Friday, September 30, 2005

Interesting search...

UPDATE: This search identification is just too much fun! European potato devil? Nude in kitchen? Cripes...

Someone comes to me via an MSN search for this.


Those student lifestyles in full...

At the risk of sounding like everybody else, the results are in...
Organisers of the survey took a list of Britain's top 20 universities and searched the postcodes of the areas where more students socialised to find the number of pubs, nightclubs, off-licences, pizza delivery outlets, takeaway shops and fancy dress hire stores before working out the students-per-business ratio.

Yes, yes, but are they any good? That's the point. And would ever go into them in the hours of darkness (which are rather longer up here than darn Sarf). There may be 35 pubs around a student dwelling in Maryhill, but you wouldn't bloody well go into one for fear of a serious bit of involuntary plastic surgery...
A spokeswoman for Glasgow University also welcomed the findings.

She said: "A large part of the student experience of university life now happens outside of academia.

"We recognise that employers look for outgoing individuals with life experience outside of lectures and tutorials.

"Students are encouraged to extend their achievements and widen their experience by participating in the full range of societies and activities that Glasgow has to offer.

"A choice of two lively student unions, a student-run newspaper, radio station and TV channel form a central part of the student social scene here. Glasgow is clearly thriving, socially and academically."

It's nice to see that Glasgow is doing so well, isn't it?

I find it odd that Edinburgh, surely one of the loveliest cities on the face of the earth, only came 19th in the survey. But it just shows that searching by postcode isn't terribly effective. The point about Edinburgh is that, being so small (permanent population of less than 450,000), almost all of those amenities are accessible by almost everyone. Glasgow (population, 3.2 million) is much larger, and many amenities are a train or tube (The "Clockwork Orange) ride away.

Just pointing that out...

Devil's Advocate #4

Reditributive socialism is wrong because it neither recognises nor provides for the very good or the very bad; it only recognises equality of the fundamentally unequal, and caters only for the mediocre.

Oh, please, please; try to get me on this one. I'm really ready for this...

Devil's Advocate #3

Reditributive socialism is inherently damaging because it ignores all biological and, thus, psychological laws of the human as animal struggling to establish territory and advantage over others for the more effective propagation of genes over competitors.

Devil's Advocate #2

Redistributive socialism is inherently unfair because it takes money away from those who have earned it, and gives it to those who have not.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Owen, racism and development

Young Master Barder has been getting a little upset with people over at Samizdata, and has cried "racism" on their lily-white asses, yo!

I can't say that I agree with him particularly, but I suppose that's because I couldn't give two tits if they are racist or not: in my opinion, the one thing in this world that we have absolutely no shortage of is ignorant fuckwits, and much good may it do them. (However, I also have absolutely no time for people who pretend that only whites can be racists either, since I know that not to be the case. I do wonder what had happened if a coloured gentleman had commented that all whites were murding, raping imperialists with no culture who just don't understand the African way.) Anyway, I digress.

Master Barder has been forced to close his comments because evil racists have been posting their opinions (personally, I'm considering blocking comments by redistribitive socialists: I can't stand them) so I must carry on the conversation here. I wasn't, as I have said, particularly concerned about the rasism thing—I'm really not that sensitive—but I was interested in the thrust of the original article.

It is essentially about redistribution of land in South African, go read the comments and fill yourself in. Here is my original comment:
Firstly, I think that you are being a little over-sensitive re: the racism issue, but then I am notoriously blase about such things. Personally, I think that Africa can do what the hell it likes, as long as it stops consuming my cash. And, I agree with Tim about the loyalties between tribes and states issue, although I was surprised that he missed the classic Rwanda massacre example.
I do have one question - and it’s just for information, don’t jump on me here - about this ownership. How are the black families proving ownership? Do they have title deeds, or what? And, will we be seeing redistribution to Boer families kicked off the land before 1925? Do they have any claim?
To think of “farming done in the African manner” only as “peasant subsistence” repeats a one-dimensional view of African people, and ignores the huge and highly successful dairy farms of Namibia, the coffee plantations of Ethiopia, the sugar plantations of Mauritius.
OK, were these plantations set up by Africans, or by Imperial invaders? Again, simply a question? And would you deny that - in general - subsistance farming is the norm? Given the repeated famines in (especially sub-Saharan) Africa, an immensely fertile continent, would you say that African farming was a success story?
Personally, I think that the concept of land distribution is more than a little dodgy; how far back would you go? Furthermore, as pertains to Africa, any example that you can give of successful redistribution, I’m pretty sure that I could cite one that has failed. You say West Bengal, I say Zimbabwe (the only way in which that benighted country is relevant here).
Now, you can probably accuse me of being a racist but, as has been pointed out in a comment at The Kitchen, I know little about Africa and I’d appreciate your answers (I know that they’ll be in your usual well-measured tone!).

Quite reasonable, yes? Owen replies thusly:
The reasons why farms in poor countries all round the world are not as efficient as farms in rich countries all round the world is because of low capital and insufficient irrigation, not because of the colour of the farmer.

Since "racists (regulars from Samizdata) have started to try to post racist comments on [that] thread", Owen has, as I said, been forced to close comments (it all sounds slightly thrilling doesn't it? Like some kind of film with computer hackers desperately trying to get into the central mainframe). Thus, I am forced to reply here, and hope that Owen feels up to replying in my comments.

Anyway, his reply flings up a massive straw man there: I didn't mention any comparison to farms in the developed world or anywhere else. I don't give two hoots what colour the farmer is or, indeed, how they compare in agricultural skill to the rest of the world. What I asked Owen was "given the repeated famines in (especially sub-Saharan) Africa, an immensely fertile continent, would you say that African farming was a success story?"

I also asked if Owen thought that subsistance farming was the norm: Owen, do you? Or is it not the norm?

Rambling away from my unanswered questions (there were far too many of them), I decided to ask Owen's opinion on my latest wizard wheeze: here it is in all of its glory. I'm afraid that I can't remember where I got the figures from, and I would be happy to be corrected if I'm more than a few billion out.

Anyway, I believe that, last year, the Developed World gave something like $63 billion in aid; I believe that debt repayments were something like $10 billion.

My idea is that we should take that $50 billion and—hiring indigenous labour and, where possible, using local materials (thus still pouring at least some of the money into the economies, rather than into Western workers' pockets to be spent back in the West)—that we should organise and build a pan-African water-system? You know, provide clean drinking water, and also irrigation systems for agriculture (that, surely, must please Owen, given his reply above. After all, that's one of Africa's agricultural problems fixed).

Given that using local labour and materials would make that $50 billion go a lot further, do anyone think that this sum would be enough? Do you think that this would be a better idea than giving to corrupt governments (although I'm aware that they will probably get some in kickbacks)? Good idea? Bad idea? (I know that it's pure fantasy, but, hey...).

We could use part of the next year's forcibly generously donated cash to train up African engineers so that they could repair and extend this system. Wouldn't that be nice and sustainable? It's all good, no?

(BTW, I can't find out where his Trackback URL is. Damn! Will ping Tim instead.)

I love the 80s...

... but it seems that NuLabour aren't nearly so keen.
The Labour Party has apologised after an 82-year-old member was thrown out of its annual conference for heckling.
Walter Wolfgang, from London, was ejected from the hall after shouting "nonsense" as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended Iraq policy.

Jack Straw, a man so unpleasant that even his son shuns his policies (although, the fact that he was dobbed in for cannabis possession by his own father may have something to do with it), was defending—probably ineptly and with a lie in every sentence—the government's Iraq policy, when Walter Wolfgang "heckled" him (if Jack thinks that's heckling, he should see a crap stand-up gig in Glasgow).

Firstly, does Jack Straw actually know anything about our Iraq policy? I thought that Saint Tony and Dubya were sorting that lot. Personally, I'd almost forgotten that Jack Straw even existed; much in the way that one tries to forget about a particularly embarrassing and unpleasant incident in one's past. I mean, he is a total fuckface, but a largely irrelevant one.
Party chairman Ian McCartney criticised Mr Wolfgang's behaviour but said the way he was ejected was "inappropriate".

"I'm going to personally apologise to him," Mr McCartney said. "I'm going to personally meet him if he takes the opportunity."

Not if I meet you first, pal. Sorry, I only quoted that so that I could insult another of the Dear Leader's ex-flatmates. Cunt-rag. The real nub is here:
Police later used powers under the Terrorism Act to prevent Mr Wolfgang's re-entry, but he was not arrested.

What!? At what fucking point is this eighty year old man possibly a fucking terrorist threat? At what point can I possibly stop ranting about this government? I tell you what, I've got to do some work so that I can pay my taxes so that Gordon's sainted public sector workers can piss it up the wall; given that, I'm afraid that I'm going to repeat myself.

As regular readers will know, I usually re-read 1984 every year or so: obviously, so do this government. Look, guys, its a warning, NOT A FUCKING INSTRUCTION MANUAL.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
All you people who voted for Labour last May: I hope that you are so ashamed of yourselves that you go and stick your head in the oven, and give the rest of us more of a chance next time*. Because, thank you so much; we're all really enjoying our police state.

*Yes, yes; I know that the gas they use these days isn't poisonous but, if you take the trays out, climb right in and close the door after you, suffocation should get you quite quickly. And you could always take a magazine in with you, maybe one with numerous pointless stories about vapid celebrities. Heat perhaps.

And let's have a little more, shall we?

So, just in case I am soon to be hauled off to the slammer (and held without trial naturally. I mean, I could be a terrorist: one never knows how far these anti-ID card campaigners may go, eh, Sarge?) or shot in the face a few times, I would just like to put this on record.

This is the most mendacious, dishonest, endemically corrupt, power-hungry, incompetant, illiberal fucking shower of shits that has ruled this country—probably ever—apart from the shower of bigger shits who infest that stinking cesspit of evil known as the European Union. Anyone who voted for this government should be deeply ashamed, but not as ashamed as the so-called Opposition should be. Anyone who voted for the European Union should be... Oh, hang on. Well, had we ever been given a vote on joining the European Union, anyone who voted for it should be ashamed too. We are ruled by shits, fuck them all.

And the slammer is looking all too likely these days...

Right, I'm going to glorify some terrorism: the first person to blow up the bunch of shits ruling us will get treated, by me, to lunch at their favourite restaurant. And there's a Magnum of Moet for the man who shoots Charles Clarke in the head.

Find more amusing invective at Nosemonkey's, ChickenYoghurt (who's on fire at the moment: read him all), Actually Existing and Curious Hamster's.

The third...

Requiescat in pace, a friend, whose boat capsized in the Arctic.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Your Personality Profile

You are dreamy, peaceful, and young at heart.
Optimistic and caring, you tend to see the best in people.
You tend to be always smiling - and making others smile.

You are shy and intelligent... and a very hard worker.
You're also funny, but many people don't see your funny side.
Your subtle dry humor leaves your close friends in stitches.

There's a raft of personality tests on that site, someof them quite entertaining. They don't take much time either...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Subjects to come...

Your humble Devil has been asked to contribute a rant on the open-mic sesh at The Sharpener, so that will be occupying me for... oh... a couple of hours. It may surprise you to know that ranting comes quite easily to me!

Subjects that are coming up, here at the Kitchen include a vicious—though not unprovoked—attack on that blind fool, Blunkett. I also have some comments on the Israel/Palestine situation, why socialism is inherently unfair, a long post about why Windows is such utter, utter crap, and a few bits and pieces of a scientific nature. Plus, of course, DK's Manifesto in which I may or may not take any notice of what my ministers have said (luckily, I appointed, in the main, people who would suggest things that I would have done anyway: it just gives me a veneer of popular concensus).

For my piece on NHS wastage, you are going to have to visit The Sharpener of a Thursday morning...

Did you know...

... that infants who are given IVs frequently receive the IV in their scalps?
I know it's hard to believe. I know it's grotesque and barbaric . . . but it's one of life's hard-to-accept truths -- like dinosaurs, Mormonism, or Joan Rivers.

You see, on an infant "scalp veins" are easier to find than, oh say, "arm veins" or "butt veins." (I'm sure it's also no less painful.) Another advantage of the Scalp IV is that it prevents the baby from tampering with it . . . the infant's frantic little arms are just too short to reach the top of its own skull . . . or, in this case, the NEEDLE JAMMED in the top of its own skull.

No wonder we can't remember being born.

Another extremely amusing blog has been unearthed by your kinky Devil. He also has a great post up about iPods.
“Our backwards pricing scheme is something any clear-headed adult would catch immediately,” explains Jobs [Apple CEO]. “But these early-20s kids are so caught up in the style of the new iPods, that they never stop and realize that I’m selling them shit and raping them stupid.”

I don't necessarily agree, being an Apple fanatic it would be against my religion to do so, but it made me laugh anyway!

Although, of course, what his pricing chart actually shows is how much more expensive flash memory (a sort of solid state Random Access Memory, in which the information is held in an electrostatic sensitive substrate, as opposed to being held on charged particles on a series of platters. The advantage is that flash memory works purely on electrostatic charge, and thus has no moving parts) as compared to hard drives.

However, flash memory's lack of moving parts does have the advantage of being considerably more stable. The disadvantage is that eventually the flash memory does "wear out"; there are only so many charge changes that it can perform. However, you should get a good few years out of a flash player, and the technology is improving, and becoming cheaper, all the time. I do think that it will be some time before flash ever replaces hard drives for main storage, despite claims from people like this.

And, don't get me wrong: given the cash, I'd buy a Nano. It's nice to see a company—who I believe make superb products and who I have supported through hard times and, more recently, good times—doing so well. And you know one of the main reasons that I love the Mac OS so much?

There's no sodding "Wizards". I hate sodding wizards. No, Windows, I don't want to use the Wizard to set up a new network place. No, I want to know where I can type in the IP number or, even better, just automatically see the damn machine! Every time that I have to use Windoze, usually to fix someone's machine that has magically stopped working, I am reminded of exactly how superior Macs are. And, you know that 20% premium we pay for buying an Apple?

Worth it: every single penny.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Speaking Welsh

Leopard Spaghetti once more surpasses himself as he ponders upon the nature of the Welsh.
Back in the day, when I was a lowly student reading up on the twin disciplines of particle physics and coprophilia, I had to make money to support myself through university. This was not easy for a lad of my youthful arrogance and self-regard - the thought of working in a Welsh fish-and-chip shop for £2.75 an hour, frying stolen Koi carp in a metal bucket until two in the morning, did not especially appeal to me. I did once work for several weeks in the local council's hill-flattening department - current thinking at the time was that Wales was far too hilly to be a modern economic power, and you couldn't build a conference centre or an Asda anywhere in the countryside without it sliding off the top of something and injuring important sheep. This plainly would not do, so the councils of Wales each set up a hill-flattening team in order to render the principality more amenable to the demands of big business.

Unfortunately, budget cuts being what they were, the hill flattening team of my council amounted to - well, me, armed with a scale rule and a paint roller with all the fuzz ripped off it. There I would be, every Sunday afternoon, vigorously rubbing away at some intractable area of mountainside, while the folks of the town below got on with their usual pursuits of drug-fuelled burglary and threatening people for change.

Once more, the boy rocks! It's a long, hairy story, but made me laugh out loud more than once. And not all of the laughs were generated by a mocking of the Welsh...

A quick roundup

First, an apology: owing to the printers being busy in the pub, the manifesto has not manifested as yet. Hem hem...

Luckily, a plausible excuse, in theat the Energy Minister, had not yet submitted his policies: he has now done so. One suspects that "controversial" would be a nice way of putting it! Feel free to comment...

Secondly, the new Carnival of Britblog is up! Although your humble Devil is not mentioned specifically, he is mentioned via The Kalahari Lighthouse's Quote of the Week which, as it happens, actually came from one of my posts, which mentioned the fragrant Commissioner, whom I described as "a woman rather more out of her depth than a midget in New Orleans". I was quite proud of that one!

I'm going to try to get some more sleep now, I think...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

On music

Heads Will Roll

There's dirt in the machine
Where there's oxygen there’s rust
A thousand eyes are blinking
To drown a tiny speck of dust
No I'm not after crashing parties
I want your cobwebbed soul
And believe me
Heads will roll

Do you watch the latest traumas
In radiation dots
Oh the wide-eyed executioner
Gunpowder, treason, plot
Is there an ugly little mirror
Living down there in your hole
Take a good look
And heads will roll

Oh did you think that you'd scrape by
Through all the faultlines you have seen
Did you think you could deny
The shit you're standing in?

So concrete runs in rivers
But there's sugar here to suck
And delivers
With a little bit of luck
There's no new ground being broken
You're just doing as you're told
But any day now
Heads will roll...

Can I point out that Thea Gilmore is one of the best singer/songwriters that I have ever come across? Unfortunately, she seems to be largely ignored, doomed to be feted only by the few people in this country with damn fine music taste (of which, obviously, I am one); although, as a matter of fact, it was my father who introduced me to her, having heard her playing a couple of tracks on Radio 2. Intelligent lyrics, great tunes and wonderfully icy vocals. She ranks as one of my favourite listens (and she's only 24!). You can hear some of her stuff on her site. If you decide to take the plunge, I would love to recommend the albums Avalanche and Rules For Jokers.

Just incase you're interested, my other favourite singer/songwriters are Fat Bob of The Cure, Mike Scott of The Waterboys and my brother...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bollocks to Blair

Via Bishop Hill (who is neither a bishop nor a hill. Apparently), this story of a gamekeeper arrested for wearing a bollocks to Blair T-shirt.
Police arrested a 20-year-old gamekeeper for wearing a “Bollocks to Blair” T-shirt at a game fair last weekend A girl was arrested for wearing her “Bollocks to Blair” T-shirt at the Midlands Game Fair last weekend.

Charlotte Denis, 20, a gamekeeper from Gloucestershire, was stopped by police as she left the Countryside Alliance stand because of the “offensive” slogan.

Shocked and dismayed to be made a public spectacle, Denis tried to reason with the officers: “What do you want me to do? Take my top off and wear my bra?”

At this point, two officers marched Denis towards a police car. “They grabbed me as if I was a football hooligan,” she says.

As regular readers will know, I usually re-read 1984 every year or so: obviously, so do this government. Look, guys, its a warning, NOT A FUCKING INSTRUCTION MANUAL.

Much as I hate this shower of shits ruling us, I almost loathe the Tories more for still not having the sodding organisation, policies, people and sheer fucking balls to get rid of them. And, believe me, whoever does finally defeat ZaNuLabour had better repeal these laws. Christ Almighty, what the fucking crap is wrong with people?

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

All you people who voted for Labour last May: I hope that you are so ashamed of yourselves that you go and stick your head in the oven, and give the rest of us more of a chance next time*. Because, thank you so much; we're all really enjoying our police state.

Look forward to the DK Manifesto, 22.00, right here, tomorrow night.

*Yes, yes; I know that the gas they use these days isn't poisonous but, if you take the trays out, climb right in and close the door after you, suffocation should get you quite quickly. And you could always take a magazine in with you, maybe one with numerous pointless stories about vapid celebrities. Heat perhaps.

Capital punishment

Do you see? Do you? Do you observe?

This is what happens when you abolish capital punishment for treason: utter cunts like Charles Clarke pop up, and you are not allowed to kill them painfully. And, do you know what: those people linked to above have written eloquently: me, I can't be bothered. This bunch of bastards simply aren't worth it. Charles, do you see? Are you listening? Listen to this, fuck face:


Right, I'm going to glorify some terrorism: the first person to blow up the bunch of shits ruling us will get treated, by me, to lunch at their favourite restaurant. And there's a Magnum of Moet for the man who shoots Charles Clarke in the head.

For fuck's sake, liberate me ex inferis...


As well as being one of the best sci-fi authors ever (in great part owing to the fact that one likes his characters, rather than wanting constantly to throttle the little shits), Wyndham is also a Triffid and he has two immensely enjoyable posts up: the first, quite reasonably, opines that Guy Ritchie and his ilk should fuck off, and the second bemoans the fact that we, as human beings, can't stand one another.

He's right. I hate you all. But I especially hate Guy Ritchie.

Colder than a corpse's... hem hem...

Hooray for the TPS Scheme, which means so much less of my time, over the last few years, has been wasted by cold-calling bastards trying to sell me useless shit that I don't need or, more pertinently, can't afford.

Which, of course, cold-callers have found a way around, chiz chiz*. Although it is illegal to make "unsolicited direct marketing calls to individuals who have indicated that they do not want to receive such calls", they are allowed to cold-call you to do a "research survey"; thus, they ask you one question, then try to sell you a kitchen, or some windows or some such shit.

Three days ago, I got the ultimate one (and I shit you not; this is gospel): they had heard that, apparently, I would be interested in buying a conservatory, and could they give me a quote? I was very tempted, out of sheer Devilment, to invite them around to measure up, just to see how they were going to work that one...

I live in a fourth floor flat.

*A chiz is a swiz or swindle as any fule kno**.

**Never ever use a typeface that has an entire website dedicated to banning the piece of shit.

Devil's Advocate #1

The first in an occasional series in which I present you with a statement which you can debate. I shall listen to these debates, and still declare you wrong at the end, but do have a lovely little gold star for trying, Deirdre, that's a good girl.

"All philosophical arguments boil down, at base, to nothing more than a discussion of semantics."

Sociologist or fraudster?

Yes, yes; it's a pretty generic headline. However, I feel that, once more, I should point you folks to Deogolwulf and his amusing post on sociologist Slavoj Žižek.
If encyclopaedic knowledge is to be mentioned in connection with him at all, then I should think it more appropriate to mention it only in terms of a children’s pictorial encyclopaedia in which some young tyke had augmented the pictures of the monkeys with doodled genitalia. I hardly need add, therefore, that he is the philosopher of choice amongst film students.

Genius, once more! Can I reiterate that you should always read The Curmudgeon: two pedants can't be wrong...

Segregation of bias

Via ChickenYoghurt, my attention has been drawn to this paragraph of this speech by Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality (Failed).
But in New Orleans the truth broke the surface. It showed us a society in which the average black child still attends a black majority school. A society in which the average white person returns home at the day’s end to all-white suburbs, where they won’t see a non-white face until they go back to the city the next day. A democracy in which black politicians, with a few notable exceptions, represent black districts, gerrymandered in order to provide the minimum of black representation. An economy in which black businessmen sell their wares largely to a black middle class. And an education system in which most black academics are teaching at all-black colleges or in urban institutions disproportionately packed with ethnic minority students.

Now, I am not suggesting that Mr Phillips, a coloured gentleman, provides, in any way, an interesting insight into why we are "walking into segregation", but let's just have a little look at the sensitive way in which he expresses this.
  • "It showed us a society in which the average black child still attends a black majority school."
    Yes. And. So. What? No, I mean it: so what? I'm sure that the average white child still attends a white majority school as well. Perhaps there's not quite the racial mix that one might desire (why?) but it's hardly the end of the world.

  • "A society in which the average white person returns home at the day’s end to all-white suburbs, where they won’t see a non-white face until they go back to the city the next day."
    Well, I'm tempted to say the same here, but notice how the whites go back to their "suburbs", their exclusive lair where those horrid, selfish, white supremacists keep the black people away by ensuring that they are so poor that they can only afford to live in the cities. Where, presumably, they may not see a white man until he comes into the city to work the next morning.

  • "A democracy in which black politicians, with a few notable exceptions, represent black districts, gerrymandered in order to provide the minimum of black representation."
    What? Does this man even know what he's trying to say? Is he saying that if the black districts had not been "gerrymandered" then the black politicians would not be representing black districts? Is he saying that black people are deliberately shipped in to elect black officials, and then shipped out again? So the black politician is not actually representing a black district, merely one that has been "gerrymandered". And who, I wonder, might be doing the gerrymandering in the first place? What is this man on, and can I have some, please?

  • "An economy in which black businessmen sell their wares largely to a black middle class."
    As opposed to what? Should they be given a quota of whites to sell to? And where's this man's damn figures?

  • "And an education system in which most black academics are teaching at all-black colleges or in urban institutions disproportionately packed with ethnic minority students."
    Um, isn't this exactly the same point as your first one, above, Trev? Can we define "academic", please? Is it someone with a double-doctorate in Biochemistry or just someone who's been through teacher-training college? And tell me, are white academics teaching in institutions "disproportionately packed" with non-ethnic minority students? And at least this way none of them can moan about discrimination.

In this country, of course, we have real opportunity. This is a country where a gentleman (or woman), of any colour, can be paid a massive amount of public money to repeatedly stand up and make patronising speeches to people of every colour, admit—repeatedly— that he or she (or both) has failed and yet still keep his/her/its job. Now, I think that that is truly inspiring.

Trevor, tell you what; do you have any idea why this shocking state of affairs exists, how we should fix it, if we can fix it or whether it is desirable to do so? What else does this massive waste of public money have to tell us?
We already know a lot about what an integrated society looks like. It has three essential features:
  • Equality: everyone is treated equally, has a right to fair outcomes, and no-one should expect privileges because of what they are.

Do we know this, Trevor? That'll be a fucking Socialist utopia then, will it? Everyone treated equally? Fair outcomes? Sure, I'll accept equality of oportunity, but that's not what he's saying. Go away, you horrible little man.
  • Participation: all groups in the society should expect to share in how we make decisions, but also expect to carry the responsibilities of making the society work.

Fair enough.
  • Interaction: no-one should be trapped within their own community, and in the truly integrated society, who people work with, or the friendships they make, should not be constrained by race or ethnicity.

Ah, at last: something that I agree with. So we'll be outlawing the piece of shit segregationist religion that is Islam, will we? Oh, but, no; that would be segregationist! Oh, no, we... can't compute... had better admit to public that I have failed again... can I have some more money, please... Bzzzt, Whirrrrr... Roing...

This man is an idiot, isn't he? Still, he graciously throws some more pearls before the swine:
The fact is that we are a society which, almost without noticing it, is becoming more divided by race and religion. We are becoming more unequal by ethnicity. Our schools – and I mean the ordinary schools, not faith schools – are becoming more exclusive.

Our universities have started to become colour-coded, with virtual ‘whites keep-out’ signs in some urban institutions; and if you look closely at the campuses of some of our most distinguished universities, you can pick out the invisible ‘no blacks need apply’ messages.

Residentially, some districts are on their way to becoming fully fledged ghettoes – black holes into which no-one goes without fear and trepidation, and from which no-one ever escapes undamaged. The walls are going up around many of our communities, and the bridges that so many of you in RECs and the voluntary sector have laboured to build are crumbling.

God, I'm fucking sick of this race/ethnicity rubbish. If you welcome migrants, many of whom do not speak your language, who practise a religion which actively discourages them from mingling with unbelievers, and then encourage them to practise that religion whilst housing them all in the same god-awful 60s tower blocks, what the fuck do you expect? Nirvana, or segregation?

Trev is, I'm afraid, at least thirty years too late with his stunning assessment.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Traitor in the ranks

Sadly, it has come to my attention that, disconcerted the length of time that your humble Devil has taken to compile his manifesto, a certain Minister and his lackey have been plotting against The Benign Dictator.

I'm afraid that this cannot be allowed to happen. However, one does not wish to dispense with his services just yet; the judge will therefore, at his trial for treason next week, be sentencing him to 10 weeks in the next series of Big Brother. This year, we shall be selecting the most crass, most stupid and most offensive people to join him. And he will never be put up for eviction. Although, I am considering putting him in charge of the BB wolves...

As for the rest: the Devil's Kitchen Party Manifesto will be published on this very blog, to a massive fanfare, at 22.00 on Saturday 24th September 2005. This is a date that will soon be known to millions of schoolchildren (and their parents) as the day when Britian started its long climb back to glory, when the state stopped interfering in their lives and, most importantly for the little gits, the day when they actually started to learn something in school (well, starting on the Monday, obviously).

Most importantly, it will be long remembered as the day when Peter Mandelson was finally fed to the bears.

BBC: bias or bad writing?

The Beeb reports that "an Israeli court has convicted a Palestinian man of masterminding a 2002 suicide bombing during a Passover meal in Netanya that left 29 people dead."

So far so good, you may think; the Israelis are using the rule of law to convict nasty terrorists. That's just what we'd do, eh? However, showing the israelis in an entirely good light just won't do...
The attack planned by Abbas Sayad, a leader within the Palestinian militant group Hamas, was the single deadliest of the five-year Palestinian uprising.

Meanwhile Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian who entered a military base being dismantled in the West Bank.

The Israeli army said the man - who was unarmed - ignored warnings to stop.

Palestinian security officials said the man believed the site had already been evacuated by the Israelis.

Right, firstly, it was presumably soldiers who were decommissioning the military base. The man was asked to stop and he didn't. If you were a slightly nervous Israeli soldier, would you wait until he was really close before seeing if he was going to delf-detonate? No. So the silly fool has no one but himself to blame. However, what I really want to highlight is this: now we've moved straight from Israelis using rule of law to convict a murderer (good) to Israelis shooting an unarmed man (bad). I've not edited anything out here. It jumps just like that. And then moves back to:
The base, near Jenin, is being dismantled as part of an Israeli troop re-deployment. It follows the withdrawal of Jewish settlers from four small settlements in the area.

[subhead deleted]

In the attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya, the bomber blew himself up in the hotel's packed dining room on the eve of the Jewish Passover holiday.

The court in Tel Aviv ruled that Sayad had initiated and planned the blast in the northern seaside resort, which killed 29 and left scores injured.

Hang on, we were talking about the man in the military base weren't we. So, isn't it a little confusing to suddenly move back to the convicted man? Is this a bit of "impartiality" shoehorned in for the sake of it? Whatever your view on that, it certainly is shoddy writing.

Personally, I think that it was a mistake for the Israelis to shoot the man who wandered into their military base, although it was emminently understandable. However, if I were them, I would wait for a few more suicide bombers to turn up and show how dedicated to peace the Palestinians aren't. Meanwhile, I shall refer the Beeb writers to the P-G for a corrective course on decent writing.

Smokers: dead men walking

According to Norwegian researchers, smoking just one to four ciggies a day "almost triples a person's risk of dying of heart disease". Wow.
Their work suggests the health impact is stronger for women and that even "light" smokers face similar diseases to heavier smokers, including cancer.

The team tracked the health and death rates of almost 43,000 men and women from the mid 1970s up to 2002.

Their findings appear in the journal Tobacco Control.

So, no agenda there then. Whatsoever.
The researchers believe their conclusions are accurate, even though they had to estimate the projected impact of smoking one to four cigarettes for five years in those light smokers who had smoked for less time.

A significant proportion of the light smokers had also increased their daily consumption over the period of the study.

Ah, right. So this, whilst being presented as fact, is, in fact, mere extrapolation.

Now, don't get me wrong: there really is no way that inhaling smoke is, in any way, good for you. I mean, it's a fucking stupid habit and the only reason why I've been such a heavy smoker for the last 13 years is because I'm having a competition to see what gets me first: lung cancer or heart disease related to heavy smoking, or liver failure caused by an enormous consumption of alcohol and hard drugs (I've got a tenner each way: either way, I win. Err...).

However, I would like to highlight one of my bugbears, and that is car fumes. I think that, were every single smoker to give up cigarettes tomorrow, the incidence of lung cancer would not drop severely. It's interesting that, despite the fact that a lower proportion of people smoke than in, say 1950, the proportion of lung cancer rates have not significantly dropped. Can anyone suggest why that might be?

Car fumes pervade out everyday lives to such an extent that most of us no longer smell them. Once upon a time, to keep engines running smoothly, a chemical called tetraethyl-lead was added to petrol (essentially as an "anti-bumping" chemical). When numerous studies on the deleterious effects on the nervous system of lead were published, unleaded petrol became increasingly popular. All well and good.

However, what was put in, instead of lead, was a complex organic chemical based on the benzene ring (one of the most stable molecular configurations around). Incidentally, benzene is also a Class 1 carcinogen (by skin contact), requiring full bodysuits and breathing apparatus when worked with in an industrial setting. Benzene and derivatives are what is pumping out of car exhausts, my friends. Yummy, breathe that saucily cancerous air!

Is anyone waiting, as I am, for the compulsory car stickers, such as "My driving of this car is killing you" or "Walking along the street causes lung cancer"?

EU "big 3" lose balls down back of sofa

The EU "big three"—Britain, France and Germany—have apparently dropped their "hardline stance" on Iran's nuclear programme.

Instead of demanding that the UN nuclear watchdog report Iran to the Security Council (fuck me! I bet Iran were quivering in their boots at that threat), they are now only "proposing that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should only implicitly threaten Tehran with such action."
The Islamic republic insists its nuclear activities have not violated the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It has warned that if referred to the Security Council, it could start uranium enrichment - a possible step toward making nuclear arms - and stop allowing unfettered IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities and programmes.
[The draft resolution] also expresses serious concern that Iran has failed to "re-establish full suspension of all enrichment-related activities", a reference to last month's resumption by Tehran of uranium conversion.

Conversion is a prelude to enrichment - a key step in the manufacture of nuclear arms.

I have expressed my admiration for Iran's foreign policy wonks before, and this just backs up my opinion. Why? Well, let's summarise exactly what's happening here.
  • Iran has restarted its nuclear "non-military" programme, which will include uranium enrichment (which could lead to the development of nuclear weapons).

  • The EU "big 3" have threatened to report them to teacher the UN.

  • Iran have said that, if this happens, they will start uranium enrichment.

So Iran gets exactly what it wants, and everyone else is left with a large amount of halal egg on their faces. Who is the evil genius dictating Iran's foreign policy? I must know...

Taxing burden

Scouting through a billion different cheap flight sites for a little jaunt in the sun (and, incidentally, my first trip out of the country for about 5 years. Gosh! Using Euros! Never done that before) I am struck, inevitably, by one sad fact: that taxes are an absolute bitch.

One site I have found will do a return trip to the European city of my choice for a mere £95.00. Hooray!

Then, of course, you add the £76 tax and suddenly it's starting to look a little less attractive. Through all the sites that I have found, the same sorry story ensues. Fly from Edinburgh to London, and then to my further destination (with all the interstitial buggering around commensurate with that particular route? £90 return. Oh, hang on, let's whack some tax onto that. Ah, £160 return. Plus the overnight stay and general buggering about. Let's add another £50 onto that.

Essentially, the price for any route that I try to take is, essentially, doubled by taxes. Bastards...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Leopard Spahetti is giving up smoking. It's obviously taking its toll...
I really envy people who seem to be able to give up smoking seemingly at a whim, with no fuss, bother or agonised chewing of their feet.

Now, I'm perfectly well aware that a lot of people who adopt this attitude will be lying. They have the luxury of having already quit, so they can claim what they like, safe in the knowledge that you will never have to witness their crying, raving and screaming, their bloody fingernails and their cacked pants. They are, basically, lying to look cool, and are therefore the very source of pathetic.

The others, the ones who are not lying, at least to themselves,w ere never properly smokers in the first place. That simple. They're deluding themselves into thinking they're Cary Grant or something, and they are gimp-nonces of the first water.

Whatever the reason, these people should ALL be slapped in the chops. Not once or twice, but repeatedy, up and down the day, by a sixty-a-day smoker whose suppressed appetite means that he will never have to stop for lunch.

Why do I never come up with phrases like "gimp-nonces of the first water", eh? My bile duct must be half-empty. Maybe I shall go and visit the fragrant Commissioner's blog* and fill it up again...

*Jesus, she really is a fatuous pimp-farmer of the first water. I find it difficult to articulate my contempt for her...

Solar warming

I happened to be trawling the comments on the blog of that airhead, Margot Wallstrom, a woman rather more out of her depth than a midget in New Orleans, when I found this story referred to. It seems that, in simple terms, the the sun is getting hotter; that is, its radiation output is increasing.
In what could be the simplest explanation for one component of global warming, a new study shows the Sun's radiation has increased by .05 percent per decade since the late 1970s.

The increase would only be significant to Earth's climate if it has been going on for a century or more, said study leader Richard Willson, a Columbia University researcher also affiliated with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The Sun's increasing output has only been monitored with precision since satellite technology allowed necessary observations. Willson is not sure if the trend extends further back in time, but other studies suggest it does.

"This trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change," Willson said.

When you combine this information with the evidence of global warming on Mars and Jupiter, it makes the whole Kyoto Protocol look more and more worthless.

One day, some MSM hack is going to have to turn around and say that Bush was right not to ratify it. The resulting furore will, I would imagine, look a little like a Hoffman cartoon.

The Man Who Admitted That Bush Was Right, perhaps...?

Naked ambition

The ex-Royal Marine known as "the naked rambler" has been rearrested (free registration probably required). He was originally sentenced after being found guilty of a breach of the peace.
STEPHEN Gough, the Naked Rambler, was arrested for refusing to cover up on leaving prison, it emerged yesterday.

The former Royal Marine was stopped by officers as he passed through the gates of Edinburgh's Saughton Prison. He was jailed for two weeks on 9 September after being found guilty of a breach of the peace while on his naked walk covering the length of Britain.

The 46-year-old from Bournemouth was released last Friday after serving half his sentence but did not make it beyond the gates before being stopped.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that Gough was arrested on Friday after refusing to get dressed as he left prison. Gough appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court that day to face a charge of breach of the peace. He was released on bail and will appear in court in December.

Gough and his partner, Melanie Roberts (who has also been charged), are walking, starkers, from Land's End to John O'Groats. Now, this guy is obviously something of a fucking loon—he's currently walking, nude, through Fife. In September. It's getting quite chilly up here now—but he's hardly a menace to society. If he and his nude girlfriend want to ramble up and down Britain in all weathers, then fair enough (it's not my idea of fun, but each to their own). Just one of those slightly eccentric nutters that we British are so good at producing, he's not exactly Broadmoor material.

So why, in the name of God, are the police and the justice system spending so much time and money repeatedly persecuting the poor guy? Haven't they got anything better to do? You know all that paperwork that the police complain about? If they have to do it, wouldn't it be better to do it on a suspected murderer or rapist, rather than some poor nut who's idea of fun is walking in his birthday suit through the Cairngorms, in autumn?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the police (or "the shit" as they are, apparently, amusingly known in Newcastle) really don't do themselves any favours, do they?

The Royal Mail

Ah, the Royal Mail; a nice safe topic, you might think. Shocking abandonment of the second delivery, post arriving later and later, ad infinitum, ad nauseam...

My memory was jolted by this little story of an Aberdeenshire postie.
An Aberdeen postman who stole hundreds of parcels has escaped a jail sentence.
James Stewart dumped the mail in black wheelie bins outside his house because he wanted to finish his rounds quickly.

His bosses at Royal Mail became suspicious after several people on his Hallfield Road round complained about missing post.

The 25-year-old immediately confessed to the theft of almost 900 packages during August and September last year. He was sacked after an investigation.

A little while ago, the Royal Mail announced record profits with the chief executive, Adam Crozier, receiving a £2.2 million pound bonus. The MSM was outraged, the howls of protests citing the swathe of job cuts, and a recent audit showing that the cpmapny was still managing to lose some 14.4 million items a year. What was not made so much of was that staff, including the posties themselves, were to receive a bonus of £1,074 each.

Now why should this be so contentious? It seems to me that the guy who was employed to run the Mail, and who transformed the company from losing £1.5 million a day to making £2 million, deserves his bonus. He has done his job and done it pretty well, I would say.

However, these workers getting a grand as a bonus: now, if the Mail is losing 14.4 million items a year, can anyone tell me where they are going? Who actually handles these items? Is it Mr Crozier? No. Is it the postal workers? Yes. Where then, are these items going to? Well, now we know, don't we? Because this isn't the first such case. Now, if you are going to make a fuss about bonuses, let's evaluate the situation.

Mr Crozier: turns the company round and therefore does his job. Bonus deserved.

Postal workers: not only losing 14.4 million items a year, but also having to be bribed to actually turn up for work. Bonus deserved?

Me? I'd say not. But then, I'm harsh like that...

That NPT thing again

Curious Hamster has picked up on my post, which was itself a reply to one of his, dealing with Iran and the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.

Curious flags up as interesting the fact that, although we generally agree on Iran's policy, we come to very different conclusions about it.
As I see it, the recent aggressiveness of US/UK foreign policy has been a key factor in Iran restarting it's nuclear programme. As such, it has been counter-productive. I believe that a more diplomatic approach is required and I wouldn't support any military action to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities. It would, almost certainly, make the Iranians more determined than ever. We'd just end up with another Iraq, having to invade as the only way to be sure whether or not Iran has WMD. At this stage it looks unlikely that an invasion would be acceptable but it won't surprise me if the option of missile strikes isn't raised before long.

This is not a conclusion that I would disagree with, although I would point out that Iran's nuclear programme has been in on/off stages since long before 9/11 and the events that followed. I do agree that our invasion of Iraq has certainly made them more determined to obtain nuclear weaponry, but I don't think that not invading Iraq would necessarily have ceased their programme. I do think it likely that they would have kept it under wraps though.

And he's right that, politically, invading Iran is now all but impossible. However, in my post, I made sure that that was clear; after all, it was why I expressed admiration for those running Iran's foreign policy. But—and this is a but slightly bigger than a black female soul singer's—is that I do not believe that the "insurgancy" in Iraq will subside unless substantial pressure is brought to bear on Iran. The thing is, you see, that I don't believe in the insurgancy. I believe that it is, in essence, a Iranian counter-invasion, and a ploy to keep the US/UK forces tied up, both militarily and politically. So, I'm going to make a prediction: the day that Iran obtains nuclear arms is the day that we will see a massive falling off in the so-called insurgancy, and not one minute before. (The logical conclusion to this is, of course, that the Iraq "experiment" cannot and will not work unless the Iranian regime changes or, as I have postulated, they feel secure. This is leaving aside, of course, the desired spread of fundamentalist Islam.)

The insurgancy makes absolutely no sense if you believe that it is being carried out purely by Sunni malcontents. If they were really fighting against the invaders, then they would target the troops rather than, for instance, ordinary Iraqis queuing for their paychecks. They would also concentrate their bombings in the north (the Kurds) and south (the Shi'ites) of Iraq, not around Baghdad (largely Sunni). You would also expect some kind of demands from the leadership of the terrorists, rather than this pointless, indiscriminate bombing of civilians.
So what if the Iranians do develop nuclear weapons? Well, it wouldn't be good, no doubt about it. But the Iranian government, like all governments, wants one thing more than any other; to stay in power. I don't buy the idea that the Iranians are irrational enough to launch a nuclear attack. They know what the consequences would be.

What would they be? Would we then invade them? Thanks to Iran's superb political tactics (as described in my previous post) it would be both politically and logistically impossible, certainly at present. Would we launch a retaliative nuclear strike. Very, very unlikely. We could hardly condemn them for using nuclear weaponry and then do so ourselves. So what? No doubt there'll be a bit of "worldwide condemnation" and some people will stop trading with them. But then, the US, for instance, doesn't trade with them anyway so they wouldn't lose much there.

Let's, just for a second, suppose that the Iranian regime was sufficiently anti-Jewish enough to launch a nuclear attack against Israel: given the relative size of the two countries, who do you think is going to suffer more from a few megatons of nuclear weaponry going off in their country? Without any warning? Lest anyone should think this a really, really stupid idea, please remind yourself of this: when we were going into Iraq in the first Gulf War, who did Saddam launch Scuds against? The invading forces? Nah. Israel? Yup. This was, undoubtedly, a tactic to attempt to bring the other Arab states in on his side but, nevertheless, it shows a depth of hatred and contempt for the Jews which we in the West find rather difficult to understand.

The point is this: Islamist fanantics have priorites rather different to our own. Now, if I were carrying out a terrorist attack, I wouldn't want to die in the process. Islamist terrorists do. This is what makes them so dangerous and frightening: their priorities are so different, that we simply can't comprehend their mindset. The trouble is that we are unable to make an absolute, total, final, utterly reliable judgement that the Iranian government would rather hang on to power than destroy Israel. And, as I've illustrated, that they could certainly gamble on being able to do both. Or maybe I'm just getting carried away here...?
I'd say that if terrorists do get their hands on nuclear weapons they'll still most likely get them from Russia (I don't mean from the government). There are still lots of them lying around and pretty much everything is up for sale in Russia these days.

Although I think that same, as I've said, nuclear warheads have a shelf-life and it is unlikely that weaponry for the buying is still active, given the length of time that Russia's arsenal has been lying around. I think it unlikely that we will see a nuclear terrorist strike (fingers crossed though, eh?).

Curious also points out the double standards that the US, and indeed Britain, apply to the NPT. He is, of course, correct; however, that's politics. There is a real problem with nuclear disarmament, and it is this: politics is about power. If you have an unimaginatively powerful weapon that somebody else doesn't have, then you have power over them. And the simple fact is that you cannot uninvent something. If, for instance, you really wanted to get rid of nuclear weapons, you would have to decommission every warhead, hide the evidence, then wipe the memories of—or kill—every single human being who has a concept of how a nuclear bomb works. This would include everyone in this country who has, for instance, taken Physics GCSE (at least, I'm assuming that they haven't dumbed it down that far yet). And, frankly, I would prefer that we have the weapons and try to stop others getting them because I believe that, generally speaking, we are the good guys. Furthermore, as I said, I think that this whole "double-standards" that Iran is accusing us of (Iran accusing us of double-standards? Anyone else find that weird?) is still a time-buying delay tactic anyway.

Curious then makes a fatal error in his assessment of how I feel about nuclear weapons. I said that I believed that the fact that the US was the only country to have used nuclear weaponry was beside the point.
I struggle to see why it's beside the point. We're saying that such weapons are intolerable. The US government would have greater moral authority to say this if they were not the only nation ever to have used them.

No, I have never, ever said that nuclear weapons are morally wrong. Ever. Who sets the morals? We set morals, and most poiliticians are—how shall I put this?—morally flexible. There is nothing inherently immoral about nuclear weapons because everyone's morals are different; there is no all-high being setting moral standards (unless you believe in a god, and even then I would say that no god actually enforces the standards laid down in their various tracts).

Nuclear weapons are silly things to use if you are trying to gain territory because the fall-out tends to make the area uninhabitable (although people do live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think that they're insane, but there you are). However, with the low-yield bombs that have been developed in modern times, this becomes less of a consideration. Without the fall-out, a nuclear weapon is simply a very, very, very big bomb (Little Boy was a 15 kiloton bomb, i.e. the explosion was the equivalent of 15,000 metric tons of tri-nitro-toluene (TNT). This is roughly equivalent to the amount of high explosive dropped on Dresden during the fire-bombing). I fail to see how morals—which are, by their very nature, subjective—come into this (and we know that the Iranian regime's morals are certainly different from our own (we don't hang our gays from cranes, for instance)). So, morality is certainly not a factor, and neither is it a factor in politics.
I do agree that it is very unlikely that the US would use any of it's current arsenal. As such, you'd think they'd be happy to be rid of them. All they need to do is to start actively decommissioning their unusable weapons, in accordance with the NPT, and I'll stop calling them hypocrites. I'm afraid I won't be holding my breath.

This shows a basic misunderstanding of the forces governing international politics, as shown above. Politics is about power. Full stop. Nuclear weapons are power. Full stop. It might be nice if neither of these were true but, alas, this is not the case. You can continue to call the US and UK governments hypocrites until you are blue in the face; it won't make a blind bit of difference. The US arsenal is shrinking, through natural decay and a smaller building programme, but they will never give them up entirely. And, given that we cannot uninvent nuclear weapons, nor should they. And neither should we. I would rather that we have the big stick, thank you (although you can probably keep the small carrot. I bet you've never heard that one before...).

You know what? I reckon that the FO ought to hire me. I'm good, darn good...

(You see, the smugness is back!)

UPDATE: There are times when I wish that I wasn't right all the time. Either that, or the FO visit The Kitchen, which would make me a Muse, rather than Cassandra...

The violin

When my brother first formed Carnival of Souls (website under construction: however, if it breaks in your browser, could you let me know?) at school, they were a three piece of guitar, second guitar or keyboards, and violin.

Now, the violin is a very underrated pop instrument, only really being used extensively by folk rockers like Fairport Convention (never the same after the loss of Sandy Denny). However, there is one particular instrumental, in which the Souls double-tracked the violin. In Before (3.5 MB MP3), there is a note which—particularly when I listen to it on my iPod—makes me want to both laugh and cry, or cry with joy and laugh with sadness. I can't think of many other instruments that could do that.

Oh, and a quick plug here: the Carnival of Souls are headlining the Barfly in London on Saturday, October 1st. Go and see them: they are really good live...!

Liver spots

For those of you who hang around the fair city of Edinburgh, can I heartily—as I have before—recommend the farmer's market of a Saturday morning? It takes place on the carpark in Castle Street, and sells many fine things. Through its influence, I have tried such meaty delights as ostrich, wild boar, buffalo and much else besides. It's not that it's particularly cheap, you understand; it's that, when you cook the meat, it doesn't shrink down to nothing. I no longer buy my meat from a supermarket, because it's tasteless, water-infested crap.

However, my absolute and total favourite, and—I'm sure—one of the reasons that I'm in a good mood today, is venison liver. It's absolutely beautiful! Lightly fried with a small bit of red onion and a baked potato, it might be the most delicious thing in the world! Yum!

Today's song selection: Laid...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Weird science?

Leopard Spaghetti ruminates on the nature of weirdness and, as usual, raises a shout of laughter from your kinky Devil!
See, too many people think that "weird" is a criticism. Not as far as I am concerned it's not. Well, not in moderation. You could successfully argue that a child molester who dresses up as a clown is "weird", but then weirdness is a vague concept that can cover all sorts of aberrant behaviour, and is orders of magnitude removed from the weird I am talking about.


How to rule a nation

The G-Gnome has composed an excellent blueprint for Scottish independence which I, as an adopted Scot, wholeheartedly agree with. In fact, it is the only blueprint that I would agree with. And, frankly, we could apply it to England and Wales too. It is essentially, a very neat summation of the policies put forward by my Cabinet.

Now to actually enact it...

The Devil's Death

Apparently, according to this cheerful little app., I shall die on Thursday, November 26, 2043. Cripes! 38 years to go, making me a little older than 66 at the time of my demise. Ah, well; I'd better make good use of those remaining seconds...



Now, I know that a number of bloggers have been talking about electoral reform, probably involving some sort of proportional representation.

Whilst doing so, let's think long and hard about this. Oh, and while we're about it, let's think about this too.

Iran and the NPT

Curious Hamster has a post up about Iran, Korea and the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. It looks like there has been a breakthrough with North Korea, in that it has "given up its nuclear aims". Hang on, didn't they announce a little while ago that they actually had nuclear weapons? Do we see a small bluff? I think we do.

However, Iran is a really interesting one, and I have espoused to a number of people my admiration for whoever is overseeing Iran's foreign policy (despite my loathing for the regime in general). As I have said before, I believe that we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq partly because they were not Iran. My reasoning being this:
  • After 9/11, the White House had to at least be seen to be doing something. Driving the terrorists out of their boltholes seemed to be a good thing. Iran has been widely acknowledged for many years as a major sponsor of terrorism. However, Iran was militarily strong but, more importantly, it was a figurehead Muslim state. There was no way that other Muslim states could not support it, either overtly or, more likely, covertly. So, who to go for?

  • Afghanistan was an easy target as intelligence suggested that many of the training camps were located there (mainly because the West had established them). More importantly, the Taliban were so radical that they were considered a threat even by Iran and Saudi Arabia. Thus they would be an easy target.

  • Iraq was also an easy one. Weakened by the First Gulf War and ten years of sanctions, with guaranteed support for an initial invasion from both the Kurds and the Shi'ites, it should be easy militarily. Plus, Saddam was a Ba'athist, and thus considered not to be a proper Muslim by the other states. Furthermore, Iran would be happy to see its old adversary brought down.

  • But the real target, Iran, had to be warned about its sponsorship of terrorism. Hence the phrases "War on Terror" and the famous "Axis of Evil" speech (which named Iran). This, understandably, may have got the Iranians a touch jittery.

Now look at this from Iran's point of view. They have no real guarantee that the US is not actually planning to have a go at them next, and so what can they do? Well, Korea (also mentioned as one of the Axis of Evil) have scared the US off with an announcement of nuclear weaponry; Iran, already dabbling in the area, let it be known that they have restarted and accelerated their own bid for nuclear weaponry. This is a delaying tactic.

Meanwhile, the US and UK have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. What to do? There are a lot of troops hanging around on Iran's borders, so the danger is not yet averted. Iran starts to sponsor, with both weaponry and experience, the dispossessed in both countries, but concentrating especially on Iraq (the last thing that they want is the Taliban back in Afghanistan).

They also invite overtures from France, Germany and the UK, who believe that they can achieve by diplomacy what the US could not do with threats. Thus, the Iranians announce that, thanks to diplomacy, they have stopped their nuclear programme.

Delighted, France and Germany, with the rest of the EU, use this as a stick to beat the US. "Look what we can do with diplomacy, rather than through war!"

By this stage, the Allied forces are bogged down militarily and, most importantly, from a Public Relations point of view. There is simply no way that the people of those countries will ever allow another invasion whilst Iraq is such a mess. As a bonus for Iran, Sharia is starting to take hold in southern Iraq, and Iran is becoming an ever stronger influence with the Iraqi government.

Iran promptly starts up its nuclear programme, secure militarily and politically. The naive Europeans are shocked at this duplicity, and protest. Iran ignores them, then says that it will agree nothing with them, it wants more people around the table. Certain that this means considerable effort, Iran has bought itself yet more time.

The Iranian command have fought an absolute blinder. Now, don't tell me that you don't admire their strategy! Hey, it's guesswork on my part, but if I'm not pretty close to the truth, I'll eat my hat (it's a fedora).

So, back to C. Hamster's piece.
It certainly wouldn't surprise me if Iran does intend to develop a covert weapons programme. From the perspective of the Iranian government, it's about the most rational thing they could do.
They must be extremely concerned for their national security and they know they can never compete militarily with the US (and friends). The only possible way they can deter such an invasion is with nuclear weapons.

Certainly it is. And I can barely believe that an oil-rich country such as Iran is so worried about the enviroment that they want to ditch their current powerstations in favour of cleaner power. I haven't seen a particularly vocal Green movement in that country.
But the reality is that almost no-one knows whether the Iranians intend to build nuclear weapons. President Ahmadinejad says not. Let's hope he's telling the truth.

The signs are not promising. As Jack Straw said, the President's comments were " disappointing and unhelpful". He even had the audacity to accuse the nuclear powers of double standards. What a ridiculous notion.

What do you think that chances are that the hardline, puppet president of Iran is telling the truth? Low to none, I'd say. And given the astuteness of their conduct over the last few years, I would say that they are, once again, attempting to buy time.
Just because the nuclear powers show absolutely no intention of honouring their commitment to disarmament as agreed in the NPT, just because we never talk about Israel's nuclear weapons, just because Pakistan is now an ally so their nuclear weapons are OK too, just because the US is the only nation ever to have actually dropped an atomic bomb on actual people... Double standards? What is the man thinking?

Careful, Hamster; you're letting you're enthusiasm for bashing the US run away with you here. Although active decommissioning is not happened, the rate of manufacture of weapons is virtually zero. Given that uranium 235 and plutonium 239 decay naturally anyway, nuclear weapons do have a shelf-life. This means that both the US and, especially, Russia have many hundreds fewer nuclear warheads than they did 10 years ago.

Pakistan may be an ally, but India is not particularly, and we certainly did little to aid their nuclear programmes: that was, in the main, Russia. Once a country gains nuclear weaponry, you can only hope that they a) don't use them, b) don't decide to get into an arms race, and c) don't get taken over by a lunatic who might actually use them. Despite the severe doubts over the legitimacy of Musharraf's government (after all, he took over in an army coup), he has done far more to build bridges with many countries, but most pertinently India. The threat of a nuclear war in that area is rather more remote than it was some years ago.

As for the US being the only power to actually drop a bomb on a military target, that is utterly beside the point. It is only relevent in the context of discouraging them to do it again; apart from anything else, the explosive power of Little Boy and Fat Man was a fraction of even the smallest warhead in the US's current arsenal. The US would not use nuclear weaponry except in the direst need: it would become an international pariah were it to do so. And, despite what everyone may currently think, the philosophy of the US is to minimise, as far as possible, civilian casualties. Our duty is to ensure that a regime that does not share this view, such as a regime that believes that there is no such thing as an Israeli civilian, should not get the same capability.

Prince Adam does 4 Non-Blondes

Via bookdrunk and, I have come across this stone cold classic video of Prince Adam (and the cast of He-Man) singing that 4 Non-Blondes song (the name of which I've temporarily forgotten).

It made me laugh like a fucking drain. For ages. And, watch out for the chef at the end...


The blogging bible*

It's on its way! 2005: Blogged is out on the 18th of November. It's edited by the great architect (not in the Freemason sense. Or not as far as I know) of the Britblog Roundup, Mister Tim Worstall.


Timmy would like some help in flogging publicising this rather lovely edition; after all, it's only 2005 blogged. Given a few more disasters (Gordo's management of the British economy, anyone?) we should be able to up sales to the point at which we can get a 2006 one out. That'd be nice, eh? Anyway, I'll let the man speak:
The first point is that obviously, all of the material is already out there for you to read for free, so why have a print anthology at all? It’s really aimed at that 95% (? 98%?) of the population that doesn’t read blogs at all. In fact, if you add up the traffic of the bigger UK blogs I think you’ll find no more than a million page views a week and of course a lot of those are repeats. That means that even of the 8% of the population that buys more than one book a year there’s an awful lot of them to try and introduce to this pleasure we all indulge ourselves in.

So one of the things we hope to do is to get people to realise quite how much good writing there is out there available to them. We, the cognoscenti, already know. Well, we do to an extent. I’ve found, while doing the research (I skimmed through 5,000 blogs and read in much more depth a 1,000 of them to make the selections), that it isn’t true that we do in fact know all of the good ones. Certainly, I found that there were whole areas of personal and music and culture and so on blogs that I knew nothing at all about. (BTW, if you have someone you think I should know about drop me a line. Final closing date for alterations is early October.)

As Tim points out, we can all advertise the book on our blogs, via an Amazon Affiliates account (note that the book is only available through, not the American .com version). You can then get a nice link, like wot I've got, top left) and earn commission on the book. So if you wish to buy it, if you could do so through my link so that I may somehow justify the amount of time I spend doing this stuff! That would be lovely, thank you.

*Tip to religious loons: this is just a figure of speech.

On literacy

We are taking the Bank Holiday today so, whilst I am actually working myself, I can do so without quite the same pressure on me. Thus, I shall also be catching up on all those things that have caught my eye—and are sitting as Safari windows in my Dock—over the last week or so. So, let us begin...

Notwithstanding our glorious Pedant-General's assessment of my own capabilities, I do believe that the standard of my written language is pretty good. The same cannot be said, alas, for the typical modern-day student (ripped, bleeding, from the heart of the registration-required area of The Scotsman and brought to my attention by a good friend of mine who may or may not have been involved).
SCOTTISH university students have been accused of missing classes, passing off copied coursework as their own, lacking general knowledge and having poor literacy skills, in a critical report by their lecturers.

Well, obviously, that's not good and that's just the introductory paragraph.
The annual course monitoring report (ACMR) by members of Glasgow University's faculty of arts has even led to calls for students to take a "literacy certificate" in order to prove they have a basic grasp of grammar.

According to the report, lecturers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the abilities and the attitude of the students they teach. In particular, plagiarism of coursework and poor attendance at tutorials are described as "endemic" and "demoralising".

My friend, who happened to teach, until quite recently, tutorials at this very same University—what a coincidence!—had reported something similar. Well, I say similar. What I mean is that she, as something of a language purist (in that I think she and our glorious P-G would get on like a house on fire), was immensely frustrated at the poor standard of English. Her biggest compaint was that most of her pupils were unable to even construct whole sentences properly and, furthermore, were unable to understand why it was that the construction that they had put together was not a sentence. Bear in mind that these people are no in tertiary education and, in my friend's case, studying English Literature; and yet they were unable to write their own damn language! Apart from anything else, how can you dissect an author's writing style, or discern how they have created a "voice", if you don't understand the nuances of the language used to express said voice?
The report says: "Departments seem to have reached a critical point in their ability to cope individually with the decreasing literacy of incoming students.

"Conveners across the faculty are reporting that students demonstrate poor writing and even reading skills."

One classical civilisation lecturer said in the report: "The most basic arts skill of all, namely the accurate and grammatical use of English language, is a skill that is inadequately possessed by some students."

It just gets more damning! I mean, one has got used to the idea that those who know how to distinguish between semi-colons and colons are increasingly dwindling in number, but some undergraduates are having trouble with reading? Reading is a skill that should be possessed by anybody who has passed English GCSE, for heaven's sake! At the very least! This is our language (best damn language in all the world); no wonder those on the Continent mock the British people's ability with language; apparently, some of our university undergraduates can't read their own language, let alone learn another.
Last night, the report's findings were backed by one senior academic who insisted the problems were not confined to the university's arts faculty.

Professor Eric Wilkinson, of Glasgow University's education department, told The Scotsman that increasing use of the internet had made plagiarism by students a major problem.
Prof Wilkinson said: "Plagiarism is now a really serious problem across all faculties - it's becoming a real nightmare.

So are we seeing a lot of students being kicked off their courses for plagiarism? Have you seen any high-profile cases recently? Or any cases? Is this no longer a "sacking" offence? Because it should be.
He admitted that non-attendance at tutorials was on the increase - but blamed the rise on the need for students to have jobs to help them pay their way through university.
"With the increasing financial pressure on students these days, they need to have part-time jobs and that has led to a decline in attendance at lectures, which is also a cause for concern. It's not that they don't care about their studies, but it's just that they need to work to be able to pay their fees and other costs.

Ah, yes; it is the government's fault for underfunding the universities and students. I might have known that that would come up at some point. Look, some students have always had to get a job, even in the days of generous grants; and as grants increasingly failed to keep pace with living costs, that became even more true. My first year grant was not quite enough to pay for my first three months in Halls (luckily, my father offered to pay me a (not-massive, but enough) allowance on the proviso that I did not get a Student Loan). Might I also suggest that if students are that hard up, that they don't spend their Student Loans on holidays, top of the range computers and expensive artworks (incidences of which I have personally come across)?

Many people who comes to university have not handled large amounts of money before: if you lob a great wodge of cash—£3,500 or something?—at them, then naturally they are going to get a little overexcited. I, myself, am pretty hopeless with my own money (very good with other people's though; this is why the business is still going!) and might have done something similar (which shows how well my father knew me!). However, one cannot then, necessarily, blame the government for the fact that students have to get jobs.

And, in the end, if the reason for going to university, i.e. getting your degree, starts to become ignored then why are you there? Because if students don't try, and the universities are under funding pressure to churn out as many degrees as possible, then the whole thing will become debased. Oh, no, sorry; it has already, hasn't it.
And he said an over-emphasis on creative writing rather than grammar lessons in schools was to blame for falling literacy levels among students.
"There hasn't been so much emphasis on grammar in schools, but it's a question of balance. Kids do write more creatively now than they used to, but many of my colleagues are concerned about the lack of grammatical skills."

Now, I wonder why that might be? Could it be wishy-washy, Lefty teaching practices? You know, the kind of ones that encourage "deferred success" rather than "failure".
Could it also be that many teachers, especially those who have come out of the education system since, well, the late 70s, actually have little idea about grammar themselves? If we were, in fact, to insist on teaching correct grammar in schools, would we have to retrain all of our teachers? I suspect that, yes, we would have to send a lot of them on special "Learning How To Write Your Own Damn Language" courses (at public expense, naturally).
The author of the report, Dr Alice Jenkins, said its findings proved there was an urgent need for students to be tested on their ability to read and write.

She said: "There is an urgent case for establishing a literacy certificate, and action to further this is now a priority for faculty consideration."

A spokeswoman for the university yesterday insisted that the problems identified in the report were not confined to Glasgow alone.

Damn right it's not: another friend of mine who used to teach (Eng. Lit. again) at the University of Edinburgh has said much the same thing about his students' abilities in crafting their own language. I haven't asked bookdrunk yet: any views, old boy?
She said: "Annual course monitoring reports allow us to scrutinise courses and ensure that problems are addressed promptly and standards constantly improved.

"The report is a local response to wider problems which are being identified throughout the higher education sector."

Details of the ACMR report come just five months after Glasgow University was warned that damage was being done to its reputation at home and abroad.

A study by Christow Consultants said: "The perception is that the university has lost ground at all levels - internationally, at a UK level, in Scotland and even in Glasgow."

I can well believe it. And yet, how can this be? For GCSEs and A Levels are definitely not getting easier at all are they? It's just that the teachers are getting better and the students are working harder (apart from plagiarising undergraduates, apparently).
Students using 'soap opera' English

CONCERNS have been growing for some time that standards of reading and writing have fallen among young people.

Last year, it emerged that students at seven Scottish universities [My emphasis—DK] were having to take remedial classes in English because they lacked basic literacy skills.

Exam officials in England have also accused A-level students of using "soap opera" phrases in their English exams.

Among the examples highlighted were: "So anyway, Viola's had it with Olivia and is fuming with her", in a dissertation on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Do I need to comment on this? Those people, who I know, who have very good standards of writing are those who read a lot of books. Might I suggest that the reason that students are using "soap opera" phrases is because soap operas are their main cultural input?

I despair of this country. Roll on the dictatorship...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A good time...

... had with bookdrunk. But nothing seems better. "I didn't want to make you unhappy" seems stupid from someone, and is preying on my mind. Nothing seems to be working properly; fingers like an arthritic, brain like a blancmange, heart like a very small cinder but pulsing on.

Let's not get sentimental; I am a bad person and have done many bad things. My "moral flexibility" has always been an excuse for weakness and capitulation. But nothing has prepared me for this ludicrous and utter hollowness.

Time to take young Timmy up on his offer, methinks, and NM on his advice. Time to remove myself for a little while. Who knows? Find something new, as when the world was old and unexplored. Too much of me though, and not enough of ME. One rambles and prevaricates, but knows that those things that are real will always come to those that are in limbo. Like the great long-legged scissorman, who came to Conrad though he didn't believe. He believed when his thumbs were gone, so now I take that my thumbs were precious possessions, and that life has them until I pay my debt to it.

Sorry, stream of consciousness. Time to lose it and to make it tell as though my friend. All things must pass, as Master Harrison said, as of passing ships in the night have I spoken tonight. As my eyes hollow like those of an old, Egyptian mummy, so I think of Peter Mitchell, and his hurriedly contrived books of nonsense and tenuous connections, yet so alive and engrossing. It makes for much-a-bed reading.

But now to the spill, the force of unrest to destroy the politics of what must be and shall be. Reign supreme, but show not your countenance on the outside; for should you do so, those that would despise you shall depise you further, and all the words in the world will never make you whole again.

You see? Such prose is easy. And, were I to anchor it in Japan would have me published and in line for the Mann Booker Prize before I could say, "Yay, there, sailor. Don't let the mizzen yield the wind, 'ere the boat topple over in such seas as we have never seen!" And all to no avail as the captain informed me, donning his Jesus wig, in order to plunder those ashore...

And yet the question remains. Is it fated that I contact her? She has asked for such contact, but it seems to me that no fruit can come of such a meeting and thus would render me even more out of sorts than I could ever manage to bear.For why should we be friends? We have fine talk together, that much is true. And we can revel in each other's company, so why, then, should I mourn; what have I lost, in fact. I have lost that which I found desirable, that lady which I lay beside, once, that joining of desire and interest, of love and friendship. 'Twas something that I had not before; for if I had one, then I had not another. If I was not a lover, then I was confidente, and then the roles would change.

Now, I should be confidente only, a thing to whisper sins into without the burden of payment; how commercial, nay pimpish, it sounds: but was this not the deal? To hear her woes would be sweet, yet to never know recompense or, even, just comfort might be too hard a thing to bear. Has no one an answer? How then should I be? Should I then lose all contact, and be as one estranged? Or should it be that I should humour her, and thus tear my heart from wherein it lies? (See how the prose still flows, this river of divers sentiments, cast aloud to the stream of digits that make up the web's fabric; a message to the alive from those who are dead.)

'Tis a pretty problem, and one that will not be solved for a time. For the morrow holds yet more slavery, and less ambition; and yet I must meet 'ere it rises. For those that are my dependants so obviously depend on me, and so my world shall revolve and I shall be the man that I pretend to be. Vale, and let that, yet small, mockery be the rock upon which I shall founder, and yet be free.

P.S. Houseflies that make no sound when buzzing are as creepy as hell...

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...