False fire alarms – should there be a penalty?

For my sins, I live in sheltered accommodation, and as part of our security package, each flat (or apartment for my transatlantic readers), has a smoke detector. This is placed well away from the kitchen, in the hallway, so burning the toast shouldn’t set it off. In fact, I once had a frying-pan fire that generated loads of dense, black smoke Continue reading

What a gay day…

What is it about the BBC, rampantly gay presenters, and Christmas light entertainment? Radio 2 – consigned to oblivion since the 24th – presented us with Alan Carr for two grimly “festive” hours on Christmas Eve, and bludgeoned us with a huge slab of Paul O’Grady on Christmas day (not to mention another two shows on New Year’s Eve and Day), two people who are so gratingly, tooth-grindingly, in-your-face gay they’d bring out the closet homophobe in a saint. Or a pope… Continue reading

Censoring the Web…

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham – apparently inhabiting a different planet to the rest of us – is proposing that the Internet be censored. In a statement, today, he claimed that there is stuff on the Net that should not be viewed by anybody. That’d be South Park, then, I suppose. And if you don’t know why, you haven’t been paying attention.

Actually, there is stuff on the Net, as those of us who spend a lot of time here know only too well, that just shouldn’t be viewed by anybody – andybody sane, anyway – but the answer to that problem is self-evident. Don’t go there, and keep your kids away.

I’m not entirely sure what Burnham has in mind. I don’t think he is either. There’s little info in today’s online papers – as far as I can tell this is an idea that popped into his head over Christmas, quite possibly, given its idiocy and clear lack of forethought, after too much turkey and booze. He says he plans to badger Barack Obama, once he assumes the presidency, and enlist his support. Don’t think that’ll work, as the US has the First Amendment – which includes, among many other things, a ban on the making of laws that impinge on freedom of speech.

He also says “It worries me – like anybody with children. Leaving your child for two hours unregulated on the Internet is not something you can do.” Very true, but that’s not an Internet problem, it’s a parenting problem. That’s your responsibility, Burnham, protecting your kids; how dare you have the temerity to try and make it mine?

Burnham wants to have websites – I don’t think he’s heard of blogs – given age ratings, like films. In principal, I don’t really object to that, but in practice it will rapidly evolve into censorship and, I suspect, licensing. (Note: When I created this blog, I had to rate it according to the  age range I thought it suitable for, though I can’t see how that works – it has no effect on who views my blog as far as I can see.)

Anyway, it can’t possibly work – I used to sneak into X-rated films as a kid, so how is it even possible to keep a child away from an adult-rated website or blog just because it’s adult-rated? I don’t think it is. It isn’t, though, the responsibility of the online community, to worry about kids other than their own. It is entirely the responsibility of parents, and teachers during school hours, to keep their children away from unsuitable material. Even then, kids being kids, they’ll find a way. That, though, isn’t my problem, and I deeply resent Burnham’s desire to make it mine – yours too.

One proposal I agree with – he wants to make it easier to sue libellous bloggers and websites – and given the number of viciously scurrilous and libellous blogs out there, which are possibly a greater danger to the Web’s – and the blogosphere’s – future than porn, in my view, that’s legislation that’s long overdue.

Talking of porn, do any of you remember Lord Longford and his life-long campaign against porn? He banged on about exposure to porn being hugely corrupting, but as the old dingbat believed in rigorous, hands-on, research he was exposed to far more porn than the average person, yet oddly, he didn’t feel that it had corruopted him at all – he was above such a thing, and only the great unwashed were in danger. What a quaint – and deluded – idea.

The big problem is, though, that this government is bound to fuck it up with an excess of nannying – witness the inanity of pre-Christmas campaign to try to ensure that the entire population wasn’t laid waste by the perils of opening parcels, and letting granny have that third sherry.

I’m convinced, too, as I said earlier, that this idea will metamorphose into an attempt to create a revenue-raising system of licensing – these buggers would tax sex if they could find somewhere to fit the meter!

Zavvi – no great loss…

So, Zavvi have gone to the wall – can’t say I’m surprised. I wasn’t aware, until I heard the news of their demise a couple of hours ago, that they were formerly Virgin Megastore – so how did they become so crap so fast, and so massively dependent on Woolies? Continue reading

COPD and calcium antagonists – a personal view…

Some years ago, I stumbled across a report, in the US, that calcium antagonists, also called calcium-channel blockers (like Angitil, which I take), have a valuable role to play in the management of COPD – they have the same effect on the smooth muscle of the bronchi as they do on the smooth muscle of the cardio-vascular system; they also reduce pulmonary hypertension, and hypertension in general. Luckily, at the time, I had a GP who was well-informed, and was happy to prescribe a calcium antagonist. It took a couple of tries to get one that didn’t disagree with me, and we settled on Angitil (Diltiazem) at 180mg twice a day, which I take to this day. Continue reading