Staggering Stories Podcast #17: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide

  on March 30th, 2008

Zaphod BeeblepertweeShow summary: Andy Simpkins, Adam J Purcell, Fake Keith, Tony Gallichan and, occasionally, Alistair Lock celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (with thanks to Peter Wicks for the ‘Book Music’), and talk about a variety of other stuff, specifically:

  • 00.00 – Intro and theme tune.
  • 00.36 — Guide Entry: Podcasts
  • 01.26 — Greetings, yes?
  • 03.26 — Where Is Keith?
  • 03.56 – Sponsorship Announcment!
  • 05.13 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • 55.32 – George Dubya Bushisms.
  • 56.10 – Letters and listener feedback.* Hit us yourself at
  • 60.40 — Guide Entry: Television Shows, Adult.
  • 67.53 – Goodbyeeeeeeeee!!
  • 68.00 — End theme, disclaimer, copyright, etc.

Vital Links:



A few notes on Podcast 17b…

  on March 30th, 2008

Yup, the one that isn’t quite up yet – our Chief Scientist has just collected it. Two reasons for this. One; I’m not very happy with it in places and iii) To show to a certain person who shall remain nameless – well, at least to the end of podcast 17b!!! – that it’s not as simple as that person may think. Oh, and for the record, I’m saying that with my tongue firmly in my cheek, so please don’t think I’m getting all hoity toity – I know how good I am, ahahahahahahahahahaaaaaa!!!


To be honest, not as good as I like, face facts, otherwise I wouldn’t have to be posting this load of nonsense.

The problem we had was that on the FIRST recording of podcast 17, someone didn’t have their microphone switched on. Bloody silly error and one I really should have picked up upon. However it was a little chaotic and we also had Alistair pop up to add voice (as well as do one or two little things that will, hopefully, enhance your listening pleasure…heh, heh, heh.) to our nonsense.

As a result, when I loaded all four tracks into Audacity, one of ’em was blank.


So we set about re-recording the podcast giving me just a couple of days to edit it. I wanted to include Alistair, somehow, in the new version so I sat down and tried to take bits audio with him on and splice ’em into the new podcast. This was only reasonably succesfull as the sources, whilst technically being the same, were slightly different. I also ran out of time due to another, someone perplexing problem.


I have NO idea how, but the track containing Crumbly had a really terrible hum on it…but only intermitently. And different kinds of hums at that. It also went out of synch with the rest of the recording in places. Now, I had to be very carefull with noise reduction – I mean, we didn;t want Crumbly sounding even more like his head was in a bucket of water, did we? But I realised that with the bleed from the other mics, I may just be able to get away with it. So…I had a fiddle. After one full on NR and then another smaller one, the deeper hum was gone. However, I hadn;t noticed, later on, the higher pitched one which Ive managed to dampen down as best I could.

Placing Crumbly into the mixing desk, I began the usual edit, snipping bits here n there to make it flow betetr etc. Then he decided to go out of synch as well as sound….gurgly. Now, I don;t mean gurgly as in too much noise reduction. No, no..more like gurgly like a bad cassette tape. Plus with the synching problems and that high pitched hum…listen to the bit when he’s paying tribute to Arthur. C. Mullard. I think thats the worst bit. Anyway, I did what I could with that.

Fake Keith, alas, was waaaayyyyy too loud level wise meaning she distorts all over the place. And the amount of smut I had to cut out – so much more then usual…..I have all the preliminary recordings and so blackmail will be forthcoming.

Also, I had a little fun with this one. Face facts, after all that I bloody needed it.

TYhis podcast celebrates the birthday of a particular thing. Now, we’d asked Alistair to record a couple of v/os for us and I set to work making them sound as near to the original as possible. He’d also managed to get hold of, and get me permission to use, some music from an old friend and user of the FloorTen forum, as was, Peter Wicks. I had to trim Alistair in a couple of places as well as the music to make them Fit together (bad joke, but what the hell, lol, you’ll get it once the podcast comes out) but they worked excellently together. Many thanks to Peter for allowing me to use them. Then to the ending. The opening was easy…quick V/O and fade the music up at the right spot. The ending though..oooh, tricky. In the end I took part of Mark Ayres’ cover, another part of it,  because the timing changes,  put them together then at the critical moment, placed the television theme for about two bars, over the top because I wanted the, hmm….’howl’ that the tv version has at that point. Hope Mark doesn’t mind.
Doing the V/O and timing that to the music was a doddle after that, LOL.

I’ve also added a very naughty, copyright breaking treat at the very end of the podcast…just keep listening.

So, apologies for the slightly wonky sound in places. But do enjoy as I’m rather chuffed with some of it….



From Stuart Syvret’s blog…

  on March 28th, 2008

ok, for those that don’t know, Stuart Syvret is a Senator in the Jersey States and was sacked last year, ostensibly for sending out abusive emails etc…however, its become fairly obvious that it was because he was on the point of exposing what has been happening in Jersey. His blog is a source of interest. Aside from information it does show a man who is very driven – possibly too driven, alas. But he does make a lot of sense.

Im copy/pasting his latest blog entry because this one really does seem to show just how nasty Jersey politics can get, how underhand and how incestuous…



Those following the Jersey media will have seen that Senator Frank Walker, Jersey’s Chief Minister, has decided that now is the time to begin proposing the establishment of a ‘Committee of Enquiry’ – a quasi-judicial process which can be instigated by the island’s parliament, and would work somewhat like a UK parliamentary ‘Select Committee’.

The purpose of this exercise would be to undertake a detailed examination of all the issues concerning the Jersey child abuse disaster.

On the face of it, this may seem a good idea; ‘why shouldn’t there be a public enquiry into this catastrophe?’

The answer to that question is all about timing.

As explained in previous posts, I spent much of the first half of 2007 pursuing my own investigations into child protection failures. These efforts ultimately prompted the Jersey oligarchy to dismiss me from my post as Minister for Health & Social Services.

During that episode, I had concluded that a Committee of Enquiry would be extremely useful. However – at that stage I was not aware of the covert police investigation; rather, I had reached my own conclusions concerning the catastrophic state of child protection in Jersey following extensive communications with whistle-blowers, victims and witnesses.

A public enquiry seemed – rightly – back then to be a good means of exposing the truth.

However – when the States of Jersey Police Force took me into their confidence in November of last year – and explained in detail what they had been doing – it was immediately apparent that they were going to expose the truth – and that there would be prosecutions.

Therefore – so as not to jeopardise that process, I parked the idea of seeking to establish a Committee of Enquiry.

Not because the polity in Jersey does not require such ruthless scrutiny – it does. And we must, indeed, have such an enquiry – but only when the timing is right.

At present, the Police have only made one arrest in connection with their major investigation into historic child abuse. They have stated publicly that they are going to make a substantial number of further arrests.

In theory – at least – this should lead to prosecutions – and in the case of the guilty, appropriate punishments.

But – that process – arrests, prosecutions, appeals – will take perhaps three years – and even that might be optimistic.

So – why not establish a Committee of Enquiry soon? There are lessons to be learnt, surely, and we need to discover the facts – and make necessary improvements as soon as we possibly can?

Well, there are several – extremely good – reasons as to why a Committee of Enquiry should not be spoken of now. Not least because the causes of the disaster – and the failure of public administration to deal with it – are already obvious to any thinking person. We know – even if Frank & Co don’t – what changes must be made.

But dealing with the main issues. Firstly, the public enquiry would be a quasi-judicial process. We must ask, therefore, how appropriate would it be to establish such a body which would be working in parallel with the on-going police investigations, charges and prosecutions?

Obviously – it is quite impossible to see these two processes working on the same subject matter – simultaneously – without badly damaging the prosecutions.

Such an exercise would risk seriously distracting from – and more significantly, contaminating and hindering – the efforts of the Police.

But – even if the Committee of Enquiry was not actually put into action now – but instead its establishment was simply agreed – this process – the public discussion – and the political debate in the islands parliament – would seriously run the risk of furnishing defence lawyers with a variety of reasons for asserting their clients wouldn’t get a fair trial.

Further – even if the suggested Committee of Enquiry were to be established – surely we should have a good understanding of the facts – an informed grasp of the issues – to enable us to draw-up appropriate Terms of Reference for the Committee?

We could only be fully informed of these considerations – after the conclusion of any criminal trials. For it will be, in court, that a great deal of the important information will emerge.

So – on these grounds alone – now is simply the wrong time to be even speaking of a Committee of Enquiry.

But – there is a far more profoundly worrying dimension to this proposal. .

Now, brace yourselves – I don’t think Frank Walker is culpable for this huge error.

He will have been advised to take forward the concept of a Committee of Enquiry by various – very senior – Jersey establishment figures.

And one can – very easily – speculate as to the motives behind such “advice”.

Forgive me for going into boring, technical matters – but these are of fundamental importance.

I am going to quote some pieces of Jersey legislation.

And my reason for doing so is to demonstrate a stark – and profoundly disturbing – fact.

Which is this:

Any person summoned before a Committee of Enquiry, or who gives evidence to such a committee – immediately gains immunity from criminal prosecution for any matter being considered by the Committee.

So – have a quick read of the law quotes below – and understand this:

If – by some chance – the States were to embark upon a Committee of Enquiry – before all of the judicial processes were exhausted – potentially guilty people – maybe abusers, or those who have perverted the course of justice by concealing such abuse, or who have committed Misconduct in Public Office – will become beyond the reach of the Law – beyond justice by dint of the immunity from prosecution conferred upon them by the Committee of Enquiry.

Here are some of the relevant legal quotes:

34 Immunity from legal proceedings:

No civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member of the States –

(a) for any words spoken before or written in a report to the States or a committee or panel established under standing orders; or

(b) by reason of any other matter or thing brought by the member before or within the States or any such committee or panel by petition, proposition or otherwise.

In plain English this means that any member of the States of Jersey – and this includes – really rather fascinatingly – unelected members of the States, such as the Law Officers – will become immune from prosecutions.

But of greater concern is the following piece of legislation which has the same effect – that of conferring immunity from criminal actions – upon any member of the public – this including public employees and senior civil servants, for example – who comes before a Committee of Enquiry.

8 Privileges and immunity of person appearing before or producing documents to a committee of inquiry:

(1) A person asked or required to give evidence or produce documents before a committee of inquiry shall be entitled, in respect of such evidence and documents, to legal professional privilege and privilege against self-incrimination.

(2) An answer given by a person to a question put to that person, or an oral or written statement made by that person, or a document produced by a person in the course of his or her appearance before a committee of inquiry shall not, except in the case of proceedings for the offence of perjury or for an offence under these Regulations, be admissible in evidence against that person in any civil or criminal proceedings.

(3) Paragraph (2) shall not apply to evidence given or documents produced by that person which he or she knows to be untrue.

So what does all this mean?

It means that perhaps dozens of potentially guilty people – abusers and those who concealed abuse – will – with one mighty bound – become immune to prosecution for their offences.

The victims will – again – be betrayed.

It’s a very “clever” wheeze – isn’t it?

I could name a variety of people who will be praying for the States assembly and the Jersey Council of Ministers to be that stupid.

Frank has claimed that he simply wants to get agreement to the establishment of such a Committee; not actually launch it whilst the criminal and judicial processes are continuing. But there is simply no point – absolutely no good could come of – the States even debating the topic now.

Of course, Frank’s motives are probably quite “innocent” in that it’s a text-book move from the political spin-doctors hand-book:

“Government in crisis? Right – let us show our mastery of events by establishing an “independent inquiry””.

I’m inclined to believe that Frank is guilty of the spin – but not the more dangerous objective of compromising prosecutions – and conferring criminal immunity upon those who should feel the full weight of the law.

I could not, though, express the same opinion of those who have advised him in this matter.

Their motives – I am sure – are altogether darker.

The Jersey Council of Ministers is meeting tomorrow, that is, Thursday, 27th March, and will be considering the idea of the Committee of Enquiry.

Let us hope that wiser council will prevail – and they recognise that such a Political – quasi-judicial – investigation must be put back upon the shelf – until such time as the criminal aspects of this disaster have run their course.

A process likely to take several years.

Stuart Syvret.



Sickened by my home…

  on March 22nd, 2008

so, things have gone a little quiet over in Jersey. Well, aside from a secret meeting of so-called ‘Ministers’ to see if they can replace the guy leading the investigation into the terrible abuse. Oh, and the fact that he went public and said that former members of the States and the police force were trying to interfere with the investigation.

However, things have gone a little quiet. Oh, people are arguing the toss on forums…the Jersey Democratic Alliance is trying to keep things going – and getting little thanks in return. From what Ive read in some parts, it seems that there are those who whilst despising the States as it is, they also despise the JDA – the only organised oposition to the Establishement. Now, I have no problem with folks doign that, however, I’d rather they got off their backsides and did something rather then just sat at home and slagged off the one organisation thats actually trying to do something.

And what of the Jersey Evening Post, hmm? That bastion of Jersey life.

Its still spouting pro Kremlin propaganda.

Have this from 20/1 – 03- 08

Right time to reflect on the real Jersey

THE long weekend now in prospect will offer Islanders an opportunity for some reflection upon the impact made on this small community and its self-esteem by the dark and distressing events of the past month.
There is, of course, still a very long way to go before the full truth of what happened at Haut de la Garenne can be discovered and those who may be accused of abuse against children in its care brought to trial and to ultimate, long-delayed justice. It is not too soon, however, to start the necessary process of recovery from the communal trauma and misplaced sense of general guilt engendered by a toxic mixture of rumour, imagination, political opportunism and irresponsible national media reporting.
Whatever the facts of the Haut de la Garenne case may eventually turn out to be, there is no doubt that Jersey’s international reputation has, unfairly, suffered a major blow, the recovery from which will take time, clarity of thought and a collective determination to show the world the real Jersey.
One way for all who care about the Island and its future to begin the mental preparation for that vital process is to ponder the wise and timely message from its chief citizen, the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, that there is no need to hang our heads in collective shame for some unspecified general offence.
Another way to begin combating the false impressions so gleefully spread around the world is simply to remind ourselves, the better in due course to make clear to others, how comprehensively the good things about Jersey outweigh the bad. We would do ourselves a power of good, individually and collectively, by taking time this weekend to appreciate our Island’s glorious natural beauties and countryside; its unique cultural heritage and appealing difference from either of its ‘parents’, Britain or France; its unquestionably successful tradition of political independence; its hard-won prosperity, industriousness and entrepreneurial flair; its generous charitable spirit; its close, supportive ties of family and friendship, something now often lost elsewhere; the excellence of its schools and hospitals; its new openness to other cultures and to newcomers; the constantly astounding talents of its young people and the range of opportunities they now enjoy; and, inspired by all of that and more, the still strong, fully justified pride in belonging to a successful and pleasant modern community.
There are those who would wish to deny or destroy that reality. To combat them, Jersey as a whole must not allow itself to be bullied into an unwarranted sense of collective shame over crimes or cover-ups at Haut de la Garenne, any guilt for which belongs to a tiny minority.
The simple fact is that Jersey is a good community overwhelmingly comprising good people. The first day of spring, which falls tomorrow, is not a bad time to remind ourselves of that.

sickening, isn’t it? Oh, and yeah, the Balliff they mention is the guy that basically shouldnt be doing that job…the position should be split. However, the JEP are going all out to defend him.

Surely it’s time for the people of Jersey to have a paper that can counter the JEP’s pravda-like omniscience? And surely the people of Jersey should be getting off their arses and actually DOING something about all this?

But no. Instead most will sit back, moan a little, then just get on with life and the whole sorry thing will eventually happen again. And again. And again.

This is going to sound a bit odd, but Jersey is very much like Gallifrey. It’s stagnant. The folks there just carry on doing the same old things whilst the ruling elite carry on in perpetuity. Every now and then someone rebels and either gets shouted down, ridiculed into submission or leaves the island into exile. Public Access Video tells the island that everything is ok, nothing to worry about and any disent will be crushed.

Trust me, whilst theres the possibility that a couple of people may loose their seats in the autumn elections, things will not change that much.

Its sickening.

I’d still love to go home, but I think Id end up being arrested for trying to start a rebellion. I’m THAT angry over all this. if it weren;t for the fact that I do get homesick, and the fact that unless people carry on shouting the abuse will start up again and keep happening, other crimes will be covered up, Id be quite happy to see the place rot.

No, Im not proud to be a Jerseyman. I’m ashamed. Ashamed that the people from my home can’t even be bothered to stand up and do whats right.



Phorm and The Privacy Problem

  on March 20th, 2008

big-brother.pngIf you’ve got nothing to hide then you’ve got nothing to worry about. So say those who wish to intrude on our lives in so many varied and insidious ways. It’s an argument that, on the face of it, is hard to counter.

Phorm is the new Internet monitoring system that is about to be installed on about 90% of all UK broadband lines. British Telecom, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse have done a deal with this Phorm outfit that will see all regular web traffic pass through servers Phorm have provided. A unique ID will be assigned to your computer in the form of a web browser cookie. Every web page you then go to will be categorised and put against your unique profile in the Phorm system. This profile will be used to target adverts at you.

Such ‘consumer profiling’ is not new. Every shop loyalty card you have is all about building a profile of you. Of course the difference between what type of tea you buy and what you do online is vast. Do you do Internet banking? Do you use web based email? Do you run a blog? Social networking sites? Ever looked up medical advice? Car or home insurance? Forums? Wikipedia searches? Online shopping? The list can go on and on. Still got nothing to hide?

We’ve all heard stories of people having their identity stolen simply by people looking through their rubbish. We are all warned to shred important documents instead of just bin them intact. At least with our rubbish we can be fairly confident that the local authorities aren’t systematically sifting it to build up a picture of who everyone is (that would be a massive manual task that simply could no remain hidden, even conspiracy theorists must surely agree). The difference with Phorm is that we absolutely do know they are sifting through our online activities and there is almost certainly a lot more to be learnt from it than could ever be determined by our refuse. That’s their business model – find out all they can about us. It is, in effect, a wiretap on our Internet usage. How about now, still nothing to hide?

Public outrage has prompted Carphone Warehouse to promise an ‘opt-in’ for this service. BT and Virgin Media have made no such promise, so we assume the standard ‘opt-out’ mechanism will be used – you will be tracked unless you specifically opt out. What’s more in both scenarios it is still less than clear what this will mean on a hardware level. It currently appears that either way your traffic will go through a Phorm provided computer, the difference is that we are told that someone who has opted-out (or not opted in, in the case of Carphone Warehouse) will have their activities ignored. For many people this is not good enough, they don’t want their traffic going anywhere near Phorm computers. Not surprising, given that 121Media (the people behind Phorm) have in the past been accused of distributing spyware. Many Anti-Virus companies are also publicly considering classing the Phorm identity cookie as adware and automatically blocking it. Of course this doesn’t stop the traffic from entering the black box Phorm computers.

How much money is 121Media paying BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse? How can we trust these people as our ISPs, selling their customers activities to a third party? Is this just the beginning of a nasty trend? It is almost unbelievable that they’d take money to install third party computers between their customers and the wider Internet. All regular web traffic passing through Phorm, without exception. Big brother in a box that the Russian 121media own and administer remotely. It beggars belief. It speaks volumes as to value they put on their customers privacy. How can they ever be trusted again?

There is much more to be said on this yet. The limitations of the Phorm spying (both claimed and the certain (as in https should always be immune)). The potential ways around it. The legal questions the whole thing raises – does this constitute illegal ‘interception’ under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)?

More information can be found via the ever useful Wikipedia Phorm page. The BBC News Phorm coverage is also pretty good. The Register is probably the most vocal on Phorm news.

Certainly sign the Phorm Petition on the 10 Downing Street website, while you still can (before it expires I mean, I’m not suggesting that the new Phorm systems would ever block access to such protest sites…)

In future you may have to be very careful where you go on the Internet, even accidentally…