Monday, 31 August 2009

Undermining The Meddlers

One would think, would one not, that Alcohol Concern would be hugely supportive of today's announcement of a new ASBO condition.

People in England and Wales who commit crimes or behave anti-socially while drunk could now face a Drinking Banning Order - or "booze Asbo".

Under powers coming into force on Monday, police and councils can seek an order on anyone aged 16 and over.

Magistrates can then ban them from pubs, bars, off-licences and certain areas for up to two years. Anyone who breaches the order faces a £2,500 fine.

Now, set aside the ASBO as a 'badge of honour' argument for a second, or even the fact that enforcement could be rather difficult. Instead, consider that the detestable duo, Don Shenker and Ian 'proper cunt' Gilmore, are continually using alcohol-fuelled violence as artillery against the drinks industry, and will therefore be ecstatic about this new power for the police, no?

Err. Well, no. Actually.

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, gave the orders a more cautious welcome.

"Policing of alcohol-related crime must go hand in hand with more robust measures to curb irresponsible and illegal sales and improved treatment pathways for dependent drinkers," he said.

A cautious welcome?

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, believes the government needs to end the availability of cheap alcohol.

"The biggest single driver of health-related harm and, indeed, criminal harm from alcohol is the availability and that is being driven by price."

Oh dear. Gilmore ain't too happy either.

Could it be that, following on from the news earlier this month that Manchester police are rounding up those who go all Rambo after a few beers, the temperance loons are a bit worried that one of their biggest scaremongering weapons is slipping away from them?

Take away the man/woman-in-the-street's irrational fear of being battered by some chav in a White Lightning frenzy and you take away a section of support for the righteous assault on everything alcohol. Eradicate the anti-social behaviour associated with drinking and you eradicate much of the demand by the public for policies espoused by Alcohol Concern and the RCP.

If the average Joe or Jill isn't personally harmed or inconvenienced, much of the public couldn't give a monkey's chuff what, or how much, people drink. Tell people that drink must be demonised because it is directly affecting them, and they will agree that 'something has to be done'. Tell them that people must be stopped from drinking for their own good, and for no other reason, and the majority will see Shenker and Gilmore for the interfering weasels which many of us already know them to be.

If there is one unarguable truth which we have learned from the anti-smoking debate, it is that the public will not object to any perverse measure, however ludicrous, if they can be convinced it will harm or inconvenience them. The general refrain is always "You can smoke anywhere you like, just not near me". Likewise, if drinkers don't bother the public, the public really aren't bothered by them.

Little wonder, then, that Shenker and Gilmore are less than amused. All this recent common sense in attempting to target those who should be targeted is killing their credibility.

UPDATE: It is worth adding at this point the other central plank of the puritan attack on alcohol - that being the cost to us all via our contributions to the NHS. Julian LeGrand, former health adviser to Tony Blair, put that one to bed last week.

Not a great month for the prohibition movement, methinks.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Portillo, The New Hannan?

Has Michael Portillo (or the Times) been regarding Hannan's recent headline notoriety with envious eyes? Hard-wired Labour advocates will have an aneurism over certain snippets in his well-argued assessment of the inherent failings in our benefits system.

Idle young should be entitled to nothing

Yep, you read that right. Nothing.

At best, the unrealisable hope of winning the lottery or appearing on Big Brother has supplanted the traditional appetite for qualifications and careers.

He forgot to include X Factor or Britain's Got Talent, but you get the idea.

But perhaps, at least, we ought to assume that fit young people are not entitled to anything. If a few young men from sink estates are now heroes in Afghanistan, why should we presume that all the others are capable of nothing useful at all?

Wow! If Hannan had said this, LabourList would be snapping in fury already.

The Times have given this quite a prominent place on their home page - they have no doubt jealously observed the attention gained by the Telegraph from Hannan's musings in the past month or so.

Unfortunately, Portillo doesn't believe such radical reform is possible. In fact, he argues that future administrations won't be gutsy enough to halt the current system of rewarding the feckless and indolent. Looking at Cameron's Tories, one has to agree.

To achieve any dent in the comfort zone of those who happily pitch up and take from the state without ever feeling the need to do anything for it, a seismic shift in the mould of 1979 would be required. It would be messy, it would be confrontational, it would cow the sensibilities of all but the thickest-skinned of politicians ... which is why Cameron's lot won't bother.

Portillo quite rightly highlights the main attitudes that need to be changed. The long lost stigma of having to go cap in hand to the DSS needs to be reinvented, for a start. Labour have shown that it is possible to stigmatise whole tranches of society based on what they eat, drink and smoke, yet still treat those who habitually dodge work, as victims. If the approach for the former works on the sheep, why not the same for a much more worthy cause?

Society today is very different. Stigma has been abolished. To live on benefits has become a lifestyle choice. In many families there is no memory of anyone working. Ours is a culture of entitlement, a word coined to minimise shame and maximise claiming.

We're all nodding, Michael. It's clear to everyone where the problem lies. It's just that there are so many fucking morons who, for some reason or another, have a vested interest in perpetuating a failed system which is ripping the guts out of our country.

Last week the Conservatives raised a hue and cry against the government for its welfare failures. But it is unclear how brave a Tory government could be. While I served in Margaret Thatcher’s governments, we made no progress in reducing dependency while lobby groups howled that we were destroying the benefits system.

And there you have it.

If the Tories are serious about ending this idle reliance on the state, the very first part of the current set-up they should be tackling is the web-like plethora of quangoes, government-funded charities, and salaried bleeding hearts who object like stink to every reform which is proposed by those who pay their wages.

After that, some serious money to bolster the police would be needed because, sure as buggery, we'd need a police force not bogged down with targets, surveys and PC to react, once the feckless realise their easy ride is over.

Still. This is all hypothetical anyway. Cameron et al can bluster as much as they like about reducing the benefits bill, but unless they are holding meetings now planning policy for years into the future, it's quite simply not possible. And I can't see it myself, can you? This isn't Thatcher and Joseph we are talking about here.

Interesting thoughts from Portillo, though. I wonder if Prescott will be having an apoplectic rant about this, too.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

It's Confirmed. Scotland Is Going Insane

What on earth is happening in Jockland? I've joked about their recent vicious addiction to Stalinist bansturbation, but this deserves some sort of award for fuckwittery above and beyond the call of duty.

BAR staff in Edinburgh have been banned from asking customers if they would like the "same again" – and told to offer a glass of water instead. The move ... has been introduced as part of the Licensing (Scotland) Act which comes into force next week

A prize of "cash behind the bar" can no longer be given as a reward for winning a pub quiz, while special offers such as "buy two glasses of wine and get the rest of the bottle free" have also been outlawed.

And offering free drinks to customers who have perhaps waited too long for a meal or suffered some other inconvenience has also been prohibited.

Some publicans say they have even been told to keep a note of how much each individual customer had consumed.

Not content with killing off thousands of pubs by telling them they have to throw their customers outside for enjoying a legal product, these interfering spoodge-garglers are now forcing bar workers into mandatory - yes, mandatory - training courses which instruct them how to discourage customers from buying the very fucking products that their employer sells!

Are those who thought this up suffering from some sort of clue deficit disorder? If I ran a pub and one of my staff were stopping Jock and his wifey from having 'the same again' but handing them a glass of water instead, his P45 would be in his hand the moment he had released his grip on the tap.

The health hysteria north of the border has gone beyond misguided, or authoritarian - this surely confirms that those in positions of authority in Scotland are descending rapidly into insanity.

As one bar owner succinctly put it:

"We have had all of our freedom taken away to try to run a bar, and provide a social and fun place."

All this, remember, in a drive to restrict the public to unit intakes pulled out of thin air, when we are all drinking less than ten years ago, and in the face of recent revelations that light drinkers/teetotallers are a cost burden on the NHS. And in an environment where only those over 18, which is usually the age at which we assume a person should be entitled to make their own decisions in life, are legally allowed to purchase the products on offer.

Anyone who lives in the Soviet republic of Jockland has my deepest sympathy. You are being led by psychotically puritan politicians who are so dense they could bend light.

Good grief.

Friday, 28 August 2009

BBC Caught, Quite Literally, Red-Handed

Oh joy. Here's one to round off the week with a satisfied smile and a spring in the step before heading off for a jar and a Ruby Murray.

Following swiftly on from their rigid adherence to the Labour agenda on Monday with this laughable nonsense, Comrade Beeb's lack of fact-checking, in their zeal to defend the government, has been ruthlessly and publicly exposed by a spoof web-site, as Plato explains.

For those who missed it - this was apparently an outraged missive from the desk of Sheila Dixon. Since Ms Dixon is currently under investigation for a number of fraud allegations, you'd have thought that 'propah' journalists ... would have checked their sources.

Checking sources (and science) isn't something White City's finest like to do, especially when in an eager frenzy to rubbish Tory MP Chris Grayling (or to pally up to their fake charity chums). They have since wiped the episode from the web-site, but Plato nabbed a telling screen shot from their quiz of the week to dispel the illusion that it was all just a dream.

Considering that they seem to be able to contact anyone from a bird-watcher crapped on by a rare species, to the person who supplies Berlusconi's shoe polish when they wish to, would it have been so difficult for the BBC to ring someone in Baltimore to confirm this before splattering it on their web pages?

Perhaps their lefty hacks were just too excited at the prospect of crawling up Brown's anus to bother with such journalistic principles.

Shame they took the story down entirely though, as it would have been interesting to see the garish, anti-Tory headline they appended to it (see Rantin Rab for an example).

'Yes We Can' Take Over The Internet

Following on from yesterday's post about Obama, socialists and control, comes this today.

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat.

Looks like the yanks are starting down that long road we joined in 1997.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Obama, Hannan, And The Exclusion Of The Public From Politics

Man in a Shed posted this cartoon showing how the left 'frame' debate and links it to the methods of Labour over here. He is, of course, correct, but by looking more closely at the US experience, we can see where future bastardisation of idea exchange will occur.

Under Obama, a full scale war has begun to be waged on the only area where Conservatives and Christians are in the ascendancy. Talk radio.

So concerned is Obama about this, that he has appointed a 'Diversity Czar' to keep them in check. That or put them out of business altogether.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new "Chief Diversity Officer," communications attorney Mark Lloyd.

But Doctor of Jurisprudence Lloyd is far more than merely a communications attorney. He was at one time a Senior Fellow at the uber-liberal Center for American Progress (CAP), for whom he co-wrote a June 2007 report entitled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio."

Which rails against the fact that the American people overwhelmingly prefer to listen to conservative (and Christian) talk radio rather than the liberal alternative, and suggests ways the federal government can remedy this free-market created "problem."

•Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.
•Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.
•Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.

These last two get perilously close to the use of "localism" to silence conservative (and Christian) radio stations, about which we have been warning for quite some time.

The 'fee' mentioned is designed to punish the popular right leaning organisations, by making them give their money to the unpopular left leaning ones. A redistribution of wealth from those who disagree with Obama's policies, to those who do.

The "Chief Diversity Officer" in question, Mark Lloyd, is calling for the gross operating budget for every private radio station each year to be the fee (tax) they pay for their broadcast license for the year, with the monies going to the always liberal public stations. With whom they then must compete for listeners.

Very Blair/Campbell. Very Labour. Obama has obviously done his homework.

So how does this translate to our side of the pond? Well, the nearest we had to a ranty talk radio DJ was Jon Gaunt, and the moment he put a foot out of line, he was sacked in what Henry Porter termed,

typical of New Labour's age of censoriousness and control

The MSM is mostly left-ready and with Labour's ace propagandist, Comrade Beeb, well and truly under the government's thumb, there isn't much left.

However, no matter where objection emanates, socialism requires it to be silenced. Not by way of debate, that would be too difficult, but by opprobrium and sanction, as can be observed in Labour's refusal to defeat the BNP with counterpoint, but instead to still their voice entirely. And if they can't tackle an entity so easily dismissable as the BNP, what chance more intellectual dissenters?

Like Dan Hannan, for example. Incensed by his NHS remarks, they had their first pop, but the Labour establishment is now trying to nail him on an innocuous Enoch Powell remark. His character itself must be attacked and destroyed, not the valid points that he raises.

So to see a glimpse of our future if Labour do manage to secure a fourth term, we have only to look back to November last year and Hazel Blears' comments on the blogosphere.

"But mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.

Until political blogging 'adds value' to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair."

The ensuing Smeargate fiasco was all linked to this unease from the left at the success of right-leaning blogs.

Exactly as in the US with talk radio, there is no recognition that such despair and anger is caused precisely because of the abject nature of socialist policies. In a socialist's mind, their views are correct and none shall be allowed a differing opinion. Labour are right, everyone else is wrong and should be made to toe the line, or zip it.

It is a theme which underpins the left both in the US and in the UK. It is evident in every proscriptive law that is thrust upon us without the option of choice or exemption. It is a do-as-we-say mentality which is ugly and anti-democratic. At times, it becomes equally as hateful and vindictive as the views of those that the left despise.

Labour rely on brute force and ignorance to batter the public into submission, a lesson Obama has learned very well. It is a distasteful and ignorant way of running an administration and should be swept into the dustbin of history.

The problem is, as opposition parties shuffle ominously toward the same methodology, who do we trust to do so?

Only A Matter Of Time

You may remember, a little while ago, the roll-out of new measures to stop parents drinking in front of the chiiildren, complete with accompanying web-site and sanctimonious dribbling from the proper cunt, Ian Gilmore.

As I wrote at the time:

Can you smell the faint whiff of future prohibition with regard to uncorking a Pinot Grigio in front of the kiddies yet?

With the likes of Alcohol Concern following the same methods laid down in a template provided by tobacco control harpies, and with plans to hide tobacco in the pipeline, it can't be long before someone over here (most likely to be Scottish) thinks legislation along similar lines should apply to alcohol.

And if they do, they will almost certainly point to another country where such a thing is a great success. Somewhere like Maine, USA, perhaps.

A new law that goes into effect Sept. 12 will prohibit children from observing wine tastings.

An amendment to L.D. 498 by Rep. David Webster, D-Freeport, states, "Taste-testing activities must be conducted in a manner that precludes the possibility of observation by children."

Don Shenker will no doubt come in his pants on reading of such glorious bansturbation.

Small wine shop owner Beth Hudson, in consultation with her local Liquor Enforcement Officer, has been having trouble trying to accommodate such a daft law.

"I said I could close the blinds, and he said no," Hudson said. "I would have to partition off or put up some draperies. Look at my store. How am I supposed to do that? We usually have (wine tastings) in front of the fireplace and we serve cheese and crackers. In order to do that, people would have to be cramped in a smaller space. It would appear like the adults were doing something shameful."

I think that's the point, dear.

Next stop for such silliness - Scotland. It's only a matter of time.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The BBC Have Given Up On Responsible Reporting

Many have spoken of the BBC's new role as merely a glove puppet for government and righteous interest groups, but if there is anyone who still doesn't understand the concept, try this.

Mark Wadsworth smelt a great big White City rat within a few seconds of perusing this pile of Comrade Beeb garbage.

People who smoke shisha, or herbal tobacco, can suffer from high carbon monoxide levels, [DoH and the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre] research revealed.

And it's not hard to see the ludicrous nature of the claim considering Comrade Beeb kindly highlighted the innumerate bullshit in very visible boxes. Surely they were taking the piss?

Now, let's just get the calculator out. If a light smoker's level is 10 ppm, the lethal dose is 300 ppm, and bubble pipes are 400 times more dangerous ... how on earth have we not seen instant deaths in shisha bars the world over everytime a shisha pipe is smoked?

Forgive me for being a cynic, but perhaps it is down to the fact that this 'research' was publicised by a tobacco control organisation, backed by the Department of Health, whose spokesman (Paul Hooper) is a former employee of ASH, and it didn't even merit a cursory check by a supposedly world class purveyor of news.

It's not science, it is a press release eagerly gobbled up by the government's mouthpiece without question. Here are a few snippets from a thorough debunking by Chris Snowdon (see 'recommended reading' box to the left).

There was a time when scientific research was presented to reputable journals for peer-review and publication. In the field of tobacco research, however, there is a growing trend towards ... "science by press release,"

The headline-grabbing claim that shisha pipes are 'worse' than cigarettes is based on unpublished research carried out by an unnamed University at the behest of the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre (TCCC) and released exclusively to the BBC's Asian Network.

As always with science by press release, we will have to wait to see how the research was conducted (if, indeed, it is ever published).

In short, it is fantasy.

Now, it's probably true that the BBC article was merely a puff piece for their own programming, but by not inviting someone to the debate with real knowledge of the science surrounding shisha smoking - who would have ripped the 'evidence' apart in seconds - the BBC are nothing more than propagandists who have no right to be regarded as anything more reliable a news source than the Sunday Sport.

We are compelled to cough up, at pain of fines and imprisonment, for an unbiased, accurate, diligent news service. However, what we get is lazy, dogmatic, cut-n-paste-mongers disseminating misinformation and - yes - lies.

Dr Kamal Chaouachi is a Paris-based tobacco researcher and arguably the world's leading expert on the science of hookah smoking. Dr Chaouachi has authored or co-authored two comprehensive transdisciplinary books and dozens of biomedical publications. He has already lodged a complaint with the BBC about the programme which he says was based on "misinterpretation" and "gross exaggeration".

Will Comrade Beeb publish a full and frank retraction of this steaming mountain of horse shit following the intervention of a world-renowned authority?

Will they fuck.

Backhanded Compliment Of The Day

"Above all though, the police were brilliant. I thought they did an amazing job of not making things worse."

Daniel, Essex, spectator at West Ham v Millwall last night

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Official: Healthy People Are A Drain On Resources

Simon Clark at Taking Liberties has been expanding on a Radio 4 appearance (or hearance?) today. The hour long programme on Julian Worricker's show can be found here.

One of the guests was Julian LeGrand, former health adviser to the Blair administration. He not only pissed on the chips of those who believe that an inclusive health care system should charge for those who enjoy 'unhealthy' lifestyles, he also laid to rest the myth that smokers, drinkers and the obese are actually costing us more than the 'healthy'. In fact, he seems to be banging the same drum as me. It's the opposite.

Let's just re-iterate what LeGrand said:

"It is true that, on the whole, healthy people cost the National Health Service, and indeed the pensions sector, rather more than unhealthy people."

Hallelujah! At last someone admits to what we all knew anyway. It's been whispered occasionally but never by someone with such connections.

Next time you read some Department of Health numpty, or charity, fake or otherwise, banging on about how much your choice of lifestyle costs the NHS, quote LeGrand. The MP3 file has plenty of bandwidth so knock yourselves out.

Local Paper Goes For National Uplift

Things are tough for local rags. But it looks like the Gloucestershire Echo are attempting a novel way round their woes - by going all Daily Mail.

Children admit ABH and sex assault

Children as young as six have admitted carrying out a series of crimes in Gloucestershire within the last year.

Among the culprits were a boy aged six, from Hucclecote, who admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and another six-year-old from Gloucester who was involved in a similar incident.

Figures released by the police, following a Freedom of Information request, reveal children aged nine or under have committed 32 offences since July last year.

This also included a five-year-old who caused criminal damage to a vehicle in Tewkesbury and a nine-year-old from the Cotswolds who admitted sexual assault.

It was quickly picked up by MSN, and the Guardian, and the Independent, all with a hat-tip to the Echo.

A trio of seven-year-olds were found to have burgled a house in Dursley, and a nine-year-old committed racial abuse on the Hester's Way estate.

The Jamie Bulger case was given a nod too, in order to direct the gentle reader in the right direction.

All that was lacking were a few details.

Pinching a woman's backside is classed as sexual assault nowadays, but it makes a damn good headline. I'm no expert but I believe stamping on another kid's fingers would be termed ABH.

A five year old causing criminal damage? I don't think there are many five year olds anywhere who haven't caused damage to property, normally their parents' admittedly (amazing what a car lighter can do to plastic upholstery, I can tell you), at some point. Mostly because kids don't understand the value of such things at that age. I remember when I was a kid thinking it was great fun throwing mud with my friends at a neighbour's window on a half-completed housing estate in the early 70s. There was nothing feral about it, we merely knew no better and it made a squelching noise as it landed. The noise of our Dads' hand on our arses when the neighbour complained wasn't so pleasing.

One of the Puddlecote sisters defaced an advertising hoarding when she was 10 after her group found some broken glass beneath it and learned that it cut through paper quite well. They wrote their names and were caught doing so by the police. Criminal damage they called it. Puddlecote Sr was called and wasn't amused - she received a caution and shat bricks for a week about it. She never did it again, learned a lesson and is now a successful Office Manager. That was over 20 years ago, but things have moved on since then. She would no doubt be included in a FOI request such as this now.

There are no predatory nine year olds, bedecked in dirty macs, waiting to rape old ladies in the park. Nor are there hordes of knife-wielding, tanked up six year olds lurking behind darkened lamp posts waiting to beat up the next passer by.

Makes for a great shock story though. The only surprise is that, of all papers, the Daily Mail didn't appear to carry it today.

Dick, The Feminist

I've just become a passionate advocate of women's rights.

Welcome to! - We are a US organization, claiming that women have the same constitutional right to be bare chested in public places as men.

Maitreya Rael, spiritual leader and founder of states: "as long as men can be topless, constitutionally women should have the same right"

With you all the way, sisters. Where do I sign?

Gotta get Mary Honeyball onto this, I'm sure she'll be right behind them (though hopefully not actually joining in).

Monday, 24 August 2009

Barber Cuts Off Righteous Noses

The Guardian today reported on a particularly futile example of righteous nonsense.

Author and journalist Lynn Barber has withdrawn from a literary festival after the local council refused to include a photograph of her smoking in its brochure for the event.

Barber ... was due to appear at Richmond's Book Now festival in November to discuss her memoir, An Education which tells of the destructive affair she began as a teenager with an older man who picked her up at a bus stop. Her publisher Penguin had supplied a black and white photograph of Barber for inclusion in the festival's brochure, embroidered scarf around her neck, head thrown back, cigarette in mouth.

But Richmond council deemed that using a picture of an author smoking went against its responsibility to encourage "good health habits", and asked Barber to provide another. She declined and pulled out of the festival, saying that she had "always wanted to be a Smoking Martyr and obviously this is my opportunity".

"If a pic of me smoking is such a threat to the good burghers of Richmond, imagine what my presence would do," she said this morning.


Is this literary event sponsored by Pfizer or something? Was Barber popping along to south London in order to participate in a round table discussion of the merits of abstinent living?

No. She was to be talking about a book. Are Richmond corner shops going to be inundated with new customers, gasping for a Marlboro Light, the moment they see Barber's picture in a literary festival brochure? Well, what do you think? Without Richmond council making such a big deal about this, most would probably not even have heard of her (more's the pity), let alone reach for the event literature. Those tempted to hear her speak will already be aware of her personal foibles, much as they will be familiar with Martin Amis's predilection of being photographed enjoying a smoke himself.

"I've been told that we can't use that photo because Lynn is smoking in it - the situation is a little bit ridiculous, as elsewhere we've got Martin Amis pictured with a lighter in his hand," said Nathan Hamilton, a freelance programmer for the Richmond literary festival who had been putting the brochure together.

More than just a bit ridiculous, I'd say, but kudos to Nathan for pointing out the idiocy of this bunch of self-righteous clowns - I'm sure they'll be looking at ways to cancel his future workload on the back of such a display of calm common sense. An ability to see through overweening bullshit is not one which righteous tosswits generally find admirable.

A Richmond council spokesman said: "We don't like to use images of people smoking in our promotional material. As a local authority we are responsible for encouraging good health habits in the area, and to be seen to be endorsing smoking, no matter how unintentional, doesn't complement this. We asked Miss Barber for an alternative picture but she declined and has withdrawn from the festival, which is a shame given her standing as an author and journalist."

Oh, they noticed her standing then? The respect she has carved out for herself with brilliant writing (without enforced funding from us, like the provincial Richmond tax sponges, I might add), ably assisted by her experiences of a bohemian existence? You know, the lifestyle that they are attempting to snuff out entirely?

Hamilton said he hoped Barber's decision not to appear at the festival wouldn't "precipitate a bunch of other writerly smokers loyal to the cause to withdraw in solidarity". "I mean, if every writer who smoked and drank pulled out of a literary festival, that would probably rule out most writers; you wouldn't be left with much of a literary festival," he said.

Personally, I hope differently. It would be bloody marvellous if others told Richmond they can stick their 18th book festival where the sun don't shine**. A good start would be an e-mail to Martin Amis.

Mine will be on its way tonight, simply because these people are truly appalling. The kind of cockgobblers who insist on the very best that life can offer, but only if they can pretend that practices with which they disagree hadn't happened in the making of it. Like wanting to eat organic rhubarb but without the horse shit which was used to grow it. Cunts.

Presumably, Richmond council will want to extend this maternal method of local government still further. After all, one can't have road sweepers clearing up roadkill and vomit while smoking in council garb, eh? In their wibbly-wobbly world, that would be the council endorsing smoking, would it not?

Best not allow council staff to be seen in any pub either. And if they dare to buy their lunchtime food from McDonalds, instant sacking no doubt.

Who are these fucknuckles anyway? Oh my. They are those oh so Liberal Democrats. Why are we not in the least surprised?

** Why not also show appreciation for her stand by throwing some money in Barber's direction. Her latest book can be bought here.

Alastair Campbell Reported Dead

Don't you just hate it when someone gets your hopes up?

I turned to the obituary page of the Diário de Notícias newspaper and discovered that Britain's most famous Burnley and Brel fan had spun his last. I was so stunned that I dropped my cup before realizing it was a terrible mistake.


Sunday, 23 August 2009

UKIP Need To Update

Sorry, UKIP, time to change your figures.

Britain's payments to the European Union will soar by almost 60 per cent next year, according to figures "buried" in government documents.

The Treasury statistics show that the UK's net contribution to the EU will increase from £4.1 billion this year to £6.4 billion in 2010/11.

By my quick back of the fag packet extrapolation, this means that the next UKIP poster should add an extra £22.43m per day to that. Get on it, Gawain.

The latest Treasury figures also show that Britain is currently the second biggest net contributor, behind Germany.

Yet, despite this, a German tea company still doesn't view our esteemed PM as important enough to include in their political figures tea bag collection.

Actually, can't say I blame them for that.

H/T Guthrum @ LFAV

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Margaret Moran Mug

Now, you too can live the Margaret Moran experience. With this mug, you can snuffle at a strong Tetleys whilst dreaming of ripping off taxpayers for tens of thousands. Then, when you've finished your brew, you can go back to daily life feeling no guilt or shame whatsoever ... just like Margaret.

Now There's A Good Idea

The very day after David Cameron had odiously wibbled about trebling the price of drinks - for everyone - to combat alcohol-fuelled violence, Manchester police have been busy doing something very 'Tory'. Specifically targeting those who actually cause the problem.

A total of 529 people have been arrested in Greater Manchester in a major police operation targeting alcohol-related violent crime.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said about 3,000 officers and police staff are involved in Operation Admiral.

Police arrested 447 people on Friday, on top of a further 82 who have been held over the past few days.

GMP said despite the scale of the arrests, 999 calls and day-to-day policing would not be affected.

See what they did there, Dave? They didn't go around walloping everyone who likes to drink alcopops with a night-stick, they went solely for the minority who ruin a night out for everyone else.

Fancy that, eh Dave? Clever, huh?

GMP Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: "All too frequently, alcohol is a major cause of aggression and results in innocent people being subjected to violent and unprovoked assaults.

"But this is just the start of an ongoing process that will see Greater Manchester Police continually target those responsible for violent crime until the message sinks in."

Do you reckon the message might also sink in with you soon, Dave, that punishing all of us for the misdeeds of a few is donkey cock thinking? You know, something that only Labour loons, blinkered SNP no-marks, and Lib 'ban it, ban it, ban it' Dems should be proposing?

Might it also sink in with you, Dave, that Manchester police's approach is one which would be endorsed by, I dunno, about 100% of traditional Tory voters?


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Plus Ça Change

It's time for a change. I think we are all agreed. Labour's suffocating methods of government by control, oppression and collective punishment must be brutally swept away.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, is backing plans that would make high-strength drinks significantly more expensive.

Or perhaps we might as well leave everything fucked up, eh?

Under Mr Cameron’s plans to increase duty on drinks, four cans of strong lager would cost another £1.30. A bottle of high-strength cider would cost an extra £1.25 and the price of a bottle of alcopops would rise by 50p.

Because there are no existing laws, evidently, with which to punish the tiny minority who misbehave as a result of consuming these products. So why not make everyone pay the penalty?

Not controlling, oppressive, or collectively punishing at all, is it?

UPDATE: The Pub Curmudgeon further emphasises how wrong-headed the Tories are on this.

The Tories’ plans to triple duty on “high-strength” beers and ciders are ill-considered, indiscriminate and unlikely to achieve their stated objectives. They may put people off drinking the likes of Special Brew and Diamond White, but they will also impact on high-quality strong ales such as Robinson’s Old Tom, recently voted world’s best ale, Belgian imports such as Chimay and Duvel, and the products of independent cidermakers. These products are consumed responsibly by discerning drinkers and already are often relatively expensive in terms of price per alcohol unit.

Devil's Kitchen thinks it's nonsense too, as does Al Jahom, and just about everyone else, for that matter.

Way to go on being a righteous, ill-informed prick, Dave.

Missing The Target

Some disgusting shit has done what disgusting shits do. That is, something quite disgusting.

A national sports retail chain has apologised for selling a Manchester United shirt bearing a Hillsborough insult.

The fan paid £55 for the shirt and the slur to be printed about the 1989 disaster which killed 96 Liverpool FC fans.

On it, he chose the number 96 and under it the words "Not Enough". Above the number were the letters YSB - which stands for You Scouse B*****ds. The man's Facebook page was shut down.

Quite right too. I hope someone rips his balls off with a rusty pair of pliers for being such an evil waste of DNA.

As someone who spent many a Saturday, as a youngster, helplessly hemmed in by fencing at high-profile football matches. And having been at an FA Cup semi-final just twelve months prior to the Hillsborough disaster, it often crosses my mind that, in hindsight, all of us who attended football were in a fair amount of danger back then.

Anyone who makes a team rivalry point on the back of people who died in such a tragedy is a sick cunt, pure and simple (no apology for terminology).

However, after Boris Johnson's piece in 2004 about Liverpudlians wallowing in 'victim status', comments like this really aren't helping to dispel the sentiment.

Sports Direct said the employee who marked up the shirt did not know what the message meant. But Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, was killed at Hillsborough, said she did not believe that.

Mrs Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: "I think Sports Direct are worse than the guy who wanted it put on the back of his shirt. Printing that message is like inciting trouble, it is an absolute disgrace and Sports Direct should be ashamed.

Sorry? A sports clothing firm with 470 shops making thousands of transactions per day, who instantly apologised and contacted Facebook to close this guy's account once they realised what had happened, are worse than him?

And is it really so unbelievable that an employee would have not understood what YSB stands for? The Hillsborough disaster was in 1989, a full 20 years ago. The average age of a Sports Direct shop worker may only be a tad higher than that, surely. When I was 20, I was completely unaware of what Aberfan signified. Just a thought.

I can't even begin to imagine the pain that Margaret and Jimmy Aspinall went through on that day in April 1989, and the weeks, months and years that followed. I have read extensively about Hillsborough and the disgraceful denial of justice that followed. As a parent myself, I have been moist-eyed reading books like this on the subject, just as I was rapt and sombre during the memorial coverage earlier this year. I sympathise entirely, I really do.

However, Sports Direct have acted swiftly, responsibly and with compassion. They certainly don't deserve to be ranked lower than a rancid sicko who thinks it a bit of a jolly to piss on the memory of 96 innocent Liverpool fans. Mrs Aspinall's response to Sports Direct and their employee (who may well be very cut up about their inadvertent mistake) is quite wrong.

And what's more, the low-life shit who caused the fuss in the first place, has now ensured that non-offensive personalisation of football shirts is denied to responsible Sports Direct customers everywhere. For good.

"As a result, Sports Direct has taken immediate action and changed the administration policy for printing football shirts across its store network. With immediate effect, it will only allow printing of current football players names and numbers on football shirts."

Such does life deteriorate and pander to the whims of the sickest in society (see Huntley and CRB hysteria). Can we not stop allowing these people to win, and singling out the wrong targets for attack?

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

70 Years Of Politics

Compare and contrast.

Politicians responding to swine flu, 2009:

The government is planning to create a series of mass graves to cope with a second outbreak of swine flu in the autumn.

A Home Office document warns that a mass burial site may be needed to cope with the potential crisis.

During the meeting, in which a senior official from Westminster council, gave a presentation, officials discussed the need for cemeteries and crematoriums to work seven days a week and the hiring of extra staff to cope.

Whitehall officials are also speaking to coffin makers to see if they could meet demands.

Retired doctors may also be called back to work to issue death certificates so GPs can focus on patients.

Politician responding to World War II, 1939:

‘War declared.’

Britain's Ban Mentality Is Now An Advertising Tool

The Times have put their finger firmly on a new phenomenon amongst visitor attractions. That of using a 'ban' as a marketing ploy.

Jealous of Alton Towers' silly season Speedo ban, which won acres of news coverage last week, Thorpe Park announced their own free advertising stunt today: banning BO.

The Telegraph duly rolled out a 'thrillologist' to point out how terrifying rides increase sweating and that, therefore, a ban is quite understandable.

Personally, I'd be cynical about the 'terrifying' properties of a ride if its speed didn't easily disperse BO, and if a rider is so non-plussed by the experience that they have the wherewithal to worry about a smell, it's probably no more thrilling than rotating tea cups.

However, it seems that 'the ban as an advertising tool' is now installed as a valid marketing technique, complete with interfering officialdom and overbearing threats.

Wardens on the rides will also remind people to consider their fellow passengers and anyone ignoring the warnings will be escorted off. Those who continue to do so will be asked to leave the park.

Thorpe Park aren't daft. They will have no doubt calculated that even this draconian approach won't put paying customers off and that the publicity will still result in a net gain.

What should happen, of course, is for Alton Towers and Thorpe Park to witness a huge drop in visitor numbers which makes them rue the day they ever thought up such a crackpot scheme. However, the British pleblic have become so weak-willed, spineless, subservient and timidly compliant in the face of an increasing ban mentality from government, local authorities, and others who 'know better' that they will merely mutter 'mustn't grumble' and drag their knuckles up to the entrances to be financially butt-fucked anyway.

And as they dutifully keep their arms down (or eagerly report others who don't), they will tell themselves that it's for the best, and isn't it great that their betters are watching over their every move.

It's for their own good, after all.

Come Again?

Believe me, I'm not an expert on the sex trade. Fanny P is adequate for my urges, that is if they ever materialise considering an inadvertent 'playtime' knee in the nads from one of the little Ps is enough to cool the ardour created by a dozen Emma Bunton videos.

However, isn't there something very wrong-headed about this?

Mobile phone networks asked to cut off sex trade before London 2012 Olympics

Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing, said the mobile phone numbers are a valuable resource for those behind the sex industry.

He said an agreement must be reached between mobile phone networks and police that sees them taken out of use as soon as they are identified.

There appears to be an almost hysterical panic about the demand for sex services in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. All that potential clandestine, consensual paid-for sex is really bothering the righteous. The emphasis is always couched as a way of shielding against trafficking, but do they seriously expect that demand will simply dematerialise with moves such as this?

As far as I am aware, prostitution itself is not illegal, merely the solicitation. Street-walkers are a constant menace to people who live in such areas and the thrust of legislation to date has always been to minimise, or extinguish, the prevalence of these girls on the streets.

All that eliminating such mobile numbers will necessarily do is to force girls back to the dangerous, and anti-social, haunts in search of their 'johns', trafficked or not.

Malthouse is rather pissed off about the existence of large numbers of prostitution adverts in telephone boxes which give a bad impression of the capital to tourists. He is correct that it is a worry. The best place for such ads would be somewhere more discreet, one would assume, such as being squirrelled away in local papers where only those who sought out such services would find them.

Shame Malthouse put the kibosh on that idea a few months ago, then.

Deputy Mayor for policing Kit Malthouse said he will include the banning of sex ads in his recommendations as part of his bid to stop trafficking.

He praised Newsquest’s stand on the issue.

The publisher of the South London Guardian series as well as the Surrey Comet and Richmond and Twickenham Times, banned the adverts from its 305 titles.

But it won't stop trafficking, and it won't stop people wanting to pay for sex, nor wanting to sell it.

How bloody naive can these people be?

Prostitution is not called the 'oldest profession' for nothing. It is even mentioned in the Bible for chrissakes (oops). The sex trade cannot be snuffed out entirely, merely pushed from one method of publicity to another. The only solution which has been consistently proven to be effective is tolerance and decriminalisation.

Yet these idiots continue to push for policies which have comprehensively failed since time immemorial, and which could result in further harming the people they are claiming to protect.

It's disastrous righteous policy writ large. The triumph of moronic hope over realistic experience.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Hairy Moneyball Advocates Apartheid ...

... for democratically-elected BNP MEPs.

Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons have been having a helluva time getting served in Brussels bars, apparently, and Hairy is very happy about it.

Apparently, local café and bar owners do not want BNP members in their establishments because their presence is driving away customers. At least two places have already banned him: O’Farrell’s Bar and an American sports bar. According to media reports, on one occasion when Griffin and his gang of racists entered O’Farrell’s Bar 18 people put down their drinks and immediately walked out. Griffin was told bluntly that he is not welcome there and asked to leave.

Now, I must admit to being rather amused that private bar owners are reacting to their customers' wishes and excluding these two. Their policies are potentially damaging (mostly left-wing, large state stuff as all except Labour seem to have realised) and highly obectionable in the places which are generally highlighted (yes, they are shits). Additionally, it is the right of the bar owner to exclude or include whichever customer he/she chooses.

Griffin calls it 'apartheid' and Hairy agrees but says that it is perfectly OK. I didn't expect that Hairy would be such a free market ally in this, considering her earlier nonsense. I presume then, on this evidence, that Hairy would be equally happy if a London pub barred muslims on the basis that when they entered a private establishment, 18 people downed their drinks and walked out? It would be the right of the owner to do so, considering they can bar someone for the shape of their nose, should they so wish.

And seeing as she is so fully au fait with bar owners being able to choose who they exclude/include, then she will be quite willing to sign up to the Amend the Smoking Ban campaign. Here's the link, Hairy, off you go.

After all, it's up to the bar owner to choose, isn't it, Hairy? Or is apartheid only OK when directed at people with whom you disagree?

A Libertarian Quandary

Here is a theoretical libertarian test if ever there was one. And emotive as they come, too.

Calls for law change after family barbeques dog

Animal lovers in New Zealand want to make it illegal for people to eat their pets, after a Tongan family killed and barbequed their pet dog.

The Taufa family killed their pet staffordshire bull terrier Ripper and then invited friends round for a barbeque.

Lupi Taufa says it's common practice in her homeland Tonga.

"Dog, horse, we eat it in Tonga. It's good food for us," she said.

Derek Haddy works for the SPCA, New Zealand's equivalent of the RSPCA.

"I find it quite disturbing that somebody would kill a pet and then eat it. I'm not OK with that, but unfortunately the law allows you to do it," he said.

Dog lovers will be jumping up and down like a demented yorkie about this, one would imagine. But is it any different from keeping chickens and topping one every now and then for a Sunday roast? Or fattening a calf for a couple of years before selling it to an abbatoir?

If not, what is the intelligence threshold for which animals are allowed to be kept for food, and which aren't?

Monday, 17 August 2009

Kew Are They Kidding?

Why not a quick review of Kew Gardens, eh?

It's a British triumph, of that there is no doubt. 250 years of dedication to housing offensively long-lived cycads, and lily pads the size of a small boat, which have no place within our shores, is mightily worthy. The sheer number of odd specimens is overwhelming though, and cannot possibly be taken in by even the most assiduous of visitors, especially since the tags dug into nearby soil don't give much more than a latin name which is not at all helpful unless you are already horticulturally-minded (often, the labels make it hard to decide which plant they refer to). It is also sad that many of the glasshouse specimens appear dog-eared and seemingly reluctant to bear any fruit which resembles the ones which do carry a picture. As an adult, I'd like to have learned more - as a kid, I'd have been bored stiff as mine were, despite their earnest protestation that they were having a great time (the hollow eyes gave it away).

The flower beds were pristine, though, and the gardens a joy. A perfect place to be without kids. The web-site didn't mention that there wasn't a lot for little 'uns though, in fact it highlighted the GPS 'Ranger' which wasn't working on the day, and a couple of great kids' walks which were only noticeable by their weak implementation (that is, we didn't even see where they started or ended). As someone who knows absolutely sod all about plants, I think I'd have derived as much learning from this as the ankle-biters, so it's a shame that it isn't more of a priority.

To mitigate the above, I can fully understand that Kew very much realise that kids tend to ruin a London oasis such as this (complete with 747s making their approach to Heathrow at just over 100 metres above at regular 3 minute intervals), I just wish they would come out and say it. And yes, the fact that kids were afforded free entry should have hinted at the fact they would prefer to gnaw their fingers off than be there, but what can I say? I'm cheap, and if I had to go when I was a kid, then so do they. Character forming, innit.

The new Xstrata 'tree-walk' is very good, though. It's an 18 metres high wander around the canopy of the Kew trees but if you don't like heights, don't do it as it wobbles like buggery. You can see through the mesh floor as well. Kids love such things, but Mrs P doesn't so stayed downstairs with the righteous. And boy were there a hell of a lot of them.

The most egregious example was experienced beside a felled tree which had been cleverly carved into an 'invitation to climb' to anyone under 14. Poor, bored pre-pubescents clambered all over it as if it were sent by a deity. One of the little Puddlecotes (the girl), in full view of us, was negotiating her way down a set of exposed blunt spikes, designed to exhibit the way tree roots array beneath the soil, when a concerned couple stopped and opined loudy that she (someone else's kid) shouldn't be doing that as it is not to be climbed on and she might hurt herself. Before I could swallow my ham sandwich mouthful and utter an expletive, Mrs P had stepped pleadingly on my foot to halt the inevitable tirade. Even in a venue which has signs aplenty saying what one can't do, and with the complete absence of one on a rare object of childhood desire (sort of saying that anything goes), the urge for these lemons to inflict their personal morality on others was irresistible.

If you go, do bring your own food as the stuff on offer is obsequiously health-led and therefore stifingly bland, natch. Tick off how many times you see the term global warming (they haven't yet updated to the new 'climate change' mantra). Enjoy the gardens, which are quite incredible, but avoid the cringe-worthy shop which is so uninspiring that even bored kids with tons to spend, and no idea of value for money, decided not to bother.

Additional minus points. No pub. Or any overpriced beer/wine at all. And believe me it would have been helpful.

Best things about the day? The staff, who were a joy, the weather which was quite perfect, and the totty (probably something to do with the weather). There is also no rule about smoking outside the glasshouses, either. You'll get some daggers from assorted badly-dressed grumps about your personal choice in 300 acres of open space, but nothing that we're not already used to since Labour screwed tolerance.

Summation, a superb British institution which is quite rightly installed as a global venue of note. Go there as a couple, go there on your own, go there to spend more than a day. Just don't go there with kids.

Oh For Crying Out Loud

Do these people ever stop?

Charity seeks end to lunchbox ham

Parents have been urged not to put ham and other processed meat into their children's lunchboxes to avoid them developing a cancer risk later in life.

The World Cancer Research Fund said parents should act now to stop their children developing a taste for smoked, salted or cured meats.

So, having forcibly driven any kind of 'treat' food from kids school diets, the cross hair is now turned on ham, with processed cheese being placed on the 'to do' list, no doubt.

The screeching from these professional worriers is fast approaching paranoic proportions. There must surely now be an argument that the panic and stress these 'experts' are inflicting is more dangerous than the negligible long term risk from the foods they are warning against.

The Puddlecotes are off to Kew Gardens today, which is probably a good idea seeing as Comrade Beeb will be showcasing these tedious scaremongering turds throughout the day. And yes, we have ham salad sandwiches in our picnic box.

The Wrong Bank

Don't blame me, I probably only beat Obo to it by a whisker.

Enjoy your lunch.

H/T Screaming Banshee

Sunday, 16 August 2009

No Way Will All 20 Oblige

Tom Paine did it, so utmost respect decrees that I follow.

Well done to Constantly Furious for linking to all 20 of the top Libertarian Bloggers. He has requested that the other 19 do likewise and who am I to disoblige him?

1 Guido Fawkes
2 Devil's Kitchen
3 Old Holborn
4 Obnoxio the Clown
5 Underdogs Bite Upwards
6 Tim Worstall
7 Samizdata
8 Boatang & Demetriou
9 Dick Puddlecote
10 LPUK Blog
11 The Last Ditch
12 Constantly Furious
13 Anna Raccoon
14 Freedom to Choose
15 Rantin' Rab
16 Plato Says
17 Charles Crawford
18 An Englishman's Castle
19 Frank Davis
20 Oxford Libertarian Society

Reckon Boaty & D will have a problem with linking to at least two of the above.

A Missed Opportunity

The explosion of spin-manufactured outrage over Dan Hannan's NHS observations this week was noted at the Puddlecote residence, but it seemed overkill to say much when better bloggers can calmly deconstruct the hysterical wailing and gnashing of teeth unaided.

As I'm a bit bored, though, here are a few thoughts.

The one thing that is hardest to understand here is how the NHS is apparently only lovable because it is 'free'** (as was the general thrust of politicos like Prescott). And that, by extension, the US system must be unlovable and inferior because it is mostly reliant on an individual's responsibility to arrange adequate health provision for themselves and their family (ie not 'free').

If your granny was saved from some flesh munching disease by any health body, whether paid for or not, you would love them (providing you actually loved your granny in the first place, of course. If she is an insufferable old witch and they had delayed your inheritance of a huge wad and a pile of property in Hampshire, you'd perhaps be praising through gritted teeth). Even double-glazing companies can show you glowing tributes and gushing enthusiastic letters of undying affection from customers, many of whom may well have been unwittingly screwed over for the £thousands they paid for their conservatory installation.

The measure of how a health service is 'loved' is irrespective of how it is administered, but on the care that is derived by the end user. And no matter how much rabble-rousing tweets can be elicited by the #welovetheNHSwereallydohonestly campaign, the simple fact is that, if you ask just about anyone in this country about their true experiences of the NHS, you will find that a majority have been irked, irritated, angered or downright enraged, at some point, by the way they have been treated.

I'm afraid that, yet again, our largely cretinous British pleblic have stifled what could have been a very useful public debate about how the NHS could be improved in the wake of Hannan's comments. The scaremongers screamed foul, invoked the spectre of rain waters babbling around dead poor people in our cities' gutters, and the twatter generation jumped predictably on Labour's political bandwagon ... before making a nice cuppa and settling down to 'stenders.

If the masses could have raised their knuckles from the carpet long enough to notice that a golden opportunity had presented itself to them, they could have used it to send a message to the NHS.

The message being, "We are quite willing to love the NHS, but by golly have you lot got to buck your pigging ideas up, OK?".

The NHS, and the UK health professional community in general, have long since forgotten who are the employers in this arrangement, and who are the employed. Agnès Poirier highlighted one irritating aspect in the Guardian this week, that of the pressure heaped upon motherhood.

The broadsheets' endless gloomy reports and interviews with frowning British obstetricians, together with the tabloids' horror hormonal stories about serial miscarriages and Dickensian tales of "if I knew then what I know now" from childless menopausal women seem to all have but one aim: put an almighty fear in women. All this scaremongering in the country with the highest teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in Europe! British women can never win, it seems. They're either out of their wits procreating too early, using abortion irresponsibly, or have simply lost it by leaving motherhood too late.

For British women, the nightmare doesn't end here though. Once she is pregnant, she has to go through other diktats: she should absolutely not eat raw food, avoid vegetables and fruits at all costs unless cooked to a compote pulp; run away from camembert, brie and mayonnaise, keep to cheddar only; forget once and for all about shellfish and not even dream of having a drop of claret. If she doesn't do as she is told, she's just mentally deficient – worse she is immoral. Then, when she has successfully given birth and stayed no more than a few hours at the maternity clinic, in a Victorian ward with a dozen other mothers with screaming infants, she's sent back home with the absolute order to breastfeed but without having been shown how.

Agnès tends to blame the media for most of this, and there is an argument to be made that they should be more responsible, but then they are only printing what they are bombarded with by a legion of health pros who seem to think that the best way to run the NHS is to pay shitloads of money to ... err ... health pros, to force people into lifestyles which mean they will never need to use the NHS.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Even I could learn to love the NHS if it was designed to cope with the way the public lived their lives, as was the original purpose. Instead of which, we have an incredibly bloated, intrusive bureaucracy, presiding over a regime which seeks to change the way people choose to live, in order to fit in with the budgets provided by government.

The supreme irony being that, if the highly paid health pros and lifestyle advocates were thrown bodily from the hospitals, there would be funds aplenty to fix the public when they were ill, however they decide to legally behave in a free society.

Bring in an element of competition for funds, and the hectoring GP would think twice, the surly receptionist would frantically shuffle schedules to afford you an appointment when you need it, and disgusting bigots like Jane 'They'll just have to die' DeVille-Almond[mp3] would have no better health job prospects than sweeping the wards.

The NHS, as it is currently set up, richly rewards administrators over front-line carers, encourages pomposity and contempt of its users, promotes waste and inefficiency, while becoming more expensive and politically correct by the day. All funded by the taxes of the working at pain of imprisonment, and with no effective opt-out except for the fairly rich.

Paradoxically, by not offering the same opportunity of choice in healthcare to all levels of wealth, and by adhering to a system that is more than six decades out of date, Labour are inflicting their ideological frippery on all but the very people that they tend to dislike.

And the pleblic, by meekly surrendering to a xenophobic campaign whipped up by the lefty spinmeisters, are ignorant of the power they could have wielded this week if they had chosen, instead, to demand an end to the shit treatment they moan about on a daily basis to their friends and relations.

** It is, of course, not free unless you have never worked.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

A Different Way Of 'Firing' 2,500 Staff

Found here.

A Singapore firm held a fire drill at 4pm when all their 5,000 staff were on shift. After 20 minutes waiting outside, they were treated to this tannoy announcement.

Dear Employees - With melting heart I am making this announcement that for many of you it will be a last evacuation drill. Due to the recession we are laying off almost 50% of employees. While moving in, if your ID card doesn't work, then you are among those laid off and all your belongings will be couriered to you tomorrow.

We have followed this approach as we didn't want to fill e-mail box with layoff mails and goodbye mails in thousands and also to avoid any fight inside office.

Hope you have a nice career ahead. Please move in and try your luck.

If only someone had YouTube'd it.

UPDATE: Sadly, Doubting Richard has squirrelled that this little bit of fun post is a hoax, more's the pity. Oh well.

Life Imitates Hitchhikers Guide

"I'm free! I'm free!" ... thud.

The last thoughts and experiences of a fish.

Strangely reminiscent of this, I thought.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Lows And Highs

I've been suffering my bi-annual one day cold today (unhealthy hedonist that I am).

It started yesterday afternoon and I have followed the same rigmarole as usual. Assault the virus with an inhumane dose of alcohol the night before, do the minimum of work in the morning, before donning three thick jumpers and wrapping up tightly in two 16 tog duvets with the heating on high**. Getting to sleep is a tad difficult to start with once the sauna-like conditions kick in, but boy do those germs bloody hate it.

Surfacing in a sticky thermidor mess at around 3pm, all was almost back to normal after an obligatory bath, though still a mite groggy. However, a quick schlepp around my RSS reader pulled up the fact that I made 8th in a list which shook off the residual lethargy. Just beaten by the blog written by two people (which is quite obviously cheating) to whom I gave high points with my vote. D'oh!

Thanks to all who voted for this stuff. I think I'll celebrate by popping up to the big city for a silicon top-up at inflated prices. Just after I've popped outside and brained the kid who has been sounding his Dad's car's horn intermittently for the past 20 minutes.

** A police jellycopter was hovering over here for a while earlier. Hope their thermal imaging cams don't lead them to believe I've got a hydroponic operation going on.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A Storm In A Fairtrade Tea Cup

Oh dear. The organic fertiliser appears to have hit the wind turbine.

Green domain sparks war of words

The battle to take control of a new internet domain aimed at environmental groups has escalated.

Words? Stop messing about. Give them guns and lock them in a room.

Dot Eco, a consortium backed by former US vice president Al Gore, describes a plan by its main competitor - Canadian green group Big Room - as "unworkable".

Big Room has said that publication of the analysis was "unfortunate".

What a lot of fuss. Considering these guys are all so very worried about the planet, couldn't they just share?

Both groups are hoping to win the right to sell .eco "top-level domain names", which are similar to .com or .uk.

Dot Eco, which boasts supporters such as the Sierra Club and the Alliance for Climate Protection, aims to sell domain names to raise funds for green organisations.

It has already entered into contracts to give away 57% of its profits from sales, it has said.

Big Room, which is endorsed by WWF International and Green Cross, also plans to generate money from the sale of .eco domain names to fund "sustainability projects".

Oh, I see. There's a hell of a lot of profit involved. And there was me thinking it was about saving Gaia.

Keep Up The Good Work, Señor (2)

See, if only we had Spanish scientists. They release proper studies, like the one in June declaring beer to be the best thing to drink after exercise.

Now, it would seem, beer is a proven antidote to osteoporosis.

Drinking beer regularly could stop bones from going brittle, according to scientists in Spain.

Those who had less than a pint a day, whom scientists classed as light beer drinkers, fared just as well as those in the moderate bracket, suggesting that even small amounts can boost bone health.

The Spanish researchers said: "Silicon plays a major role in bone formation. Beer has been claimed to be one of the most important sources of silicon in the Western diet."

Therefore, for the good of my health, tonight I shall mostly be topping up my silicon levels and giving Alcohol Concern the (incredibly fit and resilient) finger.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Alton Towers And The Burkini

The burkini, coming to a pool near you soon

Charles Bremner in the Times has highlighted the case of the banned burkini in France.

Here we go with a summer episode in the saga of France versus Muslim dress. This one involves a 35-year-old French convert to Islam called Carole who was thrown out of a suburban swimming pool for wearing the head-to-toe swimsuit known as the "burkini".

Carole was on her third burkini outing to the town pool at Emerainville, in the eastern outskirts, when the chief lifeguard ordered her to leave. She was said to be breaking hygiene rules but everyone is casting the incident as another clash between fundamentalist Muslims and a state that has banned head-cover from schools and wants to curb face-covering.

French muslim groups are up in arms about it, of course, as is Carole who did exactly what we all wouldn't do. Went straight to the police. It does appear to be a confrontational stance and with the running battles over muslim dress in France, it most probably is.

The police don't seem too bothered about it for a perfectly rational reason.

The police refused to accept the complaint on the grounds that the lifeguard was just enforcing the rules that apply in all French public pools. Women must wear swimsuits and men must wear brief trunks -- Speedos -- rather than shorts, which are said to be more likely to harbour bacteria.

Say that again, Monsieur Gendarme? ALL French pools have rules against bacteria-harbouring shorts? Not over here, they don't. In fact, it's the other way round.

Alton Towers in skimpy Speedos ban

Morwenna Angove, sales and marketing director for Alton Towers, said: "We feel this small brief style is not appropriate for a family venue so we are advising male bathers to wear more protective swimwear such as shorts."

Have health and safety been trumped here? France, Holland and Canada have hygiene rules on such swimming attire, but not us. Hoorah.

Unfortunately, it is instead imperative that the chiiildren should be protected from seeing anything remotely resembling the human body.

Fortunately for muslims, though, they will be able to wear the burkini wherever they choose in this country. And seeing as it is a fast-growing phenomenon, you'll no doubt be seeing them at your local pool very soon.

Who knows? In Labour's prurient and multi-cultural Britain, they may even become mandatory.

Chimps And The Righteous

Consider this. It was originally a business parable but works just as well in explaining how normally intelligent, rational people can be browbeaten into believing any old righteous shit.

Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up. Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder.

One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious. But undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder.

All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why.

However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.

A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him.

This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he’s attacking the new monkey.

One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why.

For iced water, read spin, deceit, scaremongering and ridicule from the righteous, and for beating up, read opprobrium and insults from the previously brainwashed, and there you have it.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

More Charity Scaremongery

You surely must have seen or heard it. We voluntary hedonists are all in mortal danger from cancer ... again.

Alcohol is largely to blame for an "alarming" rise in the rate of oral cancers among men and women in their forties, say experts.

Figures produced by Cancer Research UK show that since the mid-1990s, rates of oral cancers have gone up by 28% for men in their forties and 24% for women.

Yes, it's Cancer Research UK {yawn} de nouveau - you know, the ones funded by this government to produce stats which agree with their temperance agenda - on the hotline to Comrade Beeb (funded and controlled by this government to pump out stats that ... err).

"Alcohol consumption has doubled since the 1950s and the trend we are now seeing is likely to be linked to Britain's continually rising drinking levels.

Around three-quarters of oral cancers are thought to be caused by smoking and drinking alcohol.

Tobacco is, by far, the main risk factor for oral cancer, so it's important that we keep encouraging people to give up and think about new ways to stop people taking it up in the first place."

Yep. Alcohol consumption has grown since the 50s so it must be that, plus the fact that their research can't possibly make a case for it being down to tobacco means they have to add a little bit of extra scare to save face. CRUK have a tobacco control department and an alcohol control department (not that it is at all relevant, of course), so it must be them.

Don Shenker is ready with a quote again.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker said: "Many people are not aware of the connection between alcohol and cancer, yet as this research shows, it can be a major contributor or cause of the disease."

I like that. Many people are not aware. Nor was he until CRUK told him. I bet he did excited star jumps when they rang on the righteous bat-phone. Cos then he could say this again.

He said it was time to introduce tobacco-style health warnings on alcohol.

And 'new research'? They looked at a graph, looked for a way of applying it to their continual hypothesis, and banged out a press release.

Proper cunt Ian Gilmore, and Alan Maryon-Davies the 'libertarian', were doing their rent-a-gob bit for the Beeb again but I'm sure we don't need to repeat their bollocks, do we?

There is, of course, no rebuttal or dampening down of the scaremongering from opposing interests on the BBC. I mean, how can one argue with rampaging cancer? If the producers of alcohol were to try, they'd be a right bunch of heartless kiddie-orphaning bastards, wouldn't they? Tobacco manufacturers might like to have a go, but then they had their opinions censored years ago.

Shame really, as they could point to some pretty sound stats which would lend themselves to a not guilty verdict.

Let's ruminate on some of the timescales involved here. CRUK are reporting on a massive increase in mouth cancer rates in the past decade. So what has happened in that time regarding alcohol consumption to cause this? I sigh as I quote Costigan Quist's analysis of ONS figures yet again.

Are we drinking more now than a decade ago?
No. You can look at all the data and see that pretty much everyone, men and women, all age groups, are drinking about the same as we were in 1992 and in 1996.

So the increase in mouth cancers has happened despite no corresponding correlation in consumption of alcohol. Must be something else then, no?

CRUK have obviously worked this out, so they increased the lead time to 50 years. On that they have a decent point. We are drinking more, there is no doubt. Twice as much, in fact. And, of course, in those 50 years, there has been no improvement in health care or detection rates for mouth cancer it would seem, according to them. No improvement in such things in the past 10 years in that regard, either. The world has, in effect, stood stock still (no improvement in the NHS at all, despite today's revelations by Andy Burnham).

OK, cheap shot, I know. So let's look instead at smoking rates since 1950 seeing as that is the incubation time that CRUK have chosen for this stuff. It's difficult to find such figures, but here's some that may be useful.

In 1950, they were very high.

But as you can see, they have fallen dramatically. They were already significantly lower in 1974 and have halved even from then.

But no dramatic reduction in mouth cancer rates. It could be, could it not, that detection has improved. That would surely be the only reason one could point to an increase in mouth cancers being linked to a massive decrease in smoking prevalence over the chosen (by CRUK) incubation rate of 50 years. If detection has improved, then perhaps the quarter increase in diagnosis of such cancers is small beer compared to a doubling of alcohol consumption in half a century, coupled with increased health awareness, dramatically better health care, and improved diet.

So, no real scare at all.

There were a couple of aspects that CRUK failed to mention in relation to mouth cancer, though.

How about the appalling state of our dental system under Labour?

A shortage of NHS dentists is leading to thousands of needless deaths from mouth cancer, according to dental experts.

There are 4,750 new cases of mouth cancer in Britain a year. A Citizens Advice survey found that almost three million adults in England and Wales have had no dental treatment since the introduction of a new NHS contract for dentists in April. The BDHF estimates that the real figure for the UK is up to 30 million.

"That's the really frightening number," said Dr Carter. "We need funding at ground level to ensure people are given easier access to dental care."

Funny that CRUK and the Beeb chose not to mention such a thing.

Neither did CRUK talk about the increased oral intake of alcohol via dental mouthwashes.

This review assesses the epidemiological evidence, supportive in vitro studies and mechanism by which alcohol is involved in the development of oral cancer. Further, we review the literature that associates alcohol-containing mouthwashes and oral cancer. On the basis of this review, we believe that there is now sufficient evidence to accept the proposition that alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer and further feel that it is inadvisable for oral healthcare professionals to recommend the long-term use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes.

Hey, CRUK. Care to mention mouthwashes as a possible contributory factor? Or are you too far up the arses of the pharmaceutical manufacturers of such products to mention things like that?

Next time you hear or read the phrase "say experts" via a BBC medium, treat it the same as you would the "an insider said" prefix to something written in the Sun. There really isn't a lot of difference these days.