Participating in Red Nose Day could get you sent to prison

This coming Friday is the regular donate-a-thon and TV hog known as Red Nose Day. By buying the paraphernalia, doing silly things to raise money and pledging money and so on you can donate to help people who really need your spare change more than you probably do.

But be careful where you participate from. Despite this being a wonderously effective way of raising the moolah for the needy, Bloggerheads have noticed that since the introduction of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 you are in proper danger of breaking the law should you decide to join in - even if it's just by wearing a red nose. You may be punished with a £1000 fine, or should actually be involved in organising a related event you're up for £2500 or 51 weeks imprisonment.

Ask a silly question

YouGov is a market research company who conducts surveys via the Internet. You may well have seen results from them published in newspapers and other media outlets. They have a pool of respondents who have signed up with them to give their opinions...and earn money and prizes. You'll not get rich quick; whilst the Poorhouse has made a bit of £50 from them, this has been over the period of 5 years or so. But if you don't mind answer a few questions for 50p now and then you might as well sign up *.

Most of the surveys are on proper serious subjects. Solid stuff. Plenty of politically-charged things (opinions on politicians, road tax and the like) or the reasonably regular, if rather tedious, Brandindex survey about what you think of various products. But no need to panic if you prefer a Heat to a (broads)heet (haha). With that in mind, the Poorhouse was - slightly irrationally - amused to receive the following questions.

Guess the country

Under its corrupt government, which is widely believed to sell seats in the upper house of parliament in return for contributions to ruling party funds, the once-free nation of Xxxx is rapidly turning into a police state.

Pre-trial detention, once limited to 72 hours, is being repeatedly extended to far longer periods. Old rules about the accused being innocent until proved guilty are being cast aside. The right to silence has been abolished and so has the law which prevented anyone being tried twice for the same offence. The police increasingly take action against individuals for expressing opinions which defy 'political correctness', the official orthodoxy of the Xxxx state.

Which country got this not entirely inaccurate diatribe against it a few days ago on the Mail on Sunday website?

Is anything unnacceptable these days?

Results and analysis from the latest British Social Attitudes survey have just been published by the National Centre for Social Research. Each year, the BSA asks about 3300 random people for their thoughts on various topics, in order to see changes over time or pinpoint new matters of great interest.

This year, it seems the terrorists are winning.

Holidays or end of the world?

Blair seems to have gone mad again, this time on the theme of climate change. A few months ago, he had this to say on the subject:

Climate change won't just affect hot countries or those in the developing world - it will affect us all. The report is clear: We are heading towards catastrophic tipping points in our climate unless we act…Creating cleaner energy whilst using less has to be the key.

Today it is reported that he said that asking Britons to consider not going on quite so many long-haul flights for mindless recreation was "a bit impractical".

Beware "glass grass"

Regular readers of the Poorhouse, and anyone with a grasp of contemporary reality, will already be aware of the several obvious arguments (or more accurately "truth") for legalisation of illegal drugs, starting with cannabis. The UK Government has of course neglected to act on this matter, creating ever more death and destruction in its wake.

A few months ago the cannabis trade in the UK was running relatively dry. This was largely blamed on some major busts both of imported cannabis and several dedicated cannabis-growing houses and warehouses in the UK. Amazingly, it seemed to actually have some effect on reducing availability, for a while anyway. What it certainly did not do was fit surely the only sensible rationale behind drugs policy - reducing the harm caused by drugs usage. Here again we see the Government creating specific and serious dangers where they need not otherwise exist.

You don't have to be mad to vote for Bush...

But it might possibly help.

Recently an article in the New Haven Advocate has caused something of a stir in the blogosphere. Christopher Lohse, a masters student at Southern Connecticut State University, re-analysed some data to do with his project on encouraging those with mental illness to go vote. He found a correlation between the level of a psychiatric patient's psychosis as defined by the Modified General Assessment Functioning scale and the chance of them voting for George Bush. That is to say "The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush".

It also showed that those who voted Bush also had less knowledge about politics and various current issues than those who voted the Democrat way.

When vote counts go wrong

Elections in America - one-time supposed the greatest democracy on Earth - are notoriously unfair. This especially applies of course to those involving George Bush. Pretty much everyone has, to put it mildly, at least some qualms about the results of the 2000 presidential elections where the Democrats undoubtedly won the popular vote but failed to get in. Bush's re-election in 2004 seems no less suspicious.

Much of the controversy in recent times surrounds the issue of electronic voting - whether the new computerised machines that records one's vote are reliable and tamper-free enough to put the destiny of the world into their hands. Many see problems with them and several groups (for example [1] or [2]) have been set up to educate and campaign about their problems.

Bum trouble

The UK celebration of the defeat-of-freedom-fighters festival (sort of) known as Guy Fawkes Day has been and gone. With it of course comes plenty of fireworks action. And with that of course comes plenty of horrific injuries - [1], [2], [3], [4] and [5] are just a few examples.

However, the award for the best injury of the day is at present, narrowly missed out on by a blown-up partridge, is awarded to a 22-year old man who managed to incur the wrath of the firework gods to the extent he suffered from a scorched colon.

Sprout attack (and Saddam)

The rumours are untrue - the recent absence is not because the Poorhouse is actually Saddam Hussein and the recent (death) sentencing has caused an interruption in Internet connectivity. Still, let's not deal with that thorny issue now - other to note that Blair has amazed the Poorhouse in a good way by publicly (if ineffectively) stating his opinion that he is entirely against the death sentence. Beckett's comments that "we always try to persuade others not to use it" do seem a little unrealistic given our lot seem happy enough with America being into executions despite it totally breaching of human rights legislation the UK Government supposedly stands firm with. Oh, and co-incidental congratulations to Bush and the Republicans for managing to arrange this just in time for their otherwise embarrassing elections.

Time to lighten the mood. In a near-seasonal celebration, the Poorhouse recommends having a game of Attack of the Sprouts. Assume the role of a party-hatted-up Xmas diner tucking into his turkey whilst trying to defend himself from a sprout invasion into his dinner. Slightly noisy for the workplace, but you can tell the boss you're improving reaction time, hand-eye co-ordination, team building or other such corporately self-developmentally enough excuse.

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