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Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life still isn’t for me

Piracy and the recent … er… I’ve been tweeting and not blogging for such a long period now that this huge plank of lettered buttons in front of me and this vast empty square on the screen is making me feel…

*suffers panic attack*

*runs back to Twitter*

Ok, cement milkshake consumed, hardening the fuck up has commenced. Now, piracy and the recent attempt by part of the Australian Liberal Party to sack its leader and our Prime Mentalist Minister. What has one to do with the other? Well, Game of Thrones. Okay, I admit the connection is a bit tenuous but bear with me here.

Read the rest of this entry

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This is why we can’t have horrifying things

Some time ago I blogged on the news that the Australian nannies had recognised that the majority of people in Australia are adults and that many of those adults like to play computer games, and finally persuaded the Australian censors that bringing videogame classifications into line with other media was overdue. This was to be achieved with the addition of an R18+ classification by the end of 2011, although to no great surprise (though my general blogging neglect meant I didn’t write about it) it ended up being delayed again. But  at the beginning of this year Australia finally allowed adults to buy adult themed computer games, with more than half a dozen games given R18+ ratings in the first two months of 2013.

Great, you might think. Okay, so there’s a few games that have been classified for adults when the content seems pretty much the same level as games that got MA15 ratings in the past, but since one of the objections to the absence of the R18+ category was that some games were being classified too low that’s probably not a real problem. Besides, if parents decide their younger teens are mature enough to play something that involves lots of gore and splatter and/or occasional tits and ass then they can just go buy the game for them and allow them to play under whatever supervision they feel appropriate.

Unfortunately the censor hasn’t been given its marching orders and is still able to refuse classification, and since all media must be classified anything that’s refused has been given a de facto ban. According to Wikipedia

Content which may be Refused Classification include:

  • Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.
  • The promotion or provision of instruction in pedophile activity.
  • Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.
  • Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
    • (i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;
    • (ii) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have an extremely high impact;
    • (iii) sexual violence
  • Depictions of practices such as bestiality, necrophilia or other practices that are revolting or abhorrent.
  • Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
    • (i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices that are offensive or abhorrent;
    • (ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies that are offensive or abhorrent

Which is mostly pretty cut and dried, not to mention reasonable, but appears to give them a number of relatively subjective outs. Top of the list there is the term “offensive”, a meaninglessly subjective criterion since what offends me may not offend you and vice versa – I find it offensive that there are still laws being written in any nominally free nation that include concepts as fucking vague as “offensive”. “Gratuitous”, “exploitative” and “abhorrent” aren’t a lot better.

So I’m kicking myself slightly for feeling at all shocked that in the last week – within the same 24 hour period, in fact – two games aimed squarely at adults, Saints Row IV and State of Decay, have been refused classification and thus effectively banned in Australia.

The Saints Row 4 video game has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board due to the appearance of an anal probe weapon and “alien narcotics” in the game.
[…]
“The game includes a weapon referred to by the Applicant as an ‘Alien Anal Probe’. The Applicant states that this weapon can be ‘shoved into enemy’s backsides’,” wrote the Board.
“The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon.
“When using this weapon the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air.
“After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians.
“In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.”
The Board also took a dim view of the game’s drug use, especially as it gives the player character extra abilities.

Or as the Board itself put it in a PR:

In the Board’s opinion, Saints Row IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context. In addition, the game includes elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Such depictions are prohibited by the computer games guidelines.

Okay, it’s pretty weird even for a computer game weapon and certainly not something suitable for the Candy Crush brigade, but it’s also cartoonish violence, isn’t it? And I can recall at least one alien anal probe based cartoon gag on the small screen.

1x01-Cartman-Gets-an-Anal-Probe-south-park-18557255-720-540

I’m assuming this episode of South Park wasn’t banned in Oz, and if not I have to wonder how Cartman, with his gratuitous effing and blinding plus the fire farts and alien communications antenna unfolding itself from his arse, got a pass and the equally ridiculous alien anal dildo launcher weapon in Saints Row IV didn’t. Yes, drug use was mentioned, but even without getting into the case for legality there’s been plenty of drug use in movies and TV over the years. The Wire, Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction – did all these and others all not get an Australian classification? Don’t even bother to answer since I have them on DVD.

And then there’s the reasons for State of Decay, which I though sounded like a straightforward zombie shooter but is apparently also a non-stop drug fuelled haze.

The Classification Board’s report, obtained by news.com.au explained that it banned the game because it contains the option of self-administered drugs throughout, in order to restore players’ health or boost their stamina.

“These ‘medications’ include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, codeine, aspirin, ‘trucker pills’, painkillers and tussen,” the report reads.

“Of these, methadone, morphine and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term ‘stimulant’ is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed.”

/sarc How can I have been so silly? Of course an open world zombie survival game is going to reward players whose characters in game spend their whole time ripped off their tits rather than running from, hiding from and hacking up zombies. And naturally whenever this happens the player themselves feels the effect by the magic of, er, game magic. Come on, we’ve all puked in our own laps after making Shepard get shitfaced to the point of passing out in that bar in Mass Effect 2, haven’t we?

You didn’t? You know what, neither did I.

So we’re back where we were a few years ago: adult gamers in Australia having to wait around for the game to be specially ruined for the Australia market because the censors didn’t like something in it that in terms of the whole game was a really trivial point.

“State of Decay has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board (ACB). We’ve run afoul of certain prohibitions regarding the depiction of drug use. We’re working with Microsoft to come up with options, including changing names of certain medications in the game to comply with ratings requirements. Whatever our path forward, it’s going to take a bit.”

Or, as several commenters wrote on both of The Age’s articles, people will just buy Refused Classification games abroad or online. And we shouldn’t be surprised if at least a few take the path of least resistance and get a pirated version instead of paying. But if the government and its regulators are going to make doing the decent thing too hard that will be the inevitable result.

All of which makes me think that if the censor refuses, for sometimes quite subjective reasons, to pass games that people want to play but, for obvious practical reasons, can’t stop people getting them elsewhere there isn’t much point in having a censor at all.

One for the Ambush Predator’s zoo

I’ve noted before that with the move online newspapers have found they have far more space than they used to, and on slower news days seem to have often given in to the temptation to fill up some of that vast space with, well, shit. To be fair they always did this with the dead tree editions before there was an internet and they’ll probably continue for as long as the cult of Sleb exists no matter what the medium. No major crimes, wars, political stupidity and/or ill advised affairs? No problem, just write half a page of repeated gossip about some soap actress and follow it up with a page and a half of speculation.

But with the move to the digital media newspapers came up with a brand new form of crap padding: images. Almost every article, no matter how mundane, must be accompanied by a picture. David Cameron made a speech? Quick, get me a photo of David Cameron in case everyone’s forgotten what the fucker looks like. And make sure it’s a picture of him talking in case the readership has forgotten what making a speech is as well. Shooting incident? Get me a picture of a gun right now, even if it’s the wrong gun. Yes, even if it’s not the right kind of gun. Warble gloaming and claims about the hottest decade on record? Get me an image about something hot… yeah, of course a stock photo of a hot girl will do just fine. I’ll be in the gents for ten minutes if anyone’s looking for me.

But where they often smash through the bottom of the barrel is with filler in the form of a pointless picture gallery, such as this one about a train crash yesterday south of Melbourne. Why? What extra information does The Age think we’ll get from 16 photos of train wreckage that we can’t already glean from one of the initial articles plus follow ups and video? Worst of all is when the gallery exists solely because of some minor entertainment story or for no apparent reason at all, because that’s when they seem to give the job to work experience kids, bored couriers waiting for someone to sign for a delivery and, perhaps in the spirit of Douglas Adams’ Megadodo Publications, random people who wandered into the building by mistake and haven’t found their way back out yet.

Why the fuck I even click on these sometimes is beyond me – I’m sure someone will say it’s an addiction, which may be the topic of an upcoming blog – but from time to time I do. And just now I spotted one that belongs in JuliaM’s collection of wolverines labelled as bears, deer standing in for moose, jaguarundis with ambitions of being jaguars, and infinitely interchangeable buffalo and bison. The gallery is about celebrities who look like animals, and in it Liza Minelli is somewhat unkindly compared with an emu.

Personally I don’t see much emu-ness about her in that picture but these things are necessarily subjective. The thing is I don’t see much emu-ness about the picture on the right either, and that might be because I’m pretty sure that it’s a fucking ostrich.

The neck of the Emu is pale blue and shows through its sparse feathers. They have brown to grey-brown plumage of shaggy appearance; the shafts and the tips of the feathers are black.

Wikipedia

This would be bad enough if it was The Teletubbygraph and its dyslexic approach to zoology again, but in this instance it’s an Australian website stuffing up the identity of a bird that doesn’t exist anywhere apart from Australia, the coat of arms of Australia and, until he died, under the fake arm of an Australian entertainer. So for people everywhere chained to desks without food until they’ve made a pointless photo gallery for the online edition of some newspaper here’s a very easy way to tell the difference: ostriches are the ones with the teeth.

This is an ostrich

You’re welcome.

State nannies torturing logic

Read this quote carefully as there may be questions later.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said as there was no evidence to prove that even small amounts of alcohol were not healthy for pregnant women, no alcohol was the best advice.

I’ve read that a number of times and I really can’t spot the connection between the observation that there’s no reason, none at all, to think that a small amount of of a thing is unhealthy and deciding that therefore not having any of that thing at all is best. Oh, and spending $350,000 of taxpayers’ money one saying not to have any, of course.

The obvious reason is that this is alcohol control, plain and simple and lifted straight from tobacco control’s playbook with ‘smoking’ Tippexed out and ‘drinking’ scrawled over the top in biro. Now I’m not advocating smoking or drinking during pregnancy, though it’s worth mentioning that I was born at a time when it was still fairly common for expectant mothers to do both, and I think my mum did smoke for part and continued to drink in moderation throughout. Even in these health obsessed days it’s far from unheard of for a woman to smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish through half or more of the first trimester simply because she has absolutely no idea she is pregnant. In the case of one friend it was actually cigarettes and booze starting to taste weird that made her get a pregnancy test – turned out she was over well over two months gone.

But as I say, I’m not advocating this any more than I’m advocating abstemious purity from teh ebil weeds and spirits. I’m not advocating anything in particular, just observing that a certain pattern is being repeated here, and that not only was it very predictable that despite all the denials and claims to the contrary this pattern would be repeated it’s also a pattern that’s only wheeled out to support controls or ‘nudging’ of something that’s disapproved of. For example, let me modify that quote into a form that you will probably never see anywhere else.

Absobloodylutelymental Health Minister Angry Exile said as there was no evidence to prove that even moderate exercise was not healthy for pregnant women, no exercise was the best advice.

Same chain of logic, if you can call it that, but can you imagine the nannies ever letting something like that go out? Of course not, because what is good for the exercise goose is not for the alcohol gander (at the risk of over extending the metaphor, the smoking swan has long since been cooked and stuffed). Exercise is held by the nannies, wowsers and healthists to be as virtuous as drinking is sinful, so even with exactly the same weight of evidence that either are not healthy – to be precise, none at all – there will only ever be positive things said about the one and negative things about the other. And when you put the two messages next to each other…

‘There’s no evidence that moderate exercise will cause any harm to you or your unborn child, so do take gentle exercise.’*

‘There’s no evidence that small amounts of alcohol will cause any harm to your unborn child, so do not take any alcohol at all. You may scream hysterically at the sight of a wine bottle if you wish.’

See?

Kraft durch Freude!

* This is paraphrased but I didn’t pull it out of my arse. I did a little googling and found a few web pages, articles and papers that said there was no evidence that moderate exercise increased miscarriages or raised body temperature to a level that a foetus can’t cope with (which sounds frankly potty to begin with) etc. One of them would probably be written off as 100% bullshit peddled by tobacco industry shills because it said there was no significant increase of miscarriage risk for smoking in the first trimester, but the rest were probably suitably on message for most healthists.

The retiring type

Props to President Hollande for mindless optimism in the face of harsh realities.

France’s new socialist government cut the country’s retirement age in the face of the eurozone’s deepening crisis, citing “social justice” to explain a move that goes against austerity efforts across the region.
Workers who entered employment aged 18 will be able to retire at 60 rather than 62, under the decree agreed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The decision follows pre-election promises from the new president Francois Hollande to reverse the rise in the retirement age introduced by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010.

Actually, props to him for keeping an election promise. I thought politicians weren’t supposed to do that anymore? Perhaps it’s a French thing. And perhaps France is currently able to make it work. I know next to nothing about France’s economic situation or how this move will affect it, but I’m prepared to believe that at least in the short term the answers could be ‘not bad’ and ‘not much’ respectively. But assuming that France, like most western nations, has an ageing population how well does lowering the retirement age work in the longer term? As in the kind of time which will likely see the man who’s now the new president happily retired and writing his memoirs.

You see, the thing about ideals such as social justice is that mathematics really doesn’t give two fifths of a faint fuck about them, and so if the tax base isn’t there to support all a state’s retirees plus its other spending – and of course this is a point some countries have already passed – then it’s just not there. Borrowing to make up the difference will keep things going a bit longer but eventually even that won’t be enough, though by then you’ll have a lot of people expecting to get what they’d been promised years earlier and a lot more expecting the same or better when it’s their turn, and Greece is an indicator of how that could turn out.

Alternatively a state could take a different approach: leave retirement age to be sorted out between individuals and their employers.

Politics of the first resort

I wish I could say that I find the reaction of this politician surprising.

Google has refused to explain why it paid just $74,176 in Australian tax last year, despite making an estimated $1 billion in revenue from the Australian market.

The opposition communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, said yesterday the growing digital economy was creating headaches for lawmakers. He said corporate giants like Google were able to generate billions in revenue within Australia, ”much of it at the expense of local media outlets”, but pay minimal tax by creating subsidiary offices in low-taxing foreign jurisdictions.

For readers outside Australia note that this is the opposition communications spokesman here – Malcolm Turnbull is a member of, and has even been the leader of, what persists in calling itself the Liberal Party in the absence of any real interest in liberty that I can see. To answer the implied question, it’s called the global marketplace, Malc, and this is no more than an indication that Australia’s tax regime is sadly uncompetitive. Instead of getting your cock in a knot about the relatively small dollar amounts of tax that Google and Facebook pay here why not consider why it is that these companies do not choose to pay the bulk of their tax in Australia. I’m guessing that it’s something to do with them preferring to pay tax at 15% in the Irish Republic than pay at 30% here.

Now it strikes me that we could piss and moan about it, we could talk about changing the tax laws and generally fight like hell to avoid doing anything as simple as matching or beating the Irish on tax rates and the general desirability of running large parts of an international business here. We could do that… Or we could start by just looking at the dollar value Google paid the Irish taxman at Irish rates. Because if it’s more than $74,176 – and I reckon it will be substantially more – it would seem to suggest that you’d get more out of them by making Australia a more tempting place to pay tax than Ireland.

You see, Malc, and it really pains me to have to explain this to a member of a party whose website says (my bold):

We believe…

* In … a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
* In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
[…]
* In … the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
[…]

In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise…

You see, Malcolm, if taxes are a necessary evil then in this modern world where companies can establish their operations wherever it’s most profitable nations are in competition for taxpayers, and the more successful governments in that competition may not be the ones that take the biggest slice of their GDP pie but the ones who realise that a smaller slice of a much larger pie is actually a greater quantity of pie. The Australian Tax Office, and it seems both main parties in Canberra if Malcolm Turnbull’s an indication, are more concerned with the size of the government’s slice than the size of the pie, and as long as that holds I expect Google, Farcebook and others will continue to choose countries such as Ireland as their preferred nations in which to pay much of their taxes.

Not just the UK where the main political parties are largely alike. Why is being competitive the last resort even of a nominally liberal politician?

Tobacco isn’t evil when you want to pay civil servants

Seriously, how else can you see it when the same government that drones incessantly about the evils of tobacco has a fund set up to make investments for paying the pensions of people working for the federal government which keeps investing in tobacco.

THE Future Fund’s stake in the tobacco industry has swelled by $78 million, an increase of more than 50 per cent, sparking criticism of the fund for investing in companies that are suing the government.

The taxpayer-owned fund, which also holds shares in nuclear arms companies, yesterday revealed its tobacco shares were worth $225 million in February, up from $147 million at the end of 2010.

Senate estimates also heard that a controversial report written by the fund’s new chairman, David Gonski, last year named himself as a possible next chairman before the government had even considered him. The $77 billion fund was set up by the Howard government to help pay federal public servants’ pensions, but is now under fire for its ”unethical” investments.

Cue teh outrages. Oh, the humanity!

Victorian Greens senator Richard Di Natale accused the government of profiteering from ”the death and misery of people dying with lung cancer”.

In a way that, say, forcing people to pay taxes for medical care and threatening to withhold treatment if their lifestyles meet with finger wagging disapproval from some bunch of wowsers or other would not be profiteering? Just asking, because I know that’s been suggested in Britain and while we don’t fund medicine at gunpoint to quite the same extent I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been mooted here too. Anyway, it’s not profiteering when it’s needed to pay for something the government is committed to, i.e. the pensions of public servants. If you want to argue that they should be making their own individual arrangements that’s something else, but right now the government seems to have a commitment and the ugly truth is that the fund’s management reckons baccy, even with all the legislation aimed at hamstringing the trade, is a better investment than… well, I was going to say unicorn tears and fairy wishes but since the Greens aren’t reported as actually suggesting an alternative (how uncharacteristic of them!) let’s just say better than nothing. Not that that’s going to stop them.

“This undermines all of the good work we’ve done in tobacco control with measures such as plain packaging. It’s particularly galling when you consider they are the same companies taking legal action against the government,” Dr Di Natale said.

The good work? For fucks’ sake, that doesn’t come into effect for months. How the fuck can you know yet whether the effect will be good? Or if it is good in some way, for whom? If the chop-chop trade increases at the expense of the legit, regulated trade would that be good, Di Natale? Is the object only to fuck up that part of the industry that is prepared to be regulated and play by the ever shifting set of rules imposed on it? No interest at all in the tobacco trade that’s controlled by criminal enterprise? You know, I’m prepared to believe that’s the case.

And before I forget, what’s the problem with companies suing the government? So the small investors who feel they got screwed on the Facebook float can’t sue because they invested in the company? In the spirit of caveat emptor I could buy that argument, though not if there was any misleading going on, but I very much doubt we’ll ever hear you saying so. Bottom line, that the baccy trade have finally had enough and are trying to fight back is neither here nor there. It does not change the government’s commitment to those pensions and it apparently doesn’t change the potential value of tobacco as an investment.

And that should speak volumes about the whole concept of plain packaging. If it was really going to achieve what the nannies, finger waggers, theatrical coughers and various other wowsers desired then surely buying tobacco shares would be even riskier than a investing in a mixed portfolio of Facebook and Greek bank stocks while standing on a bloody beam over a shark tank on a windy day. The fund’s MD is very carefully not saying whether the increase in stock owned is as a result of them buying more or the value of shares already owned going up, but either case suggests that it’s far from all being doom and gloom despite the plain packs being just months away. I’m no expert but to me it looks like either investors don’t really expect this anti-tobacco legislation to hurt the industry after all or they expect the industry to still do pretty well despite it.

And fair dos, really. Because playing it the right-on way as the Greens, and probably Labor and maybe even the Coalition would prefer to do, is effectively saying “Fuck you and your pension, your life in retirement is far less important than us appearing ‘ethical’ right now” to a large number of public servants.

 

Declaration of interest to possible new visitors: though I did once, I am not a smoker. My body is now a cathedral, which is kind of like a temple but bigger. I speak up for smokers and drinker out of self interest – not because I am one but because the nannies will surely come after the rest of us for something once they’ve finished with the current ubermenschen of choice, those who like a smoke and/or a drink. While they’re being fought the rest of us remain (relatively) free, so I’m for supporting the smokers and drinkers and prolonging the stupid fight against adults being free to put stuff of their choice into their bodies for quite a while. The heat death of the universe wouldn’t be too long.

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.

Right-on Dave strikes again

Cameramong’s latest brain spasm, it seems, is to force companies to appoint women, showing once again that he has absolutely no understanding of the concept of freedom.

David Cameron warned that the UK’s inability to exploit women’s full potential as entrepreneurs was “failing our whole economy”.

Okay, this may be true, and I think we can take it as read that in an economy the size of Britain’s there will inevitably be a number of positions occupied by men which could have been done better by one of the female applicants for the job. However, that doesn’t mean that the answer is quotas because it’s just as certain that some of those positions could have been done better by one of the male candidates. Or someone who didn’t apply for the job at all because they were happy where they were. You see, Dave, companies try to get the best person for every job but if they were always successful then nobody would ever be fired, would they? Sometimes they get it wrong and very often the best person isn’t available anyway, but in any case if someone isn’t free to screw up then they’re not free full stop. Why not just let those companies run by misogynistic morons who insist on hiring less capable males over women because of the CEO’s rampant vagina-phobia carry on doing so, and let those who aren’t fussy about applicants’ sex hire those more capable women who were rejected by the vagina-phobes? In the long run the latter should become more successful and the former are more likely to go tits up (pun very much intended).

The Prime Minister is attending a summit in Stockholm to learn from countries such as Norway and Iceland, which have successfully introduced quotas to increase the number of women in boardrooms.

The wording of this sentence is extremely interesting. It says that they’ve successfully introduced quotas, not that the introduction of quotas has been an economic success, and since on a list of countries ranked by recent growth Norway and Iceland are both well behind even the poor performing UK I’m interested to hear what evidence there is that it’s made any bloody difference at all. If it was me, Dave, I’d be thinking of going to summits to learn from, oh, I don’t know, maybe the top four or five growing economies – Qatar, Singapore, Paraguay, India (yeah, that’s right, India which the DFID insist still need UK aid) and Taiwan – rather than countries ranked at 159 and 180. Out of 183. Christ’s sakes, Norway and Iceland aren’t even in the top five for Europe, though to be fair neither is the UK or anyone in the Eurozone, and the only EU member in the top 5 is Bulgaria – draw your own conclusions.

Government figures suggested that Britain’s slow progress was costing the economy more than £40 billion in lost potential each year, roughly equal to the defence budget.

Ah, and more corporate red tape will help, will it, Dave? Ideological state interference with the actual running of a business will do  more than clearing the way for the ones with the best business models, which I’d anticipate would probably include not giving a rip either way about the contents of senior employees’ underpants, to become successful? It’ll help more than reducing the tax burden on both businesses and their customers so that turnovers and profits can go up, businesses can expand and more jobs can be created? It’ll help more than doing something about the estimated £65 billion annual cost to the economy of Britain’s continued EU membership?

Mr Cameron said the Nordic-Baltic Summit would generate ideas for how Britain can “help women become entrepreneurs and take up leading positions in business”.

Electing a government that stopped screwing up the economy would be a terrific start. Just my 2¢.

A government policy paper, presented to the summit, estimated that if female entrepreneurship reached the same levels as in the US, “there would be 600,000 extra women-owned businesses, contributing an extra £42 billion to the economy”.

And ignoring the possibility, which I’m sure is vanishingly remote, that this figure of £42 billion (wasn’t it £40 billion a minute ago and what made it increase by 5% in a few paragraphs?) wasn’t just pulled out of someone’s arse at the Treasury, is the extra rate of female entrepreneurship in the United States because businesses there have federally imposed quotas for hiring females in senior positions along the lines you’re thinking of, Dave? Because if it’s not and the Obamarised US has no such law – which this 10 week old Forbes article suggests is the case – then it’s all pretty irrelevant, don’t you think?

Dave, you really are the most clueless twat Britain’s had for Prime Mentalist since… erm, well, since the last one.

Doomed. We’re all doooomed.

And then they came for the tanned people, but I did not speak out because of my correction fluid like complexion

The nannies, killjoys, bansturbators and wowsers really are feeling confident. It’s only been a few days since the war on things anyone likes – which I hope we all now realise started with the ‘war’ on smoking, scare quotes because it was never a war but just the opening salvo of something much, much bigger – attacked sugar for being as evil as alcohol or tobacco, and already they’ve shifted fire onto another target on the list. These things:

Half inched from The Daily Mail - click for linky

No, not women in the nip, though give it enough time and I’m sure someone will come up with a vaguely plausible reason. No, the target is sunbeds, and although they’ve had the odd potshot such as age restrictions and talk of tanning taxes sent their way before, this phase of the war on everything that someone somewhere might be enjoying has gone nuclear in a hurry.

Commercial tanning beds will be banned in NSW under radical new laws to be announced by the government today.

NSW will be the only place in the world besides Brazil to institute a total ban on ultraviolet solariums tanning units when the laws come into place from December 31, 2014, and cancer groups hope other states and countries will follow.

Jesus, I can feel the self righteousness from here, the pride in being the only place in the world (besides Brazil – damn Brazilians thinking up this stuff first) to treat sunbeds as another thing reasoning adults can’t be allowed to make up their own minds about. No, New South Welshies, because some people get skin cancer and because some of them spend enough time on a sunbed to look like an overdone chip your state government has decided you can’t be trusted to weigh up the risks yourselves and has decided for you. This, in case anyone outside Australia is wondering, is a right of centre Liberal (In Name Only) government, and being as how the Liberal party here is often pretty illiberal and appears to have no interest in individual freedom how the fuck they get away with calling themselves the Liberal Party without every dictionary in Australia bursting into flame is beyond me. A party whose name references the concept of freedom taking freedom away from people, shredding and pulping it, and then pressing it into rolls to be hung up in the toilets of Parliament House.

And of course being a right of centre party you’d think, or I’m sure they’d very much like you to think, that they’re the friends of the entrepreneur and small businesses. Like shit are they. A unilateral ban on a whole fucking industry? Seriously?

The ban is likely to save lives but could put some NSW solariums – which pay about $30,000 for new tanning beds – out of business.

You think? What else does a tanning salon do apart from offer people the facility to get tanned? As far as I can see the idea is you find a site, fill it with a decent number of these machines at thirty grand a pop, and open the doors. Yes, they could diversify, but when the state government is banning the bloody machines on which the whole enterprise effectively rests then diversifying seems to mean not actually being a tanning salon anymore. I suppose the spray on tan is an option for the time being, but just as they’ve come for the smokers, the drinkers, the salad dodgers, the sweet toothed and the strangely bronze they will eventually come for the Oompa Loompas, and they’ll no more care that you’re taller than the average Oompa Loompa than they did that most wine drinkers manage not to drink themselves insensible every night. And with the anti-sugar assault raging you’ll probably be accused of war crimes for working in that chocolate factory.

Even if that doesn’t happen right away a ban on commercial tanning machines is going to affect the trade like a ban on professional woodworking tools would affect furniture making, except for the fact that you can’t just walk outside and sit in the park for an hour to get a free nest of tables. And even something as catastrophically dim as a politician seems able to understand this.

The Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, chose World Cancer Day to make her announcement, saying sun beds were carcinogenic and the International Agency for Research on Cancer had placed them in the same category of risk as asbestos. “Sadly, Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and this ban is long overdue,” she said.

There are about 100 businesses with 254 commercial tanning units registered in NSW, and about 10 per cent offer UV tanning exclusively. That group would be offered help through the Department of Trade and Investment’s business advisory services, Ms Parker said.

Lucky NSW taxpayers. Your government has just made more than $7,500,000 of equipment next to worthless unless shipped interstate and kicked a hundred tax paying businesses, not a single one of which will have dragged people off the street and forced them onto the sunbeds, in the teeth. But the government is going to ‘help’ them, which I suspect will mean giving them money..

Oh, but it’ll save lives so it’ll be worth it, right? Aaaaaaand cue the cancer victim:

Jay Allen, a melanoma survivor who led the campaign for the ban, said he was “over the moon”.

“This is for all the people who have lost their life to melanoma, all the people living with melanoma,” he said. “It’s going to save many, many lives.”

No, Jay, it won’t. I understand why you want to believe that, but it won’t and here’s why.

Like almost every risky activity you can think of the dangers involved are either patently obvious or so regularly rammed down everyone’s throats via PSAs in print and broadcast media that to be unaware you’d have to have spent the last two or three decades in either a cave or a coma. Christ, I heard of ‘Slip Slop Slap’ twenty years before I even came here. It’s a very safe assumption that those who still want a tan have heard about the risks and have decided they’re prepared to chance it, and if they’re adults nobody else should have a problem with that. And having decided the risk is worth it do you think they’ll just accept being pale when you take away all the tanning machines? Or do you think that they’ll just go and get a free tan under an infinitly more powerful UV source outside?

The point of tanning machines – and I’m assuming because I’ve never used one and don’t plan to – is that people pay money to cook themselves under power as alternative to the free, but supposedly even more dangerous, alternative of cooking themselves under the harsh Aussie sun instead. Are tanning beds safe? I have absolutely no idea but I don’t expect so, but if they’re likely to do less harm than a natural suntan then banning them seems the height of idiocy. And if you can prove they do more harm than a natural suntan then banning is unnecessary – just publicise it so tan-wannabes will go outside and tanning machines will go the way of the dinosaur. Even is some people carry on using them that’s their choice, no one else’s.

[Chief Exec of Cancer Council Australia, Ian Olver] said governments paid for cancers caused by sunbeds so they had a right to ban them.

No they don’t. They can stop paying for cancers caused by sunbeds and tell the strangely brown to buy health insurance, but I don’t see that they have any right to involve themselves in the business of consenting adults, doubly so when they physically can’t stop people tanning simply because someone who wants a tan will do what it takes to get one. There’s simply no way you can stop them without introducing a daytime curfew, and I don’t think I need to explain what that would do to the NSW economy. The tourist trade alone would be wrecked – come to sunny Sydney (viewing available only by night).

So the long and short of it is that this will likely wreck businesses and cost taxpayers’ money for close to bugger all benefit, but Jeez the New South Wales Righteous will have the biggest warm fuzzy about it.

And, tanlovers, with your healthy (for a given value of healthy) bronzed and toned bodies, I can only add that you were warned. You were told again and again and again and again – do not believe the anti-smoking campaigners when they say it’s just smoking they want to control. But you did, just as so many non-smokers who drink or whose waistlines or diets or levels of physical activity don’t meet proscribed norms, and as they’re all finding out it was a fucking lie. It was not just smoking, smoking was just the start. And it isn’t just that the tactics and propaganda are the same but with smoking changed to read alcohol, fat, sugar, caffeine or tanning – quite often the same bloody people are involved as well. For example, from Velvet Glove, Iron Fist on Jan 28th.

The Guardian recently kicked off the campaign for plain packaging this week with an interview with that sad old sociologist Simon Chapman who seems to think that the tobacco industry finds him fascinating:

“They dislike me intensely because of my prominence and persistence. But I also confuse them because I’m very against the censorship and rating of films because of their tobacco content.”

“Hey, look at me—I’m only half-mad!”

[…]

Chapman is very proud that the Australian supernanny state has banned e-cigarettes and snus, for example—these people should be in a smokefree prison cell.

And from Dick Puddlecote just a couple of days ago:

I’ve said before that you’re going to hear some incredibly desperate justification for plain packaging in the coming months. In this 54 second campaign video, for example, is an absolute pearler from Australian Head woe-warbler, Simon Chapman.

Apparently, it’s perfectly reasonable to stop an industry from using their historical trademarks … because Islamic countries prohibit alcohol.

Simon Chapman and Simon Chapman. Hmmm, familiar sounding name… where’ve I heard it before? Oh, yes, of course! It was right there in the article about New South Wales banning commercial tanning machines.

A professor of public health at the University of Sydney, Simon Chapman, said: “Solaria are cancer incubators and we have known that for a good while”.

Do you see? Do you understand? Is the penny or your local equivalent dropping yet? These people are absolutely obsessed and they will never, ever, ever be satisfied. It doesn’t matter if you don’t smoke, it doesn’t matter if you drink only very moderately or even not at all, it doesn’t matter if you eat the way they want you to eat and exercise as much as they want you to exercise, and it doesn’t matter if you put on factor 30+ with a four inch brush and stay indoors until the sun’s nearly set. None of it matters because like every other human on the planet you will do something that you enjoy, and even if it doesn’t harm another living soul I guarantee you this: someone somewhere disapproves and wants you to stop, and they’re invariably prepared to use force if you fail to obey.

It’s them and us, folks. If you can live and let live then you’re one of us, and it’s time you woke up and realised that the choice is to hang together or hang separately. And if you see something that annoys you and think to yourself, “Oooh, there ought to be a law against people doing that”, then you’re one of them, and it’s time you were told:

Fuck you all. Fuck you right in the lungs.

iPads are for pussies

Both my readers (hi, Mum) will probably be aware that I’m a bit schiz when it comes to Apple. I’ve been using Macs for years and will always tell the technophobes who are constantly asking me, an infrequent Windows user, how to do something on their PC – usually fix it – that half their problems would go away if they moved to OS X. “Oh, but I’m comfortable with Windows, I don’t want to have to learn how to use OS X” is the usual reply, which is fine except for two things: firstly, they clearly haven’t learned how to use bloody Windows if they keep ringing me up and asking me why their computer’s stopped doing something it should and whether I think it’ll work again if they de-frigg the hard drive (the honest answers being “How the hell should I know” and “Unlikely, but why didn’t you just try that before calling”); secondly, the learning curve to use OS X to the same standard as they can use Windows is a hell of a lot shorter than the one they coped with when learning Windows, not least because they’re familiar with such things as desktop icons, folders, contextual menus, aliases (i.e. which is Apple for shortcut) and what a mouse is just from using Windows.

But that doesn’t mean I’m an advocate for Apple themselves. I like the products – actually just some of the products, but I’m getting to that – but I can still despise the company. I think they’ve swallowed their own hype that “Macs just work” to the extent of being unable to accept that even Apple’s quality control will let the odd dud through, they’ve refused to honour warranties because their computers hate passive smoking too (I really wish I was making that up), and they seem to have an almost constant copyright/trademark war over every teensiest thing, especially if it begins with a lower case i, and with almost everyone (an Aussie supermarket with a logo that’s kind of like apple peel – really, Apple). This leaves me with a foot in both camps, that of the Apple haters and that of the Mac fanbois. I’m just glad they’re not separated by a picket fence or I’d be very uncomfortable even on tiptoe. As it is I’m quite comfortable telling anyone who’s a casual user and less than keen on doing the computer version of oil and filter changes and setting the plug gaps that they’d probably have less aggro if their main desktop computer was a Mac, but also that they should hand over their money through gritted teeth because I think that the Apple themselves are a bunch of bastards.

And I’m probably less of a fanboi because of the Apple products I don’t like. I’ve said for years that Apple are unable to make a decent mouse with a gun at their heads, and though that’s less true these days it’s a fact that the mouse that came with my current Mac, the machine I’m using right now, has never been out of the box because I’d had one before and thought it was shit (to be fair the $75 Logitech mouse I was using and loved died last week, and they don’t bloody make it anymore). Nor am I enamoured with their mobile devices, partly because my own row with them was over a MacBook Pro, partly because I’m becoming sufficiently middle aged and farty to be content with a mobile phone that makes phone calls, and partly because despite my inner gadget head wanting one I still can’t work out what I’d actually use an iPad for. Plus I’ll always think of this when the name’s mentioned.

Above all I can’t work out why the hell I’m supposed to drop between nearly A$600 (for the very basic one with no 3G and little storage) and nearly a grand for the top end on something that’s less of a computer than a $300 netbook. Okay, because I don’t have children obviously I’m not able to appreciate its <sarc>obvious function of being a toy for toddlers</sarc>, but I do have pets and they’re about as bright as a mildly retarded toddler. And if you think I’m buying them an iPad then you are simply fucking insane.

Oh, God, no.

If you thought you’d seen everything as far as iPad applications go, you haven’t seen the RSPCA’s cat app.
Designed for techno-cats who already have everything, it features games for felines who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn in the days before computers.

Are you serious? Look, I love cats and in particular I love my cats (who didn’t wake me up at 6.30, unlike another quadrupedal member of the household), but I’m realistic about things. I can tell you with certainty that “felines who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn in the days before computers” would still enjoy playing with a ball of yarn today, and they will tomorrow as well. As will all cats for, at a conservative estimate, the next few million years. Many long term cat keepers (the old joke is that dogs have owners and cats have staff) will tell you that they’re capable of real affection and even very limited two way communication once you’ve learned to “speak” cat. But most of us will admit that they can’t even grasp the concept of a mirror, much less a computer, so to talk about cats who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn before the computer came along is anthropomorphising a bit much.

There is even a virtual ball of yarn…

/facepalm

… not to mention a game where puss has to protect cheese from invading mice.

This is… oh, let’s just have a look at it, shall we?

So basically, the aim of this game is for the cats to protect the cheese…

You sure? You checked with the cats? Because I suspect that as far as they’re concerned the aim is to make the funny flat prey things die.

Little Simmy here’s just 8 weeks old, but she’s obviously the cleverest. It only took her less than a minute to work out if she’s double taps the app it’ll go to the main menu.

She’s done no such thing. Cats move quickly – ever heard the expression ‘cat-like reflexes’? – and both fight and catch small prey by rapid batting with their front paws. Little Simmy’s not double tapping shit, she’s still just trying to make the funny flat prey thing die.

I hope.

You DO know there's more than one kind of double-tap, right?

Moggies can also pit themselves against other cats to work out which one is smartest.

No they can’t. Look, they’re no more able to conceptualise who or what is smart than they are computers. Unless you’ve taught them elementary maths all this guff with the high scores is little more than a random number generator. This isn’t for the cats – like the whole thing, it’s really for the owners staff.

Okay, I know, I’m being a bit unfair. I do realise that nobody’s suggesting that you buy an iPad just for the cats, though I’m sure someone with more money than sense will, and I did see that the app is free. Clearly it’s aimed at cat staff who are also already iPad owners and who work for cats who spend most or all their time indoors,  which isn’t unheard of in a country where there’s a genuine feral cat problem and, as a result, places where there are cat curfews and even bylaws restricting cats to the property. But Jeez, we talk wistfully about the long(ish) gone days where we made our own entertainment and then stick several hundred bucks’ worth of electronics in front of an animal that by nature is predisposed to entertaining itself. Cats, even house cats, will be as happy with some relatively inexpensive toys from the pet store and even cheaper ones like scrunched up envelopes and Post-Its as they will with a computer game. Most of all they’ll be happy with another cat around for when they want furry company and enough room to bugger off and be alone when they don’t, a sunny spot or two to sprawl in on nice days and a selection of warm spots when it’s shitty outside. That’s pretty much the list of priorities and I don’t think they’d be a lot different even if cats were brighter than they are.

If they were the smartest species on the planet I reckon they’d have invented central heating before the wheel and have email that’d let you know what the other cat’s arse smelled like when they clicked send, but maybe they’d also appreciate the effort that’s gone into an app like this. Maybe even little 8 week old Simmy would double tap it for the menu. As things are… nah, ours will be happy with being fed, petted and looked after plus a selection of $5 toys, bits of scrap paper and all the bogong moths they can catch. And I’d bet the same could be said for cats in general.

Quote (and other things) of the Day

From, not surprisingly, The Daily Mash.

Ed Miliband cost Britain the best part of a billion pounds yesterday.

The Labour leader’s brave, popular stance against RBS bonuses led directly to the bank losing £900m of its value as investors reckoned that if Ed Miliband was calling the shots they may as well buy shares in a mangled badger.

Which is ironic given that’s pretty much what his old boss, the cyclops with the faecal Midas touch, did when he spunked away nearly £40 billion of taxpayers’ money on buying a company that had the thick end of two fucking trillion in liabilities.

And on a closely related subject, which I might have titled ‘Twat of the day’ if I was making a separate post of it, I see that Fred the Shred has been de-knighted, stripped of his honour for services to the banking industry nominally because of his disservice to the banking industry, but I suspect mainly because it’s politically expedient to give him a good kick in the balls despite the fact that he committed no actual crime. Or perhaps, given that he’s been the target of this kind of thing on and off since Harriet Harperson suggested three years ago that the ‘court of public opinion’ (which is entirely different from Harperson herself and other champagne socialists) had decided his pension arrangements were unacceptable despite being in a legal contract, it’d be more accurate to say that it’s still politically expedient to kick him in the balls. I can’t think of any other reason why, as the Tele points out, Goodwin has been singled out for being no worse than a big business fuck up while others, some of whom have committed real actual crimes, have been allowed to keep their gongs.

Lord Jeffrey Archer, disgraced peer and best-selling author, he spent time at her majesty’s pleasure for perjury in 2001, having lied about sleeping with a prostitute.

[…]

Ex-HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson was awarded a CBE in 1981, a knighthood in 1997 and was made a peer in 1999. Like Goodwin he played a significant role in his bank’s near-collapse in 2008 and apologised to the Treasury Select Committee for his over-reliance on wholesale funding markets.

[…]

Lord Taylor of Warwick, the son of Jamaican immigrants who rose from humble beginnings to become a barrister and a member of the Upper House, was exposed by the Daily Telegraph for swindling £11,000 in fraudulent MP expenses out of the taxpayer and subsequently imprisoned, yet retains his seat in the House of Lords.

Labour peers Lady Uddin and Lord Paul, and the crossbencher Lord Bhatia all received lengthy suspensions from the House of Lords after wrongly claiming thousands of pounds in expenses yet retain the right to re-ent

(EDITED TO ADD: Captain Ranty reminds me in the comments of the case of Lord Ahmed who killed someone in a car crash on the motorway shortly after sending text messages from the driving seat. As I recall there was no real evidence that texting brought about the crash and he was not actually charged with causing the death of the other man, but his lordship was convicted of dangerous driving and sentenced to several months. The Captain points out that he served only 12 days and that he too still has his title.)

To which, it could be argued, we should add the names Sir Howard Davies and Sir Callum McCarthy, chairman of the Financial Services Authority from 97-03 and 03-08 respectively, though perhaps not Jonathan Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, the FSA chairman since May 2008, who’s getting some stick in various news website comments but really wasn’t there in time to have prevented anything. But we could certainly include the various Sirs, Dames, Honorables, Right Honourables and so on in parliament and on whatever committees approve these things who all so thoroughly applauded what ex-Sir Fred was doing that they put him up for and awarded him the fucking knighthood in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of ex-Sir Fred and in fact I’ve called him some unpleasant names and expressed hope that he fall down some stairs and land on his testicles, but if all this really is, as it’s being said, for bringing the honours system into disrepute surely the spotlight should rather be on those who give out honours to idiots, fuck ups, crooks and inconsequential slebs.

In fact never mind his bloody honour, such as it is these days, you don’t need to look far to find people saying he and other bankers should be arrested and jailed. For example, this comment at Huffpo

They should throw him in the tower of London for a good number of years as well.

… and this one at the Graun

Good. Now put him in jail.

… and this one commenting on the same article

He should be locked-up in prison.

And best of all, this one from a web forum.

in my opinion, taking away the knighthood means nothing. This bastard should have been tried in court and sentenced to jail.

he basically played around with other people’s money while paying himself a high salary and then when $hit hit the fan, asked for a 45 billion bailout. Im sorry, but if someone steals 10 dollars from another, he is called a criminal and can get a prison sentence. While this idiot stole billions, and people are arguing about some stupid title that means nothing.

Dump this idiot in prison…then we can discuss his knighthood.

Oh, and also one I spotted a few months back by Jon Snow, long serving journo and former law student.

Veteran Channel 4 newsborg Jon Snow blogs on the eeeevil bankers, and specifically asks why they haven’t been arrested, and by extension I imagine charged, tried, found guilty, purged, flayed, subjected to the Pear of Anguish and possibly also the Banana of Discomfort and the whole Fruit Salad of Much Inconvenience, and finally hung, drawn, quartered and buried in five limed graves each. But that may just be the impression I get.

Click for linky

The publication of the Vickers report into British banking reform sparks the question why the UK has so far failed to prosecute a single individual for his or her misdeeds during the financial meltdown of 2008.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that maybe no actual crime has been committed. Negligence, probably yes. Gross stupidity, almost indubitably. Financial irresponsibility and incompetence of such breathtaking degree that it’s comparable with what some governments spunk away every week, for sure. And some of that may be tortious, but is there evidence that an actual offence has been committed and is there enough of it to make a successful prosecution likely? Because if the answer to both is no, Jon, there’s your reason why.

Okay, he might not have finished his law degree but you’d hope that the course would have covered the tiny detail that people need to be at least suspected of having committed a crime before they can legally be arrested, and if not that he might have picked up the fact at some stage during a long career in journalism or even just by being a fucking adult. I’m reasonably sure I was aware that you couldn’t be arrested, Constable Savage style, for bullshit offences made up on the spot by the time I was in my late teens.*

All of this cockwaftery about arrests and prison stretches have the same thing in common – a complete absence of any mention of an actual crime Goodwin or any other banker (with the notable exception of Bernie Madhoff, whose fraud was genuine but actually had two fifths of fuck all to do with the financial crisis) is alleged to have committed. Y’know, something that’s a real offence that you can be arrested for and charged with, something with a statute somewhere to make the action a crime and give legal power to punish it, that kind of thing. Christ, only one even mentions those inconvenient formalities of courts and trials, but even then the fact of imprisonment seems to be treated as a priori and the writer even goes so far as to specifically accuse Fred Goodwin of theft. Yeah, and I suppose my bank steals the money I voluntarily deposit in it too, right? Or is he perhaps referring to the money given to RBS in the bailout? If so then it should be pointed out that as far as Goodwin and RBS were concerned the exchange of funds was again entirely voluntary, and of course shares, for whatever they ultimately turn out to be worth, were given in return. The only involuntary part, the only bit where money was forcefully taken from people, was the bit where money was taken from taxpayers so as to be thrown, by Gordon Clown and his Darling Alastair, at RBS and other banks. It’s more like stealing ten dollars before meeting someone who’s lost their own money on the horses and owes a lot more, and then giving him the ten dollars as well as stealing another twenty and going out to steal again the next day – the guy who owes all that money may be an idiot but he’s not the thief.

Let me repeat that vital point: whatever else that guy is, he is NOT a thief.

How the fuck can apparently reasoning adults not understand this? Do I really have to get medieval Reformation on their asses and quote Sir Thomas More again? Or shall I go with the misquoted version I used when fisking Jon Snow last year?

Arrest them.

Why?

They’re eeevil bankers who are greedy, stupid and negligent.

There’s no law against that.

So now you’d give the bankers the benefit of law?

Yes. What would you do?
Cut a great road through the
law to get after the bankers?

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it  — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Why is it so difficult for some people to grasp that when you start demanding that people be thrown in gaol without worrying about whether they’ve broken a law then those doing the throwing and demanding are in as much trouble as the actual throwees?

‘Kinell!

* Actually the Constable Savage sketch might even be part of the reason I was aware of this.

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.

Advanced calculus for journalists – UPDATED

Lesson #1:

Police said a 32-year-old Derrimut man was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with fractures, while a 27-year-old Taylors Hill woman and a Richmond man and woman – both believed by paramedics to be aged 19 – were transported to the Sunshine Hospital with minor injuries.
An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said another man who was injured refused to be treated.

It doesn’t equal 5 either.

UPDATE – Lesson #2, from Professor Bucko of the Department of Inadvisable Cervid Power Modifications:

First up we have the story of an unexpectedly low turnout of Christmas shoppers this weekend.

Immediately following that we have the story of an unexpectedly high turnout this weekend.

Less is less. More is more. Less is not more.

Hopefully these aren’t too difficult for the subeditors to keep up with.



Seeing the light

Click for linky

Shoulder mounted laser? Wow, like the fucking Predator. We’ll show those little pond-life estate scum next time they get a bit fighty, eh lads? What they gonna do when we’ve each got a las… er… oh.

Expect laws restricting the purchase of welding goggles and mirrors to be around the corner, affecting only the law-abiding, non-rioting majority who won’t simply steal them when they want them.

/ facepalm