A lovely Christmas, and a timely reminder why we left England.

Dec 31, 2009 | | 2 comments |

We had a nice Christmas break in England, visiting my parents, but at the same time it served as a timely reminder as to the many reasons we emigrated.
Amongst the many things I learned new this time around, these few stuck out in particular:
1. If your car is clamped, the clamping company are now free to march you to a cashpoint and demand money under duress. That's nothing more than legalised robbery.
2. Local councils have dozens of "enforcement officers" (read: spies) who are now allowed to enter your house without a warrant and check up on items such as whether or not you have an EnergyStar rated refridgerator.
3. You specifically do not have a right to defend your property any more (it's been written in to law). A couple of high-profile cases were in the new whilst we were there of robbery victims who'd defended themselves, and managed to get themselves sent to jail in the process because the burglars claimed human rights violations.
4. You no longer have the right to privacy in telephone or email conversations. Whilst the government has unofficially snooped on those for years, it's been properly cemented in law now.

Apart from the above, the price of utilities continues to go up despite the underlying price of commodities coming down. The government is corrupt almost to an Italian level. The number of speed cameras has petrified all drivers into driving at 30mph everywhere, even on dual carriageways (and in one instance - motorways). Petrol prices are at an all time high despite crude oil prices being near decade lows. There seems to more people living off welfare than actually working. The sales tax is going up. A seventh tax on new cars is being introduced (in addition to sales, delivery, luxury, petrol, road, and dealer taxes). Health and safety reigns supreme above everything else including common sense. To the extreme that kids aren't allowed to play contact games in the playgrounds (that's if the schools are even allowed to have playgrounds now), and more comically/tragically window washers aren't allowed to climb ladders.
Bureacracy and the "I couldn't care less" work ethic seem all-pervading now too. For example when we arrived at the airport, we had to wait (as always) for a gate to become clear. When we got to the gate, the jet bridge was stuck. Everyone on board could see that instantly, but the airport operators took 25 minutes to decide to get a set of steps instead, by which time they'd broken the jetbridge so comprehensively that they'd blocked access to the aircraft for the step truck.

The list goes on, and we came home. Because as backwards and oddball as America is in some situations, it's nothing like the appalling conditions that people now have to endure in England.

We love visiting friends and relatives in England, but we both hate the country itself and I personally can't understand how people are able to tolerate it any more.

England is broken. Happy New Year.
(except health and safety in England have banned New Year fireworks)

The airline lunacy continues....

Dec 28, 2009 | | 1 comments |

The latest high tech plan by the airlines to thwart underpants-bombers? Turn off the moving map display an hour before landing.
Yes, that'll do it, because people can't feel the aircraft beginning to descend 30 minutes before landing. And they sure as hell can't look out of the windows to see where they are.
Once again, the alleged "terrorists" have won this round. By failing, they've again created typical panic and disruption and draconian (but ultimately useless) rules that we must all abide by.
I'd say Terrorist: 10. Rest of world: 0 so far. Why? Well if we'd maintained a level head, we wouldn't need to take our shoes off to get on a plane. Or give up all our liquids. Or suffer the TSA rummaging through our luggage and stealing whatever they fancied. Or have the Patriot act. Or concrete barricades near big buildings. Or any number of other enforced but useless rules and regulations that we have to suffer through. All you have to do is look at "modern" society now to realise that we've lost this particular battle well and truly.

Once more we must panic for no reason

Dec 27, 2009 | | 0 comments |

Ah yes. Trust the Americans and the TSA especially to overreact to everything. In an "alleged" "plot" to ignite and underpants bomb (seriously), some idiot failed a couple of days ago so now, according to twitter reports, passengers on international flights are not being allows to take any electronic items on board, must be restrained in their seats for the last hour of the flight, and are not allowed pillows or blankets or anything else that might obscure their laps.
Yes - because air travel is such an incredibly pleasant luxury as it is.
I want to see them enforce the no electronics one - I don't know anyone who would risk putting cellphones, cameras, laptops or anything that valuable in hold baggage;- the TSA would just steal it. Families with kids with gameboys and PSPs - really?
Of course security has been stepped up at airports again because again airport security failed - just as it always does. This time, as predicted, it was passenger intervention that brought the shenanigans to a halt.

You know what this is? This is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt by the TSA to "prove" that full-body scanners should become mandatory. You can already see the pitch: "But if this passenger had been through a full body scanner, it would have detected the explosives". Yes - just like the full-body explosive sniffers detected the "alleged" shoe bomber.