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

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Offence seeking déjà vu

Do you remember the end of 2010? I do. My very last blog post of the year was titled "Last effort for the Offence Seeking Twat of the Year Award" and was about the Top Gear Christmas special outraging literally some people, most of whom were white, middle class Graun readers. Oh, and Andy Choudary.
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.
Andy, with almost gravitic inevitability, was upset because he saw this as an attack on a symbol of his religion, which as far as I could tell the burqa isn't, having been predictably silent over the years about Muslim attacks on the symbols and traditions of other religions.

Still, all to be expected, and so is the nature and level of outrage directed Top Gear's way over this year's Christmas special.
Jeremy Clarkson has been accused of offensive behaviour once again after mocking Indian culture in a Top Gear Christmas special.
Okay, can I interrupt to make a brief point. There's no 'accused of offensive behaviour' about it - if someone was offended then ipso facto his behaviour was offensive. The question is whether that's a reason for doing anything, and since nobody's ever done so much as two fifths of fuck all about most of the things that offend me, and since that doesn't keep me awake at night, I'd say the answer is no, no reason to do anything at all. Being offended is painless and causes no loss unless someone chooses to allow it, which says more about them than what they're complaining about. By all means take offence and say so if you like, but don't tell me it harmed you and the other person must be silenced.
Viewers have complained to the BBC after the outspoken presenter made a series of controversial remarks about the country's clothing, trains, food and history. At one point, Clarkson appeared to make light of the lack of sanitation for poor residents by driving around slums in a Jaguar fitted with a toilet.
And? It's not the wittiest way of making the point but unless it's actually wrong and Indian slums typically have indoor plumbing, piped water supplies and sewers now I don't see the problem. These people are dreadfully poor and literally don't have a pot to piss in. I'm not saying that Clarkson was subtly highlighting the issue of Indian poverty but it's not as if he was saying something that isn't true. Even if he was the appropriate response is rebuttal, not howls of righteous outrage and the usual demand to have him sacked and flogged with broken glass.

And then we have the actual volume of complaints.
A spokesman for the BBC said they had received 23 complaints about the programme, which was broadcast on Wednesday evening.
And how many watched? According to the Graun, who I imagine would like nothing better than the anger of the terminally thin skinned over Clarkson's shoot public sector strikers remark to kill TG's viewing figures, five million people watched and it was the most popular show in its time slot. Assuming every one of those 23 who complained actually watched the show that's 0.00046% of viewers who were offended, and given that about a million people in the UK are of Indian ethnicity it says even more that only 23 complained. Not that all those 23 were necessarily Indian - some are probably white, middle class Graun readers getting offended on behalf of Indians, who presumably don't know when they're being offended. Certainly some of the people taking to message boards and Twatter seem to be.
Owen Hathway tweeted: “Whats wrong with the BBC that they think casual racist stereotyping is acceptable on top gear?”
No idea, Owen, but why don't we leave it up to the million British Indians and the billion Indian Indians to decide whether to be upset. Many of them might think it's some middle aged white guy making a tit of himself and find it amusing. But no, they're clearly mistaken and should be as outraged as the Owens are on their behalf, because it's raaaaaaaacist, see? Raaaaaaaacist!

Which reminds me, where do I write in to complain about this sketch by Goodness Gracious Me from a few years back? I thought it was pretty funny at the time, but now thanks to 23 anonymous complainants and an assortment of condescending pricks I now realise that it was mocking English culture and... what was it again? Oh, yes, I remember: casual racist stereotyping.

I mean, what is wrong with the BBC that they thought it was acceptable?


What's good for the goose is for the gander, offence seekers, and you can't have it both ways. Either both are bad and offensive and shouldn't be allowed, or both are fair play regardless of whether someone somewhere is (or just decides they ought to be) offended by it. I'd say the latter because, as I've said before, there is no right to go through life and never be offended, and since one person can be offended by something that is said while another can be offended by it not being said there never can be a right to not be offended.

As someone who's offended by opening the paper and has moved somewhere that has its own special name for the English my advice would be to get offended all you like as often as you like by absolutely whatever you, er, dislike. Just don't sit there fuming and expecting it means you have a right to insist that anyone else has to accommodate your feelings, because a free society can never work that way and all an unfree society can do is to pick sides.

Marvellous end to the year - UPDATED

I was - and the reason for was rather than am will soon become clear - just getting ready to finally give Blogger the flick over this:

I've ranted about this more than once. I see no need for Google to have my bloody mobile phone number. None. And since I've been nagged about letting them have it for some time and have refused on each and every occasion you'd be forgiven for thinking they might have given up by now.

Oh, no. Nononononono. Now they've added this patronising fucking 'Are you sure about this?' message that appears when you try to skip adding the phone number for the umpteenth time. So, let me see how I can put this politely.....

..... Nope. Can't be done.

Yes, I'm fucking sure. Now stop fucking asking about it.

So that was it for me. I just felt like I couldn't be arsed to carry on saying no to a mob that were persistently deaf to my answer and seem prepared, EU or toddler style, to carry on asking the bloody question until the heat death of the universe or until I cave in. More likely, I feel, it will become a demand and then my choice will be to submit or move, and since I've had a dormant home at Wordpress since I began blogging I've been moving some of the virtual furniture over there in the past few months in anticipation of a permanent move at some point. In fact, I thought to myself, why not make it a New Year, new blogging location?

The only real issue is that there appears to be no easy way to move IntenseDebate comments to a free Wordpress hosted, but just now I thought I'd finally hit on a solution. Somewhat convoluted but it looked worth a shot, and if it didn't work then I'd just begin at the new place with an apology to those whose comments over the past year and a half or so I've been using ID won't show up there until I nut it out. Not the end of the world, I felt. I've never intended to delete this place so they'd all still be here.

So, off to Wordpress I go to test it out, first importing the most recent posts from here, and all of a sudden:

Damn right I had questions and concerns. 'Violation of terms of service' seems to be blogs that are created as search engine whores for marketing reasons or to spruik bullshit get rich quick schemes, and although I link to all sorts of places - because I began this blogging lark admiring the blogs that made an effort to back up what they were saying with sources and to credit quotes by linking to where they were written, and so I've always done the same - it should be pretty clear that this blog isn't about that. The other thing mentioned, and which I suspect I may have fallen foul of, is that WP don't like blogs that consist of duplicated content, and is currently 100% duplicated content. However, this seems rather hard to avoid when importing an existing blog in toto into WP, and since it's MY duplicated content I'd have thought the thing to do is fire off an email and bloody asking me about it. Instead WP have gone straight for the nuclear option and shut down a blog that currently isn't open to public viewing anyway.

So, all this has been put into a web form and pinged WPwards in the hope that someone will look at it sharpish and let me back in. Unfortunately it's only 5.45am on Friday in California where (I believe) are based, and it's a bleary 12.45am the next day for me. I'm not getting anything done before I crash out for the night, and with New Year-y things going on tomorrow that's going to cut into my time even if they get onto it and sort things out soon after they get in. I suppose that's one upside for it being yesterday there because at least it's still a workday. If it was here I could be stuffed until Tuesday.

As it is I'm not optimistic of a 1st Jan move, and it seems it's all because of a what seems a disproportionate response by WordPress. It's not as if some kind person noticed the similarity and thought there was someone with a WP blog masquerading as me and ripping off my posts - the place is private and I'm the only one with access apart from whoever or whatever system at WP has decided it's in violation of the Ts and Cs. Disappointing, especially as one of the big appeals of WordPress is this:
“ supports free speech and doesn’t shut people down for 'uncomfortable thoughts and ideas', in fact we’re blocked in several countries because of that."
An admirable sentiment which I'd just love to blog about at my place there. Except I can't, can I?


UPDATE - looks like a fairly trivial thing: in a post about anti-tobacco hysteria and state bullying of smokers there's a quote from an online e-cig seller that WP don't like for some reason. They haven't said and I'm not that interested, though since the notice of suspension mentioned marketing and SEO trickery I wonder if maybe they've had people post/comment spam on behalf of that company. I've had similar things happen here - the most recent being someone apparently in the Philippines comment spamming on behalf of a British clothing company (who never responded when I emailed them to ask why a comment on a post about Australian tee shirts had a link to their page about ladies scarves)  - which have caused me to add some interesting keywords to the comment moderation filter.

The trouble here is that I linked only to provide a source for the quote and that's the only place in more than two thousand posts and two long sidebars where I've linked to this company, so I'm worried that if WP have a policy of instant suspension in these situations this could happen again without warning just because I happen to link to somewhere without knowing it's on some kind of blacklist that automatically shuts the blog down. This is causing a rethink of the WP move. As Longrider points out in the comments here I can always self-host, but if I was going to self-host I'd be using the Blogger platform for preference anyway. Well, at least for as long as they don't force their piss-awful new UI on me. And this is the reason why I'm not up for self-hosting at all right now. I don't much like the WP UI and I don't like the UI that Blogger have said they will force on users at some as yet unspecified point. I want blogging to be like driving my car, but WP have so many options it feels more like flying a plane. Conversely the new Blogger UI is like driving a car where the location of half the controls has been decided by someone who is drunk, and the location of the other half by someone who is mad.

Ho frigging hum.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Today's solution to a non-existent problem

Click for linky
Occupy Wall Street activists are developing a social network called The Global Square for the generation of protesters.

"We don't want to trust Facebook with private messages among activists," developer Ed Knutson told Wired.
Of course, because nobody was able to send any messages before Facefuck came along, much less keep the contents secure, were they? Build it by all means, but it doesn't sound like anything that couldn't have been done before. What it does sound like is something that some Occupod-person will take out a patent on in an attempt to cash in. And who knows? Facefuck is looking a little tired these days and I can't help thinking it'll eventually go the way of MySpace and the rest, so if The Global Square became the next big interthing it could move whoever has that patent from the 99% they say they represent to the 1% they oppose.

Image of Jesus seen in picture of Jesus

Well, it's about the last place the faithful no, gullible and/or desperate for their 15 minutes have actually looked for an image of their lord and saviour, various of them having claimed to have seen him in clouds, random bits of wood, chocolate bars and even ruined cookware.*
Toby Elles, 22, made the discovery after burning the food when he fell asleep while cooking.
After lifting off the scorched bacon Mr Elles, from Salford, Lancs, could not believe his eyes when the Christlike image stared back at him.
The face is complete with eyes, nose, a beard and is framed by long flowing hair.
Well, let's have a look then.

Okay, I'll grant you that it looks kind of like a bearded man, but does that mean it's Jesus and not some randomised scraps of carbonised bacon fat? Not only does it seem unlikely that Jesus, who was Jewish if I recall, would choose to re-appear in bacon fat [and personally] I think it looks like John Lennon without his glasses.
However, let's for a moment assume that this is a benchmark for what the Son of Man looks like, and of course ignore the fact that what Yeshua of Nazareth actually looked like probably wasn't the medieval bearded guy from church windows or the BeeGee lookalike from more contemporary Christian art but a regular 1st century Palestinian male. So, if that's an image of Jesus who's this guy in the sock?
Sarah Crane, 38, said she was stunned when she saw a bearded man staring back at her from the laundry line.
Her boyfriend agreed the crumpled grey "holy sock" bore an uncanny likeness to the traditional image of Christ, and the couple took photographs to show their friends.
Oh, for fuck's sake. I'm going to regret this, but let's have a look anyway.

Really? Look, firstly that doesn't even look like a bearded man. I can see a face-like pattern, though that's perfectly natural and happens to people all the time, but to begin with I thought it look more like a robot than a human face before finally deciding that actually it reminded me a bit of Eddie from Iron Maiden album cover art.

Of course we're talking about the classic 1980s Eddie

And secondly, even if it did look like a bearded man it doesn't look like the bearded man in the frying pan who, it's suggested, is not John Lennon but our Redeemer, though unfortunately neither of them look a lot like I'd expect an ancient Palestinian to look and nor do they look like Jesus of Marmite Jar or Jesus of Cheap Interior Door.** And of course there's a reason for that: not everyone with a bloody beard is Jesus. I mean look up there at Eddie... see it? Beard. And Eddie the Head isn't even slightly saintly, much less Christ like. I shouldn't need to spell this out but beard ≠ Jesus.

Plus, and I realise this is obvious to both my readers, these things are not Jesus but are the leftovers of a couple of ruined slices of cured pig meat, a cheap sock, a few cents of plastic with some random blobs of yeast extract, and a fucking door. In fact the only three things that links these and any other example of the Jesus-appears-in-random-everyday-object phenomenon is their different looking Jesuses, their essential non-Jesusness that follows from the inability to agree on what Jesus looked like, and their being obsessed over by nutters. And by nutters I don't mean religious believers, though no doubt some are, but dedicated non thinkers who'd rather believe that they've been blessed by an entity whose existence is unproved, and if you ask me pretty doubtful, than that human beings are so naturally predisposed to recognising patterns that they see them in things that are random and patternless.

I mean, what's the alternative? Yes, the bloke who burned his bacon might like to think how miraculous it was he didn't die in the fire, but other people do die in fires all the time. Are we to believe that the Good Lord saves those who nod off while making bacon sarnies but not from dodgy wiring that they don't even know about? And the others, what do we make of those? Are B group vitamins particularly holy? Blessed are the squeaky doors, for they shall inherit the earth? Is the Bible wrong and Jesus actually say unto Peter "You are my sock, and on this sock I shall build my church" or does he just want to cure corns and verrucas?

Not if the experience of the sock Jesus woman is any indication.
They even talked about creating a shrine to the sock but then the face was lost when they moved it.
I was half expecting the Ascension to be mentioned at this point but fortunately for both my head and my desk it never came up. Instead, and almost as laughable, this:
"We think it's a bit of a sign - but for what we don't know."
Well, I can think of a couple of things that it could be a sign of. One is that you might just be a fucking idiot, and the other is that with electronic media making the space for online news practically infinite every day is a sufficiently slow news day for this stuff to be included, even if it's so ridiculous and embarrassing that nobody wants to put their byline on it.

I hope that 2012 will be the year this guff goes out of fashion in the MSM, but I'm not holding my breath. In fact I'm afraid that if that happens at all it'll only be because the 2012 Mayan apocalypse non-prediction and associated cockwaftery will be taking centre stage instead.

And there's no point saying "God help us" because if he's there at all he's probably too busy laughing.

* For those with the patience of Job or who find the whole thing funny (the only way I cope with this kind of lunacy) The Tele has a whole gallery of this stuff.
** Linking that really went against the grain.

Christmas Down Under

Many thanks to those who mailed or left comments on Sunday's Happy Christmas post, but in response to the Ambush Predator who said,
Happy hot, beach-bound, BBQ Christmas!
I'd say that while I was happy many others weren't, and it was neither hot, beach-y or BBQ-y round here, as this collection of photos from The Age shows.

And if you're thinking that last one looks less 'Snow Angel' and more 'Hail Mary' then your eyes are clearly over whatever alcoholic pounding they enjoyed with you over Christmas and working well. Which is also the reason why not everyone here had a happy Christmas Day at all.

Yep, on the twelfth day of Christmas Melbourne's true love gave us thunder, lightning, pissing rain, localised flooding and golf ball sized hailstones.
More than 15,000 claims have been lodged with insurance companies after savage storms tore through Melbourne on Christmas Day, as the Insurance Council of Australia today declared the weather event a catastrophe.

About a third of those claims relate to damage caused to houses and businesses in the storms, while the remainder are for damaged vehicles.
Still, on the bright side it may have killed some of the snakes and spiders.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Did someone overdo it on the turkey curry?

From here, with an alternative version and making of here
I say we take off and nuke
the dunny from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas...

... to both my readers (hi, Mum) and anyone else who shows up. And if it isn't yet Christmas Day where you are come back in a few hours.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

My true love sent to me...

... a real life Angry Bird! Uh, in some kind of tree, probably not pear.

Do not click image unless you want to be dealing with three of them

Friday, 23 December 2011

Final countdown

I meant to mention this the other day but what with Christmassy stuff going on it slipped my mind. It's only 363 days until the world doesn't end. Yes, it's also only about half an hour until the world doesn't end as well, but Mexico isn't expecting millions of visitors to arrive any second so as to be closer to the ruins built by the people who are believed to have predicted the end of the world but in fact didn't predict any such thing at all.
''The world will not end, stressed Yeanet Zaldo, a spokeswoman for the Cancun area. ''It is an era.''
Quite. In the same way that when the modern calendar runs out this New Year's Eve the world won't end either. It's just that 2012 will start.

Not that that's stopping some famous(ish) names - George Lucas, Ashton Kutcher and Lil Wayne among them, as I blogged a while back - from seeking New Age wisdom in someone else's ancient history and getting it arse about face. Them and quite a few million other people.
That said, she's helping the area and a few others close by gear up for what is promising to be the region's biggest tourist season ever.

More than 52 million people are expected to visit the Quintana Roo (where Cancun is), Yucatan, Chiapas, Tabasco and Campeche regions. In an average year the whole of Mexico only gets 22 million tourists.
And I don't blame them for wanting to cash in on this wave of the cashed up and credulous - I sure as hell would. Look, by all means go visit Mexico if you want to, but if you think the world's going to end it doesn't seem to matter much where you are so you might as well be somewhere that's important to you. If you think it's going to end and you're going to leave home and the people you care about to go get killed in Mexico then I suggest you try some of their excellent drugs while you're there, because if you don't make any sense normally then you might was well try being off your tits on something instead. But I suspect the reality is that almost everyone who goes to Mexico next December will have booked a return flight.

I do hope so because they won't want to miss the real end of the world as (completely not) predicted over 30,000 years ago by the aborigines of south east Australia, which is due to begin at around four in the afternoon on Friday October 25th, 2013, on Wurundjeri Way just west of Melbourne's central business district. Or it might just be the queue for the freeway at the Montague Street junction, who knows? It's probably best to come and see for yourself when the time comes, but bring money. Bring lots of money.

Another New Zealand earthquake - UPDATED

A police spokeswoman did not know whether there had been any reports of damage or injuries but said the phones were very busy.Anthony Surynt was working in an electrical workshop in Sydenham when the quake struck.

He said it was the biggest one he has felt since June 13, when a 6.3 magnitude hit struck the city.Surynt and his work colleagues estimated it was about a 5 to 5.5 magnitude quake.
Christchurch again, poor sods. A 5.8. Just what you want a day and a half before Christmas when you're still picking up after the last one. Fingers crossed that everyone across the ditch comes out of this one okay.

UPDATE - and a few more since then:
An initial 5.8-magnitude quake sent the airport building swaying from side to side and shoppers scurried from a supermarket as products fell from shelves. It was followed by a series of aftershocks, including a magnitude 6 and two more magnitude 5 or above.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Getting into the Christmas spirit... and doing it properly this time

For those people I'll be thinking of this weekend as I'm drinking white wine (or, as the case may be, grape juice) in the sun - no list necessary, they know who they are - my favourite Christmas song. The rather atheist-y content might not meet with universal approval with them but for my money it's one of the most beautiful and moving songs there is, and if Christmas is a time for family then Tim Minchin's song fits better than those of Sinatra or Crosby, much less anything the bloody X Factor is going to sick up into record stores.

Love to mine, and sláinte mhaith to you and yours.

Incidentally, I noticed on Tim Minchin's YouTube channel that proceeds from iTunes downloads (link) of White Wine in the Sun until February 2012 will go to the National Autistic Society.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A little light failure from The Teletubbygraph

Click for linky
Please, someone give the photo drones at The Telegraph an atlas for Christmas, or at least help them download Google Earth and show them how to work it. At the rate it's going downhill and screwing up junior school level stuff I'm going to have to stop taking the piss out of The Daily Mail.

Fellas, there's no such place as Forrest Act, but there is a suburb called Forrest in the ACT. This isn't 'Act' being shouted. It stands for Australian Capital Territory. Saying Forrest Act is like saying Port Augusta Sa or Newcastle Nsw or even, to use something the photo drones may have heard of, Washington Dc. Let me put it another way:

Got it, photo drones?

And yes, David and Janean Richards are in the Forrest that's in the ACT because a few seconds on Google found them mentioned in The Canberra Times, so I reckon we can be pretty sure it's not some weird town called Forrest Act since Forrest ACT is within spitting distance of Parliament House. See?

Er... do you think the photo drones know that Sydney isn't the capital?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Quote of the Day, as voted for by 128% of readers

By Alexander Downer, Australia's Foreign Minister under John Howard, writing on the subject of parliamentary procedure ($) in the Democratic (for a given value of 'democratic') People's Republic of Korea.
I was proudly shown the parliament. They have electronic voting at every MP's desk. You press green if you agree. My guide delicately said that orange is for abstention. And what, I asked, is the red button for? The guide looked at the ground and one of the Australians filled in: "it calls the guards!".
And who knows, perhaps it did. Or maybe none of the buttons did anything at all. It's not like it's ever sounded like they were really needed.

Seasonal Googling

Type "let it snow" and hit enter. Aaaaaaaah!

All that glitters is not good

I hate to sound curmudgeonly but what the fuck is it with Christmas cards and glitter. I can sort of understand the idea, though not the appeal, in the northern hemisphere where it makes the front of the card vaguely reminiscent of that sparkle from frost, but why do they still do it on cards here where 'tis the season to be sunburned and wander about in boardies. There's no frost and the closest thing to a light dusting of ice can probably be found on the local crystal meth dealer.

But more than that, even where it makes a sort of sense the fucking stuff is a colossal pain in the arse. It gets everywhere. I think it may have been Billy Connolly who described it as the greetings card equivalent of anthrax, and I completely get what he means. I've just opened several days worth of Christmas cards and there's now so much bloody glitter on the table, the carpet and me that I wish I'd opened them in the garden, possibly with a lead lined box for the cards and some means of getting all the glitter off me before coming back into the house.

It goes against the grain to wish someone would ban the wretched stuff but if the greetings card industry can't come up with a way of making sure the damn stuff sticks permanently to the card I'm going to start sending envelopes full of it to Hallmark. Nothing else, just glitter. And I'll keep it up until they begin spraying some lacquer or something on the cards to keep the damn stuff on, or until the people I know stop buying them.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Advanced calculus for journalists - UPDATED

Lesson #1:

Police said a 32-year-old Derrimut man was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with fractures, while a 27-year-old Taylors Hill woman and a Richmond man and woman - both believed by paramedics to be aged 19 - were transported to the Sunshine Hospital with minor injuries.
An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said another man who was injured refused to be treated.
It doesn't equal 5 either.

UPDATE - Lesson #2, from Professor Bucko of the Department of Inadvisable Cervid Power Modifications:
First up we have the story of an unexpectedly low turnout of Christmas shoppers this weekend.

Immediately following that we have the story of an unexpectedly high turnout this weekend.

Less is less. More is more. Less is not more.

Hopefully these aren't too difficult for the subeditors to keep up with.

Free gifts - the next thing to be on the restricted activities list?

Some things don't mix well, we all know that. Street luging on public roads is one, and we saw yesterday how that makes it a restricted activity you need to get permission for. Another is alcohol and, well, if you took the opinion of every nanny and wowser out there alcohol and practically anything, including life and happiness, don't mix. Certainly at least one will tell you that alcohol and promotions by way of free gifts don't because not everyone is as bright as him, and a handful of people do very stupid things when drunk. So obviously a branding iron that's given away with bottles of Jack Daniels is a bad idea because a tiny number of complete idiots will use them to brand each other.

Yes, this is going to be just like the two guys taking it in turns to shoot each other in the arse with an air rifle to see what it's like, but with extra nannying.

And straight away I feel the need to point out that the men didn't actually suffer burns in the promotion, as the very first line of the article makes clear.
THREE WA men suffered horrific burns after branding themselves with novelty branding irons given away as part of a Jack Daniel's promotion.
See? Saying they suffered burns in the promotion makes it sound like that was either a risk or even the idea of the promotion, or at the least something went horribly wrong. Nope, nothing like that at all. It's just that if you make enough novelty branding irons eventually one will end up in the hands of an idiot.

Cue the wowsers.
Health advocates are now demanding legislation that stops "reckless" alcohol marketing.
Reckless? Seriously? The brand was intended for steaks, as hinted at by the fact it was part of a barbecue set Jack Daniel's were including with a bottle, and what's reckless about branding a chunk of long dead cow? Naff, maybe, but reckless? Hardly, since they must have turned out thousands and thousands of these things, all but three of which have not been involved in any incidents as far as anyone knows.
The men, aged in their 20s and 30s including one who branded his backside...
... were admitted to Royal Perth Hospital for surgery and emergency skin grafts. The last one was operated on earlier this month.
The others chose to plunge the hot metal rod with the words "Old No.7 Brand", in reference to the Tennessee bourbon, on the back of a hand and a leg.
Okay, sounds like serious injuries, but let's remember that this is part of a barbecue set, and unless you've invited Jeffrey Dahmer nobody, drunk or sober, is going to think it's supposed to be used on living people. But even so, just in case (or more likely as required by some nannying law) Jack Daniel's provided a label on the branding iron in order to state the completely bloody obvious.
... Jack Daniel's brand owner Brown-Forman Australia says it has done nothing wrong because the product comes with a warning [which reads:]

  • This branding iron can cause serious skin burns.
  • Do not touch metal parts with fingers, skin or any flammable material.
  • Branding iron will remain hot long after being heated. Remove this label before first use.
Surely that's enough to keep the nannies happy? Nah, 'course not. Because the nannies want everyone to be treated the same as the daftest person in the country.
[Royal Perth hospital] head of plastic surgery and burns surgeon Mark Duncan-Smith branded the gimmick "an irresponsible cocktail for disaster".
Disaster? What, like the Japanese tsunami or the Christchurch earthquake? Well, it's a stretch but I could accept it as disastrous if hospitals all over the country were getting flooded with victims of these would-be killer barbie brands and the ambulances and burns units were starting to crack under the pressure, but the reality is there've been one self inflicted burned hand, one self inflicted burned arm and one self inflicted burned arse. Disaster? Seriously? In fact even these three victims of their own machismo/masochism aren't complaining, presumably because being daft enough to stick pieces of hot metal on themselves on purpose doesn't mean they're too daft to realise it was their own fault. If so then this, in my opinion, makes them brighter than the one solitary person who did complain.
[Brown-Forman managing director Marshall Farrer] said the only injury complaints he had received nationally were from Dr Duncan-Smith in WA.
I wonder, would this possibly be Dr Mark Duncan-Smith of the Royal Perth Hospital plastic surgery and burns department? I don't think we need to ask.
"You can't stop everyone from doing something silly, but when you are actually providing a method for people to injure themselves, even though it is still their responsibility, it is providing fuel in one hand and a lighter in the other," [Dr Duncan-Smith] said.
No, they get the fuel and the lighter from Bunnings, or the supermarket or the local petrol station or any of dozens of places, and they can do plenty of damage just with those and without a novelty branding iron. But, as with the branding iron itself, almost nobody does. And it's not providing a method for people to injure themselves any more than selling barbecues is providing a method for people to cook each other.
"It is a devastating mix. The combination of alcohol and a branding iron is just crazy. It is a cocktail of diminished capacity and a mechanism to inflict serious damage. I personally think this is madness."
Interesting. I wonder if the doc would say it's more mad or less mad than taking a sample of three idiots - and a self selecting sample at that - and taking that to mean the whole country is just as dopey with a few glasses of JD inside them? Leaving aside the obvious point of Dr Duncan-Smith's hideously paternalistic view of his fellow man this argument makes as much sense as estimating that there are 615 billion cats in Australia based on the sample in this room. It's nonsense, and it's infuriating that Perth Now seem unable to call him on it.

Nor is Dr Duncan-Smith the only one whining, even if he is the only one who actually complained to the company itself.*
McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth director Mike Daube said there was a "glaring gap in curbs on alcohol promotion".
"These are entirely predictable outcomes from an outrageously irresponsible promotion," Prof Daube said.
Oh, really, Prof? Entirely predictable, are they? Well, I'm going to call that claim weapons grade bullshit, though I'd be delighted to eat my words and apologise if you can show us exactly where you predicted it. Because I've done a web search for your name in connection with Jack Daniel's, which I'd have thought would be sufficiently broad to pick any such prediction up if it made it into press or even if you'd put it on the MCAAY (pronounced "Mmkay?" in a South Parkian Mr Garrison voice, I guess) site, and would you like to guess what I found between the beginning of the promotion and the news of these three self inflicted burns cases from West Oz? Go on, have a guess.

Oh, alright, I'll tell you: not a fucking thing.

Entirely predictable, Prof Daube? My unburnt, non-supperating, pristine and entirely healthy arse.
"There are no controls whatever none on alcohol promotions of this kind." He said he would write to the federal and state governments calling for measures to halt irresponsible alcohol promotions.
Look, the range of humanity from stupid to sensible is going to be such a wide bell curve that simply whispering that alcohol exists is probably irresponsible for someone at one extreme end, but you'd have to go to insane lengths to come up with something that's irresponsible even for everyone in the middle, much less the Spock-like people at the far end. A free pallet of booze for anyone who drives themselves to the bottle shop having snorted more coke than Tony Montana might qualify, but some piece of tat for branding your steaks certainly doesn't.

And so we turn, but only because we're forced, to the politicians. You just know it's not going to turn out well, don't you?
State Mental Health Minister Helen Morton, who is also responsible for drug and alcohol issues, supported regulation changes on alcohol promotions, but said it was a federal matter.
Well, of course she does. She's a politician seeing an excuse to get a bit of media, possibly encouraged by some of the people in her ministry who've just seen a half-arsed justification for extending the remit of their department or by people who just want to extend the role of the state in our lives in general. It's as Reagan once said, the instinct of governments is that if it moves they should tax it, if it keeps moving they should regulate it and if it stops moving they should subsidise it - they never look and think that maybe they should just leave it the hell alone. And I don't take any comfort from a state politician bouncing it up to the federal government because the federal government is likely to take one look and either tax it, regulate it or subsidise it, possible even all three at the same time, regardless of whether it moves or not.

But what I really find bizarre is that the WA Health Minister understands something about people and governments and legislation. Something most people understand, even the ones sticking branding irons in the barbecue for a bit before trying to make their own gluteus the property of an American drinks company.
"However, at the end of the day, how can we legislate against that level of stupidity," she said.
You can't, Helen. It's an exercise in futility, and that being so what the hell's the point of regulation changes on alcohol promotions? Accept that a tiny number of people will do something daft with practically anything we can imagine, and that an even smaller number of people will remove themselves from the gene pool in the process.

But never forget that the vast majority of people won't.

* I wonder if he writes to car manufacturers every time he has to hide the scars on someone who was injured because they or someone else was screwing around while driving? Or is it just alcohol that lights up his brain's complaint node?

Václav Havel 1936-2011

Václav Havel, last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic, writer and poet, died at the weekend. He was also a man who seemed to understand liberty and individual freedoms well, perhaps through having not had them himself for so much of his life.
If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation.
You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic independent, free, and democratic, of a republic economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic that serves the individual and that therefore holds the hope that the individual will serve it in turn. Of a republic of well-rounded people, because without such people it is impossible to solve any of our problems — human, economic, ecological, social, or political.
For me that's dream as worthy as Martin Luther King's. May the late Václav Havel become as well remembered for it.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Treating adults as children

Do you ever get that thing where you're reading something in the paper and a throwaway phrase not directly related to the article sends such a chill through your soul that the rest of the article is momentarily forgotten? I had one of those this afternoon reading a story about a woman who died in Queensland in a street luge accident. My bold:
A 50-year-old woman and mother, who is a respected IT executive in the Brisbane community, has been killed riding a luge board down Mt Cootha this morning.

The woman, who was travelling downhill at high speed, has gone too wide on a corner and tried to brake, losing control and sliding into a guard rail.


Acting Inspector Chris Pemberton said the woman was luging, or street-sledding, down Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive around 6.15am when she lost control of her board and crashed against a guardrail on the north side of the mountain.

Acting Inspector Pemberton said luge was a restricted activity and required a permit, and it is believed the two riders involved this morning had not been granted permission for the activity that led to the tragedy.
Now up to the last paragraph I quoted there I was thinking how sad it was that someone had died doing something they enjoyed and that 50 is no age to go and what a tragedy it is for her family. But then I saw the phrase 'a restricted activity' being dropped in there without comment, like it's no big deal that being a restricted activity. Like it doesn't matter because there are so many restricted activities what with there being so many things that are potentially lethal (unlike life itself, which is certainly and unavoidably lethal). Like our governments - and don't think for one moment it's just Queensland or Australia - believe we're incapable of deciding anything for ourselves anymore, even to the point where they want to be involved in our diets in case we choose a cheeseburger over a salad. And like the infantilisation of adults in western nations hasn't been going on long enough to mean that sometimes they're half right.

That's the greater tragedy in this article.: the unspoken assumption that there are restricted activities that us proles may only take part in with permission from the nannies, and that there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not saying that street luge is safe or sensible on public roads when someone's just died doing it and the whole idea of lying on an oversized skateboard and rolling under gravity down a hill that fat Aussie cars and utes are coming up under power is sufficiently cuckoo to keep the Bavarian clock making industry going for decades. No, I'm not disputing the Acting Inspector (who sounds like someone employed by RADA with the power to fine people for hamming it up) when he says that street luge and public roads aren't a good combo.

But lots of things aren't a good idea. Are you telling me that there's no other option but to have a list, no doubt growing all the time, of restricted activities? Clearly when it can affect someone else it's not just down to the person doing the restricted activity, and in the case of street luging there's the obvious question of what happens if they collide with another road user. The obvious answer is that someone whose head is at wheel hub height is probably going to come off worst and is quite likely to come off dead, but the other person may have damage to their vehicle or bike and may even kill themselves trying to avoid a luger, and I don't know if many have third party damage insurance. But isn't there tort law for that kind of thing, and isn't there some very basic road law that covers the use of inappropriate vehicles? For heaven's sake, if under Australian laws a bicycle is legally a vehicle when ridden on public roads how can a street luge not be? And if cyclists can be fined, and heavily, for not having lights or wearing a helmet - again, not having a helmet really affects only that individual but nonetheless places cycling in the restricted activities category - much less running red lights or disobeying other road rules, then why not someone on a street luge?

I really can't see any reason why this kind of thing can't be dealt with by something rather less Orwellian than keeping a list of restricted activities, but sadly I suspect that so many people will have read that article and not had that creepy phrase leap off the page at them and scream in their faces that adopting a simpler approach, for instance just prosecuting and fining the idiots and fuckups and letting people who can do something without affecting other risk their own necks as they choose, is probably a vain hope.

Is this the same Nick Clegg?

Click for linky
On Friday night, François Fillon, the French prime minister, interrupted an official visit to Brazil to call Mr Clegg to "clarify" his recent comments that Britain's credit rating should be reviewed.
The Deputy PM told Mr Fillon that his recent remarks and those by other senior French figures had been "simply unacceptable and that steps should be taken to calm down the rhetoric".
Yeah, I know. Being told off by Nick Clegg. It sounds like being savaged by a kitten that's been quite heavily sedated, doesn't it? But you know, I reckon he meant it. He might even have meant it more than Cameron meant to say 'no' to the Merkozy being last week, and I wouldn't rule out Clegg going for the full diplospeak version of je t'encule in the future.

Because I think Cleggy boy has noticed something. His reluctant BFF next door has suddenly become more popular with the electorate. Undeserved, perhaps, but even if Cameron stood up to the EU for Britain by complete accident he'd have got some political capital out of it, and Cleggy probably fancies a little of it for himself. Hang on, he may be thinking to himself, there's votes in this Euroscepticism thingy. And let's face it, for a man who's only a liberal or a democrat as and when it suits him it's not impossible that he might decide to be a Europhile only when it's worth his while as well.

To paraphrase Marx - Groucho, that is - these are Nick's principles and if you don't like them he has others.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

That's not a hack - this is a hack

As I mentioned back in July The Age, the Melbourne based sister paper of Sydney Morning Herald, was all over the News of the Screws phone hacking scandal like flies on a piece of shit.
The thing is that Gingery Dullard, unlike the Yanks, may have rather more cause to investigate the Aussie media. And interestingly it's not the Murdoch owned mob but their competitors, the Graun friendly, lefty-loving, phone-hack hating Fairfax group, who have been accused of being up to no good.
THE editor-in-chief of The Age, Paul Ramadge, has refused to detail his personal involvement in the newspaper's unauthorised access of an ALP database now being examined by the Australian Federal Police.
And how did this happen?
The Age accessed the database from its own computer terminals using an unauthorised password provided by an undisclosed source.
"This story came through entirely appropriate journalistic methods," Ramadge said. "Entry to the ALP database came via a whistleblower who raised concerns about private information held on it.
"This whistleblower had authorised access to this material and we reported in the public interest."
The Age used material obtained from the database to inform a story run in the final week of the Victorian election campaign about Labor keeping a "secret" file on citizens. Several people whose details were accessed were contacted by the newspaper before publication. Others, such as Mr Faris, were contacted after publication and assured their information would not be stored or misused.
Okay, so they may have had good reason but it sounds like it's fair to ask the question. And even if they have good reason if they commit a crime in the process does it somehow un-crime it? I'm not sure a good reason would let me off something as trivial as a speeding offence - actually I'm pretty sure it wouldn't - so I can't help thinking that if a crime has been committed with good intentions it's probably still a crime and that there'd be a case to answer.
And this week a police investigation looks more likely as the body overseeing elections in the state have got involved at the same time as a member of the public has placed the blame squarely on the newspaper that was so tumescent with joy when bashing the Murdoch rags in distant country for listening to people's voicemail.
A VICTIM of The Age's hacking of an ALP database has come forward claiming the newspaper breached her privacy, as The Weekend Australian reveals the Victorian Electoral Commission asked police to investigate the claims of illegal activity.
Claire Watson, 24, has expressed her concerns about how and why The Age accessed personal information about her, which she had agreed to share with a local MP but not with the newspaper. The public servant, who appeared in a story by Age journalist Royce Millar last year as part of the broadsheet's investigation into the ALP database, said her views had been "distorted" and "words had been put in my mouth".
"I feel my privacy has been breached by the journalist, not the ALP," she said. "I agreed to share information with the ALP, but not with The Age. He seemed dodgy and was pleased with himself. He was so indignant with the ALP, but it is clear he was hacking my file. He was trying to whip me into outrage about it."
"The journalist kept trying to put words in my mouth; he was saying it was outrageous, but I didn't think it was outrageous," she said. "The whole thing was weird. I tried telling him I wasn't outraged as I understood large organisations keep that sort of data. I think it is reasonable and good practice to keep the data."
She said she was more concerned Millar had then accessed the information.
"He knew a lot about me - my date of birth, where I lived, my phone number, opinions I had shared with a local MP . . . he was hacking into my file."
As with the voicemail thing 'hacking' seems to be an inappropriate term for what looks awfully like a simple, old fashioned leak, but for whatever reason people seem to want to believe that any electronically stored information that isn't given out voluntarily must have been hacked. I think this is a bit like insisting that when you can't find your car it can only have been stolen rather than thinking that you just forgot where you left it or you parked in a tow away zone, but the real point is that if this is all hacking how did The Age have the front to throw so many stones at the Murdoch media for the phone not-hacking when they too had been accessing information they had no bloody right to? Was the temptation to throw those stones and hopefully damage their competition at the Melbourne Herald Sun and The Australian so strong that they forgot they lived in a greenhouse?
An injunction by The Age against Victoria Police to stop the removal of computer equipment remains in place since Thursday's eight-hour raid. Two detectives from the e-crime squad remained at The Age overnight to ensure none of the computer equipment, which had been pulled apart, could be tampered with.
A spokesman for the Victorian Electoral Commission confirmed to The Weekend Australian that it had been the first to raise the issue with police.
Electoral Commissioner Steve Tully is believed to have been concerned about the manner in which the database was allegedly penetrated by The Age.
The Weekend Australian believes that police have been given access to ALP records and computer equipment but that there are mixed views in the party about how to handle the hacking issue. This is because of the potential blow-back on the Labor Party if The Age were to campaign against the party. "It's not something we wanted. There are some senior people who just want it to go away," a source said.
However, the fact the VEC approached police means investigators will have to push ahead with their inquiries. Either way, it appears police were honour-bound to proceed given the potential offences at stake and the role the VEC plays as an independent and impartial statutory authority.
And as I said back in July, since The Age isn't part of the Murdoch press and is fairly strongly left leaning politically this is not something British readers can expect to see in The Grauniad. You kind of get the impression that bashing lefties for their misdeeds and alleged misdeeds is against some kind of lefty journo code, but it's only fair to give The Age a little credit for running the story themselves.

Click for link - incidentally, I don't know if Paul and Royce Millar are related

Now, remind me. In all those column inches in The Graun slagging off companies for perfectly legal tax avoidance and minimisation was it ever mentioned that Guardian Media did the same thing or did we have to find out from Guido?

Friday, 16 December 2011


At Douglas Carswell's:
The Treasury’s policy of “Continuity Brown” means we look set to borrow more money in this Parliament than Gordon Brown managed in 13 years.
I've long since stopped trying even to estimate the number of times I've said this, but this ConLib Cobbleition government really is as bad as Labour, arguably with the additional down side that if the whole house of cards has to come crashing down before it can be unfucked and rebuilt Labour's incompetence in general and Gordon Brown's lunacy in particular might have brought that day a little sooner. The Cobbleition seem to be there with the purpose of prolonging the agony in the hope of winning power and prolonging it for another five years, and for that I despise them.*

* Actually I despise them for quite a lot of other things, all of which they share in common with Labour. But tonight it's just the insane profligacy.

Ill windmills

In case either of my readers (hi, Mum) were wondering the lack of posts this week isn't a sign of anything more than that I've been a bit busy. I certainly haven't suddenly started believing that all is right with the world after all because clearly it isn't. I just haven't had the time to seethe about it at length in the blogosphere and have had to settle for occasional quiet seethe-lets in the car instead.

And I can't offer much this evening either for the same reason, but I just wanted to point out this from The Daily Mash the other day:
Chairman Lord Turner said: "The only problem we can possibly foresee is if it's not as windy as we think it's going to be.


The report was welcomed by the large energy providers who said that if they were going to pick a figure of out of thin air for how much more they felt like charging people then they would probably have chosen £110 as well.

Lord Turner added: "It's not that green technology is, in itself, massively expensive, it's that if it doesn't actually work then you have to get the energy from somewhere else. Usually from people who aren't very nice.

"So you end up with an expensive thing that doesn't work all the time plus expensive energy from horrid people. And that is massively expensive.

"But it's fine, because it's going to be windy."
Yes, and just the other week we saw that they're just as good when it's a bit too windy, didn't we?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Via the Zanzibari Kittie Counters, this:
Obama has been compared to Spock, but he’s more like GlaDOS. Acts cold and aloof, but is childish when angered. Promises cake we’ll never see.
As Sam Duncan at Counting Cats says, there are people who don't play videogames and there are people who'll look at that and go, 'Hey, yeah, he is, isn't he?'

Monday, 12 December 2011

Seeing the light

Click for linky
Shoulder mounted laser? Wow, like the fucking Predator. We'll show those little pond-life estate scum next time they get a bit fighty, eh lads? What they gonna do when we've each got a las... er... oh.

Expect laws restricting the purchase of welding goggles and mirrors to be around the corner, affecting only the law-abiding, non-rioting majority who won't simply steal them when they want them.

/ facepalm

Do you have to be a European to believe the Euro is not all but dead?

And does the head in the sand approach mean greater problems when it finally keels over? Some certainly think so.
TOP US military officer General Martin Dempsey has admitted he is ''extraordinarily concerned'' about the euro's survival, pointing to potential civil unrest and the break-up of the European Union.

''The euro zone is at great risk,'' the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, giving the strongest indication yet about the depth of Washington's concerns over Europe's financial tumult.

''We are extraordinarily concerned by the health and viability of the euro because in some ways we're exposed literally to contracts but also because of the potential of civil unrest and break-up of the union that has been forged over there,'' General Dempsey said.
I can't help feeling that if the US are getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff involved they're very, very worried over there. We all know that Americans aren't allowed to die for any reason at all any more, and there are many tens of thousands of them in Europe at any one time. Warnings from economists may carry the weight of expertise but when a major power's military starts talking about it it sounds like someone somewhere now expects the worst.

Junket science

Dial up the euphoria and forget the failure of the last junket, er, meeting to agree anything because a major 'climate deal' has been done at Durban. So says the GraunAge, Aunties Beeb and ABC, and all the rest. But forgive my scepticism when I read things like this:
A new global climate deal has been struck after being brought back from the brink of disaster by three powerful women politicians in a 20-minute "huddle to save the planet".
... the 16-day talks were effectively over, with a commitment by all countries to accept binding emission cuts by 2020.
Or this:
Every single country in the world has committed to an agreement to take effect from 2020.
Or this:
Talks on a new legal deal covering all countries will begin next year and end by 2015, coming into effect by 2020.
Or this:
Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says it is an "historic breakthrough".
"The idea is that after 2015 countries would start ratifying the new agreement and it would take effect from 2020."
So - and I'm looking at this as I would if I were a true warmista, convinced of the danger of catastrophic warble gloaming - after this dramatic twenty minute huddle, followed by that equally dramatic two hours of tense negotiation, all of which had been preceded by more than a bloody fortnight of presumably equally tense negotiation, everybody agreed to kick the fucking can down the road for another few years. And that's supposed to be a result? Jesus, what do you guys do for an epic failure? No, don't tell me... begins with a C, doesn't it? Cancun? Copenhagen? Email me if I'm getting warm, heheh. Sorry, that was insensitive of me.

Forgive my cynicism but having failed, even by what I'd call pretty low standards, in Cancun and Copenhagen and having just had the embarrassment of Climategate 2.0, which looked a lot like it was timed to damage the Durban circle jerk, there needed to be something positive and preferably scene stealing to feed to the media's headline writers. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if that was the very first thing that was decided, very likely behind the scenes and quite possibly before the conference even officially began. And fucking hell if a unanimous agreement to put off any hard decisions until later and otherwise maintain the status quo isn't good enough if spun right, even if it'd spin the whole world right off its axis if done much harder.

So in practical terms the great success achieved at Durban is that everything stays exactly the same as it was before all those thousands of delegates got on planes and carbon belched their way through the sky to get there, and everyone has agreed to agree on something more meaningful in four or five years to take effect four or five years after that. Well, it might be good news for the campaigners, researchers, climate change departments and ministers, renewable energy companies, greenwashery makers and all the other rent seekers, but otherwise it seems like a resounding 'Meh'.

Frankly I'm tempted to get down on my knees and thank my lucky stars and any deity that has even the faintest possibility of existing that I'm a climate sceptic. Because if I was a catastrophist warble gloaming believer I'd be shitting myself.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

And then they came for the... Jesus Christ, popcorn eaters? Is this right? - UPDATED

Okay, this is just specific subset of 'And then they came for the salad dodgers' really, but Jesus fucking Christ on a state approved dietary regime, popcorn? Seriously? Well, since Velvet Glove, Iron Fist is taking a look at a comment piece in the Independent entitled 'Filling your face with popcorn is not a human right' one has to assume that it is serious. And so insanely authoritarian that even the normally restrained Chris Snowdon has seen red.'s clear that many people find it hard to resist fatty food and cheap alcohol, which leaves government intervention the only serious option.
Well, let's not be so hasty. Are we sure that all the other possibilities have been exhausted? Have you, for example, considered the option of fucking off and leaving us alone?
Quite. It's a thorough fisking and not wishing to steal his thunder I recommend you go read the whole thing there. There's little I can add except for two points. First, and I'm getting a bit personal here, if one person cannot be free to smoke or drink or eat popcorn then why should another be free to walk around with a face like a dropped pie? That's not personal abuse aimed at Joan Smith - well, okay, actually it is really, but it's not just personal abuse. The point is that if it's okay to be so judgemental about certain people's harmless habits then why not others? Why not be as judgemental about who they play hide the sausage with as you are about how many sausages they eat? And why not other aspects, even physical imperfections? It's not like it hasn't all been done before by various other bunches of mad left-wing authoritarians with hard ons both for improving health and for the cost to the public purse. You can sound the Godwin alarm all you like, I don't give a rip. Because it's fucking true, d'you see?

"This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmarks
during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too." - Wikipedia.

Secondly I'd expand on something else Chris Snowdon says:
Once we have accepted the healthist world view, no principled and logically consistent objection can be made against photos of rotten teeth on soft drinks. Those who welcomed the 85% sales tax on cigarettes are in no position to oppose an 85% sales tax on bacon. They can only wriggle and squirm and hope the puritans tackle their pleasures last.

And so, in a sense, I welcome the likes of Joan Smith and Jonathan Waxman for finally coming clean and alerting us all about what is afoot.
Yes, but I think they should also be welcomed simply for reaching these insane levels of wanting to regulate popcorn intake and put health warnings on bangers and mash (also a wank fantasy of another a revolting authoritarian cunt - the aforementioned Waxman - and also fisked at VG,IF). If something is going to derail their plans, if something is going to halt the marching of those nasty little boots, then it could well be when the owners of those boots strap them onto a surfboard before going and jumping a shark.

UPDATE - Oh, Jesus, this is just so fucking depressing. How can people understand liberty when it comes to people inclined to bump uglies with someone of the same gender but be unable to grasp the concept when it comes to everyone deciding what food to insert in the other end of their bodies?

Could it be simply that they're not supporting gay marriage for reasons of liberty but because they've been they've been made to think they should, just as they've been made to think that the government should be doing all their thinking for them?

Baaaa. Baaaaa.

I say we take off and nuke Disneyworld from orbit...

... it's the only way to be sure.

Getting into the Christmas spirit

Bah humbug!


From this week's Cracked! photoplasty competition 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Quote of the Day... Week... Weekend... Thing

Gerry Reynolds again, he of the "people who complained about Jeremy Clarkson saying strikers should be taken out and shot should be taken out and shot" blog post (which in case you haven't noticed the correction in the update was not a council blog as I'd mistakenly said but a personal one by the ironic name of The Censored Blog), which had another bit in it that didn't make the MSM at all. And that's a shame because it was the best bloody bit.
As a striker myself, I have to admit that when I heard Clarkson had said that we strikers should be lined up against a wall and shot, I simply smiled and got on with my life. I didn’t collapse in tears, I didn’t consult my lawyers, I did not ring up Sky to comment, I just smiled.
Yes, absolutely, and that's the reaction of a sensible adult who can tell the difference between hyperbolae and something that's meant seriously, a reaction which is becoming all too bloody rare in these oversensitive, angstrom thin skinned times. So I withdraw any suggestion that Gerry should be taken out and shot, not because I've changed my mind about what he does for a living but because I hope that he spreads that attitude as far and wide as possible. I'd go so far as to suggest that there might be enough money even in a much reduced and drawn down state apparatus to hire someone like him in the role of Encouraging Everyone To Just Harden The Fuck Up A Bit Manager.

Gerry's post 'Shooting the Complainers!' can be seen in all its uncensored glory at The Censored Blog, and I recommend nipping along and having a read of the whole thing.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Then they came for the drinkers... redux

How long have I been banging on about this? Bloody long enough, I reckon, and other blogger have been at it far longer. Smokers? Pah. Oh, don't get me wrong, they're still very much in the firing line, very much the modern untermenschen. But the battleground has shifted and the current main target, whether they know it or not, are the drinkers, and quite a big gun has just been fired right at them. Less than three months ago I blogged about the tell tale signs that this gun was being loaded and remarked on how it was a gun that had been shot at smokers several times. Well, now it's gone bang and it only remains to be seen how much damage it does. En bloc - my bold.
State and territory ministers have signed off on the introduction of mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol.

Ministers responsible for food regulation met in Melbourne today to consider their response to former federal health minister Neal Blewett's review of food labelling.

Dr Blewett's most controversial recommendation, that a "traffic light" system be introduced to help consumers make healthier food choices, has been rejected.

The traffic light system of colour coding would tell a consumer, at a glance, if the food had high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

Instead, ministers have agreed that public health, consumer and industry groups be consulted in the development of an alternative front-of-pack labelling system, which is to be considered in June and hoped to be in place by the end of next year.

They also want to give industry two years before making pregnancy warning labels on alcohol mandatory.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is drafting a standard for nutrition and health-related claims and ministers also agreed to the development of a national nutrition policy.

The federal government has come under fire from public health and consumer groups for opting not to pursue the traffic light system, but the food manufacturing industry has welcomed the move.
Does this sound at all familiar? It certainly should, and it will to smokers. Anyone want to bet that it'll stop there and will not progress towards huge pictures of diseased livers covering two thirds of the label of whatever's your preferred tipple? Any takers? No? Yeah, thought not.

Don't get smug about this being more Australian nannying. It is, but I think it's as much to do with Australian politicians having less on their plates than their counterparts in some parts of the world, especially Europe and the US, and so more time to listen to the whining of the nannies, moralists, control freaks and wowsers. Wherever you are, this is coming to a label near you soon.

And I can't help but feel that if more people had stuck up for the smokers it wouldn't be happening at all.

Hero of the Day - UPDATED

In a small way Gerry Reynolds is a minor hero today for speaking up in support of Jeremy Clarkson's freedom to be as hyperbolical as he likes.
He said: “I have decided that if I am ever put in charge that I would like to line all the UK’s copycat complainers up against a wall, tell them that I have had enough, and shoot them myself.”
... “Of course, that is a joke, I don’t own a gun, never want to, and would rather use a sledgehammer.
“The reason why I want rid of these people is simple. Just as I take the freedom to walk across a picket line as seriously as the right to stand on one, the freedom to express jokes and opinions is very dear to me.
“The moment creativity is constrained by the opinions and values of copycat complainers, religious fanatics or people trying to sell newspapers, we are in seriously deep trouble."
Good for Gerry Reynolds for understanding this very important point about liberty, and good for him also for ignoring the inevitable offence seeking, freedom-phobic handwringers who promptly complained and demanded the comments, made on a council blog, be removed as well as the editor of the blog who said he didn't see anything wrong with what Gerry Reynolds had said.
“It’s a blog and it is personal opinion. I don’t agree with all he says, or with his high opinions of Jeremy Clarkson. There is a comments box if anyone wanted to put forward an opposing view.
“He is not writing this as a council officer, and he is not representing Northings or Hi-arts. It is a person blog.”
In fact about the only thing a reasonable person could have against Gerry Reynolds is that he too is a public sector employee, occupying the position of Events and Promotions Manager at Highland Council. And since I feel that events and promotions management should not be a function of any level of government I'd suggest that his reward should be to be taken out and shot. Or possibly just his job since he sounds like someone who'd find something in the private sector without too much difficulty.

UPDATE - Gerry Reynolds himself has ducked all the gunfire going on to leave a thanks and a FYI that his blog is not a council one but a personal one on which he avoids talking about anything to do with his employer. Fair dos, correction noted.

Has David Cameron grown a set?

Click for linky
Or could he see that capitulation would leave him even more unelectable than Gordon Brown was? Still, as plenty of other bloggers have pointed out it's probably not enough and he'll either be railroaded into it later or be forced to think the unthinkable and talk about leaving the EU.

My money's on the first one. I'm sure the Civil Service do his thinking for him.

Tell me this isn't a coincidence

First, there's this:
A chief examiner at one of Britain’s biggest exam boards was recorded boasting about the lack of substance in the company’s tests – and their disbelief that it has been cleared by the official regulator.
Steph Warren, in charge of Edexcel GCSE Geography, said that teachers should pick her company’s exam because “you don’t have to teach a lot”.
And then there's this:

Now I do realise that these are from different countries but the UK and US have quite a lot in common, including the modern sleb culture and persistent worries about dumbing down of edumacation - 'dumbing down' is an American phrase, after all. If you want a more UK-centric example of sleb-fascination as an alternative to news you don't have to look far. Looking at The Daily Mail's site now their sidebar consists of the following (and I really don't blame if you don't read every line of this):
  • Something about Sinead O'Connor getting married again
  • A story about the average weight of British women
  • Something about Anna Nicole-Smith, who is apparently still dead
  • Something about Angelina Jolie
  • Something about Jennifer Lopez
  • Something about X-Factor judges who are apparently called Gary, Kelly and Tulisa (who, who, who and who gives a fuck?)
  • Something about someone called Selena Gomez and Justin fucking Bieber
  • A story about a single father raising twins
  • Something by Jan Moir about someone called Caroline Flack
  • Something about someone called Kimberley Walsh
  • Something about someone called Irina Shayk
  • Something about Charlize Theron's clothes
  • Something about someone called Chelsee Healey
  • Something about someone called Kate Upton
  • Something about Prince William's wife's clothes
  • Something about Declan Donnelly's car
  • Something about Katie Price
  • Something about someone called Lea Michele
  • Something about someone called Kris Jenner being upset about something Daniel Craig said
  • Something about someone called Alicia Douvall
  • Something about something called a Kardashian (who are apparently not Star Trek aliens but real people... for a given value of real)
  • Something about someone called Amanda Seyfried
  • Something by Jizz Loans
  • Something about someone called Harry Judd
  • Something about Paris Hilton
  • Something about Beyoncé whatsername
  • Something about Twiggy
  • Something about Salma Hayek's tits
  • Something else about that Caroline Flack person again, but not by Jan Moir
  • Something about a coat owned by Emma Watson, Natalie Portman and someone called Kristen Stewart
  • Something about someone called Anna Massey in something about a loony in Broadmoor
  • Something about someone called Amy Childs
  • Something about Ray Winstone being in something
  • Something about David Jason being in something
  • Something else about Angelina Jolie
  • Something about someone called Jacqui Ainsley
  • Something about Louise Redknapp's shampoo
  • Something about Sacha Baron Cohen
  • Something about someone called Kara Tointon
  • Something about Venus Williams
  • Something about someone called Kelly Rowland and someone called Amelia
  • Something about something called JWoww (who seems to be a person but sounds like a cleaning product)
  • Something about someone called Jennifer Hudson
  • Something about someone called Kitty Brucknell
  • Something about a transexual trying to turn him/herself into Barbie (just more plastic, I assume)
  • Something about someone called Jennifer Garner
  • Something about one of Michael Jackon's kids being in a film or something
  • Something about someone called Christine Bleakley
  • Something about that Grilled Bear bloke meeting Mrs Queen
  • Something about someone called Andrew Garfield
  • Something about someone called Pat Sharp and her daughter, and someone called Mark Wright
  • Something about Andie MacDowell's daughter
  • Something about someone called Rachel Crow
  • Something about another one of the Kardashians
  • Something about someone called Kris Humphries
  • Something about someone called Dianna Agron and someone called Sebastian Stan (almost current affairs in that he sounds like he might be a country)
  • Something about Shakira
  • Something about someone called Coco Rocha
  • Something about Jessica Alba's sprog meeting Santa
  • Something that might be about sexual abuse in Mormon communities, but might be more about some Mormon piano group
  • Something about someone who's someone's widow being angry with Alec Baldwin for whatever he did on that plane
  • Something about Michael Jackson's doctor getting a prison visit
  • Something about that Katherine Heigl who used to be in Grey's Annoying Me
  • Something about that Tiff Needell who used to be in the old Top Gear
  • Something about someone called Toni Collette
  • Something about Kirstie Alley's current size
  • Something about Demi Moore's daughter's arse
  • Something about something called Chord Overstreet (who seems to be a person but sounds like gameplay from Guitar Hero) and someone called Emma Roberts
  • Something about someone called Demi Lovato (who seems to be a person but sounds like musical notation)
  • Something about someone called Jennifer Hudson
  • Something about that Amy Childs again
  • Something about someone called Selma Blair
  • Something about Jessica Alba
  • Something about Lady Gaga
  • Something about Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Something about Cheryl Cole
  • Something about Christina Ricci
  • Something else about Katie bloody Price
  • Something about handbags
  • Something about shops
  • Something about shopping
  • Something about Tom Cruise
  • Something else about this Demi Lovato
  • Something else about this Emma Roberts person having a tattoo like the one in that book about the girl with a tattoo
  • Something about bridesmaids wearing tuxedos
  • Something else about Tom Cruise
  • Something about someone called Kendra Wilkison
  • Something about someone called Kevin Federline
  • A story about a fake doctor doing bad cosmetic surgery in the US
  • Something about new Top Shop branches coming to your local high street, providing you live in Australia
  • Something about someone called Abigail Breslin
  • Something about someone called Danny O'Donaghue and Tom Jones
  • Something about Jersey Shore
  • Something about Brad Pitt's hair
  • Something about someone called Ali Larter's son
  • Something about cocaine and Charlie Sheen and someone called Brooke Mueller
  • A story about how Christmas drives everyone fucking nuts
  • Something about that horsey woman from Sex and the City
  • Something else about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
  • Something about a body scanner, but at clothes shops to help you buy stuff rather than airports to help delay you while you're treated as a suspected terrorist
  • Something about some people called Arg, Mark and Dougie
  • Something about Lindsay Lohan
  • Something about Nigella Lawson
  • Something else about Emma Watson, but apparently not her coat this time
  • Something about someone called Adele
  • Something about money and divorces
  • Something that might be about sexual abuse in Mormon communities, but might be more about some Mormon piano group, and appears to be exactly the same something as the something about sexual abuse/Mormon pianists from earlier
  • Something about someone called Jeff Probst and someone called Lisa Ann Russell
  • Something about someone called Patrica Klanic whose husband is a soccer player and has been accused of rape
  • Something about Blur
  • Something else about Andie MacDowell
  • Something about Cameron Diaz
  • Something about David Cameron's hair (for fuck's fucking sake I'm fucking losing the fucking will to fucking live here)
  • Yet another fucking thing about this Caroline Flack and someone called harry Styles
  • Something about Prince Harry and his brother's wife's sister, except not really because they're only lookalikes (that's it - when I'm finished with this I'm going to book a holiday where I'm legally allowed to shoot things)
  • Something about Katy Perry
  • Something about that woman who looked all upset when Jeremy Clarkson said he wanted to shoot strikers and how she used to have a damp spot for Jason Donovan
  • Something about a model who's going bald
  • Jesus H. Christ in a fucking mothership, something else about Tom fucking Cruise
  • Something else about a Kardashian, possibly one of the ones from earlier but I'm so far past fucking caring at this point I just asked Mrs Exile to hold a mirror up under my nose
  • Something about Prince Charles not understanding Peter Kay's jokes or something
  • Something about Madonna likeing Prince William's wife's clothes
  • Something about someone called Gamu
  • Something about someone called Zac Effron kissing Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Something about Dawn French's clothes

For those that skipped much of that list it's 125 articles, 95% of which involve slebs, and close to 0% of which involve actual news. Okay, sure, they do put a lot of shite in the sidebar and more newsy news in the main bit, but even there Sinead O'Connor puts in an appearance along with one or two things about house prices (wouldn't be the Mail without them, would it?) while the story about exams being made easier appears nearly halfway down the home page.

Coincidence? I find that hard to believe. Whether it's just an effect of successive governments prioritising the appearance of educational success over actually educating or whether it's a deliberate attempt to create Orwell's proles, the undereducated 85% who were conditioned to have little or no interest in the world but were easy to manipulate. As always I tend to go with Hanlon's Razor and assume stupidity and cupidity over conspiracies, but sometimes I do wonder.
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