James Miller


Wednesday, July 26, 2006


David Miliband's Blog

Miliband's blog is very virtuous. But as with most politicians it spouts conservative crap, that won't offend anybody. What we need is a lot of radical policies that will propel this country into the future.

I have some wonderful ideas and have communicated them to Jeremy Clarkson and his soon to be formed Motorists Party, which will do everything that ninety percent wants, like free parking, cheap petrol and lots of motorways and bypasses.

It will be paid for by abolishing the Air Force, Army and Navy which just give Britain a bad name by allowing Blair to invade places like Iraq.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Child Support Agency

I have an interesting view on the CSA, as I'm married to a barrister, who for nearly thirty years has been sorting out family problems. I also have lots of judges, solicitors and barristers amongst my friends.

Years ago, most maintenance was sorted out in the Magistrates Courts. There may be a touch of nostalgia here, but generally that system worked well and with the addition of a few teeth for non payers, I believe that it could be made to work well again. Perhaps those who agree their payments, should be made to register their arrangements with the local court.

I am very sceptical that everybody will be able to work it out for themselves, as I have heard so many cases where children are not involved, where divorcing couples can't agree on anything. Add children and they would use them to punish everybody involved.

Also add the fact that some of the worst cases have been where the husband works in something like a family business and has no visible income at all, but a very good lifestyle.

So it is a difficult problem to solve.

So I return to what I originally said. It has to go back to something being legally registered through the Magistrates Court, with lots of sanctions, that are rigorously enforced.


Tragedy at the Riverside

I hope that the disaster in Durham where tragically two people were killed because the inflatable took off, was not another of these low-level wind phenomena that are best known for the bridge collapse at Tacoma Narrows.

Some of these structures are stable in high winds, but start to vibrate when the wind is at just the right level. At Tocoma Narrows, the bridge collapsed with a wind speed of about 40 mph. Not particularly high.

We nearly had another tragedy in this country, when it was proposed to build a suspension bridge across the Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes. The design was shown to the ICI Scientific Society on Merseyside and according to the tale, ICI's vibration expert got up and proved that due to the nearness of the railway bridge, the suspension bridge would vibrate and might fail. It was not a good day for the designers, but it would have been even worse if they'd built the bridge.

There are vague references to this on the Internet, but nothing that would capture the apparent dramatic confrontation in the ICI Scientific Society.

It all goes to show, that if you build anything like the inflatable at the Riverside, it must be fully wind tunnel tested.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The Arrest of David Carruthers

This is only a minor skirmish in a war to legalise on-line gambling that the Americans will lose.

Large gambling markets will develop outside of the US, just as they are starting to develop in the UK, with the help of a friendly government. Remember that at present only a few percent of gambling is on-line. These companies will become very powerful and and good ones will be respected, offering bets on anything you like anywhere in the world. They will also develop interesting proxy methods so that anybody can gamble from anywhere in the world, just like the Chinese people have, so they can view pornographic web sites like the BBC, which their own government bans.

Suppose the Americans decided to prosecute any employee of an on-line gambling company, who set foot in the US. Or they tried to use the one-way fast-track process to extradite the NatWest 3. It would not be long before, America would be getting more hatred than it currently does now with Iraq, global warming, GM foods, the death penalty and lots of other issues, where it is on the different side of the fence to the rest of the world.

That would not change the minds of the American government.

However, the best casino brands names from Las Vegas, who would see their market shrinking fast, would make sure that mind was changed.

After all how long would some of the on-line gambling companies survive, if they had to compete directly with proven Las Vegas operators?


Out-of-Town Parking Tax To Save High Street Shops

The Commission for Integrated Transport is wrong if it believes that parking fees at out-of-town shopping centres will save the High Street.

Here in Newmarket, parking has always been free and the consequence is that it has a vibrant town centre, with lots of unique shops and an excellent and large Waitrose. This good and free centre has also meant that few of the outlying villages have any shops of note.

Recently, they have have started to charge in parts of Newmarket Town Centre. It is still too early to tell if this is going to have a negative effect on business, but it certainly means that visitors and potential shoppers can now always find a place to park. Everybody who visits regularly seem positive, after first rejecting the proposed charges. After all, we pay everywhere else.

I very much suspect that parking charges at out-of-town shopping centres, will actually improve turnover as casual visitors will be deterred by the charges and serious shoppers will be attracted by the less frenetic experience.


Staying Cool

We live in a fairly isolated house on the top of a hill in Suffolk. The two most important rooms; the kitchen and our bedroom, have windows on both sides. So we always have a through draught at all times of the day.

Most modern houses are sealed boxes and you just fry!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Appropriate Dress in Hot Weather

In 1976 or so, my business partner and I opened negotiations for the computers we needed to start our company. We were in swimming trunks by his pool, as it was a very hot day. The men from HP turned up in the compulsory three piece suits and they sweated for an hour before they finally gave in and took the jackets and waistcoats off!

Needless to say they got the order and it started a relationship that lasted for nearly 20 years.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Jean Charles de Menezes

When I was 16 in 1963, I spent the summer looking for tiny ferrous metal inclusions in copper wire. I was very successful at it and developed a technology that could have been used to make copper wire much better.

Anyway, the technology today would be able to detect individuals carrying quite small amounts of metal. You might have two people with small handbag-sized back-packs, who walked either side of the suspect and scanned them. The relative movement would trigger a detector, if the suspect had say 200 grams of metal, such as a knife in a pocket. But the suspect would be unaware his knife had been found.

Other technologies would detect if someone was carrying explosives. I helped build detectors for all sorts of chemicals in the 1970s when I worked for ICI. Many were portable and crude by today's standards of miniaturised electronics and power packs.

So why if this type of technology is available to industry, is it not available to the Police? Why too aren't Police officers wired up with cameras so that the truth can be shown as quickly as possible?

The unfortunate Jean Charles should have been searched well before he reached the Tube station.

Perhaps, it's because Chief Constables always want the best, but as they live in a competitive world, they don't really want other forces to share their advances.


Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent

Her piece today is well-thought!

Some years ago, I used to live next door to Colonel Charles Leverett, who was an officer in, I believe, the Royal Engineers. One of his jobs had been to enforce the mandate in Palestine before and during WW2. He told me this because I told him that I shared a birthday with Menachim Begin. His feelings towards Mr. Begin were fairly personal as Charles had been in the King David Hotel when it was blown up by the Irgun.

But Charles told me about Palestine before WW2, where as he said Jew and Arab lived reasonably happily together. I remember he told me that the only way to tell them apart was by their surname. He felt that the Zionists had ruined a lot of this and turned Jew against Arab.

I would have thought that this was just a perhaps slightly biased view of a British Army Officer.

But since then, I've learnt two things.

One is that British Army Officers of the rank of Colonel and above are extremely reliable witnesses with a very strong pacifist streak.

Secondly, the same view of a pre-war Palestine has been put forward by Israeli historians.

Charles may still be alive. You and other journalists would find him a wonderful interviewee.

To me, a man in his late fifties of Jewish-Huguenot ancestry, there will be one of two solutions to the Israel-Palestine problem. Israel will realise that if it embraces the surrounding countries and uses its economic might, technology and contacts, it can create a Middle East without conflict. Or it will be pushed into the sea.


Sat Nav in the Supermarket

This would be a complete overkill.

All supermarkets need to do is provide a simple A4 map with lots of space, which you then use as a shopping list to write everything down. That way you pick up what you want as you pass efficiently through. The map/list could either be downloaded from the Internet or picked up on a previous visit.

Sunday, July 16, 2006



As a driver, cyclist and pedestrian, the worst offence cyclists commit is to ride fast all over the pavement. When I drive on the road alongside lots of cyclist, I moderate my speed to that of the bikes. Cyclists do not do that on pavements.

Friday, July 14, 2006



Congratulations to Kylie.

Ignore a lot of the hype and terror, and look at the statistics on the UK National Statistics web site, which give honest, unbiased survival rates for all forms of cancer.

1. Five year survival rates are getting better for all cancers

2. The five year survival rate for testicular cancer is 97%

3. For breast cancer, the five year survival rate is 80%, with the best survival rate of 87% for women in their fifties.

4. Lung cancer five year survival rates are less than 10%. So don’t ever ever smoke!

It is very interesting data and is not given the publication it needs.


Sympathy For Israel

I should say that I am of Jewish ancestry, but I am not Jewish. In fact I'm an atheist.

I was at University in 1967 and remember the Arab-Israeli War of that year well. I can still hear the wonderfully accurate reporting of Michael Elkins on the BBC from Jerusalem.

For quite a few years after that, Israel had the world's sympathy.

Now nearly forty years on, that sympathy for Israel has all but evaporated. And it evaporated especially fast in the last few years as they have got more vicious and more intractable about dealing with their neighbours.

The escalation of trouble will end in one of two things.

Israel will settle with its neighbours and use its industrial and economic might to benefit the whole region. Or Israel will be destroyed by the forces that surround it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Educating Children

We worry far too much about school and education in general.

I was one of a team who created a high-tech company that was sold for a large amount of money in 1984 to Lockheed, the big American aerospace firm.

Of the top seven or so thinkers in the company, only two or three had University degrees and a couple had left school at sixteen. Intelligence is in the genes and if you have it, then you will come through no matter what.

As an illustration of this, our middle son left school with not a single GCSE. Twenty years later, he's one of the top defence solicitors in the country, handling high-profile cases.


Paula's Baby

On a day like this full of bad news, Paula has certainly made me think there is more to life than gloom.

I'm sure the whole world wishes her well!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


A Chilling Article - Africa is not going to rock to Bono's tune


This article by Gabriel Rozenberg worried me for a lot of reasons.

The main one being that if China are going to prop up the despots of Africa, then human rights and poverty will get much worse, and that China's views on fair and humane punishment will become more commonplace.

I hope the writer is wrong.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Cats in Hot Weather

Our cat is still cuddled up with her tummy to the AGA. She must be bonkers!

Monday, July 03, 2006



My children all started smoking early because shops would insist on selling cigarettes to those under age. In their late thirties they are still trying to give it up.

Shops still sell to under-16's as it is a major source of revenue!

The legal age should be raised to 18 and every sale of cigarettes should be videoed, so that the authorities can check that law is being followed.

A bigger problem is pushers who sell cheap imported cigarettes to anybody with money. At present the Police and others just turn a blind eye to this practice. Dealing in cigarettes should be made a very serious offence and the punishment should be in-line with those who deal in cannabis.