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Thrills and spills

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

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

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

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

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

And then they came for…

They came first for the smokers, and I did not speak
because I’m not a smoker
Then they came for the drinkers, and I remained silent
because I don’t drink
And then they came for the salad dodgers, and said nothing
because I quite like a plate of greens

When they finally came for me there was no one left to speak up.

With apologies to Martin Niemöller

Smokers first, and the world’s authoritarian control freaks and their healthist useful idiots have persuaded enough people that smokers aren’t quite human that they felt able to move on to drinkers. They’ve got their teeth into alcohol and, despite their denials to the contrary, seem to be following the same anti-freedom model that they did with tobacco – there are already dry areas appearing, the beginnings of warning labels, talk of restricting alcohol advertising (doubtless replacing it with more of the tax funded anti-alcohol campaigns). They’ve even invented the concept of second hand drinking, presumably because it sounds good and was a success against smokers. You can be sure that more alcohol denormalisation is around the corner.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re that certain then just criminalise tobacco and alcohol and be done with it. Won’t hurt me, I don’t drink or smoke. Won’t hurt a lot of those people who’ll quietly produce their own under the radar, or at least not too much. But if you think it’ll produce a sober, non-smoking population of fine upstanding and hard working tax cows citizens then enough with the salami slicing, just make both products illegal. Go on, you government chickenshits, do it. I fucking dare you to. I fucking dare you to do without the tax revenue. I fucking dare you to increase other taxes to make up for the lost revenue, and then increase them even more due to the additional expense of policing yet more contraband. I fucking dare you to recreate Prohibition era violent crime and add it to that of the drugs trade, with the added bonus of getting the illegal tobacco trade involved as well. I’m starting to think that a society that stupid and intolerant and evil simply fucking deserves what it gets. Go on, do it…

Except they won’t, because they’re not that ignorant of history. They’re hoping that a little freedom lost each day won’t set the scene for modern day Al Capones in the same way that just criminalising tobacco or alcohol probably will, though if the illegal drugs trade is anything to go by, not to mention the increased incentives for tobacco smuggling and illegal alcohol production, this is just as much a fantasy. So the salami slicing continues, and smokers and drinkers have been joined by salad dodgers and now meat eaters.

Small quantities of processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami can increase the likelihood of dying by a fifth, researchers from Harvard School of Medicine found. Eating steak increases the risk of dying by 12%.

Oh, here we go. I don’t want to be picky here, motherfuckers, but I’ve run this calculation many times to be certain and I found that everybody’s risk of dying is exactly 100%. Your risk of living before that final certainty happens is something else entirely.

The scientists said that the government’s current advice that people should eat no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) a day, around around the level the average Briton already consumes, was “generous”.

I had no idea there was government advice already. I wonder what’ll be next? Age restrictions to be allowed to purchase something with red meat in it? A red meat ban in public places such as restaurants and pubs (if there are still any pubs left)? Meat packaging is typically plain already but maybe this kind of thing will be banned.

Click for source

And of course there’s the associated scare, that it’s just an unhealthy part of a generally unhealthy lifestyle.

Scientists added that people who eat a diet high in red meat were also likely to be generally unhealthier because they were more likely to smoke, be overweight and not exercise.

Assuming for the moment that this is anything more than mere assertion, because there’s bollock all in the article to suggest otherwise, so fucking what? What call do I have on anyone else to be healthy? If it doesn’t affect me what right do I have over what they put into their bodies or how they attempt to extract the maximum amount of enjoyment from their few decades of existence? I wonder if, on the QT, these people acknowledge this because they quickly unleash the big gun, a claim that in fact your steak supper is hurting other people.

In an accompanying editorial Dr Dean Ornish, of the University of California, San Francisco, said that eating less red meat could also help tackle climate change.
He said: “In addition to their health benefits, the food choices we make each day affect other important areas as well. What is personally sustainable is globally sustainable. What is good for you is good for our planet.”

More unsupported assertion, and frankly I have a hard enough time believing that the net activity of our entire species has any measurable, let alone meaningful, effect on a system depending on the interaction of, among other things, roughly 5 quadrillion tonnes of air, 1½ quintillion tonnes of water, half a billion square kilometres of surface area of varying substances and albedo and 2 octillion tonnes of fusing hydrogen. If someone really believes that getting everyone to stop eating bacon butties and lamb chops has any significance I have a bridge I’d like to sell them. In fact I wonder if it’s even seriously believed by the people saying it – in their shoes I’d be looking for something that sounds better than “Well, if you die earlier you won’t be contributing taxes for as long, d’you see?”, which I suspect is really what a lot of government healthism is about. They already say they can’t afford to treat everyone who’s sick, so any illnesses that they can claim are self inflicted through lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking and being a certain amount above the standard human weight (if there isn’t an official standard human weight already I expect there soon will be) are beginning to go untreated, and bugger the fact that people have paid for healthcare in advance.* Getting the hump because some people cark it before contributing all the tax they might have done, which will happen more once economic pressures force the retirement age to be revised upwards, is almost the same thing. How dare you drop dead through enjoying your life before having completed your allotted amount of tax producing labour for the st… ah, I mean for society!

Go fuck yourselves sideways with a meat tenderiser.

I’ll leave you with the positive side of meat eating. Paid for by the industry of course, and not to be taken completely seriously, but perhaps with a grain of truth in it all the same.

* I wonder if one day this thinking will also apply to people with fucked knees and jogger’s nipples from exercising. Hey, exercising regularly is a lifestyle choice too, you know.

Situation Vacant

Wanted: Western Security Theatre requires dramatic lunatic for role of Emmanuel Goldstein in our long running farce Oh Fuck, The Fucking Fuckers Are Fucking Everywhere after the recent replacement for our retired long term Goldstein lacked the hoped for durability. Package including times of performance will be largely up to the successful applicant, as will be much of the script. Window licking experience and own wardrobe, including head underpants if desired, is absolutely essential. Apply through usual agencies.

Of course, it could all be bollocks. It wasn’t long ago the media seemed sure he was kipping on the sofa in Hugo Chavez’s pool room.

Hypocrites du jour

Via Max Farquar, UAF bully boys beating up a woman for being in a group they don’t like much. Max has the video, and I do recommend you go and watch it, but lacking a picture I thought I’d show one of a couple of bully boys beating up someone for being in a group they don;t like much.

From here.

So easy to become that which we purport to hate, isn’t it, UAF?

I don’t like to think of myself as a vindictive man, but…

We’ll probably never know if the woman guiding him let him walk into the post on purpose or even steered him in the right direction, and if she did I doubt she’ll ever admit. But on the off chance she did and reads this I’d just like to say this: nice one.

Carbon tax comeback

Yesterday I mentioned that there’s opposition and even threats of strikes in protest against the carbon tax, suggesting that Labor’s love-in with the Greens – who’ve had a fluky election result give them the balance of power in parliament and who I feel have probably pushed Gingery Dullard to go back on her pre-election promise not to do introduce the kind of tax she introduced yesterday – is going to cost them. Of course if the ALP have anything to do with things it’s going to cost the Greens instead.

AN influential Labor strategist has called for the major parties to starve the Greens of preferences in a One Nation-style pincer movement designed to kill the party.
Former Victorian ALP secretary Stephen Newnham predicted the ALP and the Coalition would soon swap preferences to isolate the Greens federally and at a state level.
Mr Newnham, a prominent figure in right-wing Labor politics, is considered one of the leading forces in the ALP for having predicted the rising threat of the Greens and the need to expose their policies. Between 2005 and 2009, he ran the Victorian ALP and was one of several figures who stressed that the Greens could become a major threat, particularly in key inner-city streets.
Mr Newnham said the Victorian Liberal Party’s decision to preference against the Greens at the last state election in key seats would herald the beginning of the end of the major parties preferencing the Greens.
“The last (Victorian) election was potentially the greatest strategic disaster for the Greens in this country,” he said.
“And the reason it was such a disaster was, for the first time, a major party preferenced them last and won a narrow election, arguably on the back of doing it.”

And I’d be right behind that, and even voting for it, except for two little problems. I don’t think it speaks well of an electoral system if the biggest fish in the pond can get together and manipulate it with the intention of destroying a smaller opposing party, and, somewhat hypocritically, I’m not really much keener on the ALP or the Liberals either and wouldn’t shed a tear if it was done to both of them.

Still, it’s probably the Green tail wagging the ALP dog that we’ve got to thank for Jules going back on her promise not to introduce the kind of tax she introduced yesterday, so fuck ’em.

By any other name…

I’m all for the principle of everyone having the right to their day in court but sometimes I do wonder how the hell some people expect to have their day without being openly laughed at. The list of legal actions falling somewhere between the frivolous and the outright ludicrous is ever increasing, and from America we have one that may just top them all. A prison inmate, Gerard Domond, is suing the prison service for US$50 million for…

Actually, before I continue I should perhaps warn readers to carefully put down any food or drink well away from the computer and swallow anything they’d already taken a bite or slurp of before sitting back down and reading on, as this has the potential to ruin a few keyboards. Done that? Okay. Prison inmate Gerard Domond is suing the prison service for US$50 million for calling him a prison inmate. Yes, really. It’s stigmatising him, apparently.

THE family of a cold-blooded killer serving 25 years to life in state prison for shooting a man in the head complained he was being stigmatised by the use of the term “inmate”.

Okay, well it seems it’s actually his sister doing the suing, but still. And why does she have a problem with her prison inmate brother being called a prison inmate?

The label “implies that our brother is locked up for the purpose of mating with other men,” Marie Domond claimed in a lawsuit against New York State Correctional Services Department.

Yes, her surname is Domond and not Malaprop, and since her dear brother has been locked up since 1987 I find it difficult to believe that she’s only just heard that he’s been referred to as an inmate and that she doesn’t actually understand what the word means. For her benefit a quick visit to dictionary corner is in order (Webster’s since we’re interested in the American English definition), and it says anyone who is lawfully detained so as to take it up the Gary Glitter with monotonous regularity. No, of course it doesn’t. It says this:

I’ve checked a couple of other dictionaries and nowhere is there any suggestion that the word inmate implies any particular purpose in locking up people, least of all the specific purpose of encouraging hot botty man loving. In fact it doesn’t even necessarily mean that someone is locked up, although that is a common enough usage that the word probably does imply that someone is forcibly confined. Not that that helps the Domonds since Gerard is without doubt forcibly confined. So why is…

Acting as her own lawyer…

Ah. I’ve never been a fan of that lawyers’ sneery line about someone representing themselves having a fool for a client, but I have to admit that there’s probably something in it now and then. This might be one of those times.

Acting as her own lawyer, Marie insists: “The suggestive nature of the word is disgraceful. This cruel psychological programming has weighed heavily on our emotional and psychological well-being.
“I couldn’t understand why no one recognized that somebody being labeled an inmate, why they wouldn’t recognize that.”

Oh, good grief.

“It’s something that’s bothered me for a long time.”

But, and I’m assuming for the moment that all of that is genuinely meant, it doesn’t seem to have bothered her enough either to have questioned why nobody else has been bothered by the use of the word over the centuries or to have done anything about it until only a couple of years before Gerard may get out. Ignoring the possibility that fingers may be crossed in the hope of a fat windfall coinciding with whatever they call release on licence in New York state, it doesn’t seem like it’s been much of a priority, does it?

“To me it just sounded very wrong,” said Marie.

Oh, well, if it sounds wrong then clearly it must stop and he be referred to as something else forthwith.

How about ‘murderer’?

Contract traps

Back in January I blogged about the upcoming Melbourne Grand Prix, its ongoing cost to Victorian taxpayers, the fact that we were stuck with it because the previous Premier, John Brumby, signed a contract which Bernie Ecclestone is, not unreasonably, expecting the government to stick to, and that I thought this was very, very wrong.

… I do, reluctantly, have to side with Bernie Ecclestone when the unpleasant little prick points out that he has a contract.

Mr Ecclestone, chief executive of the London-based Formula One Group, told 3AW yesterday that the amount of money the Victorian government had to pay to his organisation for the rights to the race could not be re-negotiated.

”Whatever the contract says is what it will be,” Mr Ecclestone said.

And though I loathe the man both for screwing Victorian taxpayers and for adding more negatives than positives to what was once one of my favourite sports, he’s absolutely right – a contract entered into honestly must be kept, even when it’s not doing one party any favours. If we lose contracts, if agreements between parties can be rewritten unilaterally by one of them, then we’re all fucked.

But saying that is it right that a contract can be signed that affects third parties against their will? I’m not talking about the way governments commit taxpayers to shell out for things they might feel they neither want nor need, or at least not just about that. But here we have Bernie Ecclestone pointing out that he’s got a contract with someone who did not sign it and who seems unhappy with the uneven terms he’s been committed to by his predecessor, and, since the contract is until 2015, the year after the next state election is due, might not even be in office when it comes time to renew it. …

Now that can’t happen in normal life, but because it’s a government signing deals it’s believed that it’s different for some reason. … With a government it affects everyone whether they like it or not, and the opportunities to oppose moves are limited to protests that may be ignored and elections several years apart. In this way in 2008 the last Premier, John Brumby – who was not even elected Premier by the people of Victoria but was voted in by his own party to replace Steve Bracks, the guy who actually won the election and then resigned less than a year into the term – was able to sign Melbourne and Victoria up for a further five years beyond 2010, the year in which the Grand Prix contract would have expired.

But I’m not completely unreasonable and felt that there could be a fair solution.

So if Ted Baillieu is pissed off about this and also wants to make a mark as Premier I have a suggestion for him. It won’t fix the problem for him but it is something radical that will prevent subsequent Premiers from screwing their eventual successors the same way. … Make all contracts signed by the government constitutionally limited to a maximum of four years or two years beyond the date of the next election, whichever comes first, unless approved by a referendum. This prevents a government from cursing the one after it with the need to abide by shitty contracts that it can’t change for the whole term or possibly even longer. At the worst this would mean a half term of being stuck with a poor deal, though a new government committed to ending it would be able to prepare to do so long before that, and while electorates still remembered who’d signed the thing in the first place. But it would still allow medium term contracts of 2-3 years to be agreed late in a parliamentary term, which should be a motivator for the contractor to provide something of value in order to maximise their chances of seeing it renewed by the next government. And if something really, really has to be agreed for a longer term there’s still a mechanism to allow for it – simply agree pending a referendum and put it to the voters themselves.

And the reason I bring all this up again is that another one of John Brumby’s timebombs is ticking away in our laps: the Wonthaggi desalination plant.

I’ve mentioned this white elephant in passing once or twice before, and blogged briefly on the hare brained idea to use taxpayers’ money to compensate the losing bidder and the irony that something designed to secure Melbourne’s water supply against warble gloaming induced drought has been damaged by flooding months before it’s even ready to be switched on, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned that the cost is $5 billion or so. What I may have missed out is that once again Victoria and it’s current government were contractually committed to the bloody thing by – wait for it – the previous government under John Brumby, now comfortably in opposition and one step removed. And because the news is quite recent I’m quite certain that I haven’t mentioned that the builder is now expected to miss the agreed December opening as construction is six months to a year behind, partly because of all that rain we’re not supposed to get anymore and the lack of which requires a five billion dollar desal plant to cope with.

Now let me ask you this: if you were signing a contract to have something delivered by a certain date, and subsequently the whatever it is turns out to be so far behind schedule that there’s no hope of it being ready on time (and possibly, though only incidentally, no longer necessary), wouldn’t you expect to be able to get out of the contract without penalty or at least to be compensated for the late delivery? I bloody would. I mean a day or two and I’d probably just bitch and moan and give them a bollocking about it when they finally did arrive, but there’d come a point where I’d be on the phone telling them that either I get a refund or a sufficiently large discount to make me forgive their failure to live up to their end of the deal. But of course the less than wonderful world of government doesn’t work like that, and just as Britain’s Ministry of Defence signs contracts that mean they don’t just have to pay for late delivery but actually have to pay extra so Victoria’s last government signed a contract that the contractor seems to believe makes the fucking state rather than themselves liable for the delay. And so they’re making noises – and the fucking front this must take must be almost unquantifiable – about suing the state of Victoria because they’re now expecting to make only about $6 million profit.

Construction giant Leighton yesterday acknowledged the project had become a physical and financial quagmire, dogged by bad weather, poor productivity and extraordinary underestimates on design, construction and materials costs.

The company revealed it now expected to make just $6 million profit from the desal project, a fraction of the initially anticipated $288 million.
It would not rule out suing the state government, raising alarm bells for taxpayers already facing a $24 billion bill over 28 years for the controversial public-private partnership project. ”[We] will be pursuing our rights to recover what we believe we are entitled to,” said Leighton chief executive David Stewart.

The mind just fucking boggles. Look, I’m terribly sorry to hear that their investment isn’t going to deliver the kind of profits they’d hoped, but my sympathy is tempered by the fact that the taxpayers are still going to have to shell out on it and the fucknuts who signed us up to this will be in his 80s by the time its 28 years are up. Oh, and also by the fact that they do still expect to make a profit, even if it is much less than hoped for because of the cost overruns and because, slightly to my surprise, the last government did put in a penalty clause.

As forecast in The Age last week, Leighton said it was unlikely to meet the December deadline to produce desalinated water, and had allowed for a $15 million penalty.
Mr Stewart said the company would ”target” a second deadline of June 2012 for full operation. But a senior insider described this as ambitious.
The company faces $1.8 million a day in penalties from June if the plant is not fully operational by then.

And now they want to sue the state government, which isn’t the one that actually signed the contract, and by extension the taxpayers who weren’t asked if they wanted to be sent the invoice but were always going to be the ones who had to pay? Because of bad weather, which you’d expect a contractor to allow for when submitting their tender, below forecast productivity rates, which you’d also expect them to allow for, and massive underestimates, which are surely nobody’s responsibility but their own, they want to sue us all for the money they think they should have made if everything had gone according to their sadly unrealistic plan. Their balls must be the size of the fucking moon.

So no matter whether he has stones big enough to tell them where to go, and to advise them exactly how much government work they can expect to be considered for in the future if they don’t take responsibility for their own late delivery of what has always been a contentious project, I repeat my earlier advice to Premier Ted Ballieu. Write an amendment to Victoria’s constitution which restricts the ability of the current government to sign a contract which binds its successors for more than half the next term unless approved by voters. As I said before, it doesn’t stop you doing long term deals with industry but it does oblige you and your successors to ask the people who’ll have to pay for it before you’re able to commit the next government to it as well. Write the amendment and submit it for referendum as soon as practical. If it was me I’d aim for sometime around a year from now – just after the 2012 Melbourne Grand Prix which we’re contractually obliged by the last government to host at great expense and just before the Wonthaggi desal plant is now hoped to be operational, and for which we’re also obliged to pay thanks to your predecessors.

You, your government and everyone living in the state are stuck with anything and everything Brumby and his predecessors agreed contracts for and which are still going today. We can’t do anything about that now without changing contract law and wrecking the principle that an agreement someone puts their signature to is a binding agreement, and despite the short term attraction that really is a can of worms we’re much better off not opening. But if you’re prepared to rise above politics and sacrifice your ability to stiff whatever government comes after yours the same way yours was stiffed by the last Labor governments – and no doubt they in turn were stiffed by the Coalition government before them – then you can give us all the chance to break the cycle.*

Come on, Ted, what do you say?

The Angry Exile checks skies for flying pigs, crosses his fingers and waits… more in hope than expectation, sadly.

* In fairness to Brumby, and Bracks and Kennet and so on, I’m not suggesting that any of them did deliberately sign a shitter in the expectation of making life difficult for whoever came along next. I’m sure that nearly all politicians really believe that they’re acting in everybody’s best interests when they do this kind of thing, but unfortunately they are often poor judges as to what’s in the best interests of millions of disparate individuals. In addition as long as the ability to sow poison for your opponents in office exists you can be certain that now and again there will be someone willing to do so. Better for all that governments of all stripes lose the ability altogether.

Red light spells wanker

I should probably apologise to Billy Ocean for that title, but then the paternalist idiots who dreamed up these traffic light food nutrition labelling schemes should also apologise. To everybody. Because it turns out they’re a complete waste of time.

Deakin University researchers said their study was the first in Australia to use supermarket sales data to analyse the impact of such labelling on food purchases. The study, published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, follows the recommendation by an expert panel for Australia to adopt a system of ”multiple traffic light labelling” giving red, amber or green lights for various nutrients such as fat and sugar.
Lead researcher Gary Sacks, of Deakin University’s WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, said various studies had shown that consumers liked the idea of traffic light labelling because it was easier to understand than other forms of nutritional information.

And possibly easier to understand is desired because it’s easier to ignore.

But the study, established to ”try to test how people respond to it in real life”, found such labelling did not result in people buying healthier foods…
… product sales did not change during a 10-week trial.

All that nudging only to be ignored by consumers in favour of buying what they enjoyed eating. And what must really be upsetting the righteous nanny state bansturbators about this is that they can’t blame it on low income types buying cheap, shit food.

Researchers said the trial was affected by the demographics of online grocery shoppers – who were typically educated and wealthy – and its limited scope.

Limited scope I can see since it was only a ten week trial, but that demographic? Not low income chip addicts but educated and cashed up. That’s practically the target group for early conversion to the lowfatfreerangelowcarbglutenfreeorganicfairtradereducedsaltstrengththroughjoy food range, isn’t it? And here the ungrateful bastards are, exercising personal choice? How very fucking dare they, the nannies must be clucking.

Well, take the hint and burn off, and take your traffic light labels with you. If I want to know what’s in it I’ll look at the ingredients. If I want to know about the nutritional content I’ll look at that too. If it’s not that important to me then, astoundingly enough, I won’t fucking look at any of it no matter how easy to understand you attempt to make it. You nannies may make nutrition the number one factor in your food buying decisions but it’s simply not always a factor at all for other people. We’re not all the same, do you see? For many of us price is the biggie, and for many others it’s taste, and because I look at food as something rather more than fuel to sustain my body that’s always going to be my priority. Of course I’m going to turn my nose up at something tasty if it’s full of plutonium but a bit of fat, salt or sugar? Life is for living, guys. It’s not supposed to be an endurance contest. The only red lights I’m interested in spell “cooked” and perhaps “rotisserie chicken”.

And “danger” if you’re a T junction or Billy Ocean.

Intolerance needs to have a price

And that price must be the business of those who smoke, those who can’t bear the self righteous intolerance of the anti brigade and those who recognise the truth that Martin Niemöller laid out for us all those years ago: that when the hate fuelled are finished with one group of people they’ll move onto another, and then another and another. The march is relentless and sooner or later we will all hear the boots marching in our direction, unless we stop them. And a good way of doing that is to starve the bastards of what they need most – money.

Since the anti-smoking zealots set the ball rolling and are furthest along in their aim of reshaping a free would into one under their authority they deserve much of our attention, and since they, like most of the rent seekers and parasites who want to control others’ lives, rely largely on government largesse one obvious way to hurt them is to pay less tax. Zaphod, Smoking Hot and Pat Nurse are among those who bring their smokes in from abroad, while Leg-iron is progressing from rolling his own into growing it as well (and not the only one as Pat Nurse blogs here) and has also been a leading light of what he calls Smoky-Drinky Place. All of which is very admirable of them, not to mention practical too, but obviously is only a way of fighting back for those who are smokers. For those of us who simply stand with them for whatever reason it’s no weapon at all (well, the drinky bit of Smoky-Drinky Place is for those who drink, which is probably a healthy majority).

So what can the rest of us do? Well, we can still pay less tax by looking into all legitimate means of minimising our tax exposure, and if we are also drinkers looking at home brewing has got a lot going for it. Drinkers should be aware by now that they’re the next in line anyway. But we can all refuse to deal with the antis and their supporters as a matter of personal choice. Which brings me on to a comment left by a fella by the name of Kevin on a post about anti-smoking zealots that I wrote a couple of weeks before Christmas, and in which I gave the example of a bloke in Ireland called Phillip Tobin who flat refuses to hire smokers:

… according to the firm concerned, not only might they take a smoke break (seems prejudicial) but even if they don’t they will smell and get ill, and they must be stupid – no more evidence being required for that last half-formed thought than that they chose to continue smoking.

“I would consider smoking as interfering with standards. I’m talking about smoking breaks but not only that – their smell, their intelligence, their illnesses are all factors. That’s why the line was there. Smokers will not be employed, so there is no point in coming for an interview.”

Interviewed on an Irish radio station, Tobin added that anyone who could continue to smoke despite health warnings was obviously not intelligent enough to work for his company.

This reminds me of the kind of spittle-flecked nicophobic hatred that Duncan Bannatyne spouts, the anti-smoking zealots favourite kind of anti-smoking zealot – a convert. Dear fuck, save me from people like Duncan Bannatyne and Phillip Tobin, and as Kevin suggests a step in the right direction is to give the bastards the flick and take your money elsewhere:

Oddly enough I was looking at possibly employing Tobin’s company (Dot Com Directories) for my company. We had earmarked 50,000 quid for the project but now, sadly, I’ll have to take his company off the list of potential suppliers because… well anyone stupid enough to make comments like he did is obviously not bright enough to handle our needs.

Please pass the word so others are not tempted to employ a company led by such a cerebrally challenged individual.

Good for you, Kevin, and sound advice for the rest of us whether we smoke or not. If there’s a practical alternative to doing business with a rabid anti-smoker, take it. If you’re giving someone a voucher for a weekend away or looking to take a break yourself don’t choose one of Duncan Bannatyne’s Strength Through Joy health camps clubs (even though at least one of his places does have smoking rooms*) but choose a competitor.

In short, starve the antis. They may get off on hatred, but they need our money to do it.

* Not, I notice, for disabled customers. I wonder what would happen if a disabled smoker wanted a room there that they could smoke in.

Fake Charities – UPDATED

I’ve been meaning to mention that the Devil has up and running again, and having been prompted by this over at JuliaM’s I’ve been over for a look. Nice look and easy to find the submission page, improved from the last version of Fake Charities by allowing the submission of genuine charities.* Perhaps the Devil is planning a Wall of Heroes to show the occupants of the Rogue’s Gallery how it should be done. Anyway, having downloaded their last couple of reports for a comment at Julia’s I decided to submit The Save The Children Fund, the particular not-quite-a-charity-really that Julia was writing about, to Fake Charities. £170.9m income in the 9 months to Dec 31st 2009, £90.9 of which came from institutional grants made up from both private and government sources. The lion’s share – about £75m – is government though, with the two largest sums coming from the UK government and the EU. The UK’s grants of just over £19 million (nearly all from the Department for International Development**) are more than 10% of the “charity’s” income on their own, but when you consider that the UK contributes significantly to the UN’s funding and the less said about its EU contributions the better, and also that many UK councils give grants as well, the British taxpayer is actually being taken for almost certainly in excess of £20 million. The previous couple of year’s financial activities show that this isn’t a one off so I submitted them to in the fake category.

And if anyone from Save The Children or who supports them, or who even just happens to be a fan of Princess Anne, wanders past and reads this, and gets angry about me submitting them as a fake charity because they do very good work you know, Exile, you curmudgeonly cunt, I’ll say this: yes, but that’s not the point. They may do outstanding work but what makes them a fake charity isn’t their work but that a large chunk of their income comes out of the involuntary contributions of taxpayers. I’d go so far as to say that they are particularly fake since they receive money taken by governments all over the world from their taxpayers, not just Britain’s. If they in fact do good work then it is sadder still that they’re doing this because when people become aware of it genuinely voluntary donations may be affected. I for one will not give them a cent in future because while this continues as far as I’m concerned I’ve already donated, and not by choice (yes, the Australian government is a contributor of grant money too).

Does a “charity” in receipt of tax money paid reluctantly under threat of violence deserve further voluntary donation from whatever a government chooses to leave in the pockets of the poor bastards who worked for it? I would say no, and so the message to anyone calling here collecting on behalf of such a “charity” is a simple one:

Same gate you came in, now sod off and tell the higher ups that I’ll start giving again when they stop getting governments to take it by force.

UPDATE – I was going to include this recent pithy comment on the subject but I couldn’t remember the source off the top of my head and it was late. After a little googling just now I see that it was Guido.

A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend.

That could go on tee shirts.

* At least I don’t recall it being there before but I may be mistaken.
** Recently I read Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo in which she tears apart the thinking that results in things like the DfID and proposes ways in which poor nations can develop themselves. Highly recommended reading if you haven’t already.

Not that I want to be all tinfoil hatty, but…

… what the fuck!?

Click for linky

Christ, there’s a good argument against monopoly currency in one nation. One currency for the whole world? The answer’s no. Go fuck yourself in the eye.

Must be nice…

… to be a self obsessed media whore with ridiculous fake tits a celebrity if only for the extra police attention you get.

I bet they’d even turn up in twenty minutes if she got burgled.

In a short video of the incident posted on YouTube, a police car can be seen holding back traffic behind Ms Price’s silver Range Rover as it speeds away.
A scrolling message in the police vehicle’s rear window reads “Rolling road block, hold back”, as traffic on the M25 was reportedly slowed to 50mph to assist the 32-year-old.
An official complaint about the incident was made to Surrey Police on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the force insisted that the officer who created the roadblock had done the right thing.
“We support the officer and there is no case to answer,” he said.
“There was a call made regarding a convoy of vehicles. That officer took stock of the situation and decided to intervene,” he added.

What “convoy”? The cryin’, talkin’, shaggin’, walkin’ living cosmetic surgery sample was in just one car, so the convoy was presumably all those other cars you can see briefly through the rear windscreen of the car the camera was in. Were they all paps? You checked? Not one regular member of the public simply wishing to go about their daily business, quite unaware that they were sharing the road with a celebrity cock holster?

Paparazzi – known for using small coupés, trucks, light vans and single rider motorbikes


It’s practically a given that this inconvenienced members of the public, but fuck ’em, eh? It seems that as far as the plod are concerned members of the public are not as important as a media-addicted parody of a Sid James wank fantasy with a pulse when, for a change, she isn’t in the mood for press attention.

No, Surrey Police, I think there is a fucking case to answer here. Katie Price has chosen the life she has, and done inexplicably well out of it. She chose long ago to make a living from courting media attention and she should therefore expect that getting attention from the media is going to be a part of that – in fact it’s kind of the entire fucking point. If she was delusional enough to believe that she was ever in control of the media, ever able to turn off their attention when she wasn’t in the mood for it, then she’s a bigger fool than I took her for. The reality of choosing that life is that the paps will occasionally turn up without an appointment and want to get photos to help shift piles of magazines with titles like Wotcher! and Slebs and Ooooohlook, and not being in the mood for it doesn’t give her the right to call you lot in to inconvenience other people while trying to control the cars with press in them. Fuck, it doesn’t even give her the right to have you inconvenience the press. In my imagination the conversation should have gone something like this.

Ring ring. Ring ring, Ring ri –

Surrey Police, Sergeant Exile speaking.  … Yes, and your name, please? … As in the basketball player? … Ah, yes. And your actual name? … I, C, E, yes, thank you. And what exactly can we … Right … Okay … And where are they doing this? … On the M25? … I’m not sure there’s much we can do … Well, they’re on a public road, you see, and so are you. You’ve each got as much right to be there as each other, and if they want to take pictures of someone in a public place they can. … Yes, I might be inclined to call them that too. … Yes, and that. … Maybe not that, though. … But look, none of this changes the point that they’re in public and so are you and you don’t have any reason to expect a right to your privacy in public areas. If they were in your garden looking through your windows, yes, but not on a public road. … Sorry, but that’s just how things are. … Look, I’ll tell you what. We’ll send a car or maybe two along with instructions to keep an eye things and pull over any of them for any kind of unsafe driving, but if they get there and everyone is driving sensibly and safely then I’m afraid you’ll just have to put up with it. … Well, I’m sorry you feel that way. … Yes, goodbye.

Instead it seems to have been “Yes, Ms Price, how high Ms Price?” and fuck everyone else on the road. And in the absence of any info to suggest that any paps were pulled I can only assume that they were all driving safely and responsibly. If not then we should also be asking why the fuck the plastic-titted one was considered more important than stopping an idiot for a nice long roadside discussion of their driving.

Any way you cut it I think there is a case for Surrey Police to answer here. It will be mildly entertaining if this all rebounds on Katie Price – and I think the paps will be even happier to go with the ‘Jordan sics police on paparazzi to clear M25 just for her” angle than they would have with “Jordan in a Range Rover just sitting there not doing much” – then it serves her right. I can’t understand what the fascination is with someone who seems to have been put on this earth just to make Sally Bercow look good, and if she manages to annoy the media into turning on her before dumping her altogether then that’s fine by me. But what really pisses me off is that the police’s role is likely to get forgotten before long. “With you, making Surrey safer” is apparently their slogan at the moment, and it’s laughably inappropriate. “With the wealthy, powerful and famous, making Surrey less free” would be far more like it.

Oh well, at least they’ve stopped treating photographers as suspected terrorists.

Was it something I said?

I don’t generally go in for looking too much at my visitor stats, being the fragile soul I am and unsure if my delicate ego can take it if neither of my readers show up one day (hi, Mum). But as I mentioned earlier I have looked today just out of long dormant curiosity about what search terms people have been using, and while they were a bit boring by comparison with some of the lunacy that takes people to some other blogs I did notice that I’ve had an awful lot of visitors in the past 24 hours. Much of it is from the US and it’s mostly going to one F-bomb strewn post about the increasing levels of airport security theatre in general and those bloody airport body scanners in particular.

I’d like to expand on that earlier post a little by telling you about the moment when for me airport security jumped the shark so hugely that there was room for several full grown Megalodons tucking into an eight course whale banquet underneath. This was at London’s Heathrow airport in early 2003, just a few month after someone shot at (and missed, thankfully) an Israeli airliner with surface to air missiles as it left Mombasa airport in Kenya for Tel Aviv.

… it was the missile attack at the Mombasa airport that sent shivers around the world, even though the stingers missed the Tel Aviv-bound plane with 271 people aboard.
Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a very serious escalation of international terrorism.”
“Today, they’re firing the missiles at Israeli planes. Tomorrow, they’ll fire missiles at American planes,” he said.

Whether it was some concrete intelligence or whether it was just a feeling in Britain that if it could be American planes then it could as easily be British too, and so began what seemed to me to be the most high profile but completely fucking pointless security operation at Heathrow airport. From the BBC:

The deployments of troops at Heathrow Airport has once again highlighted the danger to airliners from shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles in the hands of terrorists.

Although there has been no confirmation of the specific threat to UK airports, speculation is rampant that the current state of alert has been sparked by fear of a missile attack.

The Daily Mail:

Meanwhile, a heavy military presence was in place at Heathrow as London remained on a heightened level of security alert amid fears of a possible terrorist attack.
Scotland Yard has refused to reveal the substance of the threat but terror experts said it pointed to a possible missile attack on a plane similar to the one carried out by al Qaeda terrorists in Kenya last year.

The Indie:

The plan seems to have been to fire a shoulder-held anti-aircraft missile at a commercial airliner taking off from Heathrow. Members of al-Qa’ida are known to possess the Russian-built Strela-2 missile, better known as the SAM-7, which has a height range of 3,000 feet. They have used the weapon before in attempted attacks, most recently when two missiles were fired at an Israeli charter aircraft taking off from Mombasa airport in Kenya last November. The Strela-2 can be fired from more than three kilometres away. It was also possible that they had obtained a Stinger air-to-surface missile made in America, which is even more powerful.

The Teletubbygraph:

A suspected Islamist plot to fire a missile at an airliner prompted the largest security operation at Heathrow for a decade yesterday.
Tony Blair personally authorised the use of 450 troops, with armoured vehicles, to back up more than 1,300 police officers.
Soldiers from the 1st Bn Grenadier Guards and Household Cavalry, carrying semi-automatic weapons, patrolled the terminals and the 17-mile perimeter road.

Al-Qa’eda is believed to have a stock of shoulder-launched surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, some capable of reaching targets at a height of 10,000ft and up to five miles away.

Assuming that they’d want to shoot at aircraft landing or taking off, five miles from Heathrow’s runways means attackers would have something like the red area in which to shoot from, possibly a bit more or a bit less depending on how quickly planes departing or arriving at the airport pass in or out of that 10,000 foot ceiling. So potentially all of Staines and Ashford would need watching, plus the outskirts of Windsor

Click to enlarge – 

Egham, and Slough. And then there’s all of Hounslow and Isleworth too. And all those fields and roads and so on. Whether they’d want to attack from a rural location where they’d hope to remain unseen or an urban area where they might hope to disperse or near a main road for a fast escape, there’s a lot of choice.

So what protection did Heathrow get to deal with this threat and cover the 150 or so square miles it might come from?

… 450 soldiers at Heathrow, using armoured Scimitar and Spartan reconnaissance vehicles, were deployed throughout the airport from dawn as the first of the day’s 150,000 passengers began checking in.

So about three soldiers per square mile if they were evenly spread, but since they were all hanging around the fucking airport the real average beyond the airport itself must have been close to zero.

Click images for links to Life originals

And excuse my layman’s ignorance but what the fuck were they going to do there? Seriously? The Scimitar is an armoured reconnaissance vehicle with a 30mm cannon firing a variety of ammunition up to 4,000 metres and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun in case you only need to make something lightly dead. While I’d be very reluctant to get on the wrong end of either of them I highly doubt that they’ve been used to shoot down many surface to air missiles, particularly if launched from a site and at a target beyond the 4,000 metre range of the Scimitar’s main weapon. So as far as I can see deploying troops in Scimitars was, to quote Malcolm Tucker, as much use as a marzipan dildo. The Spartan, being an armoured personnel carrier with just the machine gun, wasn’t even that useful.

So I ask again: what the fuck were the troops and armour for? Had the worst happened and some young lads with full balls and empty heads, too hopeful of getting laid in the next world to settle down and enjoy this one, actually got hold of a couple of Stingers and downed a plane – because the troops didn’t seem to have anything that would have stopped it – what exactly were they going to do? Presumably they could use their vehicles’ speed across country to close within range of the wreckage and… er… look at it for a bit until the fire brigade showed up and began hosing down the burning debris. Perhaps you might be thinking that there was an unaired possibility of a car attack like the one at Glasgow airport in 2007, but if so I still don’t see what good they’d be. Let me put it like this: hands up anyone who likes the idea of machine gun fire and 30mm cannon shells flying around one of the world’s busiest airports.

Anyone? Anyone at all?

No, thought not.

So it seems to me that their purpose was never to be an effective counter to possible missile fire but to be seen, to make the threat seem credible, to make people think it was being taken seriously if the Army was being deployed, and to give everyone the illusion of being safer.* And look, who knows? Maybe there was a lot of other stuff going on with the police, Special Branch, MI5 etc behind the scenes to make sure a missile wouldn’t be launched in the first place. That seems likely to me but it certainly wouldn’t require the support of 450 soldiers in light tanks hanging around outside the terminals who weren’t equipped for doing much in the event of an attack but standing guard while someone else swept up the fucking wreckage unless, by some miracle, a spectacularly stupid terrorist chose to set up to fire a SAM within range of a 30mm and without any innocent civilians in the way.

So that was when and where I stopped taking it seriously, and I’ve looked at it all with a critical eye ever since. As a practical matter I don’t worry about flying because the odds are really very good for each individual passenger, but I’d feel absolutely no safer as a result of all this crap we’re put through before we’re allowed to fly and certainly not from seeing troops equipped for battle with Soviet patrols blocking the entrance to the fucking car park. As I keep saying, the Israelis don’t bother with this bullshit and they’re surrounded by people who want them dead. More to the point, I object to being treated like a suspect when there is no earthly reason I should be. I doubt I look or act like a loony bomber and I imagine the only profile I fit is that of an annoyed bastard who objects to having to turn up so early for an international flight because of all the fucking security procedures that it’s fast becoming possible to spend more time in the fucking airports at either end than in the fucking air between them.

And here’s a thought – almost certainly neither do you! And if we don’t then why the fuck are we having to pay for the privilege of being treated this way?

Well, I won’t. Flying doesn’t scare me but it does bore me, and these days it also offends me. For that they should be paying me to get on the fucking plane! Until something changes I simply won’t fly unless circumstances absolutely force me to. This is a bloody big country and that choice sometimes means either a long drive or bus ride or a slightly faster but very expensive train journey, and obviously all international trips would mean a very long swim. So the bastards know they’ll get me on a plane now and then – for my last trip to Perth I didn’t have time to go overland and had to grit my teeth through the bullshit, especially when I forgot about shoe checks and showed up in hiking boots – but if at all possible I’ll drive straight past the airport, window down, arm extended and middle finger raised to the unfriendly skies.

And I recommend it to anyone.

Edited to add: link fixed. Thanks for the heads up to Sadbutmadlad.

* And maybe, just maybe, to build the foundations for people to accept far more expensive and intrusive security theatre later.

Missing the point.

I suppose the effort should be acknowledged, and no doubt it’ll be more than enough of a concession for some people, but scanners which show a gingerbread style line drawing instead of some false colour image of me with my dick waving around is not going to tempt me to fly again.

The US Transportation Security Administration yesterday began rolling out new airport scanner software that produces less revealing images of travellers.

The new software “enhances privacy by eliminating passenger-specific images and instead auto-detects potential threat items and indicates their location on a generic outline of a person,” the TSA said.

What the fuck are you smiling about?

Now I do realise that many people do have a nudity taboo and many others have reason to be less than proud of their bodies, and so this is the principle concern for a lot of people. However, I feel I must explain something both to those people and to those involved in installing all this security theatre in airports:

We are not all fucking terrorists, you fucking bell-ends.

There is no practical purpose served by authoritarian cockweasels spending vast sums on questionable technology to be used on overwhelmingly innocent people, especially when the fuckknuckles then ignore the possibility of a bomb going off in the fucking queues they themselves have fucking created with this shite.*

I don’t stay away because you want to look at my knob in a scanner. I don’t even stay away because of the possible health risks of the scanners or because you’ll want to cop a feel if I refuse to be scanned. I stay away because I am not a fucking terrorist and there is absolutely cube root of fuck all evidence for any fucker to believe otherwise, so I refuse to be treated like a fucking suspect by humourless apes with polyester uniforms and 200 word vocabularies. If I don’t need to be on the other side of an ocean or continent in a hurry badly enough to make it worth my while putting up with hours of interminable queueing for securiteee – to have my shoes X-rayed and my luggage X-rayed and my pockets checked and my mouthwash sniffed and my drinks bottle measured and any harmless everyday objects, obvious toys or tee shirts with intimidating if unintelligible writing confiscated for some fuck to take home later, and finally to be made to stand in a giant open ended fucking microwave and have my bollocks warmed for little or no fucking benefit – if it’s not important enough to go through all that then, to be blunt, I’m not fucking going. Especially when it’s all so fucking unnecessary.

So turning me into a gingerbread man on the fucking monitor is not going to tempt me back. You’ll see me when you fucking learn how to treat me as a paying customer again, you cunts.

Fuck. You. All.

* Yes, I know that the Moscow bomb went off in arrivals. That doesn’t change the point that the possibility of one going off in the queue for one of the various new security measures is still there.