Sunday 31 January 2010

The Shrill-Shriekers Cometh

If you have been vigilant, you will have noticed the signs.

All BBC leave has been cancelled, an APB has been issued to a plethora of fake charity spokespersons, airwaves are cleared for the new assault embargoed for the start of Feb.

And Tom Harris is getting ever closer to that vote he said wouldn't happen.

Tomorrow promises debunking potential aplenty as Andy Burnham gets an early night to spout shit. On toast.

Ain't That The Truth?

Study shows no fewer crashes in NY, despite cell phone ban

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - It appears New York roads are no safer than those in states that don't ban use of hand held cell phones. A new Highway Loss Data Institute study finds no reductions in crashes after these laws take effect.

According to the study it’s not just New York. Other states that’ve enacted cell phone laws have also seen little change in the number of crashes.

Hardly surprising considering it's one of those laws that make politicians feel important but which are predictably impossible to enforce.

A law which is completely unnecessary too as (don't even need to Google this) every civilised nation in the world has the problem covered anyway.

“I just generally feel you can't outlaw every single type of activity, it's better to outlaw reckless driving,” said State Senator John DeFrancisco.

Indeed, but err ... is it not outlawed already, Senator?

Flip Flop eBay

Hey, it's their company, they can do as they please I suppose. However, I can't help being amused at the odd business sense being shown by eBay UK.

You know the drill ...

Well, that's how most see the site, and how they initially traded and grew. After a while, of course, they actively attracted professional sellers. So much so that their bread and butter small buyers and sellers were beginning to desert them. This led to a change in fees and the way search results were presented which didn't go down too well at the time.

They seem to have quite a lot of trouble balancing the two types of user, and have flip flopped back and forth for a while. Last year, they launched a charm offensive, to attract back the small sellers who earn a few pennies selling their unwanted goods, by re-introducing free listing for low-priced items.

In October, though, they changed tack again and stipulated that books, records (as mentioned specifically in the above 2007 ad) and a slew of other categories, must be listed with free postage.

Not a problem, I hear you say, as the seller can just add the postage cost to the item listing. Nope, as that is against eBay rules and can lead to account suspension or termination.

So, if you have a book worth around a quid before postage and want to sell it, the p&p cost, even for a Ladybird, will be around £1.50. That's before paying your fee to eBay and PayPal. Which kinda defeats the object of offering free listings for cheaper items ... that they were attempting to attract.

To make selling even easier, eBay has announced new pricing for casual sellers, making it free to list items in the classic eBay auction-style format with a starting price of up to 99p. There is a flat 10% Final Value Fee when the item sells. If it doesn’t sell, there’s no fee at all.

I'm sure there will be those stupid enough to sell something for £1 and pay £2 for the privilege (the UK is populated with plenty such fools) but most would rather take their unwanteds to the dump - along with eBay's cut.

If you're reading this from outside the UK, this doesn't apply to your satellite eBay site as the rules are only apparently applicable here.

eBay's profits took a bit of a dive last year, I'm not sure eBay UK are helping matters much with their confused customer relations initiatives.

Saturday 30 January 2010

Tails Wagging Dogs

The Fink carried a gem of insight yesterday.

If there is an obesity epidemic what might spread it? The idea that obesity is normal. You get that idea by knowing obese people (as the recent book Connected argued). But you can also get it from hearing people talk about what a big obesity problem we have.

In other words the very act of talking about the obesity problem makes it worse.

You would make it better by suggesting obesity is not the norm.

But politicians can't build support for policies dealing with a problem that isn't that big. And they can't take credit for solving problems that weren't a big deal in the first place.

So there is a perverse incentive leading politicians away from sensible use of behavioural science.


For the purposes of political expediency, minor problems are routinely exaggerated out of all proportion to the everyday life experiences of those of us who live in the real world. All of which plays nicely into the hands of a small clique of single interest nutters and fake charities.

Little wonder, then, that the subsequent solutions our currently health-obsessed government vainly cling to, are rooted in fantasy, and regularly doomed to failure.

Contrary to the backward logic employed at Westminster, enjoyment of products which are deemed 'unhealthy' is perfectly normal. What is not normal is the unhealthy obsession politicians of all stripes have with wishing to dictate the way their citizens should live their lives.

It is for government to assess how we choose to live and then govern accordingly, not to govern as they choose and coerce us to change our way of life to order.

Link Tank 30/01

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

The ideal citizen drinks and smokes ... a lot

The patriotic american burqa

Tell the world what you are buying with your credit card

Putting calorie counts on drinks doesn't work

Australia only has one working submarine!

The latest terrorist threat ... Botox

The Diary of Anne Frank deemed obscene

Britain's alcohol 'problem'. What would Churchill do?

All British newspapers are tabloids

No room for protectionism in higher education

Attack of the food police

It's all a big game, isn't it? NZ anti-smokers slipping behind their counterparts in other countries

That hole in the ozone layer? It wasn't so bad after all

Friday 29 January 2010

Time To Start Bullying The Bully State

One can only hope that the [officially] recently-launched Big Brother Watch increases its influence in coming years if this is a taster of policy.

... media criticism is all our masters care about. Well, I accept their terms. Using those tools, we can and must turn that fear around – so that in a few years' time, when the jobsworth is on the verge of handing out that illiberal fine, he feels the chilling effect himself.

Donning the uniform of office doesn't – or shouldn't – entail unlimited power to exact petty bureaucracy. It ought to come with discretion, with common sense. Failing that, let's try to bully them back.

Of course, this requires a hand-in-hand reduction in government adherence to fake charities and well-funded righteous groups, but it's a line of attack which should be adopted enthusiastically nonetheless.

It is a skill which we seem to have lost in recent years. The proud refusal to bow in front of bullies and unfair authoritarianism. Instead, we have a largely indolent nation who wish to keep out of it and hope they aren't next for the chop (hello CAMRA).

Years ago, I worked in the public sector, and you should have seen the terrified scampering that went on if even the local paper got wind of a story which reflected badly on the local authority who paid me. Councillors would soil themselves at the thought of lost votes and bawl officers out at the earliest opportunity - and with the threat of livelihoods being curtailed, they acted instantly. That was 20+ years ago but public sector leeches have since become wise to the fact that 1) they can shift blame around until the storm dies down, 2) that the public are not as ferocious as they used to be, and 3) they can back down without any hint of apology.

The spirit of stubborn refusal to put up with their shit badly needs rekindling.

Complain. Annoy. Object. Irritate. Pester ... constantly.

Don't give them a fucking inch. Bully them as they are bullying us.

Perhaps one day they might get the message.

Today's Chilcot Winners - Johnson & Harman

Listening to the Chilcot enquiry today, you can almost imagine him squiriming in deep discomfort as the questions came raining in. Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, wishing it would all be over soon. It's an ordeal which must raise grave doubts about his future, especially when those who haven't yet seen or heard today's events tune in to the highlights on the evening news.

What's that? Blair? Oh no, I didn't mean Blair, I was referring to Gordon Brown.

It's two and a half years since the vast majority of British voters have heard Tony Blair speak so publicy. They will have mostly forgotten how smooth a speaker he is, how persuasive and erudite his demeanour, and how effortlessly he handles public pressure.

Here he is, over the course of six hours, being relentlessly quizzed, with the spotlight of the world's media on him, and with an anti-war contingent hanging on every syllable for signs of error, contrition, or weakness.

Yet he has let almost nothing past his guard and has instead appeared confident, measured and, most importantly, honest. Whether it is the real Blair on show or just the skilled actor only he will truly know, but the public perception, far from being the high profile slaying some were hoping for will, I suspect, be largely positive.

And perhaps importantly, today's performance will highlight the noticeable differences between Blair and Brown, which should make Gordon feel rather uneasy.

Blair didn't litter his answers with ums and errs like Brown, there was no stumbling over words, or mid-sentence corrections. Nope, his quick mind considered each question, paused if need be, before delivering his responses with consummate eloquence.

Contrast this with Gordon's monotone communication. His regular flustered gaffes. Blair wouldn't have blundered into claims to have saved the world, or have boasted of spending increases of zero per cent. When Blair speaks, he chirps, while with Brown, one hears the murmur of storm clouds in the background.

For many, hearing and seeing Blair again in a public setting will merely emphasize how very poor Brown, the communicator, is in this new era of personality politics.

There is talk of Blair joining Labour on the campaign trail for the general election, but if I were Brown, and I intended to remain as leader of the Labour party until polling day, I would want Blair as far away as possible. His presence would only serve to remind the electorate that if they vote Labour, they won't be getting the jewel in the party's crown, but the fake Rolex with a cracked face and a stuttering minute hand.

As such, Blair's testimony will have been welcomed by any pretender to Brown's leadership. Anything that detracts from the PM's public approval can only be good news for the likes of Alan Johnson and Harriet Harman, and when Brown takes the stand at the same enquiry, the gulf in class will only be further illustrated if Brown can't match Blair's unflustered ease ... which he won't.

The re-emergence of Tony Blair into the public eye today could have the effect of hastening Brown's exit ... because he's just, well, not Tony. I'd have thought that Johnson and Harman, maybe ickle Miliband too, will be quietly pleased at the day's events.

While the Tories will just be hoping that any potential coup comes later rather than sooner.

Thursday 28 January 2010


House of Commons suspended because MPs can't think of anything to talk about

And you're complaining why, James? It should be a permanent arrangement.

Paul Flynn: Fragile, Handle With Care, Poor Love

Made of glass and with a Howard Hughes complex, so he is (as well as being indecipherable at times).

Handshakes are getting less popular. Good riddance.

They are unnecessary unhygienic germ-spading intrusions. Some oafs use them to prove e strength of their personalities with bone-crushers. They should be summoned for assault. Their behaviour should demonstrate their strength of character.

Among the millions of atrocities are many with painful hands, Eye-watering hand squeezes can be excruciatingly painful. Grimacing in pain does not deter them. Even yelps of pain or the sarcasm has no effect. 'Don't worry , my fingers will be back to normal in six time,' I've tried on some insensitive dolts. the point is never understood.

Who will be first person to be charged with assault by handshake?

If it's an attempt at humour, Paul, it's not funny. You fuckers have a tendency to turn the ludicrous into stark, legislative reality.

If you did mean it, however, you're quite the intolerant, weak-willed, effete cunt.

ADDENDUM: Lest we forget, he is a rampant smoking ban advocate and considers taxpayers to be a cash machine.

Pump 'Em Up Or Put 'Em Away, Sheila

If you visit the Angry Exile's place, you will see a pop-up protesting the forthcoming censorship of the internet in Australia. Additionally, I've mentioned previously the predilection of upside-down legislators to ban, well, just about everything, but they are truly excelling at righteous overthink now ...

... by banning itty bitty titties**. For the sake of the chiiildren, natch.

The Board has also started to ban depictions of small-breasted women in adult publications and films. This is in response to a campaign led by Kids Free 2 B Kids and promoted by Barnaby Joyce and Guy Barnett in Senate Estimates late last year. Mainstream companies such as Larry Flint’s Hustler produce some of the publications that have been banned. These companies are regulated by the FBI to ensure that only adult performers are featured in their publications. “We are starting to see depictions of women in their late 20s being banned because they have an A cup size”, she said. “It may be an unintended consequence of the Senator’s actions but they are largely responsible for the sharp increase in breast size in Australian adult magazines of late”.

Has some brain-eating virus been unleashed on an unsuspecting world in the past half decade? It is increasingly becoming a plausible theory.

** Yes, Australia really does have a political 'Sex Party'

One Rule For Them ...

Tuesday in Westminster. North Devon MP, Nick Harvey, describing bar facilities, and more, available to Members of Parliament ... but not to anyone else in the country.

Members and their guests have access to all the bar facilities listed above. Also, the Members' Smoking Room is provided for the exclusive use of Members of Parliament (Monday to Tuesday 14.00 to 17.00 and 18.00 to midnight; Wednesday 14.00 to 17.00 and 18.00 to 23.00; Thursday 13.00 to 17.00 and 18.00 to 19.00; closed Fridays).

Can we have a smoking room, Nick?

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Priorities Well And Truly Screwed

I take it that Corinna Ferguson is an employee of Liberty.

Jon Gaunt win marks Ofcom's card

Liberty believed Ofcom breached Jon Gaunt's right to free speech – and we'll continue to keep a close eye on the regulator

'Gaunty' has today won the right to appeal over his sacking for stating the obvious.

The councillor came up against a host filled with rage, against – as he saw it – interfering do-gooders who would deprive a child in care the chance of a loving home. Long story short, Gaunt called the man a "nazi", "health nazi" and an "ignorant pig".

Quite right too.

If you're new to the case, his remarks were aimed at Redbridge Council's Michael Stark, who was defending his authority's position on banning smokers from adopting.

Note it was not banning adoptive parents from smoking around the children. It was banning smokers. Period.

As such, Gaunt's comments, being adopted himself as a child by a smoker, were intensely personal, heartfelt and arguably accurate.

Now, as Longrider points out, TalkSport are entirely within their rights to sack Gaunt.

Freedom of speech does not apply on private property and the radio station is not obliged to allow a free for all if it doesn’t want to, so actually, Gaunt’s freedom of speech wasn’t curtailed. There is nothing wrong with a broadcasting code in principle and nothing wrong in principle with it being enforced, or the station dismissing an employee who breaches it.

True enough, but in TalkSport's case, it's rather hypocritical when they still employ a knuckle-dragging berk like Alan Parry, who spouts equally offensive shit but targeted at smokers rather than those, like Michael Stark, who would prefer kids rot in an institution than be cared for in a home inhabited by someone who enjoys a legal product.

And it is still legal, by the way, in case you were confused with the messages being sent out by this bastard government.

Interestingly, at the time of Gaunt's sacking, a BBC Northampton DJ was also making offensive remarks on the same subject.

Subject: Redbridge Council’s decision to ban smokers from fostering. As usual, it was a lively debate. Neil was taken aback, however, when presenter Bob Walmsley compared smokers to alcoholics and stated that smokers are unfit parents.

He was later forced to apologise.

"I gave an opinion comparing alcoholics to smokers. This was an unfair comparison to make and if this has caused offence I am genuinely sorry about that. It was not my intention."

Walmsley avoided sanction, yet Gaunt, who also apologised, was hung out to dry.

Both attracted complaints to OFCOM, both apologised, yet only the one who defended smokers was sacked.

What's more, Guardian fuckstick Roy Greenslade didn't believe Walmsley should have been made to apologise at all.

Smoking is addictive. Unlike drinking alcohol, even in moderation it can cause problems for both smokers and for those who inhale the smoke. So Walmsley was quite right and should not have been forced to back down.

So what we have here is a man, intrinsically familiar with the issue of adoption and smokers as adoptive parents, being punished for a stance which he found personally offensive and which he saw as potentially damaging to kids who are in the same position as he once was. One might assume that his anger would be quite legitimate under the circumstances.

Then, we have a BBC DJ who has none of the same personal involvement, merely a bigoted and judgemental viewpoint, making equally offensive remarks, backed up by a similarly ivory towered bigot from the Graun whose arrogant hatred of smoke obscured his objectivity ... if he possessed it in the first place.

And neither OFCOM nor the PCC were bothered with either of them.

The fact that the Guardian are offering a spot for Liberty's Corinna is laudable, and the comments appended are encouraging at time of writing, yet the fact still remains that the Guardian back this government, have afforded the execrable Greenslade space for his ill-informed and vindictive comments, and as such are complicit in policies which have led to kids being denied loving homes on purely dogmatic grounds.

It's too much to ask that Labour might call Redbridge Council and tell them they are a bunch of heartless cunts and that they should change such a divisive, and damaging, policy (they didn't do so at the time so were obviously quite happy about it). It's also laughable to believe that ASH will lose a wink of sleep over denying parentless kids a home, which they have effectively done purely out of selfishness and spite.

If anyone should have been sacked back in November 2008, it should have been Michael Stark, who wilfully restricted the future life chances of parentless kids as a result of ignorance and prejudice. He is a 'health nazi', of that there is no doubt. His decisions WILL adversely affect children in his care.

Gaunt was arguing for kids in care to be helped instead of hindered by ideological nonsense. Those who complained about Gaunt's understandably brusque demolition of Stark have nowhere near the same motivation to object. They are merely offended. And as Corinna quite rightly points out.

But there is no right not to be offended.

One might argue, however, that it is the right of parentless kids to be given a home if one exists, regardless of whether they are adopted by a smoker or not.

Yet again, the selfishness of anti-smokers is astounding in its ability to destroy lives on a whim.

Me. Me. And thrice, me.

Ain't That Global Warming A Bitch? (7)

Remember Florida's 'coldest temperatures on record'? Well, they're creating records of their own in the indigenous manatee population.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More than 100 manatees have been found dead in Florida waters since the beginning of the year, mostly victims of a nearly two-week cold snap, state officials said Tuesday.

The preliminary cause of death for 77 of the endangered animals is cold stress, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said. They were found from Jan. 1 through Jan. 23.

The Sunshine State saw unseasonably cold weather earlier this month that killed fish and stunned thousands of sea turtles as well as iguanas.

Manatees are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act because of declining numbers over time. The state in 2009 counted 3,802 manatees.

... and declining further.

Still, manatees aren't as cute as fluffy polar bears, so who gives a shit?


H/T to fellow jewel robber, Steve

Tuesday 26 January 2010

The Majority Have Spoken - Time For Change

Like an archaelogist dusting off some remnant of an earlier age, Taking Liberties has found out that a formerly regular question, now deemed to be taboo, is still being asked, albeit quietly.

In Britain as a whole, the majority support a smoking ban, with just seven per cent saying that smoking should be freely allowed. However, the level of restriction, whether a complete ban or simply restricted to certain areas, divides the public.

While just under half (46 per cent) support a ban on smoking in pubs and bars altogether, a similar proportion (41 per cent) prefer limiting smoking to certain areas of pubs and bars.

Of course, this isn't much of a surprise, considering the three option question was a staple of annual interrogation from 1996 onwards.

Long-serving readers here (I feel for you, honest) might remember my pointing out just such an ancient custom.

Since 1996, they have split the responses between those who approve of an outright ban, those who favoured some restrictions, and the numbers calling for none at all.

The figures up to 2005 were:

2003: 20%, 70% and 8% respectively.
2004: 31%, 63% and 5%
2005: 33%, 61% and 5%

Note that the first figure is those in favour of what has now been inflicted on us. The significant majority didn't want it. This could have been embarrassing to Labour, in the wake of their authoritarian Health Act 2006, if the ONS hadn't changed the way they presented the stats ... which is exactly what they did. I'm sure they still asked the same questions, but tables were published showing 66% agreeing with restrictions (a flatline from the previous two years by their own admission), without any further detail.

Lo and behold, a majority now in favour, whereas before they were struggling for a third of those surveyed. As Paul Daniels might say, now that's magic.

With the ban a fait accompli, the question was considered no longer necessary, or so it seemed until the BSA report was studied more closely.

And you sure as shit aren't going to read that the majority of the country don't favour a blanket smoking ban from the BBC or the legions of public funded bansturbators.

Thus it would have been buried under the rubble of a bygone, more free, era until today told us a truth that only the most blinkered of anti-smoking bigots would deny.

It is quite impossible for a public, any public on the face of the earth, to go from 66% disapproval of a blanket smoking ban, to 76% the other way ... in a couple of years (this is the best link ASH could find, so step forward Warrington, the worldly font of fuckwittery).

How many times have you read that the smoking ban is overwhelmingly popular? That it is a reaction to the will of the public? Well, as VGIF highlights today, there are but a few who foist this view ... and they are paid from the public purse and by companies which benefit greatly from the deception.

Despite the lack of any evidence apart from a shonky, duped northern newspaper, the latest ASH accounts continue the mendacity which they, themselves, created - and use it as a motivation to push for more intrusion into your life.


Following the successful implementation of the overwhelmingly popular and effective smokefree law in July 2007, ASH has been at the forefront of a new campaign for a national tobacco control plan.

There. Right there. Is the lie and is provably so. Not just this year, but for every year since 1996 when the question was first asked.

There is no justification for a blanket ban in this country. Not if we value democracy and freedom of choice. Not if we value the voice of the people over coercion by the state and its lackeys. Not if we believe that vested interests who, addicted to lies can spill four or five before their morning toast is even crisp, are more important than the choices of the public.

The majority - count it, the majority - want the smoking ban amended. They didn't want the current all-encompassing ban to begin with, they never have wanted it.

Now, Tories. Labour are corrupt and in the pocket of these unutterably disgusting and self-serving fucknuts. If they regain power, the electorate may as well consider China as a realistic emigration option.

So we're left with Cameron and his health goon, Andrew Lansley. Well, both, What are YOU going to do about this?

Speak up!

A Ghost Writes?

CiF carries a piece playing down the recent revelations of cock ups emanating from Rajendra Pachauri's sphere of influence.

It's written by climate change inc employee Bob Ward, unless you view in RSS, where it is apparently attributed to ... Rajendra Pachauri.

How Pachauri was initially credited with this is anyone's guess, though there are a couple of "No, he wouldn't ... would he?" possibilities.

Car Park Geography

The recent ice has left the hardstanding in front of our office and warehouse with a few breaks and scars. I was considered a bit sad for mentioning that one arrangement bore an uncanny resemblance to Corsica and Sardinia.

Mrs P agrees with the 'sad' comment. But then, before Pong was available as a home edition, poring over a world atlas was classed as entertainment for a 70s kid.

Laugh Or Cry?

Seen by sister Puddlecote (the elder) in Kent. A troop of army cadets in full camouflage ... and hi-viz jackets.

Good grief.

Monday 25 January 2010

It's A Simple Fact - Feminists Reduce Choices For Women

Michael Deacon has had a pop at feminists, and he's very correct.

A female journalism student once asked me how I'd feel if a daughter of mine became a glamour model. I said if she were 18, she could do whatever job she chose, no matter what I felt. And that's the difficulty facing today's feminists. If women are to have the same freedoms as men, feminists can't easily complain when some women exercise those freedoms in a way feminists disapprove of.


But hardcore feminists don't work on the realities of human female behaviour. Their latent concern, whether they mean it to be viewed as such or not, could be construed as more a punishment of men, who they appear to despise above all others.

Alluring images of women seems to be what truly angers them, not necessarily for the fact that women are wont to exercise their freedoms in a way which is hugely in their favour, but because some man, somewhere, might gain enjoyment from it.

We're not just talking highly successful women who have earned fortunes out of what God gave them, either. Deacon references Abi Titmuss, and he could have chosen a multitude of others who have benefitted greatly, not from being humiliated, but from the empowerment of wealth and of being adored from afar. It's moot as he could point to everyday females in any town in any country (though it's odd that feminists are quite happy to applaud feminisation of women in countries such as Iran when the mood takes them).

I challenge any male reading here to have attended a fancy dress evening where their partner wasn't trying to look as feminine and attractive as possible. Anecdotal, I know, but I have been to such events, many times, with many partners over the years, where a prize was offered for the best costume, yet women will invariably reject the idea of dressing in something imaginative if it doesn't make them look damn good.

In making themselves candidates for modelling, the idea of untold wealth is merely a future fantasy for many women. The urge to be admired is far more strong, and for very good reason.

It's human nature. Men like to appear commanding and manly (even if they are a 9 stone weakling) whereby women will always want to be the belle of the ball, and fiercely do they compete to be just that. It's a hard-wired character trait bestowed by their genes and the primeval urge to attract a strong and caring mate.

And this is what feminists are so angry about. Denied any possibility of being dubbed the most lovely in any gathering since they were kids, they are deeply opposed to others being able, and willing, to attempt just that.

So they take it out on those who are able. Viciously at times. Shorn of masculine approval themselves (sometimes even shunning it altogether), they dedicate their time to derogating women for doing what they are very happy to enjoy, even for wearing clothes that they wish to wear, and cursing the men who adhere to their own DNA in appreciating the view.

If it were up to jealous feminists, women would all be wearing potato sacks and shunning make-up, short skirts, heels etc, in case it brings back memories of how piss poor they have always been at doing as nature intended themselves.

And in so doing, they would seek to restrict potentially lucrative opportunties for women, to intimidate others into changing their instinctive behaviour and dress, and to discourage males and females from enjoying what each other has to offer.

In short, feminists are anti-social and derogatory to the natural life experience of the majority of women they claim to protect.

It's ironic that, while feminists will point to the need for women to be seen as more than just a pretty form - and should, instead, be appreciated for their inner beauty - those who direct anger at beautiful women aspiring to be admired, are so petty, vindictive, spiteful, and inwardly ugly.

Bring Tomatoes

You know you want to.

Readers are cordially invited to join Billy Bragg and hear the case for capping RBS bonuses at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, London, on Sunday 31 January at 1pm

Sunday 24 January 2010

Suck It Up (2)

Around 1980, Janet Street-Porter was fronting 20th Century Box and being touted as a bit of a clever young stick.

She's knocking on a bit now though, poor love, and instead of ferreting away to find the truth behind the news, as was her way, she now just sucks up any old healthist spew.

Editor-At-Large: Only a price rise will stop Britain's booze culture

You know where this is going now, don't you?

Right, just a suggestion to soften your anger, try imagining the quotes being spoken by JSP's dentally-strangled voice.

Let's practice that with the first para.

Why are politicians so feeble about tackling alcohol abuse? Last week the Tories and Labour presented their big plans to deal with the crisis that's costing the NHS millions, and turning our city centres into horrible places you avoid at all costs.

Bet you smiled when reading the word 'horrible', yes?

OK, dry run over, the rest is not a drill.

In this phoney booze war politicians have plenty of policies, but they're toothless.

NO! Ignore the toothess line, chuckle-making as that sounds - it's what went before I was going to mention. Listen, Janet dear, you have never been as unintentionally accurate. This booze 'war' is as phoney as phoney gets. There's no war, there's no battle, it shouldn't even be a fucking skirmish.

The Lib Dems remain the only party to back a minimum price per unit of alcohol, and a ban on advertising and sponsorship.

Yes, isn't that ironic? The only party with liberal in their name shrieking about bans and illiberal, enforced price increases. Of course, JSP can't see the contradiction, nor does she want to. She is sucking up righteous misinformation as thirstily as your (un)friendly neighbourhood wino necks the Special Brew.

The drinks industry, and their persuasive lobby organisation, the Portman Group, are so powerful that relatively sane politicians like the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, now make the ludicrous claim that fixing the price of drink will unfairly affect those on low incomes.

Yes, ludicrous, so it is. Ludicrous to assume that a price rise will hit the poor first. Who ever heard of anything so illogical, eh JSP?

Talk about a warped view of liberty – the freedom of choice for a generation of young men and women to wreck their health at rock-bottom prices.

Totally warped Janet. I mean, whoever believed liberty should be about allowing people to make their own decisions, rightly or wrongly? That way lies madness and a return to the bad old days which created Great Britain and the United States. China and the former Soviet Union had the right idea all along. Who knew?

Ranged against the Portman Group and their paymasters are all this country's leading medical bodies. Those who want minimum pricing and a ban on advertising include the British Medical Association, the Chief Medical Officer for England, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the Royal Society for Public Health.

Because that's the true route to liberty - state funded bodies dictating what choices you are allowed to make.

The British Medical Journal reckons the real price of alcohol has fallen by 70 per cent since 1980, and is only 11p a unit in some supermarkets. Has any other commodity with the capacity to cause serious harm become so cheap and so readily available?

If taken to excess, err, yes. Water, for example.

The Lib Dems are right: minimum pricing and an advertising ban are logical. But very unlikely.

I think you're confused, duckie. The chances of the Lib Dems being allowed into government are extremely unlikely, as are the chances of them becoming vaguely liberal anytime soon. The likelihood of minimum pricing being adopted in England, however, is very possible while blinkered, and ignorant fuckweasels, such as you, continue to believe such execrable nonsense from neo-prohibitonists.

To use the condescending terminology you employ in your ill-informed and slavish piece. The fact that people, who have previously shown themselves capable of independent thought, can be sucked in by propaganda over a problem which doesn't exist in any great measure, is laughable.


Suck It Up

Peter Preston, gullible Labour mouthpiece of the day.

It may be unfashionable to say so, but targets have repeatedly been shown in fact to work

Anyone who has experienced booking a GP appointment before, and after, waiting targets were introduced, will attest to the ingenuity of the public sector (and humans, in general, to be fair) in cheating the gamers. Still, let's bear him out.

And yet, here is a five-year inquiry by the Economic and Social Research Council which shows that, yes, targets do work. And here's a walloping survey from the Nuffield Trust looking at NHS performance in England, where targets still rule the roost, and devolved Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where they don't. And yet again, targets work.

That's the ESCR which, according to its 'About Us' page is ...

... an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter, but receive most of our funding through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

And the Nuffield Trust, whose accounts detail alliances with Labour GOAT, Lord 'I'll say anything for my party' Darzi, and research contracts from the Department of Health.

Yep, forget the experiences of we poor saps who use the NHS, and the demoralised front-liners who continually speak of Labour's bureaucratic obstacles to actually getting the job done.

And forget the human trait of playing the box-ticking game for the express purpose of passing the box-ticking test. The government-funded box checkers have spoken, and their word is indisputable.

It's modern politics. Pay for a flood of government-friendly info and gullible sponges will suck it up without question.

Sly Definition

Rafael Behr has translated politicospeak, and some definitions are rather good.

Crime Any breach of the law apart from transgressions relating to parliamentarians' tax and mortgage arrangements, for which the correct term is "errors of judgment".

Electorate Several thousand voters in marginal constituencies along the M4

And he really nails this one ...

Stakeholder Person who, according to departmental briefings, must be consulted before their views can be ignored.

Never a truer word.

Saturday 23 January 2010

They're Everywhere

Sometimes, it's hard to discern where the next shit-for-brains apologist for further communally self-inflicted coercion is going to come from.

Now, I thought this guy was a fucknugget of astronomical proportion.

How can companies cut down on the pointless emails clogging up inboxes? Start charging people to send them

It's a myth that businesses should aim to cut costs (???)

It'd be nice if we all cared enough about our colleagues to bear their inboxes in mind before we dump on them, but when pressure mounts we tend to act on our pressing needs. Rather than try to change human nature, if you're serious about a more efficient email system then start charging.

But then, I read this.

One of the sacred cows of modern life is the belief that we all want a choice.

Being able to decide where to live, whom to marry, what to study and which profession to go into may sound like freedom, but it is in fact a recipe for anxiety and depression.

Yes, it would be easy to ignore such fuckwittery except they are still young enough to breed.

And cocksockets like this are already everywhere.

Voters: Surplus To Requirements

Yonder in the 70s, Grandad Puddlecote, whilst whipping my sorry arse at teaching me to play cribbage and dominoes** in his council maisonette, used to regularly denounce politicians of the day thus:

"If they want my vote, they're gunna 'ave to do better'un that"

He always voted for someone, though.

Looking back, it's a supremely confident statement which relies on the fact that prospective MPs actually care about, and are willing to act upon, what the electorate think. But then that was around the time of the first 1974 election where turnout was in the region of 80%.

Since then, we have come to realise that what goes on around Westminster has very little to do with us at all. Nowadays, if any politician shows just an inkling of listening to his/her constituents, they are either thrust to the back benches sharpish, if already elected, or classed as a maverick and not selected at all.

And post Lisbon, we are more irrelevant than ever, which is why this really doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Every Briton will be asked to hand over their National Insurance number and signature to keep their right to vote, under new plans.

The new way of registering to vote could be compulsory within five years. A briefing note from the Electoral Commission says: “IER is expected to replace the current practices of household and rolling registration by July 2015”.

Instead of our demanding that politicians work for our vote, they'll place as many obstacles in front of us as possible. We will have to work for the privilege of having them, possibly, listen to us ... if it agrees with party policy, of course.

After all, voters do tend to get in the way of 'democratic' goverment so.

35 years on, Grandad P's equivalent refrain would be:

"Give my details to those corrupt bastards? What's the fucking point?"

And in this world where unelected bodies such as the EU, WHO, fake charities and quangoes hold sway over we troublesome taxpayers, he would be correct.

** The cheating fucker. Beating a 6 year old hollow is brutally easy when an accomplished card and domino counter

Link Tank 23/01

A selection of this week's oddities and eye-openers.

Bid to restrict 1,200 powers of entry to UK homes currently available to the state

Cato Institute dubbed right wing extremists!

Secrets of looking good on the dance floor

Got $292m to spend? A nice house in Washington might interest you

Beer: The catalyst for civilisation

All about health? Outdoor smoking ban in Los Angeles

A round the world holiday for a dead man

A proud nanny statist debunked

Laurel and Hardy get in a right fine mess

Britain's drink problem (?), it's the fault of women

Prohibition: A cautionary tale

Friday 22 January 2010

And They Wonder Why We Don't Believe A Word They Say

Here, courtesy of Jockland, is an object lesson in deliberate political misdirection.

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) has accused a Dundee MSP of misquoting it on how much it will cost to comply with a ban on tobacco displays.

The misquote in question being ...

“The least expensive option offered by the NFRN would involve installing a white plastic fronting to each row on the gantry. It has been estimated that such a solution could cost as little as £20 for the materials for each fronting, with minimal installation costs.”

The NFRN insist that they said nothing of the sort.

Mr Khonat said, “The NFRN strongly objects to Shona Robison’s assertion in her written answers and in the draft regulations that we have estimated the cost of gantry modification in Scotland to be ‘as little as £20’, and would like to point out that this is the second time the minister has misquoted us.

“Indeed, if the Scottish regulations follow the complexity of the English regulations — as they appear to at this stage — we anticipate the cost to retailers to be about £1500."

Ah but, responds Robison ... smugly, I didn't actually lie.

Ms Robison said today the Government had never said the costings came from the NFRN.

“The NFRN came up with a potential solution which we, not the NFRN, have costed,” she said.

See what she did there? Clever, huh?

Screw the livelihoods of those she is supposed to be serving. Party before voters every time.

And before anyone south of the border gets all superior at the lack of morals inherent in Jockish politicians, remember that the same mendacity was used to pass the same law down here, via the very same method, by Lord Darzi.

The financial aspect is crucial to the tobacco displays debate simply because there is absolutely no evidence that it will do any good whatsoever, as New Zealand has already worked out.

Therefore, it's essential that ministers are honest and trustworthy in accurately presenting estimates to their respective houses. Anything else is an insult to democracy.

Remember this when you next hear an MP speak of restoring integrity to politics.

A Transatlantic Anomaly

Yanks don't resort to using small chiiildren in the global push for alcohol abstinence. Instead, they wait till they're teenagers ... and have them brain themselves.

No hyperbole was spared in the making of this movie.

For The Self-Conscious Woman In Your Life

Look good for the scanners ... buy lingerie.

From here

Thursday 21 January 2010

Say It Often As You Like, But It Still Isn't True

Even the judiciary isn't immune to believing demonstrable poppycock spewed out by the anti-alcohol lobby. But then, this coroner is from Norfolk.

Coroner criticises supermarket cheap alcohol after fatal '£10' binge

Mr Armstrong said: "The huge amount that he drank could have been purchased at a supermarket for around £10. It is alarming that alcohol can be purchased at supermarkets at a price less than bottled water.

For £10 you can buy 284 litres of water, in any supermarket you care to choose, and still pop a coin in the charity box on the way out.

Now, if there's a supermarket where I can buy that much decent booze for a tenner, I've been shopping in the wrong places for years.

There Are CiF Loonies, And Then There's This Guy

There is so very much wrong with this that it surely must be an elaborate hoax.

I would like the DVLA database of vehicle keepers posted on the web, so that all of us – whether busybodies, neighbourhood campaigners or even intrepid boy reporters – can link every registered vehicle on our roads to a name and address.

Yes, I think he does mean it.

An infringement to privacy? I don't think so.

Because your personal details being published on the web is as private as can be, presumably?

Operating a motor vehicle involves responsibilities as well as rights, and one of the longest established responsibilities is that a vehicle should be traceable back to its operator**. I'm merely arguing that citizens, as well as the state, should have access to this information.

I think we can all think of quite a few drawbacks to such an idea. Funnily enough, so can Michael Crock Cross.

Arguments against? Yes, there's the possibility of revenge attacks for bad driving, but the answer to that would be to come down hard on any such attacks.

Then, if the driver is still alive, he can claim from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, if he can get past the red tape and massive backlog, before being stiffed for the cash if approved.

John Thornhill, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, criticised the levy system, saying the money was going to victim support agencies, rather than the victims themselves.

"There's £40m of unpaid compensation so if you were a victim and awarded compensation, the chances of receiving that compensation are very, very low," he said.

There's another problem with your lunacy too, isn't there, Michael.

There's also the near certainty that one set of users of the open vehicle register will be burglars. An expensive car registered in Cheshire but spotted in a Cornwall hotel is a good indicator of rich pickings.

Bingo! Got it in one.

But burglars already have ways of spotting empty houses – and, if privacy is such an over-riding concern, why do so many affluent people decorate their cars with easily identifiable personal number plates?

He's right, you know. A friend of mine carries the number plate "Y 15 Acacia Drive, Surbiton, KT8 4PL", the irresponsible bastard.

As ever, it's a matter of balance between liberty, civic duty and privacy. My belief is that, at the moment, we're tilted too far towards personal privacy. No doubt some readers will disagree.

So some people may believe that the possibility of being brained with a baseball bat for forgetting to indicate, or the certainty that someone will have their house looted, is not worth the risk just so the local curtain-twitcher can look up who owns that nice Lexus parked up the street?

You think?

** As far back in history as the Road Traffic Act 1988

Fire Up The Grill ...

... I have a sudden craving for a steak.

A pragmatic fight for animal rights

Despite criticism, we at Peta believe compromises and funny antics are necessary to the real work of animal protection

Stop right there!

Just a thought, but perhaps criticism of celebrity obsessed gimmicks wouldn't be quite as barbed if PETA actually spent rather more of their £25m pa donations on the mundane tasks involved in protecting animals.

Of 2,216 animals taken to its premises in Norfolk, Virginia, last year, 2,124 were put to sleep - almost six per day. Homes were found for just seven.

The high-profile charity, famous for its "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaigns, has euthanised more than 20,000 pets in the last decade, according to figures it has supplied to Virginia state officials.

You know, maybe run a shelter or two (too expensive, perhaps?) instead of throwing money at headline-grabbing stunts and ads featuring their Hollywood chums?

They do have a walk in freezer which cost $10,000 though. It helps to snuff out the animals before they are dumped in a skip.

Still, who cares as long as the glitzy party invites keep rolling in?

Who Better For The Job?

From the opposition seen so far, Margo MacDonald shouldn't have too much trouble passing her assisted suicide bill.

The British Medical Association in Scotland welcomed the opportunity for open discussion, but claimed that the majority of doctors "oppose physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia".

Chairman Dr Brian Keighley commented: "If doctors are authorised, by law, to kill or help kill, they are taking on an additional role which we believe is alien to the one of caregiver and healer"

Oh I dunno, they could always enlist the services of Jane "They'll just have to die" Deville-Almond. I'm sure she'd be happy to help if it saves the NHS a few bob.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Tobacco Control Is Addicted To Failure

Comment Central yesterday highlighted a piece by the British Psychological Society on tobacco health warnings.

Researchers have found that death-related health warnings on cigarette packs are likely to encourage some people to smoke.

While it's encouraging that such a matter is actually tackled on such a high profile blog, to describe this conclusion as 'astonishing', as Hattie Garlick has, shows a lack of understanding as to the laughable incompetence of tobacco control nutters.

As I've mentioned many times before, anti-smokers are so deeply mired in their own self-righteousness that they serially fail to notice that the more wild their hysterical ranting, the less anyone is motivated to give up. They have long since passed into a negative state of effectiveness on the pareto principle, yet still push the same failed methods.

They're like the lab mouse who doesn't learn to stay away from the electrified cheese.

Now, whisper this as we don't want them cottoning on and ruining the fun, but the reason all their ideas - which I'm sure they thought of as inspired when imagining them - fail so miserably, is that they quite simply cannot understand how people can contemplate a differing outlook on life.

Smokers are - and this really should be quite obvious - risk-takers by nature, otherwise, they wouldn't have smoked in the first place, no?

Those who dedicate their lives to eradicating smoking, however, are the very opposite. They talk incessantly of death as if it is something of which we should be morbidly terrified with every waking minute. Like their cousins in the anti-alcohol and anti-food lobby, they see no value in potentially unhealthy substances and view life merely as a competition in living the longest.

As they are averse to any kind of risk, and only ever converse with others who share their views plus the odd thick-as-shit MP, it's understandable that they are never going to spot their mistakes.

Those who have a less hysterical take on society see the problem from a different perspective, though, as I pointed out on the F2C blog in June.

Top US advertiser, Pentagram, was tasked with coming up with an ad idea for Marlboro following stringent rules on cigarette labelling enforced by the FDA. Their suggestion as to how to ensure Marlboro's sales didn't suffer, and maybe even gain a boost, was not dissimilar to the method which deluded anti-smokers think is going to make smokers quit.

Stout suggests that to comply with the crackdown, tobacco companies should embrace the restrictions and make cigarettes look truly dangerous.

“Over the years there has been an onslaught of public awareness messaging about the evils of smoking,” says Stout. “Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 50 years you are very aware that smoking is not only bad for you, it could very likely kill you. All smokers know this for sure but it doesn’t deter them.

“Our marketing advice to cigarette companies in the new heavily regulated era is to fully accept the new aggressive anti-smoking restrictions and wallow in the government’s apocalyptic health warnings. Don’t make excuses or dance around the stepped-up marketing regulations, just transform the whole cigarette pack into a three dimensional warning label.”

Something like this, they ventured.

Look great, don't they? Probably why ASH are currently tilting at entirely blank packets, as near to an admission of abject failure as you're going to get from them after all their orgasmic predictions as to how effective scary pictures were going to be. Pffft.

Still, it won't deter them. Their capacity to stun us with ignorance is legendary ... one might even say 'astounding'. And if you think that's a one-off, you merely need to cast a glance at some of the other policies which they no doubt consider to be compelling.

Raising taxes is a perennial favourite.

Study: High tobacco taxes not a deterrent

HEC Montreal Associate Professor Jean-Francois Ouellet used data collected by Statistics Canada on smoking trends and found tax rates had minimal effect on usage, the release said.

CCSA Vice President Michel Gadbois said that was evidence the government was costing itself revenue while having no impact on smoking rates.

Smoking prevalence not affected, smuggling and contraband increased. It's the same old story, but still anti-smokers refuse to believe the evidence which consistently pokes them in the eye.

Nope, not for them the calm consideration of reality, the world of tobacco control follows nothing but hyperbole and a masochistic adherence to quixotic gestures, as illustrated again with the recent forcing through, complete with world class mendacity, of the Health Act which banned tobacco displays.

No evidence tobacco ad ban works

A call to ban tobacco displays from shops has not got the support of the National Government at this stage, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key said evidence suggested such moves were not an effective way to tackle smoking as a health issue and he wouldn't support it.

"The reason is there is no international evidence that it actually works, and it's hugely expensive to do it," he told TV3's Sunrise show on Tuesday.

So, based on bitter experience, prepare for an increase in smoking amongst UK teens once fag packs are hidden behind screens which corner shops will struggle to afford. That's if they continue being corner shops at all (how many pubs closing per week now? I lost count).

It's far from astonishing that anti-smoking tactics are being shown up as suspect. Quite the opposite, tobacco control's track record is such that there would be more surprise if they advocated something which actually resulted in constructive success.

ASH and their friends would be well advised to understand that there is more than one way to view life, and that their fears are entirely different to those of their ideological opposites.

They say there are no smokers, merely addicts. It would not be too inaccurate to counter that there are no anti-smokers, merely bigots who are addicted to failure.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

When In Government And Short Of Cash, Charge The Same Tax Twice

You know we're in a financial fix when government advocates taxing us twice for the same service.

People who buy chewing gum, cigarettes or fast food should be made to pay extra to clean up Britain's growing litter problem**, according to an influential committee of MPs.

Michael Jack, the Chairman of the EFRA Committee, said people must become more responsible for what they throw away.

"What we are advising is that if you are going to make a mess then you should make a contribution to clearing it up afterwards," he said

Because, every night, little elves scamper into civic offices, up and down the country, and deposit funds into council coffers to pay for street cleansing. Apparently.

Or could it be that, whether we wish to or not, we already pay a hefty wedge called council tax, an element of which pays for keeping the streets clean? Of course we fucking do, yet still a significant number of self-righteous dullards will nod in enthusiastic agreement as the state thrusts its thieving claws deep into our pockets yet again.

For something we have been funding since Queen Victoria was on the throne, and still do.

Meanwhile, how many street cleaners would £4.8m pay for?

The crackdown will also see the appointment of the city's first full-time tobacco control officer who will be based in the council's trading standards section. [It] follows a decision by the Department of Health to award Hull £200,000 to develop initiatives to reduce smoking.

The city was one of 24 areas across the country to receive funding after being identified as having one of the highest smoking rates per head of population.

You want your bins picked up without fuss? The streets cleaned? The roads gritted when necessary? The schools kept open?

Don't be so damn stupid. These are optional extras now.

Whatever gave you the idea that your council tax pays for anything else but diversity officers, GLBT support groups, roving tobacco controllers, translators, parking wardens, nutriton advisers and recycling compliance inspectors?

Councils aren't made of money, you know. They can't pay for sweeping the roads and keep their pet PC projects. Something's got to give, so cough up the dosh ... again.

** Growing problem? This is linguistic bollocks too. Streets, and buildings, have never been cleaner.

Buckie-ing The Appeasement Trend

CAMRA, prick up your ears. This is how to deal with the anti-alcohol lobby, OK?

“The ­people who commit crimes are the ones who have to take responsibility. It is completely wrong to blame the knife manufacturer if someone stabs someone. Why just attack Buckfast?”

When asked to consider reducing the caffeine levels in the recipe,

"Why should we? It's been there for over 80 years. Why should we change the recipe just to satisfy somebody's whim?"

And also when it was suggested that the Benedictine monks that manufacture the tonic wine in their Devon monastery are to blame for the effects of Buckie,

"Why should they accept responsibility? They're not up there pouring any of their Buckfast down somebody's throat. People take it by choice because they like it, because it's a good product".

Ta to Rab for his transcription skills.

That Buckie spokesman has balls, right enough. Others who purport to defend the intake of alcoholic drinks should be taking copious notes. He was responding to a documentary from the BBC, which ... well, why not read this yourself. Honestly, it's worth waiting for. Ready? OK.

This investigation had no agenda.

Rather than start from the standpoint that this humble tonic wine was a "bad thing", we simply wanted to find out why it had acquired a reputation, particularly in the central belt, as Scotland's "commotion lotion".

No agenda. Did you get that? The BBC has been at the forefront of the rapid demonisation of alcohol for the past year, but this study was entirely coincidental and not designed to further that cause at all.

Right, when you have all picked yourself off the floor, let's continue.

We asked Strathclyde Police about the drink using the Freedom Of Information Act.

They told us that Buckfast was mentioned in more than 5,000 crime reports over the last three years.

So what was the question, Kenneth? Could it possibly have been something along the lines of "How many crime reports over the last three years have mentioned Buckfast"? You know, a stunningly neutral question like that, with no hint of an agenda for a pre-determined attack strategy ... course not.

Nah, can't be that. Cos I really trust that Kenneth guy, he's really straight up, he is. As are the BBC, obviously.

In stark contrast to the Buckie geezer, CAMRA, who have a history of playing dead when the bansturbators come knocking, choose to confront the temperance movement in an entirely different, and customarily blinkered, manner.

Iain Loe, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national spokesperson, said: "CAMRA welcomes the call by the Committee for the introduction of a minimum price per alcohol unit which will benefit community pubs by curbing the below cost selling of alcohol by supermarkets which can fuel pre-loading.

There's that talk of evil supermarkets again, which we know to be a steaming mountain of horse crap.

They claim now to be defending the 'community pub', despite being absolutely fucking useless in defending the thousands of community pubs which have closed since July 2007.

While the Buckie spokesman supplies steadfast resilience, CAMRA exhibit nothing but self-preservation and gutless appeasement.

Buckfast recognise the attack on the drinks industry, CAMRA cosy up to the bansturbators in some vain hope that they won't be next in line. As long as there is someone more unworthy, in their eyes, than them, they will point the finger and say it was nothing to do with us, Sir, it was the naughty kid over there.

Or, as Crampton puts it ...

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.

This assault on all alcohol is real. The picking off exercise is into the back straight while CAMRA haven't even reached for their running shoes. They had an early gun, too. They could have fought the righteous before focus turned to their particular vice, but they not only refused, they wholeheartedly jumped on the side of those who wish to exert control over personal choices. In fact, they still do.

Within CAMRA membership, there are plenty who are already classed as binge drinkers by this rancid anti-fun crusade, but who blithely dismiss the danger. It's something which happens to others, not us, they kid themselves.

Yet they are in the crosshair, of that there is no doubt, but reality is as alien to them as a cool Peroni. They have ducked every fight so far and, with a pitifully few exceptions, don't even seem to recognise that they are under threat.

For every brave soul like the Buckie representative, there are a hundred or more holier-than-thou CAMRA members who truly believe that this health juggernaut will pass them by. Before yesterday, there were probably a few monks in Devon who would have agreed.

The difference is that the monks have decided that hundreds of years of tradition are worth fighting for. God bless 'em.

Quote Of, Err, Yesterday

Tim Worstall on libertarian paternalism over at the ASI.

I know of no adult who lives their life with a final horizon of only the next election and I know of no politican with a horizon of longer than that next election.

In short, we're better than the politicians but then we all knew that anyway, didn't we?

Do go read the rest.

Monday 18 January 2010

Progressive Regression

Peppa Pig is to gain a seatbelt, Tom & Jerry has already been shorn of any reference to smoking, so Michael Deacon's revelations of revisionist language tampering are, I suppose, almost expected.

I interviewed John Sullivan, the creator of Only Fools, and he told me about the way he has to edit old episodes to cleanse them of politically incorrect dialogue. He cited an episode from the Eighties in which Del told a child to "pop down to the Paki shop". That line is no longer broadcast in repeats.

Deacon rightly points out other literary tomes which could come under the righteous censor's knife if PC chooses to move in that direction, much as Comrade Beeb has seemingly ceased showing It Ain't Half Hot Mum (a notable omission amongst other shows of the same era which are repeated ad infinitum). And if Love Thy Neighbour or Mixed Blessings are ever screened, I've never seen them despite the fact that the racists were always, but always, shown up as idiotic and laughable.

We are living in an odd lefty world, whereby all reflection of life in bygone times must, for the sake of our sensibilities, be cleansed to reflect current 'progressive' ideology.

It matters not that the process may detract from our understanding of historical mindsets, or that enjoyment of life itself might be lessened that little bit more. The trendy dogmatic will must prevail, so Del Boy has to be gagged.

Conversely, our schools rightly continue to impart the writings of an author who liberally sprinkles his works with the words fart, arse, piss, shit, bollocks and fuck, while polenta munching guardianistas, and reactionary Mail readers to be fair, wax lyrical at their dinner parties about young Octavia's grasp of The Canterbury Tales.

The word Paki, used in historical context, fills them with horror, but it's fine when Chaucer's Miller's Tale tells of "a thing al rough and long yherd", sometimes shortening that description to "queynte" ...

... or cunt, as we now call it.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Children As EU Political Fodder

Never let it be said that the EU don't see the value in children.

The EU's interactive game, dubbed "Crisis Point", asked children to imagine that they were an MEP or a European Commissioner faced with a deadly new disease, Xtreme Drug Resistant TB, which had sent Europe into meltdown. The players were told they had just a day to choose from a range of strategies to save their fellow European citizens from disaster. If national governments were allowed to take unilateral action, the screen showed that millions would die. But if the EU was allowed to assume control, it would be possible to reduce the number of deaths to only a few dozen.

Wouldn't [insert dictator of your choice here] be so very proud?

There really is only one antidote to all this creeping institutional indoctrination, and that's to teach your own kids - scratch that, demand of them - a healthy dose of cynicism.

We really are in desperate straits when we are forced to protect our kids from those who purport to protect us.

Britain's Puritan Epidemic

It's Sunday so, as has become a weekend tradition, the righteous take the opportunity to lecture us. While we all enjoy a lie in, put our feet up and pour a cool one in front of Sky Sports, Nicola Sturgeon is all over the news envisioning her fantasy alcohol armageddon.

She added: "All the evidence tells us that the big rise in Scottish alcohol consumption in recent decades is closely linked with the 70% drop in alcohol's relative cost. As a consequence, our country now faces an unprecedented burden from alcohol-related health problems, crime and lost economic productivity, which runs into billions and which we are all paying for."

Now, let's leave the fallacious 'costs to the country' argument, neatly destroyed by VGIF recently, and focus instead upon the 70% claim and Sturgeon's insistence of its causative nature.

Her figure is the widely touted one which compares affordability between 1980 and now. According to the ONS, though, the cost of alcohol has increased in real terms during that time.

Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the period

So, while puritans and the health establishment regularly, and viciously, target the supermarkets and alcohol industry, they have only been doing as any business would in a capitalist market - charging the price which is most favourable for maximising their profits.

Indeed, the price of bread, for example, has followed the very same path. Costing 33p in 1980, a calculation of its price now returns £1.23, which is about right. In fact, considering bread has risen almost exactly in line with inflation, you could argue that bread is even more affordable than alcohol over the same timeframe. The prices of just about any product you care to choose, from any supermarket, would tell the same story.

It's not the supermarkets, or the brewers and distillers, evilly attempting to subvert society, it is the success of capitalism (you know, the system which is now apparently discredited and 'dead'?) and its huge benefits in driving down costs, improving production, and raising incomes to boot.

However, the righteous need a demon to attack, they always do, so alcohol suppliers will be in for more bruising handbaggings yet.

Digression aside, let's assume there has been none of the usual massaging of the figures, and that the 70% increase in affordability is correct. Sturgeon's assertion that this is 'closely linked' to the alcohol problem doesn't seem to be borne out by consumption figures.

UK Consumption of alcohol
Litres per head of 100% alcohol

1980 - 7.4
1990 - 7.9
1998 - 7.9
1999 - 8.3
2000 - 8.4
2001 - 8.7
2002 - 9.1
2003 - 9.2
2004 - 9.5
2005 - 9.4
2006 - 9.0
2007 - 9.2
2008 - 8.9

Such a huge increase in dispensable income, coupled with lesser working hours and therefore more leisure time, should be accompanied by a much larger increase in consumption than the meagre 20% in nearly 30 years. In fact, consumption has been steadily declining in the past five years, so why tinker when it's clear that things are going in the right direction?

There really is no panic, no 'booze epidemic', and no reason for the incessant hype surrounding the subject.

It is also not true to say that affordability and consumption are 'closely linked'. There is a correlation, but that's about it. Or, to put it another way, if we were to believe Sturgeon's simplistic declaration of causation, we can see from these figures that it would take a 70% decrease in affordability to bring consumption back to 1980 levels.

And a 40p minimum price isn't going to bring about anything of the sort. But once it becomes clear, as it inevitably will, that little or no difference is being made, so will the insistence increase on more draconian meaures to save us all from ourselves.

Strangely, the real problem we face are the righteous themselves. As JohnB pointed out this week, history tells us (and if MPs weren't so damn stupid they would see this from their own reports) there isn't any real difference between now and 100+ years ago.

The data shows that, before the global descent into miserable puritanism around World War I that led to prohibition in the US and draconian licensing rules in the UK, alcohol consumption was around its current level.

It then spiked after the war ended, fell during the Depression, rose slightly during the mid-late 1930s and WWII, fell in the austerity period, and then rose fairly consistently from 1950 onwards – accelerating slightly since 1995 due to increased wine consumption. We’re now at about 9 litres of pure alcohol per head per year, compared to 11 litres in 1900.

A right royal storm in a pint pot, which one could say is 'closely linked' to fake charities and quangoes being shovelled great piles of our money.

This manufactured problem is nothing to do with consumption, affordability, or prices, but directly caused by a state which is too large, throwing too much cash at too many career doom-mongers.

I think we're more than ready for that bonfire.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Staunch Belief In Abject Failure

Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, takes an almighty swipe at Liam Donaldson, the WHO and the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies.

It's a comprehensive rundown of the hysteria, junk stats and scaremongery surrounding BSE/CJD (1995), Sars (2003), avian flu (2004), foot and mouth (2007), and swine flu last year, simultaneously accompanied, as it was, with the playing down of MRSA and C-difficile. Well worth a read in full.

All Donaldson's wild exaggerations consisted of the same apocalyptic projections of wholesale death and misery. None of which, naturally, ever came to pass.

Jenkins's denouement is as devastating as it is accurate.

This is why people are ever more sceptical of scientists. Why should they believe what "experts" say when they can be so wrong and with such impunity? Weapons of mass destruction, lethal viruses, nuclear radiation, global warming … why should we believe a word of it? And it is a short step from don't believe to don't care.

Yet still large sections of society believe the same doom-laden scares and the same ridiculous estimates of thousands of deaths - foretold by people with an overwhelming failure rate, never forget - with regard to passive smoking, drinking more than three bottles of wine a week, bacon, fast food, salt etc.

With so much available evidence that their 'science' is flawed, over and over again, there can only be one reason for the Daily Mail-esque judgemental attitude from certain sections of the public towards those who enjoy 'unhealthy' lifestyles or habits.


Isn't it time some people woke up and smelled the bullshit?

Saturday Link Tank

Having a blog drafts clearout, so here are some interesting/odd articles from the past week you may have missed. It might become a Link Tank regular tag. No rules, it could be 2 or 20 stories, from deadly serious to plain daft, or it might not appear at all. Life isn't supposed to be predictable.

US version of Cancer Research UK ensure smoking is banned at a smoking convention

Libertarianism on the rise in US

Cheese to be classed as dangerous? Lords on risk assessments for nanomaterials

Jesus on nan bread in Esher

Germans protest airport scanners ... in their underwear

The beginning of the end for bar staff?

Al Qaeda have achieved huge success

Yeah, cos that's going to be so useful

Carrying 3 or more condoms? You're a prostitute

Dick Out And About: When Politicians Had Balls

Attempted ASH corruption slapped down in 1990, with very satisfying video. (link).

Friday 15 January 2010

Coming Soon

Following on nicely from my last post, look what your friendly neighbourhood Department for Children Schools and Families has lined up next for your TV ad breaks. Yes, it's scaremongering using chiiildren ... again.

Labour: Bullying With Your Money

This article rang a bell the other day.

The Conservatives accused Labour of “raiding” taxpayers’ money to fund their election campaign.

New figures uncovered by the Conservatives show that spending on advertising has increased to £232 million, which is a 39 per cent increase on the previous year.

Then I remembered ... it was mentioned here in July, complete with a (not so) pretty graph.

The actual gross figure, including all government promotional activity, was a tad higher than Grant Shapps's quoted £232m, as the COI (the government's advertising spend aggregator) explained on their web-site at the time.

The COI, which serves government departments and public sector bodies, also revealed it has spent £540m on marketing and communications, up 43% on the previous year. Spend on digital marketing also rose 84% to £40m.

I dunno, perhaps they forgot there was a recession on.

Still, Labour have a robust defence which is bound to boost their popularity.

Labour argues that the COI’s role is to promote important campaigns such as anti-smoking, obesity and in the past year swine flu.

It's the political equivalent of the playground bully - stealing your dinner money and giving it to his mates in payment for administering your black eye.

Give them a bloody nose in return come the election, eh? Anyone but Labour.

UPDATE: Worth adding this from Spanish Sue. Your money again, and Brown is legally binding you to spend it.