Sunday, November 25, 2012

Go on, what is he supposed to have said?

The myth:

Distraught at the Government sponsored murder of his father, a child writes to the Minister who created the abhorrent scheme, who, being the most evil most right wing bastard in the Con-Dem government, not only refuses to answer any of the little boy's questions but, in a machine-produced cut'n'paste letter tells him to visit the Job Centre if he wants to put in an appeal about his father's benefit claim.

The reality?

A very sick man dies a month after receiving a letter telling him he is "fit to work"*. It happens to be the day after his benefit is reduced (not stopped, no - but significantly reduced). The family are, understandably, distraught at this personal tragedy and his teenage son writes a letter to what is not just a Labour supporting tabloid but an active and permanent campaigner for the Socialist People's Democratic Republic of Weegieville. Then, with the connivance, possibly even at the suggestion of a journowanker, the son then writes another letter which is hand-delivered to Ian Duncan Smith by the paper.

This letter was, apparently, "his anguished appeal to end the hated assessments". In response to a letter to a Minister in his formal capacity, IDS responds with a letter on Departmental headed paper and hand-signed. The bits that have been released address the lad formally and offers his condolences, then says that if he has any questions about the actual assessment, he should contact the relevant senior Departmental Official - who happens to be the District Manager for JobCentre Plus and gives his telephone number and address.

So what's the issue?

I'm not sure what they wanted from IDS (Ed notes: well, actually, I am - what they got. Another stick to beat the "heartless Tories" with.) He's not going to stop the welfare reforms because a sick man died. Sick people do that (it's one of the reasons we say they are 'sick'.) If you aren't a casual visitor, you'll know I'm no champion of ATOS - the bits I've worked with have been notable only for their manifest incompetence and ability to blame others for their mistakes. But, even if an incorrect ATOS assessment was a contributory cause in Brian McArdle's death, I'm not sure that this is a sufficient reason for turning the state tanker around.

The Cretinous Crusader himself takes up his Cudgel of Incompetence** to call this "The most cold hearted letter ever sent by a Tory Minister." Now, as this didn't spring fully-formed from the not-apparently particularly cuddly brow of IDS, but was a response to an unreleased letter, might we not need to see the original enquiry in order to determine how appropriate or not the response was? If the lad, or a journalist acting on his behalf, wrote in an adult manner, surely he deserves a non-patronising response?

* Of course, if this was one of the old "work capability assessment" tests, not one of the tests for the new Personal Independence Payment, then the contract was started and extended to 2012 under the previous, Labour, regime and given a short extension by the Coalition. 

** Displayed, to the only amusement I've felt in this short but sorry saga, below yet another extended apology from Eoin for getting all of the basic facts wrong.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Savita Halappanavar

I'm trying to get my head around the wrongs and wrongs of this but you know it is bog-trotter Dark Ages Ireland when some fuckwit brings 1000 year old history in as relevant ...

We had an expression "more Irish than the Irish themselves" in relation to the Anglo Lords that came over with Strongbow and shortly after 1169 turning into French speaking, more mannered versions of the Gaelic lords they supplanted and inter-married with.

FFS, guys. A woman is dead who shouldn't have died. If you are sane and regardless of your opinion on abortion, she should have been medically assisted to remove the dying baby. The rest of it is just irrelevant noise.

I'm ashamed - not to be Irish, 'cause I'm not - but to be a member of a race where some people think that given a choice between a dead baby (bad thing) and a dead baby and a dead mother (obviously and trivially worse thing) that there are some people who think that prefering the former, given the choice between the two, is wrong.

Monday, October 22, 2012

When reality is weirder than fiction.

I have no mileage in whether or not the ex-Chief Whip called a couple of coppers "plebs" or whether, if he did indeed do it, he should have resigned.

 But this is insane:

There's a Japanese film, I think it's called Rashomon, in which different participants who see the same event all have different recollections of it. I wasn't there. I trust Andrew, and I'm always inclined to give him the benefit of any doubt.

Many of the films I watch have little bearing on reality - I wouldn't use them to try and make logical sense of an in-real-life conundrum (that way lies a Media Studies degree ...) Now, eyewitness (Ed notes: earwitness, surely?) testimony is notoriously inaccurate but, what is alleged here is a fairly basic and fundamental difference*.

Anyway ... Grump over. This, also from Gove, is much more sensible:

All of us, from time to time will have moments of exasperation. I think it's probably better you know to swear at the TV or the radio at home rather than at a flesh and blood individual whose job it is to protect you.

* It is entirely possible that the disputed words were said and that Mitchell honestly has no recollection of saying them.

Monday, October 08, 2012

It really doesn't help ...

I honestly believe that the USA would be more likely to improve (or to improve faster) with Romney at the helm (despite his weird religion) than with Obama at the helm (despite his weird religion - although he has denounced that particular pastor.)

However, the Republican Party is quite clearly full of nutcases. And, in far too many cases, seems to want them to become elected.

Congressman Paul Broun - who can't be a complete idiot as he managed to acquire an MD before he became a professional parasite - doesn't believe in:
  • Evolution
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Embryology (seriously? I hope none of his female patients every got pregnant.)
He, or his team, also don't understand "off the record". Seriously, can the Democrats not find anybody more electable than this?

Update: Chuckle-a-duck on the same subject.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I f**king hope not

Of all the drearily predicatable and unpleasant responses to the mindless rioting, this is the one I dread the most:
The rally was attended by Muslims from across Edinburgh who were demanding action to curb religious hatred. ... The SNP MSP Jim Eadie was among the speakers to address the group and pledged their concerns would be heard.

The SNP will currently do just about anything in order to win the referendum. Pandering to a bunch of 7th Century-revivalist misogynist religous fanatics probably seems, to them, just a bit of good sense.

I am a somewhat more than nominal, if unconventional, Christian. I am entirely happy that blasphemy laws are being gotten rid of. Many people in this country are non-religious or non-Christian. They do not believe that Christ is the Son of God. That's fine - and I'm happy for them to say so. I have some beliefs that many, even most, Christians would consider heretical. And I'm happy to talk about them and be challenged about them.

It would be a pity if the effect of the Scottish Independence Referendum would be the crushing of the post-Enlightenment civilisation in Scotland. Especially in the name of the religion of permanent offence. Pat Condell, who disrespects my beliefs nearly as much as he disrespects Islam, says it best.
We're sick and tired of the needless conflict and intimidation that comes from this religion at every turn.

Eck, don't do it. Don't stamp on free speech for a few votes. It is a betrayal of your heritage, the vast majority of the country and of basic human rights. But it wouldn't surprise me if you did. After all, you are a politician.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Eoin Clarke, you are being illogical ...

While I am no respecter of Atos (in this or any other field) and have sympathy for people who have fallen or, worse, been forced through the cracks in the system, this is a (yet another) defective argument:

A minutiae of intelligence is required to grasp the fact that if these people who are found fit to work are now a) not working b) not actively seeking work then they must not have been fit for work in the first place.

Nope. They could have not bothered. They could be doing something that makes them ineligible for benefits, for example (i.e. university, won the lottery). Or they may, indeed, be suffering on the scrap heap of uncaring Coalition-dom.


From the table he posts (p37 of this), there is a note attached to his 43% figure. What does it say?:

Most in this category answered ‘other to’ the question; ‘other categories’ included in training or education or on a government scheme.

Okay, so - and although this does not mean we don't need to do something - his 43% figure is at least halved? Let's look at the next table on p38. This seems to be difficult to make consistent with the note above - unless you assume they are looking at completely different things.

Ah. 14% are self reporting as permanently sick, 8% temporarily sick (no job), 5% temporarily sick (from a job - so on SSP as a minimum?), and 8% simply unemployed. Now, why that latter 8% are outwith the benefits system, I'm not sure (Savings? Partner's earnings? Not bothered applying? Tried but failed to jump through the DWP hoops?).

So we have 22% of people who are not "fit to hold a job" in their opinion (or that of the market) - even if we assume they are all correct - we've already halved Eoin's headline figure.

I'm probably making mistakes here. But then, I'm a PONPI (person of no political importance).

Update: Table 5.9 on p51 says that only 15% of claimants who were FFW or withdrew their claim, at Wave 2, expected to be "unable to work due to sickness", with a further 12% "don't know'. The summary on p54 states that 23% of FFW saw themselves as permanently unfit for work.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Things that are currently pissing me off - 9

This really doesn't help my blood pressure.
Richard Bradford, chairman of the Restaurant Association and the Earl of Bradford, defends the charge.

"No service charge is compulsory, it can only ever be suggested," he says. "It actually works out better. If it was included in the price of the meal, the customer would have to pay VAT on it, and the restaurant would have to pay national insurance.

"Staff have to be adequately rewarded for the work that they do."

Paying staff adequately is the job of the employer. Not of the customer. And staff, if not employers, do have to pay NI on tips in some cases.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Double take

A Mars spokes-weasel, on the deep-fried version:
Should an application be filed, unfortunately, we wouldn't be able to support it as deep-frying one of our products would go against our commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles.

Americans. Failing, yet again, in the irony para-olympics.

Err, what?

This from Lady Gaga, quoted at the end of a "climate skeptics are murderers" article here:

Because we as a society are taught politically and religiously that the Apocalypse is coming, it's on its way. But what I'm saying with my show is, ‘We're there right now: this is the Apocalypse.' The fact that we're surrounded by cement and we've already killed everything means the Apocalypse has happened.

Okay, your show may indeed be saying this. But it's a big fat (unlike you) ugly liar. Let's just start with the fact that you are apparently alive, as was your interviewer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Is there an Olympics Irony medal?

Well, an un-named American is the surprise winner.

Catherine Mayer, Europe editor, wrote: “My colleagues, over from the United States to cover the Games, are puzzled. “And they call Americans jingoistic and sentimental? U.S. journalists would never openly root for the home team,” said one.” 

This is, of course, because American journalism habitually refuses to recognise anything outside of its home state, never mind the USA. So, hence, at anything barring un-natural pinko sports such as"wiff-waff", the USA will naturally be the winners. No rooting required.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Although I understand why ...

This rather disheartens me.

Although this:

Families of the Argentinian war dead sent letters to Argentinian foreign minister Héctor Timerman and Britain's ambassador in Buenos Aires, John Freeman, demanding an urgent and exhaustive investigation.

is indicative of the problem. The people the Argentinians should be addressing are the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly. Not us.

Edited to add: although the thing I really want to see in that cemetary (as per this earlier post) is the graves identified. "An Argentinian soldier known only unto God" is hardly satisfactory in the days of DNA testing. Although, like so much of this issue, any resolution requires the Argentinian givernment to stop acting like hyper-active toddlers.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Assumptions of ignorance

Just because a (yet another) Guardian journalist is staggeringly yet, unsurprisingly, ignorant, doesn't mean the sensible bits* of the public are:

You are unlikely to have heard mention of it for a simple and disreputable reason: the victims are working-class men rather than celebrities.

Anybody involved with data protection, human resources law or investigations, plus anybody who has read the relevant news stories (Guardian 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Independent 1, 2, 3; Telegraph 1, 2, 3; even that solid friend of the unions - the Daily Mail 1 & 2), in the last three years knew about it. Hell, it even has its own Wikipedia page!

* On the other hand, I am pleased to be ignorant about x-factor, TV soaps, darts, football, the Top 40 etc.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Things that are currently pissing me off - 8

Saw this in the airport on Monday:
I thought. Hmm. Bored? Check. Forgot my book? Check. Think I can make reading the freebie copy of the Scotsman last longer than the taxying (especially after I've binned everything that mentions Rangers!)? Err, no. Okay, looks interesting. Funny name for a Brit though:
So. He's not a Brit. Why then, Mr Publisher, is he in Brit C95 Desert Camo, wearing Brit Osprey body armour and carrying a Brit SA80 rifle (note - not a sniper rifle. No, Sir!)?

Olympic Level Fuckwittery

Offence 1:

A non-text link to the LOCOG site. Even a relevant one. But hardly claiming their (or the Royal Mint's) endorsement of this blog.

Edited to add: In clear, explicit and deliberate contravention of LOCOG's Ts&Cs for the use of their website:
Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format.

Offence 2:

Gold Sponsor
An offence currently being committed by pretty much every conference on the planet.


Offence 3:

I predict that it will rain "Citius Altius Fortius" on all of the medals ceremonies in the London 2012 Summer Games. And I hope it rains gold, silver or bronze pure-oleum piss on all of the sponsors, IOC officials and especially the idiots who permitted the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 to be passed in to law.

But good luck to the athletes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Long odds?

People generally live, in the Western world, for somewhere between 70 and 80 years. It's getting longer, but that's not significant as far as what I have to say goes.

80 years is on or around 29,220 days. Within a couple, depending on how you sort leap years and centuries.

So, making some flying assumptions including a grotesque one of flatness, any odds worse than 1 in 30,000 are worse than your chance of dropping dead tomorrow.

So when some idiot says that something you enjoy "has a 1 in 200,000 chance of giving you cancer", for example, you know which finger to give them. Especially as cancer survival rates are improving. Remember, your chance of dying is 1 in 1 ...

Update: Swine flu, which was greeted with massive panic and, in the end, resulted in a resounding "Meh!" actually had, in the UK, a death rate of about 1 in 3850.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Wrong, wrong, just wrong

Don't the MSM have any quality checking?

Dr Skelton used the descriptions of 12 women given to a radio station to create the composite and said most had drawn "comparisons with famous film stars".

Haven't read the book. Don't intend to. But he's a bloke.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Things that are currently pissing me off - 7

People who misuse "decimated". This report describes 6000 down to 8 as "decimated".

No, you fool. 6000 down to 5400 is decimated. 6000 down to 8 is "almost wiped out" or "only a handful remained".

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

More Julianophilia

The allegations against Assange, in contrast, are not nearly so serious, but a case of "he said, she said".

Isn't that true of most rape?

And another thing:

The treatment that the Swedish legal system has inflicted, and would be likely to inflict on Assange would mark him out as guilty and prevent him from preparing a proper defence and, for that reason, having a fair trial.

He's, hopefully, going to be tried in Sweden. This, the article claims, is standard practice in the Swedish legal system. Horror of horrors, no special treatment for St Julian!

So how would it mark him out as guilty? He's allowed to meet with his legal team. How would this preventing him from preparing a proper defence? Anyway, apart from pimping himself on the world stage, what has he been doing for the last 8 or so months?

Note to MSM - avoid hyperbole in factual articles

Leave it for the editorials ...

See here:

The last Indian scientific discovery that is fairly universally acknowledged is the zero.

If this is true, which I doubt, then it is down to the scientific ignorance of the public, not anti-Indian racism. The bit of Indian science I regularly use is Chandrasekhar's work - best known for his calculations of the maximum size of a white dwarf. Hence neutron stars, stellar mass black holes and Type 1a supernovae. He won a Nobel prize, as had his uncle.

Is it too much to expect some basic research from these people?

But, then, perhaps that is the level of complete scientific and cultural ignorance we might rationally expect from a "professor of contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia".

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Politically correct bollocks


While I appreciate it is essential to ensure that commercial landlords and professional letting agents don't discriminate illegally, I'm not sure that insisting that flat-shares, "empty nester" room-lets and room shares should be* subject to the same rigorous scrutiny.

I have no problem with Hindi young ladies wanting to share with other young Hindi ladies - or even other vegetarian ladies, rather than some scruffy kebab-stuffing ned. Equally, kebab-stuffing neds might not want some neat and respectable young lady around continuously nagging them to wash the ? (Ed notes: S-E was trying to find something that neds might use for food - but it is all eaten by hand from the cardboard or styrofoam and drunk direct from bottle or can. No washing up ...)  Okay, tidy up their mess, wash themselves, put on clean clothes. Etc. If they wanted that, they'd not have run away from their mums!

Or the orthodox of any religion wishing to share with fellow travellers who would both understand and respect the restrictions of their faith. The law is, if it applies as being suggested, an ass.

"David Goodhart, director of think tank Demos" obviously mixes with some frighteningly unpleasant people if he really thinks that

There's a danger these adverts could create anger and division

Or, as you might expect from Demos, he is merely the asses' arse.

* This was amended on 4 Jul - it originally said "are". Which completely fails to express the point I was trying to make - the private sharing probably 'is' as regulated as the commercial proposition, whereas it almost certainly shouldn't be.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Things that are currently pissing me off - 6

I'm having to type some stuff - limited aspects of a large report - in American. My bloody spell-checker keeps putting all the 'u's back in. Aaaaaaargh. When is gin o'clock, exactly?

Things that are currently pissing me off - 5

Utter ignorance is always a good one - especially if it is in a subject area that I had to work to get a proper grasp of. Like economics.

There is a whole Guardianista / CiFuckedUp rant about the Laffer curve over here. Get over it, folks. The Laffer curve exists. We don't know its shape, how many maxima there may be, how to calculate where they might be (except experimentally) and there is even a valid argument that one of the underlying assumptions (100% tax equals zero revenue in the short term) is much weaker than the other two ('0% tax = 0% revenue' and 'some tax levels give positive revenue'.) (Ed notes: so it may actually not be of that much practical use. Like much else in economics.) But the fact that people you dislike use it as an argument for proposals you oppose no more discredits the theory than the fact that Young Earth Creationists use the fact that "Evilution" is a theory* rather than a fact means that the biblical creation story is the literal truth.

Then somebody takes this to the extreme:

At a properly enforced and managed 100% tax, you have maximum revenue.

I cannot get how somebody who seems not to be an utter dribbling moron (it is properly spelled and punctuated, grammatical and follows a logical, albeit incorrect, sequence) can actually believe such utter shite. The classic thing that differentiates the 'rich' from the 'wage slave' - however well-paid the latter - is the ability to move money about - invest rather than take income and shift in time. Take a capital gain (or a dividend) rather than pay and shift tax treatment. Don't work so hard - because you probably don't actually need the 250th £1000 - and earn less. An income / leisure trade off (as would be working a bit harder and taking enough extra income to be able to afford to pay a cleaner!) At 100% tax you will have the small dribble of revenue from those who cannot escape the strait-jacket. Nobody, not even the heros of socialist fuck-wittery, are going to drag themselves away from their Islington dinner parties to slave at their desks for all of the blooody money to go to the Government.

* Not only is the "Theory of Evolution" generally so called - it is also known to be an incorrect theory. Or, at least, an incomplete one. And very different now, not just to the initial outline from Darwin and Wallace, but also to the version I was taught in the mid-1980s. So it, as our knowledge improves, will itself continue to evolve.

Attack of the Penny Dreadful

Hmm, the sacrifical bleeding heart of the privileged class appears to have got a little bit upset with David Starkey:

When I criticised Starkey for playing xenophobia for laughs, and asked why, as an advocate of Britishness, he lives for part of the year in the United States, the dinosaur showed its claws. 

Possibly, child, because it is a complete and utter irrelevance. I have to spend quite a bit of my time in London - it's not because I'm an advocate of the values either of Eastenders or of the Westminster village. Or even the "fuck them all, let's just grab the cash" attitude of much of the City. You can be an advocate of, well, in Starkey's case more Englishness than Britishness - he's not very keen on Scotland - despite having to, or even liking, working, holiday or even living elsewhere.

But anyway, what did he say to offend her this much? (Ed notes: this is as reported by one of the vermin in this particular rat-fight - don't place to much emphasis on its accuracy. This is a Laurie Penny report, remember!)

"real British values" are not, as Starkey put it, "entrenched in the foothills of the Punjab".

They may not have been entrenched there - and British values are the antithesis of some of the tribal culture of the north-western end of the sub-continent) but, to a very great degree they were created there. The Raj, and its denizens' attempts to recreate a wholly-mythical Golden Age England in their exile is responsible for a lot of of the quainter things that certainly tourist boards like to promote as "Britishness".

If we could just persuade these two to have a very public fight to the death (of their reputations), it is a no lose situation for reality. Especially if we can actually manage to have both of them so wounded that they never dare appear in public again. Unfortunately, the self-belief (idiotic in Laurie's case) seems so invincible in the pair of them that no such luck will attend us.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fuckwittage on CiF

And it's not about Assange ... (for once, although I may get back to that prat and his deluded fan-boys later):

In doing this, the White House has made a mistake, says experts. "The United States has the most to lose from attacks like these. No other country has so much of its economy linked to the online world," writes Mikko Hypponen, a Finnish cybercrime expert. "By launching Stuxnet, American officials opened Pandora's box. They will most likely end up regretting this decision." Terms like a "digital Pearl Harbor" and "Cybergeddon" are now being tossed around.

Oh. Dear. God. The early part of the previous decade would like its news reports back please.Richard Clarke was sacked for, among other things, grevious invention of the phrase "electronic Pearl Harbor" in about 2003. The Chinese have been planting malware on their opponents (particularly the Tibetans and Taiwanese, but everybody else too) for at least 10 years. Just because the Americans are now admitting that they do it too - apparently there is some sort of election due over their shortly and the incumbent in the village mayoral office wants to brag about how many sleeping tramps he's kicked (Ed notes: or something probably not very similar at all!) - doesn't mean it is suddenly "new."

Just a note: Mikko Hypponen (such an excellent name for an infosec sales-weasel) might, just 'might', not be promoting the products of the F-Secure company he works for. History would suggest otherwise.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What can drive people to such idiocy?

or are you referring to the right of centre corporate Guardian and Independent that are linked to our security services

It can only be St Julian.

// facepalm

Sunday, June 24, 2012

If I didn't know better ...

And I think that I do, I'd suggest that Breanna Manning was some sort of crazy strawman (strawwoman, strawperson, strawdangerouslyconfusednutjob?) dreamt up by USian religio-conservatives to demonstrate just how quickly the (US) Army would go to hell in a handcart if they dared to let fags in.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Occassionally you wonder why ...

There is so much support for independence amongst otherwise sensible Jocks. Then you see shit like this from the supposed "national broadcaster":

Flooding hits northern England after torrential rain

What? You don't think there is anything wrong with that? Ah, yes. That's the tidied up 07:37 version. I woke up with the 06:13 version:

Flood warnings across northern UK after torrential rain

Same shit beneath it - and I am sorry for the people affected - but apart from one warning for a village in Aberdeenshire, there is nothing north of the Borders.

Now I appreciate that when metrosexual nancy journowankers dare to skirt the very edges of howling barbarism by taking a trip round the M25, they will see a sign that quite famously says

Watford Gap
The North

But it doesn't mean you are there yet. Darwen - the northern UK as far as that prat is concerned - is a bit south of Preston. I've got customers there and it's nearly a 200 mile drive, mostly south. And I don't live in the north. I live in the Central Belt. It's another 150 miles from me to Inverness and a further hundred or so to Thurso. Then you've still got the rump Vikings in the northern Isles.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Whinging Aussie Gits

I mean, come on?

his native Australia had made an "effective declaration of abandonment" by refusing to intervene in his planned extradition.
 My government is not my government any more. It's just a subsidiary of the United States. They got together to send him back to the US.

Oh, for fuck's sake. They should rip up his passport for being a professional whiner. He expects a democracy to intervene in one of its citizens being extradited from another democracy to yet another democracy to face questioning for something that is a crime in all three? It's bloody unbelievable. 

If he was being extradited to the US on political or espionage charges (espionage against the US not, to the best of my knowledge, being a crime in the UK, Australia or Sweden) then, well, it might a bit more reasonable. But he's not. "Rape and sexual assault".

I wonder how many of the various leftist running dogs would be supporting a Swede, living in the US, against allegations that he raped two women in London?

Notes for people who insist it wouldn't be a crime in the UK (Ed notes: references are to E&W law, the Act does not apply in Scotland, although there are similar provisions in Part 2 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009):

1. s75(2)(d) Sexual Offences Act 2003 covers " asleep or otherwise unconscious at the time of the relevant act" - reversing the burden of proof for consent. And as the woman has said she didn't consent ...

2. s76(2)(a) SOA03 covers the broken (or absent) condom: "the defendant intentionally deceived the complainant as to the nature or purpose of the relevant act;". This doesn't just reverse the burden of proof, it is "it is to be conclusively presumed":

(a)that the complainant did not consent to the relevant act, and

(b)that the defendant did not believe that the complainant consented to the relevant act.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Things that are currently pissing me off - 4


Look, folks, the man is a complete dickhead. It's not hard - he's an alpha-nerd who's jumped the minnow.  Now ...

This doesn't mean that Wikileaks has done no good. Nor even that it isn't a force for good.

Nor does it mean that the bastard isn't filthy rapist scum who should be lowered slowly into the nearest Sarlacc pit.

Just that St Julian of Wikileaks really, really doesn't exist. Proportion, please.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Utter effing stupidity

Complete utter fucking ignorance. I can't call it anything else.

As everybody knows, the SNP are a bunch of CND-infiltrated pacifists and, if we're unlucky enough that they win the referendum, Faslane will be shut-er than Harris on a Sunday.

So, spotting the main chance, the Welsh First Minister has offered Milford Haven - so far, so sensible. Then their lesser-spotted bigots piped up:

Writing on Twitter, Plaid AM Jonathan Edwards said: "This is a hugely significant development.  Milford is a huge energy portal. LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and nukes don't go together."

An Open Letter

Dear Jonathan,

If one of the reactors goes tits, any nearby LPG isn't going to go up in a sympathetic detonation. In the extremely unlikely event (it is pretty much physically impossible) that one of the bombs goes off, then any contribution from LPG conflagration is going to be irrelevant.

There are potential risks - mostly from contamination. These are considerably less than the risks of contamination from the existing LPG and other chemical traffic. Anyway - if you are going to get something contaminated, what would you prefer? An already pretty horrid petro-chemical plant or some nice pristine cove a bit further around the coast.



Search questions I just need to answer ...

From yesterday:

is the diamond jubilee medal real silver (?)

Err, no, don't be daft. Not in the slightest. It is made of "nickel silver" which contains absolutely no silver at all, being an alloy of copper, nickel and, usually, zinc (somewhere on the order of 3 to 1 to 1).

The Silver Jubilee medal was, indeed, silver, as was the Coronation medal. There has always been a  strong suspicion that the Golden Jubilee medal is made of compo chocolate with a gilt wrapper.

To strike is a right

As you would expect to hear from the TUC Deputy General Secretary. And I don't disagree with her. Except in very limited circumstances, the labour is the labourers', not the employer's (Ed notes: 'very limited' is essential public services - police, army, some {even most?} bits but possibly not all of hospitals*. I'd alo include firefighters, who are currently allowed to strike, and exclude GCHQ, who might or might not be, TPTB keep changing the rules.)

Except the rest is the usual CiBollocks.

Voting to go on strike is not a decision working people take lightly and is always accompanied by a strong sense of injustice at work. The impact of losing a day's pay is significant, not least for those in the lowest paid jobs who are already on the tightest budgets.

To suggest that benefits encourage people to go on strike is ridiculous.

Err, anybody remember the 70s? One out, all out? For any reason and none? She should - she's in her fifties. But probably remembers it from the privileged position of union power not from the point of view of the poor bloody citizens (Ed notes: Although, of course, this was prior to the British Nationality Act, 1981, so we were "subjects") who just had to put up with the quarrels of their 'betters'.

People who don't work can't go on strike. Some people who do work go on strike not because they feel 'a strong sense of injustice at work' but because some machinating trot has appealled to some false sense of 'worker's solidarity'.

Right, so if it is ridiculous to suggest that people are encouraged to exercise their right to strike by the fact that the rest of us are there to provide a safety net, surely it isn't ridiculous to suggest that removing that safety net won't discourage them from exercising that right? Or am I not allowed to apply logic to lefty nonsense?

And then it gets worse:
The government's intention to limit benefits for strikers, however, is more about rhetoric than real impact.

So it won't even change much. Great - so we've got a politician promising a sop to their electorate and it won't even affect yours. Except, possibly, to encourage them to think about it a bit more. So you have to whine about it anyway. It's brilliant minds the downtrodden have claiming to be on their side - makes you wonder what she's running for.

* I'm not too bothered, for example, about a plastic surgery clinic being shut. A&E, obviously, maternity, long-stay are different matters. I don't really know enough about it to make the critical judgements.

Polly says

To end this impasse, let us tap Europe's vast wealth 

She means
To end this impasse, let us tax Europe's vast wealth 

And what she is failing to understand is the difference between stocks and flows and the important things about "Europe's vast wealth" are that:
  • It's illiquid. Make people sell any significant portion of it and you'll find out exactly what a "falling market*" feels like.
  • It's largely isn't "Europe's". It merely belongs to people who have chosen to live here. And can, largely, choose otherwise.
But, fine. We'll start with a certain villa in Tuscany, shall we? 

* This may, of course, not be the worst thing in the world when it comes to housing prices. But, frankly, I couldn't give a flying shit what mansions are worth - two bed flats and three bed semis are the housing types I actually care about the value of.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What the hell is this made out of?

  • Weight: 92.5 kg
  • Height: 7.5 cm
  • Width: 6.5 cm
  • Depth: 6.5 cm
That's nearly thirteen times the density of pure Osmium! In a kiddies' toy! Or, looking at it another way, about the same as a real female of the species.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Queen's Birthday Honours

Goodness, aren't the petulant out in force? Dame Mary, Lady Archer, the CVO for the Duke of Westminster - all the "bin the honours system, relic of a discredited Empire" fools are out.

Nearly every country has some form of honours system - the ceremonnial core of the recent Presidential investiture in Paris wasn't handing over the nuclear launch codes, that happened later, it was the presentation of the collar of the Grand Master of the Légion d'Honneur.

The Yanks have their own, hideously complex system.

Anyway, congratulations to Stu Hobson, MBE.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Things that are currently pissing me off - 3

ISPs whose trouble-shooting guide requires you to be connected to the internet on the affected machine(s).


If you must know: Virgin Media - with us having a whole 93kb/s before it failed completely.

Update: Well, that's us back up to roughly the claimed bandwidth - a bit over 3 MB/s. Sighs. There's making it difficult for customers and then there are ISPs ...

Update 2: Surprisingly, just under 6 MB/s this morning. Possibly a lack of contention at 09:30 on a Sunday.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'm not sure what to make of this


In general, 67 percent of people prefer PCs over Macs. But among those who have acted dumber than they actually are to improve their social standing, 79 percent prefer PCs.

  • Mac users have an exaggerated view of their social standing?
  • Mac users are more arrogant than PC users?
  • Mac users' social circles are less obsequious to idiots?
  • Some sort of Dunning-Kruger thing I'm not quite grasping?
  • Liars feel empathy for Redmond?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Common sense from the Child Protection mafia?

Wonders will never cease:

Ceop called for police forces to prioritise investigating suspects who had easy access to children.
78 arrests, 80 kids "safeguarded" (whatever that means - if they've been put in to council care, they're hardly 'safe') - big operation. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I feel, well, "soiled", really ...

Nothing exciting, unfortunately. But I've just agreed with one article on Comment Is Free and have only minor quibbles about another. It's, well, just a bit ... filthy, no?

Even Simon Jenkins is saying vaguely sensible things, even if the conclusion he is trying to force you to draw is as nuts as ever. (Ed notes: And he needs to learn the difference between the "Church of England" and the "Anglican church".)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Minor clearing up

Just in case you noticed the couple of widgets disappearing from the side-bar. I haven't started supporting the BNP, nor do I now think that compulsory schooling until 18 is a good idea. But both campaigns are over so into the dustbin of history they go.

Fiat currency and banks - when it all goes wrong

Okay, so there are our banks, running away nicely. Depositors are happy, although they'd like a little more interest. Lendees (?) are happy, although they'd like a little less interest. Record profits are being announced, record dividends are being paid, and CiF is full of articles about how many nurses could be paid for out of "Bank of Evil & Sons" bonus pool. Hunky-dory. 18 months later, it's a world of shit and pain. What could have gone wrong?

Well, go back to the simplified model we had with the two classes of assets - our 10%-ish of low risk, high liquidity, low profit and the rest in higher risk, uncertain liquidity, higher profit. There are clearly a bunch of things that could go wrong here.

  • We could be pushing the edge of that 10% - it's not set to punish the banks but to ensure that a bank run can be managed. 
  • We could have categorised assets incorrectly. Something we thought was low risk (or high liquidity) could turn out not to be either, or to be neither.
  • The regulatory model could be wrong - some things we are told were in the top asset class could turn out to be worthless.
  • Our profit model could be wrong for the higher risk assets - we could not be making enough on the good loans to cover the expected %age of defaults.
  • We could have a liquidity crash. Remember - we've got to cover the fact that you have between £2000 and £0 in the bank each month - and we've got to have the cash to pay you, even though we've lent out £1000 of your money (£100 to the govt and £900 to real people.)
Or, it could all happen. And, of course, you have the usual things going on - business executives taking strange decisions (RBSG and ABN AMRO, for example) that go badly, horribly wrong.

  • There was a lot of pressure, from the market analysts, for banks to generate every increasing profits. You can't do this with low-risk investments.
  • Many banks don't have the time to research, in detail, the risk models of the increasingly outre investments on offer. Hence the ratings agencies. They get paid to do the specialist analysis stuff. They get it wrong, especially for a category of assets and you've got stuff you think is near-cash that turns out not even to be "investment grade".
  • Government bonds. Greek and Spanish, especially. And other things.
  • Yes, err, mortgages. Housing market never falls? Non-recourse loans in the USA (certain states, YMMV)? Powered by Government regulation - the Home Mortgage Disclosure and Equal Credit Opportunity Acts in the USA, the Thatcher started (and New Labour continued) war against local councils via the Council House sales (with silly discounts.)
  • Ah, yes. And here is the rub. These mortgage-backed securities - the Collateralised Debt Obligations of much infame. What was the problem here? Well, some of them, particularly the junior tranches of US mortgages, became worthless (non-recourse loans in a falling market). For the rest, people couldn't work out what they were worth. So very few people wanted to buy them, except at fire-sale prices. The market became illiquid and you had a price spiral of doom.
You see, although the UK house market is over-priced (relative to average earnings and the value of land - it's a planning permission issue), UK mortgage "asset-backed securities" were probably still worth a significant %age of their nominal value. We have had a rise in unemployment, yes, so mortgage defaults will be up. We have had a drop in the housing market*, so the collateral isn't worth quite what it was. But, still, with a bit of ingenuity, you'd have probably been able to recover over 80% of the value. Taking a long term view, you may even have made a profit over nominal.

But, with daily settlement required, a long term view is hard. With "mark-to-market accounting", ingenuity has to take a second seat to panic. And there we are.

What was the only thing that could have made this worse? Delay followed by selective government bailouts. What did we get? Ah, yes, Bruin to busy saving the world to work out what he should be doing at home, UK Financial Investments Ltd and 82% HMG ownership of RBS. Oh, well ...

And, please note - there is nothing in any of this that being on the gold standard would have prevented. Gold values fluctuate all the time - and the only banks that were ever required to be backed up in bullion were the central banks. Because it isn't the value of the £ or the $ that crashed (although they've not exactly done well). It is the value of the bank assets denominated in £ or $ ...

* But, if you look around, this is actually, in the UK, largely a liquidity crash, not really a value one. Values have gone down, indeed. But not to crash levels. The average house price is down to about £160k from a peak of about £185k. Painful but not catastrophic.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Things that are currently pissing me off - 2

People who don't know the difference between counting and measuring.

So use "less" when somebody with half a brain would say "fewer".

Interestingly, I'm not aware that the other way bothers me anything like as much. Possibly because that mistake is so much rarer.

Things that are currently pissing me off - 1

People who confuse possibility and morality.

You can't do (or say) that.

Is nonsensical when I just have done it. Or said it. "Cannot" and "should not" are not synonyms.

Fiat currency and banks

There are some people who believe that going back to the gold standard will save the world. It might indeed solve some problems but remember that most countries started on the gold (or silver) standard and have all, even the Swiss, come off it. There must be a reason. Quite often, it involved a war or two. So there must be problems that exist because of the gold standard that are solved by having a fiat currency.

But, still, even then, there are loads of people who get upset that "banks just create money". Sighs. Okay, in a fiat currency system, banks are required to hold assets to balance their liabilities. These assets can be all sorts of things: capital from shareholders, buildings, debts they are owed by other people or businesses. It's the last that seems to bother folks.

Let's look at it. I run a business - we are currently owed about £20k by various customers, about £5k of which is overdue. I am allowed to carry all of this £20k at 100% of nominal value on my books. Indeed, if I wish to write it off, I am supposed to show that I have taken due care to recover the debt before I can count it as a loss.

So, how does it work with a bank? Well, lets say you earn £2000 cash a month, and your outgoings are reasonably spread out. You are loaning your bank, in effect, £1000. What can the bank do with that £1000? Well, it could sit on the books as a cash asset. This is the modern equivalent of stuffing it under the mattress - say, a safety deposit box. It isn't the real business of a bank - that's lending money. Okay, now the government will say that the bank has to have a certain %age of that in "low risk, high liquidity" assets*. Let's call it 10% (which is about the right value.) The bank now has £900 of your money that it can lend out to somebody else. It does that - so it now holds a debt of £900. Let's look at the arithmetic. Assets = £100 low-risk stuff + £900 higher-risk stuff. Liabilities = £1000 to you. The bank is even. Okay, it will have to put some money aside for credit risk - the chance that it won't get the £900 back from its debtor so will have to pay you back out of shareholders' funds. But that's why banks charge different rates of interest. And have secured and non-secured loans - to manage that risk.

Now, let's say that that £900 is used to buy a car. And the seller happens to be at your bank. So he deposites the whole £900 to pay for his holiday next year. The bank now has £900 cash, £100 cash-like and £900 debt. Balanced out by a £1000 liability to you and a £900 liability to the car-seller. What does it do with the cash? Well, it lends it out. £90 into (hopefully not Greek or Spanish) government bonds. £810 to somebody who wants a new carpet. So it now has £190 bonds or cash and £1710 in debts owed. Liabilities - £1900. Balanced. 

There is no magic money tree. Every loan the bank has made has been funded by folding green stuff or its electronic equivalents being given to the bank. The same as if you were depositing gold or silver. All that is happening is that banks, like other businesses, are allowed to treat debts as assets.

What happens when it all goes wrong? Well, that's another post.

* Note that these include government bonds. And the Greek government was insisting until quite recently that Greek banks treated Greek government bonds in this way. Which was entirely logical but completely insane.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Don't mix your Scotch

Wife complained about the number of nearly empty whisky bottles in the cupboard. So I am now drinking a (small) cocktail of:

  • Frog
  • Talisker
  • Aberdour
  • Old Pulteney
  • & Jack
It's surprisingly drinkable ...

Oh, and there were 2 nearly empty gin bottles as well. I didn't feel up to adding them to the mix!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Guardian confusion about "Double Standards"

The paper of the "professional whiner" class has a particularly inept article up complaining about Google's "double standards". As example:
On the face of it, activists can now rest easy: if your government is trying to read your emails, Google will do its best to let you know. For those in autocratic regimes, this is true. For those in western democracies, however, the real position is very different: Google will often directly hand your details over.

Right. So their double standard is that they obey the law (Ed note: should technology companies have a free hand to disobey the law because some campaigner disagrees with that law? Don't effing think so.) - and they warn you if somebody is trying to break the law by hacking in to your account. Doesn't seem like a double standard to me? But then I'm not an ex-Wikileaker (double standards galore). I'd note that Google also has a history of resisting overbroad data requests and publishes openly transparency data.

On the surface

This sounds like every lads's dream of an excellent place to do a degree:

The Department of Sexology

University of Quebec at Montreal

Unfortunately, I suspect it is actually full of appalling harridans who've been run out even of the Sociology Dept for being too strident in their "all men are bastards"ism and a few "useful idiot" bag carriers.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

What transit of Venus?

Eight octets cloud cover here in the Central Belt (;_;) Still, there are the intertubes, so I can watch it through much better telescopes than I own and in comfort.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Questions from yesterday

Okay, I didn't watch the river thing but Mrs S-E did and I popped in from time to time. But a few questions (with my usual left-field focus)  ...

1. Why were Andrew and Edward in RN Day Ceremonial when everybody else was in Day Full Ceremonial? They weren't wearing the Garter sash.

2. What's going to happen to the Duke of Edinburgh's CD if he holds on long enough to pick up another bar? It's already full. (Ed notes: for anyone whining about how many he's got: he doesn't wear half of what he could; he's rather old so has picked up the odd few "cornflakes" medals; and eight of them are for war service - including an MiD and the Croix de Guerre avec palme.)

3. The RN Lieutenant i/c the Britannia launch. Just one gong and the Golden Jubilee at that? WTF has he been doing with his time? Not even a VRSM.

4. Why wasn't there a full issue of Battle of Diamond Jubilee gongs for the participants? Most of them looked old enough to have done the 5 years required. TPTB are normally good at this sort of thing.

5. They knew it was going to be pissing down. Why weren't there some coats on the Chartwell?

And some notes.
  •  Props to the Duchess of Cambridge for wearing dolphins. Pity they were squint (to be honest, if they are badge rather than pin, it isn't easy.)
  • The Adj of the Royal Hospital (commanding the Guard of Pensioners at the jetty) did a fair few UN tours, didn't he! (Ed notes: Might not be the Adj. Might have been the QM.
  • Additional neck decorations on frock coats look silly (they are hanging down from the right coat flap.) Note that the DoE got away without having to wear any more by wearing his OM and his GCVO collar.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

It says something

About the permanence of the institution, don't you think?
Did I mean "Marriage"? Did I mean "Monarchy"? Whatever you wish ...

Do you ever feel

Like using (William of) Ockham's razor to cut some idiot's throat?

CiF: the universe's "strange attractor" for morons

I cannot express the horror I felt at the economic ignorance this tautology celebrates:

We're not getting any investment right now from the wealthy - they're hoarding cash by the truckload and plenty of it in government gilts. 

What are gilts if they aren't investment, normally by the wealthy, in the government. Remember this is CiF and a penny spent by the government is worth a guinea spend by an evil capitalist libertarian baby-eater.

And 4 idiots recommended it.

Still, there was a response. And, then the response to the response, recommended by 41 of the most stupid people on the planet:

"Sorry, what do you think that Government gilts finance? They finance the public sector. The Government issues them to raise money to pay for schools, hospitals."

They finance nothing. Gilts provide savings with interest for people that can afford to buy them. When originally issued bits of paper promising interest are merely swapped for bits of paper that dont, the latter previously supplied by the State via deficit depending.

So government borrowing doesn't finance anything? WTFF are the bastards doing it for then?

I'm so horrified by this that I am actually going to have to go and do some work to clear my head before I start to enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Non-sequitor for the day

Report here:

Warwickshire's chief fire officer, Graeme Smith, had condemned the decision to press criminal charges against the three senior officers who he said had been "treated like common criminals".

But Det Sup Ken Lawrence, who led the Warwickshire Police investigation, defended the case.

He said: "We have a legal duty to investigate every death in whatever circumstances.


"So I would pose that question, how can anyone suggest that that doesn't warrant an investigation?"

And I would pose a question. How does a duty to investigate mean that criminal charges must be brought? Answer, in the box-ticking targets driven, "every incidence must result in a sanctioned offence" world of modern anti-Peelian policing.

It is a tragedy that the four fire-fighters died. But, let's be honest - like being in the Services, being a deep-sea fisherman or, admittedly to my surprise, a window cleaner, you know it is a dangerous job when you take it on.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Utterly stupid CiF comment

Yes, okay, I know. We're selecting from a cast of millions here. But this one really annoyed me:

If you think gay relationships are as real as straight ones then supporting civil partnerships for sisters means you must support marriage for a brother and sister.
Now note that the vermin is suggesting that the commentor they are castigating hasn't thought it through. Which is, at the least, egregiously ironic.

If you support a legal partnership for aged sisters, you probably mean it without the lesbian incest. (Ed notes: there is an assumption there. But we'll ignore it for decency's sake.) In which case, you could be assumed to support a similar legal partnership for a brother and sister, without the heterosexual incest.

And, frankly, I do - and for non-bonking friends, regardless of family relationships. Particularly on the "next of kin" grounds - who would you rather make critical medical and legal decisions for you if you were incapacitated? Somebody you have lived with for years; a nephew or niece you haven't seen, except for funerals, since their 12th birthday; or the state?

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Gays are coming to eat your marriage!

For various reasons, I'm reading some of the CiFatuous responses to the Archbishop of York's interview (silly hat alert) and explanation on his views on gay marriage.

Personally, I don't agree with him. And submitted as much to the Alex Salmond Glorification Society's public consultation on the aforesaid. Even the church of which I am a semi-detached (theologically) member is pretty much in favour (both provincially and locally) of being allowed to marry gayers (and make them priests, bishops and even Child Protection Co-Ordinators!) And I'm entirely happy with all that.

But why do the "all Christians are bigots" bigots insist on quoting the Old Testament? The "Good News" - the new covenant in Christ? The difference between Christians and Jews? The reason I can eat langoustine or wear polycotton without feeling religously unclean?

Okay, if they quote St Paul, then they're on a less sticky wicket. But he had a downer on all sorts of people. And definitely wasn't the Son of God.

I really also can't get my head behind the "it will destroy heterosexual marriage" argument. I'm sorry, but I can't. I didn't marry Mrs S-E because I could but I really fancied the boy down the street. To be honest, we got married because, having lived together for a while, we thought it appropriate before we had kids. Our moral judgement - not precedent for you or anyone else. Two (or two million) gayers get married - it won't make any difference (good or bad) to how we feel about each other.

For an alternative view - well argued and relevant - see Peter Ould's blog.

Just as a note - my previous vicar was gay. I'm going to his wedding in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Me, you prat, I would

Proof that we are dumbing down to the USian level in our churnalism.

And I do appreciate that it is evidence that al-Beeb has the same sort of subbing issues as some of our more appalling daily rags:

The A word

Who would wear a hoodie with the slogan 'Asbo'?

Irony, dear Sir, irony. I met our new bishop on Sunday. I spent some time trying to consider how rude a sarcastic t-shirt I could get away with before Mrs S-E told me to stop being a pillock and put a smart shirt on. I obeyed. Rapidly. But hopefully not cringingly.

Beecroft and the Bleeding Obvious

Just sayin'.

Okay, he's pretty senior in their commune, so you couldn't just give him DFID. But couldn't he have been put in some position less obviously affected by his Maoist outlook? Health, maybe. Treasury Secretary?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just buy

This fortnight's "Private Eye". Frankly, it's worth the £1.50 just for the cover.

Although mine is already damaged for prosperity by the spluttered dots of Burgundy as I failed to hold the laughter in.

Amended: That's now last fortnight's PE now, of course.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gay Marriage, the ASA and Archbishop brûlée

His Grace, well on the conservative side of the debate, has got in to trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority. Which is really quite difficult for somebody who has been charcoal for quite so many years. Being the blogosphere, quite a few people have weighed in on it. So, here's my ha'penny's worth.

Firstly, the ASA should fuck right off. If there has been a complaint or ten, then they should direct their wrath, queries, whatever to the advertisers - in this case the Coalition for Marriage - not Cranmer. As per this recent case. ASDA were hauled in front of not-the-beak, not the TV company or the ad agency.

Secondly, this is a clear matter of current political controversy. There are clear ECHR / HRA Article 9 and 10 points to be made in terms of running the ads. On both sides.

Thirdly, my personal point of view? Ideally, I'd like the government just to back completely off from the whole marriage business. Allow nearly anybody to have a registered partnership - and it really doesn't need to be sexual. The whole "next of kin" thing is the clearest example, to my mind, of allowing a life-long partner, a relation or friend - subsequent to official acknowledgement by both parties - similar rights to a spouse. The right to make the appropriate decisions in nasty situations should defer to the person most likely to make the decision you would want, not some Victorian hang-over of who is your "closest relation". The "I don't want to be thrown out of our house if one of us dies" scenario scores highly too - even if you think heavy death duties are appropriate, this is only delaying, not cancelling them.

Marriage can then be left to the churches. The Quakers, Episcopal Church and Reform Jews can marry gayers. Islam, the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox (Christian or Jew) can refuse. Of course, this won't happen. In which case, my personal view is that allowing gay marriage is a good thing. YMMV.

And, I can't see the legal point being made following the ECHR Schalk judgement. If the government makes marriage available to homosexuals - as it already has to trans-sexuals, there is nothing in that judgement which says that churches will be able to be forced to conduct gay weddings. Divorcees, trans-sexuals, non-confirmed members of the relevant church are already permitted marriage, yet the various faiths are specifically and explicitly permitted, unlike civil registrars, to allow or deny wedding services based on their beliefs. I cannot see any difference in ECHR between these cases and homosexuals.

Although, as a corollary, I could see that a law permitting civil marriages to homosexuals while banning churches from conducting gay weddings could be subject to Article 14 challenge. I expect that the current legal status is only maintained because a similar ban on conducting heterosexual registrations with religious overtones or on church premises applies.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

From the "Draft" Archives

Spring cleaning time at the blog. Here are the titles of some posts that didn't make it:

  • "In defence of Eric Joyce" (about his Labour Uncut piece.)
  • "ACPO - Not even following their own rules." No idea.
  • "Yes, we have a new National Idiot." - Iftikhar Ahmad
  • "Libertarianism and the Election" Analysing various party policies on a statist / libertarian slant. I gave up, in disgust, half way through the Tory manifesto headlines.
  • "Self Congratulatory Puff Piece". I really can't remember. I must have been wonderful, however.
  • "Will you just stop going on about RIPA?" Journalists and facts - never known to mix company.
  • "The Bastard Children of Creationism". No idea. I was annoyed at the time. Tagged "swearing" already.
  • "For the Greater Good*" Military casualty reporting.

It's not a "super moon"

It is the same moon that it has been for some billions of years. You are channeling an idiot astrologer.

All that is happening is that perigee (the periapsis point of a system dominated by the Earth - Gaia) is co-inciding with the full moon. The Earth / moon system has a periapsis point every lunar orbit (about a month.) We have a full moon every month (where we get the name from - it is a hint.) Some times they happen about the same time.

I'd note that the gravitational effect is even greater when perigee occurs at the new moon. But that's much less spectacular, so you don't get idiots (or journalists, but I repeat myself) writing about it.

Next occurence - June 23rd next year. Unless, of course, the world is destroyed as we roll over into a new Mayan Great Cycle, apparently some time in Dec.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Officer Voldemort, I presume?


Mr Williams' family has told the inquest they believe he may have been killed by an agent "specialising in the dark arts of the secret services".

Then he wouldn't have been left in a bag in a rented flat where he was bound to have been discovered. He might have been left, dead, in an extremely compromising position. Or simply disappeared.

If you accept the (widely accepted) premise that SIS do actually run around in tuxedos, drinking martinis (shaken not stirred) and killing people.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Et tu, Brute?

Speaking personally, Cardinal O'Brien, I consider that the Catholic church's positions on:
  • contraception,
  • AIDS,
  • women priests,
  • gay marriage,
  • and, most of all, its complicity* in paedophile rape,
are utterly shameful and far, far worse** for the world than the entirely economically rational decision not to support an FTT. Hell, if you want to criticise the Cleggalition, there are plenty of wide open targets. Why pick the one thing they are clearly correct about?

* Not reporting, moving of paedophiles to other locations where they would still have ready access to victims, etc, etc.

** Okay, maybe not women priests. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with them (yes, they do tend to be a bunch of screaming mad harridans but that's no different from the blokes) but they've not yet made their mark on the world stage.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Diamond Jubilee Medals on eBay

Yesterday, stuck in one of the country's marginally less appalling airports, I watched in fascinated horror as a Diamond Jubilee Medal sold, on eBay, for £155. As I type, there is one on "Buy It Now" for £185. Now, this is quite a lot of money for something that is mass produced from base metal (there is no silver in 'nickel silver'!) But, I'm sure, there are a few people who want to large it up over the extra Bank Holiday but without meeting the qualification criteria to get issued one. Their money, their choice, clearly. Although copies are trivially available, from the usual suspects, for a mere £30.

But (and I know it's still their money), people have bid an empty Diamond Jubilee Medal BOX to over £50. Huh? Unless they're hoping to pass a cheap medal copy off as a real one to one of the idiots willing to pay £150 for a real one (which is a s2 Fraud Act 2006 offence, at the very least), I just can't imagine why they are parting with so much dosh.

As a comparison, a Silver Jubilee medal, far fewer of which were produced, is generally available for somewhere in the £120 to £200 range. The cheaper ones tend to be the Canadian version. The common-as-muck* "Battle of Golden Jubilee" gong usually fetches around £40 - £50, with box and the little bit of card from the Mint that sellers usually describe as a "certificate". This is a mere tenner or so more than a copy medal.

Disclaimer - I'm not getting worked up about the medals being flogged on eBay, unlike the Torygraph or the Scum, just incredulous at what some people are willing to pay.

* As in "even I have one".

Update: As of 6th May, there is a medal up for sale for £500 and another for £350. Boxes alone seem to be making less - a mere £21 or so.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

To the person interested

No, "Surreptitious Evil" does not post on Arrse.

Whether the user behind the nym does, using another nym, is a different matter ...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dumb BBC Question

Can you stop teenagers looking at online porn?
 Err, no. It's not a "dilemma". Dilemmas have to have (at least) two rational options. If one of them is silly, no matter how unattractive, then it is merely superficial. Next, please.

Oh, sorry, you wanted a little more relevant comment? The fact that you weren't allowed to be sold porn mags (or cigarettes) until you were whatever-age-it-was back in ancient days (16 for the fags) didn't stop teenagers getting hold of them. Magazines and evil-cancer-sticks are easier to control than digital pictures.

You couldn't even attempt it without placing hideous restrictions on those of us who are legally allowed (although uxorially disapproved) to see porn. So just don't.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I'm embarrassed

That this man is my MP. The original interview then here & here.

You'd have thought the judo would have taught him a little self-control ...

Friday, April 20, 2012

There's nothing British ...


They are just trying to scupper another person's opportunity for debate, which is very uncivilised and very un-British.
Bit like the fucking BNP, really. Uncivilised and very un-British.

Oh, and Ken?

The far right want to destroy our democracy and stand for the elimination of our basic rights.
Firstly, the BNP are a racist, statist hard-left party. As you should well know. As a racist*, statist hard-left mayoral candidate.

Secondly, nothing the BNP, the EDL or Combat 18 could do, hell even the SWP and the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah together could do, that would do more to "eliminate our basic rights" than your beloved Labour Party has done. Egregious fuckwit.


* Yes, Jews are a race, legally and probably realistically, and Ken hates them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Naughty, naughty little bank

And all the rest of the security holes that having fancy indexing turned on allows one. You know who you are ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kirchner - logic fail.

I'm the head of state, not a thug.

Why is there an assumption that these are even linked, never mind opposites?

Monday, April 16, 2012

MSM Good, Bloggers Bad

You know how the vast amount of money poured in to the professionals of the Main Stream Media means that they are so much more accurate than mere bloggers? As demonstrated by the BBC News website:

The actual story isn't too bad, but the headline is just, well, mind-boggling.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It pays to shop around

A "you've been looking at" ad from Amazon (actually, I'm looking to get a pair of B&W P5, but ...), we have:

Wow, they're pricy, I thought. I wonder what they're selling for else-where ...

Ah, from the manufacturer:

$40 to £2000. Quite some mark up ...

Saturday amusement - if macroeconomics were particle physics

The FT's Alphaville. I particularly liked this quote:

To mitigate the imbalance, BERN could be forced to accumulate ever more euro-denominated Schrodinger assets (maybe worth something, maybe not — all depends on whether the observer is Italian) onto its own account.

I think the problem is deeper than that - it isn't that PIIGS bonds are Schrodinger assets (there is no quantum superposition state), it's that they seem to be Majorana fermions. If you get lots of them together and they don't move around fast enough, they start mutually annhilating. So if the market becomes illiquid ...

Read the lot.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mind boggling

For various reasons (okay, well, organisational penury), I've been haunting the pages of Ebay, mostly buying up bits of kit for work. Firewalls I don't know how to program, packetshapers I know go wrong regularly, that sort of thing.

But I've been amazed at the prices people are willing to pay for some stuff - more than it costs new, in many cases.

But I've just be staggered to see a 1oz palladium coin on sale for about £15,000. I had no idea what palladium was worth (although I did know it was on the pricey side) but Google is my friend and you can buy a 1oz ingot online for about $670, so on the order of £400. So that's, what, roughly 40 times the bullion value. For a not very attractive picture.

But is this a low issue coin thing? Well, okay, maybe. So I checked on the Royal Mint site. You've got the Queen's Diamond Jubilee platinum £5 coin - 94g of platinum for £6,400. Now platinum is about $1630 a troy ounce at the moment (slightly cheaper than gold, which surprised me - but the world has changed since I last worried about precious metal prices) - which works out, for a commemorative coin of only 250 issued, at a mark up of about 110%. Which seems rather more sensible. And you do get a nice box to keep it in.

Friday, March 23, 2012

More Stupidity About the Falklands

But, this time, the guilty party is a Brit. Simon Jenkins, on Comment is Fatuous:

When on 20 March Endurance was ordered from Port Stanley to South Georgia, it was too late, removing the one deterrent to an Argentine landing and leaving the Falklands exposed to attack.

Exactly, Sir, what sort of deterrent do you believe an underarmed (fitted for but not with 2 x 20mm at the time, iirc) naval icebreaker, albeit with a few marines on board, would have been? Against an invasion force of a submarine, a Type 42 destroyer, a corvette and amphbious assault ship with several full marine companies and armoured vehicles? In your extensive military experience?

And then this:

Lombardo's cobbled-together invasion took place on 2 April, leaving Thatcher initially stunned and humiliated. Though bloodless ...

The family of Argentinian Lieutenant-Commander Pedro Giachino, as well as those of the three Argentinian casualities of the South Georgia invasion, might disagree with you. As well as the small number wounded in the initial attacks. Mostly bloodless, I'll grant. But that's supposed to be the difference between mere hyperbole and professional journalism, wouldn't you say?

Some Falklands photos:

San Carlos Water, below a typical Falklands sky
1982 War Memorial, Port Stanley seafront
Argentinian Military Cemetary, north of Darwin. Note both the gravestones: this is just wrong.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Dear Argentina

My dearest Christina,

While we understand the depth of feeling in your country about the status of the Falkland Islands, and your need to distract your population from your (and your husband's) appalling economic record, we do think that you might have gone a little to far, or as the youth say "might have jumped the shark", with your recent suggestion that Argentina take over the civilian airbridge to the islands.

May I remind you that you are currently attempting to enforce a de facto blockade of the Islands and are attempting to start a trade war?

And you want us to give you control over the flights in to and out? Because we know that it isn't commercial viable for there to be two airlines. Simply not enough people.

Do you think we are fucking nuts?

Yours sincerely,


PS and BTW, we recognise all the participants as veterans. Yet you don't. If I may quote:

They say that back on the mainland their worst enemies were not the British, but their own superior officers.  They starved, humiliated, and even tortured their charges.  One common form of punishment involved tying a naked soldier to stakes on the ground and leaving him at the mercy of the Patagonian cold for days.

Sort your own camp out before whining about us.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Various Musings

Leading on from the Rangers thing - and in the debris of yet another Scotland valiant defeat in rugby - Scotland are ranked 15 in the world at cricket (out of 105 ranked coutnries) - even more of a minority sport in Alba. Comparitively better than we are at, guess what? Yes, football.

When, just when, did Scottish Labour have Wee Jimmy Krankie elected as their leader?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rangers - the inverse snobs start to swarm

Oh dear. You might note that I'm slightly grumpy this morning.

Amid the general gloating about the problems inflicted, by themselves and no-one else, on one of the poles of Scottish bigotry, we have to go to, where else?, Comment is Free, to find support. From the "executive editor of the Daily Mail in Scotland" no less. Who was probably awared that he would have been laughed permanently out of his own paper if he'd dared to be such a pillock there.

So who gets blamed for Rangers being a bunch of thugs organised by criminals? Oh, well, that powerhouse of Scottish society. Who? Masons? The labour party? The Society of Advocates? No, apparently, it is rugby supporters.

Many of them will follow Scotland's international rugby team, an outfit so bad that among the 10 or so countries which take this minority of minority sports seriously we arurrently 11th.

Okay, yes, Scotland are 11th out of the 93 ranked countries in the IRB. But, as any true Scot will tell you, Scottish international teams are, unfortunately, seriously crap. Except at curling and, that popular game in the Gorbals, elephant polo. In fact, in that opium of the masses, soccer, Scotland are currently doing rather worse, languishing even, at 48th out of 208. Behind such exalted footballing nations as Algeria, Armenia and Iran.
For many families in the west of Scotland's most socially deprived and disadvantaged housing estates, Rangers FC provides the glue that keeps their sense of pride and dignity intact. Society has taken away everything else in their lives; their jobs, their futures, their purpose, their health, their self-respect and their liberation.

Goodness, gracious me. A veritable social service this lot provides. I wonder if some condescending local rag, perhaps the Daily Mail, would like to give them new hope?
HTTP Error 403: You are not authorised to access the file "\real_name_and_address.html" on this server.

(c) 'Surreptitious Evil' 2006 - 2017.