Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Maddest Man On The Planet

Apologies for not being around much today, been too busy enjoying Halloween with my kids and those who have visited the doorstep tonight.

Perhaps I should have been writing instead as it turns out I've actually been mortally wounding every last one of them.

Thus, suggests Prof. John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), adults should warn their children this Halloween, and also on other days, against visiting, going to parties, or playing in homes where adults smoke, especially in their presence.
Yes, this is the same ASH whose British arm, via our taxes, are funded by Cameron's government.

I've invited ASH UK to divorce themselves from his insanity before, but received no reply. One must presume, then, that they are quite happy to be associated with probably the maddest man on the planet.

Hey, Dockrell, you've got my e-mail. I'll give you another chance. Would you care to distance your Shoreditch operation from the notion that a kid standing briefly at a smoker's door is in mortal danger on Halloween?

Think of the funding, sunshine. No-one, not even anti-smokers, are happy paying for absurdity, after all.

H/T Taking Liberties

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Bad Science Is Always Bad Science*

Subrosa has unearthed an important video which tends to suggest that tobacco control have finally jumped the shark with their laughable nonsense.

Below we see Professor John B. Davies of Strathclyde University expressing deep disquiet at the methods being used to denormalise smoking. He uses words such as 'absurd', 'immoral' and 'deceitful' while describing negligible relative risk conclusions of bad epidemiological science and their subsequent use in 'social marketing' by politicians.

Have a watch, it's only four minutes, and you can sense the exasperation in his words.

Now, if you've been conditioned to believe that everyone who expresses a contrary view to anti-smoking nutters must be a tobacco-funded stooge, you'll no doubt be questioning his provenance. So I had a look. Yep, he's a Prof at Stathclyde.

In the area of public health, CASP (John being a part) has undertaken work for the Scottish Executive, the Chief Scientist's Office, numerous health boards and trusts, the Department of Employment, the WHO, the Social Work Services Directorate and many other organisations. The topics researched include alcohol and smoking, illicit drug use, health education, suicide, depression and prison work.

John Davies is also a member of the special Health Board, Quality Improvement Scotland, the NHS 24 Review Group and a number of other health-related committees.
Not a crank, then.

Well, how could he be? He's also a member of Health Scotland's Qualitative Bar Study.

Ah, but he could be a tobacco industry plant, yes? Those clever bastards get everywhere, huh? Well, fortunately, I don't have to much research on that because ASH gave us a comprehensive report earlier this year detailing everyone who had so much as looked at the brickwork of a cigarette company. I've searched it and Prof Davies ain't there. Though I'm sure they'll be slinging unsubstantiated shit at him very soon for his insolence.

This is the problem when you build an empire based on lies. Just when you think you're unassailable, you push too far and the whole thing comes crashing down around you.

The junk 'science' behind anti-smoker bullying is being deconstructed day by day, it's only politicians who haven't noticed it yet.

* Unless you're a member of the Bad Science forum, of course, in which case some bad science is fine.

Hypocrite? Yes - Insult? Give Over

I thought I thaw a hypocrite.

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has apologised for branding a member of the Government a "ginger rodent".
I did! I did! I did thaw a hypocrite.

How astoundingly fucking stupid is this woman? Her absurd genetically-flawed baby, The Equality Act, has barely begun to wreak its anti-social havoc on society before she's throwing the kind of mild insults around which she over-weeningly sought to eradicate from others whilst in office.

The term 'one rule for them' really does jump uninvited into one's mind, doesn't it?

So she said sorry. Err, why? It's seriously not that big a deal. Even the usually effete and hand-wringing Labour Party didn't find it that shocking, hence the warm applause. It's not like she called Danny Alexander a thistle-munching cunt or anything, although political expediency demanded that some moron from the SNP would naturally try to couch it in such terms.

Nationalist MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville claimed the dig was insulting to all redheads in Scotland, adding Ms Harman's "silly remark isn't anti-Danny or anti-Lib Dem, it's anti-Scottish".
Oh do go boil your head, Shirley-Anne, it's nothing of the sort. It's a remark which would have gone almost without comment just a decade ago, before Labour injected the country with the right not to be offended. Ever.

"Coming from the doyenne of po-faced political correctness, these remarks show she and Labour have lost the plot since losing the election," Ms Somerville said.
Yes, she certainly has lost the plot. She has grievously harmed the admirable British trait of community and resilience by replacing it with suspicion of others and a law which causes discord, mistrust and animosity for so much as a misplaced comedic quip.

For that she should be required to bend over and take six of the best but, if she hadn't been the idiot who pushed through the Equality Act (which the coalition have shamefully endorsed), she should have told those who became righteously offended to wind their necks in and stop being such pussies.

No wonder these vacuum-sealed, moisturiser-soaked, pinkie-pointing wimps have presided over the death of thousands of community pubs. They simply don't live in the same universe as working class people, let alone planet. Their dictionary doesn't feature the word 'banter'. Call someone a ginger rodent in a CIU club and it's so benign that they wouldn't know if you were having a dig or being complimentary. Real people wouldn't find offence in it unless there was a no-win, no-fee solicitor whispering in their ear.

The way real people talk gets a 15 certificate these days. It won't stop the way real people communicate, but politicians are so mind-crashingly stupid that they believe everyone should be as guarded and lily-livered as they are.

That is what Labour should be destroyed for; that is what Harman should be hung from a lamp-post for; that is why Harman's Equality Act is ridiculous and unworkable, and that is why she should be saying sorry.

Ginger rodent? It shouldn't even be news, and probably wouldn't have been before Labour's systematic assault on the British people, as Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas observed earlier this month.

You don’t have to be the Daily Mail to recognise this makes jokes that fail the PC etiquette test or office backbiting, criminal offences. As it is stressed that ‘discriminatory behaviour’ can occur ‘regardless of whether a person with a protected characteristic will witness it or not’ – this is a snitches’ charter too.

Regardless of whether one approves of ribald joshing between colleagues, or bitching at work, unleashing the state’s punitive power to arbitrate relations between adults working together is disproportionate.
And this is what Harman and her party created. Those attacking her are using the tools that Labour dreamed up and spread widely. This odd state of mind, where offence is the first port of call, is exclusive to a limp-willed political elite who seem to believe we should all be as pathetic as them.

She's a hypocrite of the highest order, yes. But the 'insult'? Just an invitation for fellow intra-bubble fuckwits to further illustrate that they have no fucking clue about how the country at large lives.

Link Tank 30/10

This morning's selection box is brought to you by a black-clad daredevil.

Halloween and fireworks are too scary for risk-terrified Britain

Don't you Americans start getting smug, either

An open letter to Jamie Oliver on his ignorance of American people and diet

If you want to make driving safer, make it riskier

Godwin’s Law needs to be updated in this age of bans and eugenics

Lesson for the week - don't argue with your tattooist

A new cigarette brand with a Presidential ring to it

A lesson on how to forensically fisk a comments troll

The idea that rock music was left-wing was always a con

Getting around profanity-averse publishers, 1785 style

Denver proposes an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission, yes you read that correctly

The Canadian province that planned to evict an 88 year old for smoking lays claim to the 'world's most hideous nanny state' title

Re-creating ancient beers

Friday, 29 October 2010

Less Government = More Jobs

Via the UK Libertarian, here's an amusing video illustration of the obstacles state and local government place in front of business start ups and job creation. As a business owner myself, who has been prevented from taking on more staff this year directly attributable to petty bureaucracy, I fully recognise this. Davy's preamble explains it very well, although I'd add 'and the EU' at the asterisks to fully tailor it for the UK.

Although it is America depicted in the video, the situation is exactly the same here in the UK. When people say the Government needs to create jobs because the market isn’t doing so, show them this short movie; for free-market capitalism to work effectively it needs competition AND free entry into the marketplace. Whenever Government* creates a regulation or a license or a rule it makes it harder for the poor person to better themselves.

It’s not capitalism or the Market that causes the widening gap between rich and poor, but rather the Government*.

Footnote: US bureaucracy also stops kids setting up traditional lemonade stalls these days, too.

Oi! I Saw Him First!

Look! Will everyone just stop adopting MPs.

If, like us, you want a clean energy future, you've got to ask for it.

We're working to get at least one young person in every constituency in the UK to adopt their local MP and push climate change up their agenda.

That's 650 young people across the UK, all visitng (sic) their MP, sending letters, blogging their experiences and spreading the word.
Effervescent Ellie is wildly enthusiastic, so she is.

"We now have 40 MPs who have expressed support for Adopt an MP! Get in touch with yours – they’re bound to be receptive {big smiley}"
Really, love? Well, I'm afraid the big bad boy from Shipley is taken, so mitts off, eh?

Of course, you're welcome to try, but I shall just repost this as a warning that you'd be better off continuing your relationship with that ash tree in the park, really. I'm not sure our Phil will be bound to be anything your naïveté, or that of your mind-rinsed 'trackers', would appreciate.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

It Looks Like A Consensus

In relation to yesterday's report on tobacco control funding, the Institute of Economic Affairs have followed the Adam Smith Institute and Taxpayers Alliance in calling on the coalition to dam the river of state aid to teat-sucking anti-tobacco quangoes and fake charities.

"The problem with taxpayer support of groups such as ASH is not just that it forces people to fund campaign groups they may disagree with, but that there is a danger that the public believe that such groups really are private and completely independent."
I'll just leave the link to the whole piece HERE, shall I?

Drink Yourself Healthy

That's it, the constant nagging has beaten me into submission. It's a fair cop, I'll come quietly, Doctor. From now on I'm going to be a good boy and get healthy.

So what could be more healthy than drinking milk, eh? OK, there's an ickle bit of chocolate in it. Oh yeah, and quite a lot of alcohol too. About 40% proof alcohol, to be precise.

But it's milk. Good old, sweet-to-goodness, calcium-packed, healthy milk. I feel better about myself already. So good, in fact, that I may take up running ... to the fridge to get it, once I've taken delivery.

Available to buy online here. No cows were harmed in the making of this healthy beverage.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Fillings And Forms

Alex Deane at Big Brother Watch shares an anecdote with us from a recent visit to his dentist.

Dentist: we haven’t got details of your alcohol intake.

Me: no, you haven’t.

Dentist: well, there’s a health form - we’ve got to have it!

Me: no, you don’t.

Dentist: well, what am I supposed to put in this space, then?

Me: you can put that I said it’s none of your business.

Dentist: Alex, you don’t seem to understand – this is to guard against oral cancer.

Nought to cancer in four questions!! Talk about bringing out the big guns. Needless to say, the exchange ended:

Me: I’ll take my chances

Dentist: (total disbelief) So I’ve got to put that you won’t tell me?

Me: Yup.
Good on ya', sunbeam.

I had a similar experience a couple of months ago when moving to a different dental practice and signing in for a check up**. In this case, I was given the form to fill in myself. I completed it but left the question on 'alcohol units per week' blank, assuming that it was optional. Having handed it to the receptionist and reseated myself to continue reading a riveting copy of OK magazine (yes, it was the only *cough* literature available, and yes, I was being sarcy), she called me back to point out that I had not answered all the questions.

"Oh, I didn't think that one was compulsory", said I, politely, to which she countered that she couldn't register me at the practice unless it was filled in. I just took the pen, placed a big fat zero in the box, handed it to her with a smile, and sat down again. The look I received was a mixture of disdain and anger. She knew the answer was untrue but - short of accusing me of being a liar in public - there was nothing she could do about it.

Sorry, but this information is none of a dentist's business. When he sees me every six months, will his treatment change dependent on what figure is declared on that form? Of course not. If he sees signs of oral cancer, he will act upon them, just as he would with a teetotaller. What, with reference to Alex's example, can a dentist possibly do to 'guard against' such an occurrence?

Not a lot, I'd venture. So there are no compelling benefits for the patient in answering that question.

There is, however, much potential for abuse of that data, especially in these times of nannying puritanism. Once your intake is logged, it opens up an avenue for the NHS to badger you if they don't like what they see. If the dentist's system is in any way linked up to the Summary Care Records database (which the Tories promised to scrap ... but didn't) - and I'm sure it probably is - the mailshot scaremongery and nagging will be just around the corner.

And, looking to the future because it has certainly been mumbled a few times by certain health obsessives, how'd you like the idea of being flagged as a drinker and being charged for - or even denied - treatment due to your self-proclaimed unitary intake?

No, the best course of action is to either lie or, if possible, tell them to stick their question where the sun don't shine as Alex has done. Safer by far, doncha think?

** I know you're curious ... one filling, I was a good boy and didn't cry, so took one of the lollipops on the way out. A green one, tasted a bit appley.

UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter who pointed out why dentists should definitely not be trusted with information which could be used to deny treatment.

Someone Turn That Tap Off!

A day after the passing of the Health Act 2006, I was discussing its implications with some friends in a pub when one said "ASH may as well pack up now, they've got everything they ever wanted". He meant it, too. He believed that there was nothing left for them to go for. Yet here we are, 4 years later, and ASH - along with a plethora of other anti-smoking organisations - are louder and shriller than ever. One can barely read, watch or listen to the MSM without reading, seeing, or hearing one of them droning on about 'the next logical step' in tobacco control.

But then, it's hardly surprising when one sees how much government money they have to spend, as highlighted today by Forest. In fact, the state is shovelling so much cash their way that Anne Milton all but admitted - in reply to a question from our esteemed blog mascot in September - that they had trouble keeping track of it!

Forest's report, entitled Government Lobbying Government, sheds light on the flood of taxpayer funds being channelled towards quangoes and fake charities such as ASH ... in order for them to lobby government on what the government no doubt already wants to do.

As scams go, it's a biggie. And in the current environment of cuts to services, scaling back of projects and closing of public bodies, one must wonder how the coalition can justify keeping the tax tap open like this while they are simultaneously cutting off funds for schools and libraries.

You can read the report HERE in pdf format. Simon Clark has also written a piece at Conservative Home where the comments section is starting to get busy.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Time To Cut Jamie Oliver

It's no secret that my opinion of Jamie Oliver is less than complimentary. In fact, I think he's a naïve, self-important, nannying, lucre-obsessed prick who has cost the country £1bn already (and he wants more) by pushing government into enforcing rules on school dinners which are doomed to failure. They'll fail because they are based on coercion and a condescending attitude which human nature naturally abhors.

So it was interesting to stumble across this article the other day which kinda mirrors the points I've been making here.

Brian Wansink and David R. Just of Cornell University published an interactive graphic in the New York Times that illustrates how subtle cafeteria changes, not finger-wagging campaigns, can make a big difference in the way kids eat:
Children and teenagers resist heavy-handed nutritional policies — and the food that is associated with the heavy hand. No food is nutritious, after all, until it is actually eaten.

A smarter lunchroom wouldn’t be draconian. Rather, it would nudge students toward making better choices on their own by changing the way their options are presented. One school we have observed in upstate New York, for instance, tripled the number of salads students bought simply by moving the salad bar away from the wall and placing it in front of the cash registers.
There are caveats here. Firstly, yes, the article is hosted at the Center for Consumer Freedom, an organisation funded by the food industry, and also this is discussing 'nudging' which would usually be anathema to a libertarian.

However, the funding would seem irrelevant considering their opinion is backed up by evidence which not only appears legit, but is also pretty obviously common sense to anyone who spends any time with the public. Besides, who can possibly object to nudging when it is done in such a way as to retain full freedom of choice?

And choice is most definitely the key to this. Nothing is banned, denied, limited, or discouraged in this theory, merely given less prominence. If a student in their hypothetical canteen wishes to eat unhealthy food, nothing is stopping them. But merely by placing 'healthier' options in different locations, or by describing food differently, the choices made are drastically altered.

Personally, I don't believe it is the concern of any government to meddle in our lives or 'save' us from perceived unhealthy decisions, but if they really feel they must, then subtle - non-coercive - methods such as these should be the way they go about it.

However, what healthists - and the dangerously counter-productive Oliver - seem incapable of understanding is that hectoring and restriction of choice will always lead to failure and unintended consequences. So disastrous has Oliver's crusade been, for example, that hundreds of councils across the country are now hampering local businesses as a direct result.

Yet the righteous seem too dull-minded to see what is as plain as the nose on their face. Coercion doesn't work; restrictions don't work; bans don't work; and prohibition has never worked.

By contrast, benign non-compulsory encouragement does, simply because it carries the public with it and makes everyone happy to co-operate. In tobacco control, smoking bans invariably halt decreases in smoker prevalence; in road management, shared space schemes all but eradicate accidents entirely; in the workplace, a popular boss will invariably derive better productivity from his staff than a bully; in fact, in any walk of life, if you promote personal responsibility and afford respect to the public, they will reciprocate and work with you.

Now, I've been taken to task on Oliver before, the general idea being that at least he is doing something, or 'his heart is in the right place'. But, if so, when is he going to see that his methods are not only failing, but also causing more problems than they are solving? If he can't, I'd suggest he is woefully under-qualified in the grey matter department and, therefore, shouldn't have any fucking sway with government just because he can do a wicked toad in the hole.

However, if he does recognise that things aren't quite working out how he imagined - and food being passed through school gates, crying on-screen, plus being ridiculed by Letterman would tend to suggest he has noticed a certain resistance - then one can only assume that it's blind ignorance, a holier-than-thou attitude, and the resultant bumper cheques that are driving him on.

Which helps no-one but Oliver himself. The dictatorial cock.

Silliness: A Whistle Stop European Tour

Regular readers will attest that much of the 'elsewhere' tag here tends to throw a glance across the Atlantic. Recent events, though, suggest - even demand - a look across the channel instead.

I mean, even British righteous couldn't come up with stuff like this, surely?

A seaside city in Italy is planning to ban miniskirts and other revealing clothing to improve what the mayor calls standards of public decency.

There will also be a ban on sunbathing, playing football in public places, and blasphemy, if the proposals are approved at a council meeting on Monday.

In other places they have banned sandcastles, kissing in cars, feeding stray cats, wooden clogs and the use of lawn mowers at weekends.
Oh, silly me! We have a similarly nutty seaside authority who could give the eye-ties a run for their money.

Busted there, then.

Well, we certainly don't do this.

HOOKERS touting for business on the side of a busy road must now wear luminous tops to prevent accidents.

The prostitutes have been told by their council to wear the high-visibility vests or face a fine.

Officials in Els Alamus, near Barcelona, Spain, claim the working girls can be a danger to moving traffic.
Course not. Over here, we don't tolerate prostitution at all. Setting aside zones for working girls isn't to be contemplated, so we throw all manner of obstacles in front of innocent motorists instead.

They can significantly reduce the level of prostitution by making it difficult for kerb crawlers and cruisers to access street prostitutes. Examples of road management interventions include closing through roads at one end, making roads into one-way streets and installing speed humps.
Hmm, this article isn't turning out as planned, it has to be said.

Right. Last attempt. We definitely don't have people this stupid.

A baby died when a family of 12 leapt from their second floor balcony in Paris claiming they were fleeing the devil.

Eight more were injured, some seriously, in the tragedy when they jumped 20ft into a car park in Paris suburb of La Verriere.

Police said they had found no evidence of hallucinogenic drugs or unusual religious rituals.

Versailles assistant prosecutor Odile Faivre added: “A wife in the next room saw her husband moving around naked and began screaming that he was the devil.

“In the confusion following this apparent case of mistaken identity, the naked man's sister-in-law stabbed him in the hand and he was ejected through the front door of the flat.

“When he attempted to get back in, panic erupted and the other occupants of the flat fled by jumping out of the window."
Nah, we can't match that.

“A number of points surrounding this incident remain to be cleared up,” Mr Faivre said.
Even though the British term 'no shit, Sherlock' is readily applicable in this case.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Who Wants To Be A Scientist? Just Phone A Friend

This article piqued my interest the other day.

Wholesale changes to the nation’s diet, with a move towards vegetarian food and away from beef and cheese, have been recommended by Government advisers.

A report commissioned by the Food Standards Agency suggests radical changes to what we eat and even how we cook.

Out would go beef, cheese, sugary foods and drinks such as tea, coffee and cocoa. In would come vegetables and pulses, together with yoghurt.

The FSA says the switch is necessary as part of a move to a diet that is low in greenhouse gases (GHG), which are associated with climate change.
Now, before we begin screaming in unison "if you take away my beef, people will die, motherfuckers!" it's worth counting to ten and noting that it is a Mail story and perhaps therefore best treated with caution.

To be fair to the Mail, they did point out that the study was compiled by Al Gore's tainted useful idiots over at the University of East Anglia, but it's still worth further investigation considering that it is being touted as a recommendation to government and so - as readers of this blog will know all too well - will be referenced by dozy MPs for the foreseeable future.

And it seems that the Mail were, indeed, economic with the facts. It wasn't just compiled by the UEA, it also drew 'evidence' from experts cherry-picked by them ... if not actually employed at the UEA itself.

Review authors:

- Dr Iain Lake (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Asmaa Abdelhamid (School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, and School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Lee Hooper (Diet and Health, School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia)

Review co-authors and experts (external to the FSA):

- Professor Graham Bentham (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Alistair Boxall (EcoChemistry Research Group, University of York / Central Services Laboratory)
- Dr Alizon Draper (Centre for Public Health Nutrition, University of Westminster)
- Professor Sue Fairweather-Tait (School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia)
- Professor Mike Hulme (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Professor Paul Hunter (School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Gordon Nichols (Centre for Infections, Health Protection Agency)
- Professor Keith Waldron (Institute of Food Research)
It was the science equivalent of being asked a question and phoning a friend, a fact confirmed by the procedure employed by the FSA as revealed by the authors.

It appears to have gone something like this:

1) Government asks for advice.
2) The FSA issues a tender specifying a 6 week turnaround.
3) The UEA ring around a few pals and see if their diary is free for a bit of easy money.
4) The UEA enter a dirt cheap bid seeing as they have old reports lying around (some of which they wrote themselves) and the 'experts' they have chosen are in the next office.
5) They have a chat with each other and send 111 pages to the FSA.
6) They get paid.
7) The report is a worthless piece of propagandised garbage.
8) You paid for it.
9) You also paid for the FSA to commission it.

And, err, that's it. No new research; no public involvement; no engaging with food producers or other interests; nothing but people already committed to advocating vegan diets exhorting government to force you to stop eating meat.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that we paid for this crap? I did? Good.

Remind me. Why are the FSA being kept on again, exactly?

Your Signature Requested

One of the articles I featured in Saturday's Link Tank has raised the hackles of quite a few bloggers. It's the story of 88 year old Philipina Schergevitch (pictured below), who is being evicted from her home of 10 years following a new no-smoking edict in Calgary, Alberta.

Bloggers The Devil's in the Detail and Gasdoc set the ball rolling by highlighting a letter drawn up by Smokescreens author, Rich White.

The letter will be sent this week to Bishop O'Byrne Housing for Seniors Association who are threatening to throw this lady out of her accommodation. If you'd like to express your distaste for such an astoundingly heartless move, e-mail Rich at richwhite (at) and he will add you to the list of signatories.

This may be in North America, home of the most brainless of anti-smoking lunacy, but it's time the more egregious psychos were called out on their actions which - yet again - are nothing whatsoever to do with health.

Pic H/T The Big Yin

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Couldn't Have Put It Better ...

... than Nicholas Lezard at CiF.

The strange thing is that cigarettes are now seen as so evil that it is impossible to explain to people that a modest habit such as Clegg's is really not so bad for one on the continuum of harms. Why has smoking become the Worst Thing Ever?

I would suggest that this is because it has come to be considered a legitimate outlet for the expression of people's self-righteousness. People are now hooked on looking down their noses at anyone else whenever they can, and there are few easier targets than someone who confesses to being a smoker.

To admit to being a smoker is to admit to being weak, to being in thrall to an addiction (albeit not a glamorous one), to not knowing what is best for one. And, worst of all, for not doing as the majority tell you to do. There is no excuse for smoking, not really – you can manage without it – and so it enrages people all the more when someone admits to it.

But the more people act like that, the more the smokers will entrench. Like the last village in Gaul that resists the occupying forces of the Romans, there will always be a group of smokers who do so not only because it can relax one wonderfully (think of all the soldiers who smoke) but precisely because it enrages an enormous number of busybodies.
Damn right!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

On The Razzle

After last week's smoky-drinky fun, something rather more old-fashioned is on the menu for this evening. I'm actually going to a pub! Yes, really.

A party in a pub, to be precise ... or, to be even more accurate, we shall mostly be standing outside a pub which is hosting a party. Of course, the liberal application of beer and gin may lead to lethargy being in evidence here tomorrow.

Tonight's event is the birthday of a friend of a friend who just happens to be a union worker ... and has friends who are also union workers. I've been ordered not to talk about politics for some unfathomable reason, as if the notion had even crossed my mind!

So the kids have been packed off for the evening, the cab is booked and there's bacon in the fridge for 'morning after' brekkie. All that's left to do now is to change into party gear. I was thinking of something like this complete with accessories.

Whaddya reckon? Too pink?

Link Tank 23/10

While we're busy doing nuthin' ...

The Davey Lamp, human nature, and unintended consequences

Lies, damned lies, and medical science

More bad news for pubs? Starbucks set to trial selling beer and wine in the US

The Equalities Act: A charter for snitches in the workplace

Toronto considers banning a KFC sandwich

Don't contact your doctor, contact your publican

Testing numerous theories of government via seasteading

Upcoming international climate talks will be "a total flop"

Ryanair - Is Michael O'Leary doing a Ratner, the slow way?

It was never about health - 88 year old faces eviction from her home

Broth, and the art of Libertarianism

Detroit proposes jail for not attending parents' evenings

Friday, 22 October 2010

Why Cable?

Crikey! I nearly missed this.

YouGov pollster President, Peter Kellner, has finally abandoned any pretence at impartiality with a desperate plea for the coalition to continue with Labour's plans - passed thanks to a misdirection of parliament - to hide tobacco displays.

Unusually, the comments thread (no log in required) has seen visits from the higher echelons of British anti-smoking glitterati. Every one of them, of course, is paid handsomely to dedicate their time entirely for the purpose. Yet - and please don't laugh too loud or you'll upset the neighbours - all opposition voices in the comments, despite quite obviously being ordinary folk, are somehow described by these rent seekers as the bent ones taking the shilling of a global industry.

Because Dockrell and West, to name but two, would naturally abhor the thought of taking money from pharmaceutical interests who profit from denormalising smokers and bullying them into using pharma products, so they would.

Do go read the whole thing (or even comment yourself if you're feeling saucy), and note the reticence of the healthists to depart from rehearsed rhetoric, emotive pleading, and plain old-fashioned "do you know who I am?"-ism.

Then ponder this very interesting aspect.

The legislation which they are trying to protect at all costs is The Health Act of last year. The lies work they contributed to get it passed were conducted through the Department of Health. ASH and CRUK (the latter of whom had a staff member seconded to the DH for the duration) had a hotline open at all hours to push the thing through. Their useful idiot was Lord Darzi, Labour's health GOAT member.

Yet this letter is directed at Vince Cable ... the BUSINESS secretary.

Are all these tobacco control slebs a trifle worried about the stance of their long-cultivated DH contacts, perchance?

Or perhaps they're just extending their blackmail to another department, I dunno.

Mascot Watch (11) - Reframing The Question

Last month, I highlighted Tory Health Secretary-ish Anne Milton's declared lack of knowledge of the potential deletorious effect the proposed tobacco display ban could have on retailers (aka corner shops).

"We are not aware of any evidence that removing tobacco displays will affect the number of retail outlets."
I pointed out that it was almost impossible for her to avoid the evidence which had already been provided.

On Wednesday, our esteemed blog mascot followed up (has he been peeking here?) with a more precise question to ascertain exactly what she has seen.

Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many representations in opposition to the proposed prohibition on tobacco displays his Department has received since 28 July 2010.

Anne Milton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Public Health), Health; Guildford, Conservative)

Many representations have been made by interested parties on both sides of this argument by letter and e-mail, in meetings and by other methods, ever since the Department began consultations in May 2008. These have continued and the Department has received over 6,000 items of official correspondence mentioning tobacco displays since 28 July 2010. The majority of these come from a postcard campaign by the Association of Convenience Stores launched on 9 August 2010 opposing the new legislation.

It is not possible to provide a definitive total of all representations, however made, or an accurate breakdown of whether they oppose or support the prohibition of tobacco displays.
Oh, I don't think you're so daft as to be unable to work out exactly what the majority of those responses believe, Anne. They are from worried shop owners, after all.

They believe they are screwed if you don't halt the ban. This is on top of the evidence you kicked under the shredder (or into it perhaps), remember?

You have evidence, you have a majority of the consultation responses in opposition, you have proof of Labour's misdirection of parliament.

What are you waiting for? Ditch it.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Shhh ... Cancer Diagnoses Increase By 4% Following Smoking Bans

Despite this factoid being reported briefly on a music radio station's news this morning, it has been almost entirely ignored elsewhere. It hasn't yet been even briefly mentioned by the BBC, NHS, or CRUK for example. It was unexpectedly difficult to find on Google, requiring not just refining to UK only results, but also only from the past 24 hours.

For a MSM which is usually obsessed with cancer this appears quite strange, especially since the source is impeccable (the Office of National Statistics), as is the news agency who relayed it.

4% increase in new cancer cases

The annual number of new cancer cases has increased by 4% for men and 3.7% for women, according to figures released.

In England in 2008, almost 5,000 more men and more than 4,500 more women were diagnosed with cancer than the previous year. The total number of new cases topped a quarter of a million.
Only the Express and Independent (plus a few regionals) have given it an airing, and even then they just regurgitated the brief PA piece verbatim.

I'm not saying there is a conspiracy going on here - I presume there must be embargoed press releases, or some such, being prepared for publication as I write - but it just isn't how we usually see such statistics being jumped upon treated.

If cancer diagnoses in 2008 had been travelling in the opposite direction, and considering there isn't a cancer which hasn't been blamed on smoking at some point, I'm sure the airwaves and column inches would have been teeming with charity spokespersons, vested interest lobbyists, and politicians claiming that the success of 2008 was solely attributable to the smoking ban.

Perhaps, like heart attack 'miracles', they're just waiting for favourable statistics to present themselves.

Just saying.

Didn't Know Nick Robinson Had It In Him

I see pride. I see power. I see a bad ass mother who don't take no crap off of nobody *.

Nice one, tiger.

* Film?

H/T Lawson

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Spending Review Helps Small Businesses ... By Delving Further Into Their Pockets

Via The Quiet Man, we find that the spending review carried a nasty little sting for motorists and businesses in the south east.

Toll charges are set to be increased for the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex, it was announced in the government Spending Review.

Under the plans, the charges could rise from £1.50 to £2 next year for cars, before rising to £2.50 in 2012.
As you can imagine, this has been greeted with anger by some politicians.

“It’s astonishing that in these increasingly tough economic times the Government should be viewing the Dartford River Crossing simply as a cash cow for the Treasury. They seem oblivious to the impact on small business and motorists of hiking up charges just as the downturn is starting to bite. It’s as if Ministers have got their heads stuck down one of the bores of the Dartford Tunnel."
Oh, I'm sorry. That's an old quote from Tory MP James Brokenshire - now part of the coalition government, of course - on learning that Labour had increased the toll charges in 2008 after having reneged on a promise to scrap them when the QE2 bridge was paid for in 2003.

I'm sure he'll be speaking up very soon in protest. As will Iain Dale, who called for the tolls to be abolished two years ago.

Conservatives Must Abolish Dartford Crossing Toll

On Saturday the toll for the Dartford Tunnel and Bridge rises from £1 to £1.50. For the mathematically illiterate among you (that would be the ones that support Gordon Brown's economic policy), that's a rise of 50%. Fifty. Per. Cent. (another 33% and further 25% in 2012 now, Iain - DP)

This Dartford stealth tax toll is iniquitous and should be ended. Perhaps the Conservatives might like to think about committing themselves to abolishing it completely, as they originally promised in 1991.
Unless, of course, something has now changed like ... which party(ies) it is who are currently fleecing motorists. Ah well, that's politics, I suppose.

Yeah, I hear what you're saying. This deficit must be brought down by any means possible and now isn't a time for government to take their hand out of our pockets. BUT, these charges hamper a huge number of small businesses greatly (not mine, BTW), and I thought the point of this whole exercise was to lessen public expenditure and encourage private industry to take up the slack by employing more, and contributing more taxes through improved growth and profits. Increasing tolls really isn't going to help much in that regard, is it?

This goes for the Severn and Humber crossings too (fret not, I heard the screaming that your tolls are more severe), both of which have also already been paid for. Yet, crossing the Humber costs £2.70 for a car, up to £18.30 for HGV and PSV business vehicles, with Severn charges being £5.50 to £16.40. The Severn tolls, particularly, are impossible to defend because they unfairly punish businesses in south Wales as opposed to those operating from the Bristol side of the crossing.

Speaking of Dartford's tolls, Iain Dale's article reckons income generated to be around £100m, while others estimate approximately £40m-£50m, so we're not raising huge amounts here, especially when put into context. The Federation of Small Businesses have consistently argued against toll charges as a drain on the private sector, and that their abolition would boost industry and make up for government's loss of revenue. A study in the north east, for example, suggested a massive positive impact for the local economy (yes, to be taken with caution due to source, but you get the point).

And this is without mentioning that all such tolls are levied without any real option of avoiding them. There is simply no other haulage or coach route over the Severn or Humber, whilst the nearest alternative crossings to Dartford are the Blackwall Tunnel or Woolwich Ferry, which involve forcing more traffic into already over-congested areas of East London.

Taking it all into account, this just appears to be a good old-fashioned cash grab. With no imaginative thinking behind it apart from a further squeezing of businesses at a time when the government claim they are trying to help, safe in the knowledge that there is nothing any of us can do except to lump it and cough up.

And as if that wasn't bad in itself, the official reasoning is either ignorant or sinister. You decide.

The Department of Transport (DfT) said the money would be used to explore ways of improving traffic flow.
Err, the toll plaza itself is the very cause of hindered traffic flow. Get rid of it and the traffic would flow like a mofo.

Unless that's exactly what is being planned. Scrap the toll booths, replace them with ANPR, and bingo! Welcome to the new age of automated road pricing.

It'd cost a bit to implement, but I'm sure such a future scheme could be financed somehow ... maybe with a rise in current toll charges, for example?

Farewell δημοκρατία *

Just as it was the ancient Greeks who introduced democracy to the world, so is their current government the first in the world to openly admit that democracy is no more.

"This is the worst thing that could happen to a lawmaker and the government which has to enforce the law - the refusal of society to comply with the rules," Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told Skai radio.

"We will continue implementing the ban no matter what," he told Reuters, adding that the government would review its strategy in December. "This doesn't mean we will withdraw the ban."
See, that's the problem with democracy, the public keep getting in the way of what government - err, by the people - wants to do.

* δημοκρατία = dēmokratía (democracy in Greekish)

UPDATE: A fair article, and comments, on the Greek rebellion in the Graun

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Soyez Bienvenus Au Club, La France

First Ireland, then Scotland, followed by Wales and England.

May as well join the club eh, France?

DESPITE numerous campaigns, including hard-hitting imagery, and increasing the taxes on tobacco, the number of people who smoke in France has risen.

Statistics from the Institut National de Prévention et d'Education pour la Santé show that 28.7 per cent of the population smoke, with much of the increase being amongst women.

Women aged between 45-65 years old have increased their tobacco use, from 16% to 22.5%, and this comes despite government efforts which included the banning of smoking in public places, such as cafes and restaurant.
Yep, those bans and restrictions sure are mighty successful, aren't they?

See previously: Tobacco control is addicted to failure

Monday, 18 October 2010

Today's Avalanche Of Alcohol Scaremongery

Did you notice that today's news stories were littered with articles on drinking and children? Well, the reason the finger-waggers have been so busy is that today was the start of Alcohol Awareness Week 2010, so get ready for a lot more hectoring on alcohol in the coming days.

Oh yeah, and lots more invoking of the chiiildren, because - as if it is something unusual for a fake charity - Alcohol Concern have themed it so.

Alcohol Awareness Week 2010
18-24 October: Alcohol and Childhood

The theme for Alcohol Awareness Week (AAW) 2010 is 'Alcohol and Childhood' in which we ask the question 'is alcohol damaging childhood?
Read that link, it's a free guide to upcoming events. How exciting, eh?

It doesn't cover all of them, though, since other healthist bodies have been encouraged to time their own 'research' to coincide with Alcohol Concern's initiative. For example, the Mail carried this screeching bullshit today.

Youngsters can get drunk for half the price of a bar of chocolate, a worrying new study has found.

Strong cider is available in city centre supermarkets and off-licences for as little as 10p a unit, while lager can be bought for just 26p a pint, researchers found.

The pricing means a woman could drink more than her daily recommended allowance for just 30p - half the price of a standard bar of chocolate.
A 'standard' bar of chocolate, eh? You can't get much more standard than a Mars Bar, which has occasionally even been held up as a benchmark for inflation itself, let alone confectionery pricing. I bought one today for 45p so that's a bit massaged already.

But then, so is the assertion that kids can 'get drunk' on three units of alcohol, the equivalent of about one and a half cans of Carlsberg.

Yes, it's bollocks. A scare story brought to you thanks to quite ridiculously low 'recommended' limits on daily intake which, in turn, are a load of bollocks.

Sleight of hand, laid on top of misdirection, wrapped in a healthy coating of bullshit.

The same method as used by Alcohol Concern in their offering today. The Guardian and - natch - the BBC lapped it up, but let's go with the former.

Parents' drinking is damaging millions of children, say charities

Around 2.6m children in the UK live in a household where at least one parent's drinking puts them at serious risk of neglect
Yep, it is definitely damaging children, according to the - cough - thinking person's rag.

So, unlike the Graun hack, let's read the report [PDF], shall we?

Recent research estimates that 2.6 million children in the UK are living with parents who are drinking hazardously and 705,000 are living with dependent drinkers.3
The '3' points us to the 'recent research', that being this year old study, which puts it slightly differently (emphases mine).

The UK Government definition of binge drinking was calculated for the sample, i.e. 6 or more units in a single drinking occasion for women and 8 or more units for men. This is above (twice) the maximum recommended daily benchmark, stating that 'regular consumption of 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men does not lead to significant health risk'. We adopted the governments' definition of binge drinking as an accepted UK convention - this is not to imply that there is parental risk for all drinkers meeting these criteria
Putting it all together, we find that the true message today is that 2.6m children live in a household where the mother drinks more than two-thirds of a bottle of wine on one night of the week, or the father drinks three pints of Stella on one night of the week.

Yes, it's just more staggering hyperbolic cockwaffle. I mean, who can be stupid enough as to believe this shit?

Anne Milton, the public health minister, said the study "paints a shocking picture [...]"
Yep. Silly question, wasn't it?

A Libertarian Case For CCTV

I expect I'll have verbal rocks hurled at me for this, but the past week has convinced me that our esteemed blog mascot, Philip Davies, is correct - there is a solid libertarian case to be made for CCTV.

Oh, lay off, we haven't started yet! Hear me out, can ya?

Davies argued, at the IEA Voices of Freedom event back in June (reprised at the Tory fringe), that a variety of surveillance tools enhanced liberty rather than detracted from it. Now, I can't subscribe to his defence of DNA swabs for the innocent or widespread ANPR, but on CCTV I have been swayed ...

... albeit not unreservedly.

On Friday, two groups of thugs were sentenced. You will have, no doubt, seen the case of three 'professionals' who beat up a guy on a train journey out of London. You couldn't miss it considering the Daily Mail's screaming it from the rooftops, as well as being the headline story on that evening's ITN London news.

The Mail called it a 'sickening' attack following a simple request; that it was made worse by the post-assault celebrations; and highlighted that the thugs only received suspended sentences for stamping on someone's head. They were correct to be angry on all three counts.

But you may have missed a separate judgment on the same day, again involving three thugs; again instigated by an understandable request; again captured on CCTV; again comprising a foot to the head; and again greeted with a celebratory joke. Fortunately, this case saw the scum jailed for a total of 46 years.

Perhaps it was the poor sentence in the former case that got the Mail hot under the collar, but the latter ended in the death of an IT worker on Halloween last year yet received comparatively little coverage. The CCTV footage of the attack can be viewed here.

Both cases are hideous. Both cases were also brought to a successful prosecution, arguably, thanks to court submission of CCTV footage.

Watch either of those clips and tell me you wouldn't have convicted if you were on the jury. Then ask yourself if the evidence would have been quite so compelling if it were merely a verbal duel between barristers, coupled with testimony which would have come down to a simple 'do I believe the accused or the prosecution?'. Their word against the other's.

CCTV has rendered all such confusing factors obsolete. The jury could barely have a better view of events if they had been there at the time. So, therefore, it must be an incontrovertible 'good thing', yes?

Well, not quite.

Because both cases relied on footage captured by private enterprises, using unmanned equipment. The former was accessed from the ubiquitous train carriage cameras, after the victim reported his assault. Likewise, the crucial evidence in the murder case was not the monitored and manoeuvrable police CCTV, but that from a snooker club's static and unmanned front door camera.

I'm sure there may well be a few times that constantly monitored and manoeuvrable CCTV has effected a fast response to crime, but their being monitored, and manoeuvrable, isn't a deterrent (it was in operation during the murder), and all too often leads to mission creep such as bullying the public.

The problem is not CCTV cameras themselves, but the people who abuse us all by operating them in a disproportionate manner. There is little observable evidence that they deter, but plenty that they oppress and reduce our sense of freedom as a result of their over-zealous application.

Fill the country up with the bloody things as far as I'm concerned, but the footage should only be accessed when a crime has been reported/identified and evidence/action is subsequently required. If, as Philip Davies asserts, they are to be used as a tool for liberty, then human misuse must be eradicated and they must never, ever, be employed to actively seek out inconsequential misdemeanours.

Human nature dicates that CCTV has little use as a deterrent for we forget they are there (Channel 4's Big Brother worked on that very concept), but they do have their place in making us all more free by ensuring that those who commit crimes are rightly taken out of the equation.

Though I'm sure some may disagree.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dane In The Ass

Oh dear. Someone in Denmark is off message, and he just happens to be the Interior and Health Minister, Bertel Haarder.

You see, he's only gone and spoken his mind, the poor sod.

"I simply do not believe passive smoking is important and I think that science is backing me on that. I do not think it is so dangerous - I am a non-Believer."
This has sent the Danish righteous into a frenzy, of course, so Haarder is now furiously back-tracking. He claims that it wasn't fair to quote him because it wasn't an official interview.

We stood and chatted about active smoking versus passive smoking. And then I said that it seems that someone is exaggerating the effects of passive smoking. But I was not interviewed, he added.
The particular straw he is grasping is the word "so", as in 'not-so-dangerous-as-active-smoking-but-still-deadly-of-course'. Now, while it's amusing to learn that Danish politicos are as self-interested and gutless as British ones, one word is not really much of a solid base for saving one's political career.

"Save his career, Dick?", I hear you say, "he's been a member of the Danish parliament since 1975, he surely has nothing to fear?". No. You see, you wildly under-estimate the vicious, swivel-eyed spite of global tobacco control. He has spoken the truth, so therefore must be called in for re-programming.

[...]"we need to clarify the health minister's view of passive smoking", says SF's health spokesman Jonathan Dahl.

"It's a totally evidence-based knowledge that passive smoking is harmful, so I'm as shocked that the Minister of Health apparently live in a bell jar from the 1970s", he says, adding: "therefore, I will of course call him in consultation, so we can clarify his position."
For 'clarify his position', read 'fall into line immediately', with the veiled threat that if this doesn't satisy the terminally psychotic health lobby, he will henceforth be regarded as some strange 1970s throwback fruitcake.

No pressure, Bertel. But there really is only one opinion permitted, you see?

If he fails to satisfy the Danish inquisition (perhaps he didn't expect that), his future will be rather bleak ... like that predicted here for climate sceptic, Henry Lewis.

Lewis will be ostracised, his name blackened, his previous work dismissed as eccentricity, his future work dismissed as funded by oil companies. He will be expunged from the scientific community and threats of similar treatment will be issued to all who dare to commission him.

The debate is over, you see? The evidence 'overwhelming'. It has been written.
He can wriggle all he likes, but all the above will now be applied to Haarder and, considering his age (66), the innuendo as to his senile unsuitability for office will be pursued with vigour.

It's how anti-smokers work.

He's toast.

Now The Left 'Get It'

OK, the thrust of the article is an emotive pop at bankers, designed to appeal to Guardianista capitalism envy, but Victoria Coren's description of politicians is remarkably accurate.

Sometimes I wonder why they bother speaking at all. Why not just point and laugh?


all the parties are the same. They're interchangeable. They're like members of the Saturdays. If you're a fan of the Saturdays, you think there's a massive difference between Rochelle and Frankie. But there isn't. You're just too close in.


When they say good morning, they mean it's midnight. When they say: "I've made you a cup of tea", they mean: "I've just weed in your coffee."
It's just a shame that no-one over at CiF exhibited such concerns prior to May 2010 (ahem, referendum), isn't it?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Mr P's First Official Smoky-Drinky Night

Although Puddlecote Towers has been the venue for a few impromptu gatherings in the past three years, post-event affairs mostly (weddings, birthday meals etc), no smoky-drinky night has ever been specifically organised ... till tonight.

The nuts, tortillas, dips etc are nearly ready for our six guests' arrival in around 30 minutes. It almost feels like I'm back in the pub business. Well, it was Mr Puddlecote Senior's business actually, from 1984 to 1992, but - although I left 'home' in '89 - we ran it together during all of that time (yes, I 'shockingly' started bar work before my 18th birthday).

Specifically, it's like being in the trade on Christmas Day but without the tinsel and crappy sweaters. That was when the pub was still licensed to operate even though officially closed, but in the evening we opened the side door and let the regulars, and their families, in for what was always a genuinely warm and pleasant night of friendship and conversation. A small portable was balanced on top of the fruitie so no-one missed 'Fools and Horses' and the till was opened for everyone to serve themselves. Christmas Day wasn't a day for work, just for enjoyment.

I'm hoping it's going to have that feel tonight. Relaxation away from the righteous, the nannies, the rules, licensing hours, the crush vast expanse at the bar, those who irritate and, of course, no-one having to move from their chair whatever it is that they are consuming.

What's more, all the cigs and tobacco derives from outside of this country, along with a fair chunk of the beer and all of the wine and spirits. Our government is getting almost nothing out us tonight.

I don't have a clue what we shall be talking about for most of the night - as was always the way in the pre-nanny state pub full of regulars - but I do know that we will be drawing up a rota at some point. There's no agenda, but even before a glass has been poured, we kinda know we're going to be doing this again. Regularly.

Right, gotta go and prepare the hummus now (remove packaging and peel back foil lid), don't expect anything to appear here till well after lunch tomorrow.

A Picture Of Guilt

It's OK, Officers ... it was a long drawn out process, but my nine year old son penned him in till he surrendered.

(Sorry. I knew I shouldn't have watched Tim Vine on Soccer AM this morning.)

Link Tank 16/10

Good morning campers.

The great tobacco heist

Reason on why drink driving laws should be abolished

Schwarzenegger calls off California's war on noodles

Irish court rejects what our Digital Economy Act has already sanctioned

The world's nastiest foods, with pictures

Philadelphia considers fining owners for leaving their car unlocked

Malawian government reacts to 'widespread belief in witchcraft' by jailing 86 people

Washington law firm's staff don't like the smell from a burger bar, so they sue ... and close it

20 cigarettes should cost over $18 says a new report ... funded by smoking cessation drug firm Pfizer.

A must for any enviro-loon - the 'glacier embracing suit'

The 5 most inspiring things ever accomplished while drunk

Friday, 15 October 2010

Climate Change: The, Err, Second Biggest Threat To The Planet

The first, it would seem, is consensual sex.

Italy to combat prostitution by cutting trees

For decades, local law enforcement and politicians have struggled to police the Bonifica del Tronto road, a haven for the sex trade that runs inland for more than 10 miles from the Adriatic coast alongside the river Tronto. Over the years, cameras have been installed, raids mounted, 24-hour patrols implemented and the mayors of towns near the road have signed bylaws imposing fines on prostitutes' clients. All to no avail.

At the end of last month, the regional government's public works chief, Angelo Di Paolo, announced that the time had come for drastic measures. He said he had agreed with provincial and municipal representatives to cut down all the vegetation "around and along the banks [of the river Tronto]", in which the prostitutes ply their trade.
Hmmm, that sounds familiar. Yes, I definitely remember something like it earlier this year.

Council chops down 6,000 trees at beauty spot to stop 'doggers'

More than 6,000 trees have been chopped down by a council at a stunning beauty spot - to stop couples having sex in public.

The conifers were felled on the 12 hectare site after it became a hotspot for 'dogging' - where people have sex with strangers while being watched.
Because, you see, climate change is an imminent worldwide catastrophe (we're even going to require another planet to sustain us by 2030), but nothing boils righteous piss quite like people bumping uglies in an unapproved manner.

So, first things first, eh?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Monty Python Were Seriously Misguided

Finland appears to be a country to avoid like the plague judging by recent reports.

Dick's Saturday Club will remember reading about their government's plans to outlaw smoking entirely, but it seems that Finns are equally in the thrall of alcohol nannies.

English-speaking Finnish TV channel, YLE, suffered a serious sense of humour arrest when news presenter Kimmo Wilska decided to ... well, see for yourself.

Puritanism being a worldwide phenomenon nowadays means that, quite naturally, he was sacked the moment he stepped off camera.

A Facebook group has since been set up in his defence which currently boasts more than 40,000 members. However, that still doesn't settle my anti-righteous mind.

If you hadn't noticed on first viewing, just replay the film and look out for this astonishing reason for Finnish authorities to revoke alcohol licences.

"[...] selling more than one serving to a customer at a time."
Beg fucking pardon?

Dionysus, I beseech you. Kill Finland! Kill it with fire!

(Title refers to this)

Business Owners Are Stupid, Declares Labour MP

Just one last word on yesterday's ten minute rule bill as it's been amusing me all day. We're all aware that Kevin Barron spewed bullshit throughout his eight minute response, but this unreferenced and baseless excerpt really stands out as an example of either innocently retarded, or deliberately mendacious, parliamentary cockwaffle. Remember that our MPs habitually vomit this kind of gobshite all over the chamber on a daily basis.

There is an issue with the effect on business. I have looked at all the evidence and I must say that trying to introduce smoke-free rooms ventilated to the level that would be necessary would have a negative effect on business; there is no way that will benefit businesses.
Well, why bother arguing against the bill then? If there is categorically 'no way' that it will be of benefit, no business owner will do so and all pubs would choose to remain non-smoking.

Unless, of course, he is condescendingly asserting that all pub owners are so stupid that they don't know how to run their own business like Kevin - who has never run any business in his life - obviously does.

To be fair, his bollocks were probably stinging like fuck from the attentions of the buzz-happy witch by that point, but taking all into consideration ... yes, he's a fully gulled, lack-witted helmet, isn't he?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Release The Hound

I'm gutted! Yesterday I attempted to predict who would speak against David Nuttall's ten minute rule bill, and originally had Kevin Barron down as prime candidate before striking him off the list entirely - I could have preened my eyebrows with a smug smile had I left him there. His deletion was because rule bills are usually a backbencher thing, but I suppose I under-estimated the threat this posed to the anti-smoking camp.

Most ten minute bills pass unopposed at first reading as members prefer to make judgment after studying the terms of the bill. But that simply couldn't be allowed to happen in case the amendment was perceived by the general public - as it certainly would have been - to be perfectly reasonable.

It had to be stamped on, then. Hard.

The Department of Health had therefore surveyed their kennel of faithful lapdogs ... and dismissed them in favour of one of their rottweilers.

Barron is a man so odious that he believes he knows how you should live your life better than you do. No, seriously, he doesn't think you should have any input at all.

"We would be a lot better as legislators if we did it ourselves (ie without recourse to public will - DP), because party politically we are frightened to death of the nanny state, but as individuals we can see the need for intervention in all our communities [...]

We are the state's representative in our constituencies and we should not be frightened of taking decisions on behalf of our constituents [...]"
None better, then, to be sent out to kill this idea before it gained too much momentum. So, off he trotted - ASH briefing sheets in his paws and electrodes attached to his scrotum for if prompting was required - to defend the EU civil service, and fake charity, agenda.

He started out by admitting that the Labour manifesto in 2005 had indeed encompassed choice, but that - and you'll like this - the All Party Committee on Smoking and Health had decided it not draconian enough. He emphasised the 'all party' bit as if to imply impartiality. Of course, the fact that ...

The Secretariat of the group is provided by Action on Smoking and Health, which is funded by the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK for carrying out this work.
... is entirely irrelevant and doesn't detract from their impartiality. Oh no. Not at all.

He also stressed that all this had already been debated, and that MPs had made their decision so therefore it was silly to go through it again, before, in the very next sentence pointing to Spain where their MPs had already decided ... but were now changing their smoking ban. I take it then that Mr Barron believes legislative decisions are only final when he personally likes them. But then, what else can one expect from a former political ally of Arthur Scargill?

It was around then that the DH - in a conference call with ASH and other smokefree coalition members - decided that he had skirted around the issue long enough and that it was well past time to roll out the dodgy stats.

The remote button was pressed, 50 volts throbbed through his nutsack, and he sprang into robotic regurgitating of acres of publicly-funded junk science facts and absurd figures.

The heart attack miracles were trotted out one by one, the Anna 'I'll say anything for a tobacco control grant' Gilmore one, the Jill Pell junk stat of 2007, plus New York and Ireland's equally medically impossible garbage.

He proudly mentioned 'denormalising smokers', and glossed over the truth that smoking - far from costing the NHS - is actually a net contributor to the exchequor. If you watch the BBC video of Barron's speech, you can see him flinch as he received a charge to his gonads designed to prompt him into using Henry Featherstone's Policy Exchange extra-planetary cuckooland wibblings. That he didn't could be down to his natural distaste for right of centre think tanks, or perhaps that even a blinkered, communist, self-righteous cocksocket as Barron couldn't bring himself to believe such festering horseshit.

It served to startle him, though, as he inexplicably defaulted to burbling about cot deaths. Because - and I can only guess at the reasoning here - people no longer smoking in pubs means that, err, babies in cots don't have to suffer second hand smoke while they're suckling on their gin and tonic anymore?

Or it could be that Debs Arnott was getting happy with the zappy as he hadn't exhorted the house to think of the chiiildren yet, and that's the first thing that leapt into his head.

By now, his balls were attempting to exit through one trouser leg to discharge themselves, so he completely forgot the reference** which 'proved' 80% satisfaction with the ban, but he threw it in anyway.

The man who argued that forcing newsagents to spend thousands on gantries to hide tobacco displays would not affect their businesses at all, then contended - with no sense of irony, or base in reality - that to force a publican to install ventilation would be negative to their ability to turn a profit. But we'll put that down to trouser trouble, eh?

And then, finally, came the highlight of the speech - and proof incontrovertible that there are no depths to which an MP will not sink to misdirect in the 'mother of all parliaments'. From a total (at time of writing) of 151 comments on David Nuttall's blog, he read out - in full - one of only two posters who didn't congratulate Nuttall on his efforts. Oh yeah, and he mentioned the other one as being a whole host of 'nurses'.

And with the job done, with the noes having been dutifully corralled from just about everywhere but the sparse chamber itself to scotch the bill, Barron returned to his masters to be rewarded with a Bonio and a soothing application of vaseline to his, by now roasted, chestnuts.

There is one aspect of this that even a hideous northern turd like Barron can't possibly lie their way out of, though. And that's that now, more than three years on, the smoking ban is still a 'live' issue, and it isn't going away anytime soon. 86 MPs, and the millions who cheer them every time they exhibit the common sense they did today, are testament to that. Far from just 'moving on', the resentment is growing, debate is still prominently raging, and the only possible losers are those politicians who continue to arrogantly ignore significant sections of their working class vote.

And, for that, David Nuttall deserves our sincere and hearty thanks.

** It was a disingenuous one, natch. The study he quoted was for ALL public venues, and not strictly pubs. ONS figures isolating pubs and clubs have never shown a majority in favour of a blanket ban.

UPDATE: If you'd like to congratulate David Nuttall personally, his latest blog post announces the result of today's events. Just pop something in the comments HERE.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

David Nuttall: Ten Minute Hero

Quite a few people asked me, in Birmingham, about ten minute rule bills. I knew why, of course. It's because at around lunchtime tomorrow David Nuttall, MP for Bury North, will be presenting one calling for a perfectly sensible amendment to the smoking ban.

Or, in his own words ...

Now, a hopeful delegate from Luton asked me what were the chances of this leading to a change in the law. I was brutally honest and said "almost none".

To explain, for those who are unaware, rule bills can lead to a real change in law but almost never do. They consist of a backbencher being allowed ten minutes to exhort fellow MPs as they file out of the House after PMQs. An MP with a differing view is then allowed the same ten minutes to argue against. If there are no objections leading to a vote (which is usually the case), the proposal is permitted to go to a second reading.

Something tells me that such perceived (and contrary to EU wishes) heresy as Nuttall is proposing may not be allowed to get that far by HMG Righteous Inc.

However, just getting the slot in the first place is quite an achievement seeing as they are so coveted, and allocated on an early morning first come, first served basis. So, if you'd care to congratulate David and wish him luck, I'm sure that popping a message on his blog would be greatly appreciated.

So who will be speaking against our ten minute hero? Stephen Williams springs immediately to mind, or maybe Ian Mearns, both on the committee I mentioned earlier. But Bob Russell, Stephen Pound, Howard Stoate and Kate Green can't be ruled out either. Let's just hope that, whoever it turns out to be, they don't have someone's eye out with their ever-lengthening nose as they describe how successful the ban has been.

David's speech is scheduled immediately after PMQs at around 12:30pm. There should be a link to watch it live tomorrow at BBC Democracy Live.

UPDATE: Iain Dale is also featuring Nuttall's video, with very positive comments.

Squeezing Every Last Drop

Jeez. If only the anti-smoking nutters would shut their fucking traps for five minutes, I could write about other matters!

But the shrieking is incessant. Almost like ... I dunno ... like they're working double shifts for fear of their tax tap being turned off, or something.

Here's the latest via the British Heart Foundation political lobby group charity.

A new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health sheds light on the clear benefits of tobacco control measures.

It recommends the ban on vending machines and point-of-sale tobacco displays goes ahead and says without measures like these, smoking rates could increase".
Increase? Have you any evidence for that?

Course not.

“It adds to the evidence that without these measures, smoking rates could rocket leaving the country with a health headache it could do without."
Err, rocket? Again, any evidence? No, seriously. Is there any evidence - anywhere in the world - that smoking prevalence has 'rocketed' in the vast majority of countries who don't ban tobacco displays and/or vending machines, solely because they don't do so?

Course not.

“The report from the parliamentary group is a healthy dose of common sense and the Coalition Government should take note – tobacco control measures work."
They work, do they?

Like the smoking ban, you mean? Which the BHF said, err, didn't? No, really, they did say that. I distinctly remember it.

New figures from the NHS show that the proportion of adult smokers has not diminished.

A separate 2008 report showed 21 per cent of adults were smokers, the same as in 2007 but lower than the 39 per cent in 1980.
And a load of people rode from London to Brighton to finance the wages of these jaw-droppingly failure-addicted fantasists?

Anyway, enough of that. Let's look at the report from the 'All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health' since they have provided it. It'll be hosted at Hansard or other official source, yes?

No. It's publised on the ASH website.

The Secretariat of the group is provided by Action on Smoking and Health, which is funded by the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK for carrying out this work.
So, not only do people ride a bike to pay lobbyist wages, but women also run round fields to bung their £65 towards the salaries of those who are employed at Westminster producing political propaganda. I wonder if the ones responsible for this report are among the 8 who earn over £100k per annum at the BHF (PDF page 27), or the 23 who earn over a hundred grand at CRUK (PDF page 37)?

Crikey, I keep digressing. Must stay on topic.

Right, let's look at the report properly. It's a parliamentary one, so I'm sure it's balanced and fair.

Participants in oral evidence sessions and written evidence

- Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, Action on Smoking and Health
- Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Social Policy, University of Bath
- Dr Henry Featherstone, Head of Health and Social Care, Policy Exchange
- Professor Anna Gilmore, Professor of Public Health, University of Bath
- Professor Martin Jarvis, Professor Emeritus of Health Psychology at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London
- Professor Susan Michie, Professor of Health Psychology, University College London
- Howard Reed, Economist, Landman Economics
- Dr Gabriel Scally Regional Director of Public Health for the South West
- Professor Robert West, Director of Tobacco Studies, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London
And that's it.

A who's who of anti-smoker junk scientists and rent seekers, two members of the charities (and one fake charity) which wrote the report (reckon West is on £100k plus?), a union lapdog, and some guy from scrumpy land's public health division.

No view from anyone who may disagree. No corner shop representatives, no consumer organisations, no vending machine suppliers to give evidence of alternatives being used in Europe.

No-one, in fact, who will stray from the 'consensus'.

Quick! Call a journalist! Our politicians are being misled ... again!

No, forget journalists, they're less than useless, let's go straight to the Chair of the All Parliamentary Group - he'll be incensed at being led up the proverbial path, so he will.

But then again, maybe not seeing as we've seen him before here, too. Remember this donkey cock last month on - entirely coincidentally of course - exactly the same subject?

Now, I'm being serious here. What was the fucking point in dragging all these people down to wherever this circle jerk was held, with their associated hourly rates, expenses, and other charges to the taxpayer, when they could have all stayed at home and presented the same pile of one-sided, unproven, nannying bullshit but with less cost to the people who they quite obviously hold in contempt.

Those people being ... us. And that is ALL of us, whether you smoke or not; whether you believe in tobacco displays being hidden or not; whether you believe in vending machines being banned or not; or whether you really don't care one way or another.

This 'report' had written itself before they had even sat down.

These hideous prodnoses are just running a scam - and being paid handsomely for it from your taxes - to push their own agenda, without even bothering to be transparent or accountable anymore.

They use charities to convey the message (because arguing with them is taboo); they use the illusion of parliamentary impartiality - courtesy of useful idiots like Williams - to imply wisdom and authority; then they use an incompetent and inherently lazy press to spread the word.

And the real point of this artful deception - apart from bullying smokers yet again - is what, exactly? Well, we only have look at page 8 for that, don't we?

Government funding for tobacco control should be held at 2009-10 levels and sustained for the future in real terms.
No matter how large the deficit, they just can't bear the thought of the till being shut before they've comprehensively rifled it, can they?