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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 08:15:00 pm

Your humble Devil is planning to get fairly plastered this evening, so I shall bid you all a merry new year the now, so as not to miss it.

2009 has been an amusing year—full of vindications and "I told you so"s from those of us who insisted that our lords and masters were on the fiddle, just like the climate scientists—so it's not been too shabby.

Personally, it has seen some ups and downs, but with work getting ever more interesting and enjoyable and having gained a wife, this last year has been, generally, a good one in Hell Towers.

Here's hoping that 2010 is even better—for us and, from all of us here at The Kitchen, for all of you out there...

Happy New Year!

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 08:15:00 pm


If in doubt, get the lawyers out...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 08:09:00 pm

It seems that EUReferendum is being leant upon by lawyers Mishcon de Reya—acting on behalf of that great philanthropist, Rajendra K Pachuri.

It seems that Dr Pachuri has taken exception to this extensive Telegraph article, as well as EUReferendum's constant exposures of the gentleman's nexus of contacts, power, money and severe conflicts of interest.

If in doubt, reach for the lawyers, eh?

UPDATE: Bishop Hill thinks that it may, in fact, be Tata doing the suing, rather than Pachuri. In which case, Pachuri will probably sue me for saying that it was him doing the suing. Or something.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 08:09:00 pm


Desert dessert

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 03:01:00 pm

Just to round off the... er... discussion that Sunny Hundal and I were having the other day, Chris Dillow adds his thoughts on the matter—asking whether the concept of "desert" should have any role in distributive justice.
The thing is, two of the most important books on this subject in recent years - Roemer’s Theories of Distributive Justice and Kolm’s Modern Theories of Justice—almost entirely neglect the notions of desert or merit.

There are, I think, two reasons for this.

One is that it’s impossible to tell what any individual really deserves. Do I, for example, deserve to earn more than the average worker? In one sense, no: my work is much less onerous or unpleasant than the average. But on the other hand, this pleasant outcome could be a just reward for years of effort earlier.

I don’t know which it is—or at least, I don‘t if I slough off the self-serving bias!—so I’m blowed if I can judge anyone else’s income. For this reason, I share the Devil’s consternation at the idea that public opinion should adjudicate.

Secondly, it’s possible that none of us deserve anything. This isn’t just the traditional Christian position that we are all miserable sinners. It’s also the Rawlsian one, that the distribution of talents—which include an appetite for hard work—is “arbitrary from a moral point of view.” And of course, none of us “deserves” the enormous good fortune of having been born into a liberal democracy in the late 20th century.

For me, these reasons suffice to disregard “desert” as a macro principle colouring our views about the distribution of income—though we might use it in other contexts, as when we say “he deserved that goal” or “he deserves to go to prison for that.”

This is not, in itself, a particularly leftist position. Intelligent libertarians share it. Hayek was wary of the idea of desert, and Nozick wrote of entitlements, not desert; there’s a difference.

Chris acknowledges that there are differences amongst the rich—though he draws only the easy distinction between the "talented footballer or musician or the innovative entrepreneur" and the "rent-seeking exploiter" (what about plain, old hard work? Or luck, e.g. Lottery winner?)—but opines, correctly, that our tax system probably cannot distinguish the difference between them.

Of course, what would really help to make this distinction is if the state were not so easily able to indulge in policies that lead to rent-seeking through, for instance, establishment of barriers to market entry.
Rent seeking generally implies the extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity, such as by gaining control of land and other pre-existing natural resources, or by imposing burdensome regulations or other government decisions that may affect consumers or businesses.

While there may be few people in modern industrialized countries who do not gain something, directly or indirectly, through some form or another of rent seeking, rent seeking in the aggregate can impose substantial losses on society.

Studies of rent seeking focus on efforts to capture special monopoly privileges such as government regulation of free enterprise competition.

The term "monopoly privilege rent seeking" is an often-used label for the former type of rent seeking. Often-cited examples include a farm lobby that seeks tariff protection or an entertainment lobby that seeks expansion of the scope of copyright. Other rent seeking is held to be associated with efforts to cause a redistribution of wealth by, for example, shifting the government tax burden or government spending allocation.

To a large extent, therefore, rent-seeking is, at best, severely exacerbated by "big government"—which is, itself, generally seen as necessary to achieve social justice.

To sum up, the reality of Sunny's position is that he wishes to achieve "social justice"; to do this requires a big state and income redistribution; both a big state and income redistribution lead to a substantial increase in rent-seeking; rent-seeking leads to a class of people whom Sunny would call "the undeserving rich".

Ironic, don't you think?

And this is the problem with all too many people on the Left, especially in this country: they simply don't understand—or will not accept—that the measures that they advocate will not achieve the endgame that they desire.

This is something that is highlighted by Tim Worstall's comment on Sunny's expansion of his "class war" term.
“Economic populism of the left has deep roots”

Aye, deep roots in stupidity.

This is the point about that leftish economic populism that so enrages people like me. Not that the goal is undesirable (for many of the goals are desirable) but that the methods chosen to reach said goals don’t in fact work. In many cases they are actually counter-productive.

Just as one example, take the taxation of corporate profits. You’ve got the economically illiterate like Polly and R. Murphy shouting that companies must pay “their fair share”. That taxes they don’t pay fall upon the shoulders of the workers.

Then you’ve got the literate like Larry Elliott (well, he is on a good day) and Vince Cable pointing out that companies don’t pay tax: people do. The tax incidence argument.

Now, when you take on board that (not very surprising and long known point about incidence) you start to realise that if you want both an ongoing increase in living standards and also a more progressive tax and benefit system then you have to do what the Nordic countries do. You want lower taxes on corporate profits and capital in general than we have now. Sure, you can also have higher income taxes, as they do (and to get the money you really need for a large redistributive State you need higher consumption taxes, VAT, as well).

Now note that I’m not a supporter of this sort of social democracy. But that isn’t my point here. It’s that if you do desire this then it would help if you took on board how those places actually do work.

Rather than simply appealing to the populist instincts….make the companies pay!

That’s what annoys: this economic populism ends up not delivering the results that are promised.

Not only does this "economic populism" not deliver the results desired, but it also delivers those that are not—so-called "unintended consequences", such as the rent-seeking that leads to Sunny's "undeserving rich".

And despite a century of fruitless tinkering—and, in many places, outright dictatorship—many on the Left still won't accept that attempts to fix these unintended consequences through yet more laws and regulations will simply lead to more unintended consequences and undesirable outcomes.

I think that it might be a form of insanity.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 03:01:00 pm


Accessing Labour

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 04:12:00 am

In 1995, the Tories introduced the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The provisions of the DDA were considerably bolstered by NuLabour in the DDA 2005; NuLabour also introduced the Disability Equality Duty (DED).
45,000 public bodies across Great Britain are covered by the Disability Equality Duty (DED), which came into force in December 2006. The DED is meant to ensure that all public bodies—such as central or local government, schools, health trusts or emergency services—pay ’due regard‘ to the promotion of equality for disabled people in every area of their work.

This, of course, applies to websites too and the government has generally adopted the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines (WAIG): public sector websites are required to reach Level AA of the WAIG.

As some of you may know, in my real life I am involved with a company that specialises in building and reviewing Accessible websites—so the technicalities of the WAI are something that I am pretty familiar with.

So, inspired by the wife, I decided to go and have a look at the Labour Party website. It's not good—not good at all.

A screenshot of Labour's website, with annotations.
Click here for a larger PNG version.


The home page is shown above, and the numbers correspond to the points below.
  1. Text rendered as images: this should be avoided where possible, especially where that image is also a link.

  2. Hover states are swapped in by Javascript swapImage, rather than by CSS. Someone with Javascript switched off, e.g. those with partial sight using a screenreader, will see no feedback. Those navigating with the Tab key, rather than a mouse, will also see no feedback.

  3. Dropdown menus are a big no-no, for a number of reasons. If they are Javascript-rendered then they will not appear in the HTML, and therefore will not be read by a screenreader.

    For those using the Tab key, many dropdown menus will not activate—meaning that those users cannot navigate the site.

    In this case, the menus have been rendered as a collection of nested lists, with no skip-nav link: this means that someone using a screenreader will have to navigate through every, single link in all of the submenus before they can get to the page content. On every, single page!

  4. Flash. Ugh. I am using a Flash blocker, but many assistive technologies will prevent the use of Flash entirely—quite apart from locking out those who don't have the Flash plugin installed. This is, apparently, a quiz—for what it's worth.

  5. Aaargh! The site is using Flash to render headings, so that a custom typeface can be used. There is an alternative text version for those without Flash...

  6. ... but this heading—News—is an h1. Aaaaargh!

    For those not familiar with how headings should be arranged, think of them as being like an index to the page information—like a table of contents—where lower numbered headings relate to the higher numbered heading before them.

    For instance, a well structured page might look like this:
    <h1>Welcome to DK's website</h1>
      <h2>About DK</h2>
        <h3>Personal Life</h3>
          <h4>Who I am</h4>
          <h4>Where I live</h4>
          <h4>How to contact me at home</h4>
        <h3>Work Life</h3>
          <h4>Who I work for</h4>
          <h4>What my job title is</h4>
          <h4>How to contact me at work</h4>
      <h2>What DK is doing</h2>
        <h3>Current Blogging...</h3>

    ... and so on and so forth. You should only ever have one h1 on a page—it explains what that page is, broadly, about.

    You should never skip headings, i.e. in the flow of the code, you should never jump from an h1 directly to an h3.

    To return to the point originally made, the h1 for this page should be something like <h1>Welcome to the Labour Party online</h1> or something similar—not News.

  7. See that link that says "Continue Reading"? There are a couple of problems here, which are also wider site problems.

    First, using all capitals is a bad idea: those with literacy problems will struggle more than usual.

    Second, a screenreader allows the user to take links out of context in order to navigate through the page; as such, all the screenreader user will hear is "continue reading" (and three of them at that). Continue reading what exactly?

  8. Ooops. This heading—Videos—is another h1! No, no, no.

  9. These videos are hosted on YouTube. Video is a difficult subject as regards Accessibility (although the HTML5 video tag should make life easier once browsers support it properly) but, as a bare minimum, you should provide a transcript for those using screenreaders. Ideally, you should also have close-captioning too (for deaf users).

  10. Another Flash heading—How You Can Help. The text alternate is an h5! So, we have jumped from an h1 to an h5. Except that we haven't.

    Because in the flow of the code, the first heading is this h5!

  11. Another Flash heading—Join The Fight is one heading, followed by For Britain's Future. And the textual alternate is an <h6>

  12. Yet more Flash headings—the textual alternates are all h6s, which is roughly correct.

  13. There are no label tags on these forms—ensuring that many screenreaders will not know what is supposed to go in here. They will just say "input". Yes? Input what?

  14. Another Flash heading—Local Labour News. This heading is an h4!

  15. The contrast between the yellow text and the red background is insufficient. Those with poor eyesight—and that includes those with colour blindness—may not be able to read this text at all. There is an excellent colour contrast tool over at Juicy Studio: it uses the algorithms given in the WAIG 2.0, and gives you the compliance Level (A, AA or AAA) for varying text sizes.

  16. More Flash headings—Site, Labour's Polices, About Us and Support Labour. These are h3s! Do bear in mind my example of good heading structure above, whilst I review what this page's heading structure is (going in code order).
              <h5>How You Can Help</h5>
                <h6>Join The Fight</h6>
                <h6>For Britain's Future</h6>
                <h6>Donate</h6>
                <h6>Join</h6>
                <h6>Volunteer</h6>
                <h6>Events Near Me</h6>
                <h6>Fundraise</h6>
                <h6>Labour In Your Area</h6>
                <h6>Recruit</h6>
                <h6>Tell Your Friends</h6>
                <h6>Why I'm Labour</h6>
          <h4>Local Labour News</h4>
    <h1>News</h1>
    <h1>Videos</h1>
        <h3>Site</h3>
        <h3>Labour's Policies</h3>
        <h3>About Us</h3>
        <h3>Support Labour</h3>

    To summarise, the headings are in a totally nonsensical order, they don't relate to the parent headings, and there is no h2 at all! This is abysmal.

  17. This list of links... Well... Instead of using an unordered list—ul—these links are simply loose in the code (not good practice). Further, the bullet points have been generated using an &bull; character, so a screenreader will read, "bullet point... link: home; bullet point... link: Labour in Government; bullet point... link: News; bullet point..." Well, you get the idea.

    Believe me, someone who is blind is going to get pretty sick of having to listen to the word "bullet point" before they can hear what the link is. They could, of course, switch to links only mode, but they are going to have to go through all of the links in the top navigation first...!

There are a couple more general points to make.
  • Much of the page structure is rendered in tables. Don't use tables for layout—use tables to display tabular data. And when you do so, you should make them Accessible, i.e. include legend, caption, scope, etc.

  • There are pieces of CSS and Javascript scattered throughout the HTML. Don't do that. The HTML is for structure, not for styling or scripting. Call the CSS or the Javascript in the head and then hook them to the HTML elements with classes or ids.

    Some people like to apply their own custom stylesheets to webpages, e.g. many dyslexic people find that a pale pink or pale yellow background helps them to read the text much more easily. Using CSS within the page will over-write the user's styles, thus making the information more difficult to access.

It is a pretty poor showing Accessibility-wise: in fact, NuLabour is breaking their own law by blatantly discriminating against disabled people on their website.

How much does this matter?

Well, as far as I am aware, no organisation has yet been taken to court in the UK for having a non-Accessible website—although I know of a few cases where legal action was threatened. Of course, often because disabled people simply don't have the money to fight a lawsuit, but this is a role that advocacy groups might take on.

For instance, in the US (where a similar law applies), a private individual was bolstered by the National Federation of the Blind and NFB California in suing Target for its inAccessible target.com website. Target settled out of court for $6 million, and promised to make the website Accessible and incorporate website Accessibility into its staff training.

In this country, it is a legal duty for all organisations—pubic and private—to ensure that their website is Accessible. It's also, I think, a moral issue too: I have taken part in a lot of events, given talks and participated in debates around this issue—with able and disabled alike—and I have seen just to what extent the web can empower those with disabilities. Technology (and especially the web) is a massive force for good in this respect, opening up all sorts of avenues—not least in enabling them to work: a great many disabled people become self-employed entrepreneurs because they cannot find employment.

Anyway, I hope that some of the points that I've raised have been useful to any of you building a site!

What I must also say is that I am well aware that this blog is not particularly Accessible—I shall be addressing that as soon as I can, i.e. within the next few weeks.

An Accessible site does not have to be a boring site, by any means: an awful lot of Accessibility is simply to do with good HTML engineering, and the rest is about providing alternatives for those with varied disabilities.

But simply providing a text-only version of your site does not mean that your website is Accessible—a text-only version of this Labour home page would still have the useless heading structure and confusingly huge numbers of links that the normal, graphics version has.

Oh, a quick disclaimer: the company I work for (and am now a very tiny shareholder in) does do website Accessibility audits and Accessibility training—feel free to drop me a line if you're interested...

UPDATE: Commenter Mark Wilson says that the WAIG are a bit old.
The problem is that the accessibility guidelines (WCAG) are really old and not really designed to cope with the modern internet.

Not so. Yes, WAIG 1.0 were released in 1999, but WAIG 2.0 were released in December 2008 and were specifically designed to take account of new technologies—in fact, they are designed to be technology-neutral.
Insisting the site works with JavaScript turned off for instance stifles an awful lot of functionality. See Gmail with it turned on and off for an example.

Sure. And for those instances, there are the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) and the Web Accessibility-Accessible Rich Internet Applications guidelines (WAI-ARIA). These deal with, for instance, protocols for informing screenreaders that Javascript has changed something on the page.
The danger with a check list approach in designing a site when your check list is hopelessly out of date is that you don't really address the underlying issues with disabled people using web sites and you also become risk averse and don't innovate with truly useful web sites.

And this is why people should gain an understanding of Accessibility and update their knowledge of the subject as they update their knowledge of, for instance, coding or design.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/31/2009 04:12:00 am


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Violating the laws of thermodynamics

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/30/2009 03:11:00 pm

A little while ago, I posted about how the "greenhouse effect" was a complete misnomer and the phrase "greenhouse gases", therefore, was also wrong.

Now a commenter points me to this article which highlights the revision and re-release of a paper that underlines this point rather more strongly.

The peer-reviewed Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics (Version 4.0) [PDF], published on January 6, 2009, appeared in the March 2009 edition of the International Journal of Modern Physics.
The central claims of Dr. Gerlich and his colleague, Dr. Ralf Tscheuschner, include, but are not limited to:
  1. The mechanism of warming in an actual greenhouse is different than the mechanism of warming in the atmosphere, therefore it is not a “greenhouse” effect and should be called something else.

  2. The climate models that predict catastrophic global warming also result in a net heat flow from atmospheric greenhouse gasses to the warmer ground, which is in violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

Essentially, any machine which transfers heat from a low temperature reservoir to a high temperature reservoir without external work applied cannot exist. If it did it would be a “perpetual motion machine”—the realm of pure sci-fi.

Gerlich’s and Tscheuschner’s independent theoretical study is detailed in a lengthy (115 pages), mathematically complex (144 equations, 13 data tables, and 32 figures or graphs), and well-sourced (205 references) paper. The German physicists prove that even if CO2 concentrations double (a prospect even global warming advocates admit is decades away), the thermal conductivity of air would not change more than 0.03%. They show that the classic concept of the glass greenhouse wholly fails to replicate the physics of Earth’s climate. They also prove that a greenhouse operates as a “closed” system while the planet works as an “open” system and the term “atmospheric greenhouse effect” does not occur in any fundamental work involving thermodynamics, physical kinetics, or radiation theory. All through their paper the German scientists show how the greenhouse gas theory relies on guesstimates about the scientific properties involved to “calculate” the chaotic interplay of such a myriad and unquantifiable array of factors that is beyond even the abilities of the most powerful of modern supercomputers.

Indeed. And the two scientists make the point quite forcefully in the abstract to the paper.
(a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects, (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 degrees Celsius is a meaningless number calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.

Now, true believers may argue that this does not actually prove that mankind is not, in some way, causing warming. However, it does comprehensively demolish the method by which they claim it is happening.
This thorough debunking of the theory of man made warming disproves that there exists a mechanism whereby carbon dioxide in the cooler upper atmosphere exerts any thermal “forcing” effect on the warmer surface below. To do so would violate both the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. As there is no glass roof on the earth to trap the excess heat, it escapes upward into space.Thus we may conclude that the common sense axioms are preserved so that the deeper the ocean, the colder the water and heat rises, it does not fall. QED.

This paper deserves wider dissemination as it strikes pretty hard at the roots of AGW theory. In my humble opinion, it does not entirely disprove the greenhouse theory, since the different properties of the differing layers of atmosphere might well provide some sort of mild, and purely temporary, "ceiling" effect—but then, I am no physicist.

It certainly does disprove the apocalyptic temperature rises that are predicted through CO2 rises alone. But then the IPCC and its hangers-on have long since moved on—they now rely on the theory of "positive feedbacks" to provide their catastrophic scenarios.

This "positive feedback" postulation has long been the dodgiest part of the entire AGW hysteria, however, and for the entire multibillion pound industry environmental concern to be based on such an unproven theory leaves it on very uncertain ground.

UPDATE: via John B on Twitter, here is an long refutation of the above paper. The blogger's article does make a number of unbacked assertions, although the length of the article may preclude amplification in that entry.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/30/2009 03:11:00 pm


Pachuri, acting and Actis

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/30/2009 01:24:00 am

EUReferendum continues its unravelling of millionaire businessman and IPCC director Rajendra K Pachuri's labyrinthine and extensive network of influence.

Today Richard has focused on Pachuri's TERI-Europe—a registered charity with an expenditure that far outstrips its incoming resources. The company secretary is a certain Dr Ritu Kumar—herself a woman with, it seems, considerable business interests in her own right. In particular, I was interested by this paragraph...
But this cv also has Dr Kumar as a senior adviser on environmental, social and governance issues with Actis UK—a private equity firm investing primarily in Africa, China, India, Latin America, South and South East Asia - where "she has advised on weaknesses and opportunities in health and safety, as well as environmental, social and business integrity since 2006." The company handles $7.3 billion in and has over 100 investment professionals in nine offices worldwide.

Thus far then, with a great deal more to cover in what becomes an increasingly murky story, we have a charity which is a company wholly owned by Dr Pachauri and Dr Kumar, the latter who not only works for TERI-Europe but also for a government-funded NGO, the Commonwealth Secretariat and a private equity company handling billions in investment funds.

Anyone who is a regular reader of Private Eye will be familiar with Actis, a firm set up by the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC)—whose directors were then allowed to buy the firm for a ludicrously small sum of money.

Due to Private Eye's frankly irritating lack of engagement with the online community, I am unable to find anything useful on that magazine's website; as such, I shall turn to blogger Slimy Bastards to summarise the gist of the CDC/Actis story.
In 2004, the then Development Secretary Hilary Benn carved out the fund management operation from the government-owned develpment fund CDC. The fund's function is to invest UK aid in companies in developing countries. The private equity firm created to do this, Actis, was set up in swanky riverside offices using £5m of public money while 60% of the new "limited liability partnership" was sold for £373,000 to former CDC managers, led by Paul Fletcher. One hell of a good price for managing £1bn of state funds without facing any competition whatsoever.

Fletcher and his pals quickly recouped their outlay. Actis reported profits of $14m in the first year, and that was after accounting for its 192 employees being paid an average of $220,000 each and senior partner Fletcher pocketing $1.84m. Actis will tell you that the government is entitled to 80% of their profits but that arrangement ends in 2009. Furthermore, in a recent public accounts committee report, Fletcher and Co's share (bought for £393,000 remember) was valued at over £200m, and possibly as much as £600m.

So why was Actis sold for so little when it was quite obviously worth so much more? Private Eye has asked to see the calculations that led to the 2004 valuation of £393,000 and how much the still publicly-owned CDC pays Actis to manage the fund. However, the Department for International Development's Openness Unit (an oxymoron if ever there was) and the Shareholder Executive have both refused to release any details. The DfID claimed the valuation calculation was "commercially sensitive" and revealing it was not in the public interest. They did reveal however, that "the calculations were undertaken by KPMG Corporate Finance Consultants, appointed by CDC Group plc to provide an objective opinion."

OK, so that's the same CDC Group who's chief executive Paul Fletcher and other senior managers would be the buyers of the new company. Conflict of interest?

Er... Yes. Here's Politaholic with another quick summary—just to prove that I am not making this stuff up.
Then, in Private Eye it is reported that the previously government owned Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) - which invests UK aid in firms in developing countries - has been sold off to a company called Actis (created by former CDC managers!). They picked up the deal for £373,000 (which, says Private Eye, was "a bargain price for managing, without facing any competition, £1 billion of state funds"). In the following year Actis reported profits of £14 million ("..and that was after the firms 192 employees had been paid an average of $220,000; the senior partner Paul Fletcher "trousered" $1.8 million). This is taxpayers money. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The company is worth more than £200 million and possibly as much as £800 million: "In two years the 20 or so partners in Actis have seen their money grow by at least 5000%...". Surely this is something the Serious fraud Office should be investigating? It strikes me as a lot more serious than "cash-for-peerages". The Minister responsible was nice guy Hilary Benn.

Indeed: he's a crook if ever there was one—always beware of the "nice guys". You can have that advice for free, by the way.

Incidentally, CDC lists itself, in the footer of its website, as a member of European Development Finance Institutions which, in turn, describes itself thusly:
EDFI is the Association of European Development Finance Institutions, a group of 16 bilateral institutions which provide long-term finance for private sector enterprises in developing and reforming economies. Since its foundation in Brussels in 1992, EDFI's mission has been to foster co-operation among its members and to strengthen links with institutions of the European Union.

EDFI is based in Luxembourg (where else?), and funding for the EDFI is provided by its members and, in large part, by the European Investment Bank—this last has provided at least €100 million since May 2009.
In May 2009, EFP was replenished with €230 mln, €100 mln provided by the EIB and €130 by the EDFI members.

Under its previous mandate which expired in April 2009, EFP has approved financing to 25 projects in 11 ACP countries for a total amount of €280 mln. in the following sectors: Agribusiness, Banking, Communication, Health, Hotels, Housing, Industry, Infrastructure, Power and Air Transport.

Interesting stuff, wouldn't you say?

Of course, the European Investment Bank does good work all over the world, including approving finance to the tune of €150,000,000 (£135,402,142) [PDF] for the IREDA Renewable Energy Framework Loan.

IREDA is the Indian Renewable Energy Department Agency Ltd.
IREDA is a Public Limited Government Company established in 1987, under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to promote, develop and extend financial assistance for renewable energy and energy efficiency/conservation projects with the motto : " ENERGY FOR EVER "

Indeed. A quick search of the MNRE website shows that the Ministry works closely with TERI (and a search of TERI's site reveals reciprocal links). TERI is, of course, otherwise known as The Energy and Resources Institute—the director of which is millionaire businessman, Rajendra K Pachuri.

The link is a little tenuous, I'll admit, but took less than ten minutes of derisory 'net searching to establish—maybe Richard can do better. On the face of it, however, it does seem that all roads (not to mention millions of Euros) do lead to millionaire businessman Rajendra K Pachuri...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/30/2009 01:24:00 am


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Innocent? What's that, then?

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 06:38:00 pm

Via JuliaM (who has been doing a superb job of highlighting police fucknuttery), it seems that the police have decided to reverse the burden of proof all by themselves.
People caught with “legal highs” like mephedrone face being arrested and having their homes searched.

Senior officers say the chemicals will be treated as illegal until tests show otherwise as they try to protect young people from using dangerous drugs which have not been banned.

Oh, what a surprise—it's the police using the old "won't somebody think of the chiiiiiiiiildren" defence.

Look, you fuckers: your job is to uphold the law—that is, the actual law not what you think the law should be.

I don't care whether you're doing it for the fucking kids or not: you treat the substance as legal until you have proved that it is illegal—just as someone is innocent until proven guilty. Do you see?
In Brighton and Hove officers are working with the NHS and city council to teach children about mephedrone as part of drugs education in schools and encourage young people with a problem to seek help.

Yes, fine: I don't really have a problem with this. It can be argued that, if government has any kind of role in this aspect of people's lives, it could—and possibly should—be as an adviser. I have no real problem with local government agencies delivering advice on what are, after all, occasionally dangerous substances to young—and often tragically ignorant—people.

I do have a problem with the police treating people like criminals before they are actually proved to be so. The police are quite clearly overstepping the bounds of their power here: they do not have the authority to make law on the fly—yet—and they should be reigned in quite severely.

After all, a country in which the police make up the law, and then act as judge and jury is rather the definition of a police state, isn't it? And I think that most of us would agree that police states are, generally, not particularly desirable...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 06:38:00 pm


ClimateGate: pulling it all together

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 04:34:00 am

I have been meaning to do a comprehensive summary of the CRU emails and other documents but, via The Englishman, Jo Nova has done an stunning job.
Mohib Ebrahim has created professional timelines for exhibitions, so it must have seemed only natural to him to want to visually piece together the full timeline of ClimateGate, laying out the analysis, graphs, emails and history of the scandal as revealed by dozens of researchers over the past weeks, months and years.


You can download the PDF, which gives you a massive chart two A0 pages in size: I want to get someone to do a large format print of this for me, so if you know anyone who would do such a thing relatively cheaply...

Further, Assassin Science has assembled a close analysis—with excerpts—of all of the CRU emails for your perusing pleasure. Highly recommended.

There are some other aspects of all this that I shall be focusing on soon; but whilst I collect my thoughts, why not nip over to EUReferendum for the beautiful story of Big Oil and IPCC director and millionaire businessman, Dr Rajendra K Pachuri...?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 04:34:00 am


Christmas blog post of the year 2009...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 04:12:00 am

... has to be Chris Dillow's learned analysis of the economic fallacies and cognitive biases in popular pop songs, e.g.
Let’s move to Cheryl Cole [YouTube]:
Anything that's worth having
Is sure enough worth fighting for
Quitting's out of the question
When it gets tough, gotta fight some more

The first two lines are acceptable. But the last two, surely, are not. Except in cases of severe duress, which Mrs C is not addressing, quitting can never be out of the question. Sometimes, when it gets tough, quitting is the right thing to do. To think otherwise is to commit the sunk cost fallacy.

It's a genius post of dry wit that made me laugh out loud several times. And the comments are pretty excellent too...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 04:12:00 am


DK elsewhere: the costs of slowed development

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 03:08:00 am

I found this post about the CRU documents on Luke Marsden's blog, and also found a commenter who advocated slowing our technological advance.
So what if we turned out to have less energy resources than we had hoped for the next 20 years , do we really need to develop as fast as we do ? If we play it safe we literaly have all the time in the world so whats the rush ?

Naturally, I couldn't resist leaving a reply.
Amias,
So what if we turned out to have less energy resources than we had hoped for the next 20 years , do we really need to develop as fast as we do ? If we play it safe we literaly have all the time in the world so whats the rush ?

We in the Developed World have no particular rush, no. But, for those in the Developing World, more energy means fewer dead people. In just one example, more electricity means more fridges; more fridges mean more vaccines can be stored, and for longer; more and longer-lasting vaccines mean better immunisation programmes; better immunisation programmes mean fewer dead people.

Now, if you turn around and say to me, "who cares. They're only ignorant Africans," then I shall have a modicum of respect for your honesty. If that isn't your view—and I would hope that it is not—then you need to go away and rethink how all of this energy doesn't just make a comfortable life for us here in the West, but also how it can save millions of lives elsewhere.

You might not be in any hurry, but then it isn't you or your family dying of entirely preventable diseases for want of the energy to run a fridge.

DK

This is a crucial point that too few people—pampered as we are in the West—seem to appreciate: every delay in advancement, every throttling back of energy production, every penny put onto the cost of electricity means more dead people—and these are deaths that needn't have occurred.

There is a human cost beyond being able to leave your TV on standby all night.

The stupid thing is that even if anthropogenic climate change is occurring, the measures that we are currently adopting are not the only ones—or even the best ones—recommended by the IPCC. The IPCC SRES A1 family of scenarios are arguably far more plausible than the A2 or B2 families (which our politicians are currently adopting)—and, in my opinion, they are certainly more desirable. [Emphasis mine.]
The A1 storyline is a case of rapid and successful economic development, in which regional average income per capita converge - current distinctions between "poor" and "rich" countries eventually dissolve. The primary dynamics are:
  • Strong commitment to market-based solutions.

  • High savings and commitment to education at the household level.

  • High rates of investment and innovation in education, technology, and institutions at the national and international levels.

  • International mobility of people, ideas, and technology.

You can see why our (still) hidebound and power-greedy governments may not like this scenario, can't you? And yet it is surely the scenario—embracing, as it does, both economic globalisation and global co-operation—that is the most plausible (in that economic globalisation is happening at a great rate) and the most desirable (in that we aren't wasting energy and money in killing each other)?
The transition to economic convergence results from advances in transport and communication technology, shifts in national policies on immigration and education, and international cooperation in the development of national and international institutions that enhance productivity growth and technology diffusion.
...

In the A1 scenario family, demographic and economic trends are closely linked, as affluence is correlated with long life and small families (low mortality and low fertility). Global population grows to some nine billion by 2050 and declines to about seven billion by 2100. Average age increases, with the needs of retired people met mainly through their accumulated savings in private pension systems.

The increase and then inevitable decline in population is something that I have highlighted for all of you Malthusian fantasists out there...
The global economy expands at an average annual rate of about 3% to 2100, reaching around US$550 trillion (all dollar amounts herein are expressed in 1990 dollars, unless stated otherwise). This is approximately the same as average global growth since 1850, although the conditions that lead to this global growth in productivity and per capita incomes in the scenario are unparalleled in history. Global average income per capita reaches about US$21,000 by 2050. While the high average level of income per capita contributes to a great improvement in the overall health and social conditions of the majority of people, this world is not necessarily devoid of problems. In particular, many communities could face some of the problems of social exclusion encountered in the wealthiest countries during the 20 th century, and in many places income growth could produce increased pressure on the global commons.

Energy and mineral resources are abundant in this scenario family because of rapid technical progress, which both reduces the resources needed to produce a given level of output and increases the economically recoverable reserves. Final energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) decreases at an average annual rate of 1.3%. Environmental amenities are valued and rapid technological progress "frees" natural resources currently devoted to provision of human needs for other purposes. The concept of environmental quality changes in this storyline from the current emphasis on "conservation" of nature to active "management" of natural and environmental services, which increases ecologic resilience.

Doesn't this sound like a decent world to live in? Everyone gets richer (including the Developing Nations) to the point at which the concepts of rich and poor are almost eliminated, the environment is protected and people live both longer and healthier lives. It is certainly the most attractive of the scenarios, to my mind: read the A2 and B1 scenarios and B2 scenarios too.

I must stress that these aren't some bullshit that I have invented: these are the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. I must further stress that these are not mere sidelined curiosities either: all of the predictions of what will happen to the planet up till 2010 are built off these SRES story lines.

For me, personally, the issue of whether AGW is actually occurring is, obviously, a subject of heated debate. But regardless of the science, these SRES models have been assembled to provide realistic option models of human progression.

Now, I happen to believe that the A1 family are the best scenarios that we could choose from these. Which is why it is the A1 family—those scenarios based on free trade, peaceful co-operation and technological advances—that the UK Libertarian Party adopted as policy from the party's inception.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 03:08:00 am


More classic classery

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 02:48:00 am

In my last post on this subject, I asked Sunny who, exactly, decided who the "deserving" rich were. And this is his reply...
@devilskitchen the public decides who is 'deserving'. If you actually do some reading at the link I posted, you'll see a full report on it

The "public" decides, does it? And what do "the public" know of individual cases? What do "the public" know about what work it takes to do a job?

And how shall "the public" decide—through referenda, or lynch mobs? Will these be held at regular intervals? This year, for instance, "the public" might decide that the bankers should be absolutely crushed with taxes: two years ago, "the public" might have decided that Gordon's praise for the bankers was entirely sincere and voted barely to tax them at all.

How, pray, shall "the public" decide on what CEOs should be paid? Will this pay differ depending on whether "the public" like—or even understand—the product that the CEO's company makes?

The mind boggles, it really does.

In the meantime, this is how a sensible debate on class might be conducted...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 02:48:00 am


Barking at the moon: stats snapshot

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 01:36:00 am

The latest forecasts are that unemployment will peak at 2.8 million in 2010.
Unemployment will peak at 2.8 million in 2010, according to the latest forecast from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The business group said unemployment would continue to rise for the first six months of the new year, despite the recovery in the UK economy.

The forecast is more optimistic than previous predictions.

Indeed. Let us, for a moment, ignore the fact that the true number of unemployed in Britain is about double that number and consider the government's response to unemployment worries.
The 2009 Pre-Budget Report announces:
  • an additional(1) 0.5% increase in the employee, employer and self-employed rates of National Insurance contributions from April 2011. However, the Government will also ensure that the 15 million people on income below £20,000 will not pay any extra National Insurance contributions.

Erm... Right, so the government's response to job losses is to tax jobs even further. Nice one. That section of the PBR website is entitled Helping People Fairly: hmmmm...

The median weekly wage up till April 2009 was £489, which is £25,428 per annum. So, helping people fairly is, in NuLabour's definition, raising taxes on those who are earning below the median wage. Nice.

Interestingly, the median wage in the public sector was £539 per week (£28,028 pa), widening the gap between the public and the private sector—in which the median wage was £465 per week (£24,180 pa).

Still, back to the PBR site and we find a nice little graph showing government spending for 2009–2010.


Wow! £676 billion—that's some pretty hefty spending. More than this last year at any rate. I guess that the government must be able to fund this lot, because they wouldn't want to increase the national debt anymore than they already have, would they?

Oh, fuck.


So, tax receipts are projected to be £498 billion, which leaves a shortfall—or "deficit"—of £178 billion.

Fucking hell.

And this isn't due to get much better: the "structural deficit"—that bit that won't sort itself out as the recession ends—is, as Wat Tyler points out, now predicted to run at about 10% of GDP or about £150 billion per annum.

Not good: not good at all.

What this means is that our government needs to cut spending by £150 billion per year before we even begin to pay down the national debt. Or, of course, they could raise taxes by £150 billion per year (a pretty tall order) or meet somewhere in the middle.

Of course, a AAA-rated government can always borrow money, but it may not be at favourable rates. Right now, with interest on government-issued gilts and bonds paid at around 4%, debt repayments are around £35 billion per annum.

If the markets lose confidence that the debt will be repaid (if, for instance, the state lost its AAA rating) or they believe that the interest payments will not be sufficient to cover costs (if, for instance, inflation rises considerably) then we will find that interest needs to be paid out at more than 4%. In the 80s, interest on government-issued debt rose as high as 16%.

The situation because even worse when you consider the problems of borrowing from foreign depositors.

Fucking hellski.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/29/2009 01:36:00 am


Monday, December 28, 2009

Class of Sunny: digging a deeper hole

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/28/2009 10:32:00 pm

As usual, Sunny Hundal breaks blogging conventions (by using my real name, not my blogging identity) when attempting to reply to my earlier post.

Of course, because he doesn't want his Liberal Conspiracy buddies—most of whom are not as stupid or bigoted as himself—to realise what a tit he has made of himself, Sunny uses his race issues vehicle, Pickled Politics, to reply to my argument.
Cxxxx Mxxxxxx: raising taxes is like kicking Pakis!!

In a bid to try to gain credence for his argument, Sunny appeals to his race-based prejudices, attempting to paint me as denigrating racism. This is, of course, an ad hominem by inference and it is specifically designed to separate people into groups: there are those who think virtuously, like Sunny, and those who might support my position—who are now, effectively, designated closet racists.

In this very way, he actually proves the point that I was making about how the Left like to label people, separate them and set them at each others' throats.

I could stop there, but I won't.
There’s a hilariously dumb-headed post at Devil’s Kitchen called ‘Sunny Hundal: condoning class war. Would he be so keen on a race war?‘ – which basically boils down to libertarian idiot Cxxxx Mxxxxxx equating raising taxes on rich people to kicking the crap out of someone for being black or white.

Of course, this is not what I was saying at all. I was pointing out that, in fact, class is nothing to do with me personally, it is to do with my parents—as, in fact, is race.

I was certainly not equating "raising taxes on rich people to kicking the crap out of someone for being black or white": what I was saying was that targeting people because of what their parents are (or, more generally, because of traits that an individual cannot change) is wrong—in all cases, whether that be "class" or "race".
OK. So, my class must be defined by my parents; Sunny’s race is defined by his parents. I can no more help the income of my parents than Sunny can affect the race of his.

So, there is an equivalence: yes?

Where do you even start with such stupidity?

Heaven knows, Sunny: but I expect you'll tell us.
I suppose the concept of progressive taxation – advanced by Adam Smith himself – must be a form of discrimination against rich people because they can’t help their income. Perhaps they should complain to EHRC! Rights for rich people! Stop the discrimination!

Ah—the appeal to authority! Always a sign of someone losing an argument. To be honest, since I haven't read Smith, I have no idea what he said about progressive taxation—and I don't really care. I like to read around subjects and make up my own mind, personally, rather than parrot the opinions of others.

Of course, "the concept of progressive taxation" is "a form of discrimination against rich people": the concept of progressive taxation is that rich people should pay progrssively more, as a percentage of their income, than poor people. Whichever way you slice it, that is discrimination against rich people.

Now, many people would argue that taxing the rich more (because they need a lower proportion of their income to survive) is a good and necessary thing, and that using that money to boost the lifestyles of the poor is a virtuous thing to do. Fair enough, but that is a complicated argument and not for the here and now.

So let us leave that aside and remind ourselves of what was actually said—because I certainly didn't say that "the concept of progressive taxation" was "a form of discrimination against rich people". Because, you see, that was never mentioned in Sunny's post.

What Sunny's post was entitled was Long Live The Class War Strategy. It wasn't Long Live The Progressive Taxation On Rich People Strategy; nor was it Long Live The War On The Rich Strategy: no—it was Long Live The Class War Strategy.

The word "class" spans an awful lot more of the population than the word "rich"; it also encompasses those who are not necessarily rich, but who might be designated as undesirables according to some nebulous criteria as defined by the Labour Party—or Sunny, of course.

Oh! And here is Sunny's definition... [Emphasis mine.]
I actually pointed out what Class War strategy meant not long ago here:
The ‘class war’ is narrowly defined as being about bankers’ bonuses and higher taxes. Labour needs to expand this to include: Tories increasing IHT, deploring fairer taxes on the super-rich, their privileged backgrounds, the £250,000 “chicken-feed”, MPs “forced to live on rations”, Cameron not knowing how many houses he owned. In fact top Tory gaffes reek of how out of touch they are. Re-framing the debate would allow them to talk about wider issues than just bankers’ bonuses.

There's the phrase—"their privileged backgrounds"... It's hidden in the paragraph quite innocuously, but is does, as Sunny says, allow Labour to talk about "wider issues". Much, much wider issues.

Let us take your humble Devil, for instance: I went to Eton and had what many would call a privileged background. But now that I am an adult and standing on my own feet, I earn about the median wage.

Which class should I be in? Am I with the workers—or am I one of those evil people with a "privileged background"? If you are going to attack me for having a "privileged background" then you are not attacking what I am, but what my parents are.

And, as I have already pointed out, I can no more help that my parents are well-off than Sunny can help that his parents are Indian.
I also pointed out that rather being seen as against aspiration, New Labour should re-frame the debate as being for the deserving rich and hard-working small businesses rather than fat-cat bankers who get big bonuses for screwing up the economy.

Well, sure: absolutely. But this isn't what Sunny meant, I suspect, when he wrote Long Live The Class War Strategy. After all, he has just said that he wants Labour to focus on not "just bankers' bonuses", but on "wider issues".

Personally, as someone who has always worked in small businesses (and who was against the bank bail-outs), I am very much in favour of Labour supporting "hard-working small businesses": if you are too, Sunny, can I take it that you totally disagree with putting employers' and employees' National Insurance up by another 0.5% as Labour will do in April?

I am rather less certain about Sunny's support for "the deserving rich": who, precisely, will determine if they are "deserving"?

Is a Lottery winner "deserving", Sunny?

Is a man like Sir Alan Sugar—who has, in my opinion, spent his life selling tat to the gullible—"deserving"?

I don't think either of them are "deserving", as such—although Alan Sugar has worked harder for his money—but then I am not proposing to take away their money.

How do you define "deserving", Sunny?

I'm not just being snippy here: it's a pretty fundamental point. If you are going to declare a "class war" then you need to define "class". If you are going to declare a "war on the undeserving rich" then you need to define who is "undeserving" because otherwise you might start taking the money of the "deserving" rich.

Who decides who is "deserving"? How is this to be measured—by the quality of the goods they produce, by how hard they have worked, by whether their children are suitable for society, by whether you personally like them?

Surely anyone can see that this is a very slippery slope. But then, as I said, Sunny is after personal power: he would like nothing better to be the one who decides who is deserving and who isn't.

And Sunny would also love to be the person who defines who is one of the Desirables, class-wise, and who is Undesirable. Given how riled he gets when I insult him, your humble Devil would, no doubt, be on the Undesirables list. But then that is the danger of selecting human beings by applying arbitrary criteria.

The same would not apply here: for all that I loathe Sunny's politics and despise him as a human being, I would never advocate that he be treated differently to anyone else. And I certainly do not condone racism—as Sunny so clearly implies.

And so we come full circle, and Sunny's designation of undesirables. I asked if Sunny would condone a race war in the same way as he cheered on a class war because class often has little to do with individuals, and everything to do with their upbringing.

Had Sunny entitled his piece "Long Live The War On The Rich Strategy" I would still have disagreed with him—but I would have done so in entirely different terms. But he didn't.

And his response was to imply that I'm a racist and to do so not at the original forum, but on his race-issues vehicle. A response which was deliberately calculated, as I said, to create a false dichotomy between racists and non-racists—and not between those who drew an equivalence between traits passed down to you over which you yourself have no control.

Sunny has then tried to reframe the argument, attempting to insist that by "class" he meant "undeserving rich". Well, either he did and he's a very sloppy writer, or he didn't and tried to claim a dishonest equivalence between said undeserving rich and all those whom Sunny considers to be of a certain, undesirable class.

Either way, Sunny, it doesn't look good.

UPDATE: a commenter over at Pickled Politics posts the following:
..well DK (Mounsey) is funny, energetic and makes a strong argument, but you, Sunny, are gloomy, boring and cliched…take your pick!

In reply to which Sunny—who claims, believe it or not, to be an adult—brings out this classic playground witticism.
hey, I’d take boring than being so ugly any day!

Well, that's me told, eh? Mind you, that's Sunny making personal judgements again—would you like him to be sitting in judgement over you?

It's worth pointing out, by the way, that Sunny Hundal is a big campaigner against racism—in other words, he campaigns against people being treated differently simply on their appearance. As such, I find it highly amusing that Sunny should attempt to denigrate my arguments on the basis of my "so ugly" appearance. I wonder if Sunny would tax ugly people more...?

Fucking hellski.

UPDATE 2: Sunny replies to one or two select points over at Pickled Politics.
Secondly, Pickled Politics isn’t my “race based vehicle” – it’s where I write about identity politics. It’s a place where we consistently condemn racism.

My reply to this point was as follows:
You can have a race-based vehicle (or an identity-based vehicle) and not condone racism. Pickled Politics is, as you say, “about identity politics”: it is about assigning identities to sections of society.

If, of course, you maintain that Pickled Politics is about negating such identities, it is somewhat hypocritical for you to paint others with such identities, e.g. being of a particular class.

It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

UPDATE 3: Sunny replies again...
People have multiple identities according to their backgrounds, religion, other habits (feminism, vegetarianism, libertarianism) – i.e. they ‘identify’ with certain subcultures or ideologies. This could even be people who are into goth culture or love rock music.

The problem is when people are solely judged by those identities and grouped together (as in, all ‘white people behave the same’, ‘all Jews are the same’) or only seen through the prism of that one identity (assuming all Muslims behave the same), or discriminate against someone because of their race, sex, disability etc.

Do you get it now? That’s racism? Simply talking about the BNP or Asian history doesn’t make me any more history than for you to talk about British history means you’re a white supremacist.

Sunny actually has a point here, and I can see what he is getting at. However, in order to discuss identities, you need to label people with those identities—regardless of whether they accept that identity or not—which is where I think we came in...

You see, Sunny seems to assume that I am using racist in terms of "prejudice (negative) based on race" when, in fact, I am using it in the sense of "discrimination (neither negative nor positive: simply descriptive) based on race".

"Race" is, as Sunny would put it, simply another "identity": however, to write about people in terms of their racial identity is to discriminate in terms of race; just as writing about people in terms of their political identity is to discriminate in terms of politics.

In this post, Sunny explains why identity politics interests him and, again, he has a point (or several). But the perpetuation of identity politics is not a good thing.

This is why I'm a libertarian: I don't believe in basing political decisions—which are, ultimately, incorporated as legal instruments—on people's identities. I believe that everyone should be equal under the law and you cannot do that when you are making law based on religion, race, class, etc.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/28/2009 10:32:00 pm


Fucking up your life

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/28/2009 07:08:00 pm

On this TfL page you can listen to a couple of MPs of radio adverts about speeding. The tagline is "if you lose your licence, you're just a kid again."

As such, it is a child who narrates, telling how he was caught going at 40mph in a 30mph zone. Twice. And since he had had his licence for less than two years, he was banned from driving.

Not only this, but the character's loss of his licence means that he loses his job, has no money and his (rather fickle) girlfriend "legged it". At the end, the chap is left waiting for his mother to pick him up "just this once".

Just consider this: the chap was caught speeding twice. He was in no accident, he caused no injuries and he caused no deaths.

He harmed precisely no one—no one at all.

So, these adverts are the state happily boasting about how, as a consequence of your breaking an arbitrary law and harming precisely nobody at all, it can—and will—ruin your entire life.

Am I the only one that finds this incredibly sinister?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/28/2009 07:08:00 pm


Long live the war!

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/28/2009 04:27:00 pm

Sunny Hundal: condoning class war. Would he be so keen on a race war?

Via Tom Harris (who is agin it, but for all the wrong reasons), there is a post at Liberal Conspiracy entitled Long Live The Class War Strategy.
Class War remains an electorally viable strategy because: (a) a majority of voters are persuaded by the implication; (b) it highlights wedge issues Labour needs to advance to narrow their defeat; (c) extensive polling shows that most ‘class war’ positions are deeply popular.

The author is, inevitably, that fucking unpleasant little arse, Sunny Hundal. Well, Sunny, here's a proposition for you...

Let's declare a race war.

Given the fact that immigration often tops the concern of ordinary British voters (such as in this February YouGov poll), it would be an excellent election strategy for Labour to adopt, wouldn't it? After all, Labour, the Tories and the LibDems all seem to be vying to have the most draconian immigration policies at present, so such a measure would surely be tacitly approved by the Big Three.

Surely it is time that Labour had the courage of their convictions and initiated a full-blown war on non-whites? Gordon got it started with "British jobs for British workers": now it is time to start defining who is, in fact, British—perhaps Nick Griffin could help out?

Do you think that you are sufficiently British to satisfy the knuckle-dragging morons of the BNP, Sunny? Are your "Sikh parents of Indian origin" sufficiently British, Sunny? Maybe, maybe not.

I would imagine hope that Sunny would be horrified at the idea of a race war: why, then, is he so happy to condone a class war?

It's because he is a Grade A hypocrite and a divisive little shit. After all, Sunny's career has basically been based on the fact that brown people like himself are different from the whites. This is why he runs publications like Asians In Media or websites like Pickled Politics and (the now defunct) Barfi Culture—fora that "deal with issues concerning the British Asian community".

Once again, we see how the Left prefers to label people by their differences—and why? So that human beings can be kept at each others' throats—through the generation of class envy, race hatred, religious differences. This is an old, old tactic which I call divide et impera—divide and rule—and I have written about it extensively.

It is better for people to be labelled, put into boxes and the differences between them emphasised—rather than uniting them in the realision that we are all human beings together—because that causes problems and tensions.

And then slimy political fucks like Hundal can rise up and present their solutions to the problems that they created in the first place. In short, people like Sunny want to pigeon-hole people and to create emnity between them because it allows cunts like Sunny to seize power.

Naturally Sunny doesn't want to cause a race war, because he and his might get hurt; besides, he has happily gained traction in that area and causing his power base trouble might decrease his power.

But encouraging a class war... Ah, well, Sunny will be on the side of The Righteous in that one. You see, Sunny Hundal isn't out to solve your problems: like every other Lefty political shitehawk, he is gunning for an increase in his personal power over everyone else.

And, believe me, Sunny Hundal doesn't care how many dead bodies he has to climb over to get it.

UPDATE: there are some eager class-warriors—specifically D-Notice on Twitter, SohoPolitico on Twitter, LeftOutside on Twitter and Left Outside on the original post—who seem to be a little confused about this argument. The issue can be summed up by SohoPolitico's Tweet.
I see @devilskitchen has taken the right's BS about class war to its logical conclusion. Old Etonians are apparently a race. FFS.

And can then be bulwarked by another of D-Notice's Tweets.
@devilskitchen Correct me if I'm wrong, but class isn't an hereditary trait, unlike race...

OK, let's try to explain why D-Notice and the others are wrong.

First, they seem to be defining "class" by which school you went to, which is nuts.

Second, is your class defined by the money that you earn—if it is, as someone on the median wage, I should be with the workers, right? But I went to Eton so I can't be with the workers: is that right?

OK. So, my class must be defined by my parents; Sunny's race is defined by his parents. I can no more help the income of my parents than Sunny can affect the race of his.

So, there is an equivalence: yes?

UPDATE 2: John B has a reasonable reply to my point.
How about a war on those who’ve acquired lots of money by good luck, rather than hard work or wise business decisions, and which consists solely of taking some of their money away and giving it to people who’ve ended up without much money by bad luck?

More generally: it’s possible to conceive of a strategy marketed as ‘class war’ that consisted of reviling people like DK and Nosemonkey (and, probably, me) for their accents. This would be a stupid and morally wrong strategy, on a par with one that reviled people on the basis of their religion.

Or, it’s possible to conceive of a strategy marketed as ‘class war’ that consisted of higher taxes on unearned income, lower taxes on low earners, refocusing government spending towards poor areas (e.g. by changing the way central council tax grants are distributed), etc. Or even of one that merely consisted of not lowering taxes on unearned income or high earners, while not cutting government spending on people who were poor.

This isn't something that I subscribe to, but at least John has attempted to define the terms.

UPDATE 2: here is a continuation of this conversation.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/28/2009 04:27:00 pm


Monday, December 21, 2009

Kris Kutsi

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/21/2009 02:29:00 am

Via Neil Gaiman on Twitter, I have just found another artist who, for me, instantly ranks alongside the brilliant Dave McKean. Kris Kuksi remodels plastic toys into grotesque but oh-so-intricate and incredibly beautiful pieces of art—you can see lots of them on his website, and a few of my favourites below.

The Beast of Babylon


Plague Parade Opus 1


The Temptation of St Anthony


Caravan Assault Apparatus


Brilliant.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/21/2009 02:29:00 am


It's war!

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/21/2009 02:01:00 am

It seems that millionaire businessman Rajendra K Pachauri has taken exception to Richard North's Telegraph article.
"These are a pack of lies from people who are getting desperate," he tells the Times of India. They want to go after the guy whose voice is being heard. I haven't pocketed a single penny from my association with companies and institutes. All honoraria that I get goes to TERI and to its Light a Billion Lives campaign for reaching solar power to people without electricity. All my dealings are totally above board."
...

As for the link with the Tata group, Pachauri claims, "Our ties ended when Darbari Seth, who was on our board, died in 1999. We haven't received a single penny from Tatas for years and have no ties with them."

Unfortunately for millionaire businessman Rajendra K Pachauri, Richard then goes on to describe precisely why these statements are a complete load of fucking cobblers. And then he fires another little piece of shrapnel into the mix.
On whether he intends to take legal action against us, Pachauri says he hadn’t made up his mind. "Action against these people only gives dignity to these guys," he adds.

But he dare not. If he chose to sue, we could demand full disclosure of his financial affairs, through the courts. And then the millionaire businessman would have some explaining to do – not least how he is booking his business expenses to the IPCC. And yes, I do have the evidence.

Which would be very interesting to see, of course. Not least because, if Richard is right, millionaire businessman Rajendra K Pachauri might be answering some difficult questions from the US taxman, if no one else.

As such, I think that your humble Devil's reply to millionaire businessman Rajendra K Pachauri has to be the same as Richard's:
Up yours, Pachauri, you are a thief as well as a liar.

Yep: fuck you Pachauri, you thieving liar—go be an MP or something...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/21/2009 02:01:00 am


Big Carbon

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/21/2009 01:02:00 am

Over at EU Referendum, Richard North started off by examining the multiplicity of connections enjoyed by the head of the IPCC—an Indian millionaire businessman (not a scientist) named Rajenda Kumar Pauchauri. And he really does have an awful lot of fingers in an awful lot of pies.

See All Roads Lead To Pauchauri, A Busy Man and Global Warming: An Economic War...

Then Richard started to detail the huge market created by the Kyoto Treaty—the trade in Carbon Credits. And as Richard has pointed out, this market is now pretty huge and Copenhagen was not about saving the planet—it was about saving the carbon market.
In 2012 the Kyoto treaty falls, and with it the mechanisms which underpin carbon trading. Unless the protocols are renewed, a multi-billion dollar industry falls apart – the money tree is under threat.

And, as Open Europe reports today, we are talking about seriously big money. The volume of carbon trading across the globe has increased dramatically in recent years. According to the World Bank, the value of the ETS market increased from $49 billion to $91 billion between 2007 and 2008.

Just in European terms, the European Climate Exchange (ECX) and Bluenext accounted for 92 percent of exchange-traded EU carbon permits and so far in 2009, the value of the carbon permits traded through both exchanges is €85,304,050,227—or €364,547,223 a day.

This, however, pales into insignificance when the global market is estimated to be worth anything from $1-2 trillion by 2020. With such huge sums at risk—trading in the ultimate non-product—it is easy to see why such enormous effort is being expended to elevate the global warming hype. Without the support of the belief system which fuels the whole racket, this vast ponzi scheme will come crashing down.

The irony of it all is that, as James Hansen himself agrees, this money-making racket will have no overall effect on emission levels. But then, it is not intended to. This is a money-making scam on a colossal scale, a confidence trick perpetrated in plain sight, giving endless opportunities to rip-off the public.

For more on Big Carbon, see Big Carbon, A Vast Nexus of Influence, Controlling the Money, Protecting Big Carbon and How To Get Rich

As Bishop Hill points out, Richard also has two articles in the MSM today.
In the Telegraph, he and Christopher Booker look at how IPCC boss Rajendra Pachauri has reaped vast sums of money from his involvement in the trade in carbon credits:
What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.

The Mail meanwhile, has completely messed up, attributing the story to a completely different Richard North, and printing the wrong photo alongside the article to boot. The story though is a good one, looking at the big picture of how Copenhagen was a victory for the money-men, retaining the lucrative trade in carbon credits.
Forget 'Big Oil'—this is 'Big Carbon' making the most of a 'business opportunity' that was created by the first climate treaty at Kyoto in 1997.

The frenzied negotiations we have just seen were never about 'saving the planet'. They were always about money. At stake was this new 'climate change industry' which last year ripped off £129billion from the global economy and is heading for that trillion-pound bonanza by 2020—but only if the key parts of the Kyoto treaty could be renewed.

There are colossal amounts of money at stake here—and the big corporates (including the oil companies) have gleefully piled in. This is not about the science—and, indeed, it has not been about the science for some years now: the anthropogenic climate change myth is big business.

Even had Richard not done some sterling research into this, it would anyway have become obvious once Tony Blair—the ultimate corporate shill—came out with this gem:
“It is said that the science around climate change is not as certain as its proponents allege. It doesn’t need to be..."

No, because it is about the money, not the science. We're all about to be fucked by the hellish combination of big government and big corporations: prepare to be shafted.

At this point, it would be well to remind ourselves of another part of the Jackart post referenced earlier. [Emphasis mine.]
Nor is libertarianism mere shilling for big business. Tight regulation of businesses favour only big corporations whose bureaucracies can cope with the slew of bumf needed to comply with regulations. This prevents competition from smaller, nimbler businesses, and turns big business into an arm of the state. Entrepreneurs are discouraged or bought out. The worker is crushed by an oppressive force less violent but less tolerant of dissent than the state. The corporation is a creature of the big state.

And the state is getting bigger—big enough to fill the world. Indeed, I have expressed my disquiet over the increasing collaboration between governments before.
You see, what I saw—reading between the lines of the manufactured disagreements and media-interpreted problems—was a bunch of people with the same hideous agenda: reform of economies in a model of their choosing.

And I saw a bunch of politicians, all of whom were representatives of socialism—whether that be the soft Communism of the Chinese or the "social democracy" of Brown—coming together with the conversation starting with "a conspiracy against the public". All were advocating the same basic ideas, the same consensus—and you know how keen I am on consensus.
...

We who are libertarians, who want to be left alone, are being conspired against and soon, no matter how rich you are, there will be no place of escape for the G20 socialist monsters will control all the civilised world.

Even the other countries will be off-limits, for the democratic socialists of the West have already bought their loyalty and obedience with bribes masquerading as "aid".

Such favours, direct funding and tax breaks have already bought the Third Sector and the mainstream media. The blogs remain, but will soon be regulated out of existence.

Meetings such as Copenhagen simply illustrate how big government and big business are conspiring against us, the general public, to ensure that there is no place of escape—to make sure that World Government comes about.

Thankfully, our politicians are so inept and so corrupt that they have made a fuck-up of Copenhagen—saving only their precious carbon credits so far. But there will be more to come.

And as the noose tightens, there will be fewer and fewer places to go. And, right now, the only way to ensure a relatively comfortable life is to carry a big bottle of lube, to mitigate the pain of the inevitable arse-rapings you are about to receive with increasing frequency.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 12/21/2009 01:02:00 am


Testimonials

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  • "By the way, DK seems to be on fucking good form at the moment."—Brian Mickelthwait
  • "Perhaps the best paragraph ever written in the history of human creation. It's our Devil on fine form."—Vindico
  • "Devil's Kitchen is the big name on the free-market libertarian strand of the British blogosphere... Profane rants are the immediate stand-out feature of DK's blog, but the ranting is backed up by some formidable argument on a wide range of issues particularly relating to British and European parliamentary politics, economics, and civil liberties."—Question That
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  • "I like the Devil's Kitchen. I think it's one of the best written and funniest blogs in the business."—Conservative Party Reptile
  • "The. Top. UK. Blogger."—My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
  • "For sheer intelligence, erudition and fun, Iain Dale's Diary, Cranmer and Devil's Kitchen are so far ahead of the rest I don't see how they can figure in a top ten. They are the Beatles, Stones and Who of the blog world; the Astair, Bogart and Marlon Brando of the blog world; the Gerswin, Porter and Novello of the blog world; the Dot Cotton, Pat Butcher, Bette Lynch of the blog world..."—Wrinkled Weasel
  • "It's the blogging equivalent of someone eating Ostrich Vindaloo, washed down by ten bottles of Jamaican hot pepper sauce and then proceeding to breathe very close to your face while talking about how lovely our politicians are... But there's much more to his writing than four letter words."—Tom Tyler
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  • "The Devil's Kitchen is a life-affirming, life-enhancing blog ... This particular post will also lead you to some of the best soldiers in the army of swearbloggers of which he is Field Marshal."—The Last Ditch
  • "... underneath all the ranting and swearing [DK]'s a very intelligent and thoughtful writer whom many people ... take seriously, despite disagreeing with much of what he says."—Not Saussure
  • "... the most foul-mouthed of bloggers, Devils Kitchen, was always likely to provoke (sometimes disgust, but more often admiration)."—The Times Online
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  • "Frankly, this is ranting of the very highest calibre."—The Nameless Libertarian
  • "I don't mean it literally, or even metaphorically. I just find that his atheism aside, I agree with everything the Devil (of Kitchen fame...) says. I particularly enjoy his well crafted and sharp swearing, especially when addressed at self righteous lefties..."—The Tin Drummer
  • "Spot on accurate and delightful in its simplicity, Devil's Kitchen is one of the reasons that we're not ready to write off EUroweenie-land just yet. At least not until we get done evacuating the ones with brains."—Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
  • "This hugely entertaining, articulate, witty Scottish commentator is also one of the most foul-mouthed bloggers around. Gird up your loins and have a look. Essential reading."—Doctor Crippen
  • "The Devil's Kitchen is one of the foremost blogs in the UK. The DK is bawdy, foul-mouthed, tasteless, vulgar, offensive and frequently goes beyond all boundaries of taste and decency. So why on earth does Dr Crippen read the DK? Because he reduces me to a state of quivering, helpless laughter."—Doctor Crippen's Grand Rounds
  • "DK is a take-no-prisoners sort of libertarian. His blog is renowned for its propensity for foul-mouthed invective, which can be both amusing and tiresome by turns. Nevertheless, he is usually lucid, often scintillating and sometimes illuminating."—Dr Syn
  • "If you enjoy a superior anti-Left rant, albeit one with a heavy dash of cursing, you could do worse than visit the Devil's Kitchen. The Devil is an astute observer of the evils of NuLabour, that's for sure. I for one stand converted to the Devil and all his works."—Istanbul Tory
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  • "hedonistic, abrasive but usually good-natured..."—The G-Gnome
  • "10,000 words per hour blogging output... prolific or obsessive compulsive I have yet to decide..."—Europhobia
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  • "Devils Kitchen, a right thinking man indeed..."—EU Serf
  • "an excellent blog..."—Rottweiler Puppy
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