James Miller


Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Olympic Airways

Celia and I travel to Greece once a year. Or we have done for the last few years.

Now the first rule of travel in Greece is to avoid Olympic Airways. Their flights are usually late, or don't run and most of their staff seemed to be have trained at the Rosa Kleb charm school.

The classic story was that a couple of years ago, I had the cheek to book a gluten-free meal. Did we get it? Of course not! They accused us of lying about the booking and they did the same to the unfortunate passenger who claimed he ordered a vegetarian one. Incidentally neither of us got so much as a drink or cup for coffee or tea!

Now this year, they had a good try at lousing up our holiday, by moving the flight that connected to Skiathos with our Gatwick-EasyJet flight to Athens from a convenient time to very late at night. We thus had eight hours to waste. Luckily we found we could hire a very cheap car from Hertz, using a Nectar card of all things to get a discount. So we had a nice day by the sea at Rafina!

When it came to getting off the island, they of course decided to have a strike the day before. We didn't chance the late night flight to Athens, so took the SeaCat and a coach! It was much more reliable.

EasyJet brought us home two days later. On time!

Monday, June 27, 2005


John Major

Whilst we were in Athens we shared a lift with John Major, a rather plump, flushed lady diplomat and a couple of rather hard looking security guards. He was then rushed to some meeting, with lights blazing.

I know that Athens has had it's problems in the past with security, but would you want to live like that?

I once heard him speak to the Cambridge Chief Exceutives Group. This was perhaps in 1994 and he accurately predicted what would happen in the following few years. Some of it was very sharp and not to be repeated, other parts were very funny, but all was absolutely fascinating.

A never to be repeated event.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Aegean Suites Hotel

We stayed at the Aegean Suites Hotel on Skiathos.

A bit mixed and good value if like us you can get it at a good price!

On the plus side, the staff were good, the food was excellent and the rooms were large. We also had a jacuzzi thrown in free.

But on the other hand don't book if you are not good with stairs. There are lots of them and no lifts. Also the bugs are fairly ferocious.

It's not five star, but a good four!


Alex and Paul

Lost too friends recently to illness.

It just makes you realise how fragile life is. So don't abuse what you have!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Saint Bob and eBay

He's got his deserts on this one.

So if people sell the tickets they got for an almost free price and they sell them on eBay, if it wrong? Some may say yes, some may say no. I'm tending towards the no in this case, but not in the others.

The reason is that this time, I think Saint Bob has got the wrong end of the stick.


There are many reasons why Africa is a basket case and debt is only one of them.

I'm all for the debt relief, but other things must be done first or at least at the same time.

For a start, we need proper democracy. Or at least democracy at such a level that human rights of the people are respected and not abused. For instance Morocco isn't a democracy as we know it, but the King listens to the people and it's a safe and reasonably well-run country. But then they have elections in Zimbabwe!

Then how about the sort of things you get in Eritrea, where the national service lasts several years, so there are no men to do any of the work in the fields. Perhaps a ban on arms sales would help.

The dictators must go and Switzerland must repatriate the money to build the sort of infrastructure, the money was meant for in the first place.

So Saint Bob, I'm with you on debt relief, but it has to be linked to structural changes in the countries concerned, that benefit the people.

Hopefully, if the people are freed and can get on with their lives, then they might be able to create the wealth for themselves.


Burying CO2

Sounds to me like wacky technology, that will be just as economic as wind farms.

Perhaps though it might give us a break, until we decide to use nuclear power again.

We will!

And we will because it is the only power source that is 100 % clean, once the waste problem is solved either by technology or a more simpler security system.


England-Australia 20-20

I wish my old mate Jim Bugden was still around.

He'd be getting a lot of stick after last night's 100 run victory by England.

Still it sets up the series for the rest of the summer. Sky must be laughing all the way to the bank!


Michael Jackson, the NatWest Three and Others

So was Michael Jackson really guilty?

I'm not going to give my view, but it's not the verdict in the trial that matters, it is the randomness and poor quality of US justice in a high-profile trial.

Let's consider that he was guilty. In this case the jury got it absolutely wrong on all counts.

On the other hand if he was genuinely not-guilty, then why did the prosecution spend so much time and money pursuing someone, who clearly has problems. Especially the financial ones that will now bring him down, as his record sales are slumping.

So whatever happened the verdict was not obtained in a way that stands up to the scrutiny and fairness, we would expect in a trial of a similar type in the UK.

So what do we do!

We give the Americans carte-blanche to take anybody they want from here and without disclosing the evidence try them in the States.

I would hate to be the NatWest three or some of the others that the Americans want to lock up in their jails, when we believe there is no case to answer. If I was one of them, I'd hot-foot it to France right now.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Coeliacs and the Catholic Church

I am a coeliac, which means I can't eat wheat or barley.

On the two Yahoo groups that I belong to, there has been discussion about how the Catholic Church insists that at communion, you must take part of a host, which must contain wheat. This upsets a lot as do they follow their faith or keep well.

How silly!

But then no more silly, than insisting condoms are not used to prevent the transmission of disease. An awful lot of the Catholics I know, go a lot further than that and take the pill for contraceptive purposes.

But the point about that, is you can sin and confess, but as the priest insists you eat the gluten laden host, you can't avoid it!

I actually think the Catholic church doesn't have much reason to be smug about this one. If we consider their history, we can think of the appeasement of Hitler, the problems of priests and child abuse and the treatment of indigenous peoples in South America.

I could also add the fact that my mother's family were Hugenots, who were asked to leave France by a compassionate Catholic church.


Manchester United's Selfish Fans

Apparently, they have sold more season tickets this year than ever before.

So much for a protest!


Britain's Rebate From the EU

Why should we get one?

Perhaps for fairness, but then Germany could argue the same.

The only reason France gets a lot of agricultural subsidy is that it has the largest land area in the EU.

Now who's to say that because of the rebate, we don't get as much direct investment in the UK, compared to say Eire or Greece. After all some parts of the UK, such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Northern England are some of the poorer parts of the EU.


Blair's Jet

So Blair wants a jet so that he can go and annoy more people, more quickly.

On Radio 5, they suggested he ought to be given a hot-air balloon, but we ought to be serious about this.

Perhaps, he should take a leaf out of such as Bill Gates and use proper video conferencing more often.

Take last week, when he rushed to see that idiot across the pond. I suspect that everything had already been agreed by the thinkers and all they wanted was the photo opportunity. Unless of course you believe they are good friends! Well, as most people dislike both of them, perhaps they can swap paranoias in private? Or are they utter techno-phobes?

So why not a brilliant high-tech link to show of the best of technology? If we all did video conferencing, then we'd save a lot of time and do our bit for the cutting of CO2 emmissions. Ah! But the odious Bush thinks that all tosh!

Perhaps, too, all MPs should be made to use public transport on Government business. That way we'd certainly get better buses, trains and tubes!

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Popular on the Beeb

Just looked at the BBC web site and what are the top three searches?

Celebrity Love Island
The Archers

What a weird collection!

Saturday, June 11, 2005


eBay Fraud

I get loads of messages like this.

'You have recieved this email because you or someone had used your account to make fake bids at eBay. For security purposes, we are required to open an investigation into this matter.'

And I don't use eBay!

Look at the spelling. Even Americans don't spell received like that!


Manchester United

The Glazer takeover is going the right way!

I doubt that the Glazer family understand the resolve and bloody-mindedness of the average football fan. It can go like it has at once great clubs like Wolves and Leeds where the fans have stuck to the club through thick and thin or it just might go the other way.

You have to look at United's fan base. Legend has it that most drive up from Surrey and places from all points to the compass. I'm not so sure this slur is actually that true.

Would they drive all this way to watch mediocre football, with the team losing? Not saying they will but all of the aggravation will have an affect on the team.

But what about the local fans who've been going for years. These are actually the key, as they can easily work all sorts of protests which may well unsettle everything, from the team, to other fans to management.

But as I suspect many will have not given up their season tickets yet, the cuts in money to Glazer will come in three areas; replica kit, sales of matches like the Cups and catering. All of which I suspect are on Glazer's list of price rises.

I just hope that Ipswich draw United away in a cup, so I'll see first-hand the mess Glazer will inevitably make. Especially, when he falls out with all of the management, who with their experience are prime candidates for poaching by other clubs.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Aid to Africa

A friend of mine was on a UN project in an African country, which I won’t name.

One of the problems there was that the country maintained a large army with men serving up to seven or eight years. Consequently there was no money or people for anything else.

From what he said, that country needs a complete restructuring and a complete ban on selling them arms.

Then perhaps the aid might do some good.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Freedom to Criticise

I’m an atheist and I’m always criticising religious groups that do not allow contraception, give proper rights to women, children, homosexuals and other groups, and maintain that some supreme being created the world and other completely potty ideas.

Whatever the law says I shall always continue to criticise.


Crap Scottish Footballers

Yet again Scotland manages to go a long way and not get a result.

What is wrong with them?

Perhaps the only talent decided to play tennis!


Morrisons Ha! Ha! Ha!

Yet again northern arrogance has failed as Morrisons go down the toilet.

When are they going to realise that the south doesn't agree with their view of low prices for crap food?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Council for the Fossilisation of Rural England

It’s about time they got a life! There latest pontification about Park and Ride sites being not good for countryside is pure unadultered crap.

If we did everything they wanted, we’d all be riding around poor, malnourised and shivering in a horse and cart.

We need more Park and Rides, not less. And we need lots more parking at railway stations, so that we can use the trains more to save the planet not just the countryside.


Vitamin B12 and Vegetarians

I found this on the Vegetarian Web Site


The only reliable unfortified sources of vitamin B12 are meat, dairy products and eggs. There has been considerable research into possible plant food sources of B12. Fermented soya products, seaweeds and algae have all been proposed as possible sources of B12. However, analysis of fermented soya products, including tempeh, miso, shoyu and tamari, found no significant B12.

Spirulina, an algae available as a dietary supplement in tablet form, and nori, a seaweed, have both appeared to contain significant amounts of B12 after analysis. However, it is thought that this is due to the presence of compounds structurally similar to B12, known as B12 analogues. These cannot be utilised to satisfy dietary needs. Assay methods used to detect B12 are unable to differentiate between B12 and it's analogues, Analysis of possible B12 sources may give false positive results due to the presence of these analogues.

Researchers have suggested that supposed B12 supplements such as spirulina may in fact increase the risk of B12 deficiency disease, as the B12 analogues can compete with B12 and inhibit metabolism.

The current nutritional consensus is that no plant foods can be relied on as a safe source of vitamin B12.


So if you want to be a healthy coeliac like me, then you have to eat meat! Or have a meat based injection!

Monday, June 06, 2005


Bangladesh Cricket

So they were poor. And some say they shouldn't have played England.

But, we've all been bad at something once upon a time and with practice we've improved.

What we need to do is find out why they are so poor and make sure we rectify the problem.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Road Charging

We need to pay more for our car use, but the method proposed by the Government is a complete dogs breakfast.

Like everything they do, it has not been thought through.

1. Let's say the black box costs £300 for each car. Would everybody be able to afford to pay it?

2. How would the charge be collected? The vast majority by then would have the Internet, so you just pay on-line. But what about those, who don't have credit cards, use the Internet etc.?

3. About 10% of all cars are not taxed, insured or even registered. Do you think that this will get smaller? Probably, but there will always be a hard core who don't pay.

4. We own a third heritage car used for a few miles each year. Will that need to be fitted with a device? And what about those who have large car collections for high days and holidays?

5. We have friends who live in both France and England. They'll obviously register their car in the cheapest place.

6. What about hire cars? Imagine your average thick Yank hiring a car in London and spending all his time stuck in traffic. Would he be prepared to pay a large charge on top of the hire charges?

I could go on.

What we need is something that cuts congestion and car use.

Now let's look at journeys that people take. Imagine a single bloke with a car living in a commuter town. He might make 250 journeys to work in a year, perhaps 20 long journeys to see friends and families and a hundred or so to the pub and for local entertainment.

Typically, at least half of his mileage is work-related.

None of the solutions take into account the fact that increasingly people are working more and more over the Internet. I've done that for years and make perhaps one work-related journey a week. My biggest problem is that there is not enough Park and Ride spaces at towns I visit.

We should also raise fuel taxes to encourage people to use alternatives. I know it's a blunt instrument, that affects rural areas more, but then even there, there are solutions such as car sharing that will work.

But my biggest argument against satellite tracking of cars is the fact that the Government will know where I am at all times.

So stuff it!