Week commencing 29.11.04

Virgin census
Uganda’s First Lady has called for a census of the sexual habits of the country’s younger generation as part of the fight against HIV/Aids.

“We need to find out the percentage of the youth who never had sex, those who have reverted to secondary abstinence,” said Janet Museveni. Uganda is often held up as a model of how to fight Aids.

In the early 1990s, some 15% of adults were HIV positive but after a vigorous campaign, this has fallen to 5%.

Can you imagine taking that census in Essex or some rural town in middle England, I would have thought that Uganda would have better results.

Urinal
A white gentlemen’s urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time. Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain came top of a poll of 500 art experts in the run-up to this year’s Turner Prize which takes place on Monday.

Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) was second, with Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych from 1962 coming third. Duchamp shocked the art establishment when he took the urinal, signed it and put it on display in 1917.

“The choice of Duchamp’s Fountain as the most influential work of modern art ahead of works by Picasso and Matisse comes as a bit of a shock,” said art expert Simon Wilson.

I guess you could say that artist was literally ‘taking the p*ss’

Water
Average bills will rise by £46, from £249 to £295, over the next five years, with half of the rise for most customers in England and Wales coming in over the next year. The actual amount will depend on where you live, as prices vary significantly between regions.

Customers of Southern Water, South West Water and Wessex Water will incur the biggest rises, paying an extra 25% over five years on their current average bill. South West Water will have the highest average bill by 2009-10, at £444 a year on average.

It amazes me that the British water pipe hemorrhage gallons water from broken and rusted underground pipes, yet as apposed to fixing the pipes, they charge is to the production of more water.

Clamping
A UK exam board is offering a qualification in wheel clamping. Clampers will be able to take a two-unit course, which will lead to a vocational BTec qualification in “vehicle immobilisation”.

And frustrated motorists will be reassured to know that “conflict management” is part of the course work. Exam board Edexcel says it expects 1,500 people to take the qualification, which will support a licensing scheme for the wheel clamping industry.

The qualification is intended to “professionalise” those people working in clamping – and to get away from the image of “cowboy clampers”.

What will the qualification involve? How to clamp a car in the 2 minutes it takes to buy a paper in the newsagent, how to clamp a car that is legally parked but by the time the claim is disputed and overturned you will already have your bonus, and how to keep someone talking to you while you keep writing them a ticket.

Set tasers to stun
Taser stun guns used by British police are potentially deadly and must be strictly controlled, a leading human rights group has warned. Amnesty International says the high-voltage weapons have been linked to more than 70 deaths in America.

It wants assurances from the Home Office and police chiefs that tasers will only be used in extreme cases. The home secretary has said scientific evaluations had shown the taser guns had a “very low” risk of fatality.

In September, David Blunkett authorised their use by police firearms officers across England and Wales, following a successful year-long trial

Of course taser are dangerous. Did anybody really think that being hit by 150 volts was not make you empty your bowels. But it is not just the weapon, but the person that wealds it. It is just as dangerous to be shot by a bullet, real, or plastic or being clubbed to death by a mad policeman’s baton.

Commuter pilots
Commuters can experience greater stress than fighter pilots going into battle or riot policemen, a new study says. Stress expert Dr David Lewis compared the heart rate and blood pressure of 125 commuters with those of pilots and police officers in training exercises.

The study, part-funded by technology firm Hewlett Packard, found the stress levels of commuters were higher in extreme circumstances. Workers’ stress is exacerbated by their inability to control their situation. I can believe this, I often feel like mounting a set of photon cannons on the bonnet of the car, ready to punish the fool that cuts in front of me along the Finchley road.

Blunkett gate
David Blunkett is battling to clear his name after a series of allegations he abused his position as home secretary to do his ex-lover a series of favours. An independent investigator is to probe claims he intervened in the visa application of Kimberly Quinn’s former nanny, who is from the Philippines.

Mr Blunkett is said to have checked the application was filled in correctly, but it was not processed by his office. Tory David Davis said if that was the whole story it would not prove “fatal”.

As well as the visa claims, The Sunday Telegraph said Mr Blunkett, 57, shared confidential security information with Mrs Quinn. This included telling her parents to avoid Newark Airport near New York hours before a security scare.

Other claims include that Mr Blunkett gave Mrs Quinn, 43, a first-class train ticket which had been assigned to him. It is also alleged that Mr Blunkett took her to Spain accompanied by bodyguards at taxpayers’ expense. Another claim is that he ordered his government chauffeur to drive Mrs Quinn between London and his Derbyshire home.

I accept that if he has abused his government office then he should be held to account, but should it matter what he does in his private life.

Film snobs
Gone With the Wind, the epic 1939 film starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, has been seen by more cinema-goers than any other film in UK movie history.

Experts at the British Film Institute (BFI) studied cinema ticket sales since the advent of the talking picture.

The US civil war epic, based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel, topped Channel 4’s The Ultimate Film poll with audience figures of more than 35m.

However what they are not taking into account is the fact that there was no video or dvd player back then.

People in this day and age may not go to the cinema to see a film because of the expense or lack of convenience, but will rent out the video or dvd. I am sure that these figures UK history figures would change if modern day viewing habits were applied.

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~ by jeditopcat on 8 November, 2008.

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