Saturday, October 30, 2010

My staunchest ally bites the dummy

The rage is still there... Somewhere.

It is with a heavy heart that I report the demise of one of the finest swearbloggers—indeed, one of the finest bloggers—ever to stalk a Labour government.

Yes, it is true: Mr Eugenides is no more.
But what I don't have now is that same hate. The last administration filled me with disgust; the mere sight of my telly of a Charles Clarke, a John Reid, a—God forgive me for even typing the words!—Patricia Hewitt, sent me flying into almost uncontrollable loathing. And without fury, without rage, without spite, this blog is nothing, really—or at least, not what it was—because the way it's written, it is set up for polemic, not placid discussion.

In as far as I owe you anything, it is, I would say, not to confect outrage over things which don't really upset me, not to try and find hate where none exists. I'm in a more placid place, and I think that the country's got at least a fair chance of becoming a better place with that horrendous shower out in the cold; and that's as good a place as any to leave it.

For what it is worth, your humble Devil feels much the same. Unlike my peripatetic but impecunious Greek friend, however, I carry on because... Well, because I want to.

But it will be a less exciting, sweary and, yes, funny place without Mr Eugenides. And, take it from me, he is a funny man in real life—I have long missed those few nights when we met in Cloisters to get unbelievably, hideously pissed. But we all move on—me to London, the angry baby to places in the Far East.

But more than that—when your humble Devil first started his peculiar brand of enraged vitriol, there were a few who heartily joined in. We became almost a brotherhood—this band of swearbloggers* whose ranks have swelled over the last few years. It seems strange to contemplate that blogging was, generally, something of a geeky and, even, genteel past-time until we feckless, violent bastards invaded the political sphere.

Obviously, the rage cannot last—I am now the only one of us left, and I barely count as a swearblogger any more. All the others who were my colleagues and compatriots in the field of gratuitous insults, unnecessary death fantasies and incisive political swearing are all gone.

But Mr E also brought a professional debaters' rigour to the proceedings—much though we both enjoyed insulting Polly Toynbee, my impecunious Greek friend always, I felt, had the edge in terms of making a succinct and pertinent point (and the nailgun was genius).

I sincerely hope that you and I shall raise a glass (or many) together again in real life, Mr E. But, until that time, I shall bid farewell to my friend—impecunious and peripatetic—and one of the finest bloggers ever grace the shores of the internet.

Vale, Mr E! I hope that we—and, more specifically, I—have not seen the last of you**...

* A term coined, I'm perversely pleased to say, by your humble Devil...

** Given the progress of Our New Coalition Overlords™ so far, I give it six months...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Falling at every hurdle

David Cameron: "after I have screwed the British people, I am going to kill this puppy. And there's nothing you can do about it! Aaaaaahahahahahaha!"

I don't know about the rest of you, but your humble Devil was cautiously optimistic about Our New Coalition Overlords™. The trouble is, they seem to be as bad as NuLabour as regards civil liberties—after all, scrapping an ID card project which was technologically "challenging" and, in any case, unaffordable hardly counts—but they are exhibiting all of the stupidity of people who simply have no idea how the labyrinthine system of government works.

Take, for instance, this scrapping of Child Benefit for higher rate taxpayers—it sounds sensible, does it not? The trouble is, as Burning Our Money highlights, the tax system simply doesn't work in the way that our New Coalition Overlords™ have assumed it does.
After all, a couple's tax affairs are separate these days, and CB is paid direct to the female partner specifically so she can keep it away from the nasty beer swilling brute she's forced to live with (well, that's what Pol says anyway). And what happens if the man/woman doesn't realise he's a top rate tax payer, perhaps because of an unexpected bonus?

The basic problem is that we currently have no way of taxing couples as a unit. Tax is levied on individuals, so HMRC doesn't automatically know the overall household income.

Unless, presumably, they are sitting and tracking every single household email and phone call—which is, after all, not beyond the realms of possibility.

Indeed, much like the Boy Blunder in the USA, Our New Coalition Overlords™ have not only failed to abolish all of those intrusions upon our freedoms, they have started to introduce more—not least agreeing to let foreign powers spy on British citizens.

Inevitably, Our New Coalition Overlords'™ naivety also spreads to EU matters where, as EU Referendum points out, Dave seems to have not the slightest clue what is going on.
It's actually worse. Cameron has walked into a minefield, eyes wide shut, committing an act of quite extraordinary hubris. It amounts to almost suicidal stupidity. It really is spectacular.

His problem is, of course, that he has no power to deliver the goods. He is not even party to the negotiations. The European Council, which he has just attended, has no jurisdiction nor locus in the annual budget negotiations.

All he has managed to do is get the signatures from twelve other member states on an informal letter which simply re-affirms the Council (of Ministers) "common position. And that is simply a negotiating position, between not 13 but 27. That "position" went before the conciliation committee on 27 October, and the parties now have 21 days to agree on a joint text.

The Committee, not Cameron, now has the baton. If it can agree, the final budget can be approved in mid-November.

The procedure, however, is arcane. In the final analysis, the initiative lies with the EU parliament. Here, its position is straightforward—and powerful. Its response to the EU Commission proposal for a 5.9 percent hike – and the 5.9 percent was a Commission, not a parliament proposal – was to increase the top line amount from €142.56 bn €143.07 bn, bringing it to about six percent. That is its negotiating position.

Not only is the parliament not going to accept the Council's 2.9 percent, if by some strange—and extremely unlikely—chance the Council actually stuck to its position, the parliament has a veto. It can pull the budget and force the whole procedure to start over, causing a humungous crisis in the EU, which can be laid at the door of the member states.

That ain't going to happen. The Council negotiating team is going to compromise on a figure somewhere between 2.9 and 6.0 percent, most likely at the higher end.

Cameron claims the letter he has got is a "guarantee" the rise will not be any bigger than 2.9 percent. "What we've done is guarantee, with the support of other member states, that this is 2.9 percent," he says. "They've given their word—2.9 percent and no further. That's the word they've all given. That's the word I've given."

It is not a guarantee. The letter has no status whatsoever. His "word" is an empty promise. If Cameron thinks he has actually got a guarantee (or given one) - he is delusional. Moreover, his advisors should be fired. If he is listening to them, they are turning him into a laughing stock.

This is, of course, what his advisers planned. Those who are not actively planning Cameron's downfall are pig-ignorant PPE graduates straight out of university (they're cheap); those who are planning his destruction are known as "the Civil Service".

I have been watching a great deal of Yes Minister recently, and I have a new ambition in life; it used to be that I wished to be repeatedly slung out of Parliament for calling Labour Ministers "a bunch of corrupt cunts" (in a very un-Parliamentary way).

Now I would like to be in power for one reason and one reason only—to sack every single Civil Servant in (at least) the top three grades. Being ideologically opposed to the cuts (that aren't cuts), they need to be got rid of.

But, of course, assuming that Dave has been badly advised is mere supposition. After all, what we all really suspect is that our massively-foreheaded Prime Minister is actually a pro-EU demagogue using all of his political skill to push forward an agenda of further EU integration.

And still we wait for the revolution...

The Devil Abroad

Self-regarding? Moi...?

Your humble Devil is wandering around the country, summoning demons and spectres over the next few days.

However, if that cornucopia of evil delight doesn't appeal, both I and my lovely wife shall be attending the Libertarian Alliance Conference 2010 over the weekend.

Further, I shall be speaking at Warwick University on the 3rd of November, and at York University on the 4th of November. The theme of the former will be libertarianism over the last couple of centuries, and in the latter I shall be dwelling upon the progress of Our New Coalition Overlords&trade and how practical libertarianism might work in our wonderfully modern world.

After that, my lovely wife and I are heading up to my spiritual home city of Edinburgh, there to partake in friends, good pubs (that's Cloisters, for those not on Facebook), and general revelry.

Hopefully I shall see you in one of these places...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time for EU to see if they've lied (again)

A few weeks ago, I pointed out that the Tories' "referendum lock" on EU Treaties was a pointless piece of posturing that would be utterly ineffective, even if applied.

The whole issue has quickly become relevant because of the desire for the EU—driven by Germany—to gain control over Member States' economies. David Cameron was supposed to have won a great victory by enabling Britain to opt out of the EU's budgetary vetting, in return for supporting the three new EU QUANGOs gaining regulatory powers over the City and banking in general.

I would say that was, at best, a Pyrrhic victory and, at worst, a craven and stupid piece of negotiation which Cameron—and, more to the point, everyone else in Britain—is going to regret bitterly.

As President Sarkozy pointed out...
"Only four months ago, the words 'economic governance' were a taboo. But the idea is progressing."

Indeed. And it seems like Tough Dave Cameron is totally on board with the project. And even were he not, has Dave really managed opt out of EU oversight of the British budget?
In the words of a German diplomat, who upon reportedly hearing British claims of a victory at the summit, said, "Let's wait until October".

Well, it is now October and, sure enough, Douglas Carswell MP has found a puzzling piece of small print in the proposed Treaty.
If you read the European Commission document 11807/10 [PDF], however, it doesn’t seem quite so clear cut. Studying it, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new rules on fiscal oversight are going to apply to all EU Member States, not just members of the Euro.

The paper – subtitled “Tools for stronger EU economic governance” – focuses on how Member States, not just Euro countries, “will act in compliance with the EU framework.” The “new structured mechanism” for vetting each countries budget will be applied to “all Member States”.

In or out of the Euro, the paper suggests Britain may indeed have her budget subject to EU Commission vetting – albeit that the time table for this “semester” process might allow officials to claim that the Commons gets to see it first.

And what if Brussels did not approve of the tax and spend policies of our democratically elected government?

If such rules only apply to Eurozone countries, why does page 5 of the document, under the heading “Corrective Action”, say that “This mechanism would apply to all Member States”. Use of that word “all”, again. If there’s a caveat saying “all” excludes Britain, I couldn’t find it.

On the next day, Douglas reminds us that "the cast iron guarantee" on the Lisbon Treaty was reneged on. And now there looks like there will be another Treaty—without any referendum.
Prepare for the government spin, which will likely say:

1. This new agreement involving France and Germany etc is not really a new treaty.

2. It doesn't involve giving the EU new powers in new areas. Just transfers in existing areas. And when we promised a referendum on any further transfer of new powers, we meant in new transfers of power within new areas. Obviously.

3. Besides, this is not a significant transfer of power. We were careful to say there'd be a referendum only when there were significant transfers. And we don't think this is significant. So there.

4. This new thingy, which isn't really a treaty, doesn't involve us, as we're not in the Euro. Despite what the small print [PDF] might say.

5. Anyhow, look how tough we've been, getting Europe to mug us for a little less with a slightly reduced budget increase!

By Friday, there's a fair chance you'll have been fed variants of all five of the above...

Of course, what the government actually seems to be doing is keeping the whole thing very quiet indeed.

This may, of course, be because there is nothing to worry about—Britain's opt-out is in an as-yet-unpublished addendum, and this isn't therefore a Treaty that transfers any powers. I'm sure that Eurogoblin, Nosemonkey (award-winning darling of the EU establishment) or Jon Worth will pop up and tell me that there is nothing to get excited about.

Unfortunately, Douglas believes this not to be the case, and another betrayal by the government is on the cards.
EU competence is to be extended into member state’s fiscal policy, with the power to make law for "all EU Member States". And it appears to have been kept hidden until today.

Not even the European Scrutiny Committee, I’m told, had sight of a paper by the “Task Force to the European Council” called “Strengthening Economic Governance in the EU” until today.

This hidden paper appears to confirm two things:

a) Despite what we were told in June, UK budgets will now become EU business. They might not be able to impose sanctions on us if they disapprove – yet. But they are involved.

b) According to the document, “The Task Force recommends a deeper macro-economic surveillance with the introduction of a new mechanism underpinned by a new legal framework .... applying to all EU Member States”.

Yep. That’s right. The EU is to legislate in a new area. In a way that could apply to all EU Member States.

And you thought there would be no further transfers of power to Brussels, eh?

Douglas's post is entitled "Have we been had?"

The answer, I'm afraid, looks to be "yes, we have been deceived by a bunch of utter bastards who are quite as unscrupulous and inimicable to the interests or desires of the British people as the previous administration."

In other words, not only will regulation of our great financial centre be controlled by Brussels but our supposedly sovereign government will still have to run its Budget through an EU vetting process. In other words, Euro or no Euro, the EU will control vast swathes of our economy.

And what can we do about it? Nothing, it seems—not whilst we are "led" (for want of a better word) by the spineless, massive-foreheaded Dave Cameron.

On my bookshelf, there is a well-thumbed copy of 2008's The Plan, signed by its two authors. Both messages, though concise, are personal—and embarrassingly flattering (I am, after all, a vain man). It is the one written by Douglas that finishes with this uplifting phrase:
Our time will come!

I certainly hope so, Douglas. But whilst I fail to lead a small party, and The Kitchen (a shadow of its former self) slides down the popularity rankings, you are in government—and yet seem almost as powerless as I.

Our time may well come—but if not now, when?

Why governments shouldn't invest

Wind turbines: still expensive, still pointless, still costing us billions of pounds.

The main reason that governments shouldn't invest is because they are utterly shit at picking winners—after all, their investments are made with magic money, which falls from the sky more of which can easily be extorted from taxpayers with the stroke of a pen—so who cares if they lose money, eh?

As another glaring example of just how utterly useless the state is at working out good investments, it's worth remembering that Our New Coalition Overlords™ are merrily spunking our cash up the wall on wind farms.

It's also worth reminding ourselves that, owing to the vagaries of the wind, these monstrosities currently are only providing some 25% of their rated power, and require 90% back-up from conventional power stations—if we rely solely on wind, the lights will go out. Fact.

Nonetheless, the government is investing in factories... Or, rather, they are pushing our money at massive corporations that are going to build factories.
... Britain celebrated more than £300m of investment in new manufacturing centres by rival manufacturers GE, Siemens and Gamesa. Following a boost from the government's Infrastructure Plan on Monday, GE said it would invest £100m in a manufacturing plant. Spanish firm Gamesa said it would spend €150m (£131m) setting up a worldwide centre for offshore wind, including a turbine factory; and Siemens said it would build an £80m wind turbine factory.

Hmmm. I'm not sure about "celebrated", but the Grauniad likes to put a positive spin on these things. Anyway, these companies are investing in new wind farms, and the government is providing "a boost", i.e. cash, in the form of capital, loans and, of course, the colossal subsidies that are the only things that make windmills in any way profitable.

How lovely.

But wait! What is this article actually about...?
Vestas, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, said today it would close five production plants across Scandinavia and cut 3,000 jobs.

The group said the surge in demand for wind power it had hoped for in Europe had not materialised and it would have to shift production away from Denmark and Sweden towards Spain to protect profits.

It is closing four plants in Denmark and one in Sweden, including one in Viborg where it has been manufacturing since 1989. The factory moves follow Vestas' decision to move production of turbines away from the UK last year, when it closed its Isle of Wight facility.

It still employs 500 people in the UK, who are unlikely to be hit by the company's latest round of job cuts, but a spokesman could not it rule out. The company employs 250 research and development specialists on the Isle of Wight, and 250 other staff primarily at a sales centre in Warrington and a spare parts and repair plant in Bristol.

Right. So, a massive enthusiasm for building useless bloody windmills has not materialised because, presumably, everyone has realised that they are bloody useless.

So, just as Vestas is closing factories and shedding jobs, our government is providing "a boost" for other companies to set up windmill factories in this country.

Nice going, you morons.

A tip of the horns to The Englishman.

UPDATE: an interesting comment from Adam Bell...
... you've got this entirely wrong. Vestas make onshore turbines; notably 1.5MW and 3MW models. Siemens, GE and Gamesa are coming to the UK to build offshore turbines, which range from 6-10MW. Vestas doesn't yet have a player in this market, so isn't coming on board.

Demand for onshore has dropped in Denmark and Germany as all the good sites are taken up. Vestas is responding to the market by relocating its production facilities to places where onshore demand is strong, notably Spain and to a lesser extent the US. This is the market doing what it should.

Demand for wind and other renewables is still being driven less by environmental concerns than the very hard-headed realisation that it constitutes a useful hedge against rising gas prices. You know, as happens whenever Russia feels like Europe isn't paying it enough attention. As such, the economic downturn and the resultant lower commodity prices have decreased demand for renewables—but as soon as the economy picks up again that demand will return, most likely in 2013-4.

Food for thought?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Freedom Association hosts an idiot

Over at The Freedom Association website, there is an appallingly badly written article by some fool called Jonathan Jones. The commenting system over there gives no feedback and I have no idea whether my comment will be published or not, and so I replicate it below.
Wow. What a stunningly bad article...

Jonathan Jones shows very clearly that he has no idea what libertarianism is about, if only with the following line...
... affirming the inalienable right of the majority to force rules upon the minority."

Despite pointing to the Non-Aggression axoim, poor wee Jonathan obviously doesn't understand it: libertarianism does not recognise the "right of the majority to force rules upon the minority"—I think that you'll find that that is called "democracy".

The whole point of the Non-Aggression Axiom is that no one is allowed to force anything, rules or otherwise, on the minority—or, for that matter, on the majority.
"Libertarians argue that a government cannot stand without the support of the people."

Libertarians argue no such thing. Anarcho-libertarians believe that there should be no government; minarchist libertarians believe that the only thing that the government should exist for is the protection of its citizens (through the provision of national defence and, possibly, criminal justice).

I would fisk the rest of the article but I find it impossible because it makes no sense.

Read it.

It. Makes. No. Sense.

Why is Afghanistan in there? No idea. How does Afghanistan relate to libertariaism? It doesn't. How do the Americans or the Taliban relate to libertarianism? They don't. For that matter, how does George Washington relate to libertarianism? He doesn't.

What I take from this article is: the reason that Jonathan Jones is not a libertarian is because he believes that might is right. And, in this he is correct: for a libertarian, might is never right.


Do go and read the article and see if you can make any sense of it.

Good luck.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How can they live with themselves taking it?

This is a great post by Charlotte Gore—and is a nice counter to those shrieking about "the cuts".
Say I steal £1 off 100 people and give you the £100. Should I do it a second time? Apparently refusing to do it a second time is a greater crime, because I’m denying you £100 that you’re now expecting. The poor suckers who are losing the £1? It’s only £1 isn’t it? Hardly worth getting in a flap over.

If they knew how much you really really needed that money, they’d be happy to cough up, right?

See, whilst many (most of them apparently on Twitter) are psychologically able to ignore, or excuse, or basically discount altogether the taking money from people bit of public spending, there are some of us that just can’t.

One day it occurs to ask the question, “What exactly gives them the right to help themselves to whatever they want?” and the answer turns out to be because they can. Then you get a bit angry and frustrated, feel almost entirely helpless then, just to make things that little bit worse, everyone else in the world comes and slaps you in the face for even daring to consider such heretical notions.

The taking from me bit doesn’t count. I don’t matter. It’s the no longer giving bit that counts. Think about how people feel! Think about all the things they could do with that money, or that job, or learn from those people or achieve with the support of those others! Don’t you understand? Have you no feelings?

Apparently not. I just keep thinking, “But it’s not your money. How can you live with yourselves taking it?”

And this is the point: if the government spends money on anything, anywhere, then they have to steal it from people first. Even if they borrow it today, it will still have to be paid back by the proceeds of extortion.

You want Sure Starts for your kids? That money has to come from somewhere—and it is taken from me, by force. You want Child Benefit?—that money must be stolen from the fruits of my labour. Ultimately, my lifestyle is curbed to the tune of about £600 every month so that someone else can live a lifestyle that they cannot afford on my money.

Are we truly nation of shopkeepers? No—Britain has become a nation of thieves and extortionists.

The problem is that most people don't think about where the money comes from: it is magic money that falls from the sky. Except it isn't. It is money that is stolen from other people so that they can live a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford.

Ultimately, the cuts are protested because people do not think about where the money came from originally, and because those in receipt of it think of the cash as their right. In far too many cases, we pay out large levels of benefits so that those living beyond their means are spared the embarrassment of begging their neighbours for a little charity.

If we want to put Britain onto a sustainable footing, these two things—understanding of where the money comes from and the shame of living on charity—need to be instilled in everyone.

Of course, one of the most succinct rebuttals to those screaming about the cuts is made by The Nameless Libertarian... [Emphasis mine.]
To all those complaining about the scale of the spending cuts, in particular those relating to welfare, here's a suggestion - if it bothers you that much, then find an applicable charity and donate money to it. That way you are doing your bit to help even though the government is no longer in a position to afford to help. And if you don't want to do that, then I'd like to politely suggest that you shut the fuck up.

To summarise, put your money where your mouth is, or shut the fuck up.


Your humble Devil has, for a number of years, pointed out that Nadine Dorries is a fucking liar.

How nice it is to be vindicated!

See The Appalling Strangeness for more on Mad Nad's fiction admission that 70% of her blog is fiction...

UPDATE: via Twitter, my good friend Bookdrunk reminds me of his pig-rocket...
Would Nadine Dorries now like to retract her previous claims, and apologise for calling her opponents liars? Or would you perhaps instead like to go to the moon on my pig-rocket?

Your humble Devil felt that Dorries was unlikely to apologise for any such thing and has been hassling Bookdrunk for that pig-rocket ride for some time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quote of the Day...

... comes from Mark Littlewood's assessment of what was fundamentally wrong with the Coalition's spending review.
The Coalition seems to have accepted the basic parameters they inherited from the previous administration and sought to make savings within them rather than fundamentally recasting the way the public sector works.

Quite. And we aren't going to get very far with that kind of attitude.

Mind you, with Our New Coalition Overlords™ having approved NuLabour's plan to spy on our every single piece of communication, we'll probably not dare say so—for fear of falling foul of one of the control orders (which allow house arrest without trial) that The Coalition has also decided not to scrap.

So, Our New Coalition Overlords™ are not cutting government spending and they are not restoring our civil liberties either. How incredibly depressing.

Welcome to the New Politics: same as the old politics.

Austerity hypocrites

Brendan O'Neill has a rather excellent article up at The First Post, pointing out that the Greens (and their Islington-dwelling useful idiots) are screaming hypocrites.
Liberal, left-wing and green-leaning commentators are outraged by George Osborne's spending review, claiming it will lower people's living standards and throw thousands on to the dole queue. Which is a bit rich, considering that many of the liberal intelligentsia have been agitating for austerity for years.

Time and again, liberal thinkers have told us that we must learn to live with less "stuff", for the sake of our own sanity and for the good of the people-plagued planet.

So don't be fooled by their crocodile tears today—they laid the cultural foundation stones for this age of hardship.

These austerity hypocrites have short memories. This week, the Guardian's George Monbiot wrote an angry piece about the Tory-led cuts agenda, claiming that it will help the rich and hurt the rest.

"When we stagger out of our shelters to assess the damage, we'll discover that we have emerged into a different world, run for their benefit, not ours", he said.

This is the same Monbiot who wrote a piece in 2007 titled 'Bring on the recession'.

"I hope that the recession now being forecast by some economists materialises", he said, because only a recession could give us "the time we need to prevent runaway climate change".

A recession would hurt poor people, he acknowledged—but that was a price worth paying to halt out-of-control economic growth.

Do go and read the rest—taking note of the names on the roll-call of shame...

Murdoch is not a libertarian

According to the BBC...
Rupert Murdoch is a libertarian—against too much state control, and in favour of individuals taking responsibility.

For the record, I agree with everything that The Appalling Strangeness has to say on this—Murdoch may be an economic liberal but that is not the same as being a libertarian.

Economic liberalism is, in fact, only one half of the equation: a libertarian is also socially liberal and I have yet to see The Scum, for instance, backing the legalisation of drugs.

But worse than that—Murdoch is a corporatist. His rags back whichever party Murdoch thinks will enable his News Corporation to wield the most power. Further, he deliberately backs parties in a way that makes them grateful and thus more likely to serve his agenda.

In other words, Murdoch gains legal advantage for himself and his businesses through effectively buying the legislators—he is, as I have said, a corporatist.

And there is nothing libertarian about corporatism.

Is Laurie Penny the stupidest woman on the face of the planet?

Look at it. That's Laurie Penny, that is. Fucking hell.

Timmy calls it grossly overblown rhetoric.

I call it a stupid, ugly, miserable, evil ignorant sack of weasel-vomit being paid too much to write filthy, lying, hyperbolic bullshit in order to pander to one of the world's most bigoted and moronic demographics—the bien-pensant, tofu-munching Lefty sheep-shaggers known as "the readers of The New Statesman".

I mean, how could anyone take this sentence seriously? [Emphasis mine.]
If [the Labour Party's] collective response to the greatest assault on social democracy in living memory is anything to go by, Labour has also lost sight of what it means to be a party of the left.

It might come as a bit of a surprise to Laurie Penny—who is, I assume, about thirteen years old—that there have been far greater assaults on "social democracy in living memory".

I fail to see, in any case, how cutting the amount of money that the state spends is, in any way, an attack on society—unless, of course, society revolves solely around money. I imagine that, for Laurie Penny, it probably is—after all, you'd have to pay me to spend a minute in her company.

And an attack on democracy? How is cutting government spending worse for democracy than Gordon "fucking" Brown's quite deliberate policy of extorting money and using it to buy votes?

And how is this possibly the greatest attack in living memory? This may come as a surprise to someone who probably can't remember the First Gulf War, Laurie, but there are still some people in this country who remember the Second World War.

(And, if you want to get pissy about it, the invasion of the Falkland Islands was arguably a greater assault on a social democracy by a military junta—it did, at least, involve some guns, missiles and lots of dead people.)

Still, I suppose that one should be grateful for the fact that dear old Maggie seems to be off the hook: the poor woman probably thought that she would be Laurie Penny's prime demon until she died. It seems, however, that Dave and Gideon are to be the greater hate figures for the Left.

Or that part of the Left that is represented by Laurie Penny anyway, i.e. the really fucking stupid part of it.

Luckily for Laurie, by the way, the answer to the post title is, "no, Laurie Penny is not the stupidest woman on the face of the planet": but that's only because Bevanite Ellie—surely one of the single most asinine creatures ever to grub around on this dirty ball of rock—is still around.

And mature, sophisticated and subtle though they may seem next to those of Ellie Gellard, it doesn't alter the fact that Laurie Penny's political views are slightly more black and white than footage of a Hitler rally, and about as well-meaning.

Yes, yes: I am sure that some people are going to pop up and say that I am exhibiting misogynistic tendencies—that I am only attacking this silly bitch because she is a woman. Believe me, that's not the case.

If I were a woman, I would be slitting my wrists—overcome by the way in which Laurie Penny shames my gender in general and the feminist cause in particular.

As it is, being a man (who knew?), I just feel a deep and abiding disquiet whenever I recall that I am part of the same species as the lack-witted creature that wrote this pile of cobblers... [Emphasis mine.]
They have knelt down and swallowed the Tory narrative that this recession is all Labour's fault, rather than the result of years of systematic global financial deregulation with which every major political party in Britain and America was until lately in agreement.

Er... Good fucking god—where to start? And how to put it in the kind of simple terms, Laurie, that a lackwit arse like you will understand?

Let's have a go...
  • The Labour government spent far more per year than they were able to steal from people in tax.

  • This "deficit" has been climbing steadily for the last decade—long before the recession hit.

  • Last year, Labour overspent by nearly £170 billion.

  • As a result, our declared national debt is nearly £800 billion.

  • Although, actually, our real national debt is actually somewhere nearer £8 trillion.

  • By 2016, just paying the interest on the debt is going to cost us in the region of £200 billion per year—or about £300,000 per household in Britain.

  • There is no fucking money left.

  • Despite the Coalition's "greatest assault on social democracy in living memory", they are on track to overspend by even more this year.

  • That is because there are no cuts in spending—only a cut in the increase in spending.

  • There. Is. No. Fucking. Money. Left.

It is about time that people—by which I mean commissioning editors—realised that Laurie Penny is not only a pig-ignorant self-serving nutcase, but also a bigoted, shallow fuckwit living in a fantasy world in which government spending is not the extorted product of people's hard work, but magic fucking money that falls from the sky.

Having said all of this (yes, yes: I know—very rude), the last paragraph of her pointless screed does contain some good points—more by luck than judgement. [Emphasis mine.]
That Labour does not have any answers for us is a disgusting display of the irrelevance of Westminster politics to the lives of ordinary citizens. If today's pathetic equivocation parade is a benchmark for the next four years of Labour politics, we will have to look elsewhere to find a voice in the hard, cold months ahead.

Westminster politics has long become irrelevant to the people of this country (except as an instrument of tyranny)—we know this.

But, more pertinently, Laurie, maybe (if you weren't a self-loathing sociopath) you might turn to real people, to the society that you profess to love, for comfort—rather than relying on the empty promises and meaningless platitudes of politicians to keep you warm at night.

Other than that, you'll just have to start putting some money into the meter, love...

UPDATE: removed "disappointing" link (see nwd comment below). We don't want another Gordon Brown's children debate, do we?*

UPDATE 2: if you want to know why I hold Penny Red—and others like her—in such contempt, it is because they are thieves, blackmailers and extortionists who do not even have the courage to do their thieving in person—instead contracting the state do to so on their behalf.

* An in-joke for very long-time readers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dear The Arts: get to fuck

Carpsio rants about the cuts—or, more precisely, the morons who think that there are any cuts in general, and the bastards who whinge on about cuts to the arts in particular.

After delivering a metaphorical but delightfully determined hoof to the knackers of Ken "bloody" Loach, Carps moves on...
Ditto then for Priyamvada Gopal, who says that the Government’s cuts to the arts will be akin to:
“…administering the lethal dose that will eventually wipe out humanistic disciplines”

My hackles rise every time I hear some fucking no-mark academic or artist claiming that unless they get “support” then their important work will go unnoticed and they’ll starve to death in a garret and society will revert to the dark ages. Well, firstly, that’s your look-out – not mine. Secondly, it’s fantastically, astronomically patronising to the millions of people from all classes, genders, sexualities and races who take an active interest in history, art, science and philosophy just…. because.

As if without the work these people do we’ll just become a nation of people whose horizons stretch no further than ASDA and ITV. You know what? Fuck off. It’s the reflexive snobbery of enlightened people who, because they’re enlightened, assume that no-one else is. And when they’re on that road they turn into the kind of cunt who wants to show off their erudition by “educating” the feckless masses they secretly despise.

Get fucked.

A hundred years ago, this land pulsed with clubs and societies where members did, through their own subscription, learn about and contribute to science, history and the arts. Today the internet groans with erudite, passionate, informed people sharing their love of obscure subjects with anyone who happens by. All for free and done for nothing more than love.

Beautifully delivered. Almost—dare I say it?—a work of art.

One thing's for sure: it's a fuck sight more enjoyable than a Ken Loach film, at any rate.

Quote of the Day...

... comes from Juliette's amusing discourse on lads' mags—I just thought that it was quite witty and, crucially at the moment, has absolutely fuck all to do with our political masters.
As for the ‘think of the children’ criticism of lads’ mags - whereby the fairy-like innocence of childhood will be irreversibly corrupted by glimpsing half-naked ladies on the lower shelves of WH Smith – I hate to break it to you, but you’re shutting the stable door after the horse has run off, lived a long happy life, dropped dead of old age and been sold for glue.

Very droll.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Seriously, what is the point?

Lord Tebbit is rather worried about what William Hague is not telling us...
What brought the greatest cheers from the assembled Tory activists was Mr Hague’s final assurance: “A sovereignty clause on EU law will place on the statute book this eternal truth: what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign parliament can also undo”. That really does worry me. It is a general rule of life that if a man in a pub declares loudly that he is stone cold sober, the odds are that he is drunk.

A parliament which is sovereign has no more need to legislate to declare that to be so than a sober man has to announce his sobriety. Indeed, by so doing it casts doubts on whether it is or was sovereign.

Indeed. The simple fact is that our Parliament is not sovereign—it gave our powers away, and it will continue to do so.

I've given up trying to work out why, and I am currently past caring.

The Coalition is working out to be a massive pile of crap and I see nothing better on the horizon. All we can try to do is to carry on with our lives until the axe—fiscal or legal—finally falls.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Is it in their Nature to lie?

In his real life, your humble Devil is a Product Manager for a small software company. Given that it is a small software company, your humble Devil actually delves into the methods and programming of said software.

As such, I know a little about how software programming works, and what is considered acceptable and what is not—both by the programmers themselves, and by those performing the "acceptance tests".

Having established some vague credentials, I would like to draw your attention to this article in Nature—as highlighted by His Ecclesiastical Eminence—regarding the ClimateGate data releases last year.

As most people will know, most of the forensic fury was focused upon the emails exchanged between the key players in this fraud, but a few people started delving into the data that was released alongside those communications.

In fact, your humble Devil highlighted a large part of this in my collation of comments around the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file (a post that resulted in over 24,000 absolute unique visitors in one day).

What this file displayed was not what Nature dismisses as "wonky code", but an utter failure of any kind of systematic programming ability, plus a total lack of verification and testing.

As far as I—and, I am sure, most programmers—are concerned, the construction of models based upon such obviously inaccurate software is tantamount to fraud. Regardless, Nature does not agree...
When hackers leaked thousands of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, last year, global-warming sceptics pored over the documents for signs that researchers had manipulated data. No such evidence emerged...

Where to start? The fact that there was far more data than the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file to examine, and I hadn't the time to collate the results—if anyone can donate links to those who did, please leave them in the comments.

But the HARRY_READ_ME.txt is enough: it details the lack of raw data, the rough estimates, the use of rainfall as a substitute for temperature, the use of synthetic data (i.e. "data" that was made up to fit the climatologists' prejudices) and any number of other really poor practices.

Are they fraudulent? Maybe not.

But the fact that the software programme created by Harry was used to construct the next lot of models—despite the fact that the file existed and that it is inconceivable that Harry didn't tell his employers what a fucking massive pile of shit it was—most certainly is.

These people knew that the software did not operate according to specification, but they used it anyway. FAIL.

These people knew that much of the original data was missing, corrupted or faked, but they used it anyway. FAIL.

These people knew that, together, these factors would produce results that were incorrect. FAIL.

These people knew that, regardless, the software would produce the result that they wanted. FRAUD.

But the killer comment is made by Bishop Hill...
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but none of the inquiries actually looked at the computer code, apart from there being a brief word from Tim Osborn in evidence to Muir Russell, denying that the bodges he'd mentioned affected published results. I'm pretty sure the Harry Readme was not looked at by any of the inquiries.

You are not wrong. None of the "independent" enquiries looked at the code, and this was for the same reason that none of the media rebuttals mentioned the code.

The reason that it was only the emails that were mentioned was that they had some kind of plausible deniability. Excuses were wheeled out, along the following lines...

"Oh, don't worry! Scientists are always having little spats. These were personal emails, not intended for release."

Well, we know that they weren't intended for release because the scientists in question were all urged to delete data and emails to prevent them being released under FoI.

This was to ignore the fact that the data had been examined—the code had been examined too. And from looking at those files, there were only two conclusions to draw:
  1. the climatologists were deliberately defrauding the community about their results (very likely), or

  2. the climatologists were so fucking incompetent that their data and results mean nothing at all (even more likely), or

  3. both.

Either way, there is simply no way that we should be restructuring the world economy—and, by the by, killing fuck-loads of poor people—on this evidence.

Of course, facts, logic and science are seriously unlikely to trouble the idiots at Nature—they might lose some of their share of "the money flood"...

The Blog Society

Your humble Devil doesn't know where Anna Raccoon has gone: right now her domain is showing a placeholder, and it may be that she has simply forgotten to renew it. Or something else may have happened. (Grumpy Old Twat writes a eulogy, but seems to have no more idea than I: all we know is that her online presence has been entirely obliterated.)

However, I had meant to find time to write a comment on her superb article entitled The Blog Society and, as such, it was still in my Dock—waiting for some attention. However, whilst Anna is not around (and until we find out what has happened), I have chosen to re-publish the article, because it is such an important and excellent example of how we pimply, single, cauliflower-nosed loners can help ordinary people.

Let us hope that Anna returns in short order to complain about me hijacking her work—in the meantime, however, read and enjoy...


The Blog Society

Did you hear it? Friday night, around tea-time? The crunch of gears engaging, the whine of engines turning over. Perhaps you smelt the noxious diesel fumes as Sandwell Borough Council revved up their engines, lowered their gun turrets and reversed their tanks off the front lawn they have been parked on for the past 136 days?

Sheila Martin’s front lawn. Sandwell Borough Council have blinked. Backed down. Taken their ball and gone home.

Sheila Martin, a frail 70 year old widow, in severe ill health, who had committed the dastardly offence of nibbing her cigarette and letting the lighted end fall to the floor, whilst dutifully stowing the ‘butt’ end in her handbag, is no longer to be prosecuted.

In the eyes of the apparatchiks employed by Sandwell Borough council as ‘enforcement wardens’, that millimetre of lit and sterile cigarette ash constituted ‘the discarded end of a cigarette’ within the meaning of section 98 of the Environmental Act 1990 as amended by Section 18 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, and Sheila was to pay £75 for the crime of not putting burning cigarette ash into her handbag like a good little girl.

Adam Aspinall of the Sunday Mercury, Sheila’s local Sunday paper, was incredulous when he heard this news. He wrote a small piece for his paper that Sunday describing the subsequent events, detailing how Sheila had been threatened with a £2,500 fine for not paying the original fine.

I happened to read it; I wanted to speak to Sheila, I wanted to know more. I spent the better part of a day methodically telephoning everyone in the Oldbury area with the name of Martin. There are an awful lot of them—none of them turned out to be Sheila.

It didn’t occur to me initially to contact the paper—journalists and bloggers, they’re like oil and water aren’t they? At permanent war with each other, hurling insults with vicious abandon. I came from the ‘stench of the blogosphere’; that famed sewer; one of the pajamahadeen that journalists delight in looking down on. Some 40 phone calls later, in desperation, I thought it might be worth a call to the high moral ground of the newspaper.

I was in for a surprise. I had carefully marshalled my credentials; I had been instrumental in getting Nick Hogan out of jail when he had been an unfair victim of the anti-smoking legislation, I had a respectable readership, I was sure I could help Sheila Martin fight this iniquitous penalty; pumped up with self righteous adrenaline I was all ready for them to put me down.

They didn’t. Adam Aspinall was delighted that someone could help Sheila, he had been affected by her story too, and he was not a heartless hack thinking only of his next by-line. His problem, one shared with every other regional paper, was lack of resources. Newspaper no longer have spare lawyers sitting around their offices with nothing better to do than advise on legal technicalities; journalists are driven by deadlines, and the requirements of their advertising departments. His Editor couldn’t spare him to spend hours researching similar stories, writing letters, reading legal cases, phoning local councillors—but the Blogosphere could do all that and more!

We verbally shook hands on a deal. Adam would give me all the information he had—including the precious phone number of Sheila’s neighbour, if I would agree to publish nothing ahead of his Sunday deadline and share everything I had with him.

It was a deal that was to come under severe pressure when a major Sunday National became aware of one of the earlier stories I had written on Sheila. They contacted me; could I put them in touch with Sheila? Whyfore? Oh, you know, this was just a story in the Blogosphere and they had to check it out for themselves. My response was to say sorry, no can do. Half an hour later they phoned again. Was she Sheila Martin of ‘X’ Road. No, I said she wasn’t. Why was I being so awkward, they asked? They were intending to make a big story out of this; they might even mention my name—whoo hoo! The information simply wasn’t mine to give away, I said. Another half hour and they were back—they’d pay me, a not insignificant sum, and by the way, was she Sheila Martin of ‘Y’ Road? No she wasn’t! They were welcome to use what I had written already—I could hardly stop them, it was out there on the internet—but I wasn’t at liberty to give them any more than that.

Another half hour of that Saturday night rolled by—closer to their deadline, as I’d realised by now. The phone rang once more – they could double their offer. Wow! Why, I asked, were they so keen on gaining her phone number? Well, they had a photographer standing by in Birmingham—at 10pm at night, and thought they might just call round to this elderly lady’s house and surprise her in her nightgown and get a picture of her smoking to go with their story. They thought they might even get it on their front page. They’d ‘give me a name check’ and if I ever wanted to get into journalism it would be useful for me...

That entire exchange encapsulates why I would never want to get into journalism, why I am happy to be a ‘semi-literate blogger’—I would never want to be subjected to the pressures that see Sheila’s distress and fragility as fodder to fill a late night deadline on a slow news day. Her dignity and privacy invaded for a handful of tenners.

The following morning the Sunday Mercury and I both published our new stories on Sheila. The response of the Blogosphere was extraordinary—within a couple of hours I had more e-mails than I had comments—and the comments were at that time running around the 50 mark, a figure now way out of date. I had e-mails from Barristers and Academics, Solicitors and Local Authority Legal Advisors—all willing and able to pitch up with their specialist knowledge on Sheila’s behalf—free of charge. Detailed information on the legal technicalities behind her offence positively poured out of them. By the end of that first night we had a legal team that would not have disgraced the defence team for a major conspiracy trial at the Old Bailey.

We also had e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers for virtually everyone on the staff at Sandwell Council, home addresses, photographs of their houses for heavens sake, even, in one case, a photograph of the aluminium wheels on their BMW that were for sale on e-bay—the cuttings library at the Old Mirror building was famed for the ability with which it could come up with a cornucopia of information on any obscure subject; I would pitch the wit and wisdom of the Blogosphere against their sleuthing skills any day.

That was the network that the Sunday Mercury was able to engage with, and by putting their trust in the energy, expertise and exchange of information that the Blogosphere with its predominantly Libertarian ethos is so good at, and combining it with their on the ground knowledge, and contacts, together we have achieved a remarkable result.

Sandwell Borough Council has finally decided, after 136 days, that ‘it is not in the public interest’—decode that as you will!—to persecute Sheila Martin any longer. She was not just a frail elderly widow who would bow to their demands; behind her there was a mighty powerhouse, the combined forces of their local paper and the blogosphere that was marking their every footstep, dogging their every incompetence, detailing their every inaction, and Sheila didn’t look such an attractive ‘mark’ any longer.

Sheila is delighted; she has said:
“This whole process has been one long nightmare and my health is suffering as a result.

“The stress of everything has caused me to collapse twice and end up in hospital; I don’t know how much more I can take.

“If I was guilty it wouldn’t be a problem but I’m not so while there is breath left in me I will fight but I have to admit it is taking its toll now.

“What I cannot understand is why it is taking so long, surely it is costing the taxpayer lots of money to deal with this and it is a load of nonsense.

“It is funny how I haven’t seen one single enforcement officer since this came out and when you walk outside the council building the streets are full of cigarette butts and fag ends – where were they when that happened or do they belong to council employees?

“I am just so glad that I have had support from the Sunday Mercury and the internet bloggers because otherwise I would have felt so alone.”

I am delighted too. Not just for Sheila, but for a new era. One where the main stream media and the Internet can learn to work together. There are strengths and weaknesses on both sides, together we are more than the sum of our respective parts. Together we form the Blog Society—an Internet based version of the Big Society, which has the expertise and initiative to force back the cold, dead, hand of the State, and right the petty wrongs it imposes on decent men and women like Sheila.


It used to be that no person could be fined or have their property seized in any way without a court order; it used to be that going to court meant being judged by a jury of one's peers. This is no longer the case.

We endure fines and confiscations at the whim of a mindless bureaucracy who then use our money to further constrict our freedoms.

And regardless of whether this is "the will of the population" (and I very much doubt that it is), this must stop.

A massive thanks must go to Anna and the others who have made a stand in this case. And I hope that Sandwell Council's officers, officials and councillors all burn in hell—along with any others who try the same.

Unfortunately, they won't, because the British people have exchanged their freedoms for security—and we all know how that ends up.

I wouldn't mind but, thanks to the wonder of the world that is democracy the tyranny of the majority, they have taken all of us with them...

Accountable goverment

If there's one thing that pisses me off—and there are actually, as regular readers will know, loads of things that severely grip my shit—it's people who wank on about how governments are accountable because the sheep get to vote for them every five years.

This is absolute horseshit.

Apart from anything else, the civil service is not accountable and, apparently, doesn't even think that it should be.

But we don't even really get to choose any kind of accountable politicians either. I mean, the Coalition might be just very slightly more liberal and a teensy bit less profligate than NuLabour, but it's hardly as though we are even heading for a minarchist state any time soon—let alone an anarchist society.

I've written hundreds of posts and thousands of words on this theme, but few of them have been as utterly effective as the UK Libertarian's reply to one of his commenters, concerning the relative accountability of the state versus private, voluntary charity.
Before slavery was abolished you wouldn’t expect abolitionists to “offer a viable alternative” because some farmers had become used to the slave labour and it might inconvenience them to lose their workers. No, Slavery is wrong, by any empathetic human yardstick, and so it was ended. After that if the plantation owners want to voluntarily offer those people work for a wage they both arrive at, then that’s between them, but slavery is wrong, and so is theft.

I’ll change “completely unaccountable” to “almost completely unaccountable” then. The truth is elections are every 4 years. And just because one candidate gets a majority of “votes” (from people who usually don’t even know what thy’re voting for) it doesn’t make it okay for the minority to be stolen from to pay for things they don’t approve of. In the private sector I can IMMEDIATELY “vote” not to fund something by simply opting out. So no 4 year wait, instead it’s immediate, and no compromising, I can decide EXACTLY what I want to fund.

I often hear that it’s “up to me” to create a new party if I disagree with the existing ones. This is shifting the blame to the victim. If me and my friends all “Vote” that it’s okay to rob you, then you are the victim, and we can hardly ask you to devote every moment of your spare time frantically trying to rally enough support so you’re no longer in the minority and can “vote” not to be stolen from. It’s a crazy idea. Theft is wrong. Tyranny of the majority is wrong. And I’ll pose the same idea back to you: If you think it’s “up to me” to change the system, why can’t I say it’s “up to you” to voluntarily setup your own NHS or Welfare system on the free market and try to persuade people peacefully and voluntarily through persuasion to fund your charity?

I really recommend that you go and read the whole thing...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life'

I am a bit late to this—which I saw at Delingpole's place a few days ago—but I simply could not let Hal Lewis's fantastic resignation letter to the American Physical Association pass without comment.

Almost as a monument, I reproduce it in full below. [Emphasis mine.]
From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara

To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

6 October 2010

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d'être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:
  1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate.

  2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer "explanatory" screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

  3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

  4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind---simply to bring the subject into the open.

  5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members' interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

  6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people's motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don't think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I'm not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.


Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President's Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)

Hal Lewis believes that the vast amounts of cash poured into the climate change scam has corrupted scientists, and James Delingpole helpfully tries to summarise some of the numbers for us, with one of his commenters quoting The Missing Signatures [PDF]—a fairly comprehensive pamphlet, by Dr David Evans, which concludes that CO2 cannot be the primary or even secondary driver of the observed warming. [Emphasis mine.]
In time-honored journalistic fashion, follow the money:
  • The amount of money spent on anti-AGW activity by organizations is around US$2 million per year, primarily from Heartland.

  • The amount of money spent by pro-AGW organisations on research is about US$3 billion per year, about 1,000 times larger. It mainly comes from big government spending on pro-AGW climate research and on promoting the AGW message, and from the Greens.

  • Emissions trading by the finance industry was US$120 billion in 2008. This will grow to over US$1 trillion by 2012, and carbon emission permit trading will be the largest ―commodity market in the world—larger than oil, steel, rice, wheat etc. Typically the finance industry might pocket 1%–5% of the turnover, so even now their financial interest matches the spending on pro-AGW activities and soon it will vastly exceed it.

Presumably therefore it is the finance industry that is driving the carbon emission permits agenda. Notice that a carbon tax, which would be simpler and fairer, would not benefit the traders and is not being put forward by governments. It is not that the science is settled‖ (a fine piece of anti-science propaganda!), but that the science is simply irrelevant now because big money interests are in control.

Who benefits? Emission permits are created by government fiat, out of thin air, yet have value. Trading favors the well-informed and those who can move the market, so big financial firms will routinely plunder the pockets of smaller market participants. The rest of us, one way or another, will pay for both the government-issued emission permits and the trading profits of the finance industry.

Many of us have been banging on about all of these things for some time now: your humble Devil has tried to concentrate on the uncertainties in the science (and why we should continue to question those) but has also reported on the vast financial concerns involved—not least those of multi-millionaire businessman and head of the IPCC, Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

Like James, I believe that the catastrophic anthropogenic climate change believers are on the run—their scientific credibility is destroyed and there is more than serious doubt about their findings amongst the general population.

And the population of Britain, at least, are likely to become even more sceptical if the predications about the upcoming winter conditions are correct.
Positive Weather Solutions, which correctly predicted last summer's washout and the previous Big Freeze, has forecast a bleak coupld of months with temperatures near last year's low of -22.3C in Altnaharra, Scotland.

According to forecasts, December will see unsettled weather, chiefly affecting the higher ground across the eastern and north-eastern side of the country, and it could well herald a White Christmas.

Meanwhile January will deliver a cold and bright start with some sharp frosts at night.

Sleet and snow showers are predicted to become increasingly widespread, with the potential to cause disruption - particularly in eastern and upland regions.

The wintry weather is set to continue into February which is forecast to be a bitterly cold month.

Forecasters expect the beginning of 2011 to be besieged by disruptive snowfalls across the country, echoing the sub-zero temperatures which saw parts of Britain struggling under up to 12 inches of snow earlier this year.

Unfortunately, it is going to take more than a few bloggers and one or two brave scientists to convince the politicians and the financiers that making money from thin air is simply not sustainable...

Mission creep

In a rather long post about how governments in general—and the EU in particular—usurp our freedoms, I wrote the following paragraph.
It is a simple fact that the range of EU competencies is astonishingly wide, and are prone to mission creep: an EU competency in "green" issues, for instance, becomes a plausible excuse for EU meddling in energy generation policy.

Today, we come across another example of this mission creep...

As we all know, the Coalition are cracking down on non-EU immigrants: in fact, they have placed a cap on such immigration*. The reason that they have not placed a cap on EU immigration is because, quite simply, they cannot—EU law has primacy over British law ad EU immigration is an EU competence.

But we do have control over non-EU immigration. Or, as England Expects highlights, maybe not: you see, the EU is about to complete a trade deal with India—and trade is solely an EU competence.

"So what?" I hear you cry. "What the hell has that got to do with immigration?"

Well, as Bruno Waterfield points out, quite a lot, as it happens...
A planned "free trade agreement" with India, to be signed this December, will give skilled Indian IT workers, engineers and managers easy passage into Europe in return for European companies gaining access to India's huge domestic market.

Put simply, in return for access to India's domestic markets, the EU will allow thousands of Indians into EU countries. Now, personally, I am all for free trade—in people as well as goods and capital.

But that, of course, is not the point.

The point is that the EU's total control over trade has allowed that organisation to extent its competence into an area over which it is not supposed to have any jurisdiction, i.e. non-EU immigration policy.

Mission creep—do you see? And not a power-ceding treaty in sight...

P.S. Lest someone pop up and accuse me of swallowing the anti-EU Telegraph's evil propaganda, I will let England Expects point you to the following headlines in the Indian newspapers...
Here is The Hindu:
India-EU trade deal may help bypass UK migration cap

Here is The New Kerala:
EU-India 'free trade agreement' will allow flood of Indian skilled workers into Britain

The Times of India Business:
India-EU trade deal may nullify UK migration cap

You get the point.

Indeed we do.

As I say, the point here is not about whether immigration is a good or a bad thing: this is simply an illustration of the way in which the EU co-opts new powers for itself through sleight of hand—and to show how utterly fucking pointless the Tories' "referendum lock" actually is.

The final point to note is that our government is not in control—or, at least, the one in Westminster is not. The only powers that the British government has are those that the EU has not yet taken control of.

UPDATE: EuroGoblin is calling bullshit on this story...
Despite hunting, I can’t actually find a copy of the FTA text anywhere online – so I assume most people are commenting on it without having read the clause in question. However, I really don’t need to read the clause to know this particular story is bullshit. Free Trade Agreements require unanimity in the Council before they can be adopted by the EU, and this will also be the case with the Indian deal. A similar deal was recently passed between the EU and South Korea, and Italy threatened to veto unless the implementation was delayed by six months. Guess what? Italy was given the six month delay and then dropped its veto.

Thus, is it the case – as the Devil argues – that “our government is not in control”? No, that’s obviously rubbish. If the UK government wants to (and it almost certainly does), it will veto the agreement unless an opt-out is secured. It has, after all, secured numerous opt-outs in the past on immigration and trade policy – in fact, the UK has a complete opt-out from the common EU immigration policy and instead “opts-in” to what it wants.

Which is all quite probably true: I guess we'll just have to see how this pans out. If EuroGoblin is correct—and I've no reason to think he's not—and The Coalition does not object, then we'll know that their anti-immigration rhetoric is meaningless (thankfully).

* Anyone know if that applies to people already here, by the way...?

Unions increase unemployment

Via Marginal Revolution, here is a highlight from a 2003 paper written by Christopher A Pissarides [PDF], one of yesterday's Nobel Laureates in Economics.
Unemployment in Britain has fallen from high European-style levels to US levels. I argue that the key reasons are first the reform of monetary policy, in 1993 with the adoption of inflation targeting and in 1997 with the establishment of the independent Monetary Policy Committee, and second the decline of trade union power. I interpret the reform of monetary policy as an institutional change that reduced inflationary expectations in the face of falling unemployment. The decline of trade union power contributed to the control of wage inflation. The major continental economies failed to match UK performance because of institutional rigidities, despite low inflation expectations.

Timmy provides us with a brief translation, for easy digestion.
Fewer trade unions, less unemployment. An interesting point, eh?

Indeed. And it is hardly a surprising conclusion, to be honest. Unions, in this day and age, exist to do only two things: inflate wages and protect their members' jobs (regardless of ability or need).

High wages reduce the number of jobs that are created—especially as technology becomes cheaper—and making it difficult to sack people not only means that jobs can be occupied by those who are not best suited to them, but also reduces the willingness of employers to take people on in the first place (thus reducing the available jobs).

This isn't exactly rocket science, is it?

Meanwhile, is anyone surprised that Ed Miliband (who owes his leadership to the unions and is thus now their bitch) has appointed a talentless turd—mostly known for being a union man to the bitter fucking end—to the most powerful job in his Cabinet?

Really? Weird.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sick, but not in that way

Via England Expects, I find this pile of utter arse.
Sicknote WPC: 'Hating the boss is a disability'

Some police officers on sick leave hate their bosses so much it should be considered a disability, an employment tribunal heard.

This is typical of the public sector mindset—and that of many British people.

Hating your boss is not a disability, and it is absolutely fucking insulting to truly disabled people to suggest that this WPC's inability to deal with her personal circumstances is in any way comparable to their challenges.

I sincerely hope that WPC Alison Doyle is laughed out of court, as it were. And loses all of her pension, as well as being sued for everything that she's got.

Which, after 9 years on "the sick" probably ain't much. But let's have it anyway.

Fewtril on the BBC

When tin-pot foreign governments curtail civil liberties and then fund a pro-government media channel through extortion and theft, we call it an outrage.

In Britain we call it "an institution".

Ugly, bald, thieving, jug-eared media whore attacks noble, fearless bloggers

Nightmarish Fraggle, Andrew Marr. Pot, kettle, black.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Andrew Marr—NuLabour slut and moron du jour—and his delightfully broad attack on bloggers and other such unworthy people.
"A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting.

Your humble Devil lives in a third-floor flat many miles from his mother, has a full head of hair, distinctly unpimpled skin, finely-hewn aquiline features and is most firmly attached to a similarly prepossessing wife (whose opinion may or may not have been sought in the previous description).

Andrew Marr, however, is a bald, jug-eared, media whore whose pathetic and slavish devotion to NuLabour may or may not be influenced by his employment by the extortion-funded BBC and his marriage to Jackie Ashley, the raddled-looking harridan daughter of a life peer who writes for both The New Statesman and The Grauniad.

But, Andrew Marr is at least correct when he accuses bloggers of ranting. After all, whilst many of us are very angry about how our country has been systematically destroyed and our futures mortgaged by his favourite party, we are—alas—unable to use taxpayers' cash to get our points across. This leads to a certain amount of frustration and, inevitably, more than a soupcon of cathartic ranting.

But, as Anna Raccoon shows, we in the blogosphere can do some genuine good by providing crowd-sourcing and expertise to those oppressed by Andrew Marr's favourite little technocrats.

Furthermore, many blogs provide an invaluable insight into certain professions because they are written by people at the sharp end—people who genuinely know what is happening on the ground, or have a specialist knowledge of the subjects that they write about.

Which, for me, provide far more useful information about the true state of affairs than Andrew Marr reading some generalised crap—written by some underpaid graduate with a 2:2 in English Literature—off a fucking autocue. No amount of ridiculous arm-waving, Andrew, can substitute for a coherent piece written by someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

Those people are far more often found on blogs than on the BBC: after all, it wasn't so long ago that we angry, ranting bloggers were pointing out that no one in the BBC's environmental science team actually had anything approaching a science degree.

That said, Andrew Marr is reported as making one valid point.
The so-called "citizen journalists" will never offer a real replacement to newspapers and television news, he told Cheltenham Literature Festival.

He said: "Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all.

This is true: most bloggers and citizen journalists do not (currently) have the resources to go and chase stories, nor do they have the connections (or the lawyers) to verify a great deal of stuff.

However, a large part of what many "journalists" do is not journalism either. These people do not unearth stories, dig them out and research them. No, a great many of these so-called journalists—including Jackie Ashley—are commentators.

And their jobs are, I believe, under threat from bloggers.

After all, in most media organisations, it is the journalists who are paid bugger all—whilst those (like Jackie and darling Polly) who combine ignorance and stupidity with piss-poor writing are the people who rake in six figure salaries.

If I were a cash-strapped media business, I would be looking to dispense with the services of these very expensive commenters (whose output is offered for free elsewhere) and concentrate on the area in which bloggers cannot truly compete—the area of news reporting.

Naturally, the fact that Mrs Marr's job is threatened by those who, often, have fewer constraints, more clearly declared prejudices, better knowledge of their specialist areas and, frankly, a more accessible and enjoyable writing style is—of course—nothing to do with little Andrew's sweeping comments about people that he does not, and cannot, know.
"Terrible things are said on line because they are anonymous. People say things on line that they wouldn't dream of saying in person."

Indeed, Andrew. Perhaps, when we meet, you can repeat your assertions about bloggers and I shall read this post back to you. And then we can all get back to doing what we do best: I can return to insulting media whores like yourself, and you can go back to licking Ed Miliband's bumhole.

In the meantime, how about you try to shut the fuck up...?

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...