Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Way New Life

It's funny the way life works out sometimes.

My girlfriend is originally from Brum, and moved down to Crawley in 2001 to live with me. Since then, she's never been totally happy there, but as there is work and I am there, she's stayed but always maintained that at some point we (or she) would move up to the Midlands.

Last year, the contract I was working on took a bit of a knock. Nothing to do with the credit crunch, but our customer decided to outsource most of their IT development to Tata, and so over the last few months of the year those of us from other third parties were gradually moved off.

My employer does have other work around the country, but of course it is not easy to find work at the moment (and that is partly due to the credit crunch as much that I could do would be in the financial sector).

As it happens, the job I have been offered (and which I started at the beginning of the month) is in exactly the kind of work I have been trying to get into for a year or so - Business Analysis. However, it is based in Northampton, which is not too easy to get to from Crawley.

What this has done is present an opportunity to relocate to pretty much the area that Jas wants to be in, and so this weekend we have been looking for a place up in Rugby (25 miles from work, 30 miles from her family). And yesterday we found almost a perfect house for rent.

It's going to take a while before we are fully moved out of Crawley, but chances are I'll be up north rather than back there most of the time. I'm not sure what this will mean for a blog that has in large part been based on Crawley (and is named for a former Crawley Town player).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Optimism? Quick! Pile on!

Today saw a bizarre set of events...

A minor Labour minister, Baroness Vadera, has been pilloried because she apparently said that she had seen some 'green shoots' in the current economic situation.

What she actually said, in response to a question about when we would see 'green shoots' of recovery, was:

"It's a very uncertain world right now globally... I wouldn't want to be the one predicting it.

"I am seeing a few green shoots but it's a little bit too early to say exactly how they'd grow."

Which in context I think means that she can see some positive news, but there's no way that she's prepared to say that they are going to herald a recovery right now - they may wither away if things do not go well.

The positive thing that she sees, being involved in the banking side and trying to get banks to lend to each other and to the wider economy again, is that the bond market is opening up again. That is a good thing, it's what we need to happen - for banks to get the confidence to invest in bonds, which are a form of lending.

She's not a frontline minister, and is dealing in the back end of the economy, so yes, she may well not be totally in touch with the reality on the ground, but the glee with which the Tories have piled into her is disturbing. It's almost as if they only want bad news to be heard, and anyone making positive noises has to be shouted down.

Food retail has recently had a good set of results (Tesco's were the poorest, but they still saw sales grow from the previous year, while Sainsburys, Aldi and Morrisons all saw good growth and most supermarket chains are looking to create new outlets and so jobs). But you wouldn't know it to read the headlines.

What highlights the hypocrisy of the Tories is, of course, their leader, who today was stressing the importance of getting confidence back into the economy, while fueling the 'doom and gloom' mood. In what way does constant sniping and complaining that measures aren't working increase confidence? In what way does his colleagues slamming anyone who makes positive noises increase confidence?

The Tories are still determined that this recession should be as bad as the one they presided over in the 1990s, and will use any rhetoric to help their cause.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The wheels on the bus (probably) go round and round...

There's been a story bubbling up for a while, which has reached the public conciousness this week. So, instead of writing about the substantial imminent change to my life, or stupid wars in the Middle East, I will discuss the Atheist Bus Campaign.

Back in the summer Ariane Sherine, a comedy writer and Guardian blogger, wrote an article about an advert she'd seen on a bus. The advert was placed by a religious group, and directed people to a website which as well as proclaiming the existence of God and the advantages of becoming a Christian (fair enough, I see nothing wrong with them evangelising if they want to), also informed visitors of all the horrible things in store for unbelievers.

So, she suggested a bus advert to promote atheism. A few people took the idea up, and in the autumn the campaign was launched with a target to raise £11,000 (£5,500 of which would be a matching donation from arch-atheist Richard Dawkins). Within a short space of time, it had raised £100,000 from small individual donations.

So, this week, instead of 30 adverts on buses in London, the slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" adorns 200 London buses, as well as another 600 across Britain.

So far, so good. The 'probably' was added in because they were advised that just saying "There is no God" would be more likely to lead to complaints, but as it goes, it does satisfy the broad atheist creed as far as I understand it - we do not believe in a god, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we believe that there is no god (and logically it can never be proven that no god exists anyway).

But yet, the complaints have come in. over 50 so far to the ASA, led by the stalwart religious nutter, Stephen Green of Christian Voice. Green claims offence, and yet he's not above being very offensive towards Islam. He also claims that the ad makes an unsubstantiated claim, but the 'probably' means that it makes no hard claim in reality.

So, I was watching from the sidelines, until the Christians who seem to be able to take offence at anything stuck their oars in. Now, I have donated to the campaign.