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

Sunday, 27 February 2011


Oh no, a computer game. We're all doomed.
A new ‘sexy party’ computer game has outraged parents with lurid adult content which they claim will encourage orgies and under-age sex.
The Nintendo Wii game We Dare has styled itself ‘sexy’ but has only been given a 12+ rating.
Many parents insist it is not suitable for a console which is popular with families and teenagers.
So? Don't let them play it then.
Parents have described the 12+ certificate as ‘appalling’ and ‘unbelievable’.
Laura Pearson, 52, from Birmingham, said: ‘I have a 13-year-old daughter and if I knew she was playing such a highly charged sexual game with boys, I would be appalled.'
So? Don't let her play it then, and tell her she can't visit friends who have got it. She does still rely on you for everything, right? Hint hint.
‘Nintendo Wii’s are family consoles popular among children and youngsters. This is totally inappropriate.’
What, Laura, and your reaction isn't when you have the simple alternative of not buying it and not letting them play it?
George Hardy, a 46-year-old father, said: ‘No wonder we have problems in society with unsafe sex and under-age sex when kids can get hold of games like this.'
At the risk of repeating myself, if you're worried about your kids then don't let them play it. You're not everybody's father, George.
‘Imagine a room of testerone-fuelled teenagers playing this, something could get out of hand. It sounds drastic but I could see it.’
So don't fucking let them play it.
Rachel Caswell, 28, who has a ten-year-old daughter Heidi, said: ‘Luckily I won’t have to worry about this for a while but to think that in just two years, my little girl could legally play this game is just unbelievable.'
Jesus Christ, do you lot want David Cameron to personally go round the shops and take every copy off the shelves, or fucking what? Are you so weak and devoid of any fucking instinct for parenting that you've incapable of handling this in any way except whining to the Mainly fucking Fail? The fucking word you need to use is 'No'. It's two letters, adjacent in the fucking alphabet, forming a single, easy to remember syllable. Stop crying to Nanny and fucking learn it.

'Kinell! Can't people fucking do anything for themselves anymore?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The inevitable AV post...

... was making my brain bleed, but fortunately via a comment over at Devil's Kitchen I've found something that covers everything I was thinking of and a couple of other points beside. Pop over and have a read when you've a spare ten minutes.

Intolerance needs to have a price

And that price must be the business of those who smoke, those who can't bear the self righteous intolerance of the anti brigade and those who recognise the truth that Martin Niemöller laid out for us all those years ago: that when the hate fuelled are finished with one group of people they'll move onto another, and then another and another. The march is relentless and sooner or later we will all hear the boots marching in our direction, unless we stop them. And a good way of doing that is to starve the bastards of what they need most - money.

Since the anti-smoking zealots set the ball rolling and are furthest along in their aim of reshaping a free would into one under their authority they deserve much of our attention, and since they, like most of the rent seekers and parasites who want to control others' lives, rely largely on government largesse one obvious way to hurt them is to pay less tax. Zaphod, Smoking Hot and Pat Nurse are among those who bring their smokes in from abroad, while Leg-iron is progressing from rolling his own into growing it as well (and not the only one as Pat Nurse blogs here) and has also been a leading light of what he calls Smoky-Drinky Place. All of which is very admirable of them, not to mention practical too, but obviously is only a way of fighting back for those who are smokers. For those of us who simply stand with them for whatever reason it's no weapon at all (well, the drinky bit of Smoky-Drinky Place is for those who drink, which is probably a healthy majority).

So what can the rest of us do? Well, we can still pay less tax by looking into all legitimate means of minimising our tax exposure, and if we are also drinkers looking at home brewing has got a lot going for it. Drinkers should be aware by now that they're the next in line anyway. But we can all refuse to deal with the antis and their supporters as a matter of personal choice. Which brings me on to a comment left by a fella by the name of Kevin on a post about anti-smoking zealots that I wrote a couple of weeks before Christmas, and in which I gave the example of a bloke in Ireland called Phillip Tobin who flat refuses to hire smokers:
... according to the firm concerned, not only might they take a smoke break (seems prejudicial) but even if they don't they will smell and get ill, and they must be stupid - no more evidence being required for that last half-formed thought than that they chose to continue smoking.
“I would consider smoking as interfering with standards. I’m talking about smoking breaks but not only that - their smell, their intelligence, their illnesses are all factors. That’s why the line was there. Smokers will not be employed, so there is no point in coming for an interview.”

Interviewed on an Irish radio station, Tobin added that anyone who could continue to smoke despite health warnings was obviously not intelligent enough to work for his company.
This reminds me of the kind of spittle-flecked nicophobic hatred that Duncan Bannatyne spouts, the anti-smoking zealots favourite kind of anti-smoking zealot - a convert. Dear fuck, save me from people like Duncan Bannatyne and Phillip Tobin, and as Kevin suggests a step in the right direction is to give the bastards the flick and take your money elsewhere:
Oddly enough I was looking at possibly employing Tobin's company (Dot Com Directories) for my company. We had earmarked 50,000 quid for the project but now, sadly, I'll have to take his company off the list of potential suppliers because... well anyone stupid enough to make comments like he did is obviously not bright enough to handle our needs.

Please pass the word so others are not tempted to employ a company led by such a cerebrally challenged individual.
Good for you, Kevin, and sound advice for the rest of us whether we smoke or not. If there's a practical alternative to doing business with a rabid anti-smoker, take it. If you're giving someone a voucher for a weekend away or looking to take a break yourself don't choose one of Duncan Bannatyne's Strength Through Joy health camps clubs (even though at least one of his places does have smoking rooms*) but choose a competitor.

In short, starve the antis. They may get off on hatred, but they need our money to do it.

* Not, I notice, for disabled customers. I wonder what would happen if a disabled smoker wanted a room there that they could smoke in.

Oh no, not again

Last November Ken Frost at Nanny Knows Best blogged on Oldham council's decision to ban swimming goggles for health and safety reasons. And in Wales in June 2009, and Swiss Cottage in 2008, and Gloucester in 2005. It's been a recurring theme so he probably won't be shocked when he reads that the pool gauleiters are at it again:
Children have been banned from wearing goggles during school swimming lessons for fears they could hurt themselves.
Pen-pushers have slapped the ban on the swimming aids amid "fears" a pair could "snap" onto a child's face too hard, injuring them.
Parents branded the ruling by Oxfordshire County Council's healthy and safety brigade as "nutty" and "extreme."
I agree. I'd suggest that parents take no fucking notice whatsoever and stick to doing what they think best for their child.
However, bureaucrats defended its no-goggle policy claiming that it reflected national guidance provided by sports bodies.
Firstly, it's only fucking guidance, right? It's not an order. And secondly, 'national' is not the same thing as 'correct'. If national guidance said that it is imperative for the wellbeing of children that they swim only with heavy weights attached to their hands and feet would you do it? Would you? Of course you fucking wouldn't. Thirdly, national guidance takes no account of the individual and their requirements because, y'see, it's national - it can't possibly account for the tremendous variation inevitable in a country of more than 60 million people. And fourthly, looking at where the national guidance comes from it's bullshit to suggest that it's in anyway obligatory.
The ASA [Amateur Swimming Association] said it did not have a strict policy on goggle use, but offered guidance to pool operators and parents.
The STA [Swimming Teachers Association] said children should be encouraged to not wear goggles in swimming lessons, but recognised they may be necessary for medical or other reasons.
See? Only one of the two even feels goggles should be discouraged and neither of them have any legal authority whatsoever. And finally, just shut your fucking head holes and open your eyes long enough to take a look at people who swim a lot.
Clockwise from top left: Australia's Stephanie Rice, Grant Hackett and Leisel Jones, Britain's Darren Mews, Australia's Libby Trickett (coincidentally an appropriate reaction to banning goggles) and Ian Thorpe, and Britain's Caitlin McClatchley
Oh gosh. They all wear fucking goggles, don't they? In fact look at all the aquatic sporting events and you see that nearly all the competitors who spend a lot of time in the pool use goggles with the exception of water polo, in which their faces seem to be out of the water most of the time, and diving, which involves falling in as stylishly as possible before getting straight back out again. I think it's probably safe to say that the world's swimming stars do not all choose to wear goggles because they think having a line around your head is a good look.
Children will now need a medical reason for them to be allowed to wear the protective eye wear in the pool during school lessons.
No, you nannying twunts. You lot should need a specific reason for an individual child not to wear them, but if the parents are happy then you must pipe down and get lost. And unlike some other councils who've provided excuses for this ridiculous desire to ban anything that might be an issue Oxfordshire won't even do that.
A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council refused to divulge the specific reason why goggles had been banned from its swimming pools.
So referring back to my earlier suggestion that parents simply ignore the pool gauleiters I'd add a second suggestion - that they refuse to divulge the specific reason why they're telling the gauleiters to fuck off. Or just wait until someone claims their eyesight has been damaged by pool chlorine caused by the lack of protective goggles. Then everybody will be told they can't swim without them.


Some people really are weapons grade cunts

Despite liberally sprinkling my posts with Anglo-Saxon on many occasions I try not to put swearwords in post titles too often if I can help it. However, it's hard to avoid it when I read something like this.

Click pic for link - also at The Telegraph

The needle on my personal misanthropy meter went so sharply to the right of the dial that it broke the stop off, smashed through the side of the case and is now stuck a half inch deep in the wall. What kind of colossal übercunt does that? What kind of fucking parasite sinks that low? Actually using the word 'parasite' is a little unfair and I should probably apologise now, just in case I've offended any cases of amoebic dysentery that resent the comparison with cunts who take off their own kind in time of natural disaster. They might live in shit and spend much of their time making their victims feeling wretched and miserable, but at least parasitic amoebas don't sink to doing it to their own kind.

Of course the unspeakable fucking mutations that were responsible almost certainly didn't know they were looting the home of someone who'd died, that they were stealing the possessions of her grieving family. But they surely would have known that some people had died or at least that it was a strong possibility. The fact that there had been a fucking earthquake can't have escaped their attention, for Christ's sake. It's not a huge mental leap to imagine that when looting damaged and unattended homes you might possibly be only one remove from fucking grave robbing.

Obviously I hope that they're caught, that the New Zealand police and prosecutors nail them with a completely watertight case, and that the court chooses to impose the most severe sentences that it can to reflect the utter depths of bastardry and cuntishness that is using the damage caused by a fucking earthquake as an opportunity to steal. That's certainly what ought to happen in a civilised society, but failing that some poetic justice would be appropriate... is it wrong of me to hope that a fucking building falls on them too?


Friday, 25 February 2011

New cognitive dissonance meter needed

Mine exploded after reading this at Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.
Chronically deluded neo-prohibitionist Deborah Arnott has popped up in The Guardian whinging about an article which stated the obvious about smuggling (ie. higher taxes = more smuggling). Apparently basic economics do not exist on Planet ASH. The headline says it all:

It is a myth that high duties on tobacco lead to increased smuggling

It would be an insult to your intelligence, dear reader, if I explained why Arnott is talking rubbish. It is Tim Worstall's unreconstructed view that Ms Arnott should shut up and put the kettle on. I also recommend reading the disparaging comments beneath the article itself.

As Snowdon notes at VGIF (and do read the rest of his post for a more complete view of why Deborah Arnott is talking utter bollocks according to news of baccy smuggling on her own organisation's website) you need to be incredibly dense or lying to peddle this crap, and he doesn't think she's that dense.


Not entirely sure what's going on at the moment but for some reason the blog doesn't appear to be displaying properly in any browser. The banner image is AWOL in all but Safari, while in all browsers a small image with the about me text has been replaced with a missing image tag and the background image has disappeared. If anyone can still see things as they usually appear I'd be interested in knowing just so I have more info for Blogger/Google.

Libertarians and cats - UPDATED

Before a cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend
Some little token of esteem
is needed, like a dish of cream.

T. S. Eliot
Why is it that so many in the libertarian leaning bit of the blogosphere have or like cats? I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes to think that they're natural libertarians but I've been watching ours today and I'm not so sure anymore.

Take the Non Aggression Principle, and take the fact that one of our cats just chased the other the length of the house for no readily apparent reason. And no, it wasn't a game if the hissing and growling was any indication.* Cats like to have a territory and defend it aggressively, and what's that if it's not protectionism? They hunt and kill not because they're hungry but because it pleases them to do so. And the remains of those garden creatures whose last sight in this world was five kilos of striped doom are often brought to us, their human companions, for... well, for reasons best understood if you're a cat, obviously. What have you got there? A battered but still slightly warm mouse? Why, thank you, it's what I've always wanted. It'll go just perfectly with the partially dismembered frog you gave me last weekend.


And then there's the whole thing with the domestic arrangements. We feed them, sometimes with food from our own plates - one of ours will literally take food out of your mouth.** We keep them in our houses and often provide per beds especially for their exclusive use, and they still want to get on our beds and sometimes even in our beds. That we might already be in there is irrelevant. We're expected either to make room, stroke them, be a warm thing to sit on, or hold a book nice and steady so it can be nuzzled, butted and face-rubbed, and more private activities are permitted only if you don't object to miaowing and scratching from the other side of the door. We are their healthcare provider and transport, as well as worming and flea control service. We praise them for being naturally clean animals but as often as not end up providing them with their own toilet facilities so they don't have to go outside if it's raining. And who cleans those toilet facilities and refills it with fresh litter? Yeah, that's right.

And in return for all this they repay us by restricting the choice of furniture to something that is either claw-proof or too cheap to matter, and looking out for our safety by making us turn lights on while wandering the house at night so we can avoid any strategically placed hairballs and piles of sick. I'm sure they would keep mice and rats out of the granary if we had a granary, but since we don't the arrangement seems a little one sided.

Nature's libertarians? Orly?
Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy....Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people (expensive girlfriends, for instance) that it's often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.

P. J. O'Rourke
Perhaps the appeal is choice. Without having a practical need we choose the company of these preternaturally self-centred creatures knowing that we'll have to provide so much for them. But what we get back is knowing that they stay with us because they choose to, and that they'll seek out a hand to nuzzle or a lap to sit on not because they're hungry or want warmth, but simply because they feel like being near us. So tomorrow morning when the retarded, howling vomit boxes decide they want breakfast about 45 minutes before either of us are really ready to wake up they'll be forgiven. Because this evening they will, as usual, follow us into the bedroom and curl up by our knees, happily burbling away to themselves as we fall asleep.

What it comes down to is that when a creature that's both utterly self-absorbed and afflicted with raging attention deficit disorder chooses to spend its time in your company of its own free will, it's paying you the highest compliment it can.

The dog, on the other hand, just thinks you're the boss.

UPDATE - Awwwwwww, cute!.

* Normally they get on but now and then a small war happens. Before long things are peaceful again. Cat lovers with more than one probably know this.
** Mrs Exile said I should never have been lying face up on the floor with bits of medium rare fillet steak held between my lips in the first place and that I have nobody else to blame.

Crystal meth

Apparently it can break your nose.

Nutter vs Nutter - UPDATED

Apparently Gaddafi is blaming Osama Bin Laden for causing unrest in Libya, though I have no idea if this means he's madder than we all thought or if it's a tactic aimed at trying to get western support (in which case he might be madder than we all thought). But it's make a great special for a Celebrity Deathmatch comeback.

UPDATE - hanging on but looks like he's struggling to keep his grip.
In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak's first address to his people was defiant. By his second speech, he tried to be conciliatory, to present himself as an elder statesman.
Col Gaddafi did the same, moving from irate father wagging his finger at his disobedient teenage subjects to saying all he ever wanted was to be a loved and respected constitutional monarch with no real power, like our Queen.
Later, there was an even more direct echo: Mr Mubarak told ABC News in the US he was "fed up" with ruling his country and carried on only to stop it falling apart. Col Gaddafi yesterday said he was not "interested" any more but would stay out of patriotism.
If he hasn't settled on a destination for an indefinite holiday he probably needs to start thinking about his preferences for a wall with a nice view.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

And on the subject of crazy...

... this:
A website that claims Christchurch's devastating earthquake was an act of God triggered by the tolerance of homosexual behaviour in the city has been denounced as ''despicable and appalling'' by New Zealand's gay and lesbian community.
The website ''Christchurch Quake'' - registered on September 20 to an address in Utah in the USA - suggests the destruction was a result of ''lesbians running loose on the South Island as if they own the place'' and general ''amoral'' behaviour.
Among other inflammatory accusations, the website alleges that the earlier September earthquake, which coincided with the start of Gay Ski Week in Queenstown, was a warning from God to ''End the Evil - or else!''.
Er, they do know that several churches have been very badly damaged and the cathedral hit so hard the spire was demolished and appears to have collapsed on some people, probably tourists. If a god did that it was pretty fucked up of him.

Upping the crazy quotient - UPDATED

I still haven't decided if Colonel Gaddafi's story is going to end, as Bill Sticker thinks, like Ceausescu or if rather than the wall and the firing squad he'll do a runner like Idi Amin, but one thing I am pretty sure of: when you get the air force in to strafe your own fucking citizens it's not likely simply to blow over. A return to the status quo is almost certainly no longer an option and forgiveness is going to be a commodity in very short supply. Yet with other countries that Gaddafi might run to experiencing protests of their own are his options drying up? Would those who might be inclined to take him worry that after what he's done it might inflame things in their own countries or, if no trouble has started there, spark off a wave of protests? Bill Sticker's prediction is looking more and more likely.

UPDATE - and should we take this at face value?
"I have proof that Gaddafi gave the order on Lockerbie," said the minister, who stepped down on Monday to protest the ongoing violence in Libya.
According to Abdeljalil, Gaddafi "ordered Megrahi to do it (the bombing)," and had worked hard to secure his release to ensure that his role in the plot remained secret.
"To hide it, he did everything in his power to get Megrahi back from Scotland," the former minister said.
I've had my doubts for a while, especially the way so many fingers were pointing at Syria for the Lockerbie bombing until Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and suddenly there was a need for Syria to be more or less on side, or at least not at odds, not to mention the way al-Megrahi was convicted without anyone troubling themselves to give him a fucking jury trial. Certainly doesn't make the Libyans innocent but it's always troubled me. But if now there really is proof...

On the other hand what that proof might be is never expanded upon so we'll just have to see if anything more comes out about it.

Unintended consequences

Victoria is one of those places that have decided that people conceived through sperm donation have a greater right to know their biological parents than that biological parent has to anonymity, and predictably enough it's creating problems with supply because there is also a ban on importing, er, gentlemanly fluid. Not into the country, just into the state.
VICTORIA is so short of sperm donors that some women are flying interstate for IVF treatment, prompting calls to ease restrictions on importing sperm.
Fertility doctors say demand for sperm has surged since laws giving single women and lesbians access to IVF were brought in last year, with some patients waiting up to nine months.
The removal of anonymity has also made some men reluctant to donate, and restrictions that mean they can only give sperm to 10 families have also increased the need for more donors.
Now I'm quite sure that these rules and laws were well intended. I'm sure that public health issues were in the thoughts of those who banned imports, and that human kindness was considered when anonymity was scrapped (though considered only for one party), and that simple fairness and possibly even a touch of liberty was the motivation for allowing single women and lesbians to have IVF. But surely, surely someone involved could have noted that the combination of the three was going to push demand up and reduce supply and lead to what can best be described as a black market for wanking, with all the problems that implies.
With just 184 registered sperm donors left in Victoria, fertility doctors say some patients are resorting to DIY inseminations using unscreened sperm, which carries the risk of infection.
Melbourne IVF director John McBain said the regulator was being too strict with the rules.
''The shortage is as bad as it's ever been and when the wait is so long to get access to a donor it just pushes it underground again and people seek their own remedy using uncounselled, unconsented donors and unquarantined sperm,'' he said.
''The worrying risk of that is chronic viral illness infection with either hepatitis B or HIV because a lot of single women tend to source gay men as their donors.
So the combined effect of controlling supply on health grounds is forcing desperate women to unhealthy sources. Oh, great. Give yourselves a fucking pat on the back, you idiots.
Federal laws prohibit paying donors for sperm, although reimbursing costs is allowed.
But payments will be made for sperm and it's naive to think otherwise. There's already a black market for breast milk as I blogged last September. Can anyone seriously think it isn't going to happen with sperm? If there's a demand someone will supply it, legally or illegally. That's just how people are.

Fortunately we have the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority on hand to solve the problem. Oh, wait, no. They're just explaining why we have to have the bloody problem and put up with it rather than go back to anonymous donations or import sperm from elsewhere in the country or even, such as a clinic in Brisbane, from the USA.
''The guiding principles of the act are that the welfare of persons born as a result of treatment is paramount, and they have a right to information about their genetic parents.
''There would be no regulatory body in the US ensuring that their donor's details are kept up to date because there is no central register like there is in Victoria.
''There's a growing body of evidence that young people want to have the choice to obtain information about their donor when they become adults, so it not just the matter of supply.''
Oh, well, fine. It's not going to solve a damn thing unless a lot more men answer the predictable request for more sperm donors at the end of the article, but I'm sure knowing why it has to be this way will make everyone feel a lot better.



I don't know how well known Beached Az is outside this part of the world but it's basically a few Aussie guys gently taking the piss out of the Kiwi accent with a series of cartoons (beginning here) about a whale stuck on a beach in New Zealand. It's only ever been a light hearted giggle but the latest cartoon has a serious side.

UPDATE - missing link fixed.

Fake Charities - UPDATED

I've been meaning to mention that the Devil has up and running again, and having been prompted by this over at JuliaM's I've been over for a look. Nice look and easy to find the submission page, improved from the last version of Fake Charities by allowing the submission of genuine charities.* Perhaps the Devil is planning a Wall of Heroes to show the occupants of the Rogue's Gallery how it should be done. Anyway, having downloaded their last couple of reports for a comment at Julia's I decided to submit The Save The Children Fund, the particular not-quite-a-charity-really that Julia was writing about, to Fake Charities. £170.9m income in the 9 months to Dec 31st 2009, £90.9 of which came from institutional grants made up from both private and government sources. The lion's share - about £75m - is government though, with the two largest sums coming from the UK government and the EU. The UK's grants of just over £19 million (nearly all from the Department for International Development**) are more than 10% of the "charity's" income on their own, but when you consider that the UK contributes significantly to the UN's funding and the less said about its EU contributions the better, and also that many UK councils give grants as well, the British taxpayer is actually being taken for almost certainly in excess of £20 million. The previous couple of year's financial activities show that this isn't a one off so I submitted them to in the fake category.

And if anyone from Save The Children or who supports them, or who even just happens to be a fan of Princess Anne, wanders past and reads this, and gets angry about me submitting them as a fake charity because they do very good work you know, Exile, you curmudgeonly cunt, I'll say this: yes, but that's not the point. They may do outstanding work but what makes them a fake charity isn't their work but that a large chunk of their income comes out of the involuntary contributions of taxpayers. I'd go so far as to say that they are particularly fake since they receive money taken by governments all over the world from their taxpayers, not just Britain's. If they in fact do good work then it is sadder still that they're doing this because when people become aware of it genuinely voluntary donations may be affected. I for one will not give them a cent in future because while this continues as far as I'm concerned I've already donated, and not by choice (yes, the Australian government is a contributor of grant money too).

Does a "charity" in receipt of tax money paid reluctantly under threat of violence deserve further voluntary donation from whatever a government chooses to leave in the pockets of the poor bastards who worked for it? I would say no, and so the message to anyone calling here collecting on behalf of such a "charity" is a simple one:

Same gate you came in, now sod off and tell the higher ups that I'll start giving again when they stop getting governments to take it by force.

UPDATE - I was going to include this recent pithy comment on the subject but I couldn't remember the source off the top of my head and it was late. After a little googling just now I see that it was Guido.
A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend.
That could go on tee shirts.

* At least I don't recall it being there before but I may be mistaken.
** Recently I read Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo in which she tears apart the thinking that results in things like the DfID and proposes ways in which poor nations can develop themselves. Highly recommended reading if you haven't already.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gadaffi does Downfall.

H/T Old Holborn


From comments here.
Being a democracy does not necessarily mean having some libertarian fascists in power all the time.

the people of Venezula chose their leader. And good luck to them, Chavez has inherited a typical, libertarian-conservative basket case
Steven Dobbs
"Libertarian fascists"? "Libertarian-conservative"? Is this cognitive dissonance or just being a bellend who uses "libertarian" as a term of abuse without understanding what it means?

New Zealand earthquake

My thoughts this morning are mostly with those over the ditch. I know the Kiwis get a lot of shakes and no doubt build accordingly and are good at dealing with them when they come, but it's clear that this has been a nasty one and there have been more than a handful of deaths. May it go no higher than the 60 or so that it's reached so far. Good luck, Kiwis, get your remaining missing back safe and sound.

A question

If warning other drivers of speed traps is illegal in Britain, as the recent case in Humberside and this 2004 one in Hampshire show, then why has nobody ever been prosecuted for sticking up a sign like the one on the left? Why has nobody attempted to prosecute the manufacturers of various detectors or GPS based preprogrammed warning devices? And why have neither North Lincolnshire Council nor the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Safer Roads Partnership been prosecuted for publishing the locations where they operate the fucking things? If you're reading this from either of those areas perhaps you might let the police know that a crime has been committed and cite the precedents, though of course we all know that precisely cube root of fuck all will happen.


One a minute

That's apparently how many people entered the UK permanently during the NuLab years. One a minute - boggle.

In principle I'm one of those people the fearsome and ambushily predatory JuliaM refers to as the open borders crowd, and I'm not ashamed. Free movement of goods, money and people across borders is no bad thing at all subject to a couple of important conditions. First, coming for money is fine if it's money they're going to work for, but newcomers don't get to just rock up and get handouts off the local taxpayers. Fuck off. Second, hanging onto your culture is okay but newcomers don't get to just rock up and order the existing inhabitants about because their own culture doesn't meet the migrants standards. Fuck off again. Thirdly, and this isn't so much an issue with the migrants themselves as their countries of origins, it needs to be a two way street. If those conditions aren't met then open or even reasonably porous are not at a good idea at all.

In recent years Britain hasn't really met either of the first two conditions and is a bit iffy about the third, and yet we see that the grinning mutation and the snot scoffing madman who took over from him let in as many as four million people in the largest influx in more than a thousand years.
Official figures on Thursday are expected to show up to 5.5 million non-UK born people arrived in the country as long term migrants between 1997 and 2010 – the equivalent of almost one every minute.
Around 2.3 million left over the same period meaning the UK population increased by around 3.2 million as a direct result of foreign migrants.
Plus the illegals, which might be the thick end of another million. But that's not really what I wanted to talk about.

What I want to draw attention to is the effect of me coming to Oz and Bill and Mrs Sticker going to Canada and the other 2,299,997 who all decided for one reason or another to up sticks and fuck off to somewhere better. Most of us will have had little or no expectation of benefits where we were going, which meant that to migrate we needed to bring with us either skills or money or both. In short it seems likely that Britain has exchanged 2.3 million mostly productive people plus their accrued wealth for 5 to 6 million people who, even if they were all too proud to take handouts and preferred to beaver away 16 hours a day, will often have come without a pot to piss in. And of course we know that nothing like all are too proud to take handouts. Meanwhile the Exile and Sticker households are happily contributing to the Australian and Canadian economies having already taken money with us out of the UK economy.

We've known for a while that this was not mere incompetence but a deliberate policy, supposedly to speed up the multiculti train wreck and possibly to fill the place up with newly enfranchised voters with a reason to feel grateful to the Labour government. And now we know the numbers too, which must be as bad as anyone suspected and probably even worse. Even I, as a believer in the ideal of open borders for free market and libertarian reasons (as very distinct from the shambolic and politically motivated clusterfuckopalypse that has been the reality), find these figures appalling.

So if, or more likely when, you see a piece in Comment is Moderated saying how Migrationwatch UK have it all wrong and they're a bunch of heartless right-wing bastards just point out that at least one person who favours the principle of open borders, really really open borders, is utterly horrified by the stupid, lopsided way it's been implemented by the left to suit their political agenda instead of something vaguely analogous to fucking reality. And point out that he'd be a lot more horrified if he was still there.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Bad ideas don't just go away - UPDATED

Back in June 09 I made various allusions to Minority Report when I blogged on claims that UK police were arresting youths just to get DNA samples on file. That rant took place at a time when IngSoc in their NuLabour clothes were still having fun and games, and the most egregiously authoritarian cock dribble seemed to be made attractive to the government if whoever was selling the idea said it used a database.
Officers are targeting children as young as 10 with the aim of placing their DNA profiles on the national database to improve their chances of solving crimes, it is claimed.
The alleged practice is also described as part of a "long-term crime prevention strategy" to dissuade youths from committing offences in the future.
In English this translates as "we assume that you will commit an unspecified crime at an unspecified date in the future, so in order to solve it more easily then we'll have your DNA right fucking now, sunny Jim."
"It is part of a long-term crime prevention strategy. If you know you have had your DNA taken and it is on a database then you will think twice about committing burglary for a living.
"We are often told that we have just one chance to get that DNA sample and if we miss it then that might mean a rape or a murder goes unsolved in the future."
Fuck, if you're going to think along those lines why not just declare the whole country a prison now. Anyone with a penis - potential rapist. Anyone with a vagina - potential prostitute. Anyone with two working arms that can stand upright - potential murderer. Anyone good at maths, which probably eliminates 75% of people under 30 or so - potential fraudster. Anyone who buys a pack of fags - potential drug addict and dealer. The Department of PreCrime is working hard on the red ball / brown ball thing to ensure your future safety, but until it's working properly you're all considered potentially guilty of something.
And the red ball / brown ball thing just got slightly closer to reality, though rather than precognitive mutants it centres on brain scanning young children to identify those with criminal tendencies before they're even of school age.
More researchers believe that violent tendencies have a biological basis and that tests and brain imaging can pick them up in children.
They argue that, by predicting which children have the potential to be trouble, treatments could be introduced to keep them on the straight and narrow. If the tests are accurate enough then a form of screening could be introduced in the same way we test for some diseases.
Okay, I'm prepared to believe that there may be something in the idea that some people are just wired to be criminals and I don't disagree that a pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but surely that doesn't mean that the nature vs nuture argument is one sided.

The tests are back, Mr and Mrs Scum, and I'm afraid there's some bad news.
The brain scans indicate that your boy is a financial prodigy and we feel he's
likely to move through a stage of teaching economics at degree level before
winding up advising the Bank of England.
But we've 'ad 'is name dahn fer Parkhurst since before 'e was born.
I know. We're so terribly sorry.
The theories were put forward by two leading criminologists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.
Washington? Holy shit, it really is like Minority Report.
Prof Adrian Raine, a British criminologist, argued that abnormal physical brain make-up could be a cause of criminality, as well as helping to predict it.
His studies have shown that psychopaths and criminals have smaller areas of the brain such as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, both of which regulate and control emotion and behaviour. He also believes that a lack of conditioning to fear punishment, which can be measured in toddlers before disruptive behaviour is apparent, could also be a strong indicator.
Dr Nathalie Fontaine, who also spoke at the conference, argued that children as young as four exhibited “callous unemotional traits” such as lack of guilt and empathy that could also suggest future bad behaviour. Linking these features with “conduct problems” such as throwing tantrums could be a strong way to predict who could be anti-social in later life.
Both speakers said that identifying these issues earlier could be important in stopping children from becoming criminals.
Perhaps, but if you're not really fucking careful how you go about it you're also sticking the mark of Cain on the kids before they ever do anything.
Dr Raine, a former Home Office psychologist who works at the University of Pennsylvania, said therapy could include counselling to counteract innate behavioural problems and boosting the brain with drugs or foods rich in Omega 3.
Dr Fontaine, from Indiana University, said the work showed that punishment did not necessarily work and that reinforcing positive behaviour rather than punishing bad might be the solution.
Which may be true, but don't you think that it might occur to someone that simply sticking a Peckam Rolex on them at an early age might be cheaper and a lot less effort? And let's just remind ourselves of how much actual crime they'll have committed at this stage:

Oh, yeah. That's right, almost certainly bugger all because we're talking about four-year olds.
Assessments of callous unemotional traits and conduct problems were based on teacher questionnaires when the children were seven, nine and 12. Information was taken from parents when the children were as young as four.
But it seems that according to Dr Raine all this is for the greater good.
Dr Raine said he acknowledged the ethical implications of treating children before they had done anything wrong, but argued that “biological” causes of crime could not be ignored.
Who's saying they should be ignored? I'm certainly not, but I do think we should worry about the potential for labelling people as naturally criminal to act as a self fulfilling prophecy. How broad a net is being cast? How many of the people we see walking around every day, almost all of whom will be as law abiding as either Prof Raine or Dr Fontaine, have brains that naturally make them - what was it again? - unemotional and lacking empathy? Quite a few, I'd guess. We've all known some cold fish but I'd bet few of them are also criminals. And where does free will come in? How should we see someone who is unemotional and lacking empathy yet law abiding? Are they all criminals who just haven't happen not to have committed a crime yet, or are they law abiding people who've chosen not to? And how should we see someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and has a record longer than the arm inside it? Do we say it's not really their fault because they can't help the way their brain is, or do we never ever forget that they always had the choice not to commit a crime? I'm not saying that there's no value in this at all but we're in a very iffy area here, on the one hand risking ruining innocent lives by labelling them in a way that would cause outrage if applied to gender, ethnicity or sexuality, and on the other hand further diluting the concept of personal responsibility by allowing criminals to externalise their guilt on yet another thing.

The bottom line is that the only way we can tell for sure that someone has criminal tendencies is that they have committed crimes, and even then we have to hold to the idea that all are innocent until proven guilty. Brain scanning kids to try to identify future criminals goes beyond simply turning that around to guilty until proven innocent. It's guilty before a crime has even happened.

It's the Department of Pre-Crime.

UPDATE - Mrs Exile's reaction to this when I told her a short while ago bears repeating. Her exact words were: "Oh, fuck off. That's the modern equivalent of having your bumps felt." She's got a point, though I have to admit the obvious comparison with phrenology hadn't occurred to me.

The Arnott dream

Holy Shit Moment of the Day - UPDATED

Via Uncle Bill, Colonel Gaddafi or however you spell it has reportedly done a runner to Venezuela. I hadn't got round to blogging on the protests in that part of the world reaching Libya and how the bastards began shooting in response, but I'll admit that my thoughts on it were that if one fucker was going to tough it out, if there was one man crazy enough to say fuck it and try to hang on in there, it would have been the Colonel with the funny 'tache who founded the famous Qatafi Fried Killing restaurant chain.*

I bet I'madinnerjacket won't be needing suppositories for a while.

UPDATE - now reportedly claiming that he's still in Tripoli and bagging anyone who says he isn't. However, I suspect that even if he hasn't moved an inch just the rumour going around that he'd fled the country will have done him some damage, not to mention increased bog roll orders from a few Presidential palaces elsewhere.

* It's Window Lickin' Good.

Blogroll change

The Wasp's Nest has been on my radar and RSS for a little while after I saw something on someone else's blogroll that took me over there. This morning in response to my postlet on the Bahrain Grand Prix being cancelled the bastard put my keyboard in serious jeopardy with booby trap attached to this comment:
Maybe it is still on ;)
Which linked to this picture.

Thanks for the sinus tea flushing, Wasp. It's not the best use of a cuppa but I'll put you on the blogroll for it anyway.

Shock news: something that isn't smoking causes cancer too - UPDATED

Unfortunately it turns out to be oral sex, so presumably the public health killjoys will see Steak And A Blow Job day ruined forever and the ladies will never see Fur Burger At The Y Day happen at all. It always has to be something pleasurable that gives you cancer, doesn't it? It's never paying your taxes on time or using a parking meter, is it?

UPDATE - apparently it's Cake and Cunnilingus Day for the ladies, which just shows how sadly out of touch with reality women can be sometimes. It's not so much the arriving on his tongue aspect that's wildly optimistic as the expectation that he's going to be good at baking cakes as well. Except for the lucky few a supermarket eclair is likely to be as good as it gets, and depending on how it's being held I'd suggest checking carefully before biting into the end.

UPDATE 2 - via The Filthy Engineer, it turns out that that's not the only thing you can eat that's supposed to give you cancer. The thought occurs that about the only thing all these experts have categorically said is good for us is breast milk, and somehow I can't see that working out too well.

I want bitty!

Facetweeting - UPDATED

Bill Sticker wishes he could get rid of it and Longrider doesn't get it at all, but I wonder if it's because social networking, while it may come in handy now and again in places like China or Iran, is mainly used in our nominally free nations by bullshitters. At least it seems to be in Australia.
The Telstra survey showed:
ALMOST half of 18- to 30-year-olds admitted using the Facebook Places "check-in" feature - which allows mobile users at a location such as a bar of cafe to let others know where they are - to make themselves look good
ONE in 10 regularly fake where they are in a bid to improve their social status
A THIRD of Gen Ys confessed to downloading quirky iPhone apps designed to be seen by others rather than be actually used
THE same number admit to claiming Facebook or Twitter posts passed on to friends as their own in an effort to appear clever
ALMOST 70 per cent of those surveyed believed their friends use Facebook Places and status updates to appear cooler than they really were.
To paraphrase Rick Deckard, I didn't get the appeal before and I twice as don't get it now. I've never understood what Facebook offers that I can't already do with things that came on my computer when I bought the thing, and if those exploding children 10:10 people from last year. As for Twitter, it's probably being a smart phone refusenik that's stopping me from tweeting, but even if or when I finally cave in and get one I still can't see me joining in. If I'm not at the computer I probably haven't got time and if I am then why tweet when I can just blog? And above all there's that character limit - how is a medium which restricts you to 140 characters any good for an in depth discussion of, say, these lyrics?

And that's before the news that half the time it's the online version of the fish that got away.

UPDATE - this isn't the only reason I'm a smartphone refusenik, but it is one of them.

Motor racing news

The Bahrain Grand Prix is being called off due to protests, and already that makes it more interesting than last year's race.


In the comments on Katharine Birbalsingh's blog yesterday on why she feels she can't call herself a Tory is this gem by someone called edtheted:
'Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.'
At least one has already said he'll steal it and I'll probably use it as well one day, forgetting where I saw it. Just gold.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Attention Salad Dodgers

And I mean stand at attention suck that gut in you fat waste of space don't you eyeball me sunshine everybody down right now and give me fifty how dare you be that fucking shape! You have absolutely no excuse since your caring food gauleiters, through the auspices of the equally caring Department for Health and its minister, Andrew Lansley, are making sure you can't even get it wrong if you eat out a lot. In fact fuck it, fatsos, give me another fifty!
Restaurants and work canteens will put calorie counts on menus and food manufacturers will promise to cut down on salt and artificial fats under a set of agreements to be announced today.
That one doesn't count. ALL the way down, tubs.
The three voluntary “responsibility deals” agreed with the food industry are aimed at helping the public to eat more healthily, in a drive to tackle the growing problem of obesity among both adults and children.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, believes that firms will be more likely to set ambitious targets for themselves if they are negotiated on a voluntary basis.
If firms break their promises, the Government will however consider taking compulsory measures.
Remember the kind of voluntary arrangement suggested by The Portman Group for alcohol, which is that they volunteer or get made to do what they should have volunteered to do? Exactly, my flabby friends, so you won't be able to claim you didn't know how many calories the cake was once we get daily intake limits in too.
Rather than a “nanny state” approach, he is keen to arm the public with the tools they need to cope in an “obesogenic environment,” where people are bombarded with adverts for unhealthy food.
See, you're not being nannied. We just know you can't help yourselves so we're doing it for your own good.
In parts of the United States, restaurants are obliged by law to provide diners with the calorie content of their meals.
See? We're not being nasty authoritarian cunts at all. That's the land of the free over there. It must be, 'cause they sing about it. So do as you're fucking told or else it's the trucks, right?

Now then, have we all finished? Alright, you lot at table 19 can just carry on and we'll get round to you in a minute. The rest of you may now have your allotted lunch. Would you like to see the menu or the specials board?

Kraft durch Freude!

Satire and reality - the line between them is blurring again

I laughed when I first saw that. Did you count all those bins? Nine of them. Nine! In addition to the real black, green and blue ones, which seem to be regular rubbish, garden waste and recyclables respectively, they got those two donuts to agree in principle to another one just for coloured paper, one for tins with labels on, one for plastic that's had food on it, one for 'wet food' waste and - and I don't know how those two householders didn't twig that they were having the piss taken out of them in buckets at this point - one each for lightly soiled toilet paper and bio-hazardous waste. Did it escape their notice that everything that currently gets spread across three bins of about 120 litres each (which are the capacity of our bins - these look the same size or possibly slightly larger) was going to get spread across nine? Didn't it occur to them that unless they were going to begin producing a lot more rubbish or store what they produce a lot longer than a week that going from 360 litres capacity to well over 1,000 would just mean nine bins with a small amount of garbage in each on collection day? And the shitty toilet paper and the lovely sounding mixture of nappies, dog shit, used tampons and dead rats, how could that not have rung alarm bells? What did they think can be done to recycle any of that, for Christ's sake? Take used toilet paper. At the moment it gets strained out (stop laughing at the back) at the sewage treatment plant along with similar matter and I assume it's either sent to landfill - composting on a grand scale and therefore right on - or simply incinerated. Well, instead of incinerating it we could try recycling by first using using heat to sterilise... oh, hey, it's on fire now, how'd that happen? Hahahahaha, 'kinell.

Well, all I can say is thank fuck it was just a piss take by a couple of libertarian leaning comedy magicians who are sceptical about nearly everything, and that there's no way this would happen in real l ... oh, no. From nanny Knows Best
The Taxpayers' Alliance has done a survey that shows certain councils are pushing their recycling mantra to extremes.
Seemingly the average council now expects residents to sort their household waste into four bins, bags and caddies.
Okay, well that's twice what I have to deal with, but it's still only four.
However, Newcastle-under-Lyme wins the prize for taking the recycling mantra to the extreme by insisting that is hapless citizens sort their waste between nine containers!
Nine, just like in the clip. Attention Penn & Teller: did you put these witless fuckers up to it?
Twenty other local authorities (including Chelmsford, Aberdeenshire, Guildford and Middlesbrough) give residents seven or more containers.
Not for the first time I'm going to explain why recycling works where I am in Melbourne. We have two 120L wheelie bins. In one of them goes all the regular household rubbish. In the other goes paper, glass and anything, and I do mean anything, that has a recycling symbol on. Both bins get wheeled out for the garbage and recycling trucks the night before collection day, and you don't get fined or your collection skipped if it's not in precisely the normal place (ours is somewhere different each week depending on where cars are parked) or if it's too full for the lid to shut. And that's about the full extent of the chore unless you include washing food off anything that goes in the recycle bin. In short, it's not fucking hard which is why everybody gets on with it without making waves. Oh, and I can't imagine people would stand for bins remaining un-emptied for a fortnight to help ward off warble gloaming when it's going to make hot summer days stink and encourage vermin and blow-flies.

Aside from the fact that local services anywhere cost enough anyway without making the person who pays do half the bloody work as well, most people are just too damn busy to deal with over complicated recycling rules and six or seven or eight or even nine bloody containers. If you make it easy it'll happen. If you make it so that not doing it is the path of least resistance then people won't do it. It's that simple.

And of course it might all be bullshit anyway.

Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded...

A fact that the BBC might prefer not to dwell on when it comes to discussion of licence fees is the fact that it's a very successful commercial international media organisation. Being a Brit abroad I'm reminded of this every time I open a TV guide and see BBC programs in the schedule - glancing at today we've got Three Men in a Boat and The Graham Norton Show on ABC1 and Who Do You Think You Are? on SBS, and off the top of my head I know that tomorrow there'll be Doctor Who on ABC1 and old Top Gear repeats on one of the digital commercial channels (which has also bought the current series as well as the format so it can do Top Gear Australia as well). Obviously they're making a few quid out of this to add to what they get from all the book and DVD sales. Oh, and the licence fee of course. And how much money they have sloshing around has been brought home to me just now when I read that they've recently found £42 million down the back of the BBC Breakfast sofa to spend on a 25% stake in the Lonely Planet.

To add to the 75% stake the corporation already owned.
THE BBC's commercial arm says it has bought the remaining 25 per cent stake in travel publisher Lonely Planet that it did not already own for STG42.1 million ($67.31 million).

BBC Worldwide said it had this week acquired the final part of the Australia-based company that produces the popular travel guides, dubbed the "backpackers' bible", after purchasing 75 per cent of the firm in 2007.
And it might well be a decent investment, but looking at the Business section of the Beeb's website there's not a peep about it. Whether that's because they think it's not newsworthy or because when they want £145 off of everyone they'd no more want to shout about this than they would if they'd given it to George Allegation to snort lines of coke off of Kate Silvertongue's backside.

The Grauniad do mention it, but rather than asking why, when they're clearly fairly a commercial operation that's at least moderately flush, their broadcast buddies the BBC are allowed to continue feeding parasite like off of Britain's poor TV owners The Graun's business reporters would rather focus on Barclays, which in 2009 made £11.6 billion profit and used perfectly legal tax minimisation strategies to reduce it's corporation tax bill to £113 million (to howls of protest in the comments, natch).

2009, The Guardian is unlikely to mention, is the year after the Guardian Media Group paid only £800K tax on profits of 300 million pounds.

Motes and beams, fellas, motes and beams. Barclays is using legal means to keep its tax bill down, just as GMG did, and has also stood on its own feet as corporations as supposed to rather than feed of the taxpayer's back as so many other banks have done to survive. And as the BBC has been doing for decades.

Hypocritical wankers.


Well, if they're going to block content hosted elsewhere...

A little less conversation, a little more action please - UPDATED

Why the Cobbleition are announcing this as if it's something they've just discovered is beyond me.
Almost three million people are employed by local borough councils after an “explosion” in “crazy non-jobs”, the Coalition has claims.
Local authorities have taken on an extra 180,000 workers since 1997, with the total number not employed in traditional front-line roles now standing at almost 750,000, according to ministers.
The Coalition is highlighting the figures at a time when councils are threatening to cut basic services and increase charges because of cuts in central government funding.
All true, but be fair, fellas. The Taxpayers Alliance and various parts of the media and blogosphere have been banging on about this for years. Even now the non-jobs are still being advertised in teh Graun - looking now I find ads for a Prevention Key Worker for an unnamed public sector organisation's Youth Inclusion and Support Panel, and a Youth Offending Team manager for Pembrokeshire; a heap of assorted research jobs for The Work Foundation, "the leading independent authority on work and its future"; and something called a Change Manager for Essex County Council. I've read the job descriptions for all of these and mostly I have no idea what the fuck they're talking about. The youth stuff sounds like it's to do with reducing or preventing youth crime, which to me sounds like something the police should be doing with their share of the council tax rather than adding to the bill by getting the council to do it too. While much of the rest is just incomprehensible public sector jobspeak. Here's The Work Foundation on their requirements for a couple of the research jobs:
Our Ideopolis team is an important source of analysis and advice for the UK’s cities at what is a critical time for their economies.
Through our Bottom Ten Million programme, we investigate policies for labour market disadvantage, and the way cities and government can address in-work poverty and unemployment.
Our Cities 2020 programme focuses in the drivers of urban growth, and how policymakers can help cites thrive in the recovery.
We are seeking talented individuals to work on these exciting programmes. You will have strong qualitative and quantitative researcher skills and an interest in urban issues, labour markets and economic policy. You may already have been working as a researcher in a similar field for a couple of years, have equivalent academic experience or be keen to start your career in research.
We are seeking to develop and grow our already significant reputation for applied research in the area of ‘People Effectiveness’ with appointment of researchers to the team. You will have strong qualitative and/or quantitative applied research skills, and enjoy working on a variety of projects on the People Management agenda, including Health and Wellbeing, Future of HR and Leadership. You will have proven research skills and the ability to collect, interrogate and analyse data. Working in a lively and provocative programme that is looking at trends, not only in the UK but internationally, you will have a keen interest in the world of work and a desire to influence both policy and practice.
And here's the guff about Essex's Change Manager job:
You’ll play a crucial role in ensuring the changes we make are successful and sustainable. Uniquely, you’ll work across services – you’ll be a key member of the Transformation Unit, but you’ll also sit within a core business area undergoing change or re-design. Throughout the transformation process, you’ll be responsible for preparing the teams there for the impact of the improvements. Both leading and facilitating change, you’ll be required to work closely – and engagingly – with directors and managers, and a wide range of other people. You’ll support the business in developing change tools, lead change review meetings and provide strategic advice and support on processes, people and practice to key stakeholders. In short, you’ll make sure everyone is ready, willing and able to embrace change, and help make these improvements happen. You’ll enjoy a variety of unique challenges across multiple complex projects.
Passionate about achieving results and responsive to customer needs, you’re a bold thinker with a motivational and supportive approach. Educated to degree level, or with equivalent experience, you are a highly motivated individual with demonstrable drive and relevant knowledge. You have a track record of good experience and proven skills across the management of change, people, resources and projects / programmes. And it’s vital that you’re confident working with a wide variety of people.
When we realised that change was coming in the public sector, we acted fast. Our response was to embed an unprecedented transformation agenda – one with the scope and ambition to reach every part of the council. Our plan was to drive improvement across the council, at every level and in every department. In the way we think, the way we work, and the ways in which we deliver our services. We’ve made remarkable progress so far, but there is much more to do. This is why we need you.
See? Perfectly normal and understandable words artfully arranged into gibberish. If Essex Council is unable to explain what the Change Manager will actually do for the £35,500 to £59,500 they're prepared to pay then how can anyone, especially residents of Essex, know that this isn't yet another expensive make-work position being funded from the taxes of people who fucking work for a living?* And of course the crowning turd in the water pipe, to use General Melchett's legendary phrase, is that town clerks are still calling themselves CEOs and, despite cuts, still being paid more than the Prime Minister of the whole bloody nation (and, yes, that's in teh Graun jobs section at the moment too). Not that I'd go to bat for Cameramong and his pay packet but the idea that a town clerk with a flash job title is worth more is incredible.

And what are the Cobbleition doing about it now they have, after nine months in office, noticed this?
Bob Neill, the local government minister, said: “These figures reveal the explosion in town hall jobs and bureaucracy under Labour and reinforce the need for some councils to start cutting out middle management."
Yes, but what are you actually doing about it?
“Crazy non-jobs like cheerleading development officers and press officers tasked with spinning propaganda on bin collections provide no value to the public."
Yes, but what are you actually doing about it?
“Getting rid of the bloated bureaucracy that has grown in some elements of local government will ensure local authorities can protect front-line services.”
Okay, so are you actually going to do anything about it?
Yesterday, ministers seized on Liverpool city council’s decision to advertise three highly paid “non-jobs” on a day when it was announcing job cuts in other areas.
They were for a director of regeneration and employment on a salary of “up to £140,000”; an assistant director of adult services on £90,000 a year; and an assistant director for supporting communities, also on £90,000 a year.
Are you actually able to do anything about it?
Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, is demanding that...
Wait a minute? What happened to local government minister Bob Neill? Look, if Bob's simply going to leave it to Eric do we even need Bob? Why is there a Local Government minister and a Communities and Local Government Secretary? I spy an opportunity for savings, gents. Anyway, carry on.
Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, is demanding that councils “put their own house in order” before considering cuts to the front line.
He wants chief executives to take pay cuts, claiming that those on a salary of £150,000 can afford to take a five per cent cut, and those on £200,000 can afford a 10 per cent reduction.
This week it was disclosed that 220 town hall executives received a higher salary than the Prime Minister’s £142,500 a year.
At least 26 chief executives earned more than £200,000 last year and 1,000 council officials more than £100,000.
Oh dear. Apparently we need to ask Eric what we were just asking Bob. What the fuck, if anything, are you actually going to do about it?
Mr Pickles has also seized on figures showing that more than 15,000 council workers earn more than £58,000 a year. He is about to force local authorities to publish a list of the staff earning that level and above.
The Communities Secretary has published a new code of local government transparency to ensure that taxpayers can “look under the bonnet of their council” and see where town hall chiefs are spending their money.
Oh, Christ. It's like Labour never left, isn't it? Did you feckless twats dream up that yourselves or did one of your departmental Sir Humphreys reach into a drawer and dust off a plan drawn up for John Prescott a decade ago, itself possibly a redraft of something knocked out in John Major's or even Thatcher's time?

Look, if you really want this shit to stop then NuLab style edicts and codes of conduct are not the way. Surely you understand this simple truth when you yourselves point out that for the last dozen or so years public sector productivity has gone down as that of the private sector has gone up, while at the same time public sector wages have risen and overtaken those of the private sector. Christ, having a Local Government department at all is a NuLab idea - they created the bloody thing in the first place. Doesn't this give you a clue as to how things have got to where they are? Doesn't it hint that the creation of jobs, departments and functions that didn't exist 15 years ago because they were not and still are not needed is the root of the problem? New codes of transparency and repeated demands for the lunacy to end are not going to cut it. Either you order the councils to stop buggering about, which probably means little short of virtually disbanding them and micromanaging everything from Whitehall, or just give them all the rope they want and let them hang themselves.

Seriously, if you want them to stop wasting money just give all local council and authorities full control over their budget. Stop interfering with what they want to spend money on and stop feeding them money from central funds. Tell them you're going to scrap all the central government grants - not to mention NuLab's unneeded local government department that the Cobbleition have retained against all reason, which will be yet another saving** - and reduce tax accordingly, and that from the next financial year councils will be free of government interference and able to raise the revenue they think they need in whatever ways they see fit. Then sit back and watch what happens (from the back benches).

After some initial wild jubilation reality will dawn as councils suddenly realise they'll no longer have both the chequebook and the scapegoat of Westminster to fall back on, and will actually have to raise council tax and other local charges to politically suicidal levels if they wish to keep things going as they are. Massive piles of bricks will be shat in town halls across the land as the implications sink in. The majority of council funds come from Westminster which means if the taps were shut off councils would need to increase revenue their own sources, and suddenly the increasingly tricky job of justifying stuff like this
Among the jobs that have been spawned by the boom in “non-jobs” were a “bouncy castle attendant” on a salary of £13,000 at Angus council in Scotland and a “cheerleading development officer” in Falkirk.
to local voters gets even harder. Oh, sure, you can tell them that they're no worse off really. You can point out that the tax they pay to the government has fallen by roughly the same amount as local taxes have risen and that overall they're not any worse off. But the problem is perception. Councils spend about 25% of the public sector's total and get about three quarters of their money from the government, which means taxpayers will get about a 25% reduction in taxes to central government. But they'll probably barely notice that when the money they have to pay the council in council tax, car parking charges, business rates and so on will have to quadruple. Just keeping things that way will be a tough sell - creating even more bullshit jobs will be harder still. And the government will be able to stand back and tell angry council tax payers that it's not its responsibility any more, and that if they're not happy being bled white they should use the opportunity of the next local election to vote for people who will make it stop.

It's a nice dream but sadly it requires ministers with the balls to abolish their own departments and their own jobs, and a PM who's not afraid to cede both power and responsibility to the people at the sharp end. In other words David Cameron would probably have to put someone like Douglas Carswell in charge with instructions to be back on the back benches inside six months. Instead what we can expect is more talking and talking and talking from people like Eric Pickles and Bob Neill.

The King put it this way: it ain't satisfactioning anybody. And it's not helping get the rubbish collected either.

UPDATE - there's one here who was getting more than half a million.
Phil Dolan, 54, received £569,000 of taxpayers' money in salary, pension and redundancy payments after leaving his post as chief executive of South Somerset district council. He is now acting as a consultant for other local authorities.
Two other executives at the tiny council also received more than £300,000 each in salary, pension and severance payments last year.
It means every resident of the district paid the equivalent of £7 in council tax last year just to fund the three men's pay packages. Taken together, the payments represent the most dramatic example of local government largesse yet to be exposed.

* I imagine the Ambush Predator will be taking a whetstone to those fangs.
** This department has government jobs for no fewer than five MPs and a member of the Lords, on top of which there are two more in each of the corresponding departments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I'm not even going to annoy myself by trying to find out how many people the departments employ.

Energy problems solved - let's have Escherpower

Just needs a generator on the wheel and we're all set.

Well, it makes more sense than spending thousands having your roof kitted out with windmills and PV arrays that will take years and years to pay for itself, but I'm sure the loonier ecomentalists could still find something about it to hate.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Every silver lining has a cloud inside it

Who knew that finding the negatives in a good situation was a Belgian thing? Not me. I'd probably have guessed something to do with chocolate and adventures of cartoon investigative journalists. But it turns out that having gone without any real government for well over 8 months and shown the world that an industrialised nation can manage without a bunch of overcompensated narcissistic mouthpieces telling everybody else what to do all the time, albeit not intentionally, some Belgians are getting embarrassed by their freedom. So they're taking their clothes off.
What would be a humiliation for many turned into a party for Belgium on Thursday as the country's citizens marked 249 days without a government, a figure that they are treating as a world record in political waffling.
On every other day, the crisis pits the leaders of 6 million Dutch-speakers against those of 4.5 million French speakers, but people from across the country put aside their differences to celebrate the occasion.
In the French-speaking town of Louvain-la-Neuve, more than 1,000 people bearing the colours of the Belgian flag formed the words "Een-Un" - "One is One" in Dutch and French - calling for more unity instead of the infighting, sniping and backbiting that has made it impossible to form a national government.
About 50 people, most students, stripped to their underwear in the northern city of Ghent and stood to form the word 'unity', fuelled by shots of Dutch gin to keep warm.
Folks, it's something of which Belgians should be immensely proud. Yes, it's costing you all tax money while they stand around yabbering and not doing anything, but probably not as much as they would if they stopped yabbering and began trying to do things again. And now you've got students in their underwear too.

Besides, it turns out you're not there yet.
It is arguable whether 249 really is the world record. Iraq took 249 days to get the outlines of a government agreement last year, but the approval of that government took a further 40 days. Still, the way things are going, Belgium will have little problem claiming the record whichever standard is used.
And at which point we expect actual nudity. Or possibly chocolate.


The London Olympic Games are going to be, according to Seb Coe, the greatest show on Earth. In my head I'm translating this to mean while it may be very good watching it'll also be as colossally expensive as everyone expects despite the early assurances about not trying to outdo the Chinese, and the offer from the Irish Republicans to organise the fireworks isn't going to make it any cheaper.


A response to will

Over at The Passenger's place I've been having a discussion with another commenter there called will over the pros and cons of having a state. We both agree that the state can be a bit of a bastard, and that it tends to act that way an awful lot, but while will is more in the anarchist camp I'm still making a case for minarchy. The last couple of points he made would mean a reply that's a bit too long for Blogger's comment character limit or courtesy to The Passenger, whose original post wasn't about this anyway. So I've worked what I wanted to say to will into a blog here instead.

At one point I told will that I like the idea of anarchy as an ideal but feel that it's probably not practical, although stable is a better word, except in small groups. I can imagine it working on a small Pacific Island, for example. will may have been thinking I meant communitarian type small groups but I wasn't, or at least not necessarily. My thought was simply that the larger the number of people involved the greater the chance one or more will be able and willing to move to dominate the rest, and when that happens you've basically got another state being born. This is one of my objections to anarchy, though again objection may not be quite the right word, and I don't think we'll ever get to a point where it can't possibly happen. Scale certainly should not be a problem but I feel human nature will always make it so simply because the chances it will happen seem likely to be proportional to the number of people. When you're talking millions of people it's practically a certainty. I realise that the whole point of a functioning anarchy is that there would be spontaneous resistance but I don't think we're yet at the point where people would automatically resist as an anarchy would. It's hard enough trying to persuade people that voting for the same big political parties is a recipe for the same crap we have to put up with from the bastards - to persuade them, especially the millions and millions who've become conditioned to dependence on states, to make the change to an anarchy seems virtually impossible. As the saying goes, you can't get there from here. But perhaps minarchy you can.

will also points out, and accepts as a possible plus point for minarchy, that there's the issue of defending against other states. For instance, would it be possible for the people of a stateless and more or less anarchic Australia to resist invasion from a state that wishes to claim the land and its resources for its own? Indigenous Australians might well point out that this was in fact tested a couple of hundred years ago and the answer was no. The population was and still is spread thinly into small clusters that can't easily support each other. They're much bigger today of course, both in absolute and relative terms, but there are some very populous nations to the north of here so if ever there were hostilities with one of them the situation mightn't be so different. In the 18th Century what was needed was enough numbers in the right place to see off a relative few invaders with superior weapons, but this huge country was populated by a few hundred thousand in small tribal groups. In the modern age we have cities with millions of inhabitants, but still only a few of them and a lot of space in between, so what's needed is big ticket technology and a professional military which knows how to use it. Even if each town and city suburb was a free society armed to the teeth and able to resist aggression coming down the street, how many people would buy the multi-million dollar stuff needed to offer resistance to an invasion on the far side of the country? Who would defend the bits in between the cities? It would be in our interests in Melbourne that Darwin can defend itself and be helped if needed, and then anyone who knocked it down and began marching here could be bombed to buggery every inch of the four thousand kilometres they'd have to come, but even with the extra personal wealth a stateless society ought to mean how many people would buy an F/A-18 on the off chance it was necessary?

The nightwatchman state, or as I prefer to think of it, federal government in a big glass case with "Break in Case of Emergency" stencilled across it, seems like a minimum requirement for Australia. But as a libertarian I think it should also be about the maximum at federal level, and with such limited scope I feel it should be able to manage on voluntary taxation of some kind. The back of a handy envelope suggests that as things are now GST (the Aussie VAT, but at 10%), if it became a federal tax, would allow about a sixfold increase in defence spending if Canberra had nothing else to spend money on. For a lot less than that they could probably double salaries, increase numbers and have more and cleverer toys to play with, so both the rate and scope of GST could probably be reduced. The states and territories, probably even the towns and cities in them, could be left to their own devices and form whatever form of local society and government their inhabitants want. Queensland could be very strongly socialist and New South Wales very free market, or intra-state Melbourne might go socialist, Geelong free market, and Bendigo outright An-Cap. I have no objection to a city of 5 million socialists giving money to their government for it to waste if it pleases them to do so as long as there was somewhere I could go that where I wouldn't be forced to join in. The system that worked best would soon become apparent as it would be the best off and attract the most citizens, while the federal government would restrict itself to maintaining the nation's borders, defending the people within them with a force also available to call on in disasters, and maybe throwing the odd party to keep up relations with other nations. I don't think we should mind springing for the occasional pack of Ferrero-Rocher, although other foreign ambassadors and heads of state might ask about the new look to Canberra's skyline.

Yes, all that seems nearly as far away as anarchy, doesn't it? But Australia is already a federation of competing states, at least in theory, and others exist. They’d seem like a good place to do it if the people of one of them can get the federal government to act like a guard dog instead of a wolf - they look about the same but one gets fed and the other steals your sheep. Arguably the US tried to limit government in a similar way and ultimately failed, and will did suggest something very like that, but I feel that could just mean the technique still needs refinement. It doesn't mean the idea is a no-hoper. They did a better job with their Bill of Rights than the 1688 version did for England, which in turn was an improvement on the status quo ante. Imagine what the same people who wrote it might come up with now if they had the benefit of our two centuries of hindsight. They might have reduced the first Ten Amendments down to just one, a Zeroth Amendment if you like. Perhaps it might have read something like this:

All citizens are at liberty to do as they wish providing that they do not infringe
the same freedom enjoyed by their fellow citizens. This freedom will always
be honoured by the government, which shall have no power to reduce it.

No wordy justifications that can be picked over and reinterpreted by future jurists, just a simple statement of facts. Constrained by that and supported only by voluntary taxation a federal government might well end up being the nation's guard dog after all. And people can grow to value their guard dogs, can't they?
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