Sunday, February 27, 2005


A Blast from the Past

I was contacted by someone I worked for in the 1980s and early 90s. Around 1993 I wrote some software for this person which was deployed in a manufacturing facility. It was updated by me over the next few years until I moved on. Various other people had responsibility for it after that.

It's a mixture of Visual Basic 3 (yes, 3.0) and Visual C++ 1.52. All 16 bit.

So anyway this guy contacted me as his customer recently reported a problem, and he doesn't employ anyone these days in a position to help. That's right - they are still using this specialized application, the oldest parts of which are 12 years old.

This got me thinking. Since that package was sold in '93 I've since worked in various consulting organizations, including Big 5. Forget projects like that one which sold for low five-figure sums. We had big project teams, we were part of million-dollar development efforts. Guys in white shirts with tiny glasses, meetings in glass rooms, guys with MBAs, conference calls, diagrams scrawled on whiteboards, estimates, project plans, strawmen, project sponsors, proofs of concept, project charters, user representatives, steering committees, technical architects, arguments about design patterns and EJB versus CORBA.

The difference? I can't think of one project I worked on in a consulting company which ever delivered anything anybody could use to write business. Not a single one. Projects were cancelled after overrunning; clients went out of business or merged with other companies; senior staff changed; client priorities shifted. Whatever the reason, the projects always seemed to get terminated without delivering anything.

And in the meantime, my original customer was still manufacturing parts, the lines churning day after day, millions of dollars worth of components produced and shipped to customers, the plant even moved country at one point and everything was brought up and continues to be used to this day. Databases getting updated; PLC's being read and written; data being downloaded; signals being sent.

I must confess to feeling a sense of pride.

Friday, February 25, 2005


Click Here to be Horrified

I found out about the Parents Television Council when searching the Internet for information on my favorite TV program, The Shield. This groundbreaking cop drama has an impact like an airstrike, it's quite simply the best thing I've seen on TV in fifteen years.

So anyway ParentsTV.Org were complaining about the graphic violence, nudity, swearing, and so on, in The Shield. They provided a blow-by-blow account of all the (in their view) terrible things happening in each episode. What I found amusing was that in so doing they had inadvertently created a useful summary of, in my opinion, all the best bits!

Anyway, they've now gone further. If you want a roundup of all the stuff you should be horrified about on TV, as a public service, they now put video clips online just so you can check them all out and see what you should be getting indignant about. Enjoy!

I don't believe US Network TV could be much more bland than it is already. For example, when they show Dirty Harry, they actually edit out the bit where he says, "Get out of the way, Hammerhead!", presumably because it's offensive to hammerheads.

If they ever leave Dumpsville, TN, or wherever, and travel to Europe, I'd advise ParentsTV.Org to resist at all costs the temptation to turn on the TV. In the UK, you've got simulated gay sex in primetime, or a gritty Ken Loach drama where the dialogue consists entirely of four-letter words. In Germany porn is all-pervasive (presumably to give them something to occupy their minds other than world domination), and in Italy the prizes on gameshows appear to be a large number of scantily-clad women. And as for France, I'd advise anybody to avoid the country completely, as it's full of French people.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Feeling lucky, punk?

I would argue that the Dirty Harry series of films started the whole 'rogue cop' genre, and finished it too, in a way, as all the others look like poor imitations.

The writers cleverly created a fantasy character which the target audience could identify with. Who hasn't been frustrated by the vacillations of weak bosses, or been furious at the system's inability to dispense justice?

Of course, time has left the series, which railed against the mob corruption and out of control criminality of the day, somewhat dated. President Reagan's Crime Reduction Act of 1984 and the aggressive tactics introduced by prosecutors like Rudy Giuliani mean that the streets today no longer resemble those of the wild west, and the mob is but a pale shadow of its former self. In fact, with the government today able to imprison pretty much whomever it wants, for as long as it wants, for violating any of a huge number of vague federal laws (e.g., Martha Stewart), the pendulum could be said to have swung in completely the opposite direction.

But nevertheless, I believe the five Dirty Harry movies are the best of their type ever made. They are packed with quotable lines, memorable characters and situations, and non stop action. In fact what makes them so good is the high quality of the supporting actors. Most films today, there will be the so-called 'star', and he will be surrounded with nonentities so he is not upstaged. But given that there aren't many actors capable of upstaging Eastwood, you find the people around him add a heck of a lot to the movie.

"What do they want?"
"A car"
"What are you going to do?"
"Give 'em one!"

"Fourteen thousand, four hundred and ninety eight dollars and eighty seven cents!"
"How can that be?"
"You want an itemised account? Well you ripped out fourteen feet of counter, one city vehicle totalled, damage to stock, plus four hostages who will probably sue the city!"
"For what?"
"Excessive use of force!"

"I want to see some identification!"
"This guy runs like a Jackrabbit.... I'm not about to let him go!"

Great dialogue is such a delight.... I could go on all day.

Anyway, they are now bringing out a video game based on Dirty Harry. I have never owned or even used an XBOX or a Playstation, but I may just start now.

Wobblebottoms Revolutions

If being locked up by the British authorities for being plump was not enough, persons sporting excess flab now have something else to worry about.

If they decide to go bungee jumping, they should ensure they use a very strong bungee rope.

This fellow didn't, with tragic results.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Wobblebottoms Reloaded

In an earlier post, I noted the large number of - er - large people you see in the US.

If a five foot tall person is happy being their ideal weight - if they were nine feet tall - I personally have no problem with it. But if they feel like taking a trip to the UK, they should exercise caution, as the authorities there take a tough line on gutbuckets.

Consider the case of Chris Leppard. He weighs what is by Chicago standards a quite modest 462 pounds. When members of his local city government saw him on a TV documentary, they wasted no time in locking him up in a psychiatric hospital, for his own protection, no doubt.

Imagine if they started jailing lardies here in the US! Move over, the Bloods and the Crips - there's a new player in town, and you don't want him in the top bunk! The corrections department would have to modify their procedures; instead of using drug sniffing dogs at visiting time, they'd need burger sniffing dogs. No need to worry about an inmate's mother smuggling a gun into jail hidden in a cake - the only danger is the inmate will go into vapour lock when he scoffs it down in one!

Monday, February 21, 2005


You Couldn't Make it up #1

Navy to advertise for homosexual sailors

Britain has a proud naval tradition. From the Elizabethan era (1500s) until 1945, Britain really did 'Rule the Waves'. My favourite period of Royal Naval history is the Napoleonic era where the 'wooden walls' of Nelson's navy protected England from invasion by France, until Nelson's resounding victory Cape Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, established British naval supremacy for the next hundred years.

During that famous battle, Nelson's flagship, the 100-gun Victory, was engaged yardarm to yardarm with the French 74 Redoutable. Chain-shot, bar-shot and cannon balls flew back and forth across the decks of both ships, slicing through rigging and sail, masts and spars, officers and seamen alike. From both ships, high up in the rigging, sharpshooters picked off individuals one by one.

In the midst of this chaos Admiral Nelson and Captain Hardy paced up and down the quarterdeck, sitting ducks in their blue uniforms. Eventually Nelson succumbed to a musket ball fired from the rigging of the Redoutable. His body came back to England preserved in a barrel of rum.

Fast forward 200 years. What is the Royal Navy up to now?

"The Royal Navy is to place advertisements for recruits in the Pink Paper as part of a new campaign to recruit homosexual sailors.

"The move follows its decision to sign up to the Diversity Champions programme run by the equal rights charity Stonewall, the first time a branch of the armed forces has done so.

"Commander Tim Kingsbury, the Royal Navy's diversity and equality policy officer, said the scheme would initially involve providing commanding naval officers with the necessary information to best understand and support homosexual staff."

More here

Well - that's progress for you!

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Are They Kidding?

On CNN, news that the US Navy has launched a fearsome new $3.2BN submarine, the last of the Seawolf class of attack subs that the Pentagon ordered during the Cold War.

The 453-foot, 12,000-ton submarine has a 50-torpedo payload and eight torpedo tubes. And, according to intelligence experts, it can tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on the communications passing through them.

It can reach speeds of more than 45 knots and carry Tomahawk cruise missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes, and it is engineered to be quieter than the other two Seawolves, making it better for surveillance.

Sounds awesome - I'll have to get me one of those!

So what's the problem?

They went and named it the USS Jimmy Carter

Excuse me? Are they kidding?

As a youngster in the UK during the seventies I can still recall my Dad complaining how Carter let the Soviets walk all over him. In the Sunday papers there'd be articles showing how many countries round the world were in the Soviets' sphere of influence. Sometimes they'd have maps illustrating the amount of military firepower the Russians were deploying in Europe. We really thought that there was a good chance one day soon we'd wake up to news reports that Soviet tanks had started rolling into Western Europe.

At the time the wisdom of the Western leaders - Carter in the US and the unbelievably incompetent Heath, Wilson and Callaghan in the UK - said that the best we could do was to contain the Soviet menace, and maybe not even that.

Of course, in 1980 the US got a president with some balls, the UK got Margaret Thatcher (who had more balls than her entire cabinet put together), and the Soviet Union collapsed within ten years.

So why the hell don't they call that sub the USS Ronald Wilson Reagan, in honour of the man who had the courage to believe the cold war could be won, and did more than anyone else to bring it to an end?

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Wobblebottoms 'r' US

Anybody in the US cannot fail to have noticed the number of gargantuan people they have staggering about the place. For example, where I work, there are a couple of women who hang out together, and when the pair of them get in the lift, you can actually feel it move.

Today some useful information from one of those free newspapers fell into my lap and cast some light on the subject.

So now, if you fancy joining the ranks of the lift-swaying, foot-crushing, sweatpant-wearing, suspension-destroying, arterially-challenged and door-blocking, here are the best places to eat, and what to order:

What Calories Grams of Fat

Hardee's Monster Thickburger 1,417 107
Culver's Jumbo Bacon Butterburger Deluxe 1,100 69
Burger King Whopper with Cheese 800 49
Culver's Fried Cheese Curds 710 43
McDonalds Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese 730 40
Wendy's Classic Double with Cheese 700 39
Burger King Angus Bacone & Cheese Steak Burger 710 33
McDonalds Sausage Egg and Cheese McGriddles 560 32
Taco Bell Half Pound Beef & Potato Burrito 530 24

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Good Software and Bad Software

The Good

I recently started using a program called TUGZip for working with ZIP files. Prior to that I used WINZIP. Unlike WINZIP, TUGZip is free software; it is almost as fast as WINZIP; and it has a very attractive user interface. It's particularly useful to have if you share archives with open source types, because it also recognizes a bunch of other archive file formats like RAR and TGZ. You can get TUGZip here.

The Bad

At work I am using PVCS 6.8 from Merant. It is absolutely dreadful. The front end is written in JAVA and uses the AWT windowing classes, so it doesn't look like a 'proper' Windows app. I can hear the head-in-the-clouds 'architect' behind this now: "If we write in Java, we have a cross platform app!". Well that's great but this customer uses - and wants a tool designed specifically for - Windows; I don't give a crap if that makes it harder for Merant to support other platforms!

We've got some big source files which have gone through a lot of revisions. This means I am now waiting upwards of 40 seconds for each file to be checked in or out. We have one source directory with 300 files in, and when you hit that directory in the GUI, you can go grab a cup of coffee before the list of files appears. The archives themselves are 'serialized Java classes'; great if you like that sort of thing, but absolutely useless if you want quick response times!

The worst part is the tools they give you, like VLOG, to help integrating your own build tools with the repository. They are hardly documented at all, and when you do find out how to use them you find they are so unbelievably slow you don't want to.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Choicepoint admits: we may have sold your personal data to criminals

Choicepoint is one of these data aggregators which are becoming a private version of big brother. If you live in the USA, they have you - every detail of your life and connections. You can read more about them here.

Government loves them because they aren't subject to the same restrictions that Government entities are.

So now the criminal fraternity has cottoned on, and has set up a load of fake companies to buy
personal data from them. More details here.

"We believe that several individuals, posing as legitimate business customers, recently committed fraud by claiming to have a lawful purpose for accessing information about individuals," [a letter from Choicepoint] reads. "You should continue to check your credit reports frequently for the next year."

The two-page letter offers details on how to spot fraud, but no additional information about the incident, or what information may have actually been stolen.

"ChoicePoint has apologized for any inconvenience this incident may cause," said ChoicePoint spokesman Chuck Jones. "But ChoicePoint has no way of knowing whether anyone's personal information actually has been accessed," or used to commit identity theft, he added.

You cocksuckers.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Scammers are Everywhere

America is a great country. But there do seem to be an extraordinary number of scammers about. Take this example.

We recently purchased a house and took out a mortgage. The other day we received a letter apparently from our mortgage company inviting us to save about eight years of payments merely by switching to a weekly rather than monthly payment schedule.

The amount of our mortgage was repeated several times and the mortgage company's name appeared in a few places as well.

But call me cynical, I just immediately thought, if you can save eight years payments that easily, why isn't everybody doing it?

Boosting my microscope to subatomic level revealed some print which admitted that this was not a communication from our mortgage company at all, but from some out of state company which had obtained our mortgage information from the public record.

The way it works is they are some sort of 'administration company' and you are supposed to send the payments to them. Even if this isn't an out and out fraud, where they take a few months payments before disappearing, if it's possible to benefit by switching to a weekly payment schedule, then I could arrange that directly with my mortgage company!

All in all it smelled very fishy.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Screwed Getting a Rebate Again

I recently posted about TigerDirect.Com and their fraudulent rebate site, ""

While putting together my cheap server I bought a USB Wireless card for it from CompUSA. I had to fill out and send in a rebate form. Yesterday night, I got a preprinted card from their rebate company which says that I apparently failed to submit some vital piece of paperwork.

I know I did submit everything they asked for.

Then I found this article on Tech Central Station. It looks like I'm not alone.

So I'll just never buy anything from CompUSA again.


Brave New World

So the pharmaceutical industry has set up a pressure group,, to push for compulsory mental health screening for teens. There are a bunch of desperate-sounding denials up here

If you think this is too Orwellian, that this could never happen, that the Government will not carry out mental health screening on your kids and forcibly medicate them at your expense, look at what happened with vaccinations.

About forty years ago states began vaccinating kids against some of the terrible childhood illnesses like Polio.

Now, as anyone who's had a kid can tell you, the list of vaccinations kids receive today - at the parent's expense - is as long as your arm. It's state-mandated. Not compulsory? Only if you want your kid to be admitted to school.

What started out as vaccinating kids against one or two terrible illnesses is now a government mandated policy whereby kids are vaccinated against dozens of diseases whether their parents think that's a good idea or not.

The results? Numerous kids facing life-threatening food allergies, asthma, eczema, and of course autism, none of which anybody had ever heard of until the government started forcing us to pump live viruses into our children.

You would have to be unbelievably stupid - or work in Government - to believe that any benefits, including those of vaccinations, can be enjoyed with no associated risk and cost. Of course, as long as it's us who bear the risk and cost, who cares?

Try talking to any physician about this. They go glassy-eyed and trot out some lawyer-approved AMA bullshit.

And yet, spend an hour on the Internet and you will likely know more about the prevention and treatment of any given disease than most doctors. You'll certainly care more. They're only a couple of pages ahead of the man in the street at the best of times, and most of the time, not even that far ahead.

So don't think for a moment that big pharma wouldn't love for mental health screening to be compulsory, and for every kid in High School to be taking their psychotropic drugs. The shareholders would love it, too!

They're laying the groundwork now, getting legislators in their pocket, starting pressure groups like teenscreen, and getting people used to the idea.

Time for parents to take a stand now, before it's too late.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Tired of Mapquest? Google have the answer

MapQuest is OK as far as it goes. It's very slow, laden with ads and gives you a map the size of a postage stamp to work with, which takes an age to scroll.

Enter google, the company which can do no wrong. Or more precisely,

No ads (yet!)

Instant response time

A huge map you can rapidly scroll from Poughkeepsie to Barstow if the mood takes you

RIP Mapquest.


Harsh Treatment

Firefighter Charged With Biting Head Off Pet Parrot

I have a lot of time for firemen. People who run into burning buildings for a living deserve our respect, particularly in a country where they print warnings on coffee cups that the content is hot; and on ammunition boxes that the content may be dangerous if fired into one's skull.

Sometimes firemen need to chill out; to relax; to have a few beers with their friends and try to forget the stresses and strains of their calling. Occasionally, like Lt. Bruce Coates, they do this by biting the head off of a live parrot.

And who are we to judge? Who among us can honestly stand up and say "It would never occur to me to bite the head off of a live parrot!".

You should never judge people, lest one day it is you standing there in front of a bunch of your cheering mates, with a gallon of beer sloshing around inside you, and a squawking bird in your hand.

Lt. Coates, this blog salutes you, and hopes your suspension ends soon, so you can get back to saving lives!


A firefighter accused of biting the head off a pet parrot at a party was charged with felony animal cruelty Monday and placed on administrative leave.

Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said witnesses told deputies that Lt. Bruce Coates was at a party early Sunday when he took the Quaker parrot, valued at $200, off someone else's shoulder, put the bird's head in his mouth and bit it off.

Police said the incident occurred at a party at the home of Coates (pictured, left) at the Saddle Club Estates community near state Road 44 and state Road 415.

Coates told deputies that he was drinking alcohol and couldn’t remember what happened. He was apologetic and offered to replace the parrot, according to the sheriff's report.

Witnesses told deputies that Coates and several other people were playing billiards. The parrot was on one of the player's shoulder when Coates grabbed the parrot, put the bird’s head in his mouth and bit it off.

Coates was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail.

Edgewater Fire Chief Tracey Barlow said Coates, with the department since 1991, came to him Sunday and told him about the incident.

He will stay on leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, Edgewater fire spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said.

Sunday, February 06, 2005



According to This is London, the Jamaican police are looking to the former colonial power to help with the out of control crime they are experiencing:

Met's bid to end Yardie violence
6 February 2005

Desperate police and tourism chiefs in Jamaica have turned to a senior Scotland Yard detective as they try to stop Yardie gang violence raging out of control.

The Caribbean island, once considered a paradise on earth, is plagued by hijackings, kidnappings and feuds rooted in the cocaine trade.

Last year there were more than 1,500 killings and amid the mayhem there have also been allegations of extrajudicial executions by police officers.

I wonder how they think bringing Scotland Yard in is going to help with the situation? Possibly they plan to bore the gangsters to death with lectures on diversity.

Back in the UK, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair, has just drawn a line in the sand to show how he is going to bring law and order back to London- he has announced that the Metropolitan Police Official logo will change, as partially-sighted people found the previous one was too difficult to read.

I'm sure most partially sighted people in London, as they are picked off one by one by muggers, would applaud his innovation.

As for me, I would speculate that he will likely prove to be the most useless tosser ever to hold the position of Met Police Commissioner.

Friday, February 04, 2005


RIP: John Vernon

John Vernon, who has died aged 72, played the Mayor in Dirty Harry.

Vernon and Eastwood exchanged some of the most wonderful dialog ever to emanate from a screenwriter's pen, in a scene shot in the then San Francisco Mayor Alioto's actual office:

V: "Oh and Callahan, I don't want any more trouble like you had last year in the Fillmore district, understand? That's my policy"
E: "Oh.. when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard, that's my policy"
V: "Intent? How did you establish that?"
E: "When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross!"

He was also in The Outlaw Josey Wales and Charley Varrick, as well as numerous other movies.

What a truly great actor.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


Chicago Handgun Ban Under Threat?

I was pleased to see today that The National Rifle Association has launched a drive for legislation to attack the City of Chicago's ban on gun ownership.

I personally do not own a gun and see no need to do so. But I object very strongly to politicians who tell me that I am not allowed to carry one, for personal protection, should I wish.

Rulers throughout history have imposed weapons bans on their subjects. But this is America, and we are citizens, not subjects.

Don't forget: the same politicians who lecture us about "gun control" go about their business safe in the knowledge that they themselves and their families are protected at public expense by paramilitary state troopers toting automatic weapons. Chicago Aldermen are explicitly exempted from the ban. That's called HYPOCRISY. H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y.

They're saying, in effect, "We're the rulers here. We are important enough to be protected by force of arms. You are our subjects, you will get whatever protection we think fit."

Considering the amount of time the socialist liberal elite devote to talk of 'equality' you would think that they would be all in favour of gun ownership. After all, what else will put a seventy year old war veteran on an even footing with an eighteen year old burglar?

In Illinois the village of Wilmette has a handgun ban. A citizen recently shot and wounded a burglar. This same burglar had already raided the man's home the previous night and had actually come back to take more items. The official advice was that the citizen should have locked himself and his family in the bathroom and waited until the burglar had finished helping himself. His reaction? "I didn't want my family to see me as a coward."

What kind of society says it's better to let your family be robbed while you hide under the bed than stand up and do something about it? (Answer: one run by that cowardly, gutless, lying, slimy toad-like dipshit, Tony Blair)

If anybody wants to live in a society like that where only criminals have guns, and citizens hide under the bed, they can always head over to the UK!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Great Movies#2: Death Wish 2 and 3

I find TV in the US difficult or impossible to watch because of the frequency of commercials. The incessant interruption mean it's not even worth my while trying to watch a movie.

So anyway at the moment I am suffering the worst bout of flu or something I can remember. Yesterday evening found me in bed having consumed a cocktail of various cold remedies throughout the day; Robitussin, Motrin, and some weird blue stuff in a bottle. My head felt too bad to read so against my better judgment I flipped on the TV.

To my surprise I found that the medication had greatly increased my tolerance for commercials. Normally the third time in half an hour I see the same ad ... Levitra, Vytorin, Zelnorm, Wilford Brimley on Diabetes, disabled scooters, etc., I just switch off. Yesterday night, however, thanks to whatever was in those flu remedies, all those repetitive ads just washed over me. ("A low risk of sexual side effects!" "... is indicated only for women!").

What is it with Americans and pharmaceuticals? Is everyone sick here?

The point is, last night, AMC were showing Death Wish 2 followed by Death Wish 3.

The Death Wish movies started in the 1970s when there was a lot of popular fear over rampant crime with police unable or unwilling to do anything about it. This is less of a problem now since the Americans started incarcerating criminals for very lengthy periods. While probably not rehabilitating offenders, this does at least have the effect of keeping criminals off the street and away from their victims, which, as a taxpayer, I regard as an excellent use of public funds.

But back in the 1970s, on the streets where the gangs and muggers ruled, stepped the craggy visage of Charles Bronson dispensing his own unique brand of justice to wrongdoers - basically, shooting them.

Death Wish 2 has Bronson in LA hunting the men who killed his daughter and housekeeper. He hangs around LA's skid row night after night offing the lowlifes responsible as he comes across them.

Unlike Eastwood, Bronson doesn't deliver long speeches before wasting a punk. The nearest he comes in this film, is where he asks of the first guy, seeing he is wearing a crucifix, "Do you believe in Jesus? Well, you're gonna meet him!". He tracks the next mugger down to an underground parking lot where he's at hard at work assaulting a couple whose dress sense alone merits jail time. All Bronson says to this guy before pulling the trigger is, "Goodbye".

At the end of the film, Bronson catches up with the last of the killers (with whom he exchanges no dialog at all) who has been placed in a mental institution where he is being treated with kid gloves by the liberal justice establishment. Bronson bluffs his way in disguised as a doctor. Just to show you how slack things are, Bronson asks an orderly the purpose of some equipment. The orderly - apparently unconcerned that the doctor doesn't know what the equipment in his own hospital does - replies that it's an electro-shock machine, but that regrettably "they aren't allowed to use it these days". (Curse these liberals! Of course, with Gonzalez at the DoJ, all that will change now!)

The various sick and aging people who must, judging by the commercials, comprise AMC's demographic, should take heart that one of their number, the pensionable Bronson, manages to take out a gang member double his size and strung out on PCP, by frying him in an electro-shock machine, and gets away with it! Excellent!

Next up was Death Wish 3. Bronson heads back to a part of New York where out of control gang violence has turned his old friend's neighborhood into something reminiscent of Beirut during the civil war, or London during an international soccer game.

The local police chief, powerless to do anything to stop the mayhem, due to tiresome (or should that be 'quaint') restrictions such as the first, fourth, fifth and probably sixth and fourteenth amendments, turns Bronson loose with, effectively, carte blanche to clean things up, no questions asked.

This he does, wandering the streets casually shooting various lowlifes with an enormous gun. Eventually the local gang boss gets annoyed at the way the his crew is being reduced. Especially as it's being done by a killer with a face like an old boot who, after two movies, doesn't even bother doing his victims the courtesy of delivering a humorous quip or anecdote before despatching them. The boss therefore rings a fellow gang leader and asks him to send over a bunch of members on bikes who weren't doing much that week.

The stage is thus set for the final confrontation between Bronson and the punks. A few locals get involved too, but it's mostly Bronson, who at one point opens up with a giant WW-2 vintage machine gun. During the mayhem, not wanting to be left out, the police chief himself turns up, walking down the street shooting people left, right and center. There are probably quite a few police chiefs around who have dreams like that.

Finally Bronson takes out the gang leader with a LAWS rocket, just like Clint Eastwood took out his nemesis at the end of The Enforcer.

Great movies? They are both very watchable for what they were and very much of their time. They remind us that the current level of safety and security we enjoy as Americans was not always taken for granted. A scene in DW3 where two big uniformed cops strong-arm a defenceless elderly couple living in the center of a war zone into handing over their gun reminded me of the situation back home in Britain.

As for the LAWS rocket, I think it is a marvellous weapon - a one shot, disposable bazooka. Perfect for home defence, or for hunting deer.


I have reason to be proud of my former fellow Londoners.

From This is London

Capital tops licence fee shame list
2 February 2005

Londoners are the nation's worst television licence fee dodgers for the third year running, according to figures from TV Licensing.

A total of 64,874 fee evaders were caught in the capital during 2004, more than three times the number in the next worst city, Glasgow, while across the UK 399,918 were found out.

TV Licensing said more than 1,000 people were caught every day last year thanks to its database of over 28 million addresses showing all unlicensed properties. Using a fleet of hi-tech detector vans and handheld scanners, inquiry officers focus their visits on properties where there is no record of a TV licence.

Yes, my fellow Americans, to watch TV back in the UK, you have to pay the Government an annual license fee which funds the BBC, an organization so left of centre it makes NPR here in the US seem like Howard Stern or Bill O'Reilly in comparison. They send round inspectors armed with hand-held TV detectors and take you to court if they find you watching TV without a license.

Oh, what it is to be in the Land of the Free!

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