Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Frogs Are Starting To Simmer In 'The Land Of The Free'

Mrs P has put her foot down with a firm hand, so I'll be taking a few days off before the little Ps go back to the state indoctrination hub school. A tour of Lord's, jaunt to the beach, hours of fun playing 'where the fuck have they run off to now?' in several tourist-packed museums, that sort of thing. As such, if tumbleweed begins to drift around here in the coming week, don't be too surprised.

Afore that, though, there's just time for a quick look at what might be coming our way soon, courtesy of our government's idols over the Atlantic.

As we often observe on these pages, however absurd America gets, it's only a matter of time before illiberal ideas, bans, and downright lunacy begin to be replicated over here.

And we should be quite worried at the moment as yank authoritarians are busy attacking their own constitution - which most Americans presumed to be set in stone for an eternity - with a carbide-tipped pickaxe. The Fourth Amendment in particular.

As some bloggers have spotted this week, for example, US authorities haven't waited for the dust to settle on the use of body scanning devices at airports before rolling out the mobile, in-your-face-on-the-street version.

The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of x-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back. Absorbed rays indicate dense material such as steel. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes them powerful tools for security, law enforcement, and border control.
In a country which has only ever suffered one terrist atrocity on its own soil (IIRC), it would seem a trifle paranoid to unleash 500 of these things, even though the manufacturer publicity makes very clear their necessity for the public good.

But is it really in the wider interest of Americans?

But EPIC’s Rotenberg says that the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment. “Without a warrant, the government doesn’t have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,” he says. Even airport scans are typically used only as a secondary security measure, he points out. “If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.”
Of course, as BBW has consistently emphasised, it's not necessarily the equipment which is the problem, but the very human operators and the potential for mission creep.

The same 'for your protection' angle is also being wheeled out to defend a US court's decision to allow state interference on private property.

Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.

That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant.
One of the judges did vainly object, but his remarks bely a sense of desperation.

"1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last," [Chief Judge Kozinski] lamented in his dissent. And invoking Orwell's totalitarian dystopia where privacy is essentially nonexistent, he warned: "Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we're living in Oceania."
Meanwhile, elsewhere in 'the land of the free', schools are queueing up to tag and monitor their students. Starting with pre-schoolers ...

RICHMOND, Calif.—California officials are outfitting preschoolers in Contra Costa County with tracking devices they say will save staff time and money. The system was introduced Tuesday. When at the school, students will wear a jersey that has a small radio frequency tag. The tag will send signals to sensors that help track children's whereabouts, attendance and even whether they've eaten or not.
... before moving on to those a little older [YouTube].

Lastly, the Washington Examiner reports on why yanks shouldn't consider themselves safe from the ever-expanding state while acting perfectly legally on their own property.

[...] to arrest someone who is unmistakably on their own property, and doing nothing remotely illegal, is an abuse of power pure and simple. Even if it were true that Gibson was endangering herself by witnessing the traffic stop from the confines of her front porch, how could that possibly be construed as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing the police” without eviscerating everything that the concept of private property (not to mention plain old individual rights) stands for? Taking such a risk is not illegal. Doing it while occupying one’s homestead should be recognized as unassailably within one’s rights.
Couldn't happen here? Confident? Have you seen the crazy shit our easily gulled parliament has passed before?

Strap yourselves in, boys and girls. We could be in for a long and bumpy ride.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

ASH Fire Up The Statmobile

With quangoes and high-profile public sector agencies dropping like nine pins due to government cuts, some have floated the idea that state-funded anti-smoking organisations might be a tad worried right now.

There has been a flurry of self-righteous indignation from our medical profession overlords, of course, but little so far from the likes of, say, ASH. Perhaps - considering their usual modus operandi of producing cleverly constructed 'statistics' to 'prove' whichever departure from sanity they are promoting at any time - they just haven't any defence for their utter uselessness right now, so are laying low.

Yes, there was a puff piece last month regurgitating their prior sleight of hand [pdf], but nothing to convince the coalition axemen that ASH themselves are vital or in any way popular.

You know what they need? Figures to show that the public really love them. Yes, that would do it. I dunno, maybe something like a survey directed at those most likely to give the correct responses (and mailed out on Thursday), for example?

"I am writing to ask you to take part in ASH’s public reputation survey, a tightly targeted piece of quantitative market research designed to help us understand perceptions of ASH and its effectiveness among people who are important to our work.

The research findings will be presented to the ASH Board of Trustees summarising the issues and challenges facing the organisation."
So who would these 'tightly targeted' people be? Perhaps question 1 of 20 addresses that (emphasis mine throughout).

What is your main connection to ASH? Tick more than one if appropriate.

- ASH staff
- ASH Board member

- PCT employee
- Academic
- Local authority employee
- Member of the Smokefree Action Coalition
- Member of general public/general interest
- Stop Smoking counsellor
- Other (please specify)
Yes, ASH staff and board members are being asked how the public view them. Along with those whose salary relies on government funding for anti-smoking initiatives, and the odd member of the public ... tightly targeted, of course.

Question 3 gets to the point.

How much would you agree or disagree with the following comments about ASH?

- insufficiently resourced
- factually credible
- influential
- reasonable
- effective networkers
- aggressive
- professional
- evidence based campaigners
- assertive
Now, when you're finally finished sniggering at some of those, can we move on to question 18?

Which of the following would you see as important priorities for ASH over the next five years (The most important - tick one only in this column. Important but not most important - tick as many as apply)

- Coordinating and leading the work of the Smokefree Action Coalition
- Working to ensure sustained funding for tobacco control
- Campaigning for continued government support for a comprehensive tobacco control strategy

- Supporting implementation of the Health Act legislation to prohibit tobacco displays at point of sale and sale of tobacco from vending machines
- Supporting local advocacy
- Revealing tobacco industry malpractice
- Maintaining a reputation for impartial advice
- Promoting tobacco control to the media
- Providing up to date information on tobacco issues
- Producing reports on key issues in tobacco control
- Responding to consultations on public health issues to ensure that tobacco is taken into account in the development of public policy
- Commissioning research to add to the evidence base for tobacco control (e.g. opinion polling, economic reports etc.)
- Supporting development and implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
- Supporting tobacco control implementation at EU level
- Other (please specify)
Yep, I reckon that with their selection of respondents, the mere mention of funding to those who are no doubt worried about their state-financed mortgages, and the exclusion of all but the most trusted members of the public, they may well be able to cobble together something to convince dullard MPs that ASH are more popular than Jesus and therefore indispensable.

Me? I find it satisfying that ASH are at last admitting that one of their main purposes is simply to justify their very existence.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Come In Number Nine ...

Thanks to everyone who voted for this blog in the Total Politics poll. It came as a surprise to be placed in the top ten of the incredibly competitive Libertarian category last time around, so it's very encouraging to be installed at number 9 again this year. Especially considering the inexorable rise of Anna Raccoon, and Charlotte Gore's wise decision to stop kidding herself she was a Lib Dem.

It's interesting to note that TP have decided to increase the Libertarian results to 30 as opposed to 20 in 2009. One hopes that this can be attributed to a stronger showing from bloggers of our persuasion, and perusal of the full top 30 list would seem to confirm this. Blogs like the ASI, BBW, VGIF & Wallace, amongst others, can only boost Libertarian ideas in the future (and knock me out of the top ten no doubt, the bastards).

The acid test, though, may come when the full blog list is released. Currently, eight of the TP poll's top ten Libertarians are ranked in Wikio's top 30. Five were listed as top 30 in last year's TP poll. Some have claimed that Libertarian blogging has lost its bite since the election, so it will be interesting to see if the general movement has been up or down in 2010.

To mark your card, third round FA cup draw stylee, this blog was 78th last year.

Ciggy Busters Find A Champion

Corrugated Soundbite has spotted a lefty flinging red herrings all over Medway in defence of the 'Ciggy Busters', and so performs a double righteous take-down with pike.

The blogroll swells once more.

Link Tank 28/08

Yes, yes, but I'm trying to cut down. Honest.

If you'd prefer to be left in peace, you have a "civil liberties fetish"

The perfect political state - legislative gridlock

That's one hell of a debt, and what it would look like if dumped on Westminster

Fried beer and chocolate is definitely the future

Schools ban chocolate milk - milk consumption reduces by 35%

The 'passive drinking' bandwagon gathers pace in Australia

It's not a blogging tax, it's worse than that

What to do with leftover wine ... whatever that is

Native american rights, possible violence and death, not as important as collecting tobacco tax

To get on in Turkish politics, you gotta have a tache

E numbers: A big scary fuss over nothing

Why more than 100 bird species are gay

Iraq is westernised ... they now have porn

We're not wreckers. We just think The Spirit Level is bad social science

Parents in the soviet republic of San Francisco to be fined if their kids snowboard without a helmet

Friday, 27 August 2010

Researchers Discover A Stool Pigeon, Quite Literally

You've got to hand it to anti-tobacco lunatics - their commitment to the cause of haranguing smokers, every day, and in every way, is quite remarkable.

Nothing is too difficult or objectionable ... not even rummaging through shit. And not just any old shit either, we're talking meconium here.

Meconium, the dark and tarry stools passed by a baby during the first few days after birth, can be used to determine how much the mother smoked, or if she was exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy.

Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health measured tobacco smoke metabolites in meconium samples from 337 babies, finding that they correlated well with reported smoke exposure and other markers of tobacco smoke exposure.
Parents will know all about meconium. The intensely acrid, almost radioactive, ammonia-like greeny-brown stuff which nature injects into babies as its little sadistic test on new mums and dads. If you can withstand that without running the little 'un down to the nearest adoption agency, you possess the requisite mettle to survive the next 18 years of your life feeling like you're forever being run through a crushed-glass encrusted mangle.

For those who have never experienced meconium, it doesn't just emit an odour, it launches a psychotic frenzied assault on your senses. When you breathe in, it instantly flays the membrane from the inside of your nostrils, performs Riverdance on your optic nerve and detonates a landmine on your ear drums, before lobbing rotten prawns into your stomach and drumming on your diaphragm with a wooden club.

Yet the researchers took 337 examples of this stuff for analysis. Not just one nappy load from each kid either, oh no. All of it, according to their report [pdf].

Meconium stools were collected throughout the hospital stay, until the first milk stool appeared. Study staff pooled meconium samples from diapers into polyethylene containers using a spatula.
Then they put it all in a fridge to keep its violent properties as fresh as possible, before delving into it with gusto.

And for why? Well, as the authors state, smoke exposure in pregnancy is "under-reported". That is, people have learned that if they deny smoking or being around smokers, doctors leave them alone, and this just won't do for anti-smoking fanatics. Consequently, they need to come up with an irrefutable tell-tale sign of exactly what smoke-related activities have been going on, and by collecting and getting elbow-deep in noxious shit, they think they have found it.

Thanks to this newly-discovered - quite literal - stool pigeon, a rich new seam of potential hectoring is now exploitable.

In the future, if a new mum says they haven't been anywhere near smoke during pregnancy, her doctor may ask her to bring a bag of her kid's shit to prove it.

Can We Leave Yet?

Via Rosie, it appears that the new communist experiment the EU is becoming increasingly unpopular.

The European Commission says fewer than half of voters across Europe are in favour of the union.

The “Eurobarometer” survey – conducted in May – found only 49 per cent of voters backed the EU, four per cent fewer than last year.

Trust was lowest in Britain where only 20 per cent of voters have faith in EU institutions.
Hardly surprising, really, considering that out of a population of just over 500 million, only 27 unelected commissioners get any significant say in how the EU public are entitled to live.

It really is well past time that we were allowed to voice an opinion about whether we want anything to do with this bloated, venal, eugenicistic, hideously-expensive, self-serving mega-quango. We are supposed to be living in a democracy, after all.

The Campaign for an EU Referendum are hoping to bring about just such an opportunity, by holding the coalition to their word that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for formal debate in Parliament and, that the petition with the most signatures will enable members of the public to table a bill eligible to be voted on in Parliament.

Their campaign bus (see above) will be touring the country from September, collecting signatures in the UK's major cities, but they are also targeting 10,000 responses from the blogosphere. You can register your interest HERE.

I very much hope they reach their target, as I can't wait to see how the oleaginous Cleggerons will contrive to wriggle out of yet another much-trumpeted empty liberal promise.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Public Health Doesn't Have A Monopoly On Rent-Seeking

OK, we're all familiar with the concept of brown-trousered politicians collapsing at the merest hint of pressure from health-related lobby groups and fake charities, but a fellow jewel robber often e-mails to point out that it's the same story with foreign aid.

His latest, a witty re-write of yesterday's Guardian article on the backtracking by the Department for International Development, is an eye-opener and definitely worth sharing.

Our friend has struck out the flim-flam and replaced it with bold text. This is how he reckons the piece should have read:

Andrew Mitchell soothes charities' rent-seekers’ fears over planned DfID cuts

Development secretary Andrew Mitchell last night pledged to boost spending on a broad range of anti-poverty initiatives large government-funded interest groups as he sought to allay fears expressed by charities large government-funded interest groups about the government's root-and-branch study of its aid commitments investigation into whether the large government-funded interest groups actually do anything useful.

Responding to a letter signed by five leading UK agencies government-funded interest groups warning that they might consider withdrawing backing for the government's development strategy, Mitchell promised full consultation to consider the political implications to the government and his own career prospects before any final decisions were made on the future of individual programmes.

The reassurance came after the five large government-funded interest groups (who received hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money every year) – Oxfam, Christian Aid, Action Aid, Save the Children and Cafod – wrote to Mitchell last week in the wake of a leaked report showing that the Department for International Development (DfID) was planning to scale down drastically the number of entirely pointless spending commitments inherited from Labour.

In their letter, the aid agencies said they accepted his right to hold a strategic review of DfID spending, but not if it affected their jobs, career prospects, or holidays in Tuscany. They added: "We are, however, very concerned at the apparent proposal to review and potentially drop the majority of the existing development commitments the UK has made. If this went ahead, it would impact on the full range of development policies, affecting our budgets drastically almost every sector of DfID's work."

They said commitments and targets were vital in creating support for aid spending creating nice headlines that convince Joe Public that more money should be spent on “foreign aid”, which the government has pledged to increase to 0.7% of GDP. "Mobilising public support for the UK's aid spending target will become difficult to justify to our supporters if these commitments are dropped. Without government hand-outs to pay for our propaganda to be plastered all over the Tube, our donors might want their money to only go to actual aid stuff, abroad. They might even start checking that it works."

Mitchell, one of the only two cabinet ministers to have his budget ringfenced increased in the spending review, said the government's approach had been "misreported". He said it was important DfID focused "ruthlessly on results and impact", but kept increasing spending whatever the results. He said in many areas "we anticipate increasing – not decreasing – activity, depending on the results of the reviews, and the threats made by large government-funded interest groups."

He added: "As this process of reviewing our bilateral, multilateral and humanitarian work unfolds in the months ahead, I envisage strong consultation and backroom discussions with the full range of government-funded groups and individuals NGOs, academics, experts and others who live off this multi-billion pound industry bring such strength to the UK international development effort. I have instructed my officials to ensure that the recipients of government funds are allowed to tell us whether or not to cut the funds that pay for their careers NGO community is fully engaged to help us identify the best uses of the aid budget, and have asked officials to be in touch with you to set out in detail the steps we will take to ensure that this happens.

The charities said they were pleased with the outcome of face-to-face backroom talks with Mitchell but warned they would only be able to pass judgment on the coalition's development approach once they details of the spending review were announced were 100% sure that their budgets had been protected, and that this wasn’t just a political trick by a Tory, given that they’ve been brought up in the belief that you can never trust a Tory. However, John Hilary, who has spent two decades in the pay of government-funded groups like the BBC, VSO, ActionAid, Save the Children, and is now executive director of the anti-trade, Communist pressure group War on Want, took a stronger line. "To many people in the sector who, like myself, are funded by government, what the government is doing to international development our budgets is profoundly disturbing. The return to a focus on short-term aid outputs that we saw in the 1970s is deeply regressive, whereas since then foreign aid has clearly worked in places like Ethiopia, Somalia and Zimbabwe, whilst free trade has helped no one but the Western rich."

Meanwhile, the pressure on the development secretary was maintained last night when two complete morons England footballers spearheading a global campaign for universal primary education raised concerns about government policy. The players morons, who are ambassadors for 1GOAL, said they were worried by the proposal to scrap the UK's £1bn-a-year education commitment, which represents almost a third of the world's spending for primary education and provides a great boon for ‘civil servants’ in African education departments who can siphon it off to their mates and families.

John Barnes, the former Liverpool football player and no-doubt expert in economics and development, said: "It was only six weeks ago that I was sitting in a Soweto classroom with Andrew Mitchell listening as he told children that education would remain a priority for the UK government. I can do this because I don’t have a proper job, after making so much money out of football that I can just doss around and preach nonsense to the rest of you. I'm surprised and worried that, even after being treated to a nice trip to see “evidence” of some education programme seeing the impact of education on the lives of those kids, he could be considering scrapping key commitments to education in poor countries.

Bristol City and England goalkeeper David James said: "I'm proud to be a barely-famous face fronting some or other charity that helps me avoid the usual ‘selfish footballer’ image founding ambassador of 1GOAL and part of their campaign demanding education for all. The charity’s PR people told me to say this: With over 15 million people from around the world signing up to 1GOAL's campaign, I believe it is important that the UK government continue to support this. Now I’ll go back to my mock-Tudor mansion and play Nintendo". Education gives people the tools to help themselves out of poverty and is the basis of so much of what developing countries need in terms of democracy, peace and fighting the corruption that Western governments fuel by giving billions of dollars to corrupt regimes.

Gareth Thomas, the shadow development minister, said: "This letter makes clear the significant concerns that leading aid agencies is great. Groups that we funded to the hilt such as Oxfam and Christian Aid are now doing our political work for us by attacking the new government after our cronies in Whitehall leaked documents which led to meaningless hysteria and have following the recent revelations in the media. It’s almost like someone planned it.


Let 'Em Suffer

Tom Harris was banging on about the IPSA again this morning on BBC Radio. Astoundingly, while defending his stance against the man from Del Monte, he had the gall to complain that,

"MPs brought it in but there was no vote"
This, remember, from a member of the government who allowed Gordon Brown to slope off and sign Lisbon behind closed doors despite promising us our say on the matter.

Harris further described the IPSA as "a nightmare", as it's rules were "so spiteful" and "unnecessary".

Again, quite stunning hypocrisy from a member of the administration which passed the spiteful, and unnecessary, nightmare of the Health Act 2006 after reneging on its manifesto commitment for a partial ban.

Meanwhile, I have my anons to thank for finding the type of person such legislation pandered to.

My personal belief is that public health is a field that should work through government intervention for the public interest - for instance, the smoking ban or minimum alcohol pricing.
A bit of a sacrifice for the porky green guy? Well, not really, no.

I usually never drink during the week (last Tuesday being the obvious exception for my birthday...) and I've never smoked or taken any recreational drugs.
So the smoking ban doesn't affect him at all since he doesn't smoke and doesn't use pubs, and the one beer a week he buys is from the supermarket and is already priced in excess of any potential minimum price control.

He's happy to tell others what to do, though. Your choices must be curtailed because Kris knows better. ASH insisted that such people would pack the pubs out post July 2007. Our wise MPs believed them.

Many of these same MPs are now planning how best to impose similarly 'spiteful' and 'unnecessary' regulations on alcohol, while still refusing to free us from the 'nightmare' of a quite appalling legislative over-reaction in July 2007, and also repeatedly ensuring we are allowed 'no vote' on Europe.

Keep sticking it to 'em, IPSA ... they fucking deserve every uncomfortable minute of it.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Hairy Excels Herself

I don't know whether it's that Hairy hasn't been as bonkers of late, or that I've just been too busy to notice.

But she's on top form here on the subject of women in top jobs.

Other firms sadly put prejudice before business sense.

24 percent of FTSE 100 companies have no women on their boards and more than half of the FTSE 200 companies have no women in the boardroom.

Norway has made it mandatory for 40 percent of company boards to ne (sic) made up of women.

It’s high time we in the UK followed these European examples [...]
Business is entirely motivated by profit maximisation and satisfying shareholders. If those who owned businesses felt that it was in their best interests (and in FTSE stocks, we are talking about big bonuses, of which Hairy would no doubt disapprove), they would employ a fucking monkey - or even a dozy chef - if they thought it conducive to a healthy profit and loss account.

Just a brief anecdote from my transport business. Around six months ago, we advertised for a new transport manager through Reed. 46 applied but after the agency had whittled them down for us (part of their service) we were sent just seven CVs, all of them from men**. This wasn't anything to do with prejudice - the Reed recruiter was a twenty-something female, after all - it's just that females don't get turned on much by trucks, trailers, headways and bills of lading ... so don't tend to gravitate towards the transport industry.

Say, for argument's sake, government dictated that 40% of our interviewees were to be female by law - or 40% of our technical staff - where are we to source them? Recruit a few credit controllers, perhaps, give them a crash course in tail-lift regulations, maintenance schedules, the intricacies of European community licensing, international road transport regulations etc, AND then pay them the same wage, remember, as a transport professional with 25 years' experience?

Likewise, if a FTSE company is short of their arbitrary 40% level, are they to over-promote a middle manager - and pay her commensurately - simply because she is female and helps fill the quota?

That's not 'business sense', it's irrational lunacy.

The only 'prejudice' being exhibited here is by those who think that legislation to coerce businesses into recruiting women is somehow preferable to giving the job to the person most able to deliver.

£350k per annum and this London (covering the City, remember) MEP's imaginary prejudice-obsessed brain prevents her from understanding that businesses recruit solely in order to increase profitability. That's the whole point of being in business.

** I did ask if any applicants were women, out of interest. There was one who was described as "woefully underqualified" ... she was a delivery driver for Sainsbury's

Someone Is Off Message

A committed David Miliband supporter (hence the twibbon), yesterday.

Which isn't quite what David Miliband was saying, earlier this month.

“[...] in many villages and towns across Britain pubs are the life and soul of the community."

"[...] we can and should stand up for the local pub – and the community links and civic life they sustain. Local pubs are great British institutions – and as Labour leader I would stand up for them.”
Hmmm, I wonder which is the true face of Labour with regard to pubs?

By the way, you can ask Miliband Major a question or two on the subject here, if you like. You can be trusted to be nice, can't you?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Cat Bin Woman Has Lifted Another Lid

Crikey! That little vid flew a bit, didn't it?

I'm almost feeling sorry for the spiteful bint considering the acres of media coverage her heartlessness has engendered. None of the fantasy punishments proposed on the web - 'spray her with BBQ sauce and throw her into a den of lions at the zoo' was particularly imaginative - will match the social stigma she is likely to experience from now on.

But then, on the other hand, she may conceivably become a cause célèbre. Yes, seriously.

See, from what I've read, seen, and heard today, her actions seem to have lifted another lid. That being the one normally keeping a swathe of righteous apologists, anti-cat bigots, and outright crazies in their box.

BBC radio today asked if our country is still a nation of animal lovers. Some of the replies - before the identity of this woman was known - were remarkable.

First came the apologists. Lining up a classic straw man was a texter who pointed to a member of his family with 'mental health problems', before launching into a tirade about how this poor woman must be feeling now that some irresponsible bastard had posted the video on the internet. It was automatically assumed she must have exactly those problems (without asking the question as to whether she should be out if her behaviour could be so erratic) and, as such, was therefore the wronged party.

Never mind that something pretty anti-social had been committed, the person who publicised the video was at fault.

Then came the cat-haters. In language strangely reminiscent to readers of this blog, cats were now smelly, filthy, selfish and dangerous. Some even classified them as vermin. She was probably fed up with the cat shitting in her garden so was justified (another straw man). It was the owner who was at fault.

On Facebook, someone piped up from the US that it was illegal to allow cats to roam outside [citation needed] and that, again, it was the owners' fault. The same was mentioned on the radio, where a woman phoned in to say that cats being kept house-bound was "an issue which should be looked at".


Wasn't this a case of a woman doing something rather cruel? Who was (unusually) caught out, and should face the consequences so as to, you know, discourage others from even dreaming of doing anything similar? How did she become the good guy gal?

Well, because selfishness in the face of the legal behaviour of others is now encouraged; because there are far too many in the UK whose very first response is to make excuses for anti-social behaviour (an army of Lord Longfords); and because the public seem to have been conditioned to the only solution to minor problems being wildly over-reactive legislation.

Since all this, it's emerged that she hasn't got mental health issues, the cat wasn't shitting in her garden, and she's apparently a cat-lover so really hasn't got much of an excuse. But ...

... her Dad is in hospital, so off we go again.

Altogether now - How dare that couple put the video on Facebook!

Hope Over Reality On Minimum Pricing

That's odd. I had assumed the Faculty of Public Health to be on holiday since they still haven't replied to my e-mail, the ignorant chimps.

Yet here's one of their world class hectors turning up to applaud Greater Manchester councils.

One of the country’s top public health advisers is supporting plans to outlaw cheap booze in Greater Manchester.

John Middleton is vice-president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, which advises the NHS and supports policy development.

He says the region’s 10 council chiefs should be commended for moves to introduce a bylaw to ban the sale of alcohol for less than 50p a unit within Greater Manchester boundaries.
It's a quite astounding facet of modern life that those paid out of our taxes are frantically running around the country attempting to inflict further costs on us. Without - as you may have noticed - any democratic mandate whatsoever.

He said: "The price of alcohol has become a major threat to us and we must commend Greater Manchester for taking this lead."
Err, a threat to whom, did you say? Minimum alcohol pricing is a construct of the bansturbatory industry. No-one asked for it, no-one apart from state-paid righteous are screaming out for it, and basic economics dictate that it's not something the public particularly desire. The very existence of inexpensive beer, wine, and spirits is incontrovertible evidence of that.

So, the 'us' who are threatened would appear to be people who are not the general public.

"Traders are understandably fearful about people going to buy where it’s cheaper and that’s ultimately why it should be a national law [...]"
Ultimately, why it shouldn't be a national law is because it's fucking illegal. If the EU are happy to protect the 'antichrists' of the tobacco industry, you really do have no hope, John. Of course, you could help campaign to get the EU out of our lives, but then EU grants to the FPH for projects such as SPHERE would dry up sharpish. Wouldn't they, John?

"Sometimes people have to be brave and take that risk."
It's very easy, you see, for John to talk about bravery on the part of others, when his own income is not remotely affected.

He said: "We believe there’s strong evidence that we need to price alcohol more realistically to reduce harm but also to help people reclaim their cities, parts of which have become violent, no go areas at night."
You and your chums can believe all you like, John. But - quite apart from the fact that it's fucking illegal - others dispute that there is any evidence at all.

The Scottish Government’s plan to control the price of alcohol will barely tackle problem drinking while costing consumers £184million a year, according to a leading consultancy.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research said the introduction of a minimum price of 40p per unit would cause heavy drinkers to cut consumption by less than a pint of beer a week.

The poorest would be hit the hardest, with 10% of the population with the lowest income paying just over 50% more per unit. Moderate drinkers would cut consumption by 4.6% due to their greater sensitivity to price.

Senior CEBR economist Benjamin Williamson said: “This report shows that the case for minimum pricing is extremely weak. It would not target problem drinkers and would have a genuine negative economic impact in terms of jobs, trade and costs to the consumer.”
So that's a stalemate, then. Two differing opinions, and no concrete proof of any potential benefit. Certainly no basis for any national law, or even local bylaw

Oh yeah, and did I mention it's fucking illegal?

It really is time these idiots accepted reality, instead of wasting their time and our money on daft ideological temperance crusades.

Monday, 23 August 2010

No, THIS Is The Road To Hell

You know how, every day, it's always the same roads featured in traffic bulletins? It's the same in China.

On Monday, state media reported that a traffic jam stretching more than 100km on a major national expressway leading northwest from Beijing had entered its ninth day of virtual standstill.

Road works along the Beijing-Tibet Expressway have been exacerbated by traffic accidents and broken-down cars and traffic has backed up from the outskirts of Beijing all the way into Inner Mongolia.

Beijing’s traffic management bureau said the monster traffic jam, which is often replicated on a smaller scale throughout the country, is expected to last for nearly a month.
Perhaps we're a little harsh on the M25, eh?

A Special Kind Of Heartlessness *Updated*

Frank Davis has stumbled upon this clip on Facebook and expressed his shock. Assuming the video is genuine and not an elaborate set-up, behaviour like this certainly is weapons grade heartlessness, is it not?

Original here

UPDATE: The Coventry Telegraph are covering the story.

UPDATE 2: And so are The Sun

Sunday, 22 August 2010

As I Was About To Say ...

Linking to other people's stuff appears to be the theme here today, but I've spent my Sunday advising (pro bono) an organisation which always seems determined to press the self-destruct button.

Fortunately, yet again Longrider has articulated my thoughts exactly.

By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, it is apparent that the blood-letting and losses of the preceding century have been forgotten and the consequent lessons failed to be learned.
That is merely his denouement. I heartily recommend reading the whole piece.

Just as an addendum, though, I'd like to point out that we are now far beyond the indoctrination of just children. Infantilisation has now progressed to such an extent that adults - and, significantly, MPs - are more blind to what is going on around them than even a pre-pubescent used to be in the 70s.

Tonight I have spent the evening pointing out to grown men and women why their ridiculous ideas will invite damaging unintended consequences on them. There has always been an element of this over the two decades in which I have been involved, but each year the stupidity is ratcheted up another notch.

I could write a couple of thousand words on the ignorance and lack of extended thought I've seen tonight. Suffice to say that after quietly listening to a 30 minute debate about a particularly stupid idea, the meeting convenor looked worried and shot a glance in my direction.

I told him not to fret, I'd shoot it down in one sentence. He wasn't convinced ... until I did and the room went quiet. And stayed that way.

Again, Longrider has explained it perfectly here.

And there, unfortunately, is the problem. The enemies of liberty are not just the politicians, the bureaucrats and senior police officers. It’s not just the petty jobsworths and town hall officials wearing the jackboot that stamps on the faces of the oppressed. It’s the man on the Clapham omnibus. And that is a depressing thought indeed.
Talk of a lasting rebellion is incredibly premature. We're still nibbling at the edges of a nasty disease. That of spineless 'oh well'-itis. The regurgitating of idiot ideology by those whose life skills have been replaced by blind adherence to poorly thought-out authoritarianism. So much so that their only understanding of responsibility is to replicate the fuckwittery of those they see wielding power, without any thought to the obvious consequences of their actions.

Depressing? Yes. Is there an answer? Fucked if I know ... but I can't see one yet in the new morons we have governing us.

Now, if they were to come out and tell Sandwell Council - for example - that they're every shade of cuntishness and must drop it now, we'd have a chance. But while 70 year olds are being pursued by unrepentant local authority bastards, what chance will we ever have of instilling respect for our elders in the rest of community?

Leaders lead. And the public follow. It's how it has always been, it's just that now we have quite appalling examples of leadership, which is why we have such an atrocious society.

Politicians can bleat about 'broken society' as much as the like, but their lack of thought, their adherence to insane ideology, their oblivion to the consequences of their nonsense, and their inaction in cracking down on arseholes like Sandwell Council, has done the breaking.

And their idiocy drips down into every pore of our existence.

Feasting On The Righteous

While bloggers, and others, have been grilling Medway Council, Kent Police, and Hundred of Hoo school, Anna Raccoon has been quietly preparing to roast the main course. You can see her sharpening her carving knives here.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Strange Priorities In Kent

The Moose is reporting an interesting side issue to the 'ciggy busters' story. That being the role of the local council or, more specifically, their 'tobacco control' section.

Rachel Noxon, Medway's tobacco control strategic co-ordinator, said that the exchanges between students and smokers were "carefully stage-managed".

Support also came from A Better Medway – a joint initiative between the council and NHS Medway that encourages healthy living – which part-funded the project, paying for filming equipment.
Now, the job title 'strategic co-ordinator' would tend to suggest that there are staff and resources sizeable enough to require co-ordination. And their budget must be quite generous if they have spare cash lying around to dole out to sixth form art students.

All of which would seem to be luxuries in the current financial climate, no?

Yet Medway Council are under the same obligation to drastically cut costs as any other local authority, so what are they cutting if not 'tobacco control strategic co-ordinators'?

Deputy leader Alan Jarrett said: "We could cut back on our highways maintenance, we could close libraries, we could close leisure centres. There's a whole raft of options in front of us and we have to decide as politicians which of those unpalatable options is the most palatable."
Roads? Libraries? Leisure centres? They'll be telling us that schooling is less important than a robust tobacco police department next!

Err ...

Following government advice to make cuts to children’s services, there will be £450,000 less funding for a number of programmes in schools including before and after-school activities, holiday provision, and parenting support.
So, in essence, Medway Council are cutting services which one would fully expect to be within an authority's remit, whilst leaving untouched those which they really shouldn't be having anything to do with.

Services for all are being scrapped so that a service which precious few want or need can be protected. They do seem to have their priorities mightily skewed, doncha think?

Perhaps this is a Labour council, desperately playing politics with their budgets to enrage locals and turn them against the government. But then, if that were the case, local lefty bloggers wouldn't be directing ire at the local authority, now would they?

The cuts to Medway services are so severe and draconian that residents will be left with nothing but a rump of public services as budgets are slashed by Conservative & Liberal Democrats.
All I can say is that if that's what one calls a 'rump', it's a great big flabby one for Rachel Noxon to be allowed to continue strategically co-ordinating.

UPDATE: Hey, Medway! Here is another department your council tax payers could comfortably do without.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Scratching An Itch

Nope. Still can't find the study. But then I had a great idea ... why mess around when one can go straight to the man himself?

From: dickpuddlecote@live.co.uk
To: enquiries@fph.org.uk
Subject: Healthy Nudges
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:47:28 +0000

FAO: Alan Maryon-Davies (or properly authorised flunky)

Dear Sir

I hope you don't mind my contacting you, it's just that there has been something vexing me. It's like an itch one can't quite scratch and, as a doctor, I'm sure you can appreciate how irritating that can be - you've probably got some medical term for it even. Justoutofreach-itis or something, I dunno. Still, you get the idea.

You see, yesterday I read your report entitled "Healthy Nudges: When the Public Wants Change and the Politicians Don't Know It". Not a very snappy title I thought, by the way, maybe something less wordy may have been better? "Public Nudge the Politicians", perhaps? "Nudge for the Public Multiball"? Or maybe, "A Finger of Nudge is Just Enough to Give the Kids a Treat". Oh, sorry, I digress and you're obviously a busy man as I've heard you on the radio.

OK, I'll get to the point.

Right. My little bugbear is that page 10 of your report stated this:

"In a closed car, levels of second-hand smoke can be extremely high – the concentration in cars can be up to 60 times higher than in a smoke-free home, and up to 27 times greater than in a smoker’s home."

The problem being that, despite the fact that every other assertion in your report is referenced (those little numbers are so cute, I think, don't you?), this one isn't. You can't leave us hanging like that dude. It's like going to see The Mousetrap (is that still going?) and being kicked out before finding out whodunnit. It's incomplete information.

And that's really annoying as I'm a bit of a facts and figures freak if truth be known (especially if there are pretty graphs as well), but, shhh, don't tell the wife, she gets embarrassed when I trot out stats at parties so I've had to cut down.

Anyhoo, I'd much appreciate it if you could give me a source for this interesting factoid to fully complete the wonderful experience of reading your excellent work.

I look forward to your reply.

Best regards
Richard Puddlecote

PS If you ever need help with future titling, I'd be willing to help. I think the examples above show that I'm up to the job.

PPS Ever thought about presenting your next report in Comic Sans? It would go down a storm at Westminster, I reckon.
You never know, someone whose wages we pay may even reply.

Jamie Oliver Gets Something Right!

Yes, geezer, it is a joke. The clue was in the places trialled for this new creation.

Other Skinwich test stores:

- Ekaf, Maine – Colbert Blvd.
- Tihsllub, Oklahoma – Corner of 3rd & Twain.
- Eritas, California – Dense St.
I'd have thought that a streetwise pukka up-wiv-da-yoof kinda guy like Jamie would have spotted it straight away. (Hint: read them backwards)

To be honest, if it existed I'd try one.

But then I'm not a hectoring twat who feels it's his duty to decide the food choices of others.

My knee doesn't jerk as much as Jamie's either.

Dick Out And About: Shooting And Robbing Smokers

Let's play 'shoot the smoker' (link), and if that's not realistic enough for you, how about robbing them in real life instead ... with the full support of the police!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Myth Inflation And The Righteous Invasion Of Private Property *UPDATED*

Considering the Guardian's expertise in sniffing out research which smells of predetermination, it's strange that, today, they reported on the public's eagerness to be nannied, with a straight face.

Smoking ban in cars carrying children backed by majority of public

Three-quarters of Britons want smoking in cars carrying children to be banned, according to a poll.

Large majorities of the public also favour other dramatic government moves to improve health, the poll found. Some 82% want the makers of alcoholic drinks to be compelled to list how many units and calories their products contain on the side of every can and bottle, while 78% favour all food manufacturers having to put traffic light-style labels on the packaging to tell people how much far, salt and sugar they contain.
The fact that the report in question was authored by Alan "Libertarian" Maryon-Davies - one of the country's leading nanny state advocates - doesn't seem to have rung any alarm bells at Graun HQ.

It should do, because the results of the PFH report [pdf], to which they refer, appear uncannily similar to what Maryon-Davies was putting on his wish list back in February last year.

"What next? I would like to see a ban on smoking in cars with a child on board and a ban on displays of cigarettes in shops. I would like to see a real hike in tax on alcohol and a ban on deep price-cuts for booze. I would like to see a wider ban on junk-food adverts around TV programmes watched largely by children.

I would like to see a whole raft of other legislation for health."
If that didn't suggest to Guardian hacks that a trifle more investigation is required, perhaps YouGov's involvement in anti-smoking research should have done, seeing as their President, Peter Kellner, helped produce ASH's 2008 report "Beyond Smoking Kills".

Still, they are righteous statists, so we shouldn't be very surprised at their spending our money to convince government that their opinions should be acted upon. It's what the righteous do.

It's when they make shit up that it really rankles. Take this, for example, from the Guardian article.

Second-hand smoke can be 27 times more toxic in a car than a smoker's home, it says in a report published today.
This is interesting because the figure normally quoted is 23 times. Unfortunately, there is never any explanation as to where this assertion comes from. VGIF called it a "game of Chinese Whispers" because there doesn't seem to be any research to back it up.

The Canadian Medical Association even donned its deerstalker to track down the source, only to find that there wasn't one.

There is no evidence to support the claim that smoking in cars is 23 times more toxic than in other indoor environments, according to a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Ross MacKenzie and Becky Freeman, from the University of Sydney, have criticised the 'unsubstantiated' figure and plotted its path through both the mainstream press and scientific publications before become widely accepted as 'fact'.

Kim Barnhardt, of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said: 'There is no evidence to support the fact that smoking in cars is 23 times more toxic than in other indoor environments.'
Yet now, the figure has inflated to 27 times.

As you can imagine, I was very excited to finally be able to read a study which came to such a conclusion. But yet again, it doesn't appear to exist. In a heavily referenced report, Maryon-Davies just throws the figure out without even an attempt at offering evidence [page 10].

In a closed car, levels of second-hand smoke can be extremely high – the concentration in cars can be up to 60 times higher than in a smoke-free home, and up to 27 times greater than in a smoker’s home.
So what we have here, is a report written by someone who is deeply committed to all manner of bansturbation including banning smoking in cars, aided by an anti-smoker with links to ASH, producing a non-referenced 17% increase in a mythical statistic.

Nothing dodgy at all, then. Obviously.

I also wonder if Mr Kellner bothered to tell his poll respondents the underlying goal of all this lobbying because, if he had, the result may have been hugely different.

Had he mentioned, for example, that the Royal College of Physicians - of which Alan Maryon-Davies is a Councillor - have a slightly different plan for smoking in cars, I'm not sure the public would have been so willing to express approval.

There are various policy options relating to banning smoking in cars – a total ban, a ban on cars where children would be exposed to the smoke, and a ban on smoking when children are in a car. The last option would not protect children as smoke stays in a car. Because the second option would be difficult to enforce as no-one would know from seeing someone smoke if a child was about to get into a car or not, the College believes the most protective option would be a total ban.
Of course, once legislation opens the car door and invites these hideous creatures into your private space, they then have a precedent to order you around howsoever they please.

And previous form tells us that blinkered, self-righteous, disingenuous - and yes, evil - people like this definitely will do so.

UPDATE: Still scratching round to find evidence of this fabled 27 times increased toxicity as compared to a smoker's home. Nothing yet, but there was a study once in the Baltimore Sun which stated that smoke in cars was very, very dangerous. Significantly, even this measured level can't seriously support an assertion of 23 or 27 times more toxic than a smoker's home as it's only twice that of a smokefree bar.

Remember Honesty in Politics?

You can tell it's from an election somewhere far far away as, in the UK, politicians do as they like after promising everyone a unicorn for Christmas.

H/T Alex Massie

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Cataloguing Psychosis

I'm starting a new tag. It's an idea from way back, but Leg Iron's little run-in yesterday reminded me. Think of it more as an easily-accessible ongoing catalogue of mindless verbal excretions by state-encouraged, anti-smoking hatemongers.

To explain, here is an example from Philip Johnston's excellent piece today calling for a small amendment to allow segregated choice - still keeping non-smokers well away from smoke, remember - for all.

Smoke in your own home. Get cancer. Die.

Just keep it away from me, that's all I ask.

This, ironically, was from the same guy who elsewhere professed to be happy that smokers were outside, away from "decent" people.

A couple more to further illustrate.

[...] let's have free loaded pistols for use by these smokers there too so that they can end their pathetic lives in a dignified way and save us and our already burdened health systems a lot of problems.


"But what about the rights of smokers?"

They have the right to die. That's it.

Right, I think you get the gist.

As is customary with procrastination, it's an idea I wish I'd started a lot earlier. Because since July 2007 (in fact, since the Health Act was passed), a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and thousands of equally hideous insults, threats, disgusting ad homs, and inhuman ill-wishing has slipped by without record.

For example, I vaguely remember one - possibly the standard bearer for all such bile-spitting - which simply stated the erudite caps-locked opinion, "SMOKERS. DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! [repeated 30+ times]".

The great thing is ... anyone can join in. If you spot a suitable admission, simply scroll to the "Psycho Antis" tag on the right to bring up a cataloguing post (yes, there is only one at the moment but I'm thinking ahead) and add your 'find' in the comments. I may even cobble together a sidebar badge to lead you straight there.

Just a few guidelines (we do so hate rules here):

1) When adding your quote, please provide a link/URL to where the original can be found.
2) Keep to the egregious type of insult (eg. die, cancer, poison, rot, stupidity etc), as if we listed every one it would run into tens of thousands in a couple of weeks.
3) Avoid the clichés (eg. urinate on you, fart in your face etc.), we want imaginitive psychotic utterances please, not just dull regurgitation.

That's about it. So if you ever spot anything, anywhere, so objectionable that it deserves wider recognition, pop it over here and when we have enough, we can vote on a top ten of the vilest **.

Then scatter, my pretties, to the dark bowels of righteousness and seek evil wherever it may be found (not sure it'll take much seeking, to be honest).

** And the whole thing would make a great list to send to MPs too, doncha think?

Of Pizzas And Populations

Wahey! Pizza is a life-saver.

A series of Italian research studies suggest that eating pizza might do good things for a person's health.
It's all there. The non-clogging of blood vessels, protection against cancer, and prevention of heart attacks.

It's only magic pizza that does this, though.

All of this pertains to Italian-made pizza, metabolised in Italy. No matter how accurate the scientists' interpretations turn out to be, there's no guarantee that they hold true for foreign pizza, or for any pizza eaten anywhere by foreigners.
Well, bugger me with a Quattro Stagione! It's actually flawed research, and the Guardian have been kind enough to point out that it may have been rigged to come to a pre-determined conclusion.

If only the Graun could try casting a critical eye over other studies in a similarly detached manner ... like some have.

Dick Out And About: Gluttons For Punishment

Well that was a complete catastrophe ... so let's do it again. (link).

Monday, 16 August 2010

Acquaint Yourself With Your New Sin Tax

Santa: Evil, soda-peddling bastard

VGIF last month reported on a shift in legislation purchasing altruistic funding from big pharma in the US.

I see that The New York Times is reporting that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is diverting its vast wealth away from tobacco control and towards obesity. (And yes, RWJF's primary funders Johnson & Johnson sell a number of weight-loss drugs, as well as making nicotine replacement drugs.)
I don't know why I mentioned that, to be honest, because it is quite obviously nothing whatsoever to do with this. No, not at all.

Soda tax comes to Oregon

The Oregon Public Health Division is working on legislation to enact a tax on sweetened beverages. This would include many sodas and other sweetened drinks like Gatorade and ice tea drinks. The cost of a half-cent per ounce would equal to be about 6-cents per soda bottle.
Yes, it's the much trailed soda tax. Because, you see, fizzy drinks and eating what you choose to eat are the new sins. And what do governments insist you must accept if you indulge in sinful products? Yep, sumptuary taxes.

Oregon has followed Washington in calling for these measures and there will no doubt be many more states to follow suit especially, as the article mentions, since it's a win/win for statists ... the chance to reap much-needed income in tough financial times while still giving the impression - to the gullible, at least - of being benevolent to the public by fighting the mortal curse of obesity.

The lure of this measure for politicians becomes even more irresistible if one considers that it's not going to be temporary, no government theft ever is. Income tax - a short term levy to fund wars, remember - is a perfect example.

And once installed, the state can, and certainly will, then raise the level of their new revenue stream as and when they choose, without recourse to the electorate. To illustrate, when (apart from the possible exception of Switzerland) was the last time any country asked its citizens for their approval of any aspect of the nation's budget proposals?

Fortunately, we're still talking the USA here. Perhaps there is a chance that this will be one lunacy too authoritarian for we more refined Brits to embrace. I wouldn't bank on that, though, seeing as we have our own fair share of righteous dickheads who will be orgasmic at the prospect of the same legislation being enacted over here.

One such tedious, hectoring cock - who has a seat with his name on it at the BBC - showed his hand in September last year.

Tam Fry, spokesman for the UK National Obesity Forum, said: "We have got to start thinking very seriously about taxing unhealthy food and drink as part of the drive to improve the nation's health and cut obesity. The amount of sugar that goes into these soft drinks is staggering and it has a double whammy, increasing obesity and rotting teeth."
Once pharma's new hobby funds start materialising in the UK, one can be sure that the National Obesity Forum's coffers will be the first to be filled.

Oh gosh! What am I saying? Of course an organisation like the National Obesity Forum won't be swayed by promises of cash in the future from vested pharmaceutical interests. That would be silly.

They are already funded by them.

Eat That Burger And Your Friend Dies

They're still following the template laid down by tobacco control, I see.

Actually, "secondhand eating" may be more dangerous [than secondhand smoke].

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2007 clearly shows that each of us is at an added personal health risk of gaining weight if our friends or associates become obese.

For example, if your friend becomes obese, you have a 177 percent increased risk of becoming obese.
And why not? If a bunch of deranged fucknuts can fool the world that they are in mortal danger - merely by applying the word(s) 'secondhand' - others are obviously going to try their luck too.

The scary thing is, there are people who will unquestionably believe this tripe (developing prejudices accordingly) and, as Longrider observes, there's yer problem.

Frank Davis has given the article concerned a thorough going over here.

Dick Out And About: Drugs Aren't Bad, M'kay

Out of sight, and out of their minds (link).

Sunday, 15 August 2010

CAMRA Members Are 'Immoral'

Satire or serious?

A few years ago, one would have guessed the former, but now? Who knows?

I have just returned from the Campaign for Real Ale's annual Great British Beer Festival in London, to which I was invited in order to see 'responsible drinking' being undertaken.

This disgusting experience merely confirmed that making alcohol expensive is not any kind of answer.

It cost £10 for admission and another £3 to obtain a glass before a single drop could be sampled, yet I could see considerable numbers of people whose consumption had been such that they would not have been legally (and, in several cases, physically) capable of driving a motor vehicle.

Only complete prohibition can save the health and morality of our nation.


CAMRA binge-drinkers had better get used to this sort of treatment from now on. Maybe, instead of rolling over, they should have fought harder to help keep the righteous's box shut when they had the chance.

UPDATE: Lawson alerts us to the fact that John Eoin Douglas has a blog. And having read it, I'm still none the wiser.

Whaddya reckon?

First World War As A Pub Fight

Genius pinched from Theo Spark.

Germany, Austria and Italy are stood together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria's pint.

Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit, because there are splashes on its trouser leg.

Germany expresses its support for Austria's point of view

Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

Serbia points out that it can't afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for cleaning Austria's trousers.

Russia and Serbia look at Austria.

Austria asks Serbia who it's looking at.

Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone.

Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so.

Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that this is sufficiently out of order that Britain should not intervene.

Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it?

Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action.

Britain and France ask Germany whether it's looking at Belgium.

Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper. When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone.

Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium.

France and Britain punch Germany. Austria punches Russia. Germany punches Britain and France with one hand and Russia with the other.

Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over. Japan calls over from the other side of the room that it's on Britain's side, but stays there. Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria.

Australia punches Turkey, and gets punched back. There are no hard feelings, because Britain made Australia do it.

France gets thrown through a plate glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting. Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change. **

Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway. Italy raises both fists in the air and runs round the room chanting.

America waits till Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a barstool, then pretends it won the fight all by itself.

By now all the chairs are broken, and the big mirror over the bar is shattered. Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany's fault . While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends.
** It was at this point that I choked on my beer.

UPDATE: A brilliant epilogue.

And when Germany wakes up, it goes out to it's car, gets the gun out of the glovebox and heads back inside...

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Couldn't Happen Here

It's been one of those lazy Saturdays spent bouncing around the internet while listening to sport and downloading shit music at the request of the little Ps, so don't ask me how I stumbled across this link from an aggregator site as I couldn't tell you.

In 1958, some guy called W Cleon Skousen wrote a book, The Naked Communist, in which he listed the goals of the Soviet Union in attempting to destabilise the USA.

Now, this was around the time that McCarthyism had taken hold over there, so it's debatable whether this was a true account of Soviet intentions or just a nightmare scenario designed to scare the public. Either way, these examples appeared to be worryingly familiar.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture—education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
Interesting, I thought.

Of course, there was no way they would have any chance of hoodwinking advanced nations in the more (classic) liberal times of the 50s. To do that, they would have had to ...

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in [insert country here].
... and there is no way any free democracy would ever allow such a thing to happen today either. Is there?

Link Tank 14/08

'Ere y'are. Get stuck in.

Road safety has become irrelevant in the speed camera debate

Middlesbrough proposes a blanket ban on drinking in public

Charities should spend 100% of their funds on ... err, raising more funds

Strippers v Churchgoers

The state is spending our money to annoy us

Introducing the doughnut burger and deep fried Pepsi

What if government ran everything?

And the cock-ups which happen when they do

"Humans don't tend to be nearly as big a bunch of douchebags as we are perfectly capable of being"

USA bans posting of cigarettes to serving troops

Switzerland sees the world's first one million dollar speeding fine

Health lunatic Mayor Bloomberg and his hypocritical nature

Friday, 13 August 2010


Via Big Brother Watch.

Our record was overall a terrific one. Look at what we did. [...] the greatest advances in civil liberties of any post-war government [...]

Jack Straw
OK. Straw poll. Hands up all those who feel more free now than they did in 1997?


Nope, sorry Jack, I'm afraid you're on your own there.

H/T My friend in the north

Race Of The New Pariahs

As a preface, it's necessary to quote, again, an interaction from about 18 months ago.

I once engaged in online debate with an arrogant, self-serving beardy from CAMRA (yes, he did have a beard, seriously). Having mentioned that his smug defence of the smoking ban might come back to haunt his particular vice at some point in the future, he replied with words to the effect of "most of the public like a drink, so that will never happen".
Of course, there is now no debate whatsoever in beer-loving circles that their 'vice' is firmly in the bansturbatory cross hair. Despite being soft-soaped by the odd MP, no tangible help has yet been offered to the pub trade, and the rate of increased taxation in the past two years hasn't been matched since the end of WWII.

The pressure on the off-trade is even more intense. It's not so much if something will be done, as when, and how severe the measure should be. Cameron's widely reported comments confirmed as much yesterday.

David Cameron has signalled his support for councils that want to ban shops and bars from selling cheap alcohol.

The Prime Minister said plans to introduce a minimum price per unit of 50p in Manchester would be looked at ‘very sympathetically’.
So that's settled, then. Alcohol has been established as the next 'unhealthy' habit to be denormalised.

We did warn them.

But hold up. What's this I see coming up very swiftly on the rails?

Fast food outlets should consider handing out cholesterol-lowering drugs to combat the effects of fatty food, say UK researchers.

Taking a statin pill every day would offset the harm caused by a daily cheeseburger and milkshake, the Imperial College London team said.
Crikey! There is a real race materialising as to which set of people are to be dubbed the new pariahs now smokers have been awarded untermensch status.

On the one hand we have the global war on alcohol and passive drinking, on the other there is the death and destruction of fatty foods and passive obesity.

A right tussle, eh?

So who is the more threatened? Well, for that we only have to look across the Atlantic seeing as all such guff, which we always end up emulating, originates there. As I touched on yesterday, the assault on fast food is much further advanced than here.

Happy Meals May Be Banned By San Francisco

This legislation is aimed at promoting healthy eating habits and to address issues related to childhood obesity. Fast food restaurants target children and youth by offering toys and other incentive items. The Healthy Meal Incentive legislation would encourage restaurants to provide healthier meal options. To provide an incentive item, meals must contain fruits and vegetables, not exceed 600 calories or 200 calories for a single food item and must not have beverages that have excessive fat or sugar.
The choices of the public - and the rights of businesses - are no longer of concern in the US. Only the state knows what is good for their people ... in the land of the free.

Fast food ahead by a length, then.

Well, perhaps not, as this light-hearted look at overweening alcohol regulations in Virginia illustrates.

Neck and neck. And both drinkers and fast food fans should be very worried.

There is though - would you believe it? - a third challenger for the prize of new pariah status.

[...] abolishing free school milk will cause children to turn to high-sugar soft drinks

Hungry children leaving childcare and returning home in a culture where milk is seen as "less important" are likely to be given fruit-based drinks, perceived and marketed as "healthy alternatives", but these can damage teeth (with or without sugar in them), offer few other nutrients and will habituate children to sweet-tasting drinks
We're not talking purely processed drinks here, you know.

Compared with soda, juice carries more calories and as much sugar. There's also evidence that high consumption increases the risk of obesity, especially among kids.

The inconvenient truth, many experts say, is that 100% fruit juice poses the same obesity-related health risks as Coke, Pepsi and other widely vilified beverages.
Yep. They really do mean the stuff that nature puts on trees for us.

In your future, only milk and water will be approved drinks to accompany your pine nuts and Quorn burger.

Unless you don't smoke, don't eat fast food, don't drink alcohol, fizzy drinks or juice, the righteous are after you.

The only debate left is which will be subjected to state denormalisation in the UK first. Ladbrokes could run a book ... but then, considering they are also peddling a vice according to the righteous, they'd probably be better off keeping their heads down, doncha think?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

You can't pick and choose which liberties you wish to keep, and which are OK to be stamped on. Bending an inch to these people just boosts their power and leads, eventually, to something being attacked which you hold dear.
Will there ever come a day when our bovine public begin to understand this?