Friday, February 29, 2008


Your humble Devil is feeling a little out of sorts, my mood reminiscent of how I used to feel on a Tuesday after taking Ecstasy at the weekend. And yet despite feeling restless, bored and irritable, I haven't actually taken any drugs in months.

Where's the justice, eh?

Still, lots to do...

Red light and bull

It seems that some young lass has been jailed for killing a cyclist.
A motorist who was texting on her mobile phone when she hit and killed a cyclist has been sentenced to four years in prison.

The 25-year-old from Hythe, Hampshire, was driving at 45mph in a 30mph zone.

This seems pretty cut and dried, doesn't it? After all, texting whilst you are driving is wilfully fucking dangerous. Certainly Kiera Coultas does deserve a harsh punishment; and yet... [Emphasis mine.]
Jordan Wickington, 19, died from head injuries when he went through a red light and was struck by Kiera Coultas' car in Southampton in February 2007.

I have written about the lawlessness of cyclists before and, notwithstanding the comments about careless drivers, etc., just speeding through a red light is an incredibly stupid thing to do if you are a cyclist (quite apart from being illegal): it's pretty fucking stupid if you are driving a car, but at least you have a couple of tons of metal (plus all the other features) to protect you.

Mike Power makes the same point.
The cyclists family said after the sentencing that they hoped his death would be a lesson for other drivers. Yeah, I agree. But there's is surely also another lesson here isn't there? One for cyclists?
  • When you are cycling you are a road user not a pedestrian.

  • Traffic signals apply to you just as they apply to cars.

  • Cars, vans and lorries are big dangerous pieces of machinery moving at speed so you might like to think about wearing a crash helmet.

So, I think that there's a lesson for both drivers and cyclists here: the main one for cyclists is that the laws of the road apply to you too, you fuckwits. That means stopping at traffic lights and zebra crossings when required to do so. Otherwise, you could easily be killed.

It's not a difficult concept, is it?

Quote of the Day...

... comes from this elegant fisking by Unity of a load of crap from the Independent on the subject of health.
Next time you see someone in the MSM bitching about bloggers and questioning what we do, just remember that one of the answers is increasing becoming ‘your fucking job!’

Quite so.

Are they mad?

One of the things that the last ten years of the NuLabour administration has surely taught us is that simply flinging massive amounts of money at the public services does not make them better—or, at least, not as good as they should be with such a massive cash injection. After all, Nulabour have increased NHS spending from about £37 billion, in 1997, to £89 billion today: is the service two and a half times better than it was? No, no it's not.

So, the Tories are here; they are a new force, they claim: they will sort t all out. They are different to Labour and they have looked at the problem and they know just how to put it right, oh yes!

What will they do? Will they perhaps grab the bull by the horns, point out that the NHS is not as good as it could be and that we might, just possibly, look at systems that are rather better than ours? Systems, like those in France, Germany or Switzerland; systems that don't needlessly kill 17,000 people per annum? Is there going to be light at the end of the tunnel?

And the Tories' solution is... to throw another £28 billion, at least, at the same fucking system that the Taxpayers' Alliance called "a colossal waste of lives and money".

Fucking hellski.

CARS 21: Motorbikes 0

A few days ago, a little mole in Brussels contacted me about a Swedish initiative called Vision 0, a PowerPoint presentation of which is also available.

The long term goal is that no-one shall be killed or seriously injured within the Swedish road transport system.

The whole presentation concentrates on how road users and road designers can interact, and a considerable amount of the presentation focuses on how humans are the main factor in safety issues.
  • People make errors, mistakes and misjudgements

  • There are biomechanical tolerance limits

Well, one can hardly argue with that nor, indeed, with the assessment of the fact that fatigue, alcohol and drugs impair driving. In Sweden, the initiative has focused heavily on road design, although the Swedish government is also keen to see all cars fitted with alcohol breathalyser locks.

Fine, what the Swedish government do is entirely irrelevant and, generally speaking, none of my business. Except that one of the slides includes the following information...
The Commission is currently conducting a review into the European Road Safety Action Programme and will, at the beginning of 2006, draw up an assessment of measures which have been taken at the European and Member State levels. Without pre-empting the conclusions of this assessment, it seems clear that the main causes of accidents remain speeding, the non-wearing of seat belts and helmets and alcohol/ drugs/ fatigue:

CARS 21 is an EU Commission initiative and, according to my informant, that same Commission is very interested in adopting the Swedish Vision 0 for itself.

But this is a laudable aim, is it not? Well, yes and no because, you see, the EU Commission does not have a "stop" switch, nor even a "this is a fucking stupid idea" warning light; would that they did. And it is relevant because road safety is entirely in the hands of the Commission: the British government no longer has primacy over our road safety laws.

And my mole reliably informs me that the Commission has seized upon the idea that it is human error that causes accidents; thus, they have reasoned, the best way to remove human error would be to automate the driving process. As such, they have been looking at ways of doing this—and it could be integrated with the Galileo project too.

Unfortunately, there is a little fly in this ointment: although the Commission have decided that it would be relatively easy to automate car driving, it would be near impossible to automate the driving of another type of vehicle.


As such, they have concluded that motorbikes would have to be removed from the roads. Indeed, a small and relatively unnoticed (even by Longrider) story in The Telegraph has started to lay down the platform.
Motorbikes should be banned as part of a plan to eliminate road deaths, a safety expert has claimed.

The goal of stopping deaths on the roads has been set by a number of countries including Norway, Australia and Sweden, where the programme has been called “Vision Zero”.

But Norwegian safety expert Rune Elvik said for it to happen, policy makers should consider the radical step of banning motorbikes.

“If they are serious about these lofty road safety ambitions that have been announced then I think such a discussion is needed,” he said in an interview with Motor Cycle News.

“Motorcycling would definitely not be allowed.”

Mr Elvik, research chief at the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics, said motorcycles are incompatible with the target of eliminating road deaths.

Indeed. So, all you motorbike owners will need to watch out for your mounts, for they will be attacked next.

My mole informs me that this, like many other things, does not need to be worried about yet. There is, my mole says, an unusual logjam of legislation; in other words, there is not nearly the volume of legislation emanating from the EU Commission (they are the only ones who can initiate legislation, remember) as there usually is. The reason, apparently, is the Lisbon Treaty EU Constitution: the Commission is waiting until it is fully ratified and in force before they start unleashing the really big guns.

Once the Treaty is in place it is, effectively, similar to an Enabling Act (since it is self-amending) and will allow the Commission to start working on the really ambitious projects and no country will be able to veto them.

And when that happens, says my mole, all pretence will be dropped: be afraid, says the mole, be very afraid because, as EU Referendum points out at length, our Parliament is no longer sovereign...
Despite the dissembling of Europe minister, Jim Murphy – and the bunch of fellow travellers who spout the same nonsense, no better can be seen the demise of parliament than in Article 12 of the new consolidated treaty, with the insertion of a new article which states:
National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union.

Under current constitutional doctrine – in theory at least – our Westminster parliament is sovereign in its own house. That much is stated proudly on the parliament web site, as pointed out by Booker and others recently. But, by accepting this mandatory requirement, incorporating as it does, the word shall MPs are accepting de jure that which has been de facto for some time – that parliament is no longer a sovereign body. It has subordinated itself to the treaty.

Refer then to Protocol 2, and in particular Article 6 which states that, "any national parliament … may …". This is the provision which "allows" our parliament to make representations to the EU commission on subsidiarity. It is a power that our parliament already had but, the treaty, in graciously granting such a power, again cements Westminster's position as a subordinate body.

Consider, if you will, that happy occasion when you own your house – the house in which you live. That means you have absolute right of occupancy, and the freedom to dispose of the property as you wish. Imagine then that "the government" decides to pass a law stating that you have permission to occupy the house in which you live.

Good stuff, you might say, except that you no longer own your house – in the sense that ownership necessarily conveys with it the right to occupy the premises. You now occupy it under licence from the government. And the licence that the government has granted, it can also take away. You are no longer "sovereign" in your own house.

Thus it is with parliament. When the majority – as they will – vote to ratify the treaty, they will be wiping out centuries of tradition and abolishing a fundamental tenet of our constitution.

The reckoning will not come tomorrow or immediately. Over term, however, we will see the continuation of the gradual decline in the authority of the parliament as it is consigned more and more to the margins. This will be reflected in the continued decline in election turnouts, as more and more people sense, mostly intuitively, that parliament is no longer relevant.

Even that, though, will not cause most MPs to stop and think. As long as they are members of an exclusive club, with their privileges, salaries, expenses and pensions – all paid-for by the grateful taxpayer - why should they care? In the end, as we have been wont to observe, we are going to have to shoot them.

Although I believe that traitors were usually hanged, drawn and quartered and then the various quarters displayed in gibbets up and down the country (with the heads displayed on spikes at Traitors' Gate) pour encourager les autres. This seems to me a much more fitting punishment although, as I am sure people will point out, shooting is far swifter and thus we can put the whole horrid episode behind us so much more quickly...

Shutting down small parties

Trixy has an article by Nigel Farage about how Portugal is shutting down small political parties; they are simply making illegal any political party with fewer than 5,000 members.
In Portugal , UKIP have a good relationship with a eurosceptic party called PND. They are led by Manuel Montiero who is a former MP and MEP for the Portuguese Conservative Party. They are fiercely opposed to the EU Constitution and, like us, want to regain control of their fishing waters from the EU.

They have already achieved some success with an MP in the regional parliament of Madeira and, in the absence of a referendum in Portugal , expect to win MEP seats in 2009. But in a couple months time they might not exist.

A new law comes into force in Portugal in March 2008 that states political parties must have 5000 registered members or they will be declared illegal.

The names and addresses of the members must be given to the Portuguese authorities.

Of the fourteen political parties that exist in Portugal today, only four will be allowed to exist after March 2008.

This situation is truly incredible. It allows the existing parties to stay in place forever and to prevent new parties and new ideas for ever being born.

As one of the founders of a new political party with only a few tens of members so far—owing to the fact that we have deliberately not yet expanded beyond a portion of the UK political blogosphere (although that will change next week)—this is obviously of concern to your humble Devil.

As Nigel says, "could it happen here?" I can't think of a decent reason why it should not; I doubt that the Big Three would object, after all.

And, let us remember that when the first proposals for state funding of political parties was mooted, the plan was to deny funding to any party that did not have at least two MPs. This was a clear attempt to cement the position of the main parties, although the excuse given was that nobody in their right mind would want to give taxpayers' cash to the BNP: apart from, presumably, those thousands of people who vote for said party.

And that's the thing; I might personally feel that giving taxpayers' pounds to the BNP is beyond the pale, but who are the Conservatives and Labour apparatchiks to decide on behalf of those fools who have voted for a legal fucking party?

As I watched the TV tonight, I became profoundly depressed: everywhere there was talk of banning this and that "for our own good"—on Newsnight (fronted by the hideously offensive Kirsty Wark), it was bottles of water, plastic bags (an issue admirably ripped to shreds by John Band), rationed flights, banning 4x4s, patio heaters and other such draconian measures. On Question Time it was people clamouring for a national DNA database.

Truly, the people of this country are not sleep-walking into a police state: they are positively begging for it to be imposed.
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"—Benjamin Franklin

The Libertarian Party is facing an uphill struggle and yet... and yet... many people whom I met at the I Want A Referendum demo on Wednesday (a good turnout there was, too) were receptive to our ideas.

Perhaps there is a small glimmer of hope...

More power to your elbow

Watching this video, I can only echo Vindico's call of "Go, Nigel!"

Do watch the whole thing because it is absolutely excellent—and slightly terrifying.

Near the end of the video, that evil little bastard, Richard Corbett MEP, expresses the opinion that the European Parliament were holding a democratic debate.

Here's the thing, Richard: on the vast majority of votes, it is not recorded which way MEPs vote. I cannot hold my MEP to account if I am not allowed to find out how that MEP has voted and, as such, it is not a democratic institution.

Democracy's most important function is not to elect leaders: its most important function is as a mechanism to remove those whom we deem unsuitable. If you know not how they have voted, how can you possibly know who is suitable and who is not?

For MEPs to vote against Amendment 34, to allow referendums in all countries on the Constitution, and Amendment 32 (and this included three Tory MEPs: Beazley, Purvis and Atkins), to respect the result of the vote in Ireland, is not the act of those who believe in democracy—in that, they are entirely in tune with the EU itself.

The Libertarian Party's policy is not to put up candidates in the Euro elections: we have no interest in ruling over other countries. As such, I have no hesitation in endorsing, and urging you to vote for, UKIP in those elections.

UPDATE: Elaib and Trixy have the voting record for Amendment 34.
Worse far worse than this is what happened when amendment 34 was voted upon, flagged up by Trixy,
Firmly believes that, since the choice involved will have a profound impact on the future, a European treaty should be ratified in all the Member States by means of a referendum, following a pluralist debate on the substance of the treaty and the issues at stake

Again I would suggest that this is pretty uncontroversial amongst those parties that profess to believe in a referendum in the UK, so how did the votes go?
Yes: 85
No: 526
Abstain: 53

And who amongst the Brits voted which way?
Batten, Booth, Clark, Farage, Knapman, Nattrass, Titford, Whittaker, Wise, Allister, Mote, Lucas

So that is UKIP, one Green, the former DUP and Ashley Mote,
Attwooll, Bowles, Davies, Duff, Hall, Ludford, Lynne, Newton Dunn,
Wallis, Watson, Atkins, Beazley, Chichester, Karim, Nicholson, Purvis, Cashman,
Corbett, Ford, Gill, Honeyball, Howitt, Hughes, Kinnock, McAvan, Martin David,
Moraes, Morgan, Simpson, Skinner, Stihler, Titley, Willmott, Smith

So that is the Lib/Dems, Labour, the Ulster Unionist, one of the two SNP and five Tories including the delegation leader Giles Chichester.
de Brún, Hannan, Helmer, Ashworth, Bowis, Bradbourn, Bushill-Matthews, Callanan, Deva, Dover, Evans Jonathan, Harbour, Jackson, Kirkhope, McMillan-Scott, Parish, Stevenson, Sturdy, Sumberg, Tannock, Van Orden, Evans Jill, Hudghton

Here we have Sinn Fein, the Tories—barring those who voted against one Green and the other SNP.

It isn't rocket science, this was a simple demand that there should be a referendum.

Five Tories! Including the delegation leader! Go on, count them.

Obviously Mr Cameron's MEPs are not of the same mind as he himself is, although Dan Hannan has defended himself (and I may have seen it sooner if the fucking Telegraph's blogs loaded properly).
Dan has responded to the criticism quite correctly,
I voted AGAINST the report Hagar refers to, the Mendez de Vigo / Corbett report, which supported the constitution. So did all but three Tory MEPs. I also voted IN FAVOUR of the various Ind/Dem amendments calling for ratification to be frozen until intelligible drafts of the treaty were available. And I voted IN FAVOUR of the motion calling for the wishes of the Irish people to be respected.

I am personally in favour of referendums in every country. But I don't believe it is up to the EU to mandate the form of ratification. That is for each nation to decide, according to its own traditions. Obviously, I'd like the Greeks and Finns and Slovaks to get the vote. But I'm not a Greek or a Finn or a Slovak, so it isn't up to me.

Ah, the niceties of political discourse, eh?

I Agree With Doctor Watson

Via Mr FreeMarket, I reproduce this article; it was written by Idang Alibi and appeared in the Nigerian Daily Trust newspaper, under the title above. Do read the whole thing.
A few days ago, the Nobel Laureate, Dr James Watson, made a remark that is now generating worldwide uproar, especially among the blacks. He said what to me looks like a self-evident truth. He told The Sunday Times of London in an interview that in his humble opinion, black people are less intelligent than the White people.

Since then, some of us cannot hear anything else but the outrage of black people who feel demeaned by what Watson has said. So many people have called the man names. To be expected, some have said he is a racist. Some even wonder how a "foolish" man like Watson could have won the Nobel Prize. Even white people who, deep in their heart, agree with Watson want to be politically correct, so they condemn the man.

Why are we blacks becoming so reactive, so sensitive to any remarks, no matter how well-meaning, about our failure as a race? Why are we becoming like the Jews who see every accusation as a manifestation of anti-Semitism? I do not know what constitutes intelligence. I leave that to our so-called scholars. But I do know that in terms of organising society for the benefit of the people living in it, we blacks have not shown any intelligence in that direction at all. I am so ashamed of this and sometimes feel that I ought to have belonged to another race. Nigeria my dear country is a prime example of the inferiority of the black race when compared to other races.

Let somebody please tell me whether it is a manifestation of intelligence if a people cannot organise a free, fair and credible election to choose who will lead them. Is it intelligence that we cannot provide simple pipe-borne water for the people? Our public school system has virtually collapsed. Is that a sign of intelligence? Our roads are impassable. In spite of the numerous sources that nature has made available to us to tap for energy to run our industries and homes, we have no steady supply of electricity. Yet electricity is the bedrock of industrialisation.

When you agree with the school of Watson, some say you are incorrect because all these failures are a result of poor leadership. Why must it be us blacks who must always suffer poor leadership? Is that not a manifestation of unintelligence? In the name of international trade, bilateral co-operation, globalisation and other subterfuges, the norm in the world today is for smart people to appropriate the wealth of other people for themselves and their countries. But more among the blacks than any other race, the practice is to steal from their own country and salt away to other people's country. Is it intelligence that our leaders steal billions of naira and hide it in other people's country? Anywhere in the world today where you have a concentration of black people among other races, the poorest, the least educated, the least achieving, and the most violent group among those races will be the blacks. When indices of underdevelopment are given, black people and countries are sure to occupy the bottom of the ladder. If we are intelligent, why do we not carry first when statistics of development are given? Look at the African continent. South Africa is the most developed country because of the presence of whites there. This may be an uncomfortable truth for many of us but it exists nevertheless. If the whites had been driven away after independence, we would have seen a steady decline of that country.

In terms of natural endowment, Africa ought to be the richest of the continents but see the mess we have made of the potential for greatness which God in his infinite wisdom has bestowed upon us. We have proved totally incapable of harnessing the abundant natural resources to become great. Today, there is a renewed scramble for the wealth of Africa. China, our new "friend", does not bother about the genocide against fellow blacks in the Sudan by the Arabs who control the affairs of that country. They say they do not want to interfere in the internal affairs of any country. All they want is the oil in Sudan to run their industries. Yet, we blacks have not seen the Chinese action as an affront to our sensitivities. Every race takes us for granted because we are so weak and so foolish, if you permit me to say it.

I am really pained by our gross underachievement as a race. Instead of regarding bitter truths expressed by the likes of Watson as a wake-up call for us to engage in sober reflection, we take to the expression of woolly sentiment. For me, this type of reaction is a further evidence of our unintelligence. A man of intelligence recognises genuine criticism against him and takes steps to improve himself in order to prove his critics wrong. But for us blacks, our reaction is to abuse the man who expresses worries about our backwardness. Other races are deeply worried about us because we are a problem to the world. We suffer from the five Ds: disorderliness, debts, diseases, deaths and disasters. Our disorderliness affects others or else they won't be too bothered about us. Many are afraid because our diseases could infect them. Polio has been eradicated all over the world yet it is still found in Nigeria here. When they give us money to help us eradicate it, our thieving officials will embezzle the money; the virus will spread and endanger the health of not only our people but other people as well.

Out of a shared sense of humanity, some cannot bear to see how we die in thousands almost every day from clearly preventable diseases and causes. For years now, our people die extremely painful but perfectly preventable deaths from buildings which collapse because they were poorly constructed. How can you tell me we are as intelligent as others when we set traps for ourselves in the name of houses and others do not do so? Some people are extremely frustrated about us. If they have a way of avoiding us, they will be too glad to do so because we are a problem.

As I write this, I do so with great pains in my heart because I know that God has given intelligence in equal measure to all his children irrespective of the colour of their skin. The problem with us black people is that we have refused to use our intelligence to organise ourselves socially and politically. It should worry us that we do not invent things. We do not go to the moon. Our societies are not well-organised. We have the shortest lifespan of all the races. Something must be wrong with us. Why are we not like others? Our scholars will be quick to say that these are not the only ways of measuring intelligence. They will quote other scholars to adumbrate their point, but the fact remains that we are not showing intelligence. Others are showing it more than we're doing. If they are not more intelligent than we are, let someone tell me how to put it. God himself must be frustrated with his black children. They must be an embarrassment to him. He has given us everything he has given to other of his children; why are his black children not manifesting their own gift?

A few years ago, the whites used to contemptuously call the Japanese "little Japs". Today, the Japanese and other Asians have pulled themselves up by the bootstrap and have arrived. No one speaks of the Japanese or Asians with contempt anymore. When people like Watson speak about us in unedifying terms, we should take it as a challenge to prove them wrong by sitting down to plan how we can become world-beaters. If our political leaders are the reason for our backwardness, we should resolve to get the kind of leaders who will be instrument for our rapid progress. I may not know how intelligence is measured but my limited knowledge of intelligence is that it can also be measured by the kind of leaders a people decide to have. If, for instance, our professors preside over the massive rigging of elections, it means that we do not have very intelligent professors. Such rigged elections will no doubt produce unintelligent leaders. Such unintelligent leaders will do stupid things which will prove that we are not as intelligent as other races. Do I sound confusing or intelligent? I am ready for some of our 'patriotic' intellectuals who will write and abuse me for the 'outrage' I have expressed here but I stick to my guns: we lack intelligence and as stated in the Bible, anyone who lacks intelligence should cry unto God who is the custodian of wisdom to bestow some upon him. We should go on our knees today and ask God why we do not appear as intelligent as our other brothers. I am confident God will reveal to us what we must do, and urgently too, to change our terribly unflattering circumstances.

Mr Alibi's outrage is quite clear throughout the article and is directed well. The fact is that, despite the constantly claimed Imperial rape of the African continent, the Imperial powers did actually try to leave a lot intact. The British, in particular, did try to leave some semblance of functioning government in place. We also left the mines open and the railways and roads in situ. And yet the majority of African administrations have failed to capitalise on these assets.

One may speculate on the reasons for this; I don't, as it happens, think that black people are inherently less intelligent (although we do know that a poor diet can affect IQ). Personally, I believe that giving advanced technology to people who have not developed it can be dangerous; they may not appreciate it but, most importantly, will not be able to assimiliate it or realise its value.

This idea is often mooted in Iain M Banks' Culture novels, wherein Contact and Special Circumstances attempt to guide civilisations, but not by advancing their technology too quickly. They often start with simple ideas—such as the theory of microbial infection. This is a theory that I expanded on in an essay for Wanabehuman, although I applied it, in that case, to the Middle East.

Book worming

Your humble Devil has been tagged, by Katy Newton, with a book meme which runs as follows...
You will need: the book you are reading at the moment.

  1. Turn to page 123.

  2. Skip 5 sentences.

  3. Post the next three sentences.

As this requires very little effort, I have decided to indulge in this one although, like Katy, I have a tendency to read more than on book at a time.

I have now finished Iain M Banks' new Culture novel, Matter, but was still reading it when she tagged me so I include it here. Sentences 6,7 and 8, on page 123, read as follows:
Oramen had no memories of his mother, only of nurses and servants and an occasionally visiting father who somehow contrived to seem more remote than his utterly absent mother. She had been banished to a place called Kheretesuhr, an archipelagic province in the Vilamian Ocean, towards the far side of the world from Pourl. One of Oramen's goals, now that he was at least approaching the true seat of power, was to secure her return to the court.

Page 123 in Michael Frayn's Spies is, alas, blank and so I have moved to quote from nearest page with text, page 125, the relevant sentences of which are these:
His bottom was resting on the hard dust now hidden beneath the paving stones. His head must have been more or less exactly where those scarlet blossoms are now.
I gaze at them, baffled.

The third book was a Christmas present from my father's wife and may or may not represent some gentle hint, or possibly some more overt intimation of my failings; it is Debrett's Mannners For Men: what women really want! Page 123 is entitled Moving In Together, and so I must now relate the nuggets of wisdom thus imparted.
Of course it's lovely to entertain your friends in a proper home. And it's kind of cute the way your toothbrushes sit side by side on the bathroom shelf.

So what if the bedroom looks like Barbie's boudoir and there are bras drying on the bike rack.

Although, seriously, if I ever move in with someone and bring a fucking bike rack, I will not be the person that you all know...

Mind you, it is not a section that I have paid much attention to thus far: the chances of me moving in with anyone are, at present, utterly remote. I have been mainly concentrating on the sections that are marked with titles such as The Best Ways Not To Piss Off Your Girlfriend, When To Just Leave Your Fucking Mobile Phone In Your Pocket (When You're Pissed), The Most Grovelling Ways To Apologise, How Not To Be A Fucking Numpty and, of course, the rather vital How To Persuade Someone That They Want To Be Your Girlfriend In The First Place (this one comes just after Rohypnol: What Dosage And When?).

If anyone wants to take up this challenge, feel free (I mean doing the meme, rather than being my girlfriend. Obviously).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Every one of these signatories is a fucking cunt

Timmy reports and has the full list of signatures.
Via, this. An Early Day Motion.
EDM 982


Burgon, Colin

That this House commends the achievements of Fidel Castro in securing first-class free healthcare and education provision for the people of Cuba despite the 44 year illegal US embargo of the Cuban economy; notes the great strides Cuba has taken during this period in many fields such as biotechnology and sport in both of which Cuba is a world leader; acknowledges the esteem in which Castro is held by the people and leaders of Africa, Asia and Latin America for leading the calls for emancipation of the world's poorest people from slavery, hunger and the denial of human rights such as the right to life, the right to shelter, the right to healthcare and basic medicines and the right to education; welcomes the EU statement that constructive engagement with Cuba at this time is the most responsible course of action; and calls upon the Government to respect Cuba's right to self-determination and resist the aggressive forces within the US Administration who are openly planning their own illegal transition in Cuba.

Similarly, various unutterable arseholes, both on the panel and in the audience, held a similar view on Newsnight tonight: Galloway, naturally, led the charge in praising this odious fucking dictator.

This is a man who imprisoned homosexuals, is personally responsible (with that other hero of the fucking Left, Che Guevara) for the extra-judicial killing of thousands—tens of thousands‐of people, gagged the press and shot those who attempted to leave this island paradise.

There is something seriously fucking wrong with a country that has to force its people to stay; and yet still Cuban people risked the make-shift rafts and the open sea, to try to reach the US.

To praise this little shit is to praise totalitarianism, authoritarianism, media gagging, lack of the rule of law, the imprisonment of minorities and a centrally planned Communism that has destroyed the economy.

So, now we see these fuckers' true colours: hang them, hang the fucking lot of them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Those interpreters and my MP

Via the poor, little Greek boy, it seems that the government is still pissing about whilst those whom we have a duty of honour to protect get murdered.
Do you like reading fine words? Here is the Prime Minister on the subject of Iraqi ex-employees of the British Government, speaking in the House of Commons on October 9th, 2007:
"I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of our civilian and locally employed staff in Iraq, many of whom have worked in extremely difficult circumstances, exposing themselves and their families to danger. I am pleased therefore to announce today a new policy which more fully recognises the contribution made by our local Iraqi staff, who work for our armed forces and civilian missions in what we know are uniquely difficult circumstances."

Fine words. What about deeds?

A small number of Iraqis—fewer than a dozen, according to people close to the operation who are in contact with me—were removed from Iraq in the early autumn of 2007. Since the Prime Minister’s admirable declaration of October, how many Iraqi ex-employees have been evacuated from Iraq? According to all the Iraqis that I am in contact with: none.

None? Not one? This is absolutely fucking outrageous.

As some may recall, I wrote to my MP—a certain Keith Hill—some time ago, on Monday 26th November.
Monday 26 November 2007

Dear Keith Hill,

On October 9th David Miliband announced that the British Government would assist former employees in Iraq, so long as they had worked for it after 1st January 2005 and for 12 months or more. This was itself a small enough concession for those who have risked their lives to help our soldiers.

Unfortunately, this abandons several hundred Iraqis who have been targeted for murder because they worked for the British before that date—and in 2004 fighting between the Mahdi Army and the British was at its peak—or because they worked for less than that period, often leaving their jobs at the end of a British battalion’s six-month tour.

The British Government should help Iraqi employees on the basis of the risk they face, not according to an arbitrary time stipulation. This only affects a few hundred Iraqis, whom we are well able to shelter, and for whom we have a direct moral responsibility—a debt of honour,
if you like.

Even those Iraqi employees who qualify for assistance are not being properly assisted. Iraqis in Basra are not able to apply via the British Army in Basra International Airbase, since it is ringed with militia checkpoints. Iraqi ex-employees in Damascus are being screened by Syrian policemen guarding the British Embassy and delayed by lengthy bureaucratic procedures when they apply for asylum, although many of them are illegally overstaying their Syrian visas and face deportation back to Iraq.

A blogger called Dan Hardie is directly in touch with a number of Iraqi employees via email and phone. He is willing to brief MPs—as concisely as possible—either over the phone or via email. He can be reached at [email address].

In the meantime, I would like to know if you would petition the Foreign Secretary—or at the very least, raise the issue—to allow those Iraqis who have worked with our hard-pressed forces to be fast-tracked into Britain. The fact that we have not done so has already resulted in the murder of several of those who worked for us and, as we know, they were neither quick nor painless deaths.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


I did indeed look forward to hearing from him; after all, this is why MPs need all these holidays and perks: so that they can respond to their constituents—isn't that right? It is, I would imagine, how Keith Hill would justify the £88,060 that he spent on his staffing allowance, the £1,314 he spent on stationery, £3,670 on the associated postage costs, the £1,008 he spent on centraly provided computer equipment and, no doubt, much of the £11,957 he spent in incidental allowances.

So when reminded me, two weeks later, that I had not received a reply from the little shit, I lost my temper. People are, after all, dying and not in pleasant ways. So, I sent the following missive, on the 13th December.
Thursday 13 December 2007

Dear Keith Hill,

Some weeks ago, I sent you an email on the plight of the Iraqi interpreters who worked with our forces and are now being murdered because of this.

You have not replied. Really, I expected nothing more from you: you are, after all, a politician and, as such, a pretty poor specimen of humanity.

I hereby pledge to do everything within my power to ensure that you lose you seat at the next election.

Yours sincerely,


Well, this obviously riled dear Keith, because the response was instantaneous.

No, only joking, it wasn't even close to being swift. In late January, I received a letter dated Tuesday 15th January.
Dear DK,

My office was in the process of responding to your email concerning the British Government's assistance to former employees in Iraq, when I received a second email from you containing abuse and an idle threat.

With that in mind, I will not be corresponding with you again.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon [Ha!] Keith Hill MP

I can't say that I'm particularly gutted; Mr Hill is not the world's most scintillating letter writer and I imagine that his reply would have been some useless boilerplate parroted from the Foreign Office anyway.

But how is two sodding weeks, without even an acknowledgement, a reasonable lead time for a man who spends £88,000 employing staff? And to receive the first acknowledgement of my correspondance a month after that—i.e. six weeks after my original email—is just entirely unacceptable.

Having said that, I am embarrassed. No really, I am.

Because I did make an idle threat: I promised to dedicate time to making sure that Keith Hill lost his seat when, of course, he is standing down of his own volition. Indeed, the website for his potential Labour replacement, Chuka Umunna, was built by Jon Worth.

Streatham, interestingly (and perhaps unexpectedly), was a safe Tory seat from its creation in 1918 until Hill won it for Labour in 1992. Since 1997, Labour's lead in the constituency has shrunk from 18,423 to 7,466 on an average turn-out of 41,000. It's still a significant Labour lead, but by no means impossible to overturn (although the LibDems have beaten the Tories into third place in the last couple of elections).

Obviously, I shan't bother contacting Keith Hill MP again, but if anyone would like to write to their MP and express their outrage that this government is failing to honour its obligations, please do so—using, it couldn't be easier.

What's in a name? And other miscellanea

Timmy has been looking up the origins of his surname, so I thought that I'd do the same.
Surname: Mounsey

Recorded in the spellings of Mouncey, Mounsey, Mounsie, Monsey, Muncey, Munsey, Munchay, and probably other rare forms as well, this is a surname of ancient French origins. Introduced into England at the Conquest of 1066, it is locational and originates from the various places called either Monceaux in the departement of Calvados, or Monchaux in the departements of Nord and Seine-Maritime. These places all take their names from the word "moncel", meaning a small hill.

The first named holder of the surname held the manor and estate called "Herstmoneaux" in the county of Sussex. This is recorded as "Hurst quod fuit Willelmi de Munceus" in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. Early recordings include Milisant de Munceehaus and Edoned de Munchaus in the register of the Knight Templars (Crusaders) of Lincolnshire in 1185, whilst the tax register known as the Feet of Fines for Gloucestershire mentions a William Munci in 1198.

Sir Walter de Mouncy is recorded at the battle of Falkirk in 1298, and at the siege of Carlaverock, Scotland, in the year 1300. Other later church register recordings taken from surviving records of the diocese of Greater London include those of William Munsy, who was christened at the church of St. Bartholomew Exchange, on August 25th 1577, Elizabeth Monsie, who married Anthony Allen, at St. Mary Woolchurch on August 29th 1559, and Ada Ellen Mouncey, who was baptised at St Brides, Fleet Street, on August 25th 1766. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

There you go...

In other mindless trivia news, I have been told that there is no word for "rhubarb" in Russian' this is odd since rhubarb is native to Asia.

The only reason that this is relevant is that my grandfather, the genealogist of the family, traced an ancestor of ours who was physician to Catherine the Great and, after her death, returned to his native Scotland, bringing with him, from Russia, the first example of a species of rhubarb.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe I have far too much trivia stuffed in my head. And it's never the kind of trivia that is useful for pub quizes either...

Song of the day: Dust [MP3], an early Carnival of Souls [under construction] track that, sadly, doesn't have the best quality sound but absolutely fucking rocks.
I nearly was free tonight;
My burden relieved, now let me fly;
But I have aged a lifetime,
In sadness

Hold onto the sacred in your life;
You may not succeed, but you have to try;
Listen hard to the voices within you,
They may be right

And YOU... choose faith over wisdom,
YOU... just see lights in the distance
I... would give truth for religion anyday

And YOU... would choose pain over pleasure
YOU... would kill for your treasure
I... am a stranger forever anyway

And if science is god then... then religion is DUST!

There's some beautiful climbing guitar work in this song; the scale climbs and climbs in the middle eight until you almost can't see that it will end (much like the descending guitar at the beginnning of Waterloo Sunset)...

Quick Apple tip

I had found that, within the last week or so, my normally near-silent Mac Pro had started to develop a weird glitch: every couple of minutes, all of the fans would suddenly power up to full for about 30 seconds, and then power down again.

I wasn't unduly worried since everything appeared to be running at a reasonable heat and performance seemed unaffected. However, I thought that I would try to hunt down whether or not this was a known problem—with the recent incremental upgrade I had performed, for instance—and if there happened to be a fix.

As it happens, there is: you need to reset the System Management Controller.
The System Management Controller (SMC) is a chip on the logic board that controls all power functions for your computer. If your computer is experiencing any power issue, resetting the SMC may resolve it. The SMC controls several functions, including:
  • Telling the computer when to turn on, turn off, sleep, wake, idle, and so forth.

  • Handling system resets from various commands.

  • Controlling the fans.

There are a couple of ways to do this, but the simplest—in other words, the one that doesn't involve you stabbing at the motherboard with a pencil—is the following method.
To reset the SMC on a Mac Pro:
  1. From the Apple menu, choose Shut Down (or if the computer is not responding, hold the power button until it turns off).

  2. Unplug all cables from the computer, including the power cord and any display cables.
  3. Wait at least fifteen seconds.

  4. Plug the power cord back in, making sure the power button is not being pressed at the time. Then reconnect your keyboard and mouse to the computer.

  5. Press the power button to start up your computer.

My Mac Pro is now back to its usual near-silent operation. The method for resetting the SMC or PMUs for other models of Mac can be found under point 9 in this article.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon. Whilst the brief period of shutdown cooled the machine sufficiently to gain a reduction in noise, it soon started up again. I tracked it down to the video card fan, which was going like the clappers.

After performing a hardware test (no problems) and then running the machine with the side open to ascertain that the main fans were all running correctly, I took a look at the Radeon graphics card. Why didn't I think of doing so before?

The air input for the fan was solidly clogged with dust and other crap (not least, the ash and smoke from about 5000 cigarettes, I'd imagine). As such, the fan was having to spin ten to the dozen to pull any air over the components at all. So, after removing the graphics card and cleaning the entry to the fan airway (I'l need to go and buy a new toothbrush!), I replaced the card and the machine is now absolutely silent.

Now I'll know what to do next time that happens...

UPDATE 2: for the usual commenters, here is the "official" description of our old friend, Artie MacStrawman.
Mac users will remember MacStrawman as the Mac user who:
  • Says the Mac is utterly invulnerable to any and all malicious attack.

  • Mindlessly worships Steve Jobs.

  • Blindly buys anything Apple releases no matter how dumb and stupid and dumb it is.

  • Refuses to accept that Windows might be better at anything. Even being Windows.

  • Emails death threats to anyone who disagrees with him.

Daring Fireball's John Gruber said "I just wish that guy’d switch to Windows or Ubuntu or something.

"But... he's Artie MacStrawman. So I guess that’s not going to happen."

I would also like to add that Artie MacStrawman also maintains that Macs never, ever go wrong (in defiance of all physical laws) and that Macs never, ever need a tune up or a bit of desultory maintainence from time to time.

EU regulations to cost £66 billion

Just how much is the EU worth to Britain, in terms of trade? Well, in his June 2006 speech to Open Europe, William Hague quoted the following figures.
The other area where the European Union has had some conspicuous success is the Single Market. The success can be described in figures - it is widely accepted that the Single Market makes a contribution to the EU's GDP of 1.8 per cent a year, worth £20 billion annually to Britain and an average increase of wealth in a European household of £3,800.

Alas, Dear Billy gives no source for such figures, but we must assume that they are—or at least were—reasonably authoritative.

It is, however, difficult to tell since successive governments, both Tory and Labour, have utterly refused carry out any kind of official cost/benefit analysis (despite repeated requests from Lord Pearson of Rannoch, amongst others).

But, via EU Referendum and reported by Christopher Booker, we do have some idea of costs.
A shock-horror report in last week's Sunday Times, based on the latest annual "barometer" from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), showed that the cost of new regulations to UK businesses, according to Government figures, had soared last year by a record £10 billion.

Their total cost since 1998 is a staggering £66 billion. All this, according to the article, could be blamed on the Labour Government. Nowhere did it mention the EU.

But a look at the BCC's press release [PDF] shows that the origin of these regulations were clearly apportioned between the EU and our own Government. And by far the most costly examples, such as the regulations on working time (£16 billion), vehicle emissions (£9 billion) and data protection (£7 billion), all originated from Brussels.

Of the top 10, eight were based on EU directives and the remaining two both had a strong EU dimension. These 10 alone imposed a total cost of £43 billion.

In other words the suffocating cost of these laws can hardly be blamed just on Messrs Blair and Brown. They emanated from what is now in most respects the true government of our country. One can understand why politicians are so anxious to hide this.

Indeed we can. Because, if this is true, the benefit to this country of even the Single Market looks distinctly dubious.

When we EUsceptics point to these regulations and cite them as an additional and extremely damaging cost to our economy, EUphiles tend to argue that our businesses would still have to comply with these regulations, even were we to withdraw and maintain a free-trade agreement with the EU. "So what," they argue, "is the point?"

But one must remember that currently every single business in Britain must comply with all of these regulations even if they do not trade with the EU (or, indeed, abroad anywhere). In fact, the vast majority of our economy is internal.
The second misconception is that 60 per cent of our economy depends on the EU, whereas the true figure is more like ten per cent. Exports of goods and services only account for 21 per cent of ‘final demand’. If exports of goods and services to the EU account for 48 per cent of total exports, then ten per cent of GDP is currently the result of exports of goods and services to other EU members. In other words, about 79 per cent of our economy is the result of domestic activity, involving buying from and selling to each other, and exports of goods and services to the rest of the world account for another 11 per cent.

Even were we to say that this 11% of our economy directly relates to 11% of our companies (and this is highly unlikely: the figure is likely to be considerably lower because it will be the bigger companies that trade internationally), under the terms of our EU membership, 100% of our companies must comply with EU regulations whether they trade with other EU members or not.

In other words, were we not in the EU, only those companies that wished to trade with the EU need comply with their regulations. Of that £65,990,000,000 of regulation costs that the BCC identified, fully £46,892,000,000 is ascribed directly to the EU. But under a more flexible trade agreement, it should only have cost business 11% of that total: £5,158,120,000.

What this means is that being part of the EU has cost our businesses (and thus our economy) some £41,733,880,000 in unnecessary regulations. Let us translate that into something meaningful, shall we?

Let us say that the median wage, which is currently £24,000, has been constant over the last ten years; it would then cost £240,000 for a company to employ one person for ten years. If we divide £41.7 billion by £240,000, then we can determine that some 173,891 potential jobs (all running for a decade) have not been created.

These costs fall disproportionately on small businesses; if complying with a piece of EU legislation costs £10,000, that is going to hit a company turning over £50,000 a year far harder than one turning over £50 million. As such, these regulations damage small businesses and, since many of them do not trade overseas, this damage is often needless (and often fatal for the business).

These costs also give a massive competitive advantage to those bigger companies, already given a boost by their ability to pay large sums of money to lobby the EU as it is. As such, competition, diversity and innovation are being actively harmed—and a culture of corporatism fostered—by the costs associated with such senseless regulations.

In the name of all that's unholy, can we leave yet?

Harriet Harman: vacuous bitch

Ding dong: the tedious old witch is still not dead. In this case, no news is bad news...

Via my impecunious Athenian friend*, I stumble across this execrable interview with Harriet Harperson; apparently The Independent have a regular feature wherein politicians answer fatuous questions emailed in by Independent hacks using assumed names in a desperate attempt to convince people that anyone reads their fucking rag readers.

There's some real corkers here, I can tell you.
Why has Gordon Brown made such a poor job of being PM after waiting so long for the top job?
Henry Darlow

[Harperson:] Before he was PM, Gordon wasn't just waiting around – he was being chancellor and sorting out the economy.

Aaaaaaaahahahahahaha! I think that what you meant to say, love, is that he was being chancellor and busy flogging off the family silver, constructing unbelievably damaging PFI deals, spending money like water and generally setting the scene for the economic downturn that is going to hit this country like a fucking tyre-iron upside the head, the monocular Scots cunt.
After Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Rock, the missing data disasters, cash for honours, the David Abrahams affair and Brown's dithering about a general election, could we trust New Labour to organise a party in a brewery?
Jim Miller
by email

[Harperson:] After full employment, low inflation, doubling aid to the developing world, better schools and hospitals, higher pensions and free travel for pensioners, longer maternity leave and more nurseries ... we are too busy to be organising a party in a brewery.

I think that it is fair to say, Harriet, that any attempt by your party to organise a piss-up in a brewery would turn to a stinking pile of shit—just like everything else that you've touched.
PMQs have become irritatingly, if not degradingly, banal. Can some dignity be instilled?
John Romer

[Harperson:] Not while David Cameron just uses it for playground taunts.

It seems that you aren't above making a few playground taunts yourself, eh, Harry dearest? Although I imagine the irony of your response will have escaped you: go fuck yourself, you unspeakable harridan.
Fidel Castro: hero of the left, or dangerous authoritarian dictator?
David Newton

[Harperson:] Hero of the left – but time for Cuba to move on.

What the cunting fuck? That was my first thought upon reading this; obviously, Mr E was struck by the same reaction.
If the deputy leader of the Tories had praised Augusto Pinochet as a "hero of the right", he'd have be sacked by lunchtime.

But then I thought about it for a little bit, and now I think that her answer is entirely consistent and even, from her point of view, completely reasonable.

After all, a dangerous authoritarian dictator is obviously going to be a hero of the left; there is no dichotomy here—as far as Harriet is concerned, the two options are entirely synonymous.

Fuck me, but she's such a loathesome individual, as well as being possessed of a face that one would never, ever tire of slapping.

But this last one is a real cracker.
How many of the MPs in your party are honest in their financial affairs?
Peter Dickinson
by email

[Harperson:] I don't know of any that aren't. If I thought anyone wasn't, I'd report them.

If I recall correctly, the word that I am searching for here is chutzpah. I mean, I have always said that most MPs are utterly lacking in self-knowledge, and it seems that Harriet, additionally, really doesn't know of herself. Which is interesting.

Let us revisit some of your humble Devil's comment on her recent financial record, shall we?
  • Jack Dromey is a liar
    Either Harriet Harman is a fucking lying bitch—in which case she should be kicked out of office and prosecuted—or she is thicker than pigshit—in which case she should be kicked out of office and prosecuted—and she is certainly not competent enough to be ruling over the rest of us.

  • Harriet Harman: totally fucked
    Well, we shall all look forward to the answers, obviously. In the interests of good governance, you understand, and not from a sense of vindictive amusement. Well, apart from me, of course: it's vindictive amusement all the way, here in Hell.

    Meanwhile, dear Harriet's arse is about to be handed to her on a plate...

  • Harman: evil, hypocritical witch. And not in a good way.
    The sheer hypocrisy of these fuckers is what makes them quite so massively unpleasant.

    Harriet Harman QC and her husband—Labour Party Treasurer, Jack Dromey—are both lying shits and they should go forthwith. The only reason that I'd wish for them to stay on is because they will perpetuate yet more highly entertaining scandals; alas, my sides already hurt too much from laughing and, at this rate, I am going to keep on giggling until I'm sick.

  • Harriet's finances are a little more than mysterious
    As Guido has pointed out a number of times, Harriet Harman needed to raise money for her deputy leadership campaign; not only did she take out a declared £10,000 loan, but she also extended her mortgage (which was not declared).

  • It's going to be a good year...
    Although why Peter Watt should be the only one facing charges, I don't know; it seems rather unfair that the party Treasurer—Jack Dromey, a.k.a. Mr Harriet Harman—is not also liable. I would love to have seen that tableau: a terrified Dromey being draggged away to chokey by two burly policeman, whilst darling Harriet reaches out futilely to her dear heart, the tears pouring down her normally self-satisfied, priggish, squirrel's bumhole of a face.

    Although it would be equally satisfying to see that vignette in reverse, with Harriet "feeding of the £5,000" Harman dragged off to prison whilst her weeping husband curses, wails, gnashes his teeth, and rends his clothes.

That this poignant vignette has not been played out only serves to irritate me further.

Ah well, the cockroaches are nicely sharpened and Igor is, at this very moment, prodding the increasingly enraged candiru fish with a pointed stick...

* A few other people covered it too. But, as seems to be becoming a habit with some, they didn't link to the story, so they get no link from here. It's a new policy that I'm instigating: no blogger is so important that they can get away with not being arsed to link to their sources. How else are people to know that you are telling the truth, or not skewing the story?

Why do they do it, eh?

It happens every time, so why do we keep on doing? What I mean is that Labour governments beggar the country every time that they are in government for any length of time, and yet we keep on electing the bastards—why? Well, Bag has a stab at explaining this and I agree with all of them.
The conclusion I came to is simplistic but I think accurate.
  1. The bulk of the people voting for labour are too young to have been born or remember the disaster that was the 70s. No knowledge of recent history.

  2. We don't actually teach socialism at schools. Only socialist propaganda by the teachers to a captive audience. History stops at 1948 or something in schools. No knowledge of the atrocities committed in the name of socialism over the decades.

  3. Socialism ideals are sold on fairness and morals. Yet there are no discussions on exactly how that would work with a species like us. Just the aims and who can argue against fairness? Playing on our sense of fair play.

  4. Everyone assumes that they are the lowest on the ladder. They therefore assume that any boost with improve their lot in life at the detriment of the toffs. It is pure selfishness.

  5. They are actually so vindictive that they would rather others suffered, including them, if they felt a toff was being screwed. Pure envy.

So here we are again. Country looks like it is entering a recession with the cupboard bare. We have put in place the apparatus for a police state. Our brightest and best are leaving in droves and being replaced with people that don't even like our way of life and want to replace it with their own. We also have the spectre of the EU to make our transition to what the old soviets tried to do and failed. We are now so dependent on the state for our handouts that whatever they put in our way we just nod and follow instructions. Like the sheep we have become. One thing is clear though. We will be working off the folly of the last ten years for several decades.

And, despite all of this, over 30% of the country are so stupid, ignorant and tribal that they would still vote for Labour at the next election.


Monday, February 25, 2008

A heartwarming story of tech, but not

Via Fake Steve, here is someone writing about how he went to the mall to pick up a pair of sneakers for his wife and ended up buying an iMac.
Anyway in the mall, I passed an Apple Store. It had recently been renovated, and I had never been there. (In fact, I'd never been in an Apple Store anywhere.)

I went in. First, I'm not a techie or a remotely skilled computer user. I have no strong feelings about Apple. I went in without preconceptions. I went in really to avoid leaving the mall -- it was freezing out & snowing & I was hoping (dreaming) that a few minutes later it would be a lot warmer and not snowing.

Here's what I think I learned or observed or concluded on my first trip to the Apple Store...
  1. Michael Dell & Other Consumer PC-Makers: It's Over. Apple Has Won
    It may not show up in the numbers, but it will. And the stock price? (Apple's lower than before but way higher than most.) How do I know it's won? I don't. But in my own twisted version of Buffet's maxim -- you learn most about a company through first-hand experience -- a few quick observations....
    • It was bitter cold, snowing. The mall was quiet. You could actually hear the water streaming from the marble fountain a floor away. But the Apple Store was packed with people--folks laughing, banging keyboards, sampling the rows of gleaming computers and gadgets, like they were in a high tech Disney World fun park. And there were no give-aways, no store discounts; just another (frigidly cold) day at the mall.

    • These people were not like me--i.e., lazy, biding their time before facing the cold. The lines at the cashier were 10-15 people deep the whole time. People were buying.

    • For God sakes, people were lining up -- waiting time, 22 minutes -- to get a seat in the Apple "lounge" at the back of the store. What was special there? Nothing. A chance to sit, read some magazines, drink coffee and sample some computer stuff.

    • At least 4 people told Apple Geniuses (i.e., sales people) they've used Dells over the years, hadn't considered Macs, but now wanted Macs. These were the 4 I heard, in a few minutes; how many more were there?

    • Three people -- moms -- approached Apple store managers to ask how their kids could become Geniuses. The managers laughed. Their answer: Get in line, there's an application list the size of Montana. The moms did get in line, and signed up their sons.

    • Think the store's only for teen geeks? (I did.) The people playing were of all ages. Some looked barely 14; others not younger than 70. You have a product or place that teens & geezers both've got a f***ing business!

Do go and read the rest, because it certainly struck a chord with me. Now, I don't get to go to my personal Mecca, a.k.a. the Regent's Street Apple Store, as much as I would like, but even on quiet days (which are, admittedly, rare around Oxford Street. Perhaps I should say "quieter days"), the Apple Store has a buzz around it.

Every time that I have been there, it has looked pretty full (and it's big) with people who seem to be enjoying the experience—and often despite themselves. You can see people playing with the Macs with a slight sneer on their faces: they know that Apples are just niche-market toys, right? Except that you try and actually shift someone off the Mac, and they just don't want to leave it and, as you look more closely, you see that actually they are concentrating on what they are doing—trying to find new things to try out just so that they can justify staying on the machine.

Against all expectations, Apple have developed a retail store that people want to stay in; I've been there at closing time and seen how reluctantly people leave. I have only observed that kind of desire to hang around in pubs at closing time.

DISCLAIMER: I own Apple shares. Still down but, then again, still about 40% above where I bought them, a year ago.

Spot the difference

The Not The I Want A Referendum chickens...

It seems that the LibDems are under pressure from I Want A Referendum.
As I rounded the corner I saw a person dressed as a chicken standing at the LibDem’s entrance. The chicken was accompanied by two people handing out leaflets. Leaflets for what you may ask? I Want a Referendum of course.

It’s not easy being a LibDem; hounded by the press, mocked by bloggers and, perhaps worst of all, stalked by giant chickens unhappy with your failure to back a referendum on the EU Treaty.

Well, that's nice; however, I'm sure that I've heard about people dressing up as chickens and demanding a referendum in a public somewhere else.

Oh, yes...

Last of the Few: Presumed Guilt

I have been offered the chance to compose a semi-regular rant over at Theo Spark's Last of the Few: my first post, on this hideously illiberal proposal, is now up.

I may write something a little less sanitised for The Kitchen, depending on the time available to me.

I am still very busy—not only do I have a lot of paying work to do, I am also writing a briefing paper for the Libertarian Party's first policy...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Real work

NHS Blog Doctor: new and improved...

Your humble Devil has been very busy with real work recently, and one of the projects that he has been working on can now be revealed—so, welcome the new, revamped NHS Blog Doctor.

Part of the revamp includes a new "God Doctor"; there were some things that I was never happy with on the original drawing—the mouth, for instance—and the new God Doctor has a certain gravitas, I think, whilst retaining the essential features. But, drawing people with their arms folded, especially from a three quarters angle, is really difficult!

The good Doctor was a pleasure to work with, and much kudos must go to Faith for sending me IE screenshots at crucial moments...

Empire Of Bureaucrats

(Author's note - as ever, it is only appropriate to advise that I am not 'The Devil's Kitchen').

I once remarked of Sir Simon Jenkins that,

"...what really jumps put (sic) from (his) book ( Thatcher and Sons) is, well, a sense that Sir Simon is the British Establishment incarnate. He's never been an MP, I don't know if he's ever even run for office, but he's forever making references to having been on the board of British Rail and how he's served on this commission, that committee and the other quango."

In his Sunday Times piece today, entitled "Lovely new aircraft carrier, sir, but we’re fighting in the desert", Sir Simon writes,

"What is clear is that this government made a colossal error on coming to power in 1997-8. In the Strategic Defence Review (on whose lay committee I served)..."

In Which We Serve, indeed - and I rest my case.

One shouldn't be too hard on him, though. He published a nice wee anti-EU column in 'The Guardian' of 22nd February entitled "Blair risks ending up as one more crusader in the Levantine ditch".

In it, he wrote,

"Europe has never tolerated being led. It is a continent of cats, not dogs. Diversity is its glory, cantankerousness its defence. It is not a family or a community but a marketplace, a cultural entrepôt. Those who have sought its unity, even as a political metaphor, have come to grief."

All absolutely true - and yet he fails to draw the conclusion which is staring him in the face as to why The European Empire will fail.

It's all very well tossing out examples of failures such as Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon and Hitler, as Sir Simon does; but he fails to take into account that the European Empire differs from all those headbangers' deady confections in that it is not an entity created by a global scale psycho at the point of the sword - it is a creation of conquest by caste.
It was cooked up by influential intellectuals and bureaucrats, apparently for influential intellectuals and bureaucrats and to Hell with the people. Sir Simon comes so close to the truth when he writes "(Jacques Delors and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing) sought a united Europe under the hammer of central bureaucracy rather than the gun, but the ambition was the same".
Yes - but it was always that way. It didn't just start with those two.
All previous empires have failed, and for one reason only at the root; eventually, they cannot be held together by force. The European Empire, being the product of a pacifistic pan-European intellectual caste that knows that guns are bad things without knowing one end of a gun from another, will fail for no reason other than that, sooner or later, enough of its people will have had enough of its bad laws and will just start ignoring them. Instead of shooting people when they turn against them, the Eurocrats will just do what intellectuals and bureaucrats do and try to beat them into submission with regulations and newspaper columns. And the people will take no notice.
Its going down in flames will be a damp squib, not like the fall of Constantinople or The Battle of Berlin but instead like the final collapse of the Soviet Union; old flags will be run down, new ones run up and after that, and to a greater or lesser extent, it will be back to business as usual.
And it only seems fair to point out that when that day comes Sir Simon Jenkins, if not a media baron then certainly a media Junker, will be able to sleep in his bed knowing Simone Jenkinsois will not be competing for with him for committee slots or 'Guardian' columns.

Friday, February 22, 2008

In the modern age...

Over a century ago, the Victorians used to shut away the mad, the halt and the lame (not to mention those who were merely inconvenient) in loony bins that were little more than particularly unpleasant prisons. The most famous of these was the Bethlehem Royal Hospital, colloquially known as "Bedlam"; this name has passed into the language.

These days, we have similar problems with those with mental illness and severe disabilities; services are under-funded, hospital places scarce and our prisons all to full of those who should not be there. What are we to do with these unfortunates?

Fuck knows, but I can tell you this: in Brixton, they all work in Woolworths.

Anyway, I shouldn't expect an awful lot from me: I have bought Iain M Banks' new Culture novel, Matter, and shall be reading that. Oh, and it's my little brother's eighteenth birthday on Sunday so I shall be taking a rare trip to my home town of Tonbridge, Kent.

But I have got a replacement for my mobile though: same number, for those who might need to get hold of me...

Free gym for fatties...

Mr Angry is off on one again...
I know this policy is designed to help fat people get thin, and reduce the burden on an already at-breaking-point NHS, but where do we draw the line? Free Mr Kipling’s to the painfully thin? Jongleurs tickets for the clinically depressed? Free Rohypnol to the frighteningly ugly?


UPDATE: Meanwhile, over the water, Twenty has an idea that we should nick...
I believe we need a National Cunt Day where we, the people of Ireland, simply give in and celebrate the fact we’re a country absolutely chock-full of the biggest cunts on earth.

What’s the point in giving out any more? You complain, you grumble, you make a fuss but the cunts keep cunting on all fucking day long, every day of every fucking week.

That's one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time. Quite apart from the list of cunts that he's got, we have our fair share too.

In fact, scratch that: we'll have to make it a National Cunt Week...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Irish can go fuck themselves...

... , is the humble opinion of the European Parliament's members, according to England Expects.
Amendment 32 of the Corbett Report on the Lisbon Treaty read,
    1. Undertakes to respect the outcome of the referendum in Ireland.

Pretty non controversial you would have thought. After all everybody here in the Parliament reckons themselves democrats. So how can it be that the result of the vote was this...
  • 129 in favour

  • 499 Against

  • 33 Abstentions.

And shall we have a look at the British MEPs who voted on the amendment?

  • Yes
    Batten, Farage, Knapman, Nattrass, Titford, Deva

  • No
    Attwooll, Davies, Duff, Hall, Ludford, Lynne, Newton Dunn, Wallis, Watson, Atkins, Beazley, Nicholson, Purvis, Cashman, Corbett, Corbey, Ford, Honeyball, Howitt, Hughes, Hutchinson , Kinnock, McAvan, , Martin David, Moraes, Morgan, Simpson, Sinner, Stihler, Titley, Willmott

  • Abstain
    Ashworth, Bowis, Bradbourn, Bushill-Matthews, Callanan, Chichester, Dover, Evans Jonathan, Harbour, Jackson, Kirkhope, McMillan-Scott, Parish, Stevenson, Sturdy, Sumberg, Tannock, Van Orden, Hannan, Helmer, Wise.

So UKIP voted to respect the result of the Irish referendum. The Tories abstained (excepting the honourable exception of Nirj Deva). Labour and the Lib/Dems voted to ignore the Irish result.

So, essentially, it doesn't matter which way that cunt Twenty and his mates vote (even assuming that the regulars at Ron's are capable of signing a cross on anything other than their bar tabs), because the EP are just going to fucking ignore it anyway.
This is truly a disgrace. Don't ever listen to people like Richard Corbett lecturing people about democracy without ramming the words down his scrawny gizzard. If a Tory pontificates about how much they want to hear the voices of the people show them this voting list.

I expect nothing less from the Labour and LibDem traitors, but The Tories (and UKIPpers) who abstained should also be ashamed—especially Roger Helmer, who is the Hon. Chairman of The Freedom Association. And where were you, Hannan?

But I have special tortures reserved for the Tory MEPs who voted specifically against the Amendment: Christopher Beazley, John Purvis and "Sir" Robert Atkins (as far as I can see).

That makes another three lamp posts booked up...

UPDATE: Nosemonkey sums up the situation.
What we effectively have here is an admission that referenda will not count even if countries do hold them. An admission that the EU will simply ignore any member state that has concerns with the Lisbon Treaty, now that the elites have come to an agreement.

What we have here, in other words, is an admission that the European Parliament does not believe in democracy.

In that aspect, it is entirely an institution of the EU.

UPDATE 2: commenter Andy says that he contacted Dan Hannan about this.
I emailed Daniel Hannan to ask for clarification on his position and he says he did not abstain from this vote. He voted for it. I think it would be worth correcting this for the record.

Your humble Devil is happy to do so. But this does mean, then, that the EP voting record is incorrect. In which case, what—precisely—is the fucking point of it?

A open letter...

Dear US-based Sellers Of Useful Mac Applications But Most Especially The Makers Of Coda (and, incidentally, builders of one of the most beautiful websites around),

I really want to buy your applications, I do. But I do not have a Visa, MasterCard or Amex. I know, I know, but unfortunately I am with a shite Scottish bank and am not in a situation in which I can change over to another at present.

If you will accept neither Switch/Maestro nor PayPal, I cannot buy your applications. This frustrates me. Please, in the name of all that's unholy, could you not at least take PayPal?



Human stupidity: infinite

I don't know why John McDonnell has not realy crossed my radar before, but obviously he should have.
I think that I was the first MP to call for the nationalisation of Northern Rock, although that is hardly surprising because I have been calling for the nationalisation of the financial sector for 30 years or more.

Well, in that case, you are a total fucking moron—and a dangerous one at that.

I mean, seriously, what the living flaming fuck makes you think that you can run one single bank, let alone the entire "financial sector"? You fuckers can barely shovel lunch into your fat cake-holes without a sodding map.

Let us look at the record of the state, shall we?
  • The NHS: hardly an unmitigated triumph, is it? Expensive, wasteful and with absolutely shit outcomes, it is so fucking amazing that no one else, ever, anywhere, has tried to copy the model.

  • Education: the continual dumbing down of exam standards have ensured that grades mean diddley-squat. And that is for the people who actually get any grades.

  • Utilities: decades of underinvestment have ensured that water pipes leak, we are about a decade years behind the US in terms of broadband provision, and the railways are fucked.

  • Data Security: do I need to point out precisely how fucking shit the state are at keeping our personal details safe? No, I didn't think so.

That's just off the top of my (slightly weary) head; and here's the comment I left at CiF.
Because the state did so very, very well with the utilities, the NHS and education. And, of course, the state's data security policy has been an unmitigated triumph.

You, sir, are a moron. A total moron. Because, let's face it, only a total moron would actually admit to having been a moron for the last 30 years.

And you presume to tell me how to live my life? I despair...

So, having taken McDonnell's first sentence, let us now deal with his last paragraph.
I made the case for public ownership in Another World is Possible - a manifesto for 21st-century socialism - as it is the most rational approach for managing resources in the long-term interest of the entire community. In the absence of that, we need strong regulation - and in the absence of that, we will continue to use public money to bail out private failure.

No, no, no, you utter fuckwit: you are not supposed to use our money to bail out failed private companies; that is the fucking point of private companies. If the shareholders lose out, that's just tough shit.

The only reason that you NuLabour bastards have bailed out Northern Rock is in order to secure your Parliamentary seats, you thieving, lying bastards.

I could fisk the rest, but I cannot be bothered: this man has been wrong for thirty years: the only thing that we can do at this stage is to get him to his alloted lamp post as fast as possible...

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...