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Showing posts from December, 2008

End of year blogging lists...

There is always a risk that bloggers end up talking to bloggers, but there is no denying that other bloggers also tend to be the most avid (and amongst the most intelligent) readers of blogs too.

As such, vain though it may be, your humble is proud to have rated first in a few "blogs of the year" lists. The first was over at The Nameless Libertarian's place...
The Devil's Kitchen: Sometimes too much, sometimes wrong, sometimes just too much but always worth a read. Not so much a blog as a force of nature.
The next privilege is in heading up The Cynical Dragon's awards...
Best Blog Award 2008

Devil's Kitchen—Libertarianism and freestyle swearing. Who could ask for more?
And finally, your humble Devil is honoured to be in the top spot in Question That's Top 50 Festive rundown.*
The Devil's Kitchen is, for anyone who has somehow remained unaware of it, a libertarian blog run by the eponymous DK. It is the original swear-blog, DK having begun venting his rage he…

Recommended reading...

This article over at Boatang and Demetriou, detailing those petty details, annoyances and injustices which are now common-place in NuLabour's Britain is thoroughly excellent.
I’ve had enough of it, I really have. Can no-one see how utterly insane modern life in Britain has become? The random, arbitrary authoritarianism, the big government, the stifling EU super-project interfering in peoples’ existences, the arrogant top down approach, the encouragement of favouritism to some causes and groups and intolerance of other causes and groups.

And you know what? My workplace didn’t even fucking acknowledge Armistice Day last month. The 11th November came along, 11am came and went and nobody batted an eye lid. People still chatting, phones still going, no email or message on the intranet, nothing.

How very fucking apt. A million British people died and a million and a half were injured during World War 1. Around half a million British died during World War 2. They did that, in order to save …

Semantic confusion

Occasional Kitchen contributor Martin Kelly is having a bit of a rant about libertarianism over at his own place; it's not entirely unjustified, although I think that he concentrates far too much on the views of Rights Theorists rather than Consequentialist minarchists such as your humble Devil.

However, methinks that he has had a little semantic trouble with this sentence...
If there is no such thing as a free lunch—how can there be such a thing as free trade?
In terms of the "free lunch", Martin links to this definition:
The economic theory, and also the lay opinion, that whatever goods and services are provided, they must be paid for by someone - i.e. you don't get something for nothing.
Now, there are several meanings of the word "free"; in the above quote, "free" is quite obviously being used in the sense of "gratis", "complimentary", "costing nothing".

However, when we talk about "free trade", that is not wh…

Murphy's Law #9: Tim Worstall is the Devil

Tim Worstall is going to eat your babies, and your kittens. Or at least that's pretty much what the disgusting, socialist moron, Richard Murphy, seems to think.
Tim is a clever chap, I will not dispute it. There is, however, something very unpleasant about his methods. He tries to engage as a reasonable person on this blog, and then goes back to his own blog, hurls abuse and waits for his sycophants to come back with ad hominem, crude and sometimes blatantly inappropriate comments, all of which, I am sure, fuel his ego, but more sinisterly, fit into a pattern of political behaviour most commonly associated with the far right. The BNP work in this way, for example. I’m not suggesting Tim has anything to do with them, or their racist opinion, but Nick Griffin also seeks to appear reasonable in public debate, but relies upon working his audience of thugs behind-the-scenes and in his own domain to secure his support.

The object of the aggression ( and it is much worse on some other site…

Blitz Spirit

Apparently Gordon is demanding that we in Britain show some of that good, old Blitz spirit.
The recession is a test of character the British people must pass, Gordon Brown is set to say.

In next week's New Year message, the prime minister is expected to urge the public to "display the same spirit" as their predecessors did in World War II.
So, knowing that Gordon "Prudence" Brown will, of course, lead by example, via Lord Elvis, let's see how we should adopt this Blitz spirit, shall we?
MORE than £320,000 of taxpayers' money has been spent on flat-screen televisions, hi-fis and DVD players for Whitehall departments, the Standard can reveal.

The Tories said today that the figures, released in Parliamentary answers, were an "insult" to the recession-hit public.

The biggest spender was Lord Mandelson's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, which ran up an £87,000 bill for stereo equipment, DVD players and flat-screen television…

Open Source: closed for business?

Open Source efforts have steadily gained traction over the last decade or so: as more and more people become connected to the web, the opportunity to contribute—or even just to download free software—has grown rapidly.

But is this movement stuttering slightly? Via Old Holborn, I see that Wikipedia has now published a begging letter from its founder.

Rather more worryingly, OpenOffice seems to be struggling too.
It is clear that the number of active contributors Sun brings to the project is continuing to shrink, which would be fine if this was being made up for by a matched increase in external contributors, sadly that seems not to be so.
...

So, it should be clear that OO.o is a profoundly sick project, and worse one that doesn't appear to be improving with age.
...

Crude as they are - the statistics show a picture of slow disengagement by Sun, combined with a spectacular lack of growth in the developer community. In a healthy project we would expect to see a large number of volunteer de…

So what's the fucking problem?

Apparently, this practice of making criminals wear clothing that declares that they are criminals is hurting their poor wee souls.
Criminals wearing orange jackets while working in the community have been abused and jeered at by members of the public, according to study by leaders of the probation officers.
Good. Since ASBOs and tags have apparently become status symbols amongst the varied and assorted scrotes of this country, I have long advocated punishments that involve public humiliation—such as being put in the stocks, naked.
Napo said that opposition was normally on the grounds that wearing the vest demeaned the criminal or that doing unpaid work in the community was punishment itself without offenders having to wear jackets.
Nope: I think that these jackets are a great idea. Apart from anything else, they make a nice, clear distinction between those who are genuinely helping out in the community voluntarily, and those who are doing it because they are horrible criminals who are bei…

Gaza: "the globe's largest sink-estate"

At the risk of bringing down another shitstorm, I'll admit that I have a slight tendency to back the Israelis generally. Partially it's because I admire the fact that they have managed to take a shitty bit of nothing-much desert and build a decent economy and standard of life, as well as resisting three attempted invasions by nominally superior forces (and no, that doesn't mean that I unthinkingly back everything that they do, OK?).

The rest of the reasons for my bias are admirably espoused by Counting Cats, particularly this one.
Israel is a civilised first world country. Gaza is a dark-age nightmare. I think Ayn Rand had something to say on always backing civilisation against whatever and Gaza is most definitely whatever. I can easily imagine holidaying in Israel and I bet you can too. Honestly can you see anyone in anything resembling their right mind booking a fortnight in the Gaza Hilton? I’d rather spend a fortnight in Paris Hilton.
Yes, it may be slightly facetious (an…

Operation: Long Rescue

Apologies for the lightish blogging: I spent a good deal of yesterday trying to get Longrider back up and running. It's a surprisingly difficult process: WordPress's XML import only allows file sizes of 2MB and, even after hacking the script to allow up to 22MB, Longrider's 19.5MB of data just kept ensuring that the webpage timed out.

Eventually, I had to go into the database administrator on my server and paste in the SQL dump. However, this caused issues on its own (different admin backends, I suspect) and it was only after three hours or so of removing corrupted tables, hacking out unused data and generally cleaning things up that I finally managed to get things up and running.

And this morning a corrupted table brought the whole thing down again. Might I advise those running WordPress not to install a plugin called WP-User-Online; it was this that was causing a lot of the problems, with both my own server and with Longrider's original hosts.
Update: I wrote the origin…

Driven to distraction

One would have thought that, given the current financial crisis, that the government would have enough on its plate, but o no. It seems that these NuLabour fucktards just simply cannot leave anything alone—and this time they're coming for your driving licence.
Drivers will have to declare every 10 years whether they are medically able to get behind the wheel, according to proposals to be set out early in the new year.

For the first time, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will issue a series of minimum physical and mental requirements motorists must fulfil including eyesight performance and reaction times.
On the face of it, this isn't entirely unreasonable; an American acquaintance of mine points out that, in that country, a basic medical is required upon renewal of a driving licence. However, the fee is, apparently, about $15. What is our government proposing to charge?
Tests, costing up to £80, will be offered to drivers to check whether they are fit to drive
£80? Lo…

Israel's Christmas present to Gaza

Israel has caused yet more outrage by launching attacks on Gaza. Whilst your humble Devil deplores the loss of civilian life, he has to agree with Iain Dale's article on this matter (not something that happens often). Whilst Iain's article is fairly comprehensive and worth reading in full, for me it is the following paragraph that sums up the issue.
Hamas broke the ceasefire by firing more rockets into Israel. Imagine if this had happened here. Imagine if France fired rockets onto Dover from Calais. Would the British people expect its government to stand idly by and do nothing? Of course not.
The simple fact is that Israel endures near-daily rocket attacks from Gaza; let's face it, when the Israelis withdrew from the Gaza Strip, it took less than a week for Hamas to start firing rockets into Israel.

As Iain points out, many people blame Israel for the appalling living standards in Gaza.
They are wrong. Hamas is to blame for keeping its people in abject poverty. Israel handed o…

Neal Asher interview

Those of you who are sci-fi fans may have encountered the books of Neal Asher. Neal blogs and is also a fairly regular commenter at The Kitchen (and was kind enough to send me one of his books a few months ago).

Neal has done an interview with Sci-Fi-London website, which you can watch should you so desire. It is interesting to hear an author talking about how he creates his books, and the characters and worlds therein.

From your humble Devil's point of view, I was gratified to hear the interviewer point out that Neal is a "supporter of the Libertarian Party" (about 9 minutes in)...
Just to say, your humble Devil has been exhausted and he is now on the road to... well... not being so exhausted.

He will be back in the saddle again—both blog and work wise—on Monday morning. See you then...

A quick word on browsers

Indulge me for a bit (or skip this post if you have no interest)...

Over all platforms, we have come a long way from the dark days when the only web browsers available were Internet Explorer and Netscape. This trend has been especially notable on the Mac—following the trend of software generally since the move to a Free BSD-based OS (Mac OS X)—and there are now a plethora of browsers to choose from.

One that we do not have to choose is, of course, Internet Exploder: Microsoft stopped development of IE Mac earlier this decade, after Apple released Safari as the Mac's default browser. I cannot say that I am disappointed: all versions of IE have dodgy rendering of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS: the code used to control the appearance of web pages), and IE 5 Mac was simply another headache—since the MS Mac development team is mostly independent, IE 5 Mac rendered completely differently from IE 5 Windows. Having said that, of course, IE 5 Mac was the first mainstream browser to add any kin…

Yet another fusion experiment

It seems that nuclear fusion is all the rage these days: here's another type of fusion—laser-ignition—that is about to be tested.
In the spring, a team will begin attempts to ignite a tiny man-made star inside a laboratory and trigger a thermonuclear reaction.

Its goal is to generate temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius and pressures billions of times higher than those found anywhere else on earth, from a speck of fuel little bigger than a pinhead. If successful, the experiment will mark the first step towards building a practical nuclear fusion power station and a source of almost limitless energy.

At a time when fossil fuel supplies are dwindling and fears about global warming are forcing governments to seek clean energy sources, fusion could provide the answer. Hydrogen, the fuel needed for fusion reactions, is among the most abundant in the universe. Building work on the £1.2 billion nuclear fusion experiment is due to be completed in spring.

Scientists at the Nat…

Bloody Devil #19 and the comment of the year

The Bloody Devil Award is for people who fisk objects of public derision but who also pepper the post with gratuitous but intensely satisfying insults.

Lots of people have roundly condemned that fucking wanker, Andy "spiv" Burnham, for his piece-of-shit comments on censuring the internet.

Two of the best are the line-by-line fisking by Harry Haddock, and the howl of fantastic rage from Counting Cats In Zanzibar. So excellent is this latter rant, that it entirely deserves the receipt of Bloody Devil #19. Here's a sample...
I am now forced to use one of my Gran’s phrases, “It’s neither fair nor right - like the darkie’s left tit” because Andy Burnham’s idea is neither fair nor right and frankly I’m gunning to get CC R18 rated. What precisely is he worried about the children seeing? Oh, and “think of the children” is the first refuge of the scoundrel. That’s the first thing that’s wrong with it.
...

I have no idea what sort of bizarre world Mr Burnham imagines the bubble-wrap ge…

Fusion of cheapness and power

As regular readers will know, your humble Devil has been following the progress of the current experiments, being undertaken by the Emc2 Corporation, with the PolywellFusor fusion reactor.

Last time that I reported on this, we were waiting to hear on the latest round of experimental results from the WB7 reactor which was reported to be running "like a top".

As reported by the IEC Fusion Technology blog, the current results appear to be encouraging.
Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log announces the results of the WB-7 Bussard Fusion Reactor (BFR) experiments. And the results? No show stoppers so far.
An EMC2 team headed by Los Alamos researcher Richard Nebel (who's on leave from his federal lab job) picked up the baton from Bussard and tried to duplicate the results. The team has turned in its final report, and it's been double-checked by a peer-review panel, Nebel told me today. Although he couldn't go into the details, he said the verdict was positive.

"There's nothing…

More asinine alcoholic bollocks

Apparently, people who drink more than the government guidelines face a large hike in life insurance costs.
Middle class drinkers who consume more than their recommended weekly intake of alcohol face paying higher life insurance premiums.
...

Official guidelines say women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, and men 21 units – with one unit equivalent to half a pint of beer, a shot of whisky or a small glass of wine.

But the reality shows that many drink far more, with 10 million adults – 20 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women - drinking at a level which is "hazardous" to their health.

Insurers say they are reacting to increases in health-related problems such as cirrhosis of the liver, heart problems and certain cancers.

A woman who drinks 21 units a week, not far above the Government's guidelines, could end up paying an extra £50 a year.

A man drinking 35 units, equivalent to two and a half pints of lager a night, could pay extra premiums of up to £100 a…

To Miss With Tough Love

Miss Snuffleupagus has decided that Scrooge may have a point.
However, I have always found myself agreeing with Scrooge in one instance and whenever I say so, the people around me roll their eyes. Bob Cratchit requests Christmas Day off. Or rather, Scrooge says to Cratchit, 'I guess you'll be wanting tomorrow off then,' and Cratchit normally responds with something like 'Well, it's Christmas,' and 'It's only once a year.' Scrooge snaps back, 'That's a poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every 25th of December!' Scrooge then points out that Cratchit simply expects his employer to pay him for a day's work, when he hasn't done any work at all.

And you know, every time I hear Scrooge say this, I tend to think, 'But wait a minute... Isn't he right?' (I can hear my readers' deep sighs at this moment.) I mean, what is Cratchit saying after all? He expects something for nothing. And why? Because 'it is Christmas&…

Murdering your darlings

No, this is not a post about murdering Alastair Darling and his entire family (that's a treat for later) but rather a post on the creative process—whether than be writing, design, or anything else of that type.

The post comes from The Ministry of Type (one of my favourite design blogs), who has this to say...
This article on writing by James Patrick Kelly should be required reading for anyone involved in any creative activity. I read it years ago, and though I forgot the exact phrase, I’ve followed its basic principles ever since; whenever I’m stuck on a design I remove the thing I like the most and continue to develop the design without it. Almost every time it’s that thing, that darling, that is holding me back, distracting me from the design. I find that what I’m doing is trying to adapt the rest of the design to fit with this thing, rather than than developing the design as a whole. Even if it wasn’t that thing, the act of removing something from the design, that act of subtract…

My favourite Christmas present...

Harold Pinter has finally popped his clogs, and I was going to write a pithy and vengeful comment on the tedious little tit. Luckily, Perry has saved me the trouble.
But I must say my favourite gift today was learning that Harold Pinter, a loathsome apologist for oh so many of the most vile mass murderers of modern times has finally dropped dead.

Good riddance and a pox on anyone who mourns his passing.

For me Christmas just got even merrier.
And darling Harold has, no doubt, just joined the express elevator to Hell...

Golden Brown

So this is Christmas, as massively pretentious arse John Lennon once sang (badly), and what have we done, eh?*

Good fucking question: it's been yet another year of political ups and downs, with only one thing remaining constant: the mendacity, stupidity, ignorance, venality, corruption, illiberalism and pure fucking uselessness of our elected representatives remains determinedly unabated.

The cunts.

The biggest story of the year, of course, is the endless hand-wringing and cowardly bailing out of the banks that has constituted the so-called Credit Crunch, and it was only this year that we started to realise the full extent of the financial institutions fuck-ups.

As usual, our government has leapt to the rescue in the only way that they know how: by throwing our hard-earned cash at those who least deserve it. Incredibly, altogether too many of the morons that populate this country seem to think that Gordon Brown—the man whose policies (mainly of spending and spending like it's goin…

Guido says, "up yours, Carter-Ruck"...

It seems that Guido has received an injunction, concerning the email accounts of Zac and Sheherazade Goldsmith, from Private Eye's favourite lawyers, Carter-Fuck. Guido's reply seems to be pretty much along the lines of Arkell vs Pressdram...
Guido believes that he is not the only leading blogger to receive the injunction. He is however the only one willing to break it. Unfortunately for Carter-Ruck they seem to have forgotten that since 1922 the orders of British Judges have been happily ignored by us Irish in our own country.
Your humble Devil is, naturally, unable to say whether or not he received any such injunction from said lawyers. Had he received said injunction—as a PDF attachment to an email, for instance—he would have been utterly unaware of what the hell it was all about.

But, like Guido, it might well have alerted him to something of which he was previously unaware; one might even say that it would have been an entirely counter-productive move on the part of the lawy…

A 48 hour week

Well, isn't it generous of those nice MEPs to decide that we humble serfs should work no longer than 48 hours every week?
Britain has moved a step closer to being forced to limit the working week to 48 hours for all employees.

Euro MPs have voted in favour of ending Britain's opt-out from the EU working time directive.
...

If Britain is forced to axe its opt-out, the law will come into force in three years' time.
Fuck you, you scum-sucking sons-of-bitches: who the fuck are you to tell me how many hours I may work, eh? Most of you were not even elected by the voters of this country.
Britain is determined to keep the opt-out and will now start talks with EU ministers in an effort to keep it.

The UK does not have a veto on the issue but it is expected to join forces with other countries who back its position in order to get its way.

A decision is expected early next year following "conciliation" talks with the European council of ministers.
Oh, whoopee-fucking-do! We have to…

No 10: in my fridge

I note, from Dizzy Thinks, that there is a load of merchandise on sale from Number 10. These include fridge magnets, possibly of the Number 10 logo.

I want a Number 10 fridge magnet: I could pretend that my fridge door is actually the entrance to Number 10 Downing Street.

This would bring me comfort because, given the state of my fridge, I can honestly say that I believe that there are more intelligent, competent and less repulsive things growing in my fridge than there are behind the door of the real Number 10.

Madoff: not the biggest Ponzi scheme ever

I was amused to note that Bernard Madoff's massive fucking Ponzi scheme is being heralded as the biggest ever fraud by a single person, being worth some $50 billion (£33.7 billion at today's price). And so it is.
The FBI claims that three senior employees of Mr Madoff's investment firm - once a towering presence on Wall Street - turned up at his apartment on Wednesday to ask questions about the company's solvency. Two of them are believed to be his sons, Andrew and Mark, who have worked for their father for two decades.

Mr Madoff told them that he was "finished", that he had "absolutely nothing", and that "it's all just one big lie". He said the investment arm of his firm was "basically a giant Ponzi scheme," and that it had been insolvent for years.

A Ponzi scheme, named after the swindler Charles Ponzi, is a fraudulent investment operation that pays abnormally high returns to investors paid from money put into the scheme by su…