Sunday, August 31, 2008

The ethicality of cocaine

Dan Hannan has an interesting post up on drugs and the double standards of those who take them.
I am, as long-standing readers will know, a drippy liberal when it comes to drugs. But the moral case against encouraging cocaine traffic strikes me as hard to answer.

When I was in Colombia earlier this year, the Vice-President showed me some of the ecological consequences of cultivation: the felling of rainforests and the drying up of soil (coca is a thirsty crop). He struggled to understand how eco-conscious Europeans could blithely fund such devastation.

He has a point. The people who hoover up the most coke tend, in my experience, to be finicky consumers in any other context. They drink fair trade coffee. They recycle conscientiously. They won't wear fur. They regard oil corporations as devilish. But, when it comes to their narcotic of choice, they are happy to sustain an industry that wrecks natural habitats, condemns small farmers to the tyranny of racketeers, props up corrupt regimes and inhibits the spread of democracy.

Some people here have questioned how I can be both libertarian and take drugs (bearing in mind the damage that they do abroad) and I must confess that it is something of difficult point. Even were one to make drugs legal here, they might still cause damage through their illegality overseas.

It seems pointless to point out, yet again, that a great deal of the damage done by cocaine cultivation, that Dan highlights, is a consequence of its illegality—and the same applies to other drugs too.

If there is one single stupid and, possibly, evil act that can be laid at the door of the USA, it is that country's drive to make drugs illegal internationally. As I keep saying, do go and read the IEA's Prohibitions [free PDF book] for the whole sorry story.

Licensing the OS, again

As John Gruber points out, there are some ideas that will never die: the insistence that Apple should license Mac OS to other hardware vendors.
It doesn’t matter how well Apple is doing, how remarkably profitable the Mac has become, how remarkably fast Mac sales are growing—the idea that Apple “must” or “should” license Mac OS X to other computer makers will never die.

And so, inevitably, here's another article on that subject, this time at the usually sensible Ars Technica.

Apple did license the Mac OS in the early nineties and that move (along with numerous other fucking awful management decisions) nearly bankrupted the company. It really cannot be said too often: Apple is a hardware company and this is even more true now than it was twenty years ago. Yes, the OS underpins all of its products (except the iPod Nano and iPod Classic) but it is the hardware that people buy.

So, can we please drop this idea that Apple should license its OS to other hardware vendors? It would be a very stupid move and one can only hope that the company is not seduced by the idea again.

DISCLAIMER: I own Apple shares.

Hypocritical Hundal

Yes, I think that the Conservative Party Reptile nails it here.
The sweet smell of consistency

Stage 1: Sunny Hundal writes a post which says that making unscientific allegations that Gordon Brown suffers from a specific mental illness is the lowest possible form of politics practised by right-wingers.

Stage 2: Sunny Hundal writes a post which unscientifically accuses a right-wing blogger of having a specific mental illness.

And, as I pointed out, although I do not suffer from Tourettes, one of my contributors does. And he helpfully left a comment pointing this out.
Dear Mr. Hundal,

I came across this post via ‘The Devil’s Kitchen’. I am the contributor to that site to whom Chris has referred as suffering from severe Tourette Syndrome.

It is disappointing to see your casual, lazy reference to what is an extremely debilitating and embarrassing condition on a post the topic of which has absolutely nothing to do with TS. Such references do nothing but continue to spread the lamentable misconceptions about TS which persist in the public mind.

Sunny has, of course, utterly failed to acknowledge or apologise for the comment. I don't really give a crap—he can call me what he likes, since I happily call him a cunt (and more) although I consider that to be no more than accuracy—but it's good to see his hypocrisy spelt out for all to see.

UPDATE: sinking to my level (and how much does that please me?), Sunny points out in the comments that he has addressed the Tourette's point. Nice of him.

Obviously, I can't be bothered to read what he's written as it would probably just annoy me and, as Rumbold points out, this spat has run its course.

UPDATE 2: Or possibly not.
This is just a start. There's more coming.

Hmmm, I wonder what that means. I shall assume that Sunny is going to attempt to ruin me by taking this into the real world, a la Shot By Both Sides...*

* For those that don't know, Shot By Both Sides was John Band's former blog which had to be taken offline after people objected to something that he wrote and decided to target the company that he worked for.

Humanist UKIP humourousness...

There has been much hilarity over the fact that the British Humanist Association is sponsoring part of the UKIP Conference, for Polly Toynbee is president of said society.

Most amusing.

It's worth pointing out, of course, that these political types do tend to cross borders. The last time that I saw Polly and Nigel Farage in the same room, for instance, was when they were discussing the EU at the Fabian Society Conference (the panel also included TEBAF Margot: such was the level of my suppressed rage that I chewed my way through several pencils).

What is not amusing in any way is that an organisation calling itself the British Humanist Association could ever appoint someone who so obviously hates people as its President; not only is Polly an evil, misanthropic shitbag, but she is also an ignorant, uninformed lying little fuck-dwarf. And having such a piss-awful, untrustworthy little cunt as their President just makes me think that the British Humanist Association are a bunch of pig-ignorant, unpleasant, sweaty fucktards.

And no, I wouldn't take their money.

Tricks Of The Light

I'm not sure that it's finished yet, but here's the progress so far...

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy doing this sort of thing...

Friday, August 29, 2008

A professor of finance writes...

... via email, on the equality versus wealth debate. I reproduce the email here, with permission and with the top and tail removed.
Suppose we accept that, as a very rough rule of thumb, "the right" aims to increase wealth and "the left" wishes to increase equality.

We can look to see how both do against their objectives. If we look at the real average annual growth in the FTSE100 index, my Friday lunchtime back of the envelope calculations give +3.3% to Maggie, +8.4% to Major, +1.0% to Blair and -16.8% to Brown. In real terms, the market went up from 2.9 to 7.2 under Tory rule and has now declined back to 6.6 (although it remains higher in nominal terms).

This link between market returns and left vs. right wing governments has been found more formally by Leblang and Mukhergee, American Journal of Political Science, 2005, for both the US and UK. I quote them at boring detail...
"... we find distinct partisan patterns in the U.S. and British stock markets in that dividend yields and personal income from stock returns increases (decreases) in election years when the market expects the right-wing (left-wing) party to win elections and under right-wing (left-wing) administrations. This intriguing finding suggests that right-wing parties arguably have a greater ability and willingness for priming the economy in ways that has a positive impact on stock returns and income growth.

Conversely, our findings suggest that agents in the U.S. and British stock markets are genuinely concerned that the Democratic and Labor parties will remain committed to maximizing redistribution and welfare programs after elections by adopting policies that may lower stock prices. More generally, the presence of partisan patterns in the stock market indirectly support extant claims that partisanship has distinct effects on real economic outcomes since price movements in stock markets often reflect changes in macroeconomic outcomes such as personal income growth." [p.800]

So, now we get onto redistribution and welfare programmes. For data on this, you might want to look at this (AHH, just as I am about to hit the "send
button", I see Sunny has beaten me to it) [the Gini coefficient graph mentioned here] or, similarly, this [Powerpoint].

My reading of this is that income inequality went up pretty steeply under Maggie, as Sunny states, declined again under Major and has stayed largely steady since, with the most recent inequality movements being upwards.

So, the Conservatives increased marketable wealth at the expense of inequality, with the increasing inequality coming early in their term of office and the wealth coming later. Nu-Lab (or whatever) has decreased real marketable wealth with no change in equality and recently the movement of both indicators has been in the wrong direction.

DISCLAIMER: this email is written in a personal capacity in my lunchtime and not as a professional opinion. I haven't put enough research into it for that.

I thought you might be interested...

Hundal scores again!

EDITED: see this comment thread for details.

Sunny Hundal is very excited because he thinks that he has managed to catch me out; you can almost see him bouncing up and down with glee, his ickle face beaming into his mirror. One of his acolytes, septicisle, pointed to this little graph of the Gini coefficient, which shows a marked rise under the Tories.

Looking at the above graph (via), would you say income inequality has increased more under this Labour government, or under earlier Conservative governments?

I'm not sure that Sunny mentioned income inequality in his original comment. In fact, he said (and I quote) [Emphasis mine]:
... why not compare the increasing level of inequality between Labour rule and Tory rule, and then come back to me. I think you’ll find inequality increasing massively during Tory rule.

Now, that leaves his measure open to interpretation, don't you think? Still, never mind: Sunny is carried away by his thrilling denouement!
I think it may be obvious but someone may want to explain this to Cxxxx Mxxxxxx...

Now, I don't expect a common little man like Sunny to have any idea about etiquette, but the convention is that you refer to a blogger by the name that he gives himself. As I have stated many times, I am not the Devil's Kitchen and the Devil's Kitchen is not me: it is an aspect of me, but DK is not Cxxxx Mxxxxxx. I refer to "Sunny Hundal", because he proudly blogs under his own name, although I am not sure why: if I were writing the sort of moronic, single-dimensional, inaccurate shit that he does, I would want to stay very anonymous indeed. Still, each to their own...
... of Devil’s Kitchen, the idiot with tourette’s syndrome...

If I were a Lefty, of course, I would get very upset about this because although I do not have Tourette's Syndrome, one of the contributors to The Kitchen does, in fact, suffer very badly from that condition.
... and a penchant for writing sexual fantasies about newspaper columnists, who thinks this is rubbish. It doesn’t help does it, if you’re angry at someone saying nasty things about right-whingers, and then get it wrong yourself with irrelevant statistics.

Ah, yes, it just has to be a conspiracy, doesn't it, Sun—can I call you Sun? I, of course, do not consider myself to be right-wing: I am a libertarian which is something entirely different. No, I am not angry, Sun, I am contemptuous: you are, in fact, a contemptible little man—stupid, unpleasant, pusillanimous and with a definite aversion to backing up any of your assertions.

Still, this is to quibble. Let us consider the graph that Sunny presents us with. Now the Gini coefficient measures inequality between levels of disposable income and, yes, it obviously does increase under the Tories—and continues to increase under Labour, although at a lesser rate. But is disposable income a good measure of inequality?

Well, let us consider a couple of examples. First, let us consider a hypothetical one: take a worker earning the median wage of roughly £24,000 and compare him to a playboy with a £1billion trust fund who lives on the capital (this is a very silly thing to do, but never mind). Now, under the Gini coefficient, the worker would be considerably better off than the playboy: is this a true reflection of their wealth?

Or, why not consider a worker on the median wage of two years ago—roughly £23,000. Now, let us take me, two years ago: I was earning about £16,000 per year, but I owned my own flat—sure, I was paying a mortgage on it, but that mortgage was pretty small (only slightly higher than the average rent). The reason that it was small is that I was able to put down a large deposit on the property. Now, the worker on the median wage was not only earning more than I, but he also spent less on rent; but, at the end of the day, which one of us is actually more wealthy?

So, when we start talking about inequality, what do you think is a more meaningful measure—income or wealth? I think that it's wealth, which is why I quoted statistics on wealth. Where those statistics "irrelevant"? I think not.

Indeed, given the vagueness with which Sunny defined inequality, did I "get it wrong"? No.

Of course, as Sam Tarran points out, those of us who aren't jealous, evil little shits don't actually give a crap about inequality.
It's all very well and fun throwing the arguments of lefties back at them, and all very well taunting the mentally challenged, but why should we actually care? Economic and social equality is a distinctly socialist idea.

Of course in a free society you are going to have inequality. Inequality should be a source of pride. It is the badge of a free nation. It is that vague line that separates Hong Kong from the rest of China. It is the transition from freedom and diversity to uniformity.

According to his profile, Sam is 16 years old and yet his opinions are rather more mature than Sunny's, and Sam backs up his ideas with data and references.

Anyway, I make that 2–nil to me in this exchange. So, as I said in the last post, Sunny, don't let the door hit your arse on your way out of the blogosphere, you twat.

UPDATE: as per, Unity has written a superb—and typically lengthy—post on this subject. The main point is that inequality did rise in the 80s, but not necessarily for the reasons that you might think.

From a personal point of view, it is a matter of supreme indifference to me whether inequality rose or not, although I know that we got rather poorer (those 15% interest rates supremely fucked my family over for a while as we've never been high income).

My original point was always meant to be that Sunny made a fairly important assertion without backing it up with any kind of evidence—something that he was complaining about in his original post. Indeed, the wee laddie had to rely on Septicisle to find anything like the kind of evidence that he needed.

On both a practical and philosophical point, as someone who has spent all of his working life earning below the median wage (until, possibly, the last four months) but who has always paid his way, I still don't see why I should lose a quarter of my income (in direct taxes alone) to fund the lifestyles of other people—especially those who might be, in the case of Child Benefit for instance, considerably better off than me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Sorry, I'm lacking inspiration at present, mainly because pressures of time are preventing me posting something prolix and insulting; never mind, I suspect that a quiet weekend born of waiting for pay day will provide the required space.

In the meantime, I've not been tremendously impressed with the singles that have so far been released in anticipation of the new Cure album (called 4:13 Dream and released on October 13th. Probably): they all seemed a bit average, with Fat Bob's voice sounding particularly thin and shrill.

However, this live track recording of a song called Underneath The Stars is rather lovely, with the dreamy sound reminiscent of the Disintegration LP.

In other music news, my brother has also sent me some new tracks over the last few months, and I am going to start compiling, and doing artwork for, his new solo album, Tricks Of The Light.

Over the last eight months or so, Gronk has written and recorded about thirty tracks, of which sixteen are on the shortlist—the eventual album will probably feature eleven or twelve of those. In keeping with the mood of Underneath The Stars, here is a mellow Gronk instrumental—A Mist of Stars.

In the meantime, I have been looking at some amazing artwork sites recently—such as PSDTUTS—and realised that I have become very lazy with my art of late. For Tricks..., I want to put together one of the really complex compositions, with tens of layers, that I used to do when I first started this designing lark...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunny, meet facts; facts, meet Sunny

A number of people have commented on Liberal Conspiracy's latest... er... conspiracy.
As its a slow news day, I might as well highlight this blog post at the Guido Fawkes blog. Paul Staines asks: ‘Is Brown bonkers?’, adding later on that:
It is low politics to hurl cheap abuse at opponents, but this is not borne of malice towards Brown, Guido feels like the boy who pointed at the naked emperor and said what everyone was too embarrassed to say.

Erm, yeah right. He’s as concerned about Brown’s sanity as I am about trainspotting. What Staines is doing, and what the political right excels at, is starting and constantly promoting malicious narratives. Their hope is that it becomes a talking point for the mainstream media and that is how he becomes framed.

Whereas the Left would never contemplate such a thing, of course. Except...

Well, it's just that, in the comments, Sunny wheels a few "malicious narratives" himself.
I feel sorry for people like you, I really do. This is the level of intelligence that the political right has. Jeez.

Narrative #1: that the "political Right" are more than a bit thick. Of course, given the fact that it is the Left who continue to fly in the face of sixty years of failure by continuing to back the current Welfare State, one might question their intelligence—especially when, in other countries, we can see Welfare Service systems that work a fuck sight better.

Narrative #2:: but, of course, one of the most popular narratives that the Left love to employ is that of the unsurpassed evil of the Thatcher years.
Chas, why not compare the increasing level of inequality between Labour rule and Tory rule, and then come back to me. I think you’ll find inequality increasing massively during Tory rule. But don’t let facts stand in your way!

Ah, yes: the facts. Shall we have a look at some facts? Tell you what, let's look at an interesting table of data from the ONS, plotting Marketable Wealth from 1976–2003.

There! Do you see it?—that massive spike of inequality in the 80s? Do you see how equal everyone was in the 70s and how everyone is much more equal now?

What do you mean, "am I looking at the same graph as you?" Can't you see... Oh, right.

This is the level of intelligence (and accuracy) that the political left displays*. Jeez. Still, never mind, Sunny: don’t let facts stand in your way, eh?

Oh, and don't let the door hit your arse on the way out of the blogosphere, either, you twat.

On the central question, I neither know nor care whether Brown is a certifiable nutjob; as far as I am concerned, he is such an evil little cunt that he should be hanged from the Tyburn tree—whether he is mad, bad, sad or glad—as soon as is inhumanly possible.

His disgustingly cynical shafting of the poor alone should condemn him to spend his last few minutes tap-dancing on air whilst the ragged children throw rocks at his twitching bulk, the ravens tear out his remaining sighted eye and his heartbeat slowly ceases.

As for apologists like Sunny Hundal... well... over to you, chaps...

* I am exaggerating, of course. It would be a pity to tar decent lefties who do their research (or, indeed, any research) with the Sunny Hundal brush...

Server trouble

My server has been going up and down like Polly Toynbee's knickers at a Labour Party Conference.

Apologies to those whose sites are there hosted: I suspect that the current problems are related to the migration to the new data centre, but I am going to be tracking down the suppliers and giving them gyp on Wednesday anyway.

In the meantime, if any of you find that the images on this site are not displaying, or that assorted blogs are unavailable, then you know that the damn thing's down again and I am struggling manfully with the controls...

Reform Guest Blog: crime

Generally speaking, the think-tank Reform is on the side of those of us who think that our public services are a pile of shit—although they aim to be a little more contructive than merely observing that our public services are a pile of shit. Their mission is "to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity."

A couple of days ago, I received an email from one Dale Bassett, asking if I would participate in their web strategy, partly by allowing guest posts at The Kitchen. If only because I consumed an enormous amount of free booze at their website relaunch, I thought that I may as well answer in the affirmative—we shall see how it goes...

UPDATE: apparently, Dale has been a little too hasty, and Reform did not want to trail their report until after its publication. Oh dear...
Robocop justice
by Dale Bassett

Centralised and technocratic—that’s the “Robocop justice” being delivered by the criminal justice system in Britain today. It’s the consequence of a paradigm shift in people’s response to crime. Citizens have become “passive bystanders”, abdicating personal responsibility in favour of an ever-increasing role for monolithic institutions, ill-equipped to deal efficiently with crime. This has made Britain the most expensive country to police in the world, with spending on law and order increasing by nearly 40% in real terms from 1997/8 to 2006/7.

New research, to be published on Monday by the independent think tank Reform, suggests that there are two keys to rectifying this and improving the efficiency of our criminal justice system: decentralisation and information.

With mishaps such as the ongoing lost data scandals demonstrating the failure of the creaking centralised state, politicians from all parties are beginning to realise that a local, decentralised agenda is often the best approach in many areas of public policy. But as ever, there seems to be more lip-service than action. The so-called “colouring book” approach—with detailed targets and parameters dictated from the centre and only minimal local autonomy allowed—will mitigate the impact of decentralisation in the criminal justice system. Effective policing needs different approaches in different local areas—and local commanders know what works. Giving local police forces the freedom to focus on low-level crime and anti-social behaviour is the way to make a real difference to crime on our streets.

A lack of information is the single biggest barrier to individuals taking responsibility for law and order—two thirds of Britons would “play a role in tackling or preventing crime” if they felt empowered to do so. Again, politicians have begun to recognise this, and crime mapping has become one of the hot topics in criminal justice at the moment. But the government needs to go further, publishing detailed, granular information about all aspects of the justice system on a local basis, informing citizens and encouraging society itself to become the main instrument in maintaining lawfulness.

Six out of ten Britons would be unlikely to challenge a group of 14 year old boys vandalising a bus shelter. Six out of ten Germans would challenge them. We need to rebuild the relationship between the public and the police, shift responsibility back towards the individual and away from centralised institutions and encourage participation in maintaining justice. Rather than seeing the criminal justice system as a “distant, sealed-off entity”, government needs to encourage people to become a part of it.

Dale Bassett is Reform’s New Media Politics Executive
Reform’s report The Lawful Society is published on September 1 and will be available at on the Reform website.

They are looking for debate and input, so feel free to let fly in the comments. I shall add my thoughts in due course...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Educating the slaves

It seems that the government—bowing to pressure from yet more special interest groups—are going to bugger about with the school curriculum again.
Britain's involvement in the slave trade is to be studied by all secondary pupils in England from September.

Oh, right. What aspects of it, I wonder?
Children will study the development of the trade, colonisation and how slavery was linked to the British empire and the industrial revolution.

Uh huh. And will they be studying how Britain, almost single-handedly brought an end to the trade? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller...
The curriculum has been developed with the assistance of the Understanding Slavery Initiative which encourages teachers, educators and young people to examine the history and legacies of the transatlantic slave trade through museum artefacts.

The initiative's learning project manager Ruth Fisher said: "There's a lot of mis-education about slavery and it hasn't really been taught in schools at all.

"It's quite interesting in terms of today's history and what students need to know about the past to understand the present.

"You can't really talk about the history of the British empire without discussing this part of history."

She also suggested the sheer impact of slavery on the British economy and how involved it was with slavery has often been underplayed.

Well, this may well be true: however, what is almost always underplayed is how much it cost Britain to bring the trade to an end. As several of us pointed out last year, bringing about the abolition was done so at a colossal cost to Britain (and not just from loss of free labour). In fact, as Timmy pointed out, the abolition of the slave trade cost more than the benefits.
Good, so because our forefathers made a lot of money out of this then we should compensate those harmed. Which is interesting, because the Royal Navy gos on to make another, further claim:
Overall, the nineteenth-century costs of suppression were bigger than the eighteenth-century profits.

Now isn't that an interesting thought? Indeed, they go further:
It was costing financial capital – Britain did indeed pay heavily in ‘subsidies’ to other European countries to induce them to give up or at least curtail their trade in slaves; somewhat less to numerous chiefs on the African coast for the same purpose; vast sums to its own slave-owners in the West Indies to purchase the freedom of their slaves in 1833; more again to meet the costs of maintaining a squadron on the coast of Africa. It has been estimated that great as was the wealth generated by the slave trade in the half century before 1807, the costs of suppressing it added up to a similar sum:¹ “.. by any more reasonable assessment of profits and direct costs, the nineteenth-century costs of suppression were certainly bigger than the eighteenth-century benefits.” Above all, the campaign was costing the lives of British seamen: a sacrifice that might be worth making to put an end to the slave trade, but a sacrifice wasted if the only result was further suffering for many of the trade’s victims.

So what we have here is what I would call a very interesting situation indeed.

Isn't it just? And what do you want to bet that this information that will be taught to our little darlings in the classrooms? What do you want to bet that the curriculum insists that the guilt is laid on good and thick? Further, there will probably be a requirement to hire some Black Advocacy Group to come in and teach the kiddies—perhaps through the medium of a play, or a physical daaaaarrrsse theatre piece—about the horrors that their ancestors might have endured.

But the idea that—realising the error of her ways (and I see that they do intend to mention Wilberforce)—Britain spent more money suppressing the slave trade (because it was right to do so) than she ever benefited from said trade...? No, that won't get a look-in: I guarantee it...

UPDATE: the Conservative Party Reptile—who is, if I recall correctly, a history graduate—pisses all over these idiots' chips in quite spectacular fashion. Here are a few highlights...
The numbers of British people directly involved in the slave trade, whether in shipping the poor slaves across the Atlantic or using slave labour on plantations in the British West Indies, was so low. There were no slaves in England after that remarkable judgment by Lord Mansfield in the case of R v Somerset "The air of England has long been too pure for a slave, and every man is free who breathes it." So, while the slave trade was an important aspect of world history, I'm not sure that it's a central facet of British history.

Well, the thing is that the slave trade has very little relation to the pattern of British colonisation - in 1807 when the trade was abolished, British colonialism was located predominantly in India, with the West Indies already being marginalised. African colonialism came much later, and European settlement was focused in the south and east - not the west where the slave trade was centred. Equally, what we really know as the British Empire was a creation of the mid-to-late nineteenth century more than the 18th. By the time the flag was flying and the map was being painted pink, the relation of Britain to the slave trade was in spending massive amounts of money - more according to some than was earned in the trade - in trying to stamp out the global trade.
More importantly, despite the Marxist view that the industrial revolution was brought about by the surplus profits of the slave trade, there simply isn't the evidence to support this. Even at the peak of the trade, the money it was bringing in was marginal at best. Stanley Engerman, professor of economic history at Rochester, has calculated that the contribution made by slave sale proceeds to the British economy in 1770 - at the height of the trade - was a mere 0.0054% of National Income. The point here is that this is contentious economic history and certainly not settled historical fact - the teaching of the industrial revolution should really not be taught as an adjunct to the slave trade.

Teach children about the Empire by all means - it's hard to comprehend any British History after about 1750 if you don't talk about it - but don't pretend that slavery is all that it was, or that the slave trade is what has driven modern Britain, because it wasn't, and it hasn't.

Not that any of this... er... historical fact is going to make any impression on these agenda-driven loonies: our children will be taught that this oh-so-fucking-wonderful Utopia that they inhabit was built solely on their evil ancestors' joyous exploitation of the utterly innocent African slaves, and that they should feel very, very guilty.

And in the inner city schools, the (predominantly black) children will no doubt be told that they should feel a sense of entitlement because the evil whities enslaved their great-grandparents and made them pick cotton in Sunderland, or something.

The agenda is guilt, ladies and gentlemen, and I hope that you feel its crushing burden even now—or it will be back to the gulag school, for a healthy dose of re-education, for you...

A black art

"No, not like that! You do it like this!" Dr Derrick Campbell shows black youths how it should be done...

Today's pointless, whining bastard is Dr Derrick Campbell, who maintains that...
Cutting funding to community groups is tantamount to "leaving black youths to die", according to an independent adviser to the Home Office.

Yes, yes, of course it is, Derrick.
Speaking as police appealed for calm in the wake of two gang-related deaths in the Midlands, Dr Derrick Campbell said that funds intended to promote community cohesion were reaching the wrong organisations.

Dr Campbell is chairman of the National Independent Advisory Group on Criminal Use of Firearms, which advises the Home Office and the security services.

He told the BBC: "We have clear evidence of organisations which used to be funded and have delivered on outcomes but have suddenly not been supported.

"And we have to ask the question whether there seems to be an acceptance that if another black youth is killed they are just another one that we don't have to worry about.

"Black youths within this country have been left to die. And that's a very strong statement but it's a statement that seems to be borne out through evidence about black youths who seem to be at the top of the list when it comes to our youngsters being killed."

Are you implying some sort of racist element here, Derrick? Oh yes, I think that you are.

Well, here's an observable fact for you, Derrick: the vast majority of black youths who are being murdered in this country are being murdered by... [drum roll]... other black youths. So, it would be just as logical for you to announce that the government has ceased funding black youths to kill other black youths.

Burning Our Money advances the idea, with tongue in cheek, that Derrick Campbell is not actually real but merely a cipher created by the BNP...
Our immediate thought was that he'd been paid by the BNP as part of a recruitment drive. But when we looked at his biog on Birmingham Black History, we began to think he maybe didn't exist at all - he'd been invented by the BNP:
"Through secondary schooling Derrick was always in the bottom sets as Black pupils were not allowed to be in the top sets at that time. He always wanted to be a male nurse... but he came to realise that he could not cope with the hospital environment... he changed direction and went to University, but he was thrown out after a year and trained as an electrician. In applying for an electrician post with Wolverhampton Borough Council he was offered a job as an officer!"

Of course, once on the council payroll, for reasons we can all easily imagine, he rose rapidly through the ranks to his present elevated position.

But whether he exists or not, as the almost uniformly hostile comments posted today under his biog demonstrate, in terms of BNP recruitment, he's certainly hit the spot.

So why would a "community leader" come out with inflammatory garbage like that in the first place? Yup, because he makes his living in the black victimhood equality industry.

Campbell sounds like the worst kind of self-serving community empowerment bureaucrat. God knows how much we've already pumped into his organisation (it was £1m just between 2004/5 and 2006/7), but he clearly isn't satisfied.

Does he not understand we have no confidence in him or his tax-funded industry to stop black yobs stabbing each other? And does he not understand we're sick and tired of being dealt the guilt card yet again?

Why do we employ such a man? What precisely do we taxpayers get out of it?

Well, that's a very good question, and one for which I am struggling to find an answer...

These women must be stupid

In this story about the 15 year old girl found with a suicide bomb vest on, the final paragraph is a little extraordinary.
The number of women bombers in Iraq has more than tripled to 29 since last year. US officials said al-Qaeda had exploited women's grief sparked by Iraq's carnage.

Really? Fucking hell, how stupid would these women have to be?

A suicide bomb is a blunt instrument and by far the largest cause of "Iraq's carnage" have been Iraqi (supposedly) suicide bombers blowing the shit out of other Iraqis. If the motivation for Iraqi women really is "grief sparked by Iraq's carnage" they must be absolutely fucking insane, or slightly more absolutely fucking thick than I had imagined any human being could be.

Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the Iraq war, one of the best ways to stop said carnage, ladies, is not to go around fucking causing it, you murdering twats.

UPDATE: I recognise all of the points raised in the comments, and also that various unpleasant men are also blowing themselves up for equally pointless or vindictive reasons. However, I was commenting on the alleged motivation of the women involved as specified in this report.

Monday, August 25, 2008

All hail the 2013 Olympics....

I did this for Trixy, but it sums up the general attitude, I think...

All hail the Tripod 2013 Olympics. Oh, and I still don't give a shit about sport in general and the Olympics in particular. What I do care about is that my money is about to be pissed comprehensively up the wall...

They are watching you

The Metropolitan Police have launched a crime-mapping service, so that you can see how your area fares. My ward is, as it happens, average; in June and July, there were only 4 Burglary, robbery and vehicle crimes reported apparently.

I can believe it, for I didn't bother to report it to the police when my car window was smashed the other day.

As such, I don't know whether to be reassured or slightly apprehensive that I received a letter from the Met on Saturday morning; they were, they said, very sorry to note that I had been the victim of a vehicle crime. Well, thank you for that: although I do wonder whether the crime number indicated is for me personally, or whether it covers al of the vehicles on that road that we done over.

I can only assume that the police noted the plates of the vehicles that had obviously been broken into, and then looked up the registrations at the DVLA. In which case, one might have thought that they could spell out my whole name: it is not "Mr Mou"...

Still, Burning Our Money has more on the crime maps, and he has noticed something a little awry...
And in a spirit of thanks and celebration, we asked our man on the Hill to test drive it. Does it correspond to his perception of crime down his own particularly mean streets?

Straightway he was puzzled. On the Met's crime map, Primrose Hill is coloured blue, which means it's a "below average" crime area. But how could that possibly be? Below average crime for an area that's so scary the residents have to hire private security guards?

So he clicked the link to the underlying stats. And here's what he found (the first three columns relate to the 12 months to June 2008, and the second three to the 12 months to June 2007):

Now, can you by any chance spot the jump-off-the-page-and-smack-you-in-the-gob pattern?

Yes, correct. For both 2007 and 2008, his hood (Camden Town with Primrose Hill) had a much higher crime rate than both Camden generally, and the Met as a whole, FOR EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY OF CRIME. Every single one.

So... er... on what basis has the Met categorised the Hill as a below average crime area? And what must the above average crime areas be like?

Sheer blithering incompetence or outright lies?

Frankly, it makes little difference.

Indeed. Still, this kind of information is still a step in the right direction...

Oh yeah? How, exactly?

Yes, I too received this "answer" to a petition on the Lisbon Treaty through email; Angry Steve has been admirably brief in his comment...
Where's the referendum we were promised?

Tell me again, why we're not hanging these cunts from lampposts with piano wire?

Your humble Devil, however, believes that it requires a little something more; a small fisking of the Number 10-issued text—even at the risk (or certainty) of repeating myself—is required.
The Government believes that EU Membership is firmly in Britain’s national interest, and remains committed to ensuring that the EU is focussed on adding value for its citizens.

First, I have seen this a lot in recent years and although "focussed" is not technically incorrect, in Britain there is a strong preference for "focused".

Second, you are the collection of cunts who believed that pouring billions of pounds into public services was going to make them "world-class". You were wrong.

You are the bunch of bastards who announced, in your arrogance, that you had "brought an end to boom and bust". You were wrong.

You shiftless shits apparently believed that we should go to war in Iraq because Saddam could deploy a threat to Britain within 45 minutes. You were wrong.

You arseholes told us that you would concentrate on "education, education, education" and that you would make our system better and more flexible. You were wrong.

You made up some appallingly intrusive anti-terrorism laws and told us that they would be used only in exeptional circumstances. You were wrong.

You told us that social mobility would increase under Labour, that it was the poor that you cared about. You were wrong.

On these issues—and many, many others—you have been proven to be utterly incorrect. Further, you have been shown to be a bunch of lying, corrupt, dishonest, venal bastards without a moral bone in your body and with absolutely no compunction about lying to the public and to the House—so do you mind if I not only do not share your belief that "EU Membership is firmly in Britain’s national interest" but also doubt your commitment to "ensuring that the EU is focussed on adding value for its citizens"?

For, if the EU is so very beneficial to Britain, why have you consistently refused to conduct a proper cost-benefit analysis? When Lord Pearson of Rannoch tabled a Bill, only a few months ago, in order to force such an analysis, why did you not back him?

Is it because you know damn well that the benefits are purely marginal, that the EU costs us in net contributions and in the stifling effect of regulation on business? Is it because you know too damn fucking well that the EU is a cost and not a benefit?

Yes, it is.
Our membership of the EU has brought real benefits in jobs, peace and security.

Prove it. The idea that it is the EU that has brought peace is ludicrous and has been shot down by many people; I believe that it's disintegration will bring a conflagration. As for security—well, I would put that down to NATO, personally.
Through it, we belong to the world’s biggest trading bloc.

So what? Where we to leave and control our own trade policy, we could belong to the colar system's biggest trading bloc—we call it the Earth.

All we need is a simple policy based on the admirably simple idea that it is imports that make us rich; and that policy is quite simply this: free trade for the entire world. Sell us your products, buy ours if you like: no quotas, no tariffs, just totally free trade.

We could be citizens of the world, global traders, rather than stuck inside our little, insignificant trading bloc like some protectionist throwback to over a century ago.
Half the UK’s trade is now within the EU, with an estimated 3.5 million British jobs linked to it.

Ah, well, that rather depends on what you are measuring, doesn't it? The thing is that 50% of our trade may well be linked to the EU, but that is to be very disingenuous indeed.

Some 80% of our entire economy is internal to Britain; in other words, 80% of our economy involves selling stuff to ourselves. And if one is measuring our entire economy, about 10% of our trade and services are linked to the rest of the world and only about 10% linked to the EU.

This amounts to some £100 billion, which is what Civitas estimates as the lost opportunity costs of being locked into a powerbloc. One of the EU Commissioners, Gunter Verhoegen, estimated that the Single Market benefits business to the tune of about €200 billion every year; this is a pretty good figure until you take into account the fact that, with his next breath, he admitted that the estimated cost of regulation to businesses was about €600 billion per year.

I have never seen anyone make a coherent economic case for us remaining in the EU, despite challenging people to do so. That is because there isn't one.
Our membership allows us to live, work and travel across Europe and to receive free medical care if we fall sick on holiday.

There is nothing here that could not be negotiated in bilateral agreements. And, as Old Holborn pointed out, that's some fucking expensive medical care.
How cool is that? I'm only paying our masters £678 per year medical insurance to travel to Greece. Where I never travel .(I usually get my travel insurance for £38 a year from but what do I know?)

In any case, such nebulous benefits hardly justify tying ourelves to a supranational identity that provides few other benefits and a lot more costs.

And, of course, as we have discovered (and which bothers some), it allows lots of other EU citizens to "live, work and travel across Europe and to receive free medical care if [they] fall sick" too.
And each citizen benefits in ways that are harder to quantify in cash terms, such as a cleaner environment, trade deals negotiated by the EU, and better security.

We have dealt with the trade crap. So, what about the environment? Again, bilateral deals could quite easily cover this; instead we get the biofuels disaster, the hopelessly unrealistic renewable energy targets and a whole load of wasteful legislation that is often actively damaging to the environment. And dare I bother to mention the hypocrisy of the treks from Brussels to Strasbourg several times a year?
There was a referendum on UK membership of the European Economic Community in June 1975, which was passed in favour of membership.

Ah yes, the famous referendum...

Well, as usual, the politicians lied like a bunch of screamingly dishonest cunts about that too, didn't they? Britain was joining a Single European Market—that was what the voters of the time were told. There was to be, said the politicos (their forked tongues periodicaly flickering to taste the air), no loss of sovereignty.

With the country near bankruptcy, paralysed by strikes and with the population still reeling from the breakup of the Empire, the people of Britain voted to remain in the EEC. It was to be two years until I was born and I have never had a vote on the matter; those who did vote have now realised that they were lied to (if they were not actually telling the untruths themselves) and of those who I have spoken to (and who voted "yes"), 99% maintain that they would have voted against it had they known what it was that they were tying us into.

For we must also remember that, at the time of the referendum, we were already member of the EEC; the referendum was not really held solely on the matter of membership: it was held against the backdrop of "renegotiated terms" and question was really on whether we accepted those terms or wished to leave.
Thereafter, each Treaty change has been approved by the democratically elected British Parliament. No government, Labour or Conservative, has ever held a referendum on an amending European treaty.

Yes. And. So. What? One might have thought that, given your proud inclusion of the phrase "democratically elected British Parliament", you might have believed that now was the time to start. Indeed, you were elected partially on the promise of a referendum on the EU Constitution; and whilst all the major players admit that the Lisbon Treaty is, in effect, the same as the Constitution, you have decided to go back on your word.
Parliament remains the correct place for debate and decision on such treaties.

In other words, you and your MPs deliberately misrepresented yourselves to the people of this country. You promised a referendum on a Treaty and yet now you maintain that "Parliament remains the correct place for debate and decision on such treaties".

Well, fuck you, you lying sacks of shit; fuck you right in the ear. We might even take this seriously if we thought that any of you actually knew what you were voting on. Ever since Ken Clarke—an enthusiastic supporter of the Maastricht Treaty—admitted that he had never read that document, the idea that you bastard MPs are the people in the know and the correct arbiters of what is beneficial to us has been exploded.

How many of you cunts actually read the Lisbon Treaty, eh? For fuck's sake, the first vote was held after the final text had only been out for a few days.

Fuck you, you lying bastards. You are cheats and scum, pig-ignorant featherers of your own nests and a veritable collection of dishonest, hypocritical charlatans. Once again, I shall quote the last man to sweep away your hideous corruption...
"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

"Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

"Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone!

"So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!"

You are no better now than they were then, and there is no part of that speech that does not apply even today: so, from the bottom of my heart—"from hell's heart I stab at thee"—in the name of god, go!

Go and drown yourselves in the Thames, that we may fish your bloated bodies from the waters, dismember them and hang the pieces at all the crossroads in the land for the sports of crows, rooks and ravens (and the Health and Safety legislation can go hang with you).

Or, perhaps, we should take the more explosive route...

Is it time yet? If not now, when...?

A paradox: having too much and nothing at all

Ever since Question That flagged up her blog at The Kitchen, I have been reading To Miss With Love; it is the diary and musings of a very-determined and, I suspect, very talented black teacher in an inner-city school.

Today's post is an odd one which draws on the strange dichotomy inherent between the different classes of children—those who are well-off and those who are poor. Miss Snuffleupagus is wandering around a village fete, comparing the home-made cakes and simple games (and even simpler prizes) with the massive and massively expensive entertainments put on in the city; she compares the different price put upon different possessions by the children here and in the city.
I grab three bean bags, made out of stockings and beans and throw them at the homemade posts with coconuts on top. I hit one. It falls to the ground. I leap about happily, because I've won. And what have I won? I've won the coconut. I wonder what my kids would say to that. How boring they would find this place, and how irritated would they be to win a coconut. Their expectations are so different from the children here. One boy, about 10-years-old, excitedly explains to me that he won 2 lollipops from the 'lollipop dip'. My kids would have laughed in his face.

How bizarre it is that these children, who in monetary terms, for the most part, have far more than my children will ever have, yet, in tangible terms, have far less. I'm guessing that in their homes, converted from old barns, they don't have wide-screen televisions in every room. I'm guessing that they don't have the latest PSP games either. If they had, they would not be so keen to throw a coconut and delight in taking home their prize.

What privilege it is to have so little. What advantage these children have, to have been schooled in such a way so that they want to win a lollipop. They'll never meet my kids, not while they are young at least. They might meet my kids when they are older, when they've moved to London to take up their first job as bankers in the city, and they pop into McDonalds and my kid serves them the hamburger. Yes, I suppose one day, they will finally meet. And even then, I'm not sure that either child will know just how crucial the ability to appreciate that coconut was to their futures.

It is an interesting thing, is it not? As I have pointed out before, whilst I had an excellent schooling and good food, my parents strictly rationed my TV time—and, indeed, we had a little 12" black and white TV until I was about 14 or so, when my father got a bonus and went and bought our first colour TV and a video recorder. We never had a computer at all—no, not even a games console of any sort. Instead of designer trainers and the latest football top, I had clothes handed down from my father and my cousin; instead of MacDonalds' (or at least chips) every day, we had—very occasionally and as a special treat—fish and chips from the local shop, two or three times a year. We didn't get computer games and expensive electronics for birthdays or Christmas; our presents from relatives were usually capped at £10, apart from my parents who would spend anything up to about £25.

What we did have were things that encouraged us to think and invent and imagine: Lego was very popular and, of course, we were encouraged to read at every opportunity. My parents had collected an enormous number of books over the years (they were both English Literature students when they met at university) and had quite different tastes, so we were able—nay, encouraged—to read as many as we could.

I guess that the main difference is that we may not have had PSPs and games and TVs and such, but we were never starved of intellectual stimulus: we were never discouraged from thinking, imagining and creating our own worlds and stories and creatures. Our richness came from the encouragement of our intellectual development and not from a surfeit of expensive, designer goods.

And this is just another reason why I despise those currently running our schools, those who would merely have children tick the boxes and pass the exams; intellectual stimulus can be made from the cheapest, most mundane things (as Blue Peter always attempted to show); stimulating imaginations is, ultimately, cheap.

And whilst I am ready to acknowledge that many parents prefer to give their children goods in place of said stimulation, this is where our schools should take up the slack. But they are failing to do so: how are children meant to grow, and learn, and imagine when all that is considered important in education is how many increasingly worthless A*s you can get in a formulaic exam?

Allow children to imagine, and you open up the world to them; open up the world and they can imagine something bigger still—they can create universes of their own. Limit them, shut them down, and all that they have is a small box—trapped in it, they can rail at the world but ultimately never escape.

And that is why this load of fucking horseshit from Polly Toynbee, seen via Iain Dale, is not simply demagogic and unpleasant, but actively evil. [Emphasis mine.]
At one point during the lively discussion about how history should be taught, Douglas Murray said that one of the benefits of learning about great people in history is that it encourages children to think “that could be me” - a sense that individuals matter. Given how much of a Labour lover Toynbee is one would have thought that she might have agreed with this, given that it seems to fit with Brown’s “aspiration agenda.” However, she attacked Murray’s argument and said that to tell children that they could achieve greatness was to fill their heads with fairy tale nonsense. Apparently we live in a society where only the very rich achieve greatness. She went on to say that America’s notion that ‘anyone can make it if they work hard’ is simply a way of “keeping people in their place.” I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing, and during the Q&;A session I asked her to clarify her remarks and suggested that there was no better way of “keeping children in their place” than by telling them not to bother aspiring to greatness. I’m pleased to say that my questioning was met with general approval by the audience, but Polly just reiterated her notion that we live in a society where only the rich can make it etc. I then put it to her that not all great figures from history were born wealthy (or indeed achieved wealth), at which point she reverted to some safe ground - America bashing.

As a (relatively young) Conservative it is one of my core beliefs that individuals should aspire to better themselves, and society, through ambition and hard work. A world run by Toynbee would be a world where children are encouraged not to try, as “they’ll never make it in to the history book. That’s just where rich people end up.” Frightening stuff.

Toynbee is not on the side of the poor: never make that mistake. Polly Toynbee is one of those evil little cunts who would keep the poor in poverty, so that they may be rescued by the likes of Toynbee, that she may take her place in history.

Polly Toynbee—along with the rest of her ilk: the disgusting Champagne Socialists and "social reformers"—have destroyed ambition over the successive generations. They see the world as disgusting and full of evil; they deplore the acquisition of wealth but they not only crave it themselves, but are usually already wealthy.

The strange thing is that, whilst she deplores wealth, Polly seems to be obsessed with it; to her, having money is the only thing that matters. For Polly Toynbee, selfish old harridan that she is, nothing is more important than cash.

I still say that imagination is more valuable; I still say that being able to live your life in the way you wish, through making your own choices, is far more satisfying; I still say that money is not the be-all and end-all of life. It is why mothers stay home with their children, though they know that they harm their careers: because money is not the ultimate goal—happiness is.

If one views the Scriptures as moral philosophy rather than simply the ravings of nutters who believe in an imaginary friend, it is easy to see that they are right about some things: after all, the love of money is still the root of all evil. But that is too glib: it is the valuation of money, in and of itself, as the only thing that matters that leads to evil.

People with money may well have more possessions (or, as we have seen, they may not). Ultimately, it is the power to dream that sets us apart, and we should never stifle that in anyone, especially the poor: for anyone can dream, no matter their station or the size of their bank account, and to try to shut that down, as Toynbee would, is to remove all hope and, ultimately, all joy from life.

It is Toynbee and those like her who keep the poor in their place—and it is an evil thing to do. But how could it be otherwise: for Toynbee loves only money and, as we have just reminded ourselves, the love of money is the root of all evil.

What a fucking hideous, embittered little cunt she is. Perhaps she should meet with Miss Snuffleupagus, who finishes her post (so much more insightful than any of Polly's empty, tired drivel) thusly...
Back home, as I position my coconut prize in the middle of my front room's mantlepiece, giving it pride of place, I think about how unfair it is that my children have so much, and as a result, have so little. And I decide I must always keep this coconut, so that I can remember that in life, the simplest things, have the greatest rewards.

Indeed. I can't imagine Polly doing the same: can you? I imagine that the only thing that Polly has that resembles a coconut in anyway is her raddled, badly trimmed, old minge. Although it is probable that her heart is just as hard...

What were you doing when...?

I have been tagged to do a new meme by Iain Dale. The conceit is quite simple: every few years there is a momentous event and, much like the Kennedy assassination, you will always remember where you were and how you felt.

So, please forgive my somewhat rambling reminiscences and let's kick off with...
  • Princess Diana's death—31 August 1997

    I had just finished my first year of Microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, and moved into a new flat in the Marchmont area of the city. The other flatmates were incumbents—people that I had met through the Bedlam Theatre—and, though Caro, David, Wystan, Claire and Steve were all a little older than I, we all got on very well. We were all vaguely thespian (apart from Steve) and I always describe that flat as being made up of "a clash of five massive egos—and Steve. I started writing a play based on the characters and incidents in this flat once, but I never finished: besides, it would probably have come out as a larger cast version of Withnail and I).

    Caro (one of the founders of Unlimited Media) had written a play called As Good As The Next Man, which, directed by myself and her brother, David, had originally been performed in February (with myself taking one of the roles) and we had just finished performing it again during the Fringe. The performance, and the typical Fringe lifestyle of a month of consistent drinking and late nights (we were all also (occasionally) working, and also reviewing for the Three Weeks festival newspaper) had taken their toll somewhat.

    Such was the background to the morning of the crash. Caro had a habit of sitting around in her pajamas and a massive woollen jumper and she was so attired that morning; sat cross-legged in one of the sofa chairs in the living-room cum kitchen, hunched over in a position that I called her "gargoyle pose".

    Somewhat bleary-eyed and dressed in a blue satin dressing-gown (that I still possess) and a pair of very old red moccasins (which I do not), I slouched into the kitchen, where Caro—in her gargoyle hunch—was looking even more exhausted than I.

    "Diana's dead," she intoned.

    "What? Princess Diana? How?"

    "Car crash." She pointed at the tiny TV, where the rolling news was reporting every single known fact about the crash—which, at that hour of the morning, was precious little. I watched for a few seconds.

    "Oh," I finally said. "Do you want a cup of tea?"


    So, I made the tea—mine, as was traditional, in the huge white mug that we called "The Donkey"; hers in the only slightly smaller, pale green one known as "Little Donkey"—and I joined her on the sofa, watching the drama unfold. It was essentially rather tedious: someone who I had considered a deeply selfish, boring, media-seeking tart was dead and, not entirely surprisingly, I couldn't give a shit. But, both Caro and I thought that we should probably remember where we were, just in case people asked: someone was bound to eventually.

    My most violent emotion was the disgust at those collecting in London to mourn this dreadful woman: the crocodile tears, the wallowing in this fake emotion, the "whole country united in grief" attitude was, to someone of my disposition, almost unbearably kitsch, maudlin, embarrassing. And over the ensuing days, it only got worse...

    It was in that flat, by the way, that I first heard of the concept of bathos.

  • Margaret Thatcher's resignation—22 November 1990

    I would have been thirteen at this time, and I don't remember the precise moment that I heard about it for I was boarding at Eton at this time. Each House was run like a small independent state, according to the whims of the housemaster, and ours (unlike some) did not allow boys to have televisions in their rooms (we weren't allowed a music system with separate speakers either, until you were in your A Level years). As such, we only had access to the big TV in the prefects' room ("Library" was the name given both to prefects and the room itself, though I do not recall books being particularly associated with either the place or the people).

    As such, I believe that I may have read it in my morning paper—everyone took a morning paper: I, following on from my father, took The Telegraph. This paper was often pinched by one of my sport obsessed compatriots who, though he preferred one of the tabloids (I forget which: The Mail, I think) maintained that The Telegraph the best for sports coverage.

    I was not particularly surprised: Thatcher's failure to win the first ballot outright had convinced me that she was likely to go—her unpopularity in the country (for even I perceived it) made her continuance impossible with such ambivalent support from her own party.

    I was neither thrilled nor disappointed; I tended to support the Tories, but even then I was deeply suspicious of politicians of all stripes. I disagreed violently with the pro-EU Tories (who seemed to me to now be in the ascendant) as I viewed the EU as the most crucial issue of the day (a view which has not entirely left me today) and the prospect of a Labour government was even worse.

    I munched on the huge plate of fishfingers which I had served myself, and wondered whether my Physics prep was adequate...

  • Attack on the twin towers—11 September 2001

    In 1998, I dropped out of university—convinced that Microbiology really wasn't for me, and that a stunning career in graphic design beckoned instead. After a year, the Marchmont flat had disintegrated—the power of the egos, like a collection of similarly charged magnets, breaking us apart and firing us in opposite directions (and we remained essentially out of communication for over a year—even Claire and David, then boyfriend and girlfriend, and now husband and wife, split up)—fuelled by rows over money and pride (and not helped by my very heavy drinking—which was, in fact, bordering on alcoholism. Again).

    I found myself living—through a series of coincidences and the help of a rather older girl who I'd been sleeping with, on and off—with a married couple only a few years older than myself. Although I was not drinking so much (mainly limited by a lack of funds), I was smoking gear quite regularly with the husband, in between looking for my dream job.

    As it happened, I settled for the first vaguely suitable job that I could get, working in a small printhouse in the south side of Edinburgh. That had actually been a good day: I had become friendly with one of the barmaids in the Greyfriars Bobby pub (another student drop-out who was hanging around the city waiting for her life to start), and I was going out for her birthday that night.

    So, when I went for the interview and they asked me "what time tomorrow can you start?", in the expectation of a big night's drinking, I harumphed and made an excuse about having a meeting closing off a freelance job that morning, and could I call them about 1pm? No problem.

    We had the birthday party, I got on very well with the girl in question, we kissed and so, by the end of that night, I had got both a new girlfriend and a new job. That was a good day.

    By September 2001, that girl had long-gone (another one who couldn't stand my drinking. She's married now, with a child and living in Brussels) and I was, I think, going out with someone else (who's drinking was worse, by far, than mine had been) and the job was beginning to lose its lustre somewhat.

    The workplace was split into two—both in terms of the building and the people. The printers, including the boss, were salt-of-the-earth Scots and boisterous. Myself (the designer and Mac operator) and the guy who dealt with the film and plates for the presses, Terry, were rather quieter. Having become bored by Radio One's tediously short playlist and Chris Moyles, we had switched to listening to Radio Scotland.

    This was mainly talk radio, and we particularly enjoyed an afternoon programme hosted by Leslie Riddoch; as an interviewer of politicos, Leslie was like Jeremy Paxman in a really bad mood and she was great: listening to her ripping Margot MacDonald to shreds over the MSPs' massive salary rise remains a beautiful moment.

    Anyway, it was her show that we were listening to when she suddenly broke off and said that they were getting reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Whether it was an accident or not was unknown, as was the extent of the damage... No! Wait! A second plane has hit the towers! This appears to be deliberate... Oh my god... Terry and I raced through to the print room, where the boys had the ancient telly on, and we started to see the footage, and hear about the other attacks...

    Well, it was a bit of excitement, but did it really affect us? Well, I was flying to London that Friday in order to see my brother's band play a gig—although they had been playing around London for about a year, I had never seen them. However, I had left quite a small window, and the banning of hand luggage meant that, after my somewhat epic journey, I arrived at the pub just as they had finished playing their set. It was thoroughly irritating.

    I have covered this issue before, in fact; I'm not one to feel lots of emotion for people I do not know and I did not find the whole things particularly upsetting or harrowing. It was simply another big event in the history of the world and what happened next was likely to be rather more important. The event was a catalyst, the first big blow in a war, the first skirmishes of which had been fought in fringe theatres for at least ten years previously.

  • England's World Cup Semi Final v Germany in—4 July 1990

    I'm not sure if I remember this one or not, to be honest. I remember some England vs. Germany game in which there was a penalty shoot-out. I was at some club in Tunbridge Wells, and I remember people crowding around a portable TV that someone had brought with them. But was it this one? I honestly can't remember—I can't even place it in the context of other events...

  • President Kennedy's Assassination—22 November 1963

    My parents were 13 and I was not even conceived of. So, unless someone wants to give me hypnotherapy and see if I was living another life then, I doubt that we shall ever know...

So, that's enough of my ramblings: I shall, in fact, nominate another five—of an assortment of ages—to pass this on to.
  1. John Redwood MP

  2. Mike Rouse

  3. Timmy

  4. The poor little Greek boy

  5. Freedom and Whiskey

Over to you, chaps...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Listing not over

Iain Dale has been gradually releasing the lists that will appear in the Guide To Political Blogging 2008/2009; today's list is the Top 20 libertarian blogs, and your humble Devil gets a mention. You'll have to wander to Iain's to see who's who, but here is the top five for your delectation.
  1. Guido Fawkes

  2. Devil's Kitchen

  3. Tim Worstall

  4. Samizdata

  5. UK Libertarian Party

So, as per usual, thanks to everyone that voted for The Kitchen, and to those who read, comment and contribute.

In the meantime, I shall attempt to do some proper blogging—as opposed to the recent off-the-top-of-my-head posts. Polly Toynbee hasn't had a good fisking for a while...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's really not that Harding...

Yup, it's our old friend, Neil Harding, attempting some flawed logic to attack the libertarian position.
I love DK's suspicion of authority, believe it or not I share the same distrust of the police etc—but if you are going to defend the right to film in a public place (which I also agree with), you cannot go around slagging off CCTV like these 'libertarians' do. They are inconsistent and they must know their argument on CCTV doesn't stand up at all from a libertarian point of view.

Well, thanks for the compliment, Neil, but you must know your argument—to use your words—"doesn't stand up at all". For, as anyone with an understanding of the issues must realise, it is not the filming per se that is wrong, but the use to which that information is put.

First, there is a world of difference between someone casually filming a few minutes of footage and a systematic and constant observation of the population. Amongst other things, one might be tempted to invoke NuLabour's stalking laws against a cameraman who followed you with a camera, filming your every move and action. It would certainly be classed as harassment.

Second, the casual film-maker is not using the footage in an attempt to enforce conformity, which the government certainly is. There is a massive fucking difference between filming for, say, a news report and systematically filming the population in order to monitor their movements.

Third, one can approach the casual cameraman and ask that he does not film you and, I think, most would comply with that request. This brings the element of consent into the affair: you cannot request not to be filmed via CCTV. Apart from anything else, one never knows who's watching you through the CCTV lens (and there have been enough stories of CCTV operators abusing their powers for this to be something of a worry).

If Neil really cannot see the difference between these two types of filming, then he is even more fucking dense than I thought—and, let's face it, my opinion of his intellectual prowess was hardly the highest to start with.

UPDATE: Neil replies in the comments with, amongst other things, this...
... if you believe people have the right to film anyone they like in a public place then CCTV which is decided by a democratically elected government (with far more restrictions on them than some stranger filming you) is decidedly ok, especially when it is clearly an attempt to reduce crime and disorder.

First, we should always bear in mind that this government were elected by less than 22% of the electorate (let alone the population as a whole). Whether they claim to be democratic is, as far as I am concerned, utterly irrelevant. Not only were NuLabour elected by a minority of the citizens of this country, as a libertarian I am not interested in democracy but in liberty—as I have pointed out before. Personally, I would render the government so powerless that it would barely matter who was in charge anyway, but that is, at present, merely a fantasy.

Second, as constant studies have shown, CCTV has little impact on crime.
Under Labour the number of CCTV cameras has increased 8 times from 67 schemes with approximately 5,238 cameras in 1997 to an estimated 500 systems with 40,000 cameras in 2002. The problem is that CCTV is a placebo.

CCTV makes people feel safer but has no impact on actual crime levels or crime clear up rates. This is an overconfidence that has lead to real miscarrages of justice, luckily this is rarer than it might be because even with high quality systems it is hard to identify people from CCTV that you are not already familar with, and CCTV is very rarely of high quality.

Then there is the small matter that almost all of these supposed crime prevention schemes are themselves illegal. Real criminal know how useless they are though and have absolutely no fear of them. The law abiding however are not so lucky, CCTV may not be any good for reducing crime but they are perfectly good enough to let the operators play the peeping tom.

I said, at the top of this article, that...
... it is not the filming per se that is wrong, but the use to which that information is put.

Thegovernment have the power to control us through laws and through their own private army the police and... oh, yes... their own private army—comprised of both the Turkey Army and the actual, gun-wielding army. A lone cameraman has the ability to compel you to do... well... nothing. That is at the heart of why I don't mind being filmed by a lone cameraman (or camera crew) and why I do object to being filmed via CCTV.

Neil says, with emphasis added by me, that "I love DK's suspicion of authority, believe it or not I share the same distrust of the police etc"; apart from it being patently obvious that he does not really share my mistrust of authority—for why else would he put so much faith in a government that he would cede yet more power and liberty to?—if Neil was being sincere, he would never think to try to defend CCTV in this way because he would automatically understand why it is an intrusion.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Uphold The Law...

Via Tom Paine, hey look!—it's a cunt dressed as a policeman, being a cunt. Oh, and making up the law as he goes along.

Might I remind you uniformed state cunts that you are supposed to uphold the law, not your law (that you happened to have pulled out of your arse). The entire structure police needs to be reformed urgently.

Oh, yeah, and jumped-up little jobsworths like this couple of monkeys need either to be retrained or they need to be sacked. I don't care which but I am fed up of seeing videos of high-handed police officers making up laws on the spot—no wonder they object to being filmed...

UPDATE: apologies: as has been pointed out, those two cunts above are, in fact, Pathetically Crap Sham Policemen (PCSOs). However, via Obnoxio The Clown, here's another video of a similar nature which I first saw a couple of years ago, I think.

Now, these two are real cunts police, are they not? Sorry, I don't know why I struck out "cunts", because they are, actually, a pair of cunts...

The Devil rides out (to the Tory Conference)

I am not, I should point out, attending the Tory Conference per se: I shall be appearing at a Fringe event organised by Forest and the Freedom Association. It is a panel discussion, taking place at 2.30–4.00pm on Monday 29th September, entitled Freedom and the Internet.

The discussion will be chaired by Iain Dale, and my fellow panelists are Guido, Dizzy and—absolutely fucking hilariously—Mad Nad Dorries MP (which should be interesting given my previous comments on her over the last few months).

If you are going to be hanging around the Tory Conference—or, for some bizarre reason, Birmingham—then do feel free to drop in and hear me talk bollocks in person. More details to come soon...

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...