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Thrills and spills

So by now everyone will be aware that Australia’s first knitting Prime Minister has been stabbed in the back by her own party in favour of the former Prime Minister she stabbed in the back for labor barely three years ago. Let’s just lay that out in a time line:

  • 4th December 2006 – The Australian Labor Party decided that Kevin Rudd is the man to lead them to victory over incumbent PM John Howard in the forthcoming election.
  • 3rd December 2007 – Kevin Rudd leads the ALP to a landslide victory over incumbent PM John Howard, and in such decisive fashion that John Howard actually lost his own seat.
  • 24 June 2010 – The Australian Labor Party decide that Kevin Rudd, the same one who led them to electoral victory, is a fucking liability electorally speaking as well as a pain in the arse to work for, choosing to dump him for his deputy Julia Gillard. Having been told his time is up Rudd stands aside without a fight.
  • 21st August 2010 – As Prime Minister Julia Gillard leads the ALP to a no score draw in the election and has to form a minority government relying on the promised support of Senate Greens and some of the cross bench MPs in the House of Reprehensibles.
  • 24th February 2012 – After time in Gillard’s cabinet and then the back benches Rudd challenges for the leadership of the ALP again. Three days later the ALP votes and Gillard beats Rudd 71 votes to 31.
  • 30th January 2013 – Julia Gillard, having steadily lost popular support and, presumably, having gone quite mad, announces that the next federal election will be on 14th September 2013, about a fortnight before the last day it can legally be held (UK readers might find bells ringing from that last bit).
  • 21st March 2013 – Having continued to lose support Labor MPs seem finally to notice that many of them are likely to lose their seats and cushy jobs at the election. Rudd, having spent much of the last 13 months saying he wouldn’t challenge for the leadership again, stays silent. Simon Crean, a member of Gillard’s cabinet, called for a fresh leadership contest and announced that he supported Kevin Rudd to replace Gillard as leader and Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and Deputy PM each stand for their existing jobs and Kevin Rudd continues to stay silent. Gillard is elected unopposed and promptly fires Simon Crean, who complains that he thought Rudd would actually challenge. Rudd then states that he will never be Labor leader again.
  • Today, 26th June 2013, three months later – Rudd’s supporters petition for a Labour caucus with the intention of forcing another contest on what, due to Parliament being about to rise until the election, is for all practical purposes the last possible day they could have one. Gillard raises and calls for a contest without waiting for the petition. To negligible surprise Rudd announces that despite his promise he’s changed his mind and will stand against Gillard, and goes on to win by a dozen votes.

So there we have it, the man that Labor wanted/didn’t want/didn’t want/didn’t want/wanted all along is back, having seen off the red headed pretender who betrayed him/rescued the party/betrayed him/betrayed the party/was brilliant/was a total lost cause.

And needless to say, all this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with polling predictions that with Julia Gillard as PM Labor will be reduced to perhaps as few as 30 seats come the federal election while under Rudd it’ll be 50 at worst and if they’re lucky they might even make another draw or a tiny majority. Each and every member of the Labor caucus is thinking only of the good of the country, natch, and the kind of naked self interest that is no doubt suspected by millions is actually not a consideration at all. Honest. Although…

… if that was true then why the fuck did they ditch Kevin Rudd, not once but three times, to begin with. I was going to make a joke about Rudd asking why the ALP had disowned him three times, but since I wonder if the bastard hasn’t got a messiah complex anyway I think it’s best I don’t.

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On faith, freedom and female bishops

So the Church of England has debated the issue and ending up saying no to the idea of women bishops. This, we’re told, is a final no, but it strikes me that at some point in the past it was probably almost equally definite that there would no be women vicars, and yet today the Anglican church both in and outside of England has plenty of women priests who are not Dawn French. The article even says that it’s killed the prospect off for at least five years, which doesn’t sound all that final to me. For now though it does look like this has put the kybosh on the idea in the CofE.

And I say this: so bloody what?

There will now almost certainly be calls in Parliament for the Church of England’s exemption from equality legislation — effectively allowing it to discriminate against women by barring them from becoming bishops — to be removed, opening the way for women to bring a legal challenge.
[…]
Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour minister, said: “This means the Chruch is being held hostage by an unholy and unrepresentative alliance of conservative evangelicals and conservative Catholics.
“This will add to clamour for disestablishment, there is even talk of moves in Parliament to remove the Church’s exemption from the Equality Act.”

Look, it’s their religion and if freedom of religion is to remain in Britain then we all have to accept that practitioners of a given religion can run it however they like providing it doesn’t actually harm anyone else. And no, not providing an opportunity to be bishops is no more harming women than the lack of opportunity in Britain for people of either gender to become astronauts. The bottom line is it’s their god-club and their rules, and whether the first rule of god-club is not talking about god-club or no mitres are men only or no gay weddings in our buildings it’s still their rules. I’m for gay weddings if gays want to marry and I’m for female emancipation and the opportunity for the girls to seek any work they choose up to and including that of sperm donor. But as with the obvious case of sperm donation, freedom to seek doesn’t mean that there must be a guarantee that the position must be made available to women.

Is it silly that women shouldn’t be bishops? Yeah, I’d agree with that, but I’d add that I find it no more so than many other aspects of religion in general and Anglican Christianity in particular. If it’s sillier I’d say it’s only because some other parts of the Anglican Communion have gone ahead and allowed female bishops. But is it unreasonable? Should the CofE be compelled by secular law to allow female bishops? No, I don’t think so. If you want to remove the exemption on the principle that all are equal before the law I’d be all for it, though I’m really for laws that dictate and restrict how one is allowed to think and choose to be ditched as fundamentally anti-liberty. And if you wanted to disestablish the Church on the grounds of separation of Church and State I’d support that too. But this isn’t about applying the law equally or any such noble notions. This is just punishing a religious minority (I’m guessing CofE regulars are in a minority these days?) because their world view isn’t modern enough for you.

It’s a religion, yes? An unscientific and untestable faith in a 14 billion year old entity as explanation for literally everything? It’s not supposed to be modern, surely? So let them have their rules, outdated as some of us may think they are, and let those ladies who want to be bishops apply to those parts of the Anglican Communion that are open to the idea. Or start their own church if competition for positions is too intense in Scotland and visas for anywhere further are too much hassle. If, as we’re told, the big worry for the Church was a schism with traditionalists and evangelicals leaving then why don’t the pro-female modernisers leave instead. This is how freedom and tolerance actually works, you see. Their god-club means their freedom to set their rules, as I said before, and the rest of us tolerate that since we know that freedom also means that nobody who disagrees has to stay in the god-club.

Or are we admitting that Britain isn’t a free country after all? If so that might be a start toward becoming one.

 

PS A brief apology. Obviously I intended making a joke about bashing the bishop but I just couldn’t think of one. To anyone who is offended by this oversight, please take 50¢ and phone someone who gives a shit.

The bansturbators’ latest attack on liberty

Imagine prohibiting cigarette sales to people born after 2000.

Phasing out tobacco will stop the next generation taking up smoking.

Actually I’d be surprised if this is really new and hasn’t been bandied around nannying and anti-tobacco circles previously, but this is the first time I’ve seen something like it being seriously mooted in the pages of a major newspaper. And I have to say that not only is it one of the most illiberal and unjust (when something is legal for one person and not for another for no better reason than the lottery of birth we have begun to wave bye bye to equality of law) ideas I’ve seen but also one of the most breathtakingly naive, if not downright stupid and verging on self-fisking.

Let’s start with that subheading (yes, the stupid really does start that early):

Phasing out tobacco will stop the next generation taking up smoking.

Well, yes it would… if that’s what you were actually doing, or indeed is even possible with a product made from a plant that grows readily in the wild and is fairly easy to cultivate, and was to be attempted in a sparsely populated country with 25,000 kilometres of mostly uninhabited coastline. Before even reaching the body text the author, Cameron Nolan, has confused making something unavailable with merely changing its legal status and blithely declaring that as a result nobody will ever use it again. It seem unlikely that he has given any thought to the date on which various proscribed drugs were, to use his term, phased out. For many drugs currently outlawed this was before most users were born: heroin, for example, was last available in Australia legally in 1953, and even then required a prescription.* Hardly a ringing success at preventing the next generation from taking it, and since heroin laws here go back to the 19th century it can be argued that in fact they’ve failed for several generations. With such serial failure a hallmark of prohibition why should anyone but the congenitally clueless and/or nanny-prone believe that tobacco would be any different?

Imagine that cigarettes did not exist. Now imagine that some plucky upstart – let’s call them Philip Morris – invented them and went to the regulators for approval to sell their product in the Australian market.

You can hear the laughter coming out of the offices of Product Safety Australia as these new inventors explain that they want to commercialise a product that has the perverse combination of being both highly addictive and highly deadly.

Again, yes, though my personal experience with quitting smoking – hard when you’re doing it because others are laying the guilts on you about it, ridiculously piss easy when you’re doing it because you’ve stopped enjoying it – casts doubt on the addiction thing, and since there may be a tendency to label any death as smoking related that ticks some of the right boxes even if it’s from something with multiple causes I suspect the dangers are equally overblown. But in any case why should it concern Product Safety Australia or anyone else? Does Product Safety Australia claim ownership of the living bodies of smokers? Does ASH? Does the Health Department? Does Cameron Nolan? Can any of them or anyone else show that they have legal title to, and therefore responsibility for, anyone else’s body?

If the answer is yes then slavery is alive and well and operating in Australia. If the answer is no then Product Safety Australia can limit itself to making sure that potentially harmful/addictive products aren’t slipped into Australia’s markets pretending to be harmless and non-addictive. With tobacco this is probably not even necessary – we all know what it can cause, or at least what it gets blamed for, and if smokers choose to accept that risk because they enjoy smoking then that’s entirely up to them. If they’re not smoking me out – and that simply never happens – then I have no reason or right to tell them what to do with/to their bodies.

Yet this is not the world we live in.

It isn’t? So the state doesn’t arrogate ownership of people’s living bodies and an opium producer can go to Product Safety Australia and not be laughed at, or even arrested as soon as they’ve set foot in the door? The only sense in which it’s not the world we live in is that the nannies have not quite yet added tobacco – and alcohol, and fatty foods, and sugar, and Red Bull, and red meat, and Christ knows what next – and maybe it’s just me but I kind of get the sense that this disappoints Nolan.

We live in a world in which the mass commercialisation of cigarettes in the early 20th century rapidly outpaced our understanding of their health consequences.

Relevant only to those who wish to arrogate ownership rights over the live bodies of others. As understanding of the health issues grew that information has been made widely known. Not always with the willing cooperation of the tobacco industry, true, but it’s happened nonetheless. Nowadays who even reads the health warnings? Everyone knows what they say and we can’t ask for more than that, yet more is what the nannies always demand

We live in a world in which 15,500 Australians die every year from smoking-related diseases – more than road accidents, murders, alcohol and other drugs combined.

And here we have our first suspect figure. It’s almost Holy Writ that smoking causes lung cancer, and it’s frequently assumed by the lazy that it causes all lung cancer. Yet smoking is on the decline and lung cancer is on the rise, including among non-smokers. Assuming that the passive smoking scare is not bullshit the dwindling numbers of smokers must surely be smoking far more than the combined efforts of larger number of smokers in the past. Yeah, doesn’t seem real likely, does it? And that being so there’s reason to doubt the number of deaths caused by smoking, even when weasel words like ‘smoking-related diseases’ are used.

We live in a world in which every year three foreign companies are allowed to take a combined profit of more than $500 million from the Australian market while leaving us with a combined social cost of over $31 billion.

$31 billion according to a study which in fact conceded that the tax raised is greater than the medical costs to taxpayers, and came up with the remainder of the ‘social cost’ by means of some assumptions and a few seemingly highly arbitrary values being assigned to various things. Over to Chris Snowdon of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.

This same study did indeed come up with a figure of $31 billion, but it did so by including ‘costs’ that no reasonable person would consider to be costs. Lost productivity both at work and at home gave them an extra $8 billion (p. 64). Aside from the obvious problem of coming up with a suitable cash equivalent for domestic work, all lost productivity figures are questionable because they rely on an assumption that an individual is capable of a set amount of work in a lifetime and that he/she has a duty to fulfill that quota, otherwise they are somehow costing other people money. It’s as if someone dies and you have to go round and clean their house for the next ten years. It’s a nonsense.

Still more dubious is the remaining $19.5 billion which is made up of ‘intangible’ costs (p. 65). This relies on the entirely arbitrary valuation of a life at $2 million, or a loss of one year’s living of $53,267. This kind of psychological evaluation is practically meaningless and has no place in economics. You might as well say that the value of life is priceless and, therefore, the costs of smoking (or alcohol, or drugs) is infinite.

In other words, what Cameron Nolan is referring to here is policy based evidence. Anything with arbitrary values shouldn’t even be part of an adult discussion on the issue, but since it’s headline figure appeals to nannies, paternalists and neo-puritans alike it’s reached for with depressing regularity. Cameron Nolan isn’t the first and won’t be the last. And speaking of which…

With this Gordian knot tied, the government seems content to pull as hard as it can on one end as the considerable might of the tobacco industry pulls on the other. The government bans cigarette advertising on television and radio; the tobacco industry increases its print media advertising. The government bans cigarette advertising in print media; the tobacco industry increases its sponsorship of sporting events. The government mandates graphic health warnings on cigarette packets; the tobacco industry adjusts the attractiveness of their packaging designs. The government mandates plain packaging; the tobacco industry hires a battalion of silks and runs to the High Court.

Oh, please. The tobacco industry adjusts the attractiveness of their packets? Seriously? This garbage can only come from the pen of someone who believes, as do the plain pack pod people, that people smoke because of what’s on the box. As I’ve said repeatedly on this subject, chop-chop, Australia’s illegal and regulated and QC free tobacco, is unbranded and comes in whatever the supplier has to hand, and it has no problem in maintaining a market for what it produces. What matters to smokers is how the cigarette tastes, not what the box looks like. Nannies are apparently incapable of understanding this so I’ll draw a parallel: try to remember the most delicious food you’ve ever had, and consider whether those sublime flavours are materially altered by the plate it’s served on and the cutlery you’re provided to eat it with. Alternatively, imagine if Michel Roux shat on the plate and served it, would being on a gold rimmed plate in a multi-starred restaurant that you had to book weeks ahead make it any more than a warm turd with some imaginative garnish? That’s how much packaging matters to smokers, and if it’s really true that it’s the nicotine that they’re hopelessly addicted to (coughs – bullshit) it should be no surprise to the nannies that packaging is barely even on the average smoker’s radar.

And indeed the boxes have really not changed all that much as the health warnings and horror pics have gradually taken over. Marlboro have always had the same font black lettering on white with red triangles meeting above, B&H have always been the same gold background with the name in the preferred font, etc. They adjusted bugger all in response to health warnings and horror pictures, they just conceded some of the background to them. Since the intended result, every smoker in the world throwing up their hands and quitting immediately, did not happen the nannies are desperately casting about for something to blame for people still sparking up. The health warnings and pictures are not allowed to have been a pointless waste of time, ergo it must be the ebil cigawette makers changing the designs, even though the only designs are broadly the same as they always were.

There is of course another way to untie a Gordian knot: by cutting it. The government could mandate that cigarettes can only be sold to a person who is over 18 years of age and was born before the year 2000. This would gradually phase out cigarettes in Australia by forever prohibiting their sale to the next generation – those who are currently 12 years old or younger.

And I’ve already explained that we should not expect this to be any more successful than prohibition of heroin has been at preventing anyone born in 1965 or later from trying it.

This proposal balances the rights of existing smokers and the need to protect children born in this century from the pernicious effects of tobacco addiction.

Ah, suddenly Nolan’s all concerned for people’s rights. But only the rights of those born before 2000 – people born in the 21st century have, ipso facto, fewer rights under his proposal than those of us born later. This disparity of rights is an essential part and I have no idea if Nolan is even aware of it. If he is he certainly does see, to mind some, to use Orwell’s infamous expression, being more equal than others.

Many of us will still be concerned that such a prohibition – as with alcohol in America in the 1920s – will lead to a proliferation of the black market.

Finally!

However, the aim here is not to criminalise cigarettes but to drastically reduce consumption by as yet unaddicted future generations.

Yet the prohibition of heroin lead to the same disastrous results despite it being a more gradual process designed to reduce future consumption. Again, why would it not happen with tobacco? Why would the criminals behind the illegal tobacco industry not take up as much of the slack as legislation progressively makes available to them? There is simply no reason for them not to as long as a demand exists.

A teenager would inevitably still be able to source a packet or two of cigarettes from the black market or an older sibling, but they would be much less likely to form or sustain a ‘packet a day’ addiction lasting many years without easy access.

Just the same as how nobody can form a heroin addiction these days and how you don’t find needle bins on the walls of petrol station toilets, right? Oh, wait…

If we are trying to reduce cigarette-related deaths by 90 per cent, gradually withdrawing their sale from our petrol stations, supermarkets and 7-Elevens is a sure-fire way to get us there.

What? For fuck’s sake, where the hell does Nolan think chop-chop is sold now? Sure, out of the back of vans and through mates at work, but if he thinks none at all is going under the counters of dodgy shops and petrol stations then I have a bridge he might be interesting in buying.

Many of us will also be worried about the effect this will have on the tobacco industry and retailers.

Actually no, I couldn’t give less of a shit if I’d spent the past week on an Immodium only diet. As long as they have a market, by which I mean people aware of the risks freely choosing to buy the products anyway, they deserve to survive and the day they don’t they deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs. I’m vastly more worried by Nolan’s uneven approach to individual liberty.

Finally, what about those words that sit permanently perched at the tip of any tobacco company’s tongue – what about the “nanny-state”?

Who are you calling a tobacco company? I’m no fan or friend to them and I resent the association.

By that measure, the government should get out of the way and allow companies to start selling heroin, cocaine and other highly addictive and highly deadly drugs at everyday retail outlets. After all, they are consumed by people exercising free will and their commercialisation would create thousands of jobs.

Well, yes. And if that resulted in regulation, consumer legislation, quality control etc – all of which can be expected to reduce deaths and health problems – as well as the reduction of the black market and hence prices and crime (provided government restrains its greed and doesn’t go crazy with the Pigovian tax that’s widely accepted as being an inevitable part of legalisation) then what would be wrong with that? If nothing else it would remove the risk of prison and criminal records currently run by the large numbers of people who are able to hold down a job and remain productive members of society despite using drugs. If this state of affairs is less desirable to the Nolans of this world it surely can be only because there’s less control involved.**

Fortunately, most of us accept that such profits fall into the category of “ill-gotten gains” and demand that our government prohibit the creation of such unscrupulous markets.

And the only reason I don’t make some snarky remark about sheeple at this point is because Nolan is probably wrong about this as well. More and more articles are being written saying that the war on drugs has failed and suggesting at the least a rethink and softening of the stance on prohibition, if not decriminalisation and eventual legalisation. Yes, even in the very same newspaper that published Nolan’s piece (for instance see here and here and here), and polls on such articles (like the one at the end of this one) frequently show that most support it. So much for most accepting yadda yadda and demanding our government continues to make our decisions for us.

Ultimately, it is very difficult to come up with a good reason that justifies the premature deaths of 15,500 Australians every year. […] The phase-out proposal ensures that current smokers will be unaffected while future generations will be protected.

And in his very last point Nolan is wrong once again – it is very, very easy to come up with a good reason, and I can do it by quoting someone other than Cameron bloody Nolan.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

Mohandas Ghandi.

If you’re not free to put whatever you like into your body in the knowledge that it may harm you then you’re not free. If you are not free to make bad decisions then you are not free. If you are protected from the consequences of your actions then you are not free. Everything about Cameron Nolan’s proposal involves people, initially just some but in time everyone, being less free and having less say and less ownership of their own bodies and lives. Christ, Cameron, the first two lines of the national anthem is about Australians rejoicing because they’re young and free. Aside from being young and carefully monitored for our own good not being anything worth singing about it’s a bugger to find a rhyme for it.

And really, does anyone believe it’ll stop with tobacco? Alcohol prohibition in the US may have been largely reversed after a decade or so but on the whole prohibition has been growing. Smokers and drinker and those who love liberty in general are fond of paraphrasing Niemöller’s famous poem (and I’m delighted and relieved that someone in the comments on Nolan’s piece in The Age had already done so by the time I found it – I’ve been getting a little worried about Australian attitudes to liberty lately***), but the truth is tobacco wasn’t even the first. It wasn’t even the first thing attacked that was once something many, if not most, adults did. The only difference from America’s Temperance led experiment with banning alcohol is that a more invidious salami slicing approach is preferred now.

The lesson most draw from Prohibition was that in hindsight it was unwise to have done it at all, while the lesson the nannies and neo-puritans drew was that it wasn’t implemented the right way. And I can’t help but suspect that in the back of many minds is the unspoken thought:

If only we’d been in charge of it…”

P.S. Those who’ve read the article will probably have noticed this at the bottom.

Cameron Nolan is a Masters of Public Administration Candidate in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This article won the Australian Fabians Young Writers Competition for 2012.

The Fabians, eh? Can anyone say it’s a surprise? And incidentally, the prize Cameron Nolan got from the Aussie Fabians was a thousand bucks, so if anyone wants to get their wallet out and pay me for fisking it I’ll take $500.

However, when a Republican mayor in New York is banning soft drinks over a certain volume (wasn’t popcorn mentioned too or was that somewhere else) and Conservative councillors in London boroughs talk about charging people whose lifestyles aren’t approved off extra for services they’ve already paid for in advance through their taxes, and also since historically their leaders have frequently been the worst kind of self-righteous, illiberal arseholes, the Right have got absolutely nothing to boast about and more than a bit to be ashamed of. When it comes to nannying, control freakery, big statism and generally being self righteous paternalist pricks the left and right are absolutely as bad as each other.

A plague on both their houses.

* We should ignore the point that morphine is, pharmacologically speaking, very nearly the same thing and is used by hospitals in large quantities every day. As I understand it the effect is the same as heroin but less rapid.
** It should go without saying that as well as being a non-smoker and teetotaller I am also not a user of any prohibited drugs. Been exposed to a number of them but was never interested.
*** Actually when I looked there seemed to be roughly as many comments opposing it on anti-nannying grounds as there were frothing tobaccophobic venom and smoker untermenschen stuff that Dick Puddlecote’s been collecting.

The pussification of schools #6

Cracked! missed one on their recent list of the 5 Biggest Pussifications of Schools, and while it’s probably not unique to this place the recent example comes from a school just south of Melbourne.

No touching.

Parents claim they were not told directly of the new rule, which extended a ban on contact sports …

Yes, they’d already gone that far, and that depressingly common policy is touched on in Cracked’s number four Biggest Pussification.

… to a ban on any physical contact at all, such as playing “tiggy”, hugging or giving each other high-fives.

Aside from the fact that this comes hot on the heels of a anti-bullying TV ad campaign that shows school kids shaking hands (for some bizarre reason it’s a weird handshake that’s not shown directly because it’s ‘just for kids’, but what can be seen looks less Masonic and more like the kind of gang style handshake done by wiggas) it’s pretty clear that this lame brained rule hasn’t been well thought out at all. Because it effectively bans simple expressions of friendship and support.

One parent, Tracey, said her son was winded on the playground yesterday and, when his friend tried to console him by putting his arm around his shoulder, the friend was told his actions were against the rules.

The friend then had to walk around with the teacher on playground duty for the rest of lunch as punishment, Tracey told radio 3AW.

And that’s not even the right-on silliness apex.

Another parent, John, said his children were told they could not high-five each other.

Seriously? Christ!

“I have a couple of children, and they have been told that if they high-five one another that’s instant detention, and if they do it three times they will be expelled,” John said.

“I mean, what are they actually trying to teach?”

One child was reportedly told that if students wanted to high-five, it would have to be an “air high-five”.

Yes, well, the problem there is that I suspect an air high five is not actually a real thing but some bollocks made up by someone on the school’s staff who’s heard of air kissing. What an ‘air high five’ really is is known as being left hanging.

Now it should be said that the school claims that this is only temporary…

Principal Judy Beckworth said it was “not actually a policy, it’s a practice that we’ve adopted in the short-term as a no-contact games week”.

… though having a no-contact games week doesn’t actually sound a hell of a lot more sensible to me, and especially not in a country that invented a football code so manly and tough that rugby players struggle and a competitor once found himself, and I’m not making this up, nailed to the pitch with his own leg bones. No contact games week? Pffffffft. Serious pussification of school right there.

“In response to an increased number of recent student injuries, including a broken collarbone, wrists and concussion, we decided to have a ‘no contact games week’ at our school,” Ms Beckworth said.

“Parents, teachers and I were concerned about the increasing number of students injuring themselves recently by playing roughly in the playground during games like chasey, tiggy, football and basketball.

“We are very serious about student safety and that’s why we decided to do this.”

And? Such is school life, though I spent years playing school rugby without ever knowing anyone to break a bone or get a concussion or in fact get anything worse than the odd bruise or cut. And I don’t mean anyone in my class or year, I mean anyone in the entire school while I was there. Maybe there was and I didn’t know that the kid two years below me that I didn’t even know by name was suddenly wearing a cast because of an unlucky tackle on the rugby field, but if so there was no mention made, no big hooha and no non-contact games rule even thought of, let alone imposed. I can’t help but wonder if the apparent rarity of injuries was just that we were getting better tuition and supervision on how to play contact sports without seriously risking ourselves or other players, and I also wonder if a high number of injuries – if it really is high – at Mount Martha Primary indicates that that’s not happening.

Not that everyone’s on message with that excuse anyway.

… one parent, Nicole, claimed that the school was backpedalling because some parents were told by the school that the new rule would be in place for a minimum of three weeks, which would be extended if the children did not behave themselves.

They’re kids, for heaven’s sake. It’s practically inevitable that one of them will forget or have a dummy spit and go too far and provide the excuse for the extension. In fact if you’re counting high fives, hand shakes and hugs then they probably already have.

[Ms Beckworth] did not believe the school’s response was an overreaction.

“When you have students badly injuring themselves, it would be unacceptable for me not to take action,” she said.

Oh, Jesus. Look, it’d be unacceptable for you to ignore it, but an event does not necessarily demand action. By all means recheck to assure yourselves that you’re already doing your best and take action if you realise that you’re not, but for Christ’s sake include a sanity check to make sure you’re not going too far. If kids are getting bollocked for putting their arms around a friend’s shoulders to comfort them then I’d suggest that second bit is being overlooked.

The only bits about this whole story that hasn’t gutshot my faith in humanity and set my misanthropy gauge spinning into self destruction again are the newspaper poll result that overwhelmingly showed that people thought the school had gone too far, and the admirable reaction of the children themselves.

The Year 6 students at Mount Martha Primary School were so disgusted by the new rule that they staged a sit-down protest on the school oval at lunch yesterday before they were moved to the school gym and given a dressing down…

I only hope that that spark of dissent in the face of unreasonable restrictions isn’t completely crushed out of them by the time they’re adults.

A bit OTT

Click for link

Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper just to run them over? I ask only in the spirit of inquiry and not because Lord Ahmed (and dangerous?) spent time in jail a couple of years back for fatally injuring someone on the motorway. 😉

Lord Ahmed firmly denied offering a bounty, but said he had told the meeting that Mr Bush and former-Labour prime minister Tony Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes.
Speaking from Pakistan to the Press Association he challenged the Labour Party to provide evidence for the suspension.
He said: “They have suspended me? That’s a surprise to me. I did not know.
“I never said those words. I did not offer a bounty. I said that there have been war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and those people who have got strong allegations against them – George W Bush and Tony Blair – have been involved in illegal wars and should be brought to justice.”

Yeah, whatever, Ahmed. Even if you’re innocent, and even though I have little love for Bush and even less for Blair, it won’t make me think any better of you – you’ll always be an arsehole in my eyes.

Free speech and the fabulously rich and famous

It’s that time of year again. No, not Mother’s Day (or it it Mothers’ Day, I’ve never been sure if it was for mothers in general or just one), which down here is in actually in the middle of May anyway. No, I’m talking about the beginning of the Formula One season, which means over the past several weeks Melbourne’s Albert Park has gradually been closed to local residents, the poor bastards whose local taxes I imagine help pay for the park they use and who are tapped a second time along with everyone else in the state because of the government subsidising it to the tune of $50 million or so, and is by now humming and thrumming to the sound of highly tuned engines hurtling around the park’s main road. It’s the time of year when fans of motor racing, like me, are derisively called revheads by all the people who hate the race and/or the sport, even though I’m sure I’m not the only motorsports fan who objects to both the government subsidy and the use of a public park for the event.

I’m not going to blog about that because I’ve done so more than once before, such as here and here and here and here, and if you follow those links you’ll see that I don’t particularly care if it’s a sport I happen to like. If it needs subsidising by government, which ipso facto means forcing people who have no interest in it to contribute money as well, then either it’s not worth having at all or someone’s getting rich of off it. I’ve long felt that sports promotion of any kind should not be a function of government, especially given that picking winners in any industry is something they tend to be pretty bad at, and the fact that so many of them spunk away huge sums of money doing so anyway is just another reason to distrust and despise governments of all stripes. I haven’t changed my mind and I’m not going over the same ground again today.

Instead I want to say that another effect of the Formula One circus being in town is that F1 personalities seem to get a lot more press and attention around this time of year, including the little big man himself, Bernie Ecclestone. One bit of extra attention he, or in actual fact his daughter, has received has come from Labor federal MP Kelvin Thomson, who represents the seat of Wills just a bit north of central Melbourne, and who spoke in Parliament a couple of days ago on the subject of the Grand Prix’s cost and the Tamara Ecclestone reality TV show, saying:

One thing I am absolutely sure of: there are better ways to spend $50 million, year in and year out, than bankrolling Bernie’s billionaire bogan.

There’s a great deal that Kelvin Thomson said in that speech that I don’t agree with. As you’d expect of a left wing politician his thoughts were occupied on what Victoria’s government could spend that $50 million a year on – schoolsanospitals were a given, natch, as well as ‘undergrounding’ power cables (is ‘underground’ even a verb, and if so is it a better one to use than ‘bury’?) to reduce bushfire risks* – and never once did he mention the opportunity to end the compulsory tapping of every Victorian for about twenty bucks each to pay for it. Never once did he mention the possibility of simply telling Bernie that the Grand Prix must pay for itself and that incidentally, Parks Victoria is going to start charging rent just like the owners of any other venue do when someone wants to use it for an event. I assure you, in the highly unlikely event he wanted to hold the race in my back yard I’d charge him for it even though I’d be thrilled at the prospect, and I can’t see why so many governments can’t grasp this simple concept of being paid for providing the venue. Instead there’s the inexplicable queue to fellate him with mouthfuls of money, mostly taken from taxpayers. Kelvin Thomson does not seem to me to be particularly against the principle of fellatio with mouthfuls of taxpayers’ money but just objects to doing it for certain people and things, so naturally I’m going to disagree with most of what he says because he’s clearly just another politician who forgets whose bloody money it really is.

However, having not seen the reality TV show about Tamara Ecclestone, and feeling like I’d rather blind myself with an oily con rod than seek it out, I’m in no place to disagree with Thomson about her being a bogan, though naturally protective and unnaturally diminutive daddy did. Once someone explained to him what ‘bogan’ means.

Mr Ecclestone said federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson’s comments had been “stupid” although he questioned what he had meant by ‘bogan’.

“I didn’t know what that means, does he speak English?” he asked on radio station 3AW.

Informed that being called a bogan implied his big-spending eldest daughter Tamara had no class, Mr Ecclestone suggested the insult was more suited to Mr Thomson.

Okay, well let’s look into that in a bit more depth than ‘takes one to know one’. First let’s get the dictionary definition from Macquarie (no link, subscription only).

bogan
/’boʊgən/ (say ‘bohguhn)
noun Colloquial (mildly derogatory) 1. a person, generally from an outer suburb of a city or town and from a lower socio-economic background, viewed as uncultured. Compare barry2, bennie, boonie, Charlene, Charmaine, cogger, feral1 (def. 9); Especially Qld bevan (def. 2); Chiefly Qld bev-chick; WA bog3; ACT booner; ACT charnie bum; Tasmania chigger2; Riverina gullie; Melbourne Region mocca; Victoria scozzer; Chiefly NSW westie.
2. a stupid person. Also, bogon. [origin unknown; ? from BOGAN]
–boganism, noun

On the one hand we have someone who’s been variously a lawyer, public servant and politician, and who favours the kind of politics that talk about robbi, sorry, taxing the rich to pay for nice things for the poor, but invariably ends up meaning taxing rich and poor alike, or would if some of those inconsiderate rich people didn’t keep buggering off with their money to lower tax regimes. I can think of many unpleasant and abusive things to call him, but ‘bogan’ isn’t one of them. And on the other hand we have a woman who, if Thomson and The Age are to be believed, has a home with an elevator for her Ferrari, motorised shoe racks, a bowling alley with crystal studded bowling balls, its own nightclub, a $1 million crystal bathtub, and wardrobes for her dogs… whose hair and nails are done regularly at Harrods… like you do. Whether all that’s sufficiently class free to be called bogan is probably up for debate, but I’d suggest there’s one thing about her that certainly qualifies, possibly to the point of überbogan-ness.

She’s got her own fucking reality TV series!

However, all that’s still a matter of opinion, and if Bernie Ecclestone disagrees that’s fair enough – he wouldn’t be much of a father if he didn’t speak up to defend his daughter. But I don’t think that defence extends to wanting someone sacked for voicing the opinion that she has less class than a derelict comprehensive.

“Who was the half-wit who said these things … he should be fired because he’s a bit of an idiot, he obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking [about].”

Oh, he may well be an idiot and he wouldn’t be the first politician not to know what he’s talking about, but he shouldn’t be sacked for several good reasons. For one, it was said in Parliament as part of a debate on state funding of the Grand Prix, and by extension Bernie Ecclestone and his family. It might not have been high quality debating but in parliament a politician should be free to make his arguments however he or she wants to. For another, even if he’d said it to some news crew in the street outside he’s as entitled to his opinion as anyone else. He gets to call Tamara Ecclestone a bogan and even label her old man a subsidy sucking goblin if he wants, which wouldn’t be OTT for a country with a proud history of political insult throwing (my favourite is ‘a shiver looking for a spine’ although I can’t remember who said it or to whom). And in return Bernie gets to call him an idiot if he thinks that’s a better idea than refuting it and justifying why taxpayers, few of whom attend the race, are made to throw 50 million bucks at him every year. For a third, how long he stays in his job is, at least in theory, entirely up to the people living in those Melbourne suburbs that make up his constituency. It’s a very safe Labor seat so in practice it’s also down to the Australian Labor Party, but for damned sure it’s not down to the whims of Bernie Ecclestone, who incidentally seems confused about what kind of political systems allow or encourage free speech.

“You’re not a communist state there are you?” he queried.

No, see, Bernie, in a communist state you’re not supposed to say unpleasant things about the wealthy and powerful because they might demand, and get, retribution in the form of getting you fired or assigned to some shitty work, or even charged with some bullshit offences in the most obscenely illiberal places – Bexley, for example. Which seems to be kind of what you want when you say that Kelvin Thomson should be fired. In Australia and Victoria, while currently leaning left of centre and while also technically lacking what I’d call real freedom of speech, this generally will not happen.

You can ask the locals all about it this time next month when you’re in Shanghai.

* I understand burying power cables is expensive and comes with its own issues relating to losses and insulation. Shouldn’t be much of a surprise – if it was easy to bury high voltage transmission lines they’d be doing it more already. When it becomes the better choice, perhaps through some breakthrough in superconductors or something, then you can expect they will, though I imagine that maintaining a buried cable will always be more work than a suspended one. In any event, I’ll always hate hearing it called ‘undergrounding’.

A follow up

Fake captain ranty has just commented again pretending to be Pat Nurse.

So having made it clear in the updated comments policy that I’ll consider such comments as legitimate targets I’ve altered it to read like he’s wearing a ball gag.

Future comments will be be treated similarly if I have time and inclination to entertain myself by editing it to make it sound like he enjoys sex with musical instruments or something and deleted if I haven’t. Mostly they’ll be deleted for the foreseeable future. Life’s too short, me old fuckpot. Get your own blog and slag off Ranty, Pat, Leg-iron and whoever else you feel has pissed on your chips. I’m all for that. Better yet, stop slagging them off long enough to form arguments explaining why they’re wrong. But just stop fighting on other people’s lawns. Every time I find it here I will delete or bastardise the comment.

And to both my real readers, since moving I have occasionally been lazy about signing in to comment on other people’s blogs. Well, partly lazy and partly because I’m struggling to sign in reliably with this WP login using OpenID which seems only to work when it feels like it. So I’ve been filling in my name and URL in much the same way as “captan ranty”/”pat nurse” appears to have been doing. Having called him out on it I expect similar treatment so this habit will stop right now. To those using Blogger, if I can’t sign in with WP then I will sign in with my still working Blogger ID and put up with the fact that it points to my old place instead of here. To those using WP I will only comment when logged into WP. If in doubt about whether a comment is mine or not you’re welcome to check, though I’ll add that the next 2-3 weeks (more if I’m lucky) are going to be really fucking busy for me so I don’t anticipate doing much blogging and probably little if any commenting. I’m just not going to have the time.

Dear “captain ranty”…

Let me be very clear that that’s not – repeat not – Captain Ranty the libertarian and lawful rebellion advocate, but “captain ranty”, someone who seems to have got his cock in a knot with the true occupant of Ranty Barracks for some reason I’m not remotely interested in finding out about and to such an extent that he’s using his ever diminishing time on this planet to leave comments in the Captain’s name and with a copied gravatar with people on the CR’s blogroll:

Thanks for your contributions to my blog in the past, i have decided i do not want any more of your comments as they are not in the style and have the content i require in order to advance “lawful rebellion” in a new direction.

thanks again.

captain ranty

Presumably the hope is that the recipients of these comments will get the hump with the Captain and remove him from their blogrolls, although I have to say that if so then it’s an overly optimistic hope given the piss poor impersonation. There were a few things that shouted ‘impostor alert’ and one in particular made it certain, but even before looking at those there’s the fact that species as yet undiscovered on the bottom of the oceans can probably manage a better Ranty impersonation.

Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to make it absolutely crystal clear that this post is to “captain ranty” rather than Captain Ranty.

 

Dear “captain ranty”

I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what your beef is with Captain Ranty, and I honestly don’t give a remote fuck about it. I do care that rather than debate whatever it is with the Captain at his blog or your own you’ve taken your row to other people’s. While I can’t speak for anyone else it’s not welcome here.

Why? Well, let me put it like this. Imagine this isn’t the internet but the real world. Now imagine that I came and stood outside your home with a loudhailer yelling all the reasons I think that Andrew Demetriou is a dickhead, or even yelling that I am Andrew Demetriou and I don’t ever want to see you anywhere near me or anything to do with me ever again. Probably you’ll be wondering who the hell Andrew Demetriou is but almost certainly you’ll be wishing the tool with the loudhailer at your gate would go away and tell it to someone who cares because nobody appreciates someone else’s fight taking place on their lawn.

That, buddy, is what you’re doing. You’ve come here claiming that you’re someone else and asking me not to contribute to their blog. If you want to use me to get at someone for you at least have the fucking courtesy to offer to pay me for it. I’d turn you down flat but I’d have a little respect for you. Not as much respect as I’d have if you just blogged why you think the Captain is wrong about whatever the fuck it is you’re at war with him over, but a little. Not knowing what what arcane aspect of lawful rebellion is involved I may or may not agree, though I’d be lying if I said that doing what you’re doing doesn’t prejudice me against you because you seem to prefer it to making a convincing argument. But far more likely I still wouldn’t know about it because, at the risk of repeating myself, I’m not fucking interested.

So, paraphrasing Mr Wolf, pretty please with sugar on top… just fuck off.

Unkind disregards,

The Angry Exile.

 
Not what I would prefer to be blogging on a Saturday afternoon, but necessary. As a result of this the comments policy has now been updated. The class of comments I will remove as soon as I’m aware of them is now as follows:

  • Spam, whether porn or otherwise
  • Anything blatantly libellous and which some fuckwitted legal system somewhere will hold me responsible for even though someone else actually said it
  • Impersonators of other bloggers/commenters attempting a bit of social engineering

P.S. I won’t delete “captain ranty’s” comment on the last post as it was made before this addition to the comments policy, but I will tinker with it a bit. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

P.P.S. Or maybe I won’t seeing as I’ve just noticed that on top of everything else the knobber’s misspelled the word ‘captain’ in the name. I’m not sure I should fuck with it when I can’t improve on the original.

P.P.P.S So much for me thinking that it’s a falling out over some fine detail of lawful rebellion. From one of the Captain’s tweets it seems he’s just another wowser.

Let’s all just savour this one

Not much needed in the way of comment, really.

So now Cameramong and Cleggie need to sort out a replacement Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, which sounds like a matter of urgency since it seems like for the fourth or fifth winter in a row the UK is again covered with a thick layer of crisp, white global warming. I don’t suppose there’s much chance of the two being split, or better yet the Warble Gloaming bit of the ministry dumped with the work it does (yeah, I know) being pushed over to the Department for the Environment, Tesco and The Archers, but we can hope.

Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on your way out, Chris. And be safe driving home with all that snow on the roads.

Chutzpah overload

David Cameron, not so much a gift that keeps on giving as a hypocrite who keeps on talking.

David Cameron has attacked the “madness” of European regulations and taxes in a speech to global business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. The Prime Minister said Europe is still at a “perilous time” because of its debts and must stop throttling growth with excessive bureaucracy.

Ahahahahahaha. Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

He said European leaders must stop destroying jobs and growth by “tinkering” with regulations and “hoping we’ll drift to a solution”.

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.Oohooo.

He said: “In the name of social protection, the EU has promoted unnecessary measures that impose burdens on businesses and governments, and can destroy jobs.”

Come on, Davey boy, this is pots and kettles meeting motes and beams and settling down to raise a nice little family of über-hypocrisy. You’ve got a national debt that has grown so mindfuckingly huge even by conservative estimates that wrapping your head round it is only possible by means of weird thought experiments, you’ve got huge numbers on the rock and roll because they don’t have skills and their labour is worth less than the six quid an hour – as someone at Davos has kindly pointed out – you’ve got heaps of rules, laws and regulations, more than a few originating in the EU and gold plated by Whitehall to a standard of stupidity not actually demanded by Europe in the first place, all making life for small businesses just that bit more difficult when compared to their large competitors who can more easily hire an extra body or two to deal with red tape… and all that’s before we get to taxation and the 50% income tax rate that probably isn’t putting anything extra into the kitty and looks like it’s being kept for political reasons, import duties that are keeping manufacturing jobs abroad, and a shitty rate of 20% for VAT. Oh, and contrary to popular belief the Cobbleition hasn’t cut a single penny of expenditure and is in fact going through money even faster than Gordon Brown’s government.

Now, we all know that much of this is how it is because that’s what the Cobbleition inherited from Labour, so I’m not having a go at them for causing it. I’m not even having a go at them for failing to fix it, or not as such. I’m having a go because, as I’ve said numerous times, they’re doing much the same bloody things as Labour did and that there really doesn’t seem to be a fucking Rizla paper between them. Yes, they’ve planned to spend a little less than Labour had planned to spend, but when you’re two to four trillion in the hole and the economy’s in the shitter then something has to give, so I think it’s pretty likely that Labour would have scaled back those spending plans in the unlikely event they’d won. Other than that the government is basically pro-EU while talking tough on Europe, pro-tax and redistribution, pro-regulation and state control (though against regulation and control of the state, of course), pro-nannying and paternalism, and against letting people get on with their lives. Oh, and by their inaction I assume they’re anti-undoing even the most egregious legislation of the previous governments (Great Repeal Bill? Where’d it go?). Different on some specifics but broadly much the same breed of authoritarian cock sockets, and here we have the authoritarian cock socket-in-chief ripping into his counterparts for doing more or less what he’s either doing off his own back or carrying on from the Brown days through not having any better ideas.

I couldn’t stand Gordon Brown and still hold him in great contempt, but I really am coming to loath David Cameron with a passion.

That didn’t take long

Back at the blog for only a couple of days and already someone has destroyed another cognitive dissonance meter.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, [Permanent Secretary for Tax at HMRC] Dave Hartnett says that householders have a duty to ensure that other people do not evade paying their share of tax.
Paying a builder or cleaner in cash, allowing them to evade VAT or income tax, will result in even deeper government cuts to public services, he says. People who contribute to the cash economy cannot then complain about austerity measures, he adds.
“Tax provides the funding to run the country: hospitals, schools and everything else,” he says. “Every time someone pays cash in order not to pay VAT, the nation gets diddled.”

Oh, is that so, Dave? Well, do tell us how you’d describe the state’s regular spunking away of billions of pounds on unnecessary shit, necessary shit that’s overpriced and doesn’t work properly, quangos, clampdowns on victimless crimes, subs for EU membership and more recently the use of taxpayers’ money to prop up private companies which through their own mistakes should naturally have gone to the wall. Plus the interest payments needed because all that on top of the cost of actual public services comes to rather more money than you can raise through tax anyway.

And while you’re scratching for an apt description – you could use ‘diddled’ again though I’d suggest ‘fucking ripped off’ – you might also tell us how you’d describe coercively taking half of what people earn, much of it before they’ve even get their own hands on it in the case of those on PAYE and under threat of violence for those doing returns, with no better justification than a vague assertion that you’ll be handing it over – minus that needed for your ≈£160K salary and £1.7M pension that you’ll be retiring several years early to enjoy, natch – to people who at best have vague good intentions to spend it in ways that benefit those from whom it was forcefully taken. ‘A sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces’ is one oft repeated description, though I don’t see what’s wrong with something like ‘legalised theft’. No doubt you’d call that ‘duty’ (badoom tish!) as well, eh, Dave?

Prick.

And then they came for the… Jesus Christ, popcorn eaters? Is this right? – UPDATED

Okay, this is just specific subset of ‘And then they came for the salad dodgers’ really, but Jesus fucking Christ on a state approved dietary regime, popcorn? Seriously? Well, since Velvet Glove, Iron Fist is taking a look at a comment piece in the Independent entitled ‘Filling your face with popcorn is not a human right‘ one has to assume that it is serious. And so insanely authoritarian that even the normally restrained Chris Snowdon has seen red.

…it’s clear that many people find it hard to resist fatty food and cheap alcohol, which leaves government intervention the only serious option.

Well, let’s not be so hasty. Are we sure that all the other possibilities have been exhausted? Have you, for example, considered the option of fucking off and leaving us alone?

Quite. It’s a thorough fisking and not wishing to steal his thunder I recommend you go read the whole thing there. There’s little I can add except for two points. First, and I’m getting a bit personal here, if one person cannot be free to smoke or drink or eat popcorn then why should another be free to walk around with a face like a dropped pie? That’s not personal abuse aimed at Joan Smith – well, okay, actually it is really, but it’s not just personal abuse. The point is that if it’s okay to be so judgemental about certain people’s harmless habits then why not others? Why not be as judgemental about who they play hide the sausage with as you are about how many sausages they eat? And why not other aspects, even physical imperfections? It’s not like it hasn’t all been done before by various other bunches of mad left-wing authoritarians with hard ons both for improving health and for the cost to the public purse. You can sound the Godwin alarm all you like, I don’t give a rip. Because it’s fucking true, d’you see?

“This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmarks
during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too.” – Wikipedia.

Secondly I’d expand on something else Chris Snowdon says:

Once we have accepted the healthist world view, no principled and logically consistent objection can be made against photos of rotten teeth on soft drinks. Those who welcomed the 85% sales tax on cigarettes are in no position to oppose an 85% sales tax on bacon. They can only wriggle and squirm and hope the puritans tackle their pleasures last.

And so, in a sense, I welcome the likes of Joan Smith and Jonathan Waxman for finally coming clean and alerting us all about what is afoot.

Yes, but I think they should also be welcomed simply for reaching these insane levels of wanting to regulate popcorn intake and put health warnings on bangers and mash (also a wank fantasy of another a revolting authoritarian cunt – the aforementioned Waxman – and also fisked at VG,IF). If something is going to derail their plans, if something is going to halt the marching of those nasty little boots, then it could well be when the owners of those boots strap them onto a surfboard before going and jumping a shark.

UPDATE – Oh, Jesus, this is just so fucking depressing. How can people understand liberty when it comes to people inclined to bump uglies with someone of the same gender but be unable to grasp the concept when it comes to everyone deciding what food to insert in the other end of their bodies?

Could it be simply that they’re not supporting gay marriage for reasons of liberty but because they’ve been they’ve been made to think they should, just as they’ve been made to think that the government should be doing all their thinking for them?

Baaaa. Baaaaa.

Then they came for the drinkers… redux

How long have I been banging on about this? Bloody long enough, I reckon, and other blogger have been at it far longer. Smokers? Pah. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they’re still very much in the firing line, very much the modern untermenschen. But the battleground has shifted and the current main target, whether they know it or not, are the drinkers, and quite a big gun has just been fired right at them. Less than three months ago I blogged about the tell tale signs that this gun was being loaded and remarked on how it was a gun that had been shot at smokers several times. Well, now it’s gone bang and it only remains to be seen how much damage it does. En bloc – my bold.

State and territory ministers have signed off on the introduction of mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol.

Ministers responsible for food regulation met in Melbourne today to consider their response to former federal health minister Neal Blewett’s review of food labelling.

Dr Blewett’s most controversial recommendation, that a “traffic light” system be introduced to help consumers make healthier food choices, has been rejected.

The traffic light system of colour coding would tell a consumer, at a glance, if the food had high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

Instead, ministers have agreed that public health, consumer and industry groups be consulted in the development of an alternative front-of-pack labelling system, which is to be considered in June and hoped to be in place by the end of next year.

They also want to give industry two years before making pregnancy warning labels on alcohol mandatory.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is drafting a standard for nutrition and health-related claims and ministers also agreed to the development of a national nutrition policy.

The federal government has come under fire from public health and consumer groups for opting not to pursue the traffic light system, but the food manufacturing industry has welcomed the move.

Does this sound at all familiar? It certainly should, and it will to smokers. Anyone want to bet that it’ll stop there and will not progress towards huge pictures of diseased livers covering two thirds of the label of whatever’s your preferred tipple? Any takers? No? Yeah, thought not.

Don’t get smug about this being more Australian nannying. It is, but I think it’s as much to do with Australian politicians having less on their plates than their counterparts in some parts of the world, especially Europe and the US, and so more time to listen to the whining of the nannies, moralists, control freaks and wowsers. Wherever you are, this is coming to a label near you soon.

And I can’t help but feel that if more people had stuck up for the smokers it wouldn’t be happening at all.

It’s not wrong if lefties doing it – UPDATED

Compare and contrast. First, something that needs no source and which the Righteous and right-on are saying is very, very bad, though as we should all know by now is lacking in context.

Frankly, I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.

Second, via Churchmouse writing at The Orphanage, and which he notes has gone entirely unremarked and without complaint by the Righteous and right-on in general and Unison in particular, something from the Birmingham Mail reporting on the public sector strike activity in their area.

A small group of protestors carried a mocked up guillotine with images of Nick Clegg and David Cameron, with a slogan saying “heads will roll”.

I do hope that’s cleared things up for everybody.

UPDATE – Churchmouse has left another example at the Orphanage, this time of an overdrive of leftie foam-flecked. outraged, offence seeking because some student Conservative Society burned an effigy of the Obamessiah, preceded three years ago by a deafening silence when someone else burned an effigy of Sarah Palin. And not forgetting that Camermong/Clegg guillotine thing.

That what’s good for the goose is also for the gander is something the left and right alike struggle with, though I’ll credit the right with less absurd examples of hypocrisy, while those libertarians who’ve been similarly hyperbolic have tended to be consistent and asked for enough lengths of piano wire to string up left and right wing statists all at the same time.

Hell hath no fury like a public sector union ridiculed

Oooh, Jezza, you are in trouble now. It was one thing having a pop at the Prime Mentalist of Britain and his eyesight, though I felt the term ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’ just served to identify exactly which of the 600 or so idiots was being talked about in case anyone didn’t catch the name, but how very dare you use a typically hyperbolic expression that only a attention seeking moron with a Pavlovian response to take offence to almost anything would take literally when talking about the heroic public sector workers.

Heroic workers

Within hours, public servants had bombarded the BBC with more than 4,700 complaints, but Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, took matters further. He said Clarkson’s “revolting” comments were “totally outrageous, and they cannot be tolerated”.

Okay, more than 4,700 complaints from the two million or so that Dave Prentis claims were striking. I make that less than a quarter of one per cent who got sufficiently bent out of shape about it to complain. Or who knows, perhaps a quarter of one per cent is about the number who complained when they were told to by Dave Prentis? Or any combination of the two.

Or is it 4,700 out of the six million or so people in Britain who are either in the public sector or who depend on it for a living, making it well below a tenth of one per cent? Or should we go the whole way and just say that it’s 4,700 out of the 50 million or so adults in the UK, making it less than one per cent of one per cent. I suppose given the minority rule model of democracy practised in the UK and favoured by left and right alike, but I feel especially the left, acting on the wounded feelings of one person in every ten thousand seems almost reasonable.

Clarkson should be sacked by the BBC, he said, adding that the union was “seeking urgent legal advice about what further action we can take against him and the BBC, and whether or not his comments should be referred to the police”.

Britain having long since given up any pretence of free speech. Look, Dave, this is a phrase that’s been used by people in the same exaggerated style for decades. as pointed out in The Tele by James Delingpole.

… he was employing it as a figure of speech. I know this won’t mean much to half the morons who complained to the BBC yesterday, but the English language is an extraordinarily rich and nuanced thing. Sometimes, when the speaker says that someone should be shot, he really does mean it: if, say, it’s an officer giving orders to a firing squad about to shoot a deserter or a looter in 1915. More often, though, he doesn’t. For at least the last fifty years “they should be taken out and shot,” has been a socially acceptable, perfectly unexceptionable way of expressing colourfully and vehemently one’s distaste towards a particular category of unpleasantness, be it striking Unison workers, revolting students, poorly performing members of your football team or the Lib Dem members of Cameron’s cabinet. Context is all.

And that’s easily confirmed by googling variants of the phrase and setting filters to exclude all the stuff from the past couple of days. In a couple of minutes I’d found people who’d said that health nuts should all be shot, jobless hippies should all be shot, fairweather motorbikers should all be shot, people who like Elvis Presley should all be shot, and somewhat ironically, someone who’d said journalists should all be shot. Jeremy Clarkson, having certainly started out as a journalist and I expect technically still being one, would Dave Prentis and the 4,700 complainers be leaping to his defence in the belief that he’s about to be killed?

And calling in the police? For heaven’s sake, Dave, do you have any idea how ridiculous that looks to people in the real world? If Clarkson had control over people who both had the means to take strikers out and shoot them and were willing to do it then maybe, just maybe, it might have been incitement. But Clarkson doesn’t control the judicial system, police and military, does he? He doesn’t even control what he describes as the pokey little motoring programme of which he’s a third of the presenters, much less its entire fan base – very few of whom in the UK would possess guns and even fewer of whom would think his comments were anything more than his usual over the top style.

It’s not a crime, Dave – no, not yet even in non-free speech Britain – if no rational person would take it seriously, and on that point what does it say about you and the 4,700 complainers that you do seem to take it seriously? I mean, if they really think a right wing bigmouth like Clarkson would mean it when he says he’d have people shot and could follow up on it would they themselves be dragging people into the street if Ed Milivanilliband had said it?

And now before I go any further, a mandatory blog warning in the spirit of regulations that don’t yet exist but might one day. Readers with recent surgical stitches may be advised to look away now.

In a rant worthy of Clarkson himself, Mr Prentis suggested children watching the programme “could have been scared and upset by his aggressive statements”.

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ahahahahahahahaha. Ahahah. Hoohoohoohoo. Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ahahahahahaha.

Dave, are you that desperate to score a point or are you actually clinically delusional? Look, this is how the BBC describe The One Show: “Magazine show with topical reports, features and interviews from around the UK.”Do you really think any child of the narrow age group that is old enough to understand what was said but too young to recognise it as nothing more than exaggeration for cheap laugh (which of course was the reaction it got in the studio, and is probably the kind of thing that helps children learn what not to take literally) would be watching? I don’t mean in the room at the same time it was on, I mean looking and listening and paying attention to the content. I’d suggest the number to be hovering right around zero with even less remembering it by the next morning, though I’ll concede that there might be a few whose heads were turned to the TV by loving but very PC and extremely fucked up parents who whispered, “That nasty man on telly says he wants to take mummy and daddy away from you forever.” They might still be upset because some tool of a union boss keeps bloody going on about.

Seriously, Dave, this is almost the right-on version of Godwin’s Law. “Won’t someone think of the chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiildren” is the last refuge of a scoundrel, and when someone resorts to it it’s a good sign that their argument holds less weight than a paper bag that’s been left in a puddle of piss for a month and won’t smell much better. For that reason alone I think Dave Prentis loses any credibility and forfeits the argument.

We could call it Lovejoy’s Law.