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, 25 February 2010

Down the rabbit hole.

Colostomy Brown has to be some kind of fantasist to come up with this stuff (my emphasis):
With his behaviour under scrutiny as never before, Mr Brown used a GMTV interview to admit that he got angry sometimes — “Doesn’t everybody?”, he asked. The working environment in No 10, he said, was “like a family”, but he sometimes had to push colleagues to get things done. “You don’t solve a world recession by being a shrinking violet.”
It's actually a little sad that his response when put in an uncomfortable position about his Nokia busting is to retreat into the fantasy that it really doesn't matter, that whatever he's being accused of is okay because - no laughing at the back - he solved the worldwide recession.

I think it's not just for everyone else's sakes but his own that he needs to be packed off to somewhere with nice weather, understanding staff and a lifetime supply of blue pills to keep the illusion going.

You take the blue pill, you wake up in Number 10 and believe whatever you want to believe.....

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

It's the way he told 'em.

Bit tied up the last couple of days so in place of a proper blog post I'll leave you with this gem told by the late Clement Freud.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Rubbish collections.

There's more than one you can read that, and increasingly it's looking like the most appropriate way to read it if you live in the UK is that the collections themselves are rubbish.
Fortnightly bin collections are to be extended across the country to save money.
Where we used to live in the UK the local council was one of the early adopters of the fortnightly collection, I think using climate whinge to justify it along with a lot of bullshit about showing leadership or something. Last I heard a majority of councils still provided the service for which local taxpayers have paid and only a third or so (the article says 'less than half'*) had decided to collect less often while charging the same or a similar amount. It's easy to get away when your 'customers' are forced at the point of a metaphorical gun to pay up anyway, and now it looks like just about all the rest are going the same way. Still, if it's countrywide there must be a decent amount of support for the move by now, yes? Ah...
Polls show that nearly three quarters of householders are opposed to having “black bag” rubbish collected fortnightly.
I can't think why, unless...
There are fears that the change will lead to a rise in fly-tipping and problems with vermin and bad smells in summer.
Just goes to show that one government department that doesn't exist but that the country probably would benefit from is the Department of the Fucking Obvious.
Doretta Cocks, of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said: “I’ve lost count of the number of parents with young families who have said how disgusting it is to have nappies piling up in their bin for 13 or 14 days at a time. As well as a health hazard, it is simply undemocratic to ignore the wishes of local people who want weekly collections.”
Whereas a spokesmouth for the Department of the Environment said:
The people? What the fuck have they got to do with anything?
Sorry, that should read,
“Councils should work with their local communities to determine what waste collection arrangements are most appropriate for where they live.”
Reading between the lines I'm not sure that this is much different from what I've crossed out. The bottom line is that they have everybody over a barrel and having spunked away all the money they took at gunpoint they're going to take more and do even less in return. Of course there'll be fucking fly tipping in that situation. It's only natural for flies and vermin to take an interest in bins that are stinking but nobody expects them to respond to a law telling them not to do what's in their nature. For most modern, civilised human beings it's in their nature not live in a fucking midden, but fuckwits at local and national level have introduced laws telling them they have to and they have to pay for the fucking privilege. People will disobey and then someone from a council is going to have to go and collect it from ditches and commons instead of just hoisting a bin into a truck. Fucking genius... /facepalm.

Again I have to ask why this is necessary in what is still, despite the recession and Colostomy Brown's best efforts, a fairly wealthy country. Four months ago I wrote about how it's done here in Australia (or at least the bits I'm familiar with):
There's a tip/recycling centre about 20 minutes drive away that is either free or inexpensive depending on what and how much we're dropping off. We have a pair of 120 litre bins that are provided to all local rate payers, and for a couple of bucks a week per bin we could double up to 240 litres (or reduce to 80 and get a small rebate). One bin is for rubbish and the other is for assorted - i.e. unsorted - recyclables. Seriously, we don't do any separating beyond what can be recycled and what can't, so all paper, cardboard, tins and plastics with a recycle logo just get rinsed out if necessary and chucked into the same bin, with everything else going into garbage bags before being put in the other bin. Nobody gets their cock in a knot and insists the bins are put out in the morning rather than the night before, nobody talks about fines if it's a bit full and the lid doesn't quite shut all the way, and nobody insists it's in a particular place as long as the robotic arm on the truck can reach, which is a fair way (vid - not our council but similar machines). And both bins are emptied weekly, and we don't have to do anything other than take 'em out the night before the bin men 'garbos' come round. Some places even empty rubbish and recyclables in the same vehicle.

I mean, how backward is that? Apart from the robot arms on the vehicles and recycling some stuff that's like where rubbish collection was in Britain 25 years ago. How long is it going to take them to work out that the modern way is to charge more, make householders sort out the recycling into a random number of bins depending on local council area, which might then get mixed up again on collection anyway, and then collect only half as often so people just get more bins, the bins stink, get fly blown and attract vermin? Hopefully a very long time, because being where the UK was years ago is rather better than being where it is now. Backwards, my arse - it's the UK that's been forwards in going backwards towards stinking streets in summertime, so really what I don't get is why Australian councils can provide a service that fewer than half of UK councils can manage these days. I can't believe that the kind of people in local buggerment government are vastly better, so what have we got here that Britain hasn't?
Seriously, what is the difference? Both have governments at national and local level that still believe in the warble gloaming trope, and in both this is used to justify those governments saying 'fuck you' to taxpayers. I'm not at all convinced that Australians are significantly better than the British and standing up and demanding better from their elected officials. So what is it? At the risk of sounding like an anti-EU tinfoil hatter could it just be that Australia doesn't have anyone else telling it what to do? Or is it that that the equivalent of the EU here is the federal government but that rubbish collection is a matter of state law** and is further devolved downwards to local council level? Whatever the reason is I'm glad. It's been hot and sticky the last couple of days and I'm sure the bins would be reeking if they'd been left festering in the summer heat for nearly a fortnight. Another reason not to feel homesick for the UK.

* One for the pedants. Yes, they mean 'fewer'.
** I don't know if that is the case. I'm just speculating that it might be.

Things I still don't get about Australia - No. 19

I found an old UK extension lead this morning and it lead me to thinking: why are Australian plugs and sockets so crap? I'm not particularly into some sort of British is best thing - I'd probably still be there if I was - but UK plugs are nice substantial things that have their own fuses and pins like miniature Stonehenge monoliths, while the Aussie version is fuseless and has nearly flat blade like pins that with a bit of effort can be bent with just your fingers. I've lost count of the number of times I've jerked the lead for the hoover out of the wall socket because there's just not enough there to keep the damn thing in. And although I can see the sense I still find it odd having two types of plugs, either with an earth pin or without.

And on the subject of plugs, I don't get why sinks here don't have the plug hanging on a little chain or anywhere to hang it from if it did. No overflow pipe either. I wonder if there are more kitchen flooding incidents here as a result.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sports bulletin.

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean will be grateful that their gold medal performance in 1984 - twenty six years ago for the benefit of the Telegraph - was shown again on Australian TV this morning. Maybe the women's curling team from 02 will get a mention tomorrow. How do papers do this? It's not like Britain comes back from any Winter Olympics with so many medals that it's easy to overlook people. Lazy journos who can't be arsed to do five minutes of googling? No wonder the bastards running the country get such an easy ride.

Is this a sign of a sinking ship?

And am I being a bit unreasonable by suggesting that James Purnell is a rat?
James Purnell, one of the few remaining Blairites with a chance of becoming Labour leader, shocked his party this morning by announcing that he was quitting Parliament at the election.

Labour insiders said that he was telling his Stalybridge and Hyde local party that with regret he was standing down to seek new challenges.
On the whole I think I've misjudged him. When he quit the cabinet I thought it was probably all part of a strategy but since he's now stepping down as an MP either it wasn't or he's changed his mind. I may loathe his politics but if he's going to go off and get a real job, or at least work for a think tank, he's clearly got a bigger pair than Colostomy Brown.
His departure is another blow to the Labour leadership as it sends out the message that one of the party’s youngest stars sees no immediate future in politics for himself — and probably for his party.
Sounds like he doesn't even think there'll be a hung Parliament and a chance of a coalition with the LibDumbs. Glug glug glug glug... the only cloud in the middle of that silver lining is that he presumably thinks the Tories are going to win, and Dave isn't going to turn Britain just by not being Gordon.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Meet Joe Stack.

This was a very bitter man as shown by the suicide note he left up on his own website, which is currently down at the request of the FBI, though even before that it got more traffic than Joe's bandwidth allowed. This was what he wrote:

"If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report ( regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (


(a) IN GENERAL - Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. - This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. - The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.


· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to XXXX XXXX, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, XXXX knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)"
I'm not sure I agree with all of that, and I certainly don't agree with the action that he finally took, but I can't argue with his sentiment that big government really doesn't give a shit about individuals. This would be fine if not giving a shit meant leaving you alone to get on with your life as you choose and taking action against you only if you harm or threaten someone else, but in practice it actually means the government trampling all over your liberties and shaking you down so hard that your fillings fall out. How much of Joe Stack's decision to end his life in the manner he chose was reasoned and considered and how much borne of a sense of aggrieved injustice and how much was simple desperation at his circumstances will no doubt be debated by various experts. What we can be reasonably sure of is that he felt so sick of one of life's great certainties that the other one seemed more attractive.
                                    - Death in Feet of Clay, by Terry Pratchett.

H/T Grumpy Old Twat.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

I'm a PC ..... and I'm a complete bastard.

I've mentioned before that I like my Macs but I'm not completely in love with the company that made them. This is partly my own experience with less than stellar after sales care (actually I thought it was just as bad as any other cuntputer company). And it's partly their ridiculous twattishness over some IP matters, such as anything involving the word 'apple' or anything that looks even fucking remotely like an apple and names for apps that include the name of the Apple product they're designed for. And it's partly that they seem prepared to use the thinnest of excuses to avoid warranty work. I mean, fag smoke? Be-fucking-have. Now, courtesy of, five reasons you should be scared of Apple.

Personally I don't actually need any more reasons. They've got me as a customer because the desktop machine is ultra-reliable and the laptop is great when it works, which to be fair is more often that the Windolt machine it replaced but for more than $2,000 it fucking well should do. But they've been sufficiently wankerish about the MacBook's issues that Apple Care effectively became instantly worthless. And the so called Genius couldn't understand why I wouldn't buy it, or replace our Nokias with iPhones or treat myself to a new iPod to replace a very elderly one on its last legs. So no iPhones, no iPod, no Apple Care. Instead new Nokias (much cheaper) and, as threatened, a new generic MP3 player (also cheaper and with a hilariously ripped off not quite a clickwheel interface). And a new tool kit for MacBooks so I can fix the cunting thing myself when it refuses to play nice. Lost sales to Apple, thick end of $3000.

Good work, fucknuts.

Numbers game.

It's become clear over the years that governments will pull all kinds of tricks to avoid telling the truth about unemployment figures, and the current UK government is one of the most egregious in that respect. They'll admit that it's gone up some what with the recession and everything, which was obviously either the fault of the Americans (providing that Barack Obama is safely out of earshot when they say it) for indulging in sub-prime lending without first making sure the UK could cope with the fallout, or the hated Tories for doing, well, everything that they did 25 years ago. What they won't be too keen on shouting about is that it's actually a lot worse than just the numbers of jobseeker's allowance recipients would suggest.
The number of people who are neither in work nor seeking employment reached 8.08 million in the last three months of last year, the highest on record.
In all, 21.3 per cent of working-age adults are now "economically inactive", a category that includes students, the long-term sick, unpaid carers and those who retire early.
Much of the in increase came from people opting to study instead of working or seeking work.
However, 78,000 of the inactive were recorded as “discouraged” workers, people who have simply given up because they do not believe there are any jobs available.
The “discouraged” total rose by 57.9 per cent from 2008. A total of 5.75 million inactive people do not want a job.
The figures were published by the Office for National Statistics, which also disclosed the number of people claiming jobseekers’ allowance at its highest since the month before Labour come to power in 13 years ago.
Not a pretty sight, but actually it's uglier still.
The data showed that there were a total of 28.91 million people in employment in the last quarter. However, the total conceals millions of people who are not working full-time.
And not all the full time jobs directly contribute to the economy either. Some of them are public sector jobs of course. And while some public sector may have value and contribute indirectly, the doctor who makes a patient well and able to work again for example, some certainly don't... and all are paid for by taxing the private sector. How many people are we talking about here?
Public sector jobs increased by 5 per cent over a year to 6.09 million. In all, the state gained 290,000 employers[sic*] from September 2008 to Sept 2009.
So the two together make more than 14 million people living off the government's generosity with other people's money.
During the same period, private sector jobs fell by 735,000 to 22.82 million.
That's a ratio of very nearly 60:40, or to put it another way every three people who are in the private sector are between them supporting roughly two more people who are either working in the public sector or not working at all. 'Kinell.

Now as I said above I'm not suggesting that all public sector jobs are unproductive and should be scrapped, but being very much of the minarchist persuasion I'd happily wave goodbye to quite a lot of them. And the same goes for the unemployed and economically inactive. Obviously that includes a number of people who've chosen retirement or the life of a stay at home parent, and a number of people who are simply between jobs, and a number of people who would work but are forced not to by circumstances not of their choosing - that's people stuck in the benefits trap as well as full time carers etc. So I'm not blaming or judging here, but I am wondering how much longer the work of three people must continue to support not just themselves and their dependents but two others and their dependents as well. And since the public sector seems unlikely to shrink I'm wondering will that ratio reach 50:50? Might it even reverse and become two working to support three more? At what point will it become unsustainable and come crashing down around everyone, and how will the pieces be picked up?

It's genuinely fucking frightening.

* After blogging this I noticed the Libertarian Alliance had written about it too and pointed out that almost certainly 'employees' was meant where it said 'employers'.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Juries? Meh, who needs 'em.

On the subject of justice, I may have my tin foil hat on here but this article worried me.
Two thirds of jurors sitting in British courts fail to understand what a judge tells them about important aspects of the law, risking serious miscarriages of justice, a study concludes.
And what my bacofoil shielded thoughts are telling me is that maybe, just maybe (no sarcasm intended), this will be seen as evidence that jury trials are a weak link and perhaps should be phased out. I can't think why those thoughts have crept into my mind, unless... could it possibly be something to do with the fact the decision was made last year to hold a jury-less criminal trial (okay, now sarcasm is intended)? And that the reasons for this are not entirely clear cut...
"The ruling has been made on the basis of secret material which we have never seen, presented by witnesses whose identity – other than their rank in the Metropolitan police – has not been disclosed to us," his solicitors said.
... although it is known that the defendant, John Twomey, gave evidence against the police in a 1980s corruption case. Make of that what you will, but all the appeals to treated normally were turned down and Twomey's trial - his fourth for this same offence - is on now. He might even be guilty for all I know, but I wouldn't bet on an acquittal either way.

So is this latest study, conducted on behalf of the Justice Ministry, another step down the path to the right to trial be a jury of one's peers being done away with? Minus my aluminium beanie I have to say probably not. After all there's still the requirement for at least a majority verdict and ideally unanimity, and one judge was quoted as saying that the study vindicated juries. So probably not any kids of sneaky softening up so that more cases that are 'must win' for the CPS can be heard without a jury who might not understand how important it is that justice is seen to be done i.e. doesn't matter if it actually is as long as it looks like it is. No, probably nothing to worry about.

But the thing is this: instead of thinking 'probably not' surely I ought to be saying 'certainly not'?

UPDATE: Clearly not just me. Her Sabre-Toothed-ness agrees in the comments and over at Douglas Carswell's blog he says much the same. Is there enough tinfoil to go around?

Worrying stuff in Scotland.

This bears watching closely. It might turn out to have a reasonable explanation but it's got all the hallmarks of a whitewash. From Old Holborn:
I am hearing some very unpleasant things about Grampian Police and certain sectors of the Law in Scotland. Nothing unusual there, you say, the bastards are riddled with freemasons and rapists but this one is unusual

It concerns the allegations that certain named individuals have been using a Downs Syndrome child "for their amusement" and a desperate attempt is being made to cover it up by various members of the Judiciary in Scotland. She has since been awarded £13K in compensation, forced to flee the country and no one has been charged.

Journalist Robert Green went to find out what was going on last Friday and was promptly arrested. His house has been raided whilst he is locked up and his computer "removed".
Accusations made against the great and good, hush money paid, nosy journalist silenced by being arrested, access to his files achieved by confiscation of his computer... so far so grim. All it really needs is for a court to issue a media gag order.
A D notice has been slapped on any reporting... A BBC report on it was pulled.
And there we go. As I said there might be reasons for this, but let me out it this way: if you're going for the cover up look that's ticked just about all the boxes. Old Holborn is clearly not going to take any notice of injunctions and attempts to silence enquiries and if the rest of the blogosphere helps make waves the lamestream media (h/t Bill Sticker) will hopefully follow suit.

Petard hoisting.

Merseyside Police are now the UK champions.
For Merseyside police, the "eye in the sky" arrest was a landmark moment in policing history. The force had managed to track down and apprehend a teenager who had fled from a presumed stolen Renault Clio, senior officers revealed, by using a remote-controlled flying robot equipped with thermal imaging cameras.

But the attempt to claim credit for the UK's first arrest using a surveillance drone backfired tonight after it emerged the force itself could face prosecution because officers flew the surveillance aircraft without permission – a criminal offence.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which regulates UK airspace, confirmed it was investigating Merseyside police over the apparently unauthorised use of its drone to pursue the 16-year-old after he fled from a suspected stolen car in Bootle. It is one of three UK forces using the drones.

Officials from the regulator's Aviation Regulation Enforcement Department (ARE), which investigates and prosecutes alleged breaches of airspace, are investigating the incident, and Merseyside police has told regulators the drones have been grounded with immediate effect.

The CAA was tipped off by the Guardian after Merseyside police released a statement to the media last week declaring it had broken new ground by making an arrest using its newly acquired Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaah fucking twats.

Got to get your papers in order before you can go and do your fucking job, eh. Now they know how everyone else feels.

I've signed.

Have you?

The use of the term 'climate denier' in rational debate is up there with 'my dad's bigger than yours' or 'you're wrong because you smell'. Taking it literally it's patently wrong since there is probably no one who denies that there is a climate. 'Climate denier' makes as much sense as 'table denier' and so it should be easy to laugh off but for the nastier connotation.

That leads me on to the next thing that's wrong with it, the blatant appeal to emotion that is the linguistic link to Holocaust denial (in any case my Jewish neighbours tell me a better term is Shoah). I haven't asked them how they feel about the Shoah, the deliberate and systematic state sponsored persecutions, enslavement and eventually murder of six million or so Jews over just a dozen years or so, being trivialised by comparison with something that is neither premeditated nor likely to kill anything like as many so quickly even if the alarmists are right. Of course if we stick with the term Holocaust so as to include the eastern Europeans, gypsies, gays, disabled and anyone else the fluff lipped fucknuts running the show wasn't keen on we can add possibly as much as another six million, which makes the warble gloaming alarmists' use of the emotionally loaded term 'denier' to try to shut the argument down even more distasteful.

None of that goes away when the alarmists say that it's just short for 'climate change denier' - the trivialisation of the state sponsored murder of approximately a million people per year is still there, on top of which there is no serious denial of climate change among sceptics either. Most of us point out that as far as anyone knows the climate has been always been changing for the entire 4.5 billion history of the planet (which is one of the main points: what's happening now isn't new). Even the term climate change is stupid without the revolting 'denier' tag - a noun followed by the verb for what it does all the time. It makes as much sense as calling a trout a 'fish swim'.

The irony is that the ill informed may now believe that until the Industrial Revolution the climate was always stable and unchanging when nothing could be further from the truth. Much as I hate to use the term myself but making such a claim is truly denying the realities of climate change. Questioning the unproven and arguably rather shaky theory that it's all driven by CO2 and a net positive feedback for which there's little or no evidence isn't denying a fucking thing - it's asking for more than the assurances of people with a vested interest in promoting public belief in what they espouse, and who keep fucking up their so-called settled science.

If Gordon can't tell the difference he's not bright enough to be Prime Minister. But that wouldn't be anything new either.

H/T Counting Cats in Zanzibar.

UPDATE: Of course 72,231 signed this petition and were not merely turned down but ignored. Colostomy Brown's (edited to add: much genuflection in the direction of Dungeekin for that) response was simply two sentences of cockwaffle that didn't even address the petition. Expect more of the same.

The Oxley Moron.

Pauline Hanson, one time federal MP for the Queensland seat of Oxley (hence her nickname), is apparently going to migrate to Britain. She's apparently fed up with the nanny state here and says that this is no longer the land of opportunity. Well, okay, there's perhaps a bit of truth in that, but going to fucking Britain?

Ahahahahahahahaha. Ha hah hahahahahahahahahaha. Ahahahahahahahaahhahaahahahahaahaahaaaaahaa.

Pauline, love, if you think Australia is over taxed and over regulated just wait till you get off the plane at Heathrow. It'll all be downhill from there because the country is, not to put too fine a point on it, fucked and all the main political parties - nanny statists to a man mong - see taxing people as the solution. Also your feelings about migrants are going to be, erm... how shall I put this... challenged, and since you will be one yourself bitching about it will be batting a very sticky wicket.

If I gave a shit I'd wish you luck, but I will suggest you keep an open return. If only for the sake of The Chaser's Andrew Hansen. Poor lad might pine a bit.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Offensive, useless, pointless, unnecessary and apparently possibly illegal too.

The use of body scanners at UK airports may be unlawful, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned.
Scanners already in place at Heathrow and Manchester Airports may be breaking discrimination law as well as breaching passengers' rights to privacy, the commission said.
So that was money well spent, wasn't it? On the other hand the EHCR is usually as much about divisiveness as equality, so it'd be nice if they disappeared and took the bloody scanners with them. Maybe this will tempt the government into changing the law so they can have their precious scanners after all.

Government health warning: booze gets you pissed.

If the pricks have their way every label on every wine bottle might look like this with "Your Street, Sometime Soon" printed on it in extra bold. For having achieved most of their aims as far as tobacco goes the joyless health fascists are switching their attention to booze. This isn't new and has been picked up by plenty of bloggers before me - Dick Puddlecote, Leg-iron, DK among others - but with the serious threat of health warnings it's reached a new phase. We're now firmly on the same road to denormalisation process that tobacco is well along. I mean, just read the article for fuck's sake.
The mandatory cigarette-style warnings, which would include details of how many units a bottle contained, would appear on all alcoholic drinks for sale in shops and supermarkets to deter people from binge drinking.
Do you see the softening up process?
  • Warnings are not yet mandatory but are spoken of and written about as if they are.
  • The mention of tobacco - we all know what is meant by health warnings but a little associative guilt helps things along.
  • The binge drinking red herring and appeal to emotion. Yes, really everyone is drinking more even if that's not what sales figures actually show, so your street WILL end up looking like that picture by Wilfred Hogwarts if we don't do something.

The plans are due to be published by the Government today after drinks companies failed to comply with a voluntary code to introduce the labels themselves.
Oh for fuck's sake, here we go again.
voluntary |ˈvälənˌterē|
done, given, or acting of one's own free will : we are funded by voluntary contributions.
With that in mind will someone from the Booze Busybodies please explain what fucking part of the word 'voluntary' demands compliance, while in return I'll open the dictionary at the appropriate page and lightly beat you about the face with it.
As disclosed in The Daily Telegraph last week, five out of six companies have failed to abide by the voluntary system. They face being forced to do so by law. The labelling scheme could be enforced by trading standards officers.
This is what government has become, is it? Do as we suggest or you will have to do as we tell you. Super, when will it apply to voting?
Campaigners have blamed relaxed licensing laws and retailers selling massively discounted alcohol for the boom in binge drinking, particularly among young people.
What fucking boom? I hate to sound like a wearer of bacofoil headgear but this sounds very much like a media beat up designed to sell papers combined with an organised campaign designed to impose the will of a few on the majority, plus of course the cold hand of government seeking tax revenue and obedience to the state, and all relying on bullshit like this:
Figures have also suggested that about 10 million people in England are risking their health by drinking more than the recommended maximum amount — which is two to three units a day for women, (about one large glass of wine) and three to four for men (two pints of beer).
Amounts that the deceitful cunts simply pulled out of their arses with no evidence - zilch, zip, zero, nada, nowt, cubed root of half of fuck all - to support them. When you've made them up because you had...
“...a feeling that you had to say something”
...and you admit that...
“it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t [because] we don’t really have any data whatsoever”
...and even go so far as to say...
“Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all."
...what fucking difference does it make how many millions are above, below or exactly on the limit? Move the limit as arbitrarily as you came up with it in the first fucking place and a different number will be exceeding it without any actual change in alcohol consumption at all. Besides, hard limits are fundamentally at the wrong level for the many no matter where you set them. Say we were talking about the quantity of Cornish Pasties you could safely eat before you began talking like Rory McGrath and complaining if someone put a carrot in it. The official BMA advice might be three to four pasties but for me it might be only one and a half pasties before I'm on the phone to West Country estate agents and enquiring about property near Porthemmet Beach, while for you it could be half a dozen before you started slagging off Rick Stein. To set it at six is obviously wrong for me and it'd still be too low for you even if we say I'm a pasty lightweight and call it two. Splitting the difference just means it's useless for both of us. This is always the case with hard limits - even if your research is flawed or simply non-existent you're bound to get it right for a small number of people just by luck in the same way that a Roulette ball has to land in one of the numbered slots on the wheel. For everyone else without exception it will be either too high or too low. The only things that can have a meaningful limit is when the safety level is so low as to be effectively zero and would mainly be things that are very hard to get hold of or where the danger is self evident or both.

This won't occur to the healthists of course. Oh no, people must be told how to live their lives.
Today’s consultation document will say brewers and distillers must publish health information on all bottles and cans of wine, beer and spirits.
The document will outline three options: that drinks firms voluntarily comply and print the warnings; that they be forced to do so by the Portman Group, the industry’s regulator; or that they will be forced to do so by law.
These are options? Like fuck are they. The industry may choose option 1 voluntarily, or the regulator will impose the terms of option 1 on them, or it will get the government to impose the terms of option 1 even more forcefully. This is fucking Mafia stuff: one way or another the choice is as false as offering any colour providing it's black. The whole consultation document exercise is just meaningless propaganda, a pretence at having a discussion over a policy that has already been decided upon.

'We can do 'dis one of three ways' said a Portman Group spokesman.

Sadly, and they should be fucking ashamed of themselves, the drinks industry is dealing with this by caving in.
... publication of the document has resulted in a last-minute flurry of brewers and distillers committing voluntarily to publish warnings.
You softcocks, the government needs your industry and the tax revenue it brings in. Stand up to them. Tell them you can't be bothered to carry on your business in a country that's so hostile towards a perfectly legal product because it can't be bothered to deal effectively with the small minority who abuse it. It's not as if the low tax environment makes up for the aggro because there isn't one, so you may as well call their bluff.
Last night, Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, said: “We have now received assurances to comply from most of the major manufacturers and retailers. I invite the industry as a whole to deliver on these assurances.”
I wish they'd invite you to fuck yourself savagely with a bottle of pepper vodka and snap the neck off in your puritanical ringpiece, you revolting authoritarian shiterag.
Anti-binge drinking campaigners welcomed the announcement, but Prof Ian Gilmore, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “The code should be mandatory. If the industry is dragging its heels, we cannot wait another three years for them to comply.”
Bearing in mind the not really a big problem that binge drinking is being an anti-binge drinking campaigner is like being a staunch opponent of ninja cyborg unicorns. As I said just now the real issue is that those small number of people who do abuse alcohol and cause trouble are not being dealt with effectively. Sweep up this relative handful, and I concede that they'll be vile, rude, possibly violent and probably sick so I don't envy the police the job*, and everyone else who can get merrily pissed without fucking up someone else's evening can just carry on drinking and having a good time.

As for the bansturbator Gilmore, a weapons grade nannying bastard of such purity that even the fucking Portman Group aren't on message as far as he and his Alcohol Health Alliance buddies are concerned, I suspect he won't be happy until he has personal responsibility for every liver in the United Kingdom and legal powers to have properties searched for the stills that are bound to appear as the industry he hates is broken a piece at a time. This man strikes me as a cunts' cunt and someone who gets a semi from thoughts of the Prohibition Era. If that vodka bottle didn't get broken I've got just the idea for where to put it next.

UPDATE: Dick Puddlecote is of course blogging this too, and brings up the interesting and very relevant point that for a public consultation the consultation document itself hasn't been made terribly easy to find. Big surprise.

* But one which they are fucking paid to do.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Gunning for the job.

The latest gun tragedy in America is bound to reopen arguments about the pros and cons of the American Constitution's Second Amendment and the idea of armed citizens anywhere (see some of the comments here for example). What most won't consider is that anyone bright enough to be a university professor and reportedly "a brilliant researcher" is probably bright enough to come up with an alternative means to using a gun if she's barking enough to kill over failing to get a cushier job. As I blogged at length some time ago you just can't legislate for crazies when practically anything can be used as a weapon and plenty of things can be made to explode.
...the next Michael Ryan or Thomas Hamilton will not be prevented from killing by the UK’s strict gun laws when they can achieve as much carnage or more by means of a home-made bomb constructed from legal, easy to obtain products. The IRA have proved that with diesel/fertiliser bombs, David Copeland proved it with bombs made from fireworks, and of course more recently the London suicide bombers in 2005 murdered more than 50 with peroxide based bombs followed shortly after by a similar unsuccessful attack and further attempts in 2007 using gas cylinders in cars. Frankly if I went nuts and wanted to maim and kill as many people as possible guns look like the second best choice anyway. So what do we do if we are trying to legislate away the dangers of madmen? Ban motor fuel, fertiliser, fireworks, hair products and barbie cylinders?
On top of which, as I pointed out at the same time, guns are always there for those who want them, and if you want one to commit the very serious crime of shooting and possibly killing someone then the lesser crime of simply getting a gun when they're illegal really isn't much of a deterrent. What then happens is that criminals and/or fucking maniacs are in effect free to arm themselves while law abiding people, people who would shoot only in self defence or to prevent loss of life, are not. Of course in Britain this extends to most police officers as well.

As I said the other day I don't particularly want to carry a handgun in public myself. I don't even want to own a handgun, though unlike the UK here I can actually have one (subject to plenty of restrictions on type, calibre, dimensions etc. - I didn't say it was easy, just that it's possible). I'm not under any illusion about my pistol skills and if I intended to kneecap someone I'd probably remove their brain with it instead. But I do want to be able to carry a gun and I want every other law abiding citizen to be able to carry a gun. Who will have them and who won't? Well, you won't know by looking and neither will the villains.

Of course it won't stop gun murders as long as there are places where guns are banned because, as we've seen again this weekend, that's a barrier to the law abiding and no-one else. Not all gun wielding headcases target areas where they expect no-one else to be armed, but the vast majority do.

Obviously a gun in the right hands might not change anything, but in the same way the police can't help if they're not there the lack of gun guarantees that it can't make a difference.

Commercial Break


What did I say yesterday?
Though I hold him in almost as much contempt DING is probably doing the smart thing by not doing a similar tearful interview and scores bonus points for not pointing out Gordon's hypocrisy.
Looks like I spoke too soon. I don't know whether this interview was as orchestrated as the Brown one seems - Piers Morgan is pally with the Browns after all - or whether Cameron was ambushed with a question about Brown that was bound to provoke an emotional response, and probably we should give him the benefit of the doubt, but surely someone in Cameron's camp should have seen the possibility. It doesn't make him look as bad as Brown but again it brings up the question of whether the big reason for people to vote for the him is that Dave Is Not Gordon. About the only thing I can still say for him is that he was bright enough not to pass comment on the Brown/Morgan interview.


No comment necessary.

From here.

Leftover lamb.

Recommended reading on the whole Marcus the Hotpot / Andrea Charman thing - Rod Liddle writes:
The cyber-fascists slaughtering a decent teacher.
Subtlety in the kiloton range, I just love it.
Marcus, as a rather yummy (and fashionable) salt-marsh Romney lamb, was hand-reared by the staff and children of Lydd primary school, on Romney Marsh to show the kids where our food comes from. There was a survey out recently which showed that 10% of schoolchildren think we get cheese from rats.

Marcus was hand-fed and then there came the day when he was looking especially plump and juicy and the headmistress, Andrea Charman, decided it was time to electrocute him down at the abattoir and divide him into chops. That, after all, was the point of Marcus. To be served lightly grilled, pink inside, with asparagus spears and Jersey Royals and mint. But then all hell broke loose, even before someone — maybe mice, who knows? — had made the gravy.

The kids’ parents — or some of them — demanded that Marcus should be allowed to live, because he was a nice sheepy. Rightly, Charman refused, saying: look, this is precisely what we need the children to learn; this is how the world is, especially here on Romney Marsh. Sheep are food. So Marcus was zapped and quartered, as sheep are.

It was at this point that the endlessly hyperactive, bone-headed online fascists got involved and last week, Charman, who had been handpicked to turn round this hitherto failing school, felt forced to resign from her job for “personal reasons”. Some 2,500 cretins started an online petition calling for the beleaguered head teacher to be sacked. It is entirely possible that none of them whatsoever had any connection to Lydd primary school. However, the campaign of vilification and vituperation had begun.

Another Facebook site was set up by 650 similarly sad, lifeless, drongoes, demanding not merely that Charman be sacked but — and I quote — to Ban Andrea Charman From Teaching Anywhere. Can you imagine the sort of people who would associate themselves with such a cause?

Thick, bitter, utterly convinced of their own rectitude, though they constitute about 0.001% of the population. Convinced enough to make this woman’s life a total misery. The new electronic media might make the world a better-informed and more democratic place, but it also allows the splenetically dunderheaded to impose their will upon others, in a spectacularly uninformed and undemocratic manner.
Go read the whole thing - it's gold. I don't agree with everything Rod Liddle's ever said but here I think every word is pretty much spot on. And he might take over at the Independent? I think there's going to be a few righteous headpops if/when that happens, which is something else we'll have to give Liddle credit for.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Merry Christmas, Warble Gloaming is Over.

Probably time for a new scare since the current one seems to be staggering theatrically from one side of the stage to the other and back again.
World may not be warming, say scientists.
The Sunday Times, ladies and gentlemen. A publication not known for it's scepticism on the topic of climate whinge in recent years.
The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution.

In its last assessment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the evidence that the world was warming was “unequivocal”.

It warned that greenhouse gases had already heated the world by 0.7C and that there could be 5C-6C more warming by 2100, with devastating impacts on humanity and wildlife. However, new research, including work by British scientists, is casting doubt on such claims. Some even suggest the world may not be warming much at all.
Careful now or Big Eco are going to be really pissed off. You won't be selling Greenpeace memberships and Windy Miller's electricity if you carry on like this.
“The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the IPCC.

The doubts of Christy and a number of other researchers focus on the thousands of weather stations around the world, which have been used to collect temperature data over the past 150 years.

These stations, they believe, have been seriously compromised by factors such as urbanisation, changes in land use and, in many cases, being moved from site to site.

Christy has published research papers looking at these effects in three different regions: east Africa, and the American states of California and Alabama.

“The story is the same for each one,” he said. “The popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”
And of course this is precisely the sort of thing highlighted by the late John Daly (see the Environmental Errors section), and more recently by Anthony Watts of WUWT and his project which found that the sort of thing described by John Daly in Tasmania nearly ten years ago is far from unique in the US network - supposedly the most reliable of anywhere in the world. Historically the Yanks have had the time, cash and manpower to maintain stations properly, and yet the information that Anthony Watts has collected suggests that 90% of them have local factors that casts doubt on their reliability. As the Times reports
His study, which has not been peer reviewed, is illustrated with photographs of weather stations in locations where their readings are distorted by heat-generating equipment.

Some are next to air- conditioning units or are on waste treatment plants. One of the most infamous shows a weather station next to a waste incinerator.

Watts has also found examples overseas, such as the weather station at Rome airport, which catches the hot exhaust fumes emitted by taxiing jets.

In Britain, a weather station at Manchester airport was built when the surrounding land was mainly fields but is now surrounded by heat-generating buildings.
There's one in central Melbourne as well, just on the northeast corner of the CBD. I've been meaning to check to see if it's one of the ones whose data ends up in the various estimates of global temperature.

View Larger Map

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As I say, I don't know if they are used or if they're just there for local meteorological work. But if you want to see even worse shockers that are used then go along to and browse through the pictures. I used to do it regularly but after a while the effect wore off and I just went 'tut, another one next to a furnace'.

Worse still the enviro journals look like they're starting to lean towards scepticism, which is only fair since that's supposed to be the fucking default position of science anyway.
Terry Mills, professor of applied statistics and econometrics at Loughborough University, looked at the same data as the IPCC. He found that the warming trend it reported over the past 30 years or so was just as likely to be due to random fluctuations as to the impacts of greenhouse gases. Mills’s findings are to be published in Climatic Change, an environmental journal.

“The earth has gone through warming spells like these at least twice before in the last 1,000 years,” he said.
But balance, people, balance.
Kevin Trenberth, a lead author of the chapter of the IPCC report that deals with the observed temperature changes, said he accepted there were problems with the global thermometer record but these had been accounted for in the final report.
You've checked all 1200+ stations in the US and however many thousand throughout the rest of the world, assessed all the factors unique to each site and calculated the adjustments needed for each and every one, have you? Bullshit. Of course you haven't - if you have Watts' project would have been unnecessary and he could have found something else to do. No, what you've probably done is lumped them together in groups and applied various correction factors without knowing accurately the site conditions of each, and we already know that the wrong corrections are used because sites get incorrectly classified. Odd that it always seems to be in a way which exaggerates warming, but that could be a coincidence.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts has recently issued a new set of global temperature readings covering the past 30 years, with thermometer readings augmented by satellite data.

Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: “This new set of data confirms the trend towards rising global temperatures and suggest that, if anything, the world is warming even more quickly than we had thought.”
Vicks, the credibility of the Met Orifice and it's predictions don't lead to a lot of faith about your data gathering. Why augment possibly corrupted surface readings by satellite rather than just go on the satellites alone? Correct me if I'm wrong but if your data is contaminated then it's fucking contaminated. It might give you the result you expect but if so you may have forgotten that science isn't supposed to work towards a predetermined conclusion.

But what's really interesting to me is the change in reporting style. Normally any article about warble gloaming is packed with all the scary stuff about seas rising and drowning buildings and Roland Emmerlich movies becoming real, with the so-called 'balance' bit coming near the end where a sceptic is given a paragraph or two before being slapped down by a climate whinge mouthpiece. This article was almost the other way round.

The beginning of a paradigm shift perhaps? Time to start worrying about what we're going to have to start worrying about next.

Gordon Clown's personality campaign lumbers on.

His campaign to acquire a personality, that is. Though I hold him in almost as much contempt DING is probably doing the smart thing by not doing a similar tearful interview and scores bonus points for not pointing out Gordon's hypocrisy. Meanwhile the cyclopean madness seems to have infected the whole Labour party.
The recorded Life Stories show is regarded by Labour strategists as an opportunity for Mr Brown “to reintroduce himself” to voters ahead of a contest in which the Tories are expected to make much of his unpopularity.
They don't want to be re-introduced to the fucker, you idiots. Once was enough.

Loyal wife is doing her best, but look what the poor woman has to work with.
On Thursday, Sarah Brown joined the effort to project the human face of her “DH” — darling husband...
Oh? Not DickHead then? She really does love him.
...ahead of the broadcast. In a webchat for, she described how he was taking charge of plans for Valentine’s Day, adding: “He is surprisingly romantic (for a Scot and a Man).”
I'm sure the country would have liked a bunch of roses and a nice meal before he fucked it, but he must have been saving that for you.
Like many men, however, he is also “v loud when there’s sport on” and “he’s v messy all the time”.
Are we talking about the shattered remnants of mobile phones again?
If much of their life “takes place in extraordinary circumstances”, she added: “It is also important for us to remain an ordinary family with privacy and time together."
Which is why you're talking about it to, obviously. And I'm sure nobody from the party had anything to do with it.

A lesson for whitey.

Well, just the PC mob. Read, digest, understand.
My opinion was once sought by Times executives on how to attract non-white writers. The paper planned to offer internships to ethnic minority candidates who had graduated in media studies.

It was well intentioned but misguided, I ventured, because I knew of no colleague whose passport to these venerable corridors had been secured by such questionable means. There were historians, linguists, lawyers, classicists, philosophers, biologists, physicists, even an Egyptologist — but no media studies graduates. My view was this: if a brown writer sails in on an easier ticket than a white wordsmith, The Times would be construed as patronising rather than progressive and the intern would struggle against whispers of lowered standards.
See? See? Talent is colourblind and will show itself regardless of colour. Petty bigotry and overt racism may push that talent away but that's their loss - in the meantime inverting the favouritism to make up for them just encourages ill feelings and more bigotry and racism. Thank fuck someone explained it to the Times and prevented them from... oh.
Such was my influence that The Times went ahead anyway, although the scheme didn’t last long.
So why the fuck did they even ask you in the first place? To be seen to have asked probably.

Such schemes rarely do, which is why, in the miserable tale of Ali Dizaei, the Scotland Yard commander convicted of corruption, the fact that sticks out most is the continued, seemingly pointless and possibly harmful existence of the National Black Police Association. Substitute “black” with “white” and an outdated collective becomes an illegal organisation that is morally impossible to defend.

Why partition members of the same profession along the lines of skin colour? I would not join an organisation for black journalists (or female ones) because its identity lies wholly in the exclusion of white hacks (or male ones).
I suspect some useful idiots genuinely believe that it makes everything fairer, but really it's divide and rule stuff. It's so much easier if there are so many million Welsh and so many million English and so many million Scots and so many million Asians, and gays, and disabled, and northerners, and Cornish, and Londoners, and Brums, and old people, and young people, and on and on and on. The thought of those disparate groups turning from the various thems into simply 60 million of us will open political sphincters wide enough to fit their expensed plasma screens in.
I’m not so naive as to think there isn’t racism in police ranks (or the media). I would not be here were it not for a bursary for ethnic minority students. Mine is not an argument against affirmative action. But once you’re in the profession, it’s time to do your job, not continually reference the colour of your skin.
I'd argue against affirmative action as well, but aside from that there's no argument from me. I wouldn't want to see the NBPA banned - freedom of association is there for coppers too - but this is all good sense and needs to be written on cricket bats and twatted into the heads of people who think something as divisive as a police associations on colour lines is a good idea. People have fought and died to put an end to that kind of thing on buses in America and beaches in South Africa. Why the fuck would anyone, especially those whose skin colour would have seen them victimised in another time and place, want such a thing in Britain today?

There is only one colour that's appropriate for a police officer: blue.

Anyone shocked at this?

Shouldn't be much of a surprise that this was coming.
A rise in VAT is looming whichever party wins the general election, as Labour and the Conservatives draw up plans to balance Britain’s books.

Alistair Darling and George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, are both considering raising VAT to as high as 20 per cent — the European average — from the current rate of 17.5 per cent, The Times has learnt.

Doing so would raise an extra £13 billion a year at a time when financial markets are searching for signs that whoever takes power is serious about tackling Britain’s £178 billion deficit.
And a regressive tax hike that will raise less than 7.5% of the deficit shows that seriousness? Christ, is that enough even just to service the fucking debts? God forbid that either of them should go about by planning to spend less money.


One party, three wings.

In Britain these days there is only a theoretical choice between main parties. Plenty of people have observed that the battle for the centre ground has reached the point where in many policy areas, e.g. Europe and the referendum that everyone promised but which never happened and now never will, there really isn't a lot of difference, and an MP on the edge - not necessarily an extreme edge - of his party's views could conceivably cross the floor to join another party without actually having to change his opinions. There really might as well be one party with two main wings on the left and right respectively, and a smaller one that is slightly left of centre, but only slightly.
Unfortunatelt and to my ever lasting annoyance there are plenty of people who will vote along party lines even even the candidate was a fungus ridden lump of wood with the right colour rosette nailed on. But it's a relief to see that generation whatever-letter-we're-on-now is bucking the trend, and not by simply being contrarian and voting for whoever would most annoy their parents (urrrm, guilty on one count, your honours). They want to be political, but not with those politicians.
Disillusioned class of 2010 have no idea which party to support.
Can't think why, unless it's because the centrist similarity and the behaviour of politicians from all three main parties makes it like choosing between three almost identical flavours of cake shit sandwich?
Unburdened by ideology and bored by Iraq, they sit in coffee bars to fret about tuition fees and their chances of finding a job.


More than 70 students shared their political views this week during interviews in libraries, student union buildings and lecture rooms at four universities: Durham, Bradford, Leicester and Bristol. With a few exceptions, they were interested in political issues but cynical about politicians and had little patience for arguments along traditional party lines. The majority intended to vote but almost half had no idea which party they would support.
I really hope that it occurs to them that if no main party appeals then voting for a minority party makes as much sense. One vote so rarely makes a difference that it's as much a waste to give it to someone who's likely to win by twenty thousand as it is to someone who'll only get a few dozen - the former needs one more vote like Mr Creosote needs a wafer thin mint (unfortunately even the really fat ones are unlikely to explode) and for the latter it's still not remotely near enough. For a while afterwards it might feel nice to have backed the winner but that'll soon fade when he's joined the rest of the bastards queueing up behind you while you're gripping your ankles and trying to breathe past the ball gag. Seriously, you may as well just vote for whoever's policies are closest to what you actually think. If that means you vote Tory, Labour, LibDem or even BNP then fair enough. I might think you're a twat but I'll have to concede that you'll be an honest twat. Doesn't change the fact that what you're doing is voting Centrist.
Among [the students] were an Asian girl worried about levels of immigration, a self-proclaimed Marxist who may vote Tory and another student who said he would vote Conservative because he believed passionately in social justice and equality.
Ignoring the obvious strawman about the Asian girl concerned about immigrants (she could be fourth generation and talking about Eastern Europeans for all we know) the fact that the Tories hare now tempting for a Marxist and someone else who likes them for the position on social justice and equality means one of two things: either both of them haven't a clue what the fucking words mean or the Tory party has moved far enough to the left in it's desire to steal as many of Labour's clothes as NuLab stole from them that the blogosphere taunt of Blue Labour is looking more accurate by the day.

What might change all this is money. Not who out of Dave and Gordon can offer the most money back to the people they're going to forcibly take it from, but where the Labour party is going to get the money to stay in business.
The Labour Party is struggling to make ends meet. It is planning a general election with a skeletal staff. Its spring conference has been cancelled. The National Policy Forum, which, in theory at least, was supposed to sign off the election manifesto, is too expensive to stage. The Labour Party is heading into the next election contest with debts of £11.5 million, an overwhelming reliance on the trade unions for funding and the very real prospect that the coming campaign will tip it into bankruptcy. What does this mean?
There'll be dancing in the streets of Cheltenham if they do go tits up?
First, it means that the rich and powerful have deserted the party. Notwithstanding its recent flirtation with a class critique of the Opposition and higher taxes on the well-off, this is not really a comment on the Labour Party’s policies. It is a verdict on its prospects. Most donors are weather vanes rather than ideologues; they look for winners to back. Fundraising is a form of political future and the desertion of its donors is a telling indictment of the Labour party. Those monied men and women who flocked to new Labour in the mid-1990s have disappeared.
Yeah, we know. There was another this week. Seems not to have liked the high tax situation that someone thought was such a fucking good idea.
Second, the party’s parlous financial state tells us how badly Labour has managed its own machine. The great promise of new Labour, attractive enough to win three elections, was that it offered a party freed from reliance on the trade unions. It was to be a party of the nation, not just a pressure group for a sectional interest. For a long while, the promise was kept.
No wonder. They fucked up the country so why should we be surprised that they were shit at managing their own finances.

And now, if you're an undergraduate wondering how to decide who to vote for, here comes the important bit.
The irony, at the end of the new Labour period, is that the party has wound up more reliant on trade union finance than ever before.
The piper's paymaster calls the tune, and the main paymasters are about to be the unions again. It might not be a choice of New Labour or Blue Labour with LibDems to place. We could see something more like Old Labour, which would create a bit of daylight between them and Blue Labour despite DING's step to the left (in the event of a jump to the right let's do the Timewarp again - there's bound to be pelvic thrusts still going on in Westminster). They'll all still be fucking awful, which is why my vote will go to the Libertarian Party (if they have a candidate standing - I've pretty much decided that the only other option is to spoil the ballot paper), but at least they'll be awful for different reasons.
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