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

Friday, 31 December 2010

Last effort for the Offence Seeking Twat of the Year Award?

Needless to say I haven't actually seen Top Gear's "Three Wise Men", and being a Christmas special I expect it'll air here between Easter and late June, but it has already made some news here. And it's all thanks to James May, a rock, a few square yards of black cloth, and bloody Anjem "Is-It-'Coz-I-Is-Slamic" Choudary. It seems that James May brained himself with a rock somehow and that when he came out of hospital, for reasons I don't pretend to understand, this was what he was faced with.
Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond disguised themselves as women by wearing Islamic face veils which only revealed their eyes in a Christmas show filmed in Syria.
Don't fancy yours much.
Two middle aged men, one short and thin and one tall and fat, wearing what look like painter's masks and some blackout material? Not much of a disguise I'd have thought, and possibly the worst one since all those women in Life of Brian disguised themselves as men with the world's least convincing fake beards. Okay, they fooled the Pharisee and at least one of them really was a man, but that's by the by. In any case, that Hammond and Clarkson looked like they were in a Middle East remake of Some Like It Hot was not going to stop the legions of the professionally offended and their spokestool of the day.
Controversial Islamic activist Anjem Choudary told the Daily Mail the burqa was a "symbol of our religion and people should not make jokes about it in any way".
A symbol of your religion, Anj? Really? Then how come so many practising Muslim women don't wear it? There are, what? A billion and a half Muslims, and even assuming an unrealistically low quarter of them are women the world would notice 375 million women dressed up like a cross between Demis Roussos and a ninja. Where are they all, Anjie? Why is this symbol not far more widespread? Perhaps because, as point out, only an insignificantly small number of women actually choose to wear it.
So for instance, in France they have about 3 million Muslim women. French police decided to figure out how many of them wore burqas and/or niqabs and found the number to be ... 367.

Not 367,000, but 367, a number so small that from a statistical point of view, it's barely enough to register as a margin of error. As for the rest of Europe, the numbers are even more disastrous for the burqa business (for instance, Belgium has 500,000 Muslims, a couple dozen wear the burqa).

Yes, there are Middle Eastern countries where the veils are required by law (namely Iran and Saudi Arabia) and combined those countries have less than 5 percent of the world's Muslims. There are actually more Muslim countries that outright ban the wearing of the veils than there are that require them. They can do that because wearing a veil is not required in Islam but is more of a custom, depending on where you live and who's in charge.
They go on to point out that several women have become leaders of Islamic nations and a cursory Google image search shows that none of them wore burqas all the time, so as religious symbols go it's somewhere between incredibly underused and practically unknown. Or simply not a religious symbol at all.
The veil itself predates Islam by many centuries. In the Near East, Assyrian kings first introduced both the seclusion of women in the royal harem and the veil. Prostitutes and slaves, however, were told not to veil, and were slashed if they disobeyed this law.

Beyond the Near East, the practice of hiding one's face and largely living in seclusion appeared in classical Greece, in the Byzantine Christian world, in Persia, and in India among upper caste Rajput women. Muslims in their first century at first were relaxed about female dress. When the niece of Aishah Bint Abu Bakr (the Prophet’s wife), Aisha bint Talha was asked by her husband Musab to veil her face, she answered, "Since the Almighty hath put on me the stamp of beauty, it is my wish that the public should view the beauty and thereby recognized His grace unto them. On no account, therefore, will I veil myself."
It is thought that the burqa predates Islam, and was introduced by Assyrian kings Ωnstead. There is also evidence of veiling in classical Greece, the Byzantine Christian tradition, and in ancient India. In fact, the burqa did not appear as a rule of Islam until the 10th century.
It is believed the burka's origin dates back to the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian Empire founded by Cyrus II (6th century BC). And according to some writings dating back to the 13th century BC, (which were discovered in Assyria) mentioned the wearing of the Burka. At that time the Muslim religion did not exist.
From where I sit that makes it sound like either Islam has adopted the tent look for women from local cultures into which it spread, or that people from those areas began using Islam as an excuse for their long standing tradition of dressing women that way because, fuck it, we always have. Either way a religious symbol it ain't, except perhaps for it's adoption by some individuals as a personal symbol of their belief. However, this no more makes it an Islamic symbol than a child's drawing of a fish has anything to do with Christianity unless it cost $20 including P&P and is stuck to the boot of a car.

So in short what we have here is an excuse. An excuse to get offended by white westerners yet again, which is something the likes of Anjem Choudary will never pass up because it helps them maintain their victim status. Or their levels of anger and irrational hate:
Viewers also expressed their disgust at the wardrobe choice online, with one viewer writing "Death to America" on a Yahoo! forum.
See? A British Broadcasting Corporation TV show upsets someone and the reaction is "death to America". With that kind of grasp of elementary geography the WTC attackers would have missed by three thousand miles.

There's no F-ing A in the BBC
(apart from American Dad and Family Guy, obviously)
But that's really not an important detail when the true object of the exercise is to strengthen your hand in a game of victimhood poker. If Choudary really had a problem with offending deeply held religious beliefs he'd be as quick to condemn something like, oooh say, this:

So there we have it. It's wrong, very wrong, to make light of clothing chosen by a tiny, tiny minority of the members of one religion, but judging by his silence presumably it's quite alright to brand as evil one of the two most important festivals of another religion and to suggest that its two billion plus believers are promiscuous, violent, druggie, kiddy fiddlers who beat up women and who are somehow also pagans (hilariously contrasted with the mention of women's rights in Islam - I'm sure many Muslim women have rights but like the burqa it seems to depend at least as much on where they are and what the local men think as anything else). It might seem dribbingly mad to the rest of us but I don't doubt that on Planet Choudary this makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

No, it can't be.

In the runup to Christmas and my poor attempt to get organised in time (I demand at least a year's notice for Christmas 2011) I missed the fact that the arctic icecap is not doomed after all.
There is no 'tipping point' beyond which climate change will inevitably push the Arctic ice cap into terminal melt off, according to a study published today.


One of the factors in this calculation is a so-called positive feedback, in which a reduced area of floating ice helps to stoke global warming.

As ice cover recedes decade by decade, more of the Sun's radiative force is absorbed by dark-blue sea rather than bounced back into space by reflective ice and snow.


Up to now, many scientists worried that there was an as yet unidentified temperature threshold which, once passed, would doom the ice cap.
But... but... but that would mean that two and a half years ago when he said it was going to melt in five years Al Gore was... wrong? And so were Prince Chuckles and his mate Pen Hadow when they gave it ten.

I'll go an update the warble gloaming diary dates with a big fat line through the ice-free North Pole ones, yes?

<sarcasm>My God, and there I was believing both mutually exclusive claims.</sarcasm> Ah, not so fast, Angry. Almost inevitably when it comes to all things ecoid every silver lining has to have a big fucking cloud in the middle of it, and this news is no exception.
But the study, based on computer models, indicates that if annual emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially reduced over the next two decades, an initial phase of rapid ice loss would be followed by a period of stability and, eventually, partial recovery.
So the message really hasn't changed that much. Reduce emissions, reduce living standards, shrink economies and all will be well once more.

Except of course there's still the point that the existence of a net positive feedback is still assumed* and, since positive feedback is unusual in nature and tends to be unstable, seems unlikely. If positive feedback were a reality how did the world avoid runaway warble gloaming in the past when CO2 levels were naturally much higher than even today with a little help from industrial activity? So before I ditch the car, the water heater, the electric and electronic appliances and everything else that comes with living in the early 21st Century rather than the 18th, is it too much to ask that someone goes out and actually confirms positive feedback empirically rather than taking it as read and shoving it and its assumed values into yet another fucking computer model?

I'd be so grateful.

* As far as I'm aware, anyway. Such a discovery would confirm a great deal which is still in doubt and disputed by sceptics, so I'd have expected it to have been headline news and very hard to miss even for me when I'm busy with other things.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas.

To all who read my semi-coherent rantings and whose own writing inspires and entertains me, a very merry Christmas. I'll be back before New Year. Probably.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

That took its sweet time.

Finally! ID cards are at last dead and decently buried, despite the best efforts of some to hold things up by insisting that the 12,000 or so useful idiots and government hirelings* who bought one of the bloody things could have a refund. As I said in September, caveat emptor always applies whether it's a crap first car that a young Exile bought against the advice of older and wiser heads or an ID card that always stood a better than evens chance of being abolished before long.

You had the option to not buy something from a relatively unpopular government being lead by a hugely unpopular mucus munching madman, something that the opposition parties made clear they would scrap if they got in, but in spite of that you went ahead. Too fucking bad. Am I going to get a refund on all that NI I paid if, as I expect, the UK state pension pot has gone tits up by the time I reach retirement age? No, I highly fucking doubt it too. Fucking thousands taking from me under threat of violence, fucking thousands. And you peck sniffing, blister palmed, pox ridden cockslots are whinging about your thirty fucking quid even though it cost the rest of the taxpayers twenty grand between them for that bit of plastic.

Fuck. You. All. Fuck you right in the face.

And well done, Cobbleition. Now... what the fuck's going on with all the rest of that civil liberty stuff you were talking about?

* I can't recall where I read it and can't now find the link but I'm sure I saw somewhere that a large number of the ID cards issued had been to people who worked in the department issuing ID cards and other public sector employees.

In the interests of balance.

There's this:
Coloured drawings of the late Princess of Wales, in a see-through dress and wearing angel's wings, are being sold in America as good luck charms.
The first shows Diana with arms open wide, standing on the cupped hands of Christ. A Union Flag emblem and a halo hover above her head.
The second has her floating to earth like a Christmas tree fairy in a dress billowing round her thighs and with a pack of photographers pointing their cameras at her.
Magazine readers across the States are promised 'luck and good fortune' if they spend $30 a time on the ink portraits.
'Miracle of miracles ... the world's most loved adorable angel is free at last,' reads the blurb.
'Princess Diana has returned to Earth to continue spreading her message of love, light and hope.
'Be amazed at the precious Princess ... these celestial images will bless and protect your home and envelope your family in a positive aura of luck and good fortune.'
But it seems to be unofficial and only available in the US so let's ignore it in favour of this Diana plate, which is available from a UK London themed gift website and is possibly unique in the genre as having captured the likeness of the late Princess while she was suffering from trapped wind.

Fuck it. Let's just cancel Christmas to be on the safe side.

Phil always said he'd have her head on a plate, and now ...

What? Too soon?

/ returns to shotgun and reindeer traps

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Genuinely available from

Santa, please, no.

..... sets reindeer trap, retreats across room, sits down opposite fireplace, begins to load shotgun.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Harry Potter and the Religious Zealots.

Gordon Bennett.
A young Muslim actress who appeared in the Harry Potter films was beaten by her brother and told by her father that he would kill her after she began a relationship with a Hindu man, a court heard yesterday.
Afshan Azad, 22, who played Padma Patil, a classmate of the boy wizard, was called a “slag” and a “prostitute” in a violent confrontation at her family home which left her so scared she fled through a window, Manchester Crown Court heard.
She later told police that her father wanted to “force her” into an arranged marriage.
Every time I read something like this my jaw drops, but in this instance what the fuck were they thinking? Nobody would notice or something? She's not A-list and hasn't had anything like the exposure of the three big names but it's a relatively safe bet that someone would ask questions. The mind boggl... wait, no it doesn't.
Abul Azad, 53, and his son Ashraf, 28, were charged with making threats to kill following the incident in Longsight, Manchester, on May 21. Both were cleared of the charge yesterday after a judge heard that Miss Azad had refused to give evidence despite “expensive and time-consuming” attempts to encourage her to attend court. After going to the police, she “made it plain” that she did not want any action taken against her family, saying that the arrest of her father or brother would put her in “genuine danger”, the court heard.
Now the mind boggles. You had to do a runner through a window, kid. It sounds like you were in genuine danger already. But not to worry.
Her father was instead bound over to keep the peace for 12 months, while her brother was bailed to await sentencing after admitting assault causing actual bodily harm against his sister at an earlier hearing.
I'm sure you're perfectly safe now.


Monday, 20 December 2010

The Mash do it again.

Tom Logan, from Finsbury Park, said: "As far as I understand it, government is a mechanism for delivering opportunity and fairness. But the difficulty with that - in terms of service provision - is that it's just a load of shit they use to justify spending my money on whatever they fucking want.

"So I would really, really love it if the government could do actual things."

He added: "I'm thinking doctors and nurses and the equipment they require; teachers who can instruct children how to read, write and do sums; a few police forces; some fire brigades and a coastguard; one big submarine with a doomsday machine on it and plenty of fucking gritters.

"And absolutely nothing else."
Gold. Go read the rest.

Some housekeeping.

Some while back I added some pages for a comments policy, contact form, the blogroll, inactive blogs, and MSM buttons and other sites along with some buttons at the top of the page to get you there and back. The pages for links to other sites were all supposed to be in A-Z format, partly because the blogroll itself is ordered by the time of the most recent post those bloggers have made and as a result is a bit random, but at the time I only got around to doing it for the hibernating/inactive blogs. And then like a twat I completely forgot about doing the other two pages. D'oh!

Well, I have finally got around to it, and I think you can understand and forgive the delay when I tell you that it took literally minutes of work. Comments are enabled on both the blogroll page and the siteseeing page if anyone wants to throw suggestions in for additions or whore their own blogs, and even if I don't add it I'll leave the comment there for other people to find. However, please remember that more than one link will put the comment into the moderation queue and if it's about cooking with insect wings, learning Japanese sign language, tiling for beginners or anything else that is unrelated to anything I rant about I'll delete the comment. Unless it's funny. Funny stuff is fine, even if it involves insect wings and Japanese sign language.

But anything about tiling will always get shitcanned. I really fucking hate tiling.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Australia - not a nation of faith.

Yes, this is about religion. Actually cricket, which is nearly the same thing here.

Now it's all square with two to play I wonder if that will change.

Women, the fantasy and the reality.

The fantasy:

The reality:

In fairness, not much to ask to take the trash out.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Subtractions and an addition.

The Grumpy Old Twat has had enough entertaining the blogosphere with RA18+ Pshop mash-ups poking fun or showing his outrage, which is a shame because even as some made you wince and breath in with a sharp "oooh" a lot of them were quite funny. So the bastard goes off the blogroll and into the Gone-But-Not-Forgotteness of the suspended animation room, along with Wholly Rude and Plato. There haven't been any announcements from them that I've noticed but they've been silent for several months, and Plato's blog doesn't even seem to be there any more. Hopefully all three will reappear to take up keyboards and do bloggle one day in the future.

Addition wise there's only a good quote for the sidebar, courtesy of Laban in the comments over at Julia's. It dovetails very nicely with my last post and with the incessant bloody nannying that we see so much of today, though I wasn't familiar with it and had to google to see who said it.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C.S. Lewis
How bloody true.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Denormalisation and the march of hatred.

Over at Leg-iron's there's a post on discrimination in which he says:
"You cannot, so far, tell who we are unless we're actually smoking but that's going to change. We will be made identifiable. Third hand smoke will be the excuse."
Which prompted me to write in the comments,
Perhaps some sort of yellow star motif? It'll make aiming easier when the time comes...
I don't say that lightly since I have Jewish neighbours that I like and respect, and obviously what's going on has yet to reach Shoah proportions (and we should all very much hope that it never does) but all the same the parallels are disturbing. While some may be prepared to live and let live those who believe they are in the right - the Righteous, to use Leg-iron's expression - make no room, sometimes literally no room, for those who disagree.

Not "Smoking is not allowed". It's actual smokers who are not allowed

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tell me you wouldn't want to do this.

Who else but

Proof: Darth Vader has the cooler toys.

Whether it's anything to do with the fact that Stormtroopers are famously unable to hit a cow's arse with a banjo I'm not sure.

The latest EU harmonisation in Britain?

Click to article
Quite a way behind the spectacular embarrassment (if only they were fucking embarrassed by it) of the EU not having it's books signed off since... actually, have they ever been signed? Anyway, the big concern for the British public is that so little changed as a result of the expenses scandal, because it is once again MPs' expenses and their attitude to them that's causing difficulties.
In a highly embarrassing move Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office (NAO), found that the Commons authorities had failed to obtain receipts to justify £2.6 million in claims.
Another £11.3 million of expenditure had been incurred on items which the House could not prove was necessary for parliamentary purposes.
14 million fucking quid? Jesus wept. Meet the new boss, same as the... oh bollocks to it, we all know the fucking song by now. £14 million between 646 of them just beggars belief. If you had a firm with 646 employees and within one financial year they submitted £14 mill worth of expenses claims that they either could not substantiate or justify or both your options would be as follows:
  1. Refuse to pay up until they found invoices and good reasons for the claims.
  2. Eventually go bust because they'll carry on taking the piss.
  3. Er... no, that's it.
And sure enough when put under a bit of pressure:
The gaps in the accounts were so serious that the NAO launched a full audit of Commons' allowances, after which MPs still failed to provide £800,000 of receipts.
Okay, so when put to it suddenly receipts and invoices started turning up after all, but why weren't they submitted in the first place? Surely after all the bad press they couldn't still have believed they didn't need to, so was it just laziness? Did they just decide they couldn't be arsed, or what? And of course only about two thirds of the receipts showed up, which does raise a few questions over the remainder. On top of that none of that sounds like it accounts for a penny of the £11.3 mill that could not satisfactorily be shown to be necessary for parliamentary purposes. Fuck me, no wonder the auditor didn't want to put his name on it.

And here's the kicker, the evidence that even after the expenses scandal blew up and made headlines worldwide, exposing the egregious, nest-feathering, over-compensated, nest feathering pricks that so many of them are, even after it forced some shamed faces and some pretence at being shame-faced for the TV cameras, even after (or maybe because) a large number agreed to stand down at the election the fucking troughing still continued!
MPs submitted the claims during the 2009 / 2010 financial year, mostly after The Daily Telegraph’s exposure of widespread abuses of the expenses system.
Insiders suggested that many MPs from the “rotten Parliament” who stood down at the general election in May went on a “last hurrah” with their expenses, submitting unjustified claims which were not picked up on by the Commons fees office.
You cunts! When will you learn? When will the message sink in?

 It's not your fucking money!


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Two fingers, either way.

I'm having trouble working this out. On the one hand there's Australia talking about using fingerprint scanners for adults to use gambling machines...
PLAYING the pokies in the future could look very different, with the federal government considering mandatory digital fingerprint-recognition technology for gamblers.

The government has promised to introduce a ''full pre-commitment scheme'' forcing poker machine players to set binding limits on their losses.


Under a mandatory system, poker machine players would have to obtain a key from a shop or post office, where it would be configured to recognise the owner's fingerprint and pre-determined spending limit, said Phillip Ryan, director of the USB's maker, Responsible Gaming Networks. Gamblers would have to run their index finger over the key's inbuilt scanner to verify their identity before using a poker machine.
... which is bad enough. But on the other hand I hear via jewel thief cum blogger and parent, Dick Puddlecote, that fingerprint scanners are being used in British schools:
In October, we had a tour round the prospective secondary school of one of the little Ps (the girl). Our guide was a very bouncy year 8 kid who was subdued when showing us the science labs, but incredibly enthusiastic when explaining the lunch money machine.

Bouncy boy enthused, "It's really good! You just put your finger here and put your money in. It's well mega! But ...", he tailed off as his enthusiasm waned, "... you can use a card instead 'cos some people don't like using fingerprints", said he with an almost disappointed shrug.

A mum who was on the same tour appeared crestfallen and exasperated, "Why on earth would anyone not like that?", she gasped with a Helen Worth-style astonished look on her face as she glanced down at her kids whilst shaking her head in genuine disbelief.

After all, the recording of personal information is perfectly normal now, isn't it?
Which prompts only one response: holy fuck, what the hell were they thinking of and is that woman for real? I'm sure they think it'll solve bullying people out of lunch money, but it won't. Really, it won't. The bullies will focus their attention and aggression to get other things, or just beat up other kids for shits and giggles, knowing that the teachers will wring their hands and do nothing (paartly because they think the technology is making the problem magically go away).

So here's what I can't quite decide. Are British kids being softened up in a get-'em-while-they're-young type process, or are Australian pokie players in danger of being infantilised to, well, to a similar level to British secondary school children? Either way, I suggest we all hold up two fingers, prints inwards, to the idea.

Well, there's your problem.

CLick to article
Really? And how is this possible? Ah, should have guessed (my bold(.
A YEAR-long investigation of Australia's free trade agreements has found they are often nothing of the kind.

The Productivity Commission has told the government there is little evidence to suggest Australia's six free-trade agreements have produced ''substantial commercial benefits''.

Some may have actually reduced trade by introducing complex rules that make it difficult to sell goods made with products imported from countries not in the agreements.
As for IP...
Copyright provisions inserted in the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement could eventually cost Australia as much as $88 million per year as the nation pays an extra 25 per cent each year in net royalty payments, ''not just to US copyright holders, but to all copyright holders''.

The copyright provisions extend payments from 50 years after an author's death to 70 years and enshrine in Australian law ''rules that would otherwise be anti-competitive such as permitting the use of region codes on DVD players''.

The provisions have saddled Australia with copyright obligations ''even higher than in the US … because we matched their higher level of copyright protection but have maintained our lower level of copyright users' rights'', the report says.
Let's not kid ourselves here, it's not brought any benefits because it's not fucking free trade, and I feel it's pretty duplicitous to even call it that. It's very much like the fashionable blaming of the free market for the financial crisis, even though a few seconds rational thought would lead one to the conclusion that the free market couldn't possibly be responsible if only because there isn't one. You might as well blame Santa for not bringing the bike you hoped for because you want to maintain the delusion that it isn't because your parents just didn't buy it. Write the fucking headlines honestly - it's not a free market and these agreements are free in name only. Realise that and you see that it really ought to look something like this:

See? Not hard.

One rule for us and another for them.

The Age:
One of Victoria's top cops is carrying a gun for his protection after receiving death threats.

The Herald Sun said Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones had received threats at his home and carries a high-powered Glock pistol.
Okay, leaving aside The Age's meaningless and misleading labelling of the pistol as "high-powered" - Glock pistols are available to appropriately licensed shooters in Australia (modified for local laws*) and are roughly as high powered as any other 9mm pistol using whatever ammunition Ken Jones is using - let's get straight o the nitty gritty of this. Does anyone else have a problem with this? I don't mean a cop being allowed to carry a gun outside of work. Police are, after all, supposed to be both responsible, law abiding citizens and to be trained to handle firearms safely (unless of course the whole point of firearms use in a certain situation is to cause an aggressor to become very unsafe indeed). As I said back in June when commenting on Ken Jones's boss, Commissioner Simon Overland, getting into some trouble over inadvertently carrying some live rounds onto a domestic flight:
If the most senior officer in a state police force can't be trusted with a weapon on board an aircraft then seriously, where the fuck are we? The fact that he didn't even have a weapon when he flew back from Canberra, just some bullets for a gun he'd left locked away in Melbourne, makes it even less of a big deal. An official bollocking is more than sufficient if you ask me, and that only because it caused embarrassment to his office and his force. But what if he'd been a regular citizen?
...senior crime investigators and aviation experts have criticised the decision, saying any civilian making the same mistake would have been arrested and charged.
Obviously I'm not suggesting that Simon Overland should have been jailed or fined for what is in effect a pretty trivial error. Like I said, I wouldn't be concerned if he'd carried a gun on board as well, at least I wouldn't if he'd made it known to the AFP and airline people in advance. For the oversight of forgetting he had a few rounds in the bottom of his bag a reprimand seems about right. But, and it's a big but, the same should apply to any other law abiding citizen.
I certainly don't begrudge Sir Ken Jones the chance to defend himself against possible threats to his life but should we believe that he's the only person in Victoria, a state of about 5.5 million people, who has reason to fear for his life? Would any other citizen, and bearing in mind that cops are also civilians would any other police officer? And for that matter is Sir Ken even a citizen yet? I suspect that in actual fact he is not, unless I'm missing something here:
Australian Citizenship Act 2007 Residence Requirements

To satisfy the residence requirements you must have:

4 years lawful residence in Australia. This period must include 12 months as a permanent resident immediately before making an application for Australian citizenship
absences from Australia of no more than 12 months in total in the 4 years prior to application, including not more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately prior to application.
Lawful residence means residence in Australia on a temporary or permanent visa.
Sir Ken Jones was made the Deputy Commissioner of Victoria Police in May 2009 and took up the job in July. Even taking the earlier date and doubling it to allow for a very extended holiday around Oz while his application was processed he would still be a year from being eligible for citizenship. Either his citizenship has been fast tracked because of his job or he's being given rights as a Permanent Resident denied to those with full citizenship, even those born and bred in Australia. Even assuming the former he's still being allowed a gun for personal defence, a reason which objectively is perfectly fair but legally is insufficient for anyone else to be issued a licence.

Any way you cut it Sir Ken Jones is getting special treatment, and that's not on. His job may make him a target but he's not the only one. Do other police officers get this treatment? Do prosecution witnesses to serious crimes? Do people who've received threats of violence from society's lawless, the scum who ignore laws and rights equally, treat the police with contempt, and can commit murder in the knowledge that 99 times out of 100 they'll be gone before the cops arrive? Of course they don't. They're made to rely on the police for their protection - 11,000 or so officers, less than a third of whom will be on duty at any given time, and not all of them on the streets.

As I've said, I don't begrudge Ken Jones his gun, and since it might not even be enough to save himself against a serious and determined attack (though even then it would at least even the odds a bit) I don't envy the situation he's in either. But I do have a problem with special treatment. The gun sooks may not be able to face these facts but even though Victoria is a pretty safe place to live cops are not the only ones in danger, and this is illustrated by the fact that the state's murder rate was 1.88 per 100,000 (2008 figures from here, ironically given by Sir Ken Jones), which works out a little over 100 per year for the state as a whole (though no doubt some of these are criminals killing other criminals and I haven't found any indication of what sort of proportion that might be). Now compare this with police deaths: since 1853 when the Victoria Police was formed 157 Victorian police officers have been killed on duty. It does not diminish the tragedy of those officers' deaths to note that the long term rate of police deaths is about one per year, less than a hundredth of the current murder rate for Victorians in general.

While I have no wish for a handgun myself (not least because I do not feel in any danger, and also because I'm not a particularly good shot and they cost money I'd rather spend on other things) I certainly don't object to anyone else having one without needing to justify it. But the reality is that while the police face dangers the rest of us don't they're still 100 times less likely to be murdered. Even assuming that in 90% of murders the victims are themselves criminals that would still mean that Victorian police officers are ten times less likely to be killed than other law abiding citizens are.

So with that in mind can someone explain to me why Joe Average can't have the means to defend himself?

* I had to Google this. I was under the impression that the former PM and great modern liberal** John Howard had banned many handguns and before moving to Australia I assumed that this would mean anything beyond target pistols of the type which are also banned in Britain, forcing its own Olympic team to train abroad and making some of the events at the London games technically illegal. To my surprise this wasn't the case at all and so 9mm semi-automatic pistols are still available providing they're 9mm/.38" or under, hold no more than ten rounds and have barrels at least 120mm (4.72") long. Presumably on Planet Howard only the 11th round is ever lethal and the first ten are dangerous only if the barrel is 119mm long or less... /facepalm. Initially that did indeed mean that a lot of guns did become illegal overnight, including any Glock 17s which might have dealt with the capacity requirement by using smaller magazines but would always fall foul of the minimum barrel length. Sensibly Glock dealt with the problem by making a version with a barrel a few millimetres longer just for Australia. Functionally it's the same gun and has exactly the same safety requirements (except possibly inside John Howard's head) but I imagine the loss of economies of scale means it costs Aussie shooters more to buy one. Cheers, John, you tool.

** Sarcasm very much intended.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Comfortably Dumb II

As a follow up to yesterday's post about Charlie Gilmour attempting to set fire to the doors of the Supreme Court I offer this (continued after the jump because the damn clip keeps auto-playing).

Monday, 13 December 2010

Comfortably Dumb?

Click for article
Mr Gilmour, a 21-year-old Cambridge student, was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and criminal damage after climbing the Cenotaph and swinging from a Union flag at the protests on Thursday.
New pictures of Mr Gilmour show him lighting a pile of newspapers at the entrance to the Supreme Court. His attempt was foiled after fellow students alerted police about what he was doing.
I suppose he'll claim it was a momentary lapse of reason but for my money he was lucky someone was there to stop him. You can potentially do some serious time for arson as it carries a maximum term of life. I'd say he should be happy that his fellow protestors weren't all animals and that at least one of them was prepared to meddle.

It has also emerged that despite a public apology for climbing the Cenotaph, privately he was defiant. On his Facebook page he said he had not damaged the Cenotaph and criticised the media for focusing on him.
He wrote: “I did not actually damage the cenotaph. it is the warped priorities of the right wing media that has caused most damage right now.
“The red tops [tabloid newspapers] can go f*** themselves. They’re the despicable ones, they should have been paying attention to the poor person who had to have brain surgery after the police smashed her in, not to f****** stupid me swinging off a flag.
“Despite the numerous death threats, yes I’m fine. I’m genuinely sorry for what I’ve done. In all honesty I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
Doesn't sound like he's overcome with sorrow to me. No, Charlie, it's too late to take it back now. Hells, bells, kid, do you think we're all suffering from brain damage or something?
Mr Gilmour, who is studying history, arrived at the protests on Thursday carrying a red and black flag in one hand and a book of verse in the other.
History, eh? Well I didn't think it'd be maths or economics or he might have worked out the consequences of setting fire to a public building. Look at it like this, Chaz, if the whole place had gone down flaming as a result of you setting a fire then not only could it be absolutely curtains for someone inside but you'd end up on the run and the repairs and rebuild costs, along with possibly increased insurance premiums, would have to come out of public funds. Public funds that you wanted to go into everlasting free tertiary education.
On Friday he appeared to realise the gravity of his actions on Friday.
He told a friend on Facebook: “I’m f*****, this is probably the worst thing I’ve done. I just wanted to swing from a flag. I didn’t realise it was the Cenotaph. I feel so ashamed right now.”
By Saturday, however, he had changed his tone: “Not only has the rising political youth movement been violently repressed but, despite its angry pleading screams for mercy, the nation has bent over and [been] f***** by the government yet again.”
Oh Christ. Why do you even have to keep talking, Charlie? One of the few things I can agree on is that the nation has indeed been bent over and fucked by the government, but it's not because they're making cuts since they really aren't making cuts at all. Clearly we're poles apart on this. Even as it is Cameron is being way too careful with that axe Eugene. Is it too much to ask that one of these days you and your fellow students will realise that taxpayers do not have bottomless pockets and that when one government has overspent catastrophically the next one has to find somewhere to economise - and I'd say they haven't even fucking started yet. You might think Cameron's a heartless cutter, Charlie, but the poor sods footing the bill look at the expenditure and the nation's debt still rising and think, "Cuts? Where?" Do you think you can get that through your head? It would be so nice.

What a division bell-end.

PS - Sorry about the large number of gratuitous Pink Floyd references. I've just been having one of my turns. There will not be a prize for anyone who can spot them all and list them in the comments, but you're welcome to claim bragging rights if you do.

PPS - I was trying very hard to work in Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict (that one doesn't count) but eventually I became lost for words. Anyone want a go?

Shock news: Vladimir Putin has gone mad.

A madman with control of a nuclear arsenal. It had to happen eventually.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has led growing support from some world leaders for the beleaguered WikiLeaks founder, describing his detention in Britain as "undemocratic".
See? In his insanity he thinks Britain is a democracy.

We're fucked.

When did The Mash stop doing piss-takes and start doing policies?

I ask only because this makes more sense than some things that are being suggested.
As angry students demanded the right to help themselves to other people's money, MPs backed an amendment to the government's higher education funding proposals to just scrap the fucking thing.


Professor Henry Brubaker, director of the Institute for Studies and a long time campaigner for the abolition of universities, said: "Hospitals can train doctors, law firms can train lawyers, journalists can be trained by children and sociologists can train themselves by watching television for six hours a day.

"The vast majority of 'careers' are complete bullshit anyway. Sending people to university just means you get pointless, bullshit jobs being done by someone who has spent three years and thirty grand turning themselves into an arse."
Or increasingly someone who has spent even more time and money getting a Master's or something, because these days nearly everyone their age has a vanilla degree in something and they're starting to feel a need to separate themselves from the crowd. You know, a bit like a degree used to do.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Punching fog.

If the people currently frothing in outrage of the whole Wikileaks things thought they had problems before they need to think again, because now similar sites are starting to appear.
A former co-worker of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange plans to launch a rival website on Monday called Openleaks that will help anonymous sources deliver sensitive material to public attention.

In a documentary by Swedish broadcaster SVT, due to be aired tomorrow and obtained in advance by AP, former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg said the new website will work as an outlet for anonymous sources.

"Openleaks is a technology project that is aiming to be a service provider for third parties that want to be able to accept material from anonymous sources," Domscheit-Berg said in a rare interview conducted in Berlin.

Ever since WikiLeaks burst on the international news agenda in the northern spring there's been speculation about possible copycat sites.
Ironically it seems Domscheit-Berg quit Wikileaks after disagreeing with Assange over transparency in Wikileaks itself, arguing that there wasn't enough of it, but that's by the by. What's relevant is that there is an alternative now, and regardless of which one is more attractive to any individual whistle blower things just got harder for secrecy obsessed governments. Silencing one is hard enough and now they'd have to silence two, and possibly more. If there's room for more than one social networking site there should be room for more than one anonymous leaking service, especially as you'd expect something like that to be less faddish than the MyBookSpaceReunitedTwitFace stuff.

Of course there is a simple, easy solution for governments that avoids much of the nightmare that multiple leak sites would bring: don't give access to really important information to a Pfc and at the same time don't fuck about and waste time classifying gossip.

Drawing a line.

I've made no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of Chuckles FcKnuckles, his over priced biscuits, and his loopy beliefs, or that in principle I'm a republican (small "r"). I think the guy is an over-priviliged tool. But this is out of order:

Well done, protest drones and other useful idiots. You've brought out sympathy in me for a guy I have held in contempt probably for far longer than many of you. You stupid, stupid twats.

More striking over cuts.

Received via email:
Muslim suicide bombers in Britain are set to begin a three-day strike on Monday in a dispute over the number of virgins they are entitled to in the afterlife. Emergency talks with Al Qaeda have so far failed to produce an agreement. The unrest began last Tuesday when Al Qaeda announced that the number of virgins a suicide bomber would receive after his death will be cut by 25% this February, from 72 to only 60. The rationale for the cut was the increase in recent years of the number of suicide bombings and a subsequent shortage of virgins in the afterlife.

The suicide bomber's union, the British Organization of Occupational Martyrs (BOOM) responded with a statement that this was unacceptable to its members and immediately balloted for strike action. General Secretary Abdullah Amir told the press, "Our members are literally working themselves to death in the cause of Jihad. We don't ask for much in return, and to be treated like this is like a kick in the teeth."

Speaking from his shed in Tipton in the West Midlands, in which he currently resides, Al Qaeda chief executive Osama bin Laden explained, "We sympathize with our workers concerns, but Al Qaeda is simply not in a position to meet their demands. They are simply not accepting the
realities of modern-day Jihad in a competitive marketplace. Thanks to Western depravity there is now a chronic shortage of virgins in the afterlife. It's a straight choice between reducing expenditure and laying people off. I don't like cutting wages but I'd hate to have to tell 3,000 of my staff that they won't be able to blow themselves up."

Spokespersons for the Union in the northeast of England, Ireland, Wales, and the entire Australian continent stated that the strike would not affect their operations, as "there are no virgins in their areas anyway."

Apparently the drop in the number of suicide bombings has been put down to the emergence of Scottish singing star Susan Boyle - now that Muslims know what an actual virgin looks like they are not so keen on going to paradise.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Bonjour et bienvenue aux Jeux Olympiques 2012 de Londres.

Via Captain Ranty I see the 2012 Olympic Games - you know, the Games that Paris lost out on to London - are going to be held in French.
French is the first language of the International Olympic Committee and as such that means that it must take precedence at all Olympic ceremonies including when medals are being handed out.
The presentations will also take place in English but any statement in English "should be read after the French".
All "billboards and pageantry" must also be in French, with English relegated to a second language for the duration of the Games.
They're fucking smart, the French, aren't they? Not having to pay a red cent towards the insane cost of hosting the event and they still get their language given preference.

Now in fairness to the International Olympic C... er, what does the C stand for anyway? Probably not the first thing that sprung to my mind. Anyway, in fairness thinking back to the Beijing Games I do seem to recall that everything was said in French first and then a Chinese language, presumably Mandarin, afterwards. Doesn't make any sense since there are more Chinese speakers than speakers of anything else, and it seems to me that geographically both Spanish and English have a better claim to, ah, lingua franca status than French does these days. And if it's an Olympic tradition surely Greek should take precedence, even though there are only about 12 million people in Greece and half of them may need to eat their TVs before 2012.
The Union Jack should only be flown fifth in precedence behind the Olympic flag, the London 2012 symbol, the United Nations flag and the flag of Greece.
See? The Greek flag comes before the Union Jack Flag (note to the media, please look up the fucking difference), and because of the history of the Games in ancient times I don't have a huge issue with that. Certainly not compared to the UN and EU rags being even high up the pecking order.

Anyhow, French first is clearly what the London bid team signed everyone up for, presumably as a nod to the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin (how come he was a baron? I thought they'd executed or exiled all their aristos decades earlier). And if that's in the contract there's probably nothing thatt can be done about it, not even my suggestion of saying:
Voici votre facture de eleventy billion fucking quid, M. Johhny Frog. Parler en francais all you please, me old china, but only once you've coughed up, eh?
But that's really by the by. As Witterings From Witney points out in the comments over at Ranty's, the real question is why it took two years of battering the bastards with the Freedom of Information Act before this came out. Or why they didn't feel able to be open about it and say this in front of all the flag waving crowds five and a half years ago when there was still a chance for Britons to demand the bid be withdrawn.

I wonder... could there have been money in it, or am I just becoming a cynical old bugger?

Read. Weep. - UPDATED

As much of Britain shivers under extra blankets, wondering if the profligate financial habits of their past and presnt governments and the inevitable knock on effect it'll have on their own taxes means they can afford to turn the heating up a notch, it'll be of absolutely no comfort whatsoever to know that the same government will, unless it grows a backbone all of a sudden, commit British citizens to paying for yet more hubris and lunacy (disguised as redistributive policies to aid countries effected by warble gloaming, natch*). And it's not just the UK being asked to stump up.
The UN wants nothing less than 1.5% of our GDP.
That’s $212 billion from the USA every year ($2700 per family of 4).
That’s $32 billion from the UK every year ($2000 per family of 4).
That’s $13 billion from Australia every year ($2400 per family of 4).
And where the fuck is the fucking money going to come from? Even if I had the money spare I would not want it handed over to those who the UN apparatchiks believe are somehow more worthy than the poor fucks who work for it.

Seemingly more concerned with warble gloaming than civil wars, genocide and nuclear proliferation, and more concerned with what it believes is right than what someone can plausibly demonstrate is actually fucking correct the UN is clearly, to resort to an over-used phrase, no longer fit for purpose (if it ever was).

More to the point the same increasingly applies to the national governments that continually drop to their knees and fumble with the UN's zipper. Even without the World Government angle this is yet more legalised robbery with menaces on the part of every government that signs up for this. What do we have to do to get the message through? How many times must it be said?

It's not your fucking money!


H/T The Filthy Engineer.

UPDATE - meanwhile over at WUWT there's a report of a forest fire immediately being blamed by ecotools on warble gloaming before being found to be simple negligence mixed in with a little arson, while other ecotools attending the Cancun jolly show their scientific knowledge and/or gullibility by falling hook, line, rod, chair and fishing cruiser for the aging DHMO gag.
Despite the apparently not-so-obvious reference to H2O, almost every delegate that collegian students approached signed their petition to ban that all too dangerous substance, which contributes to the greenhouse effect, is the major substance in acid rain, and is fatal if inhaled.
Apparently a handful declined to sign until they'd looked into it more but no-one, not a soul, recognised it either as an old joke or as a petition to ban something absolutely essential to life.

Christ alive, if these fucktroons go on to run the planet they'll fucking crash it into something.

* Some might feel that the only countries affected by warble gloaming are the ones run by modern day courtiers of King Cnut who insist on robbing their own people to pay for the latest futile scheme to control that which is fundamentally beyond human control.

Assange did break Australian law... unless he didn't.

Oh, for fuck's sake. In the same paper, Sydney's Daily Telegraph, and at the same bloody time we have this:
THE federal government has elaborated on its position on WikiLeaks, saying both the initial leaking of classified documents and their subsequent distribution by the controversial website is likely to be illegal.

"The unauthorised obtaining of the information may well be an offence," Attorney-General Robert McClelland said yesterday.
And also this:
FEDERAL authorities have failed to find any criminal laws that Julian Assange may have broken by publishing what has become a daily diplomatic scandal sheet for the Gillard Government.

The Australian Federal Police and the Attorney-General's Department admitted they had so far been unable to determine if there was any law under which he could be charged.
So that's cleared that up.

Justice - not just blind but occasionally completely shitfaced.

Thawing out.

Not literally, obviously. I'm sure she's freezing her tits off like the rest of Britain, but she is still blogging after all. Okay, truth be told it's not clear she really went away but all the same MummyLongLegs is out of the cryogenic storage vault and back on the blogroll. Shame really. It was a prime spot next to Walt Disney's head.

And since it's up and running again it's high time I added the admirable Anna Racoon, not least for articles such as this one about the somewhat shadowy Court of Protection* (I've signed the linked petition and if you haven't already done so I'd suggest you go have a read, spend five minutes calming down again, and then consider adding your name too).

* I wouldn't say it's necessarily a misnomer. Depends on who they're protecting, doesn't it?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A looter condemned out of his own mouth - UPDATED

From Polly Toynbee's latest bowel movement (H/T to someone on the blogroll when I can remember where it was I saw the link) on the entirely legal tax arrangements of Philip Green and Arcadia and the protests against them. Not something from Pol herself, though other commenters pointed out how quiet she is about the Guardian Media Group's own off-shore tax-minimising activities - and very successful they are too, incidentally - but from the comments:

There you have it. In this person's worldview money earned does not in fact belong to those who earned it but to that which writes the law: the almighty, all-knowing, benevolent state.


UPDATE - belated H/T to The Ranting Penguin.

A proper Aussie.

In the corner of a window sill here lives a deadly little Redback spider.

Wait, what? Deadly?

Redback Spider Close Up by Fir0002,, distributed under the GNU Free Document License ver 1.2



Sometimes it's so peaceful living here. Other times you have to hold your breath against the fumes of the arachnid chemical warfare you've unleashed to get rid of something you really don't want wandering in through the window. And yes, to fulfil the stereotype it was the toilet window.

Hey, is it just me or did the spider in that picture just move a leg?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What Captain Birdseye does at home...

... is entirely his own business.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Fourteen thousand dollars?

For some fucking plywood cutout policemen that are promptly stolen?
We'll call him Constable Cut-Out, a plywood policeman poised on the edge of the Monash Freeway near Doveton to scare the speed off passing motorists.

Cut-Out was one of nine flat-pack flatfoots commissioned by the Transport Accident Commission, at a cost of $13,500, to drive home the message that a police officer would be around every corner at Christmas time.
Not so much flat foots as flat everything.
Because of bad weather, only four were put out on the beat last week. Now, just three remain on active duty.

Less than a day after he was deployed, Cut-Out was, well, nicked - loaded into the back of someone's ute and driven off.

''I think they might have become collectors' items,'' said TAC spokeswoman Amanda Bavin ruefully.
Well, who could possibly have foreseen that happ...
It's not the first time policing has made it into the second dimension - it's been tried in Britain, the US, Ireland and Poland...
Ah, yes. And they had a few nicked as well if I recall.
... but it is a first for Victoria. And thefts were not unexpected.
But they went ahead and blew $13,500 on them anyway?
In fact, the wooden walloper was just the latest TAC asset relieved of duty in the dead of night. People used to steal the trailers that held the billboards, until alarms were installed. Then they'd steal the solar panels that power the lights. The signage operator, Media Banc is in the process of installing video cameras. Perhaps they will film themselves being stolen. ''But we're talking about it,'' says Mr Thompson, ''and for the $1500 the sign cost, a story in The Sunday Age is well worth the theft.''
No it fucking isn't. The Age will run the story every time there's a crash anyway, automatically giving you publicity and a platform in proportion to the need (you'll waste the opportunity by wittering on about speed limits as if that was all that mattered, but that's by the by). So the publicity gain is pretty minimal and may even be outweighed by the fact that everyone in Victoria now knows there are some cutouts out there instead of real cops. And what if it hadn't been half-inched? No story and worse, no extra traffic enforcement ability because, in case I need to remind you, it's just a fucking cutout. The worst and most inattentive driver in the state could go pirouetting right past the bloody thing and it wouldn't take any action because it's as wooden as Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate. Maybe more so.

Still, at least once the bloody things have all been nicked or destroyed the police can get back to work and... oh, wait, no.
As for Cut-Out, the good news is that his abduction was reported to the three-dimensional police. And they are in hot pursuit.


/Puts on sunglasses/

Looks like it wasn't his fall that was broken.

Free advice to Philip Green.

There is an easy solution to this:

Announce that with a certain amount of regret your company is going to lay off all members of staff and cease trading in the Unhinged Kingdom.

I'm serious. The cunts clearly don't want you there... well, they do but they not if you're going to make a profit and not pour as much of it as the cunts want into the state in extra taxes. That's wrong somehow, even though it could be argued that many of the people on these protests make a very good profit from being on the receiving end of the tax and wealth redistribution chain. Unlike Philip Green, however, it's not immediately obvious what they're doing for other people to deserve the money. So, Philip, give up and move on would be my advice.

And to the protestors: "We'll educate your market" my aching arse. The only education you're providing is a lesson on why it'll soon not be worth staying in the UK and trying to make a quid there - you couldn't fucking pay me to do it. Bit of a shame about the employees of the companies who give up and leave, but at least these free market bastards who dare to minimise their tax exposure won't be fouling up the place anymore. There's a thought to keep you warm. It's just a shame you can't wear it or eat it.


Another place not to visit.

Spain. If they're prepared to force their own citizens to work at gunpoint are they going to give a rip about foreigners?

H/T to an Anonymous commenter over at Puddlecote Towers.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

They won't stop and they won't learn - II

IPSA sends out the cheques
It seems MPs aren't just keeping to the traditions of the previous parliament in respect to submitting a few iffy expense claims, they're also still whinging about having to deal with IPSA. This has been going on for months (see this blog) but now things seem to be coming to a head.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was warned that MPs would take action unless a “simpler” and “fairer” system was introduced by next April.
Okay, to be fair this was what a lot of bloggers and journos said at the time. Simple and fair, particularly fair to the taxpayer who funds these fuckers, is what's needed. The simplest and fairest possible system would have been to model MPs' expense claims on systems common in the private sector, which normally involve a simple reimbursement of reasonable expense on presentation of receipts and invoices. In some jobs you get given a company credit card because reasonable expenses can occasionally be pretty unreasonable on the employee's pocket - if you have to fly for business reasons, for example - but in my experience when you get given the card you're also given a short lecture: anything unreasonable that you stick on the card simply comes off your salary, so don't take the piss. When I had a company card there were no problems with putting flights on for me and a colleague or getting the meals in while staying at hotels for work, but if I hadn't booked economy class or had included any alcohol with the meal it would eventually have been docked from my wages. And of course my bosses checked every form I submitted and every line of the credit card statement, requiring me to justify expenses on one or two occasions - always successfully I might add, because my attitude was to always be able to justify every line or assume that I'd be paying for it with my own money. This type of system is extremely simple and it is also completely fair, and if MPs want to adopt it we should all support them. But somehow I doubt that's what all of them mean by simple and fair.
Since its introduction in May, many MPs have complained bitterly at having to abide by its tough new strictures – which were approved by the Commons following the expenses scandal.
Ah, right. Fair and simple means having to follow stricter rules than under the old Fees Office system. I wonder if my proposals would be seen as fair and simple by many MPs.
There were claims that MPs had been reduced to tears at being forced to abide by the rules.
Oh, my heart just bleeds. Fucking sooks, if you can't stand the heat get out of the Commons. You're not in fucking chains in there. If it's so tough take the Chiltern Hundreds and piss off.
During the debate, MPs singled out individual members of Ipsa’s staff for criticism, accusing them of fostering suspicion and leaking stories to the Press. Other officials were described as “remote” and “obstinate”.
While the debate was still ongoing, Sir Ian Kennedy, the head of Ipsa, issued a statement rejecting as “categorically untrue” allegations by Ann Clwyd, a former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, that the watchdog had leaked stories to the Press.
Saying that details of expenses claims had been released only following a freedom of information request, he added: "I regret deeply, as will many, such attempts to undermine the professional integrity of members of my organisation."
Not the only thing Ann Clwyd was moaning about. I had a brief look at this debate in Hansard and just before saying the information was leaked to the presss Ann Clwyd saying this:
The story in The Times said that one MP had had a claim for £338 for a shredder refused. Why on earth was he refused that for a shredder? We all use shredders; we often have to shred correspondence, for example.
Well, Ann, possibly it might have been refused because £338 is a lot of fucking money for a shredder. Of course he needs to be able to shred correspondence but if he can't find a machine for half that much then future correspondence might be along the lines of, "Why the fuck are you so profligate with our money, you inept wanker?" As I've explained already, nobody is saying he may not have a shredder and expense it. Nobody - nobody reasonable, anyway - has ever said that MPs can't have what they need for the job they do any more than past employers of mine expected me to bounce up, down and around the British Isles paying for all the fuel, flights and accommodation out of my own pocket. No caps on spending, no allowances made, no limits imposed, just the simple and fair requirement that I could justify every line and the understanding that I might well not be reimbursed if I couldn't.

In that respect the MPs have a point. IPSA is a sticking plaster solution as a result of a knee-jerk reaction. Many bloggers were sceptical and felt that it may as well have been called YAFQ (Yet Another Fucking Quango), and so it seems it is. It is over complex and it probably is unfair to parliamentarians - there's no question in my mind that it isn't fair to the taxpayers when once again the receipts are not being made available. But what makes me more than a little suspicious of the MPs' motives - aside from the point that at five hours this debate was apparently worth spending five times as much time on as one about the fighting in Afghanistan - is that if they genuinely wanted simplicity and fairness they should be advocating scrapping IPSA altogether and replacing Gordon Brown's Heath Robinson effort with something very close to what is the norm in the real world, preferably with full disclosure of all receipts and invoices by making them available online to anyone who wants to look along with the reasons given for the purchase. For example:

32nd of Gloom 2010 - 15 sheet x-cut wheeled shredder with bin from Staples, for destruction of private correspondence from constituents etc.*
£140 + VAT (receipt attached, PDF copy forwarded for online publication)

See? And millions of people do that week in, week out. What's so fucking hard about it? Where's the complexity? Where's the unfairness?


* Yes, I deliberately chose one that was half the price after VAT that the unnamed MP tried to claim for, but sounded like it would still suit a small office with a light but fairly constant amount of shredding to do. I also found one that was similarly specced but more than twice as much. Took about fifteen minutes light surfing for both of them.

Palin drones.

I haven't blogged on the Wikileaks story partly because plenty of others already have, so I'm not going to go into it in much depth now beyond passing a few comments on the rumblings and ramblings of Sarah Palin and others. Palin bashing is not normally my thing, but it's hard to resist when headlines are saying she wants him hunted down. Hunted down? Seriously? For what? Look, I realise this is all very embarrassing for the US but come on, how damaging is it really? Yes, it's classified information, but I have a feeling that there's a clue to the value of much of that information in the fact that the US soldier who leaked it was a Private First Class, a rank which I believe you get in the US Army automatically just by sticking around for a certain amount of time.

And the actual content itself. Jesus Christ, is it really a big deal? So now we know what we only suspected last week, that politicians and political appointees can be bitchy, craven and stupid. Wow, who knew? It's a shock revelation alright, the shock being that they bothered to classify it in the first place. Okay, I'm exaggerating. As I said, it is embarrassing for the US but if was really that sensitive what the fuck were they doing allowing a lowly Pfc access to it all? As for hunting down Julian Assange, you've got the leaker in custody. Wikileaks published it, but if it had been the editor of the New York Times would there be calls to hunt him down? But where Palin really put me at risk of spewing tea all over the keyboard was with this:
Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders?
Sarah, honey, what fucking urgency would this be, eh?

Pursued with urgency since 1998.
If the US does decide to go after Assange "urgently" can we presume that he can hole up until at least the mid to late 2020s in a Swedish ski lodge somewhere?
The 46-year-old, who is known for her conservative views, questioned on Twitter why the US government couldn't "stop WikiLeaks' treasonous act", perhaps unaware that Mr Assange is not an American citizen, and that the activist website is hosted in Sweden with servers across the globe.
Not much I can say that The Age didn't. Treason is betraying one's own country and Assange is not an American. How much he may or may not have betrayed Australia by publishing leaked American diplomatic data is another thing, but he's certainly not a traitor to the US. By definition he can't be. John McCain's daughter understands that.

Kind of.
Last month, the daughter of Senator John McCain, Sarah Palin's presidential running mate, said Mr Assange's release of military documents on Afghanistan and Iraq as "unAmerican".

"He looks like a James Bond villain. He harbours a lot of ill will towards America. To me he's a villain," Meghan McCain said, adding that Mr Assange was a "creepy rogue Swedish guy".
Points for being literally correct about Assange being unAmerican, but he's not a Swede either. He's fucking Australian for Christ's sake. Australia? You know? Big island. Bottom right hand corner of most world maps. You can't miss it. Though Mrs Exile suspects that really he's from Gallifrey.

And these are two of the comparatively sane voices on the US right. There are people talking about having him assassinated or kidnapped, presumably for later execution after a few years of softening up in Gitmo. All for some poxy diplomatic gossip, which even the US government isn't getting too excited about.
...the US Defence Secretary today played down the impact of WikiLeaks' latest documents' release, calling them embarrassing and awkward but only having a "fairly modest" impact on US foreign policy.

"Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for US foreign policy? I think fairly modest," Robert Gates said in a Pentagon press conference.
Though that's not stopping them from wanting to charge him as well.
The US government is seeking to charge Mr Assange and other WikiLeaks representatives under its Espionage Act, although it is unclear whether such moves are possible.

A US defence lawyer specialising in intelligence cases, Mark Zaid, told Reuters it would be "very difficult for the US government to prosecute [Mr Assange] in the US for what he is doing".

Under US law, anyone charged would had to have been in contact with a foreign power and also provided them with secrets. Mr Assange has not been accused of doing either.
Quite. He's a pain in the arse and he's probably not going to shut up until we're all bored with him leaking what this Ambassador said about that Ambassador's wife's dress at the other Ambassador's party and stopped paying attention. The Yanks have the guy who did the actual leaking in custody, and as a soldier presumably he's covered by some American version of the Official Secrets Act. Content yourselves with that would be my advice, and certainly don't fall for the temptation of extra-judicial killing of the citizens of allied nations. America is still supposed to be leading the free world, and the implication was that it's leading it to more freedom rather than less.


Quote of the Day.

Ursine subarboreal toilet activity
The Tele's James Delingpole on why warble gloaming is still happening, really it is, and how another winter submerged in snow is evidence of it. Tongue firmly in cheek, of course.
...Signs That Show Man Made Global Warming Is Definitely Still Happening And That Cancun Won’t Be An Almighty Flop.
1. Warm weather
2. Cold weather
3. In-between weather.
4. Dark skies at night
5. Light skies in the morning
6. An unpleasant moist/damp/wet sensation when it rains
7. Ice appearing when the temperature drops below zero
8. Clouds rolling across sky in all sorts of funny shapes, some days like cotton wool, other days in streaks, and on some days not there at all.
9. Ursine subarboreal toilet activity
10. Strong new evidence of ultramontane sympathies at the Vatican
I suggest you go and read the rest of it.

The violence of democracy.

Via Dick Puddlecote, an excellent short animation on the use of violence by democratic states.

You and George also helped pay for those bloody Segways that ordinary Britons aren't allowed to use in public.

Memory hole at The Telegraph?

A short while ago I read this over at Bill Sticker's.
Logged on to my Disqus account last night to comment on one of the Tellytubbygraphs blog threads. Specifically to do with the breaking news that Japan has thrown the Kyoto accords under the bus at Cancun. No sooner had I typed my comment, than the 'your comment is being moderated' sign popped up. I immediately typed in another short and pithy remark about being immediately moderated, which was published with no moderation. Then I edited it to mention Japan's blunt refusal to extend the Kyoto accords. No moderation again. No mention of Japan's actions in the pages of the Tellytubbygraph, today either.

I thought I'd go have a look-see, partly to leave my own comments and partly to see if they'd be moderated too. Strangely I couldn't find the article at all by browsing the usual areas of their site, and since it's very current I found this a bit surprising.* So I went to the search tool and put in "Kyoto" - no joy. Then I tried "Japan" with each of "emissions", "Cancun" and "target" - still nothing. It looks like the piece Bill Sticker saw there... is now not there. Now maybe it needed re-editing and will reappear, though the moderation of comments is sufficiently unusual that you can't help but wonder if it's been pulled for good. Time will tell, but if it's editing how long do they need? Bill Sticker was trying to leave a comment last night, maybe 12 hours or so ago for him, so you'd have thought it'd be back by now. I suspect it's gone for good.

* What I did find was Chuckles FcKnuckles weighing in to defend the Climategate mob. Predictable stuff and I may fisk it later, though I think I'll save a copy to the desktop just in case.
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