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 "", 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 doesn't work - however, 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:

  • 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 working with  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
Dennis Goldie Labour

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 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.


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. 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. :)

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!)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Please rearrange: "! are BRAINS coming eat They to your"

I apologise that this almost Unity-length post has taken quite some time but I have been busy with other things - even some work and the project has increased in scale pretty much every time I found myself in the shower or with other musing to do.

Billy, from Paisley, is a 9/11 truther.  And a 7/7 truther.  Who first came to our attention Under the Rose, where I had the temerity to suggest that the legal justification for the war in Afghanistan was reasonably strong, especially compared to Iraq and the Balkans.  He has previously been featured chez moi.  Then, I did promise a longer post about 9/11, both in the article and in the reply to Walrus's correction of my typo so here it is.

Billy believes, as far as I can tell and I welcome corrections, the following:
  • There is a huge conspiracy to hide the fact that the US government carried out 9/11.  We know this because ...
    • The videos are fake because it is "against Newton's Laws" for an aluminium aircraft to go through the steel / concrete / glass structure of the towers.
    • The planes "melted" into the towers.
    • No bits of the planes or the towers are seen falling off as the plane goes in.
  • That the towers were destroyed with "Star Wars" direct energy weapons because ...
    • The towers hit the ground with only the "force of a jackhammer".
    • Steel would not have melted in the temperature produced by jet fuel so the towers must have remained up (as the steel formed the structural framework.)
    • The Twin Towers collapsed at free-fall speed "against the laws of physics".
    • The earth's magnetic field dipped at "the exact moment each building collapsed".
    • There's lots of material missing.
    • Vehicles caught fire "miles away".
  • That this is all 'proven' by the law suits filed against NIST and others by other truthers (two of whom have PhDs.)
I will try to deal with most of these.

Refutation Point 1: the conspiracy - this is the weakest rebuttal of the lot (at least, in scientific terms).

Conspiracies are possible - tightly held or kept from direct public interest the truth may never come out.  If the CIA & the Mafia had John F Kennedy killed (they almost certainly didn't) this could have been done with one shooter and the people ordering him to do it - half a dozen who knew the details.  However, this event directly killed 3000 people, including members of the US military, law enforcement and rescue services, and has led to wars involving the deaths of thousands of others (UK losses alone in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently 458, and US casualties stand at 5419 - with much higher casualty figures amongst the Iraqi Army militias, Taliban and, unfortunately, civilians - many of the latter being killed by the guerillas rather than by the coalition military).  If this were a conspiracy, the number of people needing to be co-opted in to it is huge:
  • The people who developed the weapons.
  • The people who deployed the weapons.
  • The people who faked the movies.
  • The people who were actually in Manhattan that morning.
  • The airlines.
  • Depending what you actually think happened to the planes - the people on them or, if you've had them killed, the people who killed them.  And the people who destroyed the planes or have hidden them somewhere.
  • Air traffic control.
  • The news organisations (no friends, except Fox, of Bush.)
A conspiracy of that size, with the public adulation and Pulitzer award to be gained from the 'true story" has no chance of surviving the 8 years this one has.

Refutation Point 2 - Hitting the fork.

Most of this was covered in the previous post but, as there are clearly some things still remaining for dispute, I'll have another try.

You seem to maintain that "according to the laws of physics" the airplanes should have gone 'splat' and crushed against the outside of the Towers.  I suggest that the forces involved in decelerating a 130 tonne plane from 300 knots plus to rest are sufficient to deform steel.  Anyway, let's assume they aren't.

Think of the outer wall of the Towers as a very long fork.  You maintain that there is no way that an aircraft can go through it.  Okay - a three stage process for understanding.
  • Take some mashed potato and push the fork down on it - it squeezes through easily.
  • Take some cooked potato - baked, boiled or roast - and push the fork down on it - it takes a tiny bit of effort but it squeezes through.
  • Take a raw potato - push again with the fork - you get considerable resistance but, look - it goes through (and the resistance appears to decrease once you get a bit of speed up.)
Even if the huge forces involved in decelerating a 767 to a halt within 64m (we both agree, if for wholly different reasons, that no significant fraction of either aircraft1 went straight through the towers) were insufficient to stress the outer steel past the point of plastic deformation, most of the aircraft would have gone in.  Which takes us to our next point.

Refutation Point 3 - Nothing fell off (remember here we are talking only about why the videos must be fake - some assumptions and simplifications that don't correlate too well with reality can be taken).

Let's assume that the planes were doing about 300 knots - less than half their maximum speed (and slower is better for you - I am being very generous here - AA11 was estimated as doing 710km/h, UA175 870 - 500 or 615 knots.)  They were 48.5m long.  300 knots is just over 150 m.s-1.   So, assuming your "melting" implies no slowing in velocity, any bit falling off would have on the order of a third of a second of nearly-but-not-quite free fall (in fact, air resistance would be so low at starting speeds, that 'free fall' is an excellent approximation).  So, some simple calculations, x=g.t2/2, gives you a total distance fallen of just over 54 centimetres.  In your grainyout of focus 720 * 480 stills, that gives you a maximum displacement of 4 pixels.  Now, you're not going to spot that easily, are you?

Updated: Of course, that's not a particularly accurate calculation - I haven't allowed for the fact that the plane is not flying at right angles to the tower in the shot, so the projected length of the wingspan is less than the actual 47.6m (which I incorrectly asserted would reduce the pixel per metre count - see people can admit mistakes) - so a more accurate calculation, using the velocity of AA11 (good for me), assuming it reduces by half during the collision (bad for me but is on the right order as we know that after outer, inner, outer little debris exited) and allowing 30% for the angle (bad for me again) - we get 2 pixels but, hey, what's a couple of pixels between friends?

Of course, if you actually agreed with the real world and the planes did actually hit the tower, you can extend the period of time between the nose and the tail hitting the outer wall.  Of course, you then have to take in to account that momentum will carry nearly all debris from the impact into the tower through the hole that the plane has carved but, by that time, you've agreed with me!

Refutation Point 4 - Jackrabbits and falling buildings.

500,000 tonnes per tower seems to be an accepted (if startlingly round) number for the weight of each tower.  Okay, for Charles' sake, lets do some more kinetic energy calculations.

The maximum possible impact for each tower would be if an ideal point mass, of 500000 tonnes, hit the ground having free-fallen from half the height of the tower.  Debris falling free, energy taken up in overcoming structural strength, air resistance (in fact any effect which absorbed kinetic energy), even an extended duration impact would all reduce this but, let's go with the ideal, O-grade physics case.  Ek = Eg = mgh.  h = 207m, therefore Ek = 1.02TJ.  Now, converting that to the Richter scale is not easy - websites give me anywhere between 3.7 and 4.8.  While I hate to reference the WikiMonster, it says that is about 10% more than an Atlas rocket at take off.

Remember, that is the maximum possible impact - so, lets move that to the bottom of the scale and call it 3.7 Richter.  That's on the "hundreds per day" world-wide.  Less than (or roughly equivalent to) the Kursk explosion - 7 warheads, 4.2 Richter.  Not actually a huge amount for half a million tonnes.

9:58:59 A.M. EDT

With no warning that could be discerned in WTC 1, WTC 2 collapsed. The shudder as the more than 250,000 tons of steel, concrete, and furnishings hit the ground was felt well beyond the site. Seismic sensors located 100 miles away recorded the time and intensity of the event.

Interestingly, the impact energy of a commercial jackhammer appears to be in the 40 to 60J range.  I used to be able to punch harder than that so I call hyperbole.

Refutation Point 5 - Steel would not have melted due to heating from Jet-A fires.

You are completely correct in your statement and completely wrong in the results you draw from it.  For a start, the Jet-A could have merely ignited other fuels in the building with higher burning temperatures - you can get up to 2000°C with a carbon fire in air - but that didn't happen.

Unfortunately, steel weakens with heat - quite considerably.  At the 650°C level the experts expect the fires in the towers reached, this would have about halved the strength of the structural members2.  This was enough.

In WTC 1, the fires weakened the core columns and caused the floors on the south side of the building to sag. The floors pulled the heated south perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above. Their neighboring columns quickly became overloaded as columns on the south wall buckled. The top section of the building tilted to the south and began its descent. The time from aircraft impact to collapse initiation was largely determined by how long it took for the fires to weaken the building core and to reach the south side of the building and weaken the perimeter columns and floors.

In WTC 2, the core was damaged severely at the southeast corner and was restrained by the east and south walls via the hat truss and the floors. The steady burning fires on the east side of the building caused the floors there to sag. The floors pulled the heated east perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above. Their neighboring columns quickly became overloaded as columns on the east wall buckled. The top section of the building tilted to the east and to the south and began its descent. The time from aircraft impact to collapse initiation was largely determined by the time for the fires to weaken the perimeter columns and floor assemblies on the east and the south sides of the building.

WTC 2 collapsed more quickly than WTC 1 because there was more aircraft damage to the building core, including one of the heavily loaded corner columns, and there were early and persistent fires on the east side of the building, where the aircraft had extensively dislodged insulation from the structural steel.

Refutation Point 6 - Freefall.

This is simply erroneous.  A pure free fall collapse would have taken no more than 8 seconds.  The towers collapsed in around 10 seconds.

Refutation Point 7 - Cars catching fire miles away.

I would go and have a word with your old geography teacher if I was you.  FDR Drive is 1 km from the WTC site and the pictures from the car park at the "North-West corner of Vesey and West Streets" - that is less than a couple of hundred feet.  Anyway, there is a simple process to explain burnt cars and intact sheets of paper - dust and slightly larger particles fall to ground with the main structure of the towers, heating up as they go (gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy and heat) and then spreads out causing fires (and, if you look at some of the photos - covering things in very directional dust.)  Paper, on the other hand, that which fell free of the towers takes some considerable time to fall, losing any heat gain to the atmosphere and reaching the ground after the dust has cooled (some would fall in to any fires still burning but if you've ever tried to burn papers in a bonfire, you'll know how much escapes.)

Refutation Point 8 - What "direct energy weapons"?

This was covered, somewhat in one of my comments on Sub-Rosa's blog - basically, although we do have low power laser weapons, and high power lasers and charged particle beams, we don't have now weapons capable of putting out enough power, never mind 8-odd years ago.  I wish to raise the following additional points:
  • The whole thing started at 8.45 or 8.46 EDT, depending on your source.  The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 EDT.  How do you explain the this lag?  
  • If it was high-power beam weapons, where are the plasma trails?  Either a laser or a CPB of sufficient power operating in atmosphere will affect the air it travels through, ionising it. This is visible, regardless of whether the beam itself is in the visible spectrum (c.f the aurora borealis - you can't see the solar wind - you can see the results of the electron settling.)  The wider problem in laser weapons is known as "blooming" and is why the "Star Wars" lasers you mentioned were space-based or on the front of Jumbos.  The effect is similar to the sudden phase transition of the early universe from opaque plasma to transparent gas that, after much red-shifting, gives us the "Cosmic Microwave Background" or, more obviously, is why the surface of the sun glows at visible frequencies.
  • Direct energy beams are not Star-Trek phasers (or Klingon Disruptors) - they merely transfer energy from one point in space to another.  So, assuming the high power, they would have punched very small holes through a target.  They might have been swung to cut but this would not have bent or distorted the steel (laser cuts through metal look almost polished) and would have caused the conventional collapse of the buildings you deny rather than "turned the Twin Towers to dust".
  • Update point: Antimatter.  While anti-matter weapons are a theoretical godsend to the conspiracy minded, there are three critical point to mention.  
    • Firstly, there ain't enough of it about, especially not in 2001 (and, for once, the USA is not the technological lead in such matters.)  
    • Secondly, if you did have a matter / antimatter annihilation event in the twin towers , the energy release would have done far more dramatic things than a bit of concrete to dust conversation.  Think small to large thermo-nuclear bomb and, whatever you think happened on 9/11, that certainly wasn't it.) 
    • Finally, there is a similar delivery problem to the beam weapon - only this is worse.  A beam of antimatter would have mutually annihilated the atmosphere on the way - with the massive energy releases from the above point - which didn't happen.
Refutation Point 9 - Lawsuits.

There are lots of civil lawsuits in the USA.  Many of them are worthless or even actively harmful to society (SCO versus anybody), many fail.  Also, you need to have, to place a civil suit, something called 'standing'.  In the UK, there is an equivalent, albeit less formalised concept - you must be able to show that some damage was done to you.  You cannot sue on behalf of somebody else.  And, in most cases, a simple untruth, without damage, is not actionable.

However, what about a quote from US Law making it clear that, erroneous or not, the NIST report is not actionable:
No part of any report resulting from a NIST investigation into a structural failure or from an investigation under the National Construction Safety Team Act may be used in any suit or action for damages arising out of any matter mentioned in such report (15 USC 281a; as amended by P.L. 107-231).

My culpability?

Which am I? One of "the ones who are too lazy to look at the facts as presented by Dr Wood", or "the ones who are trying to cover up the truth", as you so reasonably put it?

There will be updates ...

1. Two wheels from AA11's main-left landing gear were found outside of the WTC1 footprint - one embedded in an exterior column panel was found 700ft or so south on Cedar Street; another wheel was found a similar distance further south.

2. "supports the commonly held rule of thumb that the yield strength [of structural steel] at 538°C is about one-half that at room temperature."

Friday, April 02, 2010

Following the trail

In the general wake of relief at the Singh verdict, I've been checking a few of the science blogs and, on the Bad Astronomy blog, found a link to this page dealing with some of the claims of the Australian anti-vaccination hysterical mob.

And on reading Tom's offical submission about references, came across this one of his references:

[35] A page suggesting that most UFOs are man-made.

Now, much of that page is the usual conspiracy theory bollocks but - the basic premise is quite right in principle - most UFOs are man-made - weather balloons and suchlike, even the occasional military aircraft, some of which (US) are not public designs.   The rest are the rare strange meteorological effect or astronomical object - especiallyVenus.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thankfully NOT an April Fool

Well done to Simon Singh, on winning his libel appeal against the British Chiropractic Association.  Off to read the judgement, if I can find it.  More later.

Update 1: Judgement here

Update 2: I believe this is now citable precedent under English Law:

We would respectfully adopt what Judge Easterbrook, now Chief Judge of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, said in a libel action over a scientific controversy, Underwager v Salter 22 Fed. 3d 730 (1994):

    "[Plaintiffs] cannot, by simply filing suit and crying 'character assassination!', silence those who hold divergent views, no matter how adverse those views may be to plaintiffs' interests. Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation. … More papers, more discussion, better data, and more satisfactory models – not larger awards of damages – mark the path towards superior understanding of the world around us."

That's a definite win for common sense, a definite defeat for woo.

Update 3:  Some mild analysis from and a statement released by BCA.  I particluarly like the way the latter refer to Mr Justice Eady as "one of the country’s leading libel judges" while not referring the fact that the three appeal judges included the two senior judges in England.

The limits of humour

In a world increasingly difficult to tell from a badly scripted satirical (or satyrical) play, April Fools' Day can be a bit of a trial.

Already we've had the "no, you fool, not even as a joke" post from Dizzy, a weak effort from the Register,  and, given it only comes round once a year, an entire 'blog' from a retired accountant (but, for verisimilitude, you'd have think he would have put some comments in.)

The BBC, who seem to have rested completely on their laurels since the famous "spaghetti tree" broadcast, can only manage this and this risible effort.

Although I got this from - unfortunately with a 1 year wait for delivery.  Edited to add - Hoverboards - but they've killed the link and replaced the picture.  :(
HTTP Error 403: You are not authorised to access the file "\real_name_and_address.html" on this server.

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