James Miller


Friday, March 30, 2007

Football To ITV


It's not that I have anything against ITV or Channel 4, but I refuse to watch anything interrupted by adverts.

So the loss of football to ITV, is a blow to me. They'll ruin football coverage, just like they have Formula One. And Channel 4 have ruined horse racing and cricket. It's just that the chase for viewers and advertising mean a complete trivialisation of the reason why you watch the program. Look at that idiot McCririck.

On the other hand I always tend to listen to Five Live as the pictures created by Alan Green, Ian Dennis et al are better anyway. Five Live's Cheltenham coverage was superb and completely outshone Channel 4.

So perhaps it's all a good thing as in the long term we'll all be watching the sport we want on broadband. We might have to pay, but so what if we don't get the intruding and annoying adverts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

China Gets Ready for the Olympics


This article was published in Der Spiegel, which I would feel is a serious German publication. It does call into question, whether we should treat China as we do.

Drop in Executions Leads to Organ Shortage

With the Olympics in Beijing just 500 days away, China has begun cleaning up organ trafficking practices. Not only have exports been banned, but with fewer prisoner executions, a major source of organs has dried up. The result has been a kidney shortage in South Korea.

The preparations, it is said, are far ahead of schedule. With 500 days to go before the Olympic flame is lit in Beijing for the 2008 Games, construction of 31 venues in the Chinese capital is "progressing at a tremendous pace," International Olympics Committee president Jacques Rogge said this week. Even the new medal design was presented on Tuesday.

But the planning isn't just taking place on the streets of Beijing. The government is also trying to clean up some of its more blatant human rights violations -- like the export of kidneys from death penalty victims and organs harvested from minors. And it's creating organ shortages in South Korea.

According to a report last week in the daily, Chosun Ilbo, the already long list of South Koreans waiting for organs is getting longer -- with the number expected to top 10,000 by the beginning of the month -- and their chances of getting a transplant are getting slimmer with China having decided to ban organ exports. In addition, executions in China have dropped sharply since the Chinese New Year in February, meaning that one of the primary sources for exported organs has dried up, organ brokers told the Korea Times.

Because South Koreans traditionally shy away from donating their organs, the situation for the seriously ill in the country looks grim.

Furthermore, prices for organs have skyrocketed, with kidneys now going for $37,000 whereas prior to China stiffening organ export rules a kidney could have been had for $27,000. China has likewise elected to no longer give foreigners priority when it comes to organ transplant waiting lists.

China, though, still has a long way to go to clean up its organ harvesting image. David Kilgour, Canada's former secretary of state for Asia-Pacific, accused China in this week's Sunday Herald of continuing to take organs from jailed Falun Gong practitioners. Kilgour released a study last summer concluding that several thousand organs have been harvested a la carte from Falun Gong prisoners since 1999.

"I realize it is difficult to comprehend, but prisoners, especially Falun Gong prisoners, are being killed for their organs in China right now," he told the paper. "They are executing prisoners a la carte so that wealthy recipients get organs."

The duplicity of the Koreans, who prepare to buy their organs rather than give them as civilised countries do, is not what I had expected.

But then many people in this world do things for selfish rather than altruistic reasons.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Fox, Little Wratting


We went to this pub again for the second time last night. It was also a bit disappointing in that we were the only people there.

On the other hand we had a very good meal, with a great bottle of wine and all at a very reasonable price.

I wonder if the nearness to Haverhill and the meat factory puts people off. But for us it is a convenient restaurant about fifteen minutes from our home.

So do give it a try by phoning 01440-760950.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Effects of the Smoking Ban


Since Christmas, three of my friends who have been long term smokers have given up.

I wonder if this is because up-coming smoking ban.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Phone Scam


I just tried to dial the DVLA on 0870 240 0010. Unfortunately my phone misdialled and I dialled 0870 244 0001.

This turned out to be an advert that sounded as though I was waiting for a call centre and it was ambiguously worded, so that I could have been waiting for the DVLA.

I waited four half-an-hour before I realised it was a scam.

Cutting Carbon Emmisions


We need a good does of scientific correctness here.

Not about the whys and wherefores of what we should do, but lets start by looking at what really creates carbon emissions. Then we should attack those.

Two points to note :-

1. Fifteen percent of all energy is used for lighting.
2. Fifteen percent of all industrial use of energy is in drying.

Both of these and lots of other areas can be attacked by better technology.

Don't waste time on making saving in areas where only one percent of energy is used. Attack the large areas first.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cheap Clothes and Other Goods


All of these cheap goods are not designed to have any long life.

That is totally wrong.

We go on about recycling everything, but what has ever happened to making goods to last so that they don't need to be thrown away.

What a Plonker


Someone has crashed a Veyron.

Serves him right.

The Fraud of Biofuel


Shrub and other energy saving opponents like ethanol and other biofuels.

It still allows them to keep their gas-guzzlers, but show to some of the world that they are green. An article this week in the Independent called The Big Green Fuel Lie summed it up completely.

Growing plants for fuel is a stupid idea. It destroys the environment, by creating large mono-cultures which are not good for anybody and especially wild-life. But they also put up fuel prices, which give the poor countries of this world even more problems.

I have a Jaguar X-Type estate that does over 40 mpg on diesel. Some of the 4x4's like a Porsche Cayenne are unlikely to do better than about 18 mpg on petrol and they don't offer a more ecnomical option.

A better solution would be to impose a limit on the minimum fuel consumption of a vehicle before it can be sold.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lewis's In Liverpool


When we were students in Liverpool in the 1960s, my wife who was pregnant at the time had this desire for strawberries in the middle of winter. She got them from Lewis's. They were awful.

On a more serious note, during Panto Week, we all used to go down Brownlow Hill from the University and pay homage to the famous Phred on the building.

Sceptical About Global Warming


I am a scientist/engineer and know something is happening. We've just seen our first ladybird and the daffs are out earlier than ever.

If there is a chance that global warming is our fault, we should be saving as much energy and other resources as we can.

On the other hand, let's assume that the global sceptics are right. It will not stop me saving energy and other resources as that is the best thing to do for the future generations, as they too will need them, just as much as we do.

So we should not change our habits at all.

It's a bit like having sex with someone you've just met on a very seedy street. You wouldn't have sex with them would you? We should take the same attitude to global warming.

Whow are the Nasty Party?


What party locks up more people than ever before, wants to monitor us all the time with ID cards and spies in our car? Who vindictively decided to follow Bush in trashing Iraq? Who sends people with a right to live in this country, who've committed no offence here to the US without a hearing? Who supports Guantanamo and its evil purposes? Who has by-passed parliament for its own ends?

The Tories?

They have said some unfortunate things, but like Patrick Mercer's statements yesterday, they are only pointing out the nastiness in us all.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Northern Ireland Water Charges


Am I right in thinking that in Northern Ireland they pay nothing for their water and their local council charges are half the average for England and Wales?

If this is the case, why should I subsidise people who prefer to put outdated views belonging to the seventeenth century before the realities of the present day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mobile Phones


My mobile phone is six years old and no-one would ever steal it. It does everything I need including working all over the world and also through Bluetooth in a hands-free mode in my car.

The mobile industry doesn't want customers like me, as they make little money from them. They want people to spend fortunes on music and video downloading and all the other overpriced services. To do this, they need everybody to have the latest phones.

So are they bothered about theft. Of course not!

It would be very simple to improve security, so that a stolen phone had no value whatsoever.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007



I've been married to a family barrister for over thirty-eight years. Well not all that time as she's only been practicing for the last twenty-five or so.

Over the years, I've discussed cases with her and also done a lot of typing for her in recent years. I also write web sites for lawyers and especially those concerned with family law. Recently, I've been involved with creating sites for mediation and collaborative law.

What we mustn't forget is that the great proportion of divorces are fairly amicable, quick and don't cost an arm and a leg.

On the other hand, my experience of looking in on the subject for many years, leads me to the conclusion that the nastiness, vindictiveness and obstructiveness of some parties beggars belief.

The biggest and worst problems my wife deals with often concern family businesses, where all the assets are say owned by the father of the husband, and the couple have a great life in one of his houses and at his expense. When the marriage breaks up, the wife is left totally destitute.

Diversity and Scientific Correctness


Yssmin Alibhai-Brown wrote a thoughtful piece on why there are very few black faces at the BBC. I think that the problems are not just at the BBC.

I don't believe in political correctness, but I do believe in the scientific variety.

I do not know the media except as a consumer, but I do know the computer industry.

Go back to the early seventies when I started and there were more non-white faces then than there are now. There were also a lot more women too. Nearly forty years ago, they needed any willing hands that were available and it was easy for anybody to break through the tissue paper ceiling. You just needed to show willing and be prepared to work hard and also to learn. The only people you discriminated against were smokers. (That was because the size of a smoke particle was the distance between a disc head and the disc, so if smoke got in, it ruined the disc and you lost the data. Very scientifically correct.)

Now it is all about standards, testing and rules. And who writes those rules?

Most of the computer industry I deal with now are consultants. All are white and male.

I only program for myself now and don't employ any computer programmers, software testers or salesmen, but if I did, I would still look for those who believed in breaking down walls rather than creating them.

Now, my wife and I own a thoroughbred stud at Newmarket. Talk to anybody in racing and they will tell you that they want more owners for the health of the sport. But you also hear people say, how do we get non-white people to come into the sport, as owners, spectators, jockeys and administrators? Nobody really seems to know, despite the fact that several high profile British owners aren't white.

We all know that racial inclusion and thorough mixing is the best for success in this country, but it just seems that no-one knows how to achieve it without raising the ire of various pressure groups. Perhaps it explains why women and racial minorities pack various professions.

Cash for Coronets


Whatever the government says and no matter how much Lord Levy and Tony Blair bleat, there is something to this.

I will laugh like a drain, just as they all did in a holier-than-thou manner when Lord Archer was jailed, when they get their come-uppance.

There of course is no smoke without fire.

Otter Hounds


There has been a couple of articles about the possible demise of otter hounds. They also had some on BBC Breakfast TV this morning.

We have two basset hounds and they make very good pets and I suspect that an otter hound would be pretty good, provided they are not too close to the pack. This is not because they are fierce or anything like that, but pack dogs crave company and shouldn't be kept alone.

The breed will survive just as the Red and White Setter has.

These are the oldest setter and the one from which all others were bred. Thirty years ago, there were only a few left and now they are a thriving breed. We had one called Rosein who died last year at the age of thirteen. She had been an excellent member of our family.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Punishing the Work Shy


Over the years, I've employed a lot of people.

Only once did I try and employ someone who really didn't want to work and he was forced by his father, who was a friend of mine. The guy was in his late thirties and had various drink and drug problems. It just didn't work out and he went back on benefit.

You just can't employ people who do not contribute to the business.

On the other hand, I've employed people with serious medical problems and disabilities, who because they want to work have been excellent employees.

So unless that desire to work is there, no sensible employer would ever employ the work-shy.

The interesting thing is to go past any benefit office at say ten in the morning and see the people outside with their cans of lager. Employ them. No way!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Old Mobile Phone


Mine is a Nokia 6310i about six years ago and very battered. It makes calls, texts, surfs the Internet and works anywhere in the world. I recently had it repaired for £23.

Yesterday, I received a new Jaguar X-Type and guess what, it plugged happily into the car's Bluetooth hands free connection.

So who needs a new phone.

Not me!