Monday, 28 February 2011

On Righteous-Approved-Product Placement

Why not enjoy a refreshing Gordon's gin and tonic while reading this article?

Still no sign of the promised flood of liberalising legislation from the coalition, though they seemed happy to wallow in today's small dew drop of relaxing the rules on product placement.

Not all product placement you understand, because restrictions bear the mark of the Bible according to the Church of Eugenicist Health (well they would do, having been drafted by Labour).

Cigarettes and other tobacco products, along with medicines that are available only on prescription, can’t be product placed in any programmes.
Well, that's a gimme. Try to spot just a single tab on TV these days and you're probably watching something in Turkish via satellite, so a pack of 20 being 'placed' would call down the four horsemen of the apocalypse. As for prescription medicines, there's not a lot of point in advertising those anyway - the whole idea is that you don't choose them, they are chosen for you ... hence the 'prescribed' tag, so even the pharma bulldozer wouldn't contest that seeing as any placement would be useless to them (they'll just carry on bribing doctors instead). Similarly are guns and other weapons not allowed since the law already states they can't be advertised anyway.

It's a different case for these though.

Alcoholic drinks, gambling products, all other types of medicines, food and drink that is high in fat, salt, or sugar and baby milk can’t be product placed in UK programmes.
All the above are currently permitted to be advertised on TV, but are excluded in Ofcom's regulations for placement within TV programmes. They're not on the approved list, so they're not getting in.

The hipsters on Hollyoaks aren't to be seen sipping from prominent bottles of WKD, or munching on a packet of Walkers, while daytime TV shows aimed at mums are banned from placing perfectly legal - and advertisable - SMA.

It's more than a coincidence that these products have been heavily targeted for ad bans by quangoes, fake charities and lobby groups so beloved of the Labour bansturbatory mindset.

The mooted booze ad ban is most recent, and will likely still be introduced at some point.

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

The British Medical Association said the crackdown on marketing was needed, along with an end to cut-price deals, to stop rising rates of consumption.
The 'breast is best' mafia have been throwing bigger tantrums over formula baby milk ads than the babies they worry about, for quite a while now.

No new ban on baby milk adverts

The government has ruled out a total ban on the promotion of baby milks. It is a blow to charities who ardently promote breastfeeding and who wanted a ban on marketing milk for newborns to include milk for older babies.
While this ban by the back door has also excluded "burgers, crisps and soft drinks, [...] certain breakfast cereals and even fish fingers" from the new, liberal, freedom of the airwaves. And gambling? Well, some say that's the brand new public health 'concern' for rent-seekers to get their teeth into for the future.

All legal; all legally able to advertise on TV; all banned from product placement due to vested interest pressure and health-led political correctness.

So while the US happily places all manner of products which we will see in films and transatlantic imports on our TV screens, our response is to ban many of our own multi-national producers from reciprocating in UK shows which are syndicated throughout the world ... all on the say-so of righteous tax-sucking burdens on our country's finances.

Way to go shooting our global industries in the foot, Westminster. You berks.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Rancid Ideologues Having A Ball With Johnny

In the past decade or so I’ve been mocked, vilified, besmirched — I’ve even been booed off a theatre stage — simply for expressing the view that the case for global warming and climate change, and in particular the emphasis on the damage caused by carbon dioxide, the so-called greenhouse gas that is going to do for us all, has been massively over-stated.

For daring to take this contrarian view, I’ve lost bookings, had talks cancelled and been the subject of a sinister internet campaign against me that only came to an end following the intervention of the police.
It looks like dear old Johnny Ball is the latest victim of scientific partisanship. In other words, he had the temerity to express a view contrary to the accepted consensus.

And boy do "scientists" (inverted commas fully deserved) get tetchy about it, as longstanding tobacco control advocate Michael Siegel found out when he did the same.

Siegel has come under fire from colleagues in the field of smoking research. His offence was to post messages on the widely read mailing list Tobacco Policy Talk, in which he questioned one of the medical claims about passive smoking, as well as the wisdom of extreme measures such as outdoor smoking bans.

Siegel's case is perhaps the most clear-cut example of a disturbing trend in the anti-smoking movement. There are genuine scientific questions over some of the more extreme claims made about the dangers of passive smoking and the best strategies to reduce smoking rates, but a few researchers who have voiced them have seen their reputations smeared and the debate stifled.
Again, we see the anti-smoking propaganda template being utilised in other areas. Well, why not? Bullying and lies - a tried-and-tested schoolyard tactic - have always worked, haven't they?

Smoke haters, particularly, have employed such tactics extensively over the years. James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat were also subject to smears and outrageous attacks on their reputations simply for running an epidemiological study which came up with the wrong result.

You see, it's all part of the science of ... silencing the wrong kind of science (full text here).

[...] partisanship involves not only a dogmatic adherence to a belief, but also the use of a wide range of tactics to silence opponents of that belief in any arena in which it is presented, reported or used. Partisans seek not only to authoritatively lay down their (scientific) position, but to shield it by engaging in silencing skirmishes that can include, among other things, intimidation, slander and discredit, gagging, budget cuts**, and the removal of opponents.
In short, if you dare to depart from the pre-determined conclusion, you will encounter what Siegel terms "scientific McCarthyism" (or, more accurately, communism-inspired Lysenkoism).

It matters not what area you disagree with the fake charity moralists or holier-than-thou blinkered politicians, just as it also makes no difference how educated you are or how solid your evidence. If it's not what the state and its paid lackeys want to hear, your life simply must be destroyed.

And I'll bet you were thinking there were laws against such behaviour, weren't you? Don't be silly. The state has an agenda and doesn't give a stuff if you're not one of their pet groups or tax-funded familiars.

How ironic is it that Johnny Ball - a guy who was thorough and honest in conveying science to kids in the 70s and 80s - should be so vilified by people whose idea of science truly is to just think of a number, any number, as long as it suits their cause.

** A method very much favoured by pharmaceutical companies and charities

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Now Drinkers Can Hate ASH Too

I've mentioned the tobacco control template many times before. Perhaps some may have thought the concept a bit tinfoil-ish.

I'll air-paint one mark for me then as they're not even hiding it anymore.

Alcohol Focus Scotland, ASH Scotland and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems are pleased to announce a joint conference which will consider what progress has been made in alcohol control and tobacco control and explore what each sector might learn from the other. Chief Executive of AFS Evelyn Gillan and Chief Executive of ASH Scotland Sheila Duffy look forward to hearing your views and ideas to improve Scotland’s health. A report with policy recommendations will be circulated to delegates and to the Scottish Government.
To all those CAMRA binge-drinkers (oh yes you are!) who so loved the smoking ban, see what you spawned? The smokefree coalition is now so flushed with success that they're branching out in other areas.

And why not? They have comprehensively conned politicians into passing hideous laws before, and are now able to offer their expertise to those who want to denormalise the lives of people who freely enjoy other vices. That'll be yer average beardy, cardie-wearing beer festival goer, then. You were warned, you know.

Gotta laugh, eh? Well, not you fatties, of course ... I'm sure you'll also be targeted by this snowballing 'coalition of the hideous' sometime soon.

In light of the rank incompetence exhibited by CAMRA and the BBPA, it's worth rolling out this sage piece of advice again.

It's like a bunch of folks on the scaffolds complaining that the other guy's noose isn't quite tight enough. Y'all might instead direct your attention to the hangman sometime and try helping each other cut those ropes.
How many warnings do drinkers need to recognise ASH as a threat to drinkers as well as smokers? They have a coalition, we 'unapproved' have a set of self-regarding idiots allowing the righteous to run wild because of personal prejudice.

It's time the hospitality industry and their lackwit afficionados woke up, the alarm has been ringing for quite some time.

Link Tank 26/02

Get your minces round these.

Australia's socialist government becomes ever more dictatorial - they've now banned Mortal Kombat

Cubans say lots of sex and tobacco is why they live longer

Parents are taking the fun out of toys

Is sex addiction real, or just an excuse?

That mortal danger of supersize fast food meals ... 14 extra fries

Dream it and it may happen: Shanghai passes a law banning more than one dog per household

Behold Minnesota's rather sensible 'Cheeseburger Bill'

Election victories make voters horny

Answering Yes2AV's FAQs

California's economy is teetering on the brink after decades of 'progressive' policies

This blog's official theologian on same sex marriages

Growing tobacco in Brooklyn

Friday, 25 February 2011

Is Honduras Unlocking Your Home's Door To Tobacco Control?

As we have seen with previous *cough* debates, ASH and their tobacco control mates really do appreciate a country to quote as a precedent.

Ireland and the US were perpetually referenced prior to the smoking ban, just as Canada and Iceland were in forcing through idiotic tobacco display ban legislation. But always on the lookout for 'the next logical step', these tedious tossers are running out of loony, self-defeating states to emulate.

They could follow Bhutan, I suppose, but even hideous bigots must realise that following such a nasty dictatorship's stunningly harsh line will win them far more enemies than friends.

So step forward Honduras, who I'm sure we will hear a lot more about in the future. The pharmaceutical marketing department tobacco control industry will be salivating as they study how this develops.

Honduras law lets police be called on home smokers

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — The last refuge is vanishing for besieged smokers — at least in Honduras. A new law that took effect Monday says family members can call in the police on people who smoke at home.

The new measure bans smoking in most closed public or private spaces and orders smokers to stand at least six feet away from nonsmokers in any open space.

The law explicitly bans smoking in schools, gas stations, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, buses, taxis, stadiums and cultural centers but it doesn't clearly ban smoking at home.

A clause, however, expressly says relatives or visitors can summon police to deal with smokers at home: "Families or individuals may complain to law enforcement authorities when smokers expose them to secondhand smoke in private places and family homes."
Bingo! They've found a way to unlock the private front door and punish their citizens in their own homes - simply encourage a family member to rat.

I can imagine ASH's Shoreditch HQ is buzzing at the potential here. The UK has been softened up perfectly in the past decade or so with any number of snitch-lines, grassing is now an perfectly acceptable pastime thanks to New Labour. If they're unnamed, even better ... the state does so love an anonymous complainant these days.

And this is a solution which would very handily circumvent the inconvenient British trait of naturally abhorring anyone who dictates what they do in their own homes, as articulated by NHS Health Scotland in 2009 (source pdf here).

On the one hand the home is a private space and there is some resistance found in the ethical debates inherent in public health literature to the blurring of the public/private boundary for smoke-free public health interventions. This is often articulated by libertarian arguments advocating the rights of smokers in their own home and opposing perceived encroachment of the State into private space.
They were obviously not thinking as imaginatively as their counterparts in a confused Central American backwater, were they?

Predictably, the unelected WHO think it just doesn't go far enough.

But while [Armando] Peruga, [a program manager at the World Health Organization's Tobacco-Free Initiative], praised the measure as "a positive law," he said the clause allowing family members to call police on their smoker relatives is confusing. The clause "does not make much sense since the law clearly does not prohibit smoking at homes."

"It seems its intention is to educate by way of complaints, a move that I do not find very feasible," Peruga said.
Now, I hate to cast aspersions willy-nilly, but we are surely living in times where certifiably insane people are being allowed to wander free, and unsupervised.

I vaguely recall another administration in history which advocated family members reporting on each other, but it escapes me for the moment. It's on the tip of my tongue, it was ...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

More Of Dick's Adventures With Circumlocution

To make good the 'next up' promise I made yesterday, here is another chapter of the ongoing daily saga commonly known as dealing with the government or its various offices. I'll try to be brief.

We require a legal document so rang the relevant court to enquire how to get hold of it. As expected, a form was to be filled in and a fee applied, nothing surprising there, it's standard fare.

Was the form available online? Nope, so a journey to the court was necessary. Having passed through the now ubiquitous security x-ray, I was directed to a glass window with a view into an office containing eight desks, two of which were occupied by women who - sorry if it sounds rude - reminded me of Vogons. There was no buzzer or bell to alert them of my presence and, being the polite sort, I waited until someone noticed me (forcing a cough occasionally and moving around a bit). As my wait approached five minutes irritation was building but as I was about to call out, one of the Vogons - without diverting her gaze from her monitor - spoke ... in a dull monotone.

"Julie, there's someone at the window", at which a younger girl finally appeared from the left and greeted me. It was clear that the one who pointed out my presence had been aware of me since I arrived but, perhaps because this Julie was out of the office, had not said anything since 'the window' wasn't her job (this is borne out later).

No "someone will be with you in a minute, sir", or any other polite acknowledgement of my being there, and/or reassurance that I would not be kept waiting too long. Just silence until 'window Julie' turned up.

After a brief pause while my mind struggled to comprehend such poor manners, I explained what I wanted and was given the form to fill in. Having done so, I paid the fee and asked how long it would take. Now, don't laugh, but I truly thought she would say that I could wait while they retrieved it. In hindsight, I feel very foolish for believing - in this age of technological advancement - that such a turnaround is achievable by a state agency.

"We don't keep the records here, so we will have to get them from our archive [30 miles away]", stated Julie.
"How long will that take?", I enquired "Because if possible we'd like to receive it quickly, we're prepared to pay for a fast-track service or something". Again, silly me for imagining such a concept existed.
"Well, we have to fax the form over; then they do a search and fax it back to us; and when we receive it, we'll draw up a replica and send it to you in the post. It should be with you by the middle of next week".

This was a Thursday, so we were talking almost a week. I optimistically asked if she could get it done quicker and she promised to mark it 'urgent'. Could they e-mail it to speed things up a bit? Of course not.

Fast forward to the following Friday and nothing had arrived, so I rang to ask how it was progressing.

"I'm sorry, sir, there is no-one in that department today, they're all off. You'll have to ring back on Monday". Yes, seriously. The whole section felt it was perfectly OK to take a Friday off and leave no cover whatsoever. On Monday I rang again, only to be told - by someone who sounded suspiciously like the first Vogon - that "the person dealing with that" was at lunch and I'd have to ring back in 45 minutes (not my job syndrome again). I waited an hour then had another go.

What sounded like the same Julie then went to check on the progress. She picked up the phone again and dourly announced, "I'm afraid we haven't received anything back from the archive office yet", meaning that after 11 days, all her office had done was ... send one fax.

I reiterated that it was required as soon as possible so could she give them a nudge, but the only comfort offered was that "I could re-fax it, if you like".

By now, irritation had peaked and my curiosity had poked its nose in, intrigued to ascertain the extent of 'couldn't-give-a-toss' I was dealing with here. As such, I requested that, yes, could she 're-fax' it and ask the assiduous bunnies at the archive office - again - to treat it as urgent, if possible.

That was on Monday, and having still received no document or phone call in relation to it, I contacted them again today only to receive the same unconcerned reply - that they had still received nothing back. That's when I do believe I detected the tiniest hints of embarrassment as she promised to ring them and hustle it along.

Now, this isn't a busy facility as far as I could see. On the day of my trip to the court, I was the only visitor for the twenty minutes it took. Yet here we are, two weeks later, still no nearer finding out when we'll receive what we have paid for, through a system they have devised specifically for the purpose of those who wish to obtain such things. The whole project is now set up and ready to go except for this one document.

Poor manners, no communication, apparently no system to flag up when a request is running late, no sense of urgency if they have missed their promised delivery time. And this in an environment where public sector workers are supposed to be fearing for their jobs ... I'd hate to see what their customer service was like in the good times.

Worst of all, though, is the fact that this information is held on computer systems paid for by our taxes, yet they can't deliver anything electronically, and the system is so laboured that, in this case, it takes more than 14 days to produce a one page document.

There was, however, a notice board on their wall full of shiny leaflets jostling for position to proudly detail their service policies and achievements in meeting targets. I think that whoever produces those professionally printed notices should be put behind 'the window', or sent to the archive office, as they seem to be doing their job extremely well if they can sell that guff to the poor saps who have to use the service.

And don't get me started on the high-ranking official, at the council to which our business pays rates, I spoke to at length today. He must think that lateral thinking and common sense are branches of mathematics! Maybe I'll tell you about that soon too, if I haven't lost the will to live by then.

If you're curious as to the title, see here

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Cheque May Be In The Post ... One Day

Still run off my feet unfortunately. Much going on alongside the usual family and business commitments, including close encounters with NHS lethargy and rudeness after the hospitalisation of a relative (long story except to say that if my staff required as much badgering for routine tasks, they wouldn't be my staff for long).

In amongst all that is the small matter of an expected refund cheque from HMRC for overpaid tax - part of this - of around £15k. It's almost a month late now despite numerous phone calls to chase it up.

Of course, if you're even a day late just submitting a form to HMRC you are fined £100, and if you have the temerity to be late paying - for whatever reason - you are charged a daily interest rate and/or a debt collector will be sent to your home or business (I've experienced both)**.

Where are my interest payments, HMRC? Where's my right to apply fines for your incompetence? I've got a large VAT bill which you won't have any sympathy with me over if I were to quote cashflow difficulties, or even that my staff are complete dickheads and can't put a cheque in an envelope and send it. Yet that £15k which you find so difficult to process could well be part of the problem for a small business.

And if you become assertive and demand the money which you are owed and which is long overdue remember (the overpaid tax is for last year), HMRC get all touchy and threaten to cut you off for being 'offensive', the prissy berks.

Dealing with government agencies on the most simple of processes is akin to trying to fell an oak tree with a pair of secateurs. Yet if a member of the public were to be anywhere near as incompetent, they'd be mercilessly bankrupted and brutalised in short order.

The state is truly a hideous evil.

Next up: Staggering indolence experienced trying to obtain a court document for which they apparently have an established system for issuing. The words 'inept' and 'lazy' just don't cover it adequately.

** Addendum: Forgot to mention that the collector who arrived unannounced at our business went away with a cheque for £11k ... and lost it.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Knock Yourself Out

Things are mighty hectic, in a nasty way, around Puddlecoteville this week, so there wouldn't be much by way of comment here this evening even if I had managed to read anything of note today.

In the meantime, here's an offering to prove that a tendency toward ridiculous exaggeration and borderline mental psychopathy isn't solely the preserve of Brummie smoke-haters. On the contrary, it's a trait shared by their Austrian cousins too.

Via here

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Precedent That Keeps On Giving

You may remember my describing - in this article - seat belt laws as the result of a highly successful misinformation campaign back in the 1980s, and how bansturbators have been studying the methodology employed back then to further mislead the public, refining it with every new assault on our freedoms.

Because, based on fantasy though that legislation was, it's seen by rancid prodnoses as a perfect precedent for invasive and illiberal future righteous goals.

One of the first UK laws to establish the state's right to legislate 'for our own good' was the Transport Act 1983 which rendered a driver punishable if not wearing a seat belt for their own safety.

It's no surprise, then, that mandatory wearing of seat belts is now regularly cited as a precedent by politicians - when they lack public demand - wishing to further interfere in our daily lives. It has been quoted to justify all manner of illiberal schemes including (I know my audience) the pursuit of smoking bans, minimum alcohol pricing and, increasingly, climate change measures
Today you may have noticed a perfect example from Ian Gilmore (I refuse to title him as 'Sir', he was better described by The Filthy Smoker here).

Quoted on Comrade Beeb's website, this is Ian's oleaginous justification for finger-wagging over minimum pricing of alcohol amongst other nannying nonsense.

"Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity like soap powder," said Sir Ian.

"It is a drug, it happens to be legal, but it is a drug and there are more than 1.5 million people addicted to alcohol. We think, like other areas of public health, like smoking, like seatbelts, there is a strong case for tougher regulation and the most effective regulation would be around price."
There it is again. The precedent that keeps on giving, and it will adequately fool most of our unquestioning population.

Even though all Gilmore is effectively doing is quoting two measures which have not saved a single life, to promote more nannying which will also have no positive effect whilst simultaneously punishing all collectively, unnecessarily burdening businesses, and making life in this country that little bit more miserable.

Still, it keeps the tax tap flowing into the tedious bastards' bank accounts though, which is the real point of the exercise, is it not?

Creating Demand

Tesco slammed over 'sexist' T-shirt

"This T-shirt is objectionable on so many levels," said Anna van Heeswijk, campaigns manager for lobby organisation Object.

"It promotes voyeurism, dehumanises females into sex objects and uses sexist language to refer to women as 'birds'. These messages about women are worrying."

Object said it had previously criticised Tesco for selling and displaying "degrading and pornographic lads' mags".

Tesco said the £6 own-brand shirt, which was on sale in shops and on the internet, was a "humorous item" which was no longer available.
Actually, it was only a fiver on the Tesco website last night, so I bought one.

A swift refund is in the offing then? Not a bit of it, Tesco just e-mailed to say it's been despatched. Looks like they're giving your complaint the respect it deserves, Anna.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Someone Please Ask The Health Secretary To Look At Some Evidence

The Devil has performed a superlative filleting (please do go read) of this staggering gullibility from Andrew Lansley in the face of pressure from public health tax-spongers (I'll give him at least a smidgeon of benefit of the doubt).

Restaurants and work canteens will put calorie counts on menus and food manufacturers will promise to cut down on salt and artificial fats under a set of agreements to be announced today.

The three voluntary “responsibility deals” agreed with the food industry are aimed at helping the public to eat more healthily, in a drive to tackle the growing problem of obesity among both adults and children.
DK has quite rightly objected to the further employment - by the administration which promised repeals and freedoms, no less - of Labour's trusted tool, the compulsory order disguised as a 'voluntary' agreement.

But while Lansley's chosen devious process can accurately be condemned as illiberal, the basis for such proposals can only be termed as ill-informed and crashingly idiotic. Perhaps Lansley should spend more time on a Saturday reading my Link Tank articles as he might have spotted this from January, if so.

Ariely cites studies conducted in New York City after the city passed legislation forcing fast-food restaurants to post caloric information for consumers to see. The studies looked at the effect the information had on fast-food consumption.

"They saw no effect," he says. "In one study, it actually went the other way around. People said, 'Hey, only 800 calories! Give me fries with that.' "

Ariely says Duke University also conducted a similar study. He says they posted caloric labels at "the Duke version of Panda Express," a fast-food version of Chinese food. And they saw "absolutely no difference" in caloric consumption.
Yep, that's right. No effect whatsoever. In fact, in certain cases it led to more calories being consumed.

And if Lansley had read a link I posted only yesterday, he would have been educated even further as to the moronic nature of his quite absurd pronouncements.

Researchers who studied menu choices at four fast-food restaurant chains before and after mandatory labeling took effect in New York City said the legislation did little to lower calorie consumption.

"We didn't notice a change in calories purchased before and after labeling [went into effect]," said study leader Dr. Brian Elbel, assistant professor of medicine and health policy at the New York University School of Medicine and Wagner School of Public Service.
So Lansley is proposing regulations which will inflict costs on businesses ... without any concrete evidence that they will have any beneficial effect.

That's that brilliant set of minds in government for you, eh?

As for salt, the Devil has pointed out the ridiculous - and potentially dangerous - nature of Lansley's fuckwittery already.

Might I remind everyone that salt—in this case, sodium chloride—is absolutely essential for nerve function? If you do not get enough salt, you will die: if you eat rather more salt than you need then... Well, it does nothing much at all.
Quite. And if Lansley enjoyed the benefit of half decent researchers (or if one just read the odd article here at Dick's pad), he would have been informed that the entire anti-salt industry is a huge conglomerate consisting of ... one very sad geezer with a longstanding fixation.

I looked into CASH a while ago and vaguely remembered that they received paltry income while paradoxically enjoying huge media interest. It also struck me that they were working out of someone's office in Tooting.

That someone didn't concern me at the time ...

Prof Graham MacGregor, of St George's Hospital, in Tooting, South-West London, welcomed the move but added: "Why do they need to put salt on the chips at all? Why not leave them as they are and let customers sprinkle on what they want?"
Hmm, interesting.

But the BBC article says he is from the "Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine".

Funny enough, so now is the HQ of CASH.

Principal address:
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine,
Charterhouse Square,
London ECIM 6BQ
So it would seem that this entire organisation consists of Graham MacGregor and, err, a couple of mates.

Voluntary income is from tin-rattling sources such as the Food Standards Agency, Nissan, the Co-Op and OMC Investments. They did raise £717 themselves from selling old stuff, though, it has to be said.

CASH, and dictating the lives of others, is just Graham's little hobby.
A very well paid hobby too, it would seem, and one which is capable of hoodwinking offensively stupid cabinet ministers into the bargain.

Yet again we see evidence-free policy-making from those who puff their chests out and pose as state intellectuals, despite not appearing to possess any semblance of critical objectivity no matter how much of our stolen money they have at their disposal.

The Devil summed it up quite well with a very pertinent question.

Is anyone else ashamed at the fact that Lansley and his ilk claim to represent us?
Don't all put your hands up at once.

Just A Quirk Of Fate, That's All

Mike Smithson at Political Betting has pointed out an oddity with YouGov's polling methodology.

The target weightings for Mirror/Record readers that YouGov in its daily poll and don’t seem to take into account the fact that the combined circulation of the two papers has declined much faster than other segments.

The result is that the views of readers of the Mirror and its Scottish sister, the Daily Record, appear to be given a value of 80+% more in YouGov polls than the latest circulation figures suggest - and what could that be doing to the findings?


Maybe it’s also a partial explanation of why YouGov can, at times, appear to be out of line with other pollsters.
I'm sure this is just an oversight, and the fact that the opinions of those who read left-leaning press are being over-represented has nothing to do with YouGov's President, Peter Kellner, being "married to Catherine Ashton, a Labour Party politician and the first High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy".

Likewise, YouGov's odd conclusions from polls on issues to do with smoking.

These figures may be true of ASH/YouGov polls, but it's worth noting that surveys conducted by Populus and the ONS prior to the ban produced very different results. For example, a poll by Populus for Forest, published on 7th February 2006 (a week before MPs voted for a comprehensive ban), showed clear public support for the government’s manifesto pledge to allow smoking in private members’ clubs and pubs that don’t serve food.

According to the survey, 59 percent believed that smoking should be allowed in pubs that don't serve food; with 63 percent supporting smoking in private members' clubs. The poll also found overwhelming support for the introduction of designated smoking rooms in pubs and bars that do not serve food (66 percent in favour, 30 percent opposed).

Meanwhile, annual surveys by the Office for National Statistics found that while the majority backed curbs on smoking, the majority did NOT support a comprehensive ban.
This anomaly, of course, isn't linked at all to the fact that anti-smoking propaganda sheet "Beyond Smoking Kills was produced by an editorial board of scientific and medical experts, chaired by Peter Kellner, President of YouGov"

Because YouGov being a polling company - a vital facet of which is presumably unchallengeable impartiality - would never countenance any manipulation in favour of the personal standpoint of their President, now would they?

No. Absolutely not. It's purely coincidental.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Smokers To Be Banned From Keeping Pets?

Forewarned is forearmed.

Vet Alex Gough this week told the ­Veterinary Times that passive ­smoking is not just a problem for humans. He wrote: “Current evidence ­suggests that there is a significant increased risk to our animals’ health involved with living with a smoker.”

Mr Gough, from Bath, says some critics want smokers to be banned from keeping pets even though we don’t have laws to protect children from passive smoking.
Worry not, Alex. I'm sure the lunatics will get round to proposing both sooner or later.

Property Rights Defended In Kentucky

Belinda has today highlighted the story of how Campbell County in North Kentucky has just overturned its countywide smoking ban.

As Belinda has noted, the justification behind the decision was a purely libertarian one - that of a business owner's right to dictate what happens on his property.

What is most interesting in this case are the arguments employed - and the circumstances surrounding them - for and against the ban, both within the article and in the comments. It would appear that those backing the ban are described as being from outside the county and backed by professional or industrial organisations, whereby those opposed are locals simply defending their business owners' interests.

Two of the county commissioners who returned the 3-1 verdict stood in a recent election on an express ticket of repealing the ban, and have done precisely that, much to the chagrin of the anti-tobacco lobby.

The pro-ban case is the typical shrill one of invoking hypothetical deaths, insisting that a ban is inevitable, and a mixture of emotive pleading and attempted bullying of the the elected commission, whereby their opponents stick rigidly to the concept of personal responsibility and property rights.

In the comments, all manner of tried and trusted soundbites are wheeled out; the same insults, straw men, fallacies of logic and flawed analogies that normally hoodwink a bovine public and dull-witted political class. Except that in this case the repeated calm responses are to merely re-iterate that it's a liberty issue, not one of pro-smoking versus anti-smoking, this being a perfect example.

You absolutely have a choice to go where you want. Obviously, your medical condition does limit your options, but there certainly are options, and given your medical condition, there wouldn't be any of this perceived peer pressure to "force" you into a smoking establishment. In fact, you could use your medical condition to convince your friends to do the exact opposite.

NKY is going smoke free, without the law. The free market is resolving this, with more establishments going smoke-free all the time.

I just heard that the Ruby Tuesday in Cold Spring recently went smoke-free. If that's the case, it's another restaurant option.

There are smoke-free bars at the Levee and in Newport. There are smoke free options in Boone. There are smoke-free options in Kenton.

Public property is that which is owned by government. This property should cater to everyone, because you can't ignore a summons or not pay your taxes. You must go to these places, sometimes, and you shouldn't be forced to be exposed to smoke.

Private property that is open to the public, by contrast, is still private property. And in fact, the owner can kick you out for pretty much any reason they want. You may recall that OJ Simpson was kicked out of one of Ruby's places a few years back, because Ruby though OJ was guilty.

I strongly encourage you to patronize non-smoking establishments, continue to build that market, and let the free market continue the work it's already done in provided a smoke-free marketplace.
Yes, that's right. There are already plenty of non-smoking venues in the County - 70% of them, in fact - but all this shrieking and tantrum-throwing is because the anti-smokers want them all.

They will carry on demanding everything that they don't own, too. It's what anti-smokers do, unfortunately. But for now, their ad hominems, vile hyperbole and ever-shifting straw-clutching is getting nowhere in the face of a solid, consistent, incontrovertible message that a property owner should have the last word on how he operates in the market, backed up by a legislature specifically mandated by popular consent.

This starkly shows what many of us have been aware of for some time. The tobacco control movement is motivated by selfishness, personal greed, and spite, and that overweening laws such as the ban in the UK not only regulate unnecessarily since the market would adjust anyway in time, but also pander to individuals who exhibit the basest of human character flaws.

Campbell County are blessed to have a commission so well versed with the concepts of liberty and freedom which most of their fellow US politicians seem to have long forgotten.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

ASH's Contribution To Bingo: Thousands On The Dole

I haven't done this for a while, but an article which nearly passed me by has prompted yet another look at the now legendary ASH-drafted document, Myths and Reality of Smokefree England. Here's their take on bingo.

Myth: It will be bad for bingo

In the lead up to the smoking ban, pro smoking groups argued that the smokefree legislation was going to be particularly detrimental for both the profitability and long term outcomes of Bingo, with smokers more likely to stay home and use online gaming sites.

Reality: Gaming group Rank, which has 86 clubs in England said it was encouraged by performance at its Mecca bingo, with company shares up by 8.75%.
What ASH omitted, as is their wont, is that their own reference actually reported a decline in fortune for Mecca immediately following the ban.

Like-for-like revenues fell by 4.4 per cent at its English bingo clubs in the first weeks of the ban
Three and a bit years on, the true 'profitability and long term outcomes' of the industry can be assessed. And it's not pretty.

TWO bingo halls a month are closing and hundreds are ­fighting for survival because of plunging attendance figures.

A new study shows that profits in Britain’s once-booming bingo ­industry have nosedived since the smoking ban in July 2007.

As well as emptier halls, clubs have suffered a double blow ­because fruit machines used to generate up to half their income. But revenue from ­using them has dropped a third to ­£575million a year because players go outside to smoke rather than play machines between games.

In five years the number of UK clubs has dropped from 678 to 526 – with 25 closing last year alone.

Accountants Ernst & Young warn that many clubs are close to a 1,000-visits-per-week “tipping point” and more drops could put them out of business.

Profits halved from £250million in 2006 to ­£125million last year as ­players fell from five million to 2.5 ­million.
I think we can now safely say that ASH were comprehensively wrong on that particular myth reality. But then, as VGIF observed in May last year.

Myths and Realities of Smokefree England already has the makings of a fascinating historical document. With one or two possible exceptions that can be argued over, all of the so-called 'myths' have turned out to be true and all of ASH's 'realities' have turned out to be myths. And it took less than 3 years.

With the review of the smoking ban coming up in July, one would hope that the chasm between what ASH said would happen and what actually happened might come under scrutiny. It should certainly make policy-makers question ASH's credibility when it comes to passing further laws.
Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you? Especially considering this woeful incompetence is financed by large sums of - now scarce - public money.

And incompetence it truly is since the original report reveals a human cost** not mentioned by the Mirror.

In line with the negative trend within the bingo industry and the continued evidence of club closures, industry employment has fallen in recent years. There were 12,256 employees in the industry in 2009. This represents a decline of 29% from the 2006 figure of 17,152 employees
That's a very precise figure (unlike the pretend numbers ASH routinely pull out of their derrières) of nearly 5,000 real, productive job losses attributable to hideous bastards such as ASH and their fellow tobacco control tax scroungers. It could be worse too, as this only counts those directly employed - the report also points to 0.76 losses in supply trades for every employee lost to the bingo industry.

And just to further highlight the objectionable nature of policies promoted by anti-smoking rent-seekers.

[...] the greatest proportion of bingo clubs are located in areas with relatively low median earnings. It therefore follows that a reduction in employment in the bingo industry is likely to be concentrated in low income areas.
Yes, that's right. ASH - who perpetually attempt to justify their lucre-motivated agenda as reducing inequality - are actively working to throw the less well off out of employment while they themselves continue to roll in state-funded lolly.

What's more, as they count their cash and enjoy a comfortable life on the back of the tax taken from the labours of others, ASH will doubtless also not give a stuff about the real, but incalculable, unhappiness they have caused by destroying bingo.

Former bingo caller Jim Bowen understands how much the game means to millions of fans.

"A lot of people who play bingo are widows, people whose husbands have died or are ill, and they're carers, and they manage to get two hours away from the strain and stress and demands of domestic life."
Contrary to the laughable departure from reality promoted by money-grubbing tobacco control advocates, the smoking ban has indeed been "particularly detrimental for both the profitability and long term outcomes" of the bingo industry, just as predicted. It has also turned low income families into no income families, and closures have brought misery and seclusion to the lives of many thousands of people.

How proud they must feel.

** The impact on ordinary people is what is important here since the Bingo Association are hardly blameless for their demise.

Lonely Cars

Of all the articles here questioning with the 'is it just me?' tag, this perhaps is a prime candidate for an affirmative answer. Sorry, but it right grinds my gears, so it does.

I'm of the persuasion that I'd prefer to park miles away from the supermarket and endure the walk rather than go through the palaver of squeezing into the driver's seat on my return due to the proximity of the car in the next bay. I've lost count over the years, though, of the times I've left my vehicle in the farthest recess of an empty car park only to come back and find another neatly installed next door ... despite there being hundreds of other vacant bays to choose from!

You see, I kinda thought that car parking spaces would naturally follow the same allocation process as urinal protocol, but my theory is regularly disproven.

The latest example came this week where I witnessed something quite extraordinary while having a sneaky puff outside an almost deserted pub carvery (was £8.99 reduced to £3.99 due to lack of anyone liking pubs anymore).

ASH would have been proud since I barely took a couple of puffs as the scene I'm about to describe unfolded in front of me. The 30+ front of house spaces were empty but for three cars, one of them mine, yet I watched as a Nissan Micra pulled into the car park - painfully slowly I might add - and snugly placed itself right next to mine, having passed a copious array of unoccupied slots in the process.

No, that's not the end of it. The female driver then emerged from the obstruction free driver's door and went round to the passenger side to assist her elderly hubby in exiting the vehicle. He seriously struggled to do so with merely a half-open door to contend with because ... he was on crutches!

The whole process took around five minutes before they were finally able to amble, or hobble in his case, towards the pub entrance where I stood mouth agape.

Now, I'm sure someone must have a better explanation for such self-defeating behaviour, but all I can come up with is that these people must feel that their car will become lonely while they're away, or something.

I mean, how else does one account for it, especially since this example clearly resulted in an own goal for the couple concerned? There must be more to it than plain foolishness, surely.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Offending Someone's Nose: The Ultimate Modern British Taboo

All the hardship, struggle, and strength in adversity which helped put the 'Great' alongside Britain, yet some find an aroma simply too much to bear.

The hearing was told how she accused Bangladeshi children of smelling of onions or curry and would allegedly say: 'There is a waft coming in from paradise' before blasting the air freshener.
Still, it's just one bad apple I suppose, the rest of the country proudly lives up to its reputation for tolerance and possession of a stiff upper lip, eh?

Err ...

Having worked for some years in an office environment where one of the staff would occasionally indulge heavily in curry, and make the whole working area extremely pungent the next day, I can understand the lady's reaction. I never thought of spraying the office, but maybe I should have, rather than just opening windows - not possible in the winter. Not everyone likes the aroma of curry and we should not have it forced upon us...

- jonathan montmorency, cooden, uk., 16/2/2011 9:13 Rating +309

Clearly those condemning this woman have never been shut in an over-crowded classroom on a summer afternoon with kids who as well as stinking of curry also stink of unwashed clothes//undeodrised bodies. Students are no better; years ago a prof. of my acquaintance sprayed his study with his aftershave when they left it stinking of dirt and sweat. why on earth should fastidious people have to put up with the nauseating odours of others?

- Kate Evans, Nottingham,England, 16/2/2011 11:53 Rating +281
Ah, but that's just Mail readers, isn't it Dick?

Not really, no.

Davida Brookes 2-15-2011 @ 9:19AM

I must say though that although I enjoy a curry I wouldn't want it presented to me every day and I think the parents of these Asian children should make sure that their clothes fresh daily. It is after all only good habits. Or open a window when they are cooking.

Chris 2-15-2011 @ 9:35AM

I totally agree with what the teacher did, the smell of curry is terrible who wants to be smelling that all day!!!!!

kevin 2-15-2011 @ 3:06PM

i agree the smell of curry is horrible.

Lin 2-15-2011 @ 11:28AM

I agree fully with you Sara ................ no-one should have to work in these situations
Not even the fact that chiiildren (who must be thought of at all times, of course) were involved here is enough to excuse the contravention of Britain's new ultimate taboo. That no-one should suffer any odour which they may find unpleasant. In fact, one could say there should be a law against it.

While witnessing the country's tailspin into effete hyper-sensitivity is depressing, it does tend to explain why some are so willing to believe superlative bullcrap and wild fantasy if it suits their delicate, self-centred agenda.

Anyway, must be off now, I have an irresistible urge to concoct a right moody Madras while Mrs P is washing the kids' uniforms.

It's A Bit Late Now


"But the truth is that governments habitually enact too much unnecessary legislation. The public would be much better off with fewer laws, properly scrutinised."
Err, I didn't hear you speaking out while all this was going on, Diane.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Had Enough

Quite a few years ago, I remember Jeremy Clarkson being asked on a Carol Smillie daytime chat show if he thought road rage was wrong, to which he replied: "When the sun is shining and the birds are singing as you drive at 50 miles an hour along a wide country lane, and some old biddy pulls out in front of you without looking causing you to slam on the brakes, I think it's only right that you should tell them precisely what you think of them". This of course drew gasps and hisses from the audience of ... old biddies, but I could see his point.

Likewise, I can more than see the point (in fact, I echo his sentiment entirely) made by a reader here who has copied me in on a letter sent to tell his MP and HMRC precisely what he thinks of them.

The author describes himself as "not the sort to have ever written to an MP" but the obvious dissatisfaction which has prompted him to put his grievances on record starkly illustrates how our government have totally lost touch with the public in recent years.

The recipients will no doubt reply blandly and carry on regardless, but there are vast swathes of the population who feel exactly the same way - perhaps you do yourself - and are equally enraged. It's high time that the state started to realise it.

I give you one severely disgruntled head of a hard-working, respectable family in modern Britain.

Dear Sir

Me LL.B (Hons.) Dip LP – 20 years in the legal profession – last 14 as a qualified solicitor of the supreme court. Own high street practice since 2002 – left the profession in October 2010. No longer worth the effort – over regulated, no respect from the public or the state, totally bored with being an unpaid VAT collector, dealing with the bullshit SRA and its “diversity” agenda, paying through the nose for PI insurance and for regulation, rates, having my rubbish collected from the offices I rented, etc. etc. I had two tiny rented offices, no more than bucket shops in reality and with all of the outgoings, the useless local authority and the tax man and others’ it cost me £100k each year just to open the doors of those offices before I earned a single penny. Clients going bankrupt throughout 2008-2009 leaving me with over 50k of unpaid fees which comes straight off of profit. Everyone else (usually the state) gets paid of course.

Wife BA, MA – 15 years as a wonderful teacher respected and admired by all in her job – a real go getter – excellent at her job and assistant head of one of the best secondary schools in the area – outstanding in last two Ofsted reports largely as a result of things put in place by her. Giving up her job. Sick of ever changing government targets, syllabus changes, instead of being a teacher being required to be mum, entertainer, best friend, disciplinarian, teacher, and at risk every day of some pathetic charge by some scrote of a child about something she may have done that could wreck her entire career. Sick of kids who can’t be arsed, and have no parental input but have all the “rights” given to them by the state.

I earned a decent profit (save in 2008-2010) on which I paid tax (as well as rates and as well as employing a number of staff). My wife earned over £55k per annum on which she paid PAYE. We have one son aged 14 at secondary school and who I spend a great deal of time educating – he gets NO homework from his school (and complaints in this regard are ignored even though parent governors have been raising the issue for years – perhaps it is something to do with the fact that the school has had a head on sick leave for years – much like many schools in this area – Over £100k per annum of taxpayers money and pension for sitting on your arse at home “ill” – it must be in the air here) and much of our time together in this regard is in combating what is essentially propaganda taught to our kids today. He will only grow up as an intelligent free thinking adult because of my input and despite his state education. I went to a grammar school. Getting rid of these has been a massive mistake.

We have both chucked our jobs. I made three people redundant and myself and my wife will no longer be paying taxes at anywhere near the rate we did before. We will both be seeking part time jobs and don’t really care about the salary levels.

Why would two professional people like us both dump our professions, the very things that as young adults we strove to achieve?

Simple. It just isn’t worth the effort anymore in a world where a significant minority leech off of the rest of us and where the government spends over 50% of what we earn and takes that money on pain of imprisonment. The North East and Wales live off of the rest of us. In my building alone I know that statistically we are paying everything for at least three families in the block. Why? Only 200 years ago the average worker worked 170 days each year. When I was a child (and I am only 45 now) a single full time salary was enough to buy a house and send children to university. In this country today it is impossible to survive without both adults working full time to pay the myriad of taxes, mortgage payments to the bankers for our massively overpriced houses, and god forbid that we wonder why our parents and grandparents never had to do this. Thanks to the labour government and the execrable Blair and Brown and that idiot Balls, money belonging to our children and grandchildren has already been stolen and spent on crap that no-one needs.

For at least twenty years we have seen the breakdown of society as it was when we were growing up and we no longer recognise the world we live in. There is no respect for me as a lawyer or for my wife as a teacher and that lack of respect is not only present in society at large, but also from the state. The claim that the world is a different place is usually a claim made by very elderly people. I am 45 and my wife is 39 and we are saying this already. So many millions of people don’t lift a finger and have families where no-one has ever worked. My father left my mother in 1967 when she had two children under the age of 3. She worked. We got on with it. She never claimed a single penny in benefits. I closed my practice in September 2010 but will never dream of going on the dole. I never saw my useless hapless father but I grew up, went to a grammar school and then to university. My eldest brother joined the army and served with distinction in the Falklands and elsewhere and went into the police. My younger brother joined a bank, then a building society and is now a university lecturer. Not one of us has ever lived off of the taxpayer, we have paid our taxes and have produced families of our own. We are all, to a man, sick of the country we live in. Millions economically inactive. A significant percentage of children leaving school at 16 unable to read or write properly and largely numerically illiterate. The corrosive “all must have prizes” mentality has ruined state education. Political correctness everywhere so that we are caged in by professional offence takers and rent seeking “charities” expounding that we are all too fat, drink too much, eat the wrong things, smoke (how dare we), think and say the wrong things, and that the sky is falling in, all clearly based on fake science and presented in a way that could only be believed by morons – politicians of course swallow it whole and continue to send these rent seekers large shovel fulls of our money.

Global warming (now called climate disruption) is going to kill us all even though empirical and actual real life measurements say the exact opposite, (have you noticed the Maldives and other island nations are still in situ? The Arctic and Antarctic are dong fine, polar bears are increasing and most glaciers are ok and the IPCC has been shown clearly to be a pathetic activist organisation, but we are still paying through the nose more and more as the months go by – I went to the Maldives on my honeymoon, but the fantastically large amount I paid for that holiday is nothing compared to the “damages” that we western countries must pay to these people because of our “crimes” – why hasn’t anyone just told them to fuck off?), even though the Team have been shown to be activists and not scientists (despite whitewashes to the contrary that treat us all like cretins). All of this garbage is repeatedly and never endingly stuffed into our faces by the disgustingly biased BBC, by those who teach my child, and by useful idiots who have taken on board fake science and whitewashed any difficulties in that respect – the crazed Huhne wishing to cover our country with wind farms even though Germany has caught a massive cold with this technology and it is clear to anyone who isn’t a cretin that it is a crazy way to seek to provide our energy needs.

Politicians who promise things and then break those promises. There is a massive list of these from both labour and the coalition. Blair was a liar – Cameron and Clegg are no different, especially on Europe. Where is the Big Repeal Bill? Where is “Cast Iron” Dave on Europe? – lets not think about the passing of powers that have happened since he became PM. We are all looking at Egypt and wondering when that day will come here. I confidently predict that it will come within my son’s lifetime if things don’t change.

So what will we do? The only solution is to opt out. We have been lucky and sensible enough to purchase a number of properties over the years. We will never sell them – they are the only things the state cannot steal from us. I have already told my wife that the state will renege on its promise to pay her pension – look at Poland.

Politicians – a mere 650 of them – have totally fucked this country and continue to sell us down the river to the post-democratic EU. If you have any interest in what your constituents think about their lives in this country I hope that you will take note of the opinion of myself and my wife. We are sick of the whole thing. We will buy a house with a garden and I will grow vegetables and hit things with axes, and she will manage our properties. The rest of you can go f**k yourselves.

Mr ********
Bravo! I think he nailed it, don't you?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The State Bigger Than God?

You can just imagine the self-satisfaction within the coalition for announcing this on a Sunday, can't you? Just to remind you all that the state is the most important entity in life even on the sabbath.

Ministers are expected to publish plans to enable same-sex couples to "marry" in church, the BBC has learned.
Although not having a strong view one way or the other, I reckon the inverted commas surrounding the word 'marry' are very well placed here. The reason being - and I would love to know the thoughts of this blog's official theologian on the matter - that it is surely theoretically impossible for gay couples to be married under the auspices of the church.

If the church is run along the rules laid down by the Bible and scriptures, and a truly religious ceremony is banned under those rules, then it really shouldn't matter what law is proposed by the state.

Sure, they can say that same sex couples can be allowed to use spiritual venues, but unless the faith concerned is theologically aligned with the principle, the union wouldn't be blessed by whichever God is worshipped there. On that basis, If I were gay I'd struggle to see the point in choosing a church for my ceremony.

Of course, if the church were to declare that the rules had changed because they said so, surely that then casts doubt on the entire faith. Because faith in the ancient rituals and writings - if you boil it all down - is the only concept that holds religious groups together. Once it is decided by humans that these can be discarded, the cohesion of the religion buckles and its relevance falls apart.

It would appear that the usually ebullient Peter Tatchell understands this very well.

Mr Tatchell said: "Permitting faith organisations to make their own decision on whether to conduct same-sex civil partnerships is the democratic and decent thing to do.

"The current law prevents them from doing so, even if they want to. No religious institution will be forced to perform civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so."
It's not just the decent or democratic thing to do, it is simply the only option. There is nothing to push hard for here. Same sex couples will never be spiritually 'married' in a church even with legal consent behind them, it would still be a civil ceremony albeit conducted in a church. So all this turns out to be is that a few more pretty buildings are available for use. Big deal.

John Lennon famously got in a bit of a pickle by stating that the Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus', but should faiths be ordered to accept same sex marriages in the true sense of the word, it would be the state declaring that they are 'bigger than God', and even dull-witted politicians can recognise their powers are limited in that respect. Well, one hopes so, anyway.

If a day ever does come where legislation is passed to force religions to endorse gay marriages equally with heterosexual ones, we are into a whole new world of government arrogance. It would be an official declaration of the coming of the Lord. The one and only new God ... the state.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

See What They Did There?

Sorry, I was going to leave it, but this has been bugging me for 24 hours now.

Millions of people in England and Wales who work or volunteer with children and vulnerable adults will no longer need criminal record checks, ministers say.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he wanted to lift the atmosphere of suspicion and distrust cast over adults who simply wanted to help.
So, let's run a timeline on this.

Government brings in kneejerk legislation to fix an emotive problem. Their solution is to treat everyone as guilty until proven innocent, charging them for the privilege to pay for a brand new avenue of bureaucracy.

It is a huge success, because paedophiles are of course everywhere, and all of them - without exception - come with a handily labelled track record. There is also no collateral damage whatsoever.

The drive to create more pen-pushers make kids safe does, though, get a bit out of hand and is unpopular for many good reasons.

The coalition moves quickly to say that those who should never have been under suspicion in the first place will no longer be under suspicion.

Everyone applauds.

Meanwhile, the original kneejerk measure - which has had no discernible effect on preventing abuse - continues to regard double figure millions of the public as assumed guilty, ruining lives in the process, but providing a pointless security blanket for the small cost of £64 times 14 million.

How great art our benevolent state!

Link Tank 12/02

This week's ration of the engaging and infantile.

Obama and auto-defrosting refrigerators

How the vetting frenzy alienates adults from kids

After success in Holland, a porn channel for women looks to expand into other countries

Introducing the fly-powered clock and the mouse-eating table

Punish the innocent, lest the guilty go free

Bans on bouncy castles become more widespread in California

The protests in Egypt have been caused by ... global warming?

"Whether someone likes the taste of beer is the single best predictor of if he or she has sex on the first date"

Gulf states' e-cigarette bans will lead to deaths

Finnish food campaigners kidnap Ronald McDonald

Homosexuality is a public health crisis similar to secondhand smoke, apparently

In pictures: The ID card database being shredded

Friday, 11 February 2011

Time To Destabilise The NHS, Says Righteous Moron

Boy! If implemented, there's going to be acres of fun to be had with this.

Drunk people should pay for the treatment they receive at accident and emergency units, a patients' group has said.
A group populated by vacant pillocks with the foresight of a circus clown waving to the crowd before walking into a door, presumably.

[Margaret Watt, chair of the group,] said drunk people should be charged for using ambulances and for the time of staff who treated them.

She said that the money generated from such a scheme should then be invested in increasing NHS staff numbers.
I'm just trying to imagine the meeting where, having come up with such an empty-headed idea, she looked round the table and asked if anyone could see any potential problems, only to be met with furious head-shaking and heroic ignorance. Anyone with something between their ears more substantial than silly putty, of course, would have been throwing their hand in the air and shouting "ooh, ooh, Miss!" (or Ms, it would seem) at this point.

Let's start with the obvious one. What happens if someone is injured badly and decides to tough it out instead of getting this newly-chargeable treatment? Alcohol is well known to impair judgement and to increase a sense of invincibility, after all (though admittedly such a concept is likely alien to these stupid purse-lipped crones). Is a bit of time spent treating a patient - who may well have already paid plenty into the system by way of taxation - preferable to, say, their dropping dead from subsequent haemorrhaging?

Too far-fetched? Oh I don't think so, chummies. I'd give it a month before we hear of the first fatality.

Charging for the ambulance is a great idea (sarky alert), but the same scenario applies. If the patient knows that there will be a bill at the end of A&E treatment, many will refuse. What's the answer to protect them if the paramedic suspects their injury to be serious? Are they to be forced to hospital against their will? I believe there's a law against extortion and 'extracting money with menaces', isn't there? That's some pretty important primary legislation to be drafted to avoid the NHS being dragged to court even more than they are already.

This is without asking how drunk is drunk enough to be charged? There really isn't any definition except the one currently used to define too drunk to drive, and I truly believe that a public sector which is itself intoxicated on other people's money will find such a level extremely attractive for this purpose.

"Sorry Mrs Prunehat, you've had three sherries, so we'll be charging you £261 for accidentally falling down your staircase tonight. You can pay in instalments out of your weekly pension, OK?"

And, naturally, once this precedent is set the same will inexorably follow for the overweight, smokers, drivers in 31mph+ accidents, and everyone else Ms Watt and her dozy ilk disapprove of.

Still, the private sector will naturally step in and we will see a new market in insurances for any such event. In fact, the more choosy the NHS becomes as to which behaviours they are willing to treat out of the huge extorted funds they currently enjoy, the bigger the insurance industry will get. And the more who feel obliged to pay insurance premiums for NHS care, the louder the call will be for a refund of NI contributions which were paid over their lifetime, in good faith, on the promise of healthcare which is "free at the point of delivery".

Oh my! Are we talking about a system of healthcare where those who are financially able will take out insurance for potential health mishaps, whereby those who are less well off suffer the consequences? I think we are, you know.

What a fucking great idea, Ms Watt. You're in effect advocating moving towards a slow break up of the NHS in favour of personal responsibility and insurance-based treatment.

Congratulations. Idiot.

Tesco, The Police, And Trevelyan's Corn

A woman was handcuffed and 'treated like a hardened criminal' after she helped herself to food worth £200 that had been thrown away by a Tesco store following a power cut.

But she was stunned when police arrived at her home and arrested her for suspected 'theft by finding' and took her to the station in handcuffs.
Now, I realise the details are sketchy, that Tesco still technically owned the food and that the police had no choice but to act if the business complained. But ... I'm pretty sure that Tesco would have almost certainly been unable to sell the stuff, and that their concern was not so much one of theft as the fear of prosecution under environmental health regulations or litigation should someone become ill.

So what we have here is a business throwing out useless stock, and the consequences of state legislation forcing them to refuse its consumption by someone who was quite willing to take their chances. Rules is rules and government knows best yadda, yadda, yadda. The result of course being a right old mess and piss poor PR for the state's enforcers.

While reading the article though, I was minded of the Irish anthem The Fields of Athenry.

For you stole Trevelyan's corn
So the young might see the morn
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay
The Trevelyan referred to being quite a nasty piece of work whose main contribution to the Irish famine was to make it a lot worse including - relevantly for this story - denying starved 19th century Irish the relief of commodities which were only going to be ditched anyway.

The song tells the story of Lord Trevelyan who brought a supply of corn back from America in a bid to battle starvation during the potato famine in the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately it was Indian corn too hard to be milled, so useless. However, local people thought it would save them and so broke into the stores, were arrested, and subsequently deported to Australia.
Trevelyan's memory to this day is still reviled in Ireland, and his immortalisation in song has continued to whip up anti-English sentiment for four decades or so. Likewise, the reputation of Essex Police isn't exactly going to be enhanced in light of such a case, is it?

Especially since Sasha Hall, the woman arrested in this instance, was merely doing exactly as we were ordered to do by politicians recently.

On the bright side, there are now just a few more people who may be waking up to the fact that big government is hypocritical, doesn't do things very well and - for our own good - often makes life stupidly more difficult.

The more, the merrier.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Hirst Impressions

Things are busy at Puddlecote Towers tonight, but in case you haven't seen this, here is a convicted killer talking of how "control is in Europe" and lauding rules forced on a public who don't want them, while quoting the Guardian, deriding right of centre media, and refusing to apologise for calling someone who disagrees with him a 'paki'. I'm sure the left are extremely proud.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Vintage Truth Suppression

One of the first UK laws to establish the state's right to legislate 'for our own good' was the Transport Act 1983 which rendered a driver punishable if not wearing a seat belt for their own safety.

It's no surprise, then, that mandatory wearing of seat belts is now regularly cited as a precedent by politicians - when they lack public demand - wishing to further interfere in our daily lives. It has been quoted to justify all manner of illiberal schemes including (I know my audience) the pursuit of smoking bans, minimum alcohol pricing and, increasingly, climate change measures, as skilfully illustrated by Tim Yeo here.

The Government's response also claims that public support for personal carbon trading is "limited", but that has been the case with all sorts of desirable changes that have taken place. Ten years ago, public support for banning smoking in public houses would have been limited. That does not mean that it was the wrong thing to do; it was an opportunity for leadership. Going back further, before seat belts in cars were compulsory [...] support for that measure was decidedly limited in the 1950s, just as support was fairly limited for the breathalyser. All those changes needed leadership from the Government. To run away from an idea because support for it is limited seems an unsatisfactory justification.
The reason for this is that the benefits of seat belt laws are seen as indisputable. A perfect example of government being proven, by subsequent evidence, to be wiser than the public.

However, the issue of seat belt legislation is also one of the first in which incredible truth-bending and manipulation of statistics were employed to trick the public into compliance.

The truth is that there is no evidence whatsoever that seat belts have produced a net saving of lives anywhere in the world. What did happen though, is that wild claims were made before the passing of the UK Act, and wild claims were made following it, based on the same kind of flawed, or heavily-biased, studies we see in many other areas to this day. The double-counting, discarding of conflicting data, exaggeration of causality, clever couching of studies, and overt rent-seeking now endemic in statistics and epidemiology, were honed and perfected back then and are replicated every day in the modern political arena.

The Transport Act truly was a precedent. It was a textbook example for the righteous of how to lie and cheat their way to a law based on nothing but their own favoured opinions.

John Adams has been arguing expertly since the 80s against the false consensus - screamed regularly and inaccurately - that seat belts save thousands of lives a year. His evidence is not just mischief making either, it is incontrovertible. A prime reason for such strong contrary opinion being largely ignored will ring a big bell for those of us who are well aware of public health connivance in suppressing the truth.

Here, John explains the reaction of the World Health Organisation to a report they commissioned (highly recommended 4 page pdf), not long after implementation of the Transport Act, which didn't agree with their pre-determined policy.

In 1986 they had commissioned an article by me on seat belt legislation for The International Digest of Health Legislation.

The article I submitted summarized the evidence and arguments of these earlier essays. I assumed they knew what they were commissioning.

I received a prompt reply from someone with the title “Chief, Health Legislation”: “I would like to inform you that, for editorial reasons, your review will not appear in the International Digest of Health Legislation. Even though, under the terms of the contractual agreement with you, copyright in the text is vested with the Organization, we have no objection to the review being submitted by you for publication elsewhere, subject to the proviso that no mention is made of the fact that the review was commissioned and an honorarium was paid by WHO.”

From that day to this the WHO has campaigned for seat-belt legislation. No mention should be made of evidence that casts doubt on the efficacy of such legislation – that would undermine the efficacy of its campaign for more legislation.

The WHO being complicit in misleading the public shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, but I'm sure there are a hell of a lot of people who will be ignorant of the fact that they have been lied to, not just on a massive scale and on a daily basis, but also for such a very long time.

Whither integrity, eh?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Parents Ask Government To Hold Their Hand

BBW has highlighted the case of a mother who has been suspended from her job for leaving her 14 year old and 3 year old sons home alone for 30 minutes while she popped down to the shops. There's no law against it, but the caution she received from police now appears on her CRB disclosure hence the suspension.

Infuriating, yes, but not as maddening as this in the Express article.

PARENTS last night said there needed to be clearer guidelines over leaving children.
Err, why? Are parents so piss poor nowadays that they aren't able to work out for themselves if a child is mature enough to be left alone in their own home? Such an understanding of one's kids' personae is one of the most important aspects of parenting, for crying out loud!

[Charity officer Janet Cropper, 49, from Windermere, Cumbria, said] "I believe people need firmer guidelines."
Janet, dear, if you require government to instruct you, perhaps you shouldn't have become a parent in the first place.

[Mother-of-three Vivienne Smith, 60, from Sale, near Manchester, said] “I think it boils down to the age of the children and the teenager’s intelligence and maturity.”
And who knows the teenager's intelligence and maturity better than anyone else? Yes. The parents. Certainly NOT the bloody government!

It's called self-determination. How difficult can that be to understand?

Obviously some just don't get it and cannot function without instruction, so here's a bit of Puddlecote logic on the subject. The NSPCC state that "no child under 14 should be left home alone and no child under 16 should care for someone younger than themselves", but considering they could find danger in a pile of marshmallows, one can safely knock at least 2 or 3 years off each of those ages.

This would seem to be confirmed by the fact that TfL Oyster Cards are issued for kids aged 11+, presumably because that is the general age when kids are able to use public transport on their own. And if they can handle crossing roads and not tripping over pavements at 11, they are sure as shit able to sit on the couch, watch TV, and not open the front door while Mum gets a few groceries.

Here we are constantly being told that kids are growing up too fast these days, yet they're paradoxically also not mature enough to do things that came naturally to our generation at the same age. It can't be both, can it?

Good grief.