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Saturday, 25 April 2015

My Note to Lord Ashcroft

Good Evening Lord Ashcroft,

Although possibly not a natural follower of your blog (I am rather apolitical), I do very much enjoy it. I was particularly interested in the Scottish Independence referendum.

At the moment I am very interested in the so-called "SNP surge". I just don't understand it. I reside in the constituency of Ochil and South Perthshire. This constituency in its older guise (Clackmannanshire) has only every voted SNP once and that was when the candidate was a local man (George Reid). Otherwise it has been staunchly Labour since the election of 1931. Also note that seat voted 46% "Yes" in the referendum. Given that (i) 16 & 17 year olds were predominantly yes but will not be voting in May, (ii) that the 46% contained SNP core but also people from outside the party who supported independence (like myself), and (iii) the turnout in the ref was extremely high, it will naturally reduce in the GE and constituencies will shrink back to their core voters, I feel that the "surge" has been overstated.

I recently listened to Tom Devine say that he was seeing Labour being stung by the "toxic brand" of the Tories. I think this may well be the case but more importantly Labour need to acknowledge the fact that their Scottish team has declined in quality for years. Gone are the days of men like Donald Dewar, John Smith and Robin Cook who seemed to have been universally respected.

What I am basically saying is that I have a hunch that Ochil and South Perthshire will stay Labour. If this one goes SNP (and it is likely that it will be an early returner) then we could be seeing 50+ SNP MPs in Scotland - and a possible Labour wipe out.

Kind regards,

Ross Taylor.

P.S. Labour couldn't have picked a bigger turn-off for the Scottish voter than Ed Milliband. Cancer is more popular. Scotland still sees itself as a "macho" country. Milliband makes Alan Carr look macho.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

BMV Property System

1. Pick an area. Say Falkirk for example.
2. Research that area like anything. Be able to know from looking at a listing if it is a deal or not.
3. Visit every estate agent in town like you are a big shot. Let it slip into the conversation that you have cash to spend. Tell them you are only interested in REAL deals, i.e. 15% below market or more.
4. The first time any agents call you make sure to give them it hard telling them that the deal they have offered you is shit and not to waste your time again unless they have something special.
5. Eventually you will get a deal from some desperado. This may take 6 months or so but don't worry. It'll happen. It is nature.
6. Once that deal is going through make sure you call all the other Estate Agents telling them it was you who bought XXX Main Street and that you want more.
7. This will show the others you mean business and you will get more deals that year.
8. When you buy the property just hand the keys back to the agent and tell him to rent it out for you. They will have been saying for ages how great it is so make them show it. They will have a little more skin in the game than a third party.

Obviously there is a limit to how many really good deals you can get in a town. There is only so many desperadoes who will sell cheaply, however in a town like Falkirk I'd say you could get 4 a year. That's how many you'd get in Corby (61,000 population) and Falkirk is much bigger (156,000 when you count Grangemouth, Boness and Larbert).

Price is key. I wouldn't worry too much about d├ęcor or anything like that. Also I'd stick to the bottom end of the market. The Rental game is like a pyramid. Loads of folk looking for 1 beds, a bit less looking for 2 beds, much fewer looking for 3 beds and hardly any looking for 4 beds and I'd be surprised if a 5 bed rental market even existed in Scotland.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Tam Cowan Column Facts and Figures

   I am not working today so I thought I would take the time to go through some historic Tam Cowan columns in the Scottish Sun to try and work out a formula for how he works.

   If you don't know Tam he is a Scottish comedian who had a long association with Trinity Mirror before switching to The Sun a year or two ago. His column follows the general columnist format of one long section surrounded by a number of little gags. Let's see if I can spot any trends.

Friday July 25th

Word Count of Main Section:

Approx 1000 words

Subject of Main Section:

The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

Typical joke:

After the fireworks display (the most spectacular one at Parkhead since Rangers went into administration).....


Cynical, harmless fun.

Sideline jokes:

12 (mostly all related to things in the News that week, rear of the year etc + a lot of TV).

Friday July 4th

Word Count of Main Section:

Approx 500

Subject of Main Section:


Typical Joke:

It's like a bug - I'm HMV Positive (on music buying)



Sideline Jokes:

20, once again usually puns or short jokes related to news items that week. Example: The cast of Towie has been voted the UK's biggest waste of space. Runner-up was the Hibs trophy cabinet.

Friday June 27th

Word Count of Main Section:

500 words (from what I can gather the main section tends to be around 500 words unless there is a rich vein of material that week).

Subject of Main Section:


 Typical Joke:

My wife wanted to come along as well - right from the moment she heard Toni had a 27-incher (re a Chef who makes a 27-inch Pizza)

Sideline Jokes:

12, once again usually regarding the news or TV. Quick and snappy for example: My daft wee pal from Airdrie was looking for a refund on his trampoline. "It's not very bouncy" he said. "And the legs are on the wrong side".


   So even after looking at just 3 columns we can see trends forming:

* Main section of c 500 words.
* One joke per paragraph.
* A cynical look at the News
* 12 sideline jokes. Usually just a few sentences regarding that weeks' news or TV.
* Lots of Scottish references: Sydney Devine, Hibs, Craig Hill. The jokes might not mean anything to an English audience.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Roll of Many Jobs

   My oldest son is now at the stage where he will be selecting the subjects he wants to study for Standard Grades (GCSEs).

   This got me thinking about the choices I made at that age, and then onto the jobs that I have done since leaving school.

   For the record I wanted to write down every job I have ever done for money in the last 19 years (I left Secondary School in 1996).

  • Drayman
  • Cashier in Betting Office
  • Bingo Hall Manager
  • Phone Shop Manager
  • Mortgage Consultant
  • Letting Agent
  • Retail Analyst
  • Commercial Manager
  • Professional Landlord
  • TV Licence Detective
  • Debt Collector
  • Mystery Shopper
  • Paid Research Studies
  • Author
  • Document Collector
  • Pizza Delivery Boy
  • Publishing Consultant
Some of these have been for years, some for just a matter of days.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

My Review of "Fletch's Fortune" by Gregory McDonald

   Fletch is blackmailed into attending the convention of American Journalists and bugging their rooms for pillow talk. Prior to the conference the President of the Association, Walter March, has been murdered in his room. A whodunit ensues with a countless number of colourful Newspapermen and women in the frame.

   I agree with other reviews in that there were a few too many characters to keep track of. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this book. It is mostly dialogue so moves along at a fair pace. Total reading time roughly 3.5 hours. I sniggered on at least ten occasions. I must admit my mental picture of Fletch is Chevy Chase.

   Imagine Murder She Wrote drenched in sarcasm.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Callisto Media

   I read this about "Callisto Media" ( I LOVE THIS MODEL!
"The fastest-growing publisher on PW’s list this year is Callisto Media, which was cofounded in 2011 by Benjamin Wayne, president and CEO, and Matt Oesterle, v-p of product, and had its first full year of operation in 2012. Comparing 2014 to 2012, revenue soared 833%, and the number of employees rose from six to 24 last year. The number of “title completions,” after jumping from 17 in 2012 to 90 in 2013, declined to 56 last year; according to Karen Hartwig, v-p, commercialization, this was because Callisto focused on long-format titles last year, after doing a mix of long-form and short-form titles in 2013.
   Prior to forming Callisto Media, Wayne was president and CEO of a number of digital media startup companies, and Oesterle was the CEO of Offertarget, a provider of lead-generation software for Internet retailers. Using their background, the two men create proprietary algorithms to mine Big Data for topics of consumer interest. Callisto then hires authors to write specific titles based on these algorithms, making individual financial arrangements with authors based on background and expertise. Major subject areas for Callisto include cookbooks, health/fitness/dieting, self-help, business, and crafts/hobbies/home, and the company releases titles under a number of different imprints. Its top-selling titles include Paleo for Every Day, Mindfulness Made Simple, and Memory Tips & Tricks. All titles are available in print and digital formats, with some in audio, and are distributed by Ingram Publisher Services".

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

James Altucher's 8 Point Shit Hit the Fan Plan

   "All aggression results from a lack of preparation". I truly believe that. Think about it. Think about the last time you were in a fight. Think about the last time you were in an angry slanging match. In every scenario I can think of I could've prepared better to avoid that fight. I like the idea of being prepared. Even to the extent of being a "prepper".

   Anyhow, I was reading James Altucher's plan on what you should do if you lose your job today. I think I can sum it up in 8 points:

1. Compile a list of companies you would be interested in working for. Think out 10 ideas on how you could add value to that company.

2. Make a list of people that you are grateful for. Reach out to them and tell them you thank them for their help in your life (Why? First of all this is going to make you feel better about losing your job. Secondly always remember that most jobs are never advertised. By reaching out you are reopening channels to someone who might be able to help you out).

3. Get a good suit and where it every day even though you are no longer going to the office.

4. Reconnect with absolutely everyone you used to work with and send them some ideas.

5. Slash your expenses.

6. Arrange lunch with some of the people you have reconnected with.

7. Use your free time to write a book.

8. Brainstorm ideas.

I have something to add to James' list. I think all of these things should be done BEFORE you lose your job. Remember - "All aggression results from a lack of preparation".