.eu domains to be available by year end.
PFE will be applying for one of these, although to be in the first wave, you must hold a trademark or some other intellectual property – a sensible move, I think, to stop cybersquatting. I’ve been thinking about trademarking my company’s name, and now seems to be the time to do that.
There is a FAQ here about the new TLD.
You can find out about EU trademarks here.

Meddling but not changing anything

Michael Howard says that, if the Tories are elected, they will raise the Stamp Duty threshold to £250,000. He stated today that, when Labour came to power, the average house purchased produced a Stamp Duty bill of £900. Today, that bill is £1800. His proposal would reduce that bill to nil for all houses below £250,000.
I think this policy is flawed.
The principal reason that individuals, couples and "hard working families" struggle to purchase a home is not Stamp Duty, but spiralling house prices. At present, there is a definite pressure on prices of properties around the Stamp Duty threshold that was announced by Gordon Brown in the budget. Properties that might be offered at £160,000, which includes a lot of smaller and first-time buyer properties are actually being sold at or below the "150,000 threshold. Dramatically increasing the threshold might save those families a few hundred pounds in Stamp Duty, but it will take the lid off of prices and ultimately cost them more.
The real problem is with housing policy. The Labour party proposes to offer more low-cost and subsidised housing to this ridiculous group known as "key workers". This does nothing other than add fuel to the market by taking many low-cost homes out of the general market pool, denying them to all the other "hard working families" who work in offices, shops and so on, but are not key workers. As any half-witted economist will tell you, reducing the supply always has the result of increasing prices.
In my opinion, the way to make housing affordable to more people is not to tinker with Stamp Duty. Abolish it, perhaps – that would have a zero effect on the market – but I don’t see HMG abandoning that source of revenue. The way to make housing more affordable is not to subsidise certain groups when they purchase property – that, in fact, has the opposite effect. The only way to improve the position of house buyers is to increase the supply of housing by relaxing or changing planning laws and increasing the number of new homes being built, as well as encouraging older homes to become available in the market again. Increased taxation on second homes that are not rented out (we must encourage a strong rental market) would also discourage second home ownership or alternatively raise revenue from those who are the owners of multiple properties that are denied to the general market.
To me, it seems so obvious, yet neither Labour nor the Conservatives can do more than make policies that generate cheap pulbicity.

Day off

Yesterday I took the day off (or most of it) and went with Hels and my parents to The Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park. Plants do a great job of looking very phallic at this time of year, none more so than the skunk arums, in this case Lysichiton camtschatcense.
Lysichiton camtschatcense

Google Maps UK

Google Maps has been launched in beta for the UK and seems to be potentially useful (although I’m not sure about the map on the launch page, which shows the position of Great Britain relative to Newfoundland!). However, a quick look at Ruralville revealed several roads depicted on the map that simply do not exist (they are either footpaths or private drives and farm tracks – I looked at some nearby MoD land on the map and found tracks displayed that are definitely off-limits).
I’ve also tried the driving directions feature, using the journey between home and my parents as the test. It seems that Google doesn’t know the difference between "left", "right" and "straight ahead" – there are several glaring errors in the directions offered to me. I’ll stick to the AA driving directions qwhich are generally accurate, even if their journeyt times are almost always hopelessly optimistic.

Out of control

This morning, I have mostly been dribbling and spilling tea down my front.
Maybe because I’m so excited about our new watering can.