Daily archives: May 16, 2005

The man with the golden longbox

�For a bulky segment of a century, I have been an avid follower of comic strips � all comic strips,� Parker wrote. �This is a statement made with approximately the same amount of pride with which one would say, �I�ve been shooting cocaine into my arm for the past 25 years.��

The uneasy relationship of the literati and comic books.

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The Hole

My encounter with the fuckwittery of the Jobcentre earlier today reminded me that I never wrote up the second letter from Gerald.

The Right Honourable Sir Gerald Kaufman spelt my surname wrong in his covering letter. If there had been even the slightest chance I was going to vote for him before I got the letter, that would have changed my mind immediately. But I wasn’t going to vote Labour anyway, so I’ve even been denied a protest vote for bad proof reading.

The letter he forwarded from the Department for Work and Pensions was a big steaming pile of shit as well.

Department for Work and Pensions
Richmond House,
79 Whitehall,

Dear Gerald,

Thank you for your letter of 6 April on behalf of Mr Pattinson of [Address removed], Manchester about the earnings disregard in Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

JSA is not intended for people in work. It is support for jobseekers while they look for work. It would not be right to ignore substantial amounts of earnings.

However, people who work for fewer than 16 hours a week can continue to claim JSA. This is an encouragement to those who wish to take-up part-time work and keep in touch with the job market. Further, as Mr Pattinson says the first �5 of earnings from part time work, net of tax, National Insurance & half any pension fund contribution, is normally disregarded. These arrangements should help promote and ease the return to full-time work, but guard against increasing income from benefits plus part-time work to the point where full time work becomes less attractive.

It has never been thought right to uprate earnings disregards annually. Any decision on increasing the earnings disregards for JSA is a question of fine judgement. It has to balance the benefits of encouraging people into part-time work and maintaining contact with the labour market against any possible disincentives to full-time work.

I turn now to Mr Pattinson’s concern about the system that is in place for him to provide evidence of his earnings when he registers as unemployed. I am sorry if the administration of these rules has caused difficulties or confusion.

Guidance to decision makers is that, as a minimum, evidence of earnings should be provided at the beginning of the claim or a period of part-time employment, and when a change in the rate of earnings occurs. However, this is only guidance.

Whilst Jobcentre Plus staff may contact employers for information, legislation provides that every person who makes a claim for benefit must provide whatever evidence in connection with his claim the decision maker, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, requires. This could include written confirmation of earnings from an employer for those who do not receive regular payslips. If there are problems with the way in which this is being handled, you may wish to contact the local manager of the relevant Jobcentre Plus office.


Alan Johnson

Someone should tell these people that part-time work is rarely a stepping stone to full-time work. Most of the time part-time work is work, an attempt to earn a bit more money. Leaving the earnings disregard at �5 for over a decade whilst inflation turns it into a joke isn’t fine judgement, it’s incompetence and/ or malice. And that treating claimants who are honest enough to declare their earnings as guilty until proven innocent is going to destroy any respect they may have for the system.

There’s a great big hole in the system that I keep falling into. Any political party that can come along and fill in that hole will get my vote.

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Look to Brazil for a way to go over to a renewable energy economy.

Earlier this year, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said his country would become the world’s largest producer of renewable energy. Brazil generates 43.8 percent of its power from renewable energy sources, including hydroelectricity, ethanol and biodiesel, according to Agencia Brasil, a government communications division. By contrast, the United States produced only 6 percent of its power from renewable sources in 2003, according to the Department of Energy’s Annual Energy Outlook 2005.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Brazil’s economy is one-eighth the size of the United States’, yet the country produces more ethanol, mostly from sugar cane.

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George Vader?

Is Episode 3 a parable on the death of democracy, or just not as disappointing as the previous two?

[Lucas] found historical echoes down the ages. “I looked at ancient Rome, and how, having got rid of kings, the Senate ended up with Caesar’s nephew as emperor … how democracy turns itself into a dictatorship. I also looked at revolutionary France … and Hitler.

“It tends to follow similar patterns. Threats from outside leading to the need for more control; democracy not being able to function properly because of internal squabbling.”

“I hope that situation never arises in our country,” he said. “Maybe the film will awaken people to this danger.”

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If Longsight job centre burns down it wasn't me, okay

The system gets worse. There’s no funding to send me on the course I need- a supported start up in self employment- despite it having a 100% success rate from my local job centre. (I might be able to get some funding if I wanted to do something in the music industry but, well, if you’ve heard me sing…….) So now I have to go into “Intense job search” mode which obviously isn’t what I’ve been doing all this time. (Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’ll have to apply for every shit job going, irrespective of whether I can do it or not or whether it’ll do me any good in the long run, just so long as the statistics can make Tony look better.)

But to top it all off- they’re still a bunch of moronic fuckwits when it comes to the part time work I haven’t done for over three months! They’ve decided to put me on half benefits until they see my P45 or a letter from my former employer- neither of which they asked me for when I told them I’d stopped working! And they wonder why people lie to them.

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It's clean, but is it really green?

Qatar plans to become the world’s chief producer of Gas-to-Liquid diesel, which produces far less sulphur and a bit less CO2 when it burns. GTL fuelled city vehicles could greatly reduce smog, and it’s being pimped as “green diesel”. However, I can’t help thinking that it’s not, that it’s simply “less dirty diesel”, because the whole process still involves taking carbon that’s been sequestered underground for millions of years and releasing it into the atmosphere. There’s still a net addition to atmospheric CO2. Or am I missing something?

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