Monday, December 23, 2013

On the food bank hysteria...

Media Personage: "Mr Average, you use a food bank. Correct?"

Mr Average: "That's right. I mean, why pay for food when you can get it for free?"

MP: "But why have you started to use one now? Is it because the evil Coalition have been deliberately starving you on ideological grounds?"

MrA: "Not really. It's just that I didn't realise that there were people giving away free food until I read about them in the paper on my way to work."

MP: "And there you have it: more and more people are using food banks because the evil Coalition—cruelly limiting a household's benefits to an equivalent pre-tax income of a mere £34,000—are starving them utterly to death. On purpose. Back to you in the studio, Tom."

Tom: "Er…"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is this man a murderer?

If this Mail article is correct, Andy "spiv" Burnham—the current shadow health secretary—is at least partially responsible for the deaths of over 50,000 people.
Up to 50,000 ‘excess’ deaths were recorded at hospitals during the last Labour government.

As ministers prepare to respond today to the report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal, figures suggest the number of fatalities was ‘abnormally high’ at 15 further health trusts.

The research – by Sir Brian Jarman of Imperial College, London – covers 2001 to 2010.

Half of the hospital trusts he identifies were finally put into special measures this year – prompting accusations that neglect was not tackled despite a series of investigations.

Professor Jarman said: ‘I warned the Department of Health on multiple occasions about high hospital adjusted death rates; and witnesses have testified under oath there was huge government pressure, because the government hated the idea that a regulator would criticise it.

‘In fact, I was so concerned that I wrote to [Labour health secretary] Andy Burnham personally in March 2010 warning him about high death rates at five of the 11 hospitals now in special measures."

He won't be indicted for murder.

He won't even lose his job.

How do you feel about that…?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

And people deride Atlas Shrugged...

… as an over-wrought fantasy—it's obviously not.
Five managers of electronic retailers including Daka are being threatened with prosecution for unjustifiable price hikes, the Venezuela government said. More stores may be at risk, as well. Government inspectors were dispatched to check prices at an array of other businesses.

"This is for the good of the nation," Maduro said, referring to the military's occupation of Daka. "Leave nothing on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses … Let nothing remain in stock!"

Maduro said his seizures are the "tip of the iceberg" and that other stores would be next if they did not comply with his orders. Maduro is expected to win decree powers in Congress in the coming days that he says will be used to take over more businesses.

Is there no end to the stupidity and evil of socialists…?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ed Miliband is a fucking clown

Ed Miliband is a fucking clown—and his policies are almost as terrifying.

As my few remaining readers will know, your humble Devil has been steering clear of politics. However, it would be remiss of me not to comment on the idiocies being pushed by the idiot leader of Red Labour.

One would have thought that after bankrupting the bloody country—again—the Labour Party might have learned some fucking humility. Apparently not.

Ed Miliband—a man so creepy in person that you feel like scrubbing yourself with a wire brush in a shower for three hours after meeting him—is determined to bring socialism back to the country.

Because that's always worked so well, eh?

A small sample of his rampant stupidity can be found in this Telegraph article (which focuses on Grayling's response).
The Labour leader used a question-and-answer session in Brighton to outline a series of measures which the Tories say shows the party is shifting to the Left and can only be funded by higher taxes.

We are pretty much all done as far as raising taxes is concerned: it will be very difficult to get any more out of the population of this country, frankly.
Mr Miliband spoke of his commitment to drop the spare room subsidy — which Labour calls “the bedroom tax” —

Which is odd, really, because they didn't call it that when they removed the subsidy for people with spare rooms in private rental accommodation.
Another fact that Labour are keeping quiet about is that they introduced a similar restriction on Housing Benefit for tenants of private landlords (they called it Local Housing Allowance) in 2008 but then it was acceptable to for the government to “to provide an incentive for those on Housing Benefit to find cheaper accommodation.” Does Labour think that those lucky enough to be in social housing shouldn’t have the same incentives?

Of course, we expect Labour to be screaming hypocrites—but this reaches new levels.
— as well as capping bonuses for bankers and stopping the building of free schools.

Because Free Schools have been so hugely unpopular with the people of this country, eh? This is Labour pandering to their union paymasters again—the teaching unions loathe free schools because it weakens the power of the union thugs.

And, of course, Free Schools actually teach children some knowledge—something that the unionised teachers of this country can't stand. At least, we must assume that they can't stand it because they have utterly failed to provide an adequate schooling for the last forty years.

Mr Miliband also wishes to destroy the concept of the Common Law—most especially the concept that everyone is equal under it.
He also outlined measures which included the possibility of separate sectors, such as finance, IT or construction, being made to pay their own, higher, minimum wages.

Most of those sectors actually do pay higher minimum wages because you cannot get someone to work in those sectors for less than about double the minimum wage.

Regardless, the principal of singling out certain industries for special treatment will inevitably lead to corruption. For fuck's sake, Miliband, the actions of the government in Atlas Shrugged are supposed to be a warning—not a blueprint for your policies![1]

But this utter clown cannot even understand what he's advocating.
Asked when he would “bring back socialism”, he replied: “That’s what we are doing.

Oh, goody-goody gum-drops! Socialism has been such a brilliant success all over the world, I cannot imagine why you wouldn't want to bring it back, eh?
It is about fighting the battle for economic equality...

Economic equality? How the hell does that square with you giving some industries an economic advantage over others, as with your insane minimum wage proposals? Eh?
... for social equality and for gender equality too. That is a battle that is not yet won in our country.”

Oh, FFS.
In another policy announcement, Mr Miliband said that large firms would have to train a British apprentice for every worker that they bring from overseas. He said that the policy would create 125,000 new apprentices in five years.

The mind boggles, it really does. Seriously, is this Miliband's idea of how you grow an economy—or, in fact, is he trying to legislate us all back to the 70s?

Oh, wait, I forgot: Miliband wouldn't know how to grow an economy or a business—because he is simply a pig-ignorant, over-privileged, champagne-socialist, hypocritical, Communist policy-wonk who has done nothing but suckle at the state teat for his entire life. This man has no idea about the real world, about building a business, about hardship, or about anything really.

Ed Miliband is a fucking clown.

Some years ago, we sent hundreds of copies of 1984 to MPs. How about we start a new meme, and see if we can get hundreds of pairs of fucking clown shoes delivered to Miliband's door...

And deliver the red nose personally. With my fist.

[1] It's worth pointing out that Ayn Rand was escaping from the horrors of Communist Russia at about the same time as Ed Miliband's father—along with most of the other progenitors of the bien pensant Islington set of today—was writing about how utterly wonderful it all was.

These evil people were still propping up the Communist regime in Russia in the eighties. After the wall came down—and the true horrors were finally revealed, irrefutably—many of these useful idiots recanted, often pleading ignorance.

Ignorance? Ha! Hergé depicted prison camps and Potemkin Villages in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets—which was published in 1930.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

As you sow...

Whilst I find this kind of incident deeply depressing...
Stopped by police and branded a paedophile... for hiking with my son: WILL SELF reveals moment an innocent ramble became a nightmarish tale of modern Britain
... one can only point out that Will Self is part of the British media who have encouraged this sort of suspicion, lauded governments who have embraced it, and praised the fake charities who have fanned the flames.

But far, far worse are the stupid, vacuous, frightened fools who continue to elect the bastards who make all of this possible. And, to paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, "who is worse? The cunt, or the cunt who elects him?"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quote of the day...

... comes from Peter Oborne in the Telegraph.
The point is that the House of Commons cannot be relied on to defend traditional English liberties or the British way of life. Again and again, the nation has found itself relying on the good sense and sound instincts of the House of Lords, in particular the hereditary element.
There are so many instances, over the last decade or more, when it has been the House of Lords that has protected our freedoms from the spivs, bien pensants, scum, and fascist filth who inhabit the Commons. In short, the Upper House has long protected the citizens of this country from the tyranny of the majority.

Long live the Lords (and may they strike down the police state)!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Democracy is not freedom: the death of liberty in the UK and US

Via Timmy (who enquires as to whether it's actually genuine), I find a post outlining how the government is, effectively, turning the UK into a police state.
The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance’ a criminal offence. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill also grants local authorities, police and even private security firms sweeping powers to bar citizens from assembling lawfully in public spaces [PDF]. Those who refuse orders under the new rules will face arrest, fines and even prison time.

Essentially, this measure parlays off ASBOs: these were always problematic from a civil liberties point of view (and many of us liberal bloggers ranted about it at the time) since they enabled people to be criminalised by the back door—for things that weren't, actually, specifically illegal. Further, if you breached your ASBO, you could potentially be imprisoned—and for terms that would normally trigger a jury trial.

But the replacements for ASBOs go much, much further.
The Bill introduces Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAS) to replace ABSO’S. Almost no one will be sad to say goodbye to ASBO’s. The orders, designed to allow police to tackle anti-social behaviour, simply became a means of criminalising youthful indiscretion – and eventually a means of criminalising anything people found annoying.
...

The ASBO has allowed the line between criminal behaviour and annoying behaviour to become hopelessly blurred–and the IPNAs will only serve to increase the problem. We have seen the abuses permitted under ASBO legislation, the test for which included wording to the effect that ASBOs could only be issued where an actual act of 'harassment, alarm or distress' had occurred. IPNAs have a much weaker test, applicable where on the ‘balance of probabilities’ a person has or might engage in behaviour 'capable of causing annoyance' to another person. How many times a day could this legislation apply to any of us? Eating with our mouths open, talking too loudly into our phones in a public space, walking too slowly or quickly or belching without saying ‘pardon me’. All of this may very well cause annoyance–but soon it might well also be illegal.

The orders can be issued to anyone aged 10 or over (and we all know how well 10 year olds are at being annoying), and there is no limit on how long an IPNA can be applied to a person for. A person could receive an IPNA aged 10 and retain it their entire life.

You might think that these IPNAs were bad enough, but that is only part of the exciting new measures being introduced by the fascists now running this country.
Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), and new Dispersal Orders will replace Designated Public Space Orders, Dog Control Orders, Gating Orders and a host of other orders intended to keep aggressive drunken people, or drug dealers or dog poo off of our streets. But it is plain that the target for these laws is no longer the person peddling illegal drugs, but the people sharing politically challenging ideas.

As the my impoverished Greek friend, Mr Eugenides, might have said (were he still blogging at home), "what fresh hell is this?"
Public Space Protection Orders

PSPOs will be granted where 'activities carried on or likely to be carried on in a public place will have or have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality' [PDF] (p21). They can be used to restrict an activity or require people to perform an activity in a certain way [PDF]. They require substantially less consultation [PDF] than current alcohol free zones or dog control zones and rather than applying to everyone, they can be applied to specific groups of people [PDF] (the homeless, the unemployed, racial/religious groups etc.)–opening the door for discrimination. These rules could see homeless people or young people lawfully excluded from public spaces.

PSPOs are subject to 'on the spot' fines, rather than attendance at a Magistrates Court [PDF], reducing the scrutiny and checks on police power.

These orders are also by no means short term. They can be applied for up to three years, and continued for another three years at the end of their term [PDF].

You might have thought that all of the above was scary enough—but no...
Dispersal Orders

Under the current Direction to Leave powers, anyone over 10 years of age can be asked to disperse from a ‘locality’ and stay dispersed for a period not exceeding 48 hours. Current Dispersal Orders mean a Police Superintendent (or an officer with specific written authority from the SI) can disperse groups of two or more people in areas where there has been ‘persistent anti-social behaviour’ or take home any young person under the age of 16 who is in a dispersal zone between 9pm and 6am. Anyone failing to comply with a Dispersal Order faces a fine of up to £2,500 or up to three months in prison.

Our beloved government, alas, obviously feels that these draconian measures simply are not totalitarian enough...
The new Dispersal Powers mean police constables and even Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) can issue dispersal orders if they think a group of two or more persons might harass, alarm or distress others in the vicinity [PDF] (p16). The PCSO or constable can specify how long the person/group must remain out of the designated area, and by which route they must leave, and also confiscate any items of their property which they deem anti-social. Failure to comply with any element of these orders results in a fine of up to £5,000 or three months in prison. The new legislation also fails to define 'locality'–meaning a person could be excluded from a city, a county or even a whole country [PDF] (p17). In fact, York couldn’t even wait for the new legislation to pass and is already implementing the powers.

These new laws effectively end freedom of assembly in England and Wales, as any lawful assembly can be instantly redefined as illegal on the spot by some part time PCSO, people’s personal possessions can be confiscated, and anyone who dares to challenge the process will end up in jail. [Emphasis mine]

If true, these new measures signal the death of the rule of law, the end of the principle of proportionate punishment and the final expiration of liberty in this country.

There are still some people who claim that the Coalition are more "libertarian" than NuLabour: this legislation hammers the final nail into the coffin of that particular delusion.

Still, at least our glorious government can claim that they are on the side of the angels: after all, that nice Mister Obama and his merry men in the US government are busy raping the freedoms of our cousins over the Pond too.
So I have some great news folks! The Republicans and the Democrats in Congress and the White House FINALLY came together and agreed on something. This is HUGE. These guys disagree on EVERYTHING! Getting them to see eye-to-eye is like getting the Jews and the Palestinians to do a trust fall together. Or getting Eskimos and polar bears to play Jenga.

I'm referring to the bill H.R. 347 that was signed by President Obama the other day, passed unanimously in the Senate, and 388-3 in the House. That's nearly EVERY SINGLE lawmaker.
...

What did this magical universally-loved bill say? Well some are calling it the anti-Occupy law and it allows the government to bring charges against Americans involved in many kinds of political protest at any location the secret service, quote, "is or will be temporarily visiting." So basically if the government wants to shut down a protest, they just send a secret service officer down there to scratch his balls, and then they can start putting people in jail for a year or more.

Of course, as Lee Camp points out, this legislation is contrary to the US Constitution—but the bastards passed it anyway.
But the bill doesn't stop there. I mean, when you have the entirety of Congress with the exception of Ron Paul agreeing on something, why not swing for the fences? The bill also says it could be a federal crime to protest near an event of, quote, "national significance." Well, that's not vague at all.

So, it seems that our delightful Coalition—the one that promised to restore our rights, shrink the nanny state, and give more responsibility to the people—is in good company with the idiots in the good ol' US of A. I have to say that my response to all of this accords remarkably well with Lee Camp's own reaction.
Well, Congress gets to stomp on the Bill of Rights, I want to do it too. I want to bring back cruel and unusual punishment, and then we could demand that every man or woman who voted for the Anti-Protest Law or signed it from the Oval Office be tied up in the town square naked for a week while everyone gets to throw fire ants and bumble bees at their naughty parts. Deal??

And after that, of course, we should hang them all.

I would suggest that we actually protest against these disgustingly fascists measures but I'm too pretty for prison...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Those blogging principles…

When I retired The Kitchen (and mostly retired—full stop), I outlined the following as one of the reasons for quitting...
Further, when your humble Devil started blogging, those of us who were of different political opinions still adhered to certain standards of evidence and honesty: that sense of brotherhood has disappeared with the introduction of the financially-backed party political sites.

There are, of course, some bloggers around who still adhere to those principles; bloggers who were there when I started, and continue to write good stuff now: Unity is one of those.
I’m perhaps one of the last people you’d expect to see stepping up to defend Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) but you’d be wrong because there are principles that come into play whenever a blogger, even one as notorious as Guido, is subjected to an unjustified, hectoring attack by a bullying politician for reasons that have never been better expressed than by the playwright Robert Bolt...

Good for Unity—do pop over to his place for the full story. And good for Guido for setting the lawyers on the mendacious Claire Perry MP: it's about time that our public servants were reminded of who they work for.

And, more pertinently, that they are not above the law.

Idiot Tory MP of the day

Whilst you might think that the story about British jobs being advertised across the EU made the government look ridiculous, it seems that the Coalition can still find some arse to make them look even worse.

Step forward Matthew Hancock MP who is—dear fucking god—a "Business Minister... a close ally of the Chancellor George Osborne". According to Hancock:
Companies have a "social duty" to employ young British workers rather than better-qualified immigrants, a Conservative minister said today.

No, they don't—piss off.

Of course, once people started to describe paying unnecessary amounts of corporation tax as companies' "social duty"—with Starbucks giving in to this bullying—it was only a matter of time before some nasty little fascist started to apply the same argument to his own personal bugbear.
Matthew Hancock, a Business Minister, said employers have a responsibility to ensure young people in their local community are given the opportunity to get a job and get on in life. He said firms should invest in training British staff rather than simply seeking "pure profit".

Mr Hancock, a close ally of the Chancellor George Osborne, denied he was repeating Gordon Brown's ill-fated "British jobs for British workers" slogan. "This is about a change of culture. I'm arguing that it is companies' social responsibility, it is their social duty, to look at employing locally first," he told BBC Radio 4. "That may mean that they have to do more training. It may mean more training in hard skills, in specific skills. Or it may mean training in the wherewithal, the character you need in order to hold down a job."

Look, Matthew: you probably won't appreciate this, but hiring employees is an expensive business.
He said many employers had told him that such an investment led to more motivated employees with a greater attachment to the company.

Really? We haven't noticed that, at my work. Generally, we have found that—as a small business—we are unable to pay the kind of wages that our employees can get elsewhere.

Can you imagine some bloody MP standing up and demanding that workers should stay put in their jobs and help to build British firms rather than "simply seeking "pure profit""...?

Oh, no, wait—yes, I can.

Which really, frankly, simply illustrates that maybe—and I know that this is a controversial point—just maybe MPs do not know what the hell they are talking about. And, further, that they should, perhaps, shut their fucking faces and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

Internet censorship

Oh look, it appears that David Cameron's famous internet filters will, by default, censor more than just naughty porno.

Well, ain't that a fucking surprise?
The British prime minister's internet filters will be about more than just hardcore pornography, according to information obtained by the Open Rights Group.

The organisation, which campaigns for digital freedoms, has spoken to some of the Internet Service Providers that will be constructing Cameron's content filters. They discovered that a host of other categories of supposedly-objectionable material may be on the block-list.

As well as pornography, users may automatically be opted in to blocks on "violent material", "extremist related content", "anorexia and eating disorder websites" and "suicide related websites", "alcohol" and "smoking". But the list doesn't stop there. It even extends to blocking "web forums" and "esoteric material", whatever that is. "Web blocking circumvention tools" is also included, of course.

The Open Rights Group have been talking to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and got the low-down on the kind of options that will be presented to subscribers.
After brief conversations with some of the Internet Service Providers that will be implementing the UK's "pornwall" we've established a little bit about what it will be doing. To be fair, the BBC were pretty close.

The essential detail is that they will assume you want filters enabled across a wide range of content, and unless you un-tick the option, network filters will be enabled. As we’ve said repeatedly, it’s not just about hardcore pornography.

You'll encounter something like this:


What's clear here is that David Cameron wants people to sleepwalk into censorship. We know that people stick with defaults: this is part of the idea behind 'nudge theory' and 'choice architecture' that is popular with Cameron.

Indeed. One of the best takes on this that I have seen is this hypothetical conversation at Another Angry Voice...
Dodgy PR strategist: You just need to get your narrative right. Tell them it's about protecting children. Tell them that the wonderful innocence of youth mustn't be despoiled. Tell them that children shouldn't be exposed to vile pornography.

Political leader: What, like rape porn?

Dodgy PR strategist: Exactly. Make out that the censorship programme is an effort to protect children, and then add rape porn and paedophilia into the mix.

Political leader: So that... [waits expectantly]

Dodgy PR strategist: So that you can roll out your firewall and taint anyone that tries to oppose it as a rape porn apologist ... But don't call it a firewall or censorship or anything like that. Call it a porn blocker or a child protection measure.

Political leader: But I don't want to protect children, I want to silence political dissent. Look what happened in Egypt and Hungary. Look what is happening in Turkey right now. We mustn't allow that to happen here.

Dodgy PR strategist: You're missing the point.

Political leader: What point?

Dodgy PR strategist: That when you launch the pornography blocker, you're setting the precident that the government can automatically block citizen from accessing perfectly legal material. Plus by installing Internet filters you're putting the censorship infrastructure in place. Once it's all rolled out, you can easily change the parameters to block whatever you like.

I highly recommend that you go and read the whole thing—even if you don't believe that there is any truth in it (and I think there is) then it is, at least, entertainingly amusing.

And the point about censoring things that are perfectly legal is a point well made. It is true that David Cameron is planning to make "rape porn" illegal, but that hasn't happened yet—but the internet filter will come in long before any law banning it. After all, legally, "rape porn" is something that is very difficult to define.

Naturally, there are a number of female campaigners that have urged this ban: but "rape porn" is not simply the preserve of disturbed men. There is, for instance, a scene in Iain M Banks' Complicity in which one of the female protagonists gets her lover to indulge her rape fantasy: and the way in which it is written could, in some very broad definition, be described as pornographic. Will that book and film adaptation now be banned?

And lest some smartarse suggest that this scene is simply a misogynist male author merely indulging his fantasy, I myself have dated at least one woman who had "rape" fantasies (something which I was as uncomfortable about as Cameron Colley is in Complicity).

But we don't even have to concern ourselves with this contentious topic: if the information from the Open Rights Foundation is correct, then the government's power grab is far more unrestrainedly naked. What possible justification can the state have for default, ISP-level filtering of information about perfectly legal topics as "violent material", "extremist related content", "anorexia and eating disorder websites", "suicide related websites", "alcohol" and "smoking"? Not to mention blocking all "web forums".

And what the fuck is "esoteric material"—anything that the government doesn't like?

You know, it is becoming my firm belief that MPs should not be allowed to have children: they would be far less likely to wheel out this "for the kiddies" schtick.

In the meantime, this country's march towards fascism continues apace...

UPDATE: Longrider is excellent on this:
But, you see, that libertarian outrage that Orr dismisses so lightly isn’t about porn, it’s about the bigger picture. It’s about the state deciding what is okay for the citizen to look at or read. Porn today—because no one will defend the pornographer without sullying himself—but tomorrow, it will be something else. It will always be something else because the beast is never sated. The puritans always come back for another bite, because they know best and we don’t. Once the precedent is set—that the state may decide what we view—it will decide on our behalf to protect us from other undesirable content.

That is the point. Porn is simply the Trojan horse.
Yup.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Climate models are crap

Back in late November of 2009, ClimateGate broke and those of us on the sceptic side were delighted. An enormous number of people put in lots of work on the released emails—exposing the collusion and sharp practices being undertaken by "The Team" of Hockey Stick adherents.

Your humble Devil took another tack.

Alongside the various email trails, the leak also included much of the computer code that these "scientists" were using to generate their climate models. Whilst the MSM, reluctantly, did run stories on the email trails—by then, the uproar was such that they could barely ignore the scandal—not one mainstream paper (as far as I could see) even admitted that the code had been released (presumably because, being journalists, they wouldn't have the first clue as to how to analyse it).

So, your humble Devil decided to concentrate on the code and, in particular, the comments in the Harry Read Me file. I went hunting around, and found people who were trying to run the code, and analyse these comments—and what we found was horrendous.
So, come with me on a wonderful journey as the CRU team realise that not only have they lost great chunks of data but also that their application suites and algorithms are total crap; join your humble Devil and Asimov as we dive into the HARRY_READ_ME.txt (thanks to The Englishman) file and follow the trials and tribulations of Ian "Harry" Harris as he tries to recreate the published data because he has nothing else to go on!

Thrill as he "glosses over" anomalies; let your heart sing as he gets some results to within 0.5 degrees; rejoice as Harry points out that everything is undocumented and that, generally speaking, he hasn't got the first clue as to what's going on with the data!

Chuckle as one of CRU's own admits that much of the centre's data and applications are undocumented, bug-ridden, riddled with holes, missing, uncatalogued and, in short, utterly worthless.

And wonder as you realise that this was v2.10 and that, after this utter fiasco, CRU used the synthetic data and wonky algorithms to produce v3.0!

You'll laugh! You'll cry! You won't wonder why CRU never wanted to release the data! You will wonder why we are even contemplating restructuring the world economy and wasting trillions of dollars on the say-so of data this bad.

Essentially, the data was in a mess, the scientists were entering "synthetic" data (guesstimates, essentially), the code was producing meaningless answers, and some of the results had been interpreted entirely wrongly. (IIRC, FrancisT tried running the actual code (though I cannot find the exact post just now) and found that it would error but just carry on running—no trapping at all).

In other words, the data and software that these people were using to produce the climate models was crap—garbage in, garbage out.

So, we knew that the models were fantasies—it's just that no one reported on it.

Today Anthony Watts has highlighted a new paper which corroborates that assertion.
New peer reviewed paper finds the same global forecast model produces different results when run on different computers

Did you ever wonder how spaghetti like this is produced and why there is broad disagreement in the output that increases with time?


Increasing mathematical uncertainty from initial starting conditions is the main reason. But, some of it might be due to the fact that while some of the models share common code, they don’t produce the same results with that code owing to differences in the way CPU’s, operating systems, and compilers work. Now with this paper, we can add software uncertainty to the list of uncertainties that are already known unknowns about climate and climate modeling.

So, now it's official—the code is crap. Therefore the climate models are crap.

And we're busy beggaring the world on the say-so of corrupt scientists, inaccurate data, flakey software and Green loons.

People should hang for this...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The disingenuous Anna Soubry MP

Via Dick Puddlecote, Simon Clark has highlighted the flouting of Parliamentary scrutiny by Anna Soubry MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health, over the Tobacco Products EU Directive.
Yesterday public health minister Anna Soubry and Andrew Black, head of tobacco policy at the Department of Health, were summoned to attend a meeting of the European Scrutiny Committee which scrutinises draft EU legislation on behalf of the House of Commons.

According to its website, the Committee assesses which proposals are of particular political or legal importance. It then draws these proposals to the attention of the House through weekly Committee Reports and by recommending some draft legislation for debate.

Members (MPs) were unhappy they hadn't been given the opportunity to scrutinise draft proposals to revise the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). Reading between the lines, they were furious.

Actually, you don't even have to read between the lines: Michael Connarty (who, despite being a Labourite, is superb in this hearing) stated that he was furious.

Anyway Simon's summation of the case is as follows:

At yesterday's meeting chairman Bill Cash said they wanted to explore Anna Soubry's extraordinary decision to override scrutiny of the TPD, choosing instead to go ahead and agree a general response to the Directive at a [European] Health Council meeting in Luxembourg on June 21.

"We take a decision to override scrutiny very seriously indeed, especially when it concerns a proposal of such importance,” he admonished her.

Incredibly, it emerged there had been no correspondence between Soubry and the Scrutiny Committee for six months between January and June 2013. Oddly enough, this is the very period when the Committee would have been expected to scrutinise the draft TPD which was published in December 2012.

Minutes of yesterday's Scrutiny Committee meeting won't be published until next week but I have read a summary of the meeting and what appears to have happened is this:

Rapidly approaching the end of Ireland's six-month presidency of the European Council, the DH decided it had to act fast to help move the Directive closer to implementation.

Officials (and Soubry) decided there was no time for proper scrutiny of a Directive that will affect millions of consumers in Britain, not to mention thousands of small businesses.

So they asked for a waiver from the scrutiny committees in both Houses of Parliament (Lords and Commons). The Lords agreed but the Commons Scrutiny Committee said no.

Concerned that any delay might delay the revised TPD (which includes plans to ban menthol cigarettes and restrict pack sizes) or tie the UK government's hands on plain packaging, Soubry and Black travelled to Luxembourg determined, it seems, to support the draft TPD regardless of any concerns elected members of parliament may have had.

If I am reading this correctly, they failed even to seek clearance from other government departments.

Before we look at this further, let us remind ourselves of five things that were not in the Coalition Manifesto:
  1. plain—or "standardised"—packaging of cigarettes;
  2. a ban on menthol cigarettes;
  3. an increase in the size of health warnings to 65% of the pack area;
  4. a ban on ten-packs of cigarettes;
  5. a ban—or de facto ban through reclassification—on ecigarettes.
As far as I understand it, the Tobacco Products Directive does all of these things—apart from plain packaging (Chris Snowdon has some of the latest updates).

So, to return to Anna Soubry and her quite deliberate decision to bypass Parliamentary Standing Orders...

Ms Soubry's reason for doing so was, apparently, "article 24" which—according to her—would have stopped member states introducing plain packages for cigarettes (and other measures).

And the egregious Soubry then said that she had to take a position—against all protocol—in order to preserve the "sovereignty" of the UK government!

So, here is my summary: this repulsive little liar decided that the Tobacco Products Directive simply did not allow enough scope for the UK government to be even more fascist than the TPD itself; as such, she decided to deny scrutiny of the Directive, override democratic process, because she "really believed" that if the TPD was not passed at that moment, then it would be dropped "for a very long time".

Even though the measures that the TPD introduce were never in either the Conservative or Coalition Manifesto.

If you watch the hearing at ParliamentLive.tv (or below), you will also find out some other revealing information.

Such as the fact—revealed when Soubry was challenged as to how important the UK's vote was—that the Tobacco Products Directive went through the Council of Ministers without there even being a vote. As I understand it, these ministers just sat around, had a bit of negotiation and then just cosily decided that they were all happy enough to just let this pass.

As Simon Clark says:
It's scandalous. So much for Parliament. So much for open and democratic government.

Quite.

Now we know how law-making is handled in the EU: a privileged bunch of our betters just sit around, making far-reaching decisions about our lives—and all without even the fig-leaf accountability of allowing us plebs to see who voted for what.

And so Ms Soubry:
  • colluded with foreign powers to pass through a Directive that will force the UK Parliament to enact legislation…
  • … that was not in her government's manifesto (and which, therefore, no one in this coutry voted for);
  • in doing so she ignored one of the most fundamental of our Parliament's Standing Orders…
  • … because she wanted to leave the field open for the government to impose even more draconian legislation that was not in their manifesto;
  • and her justification for doing all of this is that she was, in fact, "defending the sovereignty" of the UK Parliament.
I hope that the arrogant, mendacious little shit is raked over the coals for this episode.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The new road to serfdom

A rather super speech by Dan Hannan to the Cato Institute.



Stirring stuff, methinks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

New music: Punctuation by Thea Gimore

Thea Gimore is 33, and Regardless is her fourteenth studio album—one cannot deny that she is prolific*. Not everything that she produces is great—though it's all listenable—but Regardless is a return to the form that made, for example, Rules for Jokers so fucking good.

Although it's one of the slower tracks on the album, Punctuation is a fucking amazing song. It took me a couple of listens (literally) to get it in my head and it is now my current ear-worm (much to the wife's irritation—I think that she probably dreads me finding new music!). As with most of Thea's great music, you really need to listen to the lyrics—there's some clever stuff "in the details"...



Powerful and wonderful...

* Altough not as prolific as my brother, who has penned some 600 songs in the last 15 years. But then again, Thea's a well-known artist who actually makes money out of this...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just one word will do

Dan Hannan offers his explanation for why politicians tend to the Eurosceptic after leaving office...
Hannan's First Law, it seems, is as robust as ever: no party is ever Eurosceptic while in office.
Why not? Mainly because of what Milton Friedman called 'the tyranny of the status quo'.
Um, maybe. But, there is a better word to describe this tendency.

That word is "cowardice".

Saturday, May 4, 2013

UKIP are not the Tories...

I left the following as a comment on this post by the Very British Dude—I said that I understood the thrust of his argument, but that I thought that his assessment of UKIP's policies left rather a lot to be desired.

First, the British people are worried about a particular sort of immigrant—those that they see as "foreign". This is a loose term, but essentially includes people who don't speak English—almost nobody that I have spoken to has any problem with New Zealand, Australian or US immigrants, for instance.

UKIP can pledge to target the immigrants that people fear because their policy is to leave the EU: the Tories cannot do the same because, even with the promise of the referendum—which will only happen if the Tories are re-elected with a majority and if Mars is in the House of Ares when a pig flies across the Thames in a dirigible, or something—their stated position is that they think we should stay in.

Second, UKIP believe that lower taxes will bring higher growth—not surprising when you consider that their fiscal policy was largely written by Tim Worstall (with contributions from other libertarian/minarchist bloggers). The Coalition is shifting the burden of tax away from the poor (good) but not actually changing the total tax take (bad).

UKIP also have a credible energy policy (again, much of it originally drafted by libertarian/minarchist bloggers (hem hem)): whilst most people may not realise that we are in severe danger of rolling power cuts next year, they do understand that their energy bills have soared. UKIP have a credible answer for this—the government should stop artificially forcing up energy prices.

Unfortunately, much of the legislation doing so comes from the EU (although successive governments of the last 20 years have added their own price-raising policies too—Osbourne's carbon floor price, for instance, is utterly, industry-fuckingly insane).

There are quite a few other differences too; however, one of them is that people can see themselves having a drink and a bit of a giggle with Nigel Farage.

And that's not simply because he likes to be interviewed in pubs; it is because he comes across as a guy who enjoys himself, and who genuinely thinks that the people of Britain should, in the end, also enjoy themselves.

This philosophy is miles away from the pinch-faced, high-voiced, bigoted, boring, public-health fascists and shrieking snobs of the Islington set—of which Cameron is perceived to be a member (alongside most other politicians).

UPDATE: it seems that Marina Hyde also agrees with this last point.
Farage wears pretty much everything lightly, from blazers to budgetary black holes. And this, one can't help feeling, is his deadliest weapon. He does possess a genuine political superpower: the ability to make it look as though his critics are taking things far too seriously.
Yup. I've had a good few pints (and a fag or two) with Farage, and he's highly entertaining. Furthermore, he always stands his round...

Monday, April 8, 2013

"There is no such thing as public money"—Mrs Thatcher



No, Mrs Thatcher was not a libertarian. But she at least understood that the money that governments' spend is sweated from the toil of the individuals who earn it.

And no, Mrs Thatcher was no infallible goddess. But compared to what came before and (most especially) after, she may as well have been.

And no, Mrs Thatcher did not do everything right: but she had a vision that rose above that of merely lining her own pockets, and she had the balls to see it through.

R.I.P. Mrs T.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Missing the point of "the Bedroom Tax"

Of course, the Bedroom Tax is not a tax: it is the removal of a subsidy, which is not the same thing at all.

However...

The point of the Bedroom Tax is not to address the housing shortage in this country (because a shortage of physical buildings does not really exist); the point is to address the shortage of suitable housing.

There are various organisations—Local Councils and Housing Associations, essentially—who have a legal obligation to provide housing for people. However, it is often very difficult to house these people (whilst complying with the other laws governing what is suitable): this is largely because tenancies, once awarded, are not only for life but can actually be passed on as an inheritance (although only once).

As such, a woman with four kids can be awarded a large house; once those kids have grown up and moved on (probably to other subsidised tenancies), the mother is still allowed to live in the four bedroom house. And then to pass it on to one of her children.

What this means is that there are many people living in subsidised houses that have lots more rooms than they need—whilst down the road, there might be another mother with four kids who is forced to live in a two bedroom flat.

As I said above, there is a shortage of suitable housing—not an absolute shortage.

I have spoken to housing providers who are cautiously in favour of the Bedroom Tax. This is because it will allow them a fighting chance to comply with their legal obligations to provide suitable homes for the homeless.

And, ultimately, this is what the Welfare State was envisioned to be—a safety net for those reduced to penury on the streets, not a lifestyle choice for those who want a nice life paid for by everyone else.

Monday, April 1, 2013

IDS and £53 per week

There has been an awful lot of kerfuffle on Twitter about this article today, culminating in a petition urging Iain Duncan-Smith to "prove his claim of being able to live on £7.57 a day, or £53 a week".

Like many causes celebre of the Left, the actual situation is not so cut and dried—especially as regards the earnings of the man who initiated the question.

The first reference that I saw was to a paragraph in this BBC story...
Market trader David Bennett, 51, who works between 50 and 70 hours a week and earned around £2,700 last year, said his housing benefit had been cut from £75 a week to £57. His income works out at around £53 per week.

This paragraph raised some general questions in my mind...
  1. If Bennett really is only earning £2,700 whilst working 50 to 70 hours a week, then perhaps market trading is not the job for him? Perhaps he should find a job that doesn't force other people to subsidise him?
  2. Personally, it boggles my mind that anyone would work such long hours for so little money: perhaps the Inland Revenue ought to have a long, hard look at Mr Bennett's accounts to ensure that he is declaring his full income?
However, the paragraph also raised some rather more specific questions too...
  1. Bennett's declared income of £2,700 equates to £51.92 per week (£2,700 ÷ 52): in fact, 52 × £53 = £2,756. So is this, in fact, what the BBC means by "his income"?
  2. Mr Bennett gained more money from his Housing Benefit (£75 × 52 = £3,900) than he supposedly did from his market trading activities. And this is still true even after his benefit was cut (£57 × 52 = £2,964).
  3. Assuming that Bennett's rent is £75 per week (the amount of his previous HB payments) then, after the cut, he has to find an extra £28 from his £53 per week earnings—leaving him with only £25 per week. This does seem somewhat tricky to live on.
So, given that the BBC's paragraph was ambiguous at best, I went to visit this Telegraph article cited in the petition mentioned above. And what do we find there...?
David Bennett said he earned around £2,700 last year - around £50 a week - and has had to borrow money after his housing benefit was cut to £57 a week. It later emerged that Mr Bennett also gets tax credits, which can be worth between £37 and £50 from the Government. However, he is left with just £53 a week after paying rent and bills.

Right. So Mr Bennett was being slightly economical with the truth; as are the BBC—who have not altered their story as of 10pm today. There is, I think that you will agree, a considerable difference between these three options:
  1. having £53 per week to pay for everything—including rent and bills;
  2. having £53 per week to pay for everything except rent;
  3. having £53 per week left after paying rent and bills.
The petition calls for Iain Duncan-Smith to go for Option 1—that is, to pay for everything with £53 per week.

Whereas the man who inspired the whole thing—David Bennett—actually lives on Option 3, i.e. that he has £53 per week after paying rent and bills (and what, exactly, is covered in "bills", e.g. is travel included?).

These are two very different propositions.

I have, in my working life, lived on considerably less than £53 per week (or £212 per month) after paying rent and bills. Even in 2008, having done the calculations, I was living on just under £60 per week (after rent and bills)—not much more than Bennett.

As some people have pointed out, the real issue is that David Bennett might feel totally helpless because he might be on that kind of income for the foreseeable future.

However, that point simply comes back to whether Mr Bennett should be working as a market trader—given that he earns only £2,700 per year doing so. After all, if the money is that important to him, even MacDonald's would pay him the minimum wage. If Mr Bennett chooses not to do that—which he might, for all manner of reasons—then that is his choice.

But that is no reason why everyone else should be forced to subsidise that choice.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mr Eugenides speaks...

... in his usual inimitable style over at Think Scotland.
It’s a classic wedge tactic, designed to inveigle the state into yet another area of our life where it has no goddamned business being, in the full knowledge that once there it will be all but impossible to dislodge, like one of those little fish in the Amazon that swim into your cock and then deploy barbs to prevent you winkling it out. That’s what Andy Burnham is like. He’s like a Brazilian cock-fish.

Nice to see the Angry Baby parlaying off one of my favourite Kitchen tags: candiru fish craziness...

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's an odd world, isn't it?

I would never, for instance, have expected to read the following headline:
Anti-gay activist lawyer guilty of child pornography after videotaping daughter

But it gets worse...
A New Hampshire lawyer who works with a virulently anti-gay Christian-right organization has been found guilty of child pornography charges after videotaping her own daughter having sex with two men on multiple occasions.

Lisa Biron, 43, of Manchester faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison after a jury convicted her yesterday. The jury deliberated for less than an hour.

Biron, arrested by the FBI last November, was accused of eight felony counts involving the videotaping of men having sex with a 14-year-old girl who was identified by the Associated Press as her daughter. She also allegedly made a cellphone video of herself having sex with her daughter.

Consider my mind boggled.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Techie interlude

For those readers who are of a technical bent, your humble Devil also writes about such issues over at The Devil's Repose, and I'd like to highlight a couple of articles that might be of interest.

The first, from a few months ago, is about dealing with designers, customer feedback and measuring effectiveness.

The second ties together a few comments on proposals for being able to serve optimised web resources by using bandwidth media queries.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible...

UPDATE: I am currently looking for two Web Designers / Front-end Developers to join my team. If anyone is interested, they might find my article about cultural fit entertaining...

The Administration does not support blowing up planets

Via Daring Fireball, I rather enjoyed the official White House response to a petition demanding that the US government build a Death Star.
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets. [*]
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

Controversionally, the entire response rather suggests that not only do White House staffers have a sense of humour but, crucially, the Administration lets them demonstrate it in public.

Wouldn't it be nice if all politicians and companies issued such informative and yet fundamentally light-hearted pronouncements...?

* Only a cynic would opine at this point that, whilst planets might be beyond the ambitions of the US government, other countries are not.
Were someone to do that, of course, they would also need to concede that our own Parliamentarians are also not averse to bombing the shit out of foreigners.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Steve Baker talks more sense

When I first adopted Steve Baker MP as my blog mascot, I knew that he was a pretty sound chap. The more I hear him speak—whether in person or in the media—the more sound he seems to get.

Via Samizdata, here's an interview with Steve in which he pretty much articulates everything that I have been talking about for the last few years.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Designing software

Ian "Hixie" Hickson, editor of the HTML "Living Standard"* at WHATWG, is one of the most influential people on the web today. HTML5 Doctor has a very interesting interview with him, but I wanted to highlight one passage in particular.

In my day job, I usually describe myself as a web software designer. Trying to describe what that means is usually a little tricky: there are, of course, aspects of User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)** design in there; I also bring in some Information Architecture, a degree of HTML and CSS mastery (though, alas, my Javascript is pretty basic) and a great deal of market knowledge.

However, there is one passage from Hixie's interview—in a context not entirely unrelated—which pretty much sums up the nitty-gritty of what I do.
Often when people send feedback (not just authors, pretty much anyone who hasn’t been in the process for a long time starts this way) they send feedback along the lines of “I want to add feature X” or “I want feature X to be extended in manner Y”. But when we drill down, ask them “what problem are you trying to solve”, or “what’s your use case” (same question but phrased differently), we often find that either (a) they actually don’t have a real problem, they just thought that it would be a good idea, or (b) their solution wouldn’t actually solve their problem. Often we’re able to come up with much simpler solutions (or point to already-existing solutions), which is quite satisfying.

Like Hixie, I am working within an existing framework—our Enterprise Content Management Framework—and, when a customer requires some new piece of functionality, I need to take into account what others have fed back and how to best solve their problem within our existing framework.

Luckily, we designed and developed the framework fairly recently—and in response to existing customer requirements—so often we can point the customer to an existing function that solves their issue.

However, when that isn't the case, I never rely on our salesmen or, indeed, the customer's own specification. Whenever faced with a development request, my first question is "what is the driver", i.e. what is the problem that they are trying to solve.

Being able to solve those problems in the most elegant way is what gives me the most pleasure in my job.


* Otherwise known as HTML5.

** There's a school of thought that maintains that there is no difference between the two; indeed, many hold the opinion that any way in which customers interact with your company or its products is, in fact, UX.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Amusing name...

Your humble Devil is busy doing another amateur play, this time in Twickenham.

As such, I have walked past this place a number of times, but it was only today that I noticed the hilarious juxtaposition of name and profession...

The Tory media doesn't understand UKIP

I blame Dan Hannan.

No, really.

I am sure that it was he who started this meme that the Tories should do a deal with UKIP. If it wasn't, he certainly publicised it.

And whilst said meme is not being followed by everyone, the thought seems to be entering the tiny wee brains of many Tory commentators.

And even if they are not actively contemplating a pact, there seems to be a large increase—no doubt boosted by UKIP's ever-growing poll ratings and recent by-election successes—in articles by Tories advising Cameron to at least stop dismissing UKIP as a bunch of "fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists" (always an unwise phrase for Cameron to use, given the make-up of much of his own party).

Today, both Iain Dale and Paul Goodman have articles whose theme could be very well be adapted by Noel Coward (were he alive) into a little ditty called Don't Let's Be Beastly To The UKIP.

Urging Cameron to stop insulting UKIPpers and, instead, to "hug them close", Iain Dale lays out the basic thrust of the message:
It’s no good developing a strategy for dealing with UKIP after June 2014. It needs to start now. And being nice to UKIP might just be a start.

Paul Goodman, meanwhile, illustrates why "being nice to UKIP" is about the only start that the Tories are likely to get. After all, if one is going to have any chance of beating one's enemy, one must understand him—and Goodman doesn't seem to understand the nuances of UKIP's strategy.

First, like all journalists, he seems to think—just because Nigel Farage is the most visible UKIP spokesman—that the party leadership is Nigel Farage. It isn't.
Surveys by YouGov and Lord Ashcroft have separately established that the EU is not the top issue for Mr Farage’s voters (which is why he has astutely sought to abandon the party’s longer title and pound-symbol badge).

Back in the mists of time, when I was first a member of the party, in 2005 (I think), I had fairly constant contact with the leadership of UKIP. Not just with Nigel and the other MEPs, but I also used to hang out with the researchers and strategists who work in the background.

Dropping the pound logo and the party's longer title were discussed at around this time, so that a new image might be formed in order to support the party's emerging strategy of creating a broader, country-wide manifesto.

As it happens, it was decided that the time was not right for any kind of formal change, although the party has been known as UKIP for some time.

However, this broader manifesto was urged forward—and its thematic principles largely devised by—a group of people who were, broadly speaking, libertarian-leaning and, in many cases, bloggers. Regular readers might remember such characters as England Expects, Trixy and Vindico; Timmy, of course, is still around (and even I played a small part).

What does this have to do with Goodman's article?

The point is that there are some clever strategists in UKIP—people who are driven by principle and theory, but this group is also bolstered by people who have some idea of political strategy.

Most people cite "immigration" as one of UKIP's main bug-bears, but they fail to understand the nuances of this area—as Goodman so ably demonstrates here... [Emphasis mine.]
The Prime Minister’s best chance of squeezing Mr Farage’s support is thus to avoid being drawn too deep into the EU quagmire and keep hold of the strategic high ground – in other words, to deliver policy success. This entails George Osborne reducing the structural deficit further, Michael Gove pressing on with his schools revolution, Theresa May reducing immigration to the tens of thousands and Iain Duncan Smith introducing the universal credit and bearing down on welfare fraud and error – plus much of the programme of further reform that Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg will outline tomorrow.

It is in that highlighted section that Goodman makes a classic mistake (there are others in the article, but this one will serve amply to illustrate my point): it shows is that Goodman has not understood the UKIP strategy here and, in fact, this suggestion risks alienating UKIP voters further. Let me explain...

The UKIP leadership and strategists have, for some years, been pushing the "Anglosphere" and "our own kith and kin in the Commonwealth" as part of the trade solution on Britain removing itself from the EU.



As a result, UKIPpers tend to be well-disposed towards such nations, and their people. And the older UKIPpers (particularly, but not exclusively) revile Ted Heath for selling the Commonwealth down the river when we joined the EU.

And it is for this reason that UKIP's main focus when talking about immigration has been heavily weighted against unfettered EU immigration. And since Cameron and his merry band cannot reduce EU immigration (indeed, we are facing a new wave from Eastern Europe this year), the Conservatives cannot win this point.

As such, it doesn't matter whether Theresa May reduces immigration from outside the EU to one man and his gerbil—it will not make the blindest bit of difference to most UKIP voters.

Except, of course, in that allowing immigrants from Bulgaria but increasingly turning away, as Nigel put it, "our own kith and kin" from the Anglosphere and Commonwealth countries, she will further alienate UKIPpers.

I believe that it simply hasn't occurred to the Tories that UKIP's rallying cries might have some subtleties to them. And, largely, I lay the fault for this blindness at David Cameron's door.

After all, if the Conservative leader designates an entire party as "fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists" then it is hardly suprsing that his planners should write off UKIP's strategists as simplistic and guileless.

Which is why I think that the Tories might be in for a shock.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rehabilitation

No, not for your humble Devil, I'm afraid, but for his blog mascot—the excellent Steve Baker MP.
I recently took the Centre for Social Justice Inner City Challenge, spending three days in drug and alcohol rehabilitation with ex-offenders at Acorn Treatment.
You can read Steve's article about the experience; but the really interesting thing is the documentary made by Bad Kamra.

It's an hour long, but features the stories of people who got addicted to drugs and became criminals on the back of it. Many of them had had horrific childhoods—is anyone surprised when someone states that they were sexually abused whilst in "Care" these days?—and many of them had been in prison for decades (whether consistently, or on and off).

Inevitably, many of them had become crack or heroin addicts whilst in prison—where, apparently, anything drug-wise is easily available (another state failure).

The point is that the approach taken by Acorn appears to be very successful—counsellors are former drug-addicts and criminals, support is provided as a package and over time. Critically, though, the offenders are treated as individuals—not as statistics or a lumped together group—which proves, to my libertarian mind, that it is the individual approach to support that is important.

How many fewer people might become offenders in the first place if society's solution to their problems was to help individuals, rather than salving their consciences' through their tax payments to an uncaring state?

Anyway, Acorn seem to be doing good work and I highly recommend watching the documentary.

And I would like to sent a "well done" to Steve Baker for undertaking the challenge.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hypocrites

This is the advert that I saw to the right of my last blog post. Obviously, I have no problem with it, per se.

However, this advert is served by Google.

The same Google that shut off my Google Ads revenue in 2006 because I wasn't "family-friendly enough".

I shan't deign to pass comment...

Two different approaches

Timmy reports that those who are above the Body Mass Index (BMI) that our sanctimonious medical profession deem optimum are, in fact, rather more likely to live longer than the stick insects that the scum of the public health fascists would have us emulate.
This isn’t new nor a surprise. But it does show the problem we’ve got with the BMI measure:
Dr Katherine Flegal, of the National Centre for Health Statistics in the United States, found that people who are overweight had a six per cent lower risk of death than normal weight people.

The risk for those with a BMI (body mass index) of between 30 and 35 fell by five per cent. But those grossly obese with a BMI above 35 were 29 per cent more likely to die than slim people of the same age.

Let us assume, for moment, that the aim of all of this is indeed to enable us all to live long and enjoyable lives (as opposed to the Puritans getting to impose their idea of the good life on us).

Logically we should change the advice we give people. We should be aiming for a BMI of 30-35, not the 25 we are currently told to aim for.

That this has long been known and yet the advice hasn’t been changed rather leads to the idea that it is all about the Puritans really….

Now, most of us possessing a single ounce of common sense know that the BMI is a big load of arse-wibble (at 11 stone, I am malnourished apparently. I'm sure the wife would disagree).

However, it is Chris Snowdon who points out that presentation is everything. For whilst Timmy points to the Telegraph, Chris contrasts an impartial view with the BBC's reportage...
There are two ways to report news that divides opinion. The first is to report what has happened and then include comments from those who have a view on it, including critics. The second is to lead off with disparaging comments from the critics so that the news itself becomes incidental. This latter approach amounts to poisoning the well and is mainly favoured by propagandists and media outlets which have a blatant editorial bias.

And with that in mind...
'Weight is healthy' study criticised

A study which suggests being overweight can lead to a longer life has caused controversy among obesity experts.

One labelled the findings a "pile of rubbish" while another said it was a "horrific message" to put out.

As Chris says, "Boom"!

I thoroughly recommend that you wander over to Serious Researcher Snowdon's place for a thorough filleting of our impartial broadcaster's take on this rather obvious science.

Needless to say, the... [cough]... scientists of the Beeb's journalistic arm are perplexed—and merely compliant with what their political masters would want them to report.

Remind me again: why is it that I can go to prison for refusing to pay these bastards...?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cutting off your nose...

... to spite your face is an expression that could neatly be applied to Jo Brand's reason for not appearing on Mock The Week anymore.
In 2009 Jo Brand said that she had stopped appearing on the programme due to the lack of women on its panels...
Hmmm.

Gloria del Pierro tries to find out why people hate politicians

This bit of fatuity was highlighted to me by Tim Worstall...
I can explain this #whydopeoplehateme
MP tries to find out why voters hate politicians

Because you’re ignorant fuckwits who steal all our money.

Next question?

Quite apart from anything else, you'd think that Gloria De Piero (for it is she)—being a "working class, free-school-meal girl from Bradford"—would know already why people hate politicians.

It's because everyone assumes that they are thieves: the expenses scandal simply proved it.

It's because everyone assumes that they are liars: MPs prove it when they open their mouths.

And it's because they steal our hard-earned money and funnel it to people who they think will get them elected again.
De Piero has written a short report on her trip for the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, partly in the hope of encouraging a rethink about how parties reach out to find new candidates, and she is talking to two unions about how to use their vast member networks to get more regular contact with MPs – starting, again, in her own constituency, with a beer and sandwich evening.

"I meet people every week and I think 'you're amazing, why shouldn't you be on the council or doing my job?' When I see a parliament that looks like Britain – it means shop workers, it means police officers, it means GPs and small-business people too – that's what a democracy is."

No, no, Gloria: because, you see, when these people are in Parliament they are no longer doing useful jobs—like being shop workers, police officers*, GPs** and small-business people.

They have ceased to be productive, useful members of society and, instead, have become parasites: leaching off their former colleagues, comrades and competitors.
Each meeting started with her asking the group to list the words they associated with politician. The results were not kind: them and us, the old man, upper class, completely different, liars, selfish, self-seeking, privileged and arrogant, spiv, jargon talkers, people who did not live in the real world. When she asked whom the politicians worked for, the reply was "themselves".

You see? The people of Britain aren't completely stupid—they know a charlatan when they see one.

What these bastions of the great British public are not sharp enough to grasp, of course, is that everyone works for themselves—it is simply human nature.

As such, we should ensure that politicians should have as little power as possible—it will then matter far less who they actually work for.

And the shop workers, police officers*, GPs** and small-business people can get on with doing decent, productive work and keeping the fruits of that work.

* I include the police only because it is used in the article. They are as corrupt and politicised as the politicians: a decent police force, however, might actually be useful.

** GPs would be useful is they just shut up and got on with fixing people, rather than trying to tell them how they should live their lives. Which might happen if we abolished the NHS and opened GPs up to competition.

This is what it's all about...

Shown to me by the wife, this excellent post really sums up the difference between the individualists and the socialists.
The gun control debate, like all debates with the left, is reducible to the question of whether we are individuals who make our own decisions or a great squishy social mass that helplessly responds to stimuli. Do people kill with guns or does the availability of guns kill people? Do bad eating habits kill people or does the availability of junk food kill people?

To the left these are distinctions without a difference. If a thing is available then it is the cause of the problem. The individual cannot be held accountable for shooting someone if there are guns for sale. Individuals have no role to play because they are not moral actors, only members of a mob responding to stimuli.

You wouldn't blame a dog for overeating; you blame the owners for overfeeding him. Nor do you blame a dog for biting a neighbor. You might punish him, but the punishment is training, not a recognition of authentic responsibility on the part of the canine. And the way that you think of a dog, is the way that the left thinks of you. When you misbehave, the left looks around for your owner.

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem.

Individual behavior is a symptom of a social problem. Identify the social problem and you fix the behavior. The individual is nothing, the crowd is everything. Control the mass and you control the individual.
Do go and read the whole thing...

MessageSpace Adverts