Sunday, 28 February 2010

They Don't Like It Up 'Em

There has been much astonishment over the severity of sentence handed down to Nick Hogan following his stand against the quite ludicrous UK smoking ban. However, as a timely, and rather good, piece on CiF on the subject of the 'war on drugs' mentions, the state is a past master at disproportionately punishing attacks on its authority.

Jennifer Abel highlights the fact that drug laws themselves can arguably kill, and yet drug dealers can sometimes attract harsher sentences than murderers.

What rationale makes authorities believe selling illicit powder warrants a higher penalty than strangling the life out of a person? Is it simply that people who take drugs are seen as misfits? As Aldous Huxley wrote in Brave New World:

"No offence is as heinous as unorthodoxy of behaviour. Murder kills only the individual – and after all, what is an individual? We can make a new one with the greatest ease – as many as we like. Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself."

It requires no propaganda, let alone dangerous traps, to convince people that murder, assault or theft should be crimes; those tricks justify crimes not against individuals or even property, but the nebulous victim named "society."
In other words, the public fully understand that violent crime is despicable, but government view attacks on society as a more serious offence, so we require convincing of that.

But who decides what society should be? Who determines which practices and pastimes are acceptable?

You're well ahead of me, of course. In the current dictatorial environment, it is government itself who rules on morality, dictates how we should conduct ourselves, and sets degrees of punishment. MPs decide society. MPs decide what you and I should be allowed to do.

Nick's crime was, officially, contempt of court for not paying his fine, and nothing to do with the ban, but the cause of the contempt charge was a quite shocking punishment in excess of £11,000, imposed thanks to a collusion between central and local government.

I'm sure the righteous will point to our democracy as justification for such a heavy penalty, but it's quite clear that a majority of voters have never believed, and still don't, that a blanket ban is the best way of tackling a minor problem.

Politicians themselves decided this policy, with no recourse to the interests or mores of those they are elected to serve. As Leg Iron points out in the case of upcoming huge increases in duties on spirits, the only people the state listen to are those they pay to tell them what they want to hear.

Under the "nuclear option" plan for increasing duty – designed to appease the health lobby and show that ministers are serious about tackling the problems caused by binge drinking – the cost of a bottle of spirits would rocket, along with the cost of spirit-based alcopops favoured by young drinkers.

Designed to appease the Righteous puritans. Not one jot of concern for the people who vote for them. Just their big pals in their Soviet-style quangos and fakecharities. You and me, voters, we don't count. We just have to do as we are told.
A six month tariff is the state trying to convince us that Nick Hogan was assaulting all of society with his stance. That his crime wasn't an inconsequential one, oh no. He was threatening all citizens of the UK and perverting society.

No-one believes that. No-one, that is, except a few shrill psychopathic cretins in and around the fevered lobby communities of Westminster, but that's the message we are meant to take from it, and anyone who vocally disagrees must swallow the state's sadistic medicine.

Nick Hogan stood up to a fundamentally unjust, and deeply undemocratic, law imposed by a corrupt and morally bankrupt government. His isn't an attack on society. In fact, it is the reverse, as Mencken once reasoned.

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who loves his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.
And this is why Hogan is considered dangerous, and why the system studiously constructed by our legislators has concluded that he must be severely punished.

He didn't kowtow to an irrational definition of society, entirely fabricated in this country by 646 hideous bansturbators and their Igor-esque rent-seekers, instead he resisted.

And as far as the state is concerned, that is the most heinous crime of all.

UPDATE: Old Holborn has set up a donate facility to free Nick. The fine is paid and he walks. Show government how 'popular' their law is by contributing in the sidebar on the right.

A Fool And Our Money

We would really like to know what you think about Lords of the Blog and to understand how you think it could be improved.
Good idea. I'm sure the comments will come flooding in.

To do this, we’ve asked an independent research agency, TNS-BMRB, to conduct some online research at the beginning of March.
You have got to be fucking kidding.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Jailed On A Government Whim

Isn't it lucky that Jack Straw and his buddies freed up all those prison cells?

A prisoner release scheme that has seen almost 80,000 criminals rel let out early will be scrapped next month

The emergency measure was introduced three years ago to ease overcrowding but has seen offenders let out up to 18 days early go on to commit more than 1,500 new crimes.
With all those criminals out and about in society, the state can set to work locking up opponents of their ideological flights of fancy instead.

A former pub landlord yesterday became the first person to be jailed in connection with the smoking ban.

Nick Hogan, 43, was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to pay a fine imposed for flouting the legislation.
There is the usual rent-a-quote from ASH, again confusing compliance, at pain of fines and imprisonment, with popularity of the blanket ban as opposed to other solutions to a minor problem. But then, lies and deception are what she gets paid for, I suppose.

Interestingly, if Nick Hogan had been a Labour Lord, he may have fared better. He could have killed someone, only received a 12 week sentence, and would have been released in a couple of weeks time.

It's also interesting to note the majority of comments appended to the Mail article slating the smoking ban. How is that 'hugely popular' legislation working for ya, Labour?

The stench of this hideous administration becomes more rancid and overpowering by the day.

When's the election?

(You can join the Justice for Nick Hogan Facebook group here)

Link Tank 27/02

This week's Saturday smorgasbord.

Climategate isn't the first time the IPCC have been caught cooking the books

Ironic T-shirts in which to be arrested

The inherent evil of the righteous - how 10,000 drinkers died after being purposely poisoned by the US government during Prohibition

An update on Germany's topless sledge racing, mentioned a couple of weeks ago (with better pics this time)

Ron Paul shows that the Libertarian steamroller is at full speed in the US

The top 10 dangerous foods

"Only a matter of time" until Pole Dancing is an Olympic sport

Soon we may be able to read and write information directly into our brain

Interactive, age related, map of the best places in America to get oral sex

Nanny is winning. Kids are now more boring than their parents

Tobacco control continue to forcibly silence debate

ALL food should carry warning labels

Emergency shipment of condoms on its way to Olympic athletes

Have Italian judges broken the internet?

Friday, 26 February 2010

Mandelson Seems Very Certain

Britain will "one day" adopt the euro, business minister Peter Mandelson said on Friday, but admitted that the changeover is not likely any time soon.

"We already have the eurozone providing a single central bank, currency and monetary policy, which one day I believe Britain will be part of," Mandelson said during a talk at a university in Paris.

"Don't ask me when. It's not going to be soon, but we will do it,"
Really, Mandy? You seem very sure. Were you planning to ask your electorate about the matter?

Considering that polls consistently say that Britain is a solidly eurosceptic country, even without the spectre of joining the Euro being involved, how do you come to such a bald conclusion?

Still, we should worry not, as any decision on ditching sterling will surely require a referendum. And any move towards the eurozone will certainly need to be a solid manifesto commitment prior to a general election.

Oh, hold on.

Now THAT'S How To Celebrate Gold!

Marie-Philip Poulin, Tessa Bonhomme and Meghan Agosta toast winning Ice Hockey Gold in Vancouver with beer, champagne and cigars.

Needless to say, it didn't go down too well with the IOC.

Even once in a lifetime achievements are no excuse when dealing with the righteously disapproving. Oh no.

UPDATE: Perhaps it's a Canadian thing. Their male gold medallists prefer a whole pitcher of beer.

Politicians Dish Out Rules For Us, But Refuse To Police Themselves

Gawain yesterday highlighted yet another instance of Lib Dem mendacity.

The Liberal Democrats in Watford have today apologised to the Watford Observer for publishing misleading information in their latest election campaign leaflet.

The leaflet, which was delivered to thousands of homes across the constituency last weekend, presents a quote attributed to the Watford Observer that stated: “The signs look good for the Lib Dems to topple Claire Ward.”

However, the quote was actually taken from a story in May 2007, when the quote was clearly attributed to the Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill, a Liberal Democrat.

It in no way reflects comment or opinion that has been expressed by the Watford Observer.
He is correct in saying that this does indeed come as no surprise. In fact, I touched on this subject back in May last year.

As the artist formerly known as Thunderdragon pointed out at the time ...

This leaflet for the EU elections on June 4th very much suggests that the electoral system for those elections is first-past-the-post rather than the actual proportional representation party list D’Hondt method approach. They reproduced the last Westminster election result rather than the last EU election one, which would have been far less favourable to them as in 2004 they got only one seat in the London region.
A local resident complained to the police about the matter but, as you'd expect, nothing came of it.

Why are we not surprised? Politicians have spent decades insuring themselves against any kind of meaningful censure. The expenses scandal comprehensively proved as much.

The rules they hand down to us are ruthlessly enforced without pity, while MPs who defraud the country to a much greater degree claim it's all just an innocent mistake.

They spew illiberal laws at us on a daily basis which restrict our lives to an astounding degree, but exempt themselves and their political chums when it suits.

They are so worried about the effect of advertising on our weak minds, that all manner of commercials are altered or denied for our own good. Even a 50 year old advert is banned in case we harm ourselves by eating an egg for breakfast.

Yet politicians of every party re-classify us all as deep-thinking intellectuals when it comes to election literature.

We are considered incapable of rational thought in the face of consumer advertising, but we're apparently all able to easily see through political leaflets which are riddled with cleverly disguised lies.

No party is whiter than white here. They have all been deliberately fraudulent at some point and don't want their little secrets exposed by as inconvenient an entity as a regulator. How else can one possibly view the fact that the only promotional material not heavily monitored and regulated are the leaflets thrust through our doors by political parties?

They are being observed, though, but not by anyone with any financial or regulatory clout. No. Politicians are happy to leave that job to a few ordinary citizens at The Straight Choice who have noticed that there is a very real problem.

There needs to be an on-line election leaflet project. And there is not one run by the Electoral Commission, a think tank, a regulated media organization, or a university, so it’s left to me and my friends to do it.
Politicians are busily looking at ways to increase the price of our drinks while they enjoy tax-subsidised bars. They interfere in every aspect of our lives because, according to them, we can't be trusted to make decisions for ourselves. They censor advertising because we aren't deemed intelligent enough to make our own decisions.

For all of the above they have committees, quangoes, civil servants, regulators, lobbyists, fake charities, enforcers and fines.

Yet for their own sly, and widespread, misdirection of the electorate, they have ... nothing.

Buying the wrong product on the back of false advertising may be annoying, but electing someone you are stuck with for 5 years, partly on the basis of sleight of hand and truth-bending, is potentially more damaging and a perversion of democracy.

Politicians love to hand down rules and directives for others, yet they seem reluctant to set up any kind of system of accountability for their own dishonest practices.

It's time these hideous hypocrites spent less time dictating to, and controlling, us - and more time on policing themselves.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Belgian Shocks

I see Nigel Farage's blunt approach to European diplomacy has annoyed the continental grumblesome.

"These English do not have any culture. When one visits museums it is Germans, Spanish, Italians, and French you see. The English 'get more' by asking for beer in low bars. You can recognise an Englishman by his football shirt on prominent paunch. His only reading is The Sun," wrote one Libre Belgique reader on Thursday morning

"The English are cretins, whose arrogance is only equalled by their mediocrity of spirit."
Err ... if we're such a yobbish culture-free country, packed full of arrogant, cretinous, spiritless morons, why do you want to throw your entire political, financial and legal future into the same European cunt soup™ as us?

Listen, Poirot, this is exactly why the idea of a federal EU is so catastrophically ill-advised and therefore doomed to failure. We're all different sets of people, do you see? All with vastly differing cultures and outlooks on life.

So trying to inflict a one-size-fits-all set of rules on all 27 nations is a quite ludicrous exercise. For crying out loud, Yugoslavia couldn't even manage to keep three or four identities under the same flag without it all turning into a big cat fight under a zipped up tent - with guns - so what chance reconciling the current vastly diverse membership of the EU?

We like you when we go to Belgium, just as you like us when you visit here. We like buying cheap stuff, and good chocolate, to bring back from your gaff, just as you enjoy coming here to speak a decent language for a few days and see what a hill looks like.

But once thrown into a culturally eclectic mix of distinctly opposing lifestyles and attitudes, and being told to all get along, we realise we don't really care for you much after all, and you aren't that keen on us either.

Just the fact that you are angry about Farage having a verbal pop at Rumpy is a demonstrable difference in ideology, in itself, which is baffling to us - I mean, if Blair had been elected, and one of yours had roughed him up a bit, we wouldn't have given a monkey's chuff about it.

We're all different, not the same, you see. We are quite fond of our sovereignty, whereas you are quite happy to surrender yours every 40 years or so. Vive la difference, I say, but kindly include us out of a united Europe, it's not something we are keen on, as we pointed out back in the 40s.

And, as the furore generated by Farage proves, it simply isn't going to work in the long run, anyway.

Can we leave yet?

© 'Cunt Soup' is a trademark of The Salted Slug, reproduced with kind permission

The Eyes - They Burn!

The SNP, sponsored by Argos, have unveiled the next step in their plan to hide from view every product which they don't personally like.

REMOVING the display of sweets in shops and restricting the sale of high-calorie food near schools are among radical government proposals to make Scotland the first country in the world to successfully tackle obesity.
Since they have already also legislated to hide tobacco, one must assume that the SNP view Scots as so very irresponsible that cans of beer, Penthouse, crisps, ham and bacon, fireworks, The Daily Sport, tea, coffee, saucy birthday cards, salt, peanuts, plastic spoons, quiche lorraine, and Firehouse Dog will also soon be on the list of items to be hidden away from caledonian proles. All for their own good, natch.

Convenience shops will look a trifle bare, though. Might as well put the counter in front of the shop window, the stock out the back, and have done with it.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Pubs Are Safe In Their Hands ... Hey, Don't Laugh!

A few MPs yesterday conducted a hot air emitting session in Westminster Hall on the subject of Labour's ongoing pub closure programme.

With a couple of notable exceptions it was customary fare, though I'm surprised the majority of speakers were able to remain focussed on the discussion with that heroically proportioned pachyderm rampaging around the room.

There were a few snippets that I personally found interesting, though.

Face/palm moment of the whole debate, for example, must surely be this contribution from Bournemouth East Tory, and former Blues Brother, Jake Tobias Ellwood.

Certainly the issue of preloading needs to be addressed; my hon. Friend Anne Main made that point. It is a disgrace that when Labour came to power the price of beer in a pub was twice that of beer in the supermarket but now the price of beer in a pub is seven times that of beer in the supermarket. Is it any wonder that people are loading up on alcohol before going to the pub, or buying alcohol in the supermarket and avoiding the pub? That issue needs to be addressed.
Something must be going dramatically awry with pub pricing, then, considering that ONS statistics have shown supermarket alcohol prices to have risen over and above inflation in the past 30 years.

Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the period
However, armed with figures showing that the differential isn't really the fault of supermarkets, Ellwood revealed that the Tories have a cunning plan.

We will place a cap on the price of loss leaders in supermarkets and I hope that that will work.
Good grief.

Labour's Gerry Sutcliffe then revealed that he could be related to Lieutenant George in Blackadder Goes Forth.

To return to the point that this is a general election issue, I am highly in favour of that. It is right that issues close to our communities should be discussed in public, especially at general election time.
We're also highly in favour of Labour's assault on pubs being an election issue, Gerry. You're going 'over the top' and those whom you decided were less than human are manning the machine guns. Tally Ho!

And, as if to remind us that MPs aren't all stuffed shirts, Gerry rounded the ineffectual pow-wow off with a generous slice of side-splitting humour.

The smoking ban has been mentioned. Do hon. Members forget that the overwhelming majority of Members of this House voted for the smoking ban? I understand that there have been issues with its implementation, but we have considered best practice to ensure that the ban has been applied so as to meet policy objectives, as well as to find ways of supporting those who want to smoke.
Here's that 'support' in full.

Outside smoking shelters in the UK are forbidden by law to be more than 50 percent enclosed. As the campaigning group Freedom2Choose has pointed out: a farmer who keeps pigs is obliged by law to provide them with 95 percent shelter. So the 12 million or more tax-paying British citizens who smoke are officially, legally, worse than pigs.
Still, at least MPs are taking the issue of pub closures very seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that the the newly-appointed Minister for pubs stayed well away in case he became too agitated in his zeal to solve the problem, presumably. Or, as the guy in the natty black suit and trilby pointed out.

He says that he has a few ideas in his locker; today would have been the ideal day to open that locker and let us see what is actually going on. It is a little bit like someone realising that their glasses are in their pocket at the very end of their driving test; it is a bit late to put things into focus and it is certainly a bit late to impress anyone.
When you're on a mission from God, it's always about glasses and driving, isn't it?

Open Letter To Martin Dockrell, ASH UK

Subject: Open Letter
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 01:20:03 +0000

Hiya Sunshine

Hope you and yours are well. Not overwhelmed and spluttering at the smell of your next door neighbour's bathtime candles, I trust? People can be so annoyingly free in their own homes, can't they?

Still, I'm sure you'll get them all in the end.

Anyway, enough of the small talk mate. I have a serious question to ask.

I know we have had our differences in the past, but I truly believe we have finally found something we can agree on. You never know, we may even share a beer one day if our new found relationship keeps up (shhh ... I won't tell Don Shenker if you don't).

I'm talking about that John Banzhaf, your American ASH counterpart. He's mad as a bag of marbles, isn't he?

For example:

"The public seems to be increasingly hostile to smokers and the habit, and want to stop treating them differently from other drug users, polluters, and walking health hazards, says Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)."

Also, the very responsible and normally conservative BusinessWeek provided respectability to a suggestion that 'governments should make it illegal for people with children to smoke' by just publishing an argument in favor of that view in its 'Debate Room.'

"Smokers pollute the air the public and their children are forced to breathe with toxic carcinogenic fumes, inflate taxes and the costs of health insurance, start the blazes which are the major cause of residential fire deaths, kill thousands of their own children every year, and are a major contributor to litter on beaches, streets, and elsewhere. Isn't it time we stopped tolerating if not encouraging this outrageous behavior and harm to the public," suggests Banzhaf.
I'm pretty sure that you will be appalled at such comments. After all, I do believe ASH UK have gone on record as saying that it's not smokers who should be targeted, but smoking itself.

As such, I feel confident that you will distance yourself from the lunacy advanced by John Banzhaf, namely:

- Smokers are walking health hazards
- Government should make it illegal for people with children to smoke
- Smokers deliberately start fires
- Smokers kill their own children

That sort of stuff really isn't cricket, is it?

I feel sure that you will be eager to disassociate your branch of ASH from such appalling attitudes towards smokers. I am publishing this as an open letter on my blog which, as you know as a regular reader, is entirely unmoderated. So you can either reply there (not as an Anon is better) or you can reply to this e-mail ... which I will post on the blog without alteration.

I realise you are a busy man and have much schmoozing of dozy legislators to be getting on with, as well as junk scientists to pay off, but hopefully you will find time in that exciting day of yours to give us your view of Banzhaf's comments.

{Whisper} Listen, I know you're a good egg really, but not replying at all would tend to suggest to the wider audience that you're fully aligned with Banzhaf, so please do give a view.

I look forward to hearing from you, Mr D, and when we go for that beer, do you prefer one containing alcohol or arsenic? (only kidding) :-)

Yours respectfully
Richard Puddlecote

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Fleshing Out A Bone

It's not often I post specifically in reply to a comment here, it's normally more cosy to have a little chat in the shadows, but an observation from Felix yesterday deserves a more expansive response.

Did you honestly just link to a SMOKING LOBBY GROUP for a scientific analysis of a smoking study?

Not commenting on the rest of your article, but that seems to be some pretty horrendous sourcing.
The link to which he refers is a comprehensive debunking of the 'science' behind the recent third hand smoke nonsense, hosted at The Free Society.

I could have quite as easily pointed to the author's blog instead, but by his own admission, the Free Society article was more detailed, and the casual reader might not be as informed as those who subject themselves to this place on a daily basis (you know who you are).

The real problem here is that, in an ideal world, such shambolic science would be attacked from all angles. But, as far as I am aware, there are only two articles forensically critical of such nonsense, and they are both written by the same person.

Felix falls into the trap, cleverly laid by those who don't like their shonky 'research' being challenged, of dismissing the source without reading the article, which can't be faulted.

Better to shoot the messenger than defend the glaring paucity of the paper itself is the usual reaction when their junk science is exposed. The accusation of being paid by big tobacco, so therefore not being allowed an opinion, is anti-tobacco rebuttal 101. I've even been accused of it myself on occasion. Which was nice, although untrue.

What is very much amusing about the whole exercise is that the lifestyle righteous routinely point to a lack of voluntary regulation from those with whom they disagree.

For example:

Maureen Moore, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland , said:

"Scotland 's smoking ban is delivering effective protection, something that both ventilation and voluntary approaches failed to do."
And do you remember this little doozy?

There should be a ban on all alcohol advertising, including sports and music sponsorship, doctors say.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson: "Voluntary marketing codes are just not working"
Yet, on the subject of a quite appalling piece of junk science from their own side, they are silent in the extreme.

They are working under their own 'voluntary' code of scientific integrity but are quite happy to just let the third hand smoke idiocy slide.

Of course, the same isn't true when faced with anything funded by their opponents. No way. In that scenario, they get very loud, shrill even, and will pick through every tiny detail. And when it all gets too difficult, they will cry foul and call for government to shut the opposition up.

In a very real sense, the biggest failure of a voluntary code is that of ASH, Alcohol Concern, and other bansturbatory entities who quite stubbornly refuse to exhibit any scientific integrity whatsoever.

Rather than dismissing the Free Society article, which is perfectly argued and open to challenge if such a challenge exists, Felix should surely be asking why no serious scrutiny is being directed at the third hand smoke report by the massed ranks of tobacco control. The answer is that they are quite happy to pervert British laws on the back of quite astoundingly weak studies.

The voluntary approach of the anti-smoking and anti-alcohol lobby to adhere to proper science has been comprehensively shown to be a disgraceful failure, and it is time that the state intervened to legislate against their organised fraud.

The moment ASH, or any one of the many other state funded anti-smoking organisations, bother to pour scorn on a quite laughable study like the one referenced, I will be very pleased to link to it.

Unfortunately, it will never happen, and the public will continue to be mis-informed.

The voluntary approach has failed. Time for ASH and Alcohol Concern to be strictly regulated. I'm sure they would agree. It's what they always advise for others, after all.

Or perhaps they are just disgusting hypocrites.

What Could Possibly Be More Simple?

Changing your address with the DVLA is dead easy.

H/T Tim Worstall

Monday, 22 February 2010

Labour Kill All Businesses In The End

The (quite literal) counter-productivity of Labour's public sector behemoth never ceases to amaze we poor souls who run small businesses.

Regular readers will be aware that I'm in transport (there's a tag down the side there somewhere). I really do try not to bore you out of your nether garments with shop talk but sometimes work issues hold a certain relevance to this place, and as such, the occasional transport business post escapes the censor (ie, me). This is one of those, so feel free to do something less boring instead if you so wish, although today's tale is particularly startling.

Transport is, as you can imagine, an industry which is heavily susceptible to the heavy hand of bureaucracy. It is quite understandable. However, the obstacles placed by government appointed bodies have been increasing exponentially as Labour's tenure lengthens.

In the past three years, this pressure has been cranked up to incredibly oppressive levels. Our business, though, has continued to grow, both in spite of, and because of, the ever more trivial demands of red tape. That may sound contradictory, but to explain, the incessant river of diktats with which we are forced to comply have accelerated in frequency as well as becoming more and more obsessed with the most trivial of eventualities. Each one has been more jaw-droppingly bureaucratic than the last, but we have performed all kind of contortions to remain able to trade. Each has made us a little less efficient but we are large enough to cope. If we had faced this environment a mere decade ago we would quite simply not have survived.

Of course, this has meant that we have watched competitor after competitor fall by the wayside for the simple fault of not being as established and cash rich as us. Honest, small companies have gone to the wall or just not bothered to compete against the cascade of overweening regulations. The assiduous one man band has ceased to exist, as have small but well run family outfits, and although it affords us a better position, I can honestly say that we really do miss them.

Of course, with less competition and more overhead inflicted by the public sector, you can guess what has happened to our prices, can't you?

Now, although we are used to this state funded interference by now, a letter we received today was quite astonishing.

I'm trying hard not to go into fine details here for two reasons. Firstly, it would take a couple of thousand words to describe, but also because it is incredibly boring, so I'll try to analogise.

Imagine you have been driving your car for five or six years (the government has stated that you are forbidden to drive anything older) and a new law is brought in which says that your car seats have been deemed unacceptable. You have to sort it out or your car will be illegal and you can be fined a hell of a lot of money should you try to use it.

Easy, you say, I'll just get the seats changed. Nope, not that simple, as the government has decreed that only the manufacturer is allowed to install the correct seats. OK, you'll get the manufacturer to do it then. You're stymied there, too, because they can only be installed when the vehicle is first made. Couldn't you get an inspector to say that the seats, freshly-installed by the manufacturer, are fine? No again, as the compliance certificate can't be backdated.

Your only option is to sell the car and buy a new one. Except you can't sell it as no-one wants it ... because they can't use it.

The old seats weren't a danger, no-one ever died or was even injured in any car in which they were fitted, they are perfectly safe and have been comprehensively crash-tested. But some pencil twiddler decided that he doesn't like them.

You have two months to comply.

It wasn't about seats (it was actually even more inconsequential than that) but that is the gist of our letter today. And, as such, half of our fleet will be obsolete in a couple of months.

We have just recruited a new office worker to cope with new contracts we are taking on in the autumn which involved employing up to 50 more staff, yet this quite unnecessary directive could lead to us being forced to lay off half of our employees to remain compliant. That's a net loss to the country of around 100 jobs.

The DVLA are more than satisfied with the safety of the vehicles, the Ministry of Transport too, and VOSA. But a fourth public sector body doesn't like one tiny aspect, so there is a real possibility that jobs will be lost.

We have easily manageable debt, a superb credit rating, burgeoning business goodwill, huge scope for expansion and job creation. But the state could well have killed it stone dead.

We have called our MP in. He has visited before and, to be fair, is familiar with our continual red tape problems and extremely sympathetic. He hasn't really helped tangibly before though so we're not expecting any pulling up of trees, especially since he is popping in when he just happens to be canvassing in our area on the day of his visit, according to his office.

We're rather proud of our ability to employ more people, our staff turnover is very low simply because we treat them properly and pay them well.

We'd like to continue growing, benefitting the economy, and thriving, but Labour's unceasing drive to punish irrelevancies, reward state paid public sector pen-pushing, while simultaneously squeezing every small glimmer of entrepreneurial spirit out of the country, is fast becoming an insurmountable barrier.

As a parting Jerry Springer-esque moral. What I find incredible about all this is that it isn't me, or my partners, who will suffer. We will still have a business, just a bit smaller. Other entrants won't be introduced to compete, most of them long since ceased operation anyway due to the unending application of overarching rules, and there's no way this will help them. And the big losers are working class people who we will no longer be able to afford to employ.

Yet it is Labour who are doing this. It's not those nasty Tories putting these people out of work, it's not the Tories protecting larger businesses from the unwanted downward price pressure of the small guy.

It's Labour.

To coin a phrase ... we really can't go on like this.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Smokers To Be Banned From Working With Kids

Overly alarmist? You think?

Innocent teachers and nurses could be banned from working with children because of their attitudes or lifestyles.

Guidance seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which has been given to more than 100 case workers at the ISA reveals that those referred could be permanently blocked from work if aspects of their home life or attitudes are judged to be unsatisfactory.

It says case workers should be "minded to bar" cases referred to them if they feel "definite concerns" about at least two aspects of their life, which are specified in the document.
Smoking isn't specified just yet, but remember this?

Researcher Lara Gundel, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said: "Smoking outside is better than smoking indoors but nicotine residues will stick to a smoker's skin and clothing.

"Those residues follow a smoker back inside and get spread everywhere. The biggest risk is to young children.

"Dermal uptake of the nicotine through a child's skin is likely to occur when the smoker returns and if nitrous acid is in the air, which it usually is, then TSNAs will be formed."
All bollocks, of course, but Great Ormond Street Hospital believed it even before any study existed, and evidently still do.

It's not going to be long before smoking, on one's own time and in one's own home, is on the ISA's blacklist.

The US are well down that road already, with rancid anti-smoking hysteric, John Banzhaf, proudly encouraging the refusal of any type of employment to smokers.

So, not alarmist at all. In fact, it's almost certain that smokers will very soon be categorised as a risk to children by the ISA.

If you enjoy tobacco, how does it feel to be seen as standing shoulder to shoulder with paedophiles?

(BTW, even Mayors won't be exempt)

UPDATE: It looks like a notable US anti-smoker is thinking along the same lines. That's settled then.

There Is No Longer Such Thing As Society

Margaret Thatcher's oft-repeated, out of context, denial of the existence of society generally raises hackles in many. The implication being that the public cherish such an intangible entity and would rue its passing.

Too late. It's long gone.

A headteacher has unlawfully fined the parents of pupils caught smoking in their school playground.

Margaret Peacock, head of Elliot School in Putney, wrongly claimed powers under the 2007 smoking ban to issue the £50 penalties.

Ms Peacock sent letters to the parents demanding the £50 and warned them that if they did not pay, the school's governors would face a £2,500 fine. In the letter, she wrote: “The law, which came into force on 1 July 2007, prohibits smoking on public property.

“Your child was part of a group of girls seen on CCTV who were involved in smoking on the school site and therefore a fixed penalty fine of £50 has been imposed.”

She added: “The governors, as employers and owners of the property, have a duty to enforce this law and have the right to fine any person £50 for breaking the law.”
Yes, she's an arrogant empire building bastard, but that's not the point I'm aiming at here. Just check out some of the appended comments

"I'm disappointed that such a law does not actually exist. What a shame"

"OK,2 things here. She's 14 years old. She was caught smoking in School (be it the playground). I don't want my own children hanging round people like that. I hope aswell as the fine, the child got a hefty detention"

"This story is beyond belief, I can't believe the evening standard actually believe an injustice has been done."

"The teacher should have got a medal instead of a fine"

"I think that head teacher shoudl have been awarded something for such outstanding public service - and the fine should most certainly stay in place"

"What a smart headteacher. And what a dumb Evening Standard ! Whose side are you
on ?"
Forget divide and conquer. The division is now deeply embedded and, if comments such as this are a guide, the public has been comprehensively vanquished.

The debate is no longer whether society exists or not. We've now got to ask ourselves if the British public can be bothered to protect it anymore.

Let's talk about the teacher for a moment. She has massively exaggerated a minor problem, hugely over-estimated her powers as a teacher and, in doing so, misrepresented a legal statute to extort cash from parents. If she did so on purpose, she should be arrested and charged with attempted theft, fraud, or deception. If she wasn't aware of how wrong her initiative was, she is clearly not fit to impart wisdom to kids. Either way, she fully deserves to receive her P45.

Yet many are willing to overlook her woeful incompetence because they hate smokers, young blacks, or incredibly, traffic wardens.

I had some sympathy till I read the mother is a traffic warden, she now knows what it's like to receive an unfair fine.
Irony doesn't get more egregious than this. Yes, the mother is a traffic warden, so therefore it's payback. That appears to be the frame of mind of these odious cock sockets. Hmmm, let me just delve into that particularly perverted logic. A traffic warden imposes hefty fines for fairly trivial matters to raise money for the local authority, which is unfair however legal. So it's perfectly OK for a teacher to bastardise the law and ... illegally impose hefty fines for fairly trivial matters to raise money for the local authority.

Government have divided us so completely that this is the level of self-centred debate now. Do we wish to be beaten with an authoritarian club encrusted with nails, or with glass?

And while everyone goes all Daily Mail, the fact that an ignorant fuckwit has thrown another illiberal stick on the country's bonfire of common sense is almost entirely ignored.

Fuck the law, fuck standing up to horrendous local dictators, in fact, fuck society and community in general. Who needs it?

Educational Progress

As it's kinda Antiques Roadshow time, take a look at this artwork which is housed in Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery.

Painted in 1845, it portrays Russian schoolkids (ten years old, maybe?) pensively solving a maths puzzle written on the blackboard by their teacher. No calculators, no pencil and paper, but they look eager to try. Confident, even.

The sum in question is below.

Reckon kids of that age in our much-vaunted state system could perform mental gymnastics such as this?

Actually, don't answer that.

(If you attempt it yourself, no cheating allowed)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

He Who Pays The Piper ...

Comrade Beeb seem to have woken up to the fact that there might be some corruption going on in the climate change debate.

Well, they may have been aware of its existence for a while, but it's significant that they have recently shown more willingness to report it.

Leading scientists say that the recent controversies surrounding climate research have damaged the image of science as a whole.

"Public opinion polls are showing that the answers to questions like: 'how much do you respect scientists?' or 'are they behaving in disinterested ways?', have deteriorated in the last few months."

[President of the US National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone,] said that this crisis of public confidence should be a wake-up call for researchers, and that the world had now "entered an era in which people expected more transparency".

"People expect us to do things more in the public light and we just have to get used to that," he said. "Just as science itself improves and self-corrects, I think our processes have to improve and self-correct."
The tone of this article seems to be one of naïve trust in researchers; that the recent revelations are just the result of a few bad eggs; that trust can be engendered by a bit more openness.

The idea that the results themselves may be routinely skewed in favour of their sources of funding - usually governments who desperately wish to 'prove' the legitimacy of their climate change policies - doesn't appear to have been considered.

If a researcher is making a living out of grants from those who wish to prove the existence of AGW, they're hardly going to jeopardise that revenue stream by coming up with conflicting data. If that were to occur, such results will be quietly suppressed.

You think that's unfair on scientists? A tad harsh?

Well, if climate change research mirrors the institutionalised cycle of bias cosily set up between researcher and funder in the tobacco control debate, not really, no.

Take the case of Dr Anna Gilmore, for example.

Last month, she was incensed that a tobacco company had called for more 'transparent' consultation processes in relation to public health legislation.

Reading Chris Proctor's claims that British American Tobacco supports ­evidence-based public health regulations and "transparent" consultation processes is like peering into an alternate universe (Letters, 16 January). Our paper, which he refers to and is publicly available at PLoS Medicine, shows that BAT reshaped EU policymaking procedures to expressly prevent such regulation and did so by recruiting a series of more credible partners to front its campaign and obscure its involvement (Tobacco corporations lobby to hamper passing of EU health laws, say academics, 12 January).
Gilmore argues that tobacco companies are too biased to be allowed to comment on anti-smoking matters. She has even written a paper about it (not for free, of course).

Presumably, Gilmore considers herself a paragon of objectivity and dispassion. Despite the fact she is making herself very rich on the back of producing anti-tobacco reports favourable to her funders.

Here are a few of her recent granted projects:

European Commission. Seventh Framework Programme, €3,000,000 (Grant), Health in Times of Transition (HITT), May 2009 - April 2012
Gilmore A, McKee M et al

European Commission. Seventh Framework Programme, €2,991,656 (Grant), Pricing Policies and Control of Tobacco in Europe (PPACTE), 2009 - 2012
Gilmore A, with Clancy L, Perkurinen F, Godfrey F, Fischbacher C, Levy D, Boffetta P, Gallus S, Fernandes E, Ross H

NHS Soutwest, £165,284 (Grant), Smokefree South West: Research and evaluation support, 2009 - 2011
Bauld L, with Gilmore A.

Cancer Research UK, £30,000 (Grant), Studies of the impact of passive smoke exposure on child health, 2009 - 2010
Gilmore A, with Britton J et al

CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research), £146,767.50 ($286,769) (Grant), Upstream Determinants of Smoking in Low, Middle and High Income Countries participating in PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study), 2008 - 2010
Yusuf S, Chow C, McKee M, Sankaranarayanan V, Teo K, Gilmore A.

Bloomberg Initiative, $1,092,000 (Grant), Development of sustainable structures to promote ratification of FCTC and advocate for stronger tobacco control legislation and compliance, 2007 - 2010
Gilmore A with Danishevski K, et al on the behalf of the Russian FCTC Coalition

European Respiratory Partnership, £150,000 (Grant), Tobacco industry influence on European Union Tobacco control policy making, 2007 - 2009
Gilmore A, with Collin C

Islington Primary Care Trust, £30,000 (Grant), Evaluation of the impact of smokefree legislation amongst different ethnic groups in Islington PCT, 2007 - 2008
Gilmore A, with Lock K

Health Foundation Clinician Scientist Fellowship, £576,195 (Grant), Developing and evaluating policies to reduce tobacco use and harm in the UK, November 2006 - 2011
Gilmore A

National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health, $1,564,280 (Grant), Globalisation, the tobacco industry and policy influence - grant extension, 2006 - 2010
Gilmore A, with Lee K, Collin J, McKee M

Open Society Institute, US$300,000 (Grant), Public Health Leadership for an Open Society, 2005 - 2005
Gilmore A, with Coker R, Atun R

Cancer Research UK, £80,000 (Grant), Centre on Global Change and Health (support for tobacco industry document work), 2003 - 2004
Gilmore A, with Lee K, Collin J

National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health, US$1,628,225 (Grant), Globalisation, the tobacco industry and policy influence, 2001 - 2006
Gilmore A, with Lee K, Collin J, Bissell K, McKee M, Vaughn JP

The Wellcome Trust, £1,000,000 (Grant), History of Medicine tobacco document archiving project, 2001 - 2006
Gilmore A, with Lee K, Collin J, Berridge V, Black N
Being a simple google search, this may not even be a comprehensive list, but it's clear that Anna Gilmore has been a beneficiary of grants totalling over £10m from vested interests seeking ammunition for their anti-smoking policies.

Now call me cynical, but I don't think she would consider disappointing them, do you?

So, just as Fyffes would naturally look to a scientist willing to swear blind that bananas are a wonder fruit, who better for the Department of Health to appoint to look into the success or otherwise of the UK smoking ban**, eh?

Evaluating the impacts of smokefree legislation using secondary data

Cost: £220,000

Status: Ongoing

Contractor: University of Bath .

Lead researcher: Dr Anna Gilmore

Publication: a series of articles will be produced as the analyses are completed. The first of these is in press
Anna's bulging anti-tobacco till goes kerching once again***.

Little wonder, then, that Dr Gilmore was so incensed at the suggestion of more independent and disinterested parties being chosen for such research ... such a move would have disastrous consequences on her bank balance.

With regard climate change science, the BBC reports Dr Cicerone thus.

"There is a feeling that scientists are suppressing dissent, stifling their competitors through conspiracies."
Taking into account the methods by which studies are commissioned and funded, by those with a huge stake in ensuring 'correct' results, while simultaneously dismissing opposing views (from oil or tobacco companies, for example), it's only natural that conclusions will be skewed.

Under the circumstances, it's not earth-shattering news that a few scientists are being manipulative and corrupt. I'd be more surprised to find that there are some who aren't.

** Obtained via FOIA request
*** Now we know why Andy Burnham was so confident about
the future results of the review

Link Tank 20/02

This Saturday's mid-morning coffee accessories.

Are fizzy drinks the new tobacco?

Canada's last World War I veteran dies aged 109

Four year old ordered to remove leg braces for US airport security

Doctors have got it wrong about cholesterol for years

Crackdown on 'cowboy' weather forecasters ... the Met Office, anyone?

How to hold your breath for 20 minutes

The Winter Olympics are racist, apparently

America's ongoing battles surrounding outdoor smoking bans

Fat birds get laid sooner, have more one night stands

Lastly, Paul Flynn, this is especially for you - Limp wrists and tight fists

Friday, 19 February 2010

Why The US Should Tell Jamie Oliver To Fuck Right Off

Hey, you crazy yanks, consider yourselves warned. If you choose to ignore advice, you're on your own.

Please read the whole Spiked article and marvel at how the tedious mockney cretin manages to fill a speech of 18 minutes with a comprehensive walk-through of the junk stats, contradictory scares, and ill-founded tear-tugging currently spouted by self-satisfied food gauleiters.

So, having watched Jamie feed you some fattened statistics about obesity that have been shown to be wildly inaccurate, seen him declare falsely that your kids are going to die far younger than they should, and watched him make a decent, upstanding, loving mother cry on TV, what did you do, America? You gave him a prize. What were you thinking?

Okay, it is partly our fault. When he tried this stuff over here, our prime minister at the time, Tony Blair, was so desperate to fawn over anybody who was having any influence on the public that he met him and announced new government policies in response to his TV series. The result? Fewer kids eat school meals than before he started while school meals staff have to work harder.
Still, what does the self-declared opponent of the food police care as long as he can break into America's lucrative recipe book market?

Not sure about kids consuming too much junk food as it is certainly not apparent in Puddlecoteville, but Jamie has been dangerously binge-feasting on righteous schlong, it would appear.

Time for him to cut down on slurping at the Fatfinder General's man batter and stop being such a hideously interfering chimp, methinks.

Too Soon?

Joe Stack ... the game.

Don't miss out on your medal for trashing the Toyota, too.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Dick Out And About: The British Isles - Europe's Billy No Mates

UK and Ireland: Dictatorial EU extremists (link).

Smoking Ban Driving A Surge In Tobacco Sales

Oh dear.

Tobacco makes a comeback in convenience

The squeeze on consumer spending and new anti-smoking laws could actually have helped boost tobacco sales in local shops in the past 12 months, Convenience Store’s latest product survey has revealed.

Some 27% of the independent c-store retailers surveyed said that tobacco was their best performing product category of 2009 – up from 23% the previous year.

Retailers have attributed the rise to factors including the ban on smoking in public places, which has reduced sales in pubs and clubs as more people buy from stores to smoke at home.

Confectionery was rated the top-performing category of 2009, with a quarter of retailers saying they expected tobacco to take over the top spot in 2010.
What was that you were saying about halving smokers by 2020, Burnham?

Forgive Him, Lord, He Knows Not What He Said

Former director of the Met Office, former chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and former co-chair of the International Commission on Climate Change, Sir John Houghton, is throwing a right hissy fit about something attributed to him by Dr Benny Peiser of Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation.

He wants an apology.

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, writing about my work as the chair of the first IPCC Scientific Assessment , quotes me as saying: "Unless we announce disasters no one will listen," thereby attributing to me and the IPCC an attitude of hype and exaggeration. That quote from me is without foundation. I have never said it or written it.

Although it has spread on the internet, I do not know its origin. In fact I have frequently argued the opposite, namely that those who make such statements are not only wrong but counterproductive. This quote is doing damage not only to me as a responsible scientist but also to the IPCC which in its main conclusions has always worked to avoid exaggeration. I demand from Dr Peiser an apology that he failed to check his sources and a public retraction of the use he made of the fabricated quotation.

Sir John Houghton
Hadley Centre
Meteorological Office, Exeter
He must have surely forgotten a Telegraph article in 1995 entitled "Me and My God".

Houghton warns that God may induce man to mend his ways with a disaster. “God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters. Human sin may be involved; the effect will be the same. If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster."
Not the same at all, is it?

H/T John Adams

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Essex Envy Economics

Is this guy for real?

What is good for companies need not be good for savers, borrowers, taxpayers, employees, or local communities.
Take companies away and see how many savers, taxpayers and employees you are left with. Take away the banked profits and where are borrowers to find a lender with a generous pot to play with? And is he seriously suggesting that local communities will function without a major source of employment?

There is an increasing disparity between the people's need for jobs, economic stability, quality of life and human rights, and corporate obsession with private profits.
No, this is backwards thinking. The obsession for private profits drives the supply of jobs and, therefore, the accompanying uplift in economic stability, quality of life etc. (more on human rights later).

This harsh lesson is once again evident in the aftermath of the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft. Workers had no vote or say in the take-over of Cadbury, and soon afterwards Kraft announced factory closures. This may make profits for shareholders, but does nothing for workers or local communities.
Firstly, why the fuck should employees, who have invested nothing in a business, be given a vote on economics they will almost certainly not understand? And secondly, if closures happen, this is more to do with a poor environment provided by the state than any imagined malfeasance by the business itself.

Christ! This is economics 101, isn't it? If infrastructure and conditions are advantageous to any company, they will not only remain there, but also avail themselves of the resources therein. Including creating jobs and spreading goodwill.

If Kraft close their operation, it's because they can get the job done more efficiently and economically elsewhere. They're not doing it out of spite. The one thing that businesses never do is reduce their profits to make a point, simply because they are accountable to their shareholders ... the very demons Prem Sikka appears to despise.

Diageo, Unilever and a number of other companies are threatening to move their headquarters to offshore locations unless the government shifts taxes away from corporations and their rich executives to ordinary people.
Bollocks, quite frankly.

The state has a balance to maintain with regard to taxes. Place the burden too high on employees and yield decreases at the expense of the welfare state (some tax receipts are better than none at all). Shift it unevenly onto companies and staff are shed extremely quickly ... again at the expense of the state's coffers.

Long run companies, such as those mentioned by Sikka, have an easy way out of such lunacy ... by moving to other, less financially restrictive, countries. Offshore locations is cleverly worded sleight of hand for his Guardian readership, hinting at connotations of being tax free. Of course, there are very few locations which can offer tax free status and probably none where such large operations can function optimally.

They will pay taxes. Just not here.

Of course, they still want to make profits in the UK and expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab for providing them with the legal system, policing, security, subsidies and an educated and healthy workforce.
COMPANIES ARE TAXPAYERS! It's not given free. Again, if the public want all those trappings of a successful country, businesses are needed to supply taxes, along with their suppliers who also pay taxes, and the companies' employees who pay more taxes, and the taxes of the companies who sell stuff to the employees.

Without the originator, the rest goes missing and savage cuts are required in the legal system, policing, security, education and health - all of which rely on massive injections of entrepreneurial cash.

The widening income and wealth inequalities are literally killing people.
Then why the fuck are you arguing in favour of driving businesses away and feeding poverty, you hideous prick?

An increase in the national minimum wage would go a long way towards achieving this. Company executives are still drawing mega bonuses, but they are not happy about the prospect of an increase in the minimum wage.
Again, no. An increase in the minimum wage will place pressure on job creation, pushing some employed people into the position where it is not economically viable to employ them. As far as I understand it, the wage is very carefully monitored to prevent exactly that, and so it should be. Raising it for the purposes of ideological fantasy will harm exactly the people this dolt wishes to protect.

Conflating the average anchored community worker with a highly mobile wealth creator, eminently capable of relocating elsewhere, is just gross laughable and based on nothing but envy.

Lose the wealth creators, you lose the, err, wealth. Capiche?

There is an urgent need to align corporate practices with social justice and democracy. Rather than being tossed aside in the takeover bazaars, workers should have a vote on all mergers and takeovers. Before moving to newer pastures, corporations should be required to return all public subsidies and grants and make good any environmental damage that they have caused. They should be required to ensure that after their departure the local community would not be worse off.
A whole lot of rhubarb which will merely result in no company worth a carrot bothering to invest here.

The tumbleweed would whip round poor areas as quickly as the government's social security reservoir dries up. Where's your fucking human rights, which have a cost themselves oddly enough, in that scenario, cocktard?

Therefore, they should be required to contribute to the retraining of the workforce and help with the development of small-scale workshops. The government should enact legislation to ensure that trade by UK companies is compatible with the universal declaration of human rights.
Small businesses would be crucified, thereby restricting further the employment options of local communities, whilst the large corporations, the ones who attract the subsidies mentioned for their huge advantage to any nation, piss off never to be seen again.

This guy is apparently a Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex. I pity the poor undergraduates that ever come into contact with such a hare-brained cunt.

Sikka talks of the UK government 'urgently' having to adopt such a ridiculous policy. If implemented unilaterally, the damage to the country would be disastrous.

Of course, there is one way the daft goals of which he speaks could be delivered, and that is to apply these rules globally through the UN, IMF, or some such body.

It would still mean a worldwide employment catastrofuck, but at least we wouldn't be alone in accommodating businesses paying incredible tax margins, to employ a minority proportion of the public, in order to finance the majority to sit on their arses in comfort.

They'd soon be fucking bored though, as investment in innovation would die on its arse in such an environment. Who would invest in producing an improved X-Box if the targeted consumer isn't able to afford the huge price which would be placed on it?

Isn't it about time these socialist idiots started recognising the comforts that capitalism has provided them, instead of being mealy-mouthed and jealous dickheads?

Eat this, Sikka.

Every Minute, A Politician Lies

Behold a perfect example of exaggerated government statistics - massaged into the realms of fantasy for party political purposes - passing into urban myth territory when picked up by others.

This ad is currently being presented at cinemas. Look out for the tagline:

"Every minute, another young person is trafficked into sexual exploitation"

A simple calculation puts that figure at over 500,000 trafficked young people per year.

Yet according to studies into the issue, the true figure is nowhere even remotely close to that.

Two academics from the University of North London, Liz Kelly and Linda Regan, tried to estimate the number of women who had been trafficked in the UK during the calendar year 1998, an exercise which they honestly described as "problematic".

First, there was the problem of the word, which Kelly and Regan solved by accepting all variations of its meaning. Then, there was the shortage of facts. They spoke to specialists, studied news reports and surveyed police, who reported that 71 women had been "trafficked", whether willingly or not, during 1998. In Stopping Traffic, which they published in May 2000, Kelly and Regan argued that the real scale of the problem was probably bigger than this and, in the absence of any accurate data, they made various assumptions which they themselves described as "speculative".

At the very least, they guessed, there could be another 71 trafficked women who had been missed by police, which would double the total, to 142. At the most, they suggested, the true total might be 20 times higher, at 1,420.
In October, I wrote about how the figure eventually quoted by Denis McShane in a Westminster debate had climbed to an incredible 25,000 in order to 'sell' their policies on trafficking, despite the fact that a nationwide inquiry failed to find even ONE trafficked prostitute.

As if that wasn't mendacious enough, an unsourced and unsubstantiated total of over half a million is now being broadcast to a receptive public in movie theatres.

If this is a global tally, there is no mention of it, especially since the object of trafficking in this video is a nice, middle class, English schoolgirl. Therefore one must assume that whoever commissioned this ad is quite happy for the public to believe that one British schoolkid is trafficked into prostitution every minute.

And even if this is a worldwide total, how are we supposed to believe that when politicians such as Denis McShane, acting on Harriet Harman's anti-male initiatives, spout such egregious scaremongery? Because, as the Rajendra Pachauri debacle illustrates, this is a worldwide problem, and regular readers of this blog will know of lies and distortions being foisted on us in many other spheres of policy.

Politicians have been lying to us so wildly, for so long, that all trust in them has long since been misplaced. One day it will evaporate entirely.

Crying wolf too often tends to have that effect, so when the metaphorical sheep really do begin to be ripped to pieces, we know where to apportion the blame.

Best One Yet

Of all the #ivenevervotedtory spoofs, I reckon this effort from Raedwald is my fave.

As Curmudgeon points out in the comments, though, the Tories have yet to wake up and pledge to do anything about it.


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Have The Lib Dems Entirely Given Up On Classic Liberalism?

I've just, a few minutes ago, been cold-called by the local Liberal Democrats.

Unlike similar communications from energy companies, double glazing salesmen, surveys etc, I'm right up for a chat when it comes to political activists of any party, if for nothing more than my views being noted. So, as an appetiser, I try to set out my stall early.

The call was incredibly brief, though. Here it is in its entirety:

Abigail: Can I speak to Mr Richard Puddlecote please?
DP: Speaking.
A: Hello, my name is Abigail, I'm calling on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Party. As you may be aware, we are in the run up to a general election. May I ask who you intend to vote for?
DP: Well, I'm not sure yet as I may consider standing myself.
A: {friendly chuckle}{then, enthusiastically} Really? May I ask for which party?
DP: The Libertarian Party.
A: {In a deflated tone} Oh, I see. Well, thank you for your time. Goodbye.

Time? I had mentally set aside anything up to half an hour in which to discuss further.

Now, I've considered the scenario whereby this was merely a vote-counting exercise, but as this is a Tory/LD marginal, it would seem to be an odd tactic. The Tory office rang a month or so ago, and the same opening gambit from me led to a discussion which lasted 7 or 8 minutes, during which time the guy gallantly tried to point out the libertarian aspects of his party and why I should vote for the Tory candidate.

By way of contrast, Abigail heard the word 'libertarian' and pressed the escape button.

Have the Lib Dems seriously nothing to offer the very many like me? Has the classic liberal side of the party been consigned to history?

One would expect them to at least try to highlight their true liberal credentials. Unless, of course, they simply don't have any anymore.

How depressing.

When Men Were Men, And Women ...

Speaking of adverts, as we were earlier, how about this one from Home and Garden Magazine, 1961?

Enough to give Don Shenker a coronary.

From here

Yes, I Think They Are/She Is Serious

That a left wing think tank should come up with laughable ideas isn't a surprise, but that someone can actually believe they talk sense certainly is.

Certainly we are bombarded by images trying to make us buy through the course of an average day – on mobile phones, computer screens, billboards, at bus stops, on flashing screens in railway stations and public transport. Then as we slump in front of television at night, there are plenty more, and we can soon expect product placement to supplement the ad breaks.
Yes, and we can ignore them. Personal responsibility is the key.

We are more brand-driven, more advertised-to, than ever. We are also unhappy, indebted and extremely wasteful; and the two things may be connected.
Only insofar as personal responsibility, which is the key, has been replaced by the socialist ideology of 'rights'. A right to enjoy every good, no matter the monetary circumstance. Labour's free laptops initiative, for example, is being promoted where the less well off will naturally gravitate ... the local authority mobile phone shops.

The Compass authors say that during an average day we will see more than 3,500 brand images. The purpose, they argue, isn't fulfilment and happiness – they don't sell products – but "the creation of a mood of restless dissatisfaction with what we have got and who we are so that we go out and buy more". We have become people not, as the religious once said, born to die, but born to buy.
Yes, but the natural human instinct is to want more, always has been. This, in the past, has been tempered by self-restraint and an understanding of personal economics. I dunno, one might even call it personal responsibility.

Then, a brief glimmer of understanding in the morass of lefty, anti-business, brain fudge.

We have to be careful of urban myth-making and hysteria. Being exposed to heavy selling from a young age produces cynicism as well as interest. People aren't putty: if advertisers are endlessly adaptable, so are their targets.
Yep. Personal responsibility is the key (did I mention that?). People have a very powerful computer between their ears, capable of some quite astounding calculations. One of the most fundamentally basic consists of a simple equation, which I have summarised below:

Where x = bank account + income, y = price of product, 16.9% is notional interest rate of credit, z = hunky dory, and f = fucked.

It really shouldn't be too difficult. Yet this daft bint places all of the world's woes at the door of advertising with ne'er a mention of the individual's responsibility to LOOK AFTER THEIR OWN FUCKING AFFAIRS!

Expectation of the average consumer having been reduced to gibbering imbecile, it's then rather easy to place restrictions on others - who are not privy to their customers' personal finances - instead.

[The Compass suggestions] include – my favourite – a complete ban on advertising in public places, from town squares to train stations, taxis to bus shelters. Shops would of course have to be allowed to display themselves, but there would be restrictions on shop-front marketing too. Imagine how much prettier and more restful the urban world – and the sides of motorways – would be.

Compass also wants all ­advertising to children under 12 to be banned; and all alcohol advertising; and all viral marketing; plus new taxes and regulations for advertisers themselves.
Which begs the question as to how anyone will know that anything is for sale at all.

And all that raft of legislation is apparently required to protect the reckless minority who need supervision in writing a fucking cheque.

Collective punishment doesn't get more egregious, or damaging to a world economy, than a policy which espouses dragging all consumers down to the level of unthinking idiots incapable of performing a few basic mathematical sums.

As Young Karl would say, this isn't quite a revolution. So long as market capitalism and our desire for economic growth exist, there will be advertising and we will find ourselves strangely drawn to new wants, fresh desires for this or that we hadn't known existed. And so long as that happens, some of us will borrow a bit too much, and we will waste at least a little.
And if some of us wish to ignore the simple equation above, why is it the business of government to legislate against those who exercise personal financial responsibility?

Personally, I can't think of a better way of punishing wise self-reliance, whilst simultaneously excusing irresponsibility, than this ridiculous, and obscenely illiberal cockwaffle.

Location, Location, Location

I think I've just found the perfect house where anti-smokers will never try to interfere (click pic for big).

D'ya think it's remote enough?

Monday, 15 February 2010

Three Is The Magic Number

While fake charities, righteously indignant busybodies, and state-paid tutters and head-shakers form a very long orderly queue, members of the public may be completely unaware that a 'public consultation' was launched today.

I mentioned at the weekend that government were mulling over the idea of ordering mandatory health warnings on alcohol. It seems they have mulled enough and you have till the 9th of May to air your views.

There are three options:

Option 1 [helpfully termed the "Do Nothing" option): Whether we should allow the current voluntary agreement to continue

Option 2: Whether there is any real prospect for a targeted and strengthened self-regulatory agreement with the alcohol industry to improve the coverage and consistency of unit and health information on labels.

Option 3: Whether a mandatory requirement with its associated costs, including those for small producers, is required [...]
There are plenty of pointers to guide you in the right direction, not that Don Shenker, Ian Gilmore and their swivel-eyed chums will need anything more than their prohibition targeted temperance compass, of course.

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies/governments are all lined up for option 3, and in the background, the EU are nodding enthusiastically too.

Should the Government find that it is not possible to enter a credible, voluntary agreement on alcohol labelling with the alcohol industry, we would consider a mandatory requirement through notifying draft regulations to the EU. It is a particular concern that a future EU requirement for calorie labelling on alcohol labels, which the UK Government supports, should be complemented by alcohol unit and health information being also widely available on labels.
Hmmm. Doesn't look too much like a 'public' consultation so far, but I'm sure you'll be relieved that it is being conducted in strict accordance with the rules on such matters.

[...]the consultation exercise is designed to be accessible to, and clearly targeted at, those people it is intended to reach;
So off you go then. Have your say.

What's that? You don't know where to find it? That could be because government tends to find the public a bit too inconvenient for public consultations. As a result, the modern approach is to target, and intend to reach, exclusively those whom government choose ... and the public don't figure too highly in that regard post 1997.

Still, there is a vague chance your view may be listened to, so if you wish to respond, just go here [pdf] and plough through the 71 pages. It mentions that you should have your 'research' to hand, though, so I hope you have been busy with that qualitative study.

Lastly, you'll be pleased to discover that any resultant legislation ...

[...] does not differentiate on the grounds of disability, transgender, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

The policy will not influence unjustifiable discrimination.
... which I imagine was a quite a significant worry, wasn't it?

So there is nothing to lose. Go tell the government to stop being so dictatorial. I'm sure they'll listen intently, unless they completely ignore any dissenting view, of course.

Have I ever mentioned that mandatory health warnings on tobacco were the first step on the road to the situation we now find ourselves in?

A couple of buckets of water were lobbed down the drinks industry slope today.

UPDATE: On the same topic, here's a truly excellent piece from Tim Collard ... ahem, a Labour party member. For a brief moment, I thought I'd written it myself.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Infectious Cigarettes?

We've all being having so much fun with the laughable notion of third hand smoke, that another recent investigation into the devil herb almost escaped attention.

Fags have got the lurgey, apparently.

The tobacco in cigarettes hosts a bacterial bonanza — literally hundreds of different germs, including those responsible for many human illnesses, a new study finds.

“Nearly every paper that you pick up discussing the health effects of cigarettes starts out with something to the effect that smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke experience high rates of respiratory infections,” notes Amy Sapkota of the University of Maryland, College Park. The presumption has been that smoking renders people vulnerable to disease by impairing lung function or immunity. And it may well do both.

“But nobody talks about cigarettes as a source of those infections,” she says. Her new data now suggest that’s distinctly possible.

If these germs are alive, something she has not yet confirmed, just handling cigarettes or putting an unlit one to the mouth could be enough to cause an infection.
So what ordinal description should this be termed? Fourth hand? Fifth hand? Who knows, but what this is effectively saying is that even unlit cigarettes are dangerous.

Time for a ban on possession of tobacco products in a public place, perhaps? You may think that's a bit far-fetched, but such a law already exists in some mad US counties.

Unsurprisingly, there is much use of the words 'if', 'could' and 'maybe', because this is merely wild speculation, as the researcher readily admits.

And here’s “a really wild idea,” she says: What if the smoke particles traveling through the still-unburned part of a cigarette pick up some germs and then ferry them deeply into the lung, where they’re unlikely to be cleared? Wouldn’t that be the prescription for disease?
Err, what about the danger from an unlit fag? Didn't you say earlier ...

One sometimes wonders if there is any new angle to be probed by anti-tobacco obsessives, but the capacity of US researchers to amaze and amuse in equal measure is fed by the massive funding pool afforded to them by the Master Settlement Agreement and subsequent hypothecated tax increases on tobacco.

This particular study, like the recent one relating to third hand smoke, appears to be trying to shift the focus of danger away from the smoke and onto the smoker. Not only are we apparently covered in deadly nicotine, we're now rumoured to also be breathing out lethal infections.

It will soon be time for the colony on the outskirts of town and a big bell for society's new lepers.

H/T Neal Asher