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

Monday, 30 March 2009

An assessment of Gordon Brown's prospects.

"...more fucked than a Bangkok Ladyboy in Josef Fritzl Memorial Week." - Counting Cats In Zanzibar.

That's just the highlight. Go read the rest.

Senator Conroy.... again.

I think the poor bloke is starting to get a bit overwhelmed by this and is getting confused.
Web blacklist won't stop child porn, admits Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
So what the fuck is it for? Why are you proposing to slow everyone's connections, for which they'll almost certainly pay more, and it won't even achieve the vary dubious aim that gets it support from Australia's Helen Lovejoys? On top of that Conroy also had this to say about the ACMA blacklist:
"Publishing the list would defeat the purpose of having the list," Conroy said. "It's a genuine condundrum."
I get the impression they're doing this because they think it can be done (which it probably can't) and haven't given it much thought apart from that.

Poor Gordon.

Remember the snot muncher coming back from Washington with those DVDs? Apparently some people got decent gifts. Either Obama has learned that you don't just fob off VIPs who lead friendly nations, or he knew it to begin with but didn't rate Gordon Clown as that important. After all Rudd is still popular at home and, annoyingly, seems in with a fair chance of winning the next election. And to be kind about it, Gordon is unpopular and likely to lose. If I was Obama I'd put him down as irrelevant and be saving nice stuff for the next leader. On the other hand Obama may think he's a complete cock as well.


Shock of my life. Jacqboot Smith on Aussie TV... what the fuck is her boat race doing on the telly here? Ah, seems that when the Home Secretary's husband has been watching porn on cable TV and she's put the bill onto the taxpayer, just like she has with her sister's house, it's embarrassing enough to make the news here.

Bwaaaa haaa haaa haaa haaa.

Less amusing though is a report of what a shit state the UK's finances are in.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Toynbee is proof that there is no God...

... either that or he doesn't give a shit about hypocrisy. I can't come up with any other explanation why someone like Toynbee the hillbilly drag act is walking around rather than being two charred shoes in the centre of a smoking hole in the ground having been hit by a zillion volts of holy wrath. I'm sure this is going to get fisked to fuck by better than me, but I'm going to put my 2 cents in anyway. It starts with the title:
A furious public demands political anger management.
Little the government suggests begins to match our outrage at bonuses, fiddles and failures.
Political anger management? It's been Gordon Clown and his gang who've been stoking it up. The phrase you're looking for is anger encouragement. And talking of bonuses, fiddles and failures there's plenty of fucking outrage directed at the Westminster failures who are merrily creating their bonuses with expenses fiddles. People in glass houses, Polly. And on the subject of glass and houses let's not forget that you get six figures for writing whiny class hatred shit for a company that hates tax avoidance yet managed to swing a refund from the tax man despite a turnover of over £300 million. How's the Tuscan villa Pol? Are your windows alright? So much safer than Edinburgh when people are stirring up public anger against anyone paid too much for fuck all benefit, eh? You fucking despicable hypocrite.
When the law says nothing can be done, a hurled brick has an extra gust of public opinion behind it. ...his broken windows are an emblem ... a totem of a public mood.
Look, you stupid slag, how many times must it be written in how many places? The inept government fuckwits who bailed out RBS, with taxpayers' money don't forget, might have done something about it if their due diligence hadn't been so hopeless. It would kind of go like this: "Sir Fred, if we dig RBS out of the hole you put it in exactly how much do you leave with and from what sources and for what reasons? Ah, are these your pension arrangements? Sorry, that's not acceptable and must be altered or we'll simply let RBS go under instead." Of course, they should have let it go under anyway, but that's by the by. The point is Fred getting out with that nice juicy pension was, and please listen carefully here Polly, another fucking government failure. So having failed to stop the loathsome prick lining his pockets in a quite legal way, and having failed again to convince anyone that they'd be able to do anything about it after the event, the snot muncher and Harmperson et al were left with making the poor cunt the Two Minute Hate of the financial crisis. As I've said before, I want to dislike the man but the behaviour of senior Labour figures and sycophants sympathizers like you Polly, make it really hard not to take Fred's side, despicable twat though he may well be.
For all the fright talk, today's Put People First demonstration will be a respectable array of big charities, churches and unions, urged on by the Bishop of London.
Read: fake charities, some mouthpieces representing a largely out of fashion belief, and unions. The usual rentagobs in other words.
You don't have to be "anti-capitalist" to join the burst of public opinion against mountainous taxpayers' sums being sunk into bottomless banks that should have been nationalised.
What? What? Are you on something mind bending or did you just swallow the blue pill? The mountainous sums are being sunk into banks BECAUSE they're being fucking nationalized. And capitalists would not approve of it either.
The US is being tougher, prompted by headlines such as "Not so fast you greedy bastards" in the New York Post.
Ahem, I quote:"A furious public demands political anger management." Ring a bell? As I keep saying, the government and their tame journos, naming no names, are doing an admirable job at spin, shit stirring and keeping the designated decoy for public anger in the limelight while the snot muncher smirks and skulks.
Never mind apologies for the past, where are the new policies now? Labour should simply announce an emergency cap on top pay. Anything over the prime minister's £200,000 should be temporarily taxed at 90%. No bonuses, no fiddles. The golden geese will fly away to Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai? Unlikely, but if a few go, who cares?
Fuck's sake, I never earned anything like that much and I left the UK. Not to a tax exile admittedly, and they take the piss here too though it has other compensations. But if someone like me who never earned more than 40 grand will leave the country do you really think most of the megabucks mob will hesitate for a nanosecond? You might be happy to stay put and pay 90% over 200 grand, though I'm sure GMG's accountants could organize that for you if necessary, but why the fuck would anyone who's bright enough to make that much money stay and be raped in the wallet? You think maybe a few will go, but I'm telling you that only a few will stay and I bet nearly all will be people with the ear of senior NuLabs and/or people who write whiny shite on their behalf from Tuscany.
No one in the public sector should get more than £150,000: in the present mood, all wise public bodies should rapidly cut their own top pay, before vengeful mobs vote in the Tories to mince public services.
Fuck me, something I can vaguely agree with, though it's way too little and too late - the vengeful mobs are likely to vote in the mincing Tories (ha!) anyway, which really shouldn't thrill anyone because Cameron's idea of a cut in expenditure seems to be what everyone else apart from NuLab MPs and fucking thick mouthpieces would call a slightly smaller increase. The public sector needs to be cut but personally I have almost no hope that any likely leader from among the main three parties has the balls to do it before the whole fucking lot implodes anyway. Incidentally, I've more or less bet my future that Britain's public sector will implode first and that twenty million Aussies will simultaneously shit themselves and demand that Canberra do what's needed to avoid the same fate. It's my belief that watching the UK go over the edge will be the warning Australia needs to pull back from the brink in time.

You'll be in Tuscany when that happens I expect, won't you Pol? Or will you stay with your ideals and go down with the sinking ship? We can but hope, but why do you and those wankstains in Parliament have to take the rest of the country down too?
Class is back, in a new guise.
And how sweet that must be for you, you vindictive bitch. Tricky to spit your class war laden venom without any class. But of course it takes one to know one, and that's how you know them, right?
...government has to call time on pay for all, to end the greed game where every silverback demands to be in the top quartile. Despite a dab of penitential ash on its brow, the City still sees nothing much wrong with how things were. Wait for it to blow over, but for God's sake don't let the politicians ruin things with regulation!
They've ALREADY ruined things with regulation, you stupid fucking mutation. What do you think the FSA was? What do you think the SEC was? Or ASIC? Or the various regulators of every fucking financial market that went tits up, for they all fucking had at least one and sometimes two or three regulatory bodies. And that's not even counting the central banks. When will you lot wake up and realize that you can't blame the free market because THERE AREN'T ANY FREE MARKETS BECAUSE GOVERNMENTS WON'T PERMIT IT. This constant fucking anti market whine (which seems to come both from left and what gets called 'right' these days) is like a spoilt teenager whinging that Santa didn't bring them what they wanted when they're old enough to work out that Santa doesn't exist.

Despicable fucking hypocrite! Where are those fucking bolts of lightning when you need one?

H/T to Ambush Predator.

Another nail in the coffin of free speech in Britain.

This comes from the Mouth:
An attempt to insert a defence of "free speech" into a bill designed to criminalise incitement to hatred over sexual orientation has failed.
Campaigners had said the Coroners and Justice Bill would limit expression - some comedians claimed the proposals could leave them open to prosecution.
But ministers said the "free speech proviso" would have provided a loophole for those wishing to incite hatred.
In fact I'd say we're beyond the point of nailing the coffin lid down and well into the process of piling shovelfuls of dirt on top. "I disagree with what you say but I defend to the death your right to say it" - has that been forgotten? I kind of sympathize with the intent and I'm not going all Daily Wail and saying it's political correctness gone mad. But it is political correctness gone sinister - though I have no idea if I can say sinister without someone saying it's hate speech against left handers. Mainly however it's just going to make Britain a slightly nastier place, which is pretty much the opposite of what the PC lot who voted for it intend.

The first problem is that you can't use the law to make bigoted arseholes be nice open minded people all of a sudden. Orwell's fear was of a society that tried to control thoughts by controlling language, but I doubt it would work quite that way. At best the bigoted arseholes would be unable to put a name to the object of their dislike, but it wouldn't change the feeling. Say you've got an unreasonable dislike of, and to avoid offending anyone I'll use a ridiculous example, people who wear checkered shirts, and that you and your friends call them 'checkies'. You think they're thick and untrustworthy, and by extension you also brand anyone else who is thick and untrustworthy a "checkie" even if they don't wear checkered shirts. I can ban the word all I want but you'll still have your silly prejudice, and since language evolves you'll find a new word to use as a term of abuse. Or you'll simply call them cunts instead of using something specific for check shirt wearers. Much of a step forward? I don't think so.

The other problem is that by favouring one or more groups you risk creating sympathy for the bigots. Remember the BNP's Nick Griffin in the 2001 election standing on the platform with a gag on his mouth? I have no love for him or his party and I dislike their policies, particularly on immigration (being a migrant myself I would), but even I found that a sympathetic image. BZZZZ - own goal. On top of that it was newsworthy so it created extra coverage of the BNP. BZZZZZ - another own goal. That's a step backwards.

The third problem is where to draw the line. What remains acceptable and what is taboo? And how to you keep up with current slang and usages? As I said, language evolves. I can't recall where I read it but I saw an article where the writer was talking about their child referring to someone at school as 'special'. To begin with the writer thought it was complimentary but eventually realized that it mean 'special needs'. The PC term had led to a term no better than kids of the 70s and 80s calling each other spastic and mong. Equally some offensive terms will weaken and become sufficiently tame that there's no justification to include them as 'hate speech'. The definition of what's taboo will be constantly moving, or at least will need to be, depending on who gets offended by what words.

And therein lies another problem. Who decides all this stuff? Who decides that, to use my earlier example, "checkie" is offensive enough to be "hate speech" but that I might have to put up with "baldy" or "slap-head"? Or pom? And think of the tone of voice or using adjectives. The word 'doctor' seems pretty innocent but stick the word 'fucking' on the front and/or spit as if you were saying nazi and the result can express a hatred of doctors very well. Going to ban that? What about words with multiple meanings? Since the story was specifically about homophobic terms let's consider the word 'gay'. Here's
gay  adjective, -er, -est, noun, adverb
1. having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
2. bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
3. given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
4. licentious; dissipated; wanton: The baron is a gay old rogue with an eye for the ladies.
5. homosexual.
6. of, indicating, or supporting homosexual interests or issues: a gay organization.
7. a homosexual person, esp. a male.
8. in a gay manner.
So three defintions that certainly relate to homosexuality, four that don't and one that could go either way (so to speak). We could do the same for 'fairy' (also a brand name of course). So where does that leave the law? It's not what you say but the way you say it? Fucking hell, but that's pretty subjective for anything that you're going to make a crime of.

I feel that there's really only one solution and that is to recognize that you can't legislate for this sort of thing. There is no right to go through life without being offended, and it would be impossible to create. Since it would inevitably restrict speech I would be offended by such a law, which means that the law would break itself. I get regularly offended by all sorts of things politicians say because it's so often bullshit, patronizing nonsense, wrong or all of the above. And how often do I get called a pom, another term that can be meant as offensive or affectionately depending on context. I've heard the former just once several years ago, and even that wasn't directed at me. The rest of the time it's always been light hearted. But even if I was thin skinned and did take offence where none is meant does that mean my right not to be offended trumps the rights of millions of Aussies who use the term? Obviously not.

Okay, how about words that have only one meaning and are always and unambiguously meant offensively? Well, much as we might rather have a society where they're not used and people don't feel that way you're effectively attempting to regulate people's thoughts, feelings and opinions. There is already a name for this, a name that's been around since the late 1940s. The name is this:


We must realize that free speech is an absolute. It is free or it is not. It is regulated and restricted or it is free. If one word, just one out of the at least half a million in the language, becomes impermissible by law then freedom of speech dies. Even the existence of the law with no actual proscribed words kills free speech because the entire language is usable only at the whim of government. I don't like hearing so-called hate speech, but I like the removal or even potential removal of the right to say it even less. Thoughtcrime or free speech are the options. The UK has chosen thoughtcrime.

Good question.

Hugo Rifkind asks if the anti-capitalists reckon they predicted the recession couldn't they have told the rest of us?
There are predictions and predictions, mind you. I used to have a colleague at a gossip website who specialised in made-up stories about celebrities being pregnant. “It's not not true,” he'd insist, “it's just not true yet.” If, months or years later, it became true, he'd be visibly smug. You can get something right, is my point, and still have been wrong.
Yep. It's the Nostradamus thing, isn't it? I'm surprised someone isn't claiming he didn't predict that too in the same way they reckon he predicted everything else.

McNumpty's expenses to be examined.

Good, but it'll probably be Jacqboot Smith Mark II. This home expenses deal is used so many ways it's hard to see how all of them can be in the right.

What's the dilemma?

The Foreign Office is apparently getting all concerned about intelligence possibly obtained from torture and whether or not to use it. I'm sorry but I just don't get this. Yes, torturing someone is wrong, that's an absolute in my mind. But if another country is doing it and as a result gets information that it passes to you...? You can condemn it, you can ask them to stop electrocuting people's genitals but to refuse to use the information at all is just daft. The Nazis did some evil evil stuff to people, things that makes it difficult to believe that those responsible had any trace of humanity at all, and yet some useful medical information e.g. on hypothermia, came out of it. Should first aid courses not teach a certain technique to deal with hypothermia if it was derived from Nazi human experiments? Or should it be looked at as a small silver lining on a very dark cloud? If you refuse to use the information people may die who could be saved, but that doesn't undo the evil that was done decades ago. Ethically it is a bit of a sticky wicket either way, but since the past can only be learnt from and not undone you may as well use unethically obtained information ethically now and in the future. Same with animal experimentation for cosmetic products. I don't like the idea of animals wearing make up but it's been done and I'd expect the cosmetic companies to use the info to make sure my wife's face isn't eaten off by her lipstick. Obviously don't repeat the experiments, but don't ignore the information just because you don't like the source.

The same goes for intelligence derived from torture. Don't condone it and don't be shy about condemning it, but if another country's intelligence services came to you and said they'd roasted someone's feet until he'd told them about a planned attack on your capital would you say no thanks? What if they just came out and said specifically time, date and target, would you expect your intelligence agencies to put fingers in ears and go laa laa laa laa laa can't hear you, don't know what you said? Or would you expect them to say don't like the torture but thanks for giving us info that might prevent an attack. Again, what's been done can't be undone, and we should all hope it's not done again in the future. But the information now exists, why not hate the methods but use the products as best as possible?

Freedom Of Information

On Thoughts On Freedom earlier this week was another bit of good news for Aussies and others living here - an overhaul of Freedom Of Information laws. FOI application fees are going to go, a public interest test is coming in, contractors are going to come under FOI and a new Information Commissioner is to be appointed. There will apparently be fewer 'get out' excuses as well. How much is hype and how much is a genuine increase in availability of information from the government obviously remains to be seen, and it does seem bizarre that they're being so secretive about the ACMA website blacklist while saying how open they'll be as promised in their manifesto. Still, Australia is a funny place and can really be that contradictory at times.

UPDATE: Peter Timmins has left a comment along with the address of his blog, Open and Shut, where he deals with FOI and privacy issues. Looks interesting and I'll be having a good look when I've got a bit of time. Between F1 and footy basically.

Quango Britain - look after your own

I don't know what Alex Dolan was thinking of when she chose to become a whistleblower and film inside schools for Channel 4's Dispatches. She may have shed light on pupils misbehaving and a class having 26 teachers in six months (how many is that as an average per week children? (a)0 (b)1 (c)some (d)many) but she was never going to be thanked for it, and sure enough the General Teaching Quango Council has expressed its thanks to her fro bringing this up by banning her from teaching for a year for 'breaching pupils' trust'. I'm not at all clear on where the breach of trust comes in because it seems to me that this was about exposing problems in state education rather than having a pop at the children as such, so I suspect 'breaching teachers' trust that no fellow teacher will break the silence' might have been a more accurate description. And does that 12 month ban strike anyone else as just plain vindictive? If someone has really breached the trust of the children I'd question whether a ban of only a year is long enough, and if they haven't I'd ask why a ban is necessary at all. A 12 month ban says 'keep your mouth shut and your nose clean from now on, and we'll probably let you back into the fold'.
...Miss Dolan stood by her decision to make the documentary for Channel 4's Dispatches programme.
"This is a sad day for investigative journalism," she said.
"Programmes like Dispatches have an important role to play in drawing to the attention of the public matters of concern whether these are in hospitals, within the police force or in schools. I find it beyond comprehension that the GTC can spend three years investigating me when they should be looking on their own doorstep.
"Instead they have decided to sweep it under the carpet and persecute the whistle-blower."
That's about the size of it. Why try to tackle the problem when its infinitely easier simply to shoot the messenger.

The only bright spot in the story is that one incident apparently shown in the programme was that one school sent its problem pupils off on a trip so they weren't around during the Ofsted inspectors' visit. Some might be appalled by that, but I think it's a laudable bit of creative thinking that should be emulated by schools everywhere. Maybe the Kiwis should try it...

Friday, 27 March 2009

Read it and weep.

I know in the scheme of things giving £4,500 of taxpayer's money to a couple of psychics is not a lot of money, but I'm still lost for words at the stupidity of this.
... self-styled mediums Paul, 40, and Deborah, 37...
Shouldn't that be 'media'?
...defended the public funding for their psychic school at Bridgend, South Wales.
Media studies! Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Well if I didn't laugh at this I'd be crying.
Mr Rees said: 'People who feel their tax money has been wasted should remember that if they'd lost a child they would go to a medium to get peace that their loved one has passed safely and is in a better place.'
No, you fatuous self serving cunt. People who feel their tax money has been wasted would probably grieve and lean on family and friends for support who, if they cared about the recently bereaved, would do their best to steer them well clear of evil bloodsucking bags of shit trying to make a buck off someone else's loss. I lack the words to describe how much I hate and despise both you and the fucktards who threw money at you. The English fucking language lacks the words. Bad enough if you'd got the start up money together on your own, but this pours boiling hot piss into the wound, it really does. Fuck you all, and fuck your revolting trade and fuck the idiotic bastards who gave you taxpayers money to get this fucking charade going so vulnerable and credulous people can be parted forever from their money as well as their loved ones. If I believed in heaven and hell I'd be on my knees - no, I'd be prostrate on my face - praying with all my heart that Satan is digging a new pit under the ice of the ninth circle and putting up a little reserved sign with your names on. The whole fucking sorry lot of you. Right under Judas Iscariot's arsehole so if he happens to partially defrost he'll dump on your faces.

Unfortunately I don't believe any of it so I'm not going to waste my time, but I want to say that it's possible that I despise everyone involved more than I've ever despised another living being. May your reproductive organs become square and fester at the corners.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Australia wriggling out from under the censors.

News on Australia's nanny overseen clean feed censored internet from Thoughts On Freedom. The third largest ISP in Oz has pulled out of the trial of Senator Conroy's electronic gag. Not a huge surprise since iiNet always said it was a waste of time and they were only getting involved to demonstrate that it was futile, but you'd think they'd have stuck it out longer. Whatever the reason it's good news. I was particularly interested in this bit:
Thankfully, at the moment it’s looking like the Senate can be counted on to kill this ghastly idea. Credit where it’s due to the Greens, who whatever their other shortcomings can usually be counted on to support civil liberties (firearms aside). Also a lot of credit is due to Nick Xenophon, who I cordially dislike, but who has taken a sensible stance on this issue. While I’m sure he’d like to impose internet controls on his pet issue of gambling, he’s had the sense to recognise that the filter is a bad idea which won’t work.
I'd also have assumed that Nick Xenophon, having been elected on an anti-gambling platform as an independent Senator, would have been all for clean feed and blocking sites he didn't like the look of. At least he's pragmatic.

Dan Hannan's Brown bashing.

Okay, it's everywhere already but never mind.

H/T to, ooooh, everybody.

UPDATE: Guido says that Dan Hannan's speech is making news in the US too. "Get to know this fellow, and get to know him fast" says the interviewer, Neil Cavuto. Well, it was a bloody good speech and an impressive interview, and it makes me wonder if the Beeb etc are now thinking "shit, we should have covered that after all". I think I might order his book later.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Out of curiosity I thought I'd have a look at the BBC site and see what they're saying about this now. Fuck all apparently.

Earth Hour

A post on the Libertarian Alliance blog has reminded me that Earth Day is nearly upon us again. For many people this will be the first time that they’ve been nagged and cajoled into turning their lights off at 8.30pm local time on Saturday to help heal the sky, but here in Australia it’s the third time we’ve had to put up with this pointless cockwafterery. The really crazy thing is this: if you believe in man made global warming, if you think Al Gore and James Hansen and the rest are correct, if you think emitting CO2 is hurting the planet, if you think these and a dozen or more related things, then you should hate Earth Hour far more than the most vociferous of sceptics.

That’s right, I reckon the people who should most hate Earth Hour are not sceptics but the true believers. But there’s a reason for that. Let’s assume for the moment that the sceptics are correct. What effect does Earth hour have? None whatsoever, that’s what. A complete irrelevance, a meaningless exercise that achieves nothing of any practical consequence one way or the other. The impact on the life of the average sceptic is no greater than the impact of Catholics holding Mass in your town if you’re an atheist. Okay, Richard Dawkins might get his cock in a knot about it but your average secular Joe or Josephine really doesn’t give a flying fuck if the Catholics want to have their ceremonies and rituals because it doesn’t affect them.

Now let’s take the other side and assume the warmists are right. Let’s assume that CO2 emissions are indeed raising the temperature and making the climate unstable and bringing us nearer and nearer to the point where it gets out of our control* and runaway warming is inevitable and the planet becomes largely inhospitable to humanity/life (take your pick of preferred disaster scenario). Now, with this point of view in mind what effect does Earth Hour have? Answer: a hopelessly inadequate effect. Earth Hour 2008 in Sydney saved, according to reports at the time, about 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. This is roughly equivalent to removing half a dozen cars from the road for a year. Sydney is a city of over 4 million people – how many cars do you think it has? And cars are only the tip of the iceberg. Construction, particularly involving cement, produces heaps of CO2, and personal transport isn’t a particularly large producer compared to power generation. That last point is just as well because many people participating in Earth Hour dutifully switch their lights off at home and then get in the car and fucking drive to somewhere to get a good view of the dark. Now surely if you think CO2 is that bad this is like celebrating giving up cigarettes by having a nice cigar. But the main things is that if the effect of Earth Hour on CO2 reduction is pathetically small, and almost certainly immeasurably small as far as temperature reduction goes, what the fuck is the point of the exercise?

One suggestion trotted out on a regular basis is that Earth Hour may achieve fuck all in a practical sense but it does raise awareness of the issue. If someone says this to you ask what fucking planet they’ve been on since the late 1970s. It’s had so much media attention for the last three and a bit decades that I was fucking aware of it when I was ten years old (just as I was aware that it was an ice age scare a year or two before that). If sufficient awareness had been raised to scare a child in the late 70s who the fuck are they trying to make aware now? Have that many people been in comas or been living in caves? Are there vast numbers that have been cut off from modern society by being stranded on desert islands like WW2 Japanese soldiers? Raise awareness my puckered arse. The only people left in the world that need to be made aware are those who don’t have any fucking lights to switch off in the first place. Developing nations who have fledgling industry have looked at the issue and more or less decided to say fuck it. You don’t need to make them aware because they’ve heard the arguments, they just don’t accept it all as a justification for trapping a couple of billion of their people in the Middle Ages while westerners can just boast about buying more expensive light bulbs while they top up their friends’ glasses with some more Pinot Gris.

Another idea that I’ve heard is that it’s getting us all used to making sacrifices. Well I suppose you could say that if you call turning off a few lights for one hour in March a sacrifice, but it’s not exactly hair shirts and self-flagellation is it? Well, possibly in certain discreet establishments in Melbourne, but you can get that all year round. Earth Hour is designed to be a very painless and convenient sacrifice (hence it’s potential to achieve just about fuck all) so as to get as many people as possible involved in it. The last thing anyone wants is for them to get an idea of what sacrifices might be demanded in future. If that was the case there’d be Earth Week, and rather than being at the conveniently benign time of late March when it’s turning to spring in the northern hemisphere and it’s early autumn in the southern hemisphere it would be held in late January or early February. Down under we’d be sweating our cocks off because we’re not allowed to turn the air conditioning on, and in the northern hemisphere you’d be doing your best not to freeze in the dark and wishing you could put the heating on without being made to feel like a murderer. For a whole week. No driving either. Even if you changed it by six months and suggested that you can usually get by without aircon in the UK summer try telling that to those in the Med. And winter in Melbourne is juct cold enough that I'd like to have the heating on from time to time, to say nothing of Tasmania. But ask people to make a noticeable sacrifice and really go without even for as brief a time as a week, something that actually feels like a fucking sacrifice in other words, and many would look for reasons to listen to sceptics so they don’t have to do it again next year. Can’t have that now can we? No, getting people used to sacrifice isn’t it.

Earth Hour as a first step perhaps? Green friends (or rather friends who like to think of themselves as green) have suggested that. But there are two problems with that answer. First, as above, people have been banging on about man made global warming for thirty odd years – we’re only now taking the “first step” of turning off a few lights for an hour each year? Do me a fucking favour. The second problem is that we really aren’t on first steps in any way that I can see. The IPCC has been set up at the UN and has delivered no less than four weighty reports with various suggestions (and controversies). Then there have been any number of climate conferences attended by thousands, generally held somewhere sunny with a five star hotel and a reasonable expectation of pretty girls in swimsuits such as Rio or Bali, but occasionally somewhere like Poland where the pretty girls may have to wear a bit more. But delegates still aren’t put up in the local Travel Lodge. Sure, that does mean thousands of people flying who might otherwise have stayed put and video-conferenced, and supposedly this is the global warming equivalent of sliding a knife under the ribs of the planet and stabbing it in its heart. But we are assured that it’s all for the good in the long term and that sun drenched palm trees and/or pretty girls have nothing to do with it, and they are arguably steps towards the goal of reducing emissions. And then there’s the biggest step of all, the Kyoto Protocol. Although it took a number of countries** a while (and in some cases a change of government) before it was ratified Kyoto was back in December 1997 – nearly ten years before the first Earth Hour. Since Kyoto both demands far greater reductions than decades of Earth Hours will achieve and has been heavily criticized for not going anywhere near far enough then if Earth Hour, which must have an effect many orders of magnitude smaller than the already insufficient Kyoto protocol, is accepted as a first step it must be a step in the wrong direction.

What about the “every little helps” argument? Again, and following on from the last point, while it can be said that every little helps, and in a literal sense it may even be true, how little must something be before it’s considered meaningless? And as already said its arguably going in the wrong direction since its effect is even smaller than the small steps that preceded it. It’s like claiming you’re helping to fix world poverty by giving Oxfam a tenner, and then next time giving them a penny and making the same claim. How seriously are we supposed to take “every little helps” when the little starts off small and shrinks? Even if many people go home resolving to break the standby habit and switch appliances off at the wall etc., and actually stick to their resolution all year till the next Earth Hour, it’s simply not credible that it helps in any meaningful way when you’ve got people like His Royal Wingnut the Prince of Whales claiming that we’ve got less than 100 months or we’re all toast and Jonathon Porritt saying that things would be fine if only half of us would drop dead. An hour of darkness and saving the energy of a few standby lights ain’t gonna do it, even if millions of us join in.

Okay then, so still assuming that the warmists are correct Earth hour is hopelessly inadequate both as a practical measure and an indication of the level of future sacrifice, serves no purpose to raise awareness since awareness is pretty much at saturation point after three decades, and is a step backwards in terms of progress. If you were a warming believer you’d be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the organizers of this sort of thing don’t actually take it all that fucking seriously. In fact when I put myself in the mind of a global warmer, which isn’t hard because I believed it all fifteen years or so ago, I can’t come up with any logical reason for Earth Hour so I’d be farting sparks about it. I’d be absolutely fucking livid at the shits who came up with this meaningless wank instead of something substantive, and I’d be wondering what the true purpose, if any, really was. Possibly I’d start thinking about money trails and begin to suspect that the whole fucking exercise is little more than a ritual to keep people believing and spending their money on greenery like wind energy and eco-bulbs, and thus arrive at a similar opinion to the one I have as a sceptic.

Greens of my acquaintance would all do a synchronized sharp intake of breath at the suggestion that filthy lucre is involved, but seriously, just have a think about it. Think of any green product, anything at all that is being offered as part of the solution to global warming and greenhouse gasses. Doesn’t matter what it is you’re thinking of, I can tell you three things about it. One, regardless of whether the people behind it believe or not it was made in the expectation that there’d be buyers. Two, if there were no buyers it would either not exist at all or not in the form it’s being offered. And three, it has a price tag on it. Outrageous? But would wind turbines be of any interest if people didn’t think we needed to cut down on the CO2 (I’m not even getting into how much they actually do save – plenty of argument on both sides all over the web if you want to go looking)? In the absence of belief in global warming the wind would be harnessed just to pump water into sheep and cattle runs and possibly provide power in a handful of remote locations that can’t be conveniently joined to the grid. What about all those eco-bulbs? Normally when old product A is offered alongside new product B which is considerably more expensive and doesn’t always match up to the claims people will grumble loudly and stick to buying A, but it seems as if the grumbling is muted and people are in fact proud of coughing up $10 for their shiny new glowing mercury bottle sorry, CFL bulb (again, apart from the irresistible mercury dig I’m going to avoid discussing the other pros and cons – Google is your friend). Micro generation at home from solar cells and wind? Well, other than solar water heating (which isn’t generation anyway) these things have been around for boat owners for years so the products don’t depend per se on green belief, but there are far more homes than sailing boats. Green belief isn’t their whole market but without it their potential customer base would be massively reduced. Then there are things like carbon credits/offsetting, which have been created solely on the back of global warming and which would surely not exist in any form without this demand that has been created for them by global warming fears.

So if Earth Hour makes me believe anything at all that’s it. It’s a ritual designed to make participants feel good about being a believer but bad about their energy use. At the worst it should encourage believers to stay believers, but hopefully the next time people see a link to a carbon offset company when they book flights, or there’s an offer on solar this or windy that when you get quotes in for home renovations, or some poor cunt at a telemarketing firm phones up and tries to sell green power (I’ve had two this week), or most of all the next time the government says a green tax is needed, people will be more likely literally to buy it. Hey, it’s for the good of the planet y’know, though we won’t go into how ineffectual all those measures would be if Prince Wingnut and Jonathan Porritt are to be believed either. And of course the belief should also help sell copies of the, aha, dead tree press (even if to stoke the belief furnaces they have to indulge in a little photographic bullshit er misdirection er trickery, oh fuck it - whatever you want to call photographs taken on different days with different weather and light conditions and different exposure values), and funnily enough Fairfax Media, owners of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald among others, fucking invented Earth hour. Yes, the WWF were on board and I'm sure they're all believers, but is it perhaps possible that Fairfax wanted to flog some advertising space to manufacturers of green anti dioxide global carbon warming climate products and anyone else who wants to jump on the bandwagon and give their company a green veneer?

Okay, some might say that this money angle is the sort of cynical conclusion a sceptic would naturally come to, but I’ve got to the same place with my old Warming Believer head on and the only difference is that as a Believer I’d want blood over this. As a sceptic I don’t really give a shit. It’s not my money they’ll be getting.***

*Yes, I know that the climate stability has only ever been on timescales of tens of thousands of years or more and has certainly never been stable over terms as short as a human lifespan, and also that it’s never actually been under our control and it’s very doubtful that it ever will be. But this is this sort of thing that people, even educated and otherwise sensible people, say across dinner tables all over the western world whenever the subject comes up.

**Incidentally the non-participation of the US really isn’t the fault of Dubya. 1997 was during the Clinton/Gore years and although Bill signed it he and Al sort of didn’t get round to asking Congress to ratify it. That might have something to do with the Senate voting 95-0 in favour of sticking two fingers up, well they’re Americans so a middle finger, if Clinton and Gore did ask. Bush simply abandoned the pretence of being a signatory that was never going to ratify the fucking thing. There are many things to blame him for, but not the US ditching Kyoto – it was never going to be adopted whoever was President (and I can’t see Obama doing it either) and Al Gore must have known that before his failed bid for the White House.

***My opposition to Earth Hour, such as it is, doesn’t run to switching everything electrical on and leaving the house for an hour to go on a nice drive in the most fuel inefficient car available as some of the refusniks propose. Fuck that! My protest is ignoring the hype and not wasting money on greenwash, so I don’t see any point in spending more on petrol and electricity in its place. Besides, this year it’s on the same weekend as the Melbourne Grand Prix and the start of the Aussie Rules Football season. Wild horses with machine guns won’t get me away from the TV for twelve whole hours on Saturday night.

UPDATE: On the subject of the environment, here's The Daily Mash on wind turbines.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

And another one at the trough.

One minute there's news that Gordon Clown suggests an inquiry into MPs claiming money for second homes when they're a few miles from Westminster, the next there's news that yet another one is at it. Not much recession driven belt tightening going on there, eh? When your overpriced train is late or just doesn't turn up consider the Westminster Gravy Train - guaranteed first class all the way, but unfortunately only 646 seats.

Polly parroting.

Devils Kitchen is always a good read but rarely more so than when he's fisking Polly Toynbee. I think he takes a twisted delight in dissecting her champagne socialist ramblings without the use of anaesthesia, so he must have been hugging himself at the chance to rip apart her plea for us all to save the dead tree press, including of course the self important hypocritical wank generator that is her own employer, the Guardian Media Group.

It is, of course, the usual load of insufferable bollocks, but it is rather lovely to see Polly hoist by her own petard

But the cover price accounts for only 10% of costs and GMG says advertising revenue has "fallen off a cliff".

You see, Polly has been bitching and moaning about mega-rich companies—many of whom prop up these newspapers by, y'know, buying advertising (mainly because they are the only ones that can afford the rates)—and the damage that they are doing to society. She has whined about the high pay of executives, and the increasing wealth gap, and corporate tax avoidance...

... and now the corporates are avoiding spending their money with GMG. Now, I know that Polly is not tremendously au fait with the oh-so-complicated concept of cause and effect, but do you think it just slightly possible that her attitude, and that of her fellow commentators, might possibly have led to these companies feeling—during these turbulent times, when costs need to be cut—that GMG, whose employees constantly attack said companies, can just fucking whistle for their business?

But newspapers are in trouble, and what is Polly's solution? Can you guess, children?

To protect share prices the depth of this disaster must not be admitted.

So real progress may only be possible when many of them go undeniably bust. In truth, while some local papers are excellent, some are dross, not worth saving with a penny of public money.

Public money? Not a fucking single one of them is worth pouring public money into, Polly, you disgusting, rent-seeking harpy. That is our money and if we do not wish to spend it on your fucking rags—which, quite patently—people do not, then why the fuck should you be able to tear the fruit of people's labour from them, by force?

It's gold, it really is, even though it's kind of like taking the piss out of the mentally disabled. We have here a journalist who thinks that the loss of newspapers is a disaster the scale of which must not be admitted, and who then writes a fucking newspaper column about it in which she both admits the scale of the disaster and says it must not be admitted. Not the clearest thinker in the world, and possibly not the clearest thinker in the Guardian though nobody stopped this circuitous crap from being printed. Ripping that kind of thinking apart is almost cruel, but also deserved. I'd have some sympathy for her if she wasn't such a hypocrite. And she looks like a hillbilly drag act but I don't want to get personal.

H/T Mr Eugenides.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Someone should teach him a lesson.

Thinking the unthinkable is one of those phrases that politicians like to trot out now and again, but it's pretty rare that anything ever happens as a result. I'd guess that the unthinkable is indeed thought sometimes, but after that things tend to go back to the way they were with perhaps a little window dressing to justify the whole charade. Education is one area where the unthinkable very much needs to be thought, and a handful of people are doing so both in Britain and in Australia. And then you get people like Professor John Coldron who says things like 'major overhaul' but seems actually to want more of the same stuff that's been used over the past 12 years (arguably more) to turn out people who get fabulous grades providing only that the exams are aimed at the level of chickens.
Professor John Coldron, from Sheffield Hallam University, said the best comprehensives should be forced to admit quotas of struggling pupils to stop them being monopolised by wealthy families....
"By having a greater range of pupils with different backgrounds - social as well as religious - there is evidence to suggest that educational standards overall would improve," he said.
"That's because the greater difficulties currently managed by schools with concentrations of children who present educational challenges would be lessened and would not have a proportionate negative effect."
Oh Jesus. Look you knob, can you not see that you are simply proposing more of the same, and as the cliché runs the best definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results. Yes, schools with concentrations of 'challenging' children in are, well, a challenge, but you're not going to solve anything simply by spreading the problem around as evenly as possible so that all schools have the same problem to the same degree. You do not want simply to carry on with a policy that's been failing for over a decade, you want to expand on it. You are ipso facto a complete window licker.

Think of a number and double it - was this how much you were speeding, sir?

How can someone be clocked at nearly 70 mph faster than they were actually going, and around 50 faster than the car is actually capable of, and still end up with a ban? Well, if you plead guilty to dangerous driving it does help the CPS a fair amount.
Judge Andrew Hamilton said: "May I make it absolutely clear that had you been driving at 150mph you would have been going immediately to prison.
Eh? Where did 150 come into it? 50 mph limit, driver admitted doing 105 mph in an Elise capable of reaching 127 mph, police speed measuring equipment recorded 173 mph, so.... 150 mph pulled out of your arse as an arbitrary level at which you'd be comfortable sending the guy to prison? Is there a special course judges go on to spout cockwaffle?
"However, you were not driving at 150mph, you were driving at 105mph, and for whatever reason the prosecution have accepted that basis of plea, and that puts the case in a different light."
So why fucking dribble on about 150 mph? Nurse! Nurse! He's out of bed again.
O'Reilly sold the Lotus to a buyer in Germany for about £9,000 a month after the offence was committed on the A515 between Buxton and Ashbourne on July 12.
Prosecuting, Rebecca Herbert said the car's new owner had written a letter to the Crown Prosecution Service to confirm that the car had not been modified "in any way"...
"It may be because our defendant is fortunate in the circumstances that the car has been moved very quickly from the country."
It may also be that you were extremely fucking lucky that the defendant was either daft or honest enough to put his hands up to a speed guaranteeing him a ban when the police's measuring equipment over estimated the speed by such a huge margin that reasonable doubt was a virtual certainty. Don't tell me that you'd have happily continued a case which rested on a device that said the car was going nearly 50% faster than Lotus made it capable of, because if you'd had to sell that to a jury.... well, in the past the CPS has dropped the case in these situations rather than admit that the a speed camera/radar/lidar got it wrong. I'm sure it would have been the same again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not excusing a tool who drives at 105 mph in a 50 zone. It may well have been safe to drive above 50 mph (or not - the article doesn't describe the location or conditions so for all I know 30 could have been reckless), but I'd find 55 mph and still safe a bit hard to believe. But for the police to rock up to court with a speed reading that was off by such a massive margin is even harder to believe, yet clearly they did and it's not the first time drivers have been prosecuted for doing what turned out to be impossible speeds, Peter O'Flynn, James McGregor and Dale Lyle and probably others. So there's now four examples that I know of (not counting some here in Oz because the equipment might well be quite different), and it's only made the media because the recorded speeds were so wildly detached from reality that the drivers made a fight of it to a greater or lesser extent. Had it been the normal sort of speeding ticket, say high 30s in a 30 mph zone, many people would simply send the cheque and take the points because they'd genuinely have no clue whether they were speeding at that point (because the vast majority do speed from time to time, and generally with absolutely no harm done). And even if they were sure they weren't speeding and the police device was wrong, where do you go from there. Unlike murder, terrorism, rape, mugging, burglary and everything else we think of as crimes with speeding you are effectively guilty till proven innocent, not the other way round. The accusation of the machinery is treated as if it had the weight of proof and anyone arguing with it must be bale to provide something heavier still. Showing that the car can't actually do what it's alleged to have done seems to work, but what your options are if the equipment dreams up a speed your car can do I have no idea. As far as I can see you're fucked basically. So since these various speed measuring devices don't seem as reliable or accurate as the police and prosecutors would like us to think, failing to meet the giggle test in the case of the 406 mph Peugeot, isn't it about time the burden of proof was put back to where it's traditionally been, the policing of roads was given back to mobile patrols, and any of these devices with known iffy results (generally handheld it seems) chucked in the bin?

The clash of rights.

The desire to enshrine the rights of everyone and their interests has inevitably created a few conflicts, and it seems this is often when it comes to the rights of a religious group and the rights of gays. In the last few days there have been two clashes: a gay couple who were refused a double bedroom by Christian hotel owners and gay groups criticizing the trustees of the late Queen Mother's home for allowing weddings but not civil partnership ceremonies. First off the gay couple and the hotel:
The pair, from Bristol, booked a room at the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, last September, but when they arrived were told that only married heterosexual couples could stay in the same room.
However, under the new Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, it is unlawful to refuse a person goods or facilities on the grounds of their sexuality.
Mr Preddy and Mr Hall told the hotel manager, Bernie Quinn, that he was acting illegally before leaving the premises and reporting the incident to police.
Mr and Mrs Bull have defended their policy, which bans all unmarried couples – both heterosexual and homosexual – from sharing a bed.
It has been in place since they took over the business in 1986, and is founded in their strong Christian beliefs.
On the booking page of their website there is a "special note" which reads: "Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others).
"Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples – Thank you."
I sympathise with Messrs Preddy and Hall, I really do. I think the owners of the hotel are being unnecessarily prudish for reasons of faith or superstition depending on your point of view. But it's their hotel and they should have the final word about who stays and under what conditions, because you see they own the fucking place. It may well be unlawful under the legislation mentioned for them to do this, and I certainly think it's unreasonable (and bad business to boot) but it's a stupid law that says what the owners can and can't do. They'll probably lose because being gay trumps being Christian despite a nominal right to believe in whatever version of the invisible sky fairy you like, but I feel very strongly that if I can say dictate what goes on in my property the Bulls should be able to do the same. If you don't agree with their rules, and I don't, boycott the place and deny them your custom. Spend your money elsewhere and encourage others to do the same and maybe they'll be forced by economics to be a bit more open minded or simply go bust. A law that discriminates against the religious and infringes their property rights is no solution to a religiously inspired bias against homosexuals. It's one of those situations where accommodating both is impossible because they are mutually exclusive, so in my view it comes down to who owns the place. If the situation were reversed and the Bulls had gone round to dinner at Mr Preddy's and Mr Hall's house and sued because they were being openly gay in defiance of the Bible or something we'd all tell them that Preddy and Hall can do what they want in their own home.

Next we have the weddings at the Castle of Mey:
The trustees at the Castle of Mey near John o' Groats, said the late Queen Mother preferred that people were married in a Christian ceremony and that they had decided to offer only Christian weddings conducted by a priest or minister.
Ironically, the decision would have prevented the Prince of Wales - who is president of the trustees - from marrying at a castle that has been in his family since the 1950s. The Prince, known in Scotland as the Duke of Rothesay, married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 in a civil ceremony at Windsor's Guildhall.
James Murray, the Trust administrator, said that as the castle did not have a wedding licence, it could hold Christian weddings - because priests and ministers are already licensed themselves. However, in order to hold civil ceremonies it would have to apply for a licence.
Its decision not to means that no civil ceremonies and no civil partnerships between homosexual couples will take place at the historic venue.
The homosexual and lesbian rights group Outrage claimed the Queen Mother would be "spinning in her grave".
David Allison, a spokesman for the group, added: "This seems even more ridiculous given that The Queen Mother surrounded herself with gay people. Doing this at the Queen Mother's old residence is particularly odd. She had no problem with gay people, quite the opposite."...
Christina Stokes, of Stonewall Scotland, added: "As the Earl of Devon discovered last summer, it is illegal for a venue to allow weddings and yet turn away couples who want a civil partnership."
The General Register Office of Scotland also pointed out that while wedding venues needed a licence for a civil marriage, none was required for a civil partnership, although the event would have to be approved by the local authority.
Lord Devon was prevented from holding civil marriages at Powderham Castle near Exeter when the local council withdrew his wedding licence after he refused to allow two men to marry there.
Stonewall claimed the decision by the trustees appeared to be a breach of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.
Normally groups like Outrage and Stonewall piss me off because of their history of outing gay people who would rather have stayed in the closet. It may have been silly and unnecessary because being gay should not be a cause for shame, but how fucking dare anybody out someone who doesn't want to come out. Unfuckingforgiveable. So normally if these groups are for something I'm probably opposed, but because I think they're a bunch of bastards who want their rights to take precedence over anyone else's rather than the simple and irrelevant nature of their sexual preference. And this example follows form. I'd agree with them that a venue ought not discriminate against gays, but if they don't want to or can't be bothered to get the fucking licence sorted out that's up to them. Stonewall and Outrage have got to grow the fuck up and learn that you can't overcome discrimination against gays by demanding that the property rights of other people are trashed. It doesn't matter if it's because they're religious or too tight to spring for a licence or even if they really are bigoted wankers - it's their property and they can do with it as they please. Criticize all you want - that's free speech. Make idiotic prejudice public and ridicule it - that's free speech too. Boycott and spend elsewhere and hurt them financially - nobody can tell you what to do with your money (well, after the government's had its share). I'd support all of those things, but not overturning someone else's property rights because your feelings are hurt.

I tend to agree with Bishop Hill when he wrote that he has
...come to the conclusion that a human right essentially defines an entitlement and therefore a duty on government (and perhaps on others), while a liberty defines a restriction on government (and perhaps on others). I've also concluded that human rights are potentially disastrous.
In modern Britain I think that serves very well as a definition. He's not done though:
By creating entitlements, but no understanding of how to balance different people's entitlements off against each other, they create confusion and sow discord and eventually leave the field of debate entirely empty, ready for government to legislate as they wish.
The Bishop's point is very well made and worth reading in full, though his example is Home Education. I think it's just as valid here though. Where the Bishop says that the government has simply decided that any parental right to privacy in their own home is secondary it's much the same as hotel and wedding venue owners being unable to decide for themselves who their clientele should be. That's rights for you - an inevitable conflict with the state as arbiter, and the more conflicts it creates the more it will be needed to act as arbiter. Liberties on the other hand, and using the Bishop's definition, would have the state simply shrug it's shoulders and say 'nothing to do with us, you must sort it out between you like adults'. The result of that would be as I suggested above - people would simply take their money where it was welcome instead.

Let me put it another way. I'm straight and non religious. Would I be the victim of discrimination if a gay pub refused me admission because I'm straight or a church said I couldn't get married there because I'm going to hell and might take them with me? BZZZZZT whatever you say is the wrong answer, because it's the wrong question in the first place. The correct question is would I care or would I simply say fuck 'em and go elsewhere?

Children's database and its teething troubles.

Oh what a surprise. The Contactpoint database is being delayed because of security concerns.
ContactPoint is meant to help protect England's 11 million children by giving council officers, health care professionals and police a single register of their names, ages and addresses as well as information on their schools, parents and GPs.
But its planned launch has been put on hold once again after local authority staff discovered loopholes in the system designed to hide personal details of the most vulnerable young people – meaning that adopted children or those fleeing abusive homes could be tracked down.
Not the first time either. The Telegrpah also mentions that the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust believes that the privacy, security and no choice of opting out make the Contactpoint database illegal anyway. I have no idea if the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust are right that it's illegal, but I'm damn sure that having over 300,000 people with access to a database of the details of 11 million children is a worry with the government's track record of data security, and the fact that the children of the great and good are going to be exempt precisely because of concerns both about the number of people with access and the security of the data taints the whole thing with hypocrisy as well. The risks are too much for their children to be on the database, for their children are too precious. Your kids? Tough shit!

Actually the details of the latest fuck up aren't that important because the two principle problems remain. Firstly the practical problem of this naive faith the government has that the solution to almost any problem is a database, and their seeming lack of awareness that collating information is pointless if you don't have people fucking doing anything about it. I think it likely that if Contactpoint does come about that in a few years time it will simply make assessing the numbers of children beaten and tortured to death a bit more efficient. No doubt 'lessons will be learned'. Secondly, and fundamentally impossible to solve, is the issue of having no choice about it unless you can achieve fame or become a tax gobbling corrupt whore politician, and that while you might trust the intentions of this government, or the next one or the one after that, you can't be certain that this will always be the case. They're not the only reasons and you can take them in any order you like. It's a bad idea and it's been a waste (so far) of £224 million.

Monday, 23 March 2009

A man after my own heart.

Deva Kumarasiri is someone I have a lot of time for - a guy who migrates to another country for a shot at a better life and adapts to his new home rather than expects it to adapt to him. I can quite understand because it's the same attitude I've taken. Admittedly the wrench is so much smaller for me since I've moved to somewhere that shares a fair amount of culture, history and language with the country of my birth, but if I'd moved to Italy (or wherever) I'd have taken the time to learn Italian (or whatever). Mr Kumarasiri feels that people moving to the UK from non-English speaking parts of the world should at least take the time to learn enough of the language to buy stamps, which he should know being both a migrant himself and a Postmaster.
Sri Lankan-born Deva Kumarasiri said he turned away five people from his Nottingham post office for "wasting time and holding up the queue" by not speaking English.
He introduced the rule last week because he believes all immigrants in Britain should learn the language and take pride in their new homeland.
Oh dear. You just know what's going to happen, don't you?
But Mr Kumarasiri said he was "forced out" of Sneinton Boulevard post office on Saturday, after a backlash in the community.
The 40-year-old father of two, from Carlton, Nottingham, said most people had come out in support of his stance, but a "small minority" launched a petition against him.
From now on he will be based at a different post office in Nottingham, but hopes to move back to his former branch in the future.
"I was forced out by a small minority of people who don't want to integrate into society," Mr Kumarasiri said.
If you're thinking that he's only been moved because he's not white enough to be a real racist and fired outright, he has apparently moved at his own request. But fuck, was what he said so unreasonable? Christ, when in Rome you do as the fucking Romans do. It's more convenient and it's just plain courteous. And then there's the liberty issue - why the fuck should a business be forced to put up with a few customers who hold up and inconvenience all the others? If my local Post Office started developing queues out the door and round the block because the only English the customer at the front has learned is G'day, and he's saying that wrong, then I'd simply go to a different Post Office. If it happened more than a few times I'd stop going altogether. Time is money, and that's as true for the business it self as it is for the people queueing for service.

But some people in multicultural Britain (Oz too for that matter) don't see it like that. "We must welcome all with open arms" they say. Well, yes, we certainly should. But that doesn't mean we have to adapt to everyone who comes. We can adapt to nobody that comes and still welcome the arrival of anyone who wants to live here rather than where they came from. The two are not mutually exclusive, and I think Mr Kumarasiri shows how it's possible. I expect his reasonable attitude to integrating with the country he chose to make his home will win a lot of support among native Brits. After all he is arguably more British than I am, born British and lived there for three and half decades. My Britishness is a fact of birth, but while I'm still very fond of the UK my loyalty to it should be measured by where I've made my home. In the same way Mr Kumarasiri chose the UK as his home - I was only born there. Who is more British?

I'd quite like to meet Deva Kumarasiri and compare experiences of choosing a new country to be a part of. And I wonder if he's better at God Save The Queen than I am at Advance Australia Fair. My old country could probably do with migrants just like him, but if he doesn't get the sort of support he deserves there I'd suggest he tries my new country. The Aussies wouldn't know whether to call him a pom or not but I think he'd be popular.

H/T Ambush Predator.

Talk of the Devil...

Devil's Kitchen has got my attention today talking about evil. seems that that arsehole, Jonathon Porritt, is still too fucking stupid to know when he should shut the fuck up.

JONATHON PORRITT, one of Gordon Brown’s leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society.

Porritt’s call will come at this week’s annual conference of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which he is patron.

The trust will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably.

Sure, Jonny-baby. So, when do we get the death camps going? And will you be using a lottery to select the lucky 30 million who are to be exterminated, or what?

Good question. Another is which of the swivel eyed loonies is going to come out on top? As the Times article DK linked to mentions there is disagreement among the window lickers as to what the final solution sorry, bad choice of words there, erm, the best way forward should be. Porritt wants half of us dead while Monbiot wants all of us broke.
Such views on population have split the green movement. George Monbiot, a prominent writer on green issues, has criticised population campaigners, arguing that “relentless” economic growth is a greater threat.
I can't help but think that if Moonbat gets his way then Porritt will as well.

The other bit of Devil talk that caught my eye was a comment on the latest bit of finger wagging nannying by an anti booze crusader.

The Express has an "exclusive" interview with Professor Ian Gilmore today; needless to say, this idiot shill has nothing good to say.

DRINKING blackspots will be subjected to prohibition-style laws under a radical proposal by the country’s top liver doctor.

Oh yes, that'll work. Because, you know, whenever I want to cite an example of a law that worked really, really well at achieving its primary objective and had no unintended consequences whatsoever, the American Prohibition is most definitely the one that I go for.

Quite, and as the Devil points out this is coming from someone who is being paid with taxpayer's money.

It's jogged my memory though. There are places in Australia where there are local alcohol bans put in to deal with indigenous Australians abusing alcohol. When I first went to one of these no booze zones I meant to look at who set it up and how successful it is generally, though the number of pissed aborigines I saw would suggest that the answer to the latter is 'not very'. I completely forgot about it afterwards but I can't help thinking that where a local community of indigenous people decides for themselves that their traditional land is going to be dry from now on it'll be more likely to work than where it's imposed from on high by paternalist twats with nanny state instincts.

Good news for free speech.

At least one person on the left actually understands it. The bad news is that his party is full of fuckwits that don't, and he was pushed overboard encouraged to walk the plank.
Labor candidate, Daniel Tabone chose to walk the plank at the weekend (and he insists he was not pushed) over his support for the free speech rights of the Sydney Muslim cleric who compared some scantily clad women to “uncovered meat”.
Mr Tabone made it clear yesterday that he did not support the cleric’s remarks or share his opinions but was concerned to defend the right of free speech.
Quoting the French writer Voltaire, he said: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it”. ….
Mr Tabone insists that he was not sacked by Labor over his remarks, although the word “dumped” has been widely used.
“I got a phone call at the weekend. I was asked very nicely if I would withdraw from the election and I agreed,” the almost ex-candidate said.
How clear does it have to be? Supporting the right to say something does not mean supporting what is actually said. Will the PC and Righteous ever get their fucking heads wrapped around this fundamental point?

Fuck's sake.

H/T to Thoughts On Freedom (Australian Libertarian Society blog).

March 22nd will be the feast of Saint Jade.

As I said once before I didn't have a lot of time for Jade Goody and have always been at a loss to understand how the fuck she stayed famous after Big Brother Number Whatever (can't remember or be arsed to look it up). So while I had some sympathy because I felt her numerous faults didn't merit a protracted death from cancer, I can't honestly say I'm in mourning for the woman. But the press, particularly those with a tendency to show pictures of tits, seem to be making her into Diana Mk II. Let's not forget that when she was on Big Brother the media had a field day. Some papers called her pretty at the start of the show, presumably because she was blond with big tits that she might be inclined to get out for the tabloids' cameras. Then they had plenty of laughs with her apparent lack of knowledge about almost anything you care to think of. Next, sensing the public mood was turning against her, they turned her into a hate figure - 'vote out the pig' ran the headlines. It should have been clear then how the story was going to go. Has anyone ever been built up and knocked down by the media in such a short space of time before?

And of course it didn't end there. Goody turned out to be fairly bright in one respect - she was happy to exploit what ought to have been a brief moment of fame and make it last and last. Hiring Max Clifford was a good move, but in retrospect it looked like the tabloids were already falling back in love with her before that. She was happy to tell "her BB story" for money, and since the show was so popular the tabloids were hardly going to turn their noses up at the chance to sell a few more copies of their arse wipes on the back of that. So she she became a media darling again, and that lasted until, laughably, she went on Celebrity Big Brother (and surely even she got the irony of including a minor celebrity who was only a minor celebrity because of being on the no-celebrity version). We all remember the fuss over the borderline racism of her remarks, even those of us who didn't watch the show, and we all saw how quickly she became a hate figure again. Then Chancellor Gordon Clown was in India at the time and the row over Goody's name calling of Shilpa Shetty overshadowed his visit. Can't remember what he was there for (and can't be arsed to look that up either) but I do remember he had to make some comment about cheap name calling not being representative of British values or something along those lines. But that was nothing to what was said in the UK papers - thick, ignorant, jealous, fat, racist, fishwife and pig were all terms I recall being used about Goody. I think it was the Mirror that even suggested calling her a pig was insulting to farm animals. Max Clifford commented on her spectacular own goal suggesting that she'd probably destroyed her career, and he must have known how hard she'd have to work to get back into the media's good books again.

We'll never know if going on the Indian version of Big Brother would have worked because getting cancer turned out to be just the thing to get the media back on her side. Racist thick fishwife ignorant pig Jade turned into poor cancer stricken battler Jade practically overnight, though there were some who thought that the cancer thing was manufactured, perhaps a scare that had been expanded on for PR reasons. But it hadn't, and it as soon as it turned out to be terminal the canonization process began. The formerly racist thick fishwife ignorant pig Jade turned poor cancer stricken battler Jade became brave Jade, media darling once again. I'm not sure she herself changed a great deal in her 5 years or so of fame and notoriety, but fucking hell did the media's attitude towards her change or what? Even David Cameron and Gordon Clown have weighed in with tributes (while, as Guido points out, three dead soldiers are brought back from Afghanistan almost unnoticed). The pinnacle, or nadir depending on your point of view, was what i think of as the celebrity death edition of OK magazine. Far from hitting the shelves before she'd started cooling down as we might expect, the tasteless bastards didn't even wait for her to stop breathing. But basically every paper that reviled her only a year or so ago is full of the tragic news of her death, gushy gushy, glowing obit, blahblah. No doubt it's only a matter of time before time before they report that a second miracle has been attributed to Jade when it was confirmed that some airheaded teenage slapper with more breasts than brain cells has prayed and has now been shagged by a footballer and will soon be appear on I'm A Non-Entity, Get Me A Contract For Something.

Dead of cancer, she's being buried in hypocrisy. But as The Chaser boys noted a while back, all their faults are forgotten when they take their final breath...

Yep. It's not how they lived that counts but how we rewrite the book after they've snuffed it.

Tony McNulty - Übercunt.

There are times when the C bomb won't quite do on it's own, and this is one of them. Tony McNulty MP has apparently been on the ever popular second homes expenses fiddle.
Employment minister Tony McNulty claimed the money on the house in Harrow even though he moved out in 2002 and lives in Hammersmith, west London, with his wife.
But his spokesman says he still spends two or three days a week at his parents property doing constituency work and so was entitled to the allowance. He stopped claiming the expenses in January.
The Additional Costs Allowance, worth up to £24,000 a year, is paid to MPs from outside inner London to cover the cost of staying overnight away from their main home for the purpose of performing parliamentary duties.
It's got so commonplace now that my first reaction wasn't shock or outrage or disgust but "oh, another one".
A spokesman for Mr McNulty said the claims on the property in Harrow were entirely within the parliamentary rules on MPs' allowances.
Mr McNulty's spokesman said: "Tony is completely compliant with all the regulations around the allowances for second homes.
"There is absolutely nothing irregular in Tony's situation. Tony is entitled, like all MPs, to an allowance allowing him blahblahblah waffle spin zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"
Oh shut the fuck up. We'll take the pathetic technically-within-the-rules excuses as read if it means not having to hear the same old shit from another MP's mouthpiece to justify him or her milking the taxpayer. Obviously Tony McNulty (or a mouthpiece) isn't going to make a public statement along the lines of there was a nice loophole and there was money in it, so it's more or less at the stage where'd I'd rather just not fucking hear anything from him. It's going to be an excuse - enough said.
After moving into her home in Hammersmith, west London, he claimed the second home allowance on the Harrow property, receiving around £60,000 since 2001/2, while his parents continued to live there.
In January this year he decided to stop claiming the allowance as interest rates had fallen so far that he found he was able to meet his mortgage commitments from his MP's salary, said his spokesman.
Oh that's fucking big of him. And I'm sure it had nothing to do with increasing scrutiny of expenses around that time and any sense he had that the game might be up before long if he kept at it. It's been said many times by many people - what a corrupt and venal bunch of bastards they are in Westminster.

That on it's own might make McNulty a cunt for some, but as I said my initial reaction wasn't particularly strong. It's like finding another Premiership footballer that's been diving to get penalties or opposing players carded. Shouldn't happen and if honest people were running things it fucking wouldn't because the bastards that do it would be out on their arses. Unfortunately there are few honest people in Westminster and, since I'd guess that 20 million or more people have some sort of Pavlovian response to elections and cast their vote for anyone or anything with the right rosette while two fifths don't vote at all, it's likely to stay that way for a while. So tactical use of the expenses may be cuntish from the perspective of how much money the taxpayer is bled for just to keep Parliamentarians comfy, it's not especially shocking when so many of them are at it in some way or another. What made him a standout among cunts for me was something quite unrelated to the usual stuff and involved paying tribute to a loathed loved loathed loved Zzzzzz-list 'celeb' who's just snuffed it:
Mr McNulty said he "regretted" Jade's comment that she wanted to earn enough money before she died for her children to go to private schools, insisting that there were many good schools in the state sector.
Can we just go over a few facts about the lat semi-lamented Jade goody for the benefit of Tony McNulty.
    She thought Cambridge was part of London
    She thought "East Angular" was a foreign country instead of the area of England where Cambridge really is.
    She thought that Rio de Janeiro played football.
    She said after being hopeless in the London marathon that she didn't understand miles
    She thought a ferret was a bird.
    She thought Saddam Hussein was a boxer.
    And, most relevant of all, she had a state education.
Now it's quite possible that Jade Goody wasn't on the receiving end of a lousy education but was simply dumb as a rock. Or it might be that her education was fucking appalling and she might have been less ignorant of, well, everything apparently if someone had actually taught her things. I've no idea which it was McNumpty, but if she was prepared to hawk her own death to the tabloids to fund the private education of her kids I can make a guess about what she thought. And what a fucking time to trot out the predictable socialist dogma about state education. Not even Broon is that crass. Jade Goody was a media whore right up to the end, but compared to someone who parasitises the taxpayer to the tune of 60 grand and then criticizes the not-yet-room-temperature Goody for her ambitions for her children a media whore doesn't seem so bad after all. Better that than an übercunt.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly Guido's on this too, and points out that Mrs McNumpty is also feeding off the taxpayer's back since she works for a quango. Oink oink.

Google Street View in the UK

Since it came to Oz about a year ago I've already heard all the arguments for and against, but I expected that when it hit the UK I'd hear them all over again in the British press. And since it's only in parts of the country those living in the three quarters or whatever that isn't covered can obsess and worry about it for months to come. Let me save you the trouble.

Google Street View as far as I can tell is pointless. I've played, looked at my house, looked at local landmarks, tried and failed to find a picture with something funny happening, tried and failed to find a picture with a tram in it, got bored, realized that it's a total waste of time, stopped. That process took a couple of hours. I still don't know what the fuck I'm really supposed to do with it. Google Earth has been very useful to me and the combo map and imagery of Google Maps can be just as handy. For example, with Google Maps I can show you where Senator Conroy's Melbourne office is:

View Larger Map
What more does Street View tell us? We already know the road name from zooming in on the image or clicking the map button, and we'd need that to put into Street View in the first place. It'll tell us what a building or an area looks like from ground level but I haven't quite figured out why Google thinks I give a shit. If I'm going there anyway I'll find out, and if I'm not what do I need to know for? And then there are places that the Googlewagons didn't go, such as outside Stephen Conroy's Melbourne offices. This is as close as they got:

View Larger Map
Now if you were planning to jump on a plane to Melbourne and go to Stephen Conroy's office to explain what a bad idea internet censorship is which of those two images would be most useful to you? It's a solution looking for a problem. That's point one.

Point two, look at that again and just imagine it was a residential street rather than a main road in central Melbourne. Okay? Private houses on the web for anyone in the world with an internet connection to look at. So - fucking - what? It's a public road, the houses are in plain sight, photography isn't illegal. Where's the privacy issue? I can walk along any public street and take a photo, better quality than Google too, and no one thinks it's invasive. I can take a photo at each end and one in the middle and that'd be okay too. I can take a bunch of photos of different angles all the up and down the street, and I can come back the next day and do the same in the next street over, and while you'd be within your rights to ask me why you wouldn't be within your rights to tell me to stop. So where do you draw the line? Is it the systematic approach Google has used that makes the difference? So doing it on foot is okay but roof mounting cameras on a car and doing what Google could be declared illegal. But Google could then do it on foot and achieve exactly the same thing, but much more slowly and at greater cost. Or are people bent out of shape because it's a company? Ban companies then. But professional photographers are companies too.

The bottom line is, as pointed out by the Indy, any law you can think of to prevent Google doing this is going to bugger someone else up as well, and probably lots of someone elses. Instead accept that a reasonable expectation of privacy does not include any part of you or your house that's visible from a public place. if I can go there and look then I can't see why someone can't go there and photograph. This is not telephoto lenses through the letter box, it's cameras nailed to a car outside driving down the road. If you want total privacy then dig a hole and build your house in it, and never leave without putting a burqa on first.

UPDATE: No one will see you having a shit.
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