ME and Ophelia

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Birth place of the English language is priceless

British blogger Tom Watson lives in West Bromwich, England with his wife Siobhan. Tom joined the English Labour Party when he was 15 and is now Labour MP for West Bromwich East. His political interests include law and order, industry and manufacturing, transport and sport. Outside of politics his hobbies and interests include watching football, playing Playstation 2, reading and travel.

Recently, Tom blogged Wanna buy an island? and a report of a study claiming that Britain is worth nearly £5 trillion. The figure includes both physical assets, such as all buildings, and virtual assets like software patents. Residential properties make up 55% of the total value. Commercial and public buildings are valued at £565bn. Roads, railways and pipelines at £537bn.

What about our north sea oil, gas, coal, agricultural, farming and fishing industries?

According to the above report, economists use the study information to look at wealth, particularly household wealth. Apparently, it helps them make "well-founded" predictions of what is going to happen in the future.

Also, the study claims that the Government is well into the red, with a net worth of minus £124bn after deducting the national debt and other obligations. And, that manufacturing has remained static since 1998 with a value of £200bn.

It makes me wonder about the value of our north sea oil, gas, agricultural, farming and fishing industries. And, question why manufacturing has remained static. If, as the study suggests, manufacturing has not increased over the past five years, then what, may I ask, has taken it's place in terms of creating wealth, jobs and tax? If something has taken its place, why has it not been "valued"?

The study also claims that residential properties make up 55% of the £5 trillion. I don't get it. Why is housing so ludicrously expensive? Bricks and sand and water and timber and glass and pvc are not rockets to Mars. Who sets these prices and why do they get away with it?

If the lion's share of people's take home pay did not have to go on housing costs, pay rates would not have to keep escalating, and people would not be forced to price themselves out of the job market. If pay rates could be stabilised, or even reduced, would it mean that the number of service sector and manufacturing jobs could increase? It seems that something will need to be done to make up for the thousands of jobs being offshored to India, China or wherever labour costs are less costly.

I've not thought this through properly, or the following points. Just floating ideas for later on. Housing ought to built not-for-great-profit. People could then afford to buy and sell - or rent with an option to buy - and relocate to wherever education, training or employment opportunities arise. Transportation is key. Public transport to and from major cities, airports and towns, especially in suburban and rural areas, needs to be properly sorted once and for all. People could maintain their own property for life and pass it on to next of kin, or swap/sell-up to move to another similar priced property - anywhere in the country. Resale value based on initial cost + state of repair + inflation: no north/south divides or prices set by marketers with vested interests. Make it simple. Lke buying and selling a car. And, keep the bureaucrats and lawyers out of it.

It would mean more property owners could afford to become landlords and charge reasonable rents. Thousands of couples divorcing each year, means that many more single people and one-parent families need an extra roof over their head. Also each year, thousands of young people have to leave home and find affordable accommodation close to their further education, training or employment. And, every day an ageing population finds its circumstances changing, along with that of thousands of young growing families needing more spacious and affordable housing.

If the cost of having a roof over one's head was not so great, an individual's income would not need to keep escalating. But maybe this problem will never get fixed because it's an industry unto itself with too many snouts in the trough. Lawyers and real estate agents to name a few.

What about the value of our nation's treasures, arts and intellectual property rights?

The study places a value on virtual assets like software patents. What about our national treasures and other assets? We have some of the best educational, medical, research, scientific, military and research, establishments - not to mention libraries, museums and galleries - in the world.

Over the years, people have told me that Britain is actually very rich - much more than it makes itself out to be. And that 2% of the population own the wealth. What is going on here? Creative accounting or a muddle or what?

The study says the Government is well into the red, with a net worth of minus £124bn after deducting the national debt and other obligations.

I'd say Britain is priceless. One cannot put a value on it. The birthplace of the English language is too unique. Perhaps the Government is not into "the red" at all. Maybe economists just need to be more creative with the figures, again.
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What £5 trillion would buy

6,200 Millennium Domes
199,000 David Beckhams
11,000 Queen Mary 2 cruise ships
92 International Space Stations
8,800 B-2 Stealth bombers
906,000 Lear jets
41,500 Boeing 747s
2,516 trillion pints of bitter

I'd need to do some maths here to figure if £5 trillion would buy everything on the list - or just 11,000 Queen Mary 2 ships. Compared to the swathe of human suffering, starvation and homelessness around the world, most of the stuff on this list is vanity. Non-essential frippery. I'd vote for scrapping costly non-essentials around the world. Well, maybe not the International Space Station because we need that to to see how man is destroying Earth.
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Is it the same figure for the UK?

Don't you think it would help us Brits to be more patriotic and clear about our national identity?

Recently, one blogger criticised news reports about President Bush's visit to "Britain" or the "UK". The blogger stressed that President Bush was flying to England, landing in England and visiting with Tony Blair and the Queen in England - not Britain or UK.

My understanding is that it was a State visit. That the Queen is Head of State and Tony Blair is Prime Minister of the "United Kingdom of Great Britain". So the State must be the United Kingdom of Great Britain. No?

President Bush was given the special honour of a "State" visit. The invitation for that State visit came from the "United Kingdom of Great Britain". I am not sure about this exactly, need to look it up.

It's all a bit woolly because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now seem to have their own set-ups. Out of habit, I find myself referring to England as "Britain", so as not to exclude or offend people living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It seems now that we are the United Kingdom and not Great Britain. I am English, born in England, residing in England, a British subject, a UK citizen, a European. My British passport has been replaced by a Euro passport. Wonder if international car bumper stickers still say GB or have they been changed to UK. Who is changing all this stuff and why?

Perhaps it has crept up on us that we are now officially part of Europe and the Single European Market. My father served 25 years in the British Army. Not the UK army. I wonder when exactly the change took place.

USA flag depicts one star for each State. USA = United States of America = citizens of America = Americans.

UK flag depicts the four flags of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. GB = Great Britain = citizens of Britain = British. UK = United Kingdom = citizens of United Kingdom = Kingdomers?

Am I a European, a British subject, an English citizen and UK citizen? What happened Great Britain?

Rule Britannia. I'm getting a bit confused here in the British Isles. Knock knock. Who, what, where am I?

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 12/31/2003 0 comments

Monday, December 29, 2003

How to find a soul mate via computer

By the end of Saturday, I'd completed a form on one site that produced a list showing my compatibilty with a host of degree level engineers and one photographer/designer. I emailed the top three "compatibles" before realising that the first two had not accessed the site since 2001. Received a reply from the third, containing his own Hotmail address. I responded via the site's email facility because my two email addresses identify my name and I do not fancy maintaining a third inbox.

Explored how the site works, policy on cookies, privacy etc. It carries no advertising. Couldn't figure how the site owners cover their costs.

Over the weekend, I discovered a better site with nifty navigation and interesting features. Profiles are more in-depth and many contain photos. The new site is experimental and free of charge at the moment. It plans to carry advertising and may introduce registration fees for newcomers later on.

It's fun reading all the profiles based on a standard set of questions, for example, "what is the strangest or most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?" One chap answered: "meeting a woman from an internet site that had one tooth, yes I mean ONE TOOTH!"

Last night, after submitting my profile without a photo, I emailed one "profile" living in London. He has no photo and describes himself as an attractive intellectual. He sounds very nice but has not accessed the site since October, so I'm unsure if he is still current.

Unable to blog yesterday. Visitor turned up unexpectedly for the afternoon. Nice surprise. Enjoyed green tea and slices of Austrian cake. And a fun discussion on the business of Internet dating. Yesterday's Sunday Times newspaper is still sitting on the carpet, unopened.

Still finding nuts on the floor. Ophelia, in a playful mood, spied a cloth placemat peeking over the edge of the dining table. Four bowls of nuts, grapes and chocolates sat on the mat. She stretched her paw up to have a feel, caught her claw in the mat and the whole shebang tumbled onto the floor. An exploding bomb of grapes, chocolates, hazlenuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, flinging things across the room into every corner and under the couch.

If my favourite pottery bowl had not cracked into three pieces, I'd have seen it as funny. But the bowl was sentimental, a gift from a dear friend. This is the first time Ophelia has done anything wrong. She knew it too - looking at me sheepishly, out of the corner of her half closed eyes, pretending to sleep. I felt bad for her, and the bowl, so I gave her a kiss and cuddle and told her it was an accident. She seemed to understand and started purring again.

Right now she's sitting on a side table by the window. Jawing on a gold ball tied onto a pine tree plant. It's lashing down with rain outside. She must be bored. Guess it's time for us to play long dangly ribbon on a stick.....