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Friday, September 21, 2012

Last orders at The Devil's Kitchen

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/21/2012 01:30:00 am

As regular readers might have noticed, your humble Devil has been struggling to comment on politics for some time—the last couple of years, really.

A number of factors have contributed to this: the loss of anonymity has, though my choice, has made a difference, of course; as has the fact that there are only so many times that one can write the same thing over and over again.

Further, when your humble Devil started blogging, those of us who were of different political opinions still adhered to certain standards of evidence and honesty: that sense of brotherhood has disappeared with the introduction of the financially-backed party political sites.

This has accompanied the ever-accelerating disappearance of those bloggers whom I considered a daily read: not because I agreed with them, but because they made me think, and they made me laugh.

Most importantly, unlike when The Kitchen first opened, I am actually happy in my personal life—I have a fantastic wife and a job that I love.

And it is this last item that has led to this final announcement: I now spend most of my life involved in my work, building and creating things that make people's lives better.

Shortly, I am to take an enhanced and, possibly (at some point), more public role in the business. This is, I feel, incompatible with maintaining The Kitchen—especially given the way that I feel about politics and political blogging anyway.

As such, I am giving my loyal army—of readers, contributors, enemies, political foils and brothers in arms—notice that, in the next couple of weeks, this blog will be retired. Initially I shall put it behind a login and then, after taking a back-up, I shall (probably) delete it.

The Devil's Kitchen has been running since January 13th 2005: in that time, there have been 6,005 posts; 3,776,324 page loads and 3,089,579 unique visits—with my best day (when I published a post assessing the state of the code released during ClimateGate) amassing 24,598 unique visits in just 24 hours.

I think that I can claim the rather more dubious accolade of coining—and embodying—the word "swearblogging".

I am also pleased that the phrase and concept of "fake charities" has also entered the blogging lexicon—not least through my setting up of the site that enabled people to check whether such organisations take government money. I hope to be able to upgrade and refine that resource soon.

Quite apart from the fact that the catharsis which The Kitchen enabled—and which kept me going through some very dark days—I have also met some incredibly nice people through this blogging lark, many of whom I have had great fun with, and who I hope that I shall continue to see.

However, despite all of this, I have felt for some time that politics is an utterly futile endeavour. For the last few years, I have found that my work has allowed me to make a real difference to people's lives (not least my own) in a way that politics—let alone the libertarian position that I occupy—can never do.

Remember, politicians only ever make your life harder—they never make it better, or easier: you have to do that for yourself. And I have found that this positivity is far more healthy and rewarding than wallowing in the stye of negativity and managed decline that is the political arena.

And so, for all of the reasons above, The Kitchen will close within the next couple of weeks. And for good this time.

I shall maintain my online presence through my portfolio site (and I might even update it occasionally!). I shall even still Tweet occasionally about politics. I am also (for those who are interested) pretty active, experimenting with interesting CSS, over at CodePen.

It is my intention, too, to start up a new blog: this will be concerned with technology, software development, management, the exciting developments in HTML5 and CSS3, and the web in general: those who might find such a thing interesting can drop me a line, and I shall let you know when it's up and running.

Until then, thank you—all of you: readers, writers, friends, enemies, colleagues and acquaintances. I have had so many opportunities that I never would have had without all of you. I have had the chance to meet some of the politicos that I excoriate, and the researchers who I slag off; I have had the chance to influence policy, and to drink enormous quantities of free booze. I have partaken of bad tempered political arguments, and still been stood a round; I have met people, both interesting and articulate, who made me very welcome in London when I moved from Edinburgh.

So, until we meet again, farewell to all my friends and enemies—it's been a blast!

UPDATE: thanks to all of you who have left comments, sent messages, etc. I am particularly delighted that I was able to introduce so many people to libertarianism: since I discovered that philosophy through the blogs of others, I am happy that I have been able to, as it were, pay it forward...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/21/2012 01:30:00 am


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quote of the day...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/16/2012 04:17:00 pm

... comes from a comment under this snobby Grauniad article in which some author called Joan Brady whines about big chain coffee-shops.

Here is Joan Brady, wittering on about those evil corporations daring to set up shops...
Three quarters of [Totnes's] population protested against Costa: Totnes already has more than 40 independent coffee shops. That many people agreeing on anything approaches a miracle, a landslide of public opinion. Costa isn't bothered. It hasn't bothered with the populations of other protesting towns either. But isn't this supposed to be a democracy?
... to which our doughty commenter—one davidwferguson—promptly replies:
And if your idea of 'democracy' is 'a system where me and my condescending arsehole chums get to dictate to other people what kind of coffee they're going to be allowed to drink', then I hope you never develop any kind of inclination towards fascism.
Pithily put, I think you'll agree; and it exposes the big lie behind all of these Islington so-called "liberals"—they are snobs, and authoritarian snobs at that.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/16/2012 04:17:00 pm


Saturday, September 08, 2012

An economic solution I can get behind...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/08/2012 03:41:00 pm

... comes from the Daily Mash...
DRINKING at least three pints of beer at lunchtime could put Britain’s economy back on track, it has been claimed.

As the country sinks further into a double-dip recession, economists believe the decline of lunchtime drinking could be the cause of its economic woes.

Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: “Throughout the 80s and early 90s, office workers would flee the office like rats out of a trap at half twelve – twelve on Fridays – heading straight for the pub.

“However bosses fell under the influence of soulless foreign ‘business experts’, particularly Americans, who believed that drinking several pints of beer in the middle of the day could negatively effect productivity.

“But it’s only after the shift away from midday alcohol binges towards eating a sad little sandwich at one’s computer that everything went to shit.”

Professor Brubaker believes a mandatory minimum lunchtime beer consumption of three pints could restore Britain’s economic vigour.
Yup—I think that'll work very nicely!

As I always say, the glass is half-empty—and it's your round...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/08/2012 03:41:00 pm


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Let's be Frank

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/05/2012 10:41:00 pm

Via someone on Twitter, I was directed to the Grauniad's pathetic hatchet job on Frank Turner (I hope that my post wasn't the trigger).

The article's author—Michael Hann—claims that he has reviewed Frank's albums in the past, but hadn't realised that Turner wasn't the greatest fan of the state. Presumably Hann skipped Sons of Liberty.

But here is Frank's heinous crime:
Turns out his libertarianism and belief in the power of the people to resist oppression aren't of the leftist sort. They're of the rightist sort.
Right. So, in the world of Hann, belief in individuals is fine so long as you label yourself "left-wing", but that same belief is evil if you don't.

Nice.

Hann then responds to some of the commenters below his article:
The Guardian is a leftwing newspaper. What we do is disagree with the right.
Uh huh. And I thought that a "leftwing newspaper" might be for something. Like the betterment of the working man, or the empowerment of the masses, or better education, or something.

But no: apparently, "a leftwing newspaper" exists to "disagree with the right".

Which is just one of the reasons why normal people are so disengaged from politics: the whole charade is one bunch of highly privileged people disagreeing with another bunch of highly privileged people over rarified philosophies, the outcomes of which always screw the hard-working people of this country—treating them all, rich or poor, as nothing more than cash-cows for the expensive experiments of the pusillanimous, disconnected bigots that inhabit Whitehall, Westminster and Fleet Street.

Frank's reply to Hann can be found in full on his blog—I will quote the most pertinent bits.
My politics are based on principles like democracy, individuality, equality of opportunity, distrust of power and, above all else, freedom, including economic freedom. They’re not the same as when I was 19, or indeed 23 – a few more years kicking around the world has made me adjust my views a little, although the basic principles remain the same. Once I would have called myself an anarchist. These days I suppose the word “libertarian” does pretty well for me, though I suspect it’s a little over-intellectual as a description. I just think the world works better when people are left alone to do what they want as much as possible.

Incidentally, here’s some things I’m not: “Tory”, “conservative”, or “Republican”. If you don’t know the difference between these and libertarians, I suggest reading up a little before slagging me off. I don’t consider myself “right wing” either. I’m just not a leftist.

A lot of people have been treating this as some kind of reveal. Given that the journalist was quoting from an interview from 3 years ago[*] that seems a little odd to me. There’s something about it in the FAQ on here, and Poetry Of The Deed (2009) had a song on it called “Sons Of Liberty” which was about this kind of thing. As it happens, I don’t want my music to be particularly political (as I’ve been saying for ages) so I don’t talk about it that much. But it’s not like I keep it secret either. A lot of the fuss here to me seems to be because some people have had an idea of what they want me to be, and have discovered I’m not that. Sorry, I guess, although I’d say that it’s be much worse for me to pretend otherwise to please them, or sell records, or whatever.

At the end of the day, some people will disagree with my politics. That’s fine. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do with their lives Most of my friends disagree with me, not least Billy Bragg and Chris T-T. But, being adults, we understand that intelligent people can disagree about stuff. Despite occasionally running my mouth (a bad habit of mine, which I’m working on) I don’t think people who call themselves socialists are evil, mad, stupid or deserving of being attacked; I just see the world differently. In everything I do, I try to treat everyone with equal respect and consideration. I’d hope that the way I’ve gone about my music career would attest to that to some degree. I’ll drink a beer with anyone.
I will state, for the record, that all of the above is absolutely true. I am not going to pretend a massive intimacy—we met through a mutual friend who knew that Frank read your humble Devil.

However, Frank and I have been for a few drinks a number of times and I will state, (again) for the record, that not only is the man himself thoroughly decent but all of those surrounding him—who are of a number of political persuasions—are thoroughly nice too. By their friends shall ye know them (or somesuch).

* In this interview, Frank actually mentions your humble Devil. I think that we had first met a few months before...
I dunno, I must admit I’m friends with a guy. Have you ever heard of The Devils Kitchen? It’s a libertarian political blog. The guy, Chris Mouncey [sic], who runs it became leader of the libertarian party, which is a really small political party. Now, I’m uneasy around fringe parties because it just seems like a fucking waste of time. Having said that, I do agree with what they say. I’ve been talking to Chris because I think they’re using the song Sons Of Liberty as one of their campaign songs or something *laughs*. I don’t know, fuckin’ a. You know what, if there’s a Libertarian party candidate I’ll probably vote for them just to make Chris feel better about his life. It’s difficult because, at the end of the day, politics is the art of the possible. The kind of politics where you sit around in circles discussing abstract theorisation of how society can be run is essentially pointless because it doesn’t change anyone’s life for the better. If you’re gonna take an interest in politics, you might as well take an interest in it that’s actually gonna make a difference to anything.
Well, I'm sorry to have let you down, mate. But—hey!—one can only try...

At best, I was a reluctant politician (I took the job of leader because no one else wanted it) but, then, the idea of being in government—or even trying to get there—is never going to sit well with a libertarian.

I do far more good—and benefit far more people—by doing my day-job well. Which is, after all, why this place has been so quiet of late.

So, all I can say to Frank is "ignore the Guardian and its armies of student wankers, and carry on doing your day-job well..."

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 9/05/2012 10:41:00 pm


Testimonials

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  • "The Devil's Kitchen—a terrifying blog that covers an astonishing range of subjects with an informed passion and a rage against the machine that leaves me in awe..."—Polaris
  • "He rants like no one else in the blogosphere. But it's ranting in an eloquent, if sweary, kind of way. Eton taught him a lot."—Iain Dale
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  • "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
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