Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The UK riots: What would you do?

Many of us have been shocked by the recent days' events that have swept across the country. My own fair(ish) city of Wolverhampton came under attack from mindless thugs. Shop windows were smashed, peoples livelihoods put in jeopardy and many law abiding folks across my city have literally been scared for their safety and the safety of their family and friends.

Whatever the underlying sentiment of the nation may be in these troubled times, there can be no doubt that these were acts of wanton lawlessness, and need to be dealt with in a suitable fashion.

So I ask you, what would be your response to deal with these idiots?

Simply read the following and select the one option that you most agree with from the following list of possible riot control solutions and another from the list of how to deal with the aftermath. Add the two numbers together to get your score and see which political leader you are most akin to.

Possible riot control solutions:

1) Local community leaders are sent into rioting hot-spots with pamphlets about career and education opportunities and information about art competitions in a bid to dissuade youths from further looting.

2) Greater police presence in city centres, including more police community support officers who will be drafted in to chase off those pesky youths by means of their high spec mountain bikes and loud voices.

3) Issue the police with greater operating freedom, a wider variety of non-lethal weapons and reduce the burden of procedure and paperwork.

4) Allow the public the right to defend themselves and their properties using 'all reasonable measures' with little (if any) recourse to prosecution for their actions.

5) Full riot control procedures to be implemented without any fear of reprisal for Police Officers. Water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas to be used as standard crowd displacement measures.

6) Issue the police with heavy-duty assault kit, including high calibre handguns and Kevlar body armour - with free reign to 'utilise where necessary'.

7) Send in the army - equipped with fully automatic rifles, fragmentation grenades, armoured vehicles and air support.

8) Implement a temporary nighttime curfew in city centres. A shoot on sight policy applies to anyone caught breaking the curfew.

9) Hire mercenary death squads from the Congo and instruct them to use any means necessary to subdue the rioters. All human rights violations will be ignored.

10) Nightly flyovers from b-52 bombers dispersing biological/chemical weapons on city centres.

Dealing with the aftermath:

1) Provide weekly therapy sessions and anger management counselling for the disaffected youths who have been arrested during the riots.

2) Set up more youth clubs to encourage young people to engage in positive activities such as sport, fitness activity and community projects.

3) Youths that are arrested for looting should be sentenced to participate in monitored community service/neighbourhood renewal programmes and encouraged to learn a practical trade through local education schemes.

4) Anyone convicted of looting should be sent to a minimum security prison where they have access to well equipped cells, sports facilities, healthy diets and education programmes.

5) Those found guilty of involvement in rioting should be sent to a maximum security prison where they are fed on a subsistence level diet and are routinely forced to undertake gruelling physical labour programmes.

6) Prior to incarceration for their crimes, those convicted of acts of public disturbance are subject to spend half a day in public stocks and members of the public are encouraged to pelt them with rotten fruit and vegetables.

7) Convicted Rioters are sent to an undisclosed, unregulated medical facility to undergo 'behavioural re-programming' before being reintroduced into society.

8) Those found guilty of rioting and other public disturbance acts are surgically castrated to avoid their further breeding.

9) Those found guilty of rioting and other public disturbance acts are publicly executed. Events are televised and spectators encouraged.

10) Suspected Rioters and looters are rounded up, made to wear identification, forced into ghetto like areas and stripped of all possessions. Eventually these groups are counted, organised into smaller groups and sent by national rail to newly formed 'working camps'. Many are never seen again.

So, given your score, if you were in charge, which historical leader might you most be likened to?

0 - 4 - Mahatma Gandhi

You strongly believe that it is deep, underlying social problems that cause people to act irrationally. You believe that violence is not an effective solution to societies' problems.

5- 8 - Nelson Mandela

You desire to see peace, prosperity and equality for all, but you are more than willing to openly demonstrate your anger through the use of measured force when this is challenged.

9-12 - Barack Obama

You want a calm, orderly and well disciplined society but will happily resort to a strict regime of heavy handed policing to ensure this.

13-15 - Margaret Thatcher

You see any kind of social malcontent as a scrounger and/or a 'good-for-nothing' and will use all reasonable measures (and some dubious ones) at your disposal to ensure that they conform to your standards. The use of hard and fast military force would be acceptable if it restores the status-quo.

16-18 - Colonel Qaddafi

You see all those who do not share your views as scum who are beneath you and pose a threat to your way of life. Without reason, they should be be crushed using unyielding, relentless and more often, lethal force. Collateral damage is to be expected and should not be considered to be an issue.

18-20 - Adolf Hitler

Anyone who does not meet with your strict criteria of behaviour is a pointless burden on society, and is no doubt a result of poor breeding and other abnormal genetic factors. A final solution is required to eradicate these people from the face of the planet.

On a final note

All joking aside, I have been appalled by what I have seen and truly cannot believe that this kind of thing could have been allowed to happen. Whatever the economic problems and the political backdrop of the situation, nothing good ever comes from this sort of reckless behaviour. The need for decisive and intelligent action is crucial, as is the need for us to restore a sense of pride, dignity and unity in our society.

Many have called for drastic solutions for dealing with these recent outbursts of violence , but we should remember that it is all too easy to overreact and follow the lead of people with very distorted ideas about how the world should be.

It is a curse of humanity that we don't easily learn from our mistakes, but if we use our heads, if we stand up and make our views known in a passionate but informed manner then maybe we can start addressing the real issues.

Look after yourselves and take care of each other.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

An alternative Maths lesson

For me, maths lessons at school were always a complete and utter chore. Despite some early promise during my secondary school years, my 'career' in the field of mathematical study ended upon receiving a C grade GCSE.

The problem was that beyond learning the basic functions that would allow me to function in society, I could never really see the point of it all. Algebra, equations and statistical analysis all seemed like an incredible waste of my time, which was otherwise, more usefully spent playing football badly, smoking in secluded corners and/or drinking luminous alcoholic beverages.

Roll forward 15 years, and my brain has finally cottoned on to the fact that maths is really quite helpful. It's incredibly useful for things like gambling, playing pub quiz machines and working out group restaurant bills. I suddenly feel that I really should have paid more attention in school - and not just copied the answers from my more studious acquaintances.

However, "it's never too late to learn" as they say, so I've been considering how I can more frequently apply robust mathematical formula to everyday life.

So, with this in mind, I started to think about some highly important questions that could be answered through the application of maths and one stood out from the rest.......

How much do you get paid during your working life for shitting?

Defecation is an unavoidable part of life. Most of us need to engage in this task at least once a day. For many, the visit to the porcelain throne occurs during working hours and as a result, is on company time.

As no sensible business could rightly outlaw shitting during working hours without confronting the human rights implications that would ensue, one can only assume that countless £millions are spent every year by businesses nationwide in order that their employees can facilitate this most natural of bodily functions.

On this basis, I shall proceed by using an average British person (we'll call them Dave) as an example case - salary figures used in the 'Dave test case' are the current national averages as reported in the Office of National Statistics' AHSE report 2010.

And here is the man of the moment. Meet Dave:

Dave works in an office as a sales manager for a company that produces rubber mallets. He works 38.4 hours per week for which he is compensated to the tune of £474.24 - a princely annual gross salary of £24660.48.

The length of Dave's average working week is 5 days, usually Monday - Friday . He generally gets weekends off, which is nice for him, as Dave and his wife Sheila have plenty of free time in which to pursue their joint hobby of collecting, organising and photographing famous people's toenail clippings.

Dave began working for the UK's finest rubber mallet distributors at the age of 21 after attaining a first class degree in Bio-Chemical Engineering from Oxford University. He expects to retire at the pensionable age of 66.

Dave's offices are based near a shopping complex which plays host to a wide variety of fine lunchtime food retail outfits - including Subway, KFC, Greggs, McDonalds and a charming little continental restaurant called Abra-kebabra.

Such an accessible diversity of nourishment generally leads Dave to enjoy a rather hearty feast during his lunch hour. As a result of this midday gorging session, on a daily basis at approximately 14:35hrs, Dave's rumbling stomach informs him that he must 'curl one off' with immediate effect.

With his 'imminent arrivals due', Dave rises from his desk with his i-phone and/or laptop in hand, stealthily retreats from his office and heads for the gentleman's restroom on the floor above him ('never shit on your own doorstep' logic applies here).

Upon entering the cubicle of choice, Dave proceeds to start up the 'Angry Birds' app on his i-phone, loads the BBC Sport page on his laptop and then settles in for his daily dump.

At approximately 14:45hrs, with his personal best score on 'Angry Birds' surpassed and with all the kids succesfully dropped off at the pool, Dave emerges from the cubicle, washes his hands thoroughly and returns to his desk.

With all the facts at your disposal, I pose the following maths question to you:

Q: Assuming Dave has his one crap a day, how much is he paid - his current salary never changes - for shitting during his working life (you don't need to account for variables such as holiday/sick time absences - that'd just be silly)?


A: A whopping great £24,082.50

Here's the formula:

l = Life time shit pay - Dave's was the aforementioned £24,082.50
r = retirement age - 66 for our rubber mallet selling turd burglar
f = age at start of working life - 21 was the age young Dave began his shitting odyssey
a = average days worked per week - 5 gruelling days flogging inflatables to carnies.
h = hourly salary - A respectable £12.35 for the bio-chemist graduate
u = Usual shitting time - A concise ten minutes on the white seat for our man.

Incidentally, Dave receives £2.06 for every shit he takes at work.

So to put it all together:

l = ((r-f)*(a*52))*((h/60)*u))

The bigger picture

To put this into further context, over the course of his working life, Dave's shitting habits would buy him the following:

  • A one night stay in the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, Palm Beach Casino Resort, Las Vegas - the world's second most expensive hotel room:

  • A 2002 Aston Martin DB7 V12 Vantage 2dr Coupe:

  • A caravan in Hull

  • The chartering of a private jet to take Dave and Sheila from Birmingham to Barcelona (where they might attempt to coax Lionel Messi into donating a toenail for their collection).

The even bigger Picture

So, assuming the average British person takes a ten minute shit at work every day, Monday to Friday, then on a yearly basis, they are remunerated to the sum of £535.16.

Now before Gideon Osborne and his cronies get enraged by this scandalous waste of productivity, they should remember that thanks to the wonders of income tax, the government gets approximately 22% of this 'shitting money' - or an average of £117.74 per year for every employed person in the UK. On the current UK working population estimates of 29'800'000, this would create total average annual tax revenues of:


Yep, you read it right - three billion, five hundred and eight million, six hundred and fifty two thousand pounds sterling - all generated from people having a crap.

Inevitably, this sizable sum will be used to build schools, develop hospitals, improve public services and more likely, further line the pockets of incredibly wealthy people.

Either way, this is money that will be absorbed into the Great British economic machine. So to conclude, next time sometime moans that this country is built on a foundation of shit, you can tell them that in part, they are dead right.

Remember, you're not just shitting for yourself, you're shitting for the future of our nation!