Solving the World's problems with common sense and a flamethrower.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Shiny Toy!

So this evening we wended our way to Johnson's Honda in Oxford, to test drive The Darling G's potential new toy:

The new Honda Civic Type S GT.

The Darling G gave me the chance to drive it, as she'd taken it for a spin yesterday - the sense of 'rubber-stamping' a decision already made was strong as I settled into the drivers seat...

The first thing you notice about the Type S is - well, the way it looks. Have you seen it? It's gorgeous from every angle, especially in red, and it has a purposeful, squat look to it that gives you a feeling of anticipation before you even get into it. The angular looks, with those triangular twin exhausts matched by the triangular front fogs, add to the dynamic sensation, like it's crouched ready to pounce before you've even unlocked the doors.

As you open the wide doors, you see that the interior matches the exterior for styling and presence, with good-looking sports seats, drilled aluminium pedals, that amazing dash (more on that in a moment) and, of course, the Big Red Start Button.

I love that button. It makes starting the car into an occasion, makes any drive redolent of old Grands Prix and the announcement of "gentlemen, start your engines". Unfortunately, in this case it's let down a little by an old-fashioned, unfeasibly large ignition key - why have a key AND a starter button? Surely keyless entry wouldn't have cost too much more, and would have added to the avant-garde feel?

The interior feels well-made and solid, and there's plenty of storage. The Type S GT also has a full-length glass roof, and though I drove the car in a gathering dusk, I can imagine that it will be lovely when the sun's shining.

The equipment level is, as you would expect, pretty good. There's a CD/MP3 stereo with steering-wheel controls, cruise control (with steering-wheel controls) and dual-zone climate control with (and I loved this) controls for the passenger side actually on the passenger-side door!

Despite being a 3-door, there's plenty of room in the back. Our dealer is six feet tall and was comfortably ensconced in the back. There's also a pretty big boot.

But then you slide into the firm, supportive seats, twist the key and press the Big Red Start Button.

And you notice the dash. Oh, wow, do you notice the dash!

(Yes, I nicked the photo from Auto Express - the pic links to their review.)

I have to confess that I was worried about the dash. The Darling G has never had a Japanese car before, and the dashboard of the Civic is a riot of blue LEDs with the speedo placed high above a large rev counter. In all honesty, I was worried about whether the dash was actually usable or whether it would be an overly-bright gimmick.

But it works. It really, really works.

When you're driving - especially when you're 'making progress' - the most important thing you want is the speedo, and positioning the speedo higher in the Civic means that it falls naturally within your field of vision. It's a little like having a Head-Up Display.

The speedo is flanked by two sets of five LEDs - five green ones on the right that let you know how economically you're driving (in my case, not very) and five red ones on the left that let you know when to change up, as in a racing car. A nice touch.

The larger central display houses the rev counter, fuel, temps, range meter and other information such as whether the passengers have their seat belts on.

And off you go.

The steering is light around town, yet well-weighted when driving quickly, and the gearchange is quick and positive, though not particularly smooth - though not heavy, it needs a positive action to change gear, which is something that I prefer. The clutch is light and easy to use.

I found the 2.2 diesel engine to be an absolute joy, really adding to the pleasure of driving the Civic. Despite Honda's adverts about their diesels, it's still quite rattly when cold, and in fact is more so than our '06 Vectra. But once it gets going it's quiet, with the majority of the noise coming from the turbo - a constant spinning noise that almost sounds like that of a spinning supercharger rather than the normal turbo whistle.

And it's quick. Oh yes, it's quick.

Max power is 140bhp at 3500rpm, but the best bit is 251lbs-ft of torque, which Honda allege comes at 2000 revs. However, change down at 50 for an overtaking maneouvre and it's blisteringly quick. Honda claim a 0-60 time of 8.6 seconds for the diesel Type S, and on the test drive I saw no reason to doubt that. There's no noticeable lag to the turbo either (as long as you're in the right gear) - you can just put your foot down and it takes off, with your eyes glued to the road, watching the red LEDs in your peripheral vision for the best time to change up.

I didn't find it losing grunt up to the 5000-rpm redline either. Like most Hondas, the car seems to thrive best when it's being revved hard and given some right foot. However, it was also perfectly tractable for those who like to drive Miss Daisy, pulling away happily in second gear and cruising in sixth at 50mph and 1500rpm.

The best bpart, though, was in the corners. Here the squat shape and a wheel at each corner comes into its own, and the Civic was direct, quick and positive. The steering is fast and you feel confident that you can put it exactly where you want it in every corner, with that lovely grunt accelerating you out towards the next one. Despite the speed of the steering, though, the little Honda doesn't feel twitchy like an Audi A3, instead feeling secure and sure-footed and allowing you to enjoy driving it quickly.

The ride was firm, yet lacked the jarring that I was expecting considering that this is a pretty sporty hatchback. I could feel the bumps through the wheel and the seat, yet there was no need to employ an osteopath even after some nasty sections of road.

The only slight negative was rear visibility, as this is partially obscured by the spoiler across the centre of the rear window. However, as I tend to have my seat quite high I didn't find this a major problem (I was looking above the level of the spoiler) and it's offset by quite the largest wing mirrors I've ever seen on a production car!

I didn't want to get out of this little car after the test drive.

We take delivery on Saturday.

'Downfall' in the Mortgage Market

My thanks to a co-conspirator of Guido for this one.

I'm loving it.

Review: ASK Italian, Abingdon 28 September 2008

Pulpit House, 1 The Square, Abingdon OX14 5SZ
Tel: 01235 529699

Just what Abingdon needs - Yet Another Generic Italian Restaurant.

Ask is new here in Abingdon, opening its doors at the beginning of September.

The building itself is fantastic, with wrought-iron pillars and balustrades to the (unused) first floor, and a large terrace area to the front. The building has stood empty for a very long time, so at least it’s good to see it being used.

As you can imagine, Ask is a novelty in town at the moment, so it’s always pretty busy - however we didn’t have a problem getting a table for 4 on Sunday evening. The design of the building means it’s pretty loud, but not too loud for conversation.

However - while the architecture and ambience are great, the food leaves quite a lot to be desired.

The starters were OK - I ordered the mussels and Gerry the stuffed mushrooms. I found the mushrooms nondescript and the mussels, while tasty, were overpowered by the tomato sauce.

The main course - chicken & prawns with butter beans - was again totally overpowered by tomato, and I’d venture a guess that the base sauce was exactly the same as that used for the mussels. Gerry’s Penne with Gorgonzola was claggy (I’d guess that the pasta may even have been reheated) and, surprisingly, lacked any sort of cheese flavour.

We asked the waiter about it and he mentioned that they’d changed the recipe after someone had complained that the dish was 'too cheesy’, which strikes me as odd. Surely if you order a Gorgonzola dish, you’re going to expect it to taste predominantly of the cheese?

A cheesecake for dessert was reasonably good, and the whole meal was reasonably priced, working out at about £35 per head for four of us including wine and coffee.

So overall, Ask Abingdon is Yet Another Generic Italian Restaurant in a town already saturated with Italian food, offering nothing spectacular or memorable about it.

If you want good quality Italian food, I would suggest walking a few yards along the street and going to Limoncello, which is smaller but is, at least, a genuine Italian family restaurant.

(This review is also posted on Dungeekin's Eatings and on Qype)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Now What?

So the breaking news as of - well, NOW actually, is that the much-vaunted $700bn bailout of US banks has been voted down by Congress.

I can't say that I'm overly disappointed - simplistic though it may be, I can't see how it benefits the economy of any country essentially to privatise profits and socialise losses (the same applies here with NR and B&B). Though I confess to limited understanding of the global financial system.

But it does create a huge question - what now?

I have no clue, but I think the next few days are going to be 'interesting times' indeed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Anti-Political Broadcast

Despite recent posts, sometimes only vitriol, venom and vituperation will do. So, if you're not into Politics, Rants, bad language or scenes of a disturbing nature, please look away NOW.


This post is courtesy of the quote below from PRWeek:

"PRWeek can reveal that the Labour Party is exploring plans for an online rapid rebuttal unit, designed to kill off damaging stories circulating in the blogosphere."

This is being discussed elsewhere, as you may imagine. However, I would like to state my personal feelings on the matter.

< mode="rant">

Tell ya what - try and kill off THIS damaging story, you bunch of semi-literate halfwits....

You over there in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

You are, each and every one of you, the fetid droppings of a plague-carrying rattus rattus, prepared to mislead, cheat and outright LIE to keep your grubby paws in the till of this country's resources.

You are led by a scruffy, malformed, mouth-breathing, degenerate weasel, who suffers from a pathological inability to answer a direct question, who has in his eleven years in Government overseen the creation of a benefit state, sold off gold at the lowest price in recent memory, ridden an artificial house-price bubble inflated by personal debt and astronomical borrowing, and reduced the position of Prime Minister And First Lord of the Treasury to an international laughing stock.

You led British servicemen into an illegal war against the wishes of the United Nations, and denied them the equipment and resources they needed even to stay alive, much less perform the task with which they were charged.

Your Chancellor is a weak, shallow, cretinous and vapid creature whose primary talent appears to be caterpillar-balancing. Your Home Secretary is an evil misandrist (fucking look it up if any one of you has the slightest clue how to use Google) who has implemented legislation that in any genuinely fair society would be deemed outrageously discriminatory.

You claimed, in 1997, that you would be 'whiter than white'. Are we supposed, therefore, to ignore David Blunkett? There's 2 incidences of sleaze right there. Or Peter Mandelson? Another two. Or Keith Vaz. Or Tessa Jowell and the mystery mortgage. Peter Hain. Wendy Alexander. And let's not forget the former Prime Minister being interviewed by Police in connection with 'Cash-For-Peerages'.

You claim 'fairness for all' is in your DNA, yet you removed the 10p tax rate, and instituted a Tax Credits system that creates an ever-larger pool of people for whom living off the State is more profitable than working - and you tax those of us who DO work ever more for the privilege.

You are the socialist morons who have 'redistributed wealth'by decimating the pension pots of every worker in this country and by denying essential public sector workers a pay increase that even met your own, dishonest and artificial inflation figures. Yet you fatten your own wallets on our taxes with the John Lewis List, second homes, unfettered expenses and a gold-plated, index-linked pension plan.

With the elderly freezing to death, children leaving primary school unable to read (yet perfectly able to understand the 'crimes of Thatcher', apparently), violent crime rising, the decimation of our civil liberties, limitations on the right to peaceful protest, 42-day detention and the wanton destruction of an economy YOU were entrusted with - now you want to trample on the only civil right the people of the (soon-to-be dissolved) United Kingdom have left - free speech.

You're so completely spineless and incompetent that you can't even conspire against each other with any real effectiveness. You're small, pathetic turds who contribute nothing to this nation other than adding to the signal:noise ratio.

Just try and take away free speech - I'm only one person, there are millions of people out there, and millions of bloggers. There are other countries where websites can be hosted. You censor one of us, we'll simply repost their material on our sites. Censor another, we'll host it elsewhere. Our opinions mean something, even though you lack the basic intellect to comprehend them. We are Legion, and we have a bloody site more knowledge than you give us credit for.

We are economists, financiers, postmen, IT geeks, labourers, photographers, workers of every colour and creed and social background. And our one 'Common Purpose' (to use your bullshit phrase) is that we can see through your lies and your spin to the grubby little motives which underlie them.

Your cracked, deluded dream of 'fairness' is to drag everyone down until they're all dependent upon the State. 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs', isn't it? Well, you know what? Marx has been discredited in every country that's tried his utopian philosophy. You want proof? Fuck off to North Korea and live there for a while, try their socialist 'paradise' before you attempt to create one here.

Just try and censor me, fucknuts. Just try it and see how far you get.

< /rant >

This has been an Anti-Political Broadcast for the Dungeekin Party.

Normal service will now be resumed.

Thursday Schadenfreude

Upda*ing Websi*es *o a 'T'

Word went rapidly round the Twitterverse this morning that Cisco had made a minor whoopsie with their site update...

No doubt they will quickly remedy the situation, but for those who haven't yet seen it, here's a screenshot:

I'd have to say that my personal favourite is "Deliver high-ouch service and sales wih Cisco TelePresence Exper on Demand".

High-ouch services. Yep, sounds like Cisco Systems.

I'd say *ha* *his new websi*e is *ough *o read, and *he developer who uploaded *he revision is a *o*al *wa*.

Thanks to Cisco for brightening my day, and to VictoriaC and cbetta for drawing attention to it!


Here's a couple of links from the page Source - the New, Improved, Cisco 25-Letter Alphabet™ has been in full effect here as well:

  • How o Order

  • Cusomer Suppor Informaion

  • Which means that none of the links work.

    It's a beautiful day.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Scribblus Ergo Sum

    I have been on the receiving end of a little concerned feedback from some close quarters, alleging that I have a habit of making too many posts on political matters.

    I can understand their concern, because I used to rant and rail spectacularly about politics on a daily basis as an outlet for suppressed anger in other areas. However, times have changed, and so have both the tone and content of my posts, be they political or otherwise.

    I write for a single, simple reason - because I love to write. I choose to write most about politics because it's an interesting subject that affects us all, and because that's where most of my inspiration comes.

    For me, the most important thing is that what I write is interesting to me, and the news makes for the most interesting topics. I have no desire to place my personal life in the public domain, - and anyway, can you imagine the terrible tedium of regular blog posts about what I do at work?

    So today I received an email from $CLIENT saying that they couldn't FTP to from So I logged onto the firewall, and discovered that there was an incorrect rule in place which was blocking access. I tweaked the rule, and updated the firewall policy, then ran a log query against the source and destination IPszzzzzzzzz....

    Do you see?

    I don't get inspired to write stuff like "I'm Dungeekin, I like fluffy clouds and kittens".

    I don't feel the need to elucidate on the activities of my professional life - unless it's an example of weapons-grade Cluelessness, when I make the details public pour encourager les autres and because public flogging has sadly been outlawed.

    Sometimes I feel like writing about other subjects. But mostly, I write about politics because that's where, at present, the words can be found. I'm not ranting and raving these days, trying to find a creative outlet to externalise unhappy personal circumstances - in fact, quite the opposite. These days my writing tends more to the humourous and the satirical than the vitriolic, precisely because I'm hugely fortunate to be very happy in my life, both personally and professionally.

    Most importantly though, I write because what I write makes me smile, and because the ACT of writing makes me smile. To paraphrase De Sade (which will hopefully get you all worried), for me writing is "both a hobby and a supreme pleasure".

    So your feedback is welcome and noted - but please, don't expect anything different.

    I write for ME.

    And I write what I wish to write.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    A Sonnet to Gordon Brown

    (With abject apologies to William Shakespeare)

    Shall I compare thy deeds with what you say?
    Thou art both ugly and incompetent,
    The polls shape thy pronouncements of the day,
    Thy speech doth spew forth from thy fundament.
    Oft-times the Press do catch your lying lines,
    Yet to the Beeb your lustre's not yet dimmed;
    And though the polls' support for you declines,
    Your bumbling, dithering course is still untrimmed.
    But thy eternal bullshit does not fade,
    Nor lose its stench beneath the public nose,
    By true Election will your Fate be made,
    Exposing all the lies for which you pose.
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    They'll know your deeds that wrecked this fair country.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Just Listen.

    "If you see what I see, if you feel as I feel and if you would seek as I seek then I ask you to stand beside me and together we shall give them a 5th of November that shall never, ever be forgot."

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Are They Related?

    Given the ongoing kerfuffle in the City, and the contradictory remarks coming from the FSA and our esteemed Chancellor, one wonders whether we're being governed by humans or Muppets.

    Are Mr Darling and Sam the Bald Eagle related? I think we should be told....

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    A Vision of the Future - Part Three

    Transcript of News Report, Zimabwe Broadcasting Corporation
    12 October 2017

    Seventeen people have been killed in London today, in riots at the current shortages of food and essentials across England.

    With inflation now running at close to 1,000,000 percent, and an almost-total collapse of manufacturing industry in England, basic necessities are hard to come by and it is estimated that 55% of citizens are now umemployed.

    President Brown, who has been leader of the ruling Brown Party regime since 2007, has again blamed the complete collapse of the English infrastructure on sabotage by "the former colonies", including Zimbabwe.

    In a statement released on the Brown Broadcasting Corporation, President Brown said "I am getting on with the job in these troubled times, despite the interference of the Zimbabwe government. Our former colonies are sabotaging our democratic progress".

    Brown was recently re-elected as President-For-Life with 87% of the vote in an election that has been rejected by UN observers amid evidence of widespread corruption and vote-rigging. The new Electoral Registration (Parties) Act 2015 denies voting rights to those who are not registered as Brown Party members, along with the imposition of a 'Party Tax' at 10% of net income for the 'right of suffrage'.

    President Brown and his Cabinet are currently subject to UN sanctions following the alleged assassination of Opposition leader David Cameron in Paris last month - an allegation rejected by Information Minister Polly Toynbee as "ridiculous". Ms Toynbee claimed that Mr Cameron was the victim of a tragic accident, and that he accidentally shot himself 12 times with his own shotgun while cleaning it.

    Aid agencies have been banned from entering England by President Brown, who has accused them of spreading banned opposition propaganda. An estimated 2 million refugees have tried to cross the borders into Scotland and Wales in the last three months, prompting Scottish President Alec Salmond to increase the number of troops manning the border at the reconstituted Hadrian's Wall.

    A Vision of the Future - Part Two

    Transcript of CNN UK News

    16 September 2013

    Despite unemployment at 5.5 million, inflation at 19% and the collapse of the NHS, President Gordon Brown has insisted that he is the right person to "lead the country through these troubled times".

    Speaking in his regular monthly broadcast on BBC Brown News, President Brown hailed the sterling efforts of voluntary workers in helping stem the recent Cholera outbreak in Manchester's Moss Side, and insisted that he was "getting on with the job" and announced increased Government investment in financial institutions.

    At the inauguration of the new 'Diversity Wall' in Whitechapel, which separates the Muslim enclave from the rest of London, Home Secretary Ed Balls said that President Brown was "absolutely the man for the job" and that recent criticism from the Opposition was merely 'sour grapes from those who don't understand true Democratic progress".

    In a separate development, police today arrested 20 bloggers under the Prevention of Disorder Act 2012. The released names included Iain Dale, Paul Staines, Neil Simmons and Nicholas Butler. Justice Minister Geoff Hoon said that the bloggers were guilty of "promoting proscribed and subversive organisations including the Conservative Party". Under the new legislation, the bloggers are not eligible for trial by jury, instead facing a Party panel. They each face a maximum of 12 years imprisonment in the Isle of Wight Penal Colony if convicted.

    The leader of the banned Conservative Party, David Cameron, has called for immediate elections to be held in England along with a referendum on the reconstitution of the Union of the United Kingdom, which was disbanded in 2011 following the dissolution of the Monarchy. Mr Cameron added that England was "in dire need of democracy". The recent disbanding of Parliament and the Political Parties (Funding) Act passed in April of this year instituted a single-party system and labelled all political organisations other than the Brown Party as terrorist organisations. His claims were rejected by Information Minister Harriet Harman, who pointed out that the Brown Party election victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005 proved that the Brown Party was the only party with a true, democratic public mandate.

    In other news - a tragic accident yesterday claimed the lives of former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major, along with former politicians William Hague, Jack Straw, George Osborne, Frank Field, Nick Clegg and approximately 60 others. All were in an airliner which was accidentally hit by six air-to-air missiles fired from three BAF (Brown Air Force) Typhoons, which tragically mistook the aircraft for a cruise missile.

    A Vision of the Future - Part One

    Daily Mail
    25 March 2010

    PM Invokes Civil Contingencies Act: General Election Delayed

    The General Election, scheduled for April 11 2010, has been delayed by Gordon Brown following the announcement of a ‘serious and credible’ terrorist threat.

    Addressing the House of Commons in Emergency Session, Mr Brown said that he was invoking the Civil Contingencies Act in order to ‘protect democracy’.

    The PM declined to give details of the alleged plot, saying only that his job was to protect the people of Britain from all attacks, and that a delay to the General Election was a ‘small price to pay’ for the safety of the population.

    Information Minister Ed Balls brushed off suggestions that the delay was related to the latest opinion polls, which put Labour at their lowest point since records began. A recent YouGov poll put the Tories on 58%, with the Liberal Democrats on 20% and Labour on 12%.

    Mr Brown’s personal approval ratings have also dropped since the announcement yesterday, to a record low of 4%.

    A planned demonstration against the announcement has been banned, with Home Secretary Hazel Blears saying that “at this time of heightened threat, protest is inadvisable”.

    Tory leader David Cameron said “while the safety of the country is, of course, paramount, I say that he should make the evidence public so that the people can make their own decisions about why the General Election has been postponed".

    No revised date has as yet been set for the Election, with Mr Balls saying it would be kept ‘under review pending the security situation’.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    You Want WHAT?? By WHEN???

    Just a brief one today, but classic nonetheless.

    At 1055 today (note that time, it's important), we receive the following email:



    SUBJECT: IP address change.

    Dear Clueful Gods of the Firewalls

    Please would you [*Insert massive IP address space alteration that requires VLAN and router changes, will screw up the firewall rulesets, and violates security bounds, the Geneva Convention and two of the three Laws of Thermodynamics*]. This change needs to be completed by 1100 today.


    Clueless Bottom-Feeding Cretin


    Well, as none of us here wear capes, and I see a marked lack of underpants-over-the-trousers being worn, I guess that this particular miracle just ain't gonna happen.

    Sorry,, you've come through to the wrong department. You need the 'We Actually Give A Shit' Department. They're open from 0800-0805 on the third Thursday of every thirteenth month unless there's been a certain number of proton decays imaged in the LHC over a 32-picosecond period.

    You FAIL.

    FOAD, and have a nice day.