Monday, May 25, 2015

Universities are not the fucking police (pun intended)

Apparently, universities are not keeping records of "sexual" crimes.
Fewer than half of elite universities in Britain are monitoring the extent of sexual violence against students.
And why should they?

Universities are not the police, and we do not insist that they should keep statistics about any crimes.

As far as I am concerned, it isn't a crime until it has been reported to the police. That's certainly the attitude that insurance companies take.

And any allegation of a crime—sexual or otherwise—against a anyone (including other students) is, as far as I am concerned, a libel unless the accuser takes it to court.

If the accuser is not prepared to take their allegation to court then it is simply an accusation: and until the accuser is prepared to substantiate that allegation in court and the substance is proven beyond all reasonable doubt, in court, it is a libel.

And if the accuser continues to repeat the allegation, without doing any of those things, it is a libel. And in that case, the accused should be able to sue their accuser until the cows come home.

And since universities are not courts, I don't see why they should be keeping any records of such allegations.

We have a justice system. So, o students, if you are too much of a precious little flower to use the channels of justice that exist, then that's just tough.

UPDATE: Timmy says something similar.

Friday, May 22, 2015

From the Archives: the lobbyists fight back (2009)

Although the Filthy Smoker has moved onwards and upwards, he is responsible for some of your humble Devil's favourite posts. This little sample, from a 2009 post in which he discusses the tactics of fake charities, shows why...
The government funds these groups because they help it create a fake compromise while bypassing public opinion. Here's how it works:
  1. The government feels like giving you a good kick in the bollocks.
  2. You don't want to be kicked in the bollocks. You just want to be left alone.
  3. A fake charity turns up wielding some bogus study and demands that you be kicked in the bollocks and pelted with turds.
  4. The government conducts a bullshit consultation with some other fake charities and, in the spirit of compromise, concludes that you will be kicked in the bollocks but not pelted with turds.
Result: you get kicked in the bollocks. The government wins.

And if the charity is very good at its job, this will be quickly followed by the fake loophole:
  1. The fake charity produces a study showing that being pelted with turds is not as bad as taking one in the Jacob's. They say that the government is being inconsistent by allowing people to kick you in the plums but not pelt you with turds.
  2. The government agrees and, having set a precedent, it can't be seen to allow one and not the other.
Result: you get kicked in the bollocks and pelted with turds. Democracy has prevailed.
Although the fake charities site is no longer up (I know—I keep meaning to sort that out) nothing has fundamentally changed in the tactics employed by these organisations.

For more on these insidious lobbyists, why not have a look at Chris Snowdon's excellent (and free) IEA monographs on the subject:
As I always say, the phrase—and highlighting of—"fake charities" has been your humble Devil's sole effective contribution to public discourse—other than making it coarser...

Freeman by name; ignorant, illiberal prick by nature

George Freeman MP—who is, apparently, some kind of minister for the life sciences in this exciting new Tory government—has been spouting some ignorant bullshit at the Hay Festival.
Mr Freeman told an audience at the Hay Festival that it was clear that sugary drinks and snacks were behind the worsening obesity epidemic in Britain. “I don’t think heavy-handed legislation is the way to go,” he said.
Well, that's very kind of you, Mr Freeman. It's a great pity that the "obesity epidemic" is, by and large, a load of old bollocks—with researchers predicting some kind of lard-arse armageddon that has, consistently, failed to materialise (a bit like climate change, really).

But George thinks that it is a crisis and—perhaps whilst he was obtaining his degree in Geography—it looks like he once heard someone explain Pigou taxes.
“But I think that where there is a commercial product which confers costs on all of us as a society, as in sugar, and where we can clearly show that the use of that leads to huge pressures on social costs, then we could be looking at recouping some of that through taxation. 
“Companies should know that if you insist on selling those products, we will tax them.”
George's trouble is, of course, that we cannot "clearly show that the use of [sugar] leads to huge pressures on social costs".

What we can show, in fact, is that calorie consumption has fallen rapidly throughout the century—to the point that the average adult's intake is now below the recommended intake during war-time rationing.

The human body, as an energy machine is pretty simple: if you burn more calories through activity than you consume, then you will lose weight—and vice versa. And given what we know about these two factors (neatly summarised in this excellent IEA monograph by Chris Snowdon), there really can only be one conclusion:

  • All the evidence indicates that per capita consumption of sugar, salt, fat and calories has been falling in Britain for decades. Per capita sugar consumption has fallen by 16 per cent since 1992 and per capita calorie consumption has fallen by 21 per cent since 1974.
  • Since 2002, the average body weight of English adults has increased by two kilograms. This has coincided with a decline in calorie consumption of 4.1 per cent and a decline in sugar consumption of 7.4 per cent.
  • The rise in obesity has been primarily caused by a decline in physical activity at home and in the workplace, not an increase in sugar, fat or calorie consumption.

So, once more we are forced to wheel out the Polly conundrum: is George Freeman MP ignorant or lying?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Left: an utter failure of personal responsibility

Over at Forbes, Timmy has written an article about the difficult decision facing Greek PM, Alex Tsipras.
The general view is that the Greek endgame is coming ever closer.
...
The troika is insisting that Greece must not lower the pension age and also must liberalise some more the labour market. Syriza, seeing itself as the sort of left wing party that just doesn’t do those sorts of things is refusing: thus that red line argument. And it is fair to point out that Syriza are the democratically elected government and they were elected on a platform of not doing those sorts of things (or, in fact, those two specific things). 
But as I’ve pointed out before what you do with the money of the citizens who voted you in is one thing. Demanding to be allowed to do the same thing with money you’re borrowing from others is rather different. And if Greece is going to make the payments it needs to in the coming months then it needs that last tranche of that loan. But the troika refuses to hand it over while Syriza is threatening to do what it was elected to do.
Certainly, it's going to be interesting to see what happens—especially as the consensus seems to be that:
  • the Greeks do not want to submit to the troika's demands;
  • the Greeks can't pay their creditors unless they do submit to the troika's demands;
  • the Greeks want to remain within the Eurozone.
Or, to put it another way:
  1. the Greeks want all of the trappings and benefits of a massive, Leftist state that will allow them to sit about doing nothing much all day;
  2. the Greeks don't want to pay for it through their taxes and, indeed, will avoid them where at all possible;
  3. the Greeks want to remain within the Eurozone.
At least one of these things will have to change. Unless, of course, some miracle comes along (very unlikely). We live, as they say, in interesting times.

Anyway, the point that I really want to make is related to #2, above, i.e. the Greeks don't want to pay taxes and, indeed, will avoid them where at all possible. Now, many people will be outraged that I might suggest such a thing—except, perhaps, when I point out that a great many Greeks simply stopped paying tax at the end of last year in anticipation of a Syriza win.

Faced, as he is, with this tension between keeping his promises or keeping the Greek state solvent (for a little while), it would not be entirely unreasonable for Alex Tsipras to say:
"Look, chaps: I did my best to stand up for the interests of the Greek people. But the trouble is that, at the first possible moment, the Greek people simply didn't bother paying tax. 
"Because of this, we have no other options: either we give in to the demands of the troika, or we exit the Euro (which won't solve much, but will get the Germans off our backs)."
He could then hold a referendum—but I doubt that the Greek state can afford it.

Anyway, the point is that the Greeks want lots of stuff, without actually reaching into their pockets to pay for any of it.

Which is, as we saw after the recent General Election, very similar to the Left in this country.

My various feeds were full of idiots wailing and gnashing their teeth, talking about how all the poor people were going to be put down and fed to the myriad urban foxes. Or something.

A great many of them were complaining about how the poor were to be denied their benefits.

So to help out these poor souls—riven by grief and guilt about the poor—I decided to point out that they could help simply by reaching into their ample pockets. I helpfully pointed out that not only can they donate their time and money to charities, but they can actually donate money to the Treasury—and specify what budget they want their monies to go to!

So, if you are a Lefty scared of what will happen to the poor, simply send your cheque to:
The Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road
London
Just convince all of your left-wing friends to do the same—this surely won't be difficult—and you can help out those causes that you care about. And, best of all, you won't be using the threat of imprisonment to force other people to pay towards these causes.

As an extra bonus, everyone can check online to see who has generously donated this cash to these good causes, so that we can praise you for your generosity and civic decency.

Or, of course, call you a bunch of fucking liars when you say that you'd "happily pay more tax".

This is the very definition, I think, of the phrase "put up or shut up."

Of course, many people will say that your humble Devil is being a little aggressive about this.

"Come on, DK," they might say. "You're a politics nerd—you cannot expect everybody to know about this voluntary tax thing."

To which I reply, "well, these people think that they are qualified to elect a government—shouldn't they know how that government works? They are prepared to use the law to force people to pay money to the Treasury on behalf of certain interest groups—shouldn't they show willing first?"

But, apparently, that's the thing with Lefties: they're very happy to reach into other people's pockets, and very reluctant to dig deep into their own.

Who knew, eh?

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Incentives matter

This really shouldn't need to be said, honestly, but incentives really do matter.
Pizza shop worker Devin Jeran was excited about the raise that was coming his way thanks to Seattle’s new $15 an hour minimum wage law. Or at least he was until he found out that it would cost him his job. 
Jeran will only see a bigger paycheck until August when his boss has to shut down her Z Pizza location, putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work, Q13 Fox reported.
Well, isn't this a fucking surprise...?

Not.

Darren, or whatever his fucking name is, is a fucking arse. He thought he could get a massive pay hike with no consequences.

Darren, or whatever his fucking name is, is a dick.

Although not as much of a fucking dick as the politicos who brought in the law. But what the fuck do they care?—their salary is guaranteed by law and enticed through theft.

The stupid cunts.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Perverting the language

Star Trek's Mr Sulu, George Takei, has written an article for MSNBC [Emphasis mine—DK]...
The so-called “Religious Freedom Bill” would have allowed proprietors of establishments open to the public to refuse to serve customers if doing so would violate the “sincerely held” religious beliefs of the owner. 
On the surface, the proposed law seemed like a neutral way to protect the First Amendment rights of business owners.
But beneath that surface lurked a dangerous and divisive effect, granting hotels, bars and restaurants the right to refuse to serve LGBT persons and couples such as Brad and me, simply because our love did not comport with the religious views of the owners.

But thanks to pressures upon the governor’s office in days before she was set to sign the law, and in the face of a boycott of the state by tourists and the NFL, which threatened to move the Super Bowl to Pasadena, Gov. Jan Brewer ultimately decided to veto the law. Tolerance and equality won out that day.
Hmmm.

So, "tolerance" for LGBTQ means intolerance—enacted with force—towards people who would like to choose who they do business with?

Whilst I don't support a religious position, this definition of "tolerance" does rather illustrate how our language has become utterly perverted.

To be honest, my attitude is pretty much espoused by Tim Cook, i.e. that serving everyone equally is good business.

Or, as I put it after the heated feminism debate at this weekend's Liberty League Freedom Forum...
I am an individualist. I discriminate on whether or not you are a cunt, not whether or not you have one.
That pretty sums up my attitude to all identity politics, frankly.

The bastards are still stealing from us

Another day, another tale of ordinary thieving folk...
Forty six MPs have claimed expenses for London rent or hotels despite owning a property in the capital, a Channel 4 News investigation has found.
...
Our investigation found many of the MPs bought their London properties with the help of the taxpayer when the previous expenses system allowed them to claim back mortgage payments.
But when those claims were banned following the expenses scandal they switched to letting out their properties, in some cases for up to £3,000 a month. They then started claiming expenses for rent and hotels in the capital.
The only thing that MPs learned from the expenses scandal was how to line their pockets, at our expense, in new and exciting ways.

Clarkson again...

And so Spiked! weighs in again on Clarkson, pointing out that this so-called offensive, racist oaf helped to propel Top Gear to be the most watched factual programme in the entire world.
When Clarkson’s suspension was announced, one of the first to express sadness was his Farsi voiceover, Mozaffar Shafeie, who helps to translate Top Gear for the benefit of the show’s multitude of viewers in Iran. As much as it might grate on the tender sensibilities of Clarkson’s detractors in the UK, his oafish, crass manner is actually fundamental to his popularity in the Islamic Republic. ‘His humour is so inappropriate and not at all what you hear on state TV’, said the BBC’s Darius Bazargan, who made a documentary in 2008 about motor racing in Tehran, before adding, ‘that must account for some of [Top Gear’s] appeal’.
Oddly enough*, that's pretty much why I enjoyed Top Gear too.
This jolly, life-affirming show about risk-taking and camaraderie, one only superficially devoted to automobiles, has done more than any other TV show to spread happiness and bring people together on a global scale.
Quite.

* I don't, of course, mean "oddly": I am drawing a direct comparison between the legal and religious authoritarianism of the disgusting Iranian regime, and the social fascism of the bien pensant media classes in this country—and the tacit support given to them by our cowardly politicos.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Boycott!

So, the BBC has finally sacked Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear.

Given how much money the programme makes for the Beeb, I would say that decision might be described as "courageous".

However...

Your humble Devil has sod all interest in cars*, but I did rather enjoy watching Top Gear. I think, basically, because it was three chaps—mercifully free from the aching right-on-ness of most people these days—arse-ing about in colossally brilliant machines built by very clever human beings.

It seems that the other May and Hammond—in a decent British show of solidarity with a mate—will probably not continue with the programme. Good for them.

So, the upshot is that I think that the BBC are totally wrong to sack Clarkson. Totally and utterly wrong.

Thank goodness that I can boycott their output, withhold my payments and cancel my contract. And that's why I am calling for a...

I'm sorry—what?

Prison? For not wanting to pay for a service that I not only don't want, but morally disagree with?

Oh.

FFS.

* I got banned some years ago, and have never bothered to apply for my licence back—despite the ban having expired two years ago (or more).


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Appropriate

One of my problems with the Thatcher governments is that they actually centralised a lot of local government. For someone who believes in localism, that is something of a problem.

However, when you see what local governments spend money on, that is entirely understandable.

As a very small example, let us take this pathetic story from the Daily Fail...
Staff at a council used payment cards to spend nearly £700,000 of public cash – including £170 on a pair of designer Ugg boots, £100 in a Ralph Lauren store in Barcelona and £44 in a tattoo parlour.
There just isn't any fucking excuse for this kind of spending.

Look, I work in a company and we have a company credit card: it is totally necessary because, these days, many services cannot be purchased without some kind of debit/credit card.

I can understand why some purchases might look weird to our shareholders. But I can justify every one of them (and I am a shareholder so I authorise most of them). Nevertheless, at our company, every single penny saved is worthwhile.

But this is not even about getting the best deal.

This is about what it is appropriate for state agencies to spend our fucking money on.

Let us be really fucking charitable and assume that the £44 spent in a tattoo parlour was for a "vulnerable" constituent who maintained that only permanent damage to their epidermis could allow them to feel accepted in their environment.

I am well aware that local councils feel obliged to pander to their customers (don't we all sometimes? After all, saying "no" to people is never nice).

But the correct answer is still, "fuck off".

And not just because the aresehole will probably sue the council, in a few years time, for the right to have said tattoo removed (at our expense).

No, the real reason to say "fuck off" is because even that £44 belongs to someone else.

Personally, I don't get tattoos: the idea of doing any kind of permanent damage to my body makes me feel slightly ill. But, again, that's not the fucking point.

A council, or a state, has the mandate to stop put a roof over people's head, and to prevent them from starving—and that's basically it.

So, many people will sit and say that £700,000 is not that much money. And, in the grand scheme of state spending, that's true.

But when councils hike taxes and, more gutlessly, campaign against central government funding cuts then this kind of shite needs to be highlighted.

Because that £44 was taken by force from some poor family somewhere in Bristol, and then spunked up the wall by some council employee who was unable to say "no".

This kind of petty fucking fraud needs to stop—and not because we need to "reduce the deficit". No, it needs to stop because these cunts are stealing your money, so that you can no longer afford things that you want.

And then they are taking that money, and then spending buying frivolous shite for people who have earned fuck all. Never forget—this is your money that they are spending.

So, what could you do with £700,000? And this sum was racked up on only one payment method, by only one council.

Not such a small amount now, is it...?

Monday, March 16, 2015

The BBC and Green's hypocrisy over 500 million deaths




**Please note I am not Devil's Kitchen**

Last Friday the 13th March, as aficionados of popular culture will attest, was Comic Relief and Red Nose Day. The feel-good factor cup ranneth over in raising money for charities not only at home, but very much abroad, especially Africa. Presenter Claudia Winkelman triumphantly said £78 million had been raised, pushing the final figure since the BBC began thirty years ago to over £1 billion. Delights usually include the cringe worthy actor trying to dance, the footballer trying to act, and the TV presenter trying to sing. Sometimes euthanasia might be kinder.

One of this years highlights was In The Loop's, foul mouthed Malcolm Tucker and Dr. Who's current incarnation Peter Capaldi slumming it in Malawi looking at the plight of malaria ravaged children. He implored us to donate for mosquito nets which prevents transmission of the disease.  I certainly do not want to make light of a child's death, but we were treated to scenes of five children and even more under a bed as hospitals are overwhelmed. One of the scenes was the distressing death of Thenbani aged 3 years and 8 months of malarial induced cardiac arrest.  The caption then reads "His death could have been prevented."

Too damn right. 

It is not the wicked west and tight-fisted Brits to blame, but the Green Movement and by implication its apologists at the BBC. Malaria was on the verge of being eradicated world-wide in the early 1960s. It is down to one very long word, and its marginalisation and banning:

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. 

DDT as we commonly know it, is sprayed on the swamps where the mosquitoes bred, it was highly effective. For example in Sri Lanka in 1948, had 2.8 million cases and by 1963, just 17. Zanzibar saw 70% of its population infected in 1958 dropping to 5% in 1964. After DDT spraying stopped, Sri Lanka returned to 2.5 million cases and Zanzibar 55% infection rates.  It was estimated at the time by the US Agency for International Development's Chief Malaria Officer that continued use of DDT would have eradicated 98% of the disease. DDT is estimated by Drs. Michael Arnold Glueck and Robert J. Cihak, to have saved 500 million lives.

Why was DDT banned? It was the publication of a book by Rachel Carson called "Silent Spring." DDT was accused of causing breast cancer, diabetes, killing birds and animals, the former by causing their egg shells to be too thin.  Almost certainly junk science, the mirage still appears among us, as former Vice President Al Gore said in 1994 “Because Carson’s work led to a ban on DDT, it may be that the human species...or at least countless human lives, will be saved because of the words she wrote.”

The BBC have not been shy in banging Carson’s drum. In 1999 it copied and pasted from the World Wide Fund for Nature’s press release that, “The chemical DDT is so dangerous that it should be banned everywhere..”

In 2003 it reported reduced infertility from DDT and “The chemical has already been linked to premature births and low birth weights.

The BBC on this 2014 copyrighted GCSE exam Bitesize, revision text says, “An example of bioaccumulation is the use of DDT as an insecticide in the 1950s and 1960s. Birds of prey were badly affected because it made the shells of their eggs very thin, causing them to break easily when the birds tried to incubate them.”
As recently as January 2014 they wrote that there maybe a link between DDT and Alzheimer’s disease.


DDT was banned in the USA in 1972 with Europe following soon after, despite egg shell thin evidence. If I can quote directly from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) report.

“Judge Edmund Sweeney concluded that ― ‘DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man... DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man... the use of DDT under the regulations involved here does not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife..’”  

Administrator Ruckelshaus was not persuaded or perhaps wanted to make a name for himself saying he “was convinced that the continued massive use of DDT posed unacceptable risks to the environment and potential harm to human health. On June 14th 1972, Administrator Ruckelshaus cancelled nearly all of the remaining Federal registrations of DDT products.”

Empirical evidence seems redundant.

The United Nations Environment Programme of 2001 saw the passing of the Stockholm Convention calling for DDT's restriction and partial elimination and a legally binding treaty was signed on the 17th May 2004 by 173 countries. Although theoretically it could have limited deployment for “Vector Control,” a discouraged world padlocked the chemical shed. The EPA‘s reaction above no doubt set the standard of expecting everyone to comply with the Silent Spring being waved at them.

What evidence is there Carson's hypothesis holds water? None, it is junk science.

On breast cancer in 1997 and published in the New England Journal for Medicine, lead author Dr. David Hunter concluded "Our data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to 2,2-bis (p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (DDT) and PCBs increases the risk of breast cancer."

In the UK the Wilson Report from 1969. "Review of organochlorine pesticides in Britain" found “no close correlation between the decline in population of predatory birds, particularly the peregrine falcon and the sparrow hawk, and the use of DDT."”

Ospreys in the USA thrived with 191 in 1946, to 288 in 1956, to 457 in 1967, and 630 in 1972.

On egg shells typical papers such as Dr. ML Scott's from 1975,  "Effects of PCBs, DDT, and mercury compounds upon egg production, hatchability and shell quality in chickens and Japanese quail,” concluded "Dietary polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT and related compounds, in well controlled experiments, produced no detrimental effects upon egg shell quality”"

Shortly before his death in 2004   Dr. Gordon Edwards, Professor Emeritus of Entomology at San Jose State University, savaged the agreement. “The ban on DDT, founded on erroneous or fraudulent reports and imposed by one powerful bureaucrat, has caused millions of deaths, while sapping the strength and productivity of countless human beings in underdeveloped countries. It is time for an honest appraisal and for immediate deployment of the best currently available means to control insect-borne diseases. This means DDT.”

Hope in 2006 seemed to re-emerge. At the World Health Organization (WHO), Japanese Dr. Arata Kochi was appointed to head up the anti-malaria programme.  Known for his abrasive, get things done style, he stated that DDT was the most effective means of eradicating malaria.  Ironically he found an ally in President George Bush and his head of the $1.2 billion malaria programme, Admiral Timothy Ziemer said "that (DDT) must be deployed as robustly and strategically as possible.”

Kochi also criticised the use and sale of drugs to combat malaria as it reduced resistance. Big Pharma was not happy.

However, many African countries are reluctant to return to DDT as Europe and the USA may block agricultural exports, in case the products become tainted with DDT. Malawi's biggest currency earner is tobacco making up 70% of foreign currency receipts. Arguing against the BBC/green scientific orthodoxy could be catastrophic. DDT’s pariah status remains unchanged.

So Africa and other parts of the world are condemned to have Sir Terry Wogan join Dermot O'Leary in the Floral Dance and the dreadful Russell Brand doing cheap and unfunny jokes at Jeremy Clarkson's expense, while the ravages of malaria are causing 98 million cases and an estimated 584 000 deaths, 90% are in Africa. It seems the orthodox of Groupthink on left/liberal science of malaria control has been all pervasive and has set a precedent for over 50 years. It seems that questioning DDT as a killer is still verboten. Analogies of challenging "man-made" global warming and the harm of second hand cigarette smoke, where many scientists have been cowered and bullied into silence are persuasive. 

The BBC complicit and collaborating with their cohorts in the Green Movement may have inflicted Biblical levels of pestilence on the world. If DDT saved 500 million when it was used, it could imply 500 million people may have been lost subsequently.

One could conclude that BBC mosquito nets are throwing dead babies out with the swamp water. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Daniel Hannan MEP speaks on Magna Carta

Daniel Hannan MEP speaks, at a TFA event in Runnymede, on Magna Carta: The Secular Miracle of the England.


Daniel is one of those people who not only understands the importance of these issues, but is able to communicate it effectively...

The government's Magna Carta event is bullshit

The government is organising an event to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, and Peter Oborne is not happy about it.

Britain has given many wonderful things to the world – Stephen Fry, Parliament, Marmite, Shakespeare, rugby football, cricket. However, the most important is the rule of law. This is because it incorporates so many other British virtues: fairness, decency, a truculent belief in the underdog and a bloody-minded refusal to give in to arbitrary power of any kind. 
That is why at first sight we should wholeheartedly applaud the decision to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, that superlative landmark in the evolution of the British state, with an event at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre at Westminster next month. 
… 
Blackstone would certainly have been perplexed by Saunderson House, “a leading firm of independent wealth managers providing award-winning advice to busy professionals and other high net-worth individuals”. RSM International, which advises companies on how to avoid tax, is another sponsor. RSM’s presence is not just inexplicable. It is inexcusable.

Actually, Magna Carta came about partly because the barons were angry about increased taxation: so it is entirely appropriate for wealth management and tax avoidance firms to be at the event.

Further, the barons of old would have been entirely shocked at the level of taxation currently levied on the population of England—and they would be utterly contemptuous of our placid acceptance of such outright theft.

So the real point is that, if we are truly going to celebrate what Magna Carta was about, it is entirely appropriate that firms such as RSM International be there.

What is utterly inexcusable is that the Coalition—or any modern government—should have anything to do with it. This government, particularly, is one that not only endorses levels of taxation that the barons would have already rebelled about, but also that has undermined the rule of law—through the destruction of Legal Aid, and other measures (such as allowing HMRC to steal your money before they have even confirmed that you owe it).

Oborne is correct about the rampant hypocrisy on display, but largely wrong about the targets and the reasons. The truly inexcusable thing is that the government takes 40% of everything that we earn, and pisses it up the wall.

The barons would have rebelled many years ago—why haven't we?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Cure, Kyoto, and music...

As many of you will know, I am a huge fan of The Cure: as far as I am concerned, they are the best band on the planet. And, of course, "Disintegration is the best album in the world ever!"

My parents had Lovecats on 7", but I hadn't really heard any more than that. But, in my first year at Eton, I was wandering back to my room, past the room of the House Head of Games—and I heard this wonderful keyboard riff as the spine of this dreamy, creepy sounding song. Ding-ding-ding ding-ding, ding-ding-ding ding...

Ollie Lane was five years above me—in age and hierarchy—and so, even though he was the older brother of Dom (my contemporary), it took me a few days to summon up the courage to tap, nervously, on his door (as the song was playing again) and ask whether I could borrow the song and record it onto a cassette.

"No," he said. "You can't. You can't borrow the song: but you can borrow—and listen to—the whole album. Bring it back in a few days, and let me know what you think."

I had been brought up on my parents traditional Sixties music—the Beatles, the Strawbs, and similar sounding stuff. And the songs that I had occasionally heard on Top of the Pops (at the fag-end of the 80s—you know, Kylie, Jason, Tiffany, etc.) were deeply uninspiring.

So I admired the album cover (still one of my favourite pieces of artwork), and listened to this album...

And then here were these little worlds: neatly encapsulated dream sequences, Spanish-style hangover furies, hugely absorbing emotion-scapes, and blood, and fury, and tenderness, and...

And I drove my parents mad: my small allowance went on Cure albums (and cigarettes), every present I asked for was a Cure album, and I played them incessantly. Indeed, I still do (and am lucky enough to have a wife who has become a convert—although, possibly, through some sort of survival instinct).

I sailed around university with massive, back-combed hair and baggy suits—plus, of course, an air of alcohol and desperation. I was in my own little world—a world conjured and painted, just for me, by the Cure's varied and beautiful landscapes. And, whenever I listen to their music—my music—I am back in those vividly painted worlds.

Oh, and that first song? It will seem trivial to some of you, and possibly banal to others: but that doesn't alter the fact that there is a very big place in my sensibilities for Kyoto Song, from the classic The Head On The Door album...

And so began my love affair with The Cure—an affair that has yet to end.