Saturday, July 30, 2005

Teacher Talks Sense Shock!

BBC News has this extraordinary news item in which a teacher suggests that pupils learn best with people of their own ability! What is happening in this world when teachers talk sense?

It is, of course, merely common sense. I myself was in a comprehensive school until the age of 8, when my parents sent me to a private prep school. "Why?" you may ask. Quite simply because, being a bright chap, I was bored shitless. There was no allowance for academic ability. It is a simple fact that some children are more academically able than others. It is also a fact that children come into their academic abilities—at whatever level—at different ages.

One of the Left's most damaging assertions is that we are all born with equal abilities. We are not. That is not to say that we are not equal in value (although that is probably also a false assumption); while I, as a designer, regularly use trigonometry and, when setting ticket prices for theatre shows, quadratic equations, I wouldn't have the foggiest idea how to fix a car engine. In fact, I severely doubt my ability even to change a tyre. So, streaming is a good idea.

But, you cry, isn't a child in a lower "set" going to feel that he's a failure? Possibly, but he is going to have much more of a chance to shine amongst people of his own ability. How frustrating must it be if, even when you've worked really hard, you are still easily trumped in your class by someone who is more inately academic? However, in a class of similar ability you will have a chance to gain plaudits by hard work; so much more satisfying, surely?

At the pther end of the spectrum, the bright boy, in a class of his equals, becomes challenged; he must work hard rather than just coasting. More advanced stuff can be taught (a luxury that we had at the Old Coll. that most children—their teachers hamstrung by the iniquitous National Curriculum—do not have, however bright) and the child challenged. He can gain more knowledge.

And knowledge, as we all know, is power...

Friday, July 29, 2005


So tomorrow morning I'm off to Peebles. Thrills.

Scaramouche Jones, one of the plays that I'm involved in is doing a one-off performance at the Eastgate Theatre and, alas, I am the only person over 23 and who has a valid driver's licence (if I can find it).

Still, it will be an opportunity for me to actually see the play as I haven't yet...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Every now and again, I like to take a break from ranting into the depths of cyber space to have a chortle. This is why my blogroll contains at least three bloggers who consistantly make me laugh like a maniac (well, actually, they just make me laugh. The fact that my laugh sounds like that of a maniac is not their fault in any way). Anyway, here is the first (and quite possibly last) DK Humour Roundup:

Toasty's Futon is chronicling the trials and tribulations of haunted hairdressers throughout the country. (BTW, thanks for the mention, Toasty.)

Soapy Goldfish is back from his holidays with a very low opinion of Hungary and all its works.

Chase Me Ladies! has an amusing piece on getting shot in the head by the police. No, really.

There you go. They're all very amusing and their other posts are well worth reading. Just wear that corset...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Why the hell...

... am I forced to post this stuff again? Why is no one able to actually comprehend this very simple message? Here is a filthy piece from that useless rag, known to the intelligentsia as The Grauniad: it's entitled Not hate, vengeance.

The pictures of Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine, with their dust and grime, might be different to the pictures of the London bombs, but they represent a continuity. The war of revenge and collective punishment has arrived in London. And it has its own rationality. Don't give me the nonsense about why do they hate us. They don't.

The response to the neo-colonial adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq should surprise no one. Islamist extremism and terrorism, unknown in Iraq before occupation, now fights side by side with the more measured Iraqi resistance. It responds with callous bombs there, and now in the west.

Why in God's name is everyone on the Left ignoring this very simple message? If Muslims are so annoyed about the Iraq war, then why are those bastards in Iraq killing Iraqis? They aren't, in the main, killing British or American troops: they are killing ordinary Iraqis. And don't give me this rubbish about Iraqis being easier to kill, because that is precisely what it is: rubbish. If you object to the invaders, you kill the invaders; not those who you are attempting to "free".

I have never denied that the Iraq invasion is not partly responsible for the London bombings, but the issue here is what is implied in the paragraphs quoted above: that these excursions are solely responsible, and that they are the only reason that Muslims are attacking us. If that is the case, why the bombs in Turkey and Egypt? Why the hundreds of other—totally ignored—deaths around the world ( around 10,000 since 9/11: see here for details) caused by Muslim fanantics?

So, once more, I am forced to post this; and, please, why do certain people seem unable to comprehend this very simple paragraph? How many times do I have to post it? (Answer: as long as no one reads this blog, I would imagine.) Anyway, yet again, as reported by The Herald (Al Zarqawi declares war on Iraq election; The Herald. Glasgow (UK): Jan 24, 2005. pg. 1) [Paid link] are the words of Iranian cleric and MIS commander, Al-Zarqawi, speaking the day before the Iraqi elections in January:

Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the terror chief, warned Iraqis yesterday he would wage a "bitter war" against next Sunday's election... "We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," a speaker identified as al Zarqawi said on an Islamist website. "Those who vote . . . are infidels. And with God as my witness, I have informed them (of our intentions)."

Read it. Understand it. For fuck's sake.

The Dependency Culture

Via Tim and Mr Free Market, this article in The Times:

Oddly, for a Labour Party in a nation that believes Marx to be history’s greatest philosopher, it has forgotten one of his most important teachings: the way we live is determined by the economic arrangement of society. There is so much antisocial behaviour in Britain because the values that might prevent it have lost their economic value.

Why do parents instil in their children habits of hard work, self-restraint and consideration for others? Perhaps they believe these values to be intrinsically worthwhile. But they also have an economic interest in raising wellbehaved children. If your child grows up to be an unemployable slob, he will be an economic burden on the family.

Or, at least, he would have been in the past. Now, the economic burden is spread across all taxpayers. The same goes for teenage pregnancy. The families of the little twits who create the baby do not have another mouth to feed: taxpayers do.

The welfare policies pursued by successive governments in Britain and all around the Western world have the same effect. They transfer the economic cost of bad habits from the miscreants and their families to taxpayers. By reducing the cost of bad habits, these policies also reduce families’ incentive to resist them. This incentive, along with the cost, has been transferred to taxpayers. But since the cost is spread thinly, no individual taxpayer feels the incentive very strongly. And even if he did, there would be nothing he could do about it. Taxpayers cannot raise other people’s children.

To my mind, it goes deeper than that. Think about it this way: say that you are living in a house but you pay no rent, you have no deposit to lose and you have paid nothing for the furnishings either. Now, how much care are you actually going to take of that house and the possessions? What's a cigarette burn here or there, or another red wine spillage or that kick-mark on the wall?

Now imagine that someone had told you that this house did, in fact, belong to a famous person, and you remembered from your history lessons that that person had done an awful lot to improve conditions for humanity, and that—in fact—you were able to live in it because of his generosity and hard work. You would probably treat the place a little better, yes?

However, if you had no knowledge of history, you simply wouldn't have appreciated that, would you? Now try applying that vignette to Britain as a whole. It can be linked in, if you like, to the Left's denial of Britishness and the way that it preaches only colonial guilt* and not Britain's great achievements. Think about it.

So, no economic consequences for bad actions, linked to a lack of—if you like—house-pride; and now you can see why this country has become such a benighted place, full of those whose lives consist of nothing except getting pissed on a Friday night, starting fights, fucking, dropping their kebab boxes everywhere and generally being stupid and unpleasant. The kind of country in which discussions about Big Brother and The Sun crossword are what pass for intellectual rigour, where a lack of common courtesy is prevalent, where people care not a jot about who or what governs them (as long as the hand-outs keep coming) and where people demand their "rights" whilst finding ever more ways—whether through animal cunning, idleness or simple brutishness—to shirk the attendant responsibilities.

*What the hell was the Queen playing at, apologising to Thabo Mbeki for the Boer War a couple of years ago? We were fighting the Dutch, not the South Africans; and the Boers were certainly no friends of theirs.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Talking 'bout Terror...

This is one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful posts about this whole terrorist malarkey that I have seen. It's very long but it is also detailed and generally well-thought out.

Read. But,also read the comments by Jarndyce.

James Bartholomew on Heath

James at The Welfare State We're In blog has summed up Heath rather well.

[Heath's] failure as prime minister let in the most useless government to have held power in Britain in all the years since the second world war. The miners were bought off with enormous amounts of other people's money. Inflation soared even further to over 27 per cent at the peak. We had to borrow wholesale from other countries to the point where they refused to lend more unless the government changed its ways. We went into a terrible recession and political turmoil. It got so bad that the best known financier of the time advised people that the best investments were guns and baked beans. Not all of this was Heath's fault of course, but if he had not made such a mess of his time in office, it might never have happened. He played a major role in making the 1970s Britain's worst decade in the second half of the twentieth century.

Meanwhile, he was defeated by Margaret Thatcher in a contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party. He responded by sniping and sneering at her for the rest of his life. He was not big enough to let it go. Lady Thatcher, in her time in office, cleared up many of the problems that he had helped create. After she left office, she was always polite about him. She has been generous again after his death, calling him a 'political giant' and saying 'we are all in his debt'. Edward Heath was clever, undoubtedly and multi-talented, too. But frankly the magnanimity Lady Thatcher has shown towards him is more than he deserved.

I really couldn't have put it better myself. More vitriolically, yes; better, no.

The Guardian and the Extremist (a morality tale)

Scott has decided to reply to the Guardian's unattributed article about him.

He also neatly summarises why the blogosphere went after the Guardian and Mr Aslam: basically, it was a case of rampant dishonesty on the part of the Guardian.

Stop Thief!

Now, it seems that our swivel-eyed loon of a Chancellor wants to steal our money (not that that, come to think of it, is any different from normal). From Snafu:

Not content with taxing people to destruction, Gordon Brown wants to take all monies lying in dormant accounts (anything over three years) and give it to charity according to a report in The Times today.

It is nothing more than Government theft of private property. These funds (estimated at £4bn) do not belong to the Government so it is not for the Government to donate these funds to a third party. Would he mind if I visit a Government department, identify an an unused asset and give it to the charity of my choice?

Of course, Gordon hopes to get away with it by saying that it should be given to "charidee, mate". What does he get out of it though, eh? Well, amongst others things, he can help prop up his increasingly shaky budget by reducing government funding to charitees by... oh... about £4 billion. Plus, of course, I imagine that there will be some kind of tax or administration fee on top.

£4 billion might not seem very much to this government, but dear old Gordy's rapidly running out of cash. Although the impending economic crash is going to be painful, the attendant Schadenfreude at the Chancellor's expense should keep me laughing all the way to the (empty) bank...

The power behind our throne...

OK, here we go; I think that it may be time for a small post about the EU.

The EU, pernicious organisation as it is, could not operate without its Traitors. These Traitors are very, very good value, mainly because the EU doesn't have to pay for them. Furthermore, the Traitors give the EU a certain democratic legitimacy because—this is important—we elect them!

That's right: all that the EU needs to enact it's unpleasant, needless and downright expensive laws is our politicians. Somewhere between 60–70% of the laws that passed through the last Parliament originated in Brussels.

Now, I think that this is a major problem: not because the EU lawgivers enact stupid, expensive laws (although they do) and not because the Commission—the only EU body that can initiate legislation—are not elected (and thus responsible, in practice, to no one), but because it leads to a paucity of political breadth in our own fair land.

Think about it. How can any political party propose some radical ideas, or economy-boosting legislation if 65% (to take an average) of our laws are made elsewhere? Personally, I think that this is one of the reasons that the Conservatives are in such a mess. Imagine, you come up with this amazing idea, and then someone says, "Whoops, sorry; not poss. I'm afraid, old chap. That last law from the EU prevents us doing anything about that."

Take, for instance, the concept of flat tax. The idea of this is to simpify the tax system, and thus the cost of administering it. Now, anyone who runs a business will be aware that one of the most complicated systems is that of the Value Added Tax. So, we want flat tax and, as part of that measure, we will do away with VAT.

Sorry, no can do. EU tax, old chap.

Um, can we at least reduce the VAT, even just on certain products.

No, sorry. We tried that, and the ECJ said that we couldn't.

Oh. Well... I'll just go... and... erm... think of something else then.

You see? So, unless someone has the balls to get us to withdraw from the EU, radical political and economic thinking in this country ain't going anywhere. This suits the Federasts just fine, and they can use these laws as a basis to their arguments that we would never make it alone.


BritBlog Roundup #23...

... over at Tim's place.

Particularly enjoyed this little nugget from George at EU Rota.

Some emerging facts, from a leftist perspective:
Coalition Forces (aka "the Bad Guys")

  • Responsible for approximately 9,270 Iraqi civilian deaths

  • 75% of Iraqis killed by "the Bad Guys" occurred in the first 3 months of conflict

  • Of the 25,000 Iraqis killed "the Bad Guys" are responsible for 37%

  • Since March 2003 an average of 3.5 Iraqis per day have been killed by "the Bad Guys"

Terrorist and Allied Forces (aka "Freedom Fighters")

  • Responsible for only 14,000 Iraqi civilian deaths

  • 99% of Iraqis killed by "Freedom Fighters" have occurred since the first 3 months of conflict

  • Of the 25,000 Iraqis killed "Freedom Fighters" are only responsible for 56%

  • Since March 2003 an average of only 20.5 Iraqis per day have been killed by "Freedom Fighters"

  • The "Freedom Fighters" have just killed 1 1/2 times more Iraqis than "the Bad Guys"

My guess is these stats do not fit the HAL [Hate Agenda of the Left—DK] and are therefore to be ignored at all costs. Gotta love the "search for the truth" from the left. So all-knowing, so all-caring, the Left.

How very true. And strangely, it accords with what I've been saying, no? Still, I also enjoyed this 21st Century look at appeasement in WWII as imagined by The Joy Of Curmudgeonry:

It is an incontrovertible fact that Britain's declaring war on Germany on the 3rd of September 1939 only stirred up hatred and bitter resentment towards us, and it is no exaggeration to say that this stance has led to the bombings of London, Coventry, Manchester, and many other cities across the United Kingdom. We have stirred up a hornet's nest, an implacable hatred towards us.

One Eyed Loon

I've been a little slow on this latest piece of financial skullduggery from our Cyclopean Chancellor.
Chancellor Gordon Brown is planning to change the definition of the economic cycle to ensure that he meets his own fiscal rule on balancing the budget.

The Treasury now says that the budget gap should be measured over a nine-year period rather than over seven years.

The effect of the change - based on revised data - is to add an extra £10bn to the chancellor's coffers.

This will ensure that Mr Brown - who was in danger of breaching his rule - will not have to raise taxes next year.

Strangely enough, £10 billion was the same amount that the economists were predicting that he would have to raise through tax rises this year. I call that very convenient.

Really, if you think that Tony is a lying bastard, but that Gordon Brown is incredibly capable, go and look at Allan Scullion's basic summing up of the joy of Gordonomics...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Resisting ID cards

The pledge against the ID cards, which I joined some weeks ago, has been successful, with over 10,000 people pledging to resist registering for a card. The original pledge read:

"I will refuse to register for an ID card and will donate £10 to a legal defence fund but only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge."

Another pledge has been launched; please go and sign up to it.

It reads: "I will actively support those people who, on behalf of all of us, refuse to register for an ID card and I pledge to pay at least £20 into a fighting fund for them but only if 50,000 other people do the same."

Justin also has a link.

Tony's EU mission

Via the Serf, Yahoo is conducting a poll (bottom left of the page) on what Tony's priorities for the EU Presidency should be.

Oddly, in the lead—with a massive 83% of the vote—is "getting Britain out of Europe". I wonder if any readers of this blog would like to guess what I voted for? I wonder if any readers might like to visit the page and make their opinions known on the poll...?

Are the Conservatives...

... trying not to get elected ever again?

Tony Blair needs to consider holding talks with Islamic extremists in the wake of the London bombings, the Conservative's Muslim vice-chair says.

Sayeeda Warsi says Mr Blair should follow the example of ministers' engagement with IRA representatives.

And why is their Vice-Chair so woefully under-informed? Jesus wept.

Look Ms Arsi, the IRA wanted something specific, i.e. the unification of Ireland. When Eire joined the EU and became rather well-off, they weren't so keen on reunification suddenly. Might this be because they didn't want to share the plunder with the Northern Irish? I think it might be.

Anyway, I digress. The point is that what these extremists want, i.e. the destruction of Israel and the resumption of the Caliphate, are not things that we can deliver. Iraq is not a significant factor because, and I'm only going to say this once, the people killing the Iraqi people are Muslims.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Islam yet again...

Look, I promise that I'll start writing about something else soon (promises, promises...), but here is a rather interesting article from Harry's Place:

"Understand them yes. I can agree with that. We have to. Draining the swamp of their grievances is much, much trickier. Dalrymple lists to the invasion of Iraq and the abuses of Abu Ghraib in the article in a way which seems to suggest that these events are the most significant grievances the Jihadis have. It's a common way of approaching the problem by Western commentators. If we leave them alone they might ignore us. It's the wrong approach.

Who can disagree that events in Iraq post 2003 have now been added to the list of grudges against the West the Islamists use for their propaganda. What Dalrymple does not do, however, is list all the grievances the Jihadis have stated they intend to put right just as soon as they get the opportunity. In this category we have to include the setting up of the state of Israel in the 1940's, the secularisation of Turkey between the wars and the loss of Muslim Spain at the dawn of our own period of history. They all appear regularly in lists of Islamist grievances, so there's no excuse for ignoring them."


Where do we draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate grievances? Would sacrificing the fledgling Iraqi democracy appease the sort of people who are doing their best to spark a civil war in that country? If that isn't enough to keep them happy maybe should we give Afghanistan back to the zealots who blow up statues? And if that's unsuccessful at extinguishing the grievances maybe we could convince ourselves that secularism in Turkey isn't worth a fight. What about Israel? It's only been around for for fifty-odd years after all. Why not give the dog a bone?

The trouble with that approach is that it's impossible to draw a line once you get started. The Moors used to control Spain until the early modern era so why don't we admit that there were human rights abuses during their expulsion from Iberia and add that country to the list of bargaining chips we're prepared to give up to make amends. Bin Laden has said quite openly that the expulsion of Muslims from Andalus grieves him personally. I'm sure it does. No doubt the waning of Muslim rule in the Balkans during the Nineteenth Century also vexes him. And other events all the way back to the defeat of the Muslims at the battle of Poitiers by the Frankish infidel Charles Martel in 732.

Well, quite.

And here the Serf reports on a load of old bollocks from the New Europeans online rag:

"What fuels terrorism on a bigger scale than ever is exactly what is missing into Tony Blair’s ‘passionate speeches’: the scores of Iraqi civilians killed daily in Iraq."

Which may be true. If it is however it neatly illustrates why there is no logical reason (neither is there a moral one) for trying to reason with these terrorists. Because Franck [the NE article's author—DK], it’s the same people killing all those civilians in Iraq. So if Islamic terrorists are protesting the death of civilians in Iraq they are protesting against themselves. They should just blow themselves up without harming anyone else.

Which is exactly true. Why can people not see that? Why can people not see the mendacity endemic in the Islamist arguments? The people being targeted in Iraq are not, in the main, the British or US soldiers: they are the ordinary Iraqis. People queuing for their wages, people queuing to join the police, Ministers and civil servants trying to keep order and help to rebuild their country are the ones being murdered by the "insurgants", or murdering Islamist scum (MIS) as I shall now call them. Oh, hang on, I know why because I keep sodding posting it, and I'm going to keep doing so until people get it through their thick, fucking skulls.

So, again, as reported by The Herald (Al Zarqawi declares war on Iraq election; The Herald. Glasgow (UK): Jan 24, 2005. pg. 1) [Paid link] are the words of Iranian cleric and MIS commander, Al-Zarqawi, speaking the day before the Iraqi elections in January:

Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the terror chief, warned Iraqis yesterday he would wage a "bitter war" against next Sunday's election... "We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," a speaker identified as al Zarqawi said on an Islamist website. "Those who vote . . . are infidels. And with God as my witness, I have informed them (of our intentions)."

Right, have you leftie fuckheads got that yet? No? OK, here it is again:

Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the terror chief, warned Iraqis yesterday he would wage a "bitter war" against next Sunday's election... "We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," a speaker identified as al Zarqawi said on an Islamist website. "Those who vote . . . are infidels. And with God as my witness, I have informed them (of our intentions)."

If you don't understand yet, then please don't come anywhere near me. You are lower than the MIS that you are apologists for, OK? OK.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Scottish Political Blog Roundup #1

The first Scottish Political Blog Roundup is up here. Yours truly gets a mention! (Although this may be because I shamelessly sent links to a couple of my own articles to them.)

I particularly enjoyed this article, on the Islamic threat (popular subject at the moment. I really can't think why).

The immolation of two young Muslim women at the hands of those murderers who would rather make orphans of their own children, and God knows how many others, on 7/7 serves as a sickening reminder of what some of us have been saying all along: as terrible as 9/11 and now 7/7 were - by a hideously long chalk, it is Muslims that are more likely to be the victims of the Islamofascist murderers than anyone else.

I was going to say "those who claim to be their co-religionists", rather than Islamofascists - but decided it was too imprecise because like all members of cults and sects, they see themselves as the true guardians of the pure faith, whereas those in the mainstream are not. So, Shias can be killed because they are heretics; Kurds because, although Sunni, they are disgracefully secular and pro-American; and "collaborators" because they have committed apostasy with this desperately wicked belief that liberal democracy might be preferable to a stone-faced theocracy. But most of all, the deliberate killing of Muslim civilians is permissible simply because the individual human life has no value in this quite literally anti-human world view. The value placed on an individual human death is, of course, quite a different matter for these people...

... I'm bored to disgust with pseudo-lefties who have in some cases been getting away for decades with calling everyone they disagreed with a "fascist" and then when the real thing comes along, they tangle themselves up in the most pathetic fashion in a web of rationalisation and excuse-making - and one entirely of their own making, to boot...

In the same way, I'm afraid I'm not impressed with all those Muslims and non-Muslims who support regimes and terrorist movements that they've never been on the receiving end of...

... So, for all those who have been banging on about how regime-change in Iraq and Afghanistan is perceived as a war on Islam, can I remind them that these were Muslims dancing in the streets of Kabul and Baghdad when their respective regimes collapsed? Also - and this is a wee bugbear - could at least some of these terribly civilised Anglican clerics who opposed the war on ecumenical grounds spread maybe just a little of this concern to their brethren who are being persecuted and murdered in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Maybe they could point out that these are real martyrs because they have killed by others - not by their own hands - and solely for their confession of faith. Or perhaps they think that would be impolite?

If not, just the basic point will do: if you think we deserve to lose to the Al-Qaeda murderers and their imitators, who are a death-cult whose very existence is based on a complete rejection of Enlightened values, then you've really got a bad case of despising the system that makes your miserable life possible. I won't lie to you, recovery can take some time in cases this severe - but you can make it. First lesson?

Get off your fucking knees.

That article is—if you'll excuse my English cooking—fucking genius. But they're all good. Go and see...

A good article...

This article starts talking about the tide of bullshit that surrounds us, and ends with an extraordinarily good—brief but telling—critique of religion.

For my money, the oldest and most pernicious form of kipple ["Kipple is the word the writer Philip K Dick coined to describe the ever-growing tide of mental rubbish that clutters the world. Kipple is, in a word, bullshit."—DK] is spiritual kipple - and it was very much in evidence in the aftermath of the bombings. We got the old "Islam is a religion of peace" routine - and, in most of its manifestations, I guess it is. It's not the "peace" bit that's the important operator, though; it's the "religion" bit. There's nothing wrong with Islam that isn't, for my money, wrong with any system that gives God (as it chooses to understand him) a leading role in moral decision making.

The benevolent manifestations of religious conviction (church fêtes, charitable giving, love for one's fellow man and so on) and its malevolent manifestations (putting bombs on buses, burning the evil spirits out of eight-year-old girls with cigarette ends and so on) are a world apart in practice, but identical in principle.

The fact that moderate Islam and Anglican Christianity both look a lot like liberal humanism is, we can all agree, a mighty relief. But in both cases, the moral code is predicated on an appeal to something other than the human. That's what makes them religions.

And that's what - with the final court of moral appeal not here, not subject to negotiation - makes them no more answerable to their fellow man for the bad than for the good.

(HT—Backword, via Blood and Treasure.)

Party Time...

... Heath is dead! I'm organising my party now!

HT–EU Referendum.

They, unfortunately, have qualms about speaking ill of the dead. Luckily, I have no such scruples.

I am now going to thank the Lord, Providence, whatever, that this lying bastard is dead. He took us into the EU under the ludicrously unfavourable terms. He admitted in his published diaries he knew, at the time, that the intention was to make the EEC (as was) into a federal superstate, whilst denying that this was the case to both the people and Britain and the House of Commons. Furthermore, his economic policies almost bankrupted the country (IMF anyone).

In short, if Callaghan hadn't taken over, Heath would have been the worst Prime Minister in this country's history. I am glad that he's dead: the only thing that I'm sad about was that he died peacefully. We have—all of us—paid dearly for his pride and folly. And he died without ever apologising...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

An Undertaking...

Right—pleased as I am by all these people linking to me, it puts me under a sort of obligation to post stuff: one has to keep ones readers regular, eh? Anyway, what this means is that I will post every day, even if it's just snippets. Most people visiting from other blogs are going to have seen the stuff that I post anyway (since I frequent the same blogs) so I will undertake to write a long piece of my opinions every other day.

There is no point in me repeating what others have said: most of them have said it better than I can anyway. So, what you are going to get is opinions and conjectures that are based on things that I have read. They will take the form of articles like my post on the Iraq situation. I think that it is a good post, all 3,000 words of it, but it is, nevertheless, just my conclusions (although I think that those conclusions will be, in the main, proven correct, repugnant though the idea might be). This is the kind of stuff that you are going to get. There's no moral equivalence or relativity here. I undertake to write a few of these every week.

I am also joining in with Blogcritics UK, so maybe you'll see some reviews too.

In the meantime, visit Tim for his latest weekly Britblog Roundup. Still no mention for me but, hey, not everyone can be mentioned, eh?

Bad Day

I shamelessly pinched this off Scullion, who has had it under at least two titles that I have seen: "The New Labour Effect" and—currently—"When Tony Blair Speaks I Do This". Thusly...

The Guardian Makes Me Do This...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cripes (as Boris might say)...

... I'm not only linked to, but cited (albeit probably automatically)! My post this time around is not going to be quite as sycophantic as before. In fact, it is going to be brief. I have already worked over 70 hours this week, and it's only Thursday (I think).

I have a tender to work on tomorrow, which has to be in by noon on Friday. It's worth £80,000 over three months, with more to follow. Would anyone be surprised if I told you that it is a (relatively) simple web portal, and that it has at least another 6 months to run after the 23 December completion? For almost the same amount of money per quarter? Would it also surprise you that it has come from a publically-funded body, and from a government grant?

Would it also surprise you to know that I've not even started writing the bastard tender yet (although I have just got the research papers back)? I really don't know what I'm doing. Just play it by ear, I guess. I want to make it clear that I am not expecting to get the job (although it is not, technically, in any way stretching, although it is enough of a challenge for Jamie and I to find it interesting) but I just don't have any experience in this field. I am good at what I do, and it is a source of pride to me that I have never lost a client, but I have no experience in this field. I am really just aiming to make a credible tender so that my contact at the organisation will keep sending them in.

But, seriously, £80,000 could keep my company money-worry-free for almost a year: I really, really want this job.

Anyone with experience in writing tenders for public bodies, especially tertiary learning; please feel free to comment. No really. And soon...

Look, I'm going to have to write on this subject soon, but can you bear with me until the weekend, please...?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I wanted to bookmark this post, from The Sharpener, on the concept of Peak Oil. Not oly is it extremely interesting and you should all read it, but I've also wanted to comment on it for a few days.

However, I have tons of work on at the moment, and I'm in for a late night as it is: thus, I have bookmarked it, and you can all read it, and then you'll have far more idea of what I'm talking about when I do comment on it...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Retractions in order?

No, it appears that retractions are not in order: three of the bombers were apparently of Pakistani descent, and one was of... can you guess? That's right, Iranian descent. Therefore this post below stands.

I would also like to bolster it with Rottweiler Puppy's critique of The Guardian's Karen Armstrong.

Tell you what, we'll throw this one into the mix as well.

And, to lighten the mood, a wee 007 spoof.
(Hat tip—Pooter Geek.)


It's seems that I should keep up with events more, which may already have rendered my careful analysis obsolete. One arrest has been made, and police believe that all four bombers may have died at the scene.

Europhobia seems to be taking the stance that this means that the attacks weren't Islamist-motivated, but I can't see anything to that effect in the BBC article. Nor can I see anything in the article about the ethnicity of the bombers. However, Nosemonkey seems to assume that they were incompetants, rather than suicide bombers. I shall reserve judgement for the moment; I so hate being wrong...

Holding a pier glass up to life: a reflection.

Yes, yes, fear not; my exciting Scottish economy post is on its way. However, for now I want to grace you all with my take on the London bombings. Before I start, I would like to point out that this article is simply my opinion based on my own research and speculation. Most of the research has come from blogs and information gleaned from my two subscription mags, Private Eye and The Spectator.

Firstly, it was a tragedy, but the fact that London's network is so disparate made it less of a disaster than it could have been. Just think how many more might have died (and how much more disruption might have occurred) if we had just the one Underground system and bigger trains.

The second is that, if the Police are to be believed, there have been at least five foiled attack attempts in the last couple of years. Tim at Bloggerheads points out that all is not necessarily as it appears as far as these "foiled" attacks go, appearing, as they have, just when the government is trying to force through another piece of illiberal legislation.

However, I think that we can probably thank our lucky stars that an attack has not happened sooner. We are, given our role in Afghanistan and Iraq, a prime target, but what I want to look at is: is it solely our involvement in these invasions that have made us a target?

Firstly, and most obviously, we should remember that both of these wars were initiated by the attacks of 9/11. Some people have proposed that Bush wanted to invade Iraq all along, whether through misplaced pietas, or because he wanted to get his hands on the oil reserves (more on this later). Whether or not this was the case, the invasions could not have had any political justification without the attack on the World Trade Centre. This in turn has led unpleasant people (thanks to Freedom & Whisky) to allege that Bush either knew about the attacks or was active in making them happen, a theory that I find repugnant.

However, given that 9/11 did happen and was—from our perspective, anyway—unprovoked by any particular act by the US, would suggest that we, as a democracy, could always have been a target. This attitude is further backed up by this well-researched post.

Secondly, I would be interested to know how deep your knowledge or understanding is of Islamism: i.e. political islam. We haven't spoken about politics for some time, so I don't know if you have read any articles or books about the history, philosophy and politics of Islamism at all. If you have, I apologise for what follows.

Perhaps you think that Islamism is the same thing as Islam. Perhaps you think that it is some form of national liberation struggle, or a reaction against imperialism or Bush's failure to sign up to Kyoto.

It is not.

Radical Islamism - in its most important strain - is a political doctrine which was developed principally by two arab thinkers in the first part of the 20th century - Qutb and Banna - who were deeply immersed, not in the culture of the middle east, but in the theoretical perspective of the European romantic movement. It is not an alien, exotic or even really an "oriental" doctrine. It is directly inspired by the same intellectual currents which gave rise to romantic nationalism in the 19th century, and fascism in the mid 20th century.

You might think that its main aim is to oppose military action in the middle east.

It is not.

Its main aim, explicitly, is to restore the Caliphate, abolished by Ataturk when modern Turkey was established. It is not an anti-imperialist movement. It is an imperialist movement, yearning for an imagined golden age which it hopes to recreate.

Qutb saw the primary enemy, not as the foreign policy of Western states, but as Modernity: and in particular materialism, liberalism, and democracy. This is the primary reason that London has been bombed: not because it has "attacked muslims" but because they fear that materialism, liberalism and democracy are damaging to the values which Islamists hope to promore: piety and submission to the will of god.

The radical Islamists are not fighting a realisable campaign, in the same sense that the Irish nationalists were. They do not want a Caliphate in the sense that the IRA wanted a united and independent Ireland. They are fighting a battle against the corrupting forces of modernity for the souls of all muslims. Their principal enemies are principally "apostate" muslims, not you or I.

Harry's post is further backed up by the entirety of The Religion of Peace, which keeps a running total of the bodycount (about 10,000 people since 9/11) caused by Muslim terrorists around the world, and particularly by its post on Infidelophobia.

These sources, to me, both seem to sum up the situation quite nicely. It would also imply that Britain was, at all times and regardless of our involvement in Iraq, a potential target. However, our involvement in Iraq has moved us up the list to, if you like, priority status. However, this is not because of the simplistic reasons that most anti-war campaigners shout about; there is a slightly more subtle motivation. I would like to point out here, that I am cleaving to the "Islamist" wording used in Harry's post up above; I realise that most Muslims are perfectly peaceable people.

Back in January, I pointed to a little-reported article about the elections in Iraq: this was the declaration by the leader of the insurgents that democracy was the target. I wrote:

This interesting little snippet is from Scotland's The Herald: you can find the full article here.

Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the terror chief, warned Iraqis yesterday he would wage a "bitter war" against next Sunday's election... "We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," a speaker identified as al Zarqawi said on an Islamist website. "Those who vote . . . are infidels. And with God as my witness, I have informed them (of our intentions)."

Now, haven't the press given the distinct impression that it is people who object to the USA being in Iraq at all that have been doing the bombing? People have said to me that we should send the UN into Iraq instead, because the Americans are ballsing it up. Now we find that the Iranian-back al Zarqawi is fighting against "the principle of democracy", not the Americans. In other words, even were the UN to have been involved from the very beginning in the Iraq invasion, this campaign of terror would still be happening.

This angle was, and still is, ignored by most of the mainstream press, most especially The Guardian, whose anti-American bias would be poorly served by dwelling on such a statement. This statement, however, is crucial; not only in backing up the point of view put forward in the posts at Harry's Place and of The Religion Of Peace site, but also in understanding why what happened happened, and what we must do next.

The first and obvious thing to ask is why Iraq and Afghanistan were attacked in the first place; and here, I am afraid, I am going to have to extrapolate some of the thinking in the White House. When 9/11 happened, Bush and his advisors not only had to find out who did it for security reasons, but also to appease the people who wanted a scapegoat. Much of what happens in the terrorist world is known by security services around the world, notably by Mossad who are—as it were—on the doorstep. The White House were aware of the training camps in Afghanistan (they had, after all, essentially set them up themselves) and, given the weakness economically and lack of popular support for the Taliban—both within and without the country—it seemed an easy, and effective, target. And so, within reason, it proved.

Why was Iraq chosen? Some people have pointed to a motive of postively psychotic, and thus pretty unlikely, pietas; others pointed to the oil. The fact is that the US itself produces the vast majority of the oil that it uses, and most of the rest comes from Venezuela and other South American countries. Sure, they may want to gain control of oil supplies; but would they really go to war, with all the expense—both in terms of money and in the possible loss of American lives (and votes)—that that could entail? As Saudi Arabia, the country with the most reserves, was still more than happy to deal oil to the them, it would seem to be foolish to pursue a course which could, in fact, turn Saudi—and its oil reserves—against the US. In fact, the oil companies specifically lobbied Bush not to attack Iraq. I think there was another reason.

I think that both Afghanistan and Iraq were chosen because they were not Iran.

Indisputably, in the world of terror the greatest team has been Syrian terrorists and Iranian funding. It was this team, for instance, that was almost certainly responsible for the Lockerbie bombing; a revenge attack for the Iranian airbus shot down, over the Gulf, by a US warship a couple of years earlier.

*Please forgive me if I indulge in a small aside here. The excellent Private Eye special report written by the late Paul Foot, Lockerbie: The Flight From Justice highlights the considerable evidence for this at the time. Around the time of the first Gulf War, when we needed the Iranians onside, all investigations into the Lockerbie affair were quietly dropped. When they resumed after the war, it was found that several imcriminating bits of evidence had been "misplaced". Two things about the affair are certain: firstly, the man who is currently serving 27 years in a Scottish prison did not do it. Secondly, the politicians who organised, and the spooks who were present at, the trial (which was described by the UN observer, a Chilean professor whose report was printed in full in the Eye report, as having brought "the entire Scottish legal system into disrepute") know that he did not do it. Libya agreed to go along with the whole thing because it would get them back onto the USA's trading list: that was the deal. And when you consider the amount that Libya could get out of trading with the US, the £6 billion compensation to the victims is a paltry sum.*

The White House really wanted to go for Iran, a radical Muslim state who were continuing to develop nuclear weapons and who were, in any case, the biggest funder of terrorism in the world, providing money and resources to Hamas, Hezbollah and Al-Qa'ida (which is, in any case, more of a philosophy than a concrete organisation as such), amongst others. However, there were two severe problems. Firstly, Iran was militarily far superior to Iraq, whose army had been decimated, discredited and demoralised by the first Gulf War and ten years of sanctions. If this were the only stumbling block, I don't believe that the US would have held back.

The second reason was far more problematic: Iran was, and is, a fundamentalist Islamist state run, in all but name, by a collective of radical Mullahs who farm out parts of its economy to themselves; much as the alien family runs the town in Diana Wynne Jones' Archer's Goon. Although there have been elections, of both government and president, in Iran recently, this is no more than window-dressing. The power has never, actually, shifted away from the clerics who have controlled the country since the revolution.

By contrast, Saddam Hussein was embattled and shackled, forced to resort to corrupting UN officials to get money through the Oil For Food scam. Furthermore, ideologically he was isolated. As a Sunni , an essentially secular form of Islam, Saddam was isolated ideologically as well as economically. This was, and is, not the case with Iran.

If the US had decided to invade Iran, the other radical Islamic nations would have been compelled to support her. Allah must not be mocked, and it would be unthinkable that the Muslim government of Iran be toppled. It might even give ideas to the increasingly restless populations of the other Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia (where unemployment is running at roughly 18%). Immediately after the Afghan War, when the US was casting about for its next target, Saudi investors suddenly started withdrawing huge numbers of investments (especially university endowments; one of the reasons that the academic world in the US, in any case socialist in tendency, is so hostile to Bush); it was a warning. Even if the other Arab nations did not actively join in militarily, they would at least have to support Iran financially and politically. They could not have done otherwise. The Taliban could be allowed because they were too radical and may even have become a threat to the other Muslim nations (which is why they were never supported financially); Saddam was too moderate, and not considered a proper Muslim anyway.

Thus, the US came up with the "War On Terror" rhetoric: it was a bluff. They desperately hoped that Iran, having seen the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, would believe that the US would invade her if she didn't stop funding terrorism. It was always a feeble gamble, and Iran has wrong-footed the US again. Iran courted the anti-US Old Europe countries, and signed up to a deal to stop its nuclear programme. This provided a stick with which the French and Germans could beat America, and on two fronts. Firstly, they could say ,"see what we can achieve with our diplomatic processes, rather than your illegal war" and it also provided a boost to the ego of Old Europe, allowing them to believe that they could equal America's power and thus to be more bold with their needling than they might otherwise have been. O, the folly of proud men!

Iran carried on meanwhile, securing a few weeks later a deal with Russia to buy enriched uranium; and whilst this could be used in a nuclear reactor for power, why would one of the most oil-rich countries in the world bother? Furthermore, they then employed Al-Zarqawi in Iraq, supplying him with weaponry and support, to further mire the US and ensure that there was no way that it could possibly now invade Iran. The diplomatic skills and cunning of the Iranian authorities does, occasionally, take my breath away. (It must be said, however, that I admire their ability to survive in the same way as I admire the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, i.e. a certain amount of awe tempered with a healthy dose of fear.)

So, we come to our current situation. What do we do? Well, we could withdraw from Iraq; as I have said, I believe that to be bad, both morally and strategically. I also don't believe that it would take us off the hitlist: we are too prominent a hate figure for too many countries.

We could, of course, struggle on: carry on with our daily lives, struggle on in Iraq, and further tighten our security. As each new atrocity happens—as surely it must—the laws governing us will become tighter and tighter, and we ourselves will lose more and more of our freedoms.

There is a third way, of course, and I think you know what I'm going to suggest here. After all, I have already posted it.

We have to remove the Mullahs in Iran. I believe that it will have to happen eventually. The trigger is going to be Iran's announcement, which at least one commentator in The Spectator believed could be as soon as November this year, that they have developed nuclear weapons. And the same commentator feared that they are fanatical enough to use them, and that the first target would be Israel. This could, of course, let us off the hook. If Israel fears that they are to be attacked, they will almost certainly act pre-emtively. If that happens, we must be prepared to back her, to the exclusion of all other commitments. Not because we should feel protective of Israel, but because she will almost certainly be engaging in a full-scale war against Islamist states on all sides. It could be argued that we are only facing this crisis because we were uninterested in fostering democracies in the Middle East and, in fact, that having totalitarian regimes—as long as they were ostensibly friendly to us—suited us far better. We need to make amends, and we cannot let democracy and freedom to choose that we have, be denied to others. If we believe that our way of life is better, and I, lacking the morally relativistic outlook of some, do believe that, then it behoves us to free others too. And, yet, obviously logistics dictate that we cannot "liberate" everyone at once.

I am not a warmonger, nor am I insensible to the "that's very easy for you to say, it won't be you digging a trench with your bare hands whilst eating sand for breakfast" argument; I just think that, eventually, we are going to be forced into removing Iran's current leaders. And I am also pretty certain that people are going to continue to die in Iraq until it happens.

We are paying a heavy price for the Iraq war and, although I do not believe that freeing the Iraqis from a murderous regime was ever a reason for our leaders taking us to war (even though it has become a rationale since), we should look at it like this: that we have freed millions of people from a repulsive regime. They have, in turn, backed us by walking miles to show, by voting, that they wish to be free. We have worried the totalitarian Muslim regimes nearby, who are putting down resistance in their countries with ever greater savagery; and we may yet be the catalyst to free millions more. Both the soldiers who have died in the Middle East and the commuters who died in London will not have died in vain if we can make Iraq work. If we drop the ball, pull out and leave the Iraqi people to the tender mercies of Sharia law, then we will have failed, and the terrorists will have won.

UPDATES 10/08/05
Drawn up in response to Nosemonkey's post.

  • Iran rejects EU nuclear offer

  • Russia asks Iran to halt activity

  • Iran urged to stop nuclear work

  • Iranian weapons found in Iraq
  • Competition Time

    As some of you may know, I run a small design company. This sounds much grander than it is: we are still going after 8 months, but we could definitely do with more work.

    We design for print and web. We specialise in websites that actually do things: CMS systems, database driven sites, exam modules, online applications, that sort of thing. There are three of us: two designers and a programmer.

    Well, the competition is to find a new name. Because of the way that the company came about, which I am not going to go into here, we have a crap name: Delta Sierra Too Ltd. This name says nothing about what we do.

    The competition is to give us a nice new name, one that hasn't been taken already (at least in the UK) so that we can rebrand without having the millstone of a rubbish company name around our necks. Something that will go well with the word "design" after it would be good (though it's not compulsory).

    I don't know what the prize would be, although it would probably involve some free design work in some way or another. Or just my praise, worth a small fortune on its own. In the meantime, I'd be grateful for your input, so feel free to lob some ideas into the comments.

    Names I've come up with so far (that seem not to clash with anything else too much): runslikeclockwork, dirigible, pier glass, lustre, detraction, smooth transition, hermes (imagine "design" after most of those!)...

    (BTW, I am going to keep this post at the top of the 'blog for a while.)

    This blogging thing...

    Right, first off, I want to thank the blogging community. And now (you lucky people)—having had five pints of St Peter's Well grapefruit flavoured Fruit Beer—I am going to tell you why.

    My first post was back in January, when I read about Joe Gordon being sacked from Waterstones for blogging. I hadn't really come across the blogging community before, apart from a few of my friends who kept Live Journals; this didn't seem to be what I was aspiring to.

    When I was recruited to—and stupidly invested a large amount of money (for me) in—ds2 (as was), I was pretty much unaware of web stuff. I had almost no experience, and no programming knowledge. When I turned up on my first day, no one knew who I was. My eyes were opened by my two colleagues, Jamie and Peter, who showed me what the web was about. Peter is a superb corporate designer with an amazing grasp of what large corps. want; and Jamie is a programmer for whom the code is everything. No one could ask for a better team. As my confidence with the web grew, so our company was started and we have continued, over nine long months, to grow our baby into something good. I do, first of all, want to pay tribute to them.

    However, the people that have continued my intellectual growth and understanding deserve as much praise, if not more; they have essentially kept me sane throughout the tedious mechanics of actually running a company. They are all linked to, to the right of this post. Tim Worstall must take centre stage: the man has, more than anyone, firmed up what I believe in. Justin at Chicken Yoghurt is the first blog that I regularly checked (although it is possible that I came to him through Tim) and has paid me the honour of linking to me; an honour which I am beholden to live up to (but more of that later). Chris Lightfoot was the first blogger that I paid much attention to (although his lack of recent posting has meant that he is checked only occasionally), and through him I discovered Nick Barlow (who's extensive blogroll led me on to so many others). Allan Scullion, commenting mainly on home politics, has been one of my most agreeable reads; as have Mr Free Market and the Pedant-General, their irascible and often viciously sarcastic in-character postings making me laugh out loud. Guido Fawkes, again because of infrequent posting, has been relegated but provided me with much thinking matter, particularly his intelligent posts at The Returning Officer, throughout the General Election. And, of course, Nosemonkey at Europhobia—who live-blogged throughout the bombings last week—is an invaluable source of sensible, well-researched information. Scott at The Daily Ablution is an expert at highlighting the iniquities and irresponsibility of the mainstream media, focusing most closely on The Guardian and The Independent.

    I would particularly mention Richard and Helen at EU Referendum, EU Rota and EU Serf, who have been blogging intelligently about Europe for as long as I have been surfing the blogwaves. The EU is a subject that I have been researching (in a general and quite shallow way) and railing against (to anyone that'll listen and some that try not to) for well over 15 years. It is amazing that our country, that responded so valiantly to the London bombings, is submitting to the subversion of our power and our self-determinism with so little fight. I can only hope that, with more information, the British people will rise up and fight this creeping threat as we have so other, many more obvious, invasions in the past.

    So what is the point of this tale of tribute? The point is this: that I have become a better, more rounded person because of others. This blog, which started as a protest and then became a personal diary, has—under the influence of all those others that I have read—become a place where I deal with the world, and all it's iniquities, in a considerably more mature way than I did before. That is to say that it is no longer a personal diary: it is the place where I hope that I can direct those who have questions to the answers that I, and all the bloggers mentioned above, can provide answers. I hope that we, all of us, can provide simple clarity, where our politicians obfuscate. That we can provide solutions where others throw up only problems. I want this blog to be a resource and place of reference, in the same way that I treat the bloggers so far mentioned. To find, as I have, people out there who share your opinions and your ideas, and who can help to develop both.

    And, if that is the case, then we can all help to change the world for the better.

    This article has been slightly edited to include Bloggers that I meant to include when I originally wrote it, and also to correct the typos and syntactical errors which so often irritate me in the writings of others!

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Some more stuff on Bob's mission...

    As usual, Tim Worstall has summed up the solution far more elegantly than I could.


    I was engaged in a discussion on the Divine Comedy Bulletin Board recently, about the whole Live 8 thing. In particular, a journalist on there asked—somewhat jokingly—if I would write a finishing paragraph on the Live 8 PR campaign. I think (well, I would, wouldn't I?) that what I wrote, just off the top of my head, was pretty damn good (if a little obvious).

    "The PR strategy of the Live 8 differs significantly from that of the original Live Aid Appeal. In 1984, the immediate desperation was stressed and the emphasis was on the money that would go to help the starving people in one particular country. In 2005, apart from the "Every 3 seconds a child dies" finger-clicking campaign, the emphasis has been much more on "raising awareness" and thus forcing the politicians to act. Sir Bob Geldoff has realised that the public don't like to be made to feel guilty: what they do love is a party. This was evident at the march in Edinburgh, where many people seem to have turned up as much because they wanted to join the party, even if they agreed with the long-term issues.

    "This campaign focused on insisting that the government's pledge the extra money, rather than the people themselves. After all, people tend to be much more wary of dipping into their own pockets. And, of course, the £50 million that Live Aid raised is a paltry amount when compared to the extra £50 billion per year that the G8 have pledged. This campaign is, of course, slightly disingenuous; however, Geldoff counted on the fact—correctly in this case—that most people would not connect the fact that it was their taxes—and, thus, ultimately them—who would, in fact, be paying. Thus the party atmosphere was maintained, more people were eager to join in (for it would cost them nothing, and who's going to turn down a free party?) and, because it was able to muster this groundswell of opinion, the Live 8 has, in some ways, successfully achieved the goal, of "more and better aid", that it set out to achieve. Whether it will be an own goal is yet to be proven."

    Of course, the last sentence is merely one of those journalistic devices: I personally am pretty sure that more aid will do little good, as long as it is not backed by improvements in governance. Of course, much of the new aid is linked to certain changes, and the Guardian has been bemoaning that at length (see Tim for details and analysis. And some reasoned abuse), but how far will it go?

    If the African people are lucky, it may go as far as Mozambique. If they aren't, it won't and the EU will keep throwing our money at the dictators, who will then use it to kill people. Yes, our moeny funds murderers. They either murder by wilfully not helping their own people, or they actively pursue murderous methods to keep their regimes intact.

    Here's another summation by me, in really simple language, from the DC BB; this was posted in response to a question about the effectiveness of aid; amongst other things, that particular topic is investigated rather well here.

    1) If you cancel the debt, they will just borrow it again.

    2) But it will be at higher interest rates because the banks have lost a large amount of profit on their deals this time around. And if governments decide to pay off the debts again, the banks will lose again.

    Thus we, the taxpayer, lose because the banks have to be paid off. The banks lose profit, so their employees and shareholders lose out on bonuses and dividends (which means less money into our economies). African governments lose because the banks up the interest rates at which they lend to the country. The African people, other than–usually–the armies, lose because the dictators snaffle all the cash anyway. Or spend it on more advanced weaponry so that they can wipe out their own people (Ethipia (1983-85), Rwanda (1991), Sudan (now)) or neighbouring peoples (Chad, DR Congo, Ethiopia, etc. (1980–present) more effectively.

    3) In 2003 Britain wrote off £30 million of debt to Tanzania. The Tanzanian president, Benjamin Mkapa, promptly bought himself a private jet, estimated cost: £28 million. Tony Blair doesn't have a private jet, for God's sake! (Yet.)

    4) No more money should be given to these countries until governmental reform is implemented. It is something that I admire Bush and the US administration for, that they have tied the release of aid to reforms in the countries to which they are giving the money. Quite apart from anything else, it's thoroughly irresponsible to just throw your voters' money at corrupt regimes. Esopecially when–as is the cases in the countries I highlighted above, plus far too many others–that money is used to kill people. Many of the Euros pouring into the Sudan is being used to kill or displace people in Darfur: that is your money, your taxes. Effectively, we are paying to murder people (just as much as some people would say that we are in Iraq (I'm aware of the arguments, let's leave it for a moment)).

    I have lots more to say on this subject, but I really think that I should do some work. Besides, I have something else that I want to write about later on; a slightly misleading article in The Herald about the state of the Scottish Economy. You at the back there! Yes, you. Do try to contain your excitement. Can you not just reduce it to an agony of anticipation? Time for break, children. I'll see you again when the bell goes. No, Jenkins mi, ask not for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for thee...

    Sorry, I'll just go and take my drugs. Speaking of which, I think that July 18 is the date when the law that means you can be prosecuted for having mushrooms growing in your garden kicks in, so stock up now...

    Another week...

    Well, here we are at the start of another week and I really needed more sleep than I've had, and I have a stupid amount of work to do. Damn it.

    So, I'm not going to write anything of meaning here. Just want to say, thank to Chicken Yoghurt for linking to me. My first linkage: and it made me quite unreasonably happy!

    Tim Worstall's latest Britblog Roundup is up: go check it out.

    Saturday, July 09, 2005

    Dem damn ID cards...

    This is hilarious!

    Although, I have a nasty feeling that it may well be a little too close to the reality for my liking...

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Need I say more?

    Read this post, at Harry's Place in reply to an "it's all Blair's fault" email.

    (Hat tip - Stephen Pollard.)

    Out the Windows...

    A wee update on the whole Apple/Intel thing, for my hundreds of billions of techie readers out there.

    Apple have stated that Mac OS X will not run on ordinary WinTel machines. However, they have confirmed that you will probably be able to run Windows on them (or rather that Apple will do nothing to stop it. That's not to say that Microsoft won't). This is rather good news for Apple, because it means that people can run Windows on Macs without needing any emulation. So what? I hear you cry.

    Well, think about it. Apple single biggest asset at present is its Mac OS. However, many fine PC games are not available on the Mac. Many people are unaware that there is even an Apple version of MS Office (although why use it when you can download NeoOffice, a free Open Source office suite with total MSO compatibility?). So, you could partition your disk, between Windows and Mac OS.

    Suddenly, your investment in Windows software has not been in vain, has not been a waste of money (and time). You are no longer switching to Mac and abandoning Windows: instead, you can make a slow migration from Windows whilst still being able to play things like Half-Life, or use that expensive Windows software that you may or may not have bought. Your documents, applications and games: all of these can be migrated to your new Apple machine. Those that will never have a Mac equivalent can still be used, whilst you slowly migrate your other stuff into the Mac environment. This environment is becoming richer, and cheaper to get software for, every day as the Unix/Linux developer community take advantage of the Darwin Unix core of Mac OS X.

    Why would you want to do this? Simple, really: security.

    There are, these days, endless reports on how viruses, Trojans, Mal- and Spyware are wrecking the web for users. In the first half of this year, 7,900 new Windows viruses were indentified. Nearly eight thousand new viruses! You can read the Sophos Report for youself, but here's a summary:

    In 2005 so far, Sophos has detected and protected against 7,944 new viruses - up 59% from the first six months of last year.
    In line with this substantial increase in virus writing, is the rapidly decreasing average time to infection. There is now a 50% chance of being infected by an internet worm in just 12 minutes of being online using an unprotected, unpatched Windows PC.

    But not on the Mac. Mac OS 10.4 has precisely 0—that's zero—viruses at the time of writing.

    Suddenly web surfing becomes a joy again. Suddenly, viruses in your email don't run and you can shake your head tolerantly as you bin those once potentially crippling attachments. Apple is on the ascendent.

    You read it here. I won't say first, because I'm probably about the last place you got to.

    Still true though.

    Links to free powerful Open Source software: The Gimp Photoshop style pixel image manipulator; Inkscape, a vector editor similar to Illustrator; Firefox, a free Internet browser with massive advantages, in rendering and security, both for developers and consumers; OpenOffice (and NeoOffice for the Mac), a free application with total compatibility with Microsoft Office.

    Useful Mac OS X modifiers: Patchburn is a free haxie which allows almost any internal optical drive to work natively in Mac OS X (recently saved me at least £80); there are a whole raft of useful apps and services—some free, all inexpensive—at Unsanity.

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    I, Witness

    A link here to one of the people who survived the Edgeware Tube bomb blast.

    I'm impressed by how calm—almost blase—everyone is being about this. The blogosphere was abuzz this morning, but everyone seems to have calmed down. A feeling that we have been here before (the IRA, for all my American chums out there) and a typically British stoicism have not, however, diminished the determination, should we catch the perpetrators, that they will be made to pay.

    Charlie Clarke, the Safety Elephant, has not—as far as I am aware—wheeled out the "ID cards would have prevented this" argument, although Nosemonkey has this:

    Shadow Home Secretary (and Tory leadership frontrunner) David Davis on BBC News points out that Identity Cards "don't prevent this sort of thing". Considering there was no warning, the police kept warning levels the same as they have been for a month, and no one yet know who was responsible (despite claims), he's got a very good point.

    Official deaths now up to 37, with about 700 casualties.

    These people defy belief.

    "The British government cannot avoid its responsibility for these terrible attacks, which are a consequence of its support for war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. The best way to ensure that there are no more such terrible attacks is for British troops to be withdrawn from there immediately."

    This, of course, was entirely predictable. They are right: we should withdraw from Iraq, and leave her citizens to the tender mercies of Sharia Law and the fundamentalist fanatics who blow up innocent people, both here and there.

    We sold the Iraqi people down the river the first time when we supported Hussein during the Cold War. We sold them out again, before the First Gulf War, when we urged—and said we'd support and failed, utterly, to do so—an uprising against Hussein. We have, finally and however incompetantly, released them from Hussein's rule.

    It would be just too much to leave them now, to deliver them into the hands of the corrupt Mullahs, like those who run Iran. Whether you think that the war was right or wrong, whether you think that we were lied to or not, whether you think that choice is or is not worth fighting for, don't sit in your comfy flat in your Western democracy, with your hot coffee and your doughnuts, and demand that we deliver the Iraqis into the rule of one of the world's most barbarous and, frankly, downright miserable regimes.

    After all, it isn't you who will be stoned to death for having sex outwith marriage, eh? Or have your hand cut off for stealing food when you're starving. Or given a hundred lashes in the public square for having a drink.

    Socialists make me sick.

    George Galloway, "The Dictators' Friend", can fuck off an' all. The little shitbag.

    London's A Blast.

    First of all, live blogging from Nosemonkey and Tim Worstall.

    It appears that there have been a number of bombs detonated in London, and numerous rumours: one of these includes a suicide bomber being shot by marines in Canary Wharf. Everyone seems to be keeping calm in general. However, it seems that the death toll is likely to be considerably highe than the two so far confirmed.

    It seems that a bomb went off in Euston Underground, people were evacuated and many jumped on a bus, which then subsequently detonated. There are reports of the entire top half of it being blown into the air.

    An Al Qua'ida group has claimed resposibility, though it is as yet unconfirmed.

    My family all seem to be fine: only my brother lives in central London and he appears to be OK. Blogosphere is abuzz: check Tim and Nosemonkey for updates.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Bush For Prime Minister...

    Reading this post at Rottweiler Puppy, plus more stuff like this at The Daily Ablution, one can't help thinking, "Damn, I wish George Bush was our Prime Minister".

    Y'see, what George has got, that our spineless government don't have, is the ability to a) say what he means and b) put the interests of his country first. The more that I read what he actually says, rather than how the BBC report it, the more I admire the fact that he cuts to the chase. What a refreshing difference when contrasted with the shower of shits who call themselves the Labour Party (the mistake people made, of course, was in assuming that the Labour Party had improved. They've always been a shower of shits).

    This is, of course, because they are Socialists, and Socialists are—by and large—motivated by envy. They also have an absolute belief that they know, better than you, how you should behave and how you should spend your hard-earned cash. This little conceit, Karl Marx In Hell, pretty much sums up why that is, as well as being entertaining in its own right. And this, of course, is just unbelievable.

    Free trade! It's the way forward...

    Topical heat...

    The following is the text of a comment that I posted on African Bullets and Honey. The comment turned into an essay which, on the whole, sums up my feelings on the whole African matter.

    Quote from of the comments: "Africa will indeed need to climb up on its own but I can't understand how you can fault people for trying to cut off the ton of bricks tied to its feet."

    Well, there's the take that says that—if you remove the banks' profit on the deal, i.e. the interest—they will be severely unwilling to lend to those countries in the future. After all, it might happen again.

    The interest repayments are by no means crippling. Figures vary, but the most consistent that I can find come in at $10 billion for last year. Aid to Africa was roughly $63 billion, a nett gain of $53 billion.

    Furthermore, the idea that we should do anything, just because apathy is worse, is completely refuted by this excellent article detailing the abuses of the Ethiopian people by the Dergue government, funded by, and using the NGOs implementing, the original Live Aid programme.

    I fully support the idea of dropping tariff barriers against African countries. Through a healthy economy, on an equal trading footing with the Western world, they will be able to build a lasting wealth. However, that will not—cannot—happen until they have security of life and tenure of property. If you cannot own your property, then you cannot raise capital on it. This means that it is extremely difficult to start a business. And the whole thing is rendered slightly pointless is some militia member is suddenly going to drop by, rape and kill you and your family, and burn your house down. Until African countries implement the rule of law, they will remain for ever stunted economically.

    I'm afraid that the argument about the Western economies taking hundreds of years to mature is entirely disingenuous, simply because the people building those economies had no examples or comparators. The African nations have the Western economic models, and a number of other models. They have—or, at least, their leaders do—televisions, access to information and worldwide meetings that simply were not available to the nascent Western economies.

    Lastly, few people would advocate that colonialism was of nett benefit to Africa. However, only a fool would argue that it was entirely malign (although, one needs to also look at the way that the different colonial powers treated their subjects. The British were, in no way, the worst behaved, just the biggest and most well-known).

    Contrary to popular wisdom, the majority of the colonial powers did attempt to leave people behind to advise and provide support to the newly independent nations: they were, however, almost all driven out (or murdered) fairly shortly after the main powers left. The Africans wanted their countries back, and that included the political power structures. It was an understandable move, but naive.

    Finally, Africa is an incredibly rich country in terms of natural resources. The colonial powers prospected for, and set up mines, to extract these resources. The great majority also left these mines open, operating and extant when they left the subject nations. Thus, much of the groundwork for a solid economy had already been laid. More could have been done but, understandably, the African peoples were keen to see us leave.

    The history of the majority of African countries has, since independence, been a complete disaster of mismanagement and strife. This was admittedly not helped when Britain, for which many countries (witness the welcoming demonstrations in Sierra Leone a few years back) still held in regard, sold the Commonwealth down the Swannee to join the EEC, a move for which—if it is any consolation to you Commonwealth people out there—Britain has also paid a heavy price.

    In conclusion, although I have never been to Africa, many friends who have have spoken of the friendliness, energy and enthusiasm of many of its people. The real way to help Africa is to help the people to help themselves, and the most effective way to do that is to reform or remove the corrupt governments that are holding them back, to improve the security of property and life and the rule of law. It is not to increase aid, which merely helps to prop up the murderous—or simply incompetant—regimes which are holding the African peoples back.

    NHS Fail Wail

    I think that we can all agree that the UK's response to coronavirus has been somewhat lacking. In fact, many people asserted that our de...