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Monday, January 25, 2010

Citizens Dave

We're having some work done on our house at the moment. I had to pop in to see the builder's estimator at the house this morning. He is called Dave. The painter is called Dave. The chippie is Dave and he has an assistant called Dave. When he wasn't available, they sent another chippie for a couple of days: yes, he was called Dave. The plumber is called Brian.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Looney bins

Here in Gordon Brown's Looking Glass Britain, the Land of Perverse Incentives, there has been a steady shift of focus in law enforcement. While the underclass continue to beat their children to death, while honest citizens are stabbed in the street and gangs of feral youths are allowed to roam free,

Leicester City Council recently began fining residents £100 if their wheelie bins were put out on the wrong day.

[From The laughing policemen: 'Inaccurate' data boosts arrest rate - Crime, UK - The Independent]

The idea that law enforcement is about revenues and targets rather than right and wrong is hateful, but you can't blame the police. The government's plan is clear: criminalise things that middle class homeowners might do (eg, overfill the recycling bin) and then target them to push up the revenues, since they are easy to catch and will always pay up

Householders who fail to nominate a neighbour to turn off their alarm while they are away from home can be breaking the law.

[From Blair's 'frenzied law making' : a new offence for every day spent in office - UK Politics, UK - The Independent]

I notice, by the way, that under the torrent of new laws introduced by the Labour government since 1997, such as the crackdown on the wheelie menaces, it is now an offence to set off nuclear explosion in the United Kingdom.

It is now illegal to sell grey squirrels, impersonate a traffic warden or offer Air Traffic Control services without a licence. Creating a nuclear explosion was outlawed in 1998.

[From Blair's 'frenzied law making' : a new offence for every day spent in office - UK Politics, UK - The Independent]

Presumably, had the Iranians managed to float a fission bomb up the Thames and set it off outside Parliament before 1998, we would have only been able to charge them under some noise abatement regulations or perhaps press a more serious case under environmental protection laws. We can all sleep more safely now, knowing that it is a criminal offence.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's not really democracy, is it?

The government doesn't do what the majority want, by a long way. Since the general public are pretty thick (according to official government statistics, not just my opinion), that's probably a good thing. But we ought to change our mental model and stop thinking of ourselves as a democracy anyway.

It is a sad fact of British elections that the event is decided by about 100,000 swing voters in swing seats. The election campaign which ‘started’ this week showed the same safety-first formula: all parties battling for the 1 per cent which their computers tell them hold the key to power.

[From A golden age for fascism | The Spectator]

This really bothers me. It means that I know deep down that it doesn't really matter what I think about the great issues of the day, because my vote is almost worthless. Woking is a safe Tory seat, with a majority of several thousand, so my vote is irrelevant here. But it's also true that it doesn't matter what most other people think either. Those 100,000 swing voters are sick of Marxist clown Gordon Brown so will vote for Eton Dave, and none of them will really care what manifesto promises either side makes or what policies they will adopt. It's a sick society.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Monday, January 11, 2010

May contain nuts

With all of the stories in the news about airport security, together with traveller's tales of three hour delays at Heathrow security, I'm really not enthusiastic about getting on a plane again. But I saw a story today that gave me some hope.

Air Canada (AC.B-T1.29-0.03-2.27%) has been told to create a special “buffer zone” on flights for people who are allergic to nuts.

[From Air Canada told to provide nut-free zone - The Globe and Mail]

Brilliant! I don't want to sit next to someone who thinks that shampoo causes autism, Gordon Brown or whoever. But sadly, this isn't what they mean.

The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that passengers who have nut allergies should be considered disabled and accommodated by the airline. The CTA has advised Air Canada to come up with an appropriate section of seats where passengers with nut allergies would be seated... Air Canada stopped serving peanuts years ago, but the airline still serves cashews and other snacks that contain nuts.

[From Air Canada told to provide nut-free zone - The Globe and Mail]

Someone one with a "nut allergy" apparently sued the airline after having to lock herself in a bathroom for 40 minutes while the food services was underway, in case a molecule from someone else's cashew nut reached her. Ridiculous? Probably: will Air Canada be liable if one of the other passengers starts eating a Snickers in the nut free zone? As always, it will be lawyers who obtain maximum benefit from this attempt to alleviate the potential suffering of others. Anaphylactic shock does actually exist though, although it's not clear to me why it is so prevalent.

unless you're a character on "Heroes," genes don't mutate fast enough to have caused an 18% increase in childhood food allergies between 1997 and 2007. And genes certainly don't cause 25% of parents to believe that their kids have food allergies, when 4% do. Yuppiedom does.

[From Nut allergies -- a Yuppie invention -]

I notice that disability legislation has also been in the news in the US as well as Canada.

A group of Santa Fe residents recently attempted to get all public Wi-Fi hotspots in the city banned [because of] "electromagnetic allergies." More curious perhaps was how the group tried to use the Americans With Disabilities Act to force the city's hand

[From Santa Fe Wi-Fi Fears Keep Getting Weirder - Man sues neighbor for refusing to turn off wireless -]

Whether you can use disability legislation with respect to a disability that doesn't actually exist is an interesting point. Bear in mind that there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone is allergic to wifi. I imagine that it is only a matter of time before a judge in this United Kingdom rules that if people consider themselves to be disabled, then they are disabled and therefore covered by the appropriate equality legislation. This will happen. And then we'll all have to provide wifi free zones in our offices and streets.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Friday, January 08, 2010


No.2 son had to write something about capital punishment for a school essay. He said that he was against it, because you might execute the wrong person and then you couldn't bring them back. This is indeed the central argument against it, I would have thought. He also said that even in the US, it would be better to sentence murderers to life imprisonment (as we don't do in the UK). Again, a sophisticated case against the death penalty, especially given the enormous cost of appeals and lawyers in the US system. All very good.

No. 2 might have also pointed out that there is no correlation between the murder rate and which States have the death penalty, so it's not even a deterrent.


So when he asked me what I thought, I said that I was in favour of the death penalty, but not for murderers, since it clearly doesn't deter them and you might get the wrong person. Surely it makes more sense to use the death penalty in places where it might deter behaviour and where you are certain have the right perpetrator. In this case, for example:

A woman made an emergency 999 call to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to say her cat was "doing her head in" because it was playing with string.

[From BBC News - Woman's 999 call over playful cat]

Of course, to be really beneficial to society, the death penalty would need to be carried out before she could reproduce, but you have to start somewhere. I expect that my new green campaign (I think the death penalty should be remarketed as an environmentally-friendly alternative to both prison and keeping people alive in general) is certain to attract high-level celebrity support, so it may well become government policy before not too long.

Think about it. David Cameron needs a populist big idea that is simple enough for our moronic public to understand: what better one to choose than green capital punishment. This helps us to kill two birds with one stone (although that needn't necessarily be the only executive method) because it tackles the twin evils of stupidity and population growth. If we can execute enough stupid people, we can make a real impact on global warming without having to turn down the central heating.

Leading scientists, like Martin Rees, head of the Royal Society, Britain’s academy of science, also assert that population growth must be constrained in order to successfully confront global warming.

[From Population Growth and Global Warming - Green Inc. Blog -]

I see persons such as eco do-gooder Jonathan Porrit and British actress Susan Hampshire support something called the "Optimum Population Trust". I'm sure they will be right behind me, I must get in touch.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

We are all Icelanders now

Well, I've go to say I'm with Iceland on this one. The plucky Norse are going to have a referendum over whether to force their citizens to pay billions to the British and Dutch governments to compensate for failed banks.

Half of me wants to congratulate plucky little Iceland for its decision not to sign into law a bill to repay more than $5bn lost by savers in Britain and the Netherlands when the island’s banks collapsed. I’m an admirer of those who give the old two fingers to oppressive international pressure, and in this case in particular, Britain’s attempt to invoke anti-terrorist laws to get the money back was an absolute disgrace

[From Iceland's disgraceful decision not to pay up over stricken banks – Telegraph Blogs]

I agree. Remember how this all started?

The October 2008 collapse of one bank, Landsbanki Islands, triggered the trouble. Hundreds of thousands of British and Dutch depositors, wooed by high interest rates, had placed money with Landsbanki through an Internet arm operating in those countries called Icesave.

[From Iceland President Vetoes Icesave Compensation -]

But surely this must have come out the blue, and you can't blame people for leaving their money in these collapsing banks, since in October 2009 no-one could have foreseen their imminent default. Really? Then read this article from February 2008

That said, Kaupthing is fully covered by the UK's Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Under this, all your savings are guaranteed up to £35,000. If you have more than this with the bank, perhaps now is the time to pare your savings down and redistribute them among its high-interest paying rivals such as ICICI or Bradford & Bingley.

Of course, one of Kaupthing's main rivals is its Icelandic colleague Landsbanki, the origins of the popular Icesave account. You may also have concerns over Icesave at the moment, given the amount of print expressing concern over Iceland's banking system since the Moody's report three weeks ago

[From Could Kaupthing Edge be the next Northern Rock? | This is Money ]

Can you see the problem with compensating the people who put their money in these high interest accounts? It means that people like me who left their money in the Nationwide at 5% instead of moving it to the First Bank of the Vikings at 6% are being officially called dicks by the ruling elite. Everyone may as well take all of their money out of (for example) Barclays at 1% and put it in the Savings Bank of Upper Wazooristan at 2% and not give a shit about it because when it goes down the Swanee, poorer taxpayers will bail them out. This is madness and it was clear at the time that bailing the banksters out was wrong.

A full-scale bailout would undermine any sense of personal or corporate culpability for the risks that were taken that did not pay off. Doing so would almost guarantee repeat fiascos in the future.

[From Matthew Elliott: Taxpayers should not have to bail out banks | Comment is free | ]

Indeed. By all means go after the investment bankers, lawyers, financial advisers and executives involved with the failed institutions, but why should taxpayers have to fork out, whether Icelandic or British. The British government (ie, the British taxpayer) has just lost another TWENTY SIX BILLION POUNDS on LBG and RBS and there's plenty more to come. The people who made stupid decisions about how to run these banks have got off (in many cases literally) scot free.

Britain and the Netherlands stepped in to cover their own citizens, and then demanded the money back

[From Iceland President Vetoes Icesave Compensation -]

It was the British government that decided to exceed the deposit insurance, so I can't see what that has to do with the population of Iceland. Iceland has already agreed to honour the EU Deposit Guarantee which covers almost all retail depositors. If the British government wants to take legal action against the banks involved, it should go ahead and sue the banksters, not penalise the Icelandic public. If the Icelandic government is liable for regulating a bank that was run appallingly badly, then so is the British government, so why don't the Icelanders sue the FSA for allowing Kaupting to set up a retail operation in the UK a few months before it collapsed.

We can't send a gunboat because we haven't got any, they beat us in the last Cod War and if we send our aircraft carrier the Icelanders will just climb on board and claim asylum. One day, the saga of how they defeated Marxist lecturer Gordon Brown and Trotskyite solicitor Alastair Darling will be sung round the camp fires alongside the story of Hen-Thorir and others.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Here's a heartwarming story. Noted television presenter Cat Deeley, who earns $5 million per annum working Fridays and Saturdays in the UK and the rest of the week in Hollywood (ths burning up the carbon allowance of about a million Brazilians) was pestering hapless travellers to give cash to the BA "change for good" on a flight from Sao Paolo.

Charming the Club World cabin (‘Come on, guys, the flat beds can wait’) before making her way to the back of the plane where one man has found a £50 note (‘Oh we love you, sir’). By the time Cat has finished her walkabout, flight 246 has coughed up £404, which Cat pledges to match. Mission accomplished.

[From Cat Deeley in Brazil: the TV presenter swaps the Hollywood Hills for the slums of Sao Paulo | Mail Online]

If I was sitting at the back of that plane, I wouldn't have been charmed but I would have told her to thank her tax accountant for the donation 0.0005% of her after-tax salary and that I would be happy to match that percentage. That's how generous I am (actually, I'm being ungenerous: I have actually given foreign coins to the Change for Good programme). But what was she doing in Sao Paolo? She was there as an ambassador for UNICEF, which says on its web site that

Urgent action now to reduce carbon emissions and invest in climate change solutions will move the world to be cleaner, healthier and more equitable.

[From UNICEF UK Blog ]

Perhaps they could take immediate action and stop Cat Deeley from flying across the Atlantic twice every week? No, of course not. When celebs call for action, they mean from peasants like us who annoy them by clogging up the the airports and heating our homes: Emma Thompson, to choose one example, probably goes to Hollywood by some form of yacht or other wind-powered transport. Anyway, back to Cat.

Aside from her TV work, Cat admits that her biggest passion is fashion

[From Showbiz - News - Ten Things You Never Knew About Cat Deeley - Digital Spy]

I don't share her passion and I certainly don't have an important job like looking good in front of a TV camera, but I agree with her diagnosis of the nation's ills.

“In Britain, it’s almost as if we’re ashamed of having ambition and drive.”

[From Television star Cat Deeley hits out at unambitious Britons - Telegraph]

How ungrateful. In what other country could you become one of the super-rich and ensure that neither you nor any of your dependents will ever have to work again simply by being attractive enough to be a model on Kilroy?

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]