Thursday, January 24, 2008

1 down, 22 to go.

23, of course, if you are still counting Blair.

Statement regarding Peter Hain MP donations

On 29 November 2007, Peter Hain MP informed the Electoral Commission that he had not fully reported to the Commission donations he had received for his Labour Party deputy leadership campaign.

Mr Hain has since met with the Commission and provided additional information about donations he received. The Electoral Commission has undertaken a thorough review of this information.

Following discussions with the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service, the Electoral Commission has now referred matters to the Metropolitan Police for them to consider whether an investigation should commence.


El Beeb.
Peter Hain has quit the Cabinet after his deputy leader campaign donations were referred to the Met Police.

Mr Hain, work and pensions secretary and Wales secretary, said he had stood down so he could "work on his tan".

...

Mr Hain has blamed poor administration and has said the suggestion he tried to hide anything was "absurd".

Friday, January 18, 2008

Excellent Work

Manic, aka Tim Ireland, who runs Bloggerheads, is of not entirely subtly* different politics than this author. But he is passionately concerned about the appalling infringements of their responsibilities and our liberties that the current bunch of egregious statists have inflicted.

Here is his well-thought and superbly presented take on the current pretence consultation regarding the law about demonstrating near Parliament, as enacted in Sections 132-138 of the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act, 2005.



Absolutely brilliant.

* Well, he is Australian, what can we expect?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Convictions of Her Faith?

I have been taking a couple of days and thinking about the Daily Hate's M&S story. H/t to both Bel (and I hope you are enjoying Den Hague, especially now you have the internet back :) and Harry:
A Muslim store worker at Marks & Spencer refused to serve a customer buying a children's book on biblical stories because she said it was "unclean".

Sally Friday, a customer at a branch of one of the famous stores, felt publicly humiliated when she tried to pay for First Bible Stories as a gift for her young grandson.

When the grandmother put the book on the counter, the assistant refused to touch it, declared it was unclean and then summoned another member of staff to deal with the purchase.

Let's assume that the Mail's printing of Mrs Friday's story is factually correct - this is dangerous as this sort of "evil Muslims trampling on British culture" is so appealing to the Mail's "flog'em'n'hang'em" brigade ...

Firstly, is it reasonable that the young Muslim lady should have taken the M&S job without making it clear that she would refuse to handle any items which she felt offended her religion? As a further assumption, this would also apply to alcohol (except, possibly, medical), pork (or any non-halal food), pigskin items, customers with guide dogs etc, etc. This is similar to the Aishah Azmi burkah case - turn up for the interview, behave in a manner that gives no indication of your unwillingness to act in a certain way and don't mention that your behaviour will radically (Ed: yes, he has been pune-ished for that) alter once you are in work*.

I don't think this is reasonable - nobody is forcing these people to take these jobs and they should be honest about their limitations when applying (and this is not an anti-Islam thing, I had the same issues with a member of my team whose wife decided that his Christian religion meant that he couldn't continue to be standby on a Sunday). I am sure that if their interpretation of the requirements of their religion is so strict or orthodox, then they can find jobs that will not put them in risk of impurity.

Secondly, is a book of Bible stories "unclean" or, as Islam has it, "haram"? Historically, Islam has been more tolerant of the "faiths of the book", i.e. Christianity and Judaism, than it has of other faiths and, under more generous readings of the commandments of Islam, are protected to a minor degree (i.e. merely economic serfdom rather than outright enslavement.) And, it has to be said but for a short time, you were at less risk of life and livelihood as a Jew in the Caliphate than as a Jew in Christian Western Europe. Now, I am clearly no imam or scholar of Islamic jurisprudence - so I will leave the clarity up to those with more knowledge. I would point out that the public consensus opinion from "British moderate spokespeople for Islam" seems to be that it isn't. Conversely, it would be a criminal offence, as I understand it, to import or sell such a book in Saudi Arabia and other sharia law states.

Finally, on the subject, let's just consider how bloody rude the silly cow was - Phil comments under Harry's article on the subject that:
If the assistant hadn’t been ‘making a deliberate point’ they could have simply feigned temporary illness and asked someone to take over from them.

Entirely true, if slightly exaggerated. A mere "Excuse me, can I get one of my colleagues to assist you?" would have skated past this whole controversy without it rising to any prominence. Common courtesy, never mind customer service, and this could all have been avoided. So why not?

And, as an antidote to all of that, here is a positive video about Islam and integration (h/t Rachel):

In December 2007, over 2,000 American Muslims were asked what they would wish to say to the rest of the world. This is what they said.


And as an antidote to that, while searching for Aishah Azmi links, I found this bunch of scumbags (NSFW and fetch a clothes-peg for your nose): the "British People's Party". Yuck.

* And, of course, there is also Section 2 and 3 of the Fraud Act 2006 or, if her employment predates that, the old Theft Act Section 16 offence of "obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception".

Monday, January 14, 2008

Me too

Hah,


NerdTests.com says I'm a Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!


Oh, errm, I probably shouldn't be bragging about that, should I?

Hat-tips variously to DK and Tom.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

As Bad As Each Other?

Well, as the Hain fiasco rumbles on, Wendy Alexander seems to be all but forgotten, Dizzy and Guido seem to have found issues with the funding of Monocular of Kirkcaldy, himself, The Mail on Sunday blats out "Hypocritical Tory Sleaze". (Hat-tip to Tony, especially as I don't want any of you to think that I actually read the "Mail on Sunday"!)

What a bunch of utter incompetents the Tories are employing now - and I am not talking about Mr Osborne. As soon as they looked like there was any media traction in the various donations rows, all of the Shadow Cabinet should have been called in to see or visited by some Central Office staffer, with a couple of forensic accountants in tow, and their accounts should have been given a thorough beating. At that point, George's little discussion with Ms Barry would have become apparent and he could have been pointed towards David Willett's procedure as an example of good practice. It doesn't matter that he probably hasn't done anything wrong and that he went and asked the opinion of the official responsible*.

So:

  • George Osborne: probably legally correct (the money has been declared by the party) but what an utter pillock for handing their opponents such a media coup.
  • Hain: just fucking resign, you piece of filth. At best you are an orange mong, at worst you are a self-confessed (once you had been well and truly rumbled) crook. You should not be in the cabinet.
  • Alexander: where is the report? She should have resigned weeks ago.
  • Brown (Dizzy): Hmm, this is actually a difficult one and, despite loathing the evil shit with every fibre of my body, I would say that benefit in kind is remarkably difficult to determine accurate valuations for; as Dizzy says, "domains are cheap as chips"; and Silverfish are not the Smith Institute so, much as I would like the tumbrils on Downing Street - he should apologise to Parliament and correct the Register.
  • Brown (Guido): Internal Labour party matter - but that shouldn't stop us crowing about it. It just shows that "Dear Prudence"'s economic prowess is fog and myth.


* - this, of course, assumes that the Office of the Commons Registrar operates on a more equitable standing than that adopted by HMRC: "You give us inaccurate information, your fault, a penalty fine or jail: we give you inaccurate information, your fault, a penalty fine or jail - for you. We're all right, Jack!"

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sense? On Comment-is-Free?

His premiership is doomed because he has tolerated so many sordid fixes that he would not recognise virtue if it turned out in goal for Raith Rovers.


:)

Adam Smith Institute - Common Errors (Pt 1)

Via el Diablo, I came across the Adam Smith Institute's series, by Dr Madsen Pirie on "Common Errors".

Each piece will look at a common error people make about free markets and the free societiy (sic), and explain why they are mistaken. We hope readers of this blog will be able to make use of these arguments themselves, and in doing so convince others of the overwhleming case for liberty - Ed.


The ASI don't tag their blog posts (bad, bad, people), so it can be time consuming finding stuff. So here are the current links and a few comments.

1. "Only the guilty have anything to fear from surveillance or police searches."

I would turn this around and say that only the perfect have nothing to fear - and, since the Fall, only Jesus Christ (or, if you are Catholic, Jesus and Mary) have been free of sin. For example, take a married person having an affair. It is very common and not illegal. Immoral, under some codes (but what if you are a Muslim or a traditionalist Mormon, where polygamy and / or concubines form part of the accepted moral framework). (Or just visiting a brothel - okay, that level of organisation in the sex trade is illegal in the UK but not everywhere - just why is this the only form of centralisation our statist masters are against?)

No, love, I'm just blogging. No, I'm not having an affair. It's just an example. When would I have time? Would you put that cleaver down and we can just talk about this? Please? Err ...

A wee while ago, I was involved with a case where a couple of (drunk and foolish) employees decided that they should get to know each other rather better and the deserted office was a good place to do so. They forgot about the CCTV. The security guard thought it was quite interesting and then tried some income re-distribution with menaces using the tape he had copied.

So, yes, many people do have something to hide (even if it is only the surprise birthday present you bought him / her a couple of weeks ago and have hidden at the back of your underwear drawer.) And most people have things they will quite happily admit to, or be unconcerned that are known by, friends and family, but not by total strangers - and other things they are desperate to hide form the family but are prepared to admin to total or relative strangers (doctors and nurses, for example.)

2. "When the state gives us rights, we have responsibilities to it in return."

The English common law tradition recognizes that people can do whatever the law does not specifically forbid, but in the continental Napoleonic Code tradition, people can only do what the law specifically allows. This leads people falsely to suppose that the state is giving them these rights, when it would be more accurate to say that the state is recognizing those rights. Our responsibility to behave fairly and decently is something we owe to other people, not to government.

I agree entirely with the above but I also disagree with the main thrust of this - I believe we have some, albeit very limited, responsibilities to the state. One is participation in the democratic process (even if it is just going in and writing "none of the above" on your ballot paper) and another is paying your taxes (avoidance is fine - poliscum and bureaucretins write the rules, if you wish to take advantage of their incompetence, rock on). Struggling to think of another, though.

3. "The industrial revolution brought poverty and misery for the masses."

Absolutely, it just bought the poverty and misery of the labouring classes to the attention of the merchant classes who had been, previously, able to completely ignore it as something that happened out in the country. Why did people flock to the appalling conditions in the new cities?

Because there was paying work there. Same argument applies to child labour in the third world - if you close the factory (or stop buying from it which, frankly, is then your intent rather than your action) because it offends your morals, where do you think the kids go? In a nice clean uniform to school 5 days a week and back to a loving and comfortable home in the evening? Nope. Another factory, begging on the streets or worse. Not so much "the law of unintended consequences" but simply failing to make the effort to think things through.

4. "Rich people should not be able to buy better healthcare and education"

The traditional whine of small children and socialists, "It's not fair". Although, admittedly, with the current British education system, the chances of either of those groups getting the apostrophe in the right place is slim.

It also allows the state to divert the money it would have spent on meeting their needs toward those less able to provide for themselves, and to give them access to better services.


The quote is a minimal justification but I hark back to the quote taken from Error 2. We should only allow the state to forbid things that are shown to have harm without corresponding benefit. But then I am not an interfering statist.

5. "Prices of essential goods should be controlled so that the poor can afford them."

See here.

6. "Nuclear power is uniquely dangerous and should be banned."

I used to spend large amounts of my time well within 100 metres of a live fission reactor. I still have one head and four limbs. My children appear to be reasonably healthy.

However, radioactive waste, not just from reactors but from other technical uses (especially within medicine) and from natural sources (including radioactive material separated from things we actually want or need in refining etc), needs appropriate, safe disposal. That doesn't make it "uniquely dangerous". See one of the ASI's other contributors here and here.

And, yes, if we can manage it, fusion is the future.

A damn good and thought provoking series. Long may it continue.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

An Excellent Publication

I have spent the start of my lunch-time reading the Centre for Policy Studies' utterly brilliant "The 2008 Lexicon - A guide to contemporary Newspeak". Available here (don't be discouraged that you appear to have to pay for it - the PDF is free, printed is a fiver). Get it, read it and laugh.

I'll give you two as a taster:

People: the Government. “The People’s Budget”; “The People’s Europe”; “The People’s Government”, “The People’s Honours”, “The People’s Lottery”, “The People’s Millennium”, “The People’s Money”, “The People’s Priorities” etc.

&

Social (eg social investment; social entrepreneur; social capital, social responsibility): “If you put the word ‘social' in front of any serious word, you reduce it almost to meaninglessness." F E Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty, 1973.


Or, of course, as in "social democrat".

Another Screeching Harridan

Not content with having Toynbee, Clinton, Smith, Harman, and Blears inflicted upon us, a large set of teeth has arisen from its media sinecure to spew forth bile:

Blogs are surely the musings of the socially inept, those people you sidle away from at parties after a couple of stabs at conversation. They are the product of the internet that has given a "voice" to millions of people who have nothing to say apart from the fact that their pet has just exited via the cat flap and the baby has soiled another nappy.

Without wishing to dwell on the inappropriateness of Janet Street-Porter criticising anybody, even for example Tracy Emin, for shameless self-promotion and not wishing to compare the blogosphere with a "viewspaper", I do realise that there are endless execrable blogs out there but there is gold among the dross.

She is also confusing the medium and the message. Much crap is written on paper, often by people paid to write it. Some is relevant, a little is good, a miniscule amount will still be being read or re-read in 100 years time. There are excellent blogs out there - you just look for them and come back to them, and ignore the others.

For your information and as I am certain you are interested - it is beneath our cats' dignities to use the cat flap. They insist on having the front door opened for them.


Footnote: A remarkable statement from one of the usually guilty, Paul Flynn MP:
When will politicians realise that not all of life’s irritations can be solved by legislation and prohibition?

In a zone of my own

After two via Clarkson, we have two via Dale.

Firstly, another poll - this one trying to align you with the US electoral candidates. Actually, this is a bad idea - you are not being aligned to the candidates, but to their platforms (and the difference between the two is obvious to those of us suffering under "Bottler Brown") and that they are, fairly obviously (and as required by their Constitution), Yanks. This means that they line up (as main party candidates) squarely on the traditional (il)liberal-leftist / conservative-government-minimalist lines (although US "liberals" do have a somewhat better claim to the name than the Lib-Dims). This clearly means I am not going to be that close. Once again, of course, I am slight embarrassed by where I plot - I consider myself further economically right than that - but then this is an American scale:



So, like Iain, I am closest to Ron Paul but am furthest from Fred Thompson (despite his excellent Iowa video). It would appear that I am roughly equally far from all of the Democrats, except, marginally, the two front runners. Oh well.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Another Clarkson related post:

"I opened my bank statement this morning to find out that someone has set up a direct debit which automatically takes £500 from my account," he said.

"The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again.

"I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake."


No, no, no. Whoever has done this is committing an offence. There is nothing in the DPA which prevents the investigation of alleged offences. Some company's (I assume a telephone company here) DPA policies make it more difficult - they need to determine who you are and why you have a right to the information before they release it outwith their declared disclosure policy but it is not "cannot". Inform the police and they have the powers to obtain the data.

And he was correct in his initial point about the widespread knowledge of your basic account details - every cheque, direct debit or standing order contains the same sort of bank information that was on the HMRC CDs. Those, also contained your address and other details (of which we have yet to be informed?) as well. And I blogged about the ease of setting up direct debits some time ago.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Malice of Some Sort

I followed the link on Theo's post to the "Real Clarkson Manifesto" in the Sun. He makes some sense. But anyway ...

The web page tried an advertising pop-up (irritating but they need to make money) which contained 'Trojan-Downloader.SWF.Gida.a':

http://v0zemili0garan0n.com/statsg.php?u
=1199391035&campaign=z00latrymy


(if you really want to try it, don't. If you really, really want to try it, I've replaced some of the letters.)

And the domain? Reasonably newly registered, through Yesnic in Korea - a company I remember well from my days in the incident response trenches. No registrant details:

Domain Name: VOZEMILIOGARANON.COM
Registrar: YESNIC CO. LTD.
Whois Server: whois.yesnic.com
Referral URL: http://www.yesnic.com
Name Server: NS1.VOZEMILIOGARANON.COM
Name Server: NS2.VOZEMILIOGARANON.COM
Name Server: NS3.VOZEMILIOGARANON.COM
Name Server: NS4.VOZEMILIOGARANON.COM
Status: ok
Updated Date: 05-dec-2007
Creation Date: 23-nov-2007
Expiration Date: 23-nov-2008


This seems to be one of the usual small bits of malware (downloaders) that then go off and fetch tons of shit that really fucks your computer. Well done, Kaspersky.

A high status advertiser for Britain's most popular daily comic? Nil out of 10 to News Group Newspapers Ltd. Hope you've made sure the cheque cashes properly.

Friday, January 04, 2008

He's back

Islamo-cretin of the year and, apparently, the internet's Number 11 "Radical Muslim"2. Like, as we all know, Neil Clark has Britain's best blog.

And what is he back with?

  • It was a good thing for Pakistan that Benazir Bhutto was killed.
  • The situation in Kenya is clearly the fault of the UK and the US.
  • Diana was killed by the masons.
  • The teddy bear demanded 40 lashes.
  • Slavery has never happened in Islamic countries (and was Britain's fault anyway).

Glad to see his absence hasn't sharpened either his intellect or his grasp of reality. I suppose if your ideal is a life of 6th Century peasantry, then neither are of any use. Hopefully we'll see him back in the comments, trying to justify his pathetic drivel.

1. Update: err, no, he isn't reliably. At 11:30 GMT, 4th Jan, he was number 10, after a guy called Mohammed Saleem, some proper news sites, Amazon and a Muslim dating site. He now seems to be back up. Not the most accurate indicator of worldwide significance, methinks. Update 2: oops. Mr Saleem is an apostate.

2. Using exactly the same criteria, can I please point out that not only I am the internet's Number 1 for "Surreptitious Evil" (which will really upset the world-wide conspiracy of the Elders of Zion, the Bilderberg Group, David Icke's lizards and the Illuminati), I am second through to fifth as well, and a full 8 of the top 10. I am just off to change the price of gold, crush the co-operative movement and introduce a 43 second delay to all internet packets carrying IRC traffic.

Interpreting the Law

Many of you will not realise quite how fluffy and vague the whole legal process is, even if we stick to the criminal law. Interpretation occurs at many stages of the construction, prosecution and disposal of any case, hence there is widespread ability to deviate from the strict intent of the framers of the statute (if we even have any idea what that was.)

Let's take a look at the process (I am assuming here, just for the purposes of this traipse through the system, a lack of both error and of deliberate malice):

  • Once something has happened, it may or may not appear high enough up the priority list the police are given by the Government to be investigated. (Actually, it may not even be recorded, or be recorded as something else with a higher or lower, depending on how the ubiquitous 'they' wish to massage the stats.)
  • The investigation, assuming it happens, will try to collect evidence - there may simply not be enough left behind. Witnesses may be mistaken (they very often are), may not come forward (through ignorance, fear or loyalty to a presumed suspect) or may appear unreliable.
  • If there is some evidence (I am not a cop but, by repute, there is some leeway here for less serious alleged crimes) a report may be written, summarising the evidence, for presentation to the prosecuting authorities. They also have their government imposed priorities (like the current concentration on the low rate of rape convictions) and may decide not to proceed as "not in the public interest" or they may decide that there is insufficient for any charge or that a lesser charge is more appropriate (which causes all the aggro in (death by) dangerous driving / careless driving type cases). Appropriate here hopefully meaning more likely to gain a conviction of a presumed guilty party (as opposed to providing 'suitable' vengeance for a victim or their family) but quite possibly meaning "a more politically attractive (or, far worse, better for my career*)charge.
  • Normally, there will be a long wait. Evidence may be lost, or damaged (including contaminated.) Memories often fade, stories become blurred. People sometimes become less certain, sometimes irrationally sure in their convictions (Ed notes: apols for the pun.)
  • Court. Lawyers get to play clever games. The judge may decree no case to answer or direct the jury to convict.
  • Jury. 12 or 15 or however many you are entitled to. They certainly interpret.
  • Sentencing. Judges, certainly in the UK, have less flexibility than they used to but there is everything from unconditional discharge to life without parole (and the death sentence if your mileage varies.)
  • Appeal. And round the process again.

Why all this? Well, the CPS have finally released their guidance on the Computer Misuse Act, 1990, as amended by the Police and Justice Act, 2006. Richard has some things (mostly derogatory) to say about it. Now, apart from the fact that it does not apply in the civilised world (we have the Prosecutor Fiscal up here), hence the references to things southern such as the Fraud Act 2006, there is quite a lot to comment on here.
  • The bit about DPP v Bignell is really quite interesting. If I am allowed to do something on a computer, provided you present me with the right justification / bit of paper / whatever, and you con me into doing it - forgery, "I'll get it signed as soon as the boss is back", or straightforward lying - then neither you nor I have committed a CMA offence. This seems reasonable.
  • Using Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (Unlawful obtaining etc. of personal data) rather than CMA Section 1 (Unauthorised Access) seems a good thing, especially if the current raft of highly public data breaches results in a strengthening of the penalties above the current fine (Section 60, para 2, if you are interested.) Of course, this is restricted to an albeit important subset of illegal access.
  • There is very little about CMA Section 2 offences - this is not surprising as placing of charges under Section 2 seems very rare to me (never mind convictions.)
  • There is a little about the new (or, at least, specific) criminalisation of DDoS, with some interesting vague stuff about intent.
  • Of course, the most interesting is the guidance on the new Section 3A offences, "Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in offence (sic?) under section 1 or 3".
There is some really good stuff here, never mind Richard's points re grammar and language:
  • There is explicit recognition of the legitimate computer security industry, thankfully, and a requirement for prosecutors to "ascertain ... criminal intent".
  • There is more useful discussion of "likely", as in "he supplies or offers to supply any article believing that it is likely to be used to commit, or to assist in the commission of, an offence", than there was with the Home Office's incredible (no, actually, credible but outstandingly incompetent) 50% usage figure.
  • Although there is a clear bias towards commercial as in pay-for use as determining legitimacy, there is also mention of "widely used for legitimate purposes."
Overall, I think this is good guidance which, unfortunately, is not capable of completely fixing bad law. The last bullet is the one I would hang my hat on, hypothetically, if I was being prosecuted under Section 3A(2) - which is the difficult bit.

Expect briefings on the Computer Misuse Act, at least on paper, for pen-testing courses in England and Wales - but, then, those have always been a good idea, especially around the "Who do I need to get permission from" aspects of the law.

Update: Just realised that the first paragraph didn't make sense. Reworded, sorry.

* Thankfully, as British prosecutors are appointed not elected, we don't have the dance to please the baying mob that seems such a feature of American trials.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sense of humour spreads ...

Not, of course.

Mr Parris's offences:

A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists. It’s not just the Lycra, though Heaven knows this atrocity alone should be a capital offence; nor the helmets, though these ludicrous items of headgear are designed to protect the only part of a cyclist that is not usefully employed; nor the self-righteousness, though a small band of sports cyclists on winter’s morning emits more of that than a cathedral at evensong; nor even the brutish disregard for all other road users, though the lynching of a cyclist by a mob of mothers with pushchairs would be a joy to witness.


His apology:

I offended many with my Christmas attack on cyclists. It was meant humorously but so many cyclists have taken it seriously that I plainly misjudged. I am sorry.


The critics:

(Rhyl Cycling) Club president Bill Twigg said:

From a club that lost four cyclists, anything that brings more conflict between cyclists and motorists is a bad thing.

If it wasn't for the first sentence, I could have dismissed the article as bad journalism.


Roy Spilsbury, vice chair of CTC Cymru - the Welsh arm of the Cyclists' Touring Club - said:

Less than two years ago four members of Rhyl Cycling Club, ages ranging over three generations, were killed on a public highway.

Messages of sympathy arrived from the four corners of the world - and the world's press reported the personal tragedies involved with appropriate sensitivity.

That Parris believes that such people should be beheaded beggars belief.


and:

Parris and The Times editor must be held to account. If necessary, through due process of law.


Triathlete Alison Steed, who said:

she knew of fishing line being stretched across roads at head height.*


The BBC said (showing their usual bias):

Mr Parris, who was a Conservative MP from 1979 - 86

My take - I am sure that the Rhyl foursome were fully upstanding members of society but, by and large, both in cities and in the country, cyclists are certain that the law has no meaning for people in lycra. Adults cycling on pavements, running red lights, littering (which is what Mr Parris was complaining about), blatant disregard for the rights of all other road or pavement users and smug and fucking rude with it.

Many cyclists are, in fact, a menace. Personally, I wouldn't countenance attempting random decapitation (and *: for a start, it wouldn't work unless you did it just before the peloton approached, but it might just wake white-van man up!) but a bar through the spokes of many is clearly a proportionate response.

Isn't it sad?

That the most sustained increase in traffic this blog has ever had is not through me writing something profound or even just timely. It is not through getting a referral link from one of the A-list bloggers or from the Iraqi employees campaigners. It isn't even from the usual searches for my intermittent swearwords.

It is from people looking for "Hello Kitty"* fan sites. Welcome to "Hello Kitty Hell".

Update: Yesterday, I appear to have got over 90% of my visits through various Google "Hello" or "Kitty" searches - and 3 from a comment I left on Tim's site. (And, no, low traffic though this blog is, it doesn't mean I got 30 visitors.)

* My 28th December post. And now, of course, this one. Damnation through infinite recursion.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Looking forward to 2008

Well, what about a bit of a wish list for 2008. Real stuff, so no lottery wins or world peace (or, for that matter, merely peace in Iraq and Afghanistan). What do I think?
  • Clearly, Mrs S-E's business taking off would yank quite a bit of stress off me ...
  • A new job - or, at least, decent work (and pay) from the current one.
  • Prosecutions in all (I'll settle for any) of the current political contributions scandals.
  • Boris Johnson wins the election as London Mayor. Ideally, but unlikely, Brian Paddick beats Ken in to 3rd place.
  • The "megamosque" proposal is binned, never to rise again.

And the unlikely stuff:
  • A vote of no confidence in Gordon Brown and a snap election with a Tory win
  • Des Browne is cut in half and preserved by Damien Hirst. One to be displayed in the Madhouse, the other at Dover House.
Again, I will add to this as things occur to me.

Can't Stop Grinning :)

This made my day:

A family home was saved from burning down when a pair of giant knickers were used to put out a fire.

Jenny Marsey's size 18-20 cotton pants were a lifesaver when they were grabbed to cover a frying pan fire at her home in Meryl Gardens, Hartlepool, Teesside.

Looking back to 2007

Well, yet another year went by. What to remember? Good or bad. Here's a few things that stand out for me, anyway (in no particular order, significance or otherwise):

  • A new job to start the year. Got away from hideous ISO27001 policy work to, ahh, hideous Manual of Protective Security (based on BS7799, the predecessor to guess what) policy work.
  • Started blogging seriously - starting TerryWatch certainly counts as my "Public Service" event of the year (shared with RFS).
  • Both trips to that incessantly pronounced "ghastly defeat for the British military" in Basrah. The first for how much time was spent under cover from mortar and rocket attack, the second for how (comparatively) little.
  • We got rid of Blair, Prescott and Reid. Unfortunately, that left us with Brown(e), Smith (J) and Darling so a no-score draw at best.
  • The SNP victories in the Scottish and local elections. However much I disagree with their core policy, the rotten hereditary fiefdoms of Jockanese Labour need to be crushed and, much as I would love the Tories to be able to do it, they can't. So that means SNP victories and, as a special "Brucie-bonus", pissing Terry off.
  • Working with Dan Hardie and others on the campaign for just treatment for the Iraqis employed by the British government.
  • Struggling to get Mrs S-E's website to function under Internet Explorer :(
I will probably add to this as I go through the day.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Beaten to it by a better man ...

Or, at least, an advocate:

Thank the lord...

That this wasn't Prescott!

Shock Factoid

According to the Scotsman, the SNP were crowing that their membership has risen 11% in the last year. On the face of it, this seems a significant vote of approval in their policies.

However, that has risen to a mere 13,944 souls.

To put this into perspective, the greatest shake-up in the British constitutional framework since universal voting rights, and possibly since the 1707 Act of Union itself is being driven by very few people, a mere 0.27% of the population of Scotland (figure from the Office of National Statistics):

  • Under 1600 more than attended Dundee United's recent 2-0 defeat by Celtic.
  • Roughly 10000 fewer than voted for "the most useless man in Westminster", Falkirk's very own, Eric Joyce.
  • Less than 9 times the number of the severely deluded who voted for the "fattest numpty in Paisley", our Hero, Terry Kelly1.
  • Fewer than 1/10 the number of people who work for2 the NHS in Scotland.
  • Slightly more than 1/4 of the number of children born in Scotland in 2005.
  • Well under half the number of people registered members of the Army Rumour Service website.
I just really, really didn't think it was very many.



1. - Who still insists he represents "My ward is Whitesbridge, Fischer, Baronscourt and Ferguslie. ( Ward 3 )". Actually, according to the council, he represents Ward 4, Paisley North West. Let's not let a wee thing like the complete reorganisation of the system of voting for councillors get betweeen us :)

2. Okay, "paid by" may be more relevant than "work for".

Happy New Year 2008

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