beside the token BNP seats. Effectively Labour would cease to exist if an election was called now. Those in the cabinet are, to a depressing extent, neither elected nor Brown's first choice for those people quit or defected. Who remains? The runners-up. There are some who remain faithful, but is this a strong belief in Brown or the perks&expenses talking? There are many who aren't faithful. It's no longer a back-bench revolt as the Tories experienced from time to time, but rather an attempted coup to get rid of him (which failed) coupled with a public that don't want to know him from Adam.

This is further fuelled by rank dissillusionment in what the government is doing. Consider... The government spent a horribly obscene amount of money on the banks. And it is offering what to manufacturing? Oh, if you are a Labour advocate (all one of you!), don't email me to point out the plan that what's-his-name set out five months ago. I'm talking cold hard cash. In the five months, little has materialised. In less time, the taxpayer owns something akin to 70% of RBS. No, let me correct that, the taxpayer owns bugeralle but has kindly agreed to take on 70% of the problem. Kinda makes you think the low/middle income brackets deserve a corresponding 70% off their loans and mortgages as a "thank you".

It actually makes sense. The government got shafted. It had to rescue the banks, and quickly, for if they went down the toilet the country's entire economy would go with it. But the government wisely tossed loads of money at banks. So who is running the banks now? With a big public-sector share, are they being run by a public committee? Errr... no, I think they're being run by the same management that cocked up so badly in the first place. Excuse me, why?

So to manufacturing. Lots planned, little materialises. There were workers from BLD (British Leyland DAF) on Question Time and they wanted to know why the government had put so much money into banks and wouldn't give a support package of around £55m to BLD. Well, if it helps, I'd have taken on the banks on the proviso that top level management collect their UB40s that self-same day. I'd have fired the whole lot of them. But the banks had to be saved. Money is the lynchpin of modern society. It's $#!+ but it's true. As for BLD, it seems the company had been making losses for quite a while. So it had some projects up-and-coming. And? If the rescue package was approved, would that tide the company until better days, or would it delay the inevitable for a year? I suspect the latter. The government had to make a decision. I don't entirely support that decision, for if I was the government I'd realise that British manufacturing is actually quite small. What is made and exported from the UK nowadays?

Learn a lesson from Iceland. Lovely country full of extremely eccentric people (okay, we really only have LazyTown, Sigur Rós, and Bjork to compare against...) but a country that doesn't make anything. Their huge booming economy was virtual. When the caca hit the air circulation device, the economy went into meltdown because Iceland had nothing to back it all up with. What could they sell? What could they offer as a guarantee? What could they manufacture to help keep the whole system running?

This is something that the UK govt had better think long and hard about. Instead of misquoted rhetoric, get those British workers into British jobs to make British goods for export, or you'll soon find that your once-skilled workers are dead or retired and all the younger lot are a dab-hand at making an ever increasing selection of utterly pointless Powerpoint presentations, but have no clue how to calibrate a Webber carburettor for optimum engine performance. Manufacturing, like my job, may not be sexy and it may not be particularly well paid, but it's more necessary than any amount of "middle management".
Lose that, you lose the backbone of the country...

Here's an idea:
Why don't you try to think of five things that Britain manufactures and exports. Five things uniquely British that are strong products that can aid economic recovery.

Now try doing that for Germany.


Ourselves, ourselves über alles!

It might get a bit annoying with Sarko going on about how good the French are, but he has both a point and a not-so-secret weapon. The French are quite patriotic. Not a sickeningly in-your-face as American patriotism, but it's definitely vive la France!. Britain? Why is it "Made in England" is oft taken as a mark of derision? Perhaps this is a part of what is wrong in the country. Where's the patriotism? Where's the confidence? Where's the belief in yourself? There's no Great in Great Britain, it's more a pathetic little whimper.

As for the not-so-secret weapon - I wonder how many foreign diplomats actually hear what Sarkozy is saying, and how many are busy looking at what Carla is wearing and having thoughts that would set the confessional on fire? ☺


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