All posts by Ian

‘Kids’ YouTube clip hit by another music copyright warning!

What is it about the music used in this clip, Title Music from A Clockwork Orange by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos, that makes so many companies  want to claim the copyright?

If ever there was an example of fair use under copyright legislation surely this must be it!  The music has so many resonances with the subject matter and is so obviously being used for the purposes of criticism, research, teaching, historical archiving  and scholarship.

Continue reading ‘Kids’ YouTube clip hit by another music copyright warning!

British Gas 9.2% price hike is robbery admits Minister – but bills are easier to read!

Just one week after SSE hiked energy bills up by 8.2%, British Gas outdoes them with a hike of 9.2%. That’s not how privatization is supposed to work. Companies are supposed to compete by lowering prices, not by pushing them up!

So how do British Gas account for this? Have they added an extra 50% on top of increased costs, as SSE did last week?

On BBC News this lunchtime, the managing director of British Gas Residential Energy, Ian Peters, identified exactly the same three causes as SSE did last week: Continue reading British Gas 9.2% price hike is robbery admits Minister – but bills are easier to read!

Media and energy companies conspire to ‘mislead’ says President of the British Academy

And so the plot thickens! Two weeks after the energy companies threatened power cuts if they can’t raise prices, and just one day after SSE hiked their prices a staggering 8.2%, the President of the British Academy, Baron Stern of Brentford, tells BBC News that the media are conspiring with energy companies to mislead the public:

There is currently a concerted campaign to mislead the British public about the factors that are driving up consumers’ electricity and gas bills.

Baron Stern of Brentford, BBC News, 11 October 2013

That much was already clear from our own analysis of the news over the past few weeks, but it’s nice to have it confirmed by a President of the Royal Society, former Chief Economist of the World Bank and a Baron no less!

But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the conspiracy goes much deeper than Lord Stern cares to admit. As the former Chief Economist of the World Bank he’s a member of the global elite, and there’s plenty of reasons why they might want to manipulate energy markets and mislead the public on a much wider scale.

Continue reading Media and energy companies conspire to ‘mislead’ says President of the British Academy

SSE marks up their expenses by 50% – and they don’t call that profit!

Just two and a half weeks after energy industry lobbyists, Energy UK, threatened higher bills and power cuts and just three days after the National Grid joined forces with warnings of winter blackouts if investment isn’t increased, SSE is the first of the Big Six to puts the threats into action: hiking dual fuel bills a whopping 8.2% and slashing all investment in new power plants until after the next election.

Blaming government social and environmental levies for a third of the price hike, SSE‘s chief executive, Alistair Phillips-Davies, told The Telegraph today that energy bills will keep on rising for the next decade, but would fall by £110 overnight if the levies were axed. Blaming the freeze in new investment on the “acute political uncertainty” around Labour’s threat to the Big Six‘s power, Phillips-Davies seems to be making us an offer we can’t refuse in a low tone of voice: accept the deal the Big Six are offering or we’ll have to punch your lights out! Continue reading SSE marks up their expenses by 50% – and they don’t call that profit!

Big Six mounts offensive against Labour – just don’t mention Libor!

Day Two of the Big Six‘s powerful lobbying offensive against Labour started in stealth mode this morning with The Telegraph implanting the suggestion that government policies, put in place by Ed Miliband when he was Energy Secretary, are responsible for rising energy prices, with the headline: Energy bill breakdown: the government gets more in tax than suppliers make in profit

The bill breakdown supplied by Centrica, the owners of British Gas, backs up what Energy UK’s chief lobbyist, Angela Knight, told Channel 4 News yesterday evening and solves the mystery of the missing 23%:

British Gas Average Duel Fuel Bill

Continue reading Big Six mounts offensive against Labour – just don’t mention Libor!

Energy bills – what happened to the missing 23 percent?

Today’s announcement that Labour will freeze household energy bills if they win the next election has the energy companies up in arms.

So how is television news reporting it? Are they presenting the facts accurately and impartially, as broadcasting regulations demand? Or are they presenting them in a way that makes one side appear more reasonable than the other?

Take Channel 4 News for example. They come over as being more down-to-earth, edgy and left-of-field than the BBC or Sky. If anyone is going to speak truth to the power companies it would be them. So how did they do?

Below is a rough-and-ready transcript of this evening’s Channel 4 News coverage of the disagreement between Labour and the Energy Companies, with my own thoughts as the debate unfolded in brackets below.

Continue reading Energy bills – what happened to the missing 23 percent?

Labour promises price freeze, energy companies threaten power cuts!

Just minutes after Labour promises to freeze energy bills, the energy companies strike back with threats of power cuts and even bigger bills!

The energy giants have overcharged customers £3.9bn since 2010  Miliband told the Labour conference in Brighton just before 3pm this afternoon. “The system is broken and we’re going to fix it.”

Continue reading Labour promises price freeze, energy companies threaten power cuts!

Perversions made possible by the machine age

I’ve just been rereading George Orwell’s essay, Benefit of Clergy, a critique of Salvador Dali’s autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.

“As a record of fantasy, of the perversion of instinct that has been made possible by the machine age, it has great value.”

George Orwell, Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali

Which set me thinking. What kind of perversion is Orwell talking about here? The machine age has certainly made a lot of things possible, not all of them good. I suppose you could say that lying around in a centrally heated living room bingeing out on TV, junk food, social media and computer games is a kind of perversion made possible by the machine age.

Continue reading Perversions made possible by the machine age

Oh how times have changed!

“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose.

The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.

Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves”

Sound familiar? It did to me when I stumbled across it on the Democratic Underground website. I thought it was a pretty accurate description of how things have changed in the UK since 9/11. So it was a bit of a bummer to discover it was taken from a book about the rise of fascism in Germany in the years leading up to World War II.

Continue reading Oh how times have changed!