Sunday, November 30, 2008

The fucking cheek of it!

This Daily Mail article caught my eye in the station yesterday, and I thought that the protagonists' hypocrisy was so heinous that it had to be highlighted.
MPs demanded protection from a 'police state' last night after the heavy-handed arrest of a Tory frontbencher shocked Westminster.

Extraordinary details of four simultaneous raids on immigration spokesman Damian Green's homes and offices raised urgent questions about the independence of Parliament.

The Oxford-educated father of two girls, who denies any wrongdoing, was fingerprinted and required to give a DNA sample before being released on bail after nine hours.

So these cunts want protection from a police state? What the living FUCK?

You terrible cunts! if you didn't want a police state then might I politely advise you that you shouldn't having fucking voted for one, should you? you asinine fuckwits.

Seriously, on the rare occasions that you actually turn up to do your fucking jobs, do you lazy, venal turds actually read any of the shit that you are voting on? Or do you just nod it through depending on which of your corrupt cronies brought this latest piece of crap forward?

Oh, and Damien Green was held for nine hours? Had his DNA and fingerprints taken? Well, now you know how the rest of us feel, you utter, utter bastards.

And what kind of protection do you want? Oh, no, wait a minute: let me fucking guess—you want oimmunity from prosecution, don't you? Come on, admit it: given how corrupt, mendacious and downright criminal the lot of you are, that would suit you right down to the ground, wouldn't it?
Last night, the row between police and Parliament was turning into a political crisis for Gordon Brown, who faced accusations of standing by while the rights of MPs were being trampled.

Rights of MPs? Fuck your rights: what about our rights? You have been trampling all over those for fucking decades: now that you have got a dose of your own medicine it tastes a little bitter, doesn't it?

Fuck you: have you cunts got no shame whatso-fucking-ever?
Tory MPs threatened to disrupt Wednesday's Queen's Speech debate. Veteran former Labour MP Tony Benn said the arrest of an MP amounted to a contempt of Parliament. 'Once the police can interfere with Parliament, we are into the police state,' he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: 'This is something you might expect from a tin-pot dictatorship, not in a modern democracy.'

You devious, lying cunts. There are only 646 people in this country who can make law—the 646 MPs who sit in the House of Commons.

Look, Clegg (and the rest of you cunt MPs), the only people who could have allowed this kind of thing to happen—the only people with the power to build a police state—is you! You! You! You! You! You!

You stupid cunts: we sent you a all copy of 1984, inscribed with the words "This Is Not A Fucking Instruction Manual" but the only acknowledgements that we got were dismissals. Might you shitstains not be thinking again now?

I fucking well hope so.

In the meantime, I have absolutely less than zero sympathy for you evil fucking cunts: personally, I would have every, single one of you arrested for gross corruption in public office, defrauding of the taxpayer and treason against the Crown and the people of Britain.

You stinking, hyporitical fuck-tards.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What you didn't read this week

(nb. I am not the Devil's Kitchen)

One the best things about the smoking ban is that you no longer have to step over dead bodies to get to the bar. We all remember, don't we, the familiar sight of nonsmokers clutching at their chest as that lethal secondhand smoke triggered one cardiac arrest after another. On any visit to the pub you were certain to witness at least one heart attack. The life expectancy for barmaids was three weeks. Thank God those days are over.

Naturally, once the smoking ban came in, there was a massive drop in the number of people being admitted to hospital for with heart attacks. How could it be otherwise?

That, at least, was the story just over a year ago when the Beeb and virtually every newspaper in Britain reported that Scotland had seen a large fall in heart attacks since March 2006 (when the ban started) and so - post hoc ergo propter hoc - it was the ban wot done it. The Guardian's report - Smoking ban brings big cut in heart attacks in Scotland, study finds - was typical of the media's willingness to believe in this delightful little fairy-tale:
"The number of people being taken to hospital with heart attacks in Scotland has fallen significantly since the smoking ban was introduced, the most detailed study into the impact of the measure has revealed.

Researchers found a 17% drop in the number of people admitted for heart attacks in the year since the ban came into force."

Inevitably, one the hatchet-faced gurners from Action on Smoking and Health piped up to make the implied connection with passive smoking explicit:
"We knew from epidemiological statistics there was a risk from secondhand smoke to cardiovascular health but not how much of a risk until now."

This was an understatement. If the study was true then it meant that before the ban a whopping 17% of all heart attacks were caused by passive smoking in public places. Even in the swivel-eyed fantasy world of anti-smoking nutjobs, surely this sounded a tad high? But it was good enough for The Daily Mail who leapt at the chance of doing a spurious extrapolation:
"If the pattern is repeated throughout the UK, there would be almost 40,000 fewer heart attacks a year."

That's right. Before the ban, there were 40,000 heart attacks from secondhand smoke in the workplace. Hence that a pile of corpses down The King's Head.

What the ASH spokeswomen didn't mention was that the 17% figure was not based on hospital admission data but on the same sort of "epidemiological statistics" that had propped up all the rest of the passive smoking horseshit. Some friendly researchers had picked a sample of patients in a selection of hospitals over a limited time-frame and had crunched the numbers in a rather unusual way. And the researchers happened to be members of anti-smoking groups. And the study hadn't even been published. In fact, if the Scottish government hadn't gone to the trouble of issuing a press release, no one would ever have heard about it.

When the study was finally published in July this year it got another flurry of international press attention. By this time, the belief that heart attacks had fallen by 17% had become established fact and was being cited in a bid for world domination:
"The findings of a major study into the smoking ban in Scotland supports calls for a worldwide ban of the practice in public places, health officials said today."

The research, which was first revealed last year, found a 17% fall in hospital admissions for heart attacks in Scotland in the first year of the ban."

But the smell of bullshit lingered over the story and this week the truth finally emerged.

You see, we don't need to pay partisan researchers to estimate how many people get admitted to hospital for heart attacks because the hospitals count and diagnose all the patients themselves. These figures are then compiled and published by professional statisticians. It takes them a while to do it, but that's because they want to get it right. They don't just want to pull numbers out of their arses to provide lazy journalists with fanciful stories.

And when these professional statisticians have collated the information properly, they publish it online for all to see, showing the recent trend and the long-term trend.

They finally got round to doing this on Wednesday and everything that was reported last year was exposed as a shabby load of old bollocks. Yes, admissions for acute coronary syndrome had fallen after the ban but they had been falling for years as this graph shows:

The figure was nowhere near 17%. It was 7.2%. And, above all, the rate went up for the first time in a decade the following year - by 7.8%. In other words, there were more heart attacks in smoke-free Scotland last year than there were before the ban.

So not quite the glorious success story that you might have been led to believe.

Funnily enough, the Scottish government hasn't got round to sending out a press release to spread this bit of news yet. You heard it here first. And probably last.

H/T: Freedom2Choose


... for the lack of blogging—I have lots to say, and no time to say it. Well, actually, I do have some time, but I am fiendishly tired and have thus been unable to find the energy to sit myself down at the keyboard.

The first half of this week was absolutely bloody awful, although the second half was excellent. However, both halves were exhausting.

I am off to York tomorrow for the first UK Libertarian Party AGM, which should be a lot of fun. I shall try to send a few snippets via my iPhone, but no promises.

I hope to get back to writing—a lot—at some point on Sunday (I need my catharsis!).

Until then, toodle-pip!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Arrest Of Damian Green

(Author's note - I am not 'The Devil's Kitchen).
And so the historic British nation has come to this.
Less than a week after activists for a perfectly legal political party were arrested for distributing material, a senior member of the opposition has also been arrested, and his homes and offices raided, for daring to perform his role within our constitution.
This stinks like a barrel of fish. We are told that Boris Johnson knew it was coming, but Gordon Brown apparently did not. Why the Mayor of London would know about what is presumably an operational policing matter is anyone's guess. Operational policing matters always used to be beyond the purview of politicians; apparently not any more. The arrest was made on Sir Ian Blair's last day in command of the Metropolitan Police; I use the verb 'command' quite loosely. The complaint upon which the arrest was based apparently came from the Cabinet Office. Hopefully the complainers will have the courage of their convictions, and be willing to stand in the witness box; it would be interesting to know if it was instigated by a Labour appointed political adviser.
Nine anti-terrorist police were involved in the arrest. That the terrorism, or 'militancy', of recent years has originated almost exclusively from immigrants and their descendants is well-known, and if it's not it should be; this might be the first time where criticising immigration policy, or the lack thereof, might also be considered terrorism.
I am not a Tory; but I find myself personally frightened by what happened to Damian Green. Let's face it, they guy was doing his job - these charges can only be politically motivated, trumped up in order to quash debate. But if the authorities in command of both the formation and execution of policy can do this to him, what can they do to me? He's an MP who criticises immigration policy; I'm a nobody blogger who's done the same. For the first time in my life, I find myself asking - is my name on the list?
This arrest is actually quite an achievement. It has taken three generations of gutless politicians and five generations of stupid left-wing intellectuals to get us where we are. It is the fruit of the constant promotion of alien ideologies' virtues, and of many hands, some vocal, many more silent, having worked to make our functioning society into a defective and corrupt one like those they most admire. This been abetted by those gutless politicians' and stupid left-wing intellectuals' abuse of the British culture of mutual tolerance and reasonableness; we were always willing to listen to what they had to say, even when, like lunatics, there was no reasoning with them. For a century, those in command of British policy have not appreciated what has been in front of their noses. So well done, you gutless politicians and stupid left-wing intellectuals; you have your wish. Let us hope it isn't long before you too are purged like Damian Green.
This arrest is not 'Stalinesque' as David Cameron has said; it is Stalinist.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Toynbee: only the wealthy have aspirations

Polly's article today is another encomium to Labour after Brown's Darling's piss-poor Pre-Budget Report (PBR). Still, it is nice to see, although the woman is adept at contradicting herself within the very same article, that Polly maintains some consistency across media. [Emphasis mine.]
Yesterday saw the Conservatives strip off their sheep's clothing too, as George Osborne tore into the "unexploded tax bombshell" with gusto, merrily defending the aspirations of the wealthy.

You see, in Toynbee-land, only the wealthy have aspirations; those who are not so wealthy or even (whisper it) poor, do not—cannot—have aspirations.

But, surely, in this wonderful world of ours, is it not aspiration that drives people to better themselves? Surely aspirations are what we al need in order to drive ourselves through this life; are dreams of a better life—whether that is encompassed in wealth or otherwise—not why man has invented, and built and worked?

Are aspirations solely the province of the wealthy? Well, that is how Polly would have it, of course, for it is she who would strangle the dreams of the less well-off.
However, [Polly] 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.

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.

Yep. So, Polly says that only the rich should aspire to better things and then, of course, Polly can keep moaning about how only the rich are able to fulfill their dreams. Mind you, Polly would know.

At her recent talk in the Battersea Waterstones—flogging her latest books—one of the audience members (who looked like some early retired teacher and member of the Communists), advocated the idea that journalists should have a policy of describing those on £100,000 per year or more as "parasites", or some such.

Your humble Devil was delighted to chip in with, "but Polly couldn't do that: then she would have to describe herself as a parasite. Isn't that so, Polly?" Ms Toynbee nodded, a big grin on her face.

Aspirations are fine for the wealthy, aren't they?—they are not so fine for anyone else, apparently.

Nice one, Pol, you evil old baggage.

UPDATE: it seems that half-decent MP Douglas Carswell is not a fan either, as he titles his article, "Is Polly Toynbee mad?"

Well, Douglas, I suggest that you apply the Polly Conundrum...

I Am Livid: The Podcast

I have been reading I Am Livid for some years now, and find it most amusing—and often actively hilarious. However, in recent times, Mr Angry seems to have been pouring his energies—having combined them with those of Cliff Jones of This Is This—into a podcast.

My Angry's first podcasts were (sort of) solo and rather more than intermittent, although I have listened to them all. But now Mr Angry and Cliff have got their shit together and are churning out a new podcast every week, I thought that I would commend it to you all: you can subscribe through iTunes, or subscribe to the feed.

It's basically two people wittering on about life, current affairs and their own lives, but it's a fuck sight funnier and more entertaining that Chris cocking Moyles, at any rate...

Monday, November 24, 2008

And that is why...

Stuart Sharpe picks up on the ice-age story and writes something very sensible.
In my mind the problem with Global Warming is not that we might damage the Earth – the planet has survived far worse. The problem is that human societies and cities have been built in a rather more permanent manner that the ever-changing climate of the planet will allow.

Even if we stop Anthropogenic Climate Change (or, heaven forbid, if it isn’t even happening), Natural Climate Change will eventually present exactly the same problems.

Quite so. Which is why we should, in any case, go for the economic model that allows the human race to build up the maximum amount of wealth so that we can mitigate against such potential catastrophes.

Luckily, there is such a model; it was produced in the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, is known as the A1 family and can be summarised thusly:
A1 storyline and scenario family: a future world of very rapid economic growth, global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies.

There is, of course, only one political party which has adopted this particular model and it is, not entirely coincidentally, the party that I helped to found: the UK Libertarian Party.


Via Cymen's Shore, I find another little widget: The Typealyzer. This gadget attempts to analyse what sort of person writes that blog. In the case of The Kitchen, it seems that I am an INTP.
INTP—The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Well, at least it is consistent: every time that I do one of these tests, I seem to get the same result...

Drunk on power

Via The Englishman, this just gets more and more depressing.
Happy hours and drinking games to be banned under new laws

Happy hours, drinking games and all-you-can-drink deals in pubs and bars will be banned, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Oh for fuck's sake, why won't you cunts just fuck off?
Ministers also want to force drinks companies to carry health warnings on television adverts for beer, wine and spirits.

And cans and bottles of alcoholic drinks may have to bear cigarette-style medical advice about the dangers of drinking.

The announcement of the plans in 10 days' time will coincide with the start of the Christmas party season when police forces and hospitals see a major rise in alcohol-related offences and admissions to accident and emergency departments.

Ministers have drawn up a new draft code of conduct for the drinks industry amid growing concern about excessive drinking.

Alcohol misuse is said to cost society up to £25billion annually, with the cost to the NHS running at £2.7billion a year.

The new rules will be compulsory, and are likely to trigger protests from the drink industry.

And in the meantime, these stinking lousy fucking hypocrites will continue to fund their drinking habits with our fucking cash: not only do we pay their wages and expenses (with which they buy their booze), but we directly subsidise their bars to the tune of £5.5 million per year.

Fuck you, you hideous fucking hypocrites: fuck you right in the fucking face.
Internet and newspaper adverts will also have to carry warnings, while ministers are likely to give the industry until next March to agree to print health warnings on drink labels, or face being forced to by law.

What the fuck? This is so fucking typical of NuLabour, isn't it? All of their voluntary initiatives—labels on booze, carrying an ID Card—end up in precisely the same way:
"Don't worry, this is a voluntary measure."

"So, I can choose not to do this?"

"Ah, well, yes... But if you don't do it voluntarily, then we will legislate to force you."

"That's not very fucking voluntary."

"Ah... well... it's not actually meant to be. But we'd like you to do it voluntarily so that we don't look quite so obviously fascist."

And believe me, we will see even more of this shit under the Tories. In the name of all that's un-fucking-holy, where was any of this shit in the manifesto, eh?

What is it with these people, that they should choose to interfere in the very minutiae of our lives—that they should desire to ensure that our short spans upon this planet should be spent with as miserable way as humanly possible?

I think that we should put some of our masters' subsidised booze to good use: let's douse the fuckers in cheap spirits and set them alight, the cunts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The state is still spending our money like water

I saw Polly Toynbee talk a couple of weeks ago, and she pointed out that you are in the top ten percent of earners if you earn more than £40,000. Now, Polly is notorious for quoting dodgy figures but, if this is true, there are some very high earners in the public sector.

Yes, the Taxpayers' Alliance has produced its annual Public Sector Rich List [PDF], which documents those public sector employees who are earning more than £150,000 per year.

Here is a brief summary of their findings.
  • Details of 387 public sector employees earning over £150,000

  • 194 public sector employees earn more than the Prime Minister

  • 4 people on the public payroll earned more than £1m last year

  • Senior executives enjoyed an average remuneration increase of 10.9% from 2006–07 to 2007-08

How many of those working in the private sector got a near-11% increase last year, I wonder? Or this year?* Come to think of it, how many of the frontline staff in the public sector got 11%?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller...?
Now in its third edition, the TaxPayers' Alliance today publishes the Public Sector Rich List 2008, the definitive guide to all those in the public sector with remuneration packages over £150,000. Against a background of impending recession and at a time when the financial crisis is hitting ordinary families harder every day, this year's list is the biggest ever, exposing 387 public employees receiving City levels of remuneration from a record 140 public sector organisations. The report also details the top ten rewards for failure in the public sector, the 10 well-paid officials from the FSA, Treasury and Bank of England who oversaw the financial system and failed to prevent the financial crisis, and lists 24 executives who have received sizeable financial rewards despite presiding over embarrassing data loss scandals.

Topping the list at £1,244,000 is the head of Network Rail, Ian Coucher, while second and third place go to Adam Crozier at Royal Mail (£1,242,000) and Andy Duncan at Channel 4 (£1,211,000) respectively. Also in the top ten are employees of British Nuclear Fuels, the FSA, the BBC and Adam Applegarth, the controversial Chief Executive of Northern Rock.

Nice work if you can get it, eh?
  • There are 387 people receiving remuneration packages of £150,000 or more a year across 140 government departments, quangos, other public bodies and public corporations, up from 300 people on the 2007 Public Sector Rich List. (Note that this excludes local government, who are published on their own TPA Rich List every March. The 2008 Town Hall Rich List identified 88 people earning over £150,000 a year.)

  • There are 4 people in the public sector who earn more than £1 million a year, up from 1 person earning above £1 million last year.

  • There are 21 people in the public sector earning above £500,000 a year, up from 17 on last year's list.

  • There are 88 people earning above £250,000 a year, up from 66 on last year's list.

  • There are 194 people earning more than the Prime Minister, whose salary is £189,994, up from 142 on last year's list.

  • The 387 people on our list had an average pay rise of 10.9 per cent between 2006-07 and 2007-08. This is three times average earnings growth (including bonuses) across the country, which is currently around 3.5 per cent.

  • The average total remuneration of the 387 people on the list is almost £240,000 per annum. This works out at over £4,600 a week. Although many people on the list are likely to work longer, based on a 35-hour week, this is equal to over £130 an hour, or around £2.15 a minute.

  • These remuneration packages can be compared with a soldier earning around £20,000, a nurse earning £23,000, the average Chief Executive of a small company earning £65,000, and the average Chief Executive of a medium-sized company earning £122,000.

  • The 10 most highly paid people in the public sector earn almost £1 million on average, which is around 50 times the amount earned by someone starting out as a police officer, nurse or soldier.

  • The report features a list of the top 10 rewards for failure, including highly paid officials from HMRC (which lost 25 million people's personal data); the Financial Services Authority (which presided over the worst financial crisis since 1930); Northern Rock; the QCA and other organisations which have failed the public.

  • The report includes a list of 10 people working for the three bodies responsible for regulating the financial system – the FSA, the Treasury and the Bank of England - who have overseen the financial crisis.  Their remuneration packages average almost £400,000 per annum.

  • A special list is also included of 24 executives who have presided over embarrassing losses of personal data over the past year.  Their average remuneration package was over £190,000 per annum.

Thank goodness that we have our noble Prime Minister to steer us through these choppy financial waters with his ethos of prudence, eh?

* Alright, I did; but I'm not earning anywhere near £150,000, I assure you. In fact, last month's pay rise ensures that, for the first time in my decade-long working life, I am now earning over the median wage. And believe me, I'm really working for it...

Snuffy's racism test

A little while ago, Miss Snuffleupagus wrote a post entitled Damn White People, which caused something of a furore amongst... well... some people: it was apparently enough of a problem for someone to draw Snuffy's blog to the attention of her employers.

At any rate, some people did not, it seems, get the joke; as such, Snuffy has decided to try to explain what she meant by it.
I find it extraordinary that I should spend 99% of my time defending white teachers against accusations of racism, pointing the finger at black people and telling them to take responsibility, actually 'being friendly' with members of the BNP on my blog and yet I am told that I hate white people. It is absurd. If you think I hate white people, if you think in reading that post, I'm talking about YOU, then you've got a problem. WMCP - White middle-class people: the post refers to the Polly Toynbees of this world. I'm taking the piss. And if you can't see that and chuckle, then I guess I kind of feel sorry for you.

In essence, Snuffy was attacking all of those bien pensant idiots who think that they should feel guilt whenever race is mentioned, or to totally avoid the topic in any way—you know, the Polly Toynbees of this world.

Me? I chuckled. But then I really don't judge people on racial grounds: I just make up my mind whether or not I like an individual.

But then I am an individualist (in my real life, even if I lapse on here): I believe that individuals should be free to make their own choices depending on their own personal circumstances. To believe that means to believe that people are individuals, regardless of colour, creed or other belief.

Apart from politicians, of course: they are all scum.

When "free trade" doesn't mean "free trade"...

One of the greatest benefits of the EU—or, rather, the only benefit—is the Single Market, the concept of the EU being one massive free trade area.

Of course, via a comment at Tom "coward" Harris's blog, there are some instances when free trade doesn't actually mean "free trade" and that is when we want to buy things that our fucking government disagrees with. Or, at least, makes money off.
The European Parliament is clamping down on the 'booze cruise' trade.

Euro MPs want to cut the amounts of cigarettes and alcohol that can legally be brought into Britain tax-free by imposing stricter guidelines on what constitutes personal consumption.

The new definition of personal consumption would halve the amount of booze and cut the current permitted legal level of cigarettes by almost 90 per cent.

Following a knife-edge vote, the parliament approved guidelines on personal consumption of just 400 cigarettes, 200 cigarillos and 100 cigars.

This compares to guidance from UK Customs for returning travellers of 3200 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos and 200 cigars.

The parliament's position now goes forward to national governments, who need to agree it before it can become law.

Well, that won't take too fucking long as far as our government is concerned, will it? Especially since Gordon's coffers are looking a little bare, right now.
For alcohol, the European parliament says personal consumption means just five litres of spirits, 45 litres of wine and 55 litres of beer.

UK Customs defines personal consumption as ten litres of spirits, 90 litres of wine and and 110 litres of beer.

The parliament said guidelines on personal consumption were needed to avoid 'legal uncertainty and confusion' and to make sure shoppers did not use booze cruises to avoid paying excise duties.

Look, why not just be honest? This is not about avoiding 'legal uncertainty and confusion' because there is none: either we have a free trade area and we can buy what we want, from where we want within that area, or we cannot.
'Free movement in the single market cannot serve as a pretext for avoiding the payment of excise duties, particularly when these respond to public health requirements,' the parliament said by way of justification.

Translation: despite drinking and smoking being perfectly legal, we don't like you doing it so we are going to circumvent the only decent thing about this massive pile of shit that is the EU and fuck you punters roughly up the arse, lube-free, whilst we are about it.

No: I definitely hate the politicians more than the populace...

Sex analysis

No, no, don't get excited (or fearful): it's merely a little web widget, discovered via Tom Paine, that analyses your blog to see whether it is written by a man or a woman.

Apparently, the gadget is 61% sure that The Kitchen is written by a bloke. Only 61%?
We think is written by a man (61%).

Anyone else confused as to your humble Devil's gender?

Weird buildings

Your humble Devil is neither tremendously adventurous (although he's always up for a new experience provided he doesn't have to do too much to make it happen) nor an authority on architecture.

However, thanks to Samizdata, I have found fifty buildings that I would love to see in the flesh. I don't know which is my favourite—although some of the randomly twisted ones are very cool—but the Ferdinand Cheval Palace in France does carry a sense of beautiful mystery...

Do wander over and see the others...

Money off at Woollies...

I don't normally go shopping as such, but I do occasionally drop into the big Woolworths by Brixton station and pick up some DVDs.

As such, and since Doctor Vee is practically imploring me to do so, I may as well wander down and get 10% off with some vouchers.

So why not wander over and download said vouchers? As Timmy says, heck: why not?

Another one leaves these shores...

Our old friend The Longrider is leaving the shores of Britain for the old enemy, France, and helpfully explains why he is leaving with such relief in his heart.
When we first thought about living in France, our motivation was the countryside, the climate, the pace of life and the French way of doing things. A love/hate relationship with France became more love than hate. In the meantime, my love for my homeland has descended into contempt. Contempt for a population that is so passive that it fails to hold its political class to account. The French will bring the country to a grinding halt if their politicians upset them. They are not always right, but their willingness to say “non!” has my admiration just as the willingness of the British to accept the erosion of our civil liberties with a shrug earns my utmost derision. I have watched in despair as the righteous have eaten away like a cancer at the things that made this nation so great, that made Britain a wonderful place to live. No longer are we free to speak our minds for fear of the industry so willing and ready to take offence, of the righteous who decide what is “acceptable” or not. Thought crime is becoming a reality in 21st Century Britain.

We live in a country that has reversed the presumption of innocence, that undermines the very principle of justice, where mere suspicion is sufficient justification for the state to seize assets, where law is made on the basis of prejudice and puritan morality rather than reason, evidence or justice, where the citizen is being criminalised and treated as a suspect, where the police are becoming politicised and no longer adopt the Peelian principles, where politicians believe they, not the electorate, are the masters; politicans who treat the electorate with open contempt.

This is a land where youngsters leaving education have A* exam grades yet are barely able to string a sentence together, and mathematical illiterates such as I have to explain to them how to work out percentages. Where our history is being lost or rewritten, a nation that is being taught to be ashamed of its past rather than proud of its heritage.

All of this—and the rest that I have not quoted—is absolutely true. Further, his angle of attack also reminds your humble Devil of the fact that I am often unable to discern which group I have the most contempt for—our politicians or the British people in general.

For though our politicians are insincere, corrupt, hypocritical fucking cunts, they are after all only taking advantage of a populace that is, in the main, lazy, apathetic, credulous, cretinous, disgusting, violent, discourteous, vulgar, mean-spirited, unpleasant, morally-bankrupt, vain, proudly pig-ignorant, pusillanimous, pathetic and utterly mediocre—possessed of all of the spirit of a brace of lugworms.

So, can we blame them for doing so? Well, yes; but as I have quoted before...
How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror."

Perhaps people get the government that they deserve? Except that I have never ended up with a government that I have voted for but then again, I have never really voted for any party—only against another.

This country used to be great once: when were the backbones of the populace removed? Sometime around 1947, I suspect...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lies, damn lies, and...

During Spring, we are told, a young man's fancy turns to love. However, it is not Spring, it is Winter and so we return once again to the fantasy of global warming... er... I mean, climate change.

I think that we would all agree that to form any kind of theory about whether or not anthropogenic climate change is occurring, we really do need to have some vaguely reliable data; after all, if there is no actual warming, then it's a little difficult to say that we're causing it.

The trouble is that gaining a temperature reading for the entire world is actually a little tricky; it's a big planet we live on, and an awful lot of the surface area is made up of water. However, that hasn't stopped the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS)—headed up by our old friend James Hansen (an enthusiastic proponent of anthropogenic global warming. Except in the seventies, when he was an enthusiastic proponent of anthropogenic global cooling)—relying on the land temperature record rather, than, say, satellite measurements.

There is, of course, some logic in this, as the land temperature record goes back until the late 1800s (in the US, at least), whilst satellite readings have been taken only since 1979. The trouble is that this very longevity introduces uncertainty into the temperature record: thermometers have become more sensitive, for instance, and population centres—with their attending urban heat island effect—have encroached on measuring stations once situated in the countryside.

It is, therefore, actually very difficult to gauge the average temperature over the globe with any degree of certainty, and the signal to noise ratio makes any estimate near worthless. Especially, of course, when the people responsible for the records keep retrospectively changing them, as Anthony Watts points out.

Blink comparator of GISS USA temperature anomaly - h/t to Zapruder

The last time I checked, the earth does not retroactively change it’s near surface temperature.

True, all data sets go through some corrections, such as the recent change RSS made to improve the quality of the satellite record which consists of a number of satellite spliced together. However, in the case of the near surface temperature record, we have many long period stations than span the majority of the time period shown above, and they have already been adjusted for TOBS, SHAP, FILNET etc by NOAA prior to being distributed for use by organizations like GISS. These adjustments add mostly a positive bias.

Please note that the above graph does not represent a change in temperature projections; GISS have effectively changed what they think that actual temperatures were (and their reationship to past temperatures). Which is interesting, is it not?

It is also interesting that GISS and the other agencies almost always put a positive bias on recent temperatures, and a negative bias on past temperatures. This processing has the simple effect of making more recent temperatures seem... well... higher.

Neatly illustrating this point is Climate Skeptic, with a blink graph of actual temperatures measured at the climate stations, against the end result that is passed to GISS from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

My point was not that all these adjustments were unnecessary (the time of observation adjustment is required, though I have always felt it to be exaggerated). But all of the adjustments are upwards, even those for station quality. The net effect is that there is no global warming signal in the US, at least in the raw data. The global warming signal emerges entirely from the manual adjustments. Which causes one to wonder as to the signal to noise ratio here. And increases the urgency to get more scrutiny on these adjustments.

It only goes through 2000, because I only had the adjustment numbers through 2000.

Part of the problem, you see, of scrutinising the adjustments is that these agencies seem to be extraordinarily coy about releasing the data and algorithms that they use to make said adjustments. Numerous FOI requests (mainly by bloggers) have revealed some of the processes (and exposed some as being deeply flawed) but not, alas, all of them.

What we do know, of course, is that adjustments for recent years are nearly always positive, a slightly bizarre process for anyone who has been following Anthony Watts' project.

If, for instance, a measurement station has been encroached upon by a population centre in the last twenty years (as many of them have) and this encroachment coincides with increased temperature readings, one might be tempted at least to investigate whether said station is being affected by the urban heat island effect. And if this is the case, the adjustments should be negative, not positive.

As it happens, we can show that this is precisely what GISS is not doing. Here, for instance, is a measuring station situated near a water treatment works in Clarinda, Iowa.

The MMTS temperature sensor is the short pole next to the half pickup truck.

For those of you that don’t know, this station is located at the wastewater treatment plant there. I’ve written many times about the placement of stations at WWTP’s being a bad idea due to the localized heat bubble that is created due to all the effluent coming though. The effect is especially noticeable in winter. Often you’ll see steam/water vapor in the air around these sites in winter, and more than one COOP observer has told our volunteers that snow sometimes does not stick to the ground at WWTP’s.

The larger pole appears to be a gas burnoff torch for excess methane. I can’t say how often it is activated (note the automatic ignitor circuit on the pole) but I can tell you that putting an official NOAA climate thermometer within a few feet of such a device is one of the worst examples of thoughtless station placement on the part of NOAA I’ve ever seen. Here is an example of a methane burn-off device at another WWTP.

We’ll probably never know what the true temperature is in Clarinda because untangling a measurements mess like this is next to impossible. How many days was Tmin and/or Tmax affected at this location by gas burnoff and to what magnitude? We shouldn’t have to ask these questions.

Quite so. But I would imagine that GISS and NOAA have this all under control, yes? I mean, I am sure that they are aware of the placing of the station and have adjusted the temperature readings down, as would seem logical.

Er... no.
And, adding insult to stupidity, the GISTEMP Homogenization adjustment makes the trend go positive, especially in recent years:

So, either GISS, NOAA and the rest of this merry crew are lying (in which case, you shouldn't trust a word that they say) or they are very, very bad scientists (in which case, you cannot trust a word that they say).

Of course, I am not discounting the idea that both contentions are true.

Anyway, whatever the reasons, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the data coming out of GISS is highly suspect and, thus, so is the contention that the Earth is actually warming at all. And using such data to back a theory that any warming is caused solely by carbon dioxide (and other greenhouses gases) emitted by the activities of human beings is to discredit the entire hypothesis.

Wake up, people: you are being lied to.

UPDATE: the Beeb seems to have woken up to the fact that—even if anthropogenic warming is happening—the results might not be all bad.

A blogger could use some help...

Your humble Devil apologises for the prolonged silence but he has been very busy. I shall write some more tomorrow (or, rather, later today), but I just wanted to highlight, quickly, a blogger who is in need of some sympathy and succour...
I've just been quoted a huge amount of money for urgent medical treatment which I can't afford to pay because all my savings and every penny I can save in the next few months is going to pay my tax bill so some benefit scrounging scum can have the same treatment for free.

That's the reality of live in Brown's Britain. And it will be the same in Cameron's Britain or Clegg's Britain.

I really haven't been so scared and desolate in a long time. I can't afford £800 for specialist root canal treatment to remove an infection which is eating away at my jawbone. Because it's the second time around it only has a 60-70% chance of success so there's another huge risk that should that not work I'll have to fork our thousands of pounds to have a replacement tooth fitted, should I choose not to have a large gap in my mouth like some extra in Eastenders.

Unfortunately, the lovely Trixy [for it is she] is feeling a bit down about it all.

Perhaps just as unfortunately, she has not got to grips with technology and has no PayPal button: however, if you'd like to bung a few quid to the lass to help her out of a bind, please do feel free to click on Filthy Shill and Licensing in the sidebar and use your humble Devil's Donate button.

Please mark any donation as being for "Trixy's Tooth Fairy" (or somesuch) and I promise that I shall pass it on.

UPDATE: a very generous gentleman has pointed out that there is no field on my PayPal donation form to put in what it's for. Never mind, I shall assume that any donations up until the 7th December are for Trixy's tooth fund.

UPDATE 2: thank you: you have all been immensely generous. I should point out that Trixy did not solicit this in any way at all.

At the risk of making this into a political point, I think that—especially for we libertarians who maintain that private charity can, indeed, replace many of the functions of the Welfare State (and more effectively)—helping out those that we barely know is a chance to put our money where our mouths are.

It also has the virtue of annoying Lefties in two ways: one by proving our point above and, two, by defying their characterisation of libertarians as being inherently selfish.

Anyway, once again, thank you all. I am sure that young Trixy will write you all a suitably gushing thank you...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The idiots win again

(nb. I am not the Devil's Kitchen)

So, Jon Gaunt has been sacked by TalkSport for calling a horrible little bigot "a Nazi". Apparently the station "received a number of complaints over the broadcast". They received a lot of e-mails of support for Gaunt, too, but they ignored them.

As I made plain in my previous post, I don't listen to Jon Gaunt or, for that matter, TalkSport, but I wonder how many listeners to a show presented by a right-wing Sun columnist would really have objected to Mr Gaunt slipping into the vernacular when dealing with a man who would like it to be illegal for Britain's 13 million smokers to become foster parents.

As was amply demonstrated during the ridiculous Ross/Brand furore - and before that, the Shilpa Shetty bollocks (remember her?) - complaints procedures are a joke; they are nothing more than a vote on whether the non-listening public like the person or persons involved.

The knives have been out for 'Gaunty' for some time. He is none too keen on fanatical Islam and is a critic of multiculturism. His final mistake was to have a go at anti-smoking nutters and thanks to a few phone calls from some fellow anti-smoking nutters and a few liberal-left cry-babies he now joins the ranks of other right-wing populists like James Whale and Robert Kilroy-Silk. I'm no fan of any of them, but all were sacked for saying things that no free society would fear hearing.

James Whale's crime was to encourage listeners to a minority interest radio station to vote for Boris Johnson. The complaints came in, and he was fired. But let's compare his support for Johnson with a little-known section from the infamous Ross/Brand podcast in which they discuss Gordon Brown:
Brand: "He is a gorgeous, craggy hero."

Ross: "I like him."

Brand: "Do you like him?"

Ross: "If I could say where I was going to vote, I would say I was voting for them - but I'm not allowed to say where I'm voting because I'm forbidden by my BBC contract."

These words received absolutely no press attention, despite Ross virtually waving a flag as he said them. Even if Manuelgate had not overshadowed it, it is hard to believe that the media would have bothered to object to the blatant political bias.

Likewise, Gaunt's hot-headed words - spoken as a former foster child and not without a grain of historical truth - might be compared to those of that Communist newt-fucker Ken Livingstone who asked a Jewish reporter if he had been a "German war criminal" and then - after the reporter explained that he was in fact a Jew - said "You are just like a concentration camp guard."

Kilroy's words were described as:
He was sacked.

James Whale's comments were described as:
"Totally unacceptable"
He was sacked.

Jon Gaunt's remarks were described as:
"Totally unacceptable and probably illegal"
He was suspended, then sacked.

Red Ken's antisemitic outburst, on the other hand, was described as:
"Unusually insensitive"
He was suspended on full pay for 4 weeks (annual salary £133,997) before continuing in his job of ruining running London.

Could there possibly be the slightest left/right divide as to what is considered "unacceptable" in this foul year of our Lord 2008?

To be clear, TalkSport is a private company and is free to hire or fire whoever it likes, but its sacking of Jon Gaunt is another example of how manufactured outrage and fake disgust from people who did not even hear the fucking show in question can force a radio station's hand. It removes another right-winger from the airwaves and makes sure like-minded broadcasters stay nervous.

The purge continues.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Did someone say 'ignorant witch-hunt'?

[Note: this post is absolutely and unequivocally not by DK]

Unity at Liberal Conspiracy (yes, evil lefties, hang them all) has done some actual research, rather than just demented ranting, into the Baby P case. The most important fact his detailed evidence based on the trial and on other published sources brings out, and which has been almost completely ignored by the latest media circus, is that until violent, abusive paedophile Jason Owen moved secretly into the family home two weeks before Baby P's death [*], the child was neglected but not subjected to serious physical abuse. The outcome of the social workers' many visits before Owen moved in was to find:
... few, if any, of the classic signs that serious abuse may have been taking place within the family home. The mother appears to have willingly cooperated with both the social workers and health workers throughout and although the SCR notes two incidents where the child was presented for medical treatment with injuries that raised suspicions about the possibility of abuse and/or neglect, both of which were investigated by the police but gave rise to an inconclusive outcome, there seems to have been little or nothing until the final two weeks of Baby P’s life which would indicate that what social workers were dealing with was anything other than a run of the mill case of a newly single parent struggling to cope on her own with the youngest of her four children.

His conclusions are:
  1. Baby P was subjected to low level abuse and neglect by his mother and stepfather of a kind that was sufficent to raise suspicions amongst police and social workers but not to provide the evidence and legal grounds necessary for the council to obtain a care order, as its legal advisors indicated on 25th July 2007, and…

  2. There was a sudden, unexpected and ultimately fatal escalation in the degree of abuse visited on the child by one of more of the adults living in his household, the presence of two of whom (the mother’s boyfriend and his brother, the supposed lodger) was not known to the authorities until after the child’s death.

  3. Without social workers being aware of the presence of these two individuals in the household, there was no way that the death of Baby P could have been prevented, given that two police investigations into what appeared to be physicial abuse of the child failed to turn up sufficient evidence either for a prosecution or for care proceedings.

In other words, if you think that the social workers in this case did anything seriously wrong [**], then you're pretty much committed to:
  1. dealing with point A, and sticking all kids who're neglected or appear ever to have been physically abused into care homes—even when no charges are brought. If you support this, then you're a cunt, and you thoroughly deserve your kid taken away when he falls down the stairs twice in a month.

  2. or

  3. dealing with point B, and carrying out detailed surveillance on all families with kids who're neglected or appear ever to have been physically abused to see if someone even worse moves in. If you support this, then you're a cunt, and you're insane, and you thoroughly deserve a council camera crew outside your house watching your every step forever after your kid falls down the stairs twice in a month.

Or perhaps we could accept that there are some very, very evil bastards out there, and some people who act relatively normally (for 'crap but not evil' values of normally, in this case) most of the time but can become very, very evil bastards when encouraged to do so by people in the first group. And based on that, we might want to add that basing government systems on the assumption that everyone is either an evil bastard or about to fall under the influence of evil bastards would be not just a bad idea, but the shittiest idea ever, and one which would make despicable authoritarian bastards Very Very Happy.

We might instead say that if we impose systems under which children are only forcibly separated from their parents under the very worst of circumstances, and under which parents are not always and unequivocally treated as evil abusers if they fail to live up to ideal standards of parenting, then sometimes this will mean that children will suffer horribly and die—but that it will avoid a far larger number of children suffering horribly by being taken into council care without good cause.

And fuck, if we're libertarians rather than just blathering cunts, we might say that this is the right thing to fucking do.

[*] Note that the only evidence incriminating Baby P's stepfather as a controlling psychopath, rather than "simple, shy and easily dominated" as the trial found, is the News of the World's interview with Owen's now-16-year-old girlfriend. Did someone say 'reliable and unbiased sources'?

[**] Perhaps the paediatrician is a different story; I'm not an expert on how long a baby with a broken back takes to die or on how likely it is to be fatal when treated versus when not treated, nor on how easy it is to identify.

UPDATE BY DK: I would just like to reiterate that Unity's article is very much worth reading, as it does shed very significant light upon the case. I still maintain that the main torturer (you will notice that I have generally been quite reticent as to which one of these people that is) will end up in Broadmoor rather than Belmarsh though...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lest we forget

My post on Baby P was slightly sketchy, so for my own reference as much as anything else, here is a summation of the facts surrounding the case, from Barry Beelzebub.
You would think that there would be so many levels of Turkey Army bureaucracy infesting our public services that mistakes would almost be impossible to make; that somewhere in the warren-like system, someone, somewhere would inevitably say “Hang on a minute—this isn’t right”.

After this week’s events involving Haringey Council at the Old Bailey, the answer has to be clearly not—although I suspect, with its £100 million a year budget, it’s through utter ineptitude rather than any laughable notion of under-staffing.

The case of 17-month-old Baby P, who despite being on the council’s at risk register, despite being seen 60 times by social workers in just eight months (that’s once every three days), and despite being the subject of two police investigations, was left to die in agony in a blood-stained cot with a broken back and multiple injuries after being tortured for months by his parents almost beggars belief. It has made me very sad and very, very angry. I actually couldn’t bring myself to read the long list of injuries published in the newspapers. The detail of how they were inflicted—“he was punched so hard in the mouth he swallowed a bottom tooth”—makes me feel faint.

And that’s where the anger overcomes the terrible sorrow, because Haringey Council has previous for this sort of thing, being the same social services department that was to blame for the death of little Victoria Climbie eight years ago. You would think that if any public authority had learned how to protect its children, it would be this one. But no.

We have the social worker who visited repeatedly and yet failed to spot the injuries caused by months of torture and, just four days before his death, was fooled by the boy’s mother smearing chocolate and nappy cream over his wounds.

We have the team leader who agreed that the baby should continually be returned to his home, despite two police investigations and the warnings of hospital staff.

We have the ‘chair’ of something called the Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board who has shifted the blame quicker than an incontinent puppy, claiming that “The council didn’t kill Baby P; his parents did.”

And we have the doctor, the paediatrician who examined Baby P two days before his death and failed to spot that he was paralysed with a broken spine and also had several broken ribs and multiple other injuries. (Read that sentence back again and consider what it means. I bet you’re shaking your head, aren’t you?) She blamed this gross negligence on being unable to carry out a full examination because Baby P was “miserable and cranky”. Yes, I bet he was.

Still, heads will roll, won’t they? The people who allowed this horrific abuse to continue unabated will be sacked, won’t they?

Err ... no. At the time of writing, three written warnings have been issued and it has been made very clear that no-one will lose their job and no-one will be resigning. (I suspect that may have changed by the time you read this.)

And then, to top it off, we have that aforementioned ‘chair’ turning up on the TV news telling us, in that patronising tone the Guardian-reading classes use when they’re talking down to the rest of us, that “Lessons will be learned”.

I tell you what. I never want to hear a public servant using the phrase “Lessons will be learned” ever again. Because they’re clearly not, are they?

The sad thing is that we have to get to a point where a small child has been deprived of what was, admittedly, a short, miserable life before they will even say "lessons will be learned", let alone act.

UPDATE: I think that it's worth flagging up this excellent comment by Ian B.
It's kind of surreal sitting here defending social workers and doctors, but here I go...

There's something of a confusion between the magnitude of an error and the magnitude of its consequences. For instance; a person nods off at the wheel and bumps their car into a tree, causing a bit of damage and a fright. Another person nods of at the wheel, the car goes down an embankment and onto a railway line and there is a massive train crash with horrendous loss of life. Each made the same mistake, but the consequences are orders of magnitude different. Did the second person commit a greater crime than the first? They both did exactly the same thing.

Doctors and social workers, the latter in partcular, work in a continual grey area. Their entire working lives are based upon exercising judgement. They are trying to find a middle ground between negligence and over-zealousness which is not, and cannot by any means, be defined objectively. It is thus practically impossible for them to "get it right" because there is no right to get it. Just opinion. That's why there is never going to be perfect child protection, so you have to decide whether you'd prefer innocent parents be persecuted by the over-zealous, or evil parents get away with it. You can't have your ideal. It doesn't exist. It is the same as asking for a court system that never frees the guilty or convicts the innocent. It can't be done. All you can do is decide whether you think it better to protect the innocent knowing some of the guilty will go free, or convict the guilty knowing some innocents will suffer. (Case in point, English common law traditionally has been based on the first premise).

So, we can roll the heads of these doctors and social workers, but it isn't going to really fix anything. There are doctors up and down the country making duff diagnoses every day, some of them leading to death or serious permannent damage. There are others prescribing treatments that are foolish and unnecessary (the manias for lowering cholesterol and salt intake, for instance). Medicine is inherently blurry and inexact. And there are social workers making bad judgements every day too- persecuting the harmless and neglecting the dangerous. It's inherent to the job.

So, we can decide to protect innocent parents from persecution and accept the occasional Baby P, or we can rigorously monitor children, snatch them away pre-emptively, and leave the bereft parents to cry alone in the night. And still get the occasional Baby P anyway. Because it's not science. It's judgement, by flawed human beings. It would be nice to do better than that, but we can't.

Your humble Devil, of course, thinks it "better to protect the innocent knowing some of the guilty will go free" although many statists would take the view that it is better to "convict the guilty knowing some innocents will suffer". Except, of course, that many statist, almost by definition, do not think that the innocents will suffer because the state is omniscient (although I've never understood why).

However, given the system that we currently have, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to flag up and rail against such egregious failings as we have in this instance simply so that the people involved might act differently the next time that this happens.

The case of Baby P highlights persistent and appalling failures of multiple agents—doctors, social workers, police and managers—not simply the misjudgement of one person. We might say that such things will occasionally happen—this case has caused so much outrage simply because it is so rare—but if one more innocent life is saved because, say, the next doctor examines the baby properly despite the child being "miserable and cranky", then I cannot see how that would be a bad thing.

UPDATE 2: the News of the World story is just appalling. It's the deliberate attempt to break the boy's spirit that I find particularly distasteful.
“And he lanced off the tops of the tot’s fingers with a Stanley knife like you would a boil. He said it made it easier for him to then use the pliers to grip onto the fingernails and rip them off. It makes me shudder.

“He made Baby P kneel in front of him, with blood oozing from the ends of his fingers, and hold out his hands for more punishment.

As I have said, I think that we will find that the main perpetrator will be spending his life in Broadmoor rather than Belmarsh. Although he should still be beaten to a pulp.

On the playing fields of Eton...

As many regular readers will know, your humble Devil attended a certain famous public school and—whilst it was most certainly not composed of genteel* chaps doffing their top hats to one another (it was more cut-glass cries of "kill the little fucker", as I recall)—one certainly would not view Eton and its surrounding environs to be near anarchy.

I have read some stories of certain types of people causing trouble in Windsor, to be sure, but I simply cannot see this wee place as requiring massive police precautions.

Naturally, given the fascist tendencies of our government and the hysterical nature of the populace—egged on, as they are, by the Daily Hate and its ilk—it seems that I am wrong; yes, for a pupil at the aforementioned school has sent me the following missive...
Notices have gone up around Eton (and some parts of Windsor) saying that the area is under a "Dispersion Zone". They explain this is because of some kind of crime wave (although I don't know of anything of the sort...), but what concerns me is that it says the police are authorized to "disperse groups of more than three people".

There are armed police on the streets.

What the fuck is going on? Do you know anything about "Dispersion Zones"? Am I missing something or did I miss the news about the UK becoming dictatorship?

Well, given your tender age, you may well have missed that meeting: some would say that it happened in May 1997 and culminated in the election of an extremely nasty government. Your humble Devil would, of course, venture the opinion that the wheels were set in motion a long time before that.

Would anyone be able to give this young chap some more information on the dispersal orders (I seem to remember something like this coming up a couple of years ago under ASBO proposals)?

Oh, and would anyone like to join me for a Memorial Service for the Right To Free Assembly...?

And, after that, how about we lock all 646 MPs in the House of Commons (provided that the fuckers can be bothered to turn up, of course) and then burn them to ashes? Just for a bit of a giggle, you understand.

Fucking hell, but I hate these cunts and their lackeys...

* UPDATE: thanks to John B for pointing out this error...

Defining harm

Child protection is one of those slightly thorny subjects for this libertarian; obviously, we do not want children to be harmed, but we also do not want the state to poke its long nose into every family's life.

One of the most critical aspects to this debate is what, exactly, constitutes harm. Whilst Baby P (Peter Connelly) was, quite obviously, being beaten and tortured physically, can we take into account other types of harm?

How, for instance, should we deal with this comment from Miss Snuffleupagus?
And then at what point does the state interfere? Sitting a child in front of the television day after day has devastating effects. A parent could never lay a finger on a child and do him just as much damage which would end in death or a prison sentence. So at what point does the state interfere?

There are some who assert that smacking is just as much child abuse as those injuries inflicted on wee Peter. They are morons, although that hasn't stopped the introduction of a no-smacking law in Scotland, the first victim of which was a Frenchman on holiday with his family. In that case, which is the most traumatic for the child: a swift smack, or the fact that she and her mother had to return home, leaving the father in jail and awaiting trial?

I think that most of us would agree that it was the latter. One assumes that said Frenchman's employers did not sack him, but laughed over the whole matter—I'm afraid that I do not know. But, if he did lose his job, that would be even more catastrophic for the family in general, yes?

So, the state should intervene only when the child is suffering sustained physical abuse causing severe physical injury. We can, of course, have a debate about the word "severe", but I would define it, loosely, as those injuries leaving a permanent mark (yes, a cigarette burn will leave a near-permanent scar, and the tell-tale signs of a broken bone last for a very long time).

But should we view the watching of lots of TV as child abuse? No, I really don't think that we can. Miss Snuffleupagus may think that it causes damage to a child, but it is very difficult to prove this. After all, some programmes are educational, some are witty, some teach moral lessons—I would cite Doctor Who in this last category, for instance. And even in cops and robbers programmes, the baddies are almost always caught.

The costs of state intervention are very high—especially to the child. Children taken into government care have the worst outcomes of any group, even when said care homes are not operating as a kind of Utopia for paedophiles (something that is made far easier by the closed-ears policy of scum like Margaret Hodge). As such, state intervention should not be entered into lightly.

Regular readers will know that your humble Devil is no great fan of television; my upbringing featured severe restrictions on the amount that I was allowed to watch and, besides, until I was about sixteen, we only had a 12" black and white set anyway. On the other hand, our house was stuffed full of interesting things to do and, most importantly, read. So, I was able to engage with something other than the TV.

Now, I might argue that children should have their TV rationed and that they should be made to read books—indeed, I could argue that to do anything else is to harm said infants. But this is just my personal prejudice and, as you all know, I am no fan of imposing personal morality onto others through legislation—in fact, I utterly oppose it.

However, I do believe in one universal bit of state interference for all children—compulsory (and free-ish) schooling. It is in the schools that we try to mitigate damage that a parent's lack of care might do to their children. We should attempt to stimulate their minds, to make them understand the value of books and the sheer joy of simply knowing things. We should teach them theories and, to engage them, then demonstrate how those theories have application in the real world. We should show them the multifarious joys and thrills that life has to offer, over and above their televisual world.

So, yes, I may be being over-optimistic and I am sure that Snuffy will disabuse me of this foolish hope. But one thing that I do know is that we will never stimulate children as long as we teach to the test; we will never make them understand the value of an education whilst we maintain that the over-riding reason for all of this learning is merely some exam; we will never give them the opportunity to broaden their minds and try new things whilst education is used as a political football.

We must remove education from the control of the state: if only this one thing were achieved, then we would be travelling in the right direction. For, from an educated and motivated population flows great things: for fuck's sake, the Victorians were, on average, far less well-educated than ourselves and look what they achieved.

What is required is hope, inspiration, aspiration. These things are incredibly difficult to impart but they are, fundamentally, the only things that will improve the lives of our children and their children and so on. And these things will never be done whilst politicians and bureaucrats rule the schools.

And that last sentence applies to everything: as long as politicians and bureaucrats rule, then innovation and aspiration are stifled. It is why any state intervention should be kept to an absolute minimum and why even suggesting that children who are allowed to watch too much television should be removed from their parents is utterly wrong.

Because next thing that you know, we will all be giving up our children to Polly Toynbee's state podding hutches, and we all know what she thinks of giving kids aspirations, don't we?
[Polly] said that to tell children that they could achieve greatness was to fill their heads with fairy tale nonsense.

Let us move away from assuming that the state is the fount of all wisdom: sic itur ad astra.

If only it were so...

Every now and again, I pop into Blogshares and have a rootle around my investments: sell, buy, buy, sell. You know, the usual...

Currently, I see that one share in The Devil's Kitchen costs B$196,729.43 and that means that the total share value of the blog is B$1,947,621,381.64.

Further, my current share portfolio is worth B$2,460,751,647.72 and I have B$114,251,859.25 in cash.

I really wish that this was real money...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Looking for an "in"...

The subject of regulation of the internet is a bit of a nightmare for politicians. The trouble is, you see, that an awful lot of people use it for things that are a wee bit dodgy—pirating films, music and computer games; looking at porn, etc.—and many of the others who use it are paranoid free-speech freaks (I thang you!) or paranoid online gamers.

So, as we have seen over the last few years, politicians have been skirting around the issue; they have been prodding here and there to gauge how much outrage any one approach will take. They have tried to control it on the basis of quality, but people realise that they aren't forced to visit sites; they have tried whipping up a kiddie porn frenzy, but too many people think that looking at pictures is not actually the same as raping a physical child (and besides, most people know that finding real kiddie porn is pretty difficult); they have tried to convince people that those writing anonymous websites might be trying to deceive punters, but users just didn't care; even the standard default of its use by those eeeeeevil brown terrorists doesn't seem to have worked.

Now, via The Englishman, they are attempting control through leveraging their bete noir de jour: alcohol.
Controls on alcohol advertising should be extended to the internet as part of the drive against under-age drinking, a conference in Edinburgh will be told next week.

Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, claims alcohol is being actively promoted on social networking sites like Facebook. And he will tell a conference organised by the Advertising Standards Authority at Dynamic Earth on Monday that these websites represent a challenge to the current system of regulating alcohol advertising.

Unfortunately, Alcohol Focus Scotland is registered under the Scottish Charities Commission which, unlike its England and Wales counterpart, does not carry detailed accounts. However, the website does inform me that I am entitled to gain the information from the charity itself.
Charity Accounts and Constitutions

OSCR does not publish this information on the website. The public have the right to the following information under s.23 (1) (a) and (b) of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 from the charity directly:
  • a copy of the charity's latest statement of account

  • a copy of the charity's constitution.

Please contact the charity directly to request this information.

Naturally, I have done so. Why? Because whenever a so-called charity supports a government initiative, you can almost always find that they rely on substantial state funding; I like to verify this fact as often as I possibly can.*

In the meantime, please rest assured that, should there appear to be enough support for this, the government will start legislation to restrict alcohol advertising on the 'net initially, and then whatever else takes their fancy. You have been warned.

* Alcohol Focus Scotland is one of those organisations that my colleague, The Filthy Smoker, would be somewhat incensed at for they are punting the "all alcohol is evil when pregnant" malarkey.
As more research is published about drinking alcohol during pregnancy, Alcohol Focus Scotland launches a new campaign - 'Alcohol and pregnancy don't mix'.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the 'avoid alcohol when pregnant' message among women who are pregnant, are thinking of trying for a baby, and among the wider population who may encourage women to have a drink without understanding the possible harm.

We are concerned that women have been given conflicting advice about whether or not drinking alcohol during pregnancy will cause harm to their developing baby. There is proven risk that heavy drinking during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) however the exact level for risky consumption is unknown. What we do know is that the risk of damage increases the more alcohol is consumed and that binge drinking is especially harmful. This means that no alcohol is the best and safest choice.

Except, of course, when no alcohol isn't the best and safest choice. Like when... well... a study shows that drinking a small amount during pregnancy can be actively good for your child.
Research involving more than 12,000 children showed that mothers who drank lightly during pregnancy – defined as one to two units, or a single drink a week – did not increase the risk of having babies with mental impairment or behavioural problems.

Rather, children born to light drinkers were found to be less likely to have problems and peformed better in some tests compared with offspring of mothers who did not drink at all.

As my colleague remarked, the study is not conclusive (but then few are, as it happens). And it would be nice, nevertheless, if all of these charities, think-tanks and special-interest medical organisations would do us all a favour and shut the fuck up.

Especially when they are funded with money stolen from us, as I fully expect to find is the case with Alcohol Awareness Scotland...

Conceptually wrong

Via Stuart Sharpe, I see that Dizzy has commented upon a mildly unwise policy from Greenwich Council; his analysis is fine but then, alas, he gets his facts wrong.
The other thing that amused was a semantic point about the phrase "emergency contraception". Contraception is clearly about contra (contrary) ception (conception). In other words it is about the prevention of conception.

The morning-after pill however is not about preventing conception. It works by getting rid of a conceived egg and sperm. It's not contraception at all.

No. This is entirely wrong, I am afraid. Strange though it may seem to all of you randy people out there, it actually takes quite a bit of time for the sperm to make its way to the egg.

As I have pointed out before, the so-called morning-after pill (it's effective up to about 72 hours after sex) is not an abortifacient (unless you are some kind of medically ignorant religio-conservative nutcase)—it is a method of contraception.
Emergency contraceptive pills (sometimes referred to as emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) in the U.K.) may contain higher doses of the same hormones (estrogens, progestins, or both) found in regular combined oral contraceptive pills. Taken after unprotected sexual intercourse, such higher doses may prevent pregnancy from occurring.

There is speculation that these pills may prevent the implantation of a blastocyst into the uterine wall, but this is unproved and is certainly not the accepted route of effectiveness.
Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)—sometimes simply referred to as emergency contraceptives (ECs) or the "morning-after pill"—are drugs that act both to prevent ovulation or fertilization...

Legally and medically, the morning after pill is regarded as being a contraceptive and not an abortifacient. Because, you see, its mechanism is to prevent pregnancy, not to terminate it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back to life, back to unreality...

I am glad to see that a number of my swearblogging colleagues seem to have returned: let us hope that they are back for good!

Following hard on the heels of the ressurection of my impecunious Greek friend comes his Snobbish compatriot. And back venting his spleen is the Ranting Guttersnipe.

Good men all: welcome back, boys—it's a pleasure to see you...

A complete and utter failure to protect

As regular readers will know, your humble Devil believes that the state's primary responsibility is to protect the citizens of this country—and most especially those who cannot help themselves.

The death of Baby P was disgusting and unfortunate and I hope that the two men and the woman involved die, like Baby P, screaming in agony: they are scum and utterly unfit to live. Why they have been convicted of "causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable person" rather than straight murder, I do not know.

That Haringey Social Services did not protect the child, despite seeing the baby 60 fucking times, is disgraceful. That this was the same organisation that, ten years ago, allowed the death of Victoria Climbié to happen is fucking insulting. That nobody was sacked then is bad enough: that no one has been suspended or sacked even now is even worse.

Cramner is not the only person (living or dead) to have contrasted the behaviour of Haringey and the BBC either.
When two over-paid ‘comedians’ at the BBC phoned an elderly man and pestered him with expletives and abuse, the Prime Minister demanded that the BBC take action.

And so the Director General Mark Thompson did take action. There were suspensions, public reprimands, and the high-profile resignations of senior staff. Cranmer noted how Parliament might learn from the BBC.

And Gordon Brown was content that justice had been done, and public confidence at least partially restored.

Then a woman and her partner murder their 17-month old baby after an appallingly brutal series of attacks upon the infant, which included a broken back, fractured ribs and extensive bruising.

No-one at Haringey Council has been suspended, and no-one has resigned, for it is asserted that ‘proper procedures’ were followed.

All of this is bad enough and would have led to a generally expletive-filled post from your humble Devil. But it gets worse, hence the tone of calm in this little essay—were I to let out my rage I might never stop.

Because a whistle-blower warned ministers that Haringey was failing to protect children in their care, and the fuckers did nothing.
A whistle-blower warned the government of alleged failings in child protection in Haringey six months before Baby P died, it has emerged.

Former social worker Nevres Kemal sent a letter about her concerns to the Department of Health in February 2007.

It was passed to the Department for Children, Schools and Families, which said proper procedures were followed.

Baby P, 17 months, died in August 2007 following abuse. His mother and two men were convicted of causing his death.

Lawyer Lawrence Davies told BBC Radio 4's Today programme his client's letter expressed worry that children in the borough were "at risk".

This was despite an inquiry into the killing of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie - she died from abuse and neglect in the same borough eight years ago.

Ms Kemal believed recommendations made by Lord Laming following that inquiry were still not being followed.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) confirmed it received a letter dated 16 February 2007 that arose from an employment tribunal and contained "an allegation that child protection procedures were not being followed in Haringey".

The letter was sent to the then health secretary, Patricia Hewitt. It was then forwarded on to the DCSF.

Well, what a fucking surprise that Patsy Hewitt did not do anything—the foetid old bitch was probably still congratulating herself on the NHS's best year ever. But I digress...

Every single one of those ministers should be in the dock, alongside the entirety of Haringey Social Services; and all of these disgusting little jobsworths should be crammed into that dock alongside the three cunts who actually killed the child. They are all responsible.

According to Iain Dale, David Lammy—a Haringey MP—also received the letter.
Four letters were sent to four different Ministers, but instead of acting on them, the Ministers or their private offices just passed the buck to others. One of these letters was sent to David Lammy, a Haringey MP. It seems to me he has some very difficult questions to answer, as does the Child Protection Inspectorate, which was also sent a letter.

Your humble Devil has a word of advice for David Lammy: David, please go into the House, apologise profusely, and then blow your brains out with a pistol, right there in the Chamber. Failing that, go away and hang yourself.

Haha! I'm sorry, David: you thought I was joking, eh?

I'm not. Really. Kill yourself.

No one comes out of this with any dignity. The best that we can do is to try to prevent it happening again.

And the best way to do that is to sack every single manager at Haringey Social Services and put them on a blacklist to ensure that they can never work in the public sector, ever again. Let's see if we can't really get going with an encourager les autres policy.

In the meantime, I am going to go away and kick something inanimate.

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...