Monday, December 28, 2009

Some Good News for the New Year


The "Viva Palestina" convoy, led by British MP George Galloway, has been blocked from getting on a ferry from Aqaba to the Egyptian town of Nuweiba where it planned to continue by road to the Rafah border crossing.

But now the convoy faces a potentially budget-draining journey back through Jordan to the Syrian port of Latakia, followed by several ferries to El Arish.

Actions have consequences. Nobody owes your opinions an airing. I bet I could make a few thousands setting up a Cowellesque vote on which one of you got to starve first.

Just fucking sort it, Gorgeous, and stop bothering people who have to live in the real world by moaning about it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's not his fault but?

Do they call him "Jones the Safety"?

The incidents came within hours of a campaign launched to improve safety.

Elfyn Jones from Llanberis mountain rescue team said both rescue incidents were "completely and utterly unnecessary".

What is "Illegal"?

Disclaimer - this is the author's opinion on what the law is, not what the law should be ...

Amnesty International on the Uganda "Bahati" or "Round 'em, put 'em in a field ..." Bill:

"Certain provisions in this bill are illegal; they are also immoral," said Kate Sheill, Amnesty International's expert on sexual rights. "They criminalize a sector of society for being who they are, when what the government should be doing instead is protecting them from discrimination and abuse."

Okay - there is only one word in that that I disagree - obvious from the title - and that is "illegal". I happen to think that both the Bahati Bill and the current position in Ugandan law (under Section 140 of the Uganda Penal Code) is certainly arguably dodgy law under Articles 21(1) and 32(1) of the Ugandan Constitution, although readers will note that Article 21(2) of the Constitution expressly does not mention "sexual preference" and, in fact, Article 31(2a) explicitly discriminates against homosexuals - although no more than the UK or the USA (the latter federal) do - in denying 'marriage' - (Ed notes: he is trying hard not to do a Princess Bride / Peter Cook thing here ...) But I don't think that is Amnesty's point - I think they are talking about "International Human Rights Law", here:

The final section of the bill provides for Uganda to nullify any of its international or regional commitments that it deems "contradictory to the spirit and provisions enshrined in this Act." As both the African Commission and the UN Human Rights Committee have held, a state cannot, through its domestic law, negate its international human rights obligations.

But a state can withdraw from or otherwise abrogate those treaties it has freely entered into and anyway, a reasonably careful search of the UN doesn't actually show any treaty or covenant explicitly requiring equal treatment on the basis of sexual preference. Nope, not explicitly. You do have the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - to which Uganda is a State Party without reservation (since 21 June 1995). Now, Article 2(1) states (my bold):

1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Which you could read, for the States Parties, that they agree not to discriminate against people with the 'other status' of fancying or bonking people of their own sex. But this is not settled law - never mind that Article 23 of the Covenant itself seems to imply marriage being specifically between man & woman - the mere existence of the "UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" and the opposing Arab League sponsored declaration (with nearly as many signatories - 57 compared to 67) shows that, despite the completely non-binding Yogyakarta Principles.

There are aspects of the Bahati Bill, regardless of your opinion on the core issue of homosexual rights, that are utterly distasteful (and probably even more easily corallable as illegal under Uganda's Constitution or international obligations):

  • The death penalty. Although Uganda are not a signatory to the 2nd Optional Protocol to the Convenant, the Article 6(2) of the Convenant restricts the death penalty accordingly: "sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes". As s3(1)(b), just for example, of the Bill would impose the death penalty for consensual, protected homosexual acts for adults with HIV, I am fairly sure it would fall foul of this (whereas s3(1)(a) - homosexual paedophile acts might not?)
  • The restrictions on free speech.
  • The requirement (under penalty of prison) to inform on your friends, colleagues or mere acquaintances.
  • The explicit extension of the Stasi clause to ministers of religion with, at least as far as the Christian ones are concerned, the consequent violation of the sacrament of confession (thus possibly breaching the Article 18 rights on freedom of religion, although the qualification in 18(3) for morals is noted. And this is, fundamentally, an argument about opposing morals.)
So, I don't think the Bahati Bill would be "illegal". It might require amendment of the Ugandan constitution, it might (although I don't think it does) require Uganda to withdraw from some treaties currently binding it. Doesn't make it right, I know, but just saying ...

Says it all, really

The Equalities Bill:

It passed through the House of Commons without debate and is currently being read in the House of Lords.

What the fuck do our politicians think they are doing (a non-party political insult, here)? Is the draftsmanship perfect? Is there nothing in this Bill that anyone thinks shouldn't be law or could be better law (having different rules for the public and private sectors in something as basic as this doesn't necessarily strike me as the most reasonable thing) or even something that the bill has missed out (although as a libertarian, I'm not keen on extra rules, although having one Act to refer to rather than 4 or 5 and a whole bunch of Statutory Instruments isn't bad ...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Colonies at Words

I notice that the Most Reverend Katherine Schori, Presiding Bishop of the (real) Episcopal Church in the general vicinity of Yankdom, has said something very important about the Ugandan "Bahati" bill (the obnoxious one about informing on then executing queer people - although I may have something to say about Amnesty's mouth-fart tomorrow.)

The Episcopal Church represents multiple and varied cultural contexts (the United States and 15 other nations), and as a Church we affirm that the public scapegoating of any category of persons, in any context, is anathema.

Now that, 'anathema' is a very good word. Consult your favourite dictionary for the modern usage but it fits the original meaning very well too - something being offered up to the Old Testament God of Ugandan 'Christians' and Muslims (whether we like it or not, the Muslims are actually following the dictats of their faith.)

Multicultural Hell.

Here. Nothing to say.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Someone's Missing the Point

And, to be honest, it may be me. But as the article is from the "Sunday Grauniad", it probably isn't.

The revelation has provoked outrage among human rights groups who warn that it could affect the job prospects of the innocent. They fear that whenever an employer carries out an "enhanced criminal records" check on a potential employee, the system would flag up the fact that the person had been arrested.

I have no idea whether permanently retaining records of arrests is new and we have no real insight in to the effect of spurious details appearing on Enhanced Disclosure reports (especially the super-sekret "don't tell the applicant" ones straight from the Nu-Labour "Kafka or Orwell - Let's do BOTH!" playbook.) And, we are unlikely ever too, given that the system has already been replaced by the "Independent Safeguarding Authority", which, itself, is probably on rather a short shelf life. But there is an important step missing ... Let's look!

(Liberty) "Government has fed a culture where arrest might as well be conviction, and suspicion equals guilt. In this climate, a permanent record of suspicion can seriously damage the life chances of any young person who has ever had their collar felt by the police."


A spokesman for the Criminal Records Bureau said: "An arrest with no further action may show up as part of an enhanced check, but the decision is made by the chief officer in each police force if they believe that the information ought to be included and that it is relevant to the application.

Hmm. Now, I am a small employer and as such have certain responsibilities when looking at applicants - and I have access to government vetting and also, in some cases, to Enhanced Disclosure rules. Now, except in cases where there is a specific ban on allowing employment (s3, s9 and Schedule 4 of the "Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006" for example) - and that has nothing to do with records of arrest showing on an Enhanced Disclosure - you must have been placed on the relevant barred list (s2), it is up to the employer to consider the nature of the disclosure and its relevance to the employment activity.

In fact, as an Enhanced Disclosure will show up details of spent offences, it is an offence for the employer not to take the specific relevance of the offence into account when making a decision regarding employment. You would assume that if it is an offence to take in to account a conviction for an irrelevant crime, surely there must be (I know, I'm talking about the law here, not common sense) an equivalent offence - or at least civilly actionable tort - for taking in to account an arrest, suspicion or disclosed intelligence regarding a similarly irrelevant crime (assuming for the sake of argument that any crime had actually been committed - whether by the job applicant or anybody else.)

Or am I missing something?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rt Rev Venner - Right or Wrong?

The Right Reverend Stephen Venner, Bishop to the Armed Forces (and apparently also Bishop of for the Falkland Islands), has been widely condemned for apparently stating, amongst other things:

The Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other.

Clearly, in the storm of protest (including from an MP from the anti-war, anti-army, anti-pretty much everything ilLib Dims accusing him of "giving comfort and succour to the enemy") it was an impolitic thing to do - and, despite his apology (which has itself been attacked), he is going to be pretty much on the defensive for some time and has probably done his reputation permanent (hopefully not terminal) harm.

But was what he said wrong? I don't think that it is clear cut. Yes, some of the Taliban are fighting for money, some are fighting to keep evil crusaders out of the Dar-al-Islam, some just are fighting to keep outsiders* away from their mountain / village / compound / poppy field, etc. However, regardless of the motivation, it is axiomatic that you should not underestimate your enemy and, since before the "Art of War" went beta, that a good commander will try to understand the enemy - capabilities and motivations, strengths and weaknesses. The religious faith or even fervour of the Taliban is an important consideration in understanding them.

And, as I was composing this, Bruce Schneier's monthly Cryptogram brought my attention to this article. It is also axiomatic, particularly amongst retired sergeants, that sergeants run the army. I would disagree slightly - it is the core component of experienced soldiers, many of whom are, indeed, sergeants but some will also be your experienced captains and majors - anyway, different discussion. One of the implications of the report is that the equivalent of the sergeants within the terrorist cells are chosen by the old Soviet system (selected on joining for some combination of brains, political or religious orthodoxy, hereditary or simple nepotism etc) rather than the Western (since the time of the Roman legions) version stressing actual (combat or otherwise) experience. Bodes ill for your ability to learn from your mistakes (even if your successes don't blow you up!)

* Not just Brits, Yanks or even Russians but also those Kabul townies who've never chased a goat around a mountain.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This says something about Blair

Apropos of a BBC News sidebar article - Seb Coe does not plan to return to politics, we learn this:

And the former athlete provided an insight into the moments shortly before London was named as Olympic host at the 2005 International Olympic Committee session in Singapore.

Lord Coe revealed he was called on his mobile phone by the then prime minister Tony Blair, who appeared unable to understand the result would be kept secret until the announcement.

"He couldn't actually understand, somehow, that we didn't actually know, that there were no exit polls here. We didn't know the result," recalled the peer.

I think he is being too polite - it had nothing to do with exit polls, Blair simply could not understand that the news hadn't been given (not, not 'leaked') to the important people (i.e. him) well before the proles were allowed to know.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I'm not sure this is right.

Mr Roger Day has been arrested, by Warwickshire Police, for an offence under s197 of the Army Act 1955, being that on the 8th November this year, he did march down Bedworth High Street wearing a bunch of medals to which he clearly was not entitled.

Some people are quite surprised by this. Some people think it is, or should be*, a reprehensible crime. I would quite like to see the stocks brought back and would be willing to travel to Bedworth and supply the local urchins with rotten fruit and out-of-date eggs.

Anyway, this deluded old fool (assuming he isn't a fraudster - in which case England has a perfectly good Fraud Act 2006 to wield) has done something objectionable (but no more so than playing rap music in public, for example), and has been arrested.

I bring to your notice Schedule 17 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 (Repeals and Revocations):
Army Act 1955 (3 & 4 Eliz. 2 c. 18) The whole Act.

The MOD announced, in a Defence Internal Brief that "The Armed Forces Act 2006 will come into force on 31 October 2009" - I assume there is another enabling Statutory Instrument (there were 4 already by the end of March 09). There is no equivalent of the s197 offence in the new act.

? Or maybe Warwickshire are operating in a little time warp?

* Disclaimer - I know Adam - for a very weak (aka internet) definition of "know".

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Trust Me, I'm From the Government

The government, today, released its whitewash (or, as they have it "investigation") report into the Joseph Rowntree Trust's report into the Database State.

Highlights for you:

  • "The methodology underpinning its judgements is opaque and inadequately substantiated" - but somewhat less so than the methodology by which you bunch of bastards committed us to war in Iraq, for example ... Or the Civil Contingencies Act. Or, to take a more recent example, the Digital Economy Bill.
  • We passed a law so it's legal (despite the requirements of HRA98 and the DPA and, since Lisbon, of the absolutely overriding nature of EU law.) - "This has always been the purpose of the Register since the Identity Cards Bill was brought to Parliament in 2005. The Register will hold, as specified under the Identity Cards Act 2006 ..."
  • Passwords - the ultimate in security: "a highly restricted password-protected electronic system, with both server and network access restrictions"
I don't generally agree with the JRRT on poverty, I do generally agree with them on prison reform, and the "Database State" report has an heavy and honest pedigree for its authors and its production. Choose who you believe - a New Labour place-man or this lot:
About the Authors

Ross Anderson chairs the Foundation for Information Policy Research. He is Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University, a Fellow of the IET and the IMA, and a pioneer of the economics of information security.

Ian Brown is a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, with a PhD in information security. He is a member of the Advisory Council and a former Director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

Terri Dowty is Director of Action on Rights for Children. She has many years’ experience in education and children’s human rights. She sits on the Advisory Council of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

William Heath chairs Open Rights Group and two new start-ups: Mydex CIC and Ctrl-Shift Ltd. He founded the public-sector IT research business Kable, now part of Guardian News & Media. He also sits on the Advisory Council of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

Philip Inglesant is a postdoctoral researcher at University College London specialising in the human aspects of information systems and e-government.

Angela Sasse is Professor of Human Centred Systems at University College London, specialising in how to design and implement novel technologies that are fit for purpose and that benefit individuals and society. She is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

Disclaimer - I am a member of FIPR, although not of the eminence to be on their Advisory Council.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It Isn't Even Irony

A New Labour apparatchik quoting 1984 to justify the surveillance state:

In 1984, ‘Newspeak’ is a vital weapon for the totalitarian state precisely because it removes nuance. ‘The whole aim of Newspeak’, Syme tells Winston, ‘is to narrow the range of thought’.

Government must take its share of the blame for this failure of discourse. Too often, we have been overly defensive and dismissive of criticism. Government believes it is acting benignly and legally and has not adequately recognised the fears of those who believe this is not the case.

Friday, December 04, 2009

21st Century Love

Apparently, according to young Master S-E, is Mrs S-E and I watering the plants in each others virtual pets' gardens.

He is, just, pre-puberty. He'll learn!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Meep is Murder

Sorry. Had to do it. Mr Murray (Thomas of that ilk) will now put me in detention, I'm sure.

You'd have thought that Salem would have been doing something to cast down its reputation for intolerance and basic stupidity. But no. Land of the Free and all that.

A Thought During Yesterday's Sermon

Which I was too busy to write up yesterday afternoon or evening ...

Which is more morally or socially important? The rule of law or true justice in each and every case.

Laws are going to be unjust in edge cases - hence very limited "strict liability" and, until recently, it only applying to minor offences. And the right to trial by a jury of your peers, also now diminished. However the lack of law, or the lack of any attempt to enforce a body of laws, is likely to lead to manifest injustice in many more cases.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I caught myself typing my Google search into the browser URL box. The worrying thing is that Virgin's DNS thief would catch the error* and return a relevant Yahoo search box.

* - Yes, and I am anal enough to have just tested it ...

Why "Utley"? Anybody?

My Contempt Overflows

el Beeb pointed me to this article, and I thought, "Who?" Never heard of the buggers. So I went and had a wee look at their website. Oh dear. Oh dearie, dearie, dear.

Not since TerryWatch have we found an individual more worthy of our contempt. Not Broon, or Broone, or even not-el-Presidente Tony - ladies and gentlemen - may I give you the "Scumbag of the Year", Mr Andrew J (Jackass?) Crossley. A man under investigation by the Solicitors (sic) Regulation Authority and reported to the Law Society. Probably shortly to appear in Private Eye ('cause it'll be cold day in Dis before the two previous organisations finger one of their own.)

Anyway, evidence? I give you this.

Introduce fixed fines of £750.00 minimum
Introduce statutory damages of £750.00 as a minimum for each act of copyright infringement (such provision exists presently in the United States);

My, this has worked so well in the USA, hasn't it? Statutory damages completely disproportionate to the "offence" - i.e. the "civil tort". Cost of a download (so the lost revenue per 'share', assuming that there is anybody apart from the solicitor's investigator who has actually downloaded the file) call it £0.50 to £10.

ISPs to provide names of internet account holders
Make all Internet Service Providers produce, on request of a copyright owner or licensee, the identities of the account holders of the internet connection used for illegal file sharing of their copyrighted material. The cost of producing such information would be met by the copyright owner requesting it;

I see the problem - "the identities of the account holders of the internet connection used for illegal file sharing of their copyrighted material." There's an 'alleged' missing from that tripe. Or, you could say, 'accused'. Or, as we have seen, an accurate version would be 'completely innocent of the charges of".

Strict liability for internet account holders
Make the account holder of the internet connection strictly liable for infringements where their connection was used for illegal file sharing

Another fucking great idea from the pontificator of dumb. The victims of a putative offence (malware) become strictly liable for the actions of the criminal? Anyway, does "strict liability" exist as a concept within English civil, as opposed to criminal which even if 'guilty' does not involve the people he is after.

Simplify the court process
Streamline, simplify and speed up the court process of a copyright owner applying for the identities of the account holders from ISPs (this is presently a complex and time-consuming procedure)

Can't actually argue with this. Of course, I would suggest that the process is simplified by having the judge issuing the warrant examine the evidence provided by the accusers well, for evidence, as opposed to mere supposition.

Standardise letters of claim and court documents
Secure approval and consensus for standard-form letters, documents and claims making the process of notification and prosecution of an identified infringement clear and easy to understand, with the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven.

Yes. Okay. Now for our nursery school class in the use of word-processor templates ... And, I would note this threatening bollocks - his business model is all about avoiding getting to "guilt is proven" - he wants people to be forced by the cost model into falsely admitting guilt.

I would note that the fact that this cretin is chasing people who are alleged to have copied porn bears not upon my disregard in any way.

Ed notes: My client wishes it to be known that he considers the use of peer-to-peer file sharing an utter obscenity and anybody with such software loaded should be condemned to a life term using an Amstrad CPC 464. After all, that's what alt.binary was invented for!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Discussing the Iraq Inquiry

"Well, if you start selecting Sir Humphrey for political reliability rather than sheer devious mendacity ..."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Fail. A Spectacular Fail.

H/t to "The Register".

A couple of bunches of Swiss interfering busybodies seem to think that the Geneva Conventions and Protocols and the Hague Conventions (basically, war crimes stuff) should be enforced in computer games.


Now, aside from the concern that they should be bothering with enforcing international humanitarian law on people who will bomb crowded market places, decapitate people on video, rape women as "ethnic cleansing" etc etc - and keep a careful watch on the armies of the Western democracies to ensure that we do keep to our professed high standards (as we know, the answer to this is 'not always'), what part of 'game' do they fail to understand.

Next they will be expecting people to run out of bullets at non-dramatic moments in movies, people to fall when hit, and the general bansturbation of all forms of 'artistic licence'.

Sorry, that is just so pathetic that I have had to stop work to rant!

Oh, and the grown-up equivalents of these games that we use for training? Yes, they go give you minus points (and / or a severe bollocking) for shooting civilians.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Climate Change & 'Hackers' - Wow!

Oh, I've been pretty much without internet all weekend and dependant on the newspapers for information. And I got up rather late today, so didn't read the blogs until after work. And there was nothing obvious on the BBC*,.

That'll teach me.

Just go here or here (which you'll have already read anyway, yes?) and ignore me.

This is probably the biggest story both in real-world international impact (unless Obama has nuked Russia and I simply haven't noticed being too busy working) and, assuming the hacking innuendo is true, information security terms ever.

* Yes, okay, there is a "UK climate unit's e-mails hacked " story - not a "hacked emails may show all global warming is complete bollocks" story. And the top environmental stories in presentation are from the classic BBC mould:

  • East Antarctica 'is losing ice'
  • State leaders boost to Copenhagen
  • Carbon credit: Are children's futures going up in smoke?
  • Earth Watch: Korean model for Obama as Copenhagen looms
As well as the complete non-story "Giraffes use 'supercharged' heart". Err, "duh"!

iPhone Worm

Live on T-Mobile apparently and only affects (because it isn't an Apple approved application) "jailbroken" iPhones.

Register report here, as found by the good guys at XS4ALL, who did so much great work on the Toxbot botnet.

Now, it would take somebody even more evilly cynical than me to suggest that a meticulous and comprehensive code analysis will show up a Cupertino, CA copyright attribution. :D

Update: BBC News report now up, crediting F-Secure.
A second worm to hit the iPhone has been unearthed by security company F-Secure.

F-Secure, on the other hand, merely claim to have received a sample of the malware and, themselves, credit the nice Mr McIntyre at, guess who, XS4ALL. Well done, BBC, especially for your totally unsubstantiated claim that changing your iPhone wallpaper to a photo of Rick Astley is "harmless". Have you never heard of PTSD?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Correlation or Causation?

I have just noticed, apropos of (actually not, deleting it through what is either cowardice or good sense) posting on a regularly frequented message board, that I seem to get more right-wing the further down that glass of whisky I get.

Is it because right wingery appeals to simpler minds? (In which case, please explain Ritchie Murphy) In vino (okay, in ordi) veritas?

I'd note that the libertarian / authoritarian axis appears to be alcohol insoluble.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I know this is a scam

Apart from just engaging me in dialogue and social engineering from there, does anybody know what the hook in this is (okay, it claims to be female so it might be sex but ...)

from Elena
to inoa** (Ed notes: Not me, honest)
date 15 November 2009 19:03
subject Hi


My name is Elena, I'm 32 year and I writing you from Russian province. I working in local bibliotheca and I permitted to use computer afterwards work if possible. Our position is very difficult and I decided to write you this desperate letter.

I have daughter Anghelina, she has 8 years old, her father abandoned us and we inhabit with my mother.

Due to serious crisis recently my mother lost job (market where she was used to work has been closed) and our situation became horrible.

Gas and electricity cost a lot in our city and we unable use it to heat our home anymore.

Wintertime is coming and weather becom colder every day. We are disturbed and we can not suppose what to do.

Only possible way for us to heating our home is to use transferable wood-firing oven which give heat with burning wood (fire). We have plenty wood in our administrative district and this oven will heatin our home complete all winter with minimal price.

The trouble is that we cannot purchase this oven in our market because it cost 8120 rouble (equivalent of 191 Euro) and we cannot collect too much money.

May be you have any old transportable wood-firing oven and if you finished to use it, we will be very glad if you could gift it for us and organize transportation of this oven to our address (170 km from Moscow). That oven may be different and weight 100-150kg.

I hope to hear from you back.

Elena, my daughter and my mother.
Now, if I had a wood burning stove (she wants a stove not an oven), it would be in my library. And if anybody knows where you can get a decent wood-burning stove for €191, would they please tell Mrs S-E 'cause we're after one? For the library. Don't send us one, especially to Moscow. An internet purchasing link would be fine.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Well done, Amelia

One of the latest, and the youngest, MEPs. Amelia Andersdotter, from the Swedish Pirate Party.

I rather have had no Lisbon ratification kept you out, though. Not personal.

The Tories and Europe

One of my favourite bloggers nearly gets the point:

Under the terms of the 1972 Act it has always been clear that it was the duty of a United Kingdom court, when delivering final judgment, to override any rule of national law found to be in conflict with any directly enforceable rule of Community law. [...]
- Lord Bridge of Harwich, R v Secretary of State for Transport ex parte Factortame Ltd [1991] 1 AC 603, 658


By way of postscript, I remember asking my European Law professor whether there was any way of overturning the decision, or otherwise reasserting the sovereignty of Westminster. "Oh, yes", he replied breezily. "All you have to do is repeal the 1972 European Communities Act".

Whereas what the Cameroids are proposing is, according to Mr Dale (who ought to be reasonably up to speed on these things:

If we win the next election, we will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum.

s2(1) and s2(2) are the guilty barstewards. And, yes, these would have to be amended, or the Act itself could be repealed. Both would do the trick - the latter doing rather more than putting the obstacle of referenda in place of further transfers of power. But there is nothing stopping the next parliament amending the 1972 law?

The blogosphere raving about there being no further treaties (Lisbon being self-amending) is correct but irrelevant - Cameroonian is not saying "prohibit, by law, any further EU treaties without a referendum", is he? Read it. Okay, then remember he is a politician and read it very carefully and look for the loopholes, I'll grant you. "The transfer of power to the EU" - whether this comes via a new treaty, an amendment to Lisbon, or an EU Directive - any transfer of power. We are going to be sick and fed up of referenda before long (even if they lump them into biannual batches).

Oh, and M. Lellouche? UK influence in Europe will last as long as we are net contributors to the EU budget. Threaten the money sump each French farmer is personally granted? Well, we'd need to find a politician with a spine and as Dan Hannan has just resigned from his front bench position, we're going to have a problem with that (found one, but he'll never be PM either) but it would get us direct attention in the corridors (same word in French as in English) of power.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Transexual Jesus

From my not-particularly-lofty height?

If this helps one LGBTGB-whatever person with their religious turmoil, then great. I mean, we habitually present Jesus as being white ...

Jesus drank water from the Samaritan woman at the well, ate with tax-collectors, was associated (if not actually married) to a known prostitute. Ritual impurity to the Jews - just as much as eating prawn cocktail. Cast the first stone, as he may well have said himself.

I would remind people that the Zion Baptist Church are, at least, consistent in their bigotry. If not particularly Christian.

Edited to add - Jesus was an outcast. Despised, tormented and eventually martyred. Who would he be likely to side with? The comfortable in their ignorance, the modern Pharisees, even, or the marginalised and oppressed. I still wouldn't want to go and see the play. Nothing to do with the subject matter but "written and performed by (the) playwright" is rarely an attraction.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Idiots Today

Tim has already had a go at the more egregious bits of this but I want to stick my poniard in (I would have said 'stiletto' but despite today's diversity-friendly posting I still can't walk in them):

Remember, the biggest reason for our current pension crisis is that the future rewards of pensioners have been spent by the City today.

No, no, no. The biggest reason for our current pension crisis is s19 of the Finance (No.2) Act 1997. Ritchie clearly doesn't realise anything about deltas and compound interest (with pension savings of, say 40 years, you have time for significant compounding). The pension funds were in crisis before the big stock market falls. But we have time for compound ignorance:
November 2nd, 2009 at 13:50 | #8

Amazing isn’t it carol that a small tax change can apparently have brought down the whole system

And utterly wrong, of course

The reality is that the pensions of the wealthy still get far, far too much tax subsidy


Apart from failing to realise that "spent by the City today" is not the same as "far, far too much tax subsidy", hasn't he realised that it isn't actually the pensions of the wealthy that are important (there aren't enough of them - and most of their savings is likely to be tied up in mostly-CGT-free occupational shareholdings), it applies to everybody who has a personal pension (and, anyway, it's not been true since the Finance Act 2004 - unless you are in the public sector - and pretty much everybody with a defined benefits pension is, your we-don't-steal-from-this-bit-yet pension fund is limited - £3600 per year maximum tax relief, a contributions limit and a fund total limit - the latter aimed to provide a maximum pension of £75,000 per year - nice money but not 'wealthy' - tax beyond that is at 25 to 55% on the lump and then you have income tax on the disbursement).

A Dubious Link

A correspondent posted about the Ugandan "Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009" (text is not currently available at the official site) and I think, initial revulsion aside, it is worth having a look at, if only to convince ourselves that government by Gordon Brown, Alan Johnson and Lord Mandelson is not the worst of all possible worlds.

Now, after we've all (the libertarians at least, and, of any other readers, those with a world view in the latter half of the 20th Century even if still a bit progress-disadvantaged) gone "ugh", let's consider that homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda (s145 of their Penal Code Act) and work on from that point.

Without yet expressing views on the wrongness or utter wrongness of state interference in the private lives of consenting adults, let's be snarky first.
  • Despite the heavy religious sponsorship, this is a clergy-unfriendly bill. Not only is the friendly man or woman in the dog collar considered to be of sufficient power over you for them to fall in to s3(1)(d) "Aggravated Homosexuality" - and therefore going to get offed rather than mere rotting in prison for the rest of their days but under s14, they can get 3 years banged up for not snitching on you to the Poof-Finder General. Sacrament of Confession, anybody?
  • This is not a well written bill - consider the text of s9 - there seems to be missing a (c), as well as the punishment schedule.
  • I like s13(1)(b): "funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities" - like interior decoration or fashion design?
  • s13(2) shows that Ugandan politicians are just as bad as British ones for "little people's law"!
  • s15 really worries me - the only offence here that is reserved for the High Court is one with the mandatory death penalty - even life imprisonment can be tried by Magistrates? Yuck.
  • Any government requiring a "Minister of Ethics and Integrity" is clearly headed down the (Nothing to do with the)People's (Un)Democratic etc, etc
Okay, so that's the pedantry out of the way. What about the basic points?

  • The hideous illiberality of condemning not just consensual sexual acts between adults but even the belief that such should not be illegal is mind-numbing. It reads like a nu-Labour Criminal Justice Bill.
  • The fig leaf offered by the supporters that this bill is necessary to protect juvenile men from gay predators is just that. Implementing s3(1)(a) with an amendment to the law on rape to allow that crime to encompass acts on males, either legally incapable of consent or unconsenting, would be entirely reasonable (accepting that age of consent is, to a large extent, culturally bound and therefore the West needs to be careful demanding that our, piss-poor, example should be followed.)
  • The Ugandan Constitution does have "objectives" covering human rights, and Article 21(2) would probably apply (is homosexuality a 'belief' - however the Bill also bans non-homosexuals from promoting homosexual rights which certainly is, hence the Bill is unconstitutional under Article 2(2).)
  • I would just state my generic opposition to the death penalty (and judicial maiming etc), regardless of the offence, as I don't trust anybody's courts to get it right all of the time and even if you win your appeal, you don't have much come-back!
We do need to remember that the modern world isn't, really. That bigotry and its (probably illegal under this Bill) bed-fellow, religious fundamentalism - yes, with limited exceptions such as the death penalty, this Bill is supported by so-called Christians from the Church of Uganda (aka Anglican Communion), Orthodox, Pentecostal, & Seventh Day Adventist Churches, as well as the usual "why aren't we surprised" homophobic suspects from the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council - are endemic in large areas of the world.

Is "Scientific" Always Better Than "Political"?

Now, as a (non-fundamentalist) Libertarian, I believe that, in general, recreational drugs should be commercially available, with the same sorts of quality control imposed on them as on the quite-dangerous but no real fun ibuprofen and paracetamol that fills my medicine cabinet. And with, possibly, a strengthening of our existing laws on use of dangerous equipment, particularly motor vehicles, while (ab)using aforesaid. And, thus, removing much of the harm to society (largely through criminal supply and crime committed to fund the habit).

So, I should believe that Prof David Nutt was right and Alan Johnson was wrong (both in the reclassification of cannabis, although that took place under his unlamented predecessor, and in the sacking of Nutt)? Well, much as Prof Nutt's science is probably correct and a Nu-Labour Minister (any) is probably hideously and authoritarianly statist in their utter wrongness, no, not necessarily.

Cannabis is, and remains, an illegal drug. The classification of the drug within that system is driven partly by scientific concerns (seriousness of the impact of the drug and of its harm) but also by political concerns (harm to society, policing and sentencing policy). The latter clearly involves electoral political issues - it is perfectly reasonable to have one party slavishly following the drugs = evil line (inconsistencies with alcohol and tobacco policy slowly being eradicated thanks, or not, to the BMA and govt-funded 'pressure groups'), one taking a libertarian line (about the only liberal thing about the Liberal Democrats), and one completely at sea between its traditional roots and the 1960s/70s dope smoking past of its current front-benchers. And it isn't unreasonable on the "experts advise, ministers decide" principle to require that advice to ministers is private.


The current government are both eager to publish and rely on any 'scientific' advice, however flawed (see informed commentary on the Poppy Project's 'Big Brothel' report here and here) whenever it matches their 'political' objectives but they also published the actual Advisory Committee report! That they, politically, disagreed with. So what we have here is a politician being surprised that a scientist has stood by their researched and published opinion, rather than changed their mind to the politician's whim. So yes, Nutt right, Johnson wrong. Pandering to the popular prejudice. But because of hypocrisy and "policy based evidence making"* - not some mystical right for science to over-ride politics, so it need not always be that way.

Edited to clarify - so Johnson isn't wrong to weigh the scientific advice and discard it in favour of political concerns - he is wrong for sacking an independent advisor for continuing to stick by a published-by-the-government report. Nutt isn't (necessarily - I certainly don't have the knowledge or the access to data to dispute the committee's findings) right about cannabis or ecstasy, he is right for stating the prevailing view of the committee in the report and for sticking by it when the politicians decided other considerations were more important.

* - This is an older term than you might think, given its rapid re-adoption for this subject. However it was invented to describe nu-Labour.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Gathering Storm

Delivered Tuesday afternoon, courtesy of Amazon, and read Tuesday evening (Mrs S-E being out). Boy, is it long. 750 pages of actual story. I suspect Jordan would have chopped out some of the less significant narrative but I can understand Sanderson felt he shouldn't and couldn't. There isn't much, if any, dross in there. And I can see now why we are going to have to put up with 3 volumes instead of one to finish it.

So, without plot spoilers, where are we now? Well, we don't hear anything about Andor (either the Lion Throne or the Black Tower). We don't actually get that much further with any of the plot lines, except one - the split White Tower. None of the principles gets an overt bonk, although Min is still with Rand and Siuan and Bryne do end up grinning. We do get a partial denouement regarding the Black Ajah and a couple of significant surprises (at least to me, and I have re-read all of the books this year).

It is, largely, a book about Egwene, with a strong second line about the Seanchen (although there is nothing here that has not been foretold, shadowed or actually done - Tuon was Empress in all but name at the end of Knife of Dreams and, not startlingly, peace and harmony does not magically break out in the West of the world - remember that the Prophecies of the Dragon are different in Seanchan) and enough about the other characters (nothing about Lan, though) there to keep you interested. Travelling does seem to make things much more disjointed.

Markedly, this is very similar to the easy-to-disregard middle volume of many good trilogies - they had too much plot for 2 books but not enough action for a proper threesome. Still, I have certainly read far, far worse and anybody who has got this far, having hacked their way through 11 previous volumes and the prequel is unlikely to stop now. And I am looking forward to Audible having it available.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Black allowed by the BNP!

Humour, that is. Black shirts being de rigueur (in private at least) and black people still being banned (until next month's AGM).

Would it be black humour if I was to suggest the Kenny Everett solution to the BNP? That's the "round 'em up, put 'em in a field and bomb the bastards!" one, for those wondering?

Monday, October 12, 2009

An "Opinion" Piece is not a "Stupidity Licence"

Lesley Riddoch, in today's Scotsman (partial article & comments here) maintains:

Scotland is moving naturally toward the same general policy of neutrality observed by all modern Scandinavian nations.

So she clearly hasn't heard of the NATO membership of Norway and Denmark - and Iceland, I forgot Iceland - (all considered both considered Scandinavian and members of the Nordic Council - the point of her article) or the recent death of a Danish soldier in Afghanistan. There was a Danish battalion as part of the British-led Division in Basrah for a number of years, as well.

Just to make a political point ... Words fail me.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Unseen Academicals

I laughed until I wheezed until I got embarrassing.

The second verse of the Ankh-Morpork national anthem.


The rest of the book is quite good too. Although it starts a bit slowly compared to others of his oeuvre.

Update: Now on Youtube!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gary's $700,000 Damages Bill

Once again, we have somebody over here desperately trying to beat sense in to the amorphous "over there":

The US inflated the $700,000 bill for damages it slapped on UFO hacker Gary McKinnon by stuffing it with costs incurred for patching the gaping holes the hacker had exposed in its computer security, according to a document filed with the Supreme Court.

The US had not taken reasonable steps to protect its security and now expects McKinnon to pick up the bill, said an expert witness statement made in McKinnon's ongoing appeal against a US extradition order.

Peter Sommer, professor of security at the London School of Economics, said damage assessments of computer security breaches should consider "whether the victims have taken reasonable steps to limit the damage".

Now, I've not seen the details of the US damages bill but I have seen lots of guesstimates of clean-up costs after security breaches - $700k doesn't seem too bad in comparison with the hideous over-estimates for virus damages - if you think about it in purely work-terms, it is a less than 3 man years for a medium-grade consultant. Add in opportunity costs for your normal IT geekery and you could easily get to a large figure. Remember that it is not just the 97 computers that he got in to but you also have to check the others to see whether or not he had been at or into those.

However, we then have our colonial colleagues disagreeing:

But security experts in the US said McKinnon should be liable for the full $700,000 of security checks performed in his wake.

Professor Eugene Spafford, founder of the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security at Indiana's Purdue University, said the victim of a cybercrime should not take the blame. If someone broke a door to rob a store, he said, it was usual to charge them the cost of the door.

Anthony Reyes, a former cybercrime detective who helped develop the US Cyber Counter Terrorism Investigations Program, said, "Just because security is weak, it doesn't give you a red flag to go into a computer system and start browsing around."

Spaff, a famous and capable security academic, however seizes the wrong analogy. If somebody opens an unlocked door to rob a store, it would be unusual to charge them for fitting an additional lock.

Reyes, who I have never heard of, is entirely accurate and completely irrelevant. I don't think that anybody is arguing that McKinnon did not do anything 'wrong'. (Ed notes: There are technical arguments as to whether what he did was illegal under the precise wording of various statutes - but what he did was illegal under the UK Computer Misuse Act where it is the unauthorised access that is illegal, regardless of the method you used to gain it, although the latter may be an additional offence.) The question at point is two-fold:
  • How much of the $700k claimed is for work that the DoD should have done regardless of McKinnon's intrusion? To look at Spaff's analogy - if somebody opened an unlocked door and, with the investigation, you realised that you only had a three-lever mortice on it, should they be charged for the five-lever lock?
  • Secondly, how much of the costs actually incurred should be mitigated because the DoD were negligent in their basic Information Assurance? To look at the insurance example - your contents insurance will have a clause in it about the house being unoccupied for an extended period, because this increases the risk. I am not a lawyer, and certainly not an American one, so I have no idea how this actually plays in the context of a criminal breach of US law. Badly, I suspect.

Monday, September 21, 2009

BCS - Security. Epic Fail

Well, attempting to log on to the "New British Computer Society" site, this morning (Ed notes: what happened to the perfectly acceptable old BCS and how much did that new logo cost?), I was presented with this rather over-informative error:

exception 'AmaxusSecurityException' with message 'Invalid token for request' in /mnt/amaxus4/private/inc/controller/Frontend/FrontendController.class.php:157
Stack trace:
#0 /mnt/amaxus4/private/inc/controller/Frontend/FrontendController.class.php(131): FrontendController->checkRequestToken()
#1 /mnt/amaxus4/private/inc/class/common/Controller.class.php(678): FrontendController->runAction('login')
#2 /mnt/amaxus4/private/inc/class/common/ControllerDispatcher.class.php(68): Controller->handleRequest()
#3 /mnt/amaxus4/private/inc/class/common/ControllerDispatcher.class.php(56): ControllerDispatcher->handleRequest(Object(UserController))
#4 /mnt/amaxus4/site/_server.php(92): ControllerDispatcher->dispatch(Object(ClientRequest))
#5 {main}

Not very good at all for the:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hannan actually called Obama a misogynist homophobe!

He did, look:

Like St Paul, he made a virtue of being all things to all men.

And, even being a Christian, I have to admit that St Paul is fairly well known, if not actually renowned, for having a downer on the fairer sex and a apocalyptic hatred of gayers. And Hannan clearly compares Obama to St Paul. Therefore, exercising my massive grasp of leftie logic, Hannan has accused Obama of all of Paul's flaws as well as the specific virtue he actually used. And then we have this nonsense from the media.

There have been enough comments from sensible people about the dog-whistle "you're a racist" tactics of the nu-Lab playground bullies so I point you the direction of Cranmer and go off on a rant instead.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The official, government registered, "Hello Kitty" Tartan:

Bloody Slow BBC

I first saw it here, posted "9/11/2009 01:47:00 PM", if you'll forgive the Yank failure to do dates properly.

So I was quite surprised to see this, just now:

It's a wee bit late, folks, hum?

Oh Noes! The 'R' Word

So, the great Peanut farmer has spoken - opposition to Obama's heathcare reform is racist.

Now, I don't doubt that there are people who do actually oppose President Obama on the grounds that he is black, as well as people who oppose him on the grounds that he is(n't) Kenyan and, I expect, black people who oppose him on the grounds (also racist) that he is mixed race. There are definitely black people who oppose him on the grounds that he is African not "African-American" and, not being the descendant of slaves (the sort carried to the colonies by evil white folks rather than the sort enslaved back home by evil black folks - 'cause there weren't any of the latter). I am sure, also, that on the fringes (at the very minimum) of any group opposing any Obama initiative, you will have some of the people who oppose him for more visceral reasons.

However ...

The last time a Democratic president tried for health care reform (something I, like most Europeans and even Daniel Hannan think the Yanks really need to have a go at), it didn't go down very well either. Why?

Well, clearly it was racism. I mean, wasn't Clinton (completely inaccurately) described as the "first black president"? Well, possibly not. It may be because Mrs Clinton was (and still is) the sort of do-gooding shrewish harpy that really gets the hairs on the skin next to your spine standing up - even if she is saying nothing more harmful than "Good Morning"? It may be because the Republican party are firmly in the pocket of big business and HMOs are very big business indeed. It may be because the tag "socialist" can be easily attached. It may even be because these are not desperately well thought out ideas (v.g. tick, standard government practice) and are going to cost a rather large fortune (ditto).

But opposing health care reform 'racist' - I really don't think, Jimbo, you've made the point.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Beyond even a Labour Minister

From my spam bin:

Dear Friend,

This might startle you a little as you might have seen or read about me but really don’t know me in person. Well, I am Rt. Hon Margaret Hodge MP. A British politician and Labour Party Member of Parliament for Banking. I was the first Minister for Children appointed in a newly created post with the Department for Education and Skills and presently Minister of State in the Department for culture, Media and Sport under Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom.

I got your contact info via your country’s national directory and intend introducing a project concerning charity in your country and maybe neighbouring countries around you.

A few months ago, I was compelled to make an over estimation during a budget and set aside the sum of Six Million Three Hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds (£6, 300,000.00GBP) with the sole intention of channeling it all into charity which I am delegating you to executed on my behalf with complete supervision of my Attorney as he will also be the one in charge of securing these funds into your custody.

This transaction will result to you being paid a commission of 11% of the investment capital and the balance, distributed to charity organizations of your choice or reinvested and the net income, used for rehabilitating charity organization in and around your country through you/your agency annually for the period of five years or a little more. The last time I orchestrated this sort of Grant, the individual in Australia succeeded in successfully setting up three standard orphanage homes in less than a year. I have never been so proud of such a noble individual. I hope we would have a reoccurrence in your case. If you are willing to execute this Humanitarian Project, You must understand that I desire absolute confidentiality and professionalism on this issue.

For security reasons as regards my reputation, I will not be able to communicate regularly with you; but my Attorney will take up the processing on my behalf and get these funds processed and released to you without any delay. I don’t plan on benefiting anything from this project, but will be absolutely fulfilled, if and only if you remain sincere to me on the handling of this project with utmost sincerity and confidentiality; and eventually utilize the funds for the purpose which I have explained to you above.

Kindly respond urgently if you are interested as the fund have been tied down for too long, so I can equip you with the necessary details, alongside my Attorney’s contact information, so as to commence the transaction properly; on the other hand, if you are not, please let your intentions be known or better still, Kindly relent from replying this email.

You could get personal info on me via my official website, but do not try contacting me via any personal information you may lay your hands upon on the internet as almost all my contact info are connected to the British House of Parliament data base except the ones I personally sent to you; as I don’t want our effort and my reputation, jeopardized.

Kindly send your response to this E-mail: <-------

:) Corrections for formatting only. All mistooks courtesy of the Lads from Lagos.

Monday, September 14, 2009

You just have to love weegies.

And here's to good old Glasgae,
The land of the bigot and the ned ...

It sort of runs out at that point but :)

Nickin' stuff off a pirate ship - that's cooler than having 3 machetes!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Kennedy

Even Camelot had Mordred.

Although he wasn't Irish.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Supremacy of Parliament?

This is boggling beyond belief:

People who sell DVDs and videos illegally, including pornography to children, cannot be prosecuted because of a legislative blunder dating back 25 years, it has emerged.

Okay - I'm no great fan of the current (or 1984 :) quality of parliamentary draftsmanship but the Video Recordings Act was

ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same,

So what is this blunder? Oh,

the then British Tory Government should have notified with the European Commission but failed to do so.

The error also went unnoticed when the laws were amended in 1993 and 1994.

The technicality means the act is unenforceable and urgent action is now under way to notify Europe and re-enact the legislation.

So, a law correctly passed by Parliament and in accordance with the British Constitution (and not over-ridden by legislation such as the HRA) is unenforceable because of a bureaucratic oversight? Has this got something to do with s8 (Cinematographic Films) of the European Communities Act? Or is there another control mechanism which requires all of our laws to be notified to the EU?

Hat tip to Caspar on the FIPR list.

This classic "reap as you sow" example of nu-Lab incompetence made me grin. H/t to Charles Crawford.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Multiple bigamist escapes prison

Al Beeb:

A female bigamist who admitted bigamy for a fourth time is speared jail in Manchester, a court hears.

Well, especially given her job, an amusing typo.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Excuse of the Day

Mrs S-E: "Can I speak to the IT Helpdesk, please."

Reception: "Err, no, sorry."

Mrs S-E: "Is there a problem?"

Reception: "Well, somebody has spilt a can of Irn-Bru over their desk and their phone is out of order."

Hmmm. Lucky they're not the ICT helpdesk, then.

No, no, fuck-off, no


Not for the reasons you might suspect - the government actually has a responsibility to ensure that taxpayers money is only paid out in compensation where it is either deserved (or legally entitled - we can argue about the mismatch between the two later). This is the other side of the responsibility it has to ensure that compensation is paid out when deserved (or legally ...)

Now, I have no idea on the number of squaddies who are actually exaggerating the effects of an injury to claim compensation but exaggerating the effects of an injury to avoid work / get on light duties / get some additional time off is an military pastime of considerable antiquity (rather than an 'honoured tradition'). And, to move uniforms for a moment, the number of police officers retiring on medical grounds, especially to avoid a disciplinary investigation, is something that has quite correctly attracted considerable opprobrium. So it isn't impossible, despite the overwhelming majority who, I am sure, are doing their best to get back to a reasonable life after horrific injury, that one or two are trying it on a bit.

Any way, back to the point. RIPA is not a fucking anti-terrorist law. It is not the "Regulation of Terrorist Investigations" Act. Yes, some of the powers available under the Act should only be used to investigation more serious crimes (calling Hazel Blears - a better example than Jacqui Smith - a thieving scumbag - for example) but the Act brought in to a regulatory / legal framework a whole bunch of investigatory techniques (i.e. covert surveillance, confidential informants) that were used anyway, as well as replacing the previous and largely inadequate regimes for other forms of surveillance.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Wikistupidity

Ah, the lovely smell of hypocrisy. Wikipedia, with its overt insistence on "public domain" only - yet when an 'influential' Wikipedia editor is caught out stitching together partial hi-res images from the National Portrait Gallery, we get this nonsense from the borg:

But the (sic) Wikipedia volunteer David Gerard accuses the gallery of bureaucratic empire building.

"They honestly think the paintings belong to them rather than to us," he wrote.

Now, Mr Gerard is an Australian, albeit living in London, and the sub-title of his blog pretty much says it all. Even if he was a British citizen, the 'us' he is clearly referring to is the elitist (for a peculiar definition of elite) Wikimedia Foundation. You could make a moral case that the original paintings belong to the British public. Morally and legally, the hi-res pictures clearly belong, under British law, to the National Portrait Gallery.

David is asking for comments on the talks between the borg and the victims - personally, I'd like to see Wikimedia Foundation bankrupted for breach of real law as opposed to it editing inconvenient people (i.e. those who do not hold the borg opinion) out of existence. For an encore, what about Mr Coetzee prosecuted and imprisoned for breaching the DMCA (he claims he can pick and chose from copyright law - let's pick the legal jurisdiction of the cabal - he bypassed an electronic protection measure, the same crime that Jon Johansen was prosecuted for in Norway). But then I'm just a reactionary grumpy old git.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Rule of Law" or "Whim of Bureaucrat"

Well, this cropped up in my morning reading. Well, Brunstrom's gone, so to keep the legally mandated average fuckwittedness level up in Wales, somebody has to turn into a real pillock - so, I thought "ASBO for growing tomatos" - seems like a pillock to me.

Then I read the article and the focus of my fury shifted, borrowed a spare booster rocket from ESA, and speed off in to the distance. Now, I don't know how much of this is unreliable BBC reporting, how much is Mrs Ware's opinion and how much is actually how things work in Port Talbot.

the council operates a green, amber and red warning system which ultimately leads to an anti-social behaviour order.

No, please. If the council wants to operate a system tracking behaviour before it applies to local magistrates for an ASBO and, in court, the matter is duly (Ed notes: the typo there was 'dully' which is most likely to be true as well) considered and stupid applications are thrown out, closely followed by the defenestration of the council official concerned, then fine. But that the council considers that it awards ASBOs or that the magistrates are so supine that they issue on demand (as they used to do with Community Charge default orders)?

Very Brunstrom.

Monday, July 13, 2009


England must play much better to win.

Not that this quote actually appears in the article, only in the taster, but Agnew actually gets paid for this level of insight?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Thanks to TravelGall, I get this. Ahh, yes. Something highly secret, that was never referred to as "the letter of last resort" and contained instructions seen by few. Rumour had it, in my day, that it said "set course for Wellington and the best of British be with you, love and kisses, JM".

Monday, July 06, 2009

Monday, it must be Monday

Mrs S-E: Ugh, there are cat hairs on the scanner. Which cat has been copying its bum?

Master S-E: And who's it emailed the pictures to?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Little comment on a non-story

If (c)rap artistes can call themselves 'nigga', why can't a Nigerian company (that would be full of real Africans not 'African Americans') call a JV 'Nigaz'?

Are Americans of not-quite-recent African origin ('cauz homies, we're all Afro if you have long enough sight) really so special / delicate / in need of cosseting?

I will wish you good-night with a couple of links: here and here and the last word from the Ministry for the Eradication of Commonsense:


1. The spelling, pronounciation, meaning and usage of the word has been changed to convey a sense of pride and defiance, thereby removing the racial distinctness of the original term. Although similar in spelling and pronounciation to the original, its meaning is completely different. The word "nigga", when used between close friends, is as positive as the word "nigger" is negative. In general, whites should avoid use of the term, even in a positive sense, unless they are absolutely certain it will not be taken as derogatory.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

God is Love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God

Okay, finding an appropriate quote for the title was hard work, but that is 1 John 4.16.

So, the Indian government has repealed the antique colonial law making male homosexual acts illegal. I am entirely happy about this - as a horrible right-wing reactionary (sorry, I meant libertarian but the new 'comment is free' translation module kicked in) the personal activities of consenting adults should not be a matter of the criminal law.

What I find luvverly is the contrasting reactions quoted of the Catholic and Muslim 'leaders':

"Our stand has always been very clear. The church has no serious objection to decriminalising homosexuality between consenting adults, the church has never considered homosexuals as criminals," said Father Emanuel.

"But the church does not approve of this behaviour. It doesn't consider it natural, ethical, or moral," he said.

Okay - I can live with that. The traditional interpretation of Christianity does not accept homosexuality but this appears to be a case of "love the sinner, hate the sin" - a perfectly rational position to take (even though I personally disagree with it - but then I am not a traditionalist Catholic, or any sort of Roman Catholic for that matter.) But here:

"This is absolutely wrong. We will not accept any such law," Ahmed Bukhari told the AFP news agency

What? They have repealed a previous law, not made mincing mandatory or arse-banditry compulsory. And anyway - fuck off you evil shit - you don't have the right to accept or reject laws, you pathetic 7th century bigot. Now, thank you, having got that off my chest, I can return to aimless web browsing.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Why's this so hard?

Cause: Government reduces orders for ships. (And this, and this and endless others)

Effect: Shipbuilders plan to close otherwise uncompetitive shipyards.

Simple, no? So why this?

Ah, yes. Because our politicians are incompetent fuckwits. SNAFU, then.

PS: Yes, I realise the irony of typing 'incompetence' as opposed to 'incompetent'. I'd blame the mists of screaming rage but I'm just taking a break from work.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Adopts sinister voice: "I'm Back"

And with a suitably onanistic post to re-start, thanks to Dick via Bella (and the chain in between):

OJ, June 17th, 1994

MSN: As such, the chase became a textbook 'where-were-you?' moment.

S-E: I think I'll stick with Dick's answer - he says it all really:

Where was I? Haven't a fucking clue.

Death of Diana, August 31st, 1997

MSN: It being a Sunday, virtually the entire nation was having a lie-in.

S-E : Ah, yes, this could actually individually identify me (if there is a copy of the Duty Officer list still knocking around.) So let's just settle for "by an Aroflex terminal, having opened the safe, wondering how much trouble being really fucking useless at drill was going to get me in to during the planning of the state funeral". Which, thankfully, never happened.

Challenger disaster, January 28th, 1986

MSN: It being a Tuesday, this meant that the first report of it on British television occurred at 5pm in an edition of the BBC weekday children’s programme Newsround.

S-E: Britannia Royal Naval College. Basic Training. Far, far too busy to worry about anything else.

Resignation of Thatcher, November 22nd, 1990

MSN: Even so, for those at work or school during the day, word of mouth had to make do until a television set could be found.

S-E: On Operation Granby (Desert Shield for any American visitors). Completely TV free. Although we did get very good news through the int people.

England v West Germany, July 4th, 1990

MSN: It was said even Princess Diana, attending a social function in London, was being kept in touch of the score by telephone.

S-E: Professional football? Does anybody seriously give a fuck? Anyway, I thought she was the Princess of Wales?

Queen Elizabeth's Coronation, June 2nd, 1953

MSN: The coronation was the first event in British history to be seen by a mass audience on the small screen.

S-E: Unborn.

Iranian Embassy siege, May 5th, 1980

MSN: Their dramatic rescue attempt took place in full view of the ITN cameras. Footage, however, was not broadcast live.

S-E: I probably did watch this. Can't really remember though.

September 11th, 2001

MSN: It was a weekday afternoon, so most people didn’t see pictures of the attacks until they got home from school or work.

S-E: At a security conference, with a lot of financial and disaster recovery people. Watched it live - having asked the hotel to open the bar 'cause there were a lot of people in serious need of a stiff drink or 15.

Assassination of JFK, November 22nd, 1963

MSN: It wasn’t until 11pm that the BBC was sufficiently organised to broadcast a proper tribute programme.

S-E: Still not born. And he was the American President so you would expect the BBC to have a tribute programme lined up for the event of his assassination? I dunno ...

So, not really 'The whole world turning on the TV' at all. Or is it just me?

Nope, clearly not just you. BTW, in case you are (to my great surprise) interested, the first "famous event" I saw was the Apollo 11 landing - my parents took the infant me to a neighbour's house, that having a TV. It is not recorded whether I dribbled, blew bubbles or just slept through the performance.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mummy, When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Stasi Informer.

Hat tip to the Green Man for this:

So perhaps the occasional outing is just the level of control that the blogging community needs.

SO where does Murdoch get these stuck in a rut cunts from?

Three summers ago, while on work experience at The Sunday Times, I wrote a story outing a sex blogger, Zoe Margolis, who had just turned her online collection of back-alley exploits into a book titled Girl with a One Track Mind. The writer’s anonymity was used as a marketing gimmick and the piece was the first high-profile “exposé” of an online writer’s anonymity; I promptly became public enemy No 1 in the blogosphere.

Hmm, investigative journalist Google on ...

Nothing much here, just lots of shit about too expensive houses and scummy ex-Soviets. But, here, we have it. What the fuck is wrong with Oxford these days?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Musings of a late evening

Whilst reading about the unfortunate demise-by-exposure (shortly, possibly and even more unfortunately, maybe a 'doocing') of the blogger Jack Night (covered here, here and strangely here), I was engaged by the furore (in a blog-cup) over his "Evil Poor" post (the blog has gone but see here with yet more linky things in the comments).

Now, that got me thinking - always a dangerous thing.  Happy that the "evil poor" do actually exist, that they are a particular problem and that they are one overwhelmingly burdening on the non-evil (just to note that I am fully aware that the latter are the vast majority) poor.  Happy also that the "evil rich"exist  and the "evil moderately well off" and the evil ...  (Ed notes: stopped that with a brief application of 240V.)

What is the difference?  Might it be that impoverishment makes your search for subsistence the sole or overwhelming focus of your life?  The evil billionaire might be famed for the size of his yacht, the plasticity of wife No5, the vanity purchase of the football club etc, etc.  (Or even, to return to banking, the size of his pension!) The virtuous pauper (just to continue the moralistic fixatedness) is probably going to be considered a cleaner, a call-centre slavey (I can't actually think of a better word for their miserable existence), or a benefit-trapped proto-failure  than for their stunning personality, care for small animals, remarkable impressions of Monty Python actors or spectacular calligraphy.

Of course, I am being simplistic.  But then I'm a libertarian blogger so I'm just pandering to the stereotype.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Having been effectively disenfranchised for this election, I find myself joining (not of my own free will) the Chris Dillow school of cynics*.  Personally, I am from the "spoil my ballot if I can't vote for anyone I could tolerate" wing, also known as the "none of the above" tendency.  Although I generally express this by voting Tory which, in Central Scotland, has the same impact as supporting Rangers at a Papal mass.

Still, from a distance, congratulations to all of you who had the opportunity and did drag yourself along - the first fruits of victory have already been harvested.

* Although I disagree massively with his implication that Neil Harding is anything other than a badly damaged autonomic propaganda troll.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

BBC: Utter Cunts

Here.  You really shouldn't have to ask why.  But, as you are probably wondering, there is no such institution as the "British Navy".

Sunday, May 31, 2009

There is a reason the law was written that way!

Bloody hell, first the French, now I'm agreeing with the fucking unions.  It must have been that extra sausage at brunch!  (Ed notes: Neither gibbering insanity nor a potty mouth being recognised symptoms of swine flu!  Nor is overcooked pork sausage a recognised way of catching it.)

Under the new rules universities are expected to monitor whether overseas students really attend their courses.

The Home Office said such things were part of their normal duty of care.

Indeed and undoubtedly. In fact:

Educational institutions have a duty of care to all their students and checking that they are attending and making progress in their studies is part of that responsibility.

The records we expect education providers to keep are those which most will keep for their own purposes anyway.

Which is exactly why the Data Protection Act 1998 states (Schedule 1, s2):

Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.

So uni's can check whether you are attending lectures for the purposes of laughing at you when you fail your exams.  I'll even allow them using the attendance register to check on people who are claiming grants, student allowances or loans.

So would you just fuck off and watch your boss's hubby's p0rn collection, you bunch of fascist cunts.

Gordon Brown is a sanctimonious, hypocritical cunt.

And ill-educated to boot. The nerve of the pointless blob of cowardice:

The event was intended for prime ministers and presidents rather than royals, Mr Brown added.

"But if the queen wanted to attend these events or if any member of the royal family wanted to attend these events, I would make that possible," he said.

So what the fuckup meant was that the event was intended for Heads of State and Heads of Government.  Oh, and I wonder who the Head of State is in Brown's Britain.  Actually, I'm scared to ask, just in case the answer comes back "Peter Mandelson".

I really hate to agree with the French, in fact, I think it may be "dereliction of duty" but:

French officials said the Queen was welcome and the UK government was responsible for deciding who should attend what was "primarily a Franco-American ceremony"

Friday, May 29, 2009

An Utterly Stupid BBC News Headline


Mosquitoes 'resist malaria drugs'

Well, now.  Let's see.  Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the actual story - drug resistant malaria spread from Cambodia - mosquitos aren't (deliberately) targeted by malaria drugs.  Ed notes: We did try DDT on them once but that has been fairly uniformly condemned as a "bad thing™".

Anti-malarial drugs target the malaria parasite, Plasmodium, which happens to spend part of its life-cycle in the digestive systems of female Anopheles mosquitos.

Now, I am no biologist or medic, so if I knew this (although I'll admit that I did have to google the name of the parasite genus), why didn't the BBC?

BTW: Still on hiatus!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Oi, Hang on a Minute

Okay, so the Church of Jock has finally admitted that some of its ministers are of the homosexual persuasion and has openly supported one in Aberdeen.

The certainty is a good thing - the lily-livered wishy-washy mumbling of the Church of England is definitely a bad thing.  I am not saying that any of the open-promotion of homosexual clergy as in the Episcopal Church of America, the simplistic bigotry of Gafcon or the "don't ask, don't tell" attitude of the Episcopal Church of Scotland are right - I personally think they are all wrong (Ed notes: but you are just a contrary bastard).

And some of the Jockanese laity are upset.  Well, most church-goers in the UK are older, many are conservative (note size of "C") and it's their right to be upset and even to protest about it.

But - here is the "WTF" moment:

The demonstration at The Mound in Edinburgh on Saturday was led by Pastor Jack Bell of the Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow.

"We are absolutely opposed to that on the basis of what God has to say about homosexuality in the Bible," he said.

The Zion Baptist Church - "an independent church based in the south side of the city of Glasgow".  So not part of the Church of Scotland, then.  Or even, I suspect, formally in communion with it.  And, as their website makes it clear, the sort of fundamentalist evangelical Christians who make me cringe.  I wouldn't be surprised if they were "young-earth creationists".  Anyway, clearly not the sort of people you would expect to approve of poofs and their disgusting goings-on.  But about as much direct connection with the Rev Rennie's appointment as I will have with the election of the next Pope.

Oh, BTW: 
On Saturday night the 8th December, Zion Baptist Church lead by their Assistant Pastor Mr Bell, conducted a protest against the satanic influence and music of Marilyn Manson at the Braehead Arena, Glasgow."


BTW2: Still on hiatus - really.
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