Sunday, August 19, 2018

Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia: 50th Anniversary

Fiftieth anniversary of Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia seems to be rather muted. Amongst Russians, there's widespread ignorance of the move by Brezhnev to end Dubček's limited programme of political reforms known as the Prague Spring. To paraphrase Václav Havel: this is no time for forgetting; Dubček's aims might be seen as minimal and non-threatening now, but the Soviet response reveals a lot about Russia's obsession with the 'near abroad' - those neighbouring states both Putin and the Soviets viewed as a special sphere where influence and control were, and still very much are, central to Russian power. Read Gnosis

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

When a sub-clause gets its claws into you.

BBC West Yorkshire local news headline begs the question, how many times can you crush a car? - "'Fly-tipping car' is crushed New powers have been used to crush a car, which was involved in fly-tipping in Barnsley, for the first time. Beware the sub-clause...

Monday, August 13, 2018

Pissed off or pensioned off?

I booked a Pension Wise appointment to discuss my future pension needs. Now, Pension Wise ask for details of your existing pension providers, which can amount to quite a list if you've worked for decades and changed employers. It also means you get to listen to a lot of Four Seasons and other hold muzak as - no matter what time of day you call - Aviva and NOW pensions always have high call volumes. In Aviva's case they also have an IT dept that can't seem to find its arse with both hands; over a year ago I queried why my policy wasn't on the customer website, and was told it soon would be. Well, the grunts in the 'turn it off and on again' cupboard obviously didn't get the message, because the policy (and I would hazard a guess mine's far from the only one) still hasn't made it online. The government wants us to save for retirement, and there's a lot of money sloshing around the pension pots managed by these companies; it would be nice if they invested some of their no-doubt hard earned bonuses/commissions on maintaining the close customer links and relationships they're blurb prattles on about.