Monthly Archives: February 2007

A CAP on the price of milk?

How much does a pint of milk actually cost? You may think the answer is about seventy pence but actually this isn’t true. Dairy farming is subsidised like most other forms of farming. And it’s subsidised by Europe under the Common Agricultural Policy. Since the moment the CAP was put into place people have been saying that it needs reform and yet there it is still unreformed.

The point of the CAP is to make European farmer’s products cheap enough to compete with foreign products. Generally these products are cheaper to produce abroad because of weather, efficiencies and cheaper labour.

It’s generally been seen a cheaper to subsidise farmers than it is to put tarrifs on things that you are importing. This is largely based on the idea that people will generally get in touch with you to claim free money but might not mention the fact that they need to pay you some tax.

But perhaps now is the time to consider a switch to tariffs? One of the reasons that milk produced in Australia and New Zealand is cheaper than milk produced in the UK is that shipping goods across the world doesn’t cost very much. In fact the main problem is that it doesn’t cost enough. If you are running a tariff based system normally there is a large transaction cost. You have to go through a massive mixed shipment and say, “right how many bananas have you got”? And so on.

But imagine we had discovered that there was suddenly a non selfish reason to support our local farmers. Imagine it wasn’t just the old arguments about protecting local jobs and protecting food supplies during times of war. What if we suddenly discovered a reason that belching out gallons and gallons of oil transporting fruit and veg across the world was bad. What if suddenly the transportation was the issue? I am of course talking about global warming.
If all you had to do when a ship arrived was ask it for its port of origin, which already happens, and then apply a levy based on the number of miles traveled and the weight of the ship it would make things very simple.
Making this change would be a massive shift in the economy because instead of just protecting farmers it would also protect manufacturing and all manner of other jobs that have been moved to where the wages are cheaper.
The one problem is that goods would become more expensive. But on the other hand because we wouldn’t be funding CAP any more we would pay less money in tax.

The biggest problem does come back to the issue of the pint of milk. If the price goes up then for people who pay tax there will be relief based on the lack of tax they have to pay. But what about people who pay no tax?
There are clearly some issues to work out but I think that the farmers will prefer working in a situation where there is actual money to be made farming. And that their goods aren’t just going into a milk lake.
You never know. It could work.

A close shave

It had been a way of hiding for so long. A way of fading into the background. And then, and then, something happened. What was it? 9/11? No it had already started before then. Suddenly the beard had started to make him stand out. He had tried to ignore it for a while. In fact he had been so good at ignoring it this was the first time he’d thought about it since the summer of 2000. He used to always think about it in the summer but his level of denial had become so strong that he hadn’t even considered it for the last few years.

But now. Now he knew. He had known Jen had hurt him by leaving. He had known that. He had known that it would hurt. But now… Now he was having to consider this. Now he was considering shaving his beard.

He tried his old stalwart in moments of crisis, “This beard is part of who you are, if people wont accept that then you shouldn’t accept them”.

He listened to the words reverberating around his head. But he knew that while he liked the beard he liked hiding more. And now that the beard was so obvious to people it was time for a change. That, and he fancied a shag.

friend of dromedaries

On the train the other night I heard two people chatting and I couldn’t help but earwig. The conversation was tumbling along until one of them said, “yeah but he’s a friend of dromedaries” except he didn’t obviously, he obviously said, “he’s a friend of Dorothy’s”. He was calling someone gay and using a particularly antiquated way of doing it. It’s a phrase that’s fallen out of favour somewhat mainly because it sounds quite gay to say it I imagine. At any rate now we can bring it bang up to date with my new misheard version. Now I’m not homophobic, I can’t understand why anyone’s afraid of their own house, so I will pose for the requisite picture.

But what would the lesbian version be? Clearly it would have to be, “loving the llama”.

As well as accusations of baldness and drug taking there have been repeated rumours that of late Britney has been loving the llama.

InVesting in the future

What ever happened to vests eh? They used to be all the rage in the olden days. I remember as a child being checked by my aunt to see if I was wearing a vest. And if I wasn’t she’d say I was going to “catch a death of chill”.

Obviously this was crazy talk. But I think she was simply harking back to the golden era when men were really cold and women stayed indoors because they were sensible.

Now some people will say that it is the rise of central heating that’s caused this but I say no. It can’t be, because there is no central heating outside. I think it is the clearest sign of global warming.

Now some people don’t think that clothes can be affected by your environment. Some people seem to think that there wouldn’t be a corolation between temperature and clothing. But to those people I say, “Remember the lessons of the Global Colour shirt”.

The global colour shirt was one of the foremost advances in technology the world has ever seen. A shirt that changes colour with your temperature. But like concord another advance of mankind consigned to the scrapheap the Global Colour shirt has withered on the altar of progress. And why was that? Could it be that the name is no coincidence? That the global in global colour is related to global warming. I think it might be.

So what can we do about global warming? Well I think it’s time to install air conditioning. Clearly now it’s the only way forward. Turn your air con up to full, put a vest on, and set fire to all of those global colour shirts. It’s the way forward. And it’s what concord would have wanted.

The Influenza Adventure – Part 2

[This is part two of the Citron Investigation: The Influenza Adventure. Be sure to check out
Part One

I followed Geoffrey as he lead me back inside the restricted area. There were a couple of looks, as if people were saying that they half recognised me, that they half despised me, that they half wished that they too were able to not wear the ridiculous clothing and finally that they half realised that there had been too many halves by half.

A young man in spectacles walked up to Geoffrey and looked him up and down as though he was more important than him. I was later, and by later I meant literally two minutes later, to learn that this young pipsqueak was Geoffrey’s boss and in a way had every right to look down upon poor Geoffrey. I mean I looked down on Geoffrey, but then I looked down upon him as a friend, because I thought he would learn something from it. I looked down upon him because I thought it would make him a better detective. Whereas this looking down was done purely because it was a chance to be demeaning. I mean I demeaned Geoffrey but at least when I did it there was a point to it. This man had none of the same manors. It is possible that my being there did not help matters.

“What is he doing here?” said the pipsqueak to Geoffrey.
“Ah, Mr Cadeau, he is aiding us with our case.”
“Why is he aiding us? That is quite a complicated question.”
I decided to step in, “Ever since I was a child I was fascinated by the criminal mind.”
“No”, Cadeau said, “Why have you brought him in.”
“You’re on your own,” I said, “I don’t know yet.”
Geoffrey stammered through a few apologies, and then I decided to put him out of his misery by offering to leave.
“No!” Said Geoffrey and Cadeau at once. Cadeau continued, “I don’t wish to inconvenience you Citron that is all. But, please, I trust Geoffrey. I do. I know that if he has brought you here it must be for good reason. I apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
“Okay,” I meekly added, and then for reasons of sheer boredom I added, “sounds good”.

Cadeau literally clicked his heels together and pranced off. I turned to Geoffrey but before I could say anything he was saying, “Right, before you get a chance to say anything about my boss I need you to interview the key witness. She’s had five people interview her already so she’s not fresh, and she is tired.”

I looked back at him, I was trying to radiate signs that said, “if only your people would call me before the first interview, let alone the second” when I realised that I was thankful that they only called me when their plan wasn’t working. The problem would be much worse if they called me for every parking ticket. Instead they only called me when they couldn’t figure things out. Was it my fault that things seemed obvious to me? I needed to control the urge to criticise. The fact that I was in work was because I was one of the few people that could see the way that the criminal’s mind worked plainly. Was it safe to criticise the people who couldn’t? Almost especially not. And almost especially if you considered that it was their incompetence that paid the bills.

Interviewing the witness was going to be interesting, she was hostile from the moment I walked in there. She did not want to be interviewed. But if their was information to be gained then I would be the man to gain it.

Tune in next week for Part 3.

It’s a conspiracy

So all of my articles on truth have been leading up to some kind of conclusion, which was written around the same time as the Tony Blair articles about two or three weeks ago. The only problem is that there was a program on Sunday on BBC 2 which said the exact same thing as my conclusion and now you’ll think I’ve copied it. There’s a conspiracy to destroy my reputation and good name. The program? The Conspiracy Files. I haven’t actually seen it yet I have it recorded. But in conversation with my good friend Kris he mentioned the alarming similarity. But I may as well carry on regardless eh?

Have you ever wondered where conspiracies come from? There seem to be a lot of them about. And I think that they are very important way to see how people construct the stories that support their outlook on life.

The most compelling argument for how these conspiracy theories emerge is that they come because of the disproportionate nature of the truth the act itself. The true story doesn’t feel right. Like in the case of JFK people feel that the true story that a single individual murdered their president isn’t good enough. Almost as though they are critical of the narrative itself. As if they were saying, “if individuals could just go around killing presidents where would we be”?

It’s as if the killing of this great man wasn’t supposed to be the end of his story. He’d built up such a dramatic head of steam that he needs a really good ending. And the problem is that lone random confused whack job isn’t really a suitable ending. If that’s the ending then what was the reason that he was killed?

It also starts because at the begining of the situation we are as a society invited to join in the investigation. For the begining part of the investigation not even the experts knew what was going on. And because of that people are almost given a free hand to speculate.

Then add that lots of people are talking about the story and are eager to hear the latest news out of the investigation. And if there isn’t any new news then they may as well talk about the latest theory. And it’s during conversations like this that the theories cross that line from crackpot into conventional wisdom.

These things together create the ideal situation for the conspiricy theory to spread. Then if you add time you find that these theories with no real consensus on what actually happened become the truth. There are compelling stats about the numbers of people who think that JFK, 9/11 were conspiracys and the moon landings were all faked. Why? Because it makes a better story. An easier more comforting story. People going to space is scary and exciting. That they faked it to spook the Russians is more reassuring.

Let me let you in on a little secret though, which I don’t think they’ll have probably mentioned on the program. 9/11 actually was a conspiracy. Here’s why… There was more than one plane. There was more than one suicide bomber. So yeah it already is a conspiracy. The “conspiracy” in “conspiracy theory” comes from the JFK case where one side was saying “lone gunman” and the other was saying “no there were lots of people in on it”.

Anyway now I’ve got that off my chest the final point here is about the largest example of something of this order. Religion. Religion perfectly fits the three point model I created earlier. People don’t know what’s going on as the expert scientists haven’t worked it all out yet, people are looking for the latest news on why their crops have failed, baby died, the sun rose and finally the god version of creation is much more dramatic. I mean which one sounds more exciting to watch, a man in a beard magicking an elephant out of thin air or the slow march of progress over billions of years. “You mean I’ve got to wait here for a million years just to see if this rock turns into a zebra? Oh man I’m going to need a chair.”

When people saw the moon landings happening in real life with telescopes and we still can’t convince people that they actually happened good luck convincing them about something that happened before television.

Doctor doctor

I keep dreaming about these horrible sexual acts – sadism, bestiality, necrophilia.

Doctor: ‘Forget it, you’re just flogging a dead horse’

My fingers

My fingers tighten around some tiny something. A rock? A ledge? Whatever it is it’s stopped me from falling. My legs are dangling I look down at them, trying desperately not to look any further down and I do my legs sway slightly away from the rocks. I try and see some spot they can reach. Some spot I can step on to to lift me up. But there isn’t anything. Or at least I can’t see anything. The rock seems to curve away from me right under my pelvis.

I try to curl around it. To wrap myself closer to the rock. But no. Nothing. My feet still don’t touch anything.

My fingers are feeling… Tired. No not tired they be starting to feel harder like they are set into to rock. But something about this change also seems to have made them feel very brittle.

I try to swing my legs closer to the rock one last time. And suddenly around my ankles I feel something holding on to them. Something is holding on to them both. And just then I feel a yank. Whatever it is is trying to pull me off the mountain by my ankles. My brittle fingers almost can’t take it anymore. Yank.

I spin through the air pivoting on my ankles which are being held tight. And suddenly I’m approaching the rock face again this time upside down, and this time at a fairly alarming speed. It was around this point that I fell unconcious.