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

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Things I still don't get about Australia - No. 15

Been a while since I've done one of these, but I certainly wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that at the arse end of 2009 I've got this weird country all worked out at last.

Oven gloves. Regular, ordinary oven gloves. The ones that are basically like a big pocket on the end of about a yard of thick, padded material with another pocket at the other end, maybe with thumbs if it's an upmarket version. Why are they an endangered species here and why do Australian stores sell 'oven gloves' that consist of one single padded mitten and what looks like a matching small flannel made of the same stuff? I can see why something like it might sell in Birmingham where there's a vast amount of good curry available and there's the ever present risk of burning the flesh from your bones after a good jalfrezi - you need something to protect your hand when you wipe your arse after all. But properly fiery Indian food is as hard to find here as... well, as proper oven gloves that hang over the oven door or on the rail for dishcloths.

Maybe I'll figure it out in the next year, but more likely it'll take me the whole bloody decade.

Now I'm off outside to watch the fireworks. Happy New Year, and may 2010 be one that is a little bit, or preferably quite a lot freer for us all.

Suicide note.

£1.23 a litre for petrol? Jesus, they really don't want to win the next election, do they? 25 million or so cars in the UK, virtually all of which are driven by someone who can vote. Now I know I'm not the first one to note that with the NuLab government forced by it's own incompetence to start arse fucking not just everyone outside it's core vote but starting on Labour supporters too the Tories should be absolutely decimating them in the polls. That they're not makes me think that people are expecting more of the same from Camernong and company.

What a happy thought.

Sign of the whines.

Sometimes I think comedians who use the phrase 'Daily Mail readers' as code for 'stupid Tory voting bastards who should be beaten with rolled up copies of the Guardian until they accept the idea of a social contract' are just being up themselves. And other times I think they might have a point.
Liverpool football legend dices with death by jumping the red light at train crossing.
[Terry] McDermott was caught on camera ignoring the stop signal, nearly a minute after it went red, in his black Mercedes.

And how many died? Yep, none. Sure, it's a pretty retarded thing to do and as such a fine and points are arguably fair.* But I have to ask why it's necessary to have such a long delay between the lights going red and the actual train passing through. If it was nearly a minute when McDermott (never heard of him incidentally - some legend, though that might say more about what I think of soccer than of McDermott's fame) drove over the line then assuming he didn't miss the train by inches (surely the Mail wouldn't miss that bit out if it had happened) it's not a stretch to say it was considerably more than a minute till the train came. Is this absolutely necessary? A couple of commenters on the Wail article pointed this out and have received little more than a flurry of Pavlovian negative button clicking for their troubles.

So is it actually necessary? Well, it seems to be pretty common because I can think of at least three level crossings I had to pass regularly when I still lived in the UK and long waits for the train to show up were the norm, so let's assume for the moment that it is. I can even think of reasons why that might be: where the crossing is a long way between stations and/or on an express route the train could be going at quite a lick and several hundred tons of train would obviously take a bit of space to stop. Possibly more space than is available if someone just nipped through the red light and through incredibly bad luck got stuck on the crossing. We know from incidents like Ufton Nervet what can happen then so it makes sense that road traffic is kept off the crossing from the point at which the train can no longer stop in time, plus a small margin for error and environmental conditions such as wet rails. However, if that is the case why the fuck are they pissing about with fucking cameras and fines instead of fitting some fucking barriers?

I'd have thought that automatic barriers are cheap enough that the cost wouldn't be an issue, certainly not if the risk is that bad. For that matter I wouldn't be surprised if it's not much more than the camera system they put in instead. Power can't be a problem because whatever source is used for the cameras could have been used for barriers. So why aren't there any? Why was the preference to install cameras to catch people doing it rather than barriers to prevent them in the first place?
Police revealed they are now issuing more than ten tickets a month to people caught jumping the lights at the site.
I'm sure £3,500 and ten' detections' a month have absolutely nothing to do with it.

But what depressed me most is that the Mail article didn't bother to ask this perfectly reasonable question, and the response to those few who did ask it in the comments, with or without accompanying suggestions that fine revenue might be a motive, just generated another round of Pavlovian negative button clicks, and as far as I could see no sensible case put forward for using cameras over barriers. And that makes me wonder if the sneering remarks made be old Red Wedge comedians about 'Daily Mail readers' aren't sometimes a little bit justified after all.

* Bear in mind that, as Gary Hart found out, if someone actually does cause a train crash and deaths he wouldn't be looking at points and fines but more like court and prison. And quite right too.


Oh Christ, why is the UK even bothering to carry on fighting in the 'Stan? Why, when the chickenshits in charge have already let terrorists score so many victories? Attacked supposedly for our decadent, western, freedom loving ways the whole fucking west responds by restricting the freedom of its citizens. Thanks to knowing which buttons to press a few headjobs have ensured that getting on a plane is now a colossal pain in the arse and that you can't take a photograph without attracting the attention of some overbearing, gum chewing, busybody, bullying cocksocket who makes Constable Savage look reasonable. And now it seems that it's spread to sport.
England is poised to pull out of next year’s Commonwealth Games over fears that athletes will be victims of a terrorist attack, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
Just like all those years and years didn't go anywhere where we were threatened by Irish republican terrorists, right? Oh, wait....
Police and security advisers fear that the English team will be targeted by Pakistani terrorists and feel that athletes’ safety cannot be guaranteed at present.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, visited the Indian capital earlier this month to inspect the Games sites and was said to have voiced “serious concerns” about the security arrangements.
Whereas you can guarantee their safety at home because there's never been a successful attack in the UK, has there? Oh, wait....
Although a formal decision on England’s participation will not be taken until the new year, senior Whitehall sources told The Daily Telegraph that there was “virtually no chance” a team would be sent.
I don't know about anyone else but I'd call that match point to Terrorism.
If the English team withdraws, the entire competition would be in jeopardy. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish teams would almost certainly follow suit, as could countries such as Australia and Canada which also have troops in Afghanistan — the likely justification for any terrorist attack. Several high-profile English athletes have already pulled out of the Games citing other commitments.
Oh fuck. Shall we just call it game, set, match, tournament and many years of bragging rights?

What the fuck happened over the last ten years? When did we become such softcocks? When did we let other people decide for us whether it's safe to go somewhere? Why do so many of us roll over so meekly and allow our fucking governments - the cunts that are supposed to be elected to make sure what we say gets done (yes, ahahahahahahahahaha, I know, ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha) - to hand the win to religious nutters because there might be yet another one prepared to set his underpants on fire? In short why can't any sportspeople who want to compete and are willing to take the risk stick a big middle finger up to terrorists and spineless governments alike and go anyway?*

The bottom line is that by changing our lives so much for the terrorist threat we lose and they win. Let's go back to being us and if they want to carry on, well, I can't put it much better than the inimitable P&T.

Business as usual, motherfuckers, because madmen in caves can't get us all. So let's harden the fuck up and send as much of the team that wants to compete anyway to the Commonwealth Games.

* Obviously there may be an element of the Orwellian perpetual war thing going on to keep the proles under control.

Local news: journalist writes bollocks.

I can only think I missed this because of Christmas:
Police have taken a slippery character into custody after making an unusual Christmas Day arrest.
Officers picked up a one-metre long tiger snake found sunbaking near the South Melbourne Life Saving Club on South Melbourne beach after being called to the scene at about 8.30am (AEDT) on Friday.
They picked it up? Fuck that! They have been known to kill people, you know. Still, the point is that they picked it up. They did not in actual fact arrest the fucking thing. This would be because there is probably no offence on the statute books that you could arrest it for and charge it with, and certainly no way it could possibly meet any sane test of criminal responsibility even if there was, since it is not actually a person but just a fucking snake.

On the other hand I'd have gone straight over there and paid money to see the cops trying to handcuff it.

In fairness...

... it's not just the smoking ban damaging pubs if many of them keep doing this.
In a survey of 30 pubs, bars and restaurants, 88 pints were bought by Trading Standards Officers in Birmingham. Only 9 drinks were a full pint, making over 88per cent of pints pulled short measure. The average shortfall found was 3.94 per cent.
Landlords, if you want the best chance of keeping the customers who are still prepared to come to your pubs only to be banished outside if they smoke (and with all this you can fuck that for a game of chess), I suggest that shitting on them is probably not a good long term strategy.

Afghanistan progress report.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Boris Johnson has a 'zap gun'.

Sounds really good.
It was do or die. Kill or be killed. I remembered that it is better to squeeze off one thoughtful round than fire five frantic shots; so I aimed at what I took to be his chest.
My muzzle barked, and instantly there was an answering cry of pain from the shed. I charged in to finish the job, and realised – too late – my miscalculation. The light blazed from the barrel of my opponent's gun, once, twice, three times. My chest seemed to be on fire and a red light went on in my eyes and a sharp pain ran from my palm to my wrist and the gun dropped from fingers twitching like a trod-on crab.
It was game over. But not for long. Soon another kid had challenged my 10-year-old victor, and all night long the noise of battle rolled over the garden, with shouts and screams and shots, and I felt the pride of a parent who has finally fluked a popular present. I felt a surge of confidence in the technological prowess of the human race; and a violent sense of disagreement with all those who have been snootily writing off 2009.
Perhaps I will be attacked for promoting nasty rough games. My friends in the Green Party will probably condemn me for buying toy guns. I couldn't give a monkey's. I salute this laser zap gun because until 2009 you couldn't even find such a thing. There were laser guns. And then there were electric shock doodahs. Who first decided to see what would happen if you stuck these concepts together? Who first came up with the idea of a gun that gave you an electric shock if a laser struck your breastplate?
This zap gun beats previous laser guns because its pioneers have understood that you won't really run, you won't try, you won't hurl yourself that extra yard into the ditch unless you fear the tingling zap of retribution. You can't win, you can't hit your enemy, unless you are willing to expose your own breastplate. And isn't that the truth that every child needs to learn? That you can't win unless you are willing to risk the pain of rejection.
Some truth in all of that, Boris. But seeing as you're the authoritarian prick who banned alcohol on the Tube because it was easier than telling the fucking police to get off their arses and deal with the small number who overdo the grog I'd rather you stuck the electric shock breastplate bit down the front of your trousers so people could take aim at your love spuds.

Twenty Bensons? Would you like a mortgage to fund that?

As I've said before both here and elsewhere I'm an ex-smoker and I'm quite happy about it. But quitting was as much a personal choice as starting was in the first place* and I really don't have a problem if other people carry on. Partly because it really doesn't bother me enough and I can easily avoid it on the occasions that it does, partly because when the bastards have finished banning what I don't do I'm quite certain they'll move on to something that I do do, and partly because smokers are keeping taxes down for the rest of us. That will only carry on up to a point though, and if the latest suggestion from the self appointed tobacco gauleiters goes ahead I suspect the state government will see a drop in tobacco tax revenue. Twenty fucking dollars a packet? Are you out of your minds?
Doctors are calling for a new state tax on tobacco that would see the price of a packet of cigarettes rise to $20.
Let me stop there and, for anyone who's never been to Australia, give you an idea of what that means in real terms rather than fucking about with exchange rates. $20 will buy a little less than a dozen songs from the iTunes store. It will cover a McDonalds burger and chips for a couple of people or one big, fat, greedy bastard. Today it'll pay for about 17 litres, say 33/4 gallons in old money, of unleaded petrol. It will also buy about 1.5kg of either cat or dog food precursor chemicals for weapons grade cat sick and dog eggs. What I'm saying is that it's not a vast amount of money but it is for a pack of fags.
The Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has proposed a 'tobacco transaction levy' that would increase the cost of a cigarette by 10 cents from next July, rising to 30 cents in July 2012.

The AMA is appealing to the Victorian Government to introduce the tax, saying the Federal Government remains silent on the issue months after receiving the Preventative Health Taskforce Report.
No idea how much British smokers are being stung for the price of fags but twenty bucks is not small change. The last ciggies I bought cost about $90-95 for a carton of 200, and since cartons tend to be a bit cheaper we're talking here is close to a doubling of the price over a period of barely three years. And what really fucks me off is that this seems to be as much about money as about health, though admittedly this is hardly new when it comes to tobacco.

Aside from the outrageous meddling in people's personal freedom I think this is terrible idea for non-smokers. Seriously. For two reasons I think it may lead to a fall in tobacco tax revenue that the rest of us will no doubt have to pay for. First, for some people it will probably work, and that means no more lolly from these new ex-smokers. Second, this is proposed as a state measure because, according to the gauleiters, the Federal Government isn't being a big enough bastard to the smokers. Now the thing with being a state, particularly the smallest mainland state, is that you don't have to stay in it. I imagine smokers in the Warnambool area in the west of the state would probably opt to hop over the border to South Australia and bulk buy their cigs in Mount Gambier or somewhere, thereby contributing the usual amount to Canberra's coffers and paying into the SA treasury at the expense of Victoria's. Similarly in the east people in Mallacoota and the Murray river region could buy from New South Wales. Smokers around Mildura in the top left hand corner might well do either being close to both borders. Ah, but that's a long drive for people from Melbourne and Geelong, which is probably three quarters of Victorians. True, but do you think for one minute that some of that bulk bought 'honest, it's all for me own consumption' baccy won't find it's way towards the state's big cities? And Melbourne does have a sort of state border in the form of the Tasmanian ferry. Even if not one single cigarette is ever brought across the Bass Strait to be sold on in Melbourne if the price of a car boot load of cigs bought in Victoria is higher than the price in Tassie plus the ferry trip people will start thinking about heading over there maybe twice a year to stock up. All that means is that Victorian tobacconists lose out, as does the government from the reduced taxes (though it of course it will get some back from fuel burnt by everyone fucking off to buy fags interstate). In short if non smokers want to see more tobacco smuggling coupled with an increased share of the state's tax burden we should get right behind this. If not then telling the gauleiters to shut the fuck up might be better.

The gauleiters themselves don't see it this way of course.
The president of AMA Victoria, Dr Harry Hemley, says a survey also found three quarters of smokers would quit if the price of a packet of cigarettes rose in price by half.

"That's why we're encouraging the state Government to introduce the tobacco transaction levy, which would give the Victorian State Government an extra $3 billion a year just in Victoria alone, which would allow us to fund a lot of the shortfall in our public hospital expenditure," he said.
Aside: err... 'just in Victoria alone'? Tell me, where else but Victoria would the Victorian State Government be allowed to raise taxes, fuck monkey?

Dr Hemley might want to consider that if tobacco is the insidiously addictive substance they keep telling us it is then three quarters might be a bit optimistic. I once swore I'd quit when it got to £3 a pack, and did I? Er, no. So aside from all the other caveats to bear in mind with surveys one of the tobacco gauleiters' own arguments makes this sound awfully wobbly. Next he should check his numbers. Let's forget what I just said and assume for the moment that the 75% figure is accurate. Elsewhere in the article the number of Victorians who smoke is put at 16%, which assuming that means the whole population and not adults only makes about 865,000 smokers (population roughly 5.4 million). Dr Hemley is saying that $20 smokes will mean that about 650,000 of those people will quit, but somehow despite this massive reduction in people paying fag tax the remaining 225,000 or so will somehow contribute an extra $3 billion to the state treasury. That's over $13,000 per smoker per year... and that's not actually on smoking. Oh no. That's just the tax needed above and beyond the existing taxes we have right now to make up this supposed extra $3 billion p.a. Clearly the 225,000 smokers who'll be left will have to be fucking minted to afford an extra $13 grand tax each before even getting to the current level of tax and the cost of the product itself.

Can we call bullshit now? Nah, fuck it. Let's carry on for a bit.

Apparently a couple of years ago a pack cost about $11.25 and roughly 62.5% of that was tax. Let's be conservative and assume that both have moved on slightly to $12.50 and 65% - not an outrageous assumption, I think. So if the price is to be $20 a pack duty needs to be an extra $7.50, and the non tax proportion drops from just over a third to about 22% - barely a fifth. Cheers fellas. Meanwhile that extra $7.50 per pack divided into that extra $3 billion Dr Hemley believes will magically come is 400,000,000. So despite 650,000 fewer smokers 400 million packets of cigarettes will be sold, which means the remaining 225,000 smokers will each be smoking more than 1,750 packs a year, or nearly five a day. That's just an average of course. Personally I never even found enough spare time to smoke more than one pack a day, tops. Five? Christ! Some people would need to be chugging through ciggies non stop just to make up for the ones who can only contribute a pack a day worth of tax. And all this would be at an average annual cost to each smoker of a little over $35,500. That's brand new family car money.

Now we can call bullshit.

Neither the arguments nor the figures add up. On the one hand if it's the dreadfully addictive stuff they say then I have a hard time believing the three quarters estimate and would expect nicotine addicts to simply steal to fund the habit. If, as seems more likely, tobacco doesn't get you hooked just because someone whispers 'Marlboro' in a tiny voice five miles away and anything like three quarters of smokers quit the habit then the state will be fucking lucky for tax revenue even to stay anywhere close to it's current levels, much less fucking go up by $3 bill. So what is it, Doc? Health or money? Or is it the ever popular third option: power? I mean neither of the first two options seems terribly realistic on the back of my cigarette packet envelope, and since all the kids I went to school with who wanted to do medicine were pretty bright and could add up I'm going to assume that you can too. So have I made a colossal miscalculation somewhere above, or have you just not bothered to actually take a pencil and work through the same simple arithmetic, or is the real draw that it appeals to the revolting vice that so many authoritarian, cock biting, freedom hating, nannying, paternalist cuntweasels have in common - telling people what to fucking do with their own lives and ruling on what they can and can't put into their own fucking bodies.

[Victorian State] Treasurer John Lenders say the (sic) AMA's suggestion will be examined.
Let's hope he does the maths and sees the obvious: smokers are still, just, prepared to put up with current levels of taxation. Taking the piss will likely lead to a drop in revenue that will need to be made up** by imposing far less popular taxes on the wider population. What do taxes cost, John? Yes, votes. I have little doubt it would appeal to the authoritarian streak so many politicians have, but when push comes to shove they'd prefer to increase their chances of staying in office.

On the other hand if it does go ahead British smokers be warned: banning smoking with kids in the car has only been suggested over there but is already happening in Oz. If we do get $20 packs of fags you'll be next.

* It certainly wasn't advertising because during my childhood tobacco ads went from being weirdly meaningless to well on the way to being banned - I just tried it once or twice and decided I liked it enough to carry on. Eventually I decided I didn't like it enough anymore and stopped, and that decision wasn't thanks to all the negative advertising either. Memo to the tobacco industry: don't moan about the advertising ban because a lot of that money was probably being wasted anyway. Memo to the health nazis and pharma companies making quitting products: hahahahahahahahaha, your turn now, cunts.
** It goes without saying that it won't occur to any of the fuckers that the state should cope with a drop in revenue simply by doing less.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Let it snow, let it snow (even more)

On Christmas Eve I wondered how the hell Britain is so badly affected by snow these days when so many other nations get by throughout far worse conditions, including Britain itself in the not so recent past. If this is anything to go by I think it's worth asking again: why did several inches of snow not stop a much younger Angry Exile getting on a bus and a train to school like every other fucker? How come TV presenters were able to get from one place to another without eating their own feet? In short, when did a few inches of fucking frozen water become an excuse for an entire fucking developed nation to grind to a halt until it turns liquid again? You're in for much more of this as warble gloaming continues, so harden the fuck up.*

* To be fair I'm sure millions of Brits did brave the sub-antarctic conditions and carry on as close to normal as possible, maybe just allowing a lot more time to get from home to work or client to client or simply expecting fewer customers for a bit. And I expect those people still call it working for a fucking living.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Richter scale bitch slapping.

It's rarely been done any better than this: the Ambush Predator on a particularly right-on Guardianista's attempt to mold her son in her own GROLIES image by not allowing any toy, book or TV program that could possibly contain even a tenuous reference to violence or an implied approval of gender inequality.
I'm curious, Susan. Did you really want a child?

Or a
World class bitch slap - 10.0 from the Australian judge.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Here's your certificate in showing up for certificates.

Short one, this. Having seen that kids get rewarded in school for pretty much anything up down to, and possibly including, metabolising their fucking lunch I was going to blog on what a farce it is. Then I noticed that Leg-Iron has already done it in detail and said everything I would have in 'The award for remembering to breathe goes to...'
The point is, those certificates and prizes mattered because we had to work for them. The sporty types won prizes for running fastest or throwing things the furthest or lifting the heaviest thing. First, second and third counted. Nothing else. There was no certificate for 'totally bloody useless' so there was no point in me entering. I didn't feel left out or isolated. Those folk might be able to throw me around or run rings round me but not one of them would ever beat me in an insult contest. It meant sports day was worth watching because only those who thought they were in with a chance would enter, which meant there was a real competition going on.


These kids will eventually leave school. Some might get jobs. They will expect to be applauded into work every morning and to get a certificate for turning up more than half the time. They will want sitting-at-a-desk certificates and coffee-making awards. They are going to get a very nasty shock.

In real life, there are punishments for getting things wrong but no awards for getting trivia right. Some things are just expected and if you can't do those things without constant praise, nobody will employ you for long. The way we were taught prepared us for that. The way these kids are being taught does not. Worse, many will fail to spot the difference between these random awards and real qualifications.

Go read the lot - about all I can possibly add is that the only way they'll be alright is if they're employed by peers who would also have been conditioned into thinking that a certificate in eating without forking your own eyes out is sufficiently noteworthy to put on a resumé, though of course if things get to that stage we're all fucked.

Now, class, who thinks they know what mistake Tommy made?

The only hope is that kids prove us wrong again and turn out not to be as stupid as adults sometimes think they are. Some people think they can't tell the difference between reality and videogames and unless I was some kind of child genius (and all the evidence says otherwise) I reckon that's probably crap for all but a very small minority of children. So maybe most of them can see a bullshit certificate in a meaningless activity for what it is as well.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Just what every man wants for Christmas.

One Easy Step<

I'm dead for that, aren't I?

Happy Christmas all.

Absolutely not safe for work, but then not much is these days. And what the fuck are you doing at work anyway?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas is cancelled. Everything's melted at the CG north pole.

Newsflash for Nathan Grills - alcohol isn't the only thing Santa can be used to market. If you're a warble gloaming believer who owns a toy company you can push your products and your beliefs on to the little darlings with this sort of shit (warning: some viewers may experience negative reactions to this video, including sticking a fist through the computer monitor).

Nice name drop for a shithouse warble gloaming disaster movie at 1:49, by the way, not to mention a hint of some fucking fearsome hallucinogenic drugs. Well, what else would cause anyone to come up with the idea of talking polar bears claiming that the north pole is going to melt in the middle of fucking winter? Obviously I won't be adding it to the warble gloaming diary dates because (a) it's as made up as Santa and (b) it's patently fucking ridiculous. Yes, I do realise that this is not exactly a first in the history of warble gloaming propaganda.*

Well, Build-A-Bear people, if that's what you want to do with your company that's up to you. Just like it's up to your customers to buy something else. And after their little vid made it to What's Up With That? (big H/T) it sounds like more than a few regulars there are planning to do just that. Still, it's nice to see that ideals don't get in the way of business, and so in the comments at WUWT? there's this:
The video has been pulled without apology.
Blog-o-sphere 1 Buildabear 0.
The link goes to a page that says:
Our goal is to entertain and engage the imagination of children with our stuffed animals, our store environment, and online. Our intention with the Polar Bear story was to inspire children, through the voices of our animal characters, to make a difference in their own individual ways.
They're children, fucknuts. Other than nag their parents what the fuck do you expect them to do?
We did not intend to politicize the topic of global climate change or offend anyone in any way. The webisodes concluded this week with Santa successfully leaving on his journey to deliver gifts around the world. The webisodes will no longer be available on the site.
Well, principles might fall on you if you stand by them too closely.


* And on the subject of warble gloaming propaganda WUWT? also has a history of the infamous emails available here.

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas.

Needless to say I have more productive things to do, but...

... it's Christmas Eve - fuck it.

Formula One.

Circus is starting early this year I see. Whether Schumacher's return is going to be genius or madness remains to be seen, but that alone will make the season worth watching. I'm leaning towards madness given the track record of other returning retirees to F1, but if anyone can pull it off I suppose it would probably be Michael Schumacher. Of course the other question this brings up is at what stage of the 2010 season will Mummylonglegs' underpants explode with excitement? I reckon around Turkey.

Santa the evil bastard - an update.

Via Dick Puddlecote, apparently this was in fact a spoof.
Fortunately, via antipodean freedom-lover Crampton, the report author, Nathan Grills, explains his bafflement that no-one got the joke.
Most of the 'Santa- A public Health Pariah' article is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. It's a Christmas spoof. It's supposed to be spreading a bit of Christmas cheer, but with a tinge of seriousness to provoke a bit of healthy Christmas dinner table conversation. The BMJ Christmas edition is a special edition with much humour.

Unfortunately, the article has spread like wildfire but it has lost a bit of the Christmas cheer element.
I don't think Nathan quite understands the make-up of humour. A spoof can't readily be taken as a spoof, especially one published in the generally condemnatory BMJ, if it's possible that it could be true.

It would appear that Nathan himself believed that no-one could possibly take such nonsense seriously, but then he is an epidemiologist who is no doubt blissfully unaware of the contempt with which much of the public view some of the guff produced by his colleagues.

Christmas cheer? We suffer these alarmist nuisances criticising every aspect of our lives for the whole of the preceding eleven and a half months, why would we be cheered by Santa being condemned as a public health threat?

It's no more stupid than many other studies we have seen in 2009, so is quite readily credible.

After all, as Crampton points out.
A piece 40 years ago advocating banning smoking in public outdoor places would have been seen as satire too though.
Compared with such lunacy, the idea that Santa is easing your kids into an early coffin doesn't strike one as so bizarre.
Indeed, but I feel there may be some arse covering there. The ABC article I linked to originally also mentioned that Grills' paper was supposed to be a bit tongue in cheek, but went on to say that there was a serious message contained within.
Despite the humour of the paper, Grills says there is a serious message we should take from it.

"If Santa is a figure that appeals to kids and he's used by big corporations to market alcohol and the like, then basically he's marketing those products to kids."

In other words he's still being a nannying, hectoring, alcohol free, sanctimonious, joyless prick.

As I said a few days ago, fuck off and die under a pile of reindeer shit.

Let it snow, let it snow...

Wow, that does look properly cold, and once again Britain comes out of it covered in something less than glory, though on the upside at least it's warm when fresh. And there seems to be plenty of it:
Nine people have died and millions face Christmas travel chaos as Britain endures freezing temperatures colder than Alaska.
Really? All of Alaska? It's a pretty big place and a decent chunk of it is inside the Arctic Circle, but I suppose there could be freak conditions that made parts of Britain temporarily colder than anywhere in Alaska, just as the Met Orifice predicted months ago er, never mind. Anyhow, you can be reasonably sure that over the course of the whole winter things are going to be much tougher and shittier in Alaska than in Britain, though the Alaskans will have mostly prepared for it. This is something Britain seems to have forgotten how to do. I don't just mean the six days of grit thing - I mean the way the parts of Europe that deal with much tougher winters year in year out chuckle at the chaos in Britain because so few people seem to understand how to get from A to B in snow. Jesus Christ, people, Melbourne's probably never seen snow in living memory but I've seen sets of tyre chains at a car care shop not half an hour from here, just in case I want to go up into what pass for mountains here during wintertime*.

So what's the answer? Well, if the Mainly Fail and the Tories are to be believed it's the fucking government in the shape of the amusingly named Lord Adonis, who's gone to Austria in search of even more snow so he can strap planks to his feet and slide around on it.
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis is on a skiing holiday in Austria whilst Britain's travel networks are crippled by snow, it emerged last night.
Outraged travellers called for him to return immediately and tackle the worst crisis to face him during his time in the post.
Lord Adonis, 46, has gone to a luxury Austrian resort with his family and left his deputy Sadiq Khan to face the mounting fury over the failure to grit roads and miserable response to iced-up railways.
Shadow local government minister Bob Neill said: 'With snow causing chaos across Britain it is alarming that the Secretary of State is on holiday abroad.
'He should be putting the problems of people in Britain's communities first and head home to help resolve the crisis.'
How? Make it warm up is the responsibility of the coal and oil industry, isn't it? What's Adonis going to do? Has he got a shovel fifty miles wide or are you just wanting him to tell you to buy some tyre chains and stick a shovel, warm clothing and some food and water in the boot before going out? Do you really need him to tell you that? Yes, obviously he's responsible if ultimately his department fucked up, though surely it's a collective fuck up on the part of multiple departments and numerous local authorities. Adonis can do little now except learn to plan ahead for next year, preferably taking any Met Orifice predictions of a mild winter with whatever the country has left in the way of salt. This, of course, he will probably fail to do. So really he might as well stay on his holiday where at least he's currently out of harm's way.

Unfortunately I don't think everyone will be persuaded:
One driver caught in the chaos said last night: 'He didn't need to go abroad to go skiing, he could have gone to Basingstoke.'
Sure. There's never a queue for the ski lifts and the passes are very cheap. You might want to think about why that is.

Look, Britain. Stop demanding the fucking government to come and help you. At best they will be hideously expensive, and at worst they will be hopelessly useless as well as hideously expensive. My advice is this: pick up the phone and start calling random people in Sweden, Norway or Finland until you get an English speaker, and then ask them how they manage in winter. This year might be too late both for the state and individuals, but next year you could be ready. It's not a big step forward so much as a step backwards to a time, perhaps only thirty years or so ago, when a wafer thin layer of snow couldn't stop the UK from getting on with things.

* Admittedly it's not unknown for nanny police to be on the main routes up there to stop people who haven't got chains fitted and turn them back.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Something to be sent to Mars... maybe.

According to Urmee Khan in The Daily Telegraph the Russians are going to send a monkey to Mars.
A monkey may be sent to Mars, under plans unveiled by Russian scientists.
Just a mo, the headline says 'Monkey to be sent to Mars'. No ifs, buts or maybes. But what you're actually saying is that it's just an idea someone's mulling over at the moment. Not giving in to a little sensationalism here, are we?
Although the ape will be looked after by a robot on the mission, the decision is expected to spark controversy with animal rights groups.
Huh? It was a monkey a minute ago and now it's an ape? Never mind sending the poor thing to Mars, what about the fucking genetic transmogrification machine or whatever they must have fed it through to turn it from animal into another?
The Institute [of Experimental Pathology and Therapy in Georgia] is in preliminary talks with Russia's Cosmonautics Academy about preparing monkeys for a simulated Mars mission...
Preliminary talks doesn't sound much like the kind of concrete plan suggested by the headline. Oh, and I see it's turned back into a monkey.
... that could lay the groundwork for sending an ape to the Red Planet, he said.
Ah. Then the idea is to send a monkey first to try and establish safety parameters for a later mission to be carried out by an ape? Is the ape going as a larger scale experiment along the same lines as the monkey that's going first or is it going to be a fully trained apestronaut? Or are they planning to bring the monkey back from Mars and turn it into an ape again?
[Director of the Institute] Mr Mikvabia said: "Earlier this programme was aimed at sending cosmonauts, people (to Mars).
"But given the length of the flight to Mars, and given the cosmic rays for which we don't have adequate protection over such a long trip, discussions have focused recently on sending an ape instead of a person."

I'm confused. Has the monkey been turned into an ape permanently or have just gone and got a chimpanzee and sacked the poor monkey that's put all this effort in to the Mars trip?
If Russia pursues the idea of sending monkeys to Mars, Mikvabia's institute could become the site of an enclosed "biosphere" where apes would be kept for long periods to simulate space flights.
Monkeys and apes? Are the monkeys there to help the apes with small fiddly jobs? Are the apes there to help with the heavy lifting the monkeys can't manage? Or are they going to be turned from one into the other as necessary by the transmogrifier?
The Institute said a robot would accompany the first primate to Mars to feed and look after the ape.
Well, duh, of course they'll need a robot. Do they think the ape is going to turn into a fucking monkey on it's own? Everyone knows you can't operate a transmogrifier from the inside.
Mr Mikvabia said: "The robot will feed the monkey, will clean up after it. Our task will be to teach the monkey to co-operate with the robot."
Is that so it can eventually persuade the robot to get into the transmogriferdoodab, be turned into an encyclopaedia and mail itself to any newspaper where the staff seem blissfully unaware that monkeys and apes aren't the same thing?

"Monkey"? Fuck you! I used to be a robot.

Also expanding our horizons The Telegraph helpfully tells us that angels can't fly.

A leading biologist has compared the physiology of flighted species with the representations of spiritual and mythical creatures in art – and found the angels and fairies that sit atop of Christmas trees did not get there under their own steam.
Prof Roger Wotton, from University College London, found that flight would be impossible for angels portrayed with arms and bird-like feathered wings.


Mate, the main reason those can't fly is because they're all paintings and statues of something that might well not be real, hence the use of the phrase "representations of spiritual and mythical creatures in art". I think maybe Prof Wotton has too much time on his hands. That or UCL had a hell of a Christmas party.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Anyone who opposes censorship must love kiddie porn.

As a follow up to this the SMH blogger aturner has posted an update to his piece about Senator Stephen Conroy proposing speed humps be installed across Australia's freeways and highways. Like the first one it's so good that it's just not worth chopping bits out, so I make no apology for quoting en bloc again (my emphasis in the last couple of paragraphs).
Conroy abandons speed hump plans for Australia's freeways.

aturner | December 21, 2009

In the face of a significant public backlash, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has backed down on plans to install speed humps on every Australian freeway.

Last week Senator Conroy said he was confident that placing speed humps every 100 metres on all Australian freeways would protect children - reducing accidents by 100 percent with a "negligible" impact on traffic congestion and travel times. The plan was supported by traffic management trials which had only been conducted in suburban back streets.

The plan to throttle Australia's road transport system was slammed by critics as flawed, unworkable, easily bypassed, politically motivated and open to abuse, as reported in the media on Friday.

After listening to public concern over the mandatory speed hump plan, Senator Conroy today abandoned the concept in favour of public education campaigns and better policing.

"Over the weekend I've realised that I don't actually know that much about traffic management and it might be best to listen to the experts," Senator Conroy said.

"I realise that certain segments of the community were keen on the idea of mandatory speed humps, using them as a tool to control everywhere Australians go and everything they see. Such a plan is not acceptable in a democratic country and would make Australia an international laughing stock."

Rather than waste the time and money already invested in the mandatory speed hump plan, Senator Conroy has decided to apply the exact same concept to Australia's internet access - introducing mandatory ISP-level internet content filtering for all Australians. He has ignored criticisms from networking experts and consumer advocacy groups that the mandatory internet filtering plan is just as unworkable as speed humps on the freeways.

"There are a lot of analogies between Australia's road system and its broadband internet network," Senator Conroy said. "Both are critical infrastructure, vital to the nation's economy. Both require significant investment and long-term planning, driven by experts in the field. Neither should be manipulated for short-term political gain at the expense of the nation's future."

"The difference is that your average man on the street can understand how foolish the speed hump idea is, but if we apply the same concept to Australia's internet access most people will blindly accept it because they don't understand how ill-conceived and unworkable the idea is."

"People might have thought we were joking about speed humps on the freeway, but I can assure you the plan to do the same to the internet is completely real. It's been all over the news. That's fine, because anyone who opposes mandatory internet filtering obviously loves kiddie porn."

"We know the filtering plan will work, because a website opposing mandatory filtering was taken offline in record time last week. Australia's domain authority body pulled the plug on in three hours, even though the process generally takes days. That clearly proves that we can eliminate unsavoury websites, although once the web filtering is in place you won't even know that we've done it."

More details of Senator Conroy's mandatory ISP-level internet filtering can be found at

Gold. Just gold.

Engage mouth before thinking.

There are some people whose blatant stupidity and ignorance just shifts my misanthropy engine into high gear with one sentence. From a comment by David Davis (not that one) at the Libertarian Alliance:
In 2003 I had occasion to berate a “State primary school teacher”, responsible for one of this team’s present bloggers, for teaching the children in her class that the Tudors brought the world “war, piracy, drugs, potatoes and slavery”.
How wonderful to know that such a mind is involved in educating the latest generation! Because as we all know the Romans, Egyptians, Babylonians, and every other group of fuckers ending in -ites from the Old Testament would never have dreamed of using slaves. Equally I have little doubt that the Tudors invented piracy and that reports of piracy going on among those and other various ancient peoples are all exaggerrations, and that it certainly does not go back to the time not long after we worked out that boats were best if one end was a bit pointy. And of course none of them ever got stoned either, especially not the ones growing opium five fucking thousand fucking years ago, just as it's completely unheard of for indigenous cultures in the New World to have ever ground or boiled something up to get completely shitfaced on. No doubt that was why the world was at peace all the way from the dawn of time till Henry Bastard Fucking Tudor and his descendants came along and fucked things up for everybody. Them and their fucking potatoes.

Then over outside her cave the Thylacosmilus quotes a nurse on the subject of female genital mutilation:
Of course, when your campaign is spearheaded by muddle-headed people like this ... it's no wonder you are on a hiding to nothing:
Jackie Mathers, a nurse from the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, said: "These families do not do this out of spite or hatred; they believe this will give their daughters the best opportunities in life. We would like a conviction, not against the parents, but against a cutter, someone who makes a living from this."
Yep, repeated /facepalm and probably four or five hefty /headdesks as well. Yeah, sure, ignore the parents because a belief that you're somehow giving her the best opportunities in life excuses asking someone to cut up your daughter's twat. What the fuck are we saying here? Would a belief that it was in his daughter's best interest to be locked in a cellar and repeatedly raped for more than two decades have excused Josef Fritzl? And if not him then why not someone who takes their child to have their genitals mutilated? Why is the use of force to do something to someone against their will okay in some circumstances, such as holding a sincere belief, but not others?* Is it the thing of which we dare not speak - hushed whisper, 'cultural sensitivity' or some bullshit phrase along those lines that means 'I don't dare criticize you because I fear the race card'? Never mind fucking /facepalm or /headdesk, I'm thinking a more appropriate response is something along the lines of /P45facestaple for Mathers.

I try not to hold the vast majority of the human race in complete contempt, I really do. I want to be optimistic and think the best of people and believe that most of us are actually pretty decent. But when I come across such outrageous cuntwaftery it just makes it so fucking hard to keep that ideal up and I just want to retreat to the middle of a desert with everything I need to keep twats like that at arms length while I scream and vent. Deep breaths, now. You have to rise above, Angry, rise above..... because it's better to drop the boiling oil from a decent height.

The world is full of complete cunts!

* Yes, despite friendly relations with my Jewish neighbours I do include circumcision of males, especially babies, for non medical reasons. The effects might not be as bad (or not - my equipment has been maintained in original condition so I really wouldn't know) as female circumcision and I'm sure if you're going to do it at all then better it done at an age where the lad won't remember it or have to deal with the possibility of morning glory during recovery from surgery - a fella I knew who'd had a medical necessary circumcision said that that was no fun at all. But still, why do that to someone before they're old enough to make a reasoned decision for themselves unless you actually need to? You wouldn't cut your infant's earlobes off, so why go near the poor kid's groin with a sharp implement? Ah, yes, sorry - God told you to. As the old joke goes:

And Abraham spake unto The Lord, and he said "Right, so let me get this straight. You say we're the chosen people, and you want us to cut the tips off our WHAT?"

Monday, 21 December 2009

Australia - all grown up now according to the censors.

If only that were true, but there's been one little victory for responsible adults and their freedom to decide things for themselves. The Aliens vs Predator game, which I wrote about here, is going to be available in Australia after all. And without being specially edited or revised for the notoriously over sensitive and sooky Australian gamers who all faint at the sight of virtual blood being spilled.
Sega Australia has confirmed that the Classification Review Board has overturned the original decision to Refuse Classification for Aliens vs Predator and has given it an MA15+ rating.
Sega Australia's Managing Director, Darren Macbeth said, "It is with great pleasure that we announce the success of our appeal. We are particularly proud that the game will be released in its original entirety, with no content altered or removed whatsoever."
"This is a big win for Australian gamers. We applaud the Classification Review Board on making a decision that clearly considers the context of the game, and is in line with the modern expectations of reasonable Australians," added Macbeth.
I wouldn't go that far. It's a small win, but since I don't see what the fuck it has to do with government what games adults choose to play I'm inclined to reserve the phrase 'big win for gamers' for the time when the government gives up the power to ban a game from the entire country because of it's own squeamishness or the moral positions of certain state officials. Look, check the games out if you must, and if you want to insist on slapping a little sign on the spine of the box to indicate the type of content to buyers, okay. But don't extend that to deciding for a nation of 20 million people who can play what and whether some games can be played by anyone at all. We're adults. Fuck off and leave us alone.

However, since we look like being stuck with the present situation for the foreseeable future I have to concede that it is a result, and I can't help but wonder if the companies behind Risen, Fallout 3 and Left For Dead 2 would have gotten a similar result if they'd stood up to the censors by saying something like
“We will not be releasing a sanitized or cut down version for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices.”

Declaration of interest: I don't play computer games much and I'm not hugely interested in shoot-'em-ups when I do. While I'm not really in the market for any of the games I've mentioned here I want to not have them because I chose not to buy them, not because the government made the decision for me. However, I'm half tempted to buy Aliens vs Predator because of the admirable way they stood up to the nanny state here.

Illegal in Virginia: possession of a penis?

Remember the guy who was arrested for being naked inside his own home? Well, astonishingly he's been found guilty.
Erick Williamson, 29, continues to believe that he has done nothing wrong and that he did not purposely expose himself to two women and a seven-year-old boy who had walked past his house on the morning of October 19.

He immediately appealed against his conviction.
I know this is a long way away in a country that I have no link to and in a state which I've never even visited, but it just pisses me off that a nation that talks so much about freedom can cheerfully tell one of its own people that he is not free to walk around naked in the privacy of his own home in case someone is nosey enough to look through his windows from the street and fragile enough to take exception to a glimpse of his knob.

As for this:
Williamson denied standing naked in his doorway or front window and said he had no intent to expose himself to anyone.

But Judge O'Flaherty likened Williamson to bank robber John Dillinger, who also "thought he was doing nothing wrong when he walked into banks and shot them up".
Welcome to Earth, Judge O'Flaherty. Does being naked in your own home even bear any comparison with robbing a bank? Look, here's what happens when a bank is robbed: someone use violence or the threat of violence to force people to hand over money against their will and which belongs neither to them or the robber. Got that? Right. Now here's what happens when you wonder around naked in your otherwise unoccupied home: . See? In itself it does absolutely nothing, and in fact requires what some would argue is an invasion of privacy in order to be seen by someone else. Personally I wouldn't go that far since he clearly was seen and if he didn't want that to happen he shouldn't have gone near any windows. But surely the reverse of that also applies. Surely people who do not want to see a naked man (or woman for that matter - I'm sure some idiot somewhere would get just as incensed at the sight of a pair of breasts or a 'Tassie map' in similar circumstances) inside his own house they shouldn't be looking at the fucking windows in the first place.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Australia's natural laxative.

Not being a blog about migrant's tales of living a new life Down Under I don't generally go in for true story 'it-really-happened-to-me' type posts. The odd anecdotal bit here and there if vaguely related to a blog post perhaps, but that's about it. But because it's nearly Christmas I'm going to do one just for a change.

For the first time in my life I have surfed the internet in my underpants, and it was a spider that made me do it. Now to be honest this story really isn't as bad as stumbling into the bog in the morning to find some Shelob wannabee sitting there grinning at you while wiping its arse with your bog paper, though apparently even that can happen.

You Got To Be Quick

All the same it is a toilet related spider story. Yesterday morning I stumbled into the bog for a private moment of deep contemplation to be followed alliteratively by a shower and shave. Without going into too many details, as I was sitting there a big shiny spider suddenly scuttled out from behind the sink and ran along the edge of the floor towards my throne. Spiders never used to bother me much back in Britain, and even here in Oz where there are plenty of genuinely dangerous spiders I'm prepared to leave the majority alone. But not when I've been awake for only ten minutes and not when I'm in the middle of a personal re-enactment of the Dambusters raid. Being barefoot I got a decent sized amount of toilet paper and waited until the little fucker was in foot range of the bog before quickly throwing it down on top of him and..... STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP. Which generated a response from the hitherto sleeping Mrs Exile.

"What the fuck are you doing in there?"

"Spider," I yelled back. "Not sure what kind."

"All that for a spider? Jesus Christ."

Okay, I can take a hint - harden the fuck up, Angry. Still, I didn't recognise the bastard and it didn't leave a business card, and I was consumed with curiosity about what would have happened if it had sunk its teeth into the end of my knob or something. So while the look of it was fresh in my mind, and having finished my immediate bathroom activity and associated tasks, I skipped the shower and shave bit and went straight to the computer to see if I could identify it, pausing only to pull on a pair of drawers for minimalist modesty.

And could I find a picture of what I'd just squashed? Could I fuck. Unfortunately the web is not the wonderful resource for absolutely any and all information you could possibly want, at least when it comes to Australian spiders. There is some fascinating stuff that would make any arachnophobe consider moving to the moon to get even further away from Australia. Jumping spiders, for example. I've seen these myself and while they're pretty small (and kind of cute as spiders go) the jumps come as a bit of a surprise, especially as the little sods appear to be absolutely fearless and tend to jump towards you... or at the finger you're using to point at the cute little spide-AAAAAAAAAAARRGH. But all I found out about what I'll call the Australian ExLax Spider is that it doesn't appear to be one of the most obviously dangerous ones. Having said that I also found out that while it's unusual for it to happen even common house spiders here can give you a bite that...
... may be quite painful and cause local swelling. Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating and giddiness are occasionally recorded. In a few cases skin lesions (Necrotising Arachnidism) have developed after multiple bites.
So it doesn't have to be a redback or a funnelweb for it to be worth avoiding a bite to the bell end, and has been pointed out many years ago avoiding a spider bites to your manhood is potentially a good excuse for all sorts of things.

As a postscript I'll mention two things. First, the spider story is real and not just an excuse to put up a classic Billy Connolly wanking joke. And secondly about half an hour before I started typing this I remembered that last month I gave the outside of the house a bloody good soak of insect and spider barrier spray. Once sprayed on exterior surfaces this stuff sticks around for a few months and is supposed to both repel spiders and crawling insects and kill them if they're stupid enough to proceed. And it certainly seems to work because generally we find a few dead insects on the doorstep for a day or two after using it and then don't see anything that can't fly in for a good three or four months. So where did this bugger come from? I hope I just missed a bit while spraying or that maybe we've had enough rain recently to have started washing the barrier spray off already, because otherwise there's a less comforting possibility. Remember Alien? Remember how at the end the thing had killed everyone apart from Sigourney Weaver and the ship's cat? Remember how she and the audience all think she's escaped in the shuttle with the cat, and she's just getting ready to get into the suspended animation capsule when suddenly we find out that far from trapping it on the ship to be blown up she's only gone and sealed the fucking thing in the shuttle with her? So that leads me to wonder how all the spiders and things that are already inside the house when you use barrier spray are supposed to get out.

Fucking see if I buy any more of the stuff now.

Conroy plans speed humps for Australia's freeways.

From a Sydney Morning Herald blog.
In an ambitious plan to protect Australia's children, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has announced plans to install speed humps every 100 metres on all Australian freeways.

After a 12 month trial of speed humps in several suburban back streets, Senator Conroy says he is confident that placing speed humps on every Australian freeway will reduce accidents by 100 percent with a "negligible" impact on traffic congestion and travel times.

"Australia's roads are a dangerous place for children, so the Rudd government is doing everything it can to protect people," says Senator Conroy. "A vocal minority of drivers may object to the plan, but the moral majority can see that it's the right thing to do. Anyone who objects to the mandatory speed hump plan obviously hates children".

Senator Conroy also released a traffic management report which appears to support his claims of reducing accidents by 100 percent with a "negligible" impact on traffic congestion. Unfortunately the report was only conducted in suburban back streets. The report concedes that once mandatory speed humps are applied to 100 kph freeways, one in five accidents will still occur. The report also concedes that dangerous drivers who are most likely to speed will easily find ways around the speed humps.

The wording of the mandatory speed hump plan leaves scope for it to be expanded beyond the freeways, although there are few details available. Senator Conroy claims the plan will only be applied to areas which have been "refused classification". Supporters of the speed hump plan have already called for it to be expanded to include roads outside casinos, gay bars, adult book stores and some medical clinics.

Traffic management specialists, transport groups, car manufacturers, road builders and motoring associations have all condemned the mandatory speed hump plan as flawed, unworkable, easily bypassed, politically motivated and open to abuse.

Senator Conroy's heart may be in the right place, but he clearly has "no understanding of how roads work," says Australian Motoring Association spokeswoman Shirley Knott.

"The mandatory speed hump plan will strangle the road network for the entire country, while doing little to stop people who are doing the wrong thing. Rather than waste millions of dollars on a project that will cripple our transport system while not actually achieving its goals, we recommend the government listen to the traffic management specialists and invest the money in education campaigns and better policing," says Ms Knott.

"Of more concern than traffic jams is that the mandatory speed hump plan is veiled in secrecy and open to abuse. Who is to say how future governments may manipulate traffic management to block off streets that it doesn't want the public to see? An open and transparent road system is a cornerstone of democracy, and we don't want to see Australia sliding down the slippery slope towards a police state where the government controls everywhere we go and everything we see."

For more details of opposition to the mandatory speed hump plan, visit
Nice analogy only slightly spoiled by one commenter apparently thinking it was meant literally. Still, one face/palm moment doesn't make the guy so childish and in need of looking after to require the whole fucking web to be censored for him, and in fairness Conroy seems so keen on this ludicrous attempt to control the net that putting speed humps on the fucking freeway is arguably only just outside the realms of possibility.

Order yours before election day.

Better than all those suggestions of piano wire and lamp posts.


Still a travesty.

Remember this guy? Via Constantly Furious I see he's been let off with a non-custodial sentence, but still a fucking piss take and a good example of the fundamental problem with strict liability laws. An every day example that millions, possibly billions, of ordinary people will know well is speeding. In most countries speeding seems to be a strict liability type offence, though the legal terms probably very a lot. To be prosecuted for speeding you need simply drive faster than an arbitrarily chosen speed. It doesn't need to be dangerously fast to get you a ticket and a fine. If it goes to court the prosecution have no need to prove that there was a crash or a near miss, or even any significantly increased risk of there being one. Even if there is a crash there's no need to prove that speed was the cause or even a factor in the cause of the crash. To give a very extreme example if you crashed because someone cut your brake lines and for no other reason, but at the time you first applied the brakes and found you didn't have any you were slightly over the limit, then a very unsympathetic judicial system could still go ahead and prosecute you for it. You had used the accelerator to get up to the illegal speed after all.*

Strict liability also applied to Paul Clarke. The cops clearly didn't give the faintest shit that he was only in technical possession of the gun, and the fact even that was only because he didn't want the fucking thing lying around where anyone could take it. It was stated clearly in court during the case:
"... in law there is no dispute that Mr Clarke has no defence to this charge.
"The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant."
As with speeding the police need not concern themselves with anything so trivial as an investigation once they've established that he was certainly in possession of the gun. The gun doesn't need to have been fired, no one needs to have been shot, hurt or threatened with the gun and the accused need not have been irresponsible, let alone criminal, with his handling of it. Simnply having it is all that's necessary to prosecute. It must be every lazy cop's wet dream, and not just the cops either - strict liability suits everyone in the criminal justice system from the police through the CPS to the Home Orifice/Justice Department. Everyone apart from someone whose been accused of a crime that has no victim, no outcome and possibly even no complainant, and in the case of Paul Clarke seems to have been with the greater good in mind. So if he had picked up a recently thrown hand grenade in order to drop it down a hole that he happened to be right next to would he have been prosecuted for being in possession of an explosive device or something? I'd give odds that's a strict liability offence as well.

Constantly Furious has more though.
What about Clarke's allegations that the police had been harassing him? That his house had been 'turned over' 5 times? That a warrant card had been planted in his house, for which he was threatened with arrest? Should we forget all that 'fuss' now, and get on with the Christmas telly schedule?

What about Clarke's statement today that he was sleeping with one of the female officers at the very same station, and that he was worried that "jealousy" may have been a factor in his harassment? Should we be concerned about the integrity of the police involved, or should we be content to wonder whether or not it will snow on Christmas day?
So, on top of a shit law we may have here police that have a motive to be particularly inflexible when it comes to an individual when the opportunity to hammer the poor bastard good and hard comes up.


* In the case of speeding it gets even dafter. Imagine for a moment the only motoring law was to obey speed limits: you could drive like a complete twat at just under the limit and they wouldn't be able to touch you for it. Now obviously in reality there are lots of other motoring laws and I'm not saying that you can get away with driving like a complete twat at just under the limit, but quite often it feels like that. Certainly the fucktard in the truck that nearly took me and another car out on the freeway last week, which was genuinely fucking frightening I can tell you, won't have been prosecuted for driving like a twat. But had he been speeding I'm sure he might well have set a camera off somewhere and got a fine and some points. The point is that speed limits are too crude an instrument to prosecute unsafe driving - dangerous drivers below the limit can be overlooked in vast numbers (and I suspect many believe they are safe because of religiously watching the damn speedo needle), while a sensible driver exceeding the speed limit only when and where it's clearly safe to do so is still risking prosecution because of strict liability.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Australian nannying: a recent classic.

This advert tries to be clever but... well, message to Paul, Jason, Michael and how ever many other generations of retarded alcohol advert man there are: why the fuck are you sending your kids to get you a beer out of the fridge when you've just that second gone and got one?

Stupid nannying twats.

More than one facepalm is going on here.

Ah, right. So a socialist who is also a nationalist isn't really a socialist anymore? Like wanting to nationalise industries or provide a large welfare state or opposing capitalism is all socialist stuff, but as soon as someone who is also a nationalist, racist, bigoted, xeno/homophobic fucknuts says the same thing it suddenly stops being socialism?


Further Australian nannying.

Also on the subject of how the Australian government treat us all like we're either children, retarded or both, another computer game was recently refused classification, i.e. banned, here. Happily, though gamers may well have mixed feelings, the developers of the new Alien Vs Predator game refused to follow the lead of others and edit it down to a tamer level (e.g Risen, Fallout 3 or Left For Dead 2 which one review actually described as 'ruined' - see below for the video)especially for the sooky Australian market and it's religious overlords but instead issued a politely worded PR.
“We will not be releasing a sanitized or cut down version for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices.”
Which I take to mean fuck you Australia for allowing a fabulous country to be run and ruined by patronising, authoritarian cunts whose instinct is to treat all like the youngest child and to restrict and ban and make everyone less free.

Frankly I can't argue with them if that's the message. The only thing is that I'm not sure the withdrawal of a niche game from the Australian market will make big enough waves among the general population for the message that we're being heavily nannied to get through.

Incidentally, just a reminder why we're in this situation - one guy and his personal desire and legal ability to inflict his personal morality on a whole fucking continent. Federation of competing states, my bell end!

Happy gaming Australia. Maybe you gamers will enjoy the banjo music instead.

Senator Stephen Conroy, the fucknuts Minister for Restriction of Communications and Internet Censorship, is so on the ball when it comes to the interwebs that he never secured the URL for his own name.
He wants to censor the internet but what will Communications Minister Stephen Conroy do about a spoof website that uses his own name to protest against the Government's internet filtering policy?

A net prankster has taken advantage of Conroy's failure to reserve his own domain name by registering and turning it into an anti-censorship protest site
(link now goes nowhere, see below - AE).

Under the banner "Stephen Conroy: Minister for Fascism", the site includes a disparaging cartoon strip, a nasty online poll, links to news stories regarding Conroy's internet filtering plan and links to web pages where people can complain about the policy.


Conroy's spokesman has not responded to questions asking about possible measures to seize control of the domain name.

Well, it looks like something is going on because now goes nowhere. But Conroy's lack of internet savvy extends to search engines too, so it didn't take me very long to find, the new home for the arguably offensive - if you're Stephen Conroy - content formerly at the location. At the very top of the page they have this to say (my emphasis):

auDA, the .au Domain Administrator is trying to take us offline. Earlier today they issued a notice giving us 3 hours to provide evidence of our eligibility to hold the '' and related domain names. Normally registrants are provided with approximately one week to provide this information on request. We asked for reasonable time to prepare and submit representations on our eligibility but auDA refused to grant this. Accordingly we've moved the site to '' - please update your bookmarks. Conroy's office must have been busy this afternoon!

The page on auDA linked to has the email exchange, and an interesting read it is too. Worth quoting en bloc:
As per the note on our front page auDA, the .au Domain Administrator suspended registration of our '' and related domain names. At the time of writing they have failed to provide us with a detailed explanation as to why and have refused to provide us with adequate time to reply to their allegation.

Following receipt of this notice we called auDA today to get an explanation and were asked to state our position in writing and so we did. See the email chain below.

It is out
(sic) opinion that as we are providing content which is of direct relevance to the '' domain name we are eligible to hold it. It is not auDA's place to form an opinion regarding how agreeable the content is, but in this instance to judge it's relevance to the domain name.

We feel that auDA has acted POLITICALLY to CENSOR our website and to intentionally limit our ability to distribute dissenting information about the Australian Government. We intend to fight this fight to the end and do everything in our power to get our domains back. We are currently in the process of obtaining legal advice, but at present consider our case to be strong and intend to update this page with further information as it becomes available...

Hi Jo,

Further to our telephone conversation:

I have been informed that Sapia has been issued with a notice requesting that we furnish further details of our eligibility to hold the '' domain name. We understand that the deadline set for reply to this notice is 1700AEDT Today.

We feel that we are able to successfully prove compliance with the criteria, however, feel that the deadline in which we have been requested to do so is manifestly inadequate. In order to give us time to adequately prepare a brief of supporting information and to obtain appropriate legal advice we request this deadline be extended to COB Wednesday 23 December.

We understand the requirement for enforcing this criteria and endeavor to do everything possible to make this process as fluid as possible. We look forward to your reply, and should you have any further questions or comments please feel free to contact me on any of the below numbers.
Their reply:

We have considered the response below which does not provide us with any explanation as to eligibility for the names. On that basis it is our current position that the registration of, stephen-conroy,,,,, breach the Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs (2008-05) at

We note that you have requested an extension of time to provide an explanation. We would have expected that an explanation could be provided immediately given that on registration of the names you warranted that you were eligible. On that basis we are not prepared to grant an extension of time past 5 pm today.

Accordingly, unless a satisfactory explanation is provided prior to 5pm today, the domain names will be placed into policy delete.

However, it is important to note that the domain names will remain registered to Sapia for the 14 day pending delete period and that we will review our decision if you provide us with information to demonstrate your compliance with the policy rules. Obviously you will need to provide this before the end of the pending delete period.

CEO - auDA
au Domain Administration Ltd
We then sent the following reply and await auDA's response:

We feel strongly that auDA has acted in a particularly heavy-handed manner which is inconsistent with other arbitration instances we've become aware of. We feel that we requested fair and reasonable time to make representations regarding our eligibility and that you have policy-deleted the domains without fair right of reply.

We can not locate anything in the document you've referenced indicating that our registration was in any way invalid. Can you please point us to the exact section you feel we have breached. Also please provide us with detailed information regarding what you feel we need to provide to remediate the issues.

It is our opinion that were the domain in question something like '' auDA's response would have been in no way as severe. We feel that auDA has acted politically due to the nature of our site.

We look forwards to your written reply.

Make of that what you will, but personally I find it potentially worrying. It's not unusual for the great and the good to have sense of humour failures. Nor is it unheard of for them to try and stifle opposition or criticism. But the fact is that this guy and his boss want to bring in legislation to give them much broad censorship powers while promising that legitimate dissent and criticism of the government will not be affected, and before the filter laws are even in place this happens. If that indicates the thinking and attitude of those behind the big push for censorship I'm not exactly optimistic.

Meanwhile the so called Clean Feed is coming under fire from a former High Court Judge who notes that this may be the thin end of a nasty wedge.
Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has criticised the Federal Government's internet censorship agenda, saying it could stop the "Berlin Walls of the future" from being knocked down.


In an interview with Fairfax Radio this morning, Kirby said some circles feared the controversial policy would be "the thin end of the wedge of the Government moving in to regulating the actual internet itself".

"Once you start doing that you get into the situation of Burma and Iran where the Government is taking control of what people hear and what information they get," he said, adding that Australia's approach hadn't been attempted anywhere else in the world.


Google has also entered the debate, saying yesterday the scope of the content to be filtered went too far beyond child pornography and that the "heavy handed" approach would restrict freedom of expression.

"Refused Classification (or RC) is a broad category of content that includes not just child sexual abuse material but also socially and politically controversial material - for example, educational content on safer drug use - as well as the grey realms of material instructing in any crime, including politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia," Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said.

"This type of content may be unpleasant and unpalatable but we believe that government should not have the right to block information which can inform debate of controversial issues."


"It was through 'public complaints mechanisms' like the one Conroy is proposing, that classic literature such as The Catcher in the Rye, Ulysses and The Story of the Kelly Gang were once banned in Australia," GetUp said.

Conversely, the Australian Christian Lobby has said it wants the filters broadened to cover all X- and R-rated content on the internet, with people having to opt-in to receive this material.

At this special time of year it seems only appropriate to say 'fucking god botherers'.
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