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Inequality before the law.

One of the good things the Cobbleition would have achieved if they’d had the balls to go through with it would have been to extend anonymity in rape cases to the accused. I never got around to blogging on their various plans but this was something which I thought was good for justice and the principle of being equal before the law. I’m quite happy that rape victims, practically uniquely among accusers, remain anonymous and I have no problem with the name of a convicted rapist being made public. I can even accept the argument that accusers should remain anonymous even if no conviction results because it might discourage other victims from going to the police. What I do not accept, given that false accusations are extremely damaging and, as the Ambush Predator frequently points out, not actually that rare*, is that this anonymity should not also apply to the defendant.

All that makes the news that the Cobbleition have U-turned on the issue more than a little disappointing, though perhaps not surprising.

The controversial pledge to “extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants” was a surprise inclusion in the power-sharing agreement binding the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats together after the general election.
It faced an immediate storm of protest from MPs across all main parties including Harriet Harman, the acting Labour leader.

Obviously Harritwit Harm-men would object, but since she’d probably be happy to change the law so rape defendants were guilty ’til proven innocent that was sufficiently predictable that the proposal should have had ‘Oh, do fuck off, Harriet’ at the bottom from day one.

Miss Harman’s campaign against changing the law was joined by leading female Labour MPs including Yvette Cooper and Caroline Flint, both former ministers.

And your fellow Harpies. What’s slightly surprising is that enough MPs from all parties agree to make The Elder Twin put his tiny balls away and give up on the idea, including some on the other side of the House.

Female Tory MPs including Louise Bagshawe, Sarah Wollaston and Anna Soubry have also voiced concerns.

So the support for the status quo and the continued opportunity for malicious women to ruin lives of innocent men goes along gender lines. How fucking depressing. Why are so many sensible women, Mrs Exile and the Ambush Predator to name but two, able to see how that this is intrinsically unfair but the Political Sisterhood of all parties can’t? Christ, even pricks like Keith bloody Vaz can see why it’s needed.

However, other MPs claim the law must be changed. Keith Vaz, the Labour chair of the Home Affairs select committee, has said that men can have their “whole lives destroyed” by false accusations.

I never thought the day would come where I’d be metaphorically shoulder to shoulder with Keith Vaz, but here it is.

Look, if it was an extremely rare event, as I once thought it was, then I’d agree – leave things as they are. But you only have to click that link above and cout how many examples JuliaM has found. Presumably like most of us JuliaM is a part time blogger but she’s written using her ‘lying about rape’ tag more than forty times. As I said above, by all means publish a rapist’s name on conviction, even put it on every front page along with the bastard’s photo if you like, though bear in mind that some false accusations have lead to convictions that had to be overturned later. Still, naming people on conviction is something that probably nearly everyone can agree on. But if we’re to believe in the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven then surely, when the mere accusation of rape has such power to to damage a person’s life, surely we have to give them anonymity until and unless they are actually convicted. Let’s be blunt about this: if it’s a case of mistaken identity then the defendant is going to be almost as much a victim himself, and if there was never actually a rape to begin with then the defendant is in fact the only victim.

Equality before the law? My steaming arse.

* Coincidentally she’s blogged another one only today.

Chocolate kettle.

Say you’d been doing a little decorating at home and instead of drying on the walls all the paint had slid down them and on to the carpet, or perhaps the varnish on your window frames was still tacky after a fortnight. Imagine how you’d react if, having gone down to the DIY store to complain, you were told that you should really just accept it because sometimes paint does that and actually doing exactly what it says on the tin is just an option. Anybody would be forgiven for feeling a bit pissed off, but as bad as that would be it’d pale into nothingness if someone you love was killed by some mongrel who’d been let out of prison because you couldn’t really expect the criminal justice system to spend money keeping them locked up.

You’d be mad as hell, wouldn’t you?

Murders and other serious crimes committed by prisoners released early from jail may have to be “accepted” by the public as part of attempts to keep down the cost of the criminal justice system, the probation watchdog suggested.
Andrew Bridges questioned whether it was worth keeping thousands of violent and dangerous offenders locked up for longer than the minimum jail term set by a court just to stop a few of them committing new crimes.
Some reoffending — even if it involved “serious” new crimes — could be the price that society had to pay for trying to cut down on the huge cost of the country’s rising prison population, said Mr Bridges, the chief inspector of probation.

So let me get this straight. Instead of looking at reducing the prison population by not locking up people for bullshit victimless crimes (e.g. council tax defaulters and publicans who’ve let customers light up a cigarette) and decriminalising a lot of stuff that would be largely victimless if it hadn’t been fucking made illegal in the first place (e.g. many drugs offences) and basically just keeping prison for the real cunts, the idea now is to carry on as before but let everybody out at the earliest opportunity regardless of offence and future risk. Have I got that about right, you complete fucknuts?

While acknowledging that prison reduced crime, he described it as a “rather drastic form of crime prevention” and said it was time to consider dealing with more offenders in the community.

No, you bell-end, for some criminals it’s the only fucking form of crime prevention. While they’re locked up they don’t commit crimes, and when you let them out they start again. Yes, there are some who don’t reoffend, but that suggests they probably didn’t need locking up in the fucking first place.

There are basically three things you can do with a prison. It can be a punishment, which is as much about making the rest of society feel better as anything else, or it can be a place to rehabilitate criminals in the hope that they reoffend. Finally, and most obviously, it can be a way in which law abiding citizens get a break from whatever criminals are locked up in there. Since this last function is probably the only one at which imprisonment is completely effective it seems a little odd to stop fucking doing it by letting criminals out. By all means let out the non-violent and those locked up more for their disobedience to the bloody state than anything else, but the only thing prison is really good at is keeping walls between those who are disarmed by law and helpless to protect themselves and those who just don’t give a tinker’s fuck.

Why MPs must show receipts.

On Thursday I had a nice little rant about MPs wanting to be given credit cards for their expenses and don’t want to be troubled with anything so tedious as providing a fucking receipt for everything they buy, and their inability to understand why this isn’t at all satisfactory. Perhaps this might help them (my emphasis).

Frank Cook, a Labour MP, claimed twice on his expenses for DIY equipment bought in America where his second wife, an exiled princess from Laos, lives.
Mr Cook, who represented Stockton North until this year’s election, billed the taxpayer for carpet underlay, a universal saw, wall hangings and a swivel cleaner that he said were for his constituency office.
Instead of receipts, he submitted a credit card bill that showed that the items were bought in the United States. At least one item was purchased by Princess Somsangouane Baldinger, who lives in Arizona, on their shared account. Five weeks later, the MP submitted a second claim on his parliamentary expenses for the same items – this time on his additional costs allowance (ACA), which was intended to pay for the upkeep of the London flat he designated as his second home.

Do you see now, MPs? Do you see why everyone, and I mean everyone, to whom I have ever submitted an expenses claim whether on credit card or out of pocket wanted a receipt? Is realisation dawning that this is the normal procedure for just about everyone? Granted I have been let off the very occasional missing receipt, but this was (a) rare and (b) invariably for something pretty low value and (c) I certainly could show the bosses (or HMRC when it was receipts for my tax return) whatever it was that I’d bought and could justify the reason for buying if it wasn’t already self explanatory. Had I had missing receipts every other week, let alone all the bloody time, I’m quite sure that I’d have been shown the door or told to eat the costs myself, or both. Nobody’s asking MPs to do any different.

Frankly I have a very hard time believing that out of just 650 people there are any that have never encountered the concept of submitting receipts with expenses. For fuck’s sake, 226 of them are new MPs. That’s just over a third. So surely they’ve each only got to point out to two of the incumbent troughers what the facts of life are outside of Westminster, though I really doubt the other 424 haven’t already worked it out for themselves even if we allow for the remote possibility that some of them have never come across it before. This suggests a couple of possibilities: either they’re so monumentally thick that they genuinely haven’t worked it out, in which case they should go on the grounds they’re too fucking dim to be an MP, or they know damn well but have unstated reasons for wanting a system that doesn’t require the submission of receipts, or they’re lazy bastards who can’t be arsed to make that small effort to show that everything’s above board. Maybe there’s another reason that hasn’t occurred to me but otherwise the desire for the new expenses system to be anything less than thoroughly transparent is at best unedifying and at worst downright fucking suspicious. To paraphrase Pete Townsend, meet the new House of Commons, same as the old one.

More un-denormalisation.

Hot on the heels of a positive character smoking on TV comes more bad news for the Righteous. Best they sit down for this, because it seems that the news for pregnant women is not only that alcohol might not boil their unborn babies alive in their own wombs but it might even be beneficial.

New evidence has emerged that pregnant women who indulge in one glass of wine a day in their first trimester may have better behaved children than those who abstain from alcohol or drink heavily.

In a study of more than 2300 mothers, Perth researchers found pregnant women who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol had babies with fewer emotional and behavioural difficulties.

But fear not, Righteous types, because…

The team from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research set the “moderate” consumption limit at one alcoholic drink a day.

Pardon me for asking, but if the findings are that light to moderate consumption correlates with fewer emotional problems in the children down the road and a moderate amount is just one drink a day, then what the fuck is light consumption? One every other day? One a week? Having a full Shiraz by your side all day long but only inhaling the fumes? I ask as a non-drinker with Y chromosomes and therefore no personal axe to grind as regards to drinking during pregnancy.

And also cheering the Righteous is this:

… study leader Dr Monique Robinson advised pregnant women to stick to national guidelines, which recommend expectant mothers abstain from alcohol, and to speak to their doctor.

She said that child behavior was “just one of many outcomes that might be assessed with regards to alcohol consumption during pregnancy”.

“While our study found light drinking during pregnancy was not associated with increased risk for the child, national guidelines recommend the safest choice is to avoid alcohol once the pregnancy is known.”

Pardon me again, but don’t women frequently conceive and not know about it right away? I’ve known women who said their cycle was pretty irregular and assumed they’d get the first hints if they fell pregnant from throwing up rather than being late. Even the regular ones could expect a couple of weeks or so of the oven being on before realising there’s a bun in it, and if they also enjoy alcoholic drinks will almost inevitably have a few sherbets while their poor child baby foetus embryo zygote gets pickled with them.

Oh, the humanity!

Actually, this is kind of the point.

Dr Robinson said the research would help alleviate any guilt for women who had drunk alcohol before they found out they were pregnant.

“Women may be drinking alcohol in small amounts prior to recognition of the pregnancy and we feel these data highlight that it is unlikely that this has harmed their unborn child’s mental health,” she said.

On top of that it’s worth noting that as always correlation doesn’t prove correlation, and no mechanism has been suggested by which a glass of splosh a day for the first three months after the drunken root on the kitchen floor that got you that way in the first place will help little Jonny or Joanna concentrate in class and keep their room tidy. Maybe light to moderate drinkers could be relatively higher earners and more able to get their sprogs in good schools or some other effect. Or that women who drain a bottle of meths every night are likely to become hopeless derros who just can’t look after a child. Pure speculation on my part but all I’m really saying is that this study has found nothing more than a statistical connection that need not necessarily have any medical or physical connection at all.

I suspect the long and short of it is that getting completely off your dial every night to the point that you hospitalise yourself with alcohol poisoning is very likely to be a bad thing for unborn babies, which is obvious enough to be somewhere in the fucking Saville Report. But the good news is that a few vinos is not going to ensure that your baby will be born unable to stand, incapable of speech and with no control of it’s bodily functions beyond a tendency to sit screaming in its own filth. The bad news is that you know that’s going to happen anyway, so you might as well enjoy a nice red and spend the next few months making up cravings to send your other half up the wall.

What’s wrong with this picture?

This bloke can stay in the UK despite being, or so we’re told, an Al-Qaeda “operative”.* Apparently this is because he might be tortured if he’s deported back to Pakistan, and is a decision defended by the Younger Twin. However, this gay woman has been refused asylum and certainly can be deported back to Iran, where they are renowned for their understanding and tolerant attitude towards homosexuals. Oh, wait, no… that should read “where they deny the existence of homosexuality while simultaneously flogging – executing, if they keep at it – anyone found guilty of being gay”.

[Kiana Firouz] came to Britain two years ago as a student, but while she was here the Iranian intelligence services discovered footage of a documentary that she had been making secretly about homosexuals in Tehran. The Home Office rejected her asylum appeal on the ground that she could conceal her homosexuality if she went home, and that ruling was been upheld by two appeals tribunals this year.

Did the Home Office fucknuts not consider that since the Iranian intelligence services know her identity they almost certainly know she’s a lesbian too? What fucking use is there in concealing her sexuality now? Why isn’t the same logic (hah!) applied to Abid Naseer and others suspected of being terrorist operatives? Anyone telling them simply to conceal any desires they have to blow up Manchester shopping centres?

No?

Thought not.

“The UK Border Agency only enforces the return of individuals when we and the independent courts are satisfied they’re not in need of protection,” the Home Office said.

So Naseer and his mates need such protection but Kiana Firouz does not, despite being gay, playing a gay character in a film and making a secret documentary – and let’s face it, she probably wasn’t being secretive about it so as not to spoil the fucking surprise – about people the Iranian President says are non-existent?**

The Younger Twin said of the Naseer case:

“We, like any other civilised nation, abide by the very highest standards of human rights.”

Very admirable of you, Nick. But unless you think that doesn’t apply to dykes and poofs, and in fairness I very much doubt you do, why not say the same for Kiana Firouk? Why the silence, Nick?

I can only hope he’s simply not gotten round to it yet, because watching someone sent off to where they’re likely to be flogged or executed for being gay and telling them simply to hide it at the same time as claiming to be a civilised nation who won’t send terrorist suspects where they may be tortured is either deeply hypocritical or breathtakingly naïve.

* Not actually charged with anything, though a judge is apparently satisfied that he’s a threat. Personally I don’t pretend to know how a judge can say that without there being anything so tedious as a trial. Make of it what you will.
** When they’re not being publicly whipped for possession of more than one CD of show tunes, that is.

Rudd on taxes – a lesson too late for Gordon?

From The Age:

The federal government aims to cut the amount of tax faced by the vast majority of Australians, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.

In a key speech delivered three days before release of the long-awaited Henry tax review, Mr Rudd hinted he was also aiming to help small businesses and working families.

The review, by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry, is due to be published on Sunday when financial markets will be closed.

OECD table: How Australia ranks in tax take

The government is due to deliver its response on the same day.

Speaking to the NSW Business Chamber today, Mr Rudd said the review and the 2010/2011 budget, due to be delivered on May 11, presented an opportunity to usher in a new “generation of prosperity”.

“In our response to the Henry review, the government will make the tax system stronger and fairer,” he told a breakfast meeting of the chamber.

“Improving the structure of the tax system by replacing inefficient taxes with more efficient ones and streamlining governments and administrations reduces complexity and makes the Australian economy more productive.

“Australia needs to respond, to remain an attractive place to invest and to do business.”

Perhaps this makes him a bigot in Gordon Brown’s book?

Rubbish collections.

There’s more than one you can read that, and increasingly it’s looking like the most appropriate way to read it if you live in the UK is that the collections themselves are rubbish.

Fortnightly bin collections are to be extended across the country to save money.

Where we used to live in the UK the local council was one of the early adopters of the fortnightly collection, I think using climate whinge to justify it along with a lot of bullshit about showing leadership or something. Last I heard a majority of councils still provided the service for which local taxpayers have paid and only a third or so (the article says ‘less than half’*) had decided to collect less often while charging the same or a similar amount. It’s easy to get away when your ‘customers’ are forced at the point of a metaphorical gun to pay up anyway, and now it looks like just about all the rest are going the same way. Still, if it’s countrywide there must be a decent amount of support for the move by now, yes? Ah…

Polls show that nearly three quarters of householders are opposed to having “black bag” rubbish collected fortnightly.

I can’t think why, unless…

There are fears that the change will lead to a rise in fly-tipping and problems with vermin and bad smells in summer.

Just goes to show that one government department that doesn’t exist but that the country probably would benefit from is the Department of the Fucking Obvious.

Doretta Cocks, of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said: “I’ve lost count of the number of parents with young families who have said how disgusting it is to have nappies piling up in their bin for 13 or 14 days at a time. As well as a health hazard, it is simply undemocratic to ignore the wishes of local people who want weekly collections.”

Whereas a spokesmouth for the Department of the Environment said:

The people? What the fuck have they got to do with anything?

Sorry, that should read,

“Councils should work with their local communities to determine what waste collection arrangements are most appropriate for where they live.”

Reading between the lines I’m not sure that this is much different from what I’ve crossed out. The bottom line is that they have everybody over a barrel and having spunked away all the money they took at gunpoint they’re going to take more and do even less in return. Of course there’ll be fucking fly tipping in that situation. It’s only natural for flies and vermin to take an interest in bins that are stinking but nobody expects them to respond to a law telling them not to do what’s in their nature. For most modern, civilised human beings it’s in their nature not live in a fucking midden, but fuckwits at local and national level have introduced laws telling them they have to and they have to pay for the fucking privilege. People will disobey and then someone from a council is going to have to go and collect it from ditches and commons instead of just hoisting a bin into a truck. Fucking genius… /facepalm.

Again I have to ask why this is necessary in what is still, despite the recession and Colostomy Brown’s best efforts, a fairly wealthy country. Four months ago I wrote about how it’s done here in Australia (or at least the bits I’m familiar with):

There’s a tip/recycling centre about 20 minutes drive away that is either free or inexpensive depending on what and how much we’re dropping off. We have a pair of 120 litre bins that are provided to all local rate payers, and for a couple of bucks a week per bin we could double up to 240 litres (or reduce to 80 and get a small rebate). One bin is for rubbish and the other is for assorted – i.e. unsorted – recyclables. Seriously, we don’t do any separating beyond what can be recycled and what can’t, so all paper, cardboard, tins and plastics with a recycle logo just get rinsed out if necessary and chucked into the same bin, with everything else going into garbage bags before being put in the other bin. Nobody gets their cock in a knot and insists the bins are put out in the morning rather than the night before, nobody talks about fines if it’s a bit full and the lid doesn’t quite shut all the way, and nobody insists it’s in a particular place as long as the robotic arm on the truck can reach, which is a fair way (vid – not our council but similar machines). And both bins are emptied weekly, and we don’t have to do anything other than take ’em out the night before the bin men ‘garbos’ come round. Some places even empty rubbish and recyclables in the same vehicle.

I mean, how backward is that? Apart from the robot arms on the vehicles and recycling some stuff that’s like where rubbish collection was in Britain 25 years ago. How long is it going to take them to work out that the modern way is to charge more, make householders sort out the recycling into a random number of bins depending on local council area, which might then get mixed up again on collection anyway, and then collect only half as often so people just get more bins, the bins stink, get fly blown and attract vermin? Hopefully a very long time, because being where the UK was years ago is rather better than being where it is now. Backwards, my arse – it’s the UK that’s been forwards in going backwards towards stinking streets in summertime, so really what I don’t get is why Australian councils can provide a service that fewer than half of UK councils can manage these days. I can’t believe that the kind of people in local buggerment government are vastly better, so what have we got here that Britain hasn’t?

Seriously, what is the difference? Both have governments at national and local level that still believe in the warble gloaming trope, and in both this is used to justify those governments saying ‘fuck you’ to taxpayers. I’m not at all convinced that Australians are significantly better than the British and standing up and demanding better from their elected officials. So what is it? At the risk of sounding like an anti-EU tinfoil hatter could it just be that Australia doesn’t have anyone else telling it what to do? Or is it that that the equivalent of the EU here is the federal government but that rubbish collection is a matter of state law** and is further devolved downwards to local council level? Whatever the reason is I’m glad. It’s been hot and sticky the last couple of days and I’m sure the bins would be reeking if they’d been left festering in the summer heat for nearly a fortnight. Another reason not to feel homesick for the UK.

* One for the pedants. Yes, they mean ‘fewer’.
** I don’t know if that is the case. I’m just speculating that it might be.

Sign of the whines.

Sometimes I think comedians who use the phrase ‘Daily Mail readers’ as code for ‘stupid Tory voting bastards who should be beaten with rolled up copies of the Guardian until they accept the idea of a social contract’ are just being up themselves. And other times I think they might have a point.

Liverpool football legend dices with death by jumping the red light at train crossing.
[Terry] McDermott was caught on camera ignoring the stop signal, nearly a minute after it went red, in his black Mercedes.

And how many died? Yep, none. Sure, it’s a pretty retarded thing to do and as such a fine and points are arguably fair.* But I have to ask why it’s necessary to have such a long delay between the lights going red and the actual train passing through. If it was nearly a minute when McDermott (never heard of him incidentally – some legend, though that might say more about what I think of soccer than of McDermott’s fame) drove over the line then assuming he didn’t miss the train by inches (surely the Mail wouldn’t miss that bit out if it had happened) it’s not a stretch to say it was considerably more than a minute till the train came. Is this absolutely necessary? A couple of commenters on the Wail article pointed this out and have received little more than a flurry of Pavlovian negative button clicking for their troubles.

So is it actually necessary? Well, it seems to be pretty common because I can think of at least three level crossings I had to pass regularly when I still lived in the UK and long waits for the train to show up were the norm, so let’s assume for the moment that it is. I can even think of reasons why that might be: where the crossing is a long way between stations and/or on an express route the train could be going at quite a lick and several hundred tons of train would obviously take a bit of space to stop. Possibly more space than is available if someone just nipped through the red light and through incredibly bad luck got stuck on the crossing. We know from incidents like Ufton Nervet what can happen then so it makes sense that road traffic is kept off the crossing from the point at which the train can no longer stop in time, plus a small margin for error and environmental conditions such as wet rails. However, if that is the case why the fuck are they pissing about with fucking cameras and fines instead of fitting some fucking barriers?

I’d have thought that automatic barriers are cheap enough that the cost wouldn’t be an issue, certainly not if the risk is that bad. For that matter I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not much more than the camera system they put in instead. Power can’t be a problem because whatever source is used for the cameras could have been used for barriers. So why aren’t there any? Why was the preference to install cameras to catch people doing it rather than barriers to prevent them in the first place?

Police revealed they are now issuing more than ten tickets a month to people caught jumping the lights at the site.

I’m sure £3,500 and ten’ detections’ a month have absolutely nothing to do with it.

But what depressed me most is that the Mail article didn’t bother to ask this perfectly reasonable question, and the response to those few who did ask it in the comments, with or without accompanying suggestions that fine revenue might be a motive, just generated another round of Pavlovian negative button clicks, and as far as I could see no sensible case put forward for using cameras over barriers. And that makes me wonder if the sneering remarks made be old Red Wedge comedians about ‘Daily Mail readers’ aren’t sometimes a little bit justified after all.

* Bear in mind that, as Gary Hart found out, if someone actually does cause a train crash and deaths he wouldn’t be looking at points and fines but more like court and prison. And quite right too.

Something to be sent to Mars… maybe.

According to Urmee Khan in The Daily Telegraph the Russians are going to send a monkey to Mars.

A monkey may be sent to Mars, under plans unveiled by Russian scientists.

Just a mo, the headline says ‘Monkey to be sent to Mars’. No ifs, buts or maybes. But what you’re actually saying is that it’s just an idea someone’s mulling over at the moment. Not giving in to a little sensationalism here, are we?

Although the ape will be looked after by a robot on the mission, the decision is expected to spark controversy with animal rights groups.

Huh? It was a monkey a minute ago and now it’s an ape? Never mind sending the poor thing to Mars, what about the fucking genetic transmogrification machine or whatever they must have fed it through to turn it from animal into another?

The Institute [of Experimental Pathology and Therapy in Georgia] is in preliminary talks with Russia’s Cosmonautics Academy about preparing monkeys for a simulated Mars mission…

Preliminary talks doesn’t sound much like the kind of concrete plan suggested by the headline. Oh, and I see it’s turned back into a monkey.

… that could lay the groundwork for sending an ape to the Red Planet, he said.

Ah. Then the idea is to send a monkey first to try and establish safety parameters for a later mission to be carried out by an ape? Is the ape going as a larger scale experiment along the same lines as the monkey that’s going first or is it going to be a fully trained apestronaut? Or are they planning to bring the monkey back from Mars and turn it into an ape again?

[Director of the Institute] Mr Mikvabia said: “Earlier this programme was aimed at sending cosmonauts, people (to Mars).
“But given the length of the flight to Mars, and given the cosmic rays for which we don’t have adequate protection over such a long trip, discussions have focused recently on sending an ape instead of a person.”

I’m confused. Has the monkey been turned into an ape permanently or have just gone and got a chimpanzee and sacked the poor monkey that’s put all this effort in to the Mars trip?

If Russia pursues the idea of sending monkeys to Mars, Mikvabia’s institute could become the site of an enclosed “biosphere” where apes would be kept for long periods to simulate space flights.

Monkeys and apes? Are the monkeys there to help the apes with small fiddly jobs? Are the apes there to help with the heavy lifting the monkeys can’t manage? Or are they going to be turned from one into the other as necessary by the transmogrifier?

The Institute said a robot would accompany the first primate to Mars to feed and look after the ape.

Well, duh, of course they’ll need a robot. Do they think the ape is going to turn into a fucking monkey on it’s own? Everyone knows you can’t operate a transmogrifier from the inside.

Mr Mikvabia said: “The robot will feed the monkey, will clean up after it. Our task will be to teach the monkey to co-operate with the robot.”

Is that so it can eventually persuade the robot to get into the transmogriferdoodab, be turned into an encyclopaedia and mail itself to any newspaper where the staff seem blissfully unaware that monkeys and apes aren’t the same thing?

“Monkey”? Fuck you! I used to be a robot.

Also expanding our horizons The Telegraph helpfully tells us that angels can’t fly.

A leading biologist has compared the physiology of flighted species with the representations of spiritual and mythical creatures in art – and found the angels and fairies that sit atop of Christmas trees did not get there under their own steam.
Prof Roger Wotton, from University College London, found that flight would be impossible for angels portrayed with arms and bird-like feathered wings.

/headdesk
/headdesk
/headdesk

Mate, the main reason those can’t fly is because they’re all paintings and statues of something that might well not be real, hence the use of the phrase “representations of spiritual and mythical creatures in art”. I think maybe Prof Wotton has too much time on his hands. That or UCL had a hell of a Christmas party.

Health and safety warning.

Thanks for the useful tip, Epson, because if it wasn’t for that I might well have torn apart a cartridge in order to drink the contents if I was feeling a bit thirsty. Fuck’s sake, what next? ‘Other way up’ written on the bottom of saucepans?

Product warnings for the hard of thinking have got completely out of hand and should be replaced by one simple phrase:

You bought the fucking thing so you take responsibility for using it correctly – end of.

Stop treating us all like retarded cunts.

Another green symbol under attack.

I can’t recall when I first came across the problems with new eco compact fluorescent bulbs not working with dimmers and containing mercury, but it was a few years ago (and I have the interwebs to thank, natch). I do actually have some in the house, but only because they were freebies. I have to say that on top of everything else it’s true about the crap light they give as well, which is why I have a cupboard full of incandescent bulbs that I decided to stock up on before the eco-tools persuade the Australian government to ban them altogether. So I’m glad to see the MSM making the same points, even if in the form of a blog.

After several years of using compact fluorescent bulbs, I’ve concluded that they don’t last half as long as the manufacturers promised. Worse, I’m starting to worry about the mercury in them, particularly now that old-fashoned incandescent bulbs have been banned.

I recently heard from a man who knows a lot more about this than I do, having worked for years in heavy industry and specialised in the analysis of oil and gas samples. He points out that evaporated mercury got into the air conditioning at one of the buildings owned by the multinational company for which he worked (for reasons that I hope will be obvious, I’m not using his name).
“Spills were not noticed or cleaned up,” he says. Over a year, roughly 80 people were permanently injured by mercury vapour. “Their teeth fell out first, then they got the shakes and malaria-type symptoms.” It was months before the employer realised what the problem was and put things right.

This man was astounded to see mercury bulbs up for sale without a health warning. He points out that it’s illegal to transport them by plane because of the high mercury content, and that it would have been illegal a few years ago even to sell the bulbs till the EU legalised them – at the same time as banning mercury-based thermometers.

“All I can say is that if you or your family have mercury bulbs at home,” says my informant, “get rid of them. If you want to promote low energy bulbs, then go for LED bulbs.”

And this is written by a reasonably dedicated greenie. Not so green, however, that he’s buying LED bulbs yet. Like Al Jahom recently mentioned, LED bulbs can be as much as 30 quid. As with the lack of solar panels covering every roof, there comes a point where even the most die hard eco-friend won’t install things that cost so much the potential savings are many years away. for most people loving the planet comes second to looking after your wallet.

Gun ban working out well then, is it?

Gun crime has doubled in a decade.

Offences involving firearms have increased in all but four police areas in England and Wales since 1998, figures obtained by the Tories reveal.
One part of the country has seen the problem increase almost seven fold as the availability of guns, and criminals’ williness to use them rises.
The number of people injured or killed by a gun has also doubled under Labour.

Fuck me, who could possibly have seen that coming? I mean, taking guns away from the law abiding was bound to make the criminals stop using them too, wasn’t it? In all fairness how was the government supposed to know that the criminals would carry on using guns even though it was clearly illegal? Well, allow me to quote extensively from one of my favourite books.

[Vimes] remembered Findthee Swing. A lot of it was history. The revolt would have happened with Swing or without him but he was, as it were, the tip of the boil.
…..
Swing… started in the wrong place. He didn’t look around, and watch and learn, and then say, ‘This is how people are, how do we deal with it?’ No, he sat and thought: ‘This is how the people ought to be, how do we change them?’ And that was a good enough thought for a priest but not for a copper, because Swing’s patient, pedantic way of operating had turned policing on its head.
There had been that Weapons Law, for a start. Weapons were involved in so many crimes that, Swing reasoned, reducing the number of weapons had to reduce the crime rate.
Vimes wondered if he’d sat up in bed in the middle of the night and hugged himself when he’d dreamed that one up. Confiscate all weapons, and crime would go down. It made sense. It would have worked too, if only there had been enough coppers – say, three per citizen.
Amazingly quite a few weapons were handed in. The flaw, though, was one that had somehow managed to escape Swing, and it was this: criminals don’t obey the law. It’s more or less a requirement for the job. They had no particular interest in making the streets safer for anyone but themselves. And they couldn’t believe it was happening. It was like Hogswatch everyday.
Some citizens took the not unreasonable view that something had gone a bit askew if only naughty people were carrying arms. And they got arrested in large numbers. The average copper, when he’s been kicked in the nadgers once too often and has reason to believe that his bosses don’t much care, has an understandable tendency to prefer to arrest those people who won’t instantly try to stab him, especially if they act a bit snotty and wear more expensive clothes than he personally can afford. The rate of arrests shot right up, and Swing had been very pleased about that.
Admittedly some of the arrests had been for possessing weaponry after dark, but quite a few had been for assaults on the Watch by irate citizens. That was Assault on a City Official, a very heinous and despicable crime and, as such, far more important than all these thefts that were going on everywhere.
It wasn’t that the city was lawless. It had plenty of laws. It just didn’t offer many opportunities not to break them. Swing didn’t seem to have grasped the idea that the system was supposed to take criminals and, in some rough and ready fashion, force them into becoming honest men. instead, he’d taken honest men and turned them into criminals. And the Watch, by and large, into just another gang.

Night Watch – Terry Pratchett

Not much to add to that except to wonder if art is imitating life or the other way around.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “It is misleading to compare figures for 2007 / 08 with those from 2002 and before, due to changes in recording practices.
“There has been an 11 per cent fall in gun crime since 2005 and provisional figures for firearm offences recorded by the police show they account for 0.2 per cent of all recorded crime.”

Oh, do fuck off and come back with a new excuse.

Green fatigue. We haz it.

The short version is that people care about the planet but are dog sick of hearing about it all the time.

A Reader’s Digest survey of 1500 Australians has found that we are in danger of zoning out from messages to live a green lifestyle and are rebelling against the notion of carrying all the problems on their shoulders.

“We know global warming is a problem,” the survey report says.

Ah. Let me just stop you there. You ‘know’ in the same way that billions of religious people ‘know’ their god is best – and that’s official now, by the way. Even Stephen Schneider, one of warble gloaming’s long term proponents (so long term that it was still global cooling back when he started), conceded that it would fail a beyond reasonable doubt test. So for ‘know’ read ‘believe’, or possibly ‘would like to think is true’ for some weird fucked up reason.

“But incessantly reminding us that we’ll ruin a perfectly good planet if we don’t half-flush, ride to work and recycle – and guess what – there’s a real danger we’ll just zone out.”

I’d go further than that. Once politicians – a group not known for the way honesty comes naturally – jump on the band wagon not only does credibility suffer but in order to grub more votes they won’t fucking shut up about it. That adds to the incessant reminders that are ‘zoning us out’.

Despite living in one of the driest environments in the world the survey found just 31 per cent of respondents feel bad about showering for more than four minutes and 85 per cent regularly take long showers.

Men are 50 per cent more likely not to care about letting the tap run while brushing their teeth.

Okay, that’s slightly surprising given the water shortage and the fact that everyone’s on meters here. You let taps run and you’ll feel it on the bill a few weeks later. Sure, the water shortage has been blamed on bad management and increased demand as much as warble gloaming, and I haven’t looked into it enough to make my mind up, but the bottom line is whatever the reason water bills here aren’t going down anytime soon. Never mind the planet, my wallet can’t take a running tap or baths instead of showers.

It found 94 per cent of Australians accept plastic bags and while 98 per cent say they are doing their bit for the planet, only three per cent describe their everyday behaviour as “totally committed”.

It appears that while the green messages are getting through, many people cannot give up some of their comforts.

“15 per cent feel guilty using all the hotel towels, but do it anyway, 20 per cent feel guilty using full-flush instead of half-flush, 22 per cent regrets tossing their rubbish into the wrong bins, 19 per cent feel guilty leaving lights on when they’re out.”

In other words while the brainwashing has taken enough to produce guilt pangs there’s a bit of resistance to giving up on modern life.

Who could possibly have seen that coming?

Also on the subject of religion.

Well, it’s officially as good as a religious belief now, even though many of its believers like to think otherwise. Anyhow, one of the rituals of being a warming worrier is carbon credits and offsetting, and plenty of people have likened this to the granting of ‘indulgences’ in medieval Christianity. Going on a flight somewhere? Just pay this amount to and the carbon will be offset for you and you sip your Pinot at 36000 feet without the slightest trace of guilt. Going to slaughter all the men in a village somewhere before raping the women, killing them too, and burning the place to the ground? Just give this amount to the Church and you’re off the hook while you hack people to bits. Indulgences weren’t about prevention so much as extracting a financial penalty, and carbon offsets are the modern version. If you think carbon is a problem then sell your car and don’t get on a fucking plane, simples. Even the more intellectually honest greenies are starting to be up front about this, with a green tour operator even going so far as to stop offering customers the chance to offset their emissions.

Responsibletravel.com, a travel agent that specialises in responsible holidays, has announced that it will no longer give its customers the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions.

Nothing to stop people buying them independently of course, but I’ll give them credit for being up front about the reasons why they don’t think it’s a good idea.

“We believe that the travel industry’s priority must be to reduce carbon emissions, rather than to offset,” said Justin Francis, managing director of responsibletravel.com. “Too often offsets are being used by the tourism industry in developed countries to justify growth plans on the basis that money will be donated to projects in developing countries. Global reduction targets will not be met this way.”

Francis said that holidaymakers should look to reduce their emissions by flying less, travelling by train or taking holidays closer to home, as well as making carbon reductions in other areas of our lifestyles.
“There is no hiding the fact that tourists will continue to want to visit destinations requiring a flight, and that tourism contributes to livelihoods, local economic development and the conservation of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. We will continue to offer a more responsible choice of overseas holiday so that when tourists do fly they can ‘make their holiday count’ by choosing a more responsible holiday.”

Fair play to you, mate, though I’m not so sure it’s a great business move. If you’re successful in persuading your customers they ought to stop being your customers. It sounds a bit like Thomas Cook suggesting that people don’t put up with the hell of flying and spend two weeks at home playing Monopoly each summer. I know you talk about holidaying at home or without going long haul but who needs a travel agent to sort out a holiday in Cornwall? I admire your honesty, Justin, but don’t be surprised if your staff are all secretly job hunting right now.

Incidentally, the same article quotes Friends of the Earth as saying offsetting creates “… a ‘medieval pardon’ for us to carry on behaving in the same way (or worse).” Sooner or later I was bound to agree with them again on something.

The importance of reading instructions.

This morning I bought a short six outlet power board, or for those who speak English rather than strine a six gang extension lead. My god but it turned out to be hard to use. It took me half the afternoon of looking at it and scratching my head and even consulting with a couple of other people and we still couldn’t see how the hell it was possible to actually plug the damn thing into the wall socket. Happily we solved the problem when we eventually noticed that the manufacturers had kindly printed some instructions that were visible through the back of the sealed plastic packaging it came in.
No shit? All we had to do was take it out of the packaging and then it could be plugged in? So that’s what we were all doing wrong all that time. Thanks for that, because we might have never fucking figured it out ourselves.