Jack Straw emails hacked

Had to laugh this morning at news that Jack Straw's constituency email account has been hacked.

A scam e-mail was sent to Labour members, council chiefs and Ministry of Justice officials which said that Mr Straw was travelling to Africa for a project called Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, and was at an address in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos.

"I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept.
I would like you to assist me with a soft loan
urgently to settle my hotel bills and get myself back home".

In his defence, after the scam had been discovered, Jack Straw said:
"... I think it was so obviously ridiculous that I could go off trekking in Africa and I would lose my wallet."

Well; actually, I'm not so sure that the email was that implausible.

Strip out the location of the conference (Lagos, Nigeria), replace it with 'Brussels' and you are left with something that sounds worryingly P.C. and very possibly not that much different from the usual appeal for donations.

Top marks to the hackers for creative ingenuity!

Dow falls to lowest level since 1997

The DJIA - 1956 to 2009

Image shamelessly stolen from the FT; news that the Dow falls to its lowest level since 1997
Some "irrational exuberance" going on there.......

James Lovelock The Vanishing Face of Gaia

Listened to James Lovelock talk about his new book "The Vanishing Face of Gaia" this morning on the R4 Today programme.

Basic premise is that the earth will be 5 deg or 6deg hotter at the end of the Century and that the issue for humans will be on how to survive in these new climatic conditions.
Given that this climate won't support anything like the current population we have at present -there won't be enough land to support the population - the survivors will be those who move to areas which will be largely unaffected (ie; the 'lifeboat nations of the world')
These 'lifeboat nations' include:

  • UK
  • Siberia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Even Japan possibly
His argument is that we should be preparing for the flood of refugees from climate change by building infrastructure.

Couple of observations on this:

Ironically; this is yet another shot in the arm for the currently beleaguered UK property market. Those offplan builds on the Costas are looking ever more un-enticing...

But, more worryingly, it's yet another prescient reminder that no-one (apart from the BNP it seems, with all their horrible, horrible racist overtones) wants to properly tackle the issue of immigration. It's already the elephant in the room that no-one wants to discuss.

Valentines Day Cupcakes

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day but was touched to receive these fantastic cupcakes from Konditor & Cook. Made my day.

SW3 Commercial Property empty

Walked along the Kings Rd this morning and was struck by how many empty retail premises there are: 4 in this this stretch alone.

Scolari sacked as Chelsea Manager

Breaking news: Luiz Felipe Scolari dismissed as Chelsea Manager with immediate effect as per the CFC website.

I'm not the biggest football fan in the world but was taken along to The Bridge a couple of weeks back by Mr ChelseaSW3Girl (above video: CFC vs Middlesbrough 28 Jan 09)

Wonder who will replace him ?

Bank of England rate cut

In view of the speculation concerning what seems to be the impending rate cut by the Bank of England, this seems rather apt, although I'm tempted to think that 'Panic on the streets of Reykjavik-on-Thames' might be more appropriate......

Female suicide bomber recruiter captured

Really disturbing to hear on the Today programme this am about the 'female suicide bomber recruiter' who has just been captured in Iraq.

According to the Times, Samira Ahmed Jassim (51) :

"suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers"
"she would escort the women to an orchard for insurgent training"
"helped plan the rapes of young women and then step in to persuade the victims to become suicide bombers as their only escape from the shame."

I just don't understand this mentality.

It is probably because I have had the fortune to be born into a civilised democracy where I have never for one moment had to question concepts of liberty and freedom (*albeit apart from encroaching incursions such as personal data control etc). So, I've never felt desperate enough to take such extreme action.

Similarly,whilst I am pragmatic to realise that history is written by the victors (nb Herodotus) so that one man's suicide bomber is another man's freedom fighter, I can't help but feel appalled by this woman's actions. To me, they are just plain evil and no amount of rationalising can change that.

It is somehow worse that she is female. For one thing, it goes against all commonly held concepts about the female nurturing role but chillingly, her actions were against her own sex...which is worse, I think.

I just don't understand why some academics should see this emerging phenomenon of the female suicide bomber as an example of 'female emancipation' (in its extreme).
Practically speaking, it is far more desirable for someone to want to manipulate a woman into becoming a suicide bomber because she is less likely to be searched (cultural reservations), plus can get away with wearing all-concealing garb which can disguide explosives.

Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story

I like to listen to Radio 4 occasionally whilst I am working and this morning I happened to listen to Woman's Hour.
It featured an interview with Gabriel Weston, author of a new book called "Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story".

As the blurb on the R4 website goes:

Gabriel Weston graduated as a doctor in 2000 and became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2003. She now works part-time as an Ear Nose and Throat surgeon. She tells Jane about day-to-day life as a surgeon, and describes what it’s like to be a woman competing in a world dominated by alpha males.

Personally, I think this blurb is a little tame - the Sunday Times had a far more revealing write-up and focused on all the nitty-gritty-behind-the-scenes lowdown which is far more interesting. Want to know how heavy an amputated limb is? Well; you'll find it here....

It's always interesting to learn about other industries and professions, particularly if you get to hear a warts-and-all account. Maybe because, on some level, it is always somewhat satisfying for the soul to realise that yes, even high-powered individuals have off days too and that, despite the glossy facade, there is always going to be admin grotwork to do somewhere down the line in every job.

However; whilst on one hand, I would really like to read this book (and most probably will), I do feel slightly reticent about this subject area.
Perhaps it is because I had to undergo {pretty much} emergency surgery on a severed tendon on my left hand a couple of years back on account of a stupidly, freak accident.

To cut a long story short, I lay on a trolley directly outside the operating theatre and went through my notes with the surgeon and anaesthetist. Even though I had a massive bandage wrapped around my left hand and wrist, I was, according to their notes, in for surgery to my RIGHT hand. Needless to say, this did not exactly inspire me with confidence. I was only too happy for the knock-out anaesthetic....

So, in as much the same way as I really don't want to know what the state of the kitchen of a restaurant I am eating in is like, nor do I want to know that my hairdresser has the biggest hangover of the century....there are just some things I would rather not find out too much about at all.
As they say, ignorance is bliss......

David Cameron plays with Carol Vorderman

in the snow.....! oh, and with Michael Gove too!

Just got a totally pointless email through from webcameron to say that David Cameron, Michael Gove and Carol Vorderman had a jolly old time today and that, instead of doing any proper work,

the three of us played in the snow instead

Oh Dear God; who writes this stuff????!!!!!

And here Dear Readers is the contender for next PM........ (*top tip; it's not the snowman)

Scott Foley in CBS The Unit TV show

As part of my Recession-busting-anything-goes attitude at home, we are currently watching lots of the CBS drama series "The Unit"; all about a top-secret military unit modeled after the real life Delta Force.

Now, normally this kind of gun totin', action packed drama would not be my cup of chai were it not for one thing and that is the presence of this guy here. {scott foley - plays a character called Bob Brown}

I'm well aware of how sad this makes me; I'm 33 and should know better - but I just don't care.

City Wags vs Wall St Wags

An article about a new US blog caught my eye in the Sunday Times yesterday.
The blog - 'Dating a Banker Anonymous' (or 'DABA' for short) has as its mission statement:

Are you or someone you love dating a banker? If so, we are here to support you through these difficult times. Dating A Banker Anonymous (DABA) is a safe place where women can come together – free from the scrutiny of feminists– and share their tearful tales of how the mortgage meltdown has affected their relationships.
As you may know from having read some of my other blog posts, Mr SW3 Girl works in the City and is an investment banker...although, technically speaking, I am not sure if that term exists any more. I too am an ex-Investment Banker, having been made redundant in the last major cull back in end 2002. So, all in, I feel I have the right to express a valid opinion on all things pertaining to relationships, rocky times and working in a high-pressured City environment.

So, naturally, I read the DABA blog with some interest.
Frankly, there is only one point I am in sympathy with and that is the very real impact that redundancy, or the threat of it, has on relationships.

Having spoken with other female friends living here whose other halves work in the City, whether finance or law, I can attest to the fact that one way or the other, we are all having problems. Mostly, this relates to the fact that our men are working longer hours, are facing the threat of the redundancy guillotine ever more frequently with the result that once home, they are stressed out more than ever. It impacts on every aspect (*and I mean, every aspect).

I'm not for one second saying their plight is any worse than, say, the Honda workers who have been laid off recently or any of the other thousands of redundancies recently announced.
Far from it and I have every sympathy for those who are now trying to support their families on next to nothing.
I think the worrying aspect is simply that when you work in the City - particularly in banking - the rewards are greater (=you have more to lose / bigger mortgage etc etc) but more specifically, that you have no other skills than, say, trying to push financial products to fund managers. You are not actually trained to do anything else and it is hugely impossible to transfer those skills to 'normal' jobs outside the financial sector. It is this knowledge and fear of the unknown that pushes so many to the edge.

For my own part - and also my friends who are a pragmatic, down to earth bunch - we have tried to be as supportive as possible, whether it means not complaining too much if one's other half is stuck to the PS2 for much of the weekend (*apparantly, as I am told, this "helps me to relax, OK????????") , doing the bulk of the housework without complaining and just generally trying to be there, keeping strong and positive.

All of which means I just don't get some of the inane comments by some of the Wall St WAGS on the DABA blog. Are they for real?????
Complaining about having to cut down on facials and massages.....moaning about having to cook instead of going out dinner - I could go on.

Really; these girls are such wusses. Yes; I know you can't stereotype by nationality, but really, these US WAGS just don't compare well to their UK counterparts who are made of far sterner stuff. Having worked in that [banking] environment, I'm well aware of just how nasty it is at a time like this, with everyone covering their own a**es. There ain't no room for sentiment, that's for sure.

Get a grip, girls! This is the reality so stick with it and sharpen up!

Snow in Chelsea SW3

How idyllic is this? This is the view of the Thames taken from Battersea Bridge during what the weather forecasters have termed "the most significant snow event" for years (eh?)

Naturally; this being Great Britain PLC, nothing is working as it should.
Mr SW3 Girl headed off after 6am this morning to walk up to the City wearing his hiking trousers and boots - District line not working, Circle line trains packed and black cabs nowhere to be seen.
Roll on Spring!

Obama Inauguration party in London

Here's a photo of the wonderfully US themed Obama Inauguration Dinner Party held by my friend Pete.
Note the tablemats (- genius idea thought up by Rob) and napkins (- my idea; courtesy of Harrods).

Unlike the official Obama luncheon menu which featured a whole host of traditional American winter dishes, our menu was somewhat more prosaic and featured:

  • Homemade Cheeseburgers
  • Sweet potato wedges
  • Homemade coleslaw
  • Homemade chocolate brownies
It has been interesting to read the varying reactions to Obama's Inaugural Address, with some critics bemoaning the lack of soundbites and soaring rhetoric. For my own part; I think the most valid soundbite (if that is indeed the word) was his use of the phrase 'hard choices' :
Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.
Whilst I'm not keen on the notion or concept of a 'new age' (whatever that means) and feel slightly uncomfortable with the almost Messianic fervour with which he is being greeted by some, I do think it is right to force this reality of 'hard choices' having to be made out into the open.
It's going to be hard and it's not going to be easy, that's for sure, and I do wonder if expectations are unrealistically high?

About This Blog

The life and loves of a 30something
female living in Chelsea, SW3, London.

Frank, acerbic and occasionally
batty forays into the realms of ego.

Get in touch: email me on
chelseasw3girl at gmail dot com

About Me

Work: Early 30s, own business, ex Investment Banker.

Personal: Single but co-habiting for several years. After a rocky patch, we seem to be getting on much better.

Likes: current affairs, politics, walking by the river, reading, burlesque, exploring, the countryside and lots of other random things besides. I like to straddle a wide cultural morass and enjoy delving into Private Eye as much as I do the latest brain-dead issue of Heat or OK mag (*dreadful, I agree)

Dislikes: bureaucracy, *uckwits, parking wardens, bad service, Alaister Darling, BS and ...oh, I could go on.

  © Chelsea SW3 Girl Blog 2009

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