Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

'Clean Feed' pilot coming

I haven't blogged about this but it's something I was going to talk about once before and then for a while it looked like it wasn't going to happen at all. Now we're about to get the pilot so I've come back to it.

The clean feed is basically internet censorship, pure and simple. It's the responsibility, if not bastard brainchild, of Authoritarian Lackwit Party Australian Labour Party Senator Stephen Conroy, and in my opinion he's either a complete window licker who must have been born yesterday to believe that this loony scheme will work, a gold plated sucker who has been so completely taken in by some slick internet filtering salesmen that he can't bear to go back on it and admit he's been taken (along with the Australian taxpayers) for a ride, or a thoroughly nasty authoritarian nanny stater who doesn't give a rip that the whole idea is hopelessly flaw ridden because we poor stupid citizens need our hands held out there in the howwible electwonic world of the internet. You might be able to tell by now that I'm not fully in support of this.

The reasons I'm against this are simple. First, for various reasons broadband internet connection in Australia is a bit hit and miss, is often not as fast as customers would like, and is fairly pricey compared to the UK. Conroy is also responsible for increasing broadband coverage but would rather fuck around playing Nanny and putting in filters which will (a) slow everyone's connection speed and (b) cost the ISPs money which they will inevitably pass on to their customers. The sometimes less than speedy and generally pricy Australian internet connections will become slower and more expensive. This is not speculation, and note the important item in that link - the better the filter at handling illegal/inappropriate content the bigger the effect it has on slowing the connection. Thanks Sen Conroy, thanks a fucking bunch. While you're at it would you like to pop round my house tonight and charge me $1000 for jamming my car in 1st gear?

Secondly, it won't fucking work. We can see this from the British example where access to legitimate web pages have been blocked because some mongtard has issued the do-gooder battle cry of "won't someone think of the chiiild-ren" and put them on the IWF black list. Not only that but tests here had the same effect (see above link). We know that a large proportion (circa 10%) of dodgy sites will slip through the cracks while a smaller but still significant proportion (1-6%) of innocent sites will be blocked by accident. Let's put that into the context of the war in the Middle East shall we? Imagine if Sen Conroy was involved in the Dept of Defense instead and proposed a new bomb for the RAAF that worked about 90% of the time and would generally inflict up to 6% civilian casualties wherever it was used. Your average ALP supporter would swear they were listening to a right wing abomination who should be taken out into the middle of the Simpson Desert and staked out to roast alive in the sun while going mad from the heat, thirst, pain and carrion feeding on his living flesh. But because it's the internet and this is all "for the chiiild-ren" he's a fucking saint.

Meanwhile, and third, experts are pointing out that the technically savvy can and will find ways to defeat the filtering, and that there are some very tech savvy nonces out there in cyberspace. In fact I'd go further and suggest that the majority of web using pervs and other genuine internet menaces have had to get reasonably savvy. There will have been a kind of Darwinian selection going on among them in that those who have failed to get savvy and learn to cover their tracks have got arrested, jailed and locked in solitary to prevent the rest of the prison kicking the shit out of them too much. Those that are left, I think it's safe to assume, are those who've learned how not to get caught. Needless to say such opinions are ignored, even when it's from real experts rather than some ordinary bloke who's stopped to think about it a bit. As one blogger puts it:
Real-world experience in everything from spam filters to the record industry’s futile attempts to stop copyright violations always shows that filters only block casual users. Professionals, the desperate or the persistent will always get through.

However if a politician demands a filter, pretty soon a shiny-suited salesman will appear, ready to sell him a box with “filter” written on the front. It’ll work — well enough for the demo, anyway.

“Look, Minister! Nice Minister. Watch the screen. See? Filter off, bad website is visible. Filter on, bad website gone. Filter off. Child in danger. Filter on. Child happy and safe. Filter off. Voter afraid and angry. Filter on. Voter relaxed and comfortable. Cheque now please.”

Fourth is the phrase "illegal and inappropriate content" that keeps cropping up. Inappropriate? That sounds very much like it's synonymous with "perfectly legal but we don't want you to see it or think you can handle it if we let you". Who the fuck is the government to decide what we can or can't look at in our homes? Who the fuck are they to decide that something legal may not be appropriate? More worryingly the black lists (there are two... that we know of) are not going to be available to the public. So not only will we not be able to look at some online content, we won't even know what and how much we are being prevented from seeing. Nor will we know what is being added to the lists (it's a given that not very much will be taken off) and when. I'm not the only one to find this worrying - what's to stop the government putting opposition websites on the black lists in the future? Not necessarily the current government but you put in legislation like this that can be misused in the future at your peril. What if some mad British born ex-pat who migrated to Oz miraculously became PM and put the ALP's own website on the black list? Rudd and Conroy don't seem to have considered this.

Fifth this is a lowest common denominator approach. Personally I don't use the web for porn but I'm pretty certain I won't be screwed up, shocked or scarred if I did, nor upset if I stumbled across porn by accident (which I have done when I tried to guess the URL for Guy Ritchie's film Snatch - you can guess the sort of content I found before I got it right, but I'm laughing about the experience rather than seeing a shrink). As such I really don't care if the guy next door, my best mate, my wife or anyone else, including Stephen Conroy for all I know or care, likes a little online smut (providing obviously that participants are willing and consenting adults). But because the internet is accessible to anyone old enough to switch a computer on the fucking government intends to treat everybody like fucking toddlers. Look, I'm in my 30s and I've been to German sex shows and watched some hard core Dutch porn, and if I choose to do so again it's my decision and I should not be prevented from doing so by this brainless one-size-doesn't-fit-anyone policy of yours. Fuck off, you patronizing bastards. Fuck. Off. And. Die.

Sixth is the anti-nanny state argument. Whose children are you protecting? They are not children of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia you vile cunts, they are the children of regular Australians. It is a parental responsibility to keep an eye on what websites children look at in the same way that it is to be aware of what games they play, what TV they watch and whose company they keep. Yes, the internet is technical and challenging for some parents, but Jesus Christ how technical do you need to be to look over their shoulders now and again? And if you're concerned how technical must you be to pull the fucking plug out of the wall? Or to stop paying the bill for the internet connection? And if they go round a friend's house or the library or use computers at school believe you me I can come up with ways to block them. You don't need to be a computer geek to do this, you just need to be a fucking parent*. If Australians actually wanted filters they'd have flocked to take up John Howard's home based filter offer, and that was so unpopular that it cost thousands of dollars of taxpayers money per installation. Of course, I'm sure that at the time the ALP derided it as an expensive and unworkable waste of time.

I could go on but you get the drift. One of the good things about Australia is/was that compared to the UK the internet is pretty unrestricted. I have to say is/was because it's in the process of becoming as bad as the UK, or more likely rather worse. Up till now I've been optimistic that this lunacy was going to die on its arse because the big three ISPs have pulled out of the trials. Unfortunately, but typically for politicians of any flavour, no bugger is going to go back on what they've said and admit the whole thing is a waste of time and money. Risk upsetting the Helen Lovejoys of Australia? Christ, you'd think they were the only ones who had a vote. The really weird thing is that this is another example of Australia's schizo society. I could go to a local licensed brothel and, assuming she was willing and I didn't mind the price, pay some girl maybe ten or fifteen years younger than me to be tied up in leather thongs and take it up the shit chute. In Victoria, and indeed most of Australia, this is perfectly legal (licensed brothels anyway - street prostitution is still illegal in this state, and I think the others too). But if Conroy and Rudd could have their wish granted it would be impossible to go home and watch someone else to the same thing on the web. This half formed thought is brought to you courtesy of the ALP.

More information on Conroy's Clean Feed is available at, Somebody Think Of The Children and a good article here on ZDNet Australia.

* Which, as I've said before, I'm not. But come on, it doesn't take a fucking genius to work it out. Until kids leave home and unless they run away they are in your power because it's your money they live on. I'm sure hearing "I hate you" from recently grounded and disconnected offspring must be heart wrenching, but fuck it. Your house, your rules, their choice to bugger off when they're older. Such is life.

Home schooling

Bishop Hill talks about educating your children at home and performs a verbal autopsy on an unpleasant authoritarian bastard of a teacher who opposes home schooling on such grounds as
...parents have replaced the absolute authority of the State with the absolute authority of themselves...
Worth the read to see the Bishop's demolition of the self important wanker. I don't know how applicable everything the Bishop wrote is to Australian state education but I suspect quite a bit. It actually made me wish I had kids just so I could drive round to the school and take them out right now.

Carbon dioxide detecting satellite crashes into Southern ocean

Whoops. Nine years work wasted, but at least it avoids any chance of new results that didn't support the "consensus". In the meantime I understand that there are a lot of pissed off penguins complaining about Nasa fly tipping in their sea and wondering if anyone is going to come and do something about it.

BBC positive discrimination?

Also Beeb related, and also controversial, there has been a black-only episode of EastEnders. Well, I did say of the Beeb's hiring of Cerrie Burnell that I wouldn't put it past them to hire someone with one arm for PC reasons but in the absence of any solid evidence I was giving them the benefit of doubt. So how should I view this? Like many big cities London is pretty multi-racial, particularly so in the area in which the Beeb have set a popular shitfest soap opera. So no real surprises that this waste of an hour's life every evening show has a significant non-white cast (I'm not being PC here by saying non-white, I just can't be arsed to look up the list of people in DeadEnders and Google to find out what colour skin they all have). And obviously with a cast as large as that of DeadEnders you can't put everyone in every show or they'll get about 30 seconds each and a line every fifth or sixth episode, so it could be argued in a kind of infinite number of monkeys way that sooner or later the script writing would naturally get around to producing a show in which the focus was on black characters. But it is a bit a of a coincidence that it was
...broadcast on the tenth anniversary of the Macpherson Report into the Stephen Lawrence case...
Still, while I strongly believe not only that positive discrimination is still discrimination but that is also itself subtly racist in implying that minorities need the help from us kindly white folk in order to get on in life, I don't know if I can get too bent out of shape about this. The thing is the show itself is so shit I just wish it would sink without trace regardless of what colour actors are on which particular episode.

More professional offence takers

The Beeb are upsetting some people again. They've only gone and hired a one armed presenter for kids TV, and this has become the cue for shock, horror and outrage because a handful of stupid twats got their cocks in a knot and complained to the BBC about Cerrie Burnell. Apparently some parents are concerned that their children will have nightmares or some such shite, or that she's actually not a very good presenter and has been hired for PC reasons. On the latter point who knows? Personally I wouldn't put it past the Beeb to overlook someone with two arms when given the opportunity to tick the disabled box, but we don't know that's what happened and she seems as good as other presenters to me* so who cares? But the Beeb have said they thought Ms Burnell was the best applicant so that's why she got the job, and if so then that's fair enough and how it should be. No presenter, regardless of how many arms they have, is going to please everyone so I don't buy the "she's a crap presenter" thing. One man's meat and all that. Unless the complaint is that she won't be any good at teaching juggling it's entirely subjective, and since there are billions of shit jugglers with two arms and it's hardly a life skill it's fucking irrelevant anyway.

As for the nightmare excuse, I tend to agree with those who feel that a parent who can't come up with something to inform, educate or just bluff their toddlers when awkward questions arise about disabilities are, to put it bluntly, fucked. How are they going to deal with it when their kids ask if it's really the same hamster as they always had, how Santa gets in when there's no chimney, did mummy used to have a cock and did it fall off and what happened to daddy's tits? Admittedly downing enough lager and takeaways might avoid the last question, but we all know kids are capable of asking all sorts of awkward stuff and any sentence that begins "Mummy/Daddy, why..." is a sure sign that you've just entered a minefield and something under your foot just went click - you've just got to wait and find out if that means an explosion either of embarrassment, sadness or just plain tedium, or if the click was harmless and you've got away with it. Birth, death and sex are going to be asked about sooner or later and your kids will expect you to have an answer and be influenced by what you say. What are you going to do, plug them back into the XBox and hope they forget they asked the question in the first place? Can't see that approach working myself. If you can't tell your toddler why the TV lady has only got one arm then you are not only an unimaginative twat who probably should have stuck to masturbation but also in a lot of trouble when the really difficult questions start to come.

But let's all calm down and take a look at the scale of the problem, shall we?
DOZENS of parents have complained to the BBC that a disabled television presenter is scaring their children.
Ok, "dozens" according to the Evening Standard.
...the decision to hire her has prompted a flurry of complaints to the BBC and on parenting message boards, with some of the posts on the CBeebies website becoming so vicious that they had to be removed.
A "flurry" according to the Daily Wail.
Nine official complaints have so far been lodged with the BBC – plus many more blog postings – about 29-year-old children's television presenter Cerrie Burnell, who was born with only one hand.
And "nine" according to the Guardian. Now school maths lessons were a long time ago and I don't know if we were told about a number called "flurry" and I've just forgotten it. And possibly I misunderstood what was meant by "dozens" or "nine". But the bottom line is it sounds to me like the complaints come from a relatively small number of shitwits who are probably still wondering why there are short people in their homes and how to cope with it. It doesn't seem like there is a vast orchestrated campaign to persuade everyone that Cerrie Burnell is a freak who should be kept off the telly, just the deluded ramblings of a few soft cocks who can't cope with their children asking questions. Personally I'm not desperately worried for society and the way it's heading when we might be talking about as few as nine nobbers here. That's point one.

Point two is that this is predictably bringing out every PC type and charidee mouthpiece to take offence, and personally that gets on my tits (the absence of which I will no doubt have to explain if we have kids) as much as this numpties who are scared of their kids' questions. The only person who has any right to have any hurt feelings over these fucktards and their remarks is Cerrie Burnell herself, and it seems she is upset though with the fucking mouthpieces getting the lion's share of the newsprint it's a little hard to tell. But there is this or something much like it buried near the bottom of some articles:
Miss Burnell, who has a four-month-old daughter, said she was upset at the "small-minded" and "terrible" comments.

Miss Burnell said: “It can only be a good thing that parents are using me as a chance to talk disability with their children. It just goes to show how important it is to have positive disabled role models on CBeebies and television in general.”
So here's an idea. Why not let Cerrie Burnell speak for herself? She seems articulate and intelligent to me, and if she had two arms I can't imagine why anyone would bother to take offence on her behalf. I'm all for supporting her and I agree that the complaints are pathetically lame, but since she's still got one hand and a perfectly good voice I'd like to see her have the opportunity herself to raise two fingers and tell the whiners to fuck off. Might not happen exactly like that given this is kiddy TV we're talking about, but then parents who think their kids aren't going to learn bad language sooner or later are deluding themselves on that score too.

*To be honest I don't really know what makes a good, bad or indifferent kiddy TV presenter. I haven't got kids so I'm not going to judge if her presenting style is the right one, if indeed there is a right one. Personally I doubt it and suspect that some kids will like a particular presenter and some won't. From the brief clips online it seems that she's as good as other presenters and assuming she's not telling children to beat each other up and steal toys at play school I don't see what the problem is.

UPDATE: The Daily Mash's take on it:
Bill McKay, a parent from Northampton, said: "I turned on the Bedtime Hour expecting to see it hosted by some incredibly hot babe with a dodgy past in home-made pornography.

"Instead I got something that made my children cry and failed to give me an erection.
"I suppose this was a perfect opportunity to talk to my children about disability but I felt it would be more useful to email the BBC and try to put an end to this young woman's career."
Nice touch, but a little unfair. I think Cerrie Burnell is pretty easy on the eye myself.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Criminal behaviour.

Newsflash, government department prediction turns out to be accurate. Crime really is going up.
Burglaries, fraud and robberies at knifepoint have risen steeply, in the first sign that the recession is fuelling an increase in crime.

A rise in the number of house break-ins and fraud and forgery offences in the three months to September suggests that the decline in overall crime levels recorded in recent years is coming to an end. Domestic burglaries rose 4 per cent in the year while fraud and forgery cases went up 16 per cent, the latest official crime statistics showed yesterday.

The figures come months after a leaked memo to Gordon Brown warned that the Home Office feared that the economic downturn would result in an increase in crime.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, announced that an emergency “burglary summit” would be held in the next two weeks in an attempt to halt and reverse the substantial rise in house break-ins. Her top civil servant at the Home Office has already e-mailed the police and crime divisions of the department to tell them that they must improve their performance.
Oh what a relief, Jacqui's going to sort it all out with a burglary summit. I can't quite see how the summit is going to reduce burglaries unless they're expected a large number of burglars to attend so the police can nick them without having to do any running, but what would I know? Anyway, on the subject of Jacqbootface Smith:
Ms Smith denied that there was an inevitable link between an economic downturn and the rise in break-ins. [But] she said: “It’s a fact that there’s been an increase and that’s worrying.”

The meeting was intended to ensure that everyone was doing their bit to keep burglary and other thefts down, she said. A burglary prevention campaign, backed by a special fund, would begin next month, she added.

Ms Smith said: “There will be a small minority of criminals who think they can take advantage in tough times. Let me tell them now, they can’t and they won’t.”
Why ever not? Taking advantage has worked out just fucking peachy for you, hasn't it? When you and most of the government and probably half the backbenchers and opposition MPs have all got their disgusting snouts in the fucking money trough is it any wonder that the low lifes who didn't do lefty politics and leafy pot at uni rob the rest of us more conventionally? As far as I'm concerned the only difference is that Jacqui Smith was (arguably) working within the letter of the rules when she screwed the taxpayers for over a hundred grand while kipping at her sister's place, but I really don't see it as vastly different from some mouth breathing cunt smashing your windows and taking your TV round to his brother's. I can only hope that the investigation that has been restarted after giving Smith the okay once comes to the logical conclusion - £116,000 for staying a couple or three nights a week at a family member's house is a complete fucking piss take.

Fucking bastards. I'd honestly hope the UK fucking sinks and drowns every single last one of them except that there are still some people living there that I like and probably millions of other decent folk. Look, why don't you all emigrate and the last one can pull the fucking plug on the way out?

UPDATE: Incidentally, smart move to get rid of thousands of police officers at a time when even the Home Shitwitary concedes that crime is going up. Stroke of fucking genius.

So if any coppers get made redundant can we take their photographs?

I can see where you've gone wrong there.

Hide the vans and tell the government you're now a bank. They'll fucking bury you in cash by the end of the week.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Who wants to be the next leader of the opposition?

Bizarrely there seems to be no shortage of volunteers, but then I suppose it's a piss easy job and if you're resigned to losing the next election you might as well get the best spot from which to squirt piss at whoever is Prime Minister (again, Gordon Clown may have got that slightly wrong, but never mind). But I'd never have come up with the idea of looking at it like Matthew d'Ancona.
Many more names will be suggested in this "potential leader speed dating", some even more ridiculous than those already in the frame. The dying days of a regime are a happy time for political nonentities. It's a game that anyone can play. Anyone can have a go. This is Slumdog Labour Leader.
I liked the parallels he draws with the Tories' leader problems kicking off their stint in opposition, but more to the point were some of the less than flattering views of Cameron's modern Tories in the comments. It's virtually unthinkable that Labour could do anything better than not losing too hugely in the next election, but it really does seem that for many people it really will be Labour losing the election rather than the Tories doing something to make them genuine winners. Not unprecedented I feel, since that's pretty much what I thought when Major managed to "win" against Kinnock. It's not that the majority particularly wanted another Major government so much as just enough people couldn't stomach the idea of a Kinnock one. And that's just the ones who actually bothered to vote. Hey ho, here we go again.

Meddle, meddle, meddle

Gordon just can't lay off, can he? The man is obsessed with tinkering with every detail he possibly can as if he alone has some omniscient ability, some god like vision, to know what's best for everyone in every situation. Currently the Great Eye has decided that 100% mortgages are A Bad Thing, and being the authoritarian wanker he is has decided that the solution is to ban them.

Firstly Gordon, if I want a 100% mortgage and if I can find a bank willing to lend me that amount what the hell has it got to do with anyone else? If I can't pay I lose my home, if the bank over extends it goes bust. That's what's supposed to happen in the free market that's allegedly failed us all so badly. But, and this is the second point, the free market doesn't actually exist. The banks took big risks because they assumed, correctly as it turns out, that you'd bail them out if/when things went tits up, and of course you and your bastard offspring the FSA were both quite happy for the regulated not-really-free-at-all market to offer 100% mortgages all those years. So whose failure is it really? Third, finding any lender offering a 100% mortgage at the moment is going to be like getting a blow job in a convent - theoretically possible but fucking unlikely. So in summary, it's got nothing to do with you, and even if it did you're a bit bloody late with the condemnation, at least part of which you should be directing at yourself.

Update: Just noticed the photo that Telegraph used for this story:
To comment further risks invoking Godwin's Law ;-)

Jade Goody - thought provoking

I have to declare an interest here. Actually more like a lack of interest and a complete inability to understand what the hell it is that Jade Goody has said or done, aside from going on a shithouse reality TV show and displaying an extremely broad lack of knowledge, that's made her a celebrity. Nope, haven't really got a lot of time for her, though I certainly wouldn't have wished her a massively premature, yet also painful and lingering, death from cancer. On top of that I find distasteful the way the tabloid and celeb mags are doing the vulture routine round the poor woman, though it's no surprise and I suppose there's an argument that they wouldn't if people didn't keep buying them, so fuck it, why not? Yeah, sure, plenty of people die young, many from cancer, and they don't get all this media attention and the money that goes with it. That's life, luck and the free market for you, and I certainly don't blame Jade Goody for milking the last money she can out of it when it's pretty clear that she's about to die and leave two young children behind. Nor am I going to comment about the "brave Jade" line some tabloids are taking. I have no clue if she's being brave or not, but it's the same any way. Personally I expect she's scared shitless and very angry, and to be told at 27 that you're not going to see 28 who wouldn't be scared shitless and very angry? Again, don't blame her in the slightest but sadly she's not the first or last to be in this situation.

In fact I wasn't going to blog about Jade Goody at all. Yes, it's all very sad for her but like I said, she's done square root of bugger all to deserve her celebrity. Notoriety perhaps, but not celebrity. So I really hadn't given things a great deal of thought beyond the obvious - whatever her faults she sure as hell doesn't deserve this. But then I saw this piece in the Telegraph on the right to die. The point of the article is slightly tangential in that it discusses things from the state's point of view and how there is going to be a temptation to save a few quid for the Health Service and tell terminal patients that they can't have any treatment apart from the state approved lethal overdose when the time comes. "When the right to die becomes a duty to die" is the headline, and since it gives a couple of examples where this has actually happened I can see some merit in the argument. However, all it really says to me is that the state can't be trusted to act in the best interests of patients and should stay the fuck out of medicine. But with the Jade Goody story so much in the headlines that it's just impossible to avoid it the article did prompt a train of thought. I'm no mind reader but I imagine that right now Jade Goody will want to hang on to life for as long as she possibly can, which again would be pretty much the same as anyone else. But there may well come a time when she changes her mind, when the suffering is too much to bear but her body is betraying her and prolonging the suffering, and she'll begin to wish for death. Medical science has already failed her, and if she reaches that point then by denying her that one last treatment option society will have failed her as well, right? The examples of treatments other than assisted suicide mentioned in the Telegraph article also represent a similar failure but on the flip side of the same coin. However, two wrongs never made a right and I don't see that we gain anything by arbitrarily choosing one over another, especially when I suspect the main reason for doing so is a cultural religious hangover that's strong enough to stick even to quite secular societies. Bottom line - it has to be up to the individual concerned and personally I find it just as repugnant to deny the opportunity for a relatively painless exit as it is to make it the only option.

Before I finish it's occurred to me that it might seem like I'm using the unfortunate Jade Goody to argue for the right to die and that by doing so I'm a sick bastard to use someone else's misery to justify my opinions. Not so, mainly because I hadn't given it a lot of thought except that if it was me I'd want to be stoned off my face until a non-lethal dose of the drugs didn't work anymore, and then I'd want it all to end. Right away, no messing. Oh, and the fact that if it's supposed to be my body I damn well ought to have the absolute say in when and if and how I get someone to switch it off for me. As I said, I hadn't really thought about the possibility that the state might save money on terminal cases by offering no treatment apart from the big metaphorical door marked EXIT. Where Jade Goody comes into the whole thing is that her situation plus the Telegraph piece got me thinking a bit further about it, and that's all. Now say the NHS did have a drug that wouldn't cure her but might give her maybe one last Christmas, but that she couldn't have it because she's a basically a hopeless case and could only have a lethal overdose at the point at which the pain becomes too much. That's basically the argument in the Telegraph, and I agree. That thought hadn't occurred to me. Should have given how hard up the NHS is, or at least how relatively hard up it is as far as practising any fucking medicine and the way it forces arbitrary decisions as to who gets what. Terry Pratchett's treatment for Alzheimer's is a case in point - according to the NHS he's too young to have his sort of Alzheimer's so they won't pay for the drug that he needs. Not a huge problem for millionaire authors who can buy it themselves even though they've paid for their share of the NHS through their taxes (and Sir Terry will have paid a fucking heap of taxes on all those book sales), but it's a bugger for the rest. They've had to pay their share of tax and NI too, and since it's going to have left the majority them with a proportionately much smaller pot to piss in arguably they've paid more than those wealthy enough to afford private treatment. The decision is made for them, and if taxes and the cost of living have left too little over to pay for private treatment they're stuck with it. Shitty shitty shitty way to treat other human beings. It's the arbitrariness of it - who gets this treatment, who's old enough to have this Alzheimer's drug and, if doctor assisted suicide ever becomes legal in Britain, who is still offered normal life extending treatment and who is simply offered the needle because there's no treatment in sight. Jade Goody is not actually dead yet and while there may not be much hope there's still just a tiny spark of left while she's alive. A new drug might appear in a couple of months which would buy her enough extra time to still be alive for another new drug, which in turn buys her enough time for another and so on. Highly unlikely, yes, but even I hope it happens and I don't actually like her. If she wants to cling on to life and to that tiny hope then no-one, least of all politicians or NHS administration pricks, should deny her. As I said before, I find the idea morally repugnant and I'm glad it can't possibly happen as things stand in the UK at the moment. But equally repugnant is forcing someone to exist in pain if they don't want to any more, and that's something society has yet to get to grips with.

Slack bastard

That's me, that is.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Lessons must be learned?

On a slightly different topic our state Premier, John Brumby, is making the standard political "lessons must be learned" noises. I'm not exactly clear what lessons he's talking about.
As the death toll from Australia's worst peacetime disaster climbed to 130, Mr Brumby said the traditional advice to households under threat from bushfires — "stay and defend or leave early" — may be reviewed.
Well, could be something in that. I've not been here long enough to judge and this is the first major bush fire I've been around for (having left the Blue Mountains a few days before the big fires there in 2001). But if I lived in one of these suburbs or towns right out where they meet the forests and someone knocked on my door, spoke about an approaching fire and offered me the choice of staying to defend or leaving early he'd find the end of the question was being addressed to a fucking blur heading towards the least smoky horizon.
Fire experts also claimed that inadequate fuel reduction in forests around Kinglake and other burnt-out regions of the state may have contributed to the disaster.
I'm no expert but could there ever be sufficient fuel reduction? There's only four million people or so in Victoria and the state is the size of the UK. Where is the manpower and the resources going to come from? Let's not forget that the bloody place is pretty much made to burn. I wonder if there's an element of hubris here, a desire to believe in ourselves and our ability to fix or prevent or otherwise avert natural disaster. Look at all the incredible things we can do, look at the inventions, the technology. Well, yes, we can fly to the moon (though clearly that's no trivial exercise since it hasn't been done for nearly 40 years) but what fucking use is that when faced with an earthquake, a tsunami or a big Aussie bush fire? I may be 100% utterly wrong here but as far as I can see the lessons to be learnt from this are (a) decide for yourself when to get the fuck out and (b) buy insurance.

As I said before, the authorities, especially CFA and SES, do their best and I really don't want to have a pop at the state or Commonwealth government right now. Disaster management and relief is one of the few things I think government is really good for. If Brumby is saying that there's something to be learned from every disaster then fair enough, but bearing in mind that a significant part of this is down to a small number of individual fuckwits who can't lay off the Swan Vestas I think he's doing himself, his government and the emergency services down if he's suggesting it's been a bit of a cock up. I can think of a lot of stuff the Victorian government has done that I can criticise, and normally I look at things and think how much better they'd be if the bloody government could just keep its hands off. Today I look and think how much worse it could have been.

UPDATE: I suppose this is the sort of expert criticism about inadequate fuel reduction they're on about. Hmmm. Might be something in it, but I just don't know enough about it and it still seems that everyone in the state could chuck every dollar they make at the problem and there'd still be more that could be done.

Black Saturday

A few days ago I had a pop about the British press over egging the heatwave, and mentioned that it might yet get worse. Well, although the heatwave didn't happen again we did get one day of really high temperatures, coupled with just the right wind and tinder dry vegetation to feed any fire that happens to start. The result might be as high as 200 dead according to some estimates, people still missing and all, and officially stands at over 130 - double that of the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983.

There's an element of "holy fuck" every time I watch the news. I know enough about bush fires in Australia, that many of the trees and plants here are either full of flammable oils or produce lots of dead tinder to fuel the flames and have evolved to need the occasional fire, to have expected that sooner or later there'd be a bad bush fire disaster while we were here. And I expected to feel 'holy fuck" when it eventually happened. I wasn't quite prepared for the whole state if not the country to go "holy fuck", but it really is that bad. The Country Fire Authority do their very best and every year they gear up for the fire season by bringing bloody great water bombing helicopters in from the US, but fuck me they'd have needed thousands and thousands of the things last weekend. Actually they still do since not all the fires are under control right now - twenty are listed as "going", i.e. yet to be contained or brought under control, and over a quarter of a million hectares has gone up in smoke taking many lives and a lot of personal property with it. Yes, a lot of state forest and national park land as well, but as said nature here loves a good blaze and in cases has evolved to need it. The land will certainly recover, even though right now it's hard not to look at the pictures and go "holy fuck".

But my biggest "holy fuck" is reserved for those headcases who actually start fires. Several of the fires here in Victoria, including the biggie in Churchill and possibly that fucking monster in Murrindindi/Kinglake, are believed to have been lit. What the fuck kind of person does that? And what the fuck to do with them if they're caught. Personally I'd be delighted if natural justice somehow managed to see that these pricks were all burned alive by their own fires which were miraculously put out by a change in conditions immediately afterwards, but somehow I don't think we're going to be that lucky. A lot of people would favour the police tossing any fire starters they find into the inferno or nailing them to a tree ahead of the flame front. Suffice to say they're not exactly universally loved and aren't getting much sympathy. But looking at it a bit more dispassionately I think the question is whether these firebugs are mad or bad. If mad then it's a sickness and I do actually have some sympathy, though I'd have to be pretty convinced. If bad then my sympathy lies with those who want to nail them to a tree ahead of the flames - it can't happen in any society that wants to be considered civilized, but I fully understand the desire. Either way they've got to go away for a very long time, no doubt in my mind about that. Not for society's need for a bit of payback and/or punishment, nor for rehabilitation. If any or all of that happens, fantastic, but I'm thinking of the most practical of reasons. Try starting a big bush fire from a prison cell. If they're out this time next year they'll be lighting fires, and the year after and the year after. Now we can't just round up anyone with a vague history of pyromania and chuck the key away and I'm certainly not suggesting it, but for a change I am bang alongside the various politicians and political appointees including state premiers, police chiefs and Kevin Rudd when they say that anyone caught and convicted should be looking at 25 to life. Frankly it might be the soft option compared to being caught by a few hundred recently homeless families.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

People who tempt me to take drugs.

There is a particular type of person that makes me want to smoke, but they don't work for Philip Morris or BAT. They're the people behind No Smoking Day and health warnings on fag packets with "shocking" pictures* and a constant stream of sanctimonious, finger wagging TV ads from the fucking state government. (It's particularly annoying when you're trying to stop smoking and the fuckers keep reminding you of cigarettes all the time.) There's also a type of person that makes me want to go to the bottle shop and buy a ridiculous quantity of alcohol and spend a week constantly shitfaced, but they don't work for a brewery or a vineyard. They're the people behind equally sanctimonious, finger wagging, government ads with a boozy theme, and are responsible for things like health warnings on alcohol ads ("enjoy alcohol responsibly" is a disclaimer I've noticed on a few ads here).

Well it follows that people like David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance make me want to go out and score a lot of drugs and see if I can achieve orbit. Not because I really want to, because I've actually got zero interest in drugs and getting off my dial. I rarely even get drunk and go long periods of time without alcohol, so avoiding drugs and politely refusing any I'm offered is a piece of piss. But when some nannying gobshite comes along the hectoring and lecturing is just so fucking annoying I invariably want to do whatever it is they don't want me to do. In this case it's E, and David Raynes has got his cock in a knot because Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, has said it's no more dangerous than horse riding.
He writes: “The point was to get people to understand that drug harm can be equal to harms in other parts of life. There is not much difference between horse rising and ecstasy.”
To which David Raynes replies:
“He is entitled to his personal opinion, but if his personal view conflicts so very strongly with his public duties, it would be honourable to consider his position.

“If he does not, the Home Secretary should do it for him.”
No wonder the National Drug Prevention Alliance is failing to prevent much drug use. Raynes must be stupid or even on drugs to have missed the point - it's not that Ecstasy is perfectly fine and safe, but that quite legal activities are just as dangerous. How the fuck can anyone miss that? Or is he just another tedious little twat who secretly looks forward to this sort of thing so he can get his name and his agenda in the media? And the vindictive nature makes my blood boil. Does he debate the point? Does he use a counter argument to refute Professor Nutt's comments? Nope, he avoids it altogether and virtually demands that Professor Nutt is sacked for not being on message with the anti-drug crowd. Self important little prick. No wonder there's a fucking drug problem with people like him around. Even I feel like getting high to escape the bastards for a while.**

*Apparently the quit smoking helplines get really annoyed with people who ring up and ask for free fags because they've collected the whole set having swapped their spare Emphysema pack for that hard-to-find packet with the Heart Disease photos. Miserable bastards. I've been a few days without smoking and I've become an evil tempered bastard, but I've not ahd a fucking humour bypass.

**Not that I actually will of course, even if I had the first clue where to go and get some.

"One eyed Scottish idiot"

I don't imagine Jeremy Clarkson was suggesting that being one eyed and Scottish makes Gordon Brown an idiot, more just identifying which particular idiot he was referring to by using one eyed and Scottish as distinguishing marks. But surprise surfuckingprise the usual load of professional offense takers, small time politicians (almost exclusively Labour, Scottish or both in this case) and charity mouthpieces all pop up to give their opinions to the press and generally sell tickets on themselves.
Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB, said: "Mr Clarkson's description of Prime Minister Brown is offensive."
How the fuck would you know you sanctimonious bitch? Gordon Brown tell you that himself did he? Or can you read his mind? If the answer to both is no then you're taking it upon yourself to take offence on behalf of someone else. It's deeply patronizing, and if it was me on the receiving end of Clarkson's comments I'd be more pissed off with people like Lamely-Arsed Alexander treating me as if I was too thick or too spineless to stand up for myself (granted the possibility that Gordon Brown might be too thick or too spineless, but for a fat, middle aged loud mouthed TV presenter I reckon he could have made an exception - it's not like he's got to beat Clarkson in an election or anything).

Alexander goes on:
Any suggestion that equates disability with incompetence is totally unacceptable. We would be happy to help Mr Clarkson understand the positive contribution people with sight loss make to society."
Professor Alistair Fielder, trustee of leading research charity Fight for Sight, said: "These comments are highly discriminatory as they imply that someone with defective vision cannot function as an intelligent person, which is obviously incorrect."
Do some background research you dopey twats. Clarkson once got a blind ex-soldier, not one eyed but properly blind, called Billy Baxter on Top Gear to do a timed lap of the circuit - Mr Baxter driving and Clarkson giving directions from the passenger seat. I don't think he needs you two to fucking tell him that disability isn't to be equated with incompetence.

Frankly I can't think of anything the RNIB have done that's made me think, yeah, blind people can make positive contributions. And I've never even heard of Fight for Sight. But I watched that episode of Top Gear when it first aired and was bloody impressed both by Billy Baxter and by Clarkson's level of trust in Baxter's blind driving. Not everyone would get in a car with a driver who couldn't see even on an airfield with very little to run into.

Then we've got this tit:
Lord Foulkes, a former Labour Scottish minister, said: "If the BBC banned Jonathan Ross for what he said and they have taken Carol Thatcher off air for something she said in private, then something should be done about Clarkson."
Scottish, check. Labour, check. Ex-minister for something unspecified, check. Never fucking heard of him, check. Vindictive authoritarian wanker who has no fucking clue that freedom of speech means allowing people to say things you might not like to hear, check. Back in your box.

And his Knobship was joined by:
Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, said: "Such a comment is really a reflection on Jeremy Clarkson and speaks for itself. Most people here are proud that the Prime Minister is a Scot and believe him to be the right person to get the UK through this global economic crisis."
Such a comment is absolutely fucking meaningless and says nothing whatsoever, but is really a reflection on the type of tedious, self important, political wanker who wants to be noticed. But I'm impressed that he's asked everyone in Scotland their opinion on Gordon Clown and can state confidently that most are proud that he's a Scot. Personally I'm fucking embarrassed that he's the same fucking species, so I wouldn't be too keen on making much of any national ties. Anyway Iain Gray, shut up and get back in your box too.

The whole fucking lot of you love loudmouths like Clarkson (and Carol Thatcher, and Jonathan Ross, and so on and so on) making controversial remarks because you get damp spots at the thought of your chance to pontificate. Get a mirror, some string and a nail and give the rest of us a fucking break.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Wind turbine fail.

It's about to become harder to buy your own personal white elephant now that B&Q are going to stop selling wind turbines following a study by an energy consultant that found they're generally not a lot of good for most people.
"The Encraft study suggests that B&Q's range of micro-turbines may not perform well enough to satisfy our customers expectations."
B&Q said the study had shown that turbines in urban areas were the least likely to perform well.
It added: "The vast majority of B&Q's customers live in highly urbanised areas, hence this particular finding is cause for concern for the company."

In other words a number of B&Q's customers have scared themselves stupid enough to buy anything on some vague promise of lowering bills and doing their bit. At least B&Q are honest enough to pull the things off sale when it turns out that they don't really do what it says on the tin, and I'd hope they're not giving refunds to anyone who put one up last weekend and is now opening the paper to find out they've pissed away two or three grand for nothing. You bought it - tough shit.

Friday, 6 February 2009

I before E unless you're the Schools Minister

I suppose it's not the end of the world but it's amusing to see that the Schools Minister's blog is full of spelling mistakes. Either Jim Knight's own lessons didn't sink in or he can't be arsed to proof read what he's written, which is probably what qualified him for a government position in the first place.


Thursday, 5 February 2009

Party like it's 1979.

Looks and sounds familiar. I can just about remember the winter of discontent but to be honest Wagon Wheels were much higher up my list of priorities at the time. It wasn't until I was a bit older that I appreciated how fucked up the country was in the late 70s, and at the time I felt a bit relieved that it was all in the past. Well, thirty years on and looking at the list we have a winter, a fair amount of discontent if the striking is anything to go by, a government that's pissed away money on bollocks until it's got nothing left, and a recession. Check, check, check, and check. On top of that it looks like there's an electorate that's by and large fallen out of love with Labour in general and Gordon Clown in particular (unlike here where Kevin Rudd seems to still (a) have money to hose around on people who haven't noticed that it was taxed right out of their fucking pockets to begin with, and (b) be fairly popular). It seems to me that all David Cameron needs to do is to carry on not being Gordon and he'll win the next election fairly easily. Bit of a shame that he comes across as a twat really.

Can open, worms everywhere.

I've just seen on Guido that Gordon has said the major economies are in a depression. Sure, they're backpedalling like hell and saying it was a slip of the tongue (Freudian slip? dunno), but he can't say what's been said and now it's out there inevitably it's spreading through the world's media. I'm not qualified to judge whether this is a depression or a recession, but I'm damn sure of one thing - a lot of Labour MPs in marginal seats will be banging their heads on the table and wishing like hell that Gordon's mouth would just heal up.

Big Brother sees all

No surprise that British taxpayers are forking over even more cash on devices designed to get them forking over even more cash. Thank fuck I left the UK (though the Victorian police are pretty fucking good at this sort of thing too).

Oh, bummer.

So far Obama has made a tit of himself speaking in public, tried to enter the White House through a window, been mentioned in relation to the sub-prime mortgage fuck-up, embarrassed by fellow Democrats trying to flog his Illinois seat and get Billary Clinton's NY seat on the back of a dead president's name (not actually Obama's fault but was he a bit quiet about it or was it me?), hired an industry lobbyist for a related cabinet post after saying he wouldn't hire lobbyists, and has made some poor choices for cabinet positions.

So much for change - meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The best that I can say is that I doubt it would have been much different if McCain or Billary had won. The wonder of it would be why anyone is surprised except for the fact that so many haven't even noticed.

Edit: of course, half the world would find it difficult to notice anything while they're on their knees unzipping his fly.

Po faced Porrit

I don't know how many kids Jonathan Porrit's parents had but I think it might have been one too many.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Weather permitting.

This last couple of weeks have been a bit of a giggle weather wise, and especially the way the media here and in the UK have been laying it on. One headline on the UK Telegraph's website read "Deadly Heatwave Causes Havoc Across Australia"... really? What, all of Australia? Have you the first fucking clue how big this place is? It takes over a week to drive across it or a five hour flight. If we towed it into the North Atlantic you could get to New York with a few ferry crossings. It's a bloody continent you knobbers. Of course I do realize that you knew this all along because when I clicked it to read the story of how 3 million square miles was all suffering the same heatwave the headline became "Deadly Heatwave Causes Havoc Across South Eastern Australia", or just the bottom right hand corner in other words.

Now don't get me wrong, it was bloody hot in Melbourne and we spent most of the week wishing we had aircon. But look, Australia is a hot place and while this hasn't happened since 1908 (or at least that was the oldest date mentioned in any article I read) it's not fucking unprecedented. It's not like we've been having to walk without rhythm to avoid the Gippsland worms. Yes, since it affected a decent chunk of both Victoria and South Australia it did affect a big area - roughly UK sized at a guess. But again, why the shock? More to the point why did it cause havoc? The fact that it's happened before means that there's always the chance it might happen again, so a little bit of preparation might have been in order, yes? As it happens I personally saw little evidence of all this havoc. Bush fires yes, but they're a fact of life here and living with it should be much the same as moving to San Francisco and accepting the fact that it gets earthquakes. They could have been particularly nasty last week, and I suppose there still might be some really disastrous fires along these lines before the summer's out, but again it's not unprecedented. There were some power shortages too, which I might have found a lot more annoying if I had been relying on aircon to cool the house. And the Southern Star, which is kind of like the London Eye but smaller and less well located, was broken by the heat. Again, it appears someone forgot that it can get hot here and didn't build the bastard with enough margin for that. Hilariously, it had been open for about a month and needless to say it cost a fucking fortune to build and will cost another fortune yet to be estimated to fix the fucking thing again. I do hope the taxpayer isn't going to be asked to contribute to putting the legs back on the white elephant, but beyond that I really don't care. Other than that there were some people who succumbed to the heat, which I'm sure happens every year but generally won't be reported in the UK meeejah, and the Australian Open had some extra sweaty tennis players and, horror of horrors, the roof had to be shut. This apparently caused some small controversy but I can't really understand why you'd build a tennis arena with a closing roof if you weren't happy with the idea of shutting it now and again. But I imagine it was the Open and the minds of some fat hacks in London having thought wanks over Maria Sharapova's tits - ooooh it's so hot I'm going to take my top off - that got it into the papers there at all. In Australia's top end there are only two seasons, wet and dry. Hot weather is a given, and you can bet people suffer from it and probably die of it occasionally. Not even slightly newsworthy, but I couldn't help but notice on the same page as the "deadly heatwave" story there was a sponsored feature link encouraging tourists to visit the Northern Territory*, where it's hot as fuck year round, on the back of a shithouse film with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman in it.

Exchanging heatwaves for cold snaps and south east Australia for south east England it was with a certain amount of embarrassment that I read in the paper here about the heavy snow lying in drifts yards deep few inches of snow that has paralyzed the capital of a major western nation. Jesus Christ, the Canadians must be pissing themselves. Not just the Canadians either - I might be completely mistaken but I can't imagine Moscow grinds to a halt every time there's few inches of snow. And as The Age says, it's the worst snowfall for - wait for it - 18 years. So again, not unprecedented and not even a distant memory handed down a couple of generations. It was the beginning of the last decade for Christ's sake. And I'm pretty sure I can remember worse snow than that when I was a kid, which wasn't that long ago. Okay, obviously a few things have changed since then. For one thing it seems that like nearly all displays of individual initiative in the UK these days chucking a bit of grit on the ground yourself is verboten. Well, you might miss a bit and get sued if anyone slips or skids on the grit free section. For another it seems half the public sector is stopping at home until the thaw, which doesn't seem to be making them many friends. And of course it's soooo dangerous for the kiddies (won't someone think of the children?). For fuck's sake! What's gone wrong with the bloody country that a little bit of fucking sub zero water can bring it to its knees? I'd be embarrassed to walk around outside except that any Aussie taking the piss out of the British inability to cope with weather is just asking for me to bring up the Olympics and take a nice long piss into that emotional open wound.

Still, with Earth Hour looming again it's a timely reminder that both this not unprecedented heatwave here in south east Australia and the not unprecedented snow in the UK are clear signs of global warming... but then again isn't everything?

UPDATE:Well, I said it might get worse and it did. Still not unprecedented and not even as bad as 1983 from what people who experienced that tell me. But still pretty grim if your house has just burned down or you've lost someone to the fires. Can't help noticing that the UK Telegraph still can't decide if the fires are the worst ever, one of the worst in memory or what, but makes a big deal of a 10,000 hectare fire. Shame the slack journos missed the bit about the 30,000 ha burning away near Churchill, a couple of hours or so the east of Melbourne, and the 57,000 ha fire near Murrindindi to the north east. It's only on the web for anyone to look up.

UPDATE: Ok, now it's time for the superlatives and breathless journalism. The shit has well and truly hit the fan, not helped by some complete cunts. Apparently the maximum for deliberately starting a bush fire is 25 years. Enough? Not sure.

*And you should go and visit the Northern Territory even though it's hot as fuck because it's also pretty spectacular. May and June aren't too bad.

LibDumb councillor blocks ambulance on 999 call...

... because he's a pompous, self-righteous twat. Needless to say the prick has pretty much got away with it - no charges being brought despite it being an offense against both the law and COMMON FUCKING SENSE. He's being suspended for six months. Big deal unless that means he's being suspended by his bell end for six months.
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