Friday, December 24, 2010

Some meditations on the Assange saga

  1. Of course the US Government are out to get him. With Joe Lieberman accusing him of treason (well, actually, Fox News's Jenna Lee did. Lieberman just didn't try to run away), Palin calls for him to be assassinated (Ed notes: just how well is the US hunt for ObL going at the moment? Hmm!, Peter King publicly calls him a terrorist. Yeh. 
    • Wikileaks made the US government look stupid. Governments hate that.
    • Wikileaks may have actually committed some form of crime in the USA. I'm not a 1st Amendment (Ed: or, frankly, any sort of) lawyer.
    • Assange is, quite deliberately, the public face of Wikileaks.  
    • Of course he isn't a traitor. He isn't and has never been a US citizen. The Aussies might have their own ideas on the matter, of course :)
    • If this is some conspiracy to get him to Sweden to then have him rendered to the USA, somebody hasn't read the Extradition Act 2003. Much easier to get him from us.
    • Somebody, probably Bradley Manning (who has apparently confessed), has committed a number of crimes under US civil and military law. I hope they think it was worth it.
  2. I don't thing it is particularly relevant whether the allegations against Assange are for "rape rape" (Ed notes: and isn't the fact that we use that a horrid reflection on society's attitudes?) or "sexual assault" or some sexual misconduct that might not be a crime in the UK or (in some states in) the USA but is in Sweden. This sort of allegation is, prima facie, is worthy of comprehensive investigation and, given the Swedish legal system and the "he said, she said" nature of most sex-crimes, extradition for that investigation. 
    • Although the fervour with which it is being pursued is probably fuelled by Assange's 'celebrity'. 
    • Although for some crimes, especially private and hard to prove ones such as this, it is reasonable (ab)use of state power to target high-profile offenders, "pour encourage les autres".
    • I would note that s75(2)(d) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 would make (at least) one of the allegations formally "rape" in the UK. And I'm aware of the allegations of force in another event - that would be a (2)(a) or (b) statutory non-consent. Interestingly, note that (a) and (b) apply to series of events - but (d) does not. So having consensual sex before falling asleep and committing a sex act on the sleeping partner is an imprisonment for life case in the UK.
    • I would also note that s76(2)(a) applies - "the defendant intentionally deceived the complainant as to the nature or purpose of the relevant act" may well cover the 'broken condom' issue.
    • The concept that you have a legal right to insist that a sex partner has an STD test seems reasonable given the dangers and the mores of this modern world of ours. Especially an overtly promiscuous partner.
  3. The two ladies talked and then went to the police. Well, yes. This is the rational argument for releasing the names of accused sex offenders - most are not one-time criminals. 
    • Although "He did that - to you? As well? Bastard!" may have played some part.
    • Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
  4. The US government seems to have been criminally negligent in allowing the initial release of the information.
    • When you get information from the spooks but you are not a spook yourself, they do "source protection". That means that you remove all the names and, often, other identifying details such as exact dates. Or more complex stuff if it is technically derived rather than human source info. Of course, Manning was a spook ... 
    • It could be written to a CD-RW? This is just piss-poor security if it was on SIPRNet; if it was on JWICS, it was unconscionable. Many much lower-grade systems - financial, UK Gov etc - have this sort of thing effectively controlled.  
  5. Claims that Assange would not get a fair day in a Swedish court need to be evidenced. Sweden might be a more difficult jurisdiction for rape defendants than others (just look at the results in some Sharia jurisdictions) But as long as his treatment is as fair as it would be for any other person accused of the same crimes, this seems entirely reasonable to me.
    • Any American court may be a different matter.
    • And the bail / no-bail thing puzzles me. But I've never been involved in those sorts of discussions.
  6. What Assange has done - good or bad - doesn't really reflect on what Wikileaks does or has done.
    • Unless, of course, he turns out to be in the pay of the CIA, the SVR, the DI (which may explain some of the stranger conspiracy theories) or the RPF. In which case, all bets are off.
  7. The Americans want to use some ancient law to prosecute Assange. Well, okay, the Espionage Act 1917 hasn't been written in the modern, cuddly internet age - but it was written when the US had just entered in to a (rather significant) war. And, frankly, most of the slightly older British Official Secrets Act 1911 is still in force.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Truism of the Day

What needs overhaul is an insane government network for classified information that permits a disturbed 22-year-old army private to have access to his government's most sensitive international dealings.
Rupert Cornwell in the Independent. H/t to Charles Crawford.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BBC: Not Really Giving Away Any Secrets

Once again, this time in its 'explanation' of the Wikileaks cable leak, the BBC gets things dreadfully wrong.

They manage to decode this as:

4. Who the cable is to: Secretary of State in Washington.

5. General subject heading.

4 is right(ish) - well, not even a marxist media studies graduate could be expected to get "to" too wrong. Info, on the other hand, means, well, what? It clearly isn't what the BBC claim - a subject heading (that comes further down under, surprisingly, the 'SUBJECT:' tag!)  It is a shortening of "information" - as in 'for information'. Additional addressees, in other words.

Update: I note that this error is parroted from the Wikileaks "explanation":
The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
although that may be referring to the three-letter "Subject Indicator Codes", which are not the same as the info addressees. Doesn't exonerate the Beeb in the slightest, however.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not A Particularly Good Argument.

Well, they've been in Parliament long enough for the ridiculous ideas to come out in to the open again. This time, it is Rebecca Harris, Tory MP for somewhere in the deep South. And, yes again, it is the "let's save millions of lives by moving to Central European Time" idea. Possibly practical in Essex but, as somebody who has had a shift job in mid-North Scotland - it is a real bugger never seeing the sun except your one day off each weekend?

Enough about her - she is the cause of the problem but not the problem itself. A commenter on ConservativeHome says that, apropos of somebody pointing out that what is ideal for Canvey Island may not be suitable for Edinburgh, never mind for Lerwick, that only Portugal, Ireland and the UK, within the EU, are on GMT (although they call it 'Western European Time) and that the Danes manage on CET.

Okay, so only the 3 most westerly countries in the EU are on the most westerly time zone. Dreadful, isn't it.

But it is the bit about the Danes that annoys me. Even though Copenhagen is on roughly the same latitude as Edinburgh, it is somewhat east. Edinburgh is 3 and a bit degrees West, Copenhagen is 12 and half, ish, East. That's slightly over 15 degrees difference. And 15 degrees in longitude is 1 hour worth of solar time difference (360 / 24 = 15). So, if you assume that latitude and longitude make CET the appropriate time zone for Denmark, then GMT is the appropriate time zone for Central Scotland (and that the natural time zone for Edinburgh is only 12 minutes different from that for London!)

Also, would just have to comment that latitude has an effect - an artificial time zone which is manageable in Edinburgh at a bit less than 56 degrees North, is not automatically going to be acceptable over 4 degrees further north in Lerwick. Just to note, the whole North / South extent of Denmark, Skagen to Padborg, is less than 3 degrees of latitude.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Errm, Rabbi?

Not the Beeb's fault this time but still their reporting:

A gigantic statue of Jesus - claimed to be the world's tallest ...

Christ the King in Swiebodzin rises 33m (108ft) - one metre for every year that Jesus lived ...

51m-high (167ft), if one included a mound it sat on and the golden crown ...

Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer rises 38m (125ft).

Now, I don't feel bad about Father Zawadzki being pleased with his life's work, and I've never actually been to Rio (but I've seen it on TV lots of times!) The one thing I really remember about their statue of Christ is that it is on top of a sodding great hill.

Yes, indeed, Google says I'm right! The Corcorvado, 710m up from sea level (and as both the Ipanema and Copacabana beaches are within view, I'll feel justified about counting it from quite so low). Which would top the South American version out, what, a mere 1367% taller than the Polski one. Silly, silly "other local officials".

That "Bhoys" Remembrance Protest thingy.

No comment about the grotesque bigotry that is the scourge of Scottish football (okay, the 2nd scourge after not actually being very good at it) but about the reporting.

The only vaguely amusing thing was the horrendous spelling on the banner they'd clearly spent so much effort on.

Why did the Beeb feel the need to add the 'd' into "bloostained"? Compare and contrast:

Your deeds would shame all the devils in Hell. Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan. No bloodstained poppy on our Hoops.

&

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Why The 'Scare Quotes'?

Girl, 10, 'gives birth' in Spain

The Beeb. Is it because they haven't confirmed the story? If so, what about a bit of journalism and actually checking before they publish? Crazy.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Piss-Poor Programming

From a Yahoo email (no indication that it is phishing or anything other than legitimate but dreadful):

If you are reading this message, the delivery problem appears to
be fixed. To start receiving your groups messages by email again and turn your account back on, please visit:

http://$(siteprefs_defDomainWeb)/unbounce?adj=139962006,64412&p=1288563{truncated}

(You can also copy and paste this link into your browser, and hit the
'Return' key.)

The "truncated" is mine, the rest is theirs.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unintentional Irony?

He teaches courses in constitutional law and creative writing ...

Here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Liar, liar, pants on fire"?

This is just going to be a bunch of ageing Trots accusing each other of manifest splitterism, isn't it?


Mr Sheridan told Miss Kane:
  • "You made that up"
  • "You have lied throughout your testimony."

But Ms Kane told him: "I never lied then and I'm not lying now."

Err, yup, seems to be ...

I know jailing them all for invincible ignorance (or socialism, but I repeat myself) is inappropriate but it would be so much fun ...

Update: I seem to have better luck predicting Trot stupidity than the lottery numbers:

Ms Curran to Mr Sheridan - "Liar, liar pants on fire? Is that your defence in the whole of this?"

BBC: Questions with simple answers

Vanessa Feltz lives without the internet. How?

Vanessa Feltz told me that when listeners send e-mails to vanessa@bbc.co.uk her team has to print them out for her to read. So maybe they can now print out this blog post for her.

The internet is a time saving (well, potentially, anyway) and capability enhancing collection of technologies. Having a support team - whether you are rich, important or both - fulfils an equivalent function.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Irrelevant thought of the Day

With the MilliYounger now in charge, which do we have? "ZapuLabour" or the "Movement for Democratic Hopey-Changeyness"?

Utterly Magnificent Nonsense

Here. A sample:

Starlight from the most distant galaxy can reach earth on the fourth day of the Creation Week when the correct relativistic synchrony convention is employed.

Will fisk later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Symptomatic of the BBC Bias

What could £113m lottery win buy society?

Rather less than the BBC's £177 million annual spend on online services. Well, why not?

Friday, October 08, 2010

That Donald Trump Degree Citation

In full, perhaps the style of a well known magazine ...

We, the Senate and Faculty of Robert Gordon's Hospital (1) (but definitely not Mrs Forbes, Prof Kennedy or Councillor Ford), do, in the hope that you will shower us with millions of your beneficent and most deserved spondulicks (2), endow you with the degree of Doctor of Planning Laws (And How to Get Around Them) and, not being one of those heathen southern universities, will not disturb thy exalted wigginess by bopping you on the bonce with a pair of Knox's shabby chinos.

1. Well, yes, but we are a university now.

2. Or, if you can't quite manage that, a corporate membership at the Club would be quite nice.

or, something like that.

Edited to add: and, yes, they have indeed done a pig-Latin version.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's Missing Here?

From the Lawfare blog, discussing Guantanamo:

Like Steve Vladeck and unlike some of the human rights groups, in other words, David acknowledges that there is a legitimate role for non-criminal detention in the current conflict.
I would suggest that the missing phrase should be along the lines of "subject to the controls and limitations contained in the 3rd Geneva Convention of 1949 on the Treatment of Prisoners of War". Something notably missing at Gitmo.

That's your choice: PoW = rights but indefinite detention or criminal = trial and detention after sentence.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Speaking to the Deaf

I've just seen this wee video on cracked, and it reminded me of an old post.

Now, I know the Twin Towers weren't nuclear reactors - but their structural concrete (inside, hence the lack of visible disintegration) would have been of the same order of strength - oh, and they did fall down (not something you would have wanted to happen to a reactor containment building).

And I know that an F-4 is a lot smaller and tougher than a 767 (but that makes my side stronger). So, Billy, if you are still watching, have a look at what actually happens when a modern aircraft hits a modern building wall ...

CyberWar - Some Discussion

On another blog which doesn't allow comments, Gary Warner from the "University of Alabama at Birmingham", posts some quite sensible stuff about cyberwar.

However, as usual, I have some nits to pick and, as he doesn't allow comments ... (I'd also note that I am basing my comments on a UK MoD understanding of the International Law of Armed Conflict, so US military law, their UCMJ, may vary.)

Civilian Infrastructure Attacks

Declaration: "A direct attack on a civilian infrastructure that caused damage, even loss of life of civilians, would, I think, be a war crime." - Professor Daniel Ryan, National Defense University

Response: Didn't the United States blow up electrical plants, television and radio stations, bridges, roads, runways, and water treatment plants during the two Iraq Wars? Were those war crimes, too? Professor Ryan? We have to use a consistent definition. If its not a war crime to attack civilian infrastructure kinetically, why is it a war crime to do so electronically

Attacks on some civilian infrastructure are automatically war crimes: nuclear plants, dams and "cultural property". Attacks on some others are illegal in most circumstances: hospitals and religious sites come under this category. Although, if you are attacked from them, you can retaliate.

Attacks on other civilian infrastructure are subject to the "proportionality test". What military benefit do you achieve? If the enemy are using the local mobile phone network to organise their operations, then you could definitely make a case for blowing it up. Despite the impact on civilians. Identical comments apply to his example under "Electrical Grid Targeting".

Ninety-Five Percent?

Declaration: "Computers don't always have signs over them that say, 'I'm a military target' [or] 'I'm a civilian target,' " says Harvard's Goldsmith. "Also, the two things are intermixed. Ninety to 95 percent of U.S. military and intelligence communications travel over private networks."

Response: The Department of Defense has more than 7 million computers. I don't know how Army works, but I know the Navy Marine Corps Internet was at one time the largest private Intranet on the entire planet. The US Army has maintained a stand-alone Intranet since at least 2001, and has repeatedly had headlines about it being the largest stand-alone network in the world. Soldiers don't call down an airstrike and then update their Facebook pages and do a little online banking as the implication seems to infer.

All I'd say is "you'd be surprised!" Okay, they'll not use the same systems (SIPRNet isn't internet connected, NIPRNet is and the terminals are separate devices, even if you might have both of them, and a Coalition network terminal, on your desk) but there is a surprising mixing of comms links etc. And the IP address assignments will probably all be in the DoD or RFC1918 address spaces ... Anecdata: I've been on Google chat, under mortar fire in Baghdad, and trying to convince Clydesdale Bank to transfer money via internet banking under rocket attack in Basra.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cynical bastard, that's me.

Who's going to get the first "Nigerian flood victim" 419 then? Just asking.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Votematch - Labour Leadership

Okay, so I played. And what a surprise I got:

Balls: 62%
Millielder: 58%
Milliyounger: 46%
Token Commie: 38%

So I went to check.

I agree with Bollocks on:
  • No law limiting highest salary to 20x lowest (clearly, utter statist bollocks and not even Ben and Jerry's could make it work)
  • Private companies within the NHS allowed to make profit (err, yes, that's the whole point of the 'private companies' bit - if you don't want a profit motive, keep it internal ...)
  • Tuition Fees tbrb "Graduate Tax" - although I don't feel particularly strongly about this one.
  • Academy schools - yes, bin them - stop ragging on public schools charitable status and bring back the 'Assisted Places Scheme'.
  • FCO should promote British Business - yes, after promoting British government policy and the British public interest, that's what they should be doing (Consular Services being a different arm.)
  • Third runway at Heathrow - yup - the market wants it. If the market can provide it ...
  • Nuclear power - duh.
  • Labour should have said what they were going to cut in their general election campaign.
  • No tax relief on donations to political parties.
Okay - so that's 9 out of 21 - and, looking at them, I don't feel too dirty. So, what did I agree with Diane Abbot on?
  • Tax credits too bureaucratic.
  • Approval of drugs wholly free from government interference.
  • Academy schools (yes, although she wouldn't like my alternatives!)
  • 28 days detention without charge
  • Low earners out of tax (a UKIP, Libertarian and Liberal policy, now being implemented!)
  • Alternative cuts
Nope, still don't feel sullied by the reeking slime of socialism ...

And interesting to add that the only points of mutual agreement (as far as this fairly trivial survey is concerned) between me, Balls and "Token Black Female" are academy schools (where we actually fundamentally disagree) and the massive public distrust over what a 2010-elected Labour administration would have cut. That, is quite heartening.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Apparently


I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


h/t the Heresiarch, who got it through a long chain of other bloggers.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Transmission Control Pixies

This is not original work - it was originally posted on /. (Slashdot)  by Wingnut. It is classic ...

The Transport Control Pixies and the Internet Pixies system the Internet currently uses can be abused, as the recent DoS attacks illustrate, especially with the fat pipes to which many people now have access.

These pipes allow many malicious Pixies to be sent to a target, completely overwhelming the targets ability to process them.

The large numbers of Pixies that can traverse these fat pipes is the main problem as I see it. A good short-term solution would be the replacement of the fat pipes with bundles of thin pipes. At the targets end, each thin pipe would have a small tap - when a DoS attack is detected, simply open the taps in turn to allow the unwanted Pixies to drain out into a bucket. Alternatively, a manned barrier could be set up at the end of each thin pipe, and any swarthy looking, suspiciously odious, black hatted, or otherwise dubious Pixies can be turned away. This doesn't aid tracing the source, but will allow the force of the attack to be diminished such that the target can remain relatively unscathed.

Tracing an attack to the immediate source can easily be accomplished by having a little valve in the thin pipe that when turned will shut off the Pixie flow. Subsequent Pixes entering the pipe will cause it to bulge gradually as the backlog builds up. By repeating this procedure back from each machine the source will eventually be found. To save having to walk all that way, the valves could have long pieces of string attached to them so they can be turned on and off remotely.

Finding the perpetrator of the DoS is more problematic. These days, the normal breadcrumb back trail can be easily garbled by the less than savoury element on the internet. The new Internet Pixie v6 implements the Taut String from End to End system to tie the source to destination - any severing of the string to re-route it can be instantly detected by loss of tension. However, this does us no good currently.

It only takes a single Pixie to start a DoS attack, and finding it may not always be possible. An amateur will often leave the initial Pixie unharmed. If a suspicious one is found, sieze it immediately (ensure to keep its hands away from any magic pouches/flowers/musical instruments that it may have on its person). A poorly cast Mind Erasure spell can easily be undone by any one of a number of Re_Mind perl scripts. A properly cast Mind Erasure can be tricky to undo and will require a special Module be used - if you're not at ease with compiling programs, pop the Pixie in a Jiffy Bag and post it to hemos@slashdot.org (you may need to flatten the packet a little to get it into the floppy disk orifice) - hemos will de-spell it and send the results back by return).

A professional won't allow such evidence to remain - a common method is the Pixie On A Bungee technique. The perpetrator fires said Pixie into the attack machine with a long rubber band attached. With skill, the Pixie shoots in, pushes the Start lever and gets yanked back out at very high speed. A telltale clue of this is often fingernail scratches - sometimes a misjudgement as to bungee length can leave fingers embedded in the lever handle. Unfortunately, unless the Pixie drops his ID card, the chances of tracking back further are very small, and really best left to the authorities.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh. Dear. God.

The Huffington Post interviews Fred Phelps. Some extracts ...

Look at the world of Noah. In his day there were 12 to 16 billion people on Earth, and only eight got out of that flood alive. The world is going to be devoured by fire.

12 billion people on Earth in, what would it have been, around 2300BC (according to some creationist timelines)? That's how Noah could get all of the animals in to one boat. All the rest had been eaten.


Is there anything you want to say to her?

No. Except that she should repent.

But her husband wasn't a homosexual.

So then why are they upset? If he wasn't a sinner, he doesn't need to worry. If he was, then it's too late for him. There's time for her though.


Seriously? The idiot doesn't understand why his picketing a funeral causes upset? And the dead soldier wasn't anything to do with the cause (homophobia) he is supporting? It would be like turning up to a church open day and protesting about RBS funding "Big Oil". Right or wrong? Doesn't matter - completely irrelevant.

The behaviour of these fools is enough to make me wish I was an atheist.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recession, What Recession?

Thankfully, for my blood pressure, I did not meet these people but merely had them mentioned to me!

Celestial Paws specialise in astrology for pets. Pets are loyal, loving and a part of the family. Like us, they too have their own individual characteristics. Celestial paws can offer you a personality profile for your pet.

Prices from £15 to £30. If you can run a successful business doing this, there are clearly people around who deserve to have less money!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Climate, It is A'Changing

Well, of course it is. It's not static - even on the timescales of human life. So it's changing.

Now, of course, are we in the 70's where best evidence was that it was cooling, or the early 2000's where it seemed to be warming, or the last few years where it may have been cooling again (although this seems to have been a temporary effect due to the prolonged solar minimum which is now over)?

Anyway. Enough of that. We need decent, long-run statistics. Then we can work out the basic up or down thing, then we can look at significance, then we can look at both causes and what we might do about it, if anything. And note that causes and corrections need not be directly related. You can make hot air balloons  rise by throwing out some ballast as well as by heating the air.

So this was fun (h/t to Lubos). Note that this doesn't "prove" anything about climate change, either way - it just shows that the well-derided statistical methods in a key global-warming paper fail the Huff test.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Answer To Juliette

Juliette has been reading the Guardian again. It's bad for her blood pressure - anyway, I was going to comment on her post but apparently my answer is "too long to process". So reproduced below in full.

Firstly, the iniquity of the benefits trap is something even we rabid (libertarian) right wingers have been known to harp on about from time to time. Yes, we need to have a benefits 'floor' - a minimum living income for those who cannot work. Whether that is because there is no work for which they are qualified or because there is something else in their lives that means that they find it difficult to work.

That can be a disability, it could be because they are studying, it could be because they are the carer (normally but not always the mother) of a small child or the carer (normally but not always the wife or daughter) of a dependent adult. That's fine. Caring for small children is an honourable occupation - whether you are related to them or not. Remember that the authoritarian (or 'scumbag') right wing would generally insist (historically at least) that the "stay at home mother" was the ideal model for society. Clearly bollocks of course but ...

Mrs S-E couldn't wait to get back to work after either Miss S-E or young Master S-E. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, has decided that a formal career break (from a very good job, in pay terms, at least) is the way she wants to play things. Personal choices, personal circumstances. Neither are single mums, of course but that doesn't change the fundamental motivation.

So the benefits system needs to cope. It needs not to discourage women who want to work from doing so - that means reasonable marginal tax rates (compared to the headline tax rates). Whether it is a small amount of part-time work, which may be all that is available or it may be that the lass just wants to get away for a few hours a week from washing nappies and watching 'Peppa Pig'. And it needs to realise that, even on a full time job, she may not be bringing in that much more than child-care and transport costs (Mrs S-E has certainly been there.) Some benefits are particularly iniquitous - you mentioned housing benefit. Simplification is the right-wing bastard answer - with a 'Citizens' Basic Income' as the limiting exemplar.

Anyway - single mums. Some mums are single, as you say, because many men are shits (perhaps even most young men. You might 'think' we're an awful blight on society but we are, or from the pov of the aged, were that blight!) Some are single because they had a loving relationship and it didn't last. It happens. Some mums are single because they wanted a child and didn't particularly want the man that is, frankly, only necessary at the conception stage. Some mums - the stereotype, I suppose - are single because they wanted the sex and were too careless, stupid or pissed to take or insist on birth control.

It is going to be impossible to differentiate between the above (of course, with a CBI, you wouldn't need to), even if they were clear cut categories. Which they're not.

Anyway - happy to disagree with you about the Royal Family. Even if the verminous politician who would replace HMQ as Head of State cost nothing. Which they wouldn't. And the Queen didn't say, okay, thanks, I'll have the Crown Estates (2009 income - straight to the Treasury - over 4 times the 2009 Civil List IIRC), the entire Civil List would pay for on the order of 6000 child care places (advertised cost of c childminder near me, from the council site - £3.65 per hour, assuming 45 hours per week, including a minimum amount for travel to work and 'incidents' and a 44 week working year.) Not nothing but, realistically, 'drop in the ocean' stuff compared to the scale of the problem.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Confused? I am

Okay, I don't read the Indefensible very often but I was reading Matilda Battersby's appalling story on ContactPoint (Matilda, they're choosing to bin something that won't work and will / has already cost a fortune but will have a massive and unwelcome impact on civil liberties in favour of trying to sort out the actual problem!) and I came across the Independent on Sunday's "Pink List".

Okay, I thought, worth a read.

Now it's full of people I've never heard of, which isn't a great surprise, and a number who I am aware of.  Okay, so I'm not a metrosexual and, frankly, don't care particularly about what some public figure's sexual leanings or proclivities are.

But at no 19, I got a shock. Trooper Wharton, although a bit of a cheer-leader for celebration of civil partnerships in the military - albeit in the Household Cavalry where being a bit of a "mommy's boy" is hardly earth-shattering - more "influential" than, well, Ministers and their shadows, a couple of Judges (one Chairman of the Law Commission), the First Civil Service Commissioner, Matthew Parris, Lionel Blue, the vice-chair of the Conservatives and the editor of "Gay Times". Even some lesbian Lt Cdr? For what, exactly? Appearing on the front page of "Squaddie Monthly".

Well, I suppose if the most 19th most important gay person in the country is a private soldier, we hardly need to worry about being run by a shadowy pink-mafia. Unless it is all an incompetent joke. Well, it is the Independent!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Honest, I don't read the Sun but

I got there via an embedded link in one of Tim's posts. And it was quite amusing. Extracts from a book I'll have to get once it comes out in paperback.

Although "mimping whiffler" is quite good, I particularly liked

COCKTHROPPLED: Having an unusually large Adam's apple. 

Now, who do we (society that is - I'm actually too polite when sober) normally snigger at for having larger than expected Adam's apples? Trannies (whether -vestite or -sexual - and I think transgender means something different as well but I really can't be bothered. Splitters!) of course.

Now, would you say that their cocks might have been throppled?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

To the First Minister, a modest suggestion.

In response to Senator Lautenberg's pleading, I'd like to make the following wholly politically inappropriate suggestion to Wee Alec for his response:

"The decisions of the democratically elected government of Scotland are not subject to review by the legislative branch, or any other part, of the government of the United States of America. Regardless of any need for co-operation or conversations between our respective executives, a public show trial in Washington is a completely inappropriate mechanism for international political discourse.

Special pleading by Democratic Senators needing to bolster their colleagues' mid-term re-election chances does not materially alter any of these points.

Or, in brief, FOAD!"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Support John Dixon

Yes, a councillor did actually say something honest, accurate and not fed through the local party PR machine before regurgitation:

I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off.
Scientology is an enormous con - bigger than advanced fee fraud, just with better lawyers.  They don't have "churches", they have "mark fleecing centres".

'Stupid', to be analytical after the event, as is the right, nay the duty, of the commentariat everywhere, may not have been quite as good as "spectacularly gullible" or "needy, desperate and naive" but, in the context of 140 characters, it's a damn good approximation.

Religious tolerance, yes, to an extent. But only for religions, not for scams invented by a third-rate sci-fi hack writer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Okay, this is strange

I have a draft in progress. It's nothing special - my thoughts on some of the killings that have happened recently. But work - both professional and social - got in the way and then I've spent an evening with my family. So I come back - the browser is still active and what is in the window?
But then, moving on, the researchers asked a further set of questions, about whether science could be usefully deployed to understand all kinds of stuff, all entirely unrelated to stereotypes about homosexuality: "the existence of clairvoyance", "the effectiveness of spanking as a disciplinary technique for children", "the effect of viewing television violence on violent behaviour", "the accuracy of astrology in predicting personality traits" and "the mental and physical health effects of herbal medications".

It's from a Ben Goldacre article published on BBC World about a week or so ago, apparently. The boggle minds! I'll blame it on a hash collision - YMMV.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

BBC Understatement

From here:

Hizb ut-Tahrir, a conservative Muslim group known for trying to push a strict Islamic agenda
As opposed to their more rational statement in a 2003 Newsnight report:

promotes racism and anti-Semitic hatred, calls suicide bombers martyrs, and urges Muslims to kill Jewish people. 

Of course, Hizb still operate freely in Britain ...

PS - I was more than slightly surprised to see this article posted freely on Hizb's UK site. Clearly copyright doesn't exist in Sharia but, no comment? No point-by-point repudiation? No foaming at the mouth> Very strange. Okay, it is in a folder entitled "propaganda-war", but, really ...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sauce for the Gander?

Just for the record, I'm as suspicious of the (ab)use of the Extradition Act 2003 in the Abid Nasser case as in the Gary McKinnon and Natwest Three ones.

If we know he is a member of Al Qaeda and suspect he was the leader of a plot to blow things up in the UK, why is he being arrested on a US warrant rather than charged under, well, ss11, 57 & 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, and conspiracy to cause things to go "Boom"?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Reflexive Mendacity of New Labour

Alastair Campbell, being interviewed by Iain Dale:


ID: You’ve just published the first volume of your diaries, but about a quarter of this book has already appeared, hasn’t it?

AC: No. 75 per cent is new.

Somebody criticises - lie. Even if it is completely pointless.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The moral of the Frank McAveety "story"?

If you can survive my implication that the is any connection between "morals" and senior members of the Scottish Labour party ...

That we actually demand our politicians be hypocrites. That we insist that they refuse to say, anywhere we might hear it, the things we know they say in public ...  And, yes, men do talk about attractive women - and not always in the terms they might to to them (or about them, in the hearing radius of their wives - which is, as I know well, about 40 miles!)

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Well-Trained Cynic

From young Master S-E this morning:

Teamwork - I'll be the team and you do the work!

A career in politics or banking clearly beckons.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Scottish Councillors given "blogging guide"

I really can't think why such a thing should be thought necessary!

Published by local government body the Improvement Service, it warned councillors to carefully consider the implications of anything they were considering publishing on the internet. 

Just a random quote from the sage of Paisley:

As I get older I find myself mellowing; honestly I do, if you don’t agree I’ll punch your f*****g heid in right!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Election: Lib-Con Agreement

Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes!  Absolutely wonderful.

10. Civil liberties
The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:

  • A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
  • The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
  • Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
  • The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
  • Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database. 
  • The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury. 
  • The restoration of rights to non-violent protest. 
  • The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech. 
  • Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation. 
  • Further regulation of CCTV. 
  • Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason. 
  • A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

I also note very little on Defence - a Strategic Security and Defence Review and maintenance of the deterrent (albeit with a review of Trident with agreement that the Lib-Dems don't like it.)

Election: Quote of the Day.

From the Times online blog:

Theresa May is only the second ever female home secretary - let's hope she follows in the illustrious footsteps of Jacqui Smith.

So illustrious she was sacked by both party and electorate?

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Modest Proposal

I'm reading an e-book - "Shadow of Saganami" by David Weber.

This struck me as apposite Libertarianism:

And all the Star Kingdom requires to vote is that a citizen pay at least one cent more in taxes than he receives in government transfer payments and subsidies

Now, I wonder what difference that rule would have made yesterday? I'll point out that if you include pay for government work on the negative side, I'd be disenfranchised.

Election: Blurgh

I'm not hung-over - yet. What a disappointment.

Still, Smith and Opik down, it can't be a bad thing ...

Really tough luck for John McNally - I was told, repeatedly, that he had no chance but hope sprung eternal ...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Election: Another Quiz

Not, of course, that it matters but I have just taken the "Who Should You Vote For" quiz (note that this is an England version - and it doesn't reference the BNP).

The results are fairly unsurprising:

Conservative32
Liberal Democrat22
UK Independence13
Green10
Labour-30
You expected: CON
Your recommendation: Conservative

I didn't, of course, for the entirely sound reason of that huge, huge "No, not Labour" thing.

Oh, found a Scotland version:

Conservative38
Liberal Democrat24
UK Independence9
Green6
Labour-8
Scottish National Party-15

See, I needed a really strong clothes-peg when I filled that postal ballot in ...

Note that the Scotland one is biased because I am a Unionist - I would note that I would rather see a Federal Britain or a broken Union than the country completely ruined ... Also, the results are slightly biased by me leaving neutral the question "The next Prime Minister should have experience of senior government office." If I change that to the "Anybody but Gordon" radio button, I get:

Conservative44
Liberal Democrat30
UK Independence15
Green12
Labour-14
Scottish National Party-21

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Submarines

The unofficial motto of the submarine service is "There are only two sorts of ships. Submarines and targets."  It tells the same dangerous truth as the old Royal Navy opinion of submarines, alleged to Admiral of the Fleet (then Rear-Admiral) Sir Arthur Wilson VC etc, etc, who otherwise had an exceptional career, that they were:

underhand, unfair and damned un-English

In his 'honour', a British submarine will fly the Jolly Roger if it sinks an enemy warship on a patrol, last performed by HMS Conqueror - the US Navy have a similar tradition involving tying a broom to a periscope.

Neil Craig has a post up about submarines and carrier battle groups.  It misses the fundamental point about temperature-based warfare - you don't give people the chance to practice.  Letting the Song-class get inside the screen was a bad thing because the officers who were involved in that exercise may well be the officers commanding the PLA submarines which are 'protecting' Taiwan from the evil invading 鬼佬 hordes come the mainland 'assistance' of their cousins to true democracy :)

I am reminded of the possibly apocryphal story of the British O Boat (very junior) captain, commanded to lose graciously in the Thursday War - the RN being run, then as now, by ex-frigate commanders.  He refused the unfair blue water battle and just sat his boat on the bottom, outside Portland Harbour and, once the important people had sailed past, came quietly to periscope depth and launched his green grenades (being a submarine way of saying "I think I've just sunk you", as opposed to red grenades, which sort of say "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, I think I've just sunk myself!").

Carriers, like ballistic missile submarines, are the "Uncle Target" of the naval world.  Except you might not, quite, start a nuclear war if you attack a carrier.  Any submarine commander worth his ego would carry out a practice attack on a carrier if he didn't have a diplomat ready to throttle him,

I remember listening to the panic when the Yanks lost track of an Oscar class submarine in the North Atlantic, while a carrier battle group was heading east from Norfolk.  It wasn't that it was a time of tension - there was no direct threat.  The concern was that if a Soviet (yes, that long ago) submarine crew were able to practice getting within the effective range of their "Shipwreck" / "Granit" missiles to the carrier - call it 500km, then they would be able to improve their doctrine for getting there in time of war.  Yes, these games were played - land, sea and air.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Election: Tweets and Twats

A certain Eric Joyce carped at me a week or so ago for pointing out that a large number of candidates for Parliament, who used to be MPs, were breaking Electoral Law by still referring to themselves as MPs.  This, he implied was trivial and unworthy of the limited time I had spent on a not very comprehensive or random survey.

This morning, I wake up to a Labour candidate in an egregious breach of Electoral Law.  Apparently,

It was a thoughtless thing to do, and I very quickly realised that it was not appropriate to put such information in the public domain.

No, you vacuous cyber-cunt - it isn't "not appropriate" - it is illegal.

Well, yes. Like Harman and Balls with their mobile phones, the Attorney General and her mysterious lack of documentation, and Lord Ahmed killing a father because it was inconvenient to be away from his text messages - we see a total disregard for the law of the land.  Add the expenses scandal and this is across the political class.  Scum.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

An Alternative View

I've been watching a desperately ill paranoid narcissist, aided by some very shady characters, fighting two equally morally deficient individuals - one desperately trying to be charming, the other just out for revenge.  Much collateral damage done to the public and the country as a whole.

Of course, I went, en famille, to see a preview of Iron Man 2 - but you'll have been watching the third debate ...

Election: What? Over Already?

According to the BBC:


Okay, the link doesn't give you the results - well, we have a week to go but ...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Election: Fifth Leaflet

Well, I was quite surprised to get more than two but we are now up to five and this one is wonderful.



Okay, so as the previous post mentioned, there's the odd issue with these fiddly internet address things.  There's also a superfluous 'the' in the first paragraph and the leaflet is pointedly absent any mention of the Bigot-Finder General.  

I would point out that despite the nice MacBook Pro on the back, Meg Lauder isn't all she seems.  Now, you could take this as an interesting case-study in the lack of privacy in the Web 2.0 age but, she's here (and here), here, here and here and commenting on the new Falkirk Labour blog here. Not an ordinary voter. In fact, I don't think she's a voter at all (mutters - no I'm not stalking her but all of her blurb say's she's 17.)  And she's a pupil, not a student ...



Election: Epic Eric Fail

Got a new leaflet, will blog it later.

Epic fail on the part of May McIntyre, Election Agent for oor Eric*.


This leaflet claims Eric's facebook account is at "facebook.com/ericjoyce1", who is actually an ice-hockey enthusiast from Toronto.




The actual PPC Eric can be found here and possibly here.

Oh, and 'facebook.falkirklabour' isn't a URL



and www.facebook.com/falkirklabour doesn't work - however, www.facebook.com/pages/Falkirk-Labour/292327709511 does.  It's not hard ...

* I've linked the MP blog because the man himself - or some minion - looks (or looked?) at track-backs.

Election: Quote of Yesterday.

It is particularly fevered in those we might loosely describe as the Guardian tribe. (Loosely because, of course, Guardian readers are far too independent-minded to constitute anything so crude as a tribe.)

Jonathan, the word you are looking for is 'flock'.

Election: Just what are UKIP up to?

I can't remember why, but I ended up on the UKIP website, looking at their policies.  Ouch.  Really.

I agree with the main point of UKIP - out of the EU.  Whether this means EEA / EFTA or a bilateral agreement like Switzerland, I don't care but we don't need the code law, the statism or the 'social democracy'.

On the rest of it? I'll pick two of their 17 areas:

Defence
  • Boost the military budget by 40% so our armed forces are properly equipped
  • Demand one clear achievable mission for Afghanistan or seek a negotiated exit
  • Keep Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent strong
  • Look after our service heroes with better pay and conditions
  • Expand the Army by 25% and double the TA
  • Provide more RAF helicopters and aircraft
  • Expand the Royal Navy to its 2001 strength, guaranteeing the future of Plymouth, Portsmouth and Rosyth ports

Just look at it. Firstly - a budget increase of 40%? Yes, throwing money at a government department has proved such a success with New Labour, hasn't it? Also, we can't afford it. According to their figures, the net EU contribution is £16.4 billion. The 2009 / 10 MOD budget is a bit over £35bn. So that one commitment is taking 86% of our government revenue savings?  Never mind that this will all get siphoned off into crap we don't actually need (Typhoon tranche 3), stuff we need but a buying stupidly expensively because we insist it is built in the UK to support BAE shareholders (Apache, FRES) and general waste.

Afghan?  Nice thought but "one clear achievable mission" is an oxymoron.

Independent deterrent? Without wishing to pander to those who insist that the Yanks have a veto on launch of Trident (errm, yes, it's designed to work if the entire Western World has been left a smoking ruin?  And, no, we don't have the US, in fact - any, PAL system on the warheads.)

TACOS - are fine, thanks - nearly everybody would want more pay but a recent Arrse thread basically pointed out that as the recruitment pipelines are overflowing, pay is clearly 'acceptable'.  Yes, some bits of the system are broken (accommodation, particularly) but that is due to a combination of silly bureaucracy and worse contract writing - not something that can be trivially fixed by throwing money at it.

Expand, expand, expand.  Well, apart from the fact they clearly don't realise that Faslane is now the one Scottish military port and they can't mean the shipyards or they would have mentioned Barrow and the Clyde - you can't just do this.  You need to recreate the military pyramid (with the AcSM on top, of course) and you can only shove in at the bottom.  My training took 5 years from joining up through to my first operational post - and I wasn't doing anything difficult like flying fast jets.  Also, doubling the size of the TA?  Come off it - we can't recruit up to strength (in most areas) as it is (and, given the lesser time you can devote to training as a reservist, it takes even longer to produce a useful soldier.)

Culture & Restoring Britishness
  • End support for multiculturalism and promote one shared British culture for all
  • Be fair to England by introducing an ‘English Parliament’, ending the discriminatory Barnett Formula and making St George’s Day a national holiday in England
  • Ban the burka and veiled niqab in public buildings and certain private buildings
  • Require UK schools to teach Britain’s contribution to the world and celebrate cultures, languages and traditions from around the British Isles
  • Scrap political correctness in public affairs

Oh dear, "one shared British culture"? Whose culture would that be then?  The Outer Hebridies, where running a ferry on the Lord's Day causes public concern?  Victorian puritanism (and prurience) or Georgian between-the-wars hedonism?  Chav bling and vomiting in gutters all around (and, frankly - that's what passes for 'British' these days - Ned if you want to be parochial).

England stuff - oh God.  Not more politicians?  Yes, we need to solve the imbalance of powers and the funding issues and I have no problem with St George's Day being a holiday.  (Actually, is having a day off to celebrate the death of a Palestinian or Turkish soldier part of the multiculturalism the previous bullet isn't supporting?)

Banning things. Isn't British. If you want to import French ideas, what about their health service funding?

Schools - great. So Londoners need to be taught Gaelic and weegies Kernewek?  That's what they are saying!

The problem is not "political correctness" which, at its basis is just good manners, but excess.  And there is no commitment to the incarceration of all "Diversity Officers", which would be a damn good start.

Nothing (Much) to do with the Election

Christie Malry, over at the FCA blog, is running a serious of 100 posts "Reasons not to vote Labour".  Number 67 is the "Individual Learning Account".  Many years ago (about 10), I did occasional bits of unpaid security analysis for the Financial Times.  Then I went to work for a bank.  And the FT rang me up to say they had access to an extract from the ILA database and would I take a look at it for them.

We then had one of those surreal experiences best categorised by Joseph Heller.  My boss says "Whose that on the phone."  "The FT," I say.  "You can't talk to the FT" "That's what I'm telling them!"  Anyway, man from FT rings man from bank press office and utters the magic words.  I'd like to think they were something like "Excellent analyst, fundamentally depend on him" (Ed notes: excellent value for money, anyway, on the grounds that division by zero results in an arbitrarily large value) but were more likely to be "Unattributed, of course.  And I'll buy you a beer."  So I was sent the data set and got to work.

It was one of these bits of work that take far longer to write up than to do - in fact, it has probably taken me longer writing this blog post.  The ILA numbers were a linear series with a check digit.  Therefore, with one valid number, you could predict the rest in both directions.  So all you, assuming you were a fraudulent learning provider, needed was to get one recent number - yourself, friends, family - used or unused, it didn't matter and then generate away.  You could trivially check whether an account had been used (a security measure to prevent end-user fraud) and then enroll the number.  No database access needed - improper or otherwise, no trawling for unused accounts, none of it necessary.  All you needed to make sure you did was avoid registering accounts which were yet to be issued (which, I assume - and AITMOAFU - would have set off some fraud detection).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Election: Labour, even losing the porcine vote

You have to wonder whether there is some super-sekret Mandlesonian plan relying on Labour losing this election.  There's long been the rumour that he wants to come back as an MP - converting his life perrage into a hereditary one (technically a promotion) would bar him from the Commons perhaps.  Anyway:

This little piggy doesn't support Labour!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Election: Fourth Leaflet

Well, I wasn't expecting "A Personal Message from David Cameron" to pop through my door - it's certainly not personalised (only Eric Joyce's was) but through it came.

It is certainly the best designed of the leaflets so far - not having to stick with a corporate red or yellow (and that dreadful pink John dredged up for the background of his text boxes!) certainly helps.


It's a concerted attack on the failings of the UK Labour Government, a lot of statements about expenses (but never a mention of Joyce) and a few local issues tacked on to the final sixth of the sheet.  She isn't, of course, local.

Much of what she promises relates to devolved issue but there is a statement about UK.gov working with Scotland.gov.  She also promises "honesty, integrity, openness and candour".  She's a PR advisor FFS, 'candour'? If there is a Tory government on May 7th (or shortly thereafter), they are all going to be on the tightest of leashes.  David Cameron is entirely aware why John Major's government collapsed and he isn't going to be allowing even those free-thinkers who have been selected and are elected to rock the boat.

But Katie hasn't got a hope in hell of being elected, honestly. She wouldn't have a hope even if the campaign wasn't so personalised - although, if Joyce had been deselected, I may well have gone and ceremonially spoiled my ballot (which is what voting Tory here under FPTP counts as.)  I suspect that a lot of her expected 10% of the vote will tactically vote "anybody but Eric" and that can only be good news for John.  Will we see her on the Central Scotland list in a couple of years?  Reckon so ...

Election: Voted

Postal vote arrived this morning. Completed. Off to the Post Office with it.

Election: My Thoughts (and Votes)

Okay, so, where should my vote go?

Well, VoterPower reckons it really doesn't matter - this is an "Ultra safe" - aka Labour - constituency:

But, the SNP clearly believe that they have a real chance of winning the seat - and, on the Holyrood record, they should do.  Michael Matheson1 is the local constituency MSP (having previously been a list MSP for Central Scotland).

And the 2007 election results for what was then Falkirk West show a 2.7% lead:

Candidate Party Votes %age
Michael Matheson SNP
12,068
41.9
Dennis Goldie Labour
11,292
39.2

Now, of course the constituency has changed, the turn out was terrible (just above 50%) and the personalities are different.  It would be difficult to argue that Labour are more popular after 3 more years of Westminster misrule or that the SNP haven't demonstrated that they can competently run Scotland.

Eric Joyce has done his reputation some good by finally publicly disagreeing with the party machine but came a cropper with the advertising hoardings around his new Denny office.  John McNally is a nice guy and a good local councillor (in an area with some considerable reputation for some oddity amongst its elected members).  No-one else has a chance ...

If I was in Buckingham, I would be voting UKIP.  But that's as much a negative vote - Bercow the 'sleaze fighter' has not impressed - as what I am expecting to cast here2.  If I was somewhere with a Tory candidate with half a chance, I would probably vote for them.  Here it is a simple choice between a party I despise with a candidate who has proven personally despicable, and an overly socialist bunch whose core policy I oppose but will have a decent local MP.  Oh well, localism is the new Thatcherism, I suppose ...


1. I am surprised by this inclusion on his site though, especailly as it is linked from his official Scottish Parliament page:
Demo Information
NOTE: This demo is purely for demonstration purposes and all the content relating to products, services and events are fictional and are designed to showcase a live site. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.

2. Apart from the basic policy of withdrawal (or, de minimis, repatriation of much of our sovereignty - in effect, withdrawal) from the EU, I am skeptical about much of the UKIP policy: doubling the size of the TA is impractical (we're not currently recruited to strength anyway) and banning the burka et al is simply un-British ...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The way things change

I've just been re-reading Larry Niven's "Crashlander".  The story "At The Core" forms a significant part in his "Known Space" universe and was written in 1966.

Some 35 years on, we have this:



And this:


And this:



We can already see the Core stars. We don't need the Quantum II Hyperdrive shunt. And, as we can clearly see, they are not (well, most of them, anyway) exploding. Ain't science wonderful?

Quote of a long time ago ...

I believe that the great mistake of the last few years has been for the government to provide or to legislate for almost everything.

The then Mrs, now Baroness Thatcher (LG OM PC FRS), via Cranmer

Election: Dennis's Revenge (Third Leaflet)

Well, well, well.  I went in to get my hair cut earlier in the week and was really surprised to find John in there working - I would have expected him to have some election-y things to do.  But no, I get my hair shortened and had an interesting discussion with him about the issues.

He did say that the reason we haven't seen any posters is that they've been banned by the local council.  Frankly, I wasn't nearly as unhappy about this as John was - some of the smaller (aka loonier) parties just didn't bother to remove their placards after the 2007 Scottish and Council elections - so this was left to the council. And I probably should have read the Herald more to find out about it (I normally rely on Mrs S-E to point out anything of significance.)  Apparently, as well, the leaflets via Royal Mail are getting out much more quickly than usual - he ascribed this to volcano-induced lack of international mail and may well be right.  He actually had stopped volunteers putting the larger version of the main leaflet through mailboxes because the mail leaflet had already arrived.

He also said that there would be another leaflet out at the weekend.  Here it is:


Oh.  Wow.  When Dennis ran as MSP for this constituency (then Falkirk West) as an independent candidate, he had the highest majority (Ed: you've done it again. Stop it!) of any MSP.  His backing is going to be very significant to John's personal campaign and the wider "Anybody but Eric" movement.

As a note - does anybody know how to get blogger to display two images side by side?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Election: UKIP

I've just seen the Falkirk Herald and we have a UKIP candidate - a Brian Goldie.  I don't know the man.

His Camelon upbring suggests, though, that he is a member of the Goldie political family, as the police used to say "well known around these parts".  Dennis Goldie is a former Labour councillor, Provost and stood for MSP in the 2007 election (beaten by the SNP) - probably most famous (outside the area) for not liking gay people very much.  Gerrie (Gerald) Goldie is a current labour councillor. 

Election: Second Leaflet

And, I suspect, the last - neither the Lib Dems nor the Tories have any realistic change of doing anything more stunning than retaining their deposits.  Anyway:


So what have we here?  It's fairly sustained attack on the record of one (never actually mentioned) Mr E Joyce - on expenses, on his previous role as cheerpuppet in chief for the Iraq War.  It majors (Ed: yes, I saw what you did there :( ) on John's local connections (born and bred - works here, on the council - although he does live just outside the constituency).

Policies get a mere paragraph - council tax freeze (devolved), new schools (devolved), police (devolved) - although it is less of a cheek for an SNP candidate for Westminster to mention these, I believe (as he is actually intent on have his own job defenestrated).  Lots of mention of community, none of independence (well, he's probably right that we do sort of know this.)  Surprisingly, no mention of the Scottish Government or wee Eck - although the local MSP does get a photo and a brief mention.

Frankly - this is a "Vote for me, I'm not Eric" leaflet.  Which I will do and for that precise reason.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Okay: So who's fault is the volcano?

My mind is utterly boggled.

Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi told worshippers in Tehran last Friday :

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes."

And the idiot is joined by some politician:

Minister of Welfare and Social Security Sadeq Mahsooli said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best "formulas to repel earthquakes."

It's nearly (actually, no, it's nowhere near) enough to make me want to join the militant atheist loons.

But let's remember, amongst the light hearted stuff that, while earthquakes aren't caused by failures in dress sense, stoning to death can be trivially caused by such heinous crimes against God (or those who claim to be his earthly representatives) as being gang-raped or refusing to marry your uncle.

Election: First Leaflet

And it's from oor Eric ...


This is two-horse tournament stuff.  No picture of his glorious leader, no mention that he resigned from the government, no mention of the Scottish Government - in fact no mention of the SNP - his only credible opposition in this seat.

He talks about new hospitals and new schools - but education and health are devolved matters.  Nothing to do with the Falkirk MP - whoever they happen to be, or the Westminster government.

Scream "evil Tories" loud enough and the sheep will knee-jerk vote Red.

And, I have to say "Regeneration in Denny" - not obvious from where I am sitting.  The eyesore flats were going to be demolished - cancelled by the Labour council ...

No mention of the disastrous state of the British economy - although the "Scottish economy" has apparently been rescued by Labour, no mention of his appalling record on expenses, lots of mentions of pensions - none of his glorious leader's single-handed destruction of the British private pension system.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Election: What Election?

Am slightly surprised by the total lack of election posters and literature.  The only adverts cable-tied to lamp-posts are about missing cats ...

Not even the Christian Evangelical whackos are advertising.  Or the SNP, who are the realistic opposition to Labour round here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

They think it's over; and it isn't quite

BCA drop libel case ...

Now, let's see what happens about the legal costs ...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Election: Illiteracy

SNP election leaflet, entitled "More Nats, less cuts".

"Fewer cuts", you fools!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wake up Eric!

A certain Mr E Joyce seems to have forgotten that Parliament has been prorogued.  Unlike, for example, John Redwood or Tom Watson, who have made it clear that they are now Parliamentary candidates, rather than MPs, oor Eric still has
I am the Member of Parliament for Falkirk.

I've done a quick check for some others - Lynne Featherstone, Douglas Carswell and David Jones,  definitely get it - making it clear they are just candidates. Tom Harris has it overtly on his banner but has forgotten to amend his "about" page and Dominic Grieve needs to fix his <title> tag!

John Barrett, Sir George Young and John Baron have just temporarily closed their blogs. Nadine Dorries and Richard Bacon definitely join Eric in the naughty corner.

Update - I thought I would go up market (or down, depending on which way you see it) and check the party leaders. Witney Conservatives have it correct for the Cameroon - it's a pity that davidcameronmp.com still has him as MP for Witney.  The Tory site is still claiming "There are currently 195 Conservative Members of Parliament in the House of Commons" too!  The revolving healthcare assistants at 10 Downing Street still have McRuin as an MP and Alex Salmond is still "MSP MP" or "MP / MSP"although Nick Clegg's site is as compliant as the best of the backbenchers.

Update 2 - Both of Eric's blogs are now sorted, as is davidcameronmp and, I think, Nadine's.  No10, both Salmond bios and Richard Bacon's site are still out of compliance.  If they can't get the little things right, why should we trust them with something actually important?

Election: WTF?

The Scottish Labour manifesto.  Rebuild the economy with hi-tech jobs (as if the govt can do that, right!)

Launched at Ravenscraig - epitome of the old, low-tech manufacturing ...

And it was a steel plant, so not even irony!

Friday, April 09, 2010

WTF Dictionary

From the egregious Joyce's blog.

Tweeple.

Of course, a couple of his hopeful colleagues are no longer on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Election Quote of the Whatever

"Gordon Brown is a man of substance", C Whelan.

Quickly followed by the SPAd - "The Prime Minister ... is making us all laugh".

No, you cock.  Brown is the Prime Minister, Whelan just gives him money.

Monday, April 05, 2010

"Freemen" or "Free, at Large, from A Secure Hospital"?

In "another place", I found myself in discussion with yet another bunch of whackos - the so-called "Freemen".  During that discussion, those of us both with an appreciation for English law and its derivation from the common law had great difficulty in understanding where they drew their 'knowledge of the law' from.

Then one of them, by nym 'Barny' came up with a little list:
And In order to backup those principles we can employ the Maxims of law.

If every man did the same we would have the basis for self governence. No one entity would be in control hence the maxim - Equality before the law is paramount and mandatory.

However, as things are currently, when a freeman asks you for your oath, by maxim you are compelled to provide it. Please see below...

Court and Pleas

There can be no plea of that thing of which the dissolution is sought.
A false plea is the basest of all things.
There can be no plea against an action which entirely destroys the plea.
He who does not deny, admits. [A well-known rule of pleading]
No one is believed in court but upon his oath. [including judges.]
An infamous person is repelled or prevented from taking an oath.
In law none is credited unless he is sworn.
All the facts must, when established by witnesses, be under oath or affirmation.

...

Right - so, as far as 'Court and Pleas' we have a brief statement of the beliefs of the 'Freemen". Where did this come from? Well a little bit of diligent googling leads us to a fuller list here. Ecclesia.org is the home of the "Ecclesiastic Commonwealth Community" - an USian or, at least, North American bunch of Christian Young-Creationist whackos.  Their statements contain such gems as:

The atmosphere has less than 40,000 years worth of helium, based on just the production of helium from the decay of uranium and thorium. There is no known means by which large amounts of helium can escape from the atmosphere.

Erm, yes there is - where do kiddies' helium balloons go when they release them?  And that's carrying all that plastic and string!  Light gases in a warm atmosphere can achieve escape velocity.  Molecular He (a single atom molecule) has an weight slightly less than 4 x atomic H.  Very light.  Any way, back to the law.  I think I've found their source.

So, our immediate thought is to the credibility of Mr Charles A Weisman.  Well, given this purports to be a legal text, we would look for its publishing by one of the great legal publishers - Butterworths or Sweet and Maxwell (or their USian equivalents), or even one of the standard textbook publishers - the great University Presses, Pitman, Wiley, McGraw Hill etc.

Or ... wait for it ...

Publisher: Weisman Publications; 3 edition (February 1, 1995)

Nope, that's a simple strike for credibility. (Ed notes: if the maxims of the law are unchanging and unchangeable - why new editions rather than merely reprints?) Okay, we'll have another look - what about the author?  What else has Charles A Weisman written?  Scholarly books on the law?  Perhaps he is a scholar of medieval and church law?  Or, maybe, just maybe, he is a common or garden racist (anybody whose books are onsale at the Stormfront bookstore ain't going to be selling tranquility), anti-semitic1, nut-job?  Lets see:
# The Origin of Race and Civilization
# Essential Health Issues
# Antichrists In The Land
# Maxims of Law
# Is Universalism of God?: A theological study into the nature of God's…
# Jewish Identity- An Examination of the Jewish Issue Showing the Origin and…
# A Handbook of Bible Law
# America, free, white, & Christian: The foundations and principles in…
# Laws and Principles of Marriage, As Expounded Upon and Made Precedent…
# Life, Liberty & Property
# Who is Esau-Edom?: The Life, History, Genealogy, Prophecy, Predestination…
# The De Facto Government of the United States: A Discussion on the Unlawful…
# The Authority of Law
# A Treatise on Arrest and False Imprisonment
# The Right to Travel
# Facts and Fictions Regarding Noah's Flood

That doesn't reek of 'author credibility' to me.  So, lets have a look at a brief selection of these 'maxims' and their applicability to English law.

He who does not deny, admits. [A well-known rule of pleading]
Absolutely true.  In the USA.  US civil suit filings are full of the impact of this standard (example from Groklaw from the SCO vs IBM debacle):

1. States that it is without information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the averments of paragraph 1, except admits that UNIX is a standard specification and a brand that characterizes certain computer operating systems.

2. Denies the averments of paragraph 2 as they relate to IBM, except refers to the referenced licenses for their contents and states that IBM is without information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the averments as they relate to any other person or entity.
You'll notice that they have to be very specific about what they are accepting, have not got enough information to accept or deny, or denying - paragraph by paragraph from the original complaint:

1. UNIX is a computer operating system program and related software originally developed by AT&T Bell Laboratories (“AT&T”). SCO/UNIX is a modification of UNIX and related software developed by SCO and its predecessors. UNIX and SCO/UNIX are widely used in the corporate, or “enterprise,” computing environment.

2. As a result of its acquisition of the rights to UNIX from AT&T and its own development of UNIX and SCO/UNIX, SCO is the present owner of both UNIX and SCO/UNIX software. UNIX and SCO/UNIX are valuable software programs and SCO and its predecessors have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in their development and enhancement. SCO (which, as used herein, includes its predecessor) has licensed UNIX and SCO/UNIX both to software vendors such as IBM and computer end-users such as McDonald’s. The UNIX and SCO/UNIX licenses granted to software vendors and end-users are limited licenses, which impose restrictions and obligations on the licensees designed to protect the economic value of UNIX and SCO/UNIX.

Burden of proof is a much more difficult concept in the UK.  Under UK law, para 1 is both true and, essentially, harmless.  Para 2 is more interesting but is, in essence, also true - the question was not the ownership of the software, it was the ownership of the copyrights - which are a much more formally bound thing under US law.

Consent makes the law: the terms of a contract, lawful in its purpose, constitute the law as between the parties.

I'm not even sure if this is true in the USA - in the UK, the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977,  the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, various employment law provisions all regulate the law of contract - as do common law ideas such as force majeure and duress.

He who consents cannot receive an injury.

Used to be considered to be true - although it had never been tested to the limit.  Clearly now superseded in common law by R v Donovan (1934), R v Brown and others (1992), and probably HRA98 Article 3 (although the Spanner Trust disagreed.)  True, the consensual application of torture is a limiting case but hey, all of these arguments have to be assembled through limiting cases.

An act does not make a man a criminal, unless his intention be criminal.

Strict liability offences - possession of kiddy porn, a sawn-off shotgun, carrying a blade in public without a lawful excuse (except a folding knife of less than 3" etc, etc).  B0llocks.  Sorry, these people have no clue.

That which is against Divine Law is repugnant to society and is void.

I like this one.  Whose "Divine Law"?  Iran, Saudi, Harris, Ireland, Israel (no, not actually a theocracy but they do have a startlingly large number of legal exemptions for the more weirdly Orthodox) etc, etc.  Stand back and let the battle commence. :)


1.
Although the Jews have appeared in the histories of other nations throughout the centuries, they were never able or willing to establish a nation of their own. They remain forever desolate in this regard. The only way the Jews got possession of Palestine was by using other people to steal it from the Turks and Arabs for them. The so-called 'Israeli' state is
nothing but a parasitic state, since it is occupied by parasites. The Jews get billions of dollars from Germany as 'reparations' and 'restitution payments' for its alleged 'war crimes' against Jews. They get billions more every year from the United States. It (Israel) has to steal or buy technology from Western nations as the Jews have not the creativity to develop their own. The Jewish state of Israel would collapse in a minute without the continued support, protection and assistance from Jacob/Israel (The White Nations of Christendom). It is not, never has been, and never will be a self-sustaining nation.
(Charles A. Weisman, Who is Esau-Edom?, pp. 27-28).  And he's very wrong about Israel and technology (okay, they still get a lot of their military kit from the States but just look at the number of Israeli computer security companies!)
 
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