Blogging on liberty, capitalism, reason, international affairs and foreign policy, from a distinctly libertarian and objectivist perspective
31 July 2007
Politically correct sledgehammer
Nat MPs boycott junket
It is time to play the blame game
28 July 2007
David Benson Pope - good riddance
27 July 2007
The National Puritan Party
- The teacher in question posted nude pictures of himself on an online dating website. This website only allows registration of users 18 years and over. Katherine Rich calls them "hard core pornographic" involving himself and two women. Some were probably of him having a stiffie, the sort of image half the population gets to see in person most days, and a good part of the rest of the population gets to see a little less often. Other would involve him committing legal acts with the women. Nothing illegal about it, and hardly immoral given that the vast majority of the population "commits" them regularly (and the remainder usually want to). Online dating websites are NOT porn sites, though some get perilously close;
- The only people that would get to see these photos are other adults registered on the dating website who searched for someone with the teacher's profile;
- He sought other women to commit legal acts with, presumably consensually, although Katherine Rich has focused upon the phrase "the younger the better" to imply that he is a pedophile, or seeking underage sex. While he COULD have said 18 plus, the implication is that given it is a legal dating site, given that the dating site has strict rules about these things, that it is borderline.
The teacher appears to have committed no offences, or even attempted to do so. He has not solicited anyone underage, there is no evidence of handling illegal pornography and no evidence of any untoward activity towards students.
The Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal ruled that he should continue teaching, presumably because there IS insufficient evidence to support that this teacher is any more a risk than say, a quiet demure understated man who doesn't show his cock online. Indeed, an adult swinger may well be LESS of a risk than the quiet lonely male who never seems to have much of a profile. Two out of five on the tribunal dissented, but then again that is not enough to end someone's career,
The fact that the teacher's ad could be accessed by past present and future students is truly irrelevant. Are teachers meant to live an ascetic life, or maybe the National Party stereotype of heterosexual married couples breeding happily, without threesomes entering into their lives, or large age gaps?
When can people have private lives when they have committed no crime, have not even done anything sufficient to be charged of the attempt of a crime without politicians taking cheap shots?
Would I be comfortable with this teacher teaching my children (if I had any)? Well frankly, I either wouldn't know or I wouldn't care that he advertises for other women, including young legal age ones if there are NO outstanding allegations about actual behaviour towards students or sex crimes more generally. It is no different to the scaremongering over gay teachers not too long ago that implied that a gay man in front of a class of boys was probably wanting to fondle them. Does "the younger the better" mean illegal? Well, the question you have to ask is, do you want to give someone, for whom you have no other evidence, the benefit of the doubt or do you want to engage in a witch hunt?
If he had been caught asking for schoolgirls, or flirting with them, or been caught with any, then fine - this is all justified. However, there are hundreds and hundreds of teachers who, secretly, will fantasise occasionally about their students, and I mean particularly younger teachers with the oldest students. You will never know who they are, because 99% of the time you never get to know who fantasises about whom. As long as it remains so, it is nobody else's business. As long as teachers pursue sex lives that do not break the law or do not involve students, then it should not be anyone else's business.
Winston in a time warp
- The coalition agreement terminated in force when the coalition with National broke up in 1998;
- The remains of that government was voted out in 1999 and remains so;
- The confidence and supply agreement with Labour does not cross reference the 1996 coalition agreement as a basis for policy;
- The coalition agreement is not the word of some sage, it's a political document of convenience.
Sorry Winston, reread the calendar it is 2007, not 1997.
Yes, if you had a gun and a bullet and could get away with it
25 July 2007
Peter Dunne does occasionally have common sense
They're taking the piss... aren't they?
Chavez turns the screws, once more
24 July 2007
“By achieving a relatively self-sufficient economy, it is possible to greatly cut back the amount of energy and resources that are needed to provide the goods and services that people need. By using local economies and small local factories, we largely eliminate the need for transport and heavy packaging. It also becomes much easier to recycle all waste products into fresh goods, given that manufacture takes place locally and recycled materials do not need to travel far. Local economies will also provide a much fairer distribution of wealth. Enormous factories and economic outlets have a tendency to concentrate wealth into the hands of just a few people.”
“Ultimately it is quality of life that matters most. A truly localised economy, which blends the benefits of modern technology with the more friendly, quiet and socially integrated communities of yesteryear, could offer people the best of both worlds. The advantages that such a society would bring, in terms of quality of life, care for the elderly, greener and quieter surroundings, freedom from crime and traffic, better health, safety for our children”
“Empirical data show that a good supply of domestic capital is still more likely to lead to investment, as capital doesn't flow perfectly across borders (nor should it).
Dependency on foreign capital means we have to run our economy like a tart on the streets of global capitalism, always primping to be attractive for other people's money, and setting everything from interest rates to worker-protection laws to please them.
This means turning ownership, and thus control, of much of our economy to foreigners. When their economic interests coincide with ours, this is tolerable, but they often won't, and on fundamentals, they never will"
Grey grizzling anti-wog brigade and the xenophobic economic infants
On Auckland airport, have you ever read such sheer nonsense?
The Bigoted wog haters (when has NZ First ever been positive about immigration?) talk of it being the selling of “another New Zealand plum” to a foreign owned company. What rot. The Bigoted Wog Haters could always buy it out if they wanted. “New Zealand” doesn’t own it, so stop using deceptive language that some collective entity called New Zealand has any rights to it. Anyway, what do they think Dubai Aerospace are going to do? Put rockets on it and send it to the Middle East, or destroy it? Have another sherry or five and go watch TV1 and fall asleep. This is the economic illiteracy that nearly bankrupted NZ under Muldoon.
The xenophobic economic infants are funnier still. Apparently there will be monopoly issues because of the change of ownership!! Air New Zealand will wonder what it has been going on about for years then, and I guess the Commerce Commission investigations had too many big words for the economic infants to read. Changing ownership makes NO difference. Such xenophobes rant and foam at the mouth saying “Coming on top of the attempt to buy up Tourism Holdings Limited, tourists to New Zealand could be landing at a foreign owned airport, travelling in foreign owned campervans, and visiting foreign owned iconic tourist sites and spending money which will simply go back to the overseas owners.” We'll all be branded with 666s and those foreigners will be so mean and cruel to us. I'm so scared of the foreigners, they eat babies and drink the blood of virgins! The foreigners will only hire their own kind after all, who wont spend a cent in New Zealand, but repatriate it all, they wont eat our food or rent our buildings or spend money in our shops - and then they'll stop us using the airport because monopolies like to stop people using their facilities, and then they'll buy our homes, our clothes, our children, then it will be hell, and the little elephants in the sky will land on our houses and eat gingerbread trees and...
The answer to the bigoted wog haters and the xenophobic economic infants is:
BUY THE F**KING AIRPORT YOURSELF!
However they wont, it’s SOOO strategically important they want to stop others using their money to buy it and others to realise their investments by selling it, but like most good old socialist whingers they wont cough up a cent to risk by investment. Of course they'll blether on about "we used to own it". Oh really? Did you get dividends, vote on the directors, could you sell what you owned if you thought the management performed poorly? Of course not, you owned nothing - the state owned it and took risks with your money, and spent the dividends on what IT wanted.
21 July 2007
Etiquette lessons of the month
- Older people, mostly men. Put your cellphone in your pocket (or on your desk if you're the prat sitting 5 metres away) put it on vibrate and turn it onto silent or meeting. Many of us can tell by the fact you keep the default ringtone on, and on a loud setting, that you barely have a clue how to use this device, and more importantly you don't know how fucking annoying it is to here that ringtone time and time again. I don't want to know that your phone has rung, frankly it isn't important.
- Talk quietly on the phone or go away somewhere to talk on it. I have as much interest in your phone conversation as I have in the contents of your stomach. Doing this in queues is the worst thing of all, it doesn't show you're important, it shows that you are too lazy or stupid to check voicemail and can't stand not having phone calls.
- There is something on trains in several countries called "quiet" carriages. In those you should turn your phone on vibrate and answer it only in the vestibule. If that's too hard, don't sit in the quiet carriage. I will sarcastically tell you off if you don't obey, which is nothing compared to my desire to take your phone and break it.
- Women. Don't put your cellphone in your handbag on a loud ring and spend the next 5 seconds rummaging around for the infernal thing so that in the last second it is so loud we all notice. Put it somewhere else and put it on vibrate, it will make us both happier.
- Beep Beep Beep Beep. Similar to 1. if you're too much of a retard to change the notification for text messages to a single silent vibrate, then you don't deserve the phone. One beep will do, but beep beep.... beep beep is unnecessary and rude.
- Airlines. Whatever airlines choose to allow people to receive phone calls or text messages should be boycotted. The Daily Telegraph has a campaign on this. If you are on a short flight, then you can cope spending an hour or two without the world being able to reach you or vice versa. On a long flight, people are likely to sleep, work or relax, and again what the hell are you going to do differently when you're on a flight? Ryanair and Air France are keen, well I wouldn't fly Ryanair anyway as it is the airline that has done more to lower service standards than any other, and Air France is disappointing, but then it accentuates the stereotype of French rudeness.
- Airline passengers. For fuck's sake wait till you're through the terminal before you use it. Who the fuck cares that "I've landed" while you're standing up waiting for the front door to open? If someone is picking you up, let them use their fucking eyes and look at the arrivals screen to determine if your plane is in or not. You have to be quite an absolute cock to suddenly turn your phone on when the seatbelt sign goes off, as if you have lost oxygen and you desperately need it. If you feel like that, get help.
In short, cellphones have one main use. The ability to call someone in an emergency or for business purposes (people working remotely). The secondary use is to text messages silently. Calls received should go to voicemail and people can pick them up later. It is possible to live productively without them going off infernally in public all the time.
and don't tell me your whinge and moan story about how much business you do with your phone. Fine, great, fantastic, just don't have the conversation in my ear and turn off your fucking ring tone. Got it? If you're that clever you can put it on vibrate.
20 July 2007
Life's hard for Winston
19 July 2007
Greens cuddle up to Galloway
Besides talking nonsense like "Locke said he understood Mr Galloway represented a constituency that had a sizeable Muslim population and they were very supportive of him during elections". As George has stood for ONE election in his constituency, and he won the seat with a majority of 823, with 35.9% of the vote. Hmmm.
He has been quoted by Stuff as saying "We are very much impressed with him in his stand on Iraq."
Which stand is that then? Is it...
saying to Saddam Hussein "Sir: I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability" which he repeatedly claims is a misquote.
or maybe his meeting with Uday Hussein reported by the Sun with photos of the video reviewing this. Given the numerous allegations around Uday murdering, torturing and raping, you have to wonder at Galloway being friendly to this late thug, and Keith Locke wanting to be associated with that (but hey, anyone who's anti American may be his friend).
Or if not Iraq, how about his support for the Syrian invasion and occupation of Lebanon reported in the Lebanon Daily Star? "Syrian troops in Lebanon maintain stability and protect the country from Israel."
or does Keith sympathise with his statement to the Guardian that "If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life"
Nice friends he has.
17 July 2007
Debating global warming
Greens continue to ignore Camp 22
Boris for Mayor of London?
16 July 2007
Residents Action Movement invites friend of dictators
Style wins over inertia
Meanwhile according to the Mail on Sunday (hey the new Prince album was free with it ok?) Gordon Brown has told his Cabinet colleagues not to mention the words "Muslim" and "terrorist" in the same sentence in public. This follows the European Commission issuing guidelines for spokespeople to not use words like "jihad", "Islamic" or "fundamentalist" in association with terrorist attacks.
Orwell is alive and well. Islam is voluntary you know.
13 July 2007
BBC loves Nanny State
- People choose to eat unhealthy food (note that the European Commission subsidies a good deal of it, and healthy food too, but you daren't suggest that these are removed!). This is by and large because the British diet is a collection of fried, fatty, low taste, high energy, poor quality rubbish;
- They overindulge and get lifestyle related diseases;
- Their healthcare is taxpayer funded and there are no penalties or rewards for looking after yourself;
- Government worries about paying for it all.
People are either stupid or reckless when it comes to their health, and so the government can do nothing about this - except by tackling the problem of the NHS. Imagine if people DID pay a monthly amount to the NHS (or maybe it could be competitive) and that varied according to your blood pressure, smoking/drug habits, cholesterol and other factors that indicate objectively health risk factors. OH NO, the statists would cry - it would be SO unfair to make people who live unhealthy lifestyles PAY for the health care costs they create (and conversely reward those who present little risk). Apparently far fairer to make everyone who indulges in less healthy foods, occasional and regular eaters, pay more.
The second one was about "bored youff" (because they never existed before). The charity "4Children" said that young people get bored over the school holidays and it is EVERYONE's problem. It wants everyone to be forced to pay for government funded youth centres to fix this. The poor babies are bored. Apparently because they are bored this CAUSES them to commit crimes and be anti-social. Don't you remember being in your teens and thinking "I'm bored, I think I'll go mug someone, or burgle, or steal a car". That's right, the excuse for any teenagers committing crimes is because the government didn't make everyone else pay for a youth centre for them. 4Children also called for us all to be forced to pay for free public transport and "leisure" for under 18 year olds. Sure, let's make public transport less appealling for those who pay for it, but free leisure??
I have some suggestions:
- Young people today have a wide array of technology to entertain themselves. Use it. Play games, watch videos, listen to music, go online.
- Meet friends, socialise. Apparently young people "hanging out" is a problem, well by and large it isn't. Most don't hang out looking to mug you.
- Get a ball, use it. Look at what African kids do in villages with next to nothing. Why aren't they bored?
- When all is lost, go into your room and masturbate, or better yet, get a special friend to do that with. It doesn't spread disease or pregnancy, and it is even a form of exercise. If you don't understand what I mean, go online or see a doctor.
- Bored? Take responsibility for yourself. Use your brain, and that of your friends and enjoy this free leisure time. You will NEVER have so much free time in your life.
- Being obnoxious and criminal? Let the criminal justice system lock you up. Nobody needs you screwing up their lives and property just because you are a loser. If you're excuse for being violent to others is because you are bored, I am sure there are a nice group of people in prison who will keep you occupied or keep occupied with you.
The BIG picture lesson is - in Britain, the solution to so many problems is presented as "the government should do something". Yes it should, it should tell people to take responsibility and stop pandering to those who don't.
12 July 2007
Bureaucratic fascist agenda?
Youth Parliament tells us a little about government
1. Are we the Pacific scrooge? Why have we not met the 0.7% target for ODA? Well, it COULD have said, should the government reduce aid in favour of tax cuts and letting the private sector assist foreign countries? So this is a leftwing proposition.
2. Has the student loan system created an unfair burden for a new generation of New Zealanders? Could have said, is it fair that the general public continues to be forced to pay over 75% of the cost of university education, whether they received such an education or not, and students only pay 25%, when the average university student typically goes on to earn above the average wage? So this AGAIN is a leftwing proposition.
3. How can we keep more young people in upper secondary school, including should there be a higher leaving age and/or a minimum achievement level for leaving school? Could have been, WHY should we keep more young people in upper secondary education, when there is a substrata of around 20% who are barely literate? How could the education system better deliver outcomes tailored towards the needs of students? Not so much leftwing, but assumes the proposition is a good one.
4.How can we prevent young people joining gangs and reduce violent offending? Could simply be, how can we reduce violent offending, the notion that you can prevent gang joining is almost absurd. Not really political, only the insane could argue against violent offending.
5. Is it fair to tax under 18 year olds at the same rate as over 18 year olds? Could have said, is taxation theft (but that would be seen as "right wing" and we can't have right wing propositions can we, although we have left wing ones). Arguably left wing, as it promotes progressive taxation to some degree.
6. New Zealand roads are the leading killer of young people, what can be done? Could be, New Zealand roads are the safest they have ever been on a per vehicle km basis, what responsibilities do young people have to be accountable for the accidents they cause. Slight statist bias (not left or right wing) and feeds the road toll obsession.
7. What should the focus of our youth justice system be? Finally a truly neutral question!
8 . Should New Zealand allow the therapeutic cloning of stem cells? Also a neutral question!
9.Should Party Pills (BZP) be illegal? Again, neutral.
10. Was the National Certificate in Educational Achievement a good idea? Banal, it could be more clever as to "what would be the best way for schools to recognise educational achievement"
So all in all, the Youth Parliament had a somewhat leftwing, statist bias - why should you be surprised, it is organised by bureaucrats from a Ministry that didn't exist a few years ago (hear that John Key?)
However, check out the list of questions bureaucracies sent in for select committes. All in all, you can say the following about them (my criteria was whether the questions assumed more government intervention or whether the government had a role in the issue concerned):
ALAC: Statist (assumes state should define role of alcohol for private citizens)
Children's Commissioner: Highly Statist
Creative New Zealand: Totally Statist
Department of Corrections: Somewhat Statist (but it is a core government function)
Department of Internal Affairs: Somewhat Statist
Department of Labour: Meaningless
Families Commission: Totally Statist
Health and Disability Commissioner: Highly Statist
Health Research Council of New Zealand: Balanced
Human Rights Commission (HRC): Totally Statist, leftwing and possibly racist (Why are "Asian Immigrants" a topic?)
Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH): Highly Statist and nationalistic
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF): Somewhat statist, slightly leftwing
MED: Slightly statist.
Ministry of Health (MoH): Slightly statist
Ministry of Transport: Slightly statist
Ministry of Women’s Affairs: Totally statist
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise: Totally statist
SPARC: Totally statist
Te Puni Kokiri: Unclear
Transit New Zealand: Somewhat statist.
The priorities of the Greens
Guilt merchants of the 21st century
- Assuaging their consciences for their self imposed guilt of being very wealthy;
- Attention seeking, because it wouldn't look cool to not seem like you give a damn, raising sales of their albums as a result;
- Telling people off for living their lives the way they choose, whilst themselves making token gestures in that direction.
Most of those doing this are either in the politically naive bracket (also known as stupid), or simply like telling others what to do. They believe that instead of simply being musicians, they have a duty to "change the world" through their messages.
It can't always be wrong. Music has a place in political dissent, when it is about fighting genuine oppression, as with totalitarian government and free speech. However, it is a fact of globalisation that it costs so little to produce music and distribute it, and audiences can be so large that musicians can make a fortune out of one album. Those musicians who performed at Live Earth are wealthy because of property rights, contracts, independent judiciaries and capitalism. They are not grateful for that. I can only assume they either feel (notice they feel more than think):
- Very lucky to be wealthy and successful (in which case if others are less lucky they might want to share their luck); or
- Know they've worked hard to be successful, but think they better support causes to encourage people to change behaviour to make the "world a better place.
Madonna's personal wealth is more than the GDP of about five countries - but for all of the socialist pontificating she's not going to give hardly any of it away. She's far too career obsessed to be a true socialist.
Most of the criticism of Live Earth has been because it was boring or the carbon footprint created by the concert. Frankly, I don't give a damn about either of those things. I didn't go, and the obsession with carbon footprints is becoming almost a religious crusade. I know someone who will give a telling off for flying instead of going by train.
The sort of guilt passed out by climate change evangelists is akin to a sort of Catholic/Protestant judgmentalism. The new sins are now:
- Leaving appliances on standby;
- Using incandescent lightbulbs;
- Not recycling all you can.
In the past you might have been pilloried for:
- Having sex before marriage;
- Not going to church;
- Not standing up for elderly people on the bus;
- Getting divorced;
- Being single at age 25 for women (unless a nun), 45 for men (unless a cad or entertainer, because we all know, you know!);
- Criticising the Royal Family.
I don't know what element of humanity has this overwhelming need to judge others, to set rules and humiliate those who don't follow them. There are others of course, the obsession with judging people's lifestyle related to health is the other one. Smokers, people who eat "the wrong foods", people who don't exercise are all subject to the judgment machine.
Why isn't it a sin to tell others how to live their lives?
11 July 2007
10 July 2007
Why Live Earth really is unimportant.
One day I was going to the place to load the coal, I met her. And I noticed she was exactly that woman, and I asked her, how you could survive. And she told me, that yes, I survived. But she showed me her body, and it was all burned by fire.
After six months I met her at the corn storage in Kusan district and found her putting on a used tire on her knees because her legs were cut off. Because of a coal mine wagon ran over her knees. And all she could do now was separate the corn grains from the cob.
The reason why she was forced to go to the prison is her father’s elder brother was purged at the Anbyon, Kanwhan Do province. She went when she was 5 years old. All of the family members were imprisoned. Her mother starved to death, and her brother also starved to death in the prison. I met her at age 26. So it means she was in the prison for 21 years. I think she no longer is in the world."
To educate the world about North Korea;
To advocate for human rights, political and religious freedom, and humanitarian aid for North Korea;
To protect the North Korean people where they can be reached;
To empower citizens of the world to take effective action and make a difference;
To bring together and support existing NGOs and other organizations working to achieve the same ends; and
To tell the world the truth.
05 July 2007
Virgin - image vs substance
- Virgin Atlantic Airways
- Virgin media
- Virgin radio
- Virgin mobile
My problem with the Virgin Group is not that its products are awful, mostly they are not. Sometimes it is outstanding, much of the time it is ok, sometimes it is awful. It is the inconsistency that is annoying. However what particularly irks me is Sir Richard Branson’s play with the media, and how seduced the media is by his antics. He’s very clever, the name, logo and the style and way he gets media attention is pretty clever. For years he played the underdog ticket, and still does. He played it against BA with Virgin Atlantic Airways, little guy against the big former state owned monopoly.
He has done it more recently with Virgin Media (essentially the former NTL/Telewest cable TV/broadband network here in the UK), moaning about how Sky wanted more money for Virgin Media to keep rebroadcasting content that Sky produced/commissioned/owned the rights to. Branson bleeted about being the consumer’s friend, when anyone who subscribes to Virgin Media must sign a minimum 12 month contract and has no right to use anyone else for national/international calls using the phone service. Virgin Media has lost this battle somewhat, despite slick advertising, Sky has picked up new subscribers by offering broadband as well. Style over substances hasn't really won. Virgin Media's High Definition TV offering is also style over substance, as it only relays some on demand programming and BBC's HD channel. Sky by contrast offers another 9 HD channels and video on demand. Virgin Media in its previous incarnation as NTL had shocking service. Call centres that wouldn’t answer, that weren’t helpful. Cutting off the phone even though you paid your bill because you made calls that went over the “limit” allowed, and meaning you use your mobile to call a call centre that made you wait. The public clearly are not enchanted with Virgin Media more than the previous brand, no wonder there are negotiations to sell Virgin Media.
Of the Virgin group, Virgin Radio bothers me the least. It’s ok, it’s on AM everywhere outside London (and digital radio, but I haven’t bought one of those yet) and I don’t pay for it. Virgin Records similarly is an outlet, which may or may not have what I want. Nothing special, but nothing wrong with it either. However it is owned by SMG, not Virgin Group (although retains the name/logo etc). Virgin mobile is a slightly different story, only in that the coverage of the network it is reselling in the YK (no, it doesn't have a network of its own not here or elsewhere, it resells T-Mobile's network) is inferior to Vodafone. You might notice that a lot of what Virgin does is not really about being innovative, it resells what others offer. T-Mobile is one, the trains are another (it only leases the trains bought by and financed by a rolling stock company), the cable TV service Virgin Media is, partly, another.
Virgin Atlantic Airways is something else though. On one side of the ledger are Virgin Clubhouses, outstanding airport lounges, especially the one at Heathrow. You can get massages, haircuts, the works, full cooked meals before you board the plane. On arrivals you can much the same as well. That’s brilliant, though BA does have lounges that offer a lot of the same (and when Terminal 5 opens BA may give Virgin even more a run for its money). Similarly, Virgin Upper Class sits between first and business class in terms of quality, and offers sleeper suits, on board sit down bars and massage therapists on board the plane. If you've tried Air NZ's new business class then you've experienced the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats (Air NZ is using them under licence). Pretty good right? Well…. it would be if the cabin crew were of a consistent standard. Virgin Atlantic clearly has, as one of its selection criteria for cabin crew, age and looks. The vast majority are relatively tall young women who look good in short skirts. While this certainly has appeal to a portion of the City Banker crowd who fly Virgin, in terms of service consistency it doesn’t really work. Virgin Atlantic crew are the spectrum, from very good to moody tarts. The ones that gossip in their regional accents swearing in the galley, and who don’t bother going out of their way to provide service. BA service tends to be more consistently good.
However, Virgin Atlantic in economy class is pretty dire. On the surface it has a handful of little extras that sound good. The inflight entertainment system, fully interactive is rather impressive, though less so now that virtually every airline outside the USA has it or is installing such systems (it is akin to the Singapore Airlines system, which is hardly a surprise as Singapore Airlines owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic). There are inflight amenity kits for economy class passengers (earplugs, eye masks, toothbrush/toothpaste) which is a nice touch. Finally there is a choice of three mains for meals. This is where substance is lacking.
Now I come back to Virgin trains. Virgin Trains receive tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers money each year to operate trains on one of the main lines out of London to Birmingham and Manchester. These trains run one of the busiest rail routes in Britain. It is quicker by rail than by air (taking into account airport transfer and check in and luggage pickup times) and by road between those cities. Virgin trains charges up to £168 one way in first class between London and Manchester, and £109 in second class. There is a high proportion of business traffic, which explains why four out of nine carriages are first class. Virgin touts how environmentally friendly it is and all that, but wont invest in more trains without taxpayers coughing up, even though it is faster and charges a not too insignificant fare for the trips.
Branson of course never experiences anything like this when he takes the well publicised trips on his trains. I needn't spend much time wondering why.
Virgin group have been innovators in some senses, Virgin Atlantic was the very first airline to introduce 180 degree flat reclining seats in business class (albeit it was a clunky recliner that went all the way back in those days), and certainly helped put pressure on BA to do better, and vice versa. However, mostly, Virgin is a sexy brand name that has not much more behind it than the colours and the pazazz of Branson. Virgin Blue some years ago promised domestic flights in New Zealand. This, of course, was media bluster and wont ever happen in my view. Pacific Blue was going to slash prices to and from Australia, and it now prices hardly any differently from anyone else (and frankly, if you pay the same with Qantas, Air NZ or Emirates you can get a better seat, get fed with free drinks and entertainment).
It’s a shame really. Virgin trains are ok, but nothing special. Virgin Atlantic is pretty good up the front, but with variable service and economy class that really is scum class because of almost criminally tight seating. BA, on balance, is better in most respects. Virgin media could be really good, if it had the flexibility and helpdesk service that was better than the UK standard (which isn’t high). Such a powerful brand, and such mediocrity. It isn't a brand for grownups sadly.