Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Monday, 31 January 2011

The most epic example of pots and kettles.

It seems Cameramong is so determined to prevent the House of Lords from stonewalling the necessary legislation for the referendum on AV and the reduction in the number of MPs - both of which I feel the man deserves some rare credit for - that he's grown a set large enough to stand up to the group of mostly Labour peers who are being a pain.
Senior Government figures suspect that some peers are deliberately dragging out the debate to stop the legislation being passed in time for a planned referendum in May. The Prime Minister plans to table a motion to "guillotine" the debate tonight if Labour refuses to back down. It would be voted on tomorrow, in what critics say would be a substantial change to how the Upper House handles legislation.
I have to admit to more than just mild surprise, but what really made my jaw bounce off the deck was this:
Labour has accused him of planning a "constitutional outrage".
This would be the same Labour which when last in office regularly and quite thoroughly wiped its collective shit encrusted arse with the British constitution, yes? The same Labour which agreed to extradite British citizens to foreign countries on the most tenuous prima facie evidence if any? The same Labour that brought in house arrest, control orders and detention without trial? The same Labour that gave itself and any future government, along with their public sector minions at various levels, unprecedented powers to spy on British citizens? The same Labour that granted itself the power to seize assets of those convicted of crimes without needing to prove they were acquired by criminal means? The same Labour that attempted to bring in ID cards and numerous databases with which to monitor and control its citizens? The same Labour which ejected many hereditary members of the House of Lords while stuffing the place with its own cronies and yes-men? The same Labour which always kept a hand on the Parliament Act in order to batter the Lords into submission whenever they didn't play ball? The same Labour that passed a number of mini-enabling acts allowing British law up to and including Habeas fucking Corpus to be altered or suspended at ministerial whim?

Oh, yes. That Labour.

You despicable fucking hypocrites. How the cunting fuck can you lowlife, self-serving arrogant pack of spunk gargling sycophants, swindlers and cheats even say that while keeping a straight face?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the shadow constitutional affairs spokesman, said: "The consequence of a guillotine is that the Government would get control of the Lords. This would be an abomination. Within seven months of getting into power they are trying to castrate the only independent part of it."
So says another placeman and crony of the grinning mutation, warmonger, constitution shredder and arch-übercunt of the lower darkness, Blair. In fact Charlie Falconer was the first person Blair had made a peer, and was made an instant Solicitor General as a reward for his nanosecond's service in the Lords. This was on the 6th of May 1997, four days after Labour won the election, and I guess several weeks after Falconer had purely coincidentally applied to be the Labour candidate for Dudley East in the same election only to be knocked back because his kids were in private school. Presumably he did not think it remotely abominable to have failed even to be chosen as a candidate, much less an MP, only to be been given a peerage and a government position purely for being an old flatmate, wingman and law-buddy of the new Prime Bastard. Or to have then been given a Cabinet position just over a year later when the Mandelsnake tripped over his own forked tongue (for the first time). Or, for that matter, any of the rest of the positions he occupied in his government including that of the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, in which Falconer gutted the position of Lord Chancellor of many of its roles and gave them instead to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. Which position was of course occupied by Charlie Falconer, Baron of Thoroton and never fucking voted for by anyone in his whole government - can hardly say political - career, which lasted almost as long as that of his bestest friend, Tony, and very useful indeed it was to the warmongering arch-übercunt as good old Charlie was in a position to help make sure Blair's war was at least apparently legal.

None of which bears even the faintest whiff of anything unconstitutional or the most vague hint of being even slightly abominable. Of course.

Motes and beams, Charlie boy, you despicable bastard. Motes and fucking beams. As in while you're picking the motes out of thine own eye I rather hope a lot of fucking beams fall on you.

Red Ed's 2 minute biography.

Good at solving Rubik's Cube, but can't suggest any other skills of the top of his head. Describes himself as "too square" to have ever tried any drugs or even dared to indulge in a little underage drinking. Got beaten up a lot at school, and possibly thinks of Teri Hatcher, Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson a lot in deeply private moments. Very firm on the fact that he's not married. All in all he sounds like just the person you'd want for a dinner party. As a waiter.

I have little doubt that Cameramong, who's at least as big a bell-end, was laughing his balls off reading that. And talking of balls, I expect Blinky was too. But then this all came out in a GQ interview with Piers Morgan, who as I recall was always pally with Blinky's mate and mentor, Snotty McMuncher-Broon, extremely part-time member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath when he can fit it in.

Wankers and cockslots, the lot of them.

Does this surprise anyone?

Click for linky
A police officer stationed at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in the US was suspended last Thursday for taking home more than 1000 knives, nail clippers, scissors and other items confiscated from passengers during security procedures, authorities said.
Who could possibly have thought that would happen?

Failing to plan ahead or planning to fail when it's too late to hurt you?

While ranting about the London Olympics, the Melbourne Grand Prix, or the money being given to Tiger Woods to persuade him to stop shagging for long enough to hit a few balls around at the Australian Open I've said repeatedly that is not, or at least should not be, a government function to act as a sports promoter.
Look, I like watching sport. No, in fact I love it and there aren't many things I won't watch (soccer is one of them as it happens). But let's get the principle of the money sorted out once and for all - it is not the job of a government, whether state or federal/national, to act as a fucking sports promoter, okay? It's simply not a government function. By all means talk it up and support it verbally but do not, repeat do fucking not, go putting your sticky fucking mitts into taxpayers pockets to pay for it.
Recently the Melbourne Grand Prix has been in the papers here again, no doubt in part because it's coming up soon and Albert Park has already begun its annual transformation into a racing circuit. Okay, it happens every year because a lot of locals like to use the park for walking the dog or riding their bikes, and from the sports fields and oval there I imagine quite a few clubs and schools use it for cricket, footy, rugby, hockey and soccer, and it goes without saying that they'd quite like the Grand Prix to fuck off. They might not necessarily want it out of the state and would be happy with a move to a purpose built circuit - a revamped Calder Park raceway possibly, or the new circuit proposed for Avalon - but as long as it leaves Albert Park. I have a certain amount of sympathy but it could be argued that their motives are as selfish as those rev-heads who like it being in the city where it's easy to get to.

So instead let us talk money and how much the decision of former Premier Jeff Kennet to bid for the Grand Prix, and those of former Premiers Bracks and Brumby to keep it, have cost the state. Because the main reason it's in the news again is that the new Premier, Ted Baillieu, along with Melbourne's Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, have both attacked the event on how much taxpayers' money it eats up.
Premier Ted Baillieu demanded this week that the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, a Victorian government statutory authority, slash the cost of running the race.

... Cr Doyle has queried the long-term worth to Melbourne of the event, which he estimated would cost taxpayers up to $70 million a year by 2015, when Victoria's contract to host the race runs out.

In 2010, the Brumby government spent $49.2 million on the grand prix. In 2006, the event cost $21.2 million. ''I like the event, but we need to look at the cost of the event to taxpayers,'' Cr Doyle said yesterday. ''If we want to have this event after 2015, we are going to have to have a debate about the cost.''
I like the event too, though as a spectator it's not my favourite - none of the street circuits regularly offer racing as entertaining as that seen at Silverstone, which is also noteworthy for not receiving lavish amounts of taxpayer subsidy - but what really offends me is that everyone in Victoria is forced to pay for the fucking thing whether they go or not, and when I or like minded rev-heads choose to buy a ticket we're effectively paying for the second time.

Now although that's wrong any way you want to look at it I do, reluctantly, have to side with Bernie Ecclestone when the unpleasant little prick points out that he has a contract.
Mr Ecclestone, chief executive of the London-based Formula One Group, told 3AW yesterday that the amount of money the Victorian government had to pay to his organisation for the rights to the race could not be re-negotiated.

''Whatever the contract says is what it will be,'' Mr Ecclestone said.
And though I loathe the man both for screwing Victorian taxpayers and for adding more negatives than positives to what was once one of my favourite sports, he's absolutely right - a contract entered into honestly must be kept, even when it's not doing one party any favours. If we lose contracts, if agreements between parties can be rewritten unilaterally by one of them, then we're all fucked.

But saying that is it right that a contract can be signed that affects third parties against their will? I'm not talking about the way governments commit taxpayers to shell out for things they might feel they neither want nor need, or at least not just about that. But here we have Bernie Ecclestone pointing out that he's got a contract with someone who did not sign it and who seems unhappy with the uneven terms he's been committed to by his predecessor, and, since the contract is until 2015, the year after the next state election is due, might not even be in office when it comes time to renew it. Of course Baillieu's not fucking happy. It's like taking a job only to find out that the previous employee had agreed not to take any breaks or paid holiday and had further agreed that successors would be bound by the same terms.

Now that can't happen in normal life, but because it's a government signing deals it's believed that it's different for some reason. I imagine the parallel would be that a contract may be signed with a company or corporation and still be in force after a boardroom coup which changes everyone involved with signing the deal for a group of people who opposed it. Okay, I see that, but with a company it affects only those who've bought an interest in the company, and that interest should be a motivation to keep an eye on what's going on and rally opposition among other shareholders if need be. Doesn't alway happen that way but if not, tough. With a government it affects everyone whether they like it or not, and the opportunities to oppose moves are limited to protests that may be ignored and elections several years apart. In this way in 2008 the last Premier, John Brumby - who was not even elected Premier by the people of Victoria but was voted in by his own party to replace Steve Bracks, the guy who actually won the election and then resigned less than a year into the term - was able to sign Melbourne and Victoria up for a further five years beyond 2010, the year in which the Grand Prix contract would have expired.
The Premier John Brumby says Victoria is now committed to the race until 2015.

JOHN BRUMBY: And I am delighted to announce today that the Victorian Government has secured the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne for a further five years until 2015.

We have always said of course that this event, that it was a great event for Melbourne.

SIMON LAUDER: The Grand Prix was at risk of being lost, as Formula One manager Bernie Eccleston demanded a night time race, to get more people watching in Europe.

Mr Brumby says the race will begin after 5pm next March.

JOHN BRUMBY: We did hold firm on that. I think there are a lot of people who said if we held firm we would lose the event. We held firm on that and we have retained the event and I think that is probably the biggest win, if you like, for the state.

We have got the race. No artificial light - twilight race if you want to describe it that way. So good for us, good for the event, good for Albert Park and we still get a better starting time throughout Europe.

SIMON LAUDER: Despite the 2007 Grand Prix costing $78-million to run and returning only $43-million, Mr Brumby insists the new five year contract is a bargain.

JOHN BRUMBY: Well, as you know, we don't release the details of the fee which is paid and we are not able to do that for commercial reasons and that has always been the case. What I can say is that in the Government's view, this is a good value for money proposition. We wouldn't sign up if we didn't believe it was.
Arrogant prick! He said similar things about Melbourne's massively overdue and massively over budget public transport smartcard system, only in an even more that's-for-us-to-know-and-not-you tone, and seemed to speak from the heart when he said of the cost of a deal for five new trams that we didn't need to know.

$50 mill a year and rising for the Grand Prix? Yeah, fuck it.
It's only money and it's not mine anyway.

Two years later and facing an election he looked like he was going to (and eventually did) lose he'd changed his tune about the Grand Prix at least:
Premier John Brumby yesterday refused to guarantee the future of the future of the loss making F1 event beyond its 2014 contract.

He admitted the fall in attendances was a worry with only 287,000 spectators at the 2009 race - down 16,000 on the previous year.

Attendances bounced back to around 300,000 over the four-days of racing this year.

But the event cost taxpayers a record $49.2 million - more than double the losses incurred in 2006.

Over the past three years the event has run-up losses of about $130 million.

Mr Brumby said the the Grand Prix contract will be reviewed in the next two years.
Then why sign us up for five more years, you utterly incompetent bell-end? Because at the time you did it you personally could see no downside. You were more than two years from an election and your party probably still had a better popularity rating than the opposition. Two years later maybe you realised you'd bought a lemon, or maybe you could see that the opposition were going to make some political mileage out of it. Maybe you'll concede that renewing the contract along with all the other things your government fucked up, and which Victorians blame you for, ultimately cost you your job. But the point is that even taking that into consideration you've still stuck the next government with the same fucking problem.

So if Ted Baillieu is pissed off about this and also wants to make a mark as Premier I have a suggestion for him. It won't fix the problem for him but it is something radical that will prevent subsequent Premiers from screwing their eventual successors the same way. Victoria has a constitution setting out the rules of the state government and which can be amended by the Victorian parliament, and have I got an amendment for you, Ted. Make all contracts signed by the government constitutionally limited to a maximum of four years or two years beyond the date of the next election, whichever comes first, unless approved by a referendum. This prevents a government from cursing the one after it with the need to abide by shitty contracts that it can't change for the whole term or possibly even longer. At the worst this would mean a half term of being stuck with a poor deal, though a new government committed to ending it would be able to prepare to do so long before that, and while electorates still remembered who'd signed the thing in the first place. But it would still allow medium term contracts of 2-3 years to be agreed late in a parliamentary term, which should be a motivator for the contractor to provide something of value in order to maximise their chances of seeing it renewed by the next government. And if something really, really has to be agreed for a longer term there's still a mechanism to allow for it - simply agree pending a referendum and put it to the voters themselves. If it costs them nothing then I imagine that relatively few would bother to oppose it and just maybe if Brumby had had to abide by this simple condition he might still have been able to a five year Grand Prix deal, perhaps even for the night race that Bernie Ecclestone wanted rather than the late afternoon time they eventually agreed. But it might have been necessary to move it to a new venue and to reduce or eliminate the public subsidy in order to get the votes.

So what do you say, Ted? I'm no fan of your party, considering them anything but the dictionary definition of 'liberal', but I do feel a little sorry for you with these problems you've been bequeathed by Know-It-All Brumby and his gang. Like Cameramong in London you've inherited a poisoned chalice, though his is far more toxic by the looks of it.* They can be a big, deep trap come the next election, but they can be an opportunity for further electoral success if handled well. Fall into it and we all fall in with you, and we won't be fucking grateful. But if you point out the trap in a very loud voice, remind everyone of when it was dug and by whom, and then board the bastard over so that nobody can fall into it ever again, then the trap can work for you instead.

And come election time, Ted, that could be the difference between one term and two.

* The same applies in the UK, though I doubt Cameramong has the brains or balls for this, and as I said he's got far bigger problems than Ted Baillieu. But what if he used this year to pass laws that would prevent all future abuses of the kind that that Labour used to dig the sewage strewn minefield in which the British government now stands, and then called an election? Yes, he'd probably need to reach a deal with the LibDem colleagues because they'd agreed to go the full five years, but the obvious thing to suggest to them is to allow all sitting Lib MPs to stand unopposed by the Tories and vice versa unless the candidates agree otherwise (maybe even throw an extra bone and offer not to stand in one or two where the Libs might beat Labour if they had the Tory votes too). But what if he did? Both the Cobbleition parties are already starting to get it in the neck, and it's largely because the country was in such a state that they couldn't breathe without being instantly unpopular with someone. They've got a little, a very little, amount of time left before people forget that the underlying fault was Labour's. The trap is there and it's a deep bastard. If they're dumb enough to hope that a way across will suddenly appear they're likely to end up falling straight into it. If they're clever nobody will fall in, but the bastards who dug it will be left screaming impotently far behind them.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

By a government's deeds shall ye know it.

Earlier this evening an item caught my attention on one of those news headlines they sometimes tack on the end of an ad break, which was words to the effect that the federal government was going to spend $60 million declaring war on tobacco. No, I'm not exaggerating, the words "war on tobacco" really were used and $60 million was what the news reader said, though elsewhere it's said that it's actually $61 million. Oh, and hard hitting adverts, natch. In fact it seems that these hard hitting ads are in fact the entirety of this shock and awe cock and bore battle campaign, and that's all the money is being spent on.
SMOKERS are about to be confronted with the nation's biggest anti-tobacco campaign, a $61 million advertising blitz linking smoker's cough directly with lung cancer.
I'll leave that to others who spend more time and effort debunking anti-tobacco spin but it sounds like bullshit to me. Lots of smokers I've known have smokers cough and they don't all get lung cancer. Yet you want us to believe there's a direct link? Yeah, sure, with bells on. Look, it's obvious smoking is not a healthy pastime, but you liberty loathing anti-smoking industry is increasingly straining the bounds of credibility lately and this seems just as suspect.
Cancer Council chief executive Ian Olver supported the government's move to follow up on its previous campaign: ''Every cigarette is doing you damage.''

''We know that the most effective way to drive down the smoking rate is to increase the tax on cigarettes and to combine it with multiple strategies such as restrictions in advertising and strong public health messages,'' Mr Olver said.
Are you sure? Because if the experience in Ireland and elsewhere is anything to go by you get to a point where people stop buying duty paid cigs and start buying illegally supplied tobacco. Are you really driving down the smoking rate or are you just seeing the inevitable reduction in legitimate sales that are a consequence of driving up the black market business?

And the ads? Oh, please.
But the director of Sydney advertising agency IMC, Michael Cahill, said the effectiveness of health scare campaigns was at breaking point.

''I think there is ample evidence when these sorts of ads come on television people switch off and think about other things,'' Mr Cahill said. ''The biggest risk is that the message will be ignored.''
Smokers don't care. Can't you understand this? They know but they like it and that's the end of it. Those like me who stop liking it will stop smoking, those who still like it probably will not. Some may try, possibly spending their hard earned on the quitting industry's stuff instead, but I reckon most will go back to it eventually. And of course this suits everybody. It suits the tobacco industry who have lost a customer only temporarily. It suits the quitting industry who have gained a customer who with luck will spend a lot of money on patches, gums and potions because he's being made to feel that he ought to give up when his heart isn't in it, and it suits the government who sacrifice a little tax revenue on tobacco for some on company taxes paid by the quitting industry instead while exercising a little more influence over the personal lives of citizens.

Oh, but Angry, you may be asking, surely you're being paranoid? If that's what the government were doing then why would they throw $61 million at an anti-smoking campaign, especially at a time when there's talk of a one off special levy to pay for the flood repairs?

That's a fair question, and the answer to part of it is that I'm pretty sure the government really does believe that everything it does is for the best, and that includes getting in bed with the quitting industry to help everyone live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Which is all very noble but unfortunately must come at the cost of reduced personal freedom and property rights, which the government either overlooks or doesn't care about. But the second part of the answer is that the government needs money to do all these things for the benefit, real or imagined, of citizens, and that often leaves it on the horns of a dilemma. It wants you to stop smoking but needs the tax revenue from the cigarettes you buy. A profitable quitting industry helps with this but the quitting industry has a similar problem: if everyone quits smoking they don't need the patches and the gum and the pills and the hypnowibbly stuff anymore.* Success for both the government will actually hurt it - and hit all us non-smokers in the wallet too because we'll all have to make up the tax shortfall, and you're a fool if you don't believe it - while success for the quitting industry will bring about its own demise. So what can they do apart from not try too hard?

By their deeds shall ye know them, I said at the top, so let's look at their deeds. If they really wanted everyone to stop they could simple make it illegal, yet they don't. Instead the government is going to spend $61 million this year trying to make smokers stop. A lot of money by many standards, but not when you put it up against the amount of money it makes from tax and duties, which for 2011 is projected to be $5.4 billion. Yes, for those of you that are quick at mental arithmetic the effort at trying to get everyone to quit is a smidge over 1% of the money the government get if they all carry on.

So do they really want everyone to quit or is it just an excuse to meddle, and to get people used to them meddling, and then to carry on meddling pretty much indefinitely, all for the good of citizens of course (and in the misguided and delusional belief that the government can possibly know what's good for each citizen)? As the Yanks like to say, you do the maths.

* Anyone tried the quitting industry's stuff? Was it any good? Again I can only speak for myself but back in the days when I smoked and felt I ought to stop (as distinct from didn't want to carry on anymore) I tried some of them and they were all ultimately a failure. "Requires willpower" seems to be a common advert rider for quitting products, but what nobody ever told me was that when I no longer wanted to smoke I would naturally find willpower in such abundance that the quitting products were quite unnecessary.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Scoring own goals.

Now that I've got the sexist humour out of the way, seriously fellas, women, eh? What do they know about sport?

Actually I'd say that many of them know quite a lot, and not just about sports that are played mostly by women and not just because Mrs Exile is standing behind me with a double barrelled Beretta. And it should be obvious even to a couple of chauvinistic middle-aged soccer players turned commentators that a woman who's a qualified professional match official probably knows a great deal about it, and if she's got any sense she'll make it her business to be particularly knowledgable about the rule which middle-aged chauvinist ex-soccer players are going to say she can't understand.

So what should be done when middle-aged chauvinist soccer players turned commentators gob off about a female match official, her looks and that incredibly tired old line about the offside rule, as Andy Gray and Richard Keys did to linesman (lineswoman?) Sian Massey at the Wolves vs Liverpool match last weekend? One option is to throw a few names and sexist jokes right back at them and another is to accept that everyone can have their opinion but to rise above, ignore it and let Massey get on with her job. Either is fine by me, but one course of action that does nobody any favours is to get all offended on her behalf, cry foul and demand that they be silenced and punished and to nod approval when they're fired. Aside from how incredibly patronising it is to take offence on behalf of another as if they lack the ability to decide for themselves if they're offended, that road leads to a worse destination that having to put up with the sexist opinions of middle-aged ex-soccer players. That destination is thought crime.

I'm not exaggerating by playing the Orwell card here - what else can we call it when someone is punished for holding an opinion? Yes, it's an opinion that many find unpleasant and disagreeable and it's probably an opinion that these days is probably not shared by the majority. But that's kind of the point: it's a minority opinion, and what do we now think of minorities and their rights and views? Yes, exactly, they must be respected. Except that this shows that the implementation of this noble (or possibly ignoble) aim has gone a bit wrong. Minority views that align with those the establishment likes are fine, especially if they run counter to majority views that are frowned upon or if they go some way to making up for rather embarrassing and illiberal majority acts in the past. So for example, it was once considered to be wrong for a homosexual to hold the opinion that their sexuality was just how they were and what they did in the bedroom was their own business (not to mention illegal for them to act on it - that still had the fucking death penalty less than 150 years ago), and to make up for it now anyone who says they don't like homosexuals risks being accused of hate speech or convicted of discrimination.

The same goes for changing sexuality for gender, skin colour etc. All we've done is swapped the oppression of some minority groups for the oppression of others and called it anti-discrimination, forgetting among all the self congratulatory circle jerking that after all that effort we still have people prevented by law from being themselves. So it is if we punish people for being middle-aged chauvinist ex-soccer players turned commentators and making about the oldest and lamest joke about women and football. We might not like their opinion and we certainly don't have to agree with it, but it does less harm to take the position of hating what they say while defending their right to say it. Punishing and criminalising people for their views doesn't make disagreeable opinions vanish in a puff of love and understanding, it's just imposing our own views on them by force.

And along the way we can lose the opportunity to let the facts speak for themselves to show just how misinformed those opinions can be, which is what's happening to poor Sian Massey right now. Despite having reportedly performed her job faultlessly during that Wolverhampton-Liverpool match she found herself withdrawn from the next game.
Meanwhile, Professional Games Match Officials confirmed that Massey had been withdrawn from the League Two game between Crewe and Bradford where she was due to act as an assistant referee.
PGMO general manager Mike Riley admitted the 25-year-old did not deserve to be subjected to further scrutiny at this time.
"PGMO and Sian believe that, with any football match, the focus should not be on the officials but on the players and the game itself," Riley said.
"Sian is an excellent professional who has unwittingly found herself in the middle of a story that has nothing to do with her competence as a match official.
And the one after and the one after that.
Referees' chiefs have again withdrawn Sian Massey from the spotlight following the Sky sexism row.
Massey was due to referee Corby's Blue Square Bet North game against Eastwood on Saturday after also being due to run the line on Tuesday at Crewe's League Two game against Bradford City.
She was withdrawn hours before kick-off then and was not awarded an FA Cup fourth-round tie this weekend.
She will also not be involved in any of next week's Premier League matches.
The Premier League, who speak for the PGMO, refused to comment on whether there would be any financial loss for the official.
A PGMO spokesman said: 'The focus needs to be on the football match, not the officials. It would be unfair on the clubs involved.'
But both managers appeared to have no issue with Massey taking charge of their match. Corby boss Graham Drury said this week: 'We've had Sian before and she had a fantastic game.
'She stamps her authority on the game and she interacts with players well. We've got a top referee for this game.
'I don't mind if it's a man, woman or even an elephant refereeing as long as they do it properly.'
Dennis Strudwick, general manager of the Football Conference, said the FA, who appoint officials, had given them no reason for Massey's withdrawal.
So unless it was simply an opportunistic move by someone who simply disliked Gray and/or Keys to get one or both of them into trouble and hopefully fired, which would be selfish, manipulative and pretty shitty, nobody wins. But if whoever blew the whistle on Gray and Keys' conversation and their boorish and frankly boring comments thought they helping society in general or Sian Massey in particular then it's backfired in just about every way possible. As a result of the exposure she's not getting the chance to do a job that she clearly enjoys and is apparently good at, and might be out of pocket as well.

So well done to whoever leaked it. I hope you're pleased with yourself, you complete and utter dickhead, but everyone would be better off if you'd just go fuck a mains wall socket next time.
That's just my opinion of course.

So then what ARE people supposed to do?

Clearly the police can't be everywhere at once, but if you may not have the means to defend yourself and the advice following the murder of an elderly woman is, "Don't barricade yourselves at home", exactly what are people supposed to do? This may have happened in Australia but the question is relevant everywhere, especially in Britain and even in parts of the US.

Government health warning: drinking alcohol pan cake you missed

Hot on the heels of wanting to ban a piece of motoring safety equipment because it causes a handful of deaths as well comes another recommendation to the federal government from its Nannying friends.
ALCOHOL manufacturers could be forced to put cigarette-style warnings on labels if the federal government adopts a recommendation in a food labelling review.
While self righteous pricks and NIMBYS all over might be tumescent with excitement at this news smokers will find this depressingly familiar. What's been done to them all began with health warnings on packets for those too stupid to work out that putting a roll of burning leafs into your mouth and breathing through it is not exactly natural and so might be less than wholesome. Some days I fucking despair for the human race, I really do.
The report from an expert panel chaired by former health minister Neal Blewett also backed a requirement that fast food stores provide nutritional information about products.
Neal Blewett, you may not be surprised to hear, was a member of the Australian Labor Party.
On alcohol, it recommended generic warnings on labels such as ''Alcohol can damage your health'' and ''Drinking to excess is a danger to yourself and those around you''.
As with warnings on tobacco way back when, this kind of thing is probably not news except to that small minority who move their lips when they try to read. Christ, the media have been parroting it for so long that warnings on labels are pretty much redundant from a point of view of informing drinkers, and there's a tacit admission of that too.
But the panel said such warnings were unlikely to be modify behaviour if used in isolation and could be justified only as part of a national campaign targeting the public health problems of alcohol.
And in there is the clue. Control is the goal and the health warnings are no more than hammering in the regulatory wedge a bit further.
VicHealth chief executive Todd Harper said health advisory messages were already required on alcohol labels in 43 countries. ''It's time Australia caught up with the rest of the world,'' he said.
Which is complete bollocks. As parents say to children, if the other kids all stick their hands in a fire would you do it? Would you, Todd? Okay, scaling things up, if a majority of countries flogged people for alcohol consumption would you want Australia to do it too? Besides, your maths is wrong. There are between 193 and 203 countries depending on how you choose to figure it, meaning that if 43 have alcohol health warnings Australia is currently one of the 150 who do not. Hardly catching up with the rest of the world when only a minority are doing it, is it?
Widely welcomed by health groups was a proposed system of ''multiple traffic light labelling'' giving red, amber or green lights for various nutrients such as fat and sugar.

Such a system should be voluntary, the panel found, but would become mandatory if manufacturers were making a particular health claim about their product, for example that it was high in calcium and good for bones.
Oh, God, not the fucking traffic lights again. And voluntary? As in this kind of voluntary?
Today’s consultation document will say brewers and distillers must publish health information on all bottles and cans of wine, beer and spirits.
The document will outline three options: that drinks firms voluntarily comply and print the warnings; that they be forced to do so by the Portman Group, the industry’s regulator; or that they will be forced to do so by law.
These are options? Like fuck are they. The industry may choose option 1 voluntarily, or the regulator will impose the terms of option 1 on them, or it will get the government to impose the terms of option 1 even more forcefully. This is fucking Mafia stuff: one way or another the choice is as false as offering any colour providing it's black. The whole consultation document exercise is just meaningless propaganda, a pretence at having a discussion over a policy that has already been decided upon.
That's the kind of voluntary that was being talked about in the UK last year.

Needless to say the drinks industry here, unlike their UK counterparts last February, aren't taking this lying down. Oh, no. They girded their loins and rolled up their sleeves in preparation to fight this tooth and na... oh.
... brewer Lion Nathan, which promised to ''voluntarily adopt consumer health messages that support responsible drinking choices, including during pregnancy''.

''Because we believe this is the right thing to do we will take these steps regardless of the pending government response to the report and the passage of enabling legislation,'' the company said in a statement.
Some days I fucking despair for the human race. Did I mention that?

Can I just ask something?

Click for linky


Hoist on their petard

Via Leg-iron I see that a council is telling its drones slaves serfs employees that any talking, tweeting, Booking of Faces etc that isn't strictly work related is verboten and if they want to do it then they should clock off first, just like the smokers are made to (my bold).
The email states that if workers want to hold conversations about issues such as the weather, babies or holidays - they should clock out.
It also warns against social-networking, sport or fashion websites, looking at photographs and posting adverts on for-sale or wanted websites.
It reads: “Staff should log into systems first thing and not "catch up on gossip".
Smokers are required to clock-out when they want a cigarette. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect you to clock-out if you wish to have a 10-minute conversation with a colleague about the weather?"
And cue the professional offence and indignation.
Ged Craig, the GMB Union representative, said the message was a "disgrace".
He added: "It's ridiculous and a disgrace - it is suggesting that if, for example, you are standing in a queue for the photocopier having a chat you should clock out."
And where you you, Ged, when smokers were being told they waste time? Were you there pointing out that with any number of tasks it's quite possible to smoke at the same time? When the smokers had been herded out of the building did you note that they could use the opportunity to discuss work related matters, and that it would therefore be little different to, oh I don't know, say having a ten minute conversation about the weather while you're doing some photocopying? You may personally have felt that way, Ged, but I couldn't find any evidence online and I certainly don't recall the GMB Union speaking out along those lines.

Not surprisingly when a union starts to grumble, the council has shown its spine by backpedalling furiously.
Dr Jason Gooding, the Council's deputy chief executive, said the matter was an "isolated incident" and lessons would be learned.
Doesn't say anything about the policy being reviewed though.
"On this occasion the approach to managing staff has fallen a little short of the high standards the city council has rightly come to expect of its team leaders and managers.
"We will be working with managers and staff in revenues and benefits to ensure that positive lessons are learned following this experience.
"This is an isolated incident and does not reflect the management style we are working hard to develop at the city council."
Oh, do shut the fuck up. Jesus Christ, is there anything quite so tedious and shallow as one of these public expressions of regret and non-apology? Reading between the lines I'd say that the policy might not be changed but probably won't be enforced either. They've made two serious mistakes and they know it. First they forgot that the proven model, as with smoking, is to take away a little freedom at a time until suddenly people wonder where it went. The second is that after all these years of vilifying smokers you're inevitably going to cause offence among the junior ranks of the Righteous if you compare them to someone who likes a cigarette.

Still, as much as we can enjoy the moment I think smokers and those who support them probably shouldn't laugh too hard or too long. A better tactic would be to point out that smokers are already on the receiving end of such treatment, that those who are now upset didn't protest when it was the smokers getting it, but that all the same smokers are absolutely horrified to see that the same tactics that were used against them are now being applied to harmless watercooler gossip, brief status updates and surfing the web to find out if it's likely to rain on your way home from work.

Divide and conquer has been a very effective weapon for the Nannies and Righteous. Now that they're starting to get stupid enough to turn it on themselves the logical thing to do is to help the bastards pull the trigger.

Roobar or FUBAR

In a change to my scheduled ranting todays planned rant on soccer and misogyny is replaced by one about a Nanny state story that I noticed mid week and which has been jammed up my nose ever since, because otherwise I'd probably never get round to it. 

Nannyism occasionally seems to be less about making things safer than shifting the harm to somewhere that Nanny tends not to look at too often. So it is with the latest proposal of the federal Nannies, which is to ban roobars and bullbars. And for why? Well, as was the case for the bullbar ban in the UK and Europe it's all in the name of pedestrian safety, natch, but apparently it's also because the UK and Europe have banned them. No, seriously.
According to reports, the Federal Government is thinking of taking on rules adopted by European countries which were developed by the United Nations Economic Cooperation. These rules also ban things like Roo bars, nudge bars and the like.
Okay, but Europe is not known for having millions of bouncing animals with the road sense of retarded toddlers, each of which is capable of doing up to around 40 mph, can change direction very quickly and without warning, and is close to the weight of an adult human. Let me just show you this:

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Idiot du jour

James Glen is, depending on the source, a British national or an Australian resident, and he is the one currently attempting to explain to Chelmsford magistrates what the fuck he was thinking of when on Monday's Etihad flight from Melbourne to Heathrow via Abu Dhabi he got pissed and told a fellow passenger that he had a gun and a bomb, resulting in the plane being sent to the wilderness that is Stansted airport under the eyes of a couple of RAF Typhoons.
Two RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled to accompany the airliner before it landed shortly before midday.
An Essex Police spokeswoman said a 37-year-old British national was arrested at Stansted Airport.
She said: ''A 37-year-old man, a British national, has been arrested following an incident onboard an Etihad Airways plane travelling from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow."
An Australian resident has pleaded guilty to a bomb hoax on board a London-bound flight that sparked fears of a terrorist attack over British skies.
James Glen, 37, made the false claims on Monday on the final leg of a flight from Melbourne to London's Heathrow Airport, on the same day that 35 people were killed in a suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport.
Glen, who was "intoxicated", told a flight attendant that a fellow passenger had a gun and had "threatened to blow himself up", prosecutor Vivienne Perry said.
Good idea, James, you complete numpty. Way to go if stuffing up other people's travel plans was the idea, not to mention costing Etihad money and making the RAF use up some valuable fuel (they're on a 30 day account with the local Texaco these days, you know).
She said the diversion had a "considerable financial cost", including charges incurred from the military escort, additional fuel and the cost to other passengers who missed connecting flights from Heathrow.
And this could cost him in a big way.
Glen ... was remanded in custody until March 10, when he will probably be sentenced.
He faces up to seven years in jail.
Oh, yes, that. But I was thinking of something else. As I said at the start, he's being described alternately as a British national and an Australian resident. It seems he's from Ayr originally but moved to Australia, and although it's reported that he's lived here for twenty years and this was his first trip out of Australia since emigrating I haven't seen anyone say yet that he's a naturalised Australian. So it seems a fairly safe assumption that his family and friends and pretty much his whole life are all here in Australia. And now he's looking at a possible seven year sentence for being an überknob on a passenger aircraft, which seems unlikely to play well with the Australian authorities, especially if he never became a citizen.

Right now James Glen is in his late 30s and locked up in a country he hasn't set foot in since he was a teenager, and his biggest worry should be that 10,000 miles away the place he probably now thinks of as home might not let him back in.

PS - for JuliaM, I think The Mail will cover this story once they find a picture of a fighter plane that isn't a Typhoon. ;-)

Things I still don't get about Australia - No 32

An observation inspired by Nannyknowsbest, who notes that some councils are going to start rationing bin bags.
I see that some of Nanny's insubordinate and disobedient councils are ignoring Uncle Eric Pickles's recent request to resume weekly waste collection, and are instead implementing plans to ration bin bag collections to around 50-100 sacks per household per year.

It seems that around 180 or our "respected" local councils are looking into this plan, already being enforced in Broxbourne.

In Broxbourne families get one bag a week for general waste, a bag a fortnight for plastic bottles, a box for recycling and a green wheelie bin every two weeks for food and green waste.
I may have mentioned this before (oh, alright, I definitely have mentioned it) but refuse collection is a bit better here than where I used to live in the UK. We have a rubbish bin and a recycling bin like we did there but we basically chuck in absolutely anything and everything with a recycling symbol on it wit no sorting needed on our part. As long as you clean any food off it, in it goes. And unlike our old place in Blighty both bins are emptied weekly, and we don't get dragged from our beds by armed bin men in the middle of the night and taken off for re-education if we stick the bins out the previous night. Well, another big difference was made clear to me this week. One of our neighbours a few doors down put his bins out and one of them was so full the lid wasn't shut by at least 8 inches. Did the driver of the collection vehicle complain? Did he leave a fixed penalty notice on the bin? Did he empty some out so the lid shut? Did he refuse to take the refuse? As far as I can tell the answer is no to all of them, though I didn't see the collection take place. I went out and our full bin with the closed lid was still waiting to be emptied, as was the one down the road with the lid open at nearly 45˚. I came back and all the bins in the road were empty.

So what is it about Australian councils, all of whom are committed believers in warble gloaming and the rest of the doom laden planet death tripe trope, that they can make recycling both easy and not at the expense of normal garbage disposal? What is it about British councils that not only does this seem beyond them but they're now talking about rationing the fucking bin bags?

I have two suggestions. First, the EU. And secondly I suspect the councils here may actually give a shit about the place not looking like it's inhabited only by tramps.

More theatre or being practical?

While the MSM are short stroking themselves into an offence seeking orgasmathon over what a couple of old soccer players said about a female match official (about which I'll probably blog tomorrow) they're missing the opportunity to tell us how important it is in the wake of the Moscow airport bomb that airport security must be made even more ludicrous. They could have been pushing metal detectors in the car parks, fluoroscopes at check in, and the formation of orderly queues to see somebody with a vocabulary of under 100 words in his head and a speculum in his hand, just on the off chance that one or more of your body cavities are rigged to explode.* Frankly we should be grateful to Andy Gray and the other one whose name I forget for providing the perfect distraction. It's also gratifying to see that behind the security theatre there appears to be people ready to make a very hard decision if it came to it.
A man has been arrested after an Etihad Airways flight travelling from Abu Dhabi to London's Heathrow Airport was redirected when a passenger began making threats.

Two Royal Air Force Typhoon jets were scrambled to accompany the plane as it landed at Stansted Airport, north of London, about noon (UK time) on Monday.
Diverted north to Stansted and a fighter escort? Hmm. Looking at Google Earth and drawing a line (handily these are always Great Circles in Google Earth) from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow, which is apparently where Etihad flys into, I see they get very close to London, and I can well remember sitting in traffic on the A30 just by the airport perimeter and seeing the lights of three or four planes lined up to the east - over south London. Draw the line to Stansted instead and not only do you find it going well to the north of London but also over a much longer section of the English Channel. In other words if you really feel the need to shoot it down you keep it further from the capital and have nearly three times as much water into which to drop it.

Now maybe I'm reading more into things than there really is and going to Stansted is just to annoy the other passengers and because the nearest police station has the cells in the basement and those stairs, oooh, you wouldn't believe the number of times I've nearly come a cropper on them, I'd hate to think what it's like for someone wearing handcuffs, haha. But being terribly cold blooded and practical about it you'd hope that there is a plan of action in place in case someone does manage to take over an airliner and point it at prominent London landmark - David Cameron's forehead, for example.** Because if that's the plan then everybody aboard is dead anyway. They might be breathing and talking and wondering what's going on but their cards would already have been well and truly marked.

Obviously nobody wants to have to shoot down a passenger aircraft, and not least because at the moment the RAF would probably be forced to bounce a cheque for the fucking missile. Hopefully it never happens, but I'm glad that someone appears to have given it some consideration. That's awful but sensible. Now whoever it is, can someone get him to think long and hard about Domodedovo and look at the potential for casualties a similar attack would have in the shoe checking and gonad fondling queues in Heathrow.

* More than normal.
** Or possibly a high value target instead.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

So are the Queensland floods our fault or not?

It turns out that despite all that rainfall up in Queensland it looks like it wasn't as much as they got in the 1974 floods, and that for a big flood in 1893 might well have been bigger than either.
BRISBANE had more rainfall in the 1974 floods than it did in the latest episode, preliminary figures show.

And rainfall during the 1893 floods may have dwarfed both the 1974 and 2011 events.

The weather bureau on Tuesday unveiled rainfall comparisons suggesting the city falls were relatively light compared with '74. But the inland falls that caused the flooding of the Brisbane River were extremely heavy.

The bureau stressed all data was not yet complete.

But weather experts suggested "peak rainfalls from the 1974 event were substantially heavier than those in 2011".
So now, with tongue very much in cheek, I'm trying to fit this into the warble gloaming mantra of doom. Is warble gloaming "proven" because there was a big flood or is it "proven" because these three big flooding events show a trend of decreasing rainfall? Or, taking it as read that either will do for the purposes of selling the AGW scare, does it depend simply on whether the person asking the question is more worried about droughts or more worried about floods?

Australia Day

It's Australia Day and a public holiday here so don't expect much out of me today if the weather's half decent. Maybe I'll do something later since last I saw something that wound me up, but for now I'll leave you with a little taste of Oz. But you can get it in Tesco too.

The price of nico-hatred.

And for a change it's in pound and pence, and, thanks to the PFI system, it's also fucking extortionate. The whole thing is the usual litany of waste but this one stood out.
A hospital which charged £52,000 for a job that cost £750. Demolishing a shelter for smokers resulted in the PFI contractor charging £2,600 a year for the “extra cleaning”.
Profit from hatred and denormalisation, eh. Marvellous.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A losing gun battle

I've said more than once that Britain's handgun ban - gun bans anywhere really - are no barrier to criminals, starting back in March 09.
... let’s say [a criminal] really want[s] a gun. Well since they’re planning to break laws about killing people should we believe that the law banning guns is going to put them off for one nanosecond? If a gun is what they really want then won’t they simply try to get one (or more) illegally? It’ll be harder, but how hard is it really? Currently this guy is on trial for ordering gun parts from outside the UK and having them mailed – yes, mailed – to him. He says he planned to kill himself and while he may well honestly not have intended to hurt anyone else you have to wonder a bit about his state of mind. Still, the point is that he succeeded in getting a couple of guns and was in the process of getting at least one more. This kid bought a Taser, illegal under firearms laws in the UK, on holiday and simply brought it home. From time to time investigative journalists in the UK have shown that getting illegal guns is far less difficult or expensive than we’d like to think, and I think it’s safe to assume that the Northern Irish Peace Process didn’t allow legal ownership of the weapons used to kill two soldiers (and injure a couple of pizza deliverymen) and a police officer recently. So illegal guns are there for those who really want them.
And should we be surprised when it turns out it's really not that hard to get a gun into Britain, lots of guns even, as long as you dismantle them and put the parts in different bags.
London and Washington were forced to hold crisis talks after the arrest of a private security consultant accused of trafficking more than 80 handguns packed in his hold luggage.
Steven Greenoe, 37, was stopped by security staff on at least one occasion when screening detected "multiple firearms" in his suitcases.
But he was able to talk his way on to the flight from Atlanta to Manchester and is believed to have delivered the weapons to criminal contacts in Britain's North West.
US court papers obtained by The Times allege that a number of Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistols were offered for sale at up to £5,000 a piece in Britain a week after they were bought by Mr Greenoe for $US500 each in a North Carolina gunshop.
Police chiefs across Britain were given a detailed briefing just before Christmas on the hunt for 60 weapons, including more than 20 Glock pistols and more than a dozen Ruger handguns, that are still unaccounted for. Five guns have been recovered in the UK and ballistic tests show that one was used in a drive-by shooting in Manchester last October.
After consistent success in driving down gun crime [Ha - AE] the discovery that criminals have found a source of powerful firearms has alarmed police.
Mr Greenoe was arrested in the United States in July, with 16 pistols in his suitcases, after a British-led investigation that began when police in the North West recovered a number of new handguns.
... He was able to exploit relatively lax security at the local airport, Raleigh-Durham international, by dismantling the guns and distributing the parts among several suitcases. On each trip the cases were checked on to a domestic flight to Atlanta then transferred to a Delta transatlantic flight to Manchester.
So, much like the guy from my first blog on guns who was simply ordering the parts and putting them together to make a complete gun, all this Greenoe bloke had to do was to take the guns apart so they didn't look all that gun like anymore. And with that sort of cunning who can possible blame the people who's job it is to screen bags?

Dismantled Glock 17 - none of the parts look anything like a gun, eh?

So the fact that Greenoe got through Customs on multiple occasions while a couple of years ago someone was having gun parts posted to him, along with the rather important detail that the investigation began not with Greenoe being caught at the airport but with the recovery of US bought guns that were already in Britain, the obvious conclusion would seem to be that they can't thoroughly check every single one of the millions and millions of pieces of luggage and mail entering the UK. Even if you can solve that problem the article implies that this means of gun running is unusual and that most guns come into Britain from Europe, which means it's not just millions and millions of pieces of luggage and mail but also millions and millions of pieces of freight as well. On top of that you need to consider than while Britain might not feel like a large country it's pretty big as islands go and has more than 11,000 miles of coastline. Is it all watched all the time? Is there nowhere you could sneak in by boat? I doubt it, and it's probably worth it if each trip you can drop off a few dozen guns worth five grand each to Britain's criminals. And even if you tackled all of that successfully it's still possible to make a home made gun - primitive and risky for the user, sure, but still a gun. Do you think not one single criminal in Britain has ever Googled that? No? Me neither.

What all that means is that you simply cannot keep guns out of the hands of criminals. You just can't. If they want them they will get them, and while there's a limit to what the police can do about it the important thing to remember is that the law can do even less simply because criminals don't obey it.

So think on those laws that in the name of keeping everyone safe prevent law abiding British citizens from having a gun but are fundamentally incapable of preventing criminals having them. And ask yourself what the hell they're for.

The next big thing in Australia.

Women's cricket.
AUSTRALIA has restored some much needed cricketing pride with the women's team wrestling the Ashes back from England.
Ricky who?

Quote And Anecdote Of The Day

BoJo in The Teletubbygraff:
...I will greatly miss my cousin Alan [Johnson], not just because he is a nice guy but also for the satisfaction I used to get when I saw a headline saying "Johnson in new gaffe" and realised it wasn't me.
Anecdote at the Real World Libertarian.
In another age when we were the Progress Party, one of us recommended a film as, "should be compulsory viewing," only to get several replies telling him, "Don't tell us somethings compulsory you authoritarian prick."
Made Oi larf anyway.

Monday, 24 January 2011

When do people get ownership of their own bodies back?

I ask only because New South Wales seems to have decided that it owns a bit more of its female citizens than it used to, and it's a part that I'd have imagined most women would have said is absolutely theirs and nobody else's.
From March in New South Wales, although not in Victoria, it will be a crime to enter into a commercial surrogacy agreement ... punishable by two years' jail and a $110,000 fine.
Yes, ladies of New South Wales, your government owns your uteruses. Well, what else do you call it when someone has the final say over the use of something if not ownership? And in fact it's not just the women living there that the NSW government doesn't like to have making money with their reproductive systems. From what I can see the law applies to NSW residents seeking a surrogate rather than the surrogate themselves, and this is to stop people hopping on a plane and paying a few thousand bucks to someone in India or elsewhere. Get caught at it and that $110,000 fine might blow anything being saved for the baby's future and then some, and that's assuming they don't simply jail the parents and take the baby into care. Not saying NSW would do that sort of thing but I suspect the childcatchers of the UK would.
"If we are banning commercial surrogacy in Australia why would we allow it to take place somewhere else?" [says Community Services minister Linda Burney]
I've got news for you, Linda. It's not your fucking choice to make. You lot get a say over New South Wales, and I'd suggest far too big a say already, but that's fucking it. You do not get to determine what people are allowed to do with their bodies in other states and you sure as hell don't get to in completely different countries.
... Linda Burney, introduced the legislation extending the ban on commercial surrogacy to overseas arrangements. She was concerned not just about poor women from third world countries being exploited...
And if it's entirely a personal choice with no exploitation involved, what then? You've just done some Indian woman out of a decent amount of money with which she could have done all sorts of things for her own family. She's not being held down and raped for this, she's being paid. Exploitation? You might see it that way but she might see it as a simple commercial arrangement that she's quite comfortable with, and might see laws brought in by some hand wringing white do-gooder projecting her own values as the actions of a patronising, spiteful, racist bitch who's still got a touch of the White (Wo)man's burden.
... but also about the welfare of the child, especially when the surrogates are also donating the egg.

"I believe very much that a child has an absolute right to know who they are and where they come from and that's not possible if they're a surrogate child from overseas."
It's not about what you believe but about what the parties involved believe. For what it's worth I'm kind of inclined to agree but it's not up to me either. Nor is it as simple as a child's right. Does the surrogate not have a right to take the money and just go if that happens to be what they want? Don't they have the right to state very clearly that they're not after a relationship but a cheque? Look, if they want to swap email addresses and have some kind of, I don't know what you'd call it, some semi-family abroad who send birthday cards and photos then fine. But if the surrogate actually wants to avoid that then what about her rights?

See the clash, Linda? Probably not because like so many politicians you are obsessed with rights and give no thought at all to liberties. If you lot just stayed out of the way then the child would naturally have the freedom to ask and to seek out the surrogate if that's what they want, who in turn would have the freedom to try to avoid being found, again if that's what they want. And vice versa. This isn't good enough for politicians who, in the interests of fairness and impartiality, tend to take sides without even realising they're doing it. And then they just fuck things up for everybody.

And do you know what the weirdest thing is? As the only place where even the street trade is almost entirely legal New South Wales has the most liberal prostitution laws of any Australian state. In short they have no problems at all with a woman using her vagina to make money, but if she starts thinking a few centimetres further up then the government steps in and takes over.

Not your womb. Theirs.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Here we go again.

What the fuck is it with Unite? I couldn't care less about British Airways, not least I've flown them and they were Bloody Awful, but can't the union see that they won't get better as a company or as an employer if it's crippled and bankrupted through strike induced losses? I really can't add anything much to what I said here and here apart from this: if I was job hunting in the UK at the moment I'd avoid any industry where Unite have a big influence. Not because I'm anti-union as such but because 'Pyrrhus' Woodley and his bruvvers and sistahs seems to think that actual destruction of the company is an acceptable price for victory over the bosses.

Satire? Reality? It's getting hard to tell sometimes.

From Newsbiscuit.
As the number of unemployed climbs steadily to top 2.5m, three people made redundant by Hampshire County Council in the latest round of cuts have chosen to focus on the positives and turn entrepreneur by establishing their own start-up local authority.


And while Yake is deliberating issues and Sharp is reviewing reports, their other partner, Mike Roscoe, tables proposals and drafts memos for the other two, rejoicing in the lack of red-tape. ‘Look at this,’ said Roscoe, pointing proudly to a hand-written sign next to the light-switch in the meeting room asking people to turn the lights out when the room is not in use. ‘At Winchester it would’ve needed five signatures and a public tender to get that sign up, but at Independent Hampshire Council it took only an impromptu 90-minute discussion before consensus was reached, and by the end of the week the markers and paper were on order.’

Next up for IHC will be their first leaflet, and they can’t wait to get stuck in. ‘Mike’s already circulated a memo to get ideas for when we should start a discussion on the timing for the first meeting,’ gushed Mr Yake. ‘You won’t see initiative like that in Winchester!’
Actually I'd be prepared to believe you'd see initiative very much like that in Winchester.

More 2012 related arse gravy...

... I've just run across this piece of bollocks from a few days ago on A headline and bullet points read:
Tatooine's twin suns - coming to a planet near you just as soon as Betelgeuse explodes.
  • Betelgeuse losing mass
  • Explosion will create "new sun"
  • May be set for 2012 appearance
Oh, dear. I'm no astrophysicist, and I'd guess that neither is Claire Connelly, the borg who wrote it, but I am interested enough in this kind of thing to spot a few holes. First, and most obvious, should be that an exploding star hundreds of light years away doesn't mean a second sun coming anywhere in the same way that a roadside bomb going off in the 'Stan won't install another light fitting in your bathroom, which I imagine is why "new sun" gets quote marks after the headline. Second, Betelgeuse is indeed losing mass, just like every star loses mass once fusion begins. They do that, you know. Mass is converted into energy - heat, light, etc. Sunshine, basically. The more massive the star the faster it happens, and since Betelgeuse is pretty big it's losing mass at quite a rate, but all this has been known for ages - news, it ain't. And the possible 2012 appearance? Well, let's come back to that in a bit.
IT'S the ultimate experience for Star Wars fans - staring forlornly off into the distance as twin suns sink into the horizon.
Is it? Perhaps Claire has met more fans than I have but I'd have thought the ultimate experience for Star Wars fans would involve either light sabres, battering George Lucas unconscious with a Jar-Jar Binks figurine, using the Force to make things fly around the room, or Natalie Portman (Carrie Fisher in the tin bikini for older viewers). Two suns? Meh. Didn't Star Trek do it already? Oh, who cares as long as Natalie Portman shows some skin?
Yet it's not just a figment of George Lucas's imagination...
Why not? See this morning's blog.
... twin suns are real.
That's completely true.
And here's the big news - they could be coming to Earth.
That's complete bollocks.
Yes, any day now we see a second sun light up the sky, if only for a matter of weeks.
Which - and this isn't even a technicality here - makes it not a sun. Mister Sun shines for millions or billions of years, see? So that means that Mister Bright Light That Lasts Three Weeks Or So is not a sun, got it?
The infamous red super-giant star in Orion’s nebula - Betelgeuse - is predicted to go gangbusters...
...and the impending super-nova may reach Earth before 2012, and when it does, all of our wildest Star Wars dreams will come true.
Someone somewhere is probably expecting Natalie Portman wearing nothing but Vegemite, and will be terribly disappointed. Personally I lean towards the Jar-Jar themed violence towards George Lucas. I know for certain that I'll be disappointed.

Now a word of warning is necessary at this point. If either of my readers (hi, Mum) know anything at all about very large stars then to protect your keyboards and monitors please put down any drinks or food right now.
The second biggest star in the universe is losing mass, a typical indication that a gravitation collapse is occurring.
I've already mentioned that stars are constantly losing mass and that mass loss on its own means little, but the second biggest star? In the whole fucking universe? Not even nearly, and someone must have let Claire Connelly know because at the end is a correction.
Addendum: would like to apologise for their error - as we all know, Betelgeuse is the second biggest star in the Orion constellation, not the universe.
Which makes it a bit like talking about the second tallest man in Redditch, but it's still wrong anyway because unfortunately Betelgeuse is not the second biggest star in Orion either. By mass, which for an article that goes on to talk about whether it'll become a black hole or a neutron star is probably most relevant, there are are several that are probably larger and at least two that are certainly larger. But if you want to talk volume then I think Betelgeuse is actually the largest of the lot (Orion, still, not the universe). Fifteen minutes of not particularly hurried Googling, basically Wikipedia entries confirmed elsewhere, was all the fact checking needed for this.

For what it's worth Betelgeuse is the second brightest star in Orion, and journalists may be the second brightest species that mostly walks upright.
When that happens, we'll get our second sun, according to Dr Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland.
I very much doubt he said exactly that. Perhaps something about a bright light rivalling the sun, but "we'll get our second sun"? Yeah, right.
“This old star is running out of fuel in its centre”, Dr Carter said.
“This fuel keeps Betelgeuse shining and supported. When this fuel runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly.”
When this happens a giant explosion will occur, tens of millions of times brighter than the sun.
 [If you're in the vicinity of Betelgeuse when it goes. If you're watching from Norfolk it might not appear quite as bright as that - AE]
The bad news is, it could also happen in a million years. But who's counting?
So maybe 2012 as per the bullet points at the top of the page, but also maybe 1,002,012? Could someone go check please?
Betelgeuse 'not likely to explode in 2012'

  • Cold water poured on twin sun dreams
  • Nobody can say for sure, though...
  • More like full moon than Tatooine sun
Ah, I won't stay up for it then.

Now I realise that the tone of the article is not supposed to be taken entirely seriously from the photo of Luke Guystalker (oh, come on, him and Han... you don't think he had hopes?) staring moodily at the horizon where t.A.T.u's orbs were sinking lower and lower.* Underneath it was a caption reading:
Rumours of possible wamp rats and Sarlaac manifestation yet to be confirmed.
Okay, I get the message. Tongue in cheek, fine. But what does that make the article? Because as well as not being serious it's inaccurate and talks about something that might happen next year or up to a million years time. It could have been an amusing but informative article about the various things that might happen to it when Betelgeuse does eventually go bang. Instead it's irrelevant, poorly checked, often inaccurate, and serves no obvious purpose other than having fun using the spelling mistakes to spot where someone at the Daily Mail has put together their own article with excessive use of copy and paste.

From on the 19th

From the Mainly Fail yesterday
The word, both of you, is neutrinos. Please, will someone somewhere in the MSM turn on the fucking spellcheckers.

* Yes, I'm determined to get everybody thinking of those films in a whole new way.

Strange sort of maths lesson.

I have no idea what sort of questions will be asked in lessons as a result of this.
Children are to be taught about homosexuality in maths, geography and science lessons as part of a Government-backed drive to "celebrate the gay community".
Lesson plans have been drawn up for pupils as young as four, in a scheme funded with a £35,000 grant from an education quango, the Training and Development Agency for Schools.
Among the suggestions are:
Maths – teaching statistics through census findings about the number of homosexuals in the population, and using gay characters in scenarios for maths problems;
"If Alan is being spit roasted by Brian and Charlie but all three change places every time and go at it twice a day how long will it take for them to get through a 12 pack of condoms? There is certainly no need to show how you arrived at your answer."

This is for kids as young as four, yes? An age at which homo-, hetero-, bi- or anything-sexual is meaningless. Oh, sure, kids that young might use gay epithets but without any real understanding of what it is they're saying. At that age just fucking tell them how to add up and subtract for Christ's fucking sake. You can leave it 'til they hit puberty to tell them not to beat each other up because someone thinks someone else is gay.


We're all doooooomed. Yet again.

Or so some say. However, I'm not going to rush out and blow every cent I have on every single legal and illegal high just to try them all before the whole place goes splat since one of them is the knobber responsible for Jar-Jar Binks.
Seth Rogen, a comedian and actor, said that he was left speechless by a recent conversation in which George Lucas, the producer of Star Wars and other Hollywood hits, told him of his belief that the world would end in 2012.
Rogen told the Toronto Sun: "George Lucas sits down and seriously proceeds to talk for around 25 minutes about how he thinks the world is going to end in the year 2012, like, for real. He thinks it.
"He's going on about the tectonic plates and all the time Spielberg is, like, rolling his eyes, like, 'My nerdy friend won't shut up, I'm sorry ...'
No, George. It won't, but watching the six and a half hours of furniture advertising you called the Star Wars prequels all in one go might make it feel like the world is ending.

Nor is George Lucas the only one.
Actor Ashton Kutcher is preparing for the end and has ramped up his workout routine to protect his family.
"I'm going to be ready to take myself and my family to a safe place where they don't have to worry," he told Men's Fitness. "All of my physical fitness regimen is completely tailored around the end of day," he explained. "I stay fit for no other reason than to save the people I care about."
And that extra fitness will come in handy, because when the sun rises on December 22nd it will no doubt shine down on Ashton Kutcher running around the shops doing all the Christmas shopping that he didn't see any point in doing up 'til then. Never mind, Ashton. You'll be able cheer yourself up by dropping the fitness kick, letting go and having extra Christmas pud instead.
Rapper Lil Wayne agrees with Lucas that 2012 will be the end of the world.
"The world is about to end in 2012," he told Bender magazine. "The Mayans made calendars, and they stop at 2012 ... The world is about to end as we know it."
Yes, they made calendars. So what? Ryan Air, who trump the ancient Mayans by knowing how to fly in big metal tubes even if they're not so clued up on landing the fucking things near the place you want to be, keep making calendars which stop at December 31st, but nobody - not Ryan Air and certainly not the Mayans - says that they believe this means the end of the world happens then. What they usually say is something like: "A little less clothing next year, please." And I feel this is partly because there's no logical reason it would, partly because, as Sadbutmadlad points out over at Anna Raccoon's, apocalypse theories come and go but as far as accuracy goes they've not got a great track record, having so far predicted precisely square root of fuck all, and partly because the Mayans say all this is bullshit.
... the prophecies are news to the modern Maya of Guatemala and Mexico who use a different calendar system and are scornful of what they see as a sensational Western hijacking of their culture and traditions.
They believe that the end of the Long Count cycle – if it indeed does end in Dec 2012 – is simply the closure of one particular system of calendar measurement.
"There is no concept of apocalypse in the Mayan culture," Jesus Gomez, head of the Guatemalan confederation of Mayan priests and spiritual guides, told The Daily Telegraph...
No doubt what will really happen on Dec 22nd next year is that George, Ashton, Lil Wayne and everyone else in the Make-Tom-Cruise-Look-Sane club who thinks that the ancient Mayans could predict the end of the world, even though if shown a block and tackle would have complained that it was too blunt to sacrifice anyone with, will convince themselves that the calculations are off and the end is coming later than thought. Doomsayers are known to do that sometimes. So here's my prediction. In 698 days time when the world wakes up as normal up to 35,000 books are going to start to be re-written, possibly arguing that our stupid advanced society miscalculated the records of the wise and all-knowing Mayans and that they actually meant 2020, or 2062 or maybe even later.

Mark it in your calendars, folks.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Award presentation time.

And it's a special recognition by popular acclaim - okay, by me, Caratacus and Max Farquar - of a unique talent.

microdave? Step up, mate, this is your night.

You can pick it up any time you like.

Speech! Speech!

I'd avoid the calzone.

Via Max Farquar, whose restaurant recommendation made oi larf and puts him on the blogroll, even if evidence from the comments shows it to be a Pshopping job.

I note also that Max credits microdave with the spot. That guy has to be in contention for the title of best non-blogger not actually blogging in the blogosphere. Someone could design a Total Politics type banner for him to put up on the sidebar of hi... oh.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Is litigation too easy? - UPDATED.

If you can sue for something which beyond dispute is entirely as a result of your own poor choices then I'd say yes, it's getting that way.

"She admits she was walking through the mall - she actually works there - looking down, trying to text, and just falls right into the fountain."
A fall as a result of not looking where she was going into a fountain which she presumably knew about since she works there. Is there any way you can argue that it wasn't her own fault?

Not really, so how come she's threatening to sue?
Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49, was texting on her mobile phone when she tumbled head first into a shallow fountain in a mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, this month.
A video of her fall, which was captured on the centre's CCTV cameras, was posted on YouTube and has since attracted more than 1½ million views. Laughter could be heard on the footage while it was being played.
Marrero, who works at a store in the centre, told US television network ABC's Good Morning America she had initially laughed at her fall but added that no one had taken her feelings into consideration when they posted the video on the internet.
Awwww, diddums. Yes, it's that permanently giggle-worthy litigation for hurt feelings again. Thank you Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49. I haven't seen one of these for a while and I always find them amusing.
"It shows in the video. Nobody went to my aid. Not one single person ... it could have been anybody's mother. It could have been a senior citizen falling and would they have gotten the same treatment as I did?" she asked.
Aside from the fact that nobody should be responsible for you except you, Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49, from the video there seemed to be nobody nearby you who looked like centre security anyway.* And you were up again in a couple of seconds and climbing out again in another four or five. Who the fuck were you expecting, Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49? Superman?

But of course what this is really about is Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49 did something stupid and embarrassing and which made people laugh, and that it's now on the internet making even more people laugh. And she's feeling the humiliation.
"I didn't get an apology, what I got was, 'At least nobody knows it was you.' But I knew it was me."
And now millions know it was you, Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49, and not because millions have watched the various YouTube clips of it either. You see that is as self-inflicted as your hilarious text message fountain dive. For example, take me sitting here more than 12,000 km from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. If I'd have seen the video, which isn't guaranteed, I'd have laughed and carried on with my day completely oblivious as to the name or age of the person in the clip. But, Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49, because you've decided that people finding it funny is an excuse for you to threaten legal action the video will be seen more widely and your name, age and face are known as well, as is anything about you that's in the public domain. So instead of being an anonymous woman who fell into a fountain through her own fault we now know you as Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49, a born again Christian with a criminal record for theft and currently awaiting trial for five charges including receiving and theft by deception, and who fell into a fountain through her own fault and was dumb enough to draw yet more attention to the fact by getting a lawyer involved.

In a way that's as funny as Cathy Cruz Marrero, 49 falling into the fountain in the first place.

UPDATE - Via Down With That Sort Of Thing, further evidence that litigation is too easy. An Australian community warden called Geoff Stephens suing his council employer because people keep saying things like "G'day, sport" to him and making kangaroo jokes. Look, folks, this must stop. It is wholly inappropriate to call Mr Stephens "sport". The correct term is "yer big sooky la-la" and must be used from now on.

* On the subject of centre security a security guard has been fired for releasing the CCTV footage, which if his/her contract said they weren't allowed to do is probably fair enough.
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