Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Be Afraid, Drinks Industry, Very Afraid

When Harriet Harman spoke of contract law judgements spanning centuries being swept away by 'the court of public opinion', she was roundly condemned as being, well, a bit mad. Her uncontrollable anger led to an outburst which was rightly ridiculed as a temper tantrum in contravention of controls nurtured by this country against heavy-handed corporations and state totalitarianism.

Her colleague and hideous health bully, Kevin Barron, has been spouting equally dangerous ideologies - but oddly, this time no-one really turns much of a hair (emphases mine).

The revelation that the campaign [against a government ban on cigarette displays in shops] was funded by BAT is significant. Under international guidelines, the UK government is obliged to ensure the drafting of all legislation is free from tobacco industry influence. Now, the fact some MPs may have been unaware the campaign was backed by tobacco money has angered anti-smoking groups.

BAT's admission has prompted Barron to write to the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, warning the government's commitment to tobacco control "is being undermined by covert lobbying by the tobacco industry".
The 'guidelines' being referenced here are specifically Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states:

In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.
Just to translate, this means that when governments pass tobacco control laws, any opposition must be ignored or silenced at all costs. It matters not that the company is a legal tax-paying entity, that the product is legal and that its customers are themselves eye-wateringly taxed, and within their rights to consume it. No lobbying or representations of any kind are allowed.

Remember that the WHO is entirely unelected, so what we have here is Barron actively promoting a body no-one voted for, over and above convention - cultivated by the British people, parliament, and judiciary for over a millennium - which naturally entitles a legal industry to lobby and argue in defence of their business, their retailers, and their customers.

He was, however, hypocritically quiet when his government nodded through the regulations concerned thanks to quite shocking misdirection of parliament which, of course, is a punishable crime under real laws, passed by real UK democratically-elected politicians.

Barron doesn't seem to be as energised over that, though.

Because where tobacco is concerned we are living in a post-legal and post-democratic age. Harman's fantasy of acting on whatever whim a self-regarding MP cares to choose is already here. In anti-tobacco circles, even widespread price-fixing cartels - illegal in every jurisdiction throughout the civilised world - are actively, and openly, encouraged by the very bodies which usually abhor them.

Kevin Barron finds nothing wrong with this. After all, he was the MP who in 2009 decided that none of you were worth listening to anyway.

"We are the state's representative in our constituencies and we should not be frightened of taking decisions on behalf of our constituents, because that is to the general good."
The idea that his employers - the public - might have their own ideas about how to live their lives is alien to this guy. What he says goes, and that's that.

The drinks industry should be very afraid of this man. Not only does he believe that the British people have no right in determining their own lives and that it's scandalous for businesses to stand up for themselves (though perfectly acceptable for parliament to be illegally influenced by lies from fake charities), but he also has the same treatment lined up for alcohol.

He was an enthusiastic booster for Sarah Wollaston's plan to prohibit alcohol advertising, for example, and he believes that a bottle of spirits should cost between £38.60 and £62.

Considering the fact that he finds democratic process and the rights of producers to defend themselves so very tiresome, he'll surely not balk at denying the drinks industry's right to lobby just as he hysterically jumps up and down at BAT for having the temerity to disagree with his righteous pronouncements.

He has the same supranational, unelected backing in that as well. You see, the WHO also have a Framework Policy for Alcohol Control, complete with a clause they have effortlessly picked up from the successful campaign against tobacco. You might recognise this bit (page 19).

Public health policies concerning alcohol need to be formulated by public health interests, without interference from commercial interests.
The tobacco control template strikes again.

It's not going to be long before Barron is ignoring the public's free will on alcohol, and condemning Guinness, Diageo, Punch Taverns (if they still exist by then) etc as evil entities who have no right to comment on laws being passed against them.

Because there's nothing a petty, self-important, dictatorial bully despises more than open democratic accountability and transparent debate. Oh no, that way opens the door to far too much common sense and compromise, and that just won't do at all.

Alcohol guys, I'd start making extremely loud noises now if I were you. Backsliding and appeasement are simply not an option anymore.

World Tobacco Control Circle Jerk Day 2011

In honour of World No Tobacco Day 2011 - which just happens to be today - here are some classic ads to help you smile whilst miserable arseholes crawl out of the woodwork and drone. On, and on, and on ...

Well worth a watch before some professionally joyless banshee petitions YouTube to have them banned, I thought.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Hearing Voices

This year's Voices of Freedom debates kick off on Wednesday with one readers here might find of great interest. Simon Clark has the info.

The first discussion, 'Civil Liberties: Up In Smoke', will ask the question "What are smokers' rights in a free society?". Chairman is Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), and speakers include Alex Deane (formerly Big Brother Watch), Peter Hitchens (Mail on Sunday) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Sir Ronald Harwood, an unshamed smoker and a member of Forest's Supporters Council.

Venue is the IEA, 2 Lord North Street, Westminster. Drinks will be served from 6.15pm and the discussion starts at 7.00.

The first debate coincides with the publication of a report by Simon Davies of Privacy International, with a foreword by Joe Jackson, that is also called 'Civil Liberties: Up In Smoke'. I have a copy in front of me and it looks rather good, as it should. It was designed by Forest's own Dan Donovan. Copies will be available on the night.
Definitely worth popping up for, I reckon. These things got quite busy last time round so if you fancy it, best register sharpish by emailing events@thefreesociety.org or ringing Nicky Shepherd on 01223 370091 (office hours presumably).

I've checked the weather too, and it looks like being a fine evening so a post-debate pub isn't out of the question.

Bring cash.

(the full VoF schedule is available here)

Sunday, 29 May 2011

For A Few Dollars More

In cowboy movies of old it was always easy to spot the baddie by what colour hat he wore. In real life, of course, nothing is so literally black and white.

Take tobacco companies, for example. They're widely regarded by the terminally bovine to be the only ruthless, gun-totin', black hatted, lucre-chasing evil in town. Lives can go hang from a rough and creaky noose for all they care as long as profits are protected via a system of lies, political manipulation and mendacity.

Whereas the pharmaceutical industry is perceived as riding in on a pristine white thoroughbred, their righteous eyes gleaming with probity and rigour.

Sadly, the script was written by PR experts for an industry which has more than a few skeletons hidden in its own saddlebags.

Hundreds of reports of suicides and violent reactions tied to the stop-smoking drug Chantix were left out of a crucial government safety review.

The reports were missing because the drug’s manufacturer Pfizer Inc. submitted years of data through 'improper channels', according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Serious problems — such as people killing themselves, trying to kill themselves, depression and unprovoked attacks on others — were mixed among 26,000 records of non-serious side effects such as nausea and rashes dating back to 2006, the year Chantix, or varenicline, was approved.
Hold on, does this mean that Pfizer were aware that their drug - when used as directed as is always the charge with 'big tobacco' - was killing people? And they hid the facts, again an accusation directed at the tobacco industry? That lives can go hang from a rough and creaky noose for all Pfizer care as long as profits are protected via a system of lies, political manipulation and mendacity?

Well, it certainly would appear so. Not that you'll read many froth-mouthed commenters angrily calling for Pfizer execs to have their assets seized, or be 'hung by their heels' - just a couple of the lurid lynching ideas suggested recently - for attempting to conceal a highly dangerous product (the deaths are only amongst smokers, after all).

No. Quite the opposite, in fact. Only last year, the Policy Exchange think tank exhorted for this drug to be made even more readily available.

Varenicline is the most cost-effective treatment option in the NHS Stop Smoking Service. Studies consistently demonstrate it to be superior to any other therapy, but it is only used in 20% of cases. Varenicline should be offered as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking


The NHS Stop Smoking Service should offer varenicline as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking.


the [NHS] only prescribes varenicline in 20% of cases, since it is often confined to patients who have failed with NRT. There is no good reason why all patients should not be offered it.
OK, it was written by PE's then resident ASH-influenced idiot, but it's also a view shared by NHS bodies up and down the country.

Champix, as it is known in the UK, may be killing people, but PCTs are being paid to liberally dish it out. Warwickshire is just one such trust.

GPs and Pharmacies are reimbursed for service delivery (inflation still to be applied for 09-10):

£10.50 for each client setting a quit date
£40 for each client still quit at 4-week follow-up
£10.50 for each client not quit at 4-week follow-up. No additional payment for those not followed up at 4 weeks.
Pharmacies only - £3 per supply of NRT

Contact 1: Plan strategy for quitting, including assessment for drug therapy including carbon monoxide test, access to nicotine replacement therapy, Zyban® or Champix®.

Contact 2: Possible quit date
Ensure access to NRT, Zyban® or Champix®. Carbon monoxide test
All heartily encouraged, and aggressively marketed, by the good guys in white hats who - we now understand - held sufficient evidence to expect people to die as a result.

Joint working with Pfizer around targeting of clinics/drop-ins

Joint working with Pfizer to develop more effective recruitment campaigns in N&B, also targeting health professionals to refer more and more effectively.
Because they're the goodies, you see. OK, they may have form for 'fraudulently marketing' their drugs, and for being forced to reveal hidden studies on products they knew to be toxic, but what's a few thousand dead people between public health friends, eh?

Unlike the tobacco industry, which is increasingly exhibiting a remarkable tendency to tell the truth however unpalatable it may be to their business, their competitors in the global nicotine delivery market - the pharmaceutical industry and their paid tobacco control stooges - are resorting to ever more devious, and arguably life-threatening, chicanery and deception.

Those who automatically sound off on tobacco debates from a starting position of 'big tobacco bad, big pharma good' are antiquated like a 1950s western B-movie, and about as knowledgeable on the subject as a rusty spitoon.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Showcasing Beer, Birds And Baccy

What happens when governments restrict advertising options for 'unapproved' products? Well naturally, their producers have plenty of cash to throw around on innovative marketing ideas where they are allowed.

In Russia, Heineken recently showcased a Playboy-embedded ad with sound, but Marlboro have gone one further in the June issue with one of the first ever in-print video adverts. It looks something like this.

Beer, birds and baccy - what a very liberal combination. For those who grew up laughing at the grey, brutally dictatorial Russia of the 60s, 70s and 80s, it's been quite a turnaround, hasn't it?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Specialist Subject? The Bleeding Obvious

Modern life is 'producing a generation of weaklings', claims research as physical strength declines in 10-year-olds
You don't fucking say!

For anyone with kids, this is less surprising than seeing a train while waiting at a level crossing. Research really isn't required ... although I'm glad someone has officially quantified what we all knew already.

As a generation dedicated to online pursuits grows up, 10-year-olds can do fewer sit-ups and are less able to hang from wall bars in a gym. Arm strength has declined in that age group, as has their ability to grip an object firmly.

The findings, published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica, have led to fresh concern about the impact on children's health caused by the shift away from outdoor activities.
These will be the outdoor activities now denied to kids by a plethora of health and safety at school regs, ridiculous over-reaction to 'stranger danger', and the absurd modern idea that saying no to kids is somehow akin to mental child abuse. Yes, I'm looking at you, NSPCC.

"This is probably due to changes in activity patterns among English 10-year-olds, such as taking part in fewer activities like rope-climbing in PE and tree-climbing for fun," Sandercock said.
Rope-climbing? Tree-climbing for fun? You're just an old crusty, Sandercock. Didn't you know that kids could fall off? And that they are made of fine porcelain in the 21st century? What's more, such activities are classed by the NSPCC as 'child abuse'.

Examples of neglect in sport could include: not ensuring children are safe; exposing them to undue cold or heat, or exposing them to unnecessary risk of injury.
Sandercock continues ...

The fact that 10% could not do the wall bars test and another 10% refused to try was "really shocking", he added. "That probably shows that climbing and holding their own weight was something they hadn't done before."
Yes. And many of them have no concept of kicking a ball around a playground, either.

Time for a quick anecdote. In the early boy Puddlecote years, parents were required to wait until their offspring were taken into class before leaving the playground in the mornings. It was a sterile affair for the kids, they'd run around but weren't allowed to go near the climbing frame as a fully-trained teacher wasn't in attendance before 9am, and risk assessments said no. They'd get excited with their running, as kids do, at which point they'd routinely be told to stop by the one staff member on show because - and I know this as I asked - if they fell over, "there isn't a system in place to administer first aid outside of school hours".

On one occasion, one of the kids brought a tennis ball in with him. He launched it into the air and around two dozen kids gleefully cheered and started running around kicking it. The whole happy episode of childhood abandon and joy lasted less than a minute. The ball was grabbed by the teacher and the kid who brought it was admonished sternly.

"You know full well that balls aren't allowed in the playground!", she finger-wagged. Again, my curiosity was piqued and I politely enquired as to why. The reason was that it could hit another child and cause bruising or, more dangerously it would appear from the look on the face of the teacher concerned, one of those playing might tread on it and have a "nasty fall".

The next day, I mischievously brought in a yellow foam ball and threw it in front of the boy to see what happened. He kicked it and the kids naturally charged around after it in the same manner. That, too, was confiscated in double quick time. The justification this time? Well, with all that kicking going on towards a ball with no weight, one child may end up kicking another.

The horror!

Under the prevailing circumstances, tree-climbing for fun stands no chance whatsoever really, now does it?

Drop your kids at the park and let them get on with, well, being kids, and you're condemned as an irresponsible parent. Tell them that the PS3 will have to wait till a significant occasion such as Christmas or birthday, and you're frowned upon as a bad Dad/Mum.

So, sorry if I'm not too surprised by this. Yes, kids are weak - and, as mentioned, often too lazy to even put in any effort - simply because they have been conditioned that way by lack-witted morons who have the very best intentions, but the foresight of a neurotic chimp.

Why bother with the hassle of doing what comes naturally to kids, and what they would prefer to do - play in the garden/park/playground/street - when the likely outcome is to be restricted and/or told off?

But here's the big kicker.

But the new study also found that children in 2008 had the same body mass index (BMI) as those a decade earlier. Lead author Daniel Cohen, of London Metropolitan University, said this meant that, given their declining strength, the bodies of the recent test group are likely to contain more fat and less muscle then their predecessors. "That's really worrying from a health point of view. It's good news that their BMI hasn't risen, but worrying that pound for pound they're weaker and probably carrying more fat," said Sandercock.

So while idiots like Jamie Oliver blather on about what foods kids eat, the real problem is staring them in the face. Kids just don't run around or play enough. Not because they are lazy or increasingly sedentary, but that the computer game is a hell of a lot less hassle than what they'd really like to be doing.

Can we expect a change in the near future? You know, jumpers for goalposts again, 'best man dead' in the playground, hanging upside down by the legs from climbing frames, British Bulldog, running for fun and not just part of a strictly-controlled, safety-led curriculum?

Not on your nelly. Let's just feed kids limp, tasteless crap to suit the exercise-free lifestyles imposed upon them by precious, progressive (hah!) risk-terrified dimwits.

Yes, that's the way to a healthy nation, and no mistake.

Less Democracy Is Just What We Need Right Now**

** Or, how 27 appointees trump a population of nearly one billion.

Via Gawain, you seriously won't believe this.

How very dare sovereign governments decide their own fate without adhering to EU diktat. No. ALL decisions should be taken by a "stronger European commission that governments have to listen to".

You know, a stronger unelected EU commission which dreamed up - and arguably bullied member states into joining - the Eurozone, which we are all now frantically bailing out. That good, so they are.

Good grief.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Denmark, Marmite, And The Future Of Hysterical EU Health Policy

I see that the Guardian's model high tax, high control, low freedom state has blotted its copybook in the minds of Brits by banning Marmite. Unilaterally too, I might add, which would appear to fly in the face of everything the EU holds dear. 'Appear to' being the operative words but I'll get to that later.

There's been plenty tongue-in-cheek jingoistic talk of tit-for-tat bans on bacon and blue cheese, along with other arguers who scoff at the paltry sales of Marmite in Denmark and thus dismiss this as a non-story.

It's certainly nothing of the sort, and far from being a laughing matter, it's very sinister.

You see, we've seen products being vilified for their individual health risk before - just think tobacco, alcohol, salt etc. - but the Danish ban is based on an over-weening fear of risk accumulation. No-one, not even panic-stricken Danish health authorities, are suggesting that Marmite is a health danger in itself. It's the fact that it could be consumed by people who also get the same nutrients elsewhere.

Denmark's submission to a 2006 EU consultation on vitamin and mineral limits in foods explains this perfectly.

As it cannot be excluded that some consumers both take food supplements and prefer fortified foods maximum amounts must be set for both categories. For safety reasons it should be avoided to use up to the [Upper Limit] twice. One simple way to address this issue is to use the Danish model for setting safe amounts of added nutrients to foods [...] and set the maximum level in supplements equal to the reference labelling value (RLV). Food supplements containing 100% of RLV are included in the Danish model.
In other words, because some people are assiduous in maintaining their vitamin levels by way of supplements, everyone should be denied products which pose no threat whatsoever on their own. Ironically, Marmite ads such as the one above extolling the healthy nature of their product merely highlight to Denmark why it must be prohibited.

This is a whole different ball game. The thrust of it being that you don't need these added vitamins, so they must be banned for the good of those who are, yes, too health-conscious.

The archetypal 'you just can't win' scenario.

But why is Denmark so afeared of products like Marmite? Probably because their citizens are unusually prolific consumers of vitamin and mineral supplements (because they are indoctrinated by an unusually health-obsesive government, perchance?). The fact that there are a miniscule number of Danes who would even think of trying Marmite - according to those non-story advocates who point to only one shop selling the stuff, and even then only to ex-pat Brits - means nothing. Banned it must be.

Rules is rules. No exceptions in socialist control utopia. Common sense is so last century. What a great country, eh? The Guardian is so right, we really must strive to be like them.

But then, we may not have to. Denmark is pushing for an EU-wide limit on acceptable levels of vitamins in foods based on their own hysterical standards. And considering the EU's past record of opting for the most draconian of measures for even the most inconsequential of risks, they'll probably get there in the end.

The growing up spread had better get ready for battling against enforced shrinking sales.

Richard Bacon And His, Err, Impartial BBC Radio Show

It's a constant source of astonishment to me that lefties sometimes point to the BBC being somehow biased to the right of centre. No, seriously, they do!

One has to conclude, then, that they've never listened to triangular-headed, barely restrained hysterical lefty, and all-round bag of bollocks, Richard Bacon on Radio Five Live. I've mentioned his wide-eyed infantile inanity before, but on Monday he and his selected right-on chums truly excelled themselves.

Cue his programme to around 1:47:00 here and you'll almost be able to cut the wildly ideological circle jerk with a blunt spoon, such is its egregious nature.

Libertarian author Ayn Rand - so obviously not Bacon's cup of tea - is widely read and well-regarded by very many for her ideas and philosophies. On a truly politically-neutral network, this would be recognised. Not for Bacon, oh no.

"She was Russian! Wrote books which were very influential, but are essentially thought of as a lot of rubbish."
He doesn't say by whom, but I think we can guess from that where he gets his received wisdom, can't we?

Fortunately, such a forthright and unequivocal viewpoint was given the BBC impartiality treatment by his guest. Well, not really, no.

"Yeah, bonkers. Bonkers. The Fountainhead, and she had this philosophy, a very selfish philosophy where everyone is out for themselves, where they should be out for themselves"
The guest being Heat Magazine editor Boyd Hilton, who yesterday lauded Polly Toynbee's wisdom. Yes, seriously!

How self-interest can possibly be described as 'bonkers' is anyone's guess since it is an undeniable trait of the human condition. On that basis, Adam Smith must be considered quite insane for pointing out that butchers, bakers and brewers - funny enough - don't provide you goods as a charity, but to enrich themselves.

So how did this short but breathlessly eager hatchet job come about, I hear you ask? Well, it was Bacon's TV review. The programme in question being All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace which seemed to me to be about our increasing reliance on computers. They did mention this in passing but were more interested in aiming barbs at Alan Greenspan.

You see, For Bacon's mob, it was proof positive that Randian philosophy destroyed the world and that progressives were right all along. That the programme - as a fan on Curtis's BBC blog succinctly put into words more adroitly than Bacon ever will - "raises a loaded gun to the head of consumer capitalism".

Further, ahem, balance was provided by his other guest who opined that his Mum was better qualified to handle a major economy than a free market advocate.

If you listen very carefully, you can just about hear the sighs as they all climaxed together. I swear they'd have even enjoyed a post-masturbatory fag had it not been illegal.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Fake Charity Needs Your Help

Alcohol Concern are running a survey to ascertain youth opinions on alcohol advertising (I wonder why?). Sadly, by its very nature it is a self-selecting one, since only under 18s who eschew Facebook and YouTube in favour of surfing for righteous bully pressure group websites will find it. That, or being directed there by school PHSE staff encouraged by government, of course, which can't be ruled out considering the fake charity receives a majority of its funding from the state.

As such, responses are going to be somewhat biased. Now, Alcohol Concern doubtless value their integrity very highly and would be far from happy with a dodgy survey, so perhaps readers here may like to help them out by providing some balance. You could even "be in with a chance of winning one of five £50 Topshop, iTunes or lovetoshop vouchers" for just 2 minutes' of your time. Not too shabby, huh?

The survey can be accessed here and closes on May 29th. Remember that it's for under 18s only. I want to make that absolutely clear, not for adults, OK? You don't have to actually prove you're under 18 (well, so I'm told anyway, I haven't responded myself you understand) but that matters not, it would be wrong to lie ... after all, Don Shenker has never told an untruth in his life. Ever. Wouldn't dream of it.

By all means pass the link around too, I'm sure they'll be delighted.

H/T Straight Stats

Monday, 23 May 2011

A Message To The Australian People

With all due respect, cobbers, it's not just your government and health lobby who are insane. If comments at this article are representative, the overwhelming majority of you are too.

We knew back in the long distant past that we weren't exactly sending the brightest of our society down there, but even those ancestors of yours would surely be mortally embarrassed at the almost backward intellect of people who are unable to understand an undeniable truth borne out by centuries of history. That prohibition quite simply doesn't - and can never because of basic human nature - work.

An upside-down jewel robber - who is obviously hellishly living amongst the terminally vacant - often sends links to antipodean articles with comments which she feels well suited to our database of knuckleheaded crazies, but you're taking the piss now Australia. There's no prize, you know. No incentive for cornering the market in neanderthal-esque anti-smoking nutjobbery. It's just a bit of fun to point out how jaw-droppingly myopic you are.

You see - and this may be news to people who have quite obviously no concept of life outside riding sea-resistant ironing boards and complaining about Vietnamese taxi drivers - the US found out to their self-inflicted cost that prohibition hands immense succour to new, err, businesses which tend to become eternally powerful.

Now, while you're all safely far enough away that drive-by shootings and bloody gang warfare on the streets of Sydney don't worry me too much, I do feel for the small contingent of your fellow citizens who do possess some understanding of life. And while there is always the future possibility of a lucrative Aussie film industry producing reality-based gangster gore-fests, it's not the best way of selfishly ensuring that your limp-wristed sensibilities aren't encumbered by a minor irritant.

To think you used to market yourselves as rugged, eh?

On the plus side, it's good to know that the country which used to boast monster-like Lillee, Hughes and Warne is now so effete that The Ashes is sorted in our favour, possibly for good. Future Aussie teams will doubtless brick themselves having to leave teddy behind and face opponents who aren't just there to tickle their delicate tums, watched uncomfortably by fortunates in Earls Court who have managed to escape your country's moisturised and bubble-wrapped madness.

This blatant sweeping ad hom comes to you via VGIF

Friday, 20 May 2011

Kill The Clown!

Wipe that smile off your face, you child murdering bastard!

Just as we thought it had all gone a bit quiet, the tobacco control template leaps into the limelight once again.

The US is awash with media reports of a letter produced - subtlely on a website designed for the very purpose - by a plethora of health professionals demanding. Wait for it. That McDonalds 'retire' Ronald McDonald.

Below an emotive image of a doctor cuddling a toddler, in just 569 words they manage to gemmy the word 'children' in 12 times and include astounding lies such as ...

This generation may be the first in U.S. history to live shorter lives than their parents
... which, as we know, is execrably untrue. And even if it was, with millions of confounders in this wild and diverse world we inhabit it cannot ever be laid exclusively at the door of McDonalds, or any other food provider come to that. But they do.

Because, you see, the letter bemoans the poor, cashless and pathetic nature of their righteous campaign. They're brassic, so they are.

Our efforts cannot compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars you spend each year directly marketing to kids.
Yet they can produce a pretty funky website which regales us all of how Ronnie is "the engine behind the health epidemic". Yes, all of America's problems are Ronald's work, the evil grinning bastard.

Since the inception of Ronald McDonald, obesity rates have more than tripled among American children and the prevalence of diet-related conditions like type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed.
The thing is, you're being beaten about the head by Ronald to part with your cash. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it, you have been subsumed into poisoning your kids with his food. When they ask for it, you just do as you have been programmed.

You may not think so, but the hideous chimps who produced this crap are absolutely certain of it.

[McDonalds] pin responsibility for the epidemic of diet related disease on a breakdown in parental responsibility.

As health professionals, we know that parents exercising responsibility for their children’s diets and physical activity is vital. We also know – and the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity agrees – that no authoritative data indicate a breakdown in parental responsibility.
In other words, the ability of parents to say 'no' to kids hasn't changed at all. Oh no. It's just that the clown's face has hypnotised them into not being able to around a McDonalds outlet.

It's not feckless and lazy parenting, it's a plastic statue outside a plastic fast food eaterie which is destroying the world and everything in it.

Yes, of course it's a pile and is steaming. Isn't everything these disgusting people rant on about? The site mentions that "more than 550 health professionals and institutions in all 50 states" are behind this. If that's the case, I am scared for the American public being served medically by such vacuous idiots.

I mean, where on earth did they get this idea of 'retiring' a cartoon-like character? What made them so optimistic that it could be achieved?

I'll give you one guess. Lo and behold, it just happens to be their inspiration and guiding light.

Couldn't happen here? Oh do keep up, for Chrissakes.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Moonlighting With Our Money

All this talk about Pilgrims - that is, union reps being paid out of the public purse, in this case by the NHS - rang a little bell with your host.

Here is Jane Pilgrim's Wikipedia entry (emphasis mine).

Jane Pilgrim is an English full-time trade union organiser working in the National Health Service for UNISON. She came to public attention in 2011 after criticising the government's health policies. Despite being billed as a nurse, she was found to be a full-time trade union official, being paid £40,000 by the hospital. She is now under investigation by both St George's Hospital and UNISON for running a private health consultancy called 'The Pilgrim Way' on the side, creating a conflict of interests.
Hmmm. St George's? What a coincidence.

I looked into CASH a while ago and vaguely remembered that they received paltry income while paradoxically enjoying huge media interest. It also struck me that they were working out of someone's office in Tooting.

That someone didn't concern me at the time ...

Prof Graham MacGregor, of St George's Hospital, in Tooting, South-West London, welcomed the move but added: "Why do they need to put salt on the chips at all? Why not leave them as they are and let customers sprinkle on what they want?"
Hmm, interesting.

But the BBC article says he is from the "Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine".

Funny enough, so now is the HQ of CASH.

Principal address:
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine,
Charterhouse Square,
London ECIM 6BQ
So it would seem that this entire organisation consists of Graham MacGregor and, err, a couple of mates.
Is moonlighting while on the public payroll - and in so doing, setting up very lucrative sidelines - a stated perk for medical staff at St George's Hospital?

Must be a busy place, huh?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

More Home Smoking Ban Possibilities

I'll pre-emptively offer my apologies for again banging on about the subject of home smoking bans, but it's important to nail this smug myth that if they are ever tabled - which is 100% certain, no matter what Tom Harris MP says - they will be unenforceable. Such over-confident apathy was pivotal in confiscating the property rights of publicans, and will be again for private home owners if we're not careful.

I've already advanced some examples of not only the transparency of health groups in working towards such legislation, but also how it will be implemented.

From the US, here's another worrying reminder that if any state wants entry to your home, they will bloody well get it even if they have to change previously unalienable rights to do so.

The law, to date, had been that police cannot enter a home without a warrant unless they had both (a) probable cause and (b) "exigent circumstances" in which getting a warrant would not make sense. In this case, police were searching for a drug dealer who had gone into an apartment complex. Outside of one apartment, they smelled marijuana -- which created probable cause. At this point, they should have obtained a warrant. Instead, they banged on the door and shouted police. At which point they heard a scramble inside, and busted in the door, claiming that they believed the scramble was the possible destruction of the drugs. The argument then was that this noise -- even though it was entirely created due to police action -- represented exigent circumstances that allowed them to bust in the door without a warrant. The Kentucky Supreme Court said that while the noise might be exigent circumstances, since it was illegally created by the police, it could not be used.

Tragically, the Supreme Court -- by an 8-to-1 vote -- has now disagreed, saying that this is perfectly consistent with the 4th Amendment.
Once smoking with chiiildren anywhere in the house is successfully re-designated as ritual child abuse, no amount of Febreze is going to disguise it. That takes time, something you simply won't have. The smoke police will be battering your door down armed with cotinine swabs and SHS geiger counters before you can even think about hiding the ashtray.

And while they're in there, they may as well have a look at what else you've been getting up to, eh?

Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that state prohibition of a legal product in your own home is impossible. For them, it's already at 'possible' status, with just a bit more work required to shift it into the eminently 'do-able' category.

Sadly, while this is going on, a small but significant number of myopic cheerleaders will be ecstatic at seeing one of their most important freedoms - the home is one's castle principle - being torn to shreds. May God rot every last one of them.

End Of The Libertarian Party?


Nic Coome (LPUK Acting Party Leader)
May 18, 2011 at 11:19 am

"Final closure: de-registration papers have been received by the Electoral Commission this morning. When they have been processed, LPUK will cease to be a political party."
I suppose it was on the cards, but still rather dispiriting news.

So what now, then? All over to UKIP?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Why Not Just Be Honest? It Is Prohibition, Pure And Simple

Only in the area of tobacco (for now, anyway) is the idea that businesses selling a legal product are forbidden to engage in normal debate with law-makers perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged.

Nowhere is this more stark than ... you guessed it, Australia.

Their media have today (well, yesterday for us, of course) devoted wall-to-wall coverage to the comments of David Crow, CEO of antipodean BAT.

Here are the quotes which have caused garish headlines - employing deliberately emotive language - such as "We'll flood the market with cheap tobacco, says British American Tobacco chief" ... which he didn't say at all, of course.

Mr Crow said cigarette companies would be forced to drastically cut prices because no-name "chop-chop" tobacco and cigarettes - which cost as little as 30 per cent of a regular packet - would be more attractive.

"Could cigarettes halve over time? I think in the longer term potentially yes," Mr Crow said.

"When you look at the four Ps (product, price, place and promotion), pricing's the big one and that's the only one we have left. We will end up fighting on price."

He said that the cheap prices "basically means more people will smoke, more kids will smoke".

"It's going to backfire and go bad and lead to more people smoking, which is just mad if you're sitting at a government desk," he added.
The site which carries the above montage of today's Aussie headlines calls this 'blackmail'. Because in this hysterically dull-witted world, a company pointing out the economic obvious in response to quite disgusting - and sustained - state bullying is still absurdly described as the big guy beating up on poor, weak, anti-smoking institutions.

(I have to just digress for a moment and point out that, yes, this is CAMRA's future if they choose to carry on being isolationist. Alcohol kills, as we all know, so the time when their voice in support of a chosen vice is condemned as advocating the agonising death of kids, is not too far away.)

Still, back to the matter in hand. There is nothing Mr Crow has said which isn't entirely in keeping with how businesses of every stripe operate, not to mention being basic stuff to anyone who understands supply and demand. A threat is identified and they - being a key stakeholder, to use public sector terminology - advance their case and highlight potential unintended consequences. It's a daily occurrence in any other sphere.

In a one-sided state-funded debate, though, this is termed 'blackmail'.

The only blackmail going on here is the one which says "you will meekly allow your legal business to be killed, without regard to your customers, or we will destroy you by portraying you as legitimate hate targets for a bovine public".

Price really is the only tool tobacco companies would have left if plain packaging were to be implemented. It's not the fault of BAT since legislation has already taken all the other economic factors out of the equation. This isn't blackmail, it's undeniable fact.

Why not just be honest about it and stop lying, Australia. This is prohibition by price we are seeing in action here. Pure and simple. The reaction from the federal government is to threaten openly a policy of sustaining tobacco prices with a tax grab in order to prohibitively price smokers out of their personal choice. Now that is what I would call blackmail.

No matter how reasonable Mr Crow is in this debate, the bully boys keep raining blows in. What a fantastic example of fairness and level-headed debate, eh? If this is an example of how Australians operate, perhaps they're not that far removed from the criminal element we sent down there in the first place.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Today's World, Yesterday

Still struggling with a constrictive work schedule here, and with weekend trips to Antwerp, Prague and London out of the way, another to Manchester looms at the end of the week. Quite apart from the obstacles all this places on producing this 'ere tabloid guff - which, for someone who regards recreational writing as a relaxant, can be irritating - it's bloody knackering.

Tonight is no different, with a business-related meal lined up. Sounds cushy, but best behaviour stuff, so quite the opposite of calming.

I've a couple of ideas in blogger's draft tray, but when they get round to be written is anyone's guess. Here's something interesting spotted today during a brief downtime, though, in a curious yet uncanny kind of way (click to enlarge pic).

It's from this 1979 book and is impressively accurate apart, maybe, for the robot. Oh, and the idea that the consumption of drinks in the home would be as natural to the comprehensively health-terrified 21st century citizen as it was to the more relaxed 70s version, of course.

Found here

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Left, In A Nutshell

Simon Clark, a PR man himself, has advanced ideas as to why Rally Against Debt achieved exactly what was required of it.

I think it's done a lot more than that, though, because the reaction from the left has been stunningly inept and self-defeating. Personally, if faced with what I considered to be a poor turnout from those who debate against me (as they haven't ceased to bang on about for the past 24 hours), I'd be completely ignoring the opposition as irrelevant. Yet still it carries on. I'm thinking it could be because the event managed to get such good coverage.

If so, the very best thing to do would be to continue to profess apathy about the whole concept. Instead we see it being pulled apart incessantly long after the official publicity machine had decamped to the pub and other distractions relevant to much of the public.

I'm minded of this part of a piece explaining to the progressive minority why they received such an abject caning in the referendum.

4. Play in your own playground. Our first focus group flagged up cost as a strong argument. When we released our cost estimate the YES campaign went ballistic. For weeks at a time. They did our job for us. They gave our costings coverage and cemented the figure in the minds of the public. We could not believe our luck. They should have admitted AV might cost a bit more - "Don't all upgrades?" - and then used the opportunity to sell the benefits of THEIR upgrade - all at "less than a pint" £1 per person. Instead of dechunking, trivialising and disregarding our £250 MILLION costing and focusing on why and how AV is wonderful, they broadcast our argument far and wide and were mute on their own territory.
By ignoring Rally Against Debt as an irrelevance, it would have been forgotten pretty quick. But the lefty Twitter tirade has given it more attention than any amount of press releases by the TPA and UKIP etc. I'm astonished that the BBC carried it on their front page, but then they would probably not have even heard about it if the Graun and assorted lefties hadn't been shouting louder than the 350 or so who turned up, both before and after the event.

The left are apparently bemused as to why there was so much publicity. Err, perhaps if they hadn't built it up to be such a big deal, it would have passed with little comment. I remember learning that ignoring the person who taunts you is the best way to shut them up ... at primary school. Where on Earth were these people when simple rules of life and handling people were being learned?

Secondly, yesterday illustrated perfectly some well-practiced lefty traits.

1) Hypocrisy: The RAD was laughable since it wasn't well attended, yet the biggest rally ever organised in London in recent times was the one opposing fox hunting. The left were, and still are, perfectly happy for that law to have been pursued. While simultaneously being apoplectic that the march against the Iraq War - with which I agreed - was ignored. Are we in favour of mass willy-waggling as a message to be listened to by government, or aren't we? It would appear that the left are rather confused about this.

2) The Class War: Those who consider themselves of the left still think there is one. The fact that their standard bearers are those who are mainly well-paid and hypocritical themselves seems to have escaped their attention. Campaigns primarily conducted via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail shots shows this to be a quite absurd approach. The truly less well off - the archetypal working man and woman - have little to do with any of those mediums except to sleb watch or keep up with what's happening on Eastenders. I should know, I employ over a hundred of such people who I associate with and consider as friends, yet only 12 are set up to receive payslips by e-mail. Another reason the AV referendum failed quite miserably, perhaps. Even naturally left-leaning voters tend to dislike feeling like they are being patronised by a cognoscenti elite.

And where was this simple left/right contre-temps anyway? RAD was equally annoyed at the coalition for continuing to increase spending as they were at Gordon Brown for ramping it up in the first place. There was no support for the government in any of the uploaded speeches, just condemnation for a pursuance of the same policies which Labour have admitted they'd be implementing too. The 'toffs' argument just doesn't hold any water when spouted by left-leaning toffs.

3) Lies: We've seen tons of them in the areas normally spoken of here, and the New Statesman carries a particularly egregious one today. Of all the hundreds of pictures they could have chosen, they plumped for one carried by a tiny counter-protest, and originally attached a caption which suggested this was the kind of sentiment being expressed. It's still there but has been marginally adjusted to convey at least a partial truth. But they're not daft, they know that people see what they want to see and that the emotive message about libraries will be taken in by those they wish to influence.

In fact, the whole article comprehensively confirms all of my summation above.

"plenty to do" seemed to involve standing increasingly closer together in order to make the crowd look bigger.
Gathering to be near to audible range of speakers is natural behaviour, I would suggest. Dick-waggling.

If the March for the Alternative suggested that a cross-section of society strongly opposed the cuts being made by the Tory government, then the Rally Against Debt suggested that white, middle class, middle-aged men are opposed to taxation, don't like Europe or public services
Not a Tory government, and certainly not all middle-aged men - or even women - as is a delight to such as me who have viewed the pictures, and an attendance who were as angry at the coalition as lefties are. That'll be the faux victim class war fantasy.

Six weeks later 200 people (I'm being generous) stood on a pavement outside parliament to give a big "thumbs up" to the same policies.
The police said 350, as did the BBC, a petition on the day gathered 400 signatures. Err, lie.

And lastly ...

The Rally Against Debt taught us nothing new. However, it did leave one big question: Why did this failure of an event generate so much news coverage?
Probably because - while the RAD crowd dispersed and watched the cup final - their cause was being publicised by incessant bleating from idiots who just don't know when to astutely shut their gobs.

It was that irrelevant, so it was.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Eurovision Live Blog

Sorry, it has to be done. Updating as we hear each piece of cheese.

Finland: Climate change crap and we're only one minute in. Sixth favourite apparently. Hope the guy walks into a wall on the way out.

Bosnia/Herzegovina: For one appalling moment, I thought he was going into 'Kung Fu Fighting' with the woah-oh-oh-oah lead-in. Sounds like something you'd hear at an ethnic Thomas Cook Turkish night. Reminds me to find that kebab menu.

Denmark: Looking good for Blue Jedward if this is in the top 10 according to the bookies. Worringly, Mrs P quite likes it. Sponsored by Brylcreem.

Lithuania: Signing while singing? Good fricking grief. Going for the 'aww bless' vote, obviously. Song stutters but fittest bird yet. Thumbs down from the female little P.

Hungary: Finally some legs with an 80s-esque female power ballad. Bonnie Tyler is sipping her tea and saying been there, done that.

Ireland: I always thought I despised Bros for their talentlessness until I saw this. Belongs as a theme tune on CBeebies, surely. Nope, second favourite. That's how very low we have sunk as a continent.

Sweden: 'Popular', and he certainly is with Mrs P, the smarmy good-looking git. Quite catchy but I'd prefer it if he stayed in that box.

Estonia: Now this, I like. Colourful and quite cute if one ignores the fact that the singer has unfortunately had her nose flattened by a dustbin lid. Thumping beat, and pretty men doing athletics. 25/1? Quite a price.

Greece: Operatic rap accompanied by fire jets? Like Il Divo and 50 cent at a posh Guy Fawkes display. What on Earth were they thinking?

Russia: Any of these guys (singing 'I'm going to get you) go near my daughter, I swear I'll do time. 100/1 for a reason. EDIT: Mrs P says lead singer looks like Chesney Hawkes ... whoever that is.

France: Scarily good and rightly favourite. A bit of mounting crescendo about it and something granny will sway to, but remember the juries (50% of the vote) have been told to look for a potential chart hit. Oh hold on, Susan Boyle shifted megabytes of iTunes sales in the US. Nailed on then.

Italy: Hand me a Pernod and a cigarette holder, I'm in a jazz club in Montmartre. Love it. That's why it's 250/1.

Switzerland: A proper pop song about love reminiscent of the soundtrack to a mobile phone ad crossed with 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head'. Pretty girl and lots of bubbles. Melted me, anyways.

UK: Chippendales in trousers. Women and gays will love them. Did I mention that I saw Blue dropped off at Heathrow Terminal 5 last Friday on my way to Prague? Lucky Mrs P told me who the short arses being followed by overweight housewives were, isn't it?

Moldova: Coneheaded unicyclist says it all. Do me a favour.

Germany: Last year's winner has become more dark and mysterious. Still on a diet of lettuce, celery and air though, I see. Conceptual song isn't helped by men dancing in sperm costumes.

Romania: Change the world, yawn. It'll resonate though, sadly. Sung by a Durham-ite who should know better.

Austria: Classy. Thinks she's Whitney Houston. Best skirt so far. Thumbs positively up.

Azerbaijan: Aren't those falling sparks a bit of a fire hazard with so much chiffon on show? Forget the comment above, one decent skirt is far exceeded by four (or was it five). Didn't hear the song much.

Slovenia: Singer wearing chainmail and should stick to ice hockey. Where was the catchy chorus, FFS?

Iceland: Why is James Corden singing for another country? Lay off the pies sunshine and GIVE US OUR MONEY BACK!

Spain: 'They Can't Take The Fun Away From Me', it's called. If she popped round mine, I hope I could say the same. Sadly, it's a pedestrian song which even Black Lace would have balked at.

Ukraine: Clever use of the winner of the Ukraine's Got Talent who went viral last year. Unlike the sand story to a backdrop of an emotional tale she told to claim victory, musical bubble gum just doesn't do anything at all really. Deeply unstirred here.

Serbia: Don't know what they were singing, could have been about clubbing babies as far as I know, but I bloody loved it.

Georgia: Scary. And that was before the rap began. Was it improv?

Votes from the Puddlecote jury: 1st Switzerland, 2nd France, 3rd Sweden. As you can see, I'm swamped to the tune of 3 to 1.

Jeez, they don't half over-egg the voting pud, don't they? Fortunately, being old hat at these things, the fried chicken takeaway arrived at just the right time.

Our country just gave 12 points to Jedward. And there was me thinking our self-esteem couldn't sink any lower.

Polishing my nails for spotting the potential of the 250/1 runner up, but chiffon nighties will win the game every time.

UPDATE: Thanks to 'Go Nina Go' in the comments, here is what should have won, in English.

Link Tank 14/05

Hastily cobbled together since blogger kindly deleted the week's links. Besides, shouldn't you be at the Rally Against Debt?

The objective of Rally Against Debt is a moral imperative

So it follows that a device to shut the wife and kids up will be equally advantageous

It's not magic smoke, after all?

The best ever advert for odour eaters

Filming kids' school lunches .. for their own good, of course

Libertarian Ron Paul to run for President again in 2012

Mark Zuckerberg banned from Facebook

What's living in your belly button?

Bin Laden's porno stash

Friday, 13 May 2011

Bye Bye NHS?

{sigh} Cheers to Blogger for going down for 24 hours and restoring to a previous working arrangement, thereby wiping a couple of finished drafts. Let's (more succinctly) try again ...

... because it has to be pointed out that this is exactly the way to kill the NHS.

PEOPLE who refuse to attempt to quit smoking or shed weight if they are obese will be declined hip and knee operations under new rules.

They have also warned there are plans to roll the policy out to all surgical areas ‘over a period of time’.
Excellent! As someone who believes that the NHS is as inefficient and condescending an arrangement of healthcare that could possibly be imagined, this is just what we need. The more people who wake up to the sniffy arrogance of those charged with running the nation's health provision, the better.

And this is precisely the way to do it. Take people's taxes with the cradle-to-grave promise of 'free healthcare at the point of delivery regardless of ability to pay', then - without refunding any cash - deny the service and effectively say "we've had your money, now fuck off to the private sector or suffer/die". In other areas where financial transactions occur, offer acceptance and all that, we call this theft.


Sadly, some have noticed the potential problems.

Betty Harris, chairman of Dacorum Hospital Action Group, said: “It worries me greatly. You start by taking one lot of patients out and it carries on. Who will be next? Maybe the elderly because they’re getting on and are not worth bothering with? I’m very angry about it.”
Pipe down, Betty, they might hear you!

One test case, that's all. Just one that judges a patient entitled to their NI contributions back and that's the NHS bankrupt overnight. Forget PPI contingency funds, it's chicken feed compared to the bill the flood of claimants would heap on the NHS. They'd have two options, either continue to be righteous nerks and face a future privatised health system - you know, one in which administrators would have to take account of customer satisfaction - or, and I know this will be hard for them, actually do the fucking job they are handsomely paid for. It's not called 'universal' healthcare for nothing, you know.

I, for one, welcome the self-destruction of the NHS by bean counters and righteous knuckleheads who think our money - ripped from us under threat of violence handed over in good faith - is theirs to squander on seminars, performance management workshops, and junkets instead of providing the promised service.

It's the only way we'll ever return to the days of health professionals who smile instead of sneer at those who provide their golf club membership, and who understand that we are their boss, not the other way round.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Czech Out The Last Liberal State In The EU

You'll be glad to hear - if evidence from my weekend away is anything to go by - that the Czech Republic is still mostly standing proud as a beacon of laid back liberty amidst a risk-terrified gaggle of effete EU member states.

Leaving UK nanny's lead weights of lifestyle gloom and scaremongery at Ruzyně airport like so much unwanted baggage, it was just a 15 minute cab ride before Mrs P & I were happily nestled at a table in the bar pictured left. I don't know much Czech except 'pivo', which is just about all one needs to know after a flight where the ice cold Staropramen had been calling to me siren-like, but whatever the word is for bliss, we enjoyed that too while sipping quality brew and simultaneously lighting up without so much as a raised eyebrow from anyone.

There's not much to say about Prague and its more relaxed and respectful approach to people in comparison to the UK that I haven't mentioned in an article last November ... except to correct this bit.

[The bar] was the only place one could smoke, thereby leaving every other part of the 354 roomed hotel - and two non-smoking lounges - for non-smokers, including the restaurant where we were heading.
Err, not strictly true, as it happens. On Friday evening, we sat down at our table in the plush restaurant and Mrs P put her cigarettes (£2.50 Rothmans from the shop over the road) next to the condiments rather than suffer the discomfort of a square box in her trouser pocket. A waiter, without waiting to be asked and flashing a genial smile, promptly placed a gleaming glass ashtray in front of us. How thoughtful, eh? We didn't make use of it on this occasion but it was very liberating to be offered the freedom to choose. It's the same just about everywhere. In fact, the one establishment we stumbled across with the bold claim "Prague's first ever smoke free bar" painted on its window was amusingly lifeless and - predictably - shut.

The whole weekend was equally stress free, and the Prague urban scenery as picturesque as ever. But, as alluded to briefly yesterday, you can always trust lefties to make life that little bit more difficult.

Returning from Old Town on Saturday afternoon after having savoured a succulent piece of veal which would have sent Kerry McCarthy into anaphylactic shock, there was a procession going on at Malostranské náměstí tram station. Lefties. Tons of 'em.

How do I know they were lefties? Well, the massive - and I mean huge - Che Guevara flag we saw from Charles Bridge gave the game away somewhat. As did the uninspiring chanting, regimented banners, and kids-as-weapons tactic so enamoured of that kind of morally bankrupt political activist.

It turns out that it was, indeed, exactly the kind of emotive and detached-from-reality protest we see over here**. As 'normal' Czechs stood watching with bemused indifference, I asked a street caricaturist - not the type one would mark down as a heartless beneficiary of right wing privilege - what was going on.

"Idiots", he spat, "the government say we must change, cannot spend money. They don't like". Ah, that old chestnut. "They are going to the Finance building. They will stay there I think".

And then the penny dropped. They had been marching along the tram lines, and we passed the Ministry of Finance on the way down to central Prague that morning. By 'down', I do mean down. We were at the foot of a steepish hill that leads up to Prague Castle, said to have been built 'on the back of a dolphin', and our hotel was that-a-way. With these sods closing the roads off and blocking trams, the only way back was a 30 minute hike. Uphill. In 25 degree heat.


I consoled myself with a lime ice cream bought along the way, and by pondering why it was that citizens of a country, formerly stamped on by the communist jackboot, would contemplate pursuing the same damaging policies which they had only recently thrown off.

Just a small inconvenience, of course, but one which was irritating considering my visiting there is partly to escape lefty-led policy nonsense over here.

I could have done without the NHS administrator who checked in just before us on our way back too, taking the last window seat in the process, only to then be sat in the same row glued to seminar documents the whole way back without glancing out of the bloody thing even once.

Trifles, yes. But when you've enjoyed a weekend of quiet enjoyment and unhampered personal choice, most irritations are.

**Well, not exactly, as it happens. There were no 'anarchist' riots and no smashed windows, graffiti etc the next day.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Candy: The Latest 'Gateway Drug'

'Twas relaxation paradise again - naturally - in Prague, but it's still nose to the grindstone time for another couple of days, so an explanation of how Czech lefties and an NHS administrator contrived to inflict the only small blights on an otherwise blissful break will have to wait till tomorrow.

For now, though, what do you think US righteous will do once they realise that this kind of activity is going on?

Got it in one.

A middle school near Grand Rapids has banned sugary Smarties candy, saying it's being crushed and inhaled and can be a gateway to "inappropriate substances."
We are, of course, talking the American Smarties here, which are not unlike Refreshers, it would seem.

Northern Hills Middle School is part of the Forest Hills district. Principal Nancy Susterka says there are credible reports that kids are crushing the Smarties and inhaling the powder. She says it can cause infections, chronic coughing and choking.
All very scary, even if woefully inaccurate according to a Wall Street Journal article in 2009.

Children don't inhale the powder or try to get it into their lungs; they pour it into their mouths and exhale quickly, causing a cloud of fine dust to emerge.
Still, the way things are going over there, it was only a matter of time before the sweets were banned or taxed over their sugar content anyway. It's just a more satisfying scare 'kick' for bansturbation addicts this way.

H/T LRC Blog via David G

Friday, 6 May 2011

Blogroll Update

Just before I head to Heathrow ...

My blogroll is showing distinct signs of being overrun by cobwebs. It's a shame since there were some brilliant writers there who have now decided they are out of the game. As a result, there are a few spots which need filling.

The Nameless Libertarian, is no stranger to regular readers here since I've linked twice recently, and the THR blog is great for highlighting tobacco control hypocrisy and bad practice.

I'm also adding Misanthrope Girl for not only good (albeit irregular) writing, but a propensity for eliciting a reaction when she does.

Jackart is another who should have been here a while ago for his and Travelgall's biting observations and lefty-baiting. Lastly (for now) my guilty pleasure is Cookie, so I'm adding him to boost my beer blogger cred. Well, he's not pure beer blogger, but it works for me.

Right, I'm outta here. There's a seat, a fridge full of beer, and an ashtray in a Czech bar with my name on them.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Breaking News: Australia Has Officially Gone Mad

No, I'm serious.

Yes, you heard that right, a fine of A$8,000!

On the premise that kids might get hold of it, and that small quantities can kill a child, I'm wondering when Australia will find time in their banning schedule to criminalise possession of furniture polish, bleach, and oven cleaning chemicals.

It's staggering to think that this is the same country which is introducing plain packaging to deter people from smoking, isn't it? Yet here they are actively working against what has been - for very many - a successful tobacco harm reduction tool, if not an aid to quitting cigarettes altogether. With such crippling punishments in place, the only outcome will be thousands reverting back to smoking tobacco.

I think Australia's public health department needs to visit a shrink as they're exhibiting symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Because Unintended Consequences Are Merely Job Creation For Politicians

Yes, the tumbleweed has been having free run of the place of late, but I've been uncomfortably busy for reasons I partly explain here.

To be frank, I'm fair frazzled after days of picking through pages and pages of eye-watering, tax-funded, nuclear-tipped banality that is the modern day public sector 'invitation to tender'. Bank holiday Monday was spent drafting a Business Continuity Management Plan as ordered by Labour's Civil Contingency Act 2004, whilst the past two days have consisted of compiling method statements (as required under EU tendering directives) comprising in the region of 9,000 words of suffocatingly-absurd public sector office-speak.

I'm about a quarter of the way through.

Local authority staff may well talk of 'positive procurement strategies' and 'service satisfaction milestones' while buying cod and mushy peas from the chippy, but it's a vocabulary which is hard to learn for the rest of us who usually add to the economy rather that drain it.

I'm also off to Prague again on Friday for another vital reminder of what lifestyle freedom actually looks like. As such, apart from a much-needed blogroll update (something I hope to get around to tomorrow), and Saturday's link tank which is forming rather quickly this week, there won't be a lot posted here till Monday ... so those of you with a mischievous streak, please play nice in the comments while the place is unattended. No porn (unless it's excellent), no drugs, no smoking or drinking, no playing any games but conkers, and definitely no slagging off politicians without good cause (ie, if the day contains the letter 'Y').

Before that, though, I'd just like to point out that Anne Milton is possibly the most deranged person ever to have sailed under the Tory banner.

Yep, fresh from hiding cardboard boxes for the good of the nation, she has come up with another corker from the Ministry of Crappy Ideas.

Cars could be banned from residential roads to allow children to play out in the street, a heath minister has suggested.

During a debate in Westminster Hall, Mrs Milton said: "On Sundays, they close certain streets so that everybody can play in them. That is an outstanding idea."
Because there's nothing better than encouraging kids to feel safe when running out into a road without looking, now is there?

Good grief.

Previously in the 'what could possibly go wrong' category.

Monday, 2 May 2011

From Democracy To Dictatorship, Pharma Controls Them All

Via Belinda, a truly 'couldn't make it up' moment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday announced that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is to receive a World No Tobacco Day Award for his steadfast campaign and tough anti-smoking legislation in Greece.

[...] part of the reasoning used for presenting the award to Papandreou was the "political courage" he displayed in passing potentially unpopular measures at a time when the Greek government was also adopting strict austerity measures to exit the economic crisis.
Belinda expands quite astutely on this.

Mr Papandreou is accredited with 'political courage' for his insistence that the smoking ban will be a comprehensive law in spite of other austerity measures the government is taking, and in spite of opposition from Greek people. I am not sure that 'political courage' are words that describe the actions of a leader who follows a global health agenda at the expense of his people's livelihoods and against their wishes.

So let's get this straight. Greece hasn't got a pot to piss in at the moment. They have stolen nearly £100bn of European taxpayer cash to prop up their appalling economy, yet the Greek PM is being honoured - by the World Health Organisation - for degrading the lives of his citizens and ensuring that many of them are denied custom as a result of his cowardly capitulation.

I suppose Greece - being the historic root of democracy - is always going to be subject to more scrutiny than other countries in that respect, but hey, we don't make the rules. And they have gloried in that tag for a long time, so I make no apology for calling Papandreou out as a weapons-grade dickhead.

Let's look at the evidence. There are approximately 12 million people in Greece, a fair few million of whom vote. How many of those, exactly, do you think voted for any appointment to the World Health Organisation?

Go on, just one guess. I promise you won't be far away (if you said nil, of course).

So what this boils down to is a premier of a country renowned for respecting its people via democratic process, ignoring them all and instead acting on the say-so of a bunch of unelected office wallahs who just happen to be hugely funded by pharmaceutical interests. And being rewarded for it?

To think we used to laud Greece for its democratic lead, eh?

Meanwhile, in China, the WHO mafia strike again. And it opens up a rich new vein of smoker hatred to catalogue (check out 'hate' and 'filthy' references from 1:40 onward).

{There was originally an English-speaking Chinese news video here but, as it self-played, it right got on my tits. You can view it here instead}

It would appear that in our post-democratic world, no leader can claim to wield unrivalled control even in his own country anymore.

The President of the US - you know, the one who is terrified of pharma-led opprobium - the most powerful man on the planet? Don't make me laugh. He's not even on the board.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Asda

I saw my MP campaigning in the local High Street today for the 'yes to AV' campaign. In light of the fact that the man's transparent purpose in life has always been solely to ensure he is elected every five years - and that in doing so he has never knowingly made a decision or vote of which I could remotely approve - I think witnessing his handing out purple balloons is a big red cherry on the top of a cake which has battered me into a choice for this Thursday.

The campaigns on both sides have been rather uninspiring up to now**, and I'd been mulling the idea of not bothering with a process which is little more than a sop to the Lib Dems for their coalition acquiescence. But the piss poor - and arguably desperate - nature of the yes lot has become dramatically more objectionable to me over the last 24 hours or so.

And that is really saying something since they already deserve to lose for repeatedly asserting that the no campaign is "relying on the stupid vote to win". Insults are not an approach for which I have even the remotest respect, as you well know. In fact, such tactics are usually guaranteed to see me enthusiastically lining up in the opposition camp. When you've already been denormalised, the 'stupid' insult is somewhat tired. It's like water off a duck's back, along with filthy, stinking, disgusting and murderer. It does, however, say quite a lot about the nature of those who choose to conduct a debate in such a manner.

Oh yeah, I've been called a tabloid conspiracy theorist before, too, so grubby 'consensus denialist' type barbs set alarm bells ringing too.

My MP's (amateurish and rather pitiful, it has to be said) posturing outside Dorothy Perkins today was on top of the Observer's frantic reframing of the debate earlier. Faced with polls which are looking decidedly dodgy, they dropped all pretence of caring for the country and defaulted to all-out lefty, can't bear-to-lose, me-me-me mode.

In particular, a short-sighted notion has taken hold among many Labour supporters that AV should be opposed for no other reason than the fact that Nick Clegg supports it. The Liberal Democrats, according to this view, betrayed the progressive cause by joining forces with the Tories last May. Sabotaging electoral reform would, it is then conjectured, undermine Mr Clegg, weaken the coalition and hasten its demise.

That analysis is wrong. Given their low poll ratings, the Lib Dems are in no position to quit the government and trigger an election. By contrast, a yes vote would send the right wing of the Conservative party into apoplexy. Tory hardliners think that David Cameron has already conceded too much to the Lib Dems already; some mutter that he is not an authentic Tory. They would turn downright rebellious if AV were passed. That is by far the greater threat to coalition stability.
Oh, I see. It's about how best to destabilise the government and get back to more progressive nonsense, is it? Or, put more bluntly ...

AV referendum: why progressives must unite to vote yes

John Denham, Chris Huhne and Caroline Lucas explain why Labour, Lib Dem and Green voters must put aside party differences to change British politics
Hmm, not me, then. Thanks for the tip, chumps.

Listen, I've heard the point made - time and again - by yes campaigners that (not verbatim, obviously) "yes, we know AV isn't perfect, but once we've got it we can then move to STV/PR/other" {delete as applicable}, and I'm sorry but it's far from convincing. Referenda are rarer than ends of a rainbow in this country, as any EU-sceptic can attest to, so we're not going to see another to fine tune the electoral choice if we vote yes - that is, of course, if a further referendum is what is being suggested here. If the future will be AV being replaced with something better only after being chosen by politicians, then that's infinitely worse.

As for the constituency link which we're all apparently desperate to keep, I can't help feeling that we're being sold a mangy pup. I'd do anything to sever my ties with a profoundly self-serving MP of 14 years' standing, ta very much. He's not so much an avenue of democracy as a barricaded cul-de-sac, and the system as it stands means that writing to other MPs invites the 'you're not my constituent so bugger off' response.

Getting rid of this link and moving to party lists would truly give a lesser party like UKIP, for example, the chance for deserved representation in parliament and would really mean that every vote counted, and that everyone could vote with their conscience and not just in a negative, tactical, manner.

That's why it's not an option, and probably never will be.

Nope, AV is not for me, however flawed FPTP may be. They'll have to try harder to make me believe, I'm afraid.

And in case you are one who still thinks the yes campaigners are salt of the earth, decent, consistent, altruistic sorts who just want us to have our say. Consider the names above (including my MP) who are all wildly enthusiastic about a certain law passed in 2006 which walks all over freedom of choice, personal liberty, and property rights.

Then watch this.

They've got some nerve.

**Mark Wadsworth excepted.