Friday, August 31, 2007

Cumbernauld College Cnuts

I didn't think that spending my lunchtime yesterday helping Mrs S-E with the messages would be quite so damaging to my piece of mind (Ed notes: Sorry about the pun. Originally a typo but left for, albeit limited, amusement value.) and equanimity.

Well, this bunch of nu-Lab led statists are in charge of this creep, who can't be bothered to run Cumbernauld College (am I being overly picky when I object to their website title being "Cumbernauld College, Glasgow, Scotland, UK"? Yes, it's got a Glasgow postcode but then Blair Atholl has a Perth postcode. Cumbernauld College is in sodding Cumbernauld, next to the Tesco Extra car park.)

Anyway ...

Cumbernauld College flies 3 flags. One is the saltire. Nothing much wrong with that. National flag of Scotland and all.

One is the Cumbernauld College logo. You might think nothing of this, especially if you are English, but it is actually illegal in Scotland. If you are going to fly any sort of logo, it needs to be registered with the Lord Lyon King of Arms and be in accordance with the rules of Scottish heraldry (which I doubt would permit 2 'C's or white on grey - the actual flag was grey on white IIRC). The cost of the registration is seen as a tax, hence you are defrauding Her Majesty's Revenue, with all of the draconian penalties modern democracies seem to feel appropriate for that most heinous offence.


These are the equivalent of personal banners for companies or other corporate bodies, trusts and local authorities which have been granted arms by the Lord Lyon. The flag shows the coat of arms filling its whole rectangular shape, as for personal banners. The extent of its usage depends upon the corporate body, whether it is only flown over the headquarters building or at all the corporate body's sites. Its use as a car flag is restricted to the head of the corporate body when acting as such. Its proportions are 5:4.

Then they had the EU bollix which, frankly, should only be flying in this country (and you can take that to mean Scotland, the UK or whatever) from EU buildings. Through sheer incompetence though, they got one thing 'right' - it was flying about 8 inches lower than the other two.

And no fucking Union Flag? It's not even an SNP led council. WTF?

Update: this appears to be the highest (27 Dec 2007) non-official return on a Google( search for "Cumbernauld College". Hah! Cnuts.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Proud to be Mike?

Neil Clark (god this blog is getting stuck) is at it again with a piece of biting satire in the Morning Star (that is 'biting', as in toothless budgie, and 'satire' as in "a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance" (ire) produced from the fundament. And, of course, Morning Star as in daft old gits who haven't realised that Communism only lives on in the great democratic and egalitarian success that is North Korea (and only ever worked in Israel).

Now, I am clearly not "Mike Blogger". I am not left wing, I didn't support the Iraq war (at the time, IIRC, I my under-informed opinion was that it was an odd piece of Shrub's semi-Oedipal "Daddy didn't comprehensively kick Baathist butt in 1991" Republican posturing. I am not sure I was wrong), I have served in the Armed Forces (Neil not only gets his thinking wrong, he cannot do grammar either) and I think that the Saudi government and the whole Wahhabi idea should be comprehensively put down (or, slightly more humanitarian, made to work for a living).

I do, however, think that the Euston Manifesto is an important step for young lefties on their journey to the moderate libertarian right and was a quite explicit and understandable reaction by the concerned to the mendacious and quixotic antics of the Bliar administration(s).

Of course, by this point, Neil is getting remarkably inconsistent (the Euston Manifesto and most leftist bloggers loath Bliar):
Mike shows no enthusiasm for public ownership or introducing higher taxes on the wealthy. A member of the Labour Party since 1994, he regards Tony Blair as the greatest Prime Minister Britain has ever had.
Well, public ownership just doesn't work - so maybe they are just a little more economically literate than Neil?

He also puts 'barbarians' in double quotes, implying that it is a direct quote, without any link. I have heard and read the Iraqi insurgents called all sorts of things - I believe I recently called them "jihadi scumbag terrorists" - but "barbarians"? As for the rest of it - I have work to do and he has already wasted far too much of my time.

Maybe, regardless of our political outlook, we should all be proud to be, in some way, Mike because, at the very least, it doesn't make us Neil.

Monday, August 27, 2007

And they came in, two by two

It's fuckwit journalist time, again. Johann Hari and Neil Clark (what a surprise, I hear you snigger into your Gs&Ts).

First, we have a slightly-passed-its-best CiF excretion from Neil, in which he opines:
Let's not forget that the Nuremburg judgment held that to initiate a war of aggression was "not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole". Allowing Blair and his fellow warmongers to get off scot-free for the illegal, murderous attack on Iraq would put us - the British people - in the same moral category as the Germans who stood by and watched as Jews were herded on to trains bound for the concentration camps.

No, you utter, utter dribbling moron. Even accepting your assumptions, which I don't, it puts us, the British people, in the same moral category as the Germans who stood by and watched as German troops marched on to trains bound for Poland or the Siegfried Line. The treatment received in the concentration camps (rather than internment itself) would have been illegal regardless of who started the war.

You would also have to question, if you were actually bothered about the cretin's piss-poor rhetoric, whether only Germans who knew what conditions were in the concentration camps (however many or few this may have been) would be guilty of a crime of omission?

Then, Johann at his metro-socialist worst:
The US troops cannot be an agent of anything positive in Iraq, after using chemical weapons in cities

Sorry? What the fuck? I seem to have missed the nerve agent pouring from US planes and shells into Sadr City. What is he talking about? Depleted uranium or white phosphorus? Both of those are controversial but neither are, despite this military legal opinion from George Monbiot, chemical weapons or otherwise banned.

For the pedants, I would note that merely being toxic does not a chemical weapon make, or lead would be banned from bullets. Look at the Schedules of Chemicals to the "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction". Schedule 3, the one regarding chemicals you can produce because they have other uses, lists:
  • Phosgene: Carbonyl dichloride
  • Cyanogen chloride
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Chloropicrin: Trichloronitromethane
These are really nasty chemicals with a history of use as weapons (the last, in addition to being used to make dyes and disinfect grain, is used in tear gas).

Interestingly, neither DU nor WP are banned as incendiaries under the 1980 UN "Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons", either. WP gets a pass as it is WP-Smoke under Article 1, para 1(b) of the Third Protocol, with DU getting permitted as an armour-piercing projectile under para 1(b).) (Ed note: this is not to say that improper use of WP as an anti-personnel weapon might not be a military offence or, even, potentially, a war crime. It just means that WP is neither banned nor a "chemical weapon.")

Oh, and not that I have heard of any being used, but any use of riot agents would illegal use of chemical weapons if they were being used against troops. But, with the exception of the Iraqi military, the Coalition forces and the Iranian Republican Guard, there aren't any military in Iraq, therefore, if the Yanks did used riot control agents to put down an (armed) civilian riot, they would not be in contravention of international humanitarian law.

Outraged? Go back to bed.

It is clearly the silly season (and here, and here etc) and the trainees are on the Bank Holiday shift. And, with respect to Tom and Justin, not worthy of their time.

Let me see. Large government IT project fails. Nope, not news.

Illiberal Authoritarian Fascist nu-Labour initiative fails the Ronseal test. Nope, not news.

However, back on Planet Blog, where we never tire of stating the obvious, let's bully our tired brains into some activity and do an early morning probability calculation. Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that the "crimes we couldn't spare the resource to solve because we were too busy harassing bloggers, attending diversity training and completing paperwork" database has the same cock-up rate in its data.

So the chance of a false match, even assuming the DNA magi-quackery works perfectly, is:

1 - (1 - 550k/4m)2 = 25.6%

Over a quarter. I know it has changed from "beyond reasonable doubt" to something slightly less emphatic but that seems a reasonable kite to fly for any defence barrister (or, in the civilised world, advocate :).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Not an indication of success

In and amongst all of the appalling things that this government has done: WMD, the pension tax-credit grab, John Prescott, Derry Irvine, cash-for-honours, the one thing I find really indicative of what they have failed to do for this country is that Michael Howard now appears reasonable, reasoned and liberal on criminal justice.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

"The Insider"

Spurred on by a discussion on ARRSE, I broke my routine and watched Channel 4's "The Insider" last night. The programme had Colonel Bob Stewart opining on the TA (torygraph article & you may also be able to see it on "4 on Demand".)

Before I lament the programme - I don't really think that Col Stewart is a TA "Insider". A regular officer from 1969 to 1995 and a commentator since then. Certainly, especially from his time in Bosnia, he had TA soldiers working with and for him but that is like saying I am a Tesco's "Insider" because I shop there, or that as an (ex) Bank security and fraud person, I have anything "inside" to say about the way local branches are run - or, to stretch the point in an intentionally demeaning direction, that a criminal is a police "Insider". I know the good Colonel has plenty to say about the effectiveness of the TA from the point of view of a regular Battalion or Battle-Group commander but that is not the same thing. However, in mitigation, he did interview Richard Holmes, who made it all the way to Brigadier in the TA.

That said, this was not a recruiting video. A number of serious issues to do with the TA were addressed - funding, training opportunities and standards, operational employment of senior NCOs and officers. He also made, in fact laboured, the point about on deployment family services and aftercare. So lets look at these.

Funding: I strongly believe that the military is not properly funded to do the role they are being asked to undertake - which is two hot wars, both with larger than brigade deployed forces, fighting counter-insurgency wars. Therefore, cuts get made - normally in the easy things to cut (i.e. those that haven't got contracts with penalty clauses attached.) In the regular military, just as in the commercial world, the easy things to save money on are travel and training budgets - and, these get cut. In the reserves, where people don't cost you anything if they are not signed-on, you can also cut "man training days" - MTDs. And they do. This, however, is a "Brown's Britain" issue, not specifically a TA one. Large sums of money get spent, often off balance sheet, on major projects and it is the "death of a thousand cuts" for actual service delivery.

Training Opportunities: With the regular military units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, they need training areas, specialist courses and firing ranges. Many of which have been sold off or are operating at reduced tempo due to the "peace dividend", post Cold War. We currently have 8 regiment-sized units in Iraq (with the equivalent of at least another 2 or 3 being made up of detached company units) and 16 + lots in Afghanistan. With 2 rotations per year, we are therefore training up 30+ regimental units for combat operations. This takes a lot of time and effort and the TA do lose out.

Training Standards: Just to explain a bit here, the TA is officially split into two (in practice, three) - Regional TA, National TA and, this is my bit here, the medics (who are officially regional TA but, in practice fill the same role as national - there are just more units of them about.) (Ed note: forgot here about the "Sponsored TA" - so that is officially 3, realistically 4). To simplify, Regional TA provide units which are either part of the reserve battalions of regular regiments, or are complete reserve units in their own right - e.g. the 6th and 7th battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, or 36 Signal Regiment. Generally, when people from the Regular TA deploy, they do it as individual replacements - filling in for manning and welfare gaps in regular units (often affliated ones), although there has been considerable success deploying company sized composite units in Iraq and Bosnia. To be utterly honest, except for recently ex-Regulars, it is very difficult for soldiers in this type of unit to be at the same standards as their regular counterparts (though some do manage it, and manage exceptionally well).

National TA (and Sponsored TA) units and the medics, are specifically there to apply their civilian skills within the military environment. Usually because the Army cannot recruit, train or retain those skills (and, often, all three). All though they won't reach the same standards of military training as their counterparts in either regular service or regional TA (the commitment is considerably less than for regional TA - 19 days versus 27), that is not what they are there for.

Operational Employment: the roles generally available for Regional TA in theatre are for lower ranks. You'll have observed that the TA guys on the Warrior IFVs were Lance Corporals and Privates. The only higher rank interviewed was the young (I believe Infantry) Lieutenant, who was the hospital watchkeeper. An important role but not exactly boots on the ground war-fighting. A regular CO, quite reasonably, with a gap for a Sergeant is far more likely to give acting rank to a first-class Corporal he has known for years than to bring in a TA Sergeant who neither he, nor the platoon or squadron, know from Adam (or Eve, if your Regiment allows it).

Family Services: Yes, the lack of the local regiment structure and the much more normal dispersion of families across a wide recruiting area, means that the TA can't do much and the deployed regiment may be in completely the wrong part of the country (or even in Germany) to help. This is going to be difficult to fix, unless it is made the responsibility of the Regional Division and Brigade structure which will, of course, take money and commitment.

Medical & Aftercare: I think this was bad, as was shown in the programme, but has apparently now been fixed. TA soldiers are not entitled to Army medical services but, as far as my information goes, wounded soldiers are now retained mobilised until their treatment is complete. This, of course, requires the injury to be obvious (if not actually the reason for) the soldier arriving back in the UK. Not always going to be the case with PTSD, among others. Mind you, as Tony McNally found out, being a regular soldier didn't help him get treatment for his PTSD.

Overall, a fair-ish programme but not one that the TA or Army hierarchy are going to be happy with.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Johann Again

I apologise that this post is not going to be as pithy or amusing as I had thought because, not being a trendy socialist pseudo-journalist, I bothered to go and check my facts.

In the local supermarket buying lunch, I spotted the front page of today's Indy. I wasn't expecting to see a mention of the tedious one, having already checked his online-column monitor (blogs -> cretins -> Johann Hari) this morning.

However, manouvering past the queue at the fags'n'booze counter I (thought I) saw "Laugh? I nearly died. Johann Hari goes in search of Edinburgh's Funny Bone". Apart from disgust that he is up here polluting God's own country with his bilious exhalations, my immediate thought was that "Laugh? I nearly died", is a most appropriate response, for civilised people, to his cretinous outpourings.

However, I was wrong. As the front page clearly shows, the quote was "Laugh? I nearly did". Still appropriate but nowhere near as good. Please can I start a misquote rumour?

And, Simon, can you repatriate him as soon as possible, please.

A Fatal Error?

From bluematter, a rather good economics blog, discussing Inheritance Tax (and everybody's favourite Vulcan):
Still at last count it only affected 10% of estates and raised about £3.2bn - that's just under 1% of the total tax take but more than enough to pay for the work of Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Fine, as far as analysis of the tax system goes but why, on earth or in heaven, should it be assumed that paying "for the work of Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs" is anything other than gross stupidity?

I suppose it could be the effective taxation equivalent of "the size of Wales" to land area (see also wikipedantic)?

Update: I suppose, in the interests of fairness, I should point out that neither of the bluematter posts linked were the outpourings of the blog's main author, who is on holiday.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Rather British Conceit

With all of the fuss currently in the press about US General Jack Keane's opinions about the British tactical 'failure' in Basra, it is appropriate that I have just finished General Sir Michael Rose, KCB, CBE, DSO, QGM's book "Washington's War" about the American strategic failure in Iraq as a whole.

Although the cover suggests otherwise, this is not really "A Tale of Two Georges" - the adventures and tribulations of George Washington and his fellow revolutionary generals, including Osama's predecessor as the hate figure for all rootin' tootin' apple-pie eatin' Yankees, Benedict Arnold, are covered in detail but if anybody from the Bush administration gets rocketing, it is Donald Rumsfeld and, to a lesser extent, General Tommy Franks. There are interesting moments of comparison between George III and George Bush, a detailed history of the War of Independence and some insights into the difficulties of peace-keeping against a counter-insurgency movement in modern times.

In retrospect, the destruction of Fallujah in 2004 probably represented as great a strategic disaster for the Americans as the destruction of Fairfield and Newhaven had been for the British

The direct equating of the Continental Army with the Iraqi insurgencies (and the state militias with their Iraqi tribal and religious counterparts) is not going to make it comfortable reading for gung-ho supporters of the war in Iraq, nor is the comparison of the British Army and politicians in the 1770's with their modern American counterparts.

This is a short, scholarly and, overall, interesting book. At £14.99 (or £10.49 from Amazon) in hardback, it is currently one for the military historian or enthusiast rather than a more general (no pun intended) reader, who may wish to wait for the paperback.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I apologise

for not blogging any of the important events of the day but I took the afternoon off.

No, that was just to get your attention. I actually went to see what drummers aspire to be when they grow up.

If you can get to Edinburgh before the 27th August, see this. Absolutely wonderful.

An Excellent Headline

Hamish McDonell (or some anonymous sub) manages to wrap up the horrors facing Wendy Alexander in the first line (actually, it wraps over three in the dead-tree version) of a fairly reasonable Scotsman article:
It's her party and she'll cry if she wants to (you would cry too if it happened to you)

New Labour, in Scotland are in panic and denial, with the Chief Rat not only deserting the ship but leaving the continent. The resurgent SNP are gaining momentum in power, the Scots Tories are still useless gits, and nobody knows or much less cares what has happened to the Lib-Dums.

Richard Dawkins - MacBook Pro User

I don't watch much TV but having watched "Enemies of Reason" last night, it would be easy to say that Dawkins must be correct because of his excellent choice of laptop. However, the programme worried me for a number of reasons.

I do not share Dawkin's belief that anybody who believes in a divine being is a deluded fool however the sheer inanity of some of the belief systems being demonstrated yesterday, and the cloaking of it in pseudo-scientific drivel was breath-taking. The particular bit where the woman was explaining, to one of the world's most prominent geneticists and the "Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" at Oxford University, not just that some DNA was not composed of a double helix, but that she was going to covert his DNA into this Atlantean variant by waving her hands a bit nearly had me in tears. Mrs S-E refused to watch any further.

The use of tax payer £ to fund unproven treatments (homoeopathy) is bad, on the grounds that any unnecessary state activity is less efficient than the same being provided privately (and anything pointless is almost, by definition) unnecessary but taking money from the seriously sick and despairing I find morally vile, even if it hurts me less. It isn't as if the Great Clunking Fist (or his Darling) are going to give me my 50-odd p back if the grants to the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital were withdrawn.

As a final point - I think Dawkins either was not comfortable with, or did not have the time to explore, the difference between the placebo and Hawthorne effects. To briefly summarise - with the placebo effect, you are given a null-impact medication and get better because you believe it will do you good. With the Hawthorne effect, you would get better because being given time, listened to and treated with (for want of a better word) respect, not always possible in the modern conveyor-belt NHS, you actually feel involved with your treatment and more positive about it (even if it doesn't actually do anything). I think that much of the improvements in complementary / alternative / sodding-crazy medicine are down to the latter as much as the former.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Two morons for the price of one

Well, not exactly, but I wasn't allowed near the computer for much of yesterday so didn't manage to check my Blogs -> Cretins bookmark folder (isn't "Open All in Tabs" wonderful.)

So first up, 'cause he actually posted yesterday, is Jamal. It is nice to see one of our home grown jihadi supporters ("Let’s be clear about a few things; I HAVE recently returned from the Middle-East and I AM promoting Jihad") quite so critical of the Sudanese Islamist regime:
but imprisons and deports those who are fleeing holocausts, such as the Sudanese refugees.

Of course, being a "Radical Muslim", he did not actually criticise his fellows in the ummah who are committing the holocaust, he has to criticise Israel, a small and rather crowded state, for not having an open borders policy for refugees. Interestingly, given that:
The refugees deported on Sunday were arrested Friday evening as they tried to cross from Egypt into Israel, and were held for over 24 hours at an IDF base in southern Israel before bussed back to Egypt on Sunday.
He also fails to say anything about why these people want to live (despite not being Jewish) in the evil Zionist state rather than, say, in the modern(-ish) democratic (not very) Islamic state of Egypt? Could it be their previous experiences of the peaceful nature of Islamic rule? Or, just maybe, they have been reading about religious freedom and tolerance in Egypt?

Also, as clearly anything done by Israel must, by definition, be wrong, he fails to point out an interesting little fact from his source article:
This is the first instance in which Israel has returned African refugees to Egypt
Also, with a quick search on his site for Sudan - not a single word to indicate the religio-political nature of the government in Khartoum (the English version of which, if you try to force it, gives you "Microsoft VBScript runtime error '800a000d' Type mismatch /en/jnews.asp, line 93") - "dominated by members of Sudan's National Islamic Front, a fundamentalist political organization formed from the Muslim Brotherhood in 1986".

Moving swiftly to some trivia from today, we have Johann, back from little his day-trip to eco-warriordom (didn't see him in any of Manic's photos). And it is 10 years, apparently, since we (or London, at least) fell silent for "Our Lady of the Flowers".
It is a decade now since London - the loudest, most caffeine-drenched city on earth - fell silent, for a moment. I remember standing in the centre of Hyde Park on that Saturday afternoon in September, watching the funeral service for Diana Spencer with a few friends and a few million massed mourners. In the one-minute silence, nothing moved, apart from the rustle of the mile-long river of flowers piled up outside the Palace.
Has he started writing for the Daily Mail? What is "Diana week" and however pretty a woman and nice a person she was, why shouldn't we just leave her friends and family to mark this anniversary? In a couple of weeks, because it isn't quite yet. Diana died on the morning of the 31st August which, unless I am mistaken, is at least 3 of Johann's columns away. And her funeral was on the 6th September - another one or two. Somebody buy this prat a calendar.

Or maybe he has a new career in mind? Somebody might let Deborah know.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sad, sad bastards

Not content with hounding us from pillar to post in what loosely passes for the real world, it appears that one British firm of IP parasites have set up home in haven't-got-a-real-Life aka Sadville.

Haven't these people got something better to do with their lives?

Out of the mouths of babes

Or small boys, anyway. In the modern age.

Mrs S-E and I were having a post-prandial chat, with the last of the bottle, before the washing-up began to beckon too hard. One of our mutual friends has, together with his wife, just adopted. "Send him my regards", she said. "I'll give you his blog address and you can do it yourself", I retorted.

Master S-E, not quite having been banished to the portal of Diss that passes for his bedroom stumps up:
The world's falling to rack and ruin and you two are blogging.

Says it all, really.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A brief musing on bonking

Chris Dillow introduced me to the blog of Norman Geras, from where I found this:

I bring you the High School Prom Theorem:

We suppose that on the day after the prom, each girl is asked to give the number of boys she danced with. These numbers are then added up giving a number G. The same information is then obtained from the boys, giving a number B.

Theorem: G=B

Proof: Both G and B are equal to C, the number of couples who danced together at the prom. Q.E.D.

One of the things it shows is that when, in surveys, men report having many more sexual partners than women, something is amiss.

Interesting, I thought. That doesn't allow for homosexuals or, even, for the annoying (when I was a teenager) tendency for heterosexual girls to dance with each other rather than me or my equally spotty and lecherous mates. So I went to the source article.

There I found one answer in Professor Gale's original posing of the theorem but also several more fundamental errors:
But there is just one problem, mathematicians say. It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women. Those survey results cannot be correct.

“I have heard this question before,” said Cheryl D. Fryar, a health statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics and a lead author of the new federal report, “Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002,” which found that men had a median of seven partners and women four.

But when it comes to an explanation, she added, “I have no idea.”

The journalist has mis-represented the Prof and Cheryl, or the journalist, has made the usual mistake of mixing up the different sorts of average: mean, median and mode. Let us take a limiting example.

Take a population of 200, 100 boys and 100 girls, who are all asked the "how many sexual partners" question and all answer it honestly. 2 boys say "none", 98 boys say "3". 98 girls say "1", 2 (very popular) girls say "98". Total number of sexual partners is 294 both ways.

MeanSum of activity divided by number of samples2.942.94
ModeMost common answer31
MedianAnswer half-way through an ordered sample31

And another one for interest - add 2 (faithfully virginal) nuns :

MeanSum of activity divided by number of samples2.942.88
ModeMost common answer31
MedianAnswer half-way through an ordered sample31

So, although the Good Prof is correct and the total must be the same (assuming complete honesty and heterosexuality). However, the mean can be different if the population numbers are not equal - and I believe there are more lasses around than lads? Mode and median can clearly be different between the sexes (and, although I haven't shown it here, different from each other, just trust me :) I believe, from the sociological point, it would be the mode that one would take as showing the characteristic behaviour?

Discuss but let's keep it theoretical. It's been a long week and I apologise for any errors in spelling, logic, statistics or arithmetic :)

Cunt of the Day

Is an American, by name of Andrew Georgitsis, who
has led an expedition to the wrecks/war graves of HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales off Malaysia. Far from showing due respect to what is, after all, the tomb of several hundred sailors, his team penetrated into the area of the engine room and took pictures of human remains contained within:;idx=25

Incredibly, it appears this fcuking trumpet is offering the above print (among other images of the wreck) on fridge magnets, mouse pads, cards, etc. as can be seen from this link:

Given the public reaction, not to mention legal proceedings, that would result from a similar dive on, say, Royal Oak, or even better the Arizona, the insensitivity and pure cheek of this guy is quite dazzling. If you want, you can, um, politely email him your...feelings, as I just have.

With all of the political mongs, religious nutters and cretinous journalists who inhabit this blog, you'd think society would be pushed to come up with something that so utterly tops it. But no.

I am reminded of the probably apocryphal quote:
We have no more than fifty years experience in designing fool proof systems, nature has millions of years of producing fools.

H/T Cohaagen at ARSSE.

Update: This shit shows the same sort of "one rule for me, one for you" attitude that makes Jamal such a fascinating specimen:
This is nothing but a troll as you have been harassing me over the last few years, including 4 phone calls in the middle of the night wanting to debate this. So now you have found this forum and are trying further harass me, including the remarks about my personal photographs. Quite frankly I do not feel the need to answer your questions AGAIN, but will do so in hopes you will drop the phsyco babble.
Clearly, this is a subject we have different perspectives and opinions on. I understand it is a personal matter to you, but I should not be accused of anything other than documenting a wreck and the story of those who died on her.
Clearly the concept of "designated war grave" is clearly alien to the rights of the lesser-spotted American cretin.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Quote of the Day

almost the sort of Al Gore scenario of the worst thing that climate change could do, including the demise of the arctic ice sheets, and everything else, so that is very much the extreme event

Rachel Hill of the Environment Agency

Eat Your (Encryption) Keys Now

"All your keys are belong to us."

From: Encryption (
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 10:25:22 +0100
Conversation: RIPA Part III
Subject: RIPA Part III

1. As a consequence of Parliamentary approval, Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which relates to the Investigation of Protected Electronic Information, comes into force on 1st October. It also commences those parts of Part 4 of the Act which relate to the scrutiny of the powers in Part III and to the issue and effect of codes of practice. The Commencement order can be found here:

2. The Parliamentary debates can be found here and and the Code presented to Parliament can be found here:,

3. Part III of RIPA gives no new powers to any public authority to acquire data. All it does do is give them a new power to require that data they have obtained or expect to obtain lawfully should be put into an intelligible form or to require disclosure of the means to make it intelligible.

4. We will be working closely with respondents, public authorities, LEA, industry, financial service providers and NTAC to ensure that the process is proportionate and necessary and that the necessary safeguards are in place. We will engage with representative bodies, such as APACS and the BBA, to ensure that stake holders are engaged and to emphasise the role of NTAC as the lead authority for all matters relating to the operation of Part III of RIPA.

The Home Office web site will be updated with relevant details and a soft and hard copy version of the Code of Practice will be available shortly.

If you have any concerns please do not hesitate to contact the Home Office at or NTAC at

Home Office
2 Marsham Street

Don't say I didn't warn you. Get chewing :)

Shortcut for convenience

For the large number of what I should only suppose are Jamal's friends (you are, at least, his readers) visiting, here is a shortcut for you.



Disclaimer: No terrorists were harmed, brought to trial or killed trying to commit atrocities in the production of this post.

Security - They'll Do It No Way

I am hacking my way through the House of Lords report into Personal Internet Security and, like most of these things, it is tough going. However I already have views of their discussion of application security.

You see, there are a number of different ways to have insecure applications:
  • Poor (or no) security requirements specification
  • Poor protocol and algorithm design
  • Poor implementation
  • New attack vectors not considered at the above stages
  • Use over new or less secure infrastructure
  • Use for new purposes with greater security risks
  • Users not deliberately bypassing security
Managing all of these, especially the last four, over any extended period, is extremely hard. Managing the first three is hard enough to have been beyond all operating system and all bar the few best (and most expensive) hardware vendors to date.

Look at the User Datagram Protocol - designed for simplicity and low overheads. No security considerations at all. It is now used in a number of critical internet infrastructure components - including DNS (Domain Name Service), which makes the whole thing more-or-less useable.

Look at email - it mostly works absolutely fine, if you treat it as a postcard. But there were fundamental issues - originally, your email came to your terminal (it was acting as an email server), so you didn't need to fetch it via POP or IMAP - which transmit your password (which may also be your user account password) in clear text. Or the requirement for sender identification, the lack of which makes spamming so easy. Or what happens if you give somebody else your email authentication details? Or attached executable files (including data files with executable components.)

None of the last four are within the control of the application designer or vendor and none of them, with the limited exception of some things around new infrastructure, are within the control of the end-user's ISP.

So this requires a degree of co-operation to get it all right - users, ISPs and vendors. Difficult to arrange, isn't it? Now, if the government tried to impose a solution, through legislation or regulation, we know it would all got to ratshit.

And, of course, you need to consider that, for anything we already use, the first four battles have been comprehensively lost. As their Lordships acknowledge:
We see no prospect of a fundamental redesign of the Internet in the foreseeable future.

It reminds me of the Director who insisted that I redesign the world-wide email system because somebody had sent spam with his email address as the putative source.

Anti-Scientific Correctness

I apologise for the shortage of detail in this post but I was only just waking up and hadn't had any caffeine. Professor somebody or other Michael Hyland of Plymouth University, on Radio Scotland news, was rabbiting on about how some half-completed study into kiddie tantrums is suggesting that flower essential oils can calm the little toe-rags down.

Update: Apparently there were "no chemicals in it at all" and he mentioned homoeopathy but it still achieved a 40% reduction in ?.

So far so good. The presenter then dared to mention the newest horror word, "placebo".

At this point, the good Prof could have said a number of sensible things. He could have said "We don't know how it works, yet, that is what we are looking into now", or "The data suggests that the effect is sufficiently strong for that to be enough that so we are looking for the actual mechanism". But that's not the way things work nowadays, is it?

Play the word, not the idea. "We think that word is pejorative." And then I think he said "We prefer 'psychologically active'". I may be wrong. Updated: I was. He said "psychologically mediated".

Now, just thinking about it - it could just be not even a placebo effect, just a variation of the Hawthorne effect (but see also this delousing of the term). A friend of mine is just going through the rigmarole of adopting a young son - all he or his wife need to do is to walk into the room to stop the crying. The mere knowledge that somebody is there and cares is enough to silence the wailing.

Updates, and an MP3, will be posted sometime after 08:50, when "listen again" becomes available. Update - yup, can't figure out how to cut the feed up but it is here until am 23rd Aug. You are looking for about 55 mins into the programme.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Euro-Cnutery

Via the British Computer Society:
'These survey results underline Europe's need for proactive online media education,' commented Viviane Reding, European commissioner for information society and media.

So the kids know what they are doing (actually, a survey indicates that ...), which means more EU involvement is required to screw it up? I am also not sure whether what she said is actually meaningful in English or any of the other 22 official languages of the EU. And why the fuck do we pay to have a "European commissioner for information society and media"?

Who Lifted that Stone?


I understand that a self-confessed "Radical Muslim" may consider the Iraqi Employees' saga in a different light to people who can actually be bothered thinking about it.

What I don't understand is that his sidebar also includes this (way down, it has to be said, on the bottom right):

and, as well as supporting the murder of Iraqi's who assist the Coalition Forces and any Coalition Troops themselves:
If these traitors now lose their lives as a result, then this is the consequence of their participation in this wicked, deceitful and catastrophic war, which has seen over a million Iraqis killed. The same goes for coalition troops.

he also calls for the return of the death penalty. Like it or loath it (and, once again, I am not suggesting that you should hold any particular point of view), both Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (amended by "Protocol No. 6 concerning the abolition of the death penalty" and as implemented in the UK HRA 98) are pretty explicit concerning the right to life being a fundamental human right.

Consistency? From a jihadi fanatic? Hardly. To paraphrase, "It is our right to practise our religion as we see fit, free from any legal contraints. This specifically includes permitting us to deny you any rights, including, but not limited to, the right to deny you practising your religion - and here - and, wherever we see fit, the right to freedom from torture and the right to life."

Now, I happen to think that my support for human rights (and the international Law of Armed Conflict) means that I fundamentally oppose Gitmo, so I cannot suggest we send this turkey there. Any logically and morally consistent suggestions?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Iraqi Translator & Dan Hardie Podcast

The BBC interviews can be found here:

About 40% of the way through, after "Trucker Tom", with Mohammed, an Iraqi translator for the US Marine Corps first then Dan (starting a bit after half-way.) Just the main stuff, thanks to Justin & Unity. Very interesting to hear about how this has made the Iraqi newpapers.

Dan needs to learn the political difference between "you cannot dodge consequences" - yes, mate, they can (and will, if we let them) and, the utterly correct, "you should not be permitted to dodge consequences".

If you have time to listen to the original, you can also here a nice bit about the DIN and the sod-Simonry, mentioning the Headley Court campaign. And then, Tim.


PS. Simon says ...

PPS. Eventually learned how to post that as an embedded whatever rather than a link. Not easy.

Update: Now managed to post it without autostart thanks to here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

No 10 e-Petitions Still Waste of Time

We asked:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to refrain from signing any agreement to create a new European Union treaty without first holding a referendum to ascertain the opinion of the British public."

Details of Petition:

"The Prime Minister is distorting the nature of the proposed treaty by insisting that it will not be a 'constituional' treaty. Anything that alters the relationship between the United Kingdom and Brussels must affect the way we are governed and undermines the ability of our Parliament to govern on behalf of the British people. This is a new EU constitution by stealth, a step that was rejected by the voters of France and The Netherlands."

Our lords and masters have spoken:

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to sign this e-petition.

Aye, right. The other one's got bells on.

This Government believes strongly that it is in the UK's interests to be a leading player in Europe. EU membership has brought real benefits for the UK in terms of wealth, jobs, peace and security. Around 3 million British jobs are linked (directly and indirectly) to our trade in goods and services with other EU countries, and over half of UK foreign trade is with other EU countries. It is estimated that the EU's single market boosted total EU GDP by 2.2 per cent (around £150 billion) in 2006. And as a member of the EU, working closely with other countries, the UK is able to deal more effectively with cross-border issues like climate change, migration, jobs and protecting consumers. These are issues that all our citizens care about. Recent EU initiatives to tackle climate change emissions and bring down mobile phone roaming charges have demonstrated the concrete benefits of membership.

Blah, blah, blah, Europe good, blah.

To deliver the results that Europe's citizens want, we need to equip the EU to operate more effectively.

Like get its accounts signed off occasionally?

This means reforms to improve the way the institutions operate now that there are 27 Member States. At the European Council meeting on 21-22 June, EU leaders discussed the basis for a new Treaty to make the necessary changes to the EU's institutional arrangements. We agreed a way forward that the Government is confident represents a good result for the UK and a good result for Europe. The EU will now be able to focus on the issues which will make a real difference to peoples' everyday lives - meeting the challenges and opportunities of globalisation, and delivering prosperity and security to our citizens.

Following the agreement at the European Council, the Treaty designed to establish a Constitution for Europe has been abandoned. Instead, a new Reform Treaty will be agreed by an Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) - representing all Member States - in line with the decision reached at the European Council. The new Treaty should be finalised by the end of 2007. It will then be for Parliament to debate and vote on the contents of the Treaty. This ensures that the values presented in the Treaty are compatible with the UK's, and that any concerns that may be raised as part of the democratic process, by Members themselves or on behalf of their constituents can be fully addressed, as is only right and proper.

As is asking the government to abide by its election promises. Which you were voted in to implement.

In preparation for discussions at the European Council, the Government identified four key areas of fundamental importance to the UK's sovereignty. In the subsequent discussions, the Prime Minister successfully defended these 'red lines', protecting the UK's control over key policy interests. Specifically: there will be nothing in the new Treaty which challenges or requires us to change our existing labour and social legislation; our common law system and our police and judicial processes have been protected; our independent foreign and defence policy will be maintained; and our tax and social security system will be protected.

Load of utter bollocks. As Chris points out.

As the Prime Minister himself stated during a press conference with Chancellor Merkel, "We as a United Kingdom had a number of negotiating objectives, these included objectives in relation to the Charter of Rights, justice and home affairs, foreign and security policy, the social security elements of the amending treaty and national security itself. We are satisfied that in the document that was laid before us, our negotiating objectives have been met. We now look forward to the intergovernmental conference producing in detail the amendments and therefore the resolutions on which our parliament will eventually have to vote".

The agreed basis for the new Reform Treaty states "The constitutional concept, which consisted in repealing all existing Treaties and replacing them by a single text called 'Constitution', is abandoned." The Reform Treaty will be clearly based upon the existing EU Treaties, and will be a traditional 'amending Treaty', along the lines of previous EU Treaties such as Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice. The UK has never held referendums on amending treaties in the past.

That's because we have never had the EU Constitution called an "amending treaty" before.

So the new Reform Treaty will improve the efficiency of the Union and enable us to focus more sharply on delivering results for our citizens. It sets out what the EU can and cannot do. It ensures that foreign policy remains an issue for national governments. It will strengthen the voice of national parliaments in the EU. And it provides the framework for an enlarged Union of nation states to work together for mutual benefit.

Britain needs a more effective, efficient, coherent EU.

Although a small, efficient, coherent EU would be an improvement on the federalist monstrosity we are currently lumbered with, Britain actually needs out of the EU.

The improvements contained in the Reform treaty will enhance the EU's capacity to act effectively to meet the shared challenges we face. As a result it is believed that the agreement reached in June represents an excellent deal for the UK's interests and for Britain's future within Europe.

A full transcript of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair's post-European Council statement to Parliament on 25 June can be found at: (new window).

We weren't going to get them to say yes, were we? But notice, in all the double-speak, they didn't actually say no. They just said that we "never held referendums on amending treaties in the past". Bunch of cunts.

Computers: Don't Rely on Them

This story, from yesterday's Sunday Times, is really rather worrying.

A SERVICE offering a complete “revenge package” in which people can destroy the financial status and relationships of their enemies at the click of a mouse is being offered over the internet.

For as little as £10 a month ...
However, it is really symptomatic of two age-old problems with computers. The first is "garbage-in, garbage-out" - no matter how good your credit rating or fraud detection algorithms are (and how competently they are implemented), if your basic data (number, frequency and value of credit applications) can be corrupted, modified or otherwise interfered with, your "decision" is meaningless.

Also, the blind faith people (or processes designed by people) seem to have in the correctness of what the bloody machine is spewing forth. Many years ago, people were reminded that all computers were called Tom (Totally Obedient Moron) - if you tell a computer to delete all your data, it will (although now, sometimes, they will ask if you really mean it).

There is the same blinkered pointlessness in the computer sorting of job applications. For example, many security jobs require people to hold the CISSP qualification and applications without it will not even get to be reviewed by an HR drone, never mind an actual human. Why? Because somebody, almost certainly an idiot, decided that holding the CISSP (however long ago gained) was a sufficient demonstration of certain knowledge or skills. It may just about demonstrate a degree of knowledge but like the vast majority of qualifications (including academic ones), does nothing for skill. This is exactly the same as credit score equalling intention and ability to repay a loan. It might indicate, to a degree, ability. But intention?

Still Speaking Bollocks

Just when Neil and Simon were making this blog look like the badly mangled collision of two ARSSE threads, that ever-reliable oxygen thief jumps up and allows me to return to non-military anti-idiotarianism.

Just for the purposes of this analysis, can I ask you all please (and I know it may hurt) to accept that:
  1. The overall mean temperature of the earth's biosphere is steadily increasing.
  2. The majority of this increase is due to the effects of the activities of the human population.
  3. Air travel is a significant component of this.
Even from that point of view (and I don't personally accept as proven any of these though the published evidence appears to point to 1. being a 50 / 50 call - what is in the unpublished evidence being a significant hurdle the climate change lobby need to address), Johann Hari is still an utterly incompetent excuse for a journalist. Why?
it is collective pressure on government, not dulled and dispersed consumer choices, that the world needs now.
Let me see. Hmm. Ahh.

Countryside Alliance. On the order of 400,00 people turn out - about 6 to 8 constituencies worth if you think like a pol. Result: the Hunting Act 2004. Failure.

Stop the War Coalition. Somewhere between 750,000 and a couple of million people march. Result: UK troops still in Iraq and Afghanistan and quite probably Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. Failure.

Faslane 365. Not enough room for the sheer numbers but lots of juicy arrests (this one, at least, has the benefit of being funny). Result: the Vanguard boats still there and still patrolling. Trident replacement is crawling ahead. Look - another FAILURE - seeing a trend here?

I am not asking you to agree or disagree with any of the causes mentioned. It doesn't matter. "Collective pressure", or at least that exerted through large scale demonstrations rather than voting the mendacious statist cunts out, does not change this government's behaviour. So it is back to individual choices and economic pressure, which acts on market watching private companies who do react to changing customer demands. At least until the Great Clunking Fist summons the sheep to the slaughter.

Johann quotes a poor deluded (young?) lass:
Leila, a London admin assistant helping to prepare the camp, said this weekend: "I realised that if I don't take action, I'm going to spend my old age watching more floods, more droughts and more death, in the knowledge I could have done something."
In the trade, this is now known as the "Neil Clark" defence. "It's not my fault. I couldn't be arsed actually interfering with my so-important life doing something about it, so I went to a demo. I can now safely despise all of you who didn't go to my demo".

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I don't really know what to say about this.

Neil Clark: The Beast from Revelation?

I mean, seriously, the second beast of Chapter 13? We know he is, and continues to be, a complete and utter berk but to unite the UK blogosphere (apart from his friends, of course, both of them) in such a manic way can only be the work of warped and twisted genius who
deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had the power to do in the sight of the beast

Just look at his blog title, if you need more proof: neilclark66 - a mere typo away from "six hundred, three score and six".

Update: It has been pointed out to me, by someone who clearly is spending far too much time thinking about this, that if (and only if, or "iff" for the mathematicians among you) the above is true, that would probably make Gorgeous George the beast of the first part of Ch 13.

Sarcasm aside, Conor, Chris and Tim reckon he might be a war criminal. Not really, unfortunately. The undisputed power leader of surreal tom-foolery that he is, he is not "intentionally directing attacks against" anybody - he is merely encouraging us to treat murderers as heros. I quote:
The true heroes in Iraq are those who have resisted the invasion of their country.
As the on-going Iraqi resistance are, by and large, terrorists (car bombs in crowded markets as opposed to attacks against the occupying force being a key differentiator between "terrorist" and "freedom fighter") Neil might wish to consider the wisdom of publishing his views quite so openly, in light of Sections 1 and 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006. He won't, of course, because any attempt to actually apply the law will bring the rest of the Gruniad and Indy's "useful idiots" out in to print.

It has to be said that he has an (i.e. one) entirely valid point:
that it's understandable that many Iraqis have feeling of animosity towards those who collaborate
Of course, many of those doing the killing are not Iraqis but are foreign jihadis - Jordanians, Chechens, Iranians etc, and the use of the word "collaborate" betrays his commitment that the terrorists are in the moral right, but it is actually a point. What he then completely misses is that that is the exact reason why the British and American governments have the same responsibility as the Danes showed to do something to protect those who have undertaken such an unpopular and dangerous job on their behalf. And that, whether you voted for them (and I, not surprising didn't - although I will readily admit that the Tories voted for the Iraq invasion as well) or not, in a representative democracy, is "our behalf".

Which is the entire point behind Dan's campaign, the letter writing and the petition. Clark, you are a pathetic mong.


PS. As this post is also about defence ...

Gaming your Technorati "Authority" for Beginners

1. Comment on sites that have a "latest comments" widget in the sidebar. Honest, that counts.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Google gets it so badly wrong

I was going to post something gratuitously offensive about Neil Clark. I may still do so. But this error on the part of Google Ads really made my day.


PS - this is broadly connected to defence, so I am banned from posting this and you are banned from reading it. So there.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I'm Probably Banned from Posting This

Because it is about "defence". But sod Simon.

The plight of Iraqi interpreters (explained with post-it notes).

Write to your MP (asking them politely to refer your concerns to the Home Secretary). And sign the petition.

Thanks to Tim (Manic) for the effort and h/t to Justin.

Simon Says "Shut Up, Minions"

Simon M(a)cdowell (Ed: now confirmed as Mac) is Director (General) of Communications Planning at the MOD (no links available - only material on the Defence Internet is this, presumably about his predecessor - see Update 2). He is reprehensible for 2007 Defence Information Notice 2007 DIN 03-006 which apparently bans a whole lot of people, including me, from a whole lot of things. Including, probably, this very post. I have not yet read the full gagging order as it has not been made available to me. We'll just have to see what happens.

Thanks to Tim for bringing this to my attention (isn't it just peachy that new MOD rules about blogging are brought to my attention not by my chain of command, or even by email from an admin person in Brigade, but by a fellow blogger) and to "PartTimePongo" of ARRSE for the graphic.

Update: In my day job, I often deal with the interpretation of the Human Rights Act 1998. Article 10 of the Convention, brought in by this Act deals with freedom of expression:
This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
Unlike Article 4 (Freedom From Slavery and Forced Labour), there is no specific exemption for the Armed Services. So let us consider the national security exemption:
may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security ...
Got us there, haven't they? No. Disclosure, discussion or leaking of protectively marked (aka classified) information is already prohibited, quite rightly in nearly every case (where it possibly isn't prohibited). So we are not talking about material of interest to national security. We are talking about, for example, my uninformed opinions on the rights and wrongs of building the new carriers in sections and assembling them in Rosyth. Reading this interesting document from the European Court of Human Rights on how the court interprets these rights is very enlightening.

There is this, talking about the intelligence services, rather than the military:
Where faced with legislation providing for general and unconditional prohibition of dissemination of all information in the area of national security, the national courts must reject such a claim, be it criminal or civil.
And this, talking about the 1992 Hadjianastassiou case in Greece (where a conviction for disclosing classified information for pay was upheld):
The Hadjianastassiou judgment sends two important messages to the national courts. Firstly, that not all the (sic) military information is swept away from the public arena. Secondly, the Court held once again that it is for the national courts to establish in each particular case whether the respective information did pose a real and serious danger to the (sic) national security. Such an assessment based on the proportionality principle is the answer to the question whether or not an expression making public military information should or should not be prohibited or sanctioned.
Given the weight of this, I would really like to see a test case brought for breach of this regulation (and, still, would really like to see the text of the regulation) though, obviously, not with me in the dock.

Update 2: The full text of the gagging order, which isn't quite as severe as the Gruniad made out is available on the internet here. But I didn't tell you that because it is
Not to be communicated to anyone outside HM Service without authority
Google, clearly, are now an appropriate authority. See also Simon's response, tarted up as "MOD responds", rather than "shit, shit, if I was still at the DWP, nobody would have cared". ARRSE, obviously, have always been authority.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Polly Hari

How can a person be so consistently wrong? Easy, be an over-paid left-wing polemicist in one of the nation's less discriminating viewspapers. (Interestingly, I am not sure Tony realises it is an insult?) So, taking on, as he has, this mantle of cretinous metro-socialism, channelling the very witch-queen herself, let's have a look at his latest ouvre:
One of the most gnarled and disingenuous clichés about Britain is that while our cities are coddled, the countryside is forgotten. The semi-feudal writers at The Telegraph and other temples of right-wing opinion proclaim incessantly that in the national distribution of resources, London always trumps Cumbria, and Glasgow always trumps Dorset. Now that foot-and-mouth disease has somehow seeped out of an American pharmaceutical lab and into the animal population, this complaint is poised to become the casual received wisdom once again.

Apart from the not-nearly as casual as it looks ad-hominem attack, we have one of the usual evidence free clichés of lefty journalism - attack the Americans. Everything must be their fault. Apart from the fact that this is a government laboratory and, even if the point source was their American tenant, the government would be responsible both for setting the biohazard containment levels and for verifying their effectiveness ...

But far from taking our cities too seriously, we treat their fate with a glib and casual self-assurance. By contrast, every single rural worry, no matter how unjustified, is given a wildly disproportionate weight in the national debate. If you want evidence, there are two fat examples this summer. If foot-and-mouth disease has carried beyond the initial Ground Zero, we will swiftly proceed - as we did in 2001 - to kick a hefty dent in our second biggest national industry, tourism, to rescue a tiny and economically worthless beef export market.
Olympics 2012, which will starve funding from the whole of the UK to dump benefit where, exactly. Hmm, London. But, I digress.

And, at the same time, we may be poised to hand the mayoralty of our biggest city to a reactionary rural clown.

Better that than a jihadi-embracing racist newt-fancier but that's just my opinion.

There is a simple solution to foot-and-mouth, followed by many South American countries: vaccinate all hoofed animals at birth. It hardly costs anything, and, as a result, no animals get sick or die. There are none of the periodic panics about the disease we suffer, and none of the pyres of burning animal corpses broadcast across the world, proclaiming to potential tourists your country is dangerous and closed for business. The only drawback to vaccination is that our beef would no longer be available for export, because most countries are still trying to fend off foot-and-mouth rather than accept it as a reality and vaccinate.
Yes, this would be a viable solution. Except for one tiny, little missing point. Her or, to be honest, the legions of bureaucrats who work for her. In Brussels, Strasbourg and in the UK. They won't let us. For excruciating amounts of detail on this from the last outbreak, see here. So don't blame British farmers, don't blame Boris, it is the EU you fuckwit. Can we leave yet?

But you only have to look at the figures to see why this really isn't that bad. The British beef export market brings in £700,000 a year, and employs fewer than 40,000 people. Almost none of that money is real profit: it comes from the £5bn of direct subsidies that we city-dwellers hand to the countryside every year.

Via the EU, you complete gibbering moron. The "Common Agriculture Policy". Can we leave yet?

For too long, we have allowed romantic ideas about ruddy-cheeked farmers to make us underrate and underfund our cities. Far from going to small farmers, most of our subsidies go to vast agribusinesses and millionaires: Tate and Lyle has received over £233m in subsidy in two years, and Charles Windsor and his mother are handed over £1m annually for their farms.

Errm, Johann, the EU - remember them? It's not the fault of the UK political right (although the Cameroonies seem to be heading in that awful direction) that the EU haven't engineered their market-destroying subsidies to support small farmers.

Now we seem poised to react to foot-and-mouth with the same tourism-trashing mania, and perhaps even to elect a shootin'-and-huntin' rural toff to run London. So remind me again - what were you saying about how we "ignore" and "neglect" the countryside?

1. We? Nope, the British Government doing what it is told by the EU. Can we leave yet?

2. Boris is a London political journalist, when he isn't in the marquee with the rest of the clowns. He represents the constituency of Henley. Henley is rural? A mere 2.2% of the jobs are in agriculture. To look at it another way, less than 8 times as many people are employed in "agriculture, hunting and forestry" than work in private households - nannys, cleaners etc.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Weird Searches and Results

Why would anybody search for this?
bt -bankthai -bluetooth -headset -headsets -ibuprofen -python -tower -bittorrent -radianz -ibuprofen -corn
And why, having done so, would they possibly end up at the (very good, go and read it) Educational Conscription blog?

I know that you are likely to get emergent functionality out of complexity (actually, you are more likely to get something broken but let's just assume it sort of works), so we are not going to actually be able to understand the internet but this seems just to be taking the michael.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

An Irritation of Idiots

Yesterday Sorry, on Saturday, Katy asked:
There just seem to be a lot of stupid, parasitic, pointless, dense, unpleasant people around. Is this a new thing, or have they always been around and did I just not realise?
Thanks to KitchenWitch, we know that the appropriate collective noun for this form of the dross of humanity is "an irritation".

I should have seen the discussion as the omen it truly was. Mrs S-E had got us tickets to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, to see, amongst the others, some friends of hers who are in the Middlesex County Volunteers.

Unfortunately, an irritation of idiots (simpler than "SPPDU people", and somewhat more evocative) had arrived on a coach from Epsom (except one, who had apparently extremely irritated an Edinburgh taxi driver and had been taken by them to a police station) and sat behind us. And proceeded to whitter, endlessly, throughout the entire prelude to the performance (mildly irritating but hey) and then the cunts continued, in exactly the same fuckwitted way, for the entire sodding hour and three-quarters of the actual performance, including during the sunset hymn and last post. About the only time they were not gibbering in our ears was during the brief respite when they were failing miserably to sing the national anthem.

Their utter lack of knowledge of matters military or ceremonial, coupled with their complete inability to read the programme, made this all the less entertaining. To give you some idea of how pointless, mindnumbing and otherwise distracting this all was, their key topic of conversation during the performance of the Band of the Blues and Royals was whether the horses would crap on the Esplanade ('though, of course, being from Surrey, they were pointlessly irritating rather than crudely succinct). (Ed's note: Just in case anyone is interested, one did, but the irritation were already too busy discussing some other triviatics to spot this or the clean-up crew from what appeared to be the Tayforth OTC.)

Thanks a whole fucking bunch, you utter irritation of pointless scumbags.

Monday, August 06, 2007

"Not in my front square"

Police restrictions on Brian Haw are unlawful, rules the Lord Chief Justice. I do not agree with Mr Haw but that is irrelevant. Our politicians should not be able to abuse anti-terror legislation to silence (or, more sinisterly, remove from earshot) their critics.

As an aside, would you consider Parliament Square in front of or behind the Houses of Parliament? There is no water gate (no, not Watergate Hotel, that is a different bunch of poli-scoundrels), therefore the St Margaret Street side should be the front?

A call for consistency

I am getting more than a little irate with the so-called moderate British Muslim "community" who, by current performance, appear to be about as "moderate" as the Bideford ex-Lib-Dems were "liberal". Let me be clear in my request. As I see it, you can have it one of two ways.

Either the current Islamist terrorist threat has nothing to do with Islam, and is a supra-nationalist power struggle based variously in the foundation of Israel / plight of the Palestinian nation (not, of course, that Palestinian Muslims are waging a 'religious cleansing' of Palestinian Christians) and the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq (and general extra-territorialism), and any number of other geo-political or economic (not that I am convinced that those are necessarily different) events. In which case, events like "Jihad the Musical", the treatment in prison of convicted terrorist plotter and race hatred "expert" Abu Hamza and other convicted terrorists (apologies for linking to the Mail), and the general approval that Dr Ahmed has gone for a short and succinct interview with his maker before finding out whether it is the Christian or Muslim view of Hell that is true, are also nothing to do with Islam, a religion of peace as is proclaimed. Instead they are perfectly understandable reactions against a somewhat loosely co-ordinated non-religious terrorist campaign that is out to destroy post-Enlightenment western secular democracy.

Or, as the alternative, the current Islamist terrorist threat is entirely consistent with the views of jihad and the division of the world between the dar al'Islam and the dar al'Harb, as expressed in the Quran, the hadith and Sunnah and many, many fatwa. In which case, Western reaction against these terrorists is indeed anti-Islamic and possibly even Islamophobic. However, given that the demands made include the imposition of Sharia law throughout the world and the inhumane punishments proscribed therein, is not a degree of "fear of Sharia", if not full-fledged "fear of Islam" entirely reasonable?

The British public generally, not just the BNP racists, do not look at forced marriage, female circumcision and so-called "honour" killings and see civilisation, never mind a civilisation we would be willing to live in. It has to be said, entirely correctly, that we also should and generally do look at ned and chav lifestyles with some, if not quite as much, abhorrence.

The last significant terrorist threat against the UK was from the IRA and its splinter groups. Although Irish nationalism, with some notable exceptions, largely originated in the separate culture and appalling treatment of the Catholic population, it never led to demands in the UK for the repression of Italian, Polish or German Catholics. Why not? Because outside of Ireland and some of the loopier bits of Scotland (Scottish and Irish do get slightly confused when you look at history properly) and the USA, Catholics and especially those in theological authority, denounced both terrorism and wider political violence. Whereas we see endless support, from Islamic nations, from imams and preachers in mosques in the UK, for the terrorists, both their objectives and their means. There is no excuse for terrorism, even if it is committed in the name of a "religion of peace".

Sunday, August 05, 2007

What's Going on in Formula 1

This is now getting really bizarre:

Firstly, we had the McLaren / Ferrari industrial espionage or, if you want to take it that way, Coughlan / Stepney "new-jobs with Honda hunt" row. This, of course, is still going on (and on and on and on), thanks to the CSIA - the Italian Motor Sport federation. You can see Doctor Vee's take on this, and the overall attitude of Ferrari, here.

Then, after a bad time at the Nürburgring, Hamilton was doing exceedingly well in practice and qualifying at Budapest. Alonso, while in the pits before his final (and fastest) round in the third qualifying session, hung around for more than a few seconds (20 according to the FIA), blocking Lewis behind him from pitting and eventually preventing Lewis taking a final qualifying lap by 4 seconds or so. Now, one of the assumed rules of F1 is "don't screw-up your team-mate". Constructors' championship points are vital to the money end of the business. Ron, clearly, was not amused when ITV's Ted Kravitz tried to interview him just as the session completed.

Now, I know that Alonso came into this season as World Champion and Number One driver with one of the great F1 teams, so it must be really galling to be upstaged by a rookie Brit (with McLaren being a British team - even the Mercedes engines are made by Ilmor in Northants.) But to do something quite so obvious, losing yourself 5 places on the grid - 7 world championship points if you finish 6th rather than first, and your team a potential 18 championship points (Ferrari are only 27 behind), must count as exceptionally daft. The only good thing to come out of it was Hamilton being remarkably adult, despite his disappointment, when he was interviewed. Theo is not amused, either.

Still, I hope it is a great race come 1pm.

Update: No, not a great race. A bit processional - shown by Massa barely managing to move (started 14th, finished 13th) despite having (what should be) one of the fastest cars on the grid. Well done to Lewis, however, and his battle to stay ahead of Kimi, and Alonso's fight from sixth to nearly third were none too bad. We'll see how the McLaren appeal against the points freeze goes.

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