Ravings From The Bog

Gangster + Banker = Bankster. Sounds about right!

BanksterAn interesting and timely article on todays’ BBC News website about the revival of a 1930s word “Bankster” which indicated how Americans felt about the bankers who managed to screw up the US economy back in the 1920s. Fairly useful word now too!

BBC Article


Sammy Wilson Shows His True Colours

bigotry-and-racismNo surprises here then! Our Sammy has decided he wants Northern Ireland to return to the bad old days of bigotry and racism. He has actually said that employers should favour local people over foreign nationals when it comes to employment. Sammy, ever heard of the Fair Employment Commission? It’s no surprise that Poles, Lithuanians, Asians and others are still being assaulted and burnt out of their houses in the more Neanderthal parts of NI, with encouragement like this from one of our “leaders”. Embarrassing!

Our Sammy!

More US Cannon Fodder Needed!

life-as-a-game1Found this interesting article today – I’d love a go on this but I’d probably break it!

The New York Times has an excellent piece on the Army’s new urban recruiting tool: a $13 million video arcade in suburban Philly.

According to the Times, the Army is having a hard time recruiting in urban areas. So the service set up the 14,500 square foot “Army Experience Center” in the Franklin Mills Mall. The place is packed with first-person shooters, full-scale simulators (and 22 recruiters).

In many ways, this makes sense. The Army is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar push to create more videogames to prep troops for combat. The service’s PEO-STRI (Program Executive Office – Simulation and Training) is also planning to install 70 gaming systems at Army installations around the globe by September.

The Army is also relaxing recruitment standards to allow more couch potatoes to sign up for service. The Christian Science Monitor has a piece today about how the Army has enacted a new waiver program that allows overweight enlistees a chance to get in shape after joining. Around 1,500 individuals (out of a pool about 80,000 recruits) have enlisted through the program.

The Monitor piece also notes another great new recruiting tool: the recession. “If the economic recession worsens, it could help the military’s recruiting efforts as people seek stable employment,” the story notes.

SOURCE – http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/01/armys-wicked-ne.html

Thomas Jefferson The Time Traveller?

Another financial screw up!How did Thomas Jefferson get it so right all the way back in 1802? Did he have a time machine? Obviously not, but this quote is right on the money for what we’re experiencing now.

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Thomas Jefferson 1802

Very prescient!

Further Evidence Of Corporate Greed At Ebay

I have been a member of Ebay since June 2004. Not long after joining, I set up an Ebay shop to sell among other things, sheet music from 1890 to the 1970s and railway-related postcards. In that time, I tried to be fair with all my buyers and sellers and amassed a 100% positive rating that currently sits at 2258. I have made a number of regular customers who are delighted with my quick service, honest descriptions and reasonable postal rates.

Contrast that with the behaviour of Ebay. Recently, the rental rate of the virtual shop went from £6 (US$11.50) to £14.99 (US$29.00) per month. The 30-day automatic renewal rate of items went from 0.03p (US$0.06) to 0.20p (US$0.38). As I had 708 items listed at the time of the change, my potential monthly rental went from £42.48 to £141.60! Combining this with the shop rental increase, the overall cost rose by 410%

I fired an email off to Ebay Customer Services immediately on receiving my increased bill. Two days later, I got the usual banal rubbish back (both emails below – fyi).

I use Ebay as a source of petty cash. Given the charges from Ebay and it’s sister company, Paypal, I don’t imagine that very many people will ever make a living from their Ebay “profits”, but it has regularly covered my petrol bill for a month, for example. Given that many, many people are now in a critical financial position, I’m sure that they are relying more on every possible source of income and these profiteering increases from Ebay at this particular time will close down many Ebay shops putting people closer to poverty than they’d like to be.

My email to Ebay:

I’m completely disgusted at the increase in the cost of my shop from £6

to £14.99 and at the monthly automatic relisting fee increasing from

0.03p to 0.20p (over six times the original fee!).

I will be closing my shop as soon as I can, despite having it since

2004. I hope many other shop-owners feel the same and close their shops

too. This is profiteering of the worst sort and your tweaks to the

selling systems are merely a cynical way of you boosting your already

inordinate profits. Over the last few years, your fiddling with exposure

of UK-sold items in the US has cost me a lot of trade, but this is the

last straw.

Their response to me:


Thank you for your email about the increase in your Shop’s monthly

subscription fee. I appreciate your concern about the impact on your


The rise in monthly subscription fee reflects improvements we’ve made to


-All Shop listings can now be seen by buyers in the main search results.

Previously, Shop Inventory Format items were separated off in a box at

the bottom of the search results page.

– Significantly discounted Insertion Fees are available to Shop owners.

– Featured and Anchor Shop subscribers can now access telephone support.

We’re confident that these improvements will help you grow your sales on

eBay, while still offering good value for money for your Shop


I trust this explains why Shop subscription fees have increased. Thank

you for using eBay.

Kind regards,

Gilbert Doore

eBay Customer Support

Enough said!


Small Change In The New Economy
September 19, 2008, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Economy, Family, Fun, Life, News, Society, Thoughts, UK, Weird & Wonderful, Work at Stressco | Tags: , , ,

Some smart-ass in work today super-glued a penny to the floor in one of the offices, and of course, i was one of the embarrassed victims who struggled to lift it off the floor! Roars of laughter all around! I always pick up change, I’m not ashamed to say – however, my daughter is usually mortified if she’s there!

In the present economic climate, the hard-pressed are counting their pennies. Teacher Kath Kelly found £117 in dropped cash on the streets of Bristol, during a year in which she lived off £1 a day. She shares her tips on spotting free money.

 Dick Whittington found that the streets of London were not paved with gold after all.

He and his pussycat had their eyes set a bit higher than one and two pence pieces, but Kath Kelly can vouch for the potential riches that millions of us step over every day.

In 12 months, she found £117 lying loose on the streets of Bristol, while living off £1 a day. So how does she fare in central London?

Surveying the busy Euston Road before starting, the 47-year-old teacher is not optimistic.

“Bristol streets are a bit grubbier, so money goes unnoticed, but these streets are cleanly swept. But people probably chuck their money around a bit more in London, so who knows.”

It’s perhaps the first time the streets of Kings Cross have been described as too clean, but the footpath is soon getting another sweep, this time from her eyes which discreetly skirt the paverment as she walks and talks.

“Bus stops are good, and places where people get out of taxis. They tend not to check their change too carefully, or they’re a bit drunk getting out of the taxi and just drop it when they get their things together. People do that, don’t they?

“Also places where people come and go a lot in the evening where they might not see very clearly, like outside cinemas.

“Supermarkets too – the pounds they put into machines for their trolleys, and don’t always put in the money carefully.”

She compares the technique to picking fruit – getting your “eye in” by imagining the colour and shape of what you’re looking for. It’s a method that’s brought her results in the past, but after 10 minutes on the streets of London, we haven’t found enough for a penny sweet.

The prospects improve when she reaches Euston railway station – “nice and grubby”, she says. Her radar begins to quiver and suddenly in mid-sentence she exclaims: “There’s a penny!”

Barely discernible between the feet of a man sitting at a bench is a single copper coin. Only £116.99 to go.

After waiting patiently for the man to leave, Ms Kelly cashes in, getting a few funny looks from those nearby.

“A lot of people would not consider a penny worth bending down for, but I wouldn’t pass up any coins.

“There’s a bit of shame attached to it. In a way it’s almost like begging or scavenging around the street, not considered the thing to do. But it’s changing. People are quite proud of getting a bargain nowadays.”

The £117 she amassed in Bristol came about quite by accident, she says, because her £1 a day regime meant she was no longer looking in shop windows. She gave her pavement pennies (and one £20 note) to charity, because she thought it cheating to supplement her strict budget.

She put herself through this 12-month ordeal to save up enough to get her brother a decent wedding present, which with her part-time salary of £10,000, she thought would otherwise not be possible.

Paying her £3,000 annual rent up front, she kept to her £365 budget for the year and was able to spend £1,300 on lifetime memberships of the National Trust for her brother and his wife, plus contribute to the cost of his wedding.

So how did she do it?

“Collecting all the bargains at the end of the day I would come out of the supermarket with an armful of shopping that only cost 50p – people looked me up and down as if I was a tramp.

“But that didn’t bother me. I did become quite shameless, walking into hairdressers asking if new stylists wanted hair to cut.”

Free buffets were another source of sustenance and she scoured notice boards, local newspapers and the internet for events, launches and gallery openings that could provide nibbles and sometimes even a glass of wine.

“My social life improved. I was out almost every night. My friends thought I would be sitting by the TV or in a library and it would be boring.”

She also walked or cycled 10 miles a day, bought clothes at jumble sales and managed without a mobile phone.

A pound a day is too strict a regime to be sustainable, she says – and impossible with dependents – but the experience has taught her a change in philosophy.

Months after the end of her mission, she still shops for bargains, no longer frequents coffee shops and has a smaller shoe collection.

And longer term, she believes people could spend less by sharing more of what they have, whether it’s a garden mower with neighbours or babysitting duties with other parents.

Pavement pennies won’t buy much, but they might make you value money differently.


Lehmans Is A Lemon – Bad News For Ferrari Dealers!

The recent “market re-adjustments” due to the sub-prime mortgage greedfest, which has now resulted in the demise of Lehmans, will have ramifications across America. Recent immigrants employed as garden mower jockies, maids and drivers will find their “job” opportunities reduced and at the other end of the spectrum, yacht, property, and Ferrari dealers will also be feeling the pinch as the decline in multi-million dollar bonuses,  for idle bankers feeding off the labour of the poor, starts to kick in.

All together now…aaaaaw! Poor puppies…