Britain From The Outside

Aug 22, 2006 at 21:51 o\clock

Thought For The Day - Don't follow the mistakes of the US

I see in a piece on the BBC News website that UK city planners look to US cities for inspiration.

God help you folks in the UK!

Most UK towns and cities, for all their faults, are a model for the rest of the world.

In US cities the car is absolute king and unless you happen to live in the dead centre of a city it is virtually impossible to manage without your own private transport.  Urban sprawl continues for mile after mile.  Most communities have no central gathering point.  Railway stations and bus stations are invariably in the seediest parts of town.

Don't do it!!!!!

Aug 15, 2006 at 05:45 o\clock

Thought For The Day - Change for the better?

The recent changes on Blogigo, and people's reaction to them, has inspired me to write a few words on the subject of change.

I do not regard the words "new" and "improved" as necessarily belonging together.  To me change is not necessarily for the better.  I think there was a "sea change" on December 31st, 1999 and since then many people have implied that anything in the 20th century is somehow "invalid".  Sentences that begin "In the 21st century....." grate on my mind.

When I was in my early days of employment I was often chastised for "re-inventing the wheel" when I proposed "new and improved" ways of doing things.  As I progressed through my career (in computer software development) I saw many changes, some for the better.  I did get the impression that often change was just for the sake of change and I saw many wheels re-invented simply because people did not want to be bothered by learning about "legacy systems".

I now see the wheel being re-invented in American foreign policy, with America making all the same mistakes that the United Kingdom made in its days of empire.

Change can be good, but those who make changes must do so with a background of history, otherwise all they will do is make yet another wheel.

Aug 9, 2006 at 06:48 o\clock

Thought For The Day - Help me out here!

Perhaps someone more familar with present day Britain can help me out on this question.

Listening to Radio 4, I hear that some people in Britain are concerned that EU immigrants from Eastern Europe will put a new load on local authorities in the UK (Slough was mentioned) and cause a rise in council tax as a result of these new immigrants claiming benefits.

Let me tell you my situation.  I am a British Citizen.  I was born and raised in the United Kingdom.  I worked in the United Kingdom and paid tax and National Insurance from the age of 16 to the age of 41 (a total of 25 years). 

I moved to the United States in about 1988 and worked here, paying taxes and social security until 1998 when I became disabled as a result of a brain haemorrhage.  Without question, the US government paid me a disability pension of about 1050 dollars a month (about 600 British pounds) although they tax away about half of this amount.

When I was in England a few years ago I visited my local national insurance office and explained my situation.  Although my national insurance account is still intact somewhere in the suburbs of Newcastle, I am not entitled to any benefits from the UK until my retirement age, which is age 65 at the moment but who knows how that will change?

So, as I understand it, people can come into the country from Eastern Europe, not speaking a word of English, and immediately get benefits.

What am I missing here?

Aug 2, 2006 at 01:48 o\clock

Thought For The Day - No more belly buttons please!

I heard on Radio 4 that some British MP had proposed a ban on men going "topless" (i.e. without shirts) on the street during the latest heatwave.

While he's about it can he also ban:

1.  The public display of fat bellies by women who are old enough to know better, especially the ones with stretch marks.

2.  The public display of thongs, tatoos and  various other butt decorations by women bending over to pick up their kid from the push chair.

3. Women shopping in "bootlace bikinis" with a tiny triangle of cloth almost covering their pubic hair and a piece of string flossing their butt crack - I personally regard this as a health risk. 

Where on earth did women get the idea that we wanted to see all this flesh on public display?

Jul 15, 2006 at 20:47 o\clock

Thought For The Day - Barefoot and Pregnant

I hear that now scientists have managed to create sperm from stem cells men will be surplus to requirements and women will take over the world.

That's just as soon as the women have finished the ironing, made the bed, put the kids to sleep, cooked dinner and cleaned the bathroom.