James Miller


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On-Line Gambling


I gamble on-line a lot, but only in moderation and only on events such as football and horse racing where I can make a reasoned choice. The strange thing is that if I'm at a race meeting, I might bet say £10 each way, on-line it's only a pound. I still get the same thrill of winning.

The real abomination is on-line games of chance like fruit machines. But then they are evil if they are in the local pub.

So regulate if you must, but as a large number of sites are outside of any serious jurisdiction, it is a complete waste of time and a media event for politicians.

What we must do is educate people, to treat small time gambling as any other pleasure, like a quiet drink or good food, so that they only spend what they can afford.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trains to Ipswich


Yesterday, Ipswich were at home to Luton.

As they don't often play on a Sunday and parking can be difficult, I thought I'd let the train take the strain.

But it had replaced by slow buses. So I took the car.

Surely they can arrange their maintenance on days when passengers are less likly to use the trains. Yesterday they caused a lot of inconvenience.

Myriad Taxes Instead of VAT


An idiot was calling for a system, where the tax on goods was proportionate to their green credentials. So I suppose you put high taxes on things like tickets for sports events, as these cause people to travel a lot.

We used to have a system of myriad taxes like that called Purchase Tax.

It was awful, as people like my father in the printing business, saw people take advantage of differential tax rates to put many out of business. He survived, but only just!

A flat rate of VAT may not be the best solution, but it is fair and doesn't distort the market.

Hysterical Reactions


My Physics teacher at Minchenden Grammar School in the eatly sixties would be incensed at all the hysterical and unscientific reactions that have been given to Professor Stern's report.

Whatever governments do and they will probably do nothing of significance, it will be the derided engineers and scientists, who get us out of this mess. Mr. Booth would have approved.

Consider :-

1. 15% of all industrial energy is used in drying. Look at how James Dyson has solved the hand dryer problem in a novel way. A school friend who is now a lecturer at Hertfordshire University knows how these technologies can be harnessed to the good of everyone.

2. The amount of full sunlight falling on a square metre can produce enough electricity to power a one-bar fire. As semiconductors improve dramatically, who is to say that India and Africa will not get much of their power this way.

3. Vehicles and trains are lard butts. Look at aircraft which are lighter, stronger and last much longer. A substantial amount of weight and consequent fuel could be saved. But vehicles just get heavier and more useless.

4. The Internet will be a key factor, meaning that many will cut out travel. It just needs bosses to stop feeling that the number of people they can see outside their office is important.

There are many other areas, where with good design and a little bit of good scientific thinking we can go a long way to saving the planet.

The trouble is we're not producing those innovative scientists. Everybody wants to be in the media.

Gordon Brown's Record on Green Taxes


The first thing he did when he became Chancellor was to reduce the VAT on electricity. It was one of the blatant bribes that now is so wrong.

He also caved in to the fuel lobby and removed the road fuel price escalator. He should have increased the rate.

The tax relief for computers so people could work at home was introduced and removed.

Do I trust him on Green Taxes?

No! No! No!

He'll either set them too low, so they have no affect or too high without any corresponding tax relief anywhere else.

Nothing Will Happen


Despite Nicholas Stern's excellent report nothing will happen.

Who will vote for higher fuel prices, less holidays, more expensive goods and services, limited travel for sports events and many other things that are absolutely necessary.

No-one, except a few like me.

Especially in the United States where the average redneck believes it an environmental plot and the developing world, where they understandably feel they have the right to our standard of living.

We should prepare for sea-level rises now, as we'll have to do it in a few years time.

Jeev Milkha Singh


Jeev Milkha Singh has just won the last tournament of the European Golf Tour at Valderama. His victory was rather overshadowed by the drama surrounding Padraig Harrington and Paul Casey and their fight for the Order of Merit.

Jeev Milkha Singh is the son of Milkha Singh, who was nicknamed the Flying Sikh. The father was one of the greatest athletes that India has ever produced.

Milkha Singh ran barefoot and was gold medalist and favourite for the 400 metres in the Rome Olympics. He came fourth just a short head behind the gold medalist.

You can read a lot more about this extraordinary man and athlete on Wikipedia.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Drinking at University


I drunk heavily at Liverpool University. There is nothing quite as bad as being legless and sick on the Birkenhead ferry.

When was this? 1965!

Everybody drunk like fishes in those days and those that say otherwise are in denial. We also once walked all the way from Huyton to Liverpool City Centre having half of mild in every pub. Some were very grotty.

It's a phase you get over as I now think I drink very responsibly.

Stopping Binge Drinking


Hasn't Hewitt heard of prohibition?

Up the price and drink will be sold by bootleggers and smugglers to kids. They like to get them young, just like drug dealers do.

The only cure is proper education.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Credit Unions


A few days ago, I published my thoughts on the Death of the Post Offices in the UK. Whilst checking if my blog was fully integrated into Google, I found this interesting piece in praise of Credit Unions.

There are 427 credit unions affiliated to the league. They provide an unparalleled level of financially based, user friendly services to people in [51] all parts of the country. Travelling through Ireland one can see towns which have been abandoned by the banking industry and experienced the death of post offices but still remain cores of credit union activity.

The service provided by the credit union movement is unique. First, it is community based, which is extraordinary in the days of crass commercialism. Second, it is not fundamentally focused on profit. Service is the objective rather than the bottom line. This is something which privately and publicly owned banks cannot compete with. Third, an extraordinary level of voluntarism is still based in the credit union movement. It is extraordinary to look at the scale and level of service provided by credit unions when one considers the backbone of that movement is voluntarism.

There is another aspect of the credit union movement I find praiseworthy and which is an essential element in its success. The credit union service is not in any way elitist. It is user friendly, a character exemplified by a sense of neighbourliness. It serves people who would not use banks.

Credit unions also encourage frugality, which is sometimes considered conservative but which is praiseworthy. In particular, it encourages frugality among people on low incomes who do not necessarily have a high propensity to save. This helps people regulate their financial affairs in a way none of the commercial banking services does.

Credit unions provide a valuable service to young and old people. Young people are encouraged to become involved in the movement, partly through the positive attitude taken by credit unions to younger people in comparison with that of banks or commercially oriented bodies. In particular, I welcome the service credit unions provide for the elderly, especially those in rural communities. The movement is trusted by these people. They feel unthreatened by their credit unions and they are encouraged to deposit savings with them rather than hold income at home. The credit union fulfils a very important social function which other financial services are not fulfilling.

Banks have often abandoned rural areas and too often we have seen the demise of post offices. In many parts of the country credit unions provide the only available financial services.

One aspect of credit unions in recent years which we all celebrate is the monetary advice and budgetary service. This is a very valuable service, particularly for those who in the past found money lenders, who operated usurious rates with ruinous effects on the lives of people, were their only recourse in times of difficulty. Credit unions, with the support of Government and other social agencies, have stepped into a major gap which emerged in recent years. All members of credit unions are entitled to our compliments and gratitude for doing this.

This was from a debate in the Irish Parliament about the second stage of the Credit Union Bill. In 1997!

Can I believe that our thinking on providing financial services is so far behind, as the effect of Credit Unions in the UK has been minimal?

People Like Salt


I usually buy ready meals from Waitrose or Marks and Spencer. These tend to have acceptable levels of salt.

A few months ago, I bought a 'healthy' ready meal from Tesco. It was so full of salt that that was all you could taste.

Let's make no bones about it. Supermarkets adjust their level of salt to sell the maximum amount of food, not what is good for us. Waitrose and M&S tend to have a more thinking class of customer and therefore find that lower levels of salt and other additives are preferred and sell better.

So if you want to cut salt, you won't do it without imposing legal limits on products.

As to breakfast cereal, as a coeliac I have to eat gluten-free Cornflakes. I eat an organic brand, Whole Earth, which is often cheaper than Kelloggs. It has virtually no salt and tastes so much better.

Summer and Winter Time


This weekend we move clocks back for winter. This will mean that mornings will be lighter and evenings darker.

I have no problme with this movement, but we should have the same time as the rest of Europe. It would make business and so many other things os much better. It might even increase economic activity, by a small amount, which would halp us all.

But there are always those who are against this, quoting Scottish farmers who would have problems caring for livestock or other spurious reasons. I've never known a farmer, who gears his day to the clock. Animals don't, so they always keep their time about feeding and turning out.

Note that if Europe changed to our time, the British parliament would vote to change it again, so we weren't in line with Europe.

It's nothing to do with practicality, it's all to do with being different to Europe.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gas Guzzlers in Richmond


So Richmond Council wants to charge more to park a gas guzzler.


I live in the country on a stud farm and have no such need for some great big rediculous 4x4. So if I don't need one, there can't be many who do.

As an idea, how about gearing parking fines to the greenness of the car. Say £60 for normal cars, £30 for electric and £200 for gas guzzlers.

Dyson DC16


We've just bought a Dyson DC16 hand held vacuum cleaner.


Heather Mills McCartney


The woman has forgotten the basic rule of libel. Note not law, but rule.

That is that you never sue anybody for libel. The only winners are the lawyers and it always ends in tears.

Note too, that if a newspaper makes a mistake and mixes you up with someone else, you can often get the required retraction by being nice!



The real problem with the Muslim world is that it is an economic basket case. Few Muslim countries are financially successful and those that are such as Dubai, Turkey and Malaysia, have very special circumstances and reasonably proper management.

Take Iran as an example. It has very low petrol prices, which are highly subsidised. It may be one of the largest oil producers, but it has to import petrol. Consumption of petrol is consequently very high and much is smuggled abroad. What a joke!

If Iraq splits into three, the north and south would have wealth in oil and the centre would be virtually bankrupt. How long before that created a war based on jealousy?

All this and many other economic factors, mean that the area will end up in flames one way or another. Will China keep supplying the petrol that Iran needs in exchange for all the oil it has bought? Will we try and do anything to stop the war? I doubt it. After the mess we've got them in by invading Iraq, I know we don't have the stomach for it.

So the outcome is that we will lose a lot of our oil supply. Good! It might just bring a sense of reality to our consumption. It might even bring sense to the US.

Global warming is a much more important problem for the world, than sorting out those despots, who take the name of a once great religion in vain.

I just feel very sorry for all those good people of the area, who just want the same peaceful and happy lives we all do. I doubt they'll get it in the next twenty years or so!

Foreign Trucks


I live near the junction of the M11/A14 and every month or so there is a serious accident involving a foreign truck. Ten years ago, there were hardly any accidents of this type.

Three years ago, my wife was cut across by a Dutch lorry and he badly damaged her car. A year after that we believe he was charged with causing death by dangerous driving. Last week, a friend had her car written off by a Slovenian driver who pulled out on her. Both women could have been killed.

In both cases they were left hand drive trucks, who just didn't take the extra care needed when you drive such a vehicle in the UK.

We urgently need a proper survey of all accidents, so that we can take the proper actions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



Here in the UK, we are very frightened of US law. Our stupid government signed a deal with the US government which means that you can be extradited to the US without going to a Court in the UK.

This means that say if you are in breach of a US court order, then you can be extradited without a by your leave, despite the fact that you have done nothing wrong under UK law. Take on-line gambling sites. These are legal here and several executives from gambling companies are now languishing in US jails.

So I suspect that the outcome of the Spamhaus case will be that Spamhaus will be shut down, as they are only a small, but powerful, non-profit making organisation and can't afford to fight the case. So they'll just give up.

Sad but true.

Never underestimate the vindictiveness of US lawyers. He with the most money wins.

Monday, October 23, 2006

US Bans Vegemite


The United States has slapped a ban on Vegemite, outraging Australian expatriates there. They couldn't have found a better way to annoy Australian. Except perhaps to call them New Zealanders!

The bizarre crackdown was prompted because Vegemite contains folate, which in the US can be added only to breads and cereals. Expatriates say that enforcement of the ban has been stepped up recently and is ruining lifelong traditions of having Vegemite on toast for breakfast.

It's funny but in the US you can eat super-super-size hamburgers that don't do you much good, but you can't eat something that will.

But then the US is out of step with the rest of the world, with respect to the death penalty, global warming, trade rules, steel, Guantanemo, Iraq and many other things.

IVF on the NHS


It should not be available on the NHS. I would love to see the statistics of those who have had IVF and I suspect most are from the pushy middle class.

However, what we should do is look much more at the causes of infertility.

For instance I am a coeliac and it is well known that there is a link between undiagnosed coeliac disease and women not getting pregnant.

Also my wife is a family barrister and they always have stories of doing adoptions, where the woman is pregnant. It seems that the relief of adopting a child, removes the stress and a natural pregnancy occurs.

More Box Junction and Bus Lane Cameras


More of these may be a good thing in that they speed traffic flow. On the other hand the only box junction I use regularly outside of London, at the bottom of the Huntingdon Road in Cambridge is very well observed, so would hardly be a money maker for the council.

I have only ever been caught by a box junction camera once and that was a few years ago in London. Despite asking for the driver's name, I never received anything more and so never paid the fine.

Perhaps, as I have proposed for parking fines, the fines should be raised and then you are able to claim one a year back, when you tax your car. That would have the desired deterrent affect, but wouldn't adversely affect the pockets of responsible drivers.

Bad Fashion


On Friday, my wife, Celia, and her friend Suzy went shopping in London.

Celia went with the intention of buying a suit, a skirt for work and a mac. After a whole day's searching except for coffee and snack breaks, she managed to buy just two jumpers from Zara. Suzy bought just one shirt.

Either she couldn't find anything she liked or it just didn't fit.

Now you might say that Celia is an odd shape. Perhaps she is as she is a size 10 and has a real waist. She also prefers trousers and skirts to fit there, which is supposed to be this year's fashion! She did find a pair of beige trousers in Jaeger, but the assistant said that despite the fact that everybody wanted them in black or grey, there had been none in a more practical colour.

Oh dear!

So why are designers and shops so out of touch with what people want to wear?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Goalkeeping Accidents


The sports press this week has been dominated by the injuries to the two Chelsea goalkeepers at Reading. I won't go into the rights and wrongs of what happened, as I wasn't there and I haven't seen it on video.

But some years ago, I saw a young Richard Wright of Ipswich clash with Luc Nillis of Aston Villa at Portman Road. Both went for the same ball and the outcome was that Nellis' leg was badly broken and he never played again. It was a total accident.

But Richard Wright was never the same goalkeeper again and has never shown the form he did in that wonderful season for Ipswich.

Was this unfortunate accident the reason?

The Greatest


When you talk about great British boxers, never forget Ted Kid Lewis. Today he would eclipse all the Benns, Eubanks and Hattons of this world.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Disabled


I'm nearly sixty and many of us grew up with a lot of people who were disabled. Every class at school had a polio victim and many of us knew people in our parent's generation who had lost limbs and eyes in the two World Wars.

I don't know, but I suspect with medical advances we now have fewer of the less disabled and actually more of the seriously disabled who lead full lives. Does this mean that we are actually more intolerant than we used to be as we don't meet disabled people as often as we did fifty years ago?

I also remember about twenty years ago, we were interviewing a man for a job. As we gave him the job, he then asked if it mattered that he was disabled. Neither of us had read what he'd written on the form! I suspect now that employment policies are so written down and restricted, that anyone outside of the narrow frame for the job ever gets the interview.

As to Guthrie, we told him he'd managed to get to the interview and as the job would be nearer to his home, we didn't expect any problems. He went on to be a valuable member of the company.

Thursday, October 19, 2006



I have never played a computer game in my life! However, I do understand the fascination as between stints in my father's print works, I played and still do a lot of card and paper games. Sudoku is a new wonder to add to that.

Recently, I saw a presentation by Peter Cochrane, late of BT, and a serious technology guru. He is proposing the use of video game technology to get that all chestnut of video conferencing working better. And cheaper. He also said that in ten years time an iPod will hold every tune, ever recorded. What effect will that have on gaming. Let alone life!

For my part, I wrote a special Internet browser, so that people could watch and refresh several web pages at the same time. The first user was a bookmaker. The software has been taken up by global Internet game players, as they can fool others that they are still awake! To complete the circle the software is now under test with the US Army in Iraq.

Never underestimate the power of any Information Technology to be used in the wrong place for a very good application.



I do a lot of IT work with lawyers, based in various parts of the country.

I should also state that my wife is a family barrister with years of practice over East Anglia.

What never seems to surprise me is how divorces and the hassle involved vary throughout the country. Some courts, seem to put off cases for months, whereas others deal with everything efficiently. Some cases of my knowledge have vast fees on one side and very reasonable ones on the other.

So as in many things, if you are going to get divorced, try and do things as amicably as possible and if possible avoid the lawyers and the courts. If you have to use a lawyer, shop around. They are supposed to work for you!

As an aside women lawyers on the whole are cheaper in the long run!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lynn Berry


She is on a task force trying to make life simpler by cutting regulation! What a sensible woman she is!

I was brought up in my father's printing works with lots of lead, solvents and dangerous machines. I can still hear the Heidelbergs!

With due respect to all my teachers at Grammar School (Minchenden), I learned much more there.

I also learned how to handle dangerous things in a safe manner.

The Countryside


The discussion on Radio 5 Live this morning has been interesting. Even the bloke from the Council for the Fossilisation of Rural England was better than usual.

The real problem is rural housing and the fact there is just not enough of it. My wife and I are stud farmers and we live on about 130 hectares, which has two houses and three cottages. Note that a thoroughbred stud creates much more work than an ordinary farm. We employ about 5 all year round, whereas a typical farm of our size might provide employment for one or two.

We have several odd pieces of land, that could be used to build an odd house or two.

Suffolk has about a third of a million hectares of arable land, meadow and pasture. So if we built say two houses for every 100 hectares or about five house a square mile, this would create 6,500 houses, without anybody hardly noticing.

Why is this not done?

If we built all the houses we need in the countryside, or in the towns for that matter, house prices would fall and the affect would be that the economy would collapse, as people would be so frightened that all their money invested in property would be worthless. Look what happened in the early 1990's.

So we can all rest happy that politicians will never allow this, so that us who have, don't have to share with those who need.

The Death of Post Offices


I live and work in the Suffolk countryside.

I send out quite a few parcels and letters. Now that the Royal Mail allows me to print stamps on-line, I use this excellent service and stick the labels on and then hand everything to the postman, who puts it in his van.

We now buy our Road Tax on-line and the Royal Mail has now lost the contract to sell TV licences.

So my numerous visits to an actual Post Office have reduced to virtually nothing from perhaps once a week.

Why should we subsidise a service that nobody uses?

The banking arm of the Royal Mail which is really all that is left, should be restructured so that it provides a service to those in real need. But this is not the job of the Royal Mail. This belongs to the DSS.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

High Definition DVDs


What's the point?

We rarely watch a DVD and if we do it's a free one from a newspaper.

High definition TV is a system that will be very short lived in it's present format. I'm working at a computer with a much higher resolution and when TV is delivered by broadband, there will be much higher resolutions based on computer technology.

Heigh-ho. We can't even get Freeview here in Suffolk.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Jalil is not the Most Expensive Flop!


Snaafi Dancer cost Sheikh Mohammed $10.2 million in the 1980s.

That one never saw a racecourse!



I am a coeliac.

I need B12 and lots of other vitamins just like everybody else, but I can't eat anything containing gluten, like wheat, barley and rye. So that means no beer, bread or pasta.

A vegetarian diet for me would mean, I became very unhealthy and a virtually an invalid.

I need my meat, fish and eggs, lots of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy.

Why are the BBC giving these anti-meat fascists air-time?

Cancer Statistics


There are large numbers of statistics on the Internet that are to be trusted as they come from reputable Universities and organisations.

1. People with high folic acid levels have lower risk of getting cancer.
2. Five year cancer survival rates are a lot higher than you think. Lung it's about 7%, but for breast it's over 80%. Testicular is 97%.
3. Obesity is a major factor that increases the risk of cancer.
4. Exercise during recovery from cancer cuts the level of reoccurrence.

So keep fit, healthy and slim. And eat good foods.

Also check yourself early and make sure if you get the disease you have a good surgeon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Don Thompson


Think of great British athletes with the name Thompson and you think of Daley and Tanni Grey, who have been famous in recent years. You might also remember, Ian Thompson, who was our best male marathon runner. Sadly, he didn't win the Olympic gold he should have done.

Few remember the diminutive Don Thompson, who died a few days ago. He won the gold in the 1960 Rome Olympics for the 50km walk, walking in a cap made by his mother, that resembled that of a French Foreign Legionaire. Stories at the time told of his training for the heat of Rome in his bathroom with an oil-heater and a kettle.

He was a one off and a man admired by many.

He will be sadly missed.

Monday, October 09, 2006

To-day As We Celebrate Victory


A friend of mine, David Dell, found this document which was given to every school child in 1946, to commerate victory in World War 2. Note the spelling of to-day with a hyphen.

The Front - Click for Large

The Front

The Back - Click for Large

The Back

Searching the Internet, I find that there are only a couple of references to this document.

On Line Gambling


The US Senate has stopped US citizens using bank accounts and credit cards to pay for on-line gambling.

Here in the UK it's perfectly legal and only this weekend I opened an account with a bookmaker owned by the UK government and uploaded £50 to the account from my credit card. I also have two other on-line betting accounts. I don't use casinos, as you have no chance winning with an on-line fruit machine. I might look at on-line poker sometime, but I was never a good player, so I probably would only play for fun.

My wife has a credit card issued by a US company. Can she use that to upload money to her bookmaking account?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Formula One Ad Breaks


This was illustrated brilliantly today at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Michael Schumaker's engine blew whilst the adverts were on. A disgrace!

It's why I rarely watch anything with adverts, as they have no affect on me, and they are just an irritance. I think I'll get one of those video recorders that cuts the adverts out!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pass It On Loans


When Celia and I got married in 1968, I couldn't afford the licence, so my Auntie Gladys lent me the money, on condition that I didn't pay her back, but I gave it to someone in need. Over the years, I've done this several times.

In one case twenty years ago I gave a guy £100 to take part in Operation Raleigh on condition that when he could afford it he did the same for someone else. He sent me several letters and a few years ago, one where he said he'd sponsored someone in the same way that I'd sponsored him.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Christopher Chataway


As a child he was one of my heroes and I can remember him winning one of the greatest ever 5,000 metres in 1954 at the White City when he beat the incomparable Russian Vladimir Kuts. He was also one of the pacemakers when the Four Minute Mile was broken for the first time.

Now at the age of seventy-five after only taking up athletics again at 60, he has just completed the half marathon Great North Run in just under one minute thirty nine seconds.

So there is hope for us all.