Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Prepostorous Mrs Sturgeon

Well, we knew that the Scottish independence whatever was going to be a row not a debate, didn't we?

You've got the hated evil political oppressors on one side and a bunch of small-minded bigots on the other1. So it was never going to be clean, never mind polite.

So, what have we here? Well, it seems that one Unionist2 politician was asked if rUK would continue to subsidise the iScottish dream of manufacturing supremacy by wasting tax-payers money in Glasgow. To which the cynically correct answer was "we'll have our own marginal constituencies to patronise"3. As you'd expect.

But, this is unthinkable to the Deputy First Minister. Which shows, I suppose, how little thought is woven in to the dreams (and bile) of the SNP.

1. Well, you either have the trad SNP / Mel Gibson narrative or you look at Blair / Brown / Darling / Reid etc and the BNP / EDL.

2. Of course, being a LibDem, it's the EU not the UK.

3. Of course, being a politician, he didn't put it quite as plainly :)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

People should try to understand before they start preaching

In all the fuss about young Mr Snowden, there are a lot of people opining on the matter who don't seem to understand the concept of "spy agency".

Anyway, there is now a self-selected bunch of more-or-less professional interferers who have come up with what they proudly declare to be the:

International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance

Well, this is all to the well and good but it doesn't actually hold a vast amount of water. A couple of particular niggles from the many, selected, in this case, from the overtly praise-worthy "Legitimate Aim"* principle:

Laws should only permit communications surveillance by specified State authorities to achieve a legitimate aim that corresponds to a predominantly important legal interest that is necessary in a democratic society.

Well, of course, seems reasonable. Except, perhaps, for its applicability (or otherwise) in those societies around the world that aren't democratic?

Any measure must not be applied in a manner which discriminates on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Right. Seriously? No spy agency in the world should select targets because of their nationality or political opinions? If people want to make a constructive contribution to the debate, it is well worth actually trying to express yourself in such a way that you don't get laughed at by the core participants. I think the sort of contribution these worthies are having might be best described by that pithy Americanism "circle-jerk".

* Well, you wouldn't be too happy about a government agency having an "illegitimate aim", would you?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Unsurprisingly, St Julian of Knightsbridge is completely, utterly and totally wrong.

Bradley Manning is guilty.  He broke the law. In fact, he took a deliberate decision to break the US Uniform Code of Military Justice, and US Federal Law, in releasing classified information to Wikileaks.

This fact has nothing at all to do with whether you consider him a brave and principled whistle blower,  being persecuted by a military embarrassed by the exposure of their misdeeds,  or an evil pinko terrorist-loving pervert who has disgraced his uniform.

Morality and the law are not the same thing. Whether they should be, or not, is a thorny philosophical issue most easily addressed by the rhetorical question "Whose morality do you pick?"

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Nonsense from Avaaz

From the latest outraged petition:

Apple, one of the world's wealthiest companies, paid $0 in tax on $78 billion they made in recent years by setting up shell corporations in low-tax countries and posting profits abroad. This kind of global tax evasion gives multinational firms a huge advantage over smaller domestic companies. It's as bad for a healthy market economy as it is for democracy and economic stability.

Except, well, it's just bollocks, really. Apple does pay tax - in the USA, in the UK (albeit not much here - but that's the EU for you). Apply doesn't set up shell companies or post profits abroad. What it is doing is not repatriating profits made abroad to the USA, because of the way US corporate tax law works.

The real problem is that the idiots' meme (Lady Hodge, GMG and the LHTD - all enthusiastically evading tax themselves, of course) is winning. I despair, sometimes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wonderful Quote

From the usually very interesting (even though she works for the Borg) Danah Boyd:

And since I spend most of my days in front of my computer or on my phone, it’s often hard to distinguish between labor and procrastination.

Of course, from my point of view, the difference is whether somebody is paying you for it or not. So, this week, reading "Arms Commander" (L E Modesitt) was very definitely work. Whereas, last week, it would have been procrastination.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Just a wee note

This blog will be even quieter than normal over the summer. Unfortunately, not because I am enjoying a massive lottery win on a Caribbean beach.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Things that don't surprise me: China moans about cyber-spying accusations

DoD report (see p36, as well as p11-13 and p51-52.)

Commentary from al-Beeb:

China's government and military have targeted US government computers as part of a cyber espionage campaign, a US report on China says ...

Well, yes. Many governments have electronic espionage programs - the US even admit it. But the Chinese, for some reason, seem to resent being called out on what they actually admit to doing in their military doctrine.

China called the report "groundless", saying it represented "US distrust".

A report from state news agency Xinhua cited Sr Col Wang Xinjun, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) researcher, describing the report as "irresponsible and harmful to the mutual trust between the two countries".

What "mutual trust"? Seriously?

Both China and the US were victims of cybercrimes and should work together to tackle the problems, the agency quoted him as saying.

Deliberate, even malicious red herring (or red snapper, if that's the Oriental equivalent :) ). Organised government intelligence operations and cybercrime are completely different things (even if they might look similar on a tcpdump.)

Monday, May 06, 2013

You do really expect better

Of Private Eye*:

After three years' work, and undisclosed costs, a team of two-dozen NATO-funded legal experts has completed a set of guidelines, the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare

Okay. So far so good. Except for the bloody 'C' word. But that is mere reportage, not their fault. Here's where it goes wrong:

on how to deal with hostile attacks on a country's computer systems

Ah, no. Not quite. It is a bit more than that. Journowankers may abuse the term "cyber warfare" for everything from simple criminality to Anonymous to Foreign and Hostile Intelligence Services but, here, it is being used explicitly. In terms of the conduct of military and para-military operations over the inter-tubes.

And, the Tallinn manual covers a lot more than simply dealing with hostile attacks. And this is where they (PE) get it badly wrong in their punch-line:

So there you have it: if your country finds itself under cyber-attack from the other side of the world, the first and most important thing is to find out what they are wearing.

No. If your country is going to conduct an attack, then it needs to be soldiers in uniform (update) if you want it to be covered by the international law of armed conflict**. There is no legal exception for 'cyber'. Simples. Too simple, clearly.

* Once you realise that they are a bunch of soft-left Islingtonia dinner-party habitues. Therefore are prime useful idiots for the LHTDs of this world.

** There is no applicable or agreed law on the conduct of intelligence operations. They tend to be covered by the law of the countries operated by. In countries operated in, active intelligence officers are usually acting as criminals, although they may have diplomatic immunity..

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Schnaudenfraude strikes me down


QinetiQ (or, if you want to wind them up "quin-ti-queue") are the bit of DERA that the Yanks would let Blair flog off. They used to have some really sharp folks who traded the lack of money for a decent pension and loads and loads of toys.

Since then, they've been a bit of a blind, drunk asperger's gorilla in the industry. Lots of money to invest, lots of people to schmooze your directors, all of the artistic competence of a toddler with a paint-ball gun.

So, snurk. Yes, sorry, I just can't stop grinning.

Things that don't surprise me: Nonsense in the Guardian

I was sent through a link with the interesting snippet:

Security alert: notes from the frontline of the war in cyberspace
Jon Ronson

The battle for control of cyberspace is turning nasty, with young hackers, pirates and activists facing long prison sentences. We report from the frontline ...

So, I thought. Great. Let's read it.

OMFG. What a lot of nonsense.

Some semi-anarchist troll, Kimble, various Anonymous.

It's not "war", never mind "the frontline". It's barely even "crime fighting". Yes, we know US law is a crock of shit, idiotic politicians, extraordinarily well financed pressure groups, elected prosecutors. But ...

Kimble is a fraud and a crook - whether what is being done to him is 'fair' in terms of what he is actually currently charged with is almost irrelevant.

Trolls are, well, trolls. And then "resisting the man"? Dissing the judge who is going to be sentencing you? Well, okay. 41 months to grow up ...

Anonymous know what they are doing - it's civil disobedience and, together with the plaudits they need to learn to do the time. Some of them appear to realise this. But the lawyer? Perhaps the lass should be better off asking how many of his clients actually get off?

Friday, May 03, 2013

Things that do not surprise me: Sunny Hundal gets it wrong


Its American edition this week illustrates the Boston bombers.

Note their skin tone: it isn’t white. They look brown, even though US authorities describe them as white.

Sighs, theatrically.

Okay. In USA terms they are 'white'. That is that they are not Black, Hispanic, Asian or, since 9/11, Arab.

Of course, they are Caucasian. Hell, part of the Caucasus Range is in Chechnya. But, then, not all Caucasians are white. See Spain, Italy, Portugal (hell, anywhere there is a bit more sun than the UK).

And, of course, Sunny's own post shows their photos. The elder brother clearly has a bit of tone to his skin and even the younger brother, photographed in front of a white backdrop, which bleaches anybody out, is clearly several tones more tanned than the Nordic 'paler shade of white', never mind the traditional Jockanese blue.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Taking it a bit far?

Lunacy Party tax dodging MP Lady Margaret Hodge today denied that she had hit a cyclist with her car door because she suspected him of complicity in personal and corporate tax avoidance.

She didn't tell our intrepid reporter, "It's the voices that tell me what to do who are to blame. Especially that one that sounds like the Lord High Tax Denouncer. I was just following orders!"

Friday, April 26, 2013

Can we extend this a little?

Margaret "Only I'm allowed to dodge tax" Hodge and some of her flying monkeys claim:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was in a "battle it cannot win" against the accountancy firms who have thousands of people giving advice ...

the practice represented a "ridiculous conflict of interest".

The large accountancy firms are in a powerful position in the tax world and have an unhealthily cosy relationship with government.

Okay, they may even have a point. Let's now ban lawyers, trades unionists and civil servants from Parliament? Oh, no, okay. Hypocrisy is us, yes?

Monday, April 22, 2013

What a lot of lefty whining

I was pointed at this post by a Facebook contact, who described it as "a thoughtful article about poverty & inequality". I disagree.

I think it is load of old-left hard-left whining that not only have they lost the arguments, they've lost the war. Of course, being Glasgow, there is also a whole load of unjustifiable Scottish exceptionalism - how the Scots are so much better than the evil English (Tory, baby-eating, bankster) bastards.

But let's start this fisk at the end, shall we?

David Donnison was for five years chair of the Supplementary Benefits Commission (abolished by Margaret Thatcher) which had a general responsibility for our means-test social benefits.

Ah, an organisation so essential that neither the populist Blair nor the socialist Brown brought it back. Okay, so as we can start from a position "Maggie snatched my comfortable sinecure", we can see the thought that is likely to go in to the rest of this.

The Westminster government and the media have renamed them 'welfare', a word reeking with an American accent of contempt for those who receive these payments.

Is it? Really? More contemptuous than "social security benefits"? Oh, okay ...

The Westminster government and their friends in the media try to shape those changes by contrasting 'strivers' with 'shirkers', and constantly repeating that many families 'in which no-one has worked for generations' are 'trapped on benefits' – a myth for which I have been unable to find any supporting evidence.

I don't, somehow, think you've looked very hard. There are certainly families near me in Scotland that are on their 2nd generation of benefit recipients. And I've not looked at all. There is also an appalling attitude I've seen on behalf of some of the families of my son's friends that even attending school isn't really important. That merely coming of age will be sufficient because somebody else will provide you with the income you clearly deserve.

Now the disgusting George Osborne has seized on the case of Mick Philpott – the man given a life sentence for the appalling manslaughter of six children – to suggest that his crime is the kind of thing that happens when we hand out over-generous social benefits to immoral people.
Did he? According to Sky, Osborne was asked:
Are the Philpotts vile products of welfare UK?

He replied:
There’s a question about the welfare state, and taxpayers who pay, subsidising lifestyles like that.

So, actually, no he didn't. He didn't suggest any causal link between the Welfare State and the murder - his comment would have applied, just as relevantly or not, if Philpott had been in the news for any reason. Say, as a lottery winner, or because of his appearance on some god-awful morning tv schedule filler.

We heard from the lone mother who got her children to school, ran for a bus, and reached the job centre just in time for her appointment – only to be told that, according to their computer, she was a few minutes late, and would therefore lose her benefits. Her appeal, if she made one, would be heard in a few months' time.

Okay - what's this actually a problem with? The UK public service ethos - proverbially capable neither of civility nor of service? Crap computer systems? Piss-poor organisation on the part of the 'lone mother'. (Ed notes: so, is 'single mother' now one of these discriminatory terms we are banned from using?) Easier just to blame it on those evil bastard Tories rather than actually working out what the problem was.

Another mother took a bus for seven miles to renew her benefit payments, and was told to go home for a document she had not been asked for – the 14-mile trip costing her the price of her children's supper. 

How many times has she renewed her benefit? Where was this bus? How much was it? Of course, as we've gone away from handing benefits over in cash at the Job Centre, how was she going to pay for the kiddies' supper even if she had her benefits renewed?

And, frankly, where is Dad? Why can't she get a job? Etc, etc. This sort of anecdata isn't sufficient to make an argument.

And there was the frail, elderly lady who can just manage to look after herself at home with the help of her son who comes to stay for a night or two each week. She has been told that she will have to move to a one-bedroom flat because she will not be entitled to her present housing benefit for a home with two bedrooms. And there are no one-bedroom flats available in her neighbourhood.

Yet the council has a statutory duty to house her. And to provide her, free of charge, with personal care. And, of course, she will only have to move if the housing benefit reduction means she can no longer afford her current house. And the lack of one-bedroom flats? Clearly the fault of these evil Tory bastards who've been running the local councils in Scotland for far too long.

If we are to have governments in Westminster who see poverty not as a problem but as a solution – driving people into work of whatever kinds and at whatever wages may be available.

Do I hear the refrain "Can work, won't work"? Hmm, but the magic jobs tree exists in the same place as the magic money tree - in fantasy land. Every private sector job needs to pay its way. And every public sector job needs to be supported by at least two private sector jobs at the same sort of level.

There's more of it. But it is just lefty whining. They'll cripple the ability of the private sector to make any money and then strike, march and even riot about our inability to pay for what they consider necessary public services.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Most hated Yank in America?

Well, will this be enough for Nate Bell?

I would like to apologize to the people of Boston & Massachusetts for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning. As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis. In hindsight, given the ongoing tragedy that is still unfolding, I regret the poor choice of timing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston overnight and will continue as they recover from this tragedy.

I dunno, and being somewhat far removed from the Arkansas state legislature having any real significance to my life, I don't really care. But, let's look at what caused the problem, the moron's original tweet:

I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?

Okay. Now, we're seeing vaguely where he is coming from. Boston is, as far as the US goes, quite 'liberal'* (it's on the coast. Which is actually, until you get to Alaska or the Cuban bits of Florida, a pretty reasonable marker). And they're not particularly keen on expansive interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. But is an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine (variously, this seems to mean more than 10 rounds, in the lapsed federal legislation, or 15 rounds in some states' legislation) really the weapon of choice to defend your home in a crowded suburban environment?

No, it's not. In fact, it is so far from it, it was an utterly silly thing to say. You don't have the long lines of sight or the ability to set yourself in a proper firing position. The round is high-penetrating (high velocity, small calibre and Geneva convention compatible), so your chance of collateral damage - to your family or your neighbours - is far too high, but also does relatively little damage (small calibre and that pesky convention, again!) And if you are a crap enough shot that you need 10 rounds to hit man-size target at the short distance of a residential house or lot, then, frankly, you've no business owning a rifle. Go to a gun club and get some training.

Ideally, I'd have an auto weapon with expanding or hollow point ammo. But, as most places don't like people owning their own sub-machine guns, and I was recommending a weapon, I'd go with a decent semi-auto pistol in a medium calibre - and those low penetration, high energy dispersal rounds. Haven't had a play with the Glock 17 yet - but that's popular. A reasonable Sig-Sauer (eg a P226) would be an alternative.

So, even if you are in favour of guns and despise US 'liberals', the man is still a moron.

Update: Also, as I have just realised, if there are a whole load of rather nervous armed police and similar agencies running around (plus a whole load of {National Guard?} soldiers), 'cowering' in your home holding a readily identifiable 'military style long weapon' is probably not the sanest thing to do.

* This word is used, in the US, in a strange way. But not in as strange a way as it is used by Clegg, Cable and the rest of that egregious gang.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Panorama on North Korea

Well, interesting - even if they didn't actually show us anything we didn't already know from news reports or other visits to the country. This series, on the other hand is excellent:

So, how did the BBC do? Just some musings ...

  • The endless repetition of "thermonuclear war"? Apart from the German estimate of 40 kilotons, all the other estimates for the third nuclear test put it well within fission bomb levels.
  • Prof Brian Meyers - big military equals 'far right' equals 'ultra-nationalist'. Okay, if you insist. But the Sovs had a big army, were definitely left-ish and were really quite keen on "Mother Russia".
    • But he's also the guy who insists that the Norks wouldn't start a (thermo)nuclear war.
  • North Koreans are racially prejudiced. Okay, didn't see any evidence of this when I was in South Korea (except from 'white people can't hold their drink. Ed notes: That's largely because they largely equate 'white' and 'American'. So it is evidence-based to some extent.) But so is still-really-communist China and really-quite-capitalist Japan.
  • Anti-aircraft guns? Just because they were pointing up? Yes, people still use anti-aircraft cannon - small and rapid firing. Long distance stuff is missiles everywhere. I'm not sure whether this is North Korean backwardness or BBC ignorance.
  • The defector brave enough to go on camera? Okay, but they'd only just shown the interview with the guy who had fallen under the train. Only the lady doctor was hidden.
All in all, not great journalism.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Things that are currently pissing me off - 10

Arseholes who offer stuff for sale on eBay, only willing to accept a fixed price. But instead of using the "buy it now" facility, instead set a low start price and bury that critical detail deep in the description.

It's a right pain in the fundament if you are searching using one of the mobile eBay apps.

A better Bieber joke than the boy himself.

Via young Master S-E:

Would Anne Frank have been a Belieber? No, millions of people following an idiot was the reason she was in that attic.

Apologies to the original author for the lack of credits.

(Ed notes: Of course, Hitler wasn't an idiot. He was a lot of unpleasant things but merely stupid wasn't one of them. And, in Bieber's case, idiocy is a common and often temporary affliction of the young adult male. We'll have to see how he turns out.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing

Err, well, um. Why? Boston?

My thoughts go out to the dead and their families, the injured and the others affected.

We'll wonder about who. Although C4 News was full of hunger strikes at a prison in Cuba. This may, or may not, be linked.

Update: Oh, dear. Seems to be Chechens (although US resident for some time.) Which probably means they are Sunni Muslims. Possibly, of course, a false flag. Doesn't look hopeful for avoidance of more nastiness.

Monday, April 08, 2013


Lady Thatcher LG OM PC FRS.

Britain, today, would be a very different and a much poorer place without her.

We'll wait to see if the left can avoid a tsunami of triumphalism. Somehow I doubt it.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

First up against the wall when the revolution comes

"Peter K", who blogs here, for this utter shite.

Nuff said ...

Well, okay, maybe not. But if I can just pull my head out of my white male straight able-bodied cisgender and probably class privilege for a moment, then I suggest he could have usefully stopped with point 3. Because the rest is wibble of the most right-on variety.

And he can stand proudly next to the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation when the great day finally arrives.

Edited to add:  Post 666, folks, and on Easter Day too. If any of you have a bit of free time, Lucifer needs a hand with the tidying up. Jesus's wake wasn't as much fun as he (L not J) was expecting.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Do the SNP believe in independence?

Well, not really - if you look at what Angus Robertson has been saying.
described the news that the Joint Strike Fighter would not be based at Lossiemouth as the "latest blow to the beleaguered defence establishment in Scotland".
Now, this isn't a problem, is it? Unless you are stupid enough to believe that, come independence, all MoD personnel and materiel north of the border would simply stay there to become the HM's Scottish Armed Forces. (Ed notes: and that there wouldn't be a huge exodus south between a successful-for-them vote and the throwing off of the shackles of Westminster oppression) Of course, Angus may indeed be. He is a politician, after all. But, of course, the SNP want Trident to move south (and the hunter-killers would follow ...)

So, why Typhoon and not JSF?

Simple. There is sense in placing some of your Air Defence forces at the extremities of your country - even if they are howling wilderness. Shortens your reaction times to any incursion or overflight. Ground attack aircraft? Unless there is an obvious existential threat from your neighbours, you base them where it is convenient for logistics and move them when needed.

And there simply aren't enough Scots wanting to join the UK Armed Forces - and this is also why the Scottish regiments seem to have been harder hit than others.

Terry Kelly is rarely right - but he does have one point. The SNP are no less a single-issue party than UKIP. And a lot less consistent with the effects around winning their pet issue than Farage's merry mob.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Gay Marriage Shock!

Shock? Well, lots of people seem surprised and shocked that quite so many Tory MPs voted against it. Makes you wonder what they think "Conservative" means in "Conservative and Unionist Party"?

Regardless of whether you are for or ag'in gay marriage, it is hardly a conservative measure.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Explains it all really

This is, honestly, what many on the left think:

As is increasingly becoming apparent Right-wing people - either through choice or incapacity - don't think.

Right-wing people are all back-brain.Their prejudices and preconceptions more reflexes of the nervous system than of the higher functions of the mind.

When you factor in the standard delusion that "right wing" is defined as "everybody who doesn't agree with whatever absurd impracticality I am currently spouting" and also often includes "anybody who, while agreeing with my principles points out the lack of or appalling quality of the evidence I'm using to justify my (currently) favourite absurd impracticality", then it is a pretty damning indictment of the breed, really.

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