Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jobs done

So, the day has finally come: Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple.
PRESS RELEASE: Letter from Steve Jobs

August 24, 2011–To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

It has become increasingly obvious, over the last few years, that Jobs's illness has taken an increasing toll on his health—and one does not have to read between the lines to understand that Jobs's failing health is the major driver for this resignation.

Pancreatic cancer has a very bad prognosis—it killed the 32-year old Bill Hicks in very short order (as well as many, many others)—and the Whipple Procedure (which Jobs originally took a leave of absence to undergo a few years ago) is, in itself, pretty radical. I last saw Jobs when he introduced the WWDC keynote back in early June: although he was enthusiastic, he looked pretty frail.

Jobs has taken Apple from being, as he put it, "90 days from bankruptcy" in the mid-90s—when I bought my very first Mac—to, at one point this month, the biggest company in the world (by market capitalisation). Indeed, at the end of July, it was reported that Apple had more cash in the bank than the US Federal Government—which is pretty good going.

To those of us who follow Apple with a near-fanatical zeal, it has been obvious for some time that the company was putting in place a transition plan. Over the last few years, each successive keynote has seen more presentations from the likes of Scott Forstall, Jonathan Ive, Phil Schiller and Tim Cook—even when Jobs has, theoretically, been back at full fitness. For watchers of the company, this moment has been long anticipated and, whilst not welcome news, we can at least be confident that Apple has—as Jobs puts it in his letter—a "succession plan". And, indeed, Tim Cook has been named CEO.

Whilst former COO Cook may not have Jobs's imagination, he is an immensely competent administrator and has been handling much of the day-to-day running of Apple since he joined the company in 1998. Indeed, it was Cook who took over as temporary CEO when Steve Jobs took a leave of absence, for surgery, in 2004.

Jobs has not entirely left the company: he takes over as Chairman of Apple and it is to be hoped that Jobs's vision will continue to drive the company for as long as he is able. Personally I fear that it may not be for too much longer, but I hope that I am wrong. Because Steve Jobs is a genius.

As I have been saying for sometime—paraphrasing the great Bill Hicks—the fact that we live in a world where Steve Jobs is dying of cancer, but Bill Gates coooooontinues to enjoy his ill-deserved wealth shows that there really is no god*.

In the meantime, I expect Apple to go from strength to strength, and to continue to produce great machines that I can use to actually get my work done—rather than having to fuck about with bollocks like Create A New Network Place.

I salute you, Steve Jobs, and wish you many more years of creating beautiful things.

*UPDATE: just to clarify, for those with a nastier frame of mind than myself, I am not wishing death on Bill Gates. I am simply pointing out that the fact that Gates is not ill and, if there were any justice in the world, Jobs would also not be dying of cancer. 'Kay? 'Kay. Good.

UPDATE 2: John Gruber at Daring Fireball comes to pretty much the same conclusion, but makes the interesting point that Jobs's creation is not really any one product.
Apple’s products are replete with Apple-like features and details, embedded in Apple-like apps, running on Apple-like devices, which come packaged in Apple-like boxes, are promoted in Apple-like ads, and sold in Apple-like stores. The company is a fractal design. Simplicity, elegance, beauty, cleverness, humility. Directness. Truth. Zoom out enough and you can see that the same things that define Apple’s products apply to Apple as a whole. The company itself is Apple-like. The same thought, care, and painstaking attention to detail that Steve Jobs brought to questions like “How should a computer work?”, “How should a phone work?”, “How should we buy music and apps in the digital age?” he also brought to the most important question: “How should a company that creates such things function?”

Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself.


Good question, Mr Potato Head

The story about the bar owners in Michigan banning politicians reminded me of the Ban Darling campaign that did the rounds a couple of years ago—so I went and looked up some old posts. This piece included a video of Cameron mentioning the campaign at PMQs and attacking Brown for... Well, just watch...

Did you catch the pertinent line? No? Well, here it is...
Can he [Brown] name one other major country that is responding to the down-turn by putting up taxes? Name one.

I do not know if the Gobblin' King could name one (I didn't preserve that part of the debate), but I bet good ol' David "20% VAT & Oodles of Green Taxes" Cameron can, eh?

But, given the intervening events, I think that the question needs some modification...

So, Davey-boy: can you name one other major country that has successfully got themselves out of the down-turn by raising taxes? Name one.

Dave? Dave? Bueller...?

Flatter is better

Yesterday Guido pointed out that the Baltic states still have very healthy growth, and that they all share a similar tax regime.
[LabourList's] graph showing Britain’s tragically anaemic growth while tragic has unintended consequences for the tax and spenders. Have a look at the three countries leading the growth figures:

We on this blog are huge fans of the Baltic model, but apart from pretty blonde girls, what do Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have in common? Well flat taxes of 24%, 25% and 33% respectively for one. Discuss…

There's not actually a lot to discuss—unless you are an accountant, flat taxes are better. Back in May, parlaying off Timmy's post at the ASI, I wrote a post about the fact that flat taxes are, pretty much, a free lunch in terms of tax raising; plus, of course, they ensure that companies and individuals have to spend considerably less on accountants just to work out how much tax they should be paying.

Those faithful (few) readers who have been perusing The Kitchen for many years might remember that it was over the issue of Flat Tax that Richard Murphy first came to our attention. Back in October 2006—when Timmy and I were reasonably involved in UKIP—I published an assessment of the party's Flat Tax policy. After doing so, I was solicited to write a letter on the topic for the Evening Standard (which was written in a rush, on a shared computer in Brighton, IIRC).

The letter that appeared above mine was submitted by one Richard Murphy of Establishing the trend which he has so conspicuously continued to this day, Richard Murphy's missive was short on words and long on bollocks.
Flat taxes are not "simple". More than 83 per cent of people in Estonia, where they have flat taxes, submit a tax return; only 16 per cent do in the UK.

Well, you might be able to anticipate your humble Devil's reaction to that...




Dear Richard—can I call you "Richard"? It's better than "dickhead" after all—has it occurred to you that many people in Britain do not submit tax returns because our tax regime is so complicated (as I said, the tax helper document is 56 pages long)? And that more people in Estonia do so because the taxes are... er... simpler? I mean, for fuck's sake, are you stupid or what?

Inevitably, Murphy talks yet more arse-wibble...
And while [flat taxes] might cut overall tax rates for the rich, all credible calculations show they increase them for middle-income earners.

Richard, I am trying to remain patient, really I am, but over the last six months I have drawn attention to several models of flat tax, many of which are credible, that demonstrate that they do not increase taxes for middle earners. For fuck's sake, man, who the hell are you trying to kid? Or is The Adam Smith Institute not credible enough for you? Or, of course, UKIP's Flat Tax policy document shows precisely how flat tax, coupled with a high PTA [dead link], does, in fact, make everyone better off.

The real point is that taxes should low and simple: then we really can have a free lunch.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Identify the browser...

... a most amusing game sourced from The Art of Trolling.

Well, it made me giggle. And then, when I have to debug that bastard toilet again tomorrow, it will make me smile in between the bouts of incandescent rage...

In a right state (but not in the bar)

Via @DickPuddlecote, it's good to see bar owners in Michigan taking some decisive action.
In an act of solidarity, Michigan bar and restaurant owners have banned state lawmakers from their property.

Effective September 1, the group Private Property Rights in Michigan said in a release Monday that lawmakers will be persona non grata in over 500 Michigan licensed establishments, across the state.

PPRM said it believes, however, even more will take part.

The group says bar owners and workers have grown frustrated with the Ron Davis law; also known as the private property tobacco use ban. PPRM claims the ban has collectively cost the state an estimated $200 million dollars in lost revenue through losses in jobs, taxes, business closings and to the state lottery.

In Michigan, bar owners have said that despite there being a large number of lawmakers supporting them, that they, the owners, must provide a 'level playing field', and are forced to prohibit all lawmakers from their establishments.

Bars will be posting signs on their entrances, and providing workers photographs of lawmakers to identify them should they, the lawmakers, choose to ignore the ban. Owners have indicated they will have lawmakers charged with trespassing on private property under MCL Sec. 750.552. One Alpena bar owners said, "politicians will learn pretty quick that our bars are private property [if they choose to ignore the ban and enter]."

Good for them.

Coming home to roost...

Apparently, a recent report from Germany's Bundesbank questions the legality of the EU bail-outs. [Emphasis mine.]
Germany's Bundesbank has issued a blistering critique of EU bail-out policies, warning that the eurozone is drifting towards a debt union without "democratic legitimacy" or treaty backing.

"The latest agreements mean that far-reaching extra risks will be shifted to those countries providing help and to their taxpayers, and entail a large step towards a pooling of risks from particular EMU states with unsound public finances," said the bank's August report. It said an EU summit deal in late July threatens the principle that elected parliaments should control budgets. The Bundesbank said the scheme leaves creditor states with escalating "risks and burdens" yet no means of enforcing fiscal discipline to make this workable.

No shit. Those Germans really are fiscal geniuses after all.

Still, at least Dan Hannan can say "I told you so".
More to the point, the whole scheme is against the rules. The only reason that Germany and the other net contributor states agreed to the single currency in the first place was that a clause was written into the treaties prohibiting EU-backed loans to indebted governments. The treaties are now being rewritten to remove that clause. In the mean time, though, no one in Brussels is trying to pretend that the bailout is legal.

As for Germany's political and banking institutions, well...

You made your bed—it's a bit late to stop telling lies in it.

UPDATE: England Expects has discovered the EU Commission's infallible solution to the financial crisis!
In the face of a constant rolling crisis in the Eurozone finally the European Commission has been moved to act.
European Commission proposes to make 2013 the "European Year of Citizens"

As Mrs Reding, the Commissioner puts it,
It will be a good opportunity to remind people what the European Union can do for every one of us.

We are saved!


The man with the wind at his heels...

Following on from last night's post about the futility and vast expense of this government's Green initiatives, Bishop Hill points me to this Telegraph article spelling out just some of the higher power costs that we can expect.
Figures from Utilyx, the energy consultants and traders, forecast a 58pc rise in the cost of power by 2020, largely driven by the impending avalanche of green taxes due to come into force over the next 10 years.

The consultants estimate that 18pc of the current electricity price relates to climate change policies—or £15 per megawatt-hour out of a £82 per megawatt-hour average.

However, green taxes and new infrastructure costs will constitute 38pc of the charges, or £50 per megawatt-hour out of £130 per mega-watt hour, by 2020.

I really shouldn't have to point out—though I will—that if you make energy much more expensive, that increases the price of just about everything that we take for granted.

And if you thought that we were in recession now, just wait until these energy prices hit...

Spinning idly in the wind

One of the chief architects of our destruction: "I don't care about energy bills, because I don't pay mine—you do, you fuckin' mooks."

Christopher Booker's latest piece in the Telegraph should have every person in Britain gnashing their teeth at the rampant stupidity of this Coalition's energy policy—specifically the utter lunacy that is embodied in off-shore wind farms.
Last week, the BBC ran a series of reports by its science correspondent, David Shukman, on the Government’s plan to ring our coasts with vast offshore wind farms.
The nearest thing allowed to criticism of this policy came in an interview with the Oxford academic Dieter Helm, who we were told had “done the sums”. What, Shukman asked, had he come up with? The only figures Helm gave were that the Government’s offshore wind farm plans would, by 2020, cost £100 billion—scarcely a state secret, since the Government itself announced this three years ago—plus £40 billion more to connect these windmills to the grid, a figure given us by the National Grid last year.
Helm did not tell us that this £140 billion equates to £5,600 for every household in the country. But he did admit that the plan was “staggeringly expensive”, and that, given the current extent of “fuel poverty” and the state of our economy, he doubted “if it can in fact be afforded”.

Even shorter on hard facts, however, was Shukman’s report on a monster new wind farm off the coast of Cumbria, where a Swedish firm, Vattenfall, has spent £500 million on building 30 five‑megawatt turbines with a total “capacity” of 150MW. What Shukman did not tell us, because the BBC never does, is that, thanks to the vagaries of the wind, these machines will only produce a fraction of their capacity (30 per cent was the offshore average in the past two years). So their actual output is only likely to average 45MW, or £11 million per MW.

Compare this with the figures for Britain’s newest gas-fired power station, recently opened in Plymouth. This is capable of generating 882MW at a capital cost of £400 million—just £500,000 for each megawatt. Thus the wind farm is 22 times more expensive, and could only be built because its owners will receive a 200 per cent subsidy: £40 million a year, on top of the £20 million they will get for the electricity itself. This we will all have to pay for through our electricity bills, whereas the unsubsidised cost of power from the gas plant, even including the price of the gas, will be a third as much.

Booker also points out—reinforcing what your humble Devil has been saying for years—that wind power is inherently unreliable and, as such, we would need to build a MW of conventional power for every MW of installed wind power.

Or, of course, the lights go out.

This would be stupid enough were we forced to duplicate our power capacity at gas- or coal-fired prices; that we must build wind farms at 22 times the cost of conventional power plus the gas- or coal-fired power stations is nothing short of insane.

And, ultimately, we are going to have to pay for all of this. And we are going to pay through the fucking nose.

The trouble is that the government knows damn well that people will not stand for massive rises on energy taxes; as such, the government and the EU have forced the power companies to carry much of the cost—thus making the energy companies out to be total fucking demons*.

As Matthew Sinclair points out in this superb rant to the Freedom Society (whilst promoting his book, Let Them Eat Carbon), most people are simply not aware of the vast costs being imposed on the power companies by our Lords and Masters in the name of the discredited Climate Change scam.

It does appear that the energy companies are, however, protesting somewhat. Bishop Hill recently submitted a Freedom of Information request on a meeting between the government and the Electricity Retailers Association (ERA).
Here's an odd thing. Some weeks back I noticed that Gregory Barker, the Climate Change minister, had met with representatives of the Electricity Retailers Association to discuss "information on consumers' bills".

To me this seemed rather odd - why would electricity retailers need to discuss the information on bills with ministers? Perhaps Mr Barker wanted to insist that some information was passed on to consumers?

An FOI request later, I discover that the meeting was at the request of ERA itself—it appears that they asked to speak to ministers about a number of issues—Fuel Poverty, the Green Deal, the Community Energy Saving Programme and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. Putting this together with DECC's record that "information on consumers' bills" was discussed, I conclude that ERA wanted to make the costs of these government programmes transparent.

Unfortunately, I can only infer this because according to DECC, no record was kept of the meeting.

The Grauniad recently ran a fucking ludicrous story about how climate change might lead aliens to eliminate us because our carbon emissions would lead them to assume that the human race was "out of control".

Personally, I think that these self-same aliens might well kill us all.

But only because they would look at the fucking colossal idiocy enacted by our governments (and the rampant apathy of their citizens) and decide that the human race is too fucking stupid to be allowed to live.

* Alright—worse demons than they actually are.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rearing its ugly head again...

Off to fight for our rights—David Cameron, yesterday...

I see that David "Buttered New Potato" Cameron has been spouting some more bollocks in the Sunday Express this weekend.
We are looking at creating our own British Bill of Rights. We are going to fight in Europe for changes to the way the European Court works and we will fight to ensure people understand the real scope of these rights and do not use them as cover for rules or excuses that fly in the face of common sense.

Its worth heading over to see Cranmer's pretty comprehensive deconstruction of Cameron's arsewibble.
This proposal was dismissed by the present Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, as ‘xenophobic and legal nonsense’, and the present Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, lauded the ECHR in his maiden speech in 1997, in which he said:
The incorporation of the European convention on human rights into our national law is something that, although challenging, is nevertheless desirable if it can be done without diminishing the sovereignty of Parliament.

So, with the two most senior legal minds in the Cabinet opposed in principle to derogation from or revocation of the European Convention (or repeal of the Human Rights Act), it is not at all clear how the Prime Minister can 'fight in Europe' without first fighting in his own Cabinet and tearing his party asunder (yet again) over the issue of 'Europe'.

My general rule of thumb—especially as regards the EU—is that if Ken Clarke is opposed to something, then it must be the right thing to do.
Never the less, a Commission on a Bill of Rights was established by the Government on 18 March 2011, and is seeking your views (by 11 November). But it is a bizarre political process, the outcome of which is more than a little pre-ordained. There is a feeling of being marched to the top of the hill only to be marched all the way down again in a few years time, and nothing will have chaged.

There are a number of problems with this whole Bill of Rights thing...
We already have a Bill of Rights. It was the legislative expression of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, and was part of the deal under which William and Mary became joint rulers, giving Parliament, rather than the monarch, power over taxation, criminal law and the military. It is not a mere Act of Parliament, but a foundational constitutional treaty of the order of Magna Carta, the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Union 1707. Does Mr Cameron’s new Bill of Rights imply the repeal of any of the provisions in these treaties? If so, it must be done expressly, for the doctrine of implied repeal may not be applied to constitutional statutes.

So, we already have a Bill of Rights. Well, what's left of it. And therein lies the problem...
A British Bill of Rights will not be binding on future Parliaments for Parliament may not bind its successors. A new Bill of Rights would, once passed into law, have no more chance of surviving a subsequent parliament or of guaranteeing rights than any other Bill passed by both Houses and rubber-stamped by Her Majesty. What is the point of enshrining any such rights in a Bill, the provisions of which may be revoked at any point by any future parliament?

And this is why any Bill of Rights—including that established after the Glorious Revolution—will not actually last within the British legal system.
The Prime Minister has said that he wants the new Bill of Rights to be somehow ‘entrenched’, to have a greater degree of ‘permanence’. But, if followed to its logical conclusion, this would give ultimate power to unelected judges, rather than to elected politicians, and so judicial activism is not mitigated. Is the Conservative Party really proposing to abolish the supremacy of Parliament?

Well, the Conservative Party did that when it took us into the EEC back in the early 70s; moreover, it has been, on the whole, the Conservative Party that has enthusiastically signed up to more and more EU Treaties that have further eroded the "supremacy of Parliament".
So, slowly, in words of one syllable, repeat after His Grace: “A new Bill of Rights will not stop the rot.”

Or, to translate Cranmer's polite remonstrance into something your humble Devil's readers might more appreciate, Cameron is talking complete and absolute horseshit.

In fact, as Cranmer pointed out at the beginning of his piece, the Buttered New Potato has been banging on about this bullshit for some time—egged on, it must be said, by numerous people in the blogosphere.

Your humble Devil originally wrote a long piece on this subject back in April 2009, pointing out that one of the biggest objections to a Bill of Rights is that it totally entrenches the state as the bestower of these rights—and thus as the most important entity in the country. And this, to a libertarian, is utter anathema.
The crux of the argument is this: once upon a time, our rights were only those which did not need to be defined—what some would call "negative rights"—and which were centred around the human right, basically, to be left the fuck alone.

Now, our rights are described and circumscribed by the state—so-called "positive rights"—and it is the state that defines what our rights are, and the state, therefore, can also remove those rights.

For example, when the state defines that citizens have "the right to an education", what it actually means is "the right to an education provided by the state and funded through the extortion of money from other citizens".

"Surely, Devil," some will cry, "this is a bit of a leap of imagination?" No, not really: let me amplify.

There is no such thing as free education and if someone cannot afford to pay for an education for their child, then the money must come from someone else. And the only way that you can absolutely guarantee that this money can be obtained—as opposed to, for instance, soliticiting charity—is to know that it can be stolen from someone else.

And the money must be stolen from someone else because the state has said that the right to an education is a fundamental "human right": therefore, not only must the right to an education be delivered upon, but it morally supercedes the right not to have the product of one's hard work stolen by force (because being allowed to keep one's own property is not, you see, a "human right").

And the only organisation that can be allowed to steal people's property by force is the state. This is not only to allow the state to keep order, but also because any other agency which was allowed to steal from people would be a competitor to the state—a challenger to its power—and thus absolutely cannot be allowed.

(There are agencies in the UK other than the central government who are allowed to steal to fund their programmes, of course; these include the Scottish government and local councils. However, they depend upon the central government for their power, much of their money and, indeed, their very existence; they are thus part of the collective entity known as "the state".)

And since the state is the only entity that can legitimately steal from people, the state is the only entity that can guarantee "the right to an education" and, by extension, all of those other "positive rights" that are now defined.

And so, because our rights are now defined by the state, we have become subjects—vassals of the state—and have simultaneously entrenched the rights of the state to continue to steal off us.

For, if human rights (as they are now legally defined) are an absolute moral good and the state is the only entity that can deliver those rights, then the very existence of the state itself must be an absolute moral good.

And if the state is an absolute moral good, then the state's right to steal off individuals must also be an absolute moral good. As such, the state-defined "positive human rights" must trump—both practically and morally—any individual rights at all.

As such, the state is now the most important entity in the country; it is far more important than any individual or collection of individuals.

And that is why we are treated with such contempt by our rulers: because they are an absolute moral good and we are merely aphids to their ants—aphids to be farmed for our sweet sap—so that the state can deliver to us our "human rights".

And that is why our freedoms have never been so clearly defined and yet so clearly non-existent.

The wife also wrote a considerable piece on the subject of a British Constitution: one of the biggest points of her post amplified the same misgivings as I have—namely, that the kind of shits who would be writing such a thing.
Then, naturally, one must consider who would be writing the British constitution. The organisation of the British polity would seem to demand that this be undertaken by the Government, which undertakes all other matters generally, whether by use of executive privilege or its majority in the House of Commons. A Government-composed constitution would naturally result in a highly-politicised, fad-filled document reminiscent of the European Charter of Human Rights, which includes absurdities like the right to an education and the right to healthcare. Many of the ‘rights’ described therein can only be guaranteed and provided by a collective entity – the state – at the expense of others. What it would come down to is a pitting of right against right, liberty against liberty, entitlement against entitlement, wherein your right to your property is overridden by my right to healthcare, just to name an example. A true constitution would include as rights or liberties only those things which are universal to all people at all times, and thus do not conflict with one another. Call me sceptical, but I doubt that any British Government of whatever party would produce anything of the sort.

In June 2009, I then parlayed off her piece to examine some of the other problems inherent in this course of action.
We have seen what a Labour government's idea of a British Constitution would look like, for Jack Straw was eagerly trying to push it upon us. It had, if you remember, an awful lot about the duties of the people to the state, and not an awful lot about freedom, about liberty or, indeed, the right to be left the fuck alone to get on with one's life.

No, any Constitution written in this day and age would be very much like the much-mentioned Social Contract: something you never signed or agreed to, which allows the state absolute licence to pinch your pocket whilst constantly changing what it is obliged to deliver.

I already feel like Lando fucking Calrissian; indeed, your humble Devil can often be found striding around, muttering "this deal just keeps getting worse".

Do you really think that a British Constitution written in this day and age would look more like the US version than the Lisbon Treaty? I think not.

Those of you who yell for a written Constitution—seriously, just consider what you are asking for. Do you think that libertarians will be writing this document? Or do you think that the hideous mores of so-called Social Democracy will be set, near enough, in legal stone—almost unchangeable—for the next few centuries?

In the words of one comedy character, "is that what you want? 'Cos that's what'll 'appen". And, believe me, that would be no laughing matter.

And my conclusion to that post was pretty clear—even by my standards.
No, I have come to the conclusion that one of the few things that would make me seriously consider leaving this country—and all of its beautiful ale (and it would take an awful lot for me to leave that)—is a written Constitution.

Because that Constitution would be written by cunts: it is already bad enough that we are ruled by cunts, but at least we can choose a different set of cunts after five years and we can hope—if a little forlornly—for a set of decent people eventually.

With a Constitution written in this day and age, we would be stuck with a legal document that would force us all to be cunts ruled by cunts, and adhere to the principles of cunts for many a long year.

In short, the Buttered New Potato can take his Bill of Rights and his British Constitution and shove them right up his hole.

That is all.

The Liberal/Socialist divide...

... is illustrated neatly in this Evening Standard piece on political blogging (found via Guido). [Emphasis mine.]
The right still dominates ... But the left has mounted a fightback thanks to the generous cheque books of the trade unions, which fund sites such as the policy-heavy Left Foot Forward, set up by former Treasury spinner and political heir Will Straw (Jack Straw's son), as well as the irreverent lefty gossip blog Political Scrapbook.

When Ed Miliband was putting together his office after winning the Labour leadership, one of his first appointments was Alex Smith, ex- editor of the union-funded site LabourList, set up in 2008 by the former Labour spin doctor Derek Draper.

We liberals and libertarians write our pieces and, if they are good and people read them, then we might get money from people who willingly advertise with us.

Conversely, those on the Left take fat cheques from vested interests before they even start—and then must ensure that their political paymasters are happy. And, just as in Ed Miliband's case, the political paymasters are all too often the unions.

Interesting, eh?

UPDATE: johnb points out that this is a totally flippant suggestion.
Not sure that's a fair comparison. People on the left like Chris Dillow and I write for the reasons you suggest; meanwhile on the right, the ASI and the TPA are heavily funded by political donors who dictate the direction of content.

Well, yes and no. First, the Standard article does concern itself with the higher-traffic, politically influential end of the blogging spectrum—and the Lefty blogs that said piece mentions fit into that category.

Second, I would class John B as a liberal, rather than a socialist.

Third, the ASI and the TPA are not primarily blogging entities: they are political think-tanks that just happen to run blogs. By comparison, LabourList, Left Foot Forward or Political Scrapbook are primarily blogs—not think-tanks.

Fake Charities once more...

Your humble Devil would like to ask a quick bit of advice regarding

As regular readers will know, it has hopped around a bit—according to server, whim, CMS suitability and time—and I would like to get it settled down. However, it is currently on WordPress (a blogging tool that I am coming to loathe) and I don't think that this is the right medium for this kind of site.

It was the wife who suggested that I should actually convert into a wiki—possibly using WikiMedia (the same system that Wikipedia runs on—and run it as a more actively community project.

Could I solicit feedback on that idea—and how many would help out...?

UPDATE: thanks for the feedback. As regards the wiki idea, I would most certainly restrict the contributors. I take the point about not letting it be too "MediaWiki" in its styling: although this is something of a secondary concern, I shall take it into consideration.

The main factor in trying to find the right medium is simply time; neither I nor my original partner in this endeavour has an awful lot of it (far less than when we set the site up originally). As such, it is becoming out of date and thus less valuable as a reliable resource— requires lots of contributors to make it work.

I hope that a wiki format might encourage more people to help out.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


From a review of "the finest albums in the world, ever"*...
A whole lot of this album's appeal is that it's comforting, practically womblike-- big, warm, slow, full of beauty and melody and even joy. The trick, I think, is how well it serves as a soundtrack to that feeling that everything around you is meaningful, whether it's beautiful or horrible or sublime...

I think it remains my favourite album of all time...

* Who said that?

Why we are fucked

Katharine Birbalsingh has been doing the media rounds recently...
Next, I’m being interviewed by a Russian journalist who is fascinated by these riots. I explain that I believe our culture of moral relativism is to blame, that no one believes in right and wrong anymore, that everything is subjective, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that we don’t believe in an objective morality. She frowns.

“So you believe in God, then?”

I shake my head. “No. But I do believe in an objective morality.”

She nods. “Ah. So you believe in the state then?”

Because, obviously, the only way that you can derive an objective morality is to rely on the church or the state: there are absolutely no other philosophies out there, are there?

For fuck's sake.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quote of the Day...

... comes, via Samizdata, from Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame). [Emphasis mine.]
It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

People try to argue that government isn't really force. You believe that? Try not paying your taxes. (This is only a thought experiment—suggesting on that someone not pay his or her taxes is probably a federal offense, and I'm a nut, but I'm not crazy.). When they come to get you for not paying your taxes, try not going to court. Guns will be drawn. Government is force—literally, not figuratively.

I don't believe the majority always knows what's best for everyone. The fact that the majority thinks they have a way to get something good does not give them the right to use force on the minority that don't want to pay for it. If you have to use a gun, I don't believe you really know jack. Democracy without respect for individual rights sucks. It's just ganging up against the weird kid, and I'm always the weird kid.

If you haven't seen Penn and Teller's Bullshit! series, I highly recommend it: every episode that I have seen is a gem: you can find links to all of the free episodes here...

Something worth rioting about?

I was going to point out some of the fucking stupid sentences that have handed down to "rioters", but I see that the wife has done the job more than adequately.
I’m not sure I need to make this comment, but: what kind of justice is this when two people of previous good character receive lengthy custodial sentences for making remarks on Facebook, but a third person who has a long, long history of criminal behaviour is given a suspended sentence for being caught with stolen goods?

It is outrageous that remarks on Facebook merit a longer, harsher jail sentence than some rapes and murders, let alone theft and looting.

But what is really outrageous is that making remarks on Facebook can be criminalised at all. Perhaps Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan can band together with Paul Chambers and his supporters to help stamp out this fascist British tendency toward criminalisation of speech.

And it seems that NickM has noticed the discrepancies too.

For the rule of law to prevail, justice has to be seen to be done—else the entire system is brought into disrepute. And today it has been.

Apart from anything else, why are we jailing rioters—surely these crimes are precisely the reason that Community Orders were introduced? In the case of these rioters, what could be more fitting than for a judge to say, "you made a fucking mess of this neighbourhood, so you are going to spend 300 hours cleaning it up"?

But that's not going to happen. Why?

Because the government has apparently told judges to ignore the usual sentencing guidelines and jail all dissidents rioters.
London courts have allegedly been emailed by HM Courts and Tribunals Service, telling them to ignore normal guidelines, which might have recommended non-custodial sentences for riot-related cases.

‘Our directive for anyone involved in the rioting is a custodial sentence,’ he said.

So, let me get this straight: judges are free to hand down derisory sentences to repeat offenders, but should jail those of previously good character who happen to have severely embarrassed the government...?

Why doesn't the Coalition just open up some forced labour Community Service gulags sumer camps in some god-awful bracing part of the country—the Shetlands, perhaps—and just send all the rioters there for a nice bit of overwork, starvation and death holiday? After all, it would go down well with the Tory faithful...


A bunch of ill-behaved, doomed, psychotic little shits trapped on an island, equipped only with their wits and viciousness for survival...?

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Heather Brooke and the new world order

This morning's Metro carried an article about FoI-enthusiast Heather Brooke: whilst she does seem to be mildly obsessed with the word "establishment", I thought that her last quote was spot on...
‘We could be on the cusp of a whole new global democracy, where individuals have incredible power or,’ adds Brooke, ‘we could become a global totalitarian society where all of us are under surveillance at all times.’

Brooke's comment just serves to highlight, yet again, the real political battle here: it is not between Labour or Tories or LibDems or Republicans or Democrats—it is between the authoritarians (all existing governments) and libertarians.

Who cares about the purpose?


Whilst I tend to think that George Osborne looks like a particularly unpleasant fucking demon, it is good news that our rat-nibbled Chancellor is looking at the 50p tax rate to see whether it, you know, actually raises any more fucking tax.
Chancellor George Osborne has asked the Inland Revenue to check whether the 50p top rate of income tax is actually making money for the government.

Some economists have claimed that tax avoidance and evasion mean the rate is raising less income than expected.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Osborne hinted that the 50p rate remained under review.

He added: "There's not much point in having taxes that are very economically inefficient."

You would have thought that this would be a good move, and welcomed by a very cash-strapped government that is attempting to squeeze every last penny from its citizens whilst also relying on economic growth to slash its debt-to-GDP ratio.

Sorry—did I say "government"? I meant, of course, that the Tories were trying to bring some common sense to bear, whilst baby-faced wanker Nick Clegg and his tedious bunch of sandal-wearing, tofu-munching Green zealots have a rather different agenda.
Nick Clegg ruled out any cut in the 50p top rate of tax yesterday until Lib Dem demands to give tax cuts to the poor are completed.

In a blow for Tory demands to slash the highest income tax band, the Deputy Prime Minister said he would not sanction a cut for the rich unless the limit at which people beginning to pay income tax is raised to £10,000.

But Mr Clegg did suggest he would accept the abolition of the 50p rate in exchange for a so-called 'mansion tax' on those with expensive properties and fresh moves to crackdown on tax avoidance.

Nick Clegg really is a fucking moron, isn't he?

Look, Nick, this isn't an either-or situation, OK? Famously, when Lawson dropped the top rate of income tax from 60p to 40p, the total tax take went up. If—as all the data seems to indicate—the 50p tax rate is harming Treasury receipts, then dropping it will facilitate your £10,000 tax limit (which I applaud, even if it does not go nearly far enough).

How about you actually wait until the data is in before you start your piss-poor posturing?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Total Politics Blog Awards 2011

I see that Total Politics is running the Blog Awards 2011.

Given that your humble Devil's output has been so low over the last year, I can hardly urge you to vote for me—however, I would encourage you to take part since it will be interesting to see how the landscape has changed in the last year or so (quite a bit, I suspect)...

Monday, August 08, 2011

A call to arms

My old friend Carpsio calls it as it is, in a frankly poetic piece of writing...
No surprise then, that no Government in recent times has been able to command the support an actual majority of the population – instead trying to create the illusion of popular support through the media to cover that fact. Policy has been determined by business and pressure groups – and very often these people have been co-opted into the government as ‘tzars’ or as the heads of the quangocracy. You think that democracy supplanted the courts of the Kings and the aristocratic merry-go-round of yore? Well more fucking fool you.

The result? An endless melange of “policy” that has left us unarmed, undereducated, dispossessed, in chattels and bondage to both a criminal underclass and a wastrel, dilettante aristocracy. Your money is taken under threat of violence and incarceration and given to the violent and incarcerated. Your every move and every pound you spend is entered into the ledger and used against you to prove your unfitness to live your life the way that you see to be fit.

Language runs amok: criminals run riot in the streets, do as they please and are called ‘dispossessed’ and ‘victims’. Those who squander and steal from the public purse are ‘public servants’. Your liberty is taken in the name of freedom and the man who defends his property is sent away in chains. And even today, after everything, Parliamentarians will rise and address each other as “my honourable friend”.

London may burn today at the hands of the scum at whose feet the state has prostrated itself for 30 years, but it doesn’t end there.

The touchpaper is lit.

There are more of us than there are of them.

Read the whole thing.

In the meantime, the "riot map" continues to pin-point the really shitty bits of London...

A systematic failure

Mad Mel Phillips might be a bit mad, but it is difficult to argue that she cannot write—can you imagine the vapid and morally bankrupt Polly Toynbee scribing something like this...?
What we are seeing, in the sluggish and unprepared reaction of the police and political class to these events, compounded by their serial failure to grasp from previous such disturbances just what is going on here, is a catastrophic combination of professional inertia and incompetence, serial eyes off the ball, paralysing political correctness, an apparent reluctance to identify, name and deal with subversive activity, a capital’s police force in systemic disarray, a criminal justice system that has become an insulting joke, a refusal from the top to draw clear lines in the sand and to exercise moral and political leadership, a pandering instead to mob rule, tyro politicians who have never had a grown-up job and couldn’t run the proverbial whelk-stall let alone get a grip on a culture teetering on the edge of the cliff, a third-rate civil service machine that no longer can be relied on to keep the show on the road, a culture of narcissistic selfishness on an epic scale and a general breakdown in education, morality and elementary codes of civilised behaviour, much of it deliberately willed on for the past three decades by a grossly irresponsible and politically motivated intelligentsia that set out to smash the west.

Mel, the West is already smashed—and not by any terrorist. As I have pointed out before, the only thing that has destroyed the West is the West itself.

Welcome to the new politics...

London calling...

It is unusual for Brixton to be the calm epicentre in the middle of a massive riot storm—for this night at least (so far)—but I ascribe our relative tranquility to that fact that we are at the top of a hill that the rioters cannot be arsed to climb.

I don' think that I would be misrepresenting Blue Eyes to say that he points out that these bastards should stop being indulged.
What the champagners cannot seem to grasp is that the people who involve themselves in this kind of thing are not indulging in a fight of principle against oppression but are acting simply and rationally in their own self interest. They know that they could not normally get away with ram-raiding Currys, but while the CCTV cameras are pointing at the kids with bricks and burning stuff they can chance it. If they get caught the courts will only give them a slap on the wrist anyway. What’s another suspended sentence amongst friends?

Of course the statists will be telling us that the way to keep everyone happy is to redistribute yet more money from the productive part of the economy to the unproductive sullen ill-educated scum. It’s like a modern form of Danegeld where the opinion-formers of the local Labour and Co-operative Party and their friends fall over themselves to buy the peace of an ever-growing band of people who know they will always be looked after by the people with the keys to the till. One vox-pop quoted a resident of Broadwater Farm saying that last time we rioted we got a new swimming pool. QED.

I am sick and fucking tired of people telling me that I should sacrifice more money and—most insultingly—sympathy for those who are "disenfranchised".

You know what? If you call yourself "disenfranchised", I know that you are a triple-dyed cunt who would not be worth pissing on if you were in a Croydon fire (that you'd started).

You are not "disenfranchised": you are a lazy cunt who believes that other people should be raped so that you can live your life in the kind of luxury that your slaves cannot.

Your slaves?

Yes: your slaves—those people who have the reward for their production stolen from them in order to support your feckless, useless lifestyle. Do you really have so little pride in your life that you are happy to be supported by the work of others?

I despise you.
No, the only additional public funding which should result from this latest example of Britain’s total lack of institutional organisation should be channelled towards building prisons, beefing up the courts and getting the police out of their offices and onto the streets. Anything else is just a sop to the criminals.


I still don't support the right of the state to murder its citizens—are you listening, Guido?—but by all means beat the living shit out of them. And then make the cunts pay for their own treatment.

That may not be feasible: the NHS could never cope with the administrative strain. However, I fully advocate the following: that anyone convicted of any criminal offence is unable to claim benefits of any sort for the rest of their lives. And if the offenders are under 18, then their parents should have all benefits removed too.

The single biggest problem in this country is that criminals do not pay for their acts: this would be bad enough, but even worse is the fact that we—the productive citizens who are forced to pay for them in the first place—are also required to pay for them even when they have attacked us.

This must stop.

So, your humble Devil intends to start a number of e-Petitions in the next few days, but the most important is the withdrawal of all benefits for criminals and their families.

After all, if they are spending every single waking hour attempting to earn enough money to live, then they are not going to have the leisure to smash our shops, our businesses and our homes.

We have tried the carrot, and it has failed: it is time to lay on the stick in massive doses.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Devil's Manifesto

Your humble Devil has been a busy man, and he has been unwilling to blog (unable?) for a little while—partly because I was going to give the Coalition a chance. They have blown that chance, and now it is time to lay out the manifesto on which I plan to engage their failures.

Luckily, this is quite easy because the Coalition laid out a number of aims when they came into power, and it is relatively easy to measure how they have done. In the meantime, please forgive my lack of links—I shall fill these in as I write about the separate areas. So...
  1. Reduction of the deficit: it is important to note that the deficit is the difference between government income and government spending—the Coalition have never promised to reduce the debt.

    But, nevertheless, even by the rather less ambitious measure they set themselves, the Coalition has utterly failed to reduce the deficit: they spent more this year than any government before.

  2. Increased GDP: the way in which the Coalition planned to reduce the deficit was not absolutely, but relatively: they intended to reduce government spending as a proportion of GDP.

    In order to increase spending whilst reducing its proportion of GDP, it required that the government ensure that GDP grew faster than spending: they anticipated increasing GDP by 2.5% per annum.

    They have absolutely failed to do so: we will be lucky to get 1% this year (which is a loss against inflation)*.

  3. Why has the Coalition failed to increase GDP? Because they increased taxes: the higher the taxes, the lower the GDP—in almost every single case.

  4. Restoration of Civil Liberties: the government has utterly failed in this. It is true that they have removed threats such as ID Cards: but these had never been introduced legally—all the Coalition did was to stop something that had never been introduced.

    In the meantime, the Restoration of Liberties bill has no teeth and will restore precisely no liberties what-so-fucking-ever. If you doubt me, simply look at the government's weasel words over the retention of DNA for innocents.

  5. Listening to the people: the Coalition promised to listen to people's opinion on various issues. They even set up a website admirably quickly.

    But they failed to listen: the two biggest issues were a relief of the smoking ban and the legalisation of drugs.

    The Coalition ignored this. Nick Clegg issued a video stating, in no uncertain terms, that the smoking ban would not be repealed. The drugs ban had the same response.

    The site disappeared into the Coalition's memory hole.

The Conservative-LibDem Coalition has failed by every major metric that they set themselves: your humble Devil intends to call them out in precisely the kind of language and rage with which I called out NuLabour.


* Thanks to those who pointed out that GDP is already inflation-adjusted.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Internet Explorer users are...

The mark of an idiot (apparently).

... according to Timmy, rather less intelligent than the general population. To put it kindly.

There is one nagging feeling at the back of my mind though. It was revealed just last week that all British government computer systems must work and only work within IE6.

The trouble is that this simply isn't true: the Department of Health urged all NHS organisations to move away from IE6 and Windows XP back in February 2010.
The Department of Health (DoH) has urged all NHS staff still using Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) to upgrade to version 7 of the browser as soon as possible.

Microsoft has since issued an out-of-band security patch for IE6 to address the issue, while the Cabinet Office has issued an advisory to Government departments on update from the browser.

And now, in a four-page bulletin (PDF) issued by the department's informatics directorate, the DoH's staff have been urged to take action to ward off potential “reputational damage”.

Staff are warned that the vulnerability could allow cyber criminals “to download and install further malware/spyware on to the computer, add user accounts to the computer [and] steal sensitive data held locally and centrally”.

The warning continues:
“It is also possible that exploiting this vulnerability could allow for the compromised computer to be used as a ‘staging point’ for further attacks against other computer systems including those outside of the organisation.

“If an organisation has systems compromised via this vulnerability, there may be consequential reputational damage, especially if sensitive data is affected or the compromised system is used to attack other systems.”

Employees and departments have been urged to act quickly, at the very least to apply Microsoft's newly issued patch, but also to look at upgrading the browser itself.
“It is recommended that this update is applied to all affected computers within an organisation. Organisations should ensure that appropriate levels of testing of the update take place prior to mass deployment," the guidance adds.

“It is additionally further recommended that organisations still using Internet Explorer 6 on the affected platforms upgrade to Internet Explorer 7. [It] has been warranted to work correctly with Spine applications such as CSA and provides additional security features over Internet Explorer 6.”

Despite Microsoft's own recommendation that users upgrade to IE8, the NHS instead advises only the step up to IE7—recognition of the reality of just how out of date many public systems are.

Despite this, many NHS systems are still running on Windows XP and IE6—in defiance of the government's guidelines and standard safety procedures. Indeed, Ed Bott at ZDNet opines that...
Any IT professional who is still allowing IE6 to be used in a corporate setting is guilty of malpractice.

But what the hell—it's only our most sensitive data that they are putting at risk, eh?

However, I suspect that it is not as simple as Timmy makes out: in our company, all of our websites are designed to work in IE6 (or to degrade gracefully) but the administration (back-end) areas do not support IE6—only IE7 and above (and we recommend the use of Chrome Frame for a faster, more beautiful experience (without losing control)).

At least, I sincerely hope that this is the case...

Beyond a joke

Via Strange Stuff, I find Dan Hannan highlighting the EU's latest intrusion into our pockets sovereignty.
As the law stands, people wishing to settle in Britain must demonstrate that they have the means to support themselves, either through work or through an alternative source of income such as a pension. The European Commission claims that this amounts to discrimination against EU citizens, who are supposed to enjoy the same rights as British nationals.

In fact, as so often happens, Eurocrats are disregarding the plain text of their own rules. Article 7(1) of the Free Movement Directive gives EU citizens the right to reside in another member state only if they have “sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State”.

In order to get around this clause, the European Commission is deploying a piece of sheer sophistry. It argues that, if immigrants were able to top up their income with British benefits, they would have “sufficient resources”.

In May, the Supreme Court ruled on the claim of a Latvian pensioner, who had just moved to Britain and had demanded Pension Credit on grounds that her Latvian pension was too small. Although our courts like to rule in favour of immigrants, the law here was so clear-cut that, by 4-1, judges turned her down. If the European Commission were to get its way, she would not only be able to claim Pension Credit, but also council tax and housing subsidies—despite not having paid a penny into the system.

There are several issues to be addressed here, and they touch on a number of issues.
  1. The idea of National Insurance was that it was an insurance (or, practically, assurance) scheme: if you paid in, then you could get a pay out in the correct circumstances. But the point is that yo only get a pay-out if you pay in.

    If you die, your family cannot apply to insurance company for a pay-out of you haven't been paying any life insurance.

  2. Yes, we all know that National Insurance is a colossal Ponzi Scheme so there is no insurance fund (which Obama's administration recently confessed). It is only a matter of time before one EU country or another tries to absolve themselves from legislation like this by pointing out they they don't have the money to pay.

  3. At that point, I'd put even money on the EU suggesting that all social security taxes should go into a central EU fund which will ensure the payment of social security. At which point, of course, the EU will harmonise the level of payment across all member states in order to ensure the fair distribution of funds.

    At which point, of course, we can all kiss goodbye to whatever semblance of independence or sovereignty remains to us.

  4. This is an especially important point: THERE IS NO FUCKING MONEY LEFT.

The low-grade panic and the pathetic desperation inherent in Obama's recent sham negotiations—coupled with our own government's pathetically-failed attempts to curb state spending have only confirmed the act that the Western economies are effectively bankrupt.

In fact, let us be more precise about this: every single soft socialist democracy is bankrupt—with the possible exception of Germany (which is, instead, being bankrupted by the other economies to which it is bound).

In fact, as Detlev Schlichter has so eloquently put it, we can, at last, welcome the death of politics.
Should we feel sorry? Worried? Desperate? – Well, with apologies to Oscar Wilde, but one has to have a heart of stone to read about the struggling political class without laughing.

The modern state is in terminal decline. Good riddance.

While I do not want to belittle the upcoming upheaval and the pain it will cause to many, all of us who love liberty should rejoice. The state is bust. Game over.

Hoorah, the state is dead!

We libertarians have been treated as slightly eccentric for years, no, for decades. Our plans to convince our fellow men and women of the benefits of small or no government, of the power of voluntary cooperation on free markets, of the global division of labor and of personal liberty – they were greeted with the pitiful smile reserved for the hopelessly naive. No political party would ever win on such a platform, we were told. If given the choice, the public votes not for freedom with all its uncertainty but for the caring, paternalistic state with free health service at point of delivery – and while we are at it, why not all sorts of other freebies, too? And, let’s face it, our critics were right. The chances of Ron Paul becoming the next American president are – well, zero. The political process – in particular modern mass democracy in which every vote counts the same whether from a taxpayer or tax-consumer – is designed to increase state power, not to limit it. As Mark Steyn has observed so pointedly, government is like coffee at Starbucks: It only comes in three sizes: tall, grande and venti.

But as good libertarians we should not rely on politics like our enemies, the statists, do. That is their game. Let’s not play it. We should rely – as befits proper anarchists – on our fellow man’s self-interest. Not more, not less. Most people prefer more goods to fewer goods. For that they need markets, not politics. Politics just gets in the way. Just as the market is working and delivering the goodies every day even if most people don’t understand why and how, so the state is collapsing under the weight of its own inconsistencies whether the people still want to believe in it or not.

“Events, dear boy, events.” All we have to do is sit back and let the state collapse. We know that in the long run, the state is dead. And the long run may be sooner than we think.

And he is right: in between the planted distractions of phone-hacking and assorted media wank, we have all witnessed the scrabblings of our Lords and Masters as they attempt to rescue their doomed political projects—do they realise that it's all in vain?

With all of the highly paid advisers at their beck and call, they surely must? But then I realise that most advisers to the (mostly) terminally stupid, ignorant and venal MPs are recently ex-students—not exactly the cleverest people on the planet in the first place—and civil servants desperate to preserve the illusion of business-as-usual in order to preserve their cushy jobs and platinum-plated pensions.

So perhaps they do not realise. Perhaps they don't understand.

The state is bust: there is no more money for any more bail-outs. The biggest bond-buyers are the banks (why do you think the world's governments agreed to bail them out?) and even they are shying away this stupidest of stupid investments.

As Detlev points out, the state is bust and all libertarians have to do is sit back and watch it happen.


After a torrid time bombing the shit out of Germans, Teddy Graham relaxes with a well-deserved beer or ten...

As some readers will know, your humble Devil occasionally creeps the boards for the Barnes Charity Players. Around the south west London AmDram circuit, the big accolades are handed out in the yearly Arts Richmond Swan Awards—reviewers from which come and assess the shows of all of the multifarious theatre groups in the area.

Your humble Devil is thoroughly gratified (even if they did spell my name wrong) to have been nominated for Best Actor in a Play for February's Flare Path: I am also delighted that the show itself has been nominated for Best Production of a Play.

Of course, one would love to win, but I notice—somewhat ruefully—that I'm up against someone who played the Elephant Man...

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...