Blog Archives

Oh, fuuuuuh (Fit the Second)

High cost of energy? Are you keeping up, carbon tax fans? And while we’re on the subject, what the fuck is all this crap about a London style congestion tax (fortunately given the flick by the Victorian government – see, fellas, you can get something right) when it turns out that car use has fucking declined over the last six years?

Is this genuine idiocy or is it a secret plan to tackle immigration concerns by making the place so ridiculously expensive to live that no bugger wants to come here anymore?

‘Kinell. I’m off for a shit – who do I make the cheque out to when I flush the bog?

Sorry, but I did not order the late night snack or the earthquake

I’ve not had to argue hotel bills too often in my life. I avoid the ridiculous phone call rates by using my mobile, I won’t use the internet for much the same reason unless it’s included, I steer clear of the minibar and its stupidly overpriced contents, where possible I pay as I go for food and drinks, and it should go without saying that there’s no way I’m going to watch their ruinously expensive porn channels. That way when I’ve checked out I’ve not had to do much more than make sure the number of days I’m being billed for is right and that the room service bill is for what I ordered and nothing more. On one or two occasions I’ve had to argue that I didn’t get a paper or a club sandwich that they thought I’d had but generally I’ve been able to glance at hotel bills, pay and leave. Simple as.

I’ve never been stayed in an hotel when it got hit by an earthquake either, but it would never have occurred to me that that would be a reason not to pay even for things I did have.

A guest trapped in Christchurch’s earthquake-hit Hotel Grand Chancellor for nearly four hours feels “kicked in the guts” after being billed $NZ300 ($A232) (£155, US$247, €173, blahblahblah I’m not doing it in Harry Potter money, I’m just not – AE) for his stay.

Well, if the earthquake had prevented him from staying there then fair dos, but as we’ll soon see that’s not exactly how it was.

A New Zealand man and his wife, who declined to be named, were trapped on the central Christchurch hotel’s 22nd floor and escaped hours later by braving collapsed staircases, smashing down doors and crawling on to the roof of an adjacent car park.
[…]
He received a $NZ300 bill from the hotel for his two-night stay, including an $NZ18 parking fee for a car that took more than two months to recover.
[…]
When the February 22 quake struck, the couple were watching a movie for which they were billed $NZ15.20, in their 25th-floor room.

Okay, so since they were in their room watching a movie and their car was parked downstairs I think it’s safe to say that they’d checked in. In fact they were very checked in.

The couple have been unable to get an insurance payment for the $NZ15,000 worth of luggage stuck in the hotel because their insurer says the belongings could still be recovered.
They had so much luggage because they were about to move to Australia.

Now it might be a bit shitty of their insurer to deny a claim for possessions that are stuck in a damaged building to which there is no public access and which has been scheduled for demolition, but that’s not the hotel’s fault. And if all that stuff is still in there then I think it’s safe to say that the couple were in the hotel and using its services – parking, TV entertainment (hopefully not some Roland Emmerich disaster porn – that’d be unreasonably cruel of life) and accommodation – at the time.

So what’s the problem with being billed for it? The earthquake trapped their possessions and their car, and presumably they didn’t see the end of the flick, but it didn’t erase time and undo their use of the hotel facilities. It was desperately bad luck compounded by an unsympathetic insurance company (is there another kind?) but the hotel company was unlucky too – they have a large and unusable building sitting there and the expense of demolition and reconstruction to look forward to, and their insurers are probably no more cuddly than that of the unnamed couple. The earthquake wasn’t the hotel’s fault and about the only thing you can criticise them for is the time it’s taken to send out the bill. Even then…

[Grand Chancellor Australia and New Zealand group manager Frank Delli Cicchi] said many guests who checked into the hotel just before the quake had received their bills in the past few days because the company had only recently gained access to the accounts, which were trapped in another quake-damaged building in the city.

So they weren’t actually able to send out bills until recently. I’m finding it harder and harder to understand why it is that the hotel shouldn’t get paid for the services it provided up to the point the quake hit. Look, if I ordered a pizza and set it down on the table before something happened that meant we had to abandon it and get out of the house, can I ring up the pizza company and expect my thirty bucks back? Of course not – they’ve provided what I asked for and whatever happens after that isn’t their problem. Anything they do do is out of the goodness of their hearts and not because I have any kind of right to expect it. So how can this be different?

Even more confusingly the hotel group has caved in and waived some of the bills, including that of the anonymous couple, but not all of them. Whether they are billing guests or not now depends not on whether the guests used the hotel’s services but on whether they were inside or outside when the earthquake happened.

[Delli Cicchi said he] did not know how many trapped guest had been sent bills. Guests who were not in the hotel when the quake struck were still expected to pay their bills, he said.
“They legitimately incurred costs.”

And how did people who were in the hotel somehow not legitimately incur costs? How does whether a guest pops out for a stroll around Christchurch or kicks back and watches a film in their room alter whether they’d legitimately incurred costs? Do I have to lick a special kind of toad to make sense of this or something?

And above all, why are those who’ve been let off having to pay for goods and services they did in fact receive and consume still complaining?

After contacting New Zealand’s The Press, the man received a phone call from a Grand Chancellor accountant who said the bill would be waived.
The man said he was still upset.
“I would never send something like that.”

I can’t think why not. If I’d done some work for someone and was about to send him an invoice when I heard that a tree had fallen on his car written it off I’d be sympathetic to the poor guy. I’d probably phone him first and talk to him about it, maybe see if he needed a little flexibility on my part. But if he told me that he thought I shouldn’t get paid at all I’d say I hope his chooks turn into emus and kick his dunny down as well.* I’d feel for the guy and I’d try to help out if I could in his time of misfortune, but whatever had happened, even if he’d been in the car and narrowly escaped unharmed, it wouldn’t undo the work I’d done. Even if he’d been killed shouldn’t somebody still settle up with me? Estates still pay outstanding bills, after all.

Is it heartless of me to think that victims of bad luck and even quite serious natural disaster should still settle any debts they owe? And if not does it make a difference whether the bill comes from a small business or an international company with a dozen or so large and luxurious hotels?

* An Australian curse I came across not long ago. You’ve got to love what Aussies do with the language.

Aha Shake Nowt Break

Oh noes, we have teh erfquakes.

Click for linky

We’re all going to di… oh, wait.

MORE aftershocks are expected after Victoria’s south was rocked by two earthquakes, including a magnitude 4.4 tremor felt in Melbourne, more than 100km from its epicentre.

The shallow magnitude 4.4 earthquake, which hit at 11.32am (AEST), was felt in Melbourne’s CBD and the city’s southeastern suburbs.

Look, it doesn’t become an 8.8 if you say it twice, you know. There have been a few of these in the last couple of years, the epicentres apparently being in the Korumburra area – or under it, presumably – and to be honest I haven’t even felt them all. If you’re driving a 4.4 wobble is either soaked up by the car’s suspension or indistinguishable from the regular wobbles from imperfections in the road surface, of which Melbourne has no shortage what with having a substantial tram network. Oh, and some shit roads too. As for the possibility of aftershocks, well, we got those after the 4.6 quake in early 2009 but since most were much smaller few got any attention from anyone but the scientists. So why the hell are we hearing stuff like this:

“You would think a truck had driven through the pub.”

Or this:

“It sounded like a truck was approaching up the street and then it was as if the truck had run into the building…”

Orly? Like this kind of thing, you mean?

No? Well, then I think the description you’re looking for is something like “not like a truck hitting the building”. It’s like standing on a bridge when a truck, a big, long heavy truck like a road train, drives past at speed – you get that same shaking felt through your feet and it goes on for about as long as it takes a road train to cross a bridge. It’s weird, yes, and definitely a bit disconcerting, but it is not like having a truck, even a small one, hit your house. There’s a sort of clue in the lack of sudden sky and falling masonry. The poor bloody Kiwis have just had another 6.5 – the thick end of 1000 times more powerful – and even though they seem to have emerged unscathed this time I don’t think we here in Melbourne have any call to exaggerate how our little ≈4 mag wobbles feel, especially when at least one young Kiwi didn’t even notice theirs either.

@UpsideBackwards 8yo didn’t feel #eqnz because…. they were having an earthquake drill at the time! #couldntmakethisup

The Blairs’ trip Down Under

Thanks to Tom in the comments on yesterday morning’s blog about the grinning mutation coming to Melbourne and charging a thousand bucks a head to listen to him, I see that the Blairs are, as Tom describes it, taking tentative steps into the theme parks business.

Click for linky

The couple initially delighted parents at their 11-year-old son Leo’s school by agreeing to host the get-together at their seven-bedroom mansion near Chequers.
However, the mood of some parents darkened when they discovered that the Blairs were charging each person £10 for a seat on a coach from the school in Central London to the mansion in Buckinghamshire.
[…]
The Blairs have banned parents from driving directly to the estate for security reasons, asking parents to board the bus instead.
One mother of a child who is in Leo’s year said: ‘I’m livid. The Blairs are rich and can afford it, but lots of families in the area are poor.’

It has to be said that while there’s nothing wrong with it as such it’s not very sensible to combine being generous enough to host the event and then refuse to allow people to make their own travel arrangements, leaving them no alternative but to be charged for the transport the Blair’s are laying on. As a old Theme Park player I’d suggest they reduce the prices of the food a little but add lots of salt and then rip the arse out of the drinks prices, if that hasn’t already occurred to them.

However, if the speaking tour is cover for getting theme park ideas I have to say they’re starting in the wrong place. I think the theme parks are mostly up around the Gold Coast, 50 miles or so from Brisbane where they’re going the day after Melbourne. True, Melbourne does have a fair bit worth seeing and is a decent place to come for a visit, but it’s a bit light on theme parks except for old Luna Park in St Kilda. Oh, wait a moment…

Nah. Can’t be.

There goes the neighbourhood

Oh, Christ, who let him in?

Click for link… if you honestly believe I’d make this shit up 

Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister (1997-2007), makes his first speaking appearance in Australasia since leaving office, sharing his unique insights and experiences in leadership, negotiation and innovation.
[…]
Tony Blair, the politician who defines our times is one of the most engaging, respected and in demand speakers of his generation. In addition to his experience in office and his influence on world politics, Mr Blair continues to play a leadership role on issues such as faith and globalization, the Middle East peace process, Africa governance and climate change.

Hmmm. Maybe they’re talking about a different Tony Blair. I was thinking of the one who handed not only the country’s purse strings to a certifiably window-licking, phone-wrecking, spendthrift madman but also the job of PM when he eventually stepped down. The one who threw open Britain’s borders to everyone and anyone who wanted in and taxed his own citizens in order give money to the newcomers, the trigger happy prick who simultaneously committed military personnel to various gunfights around the world – not all of which were easily justified without the assertion that someone had weapons they didn’t really have that couldn’t have reached Britain even if they did exist – while depriving them of the equipment they needed to do what was asked of them effectively. I was thinking of the motherfucker whose ego and hubris led him to describe this last as being the hand of history upon his shoulder. I was thinking of the hypocrite who said that his government would be “purer than pure” and would have “no truck with anything improper” before both allowing parliamentarians to use the expenses system to feed off the taxpayers’ backs and indulging in a little nest feathering himself – exactly how much is a matter of speculation since the expense records for the Tony Blair I’m thinking of were inadvertently shredded.

But clearly the grinning mutation I’m thinking of is not the same as the one coming to speak in Melbourne because he… oh, wait. No, it must be the same one after all because tickets start at one thousand fucking dollars! And what do you get for your thousand bucks?

The evening will comprise of a sit down meal featuring an address by Tony Blair followed by a moderated question and answer session with the audience.

Moderated questions and answers, eh? There’s a shock. I take that to mean that $1,000 doesn’t get you the opportunity to wait politely for your turn to give the bastard a well deserved mouthful of abuse and that the only people speaking to his arseholiness will be those who’ve been carefully selected and screened beforehand. That just leaves the food, which for a grand a plate would have to be phenomenally good or served by Scarlett Johansson in the nude or both.*

Thanks all the same but I think I’ll give it a miss. However, it’d be nice to know if the man’s ghastly wife is in town that day too and what she’ll be wearing. I wouldn’t want to post something in her by accident.

* I suggest Scarlett Johansson partly because I know The Grim Reaper would like the idea and partly because the thought that a handful of people searching for “naked Scarlett Johanson” might come here and find me calling Tony Blair names instead gives me a little chuckle on an otherwise dreary winter morning.

Whaaaat?

Click for linky

What the fu… Matron!

Oh. Golf.

I had no idea that golf was something to be guilty about. Embarrassed, perhaps, but surely only the most eco-religious golfer feels guilt over a lost ball. I thought most of them end up being found by other golfers and added to their bag, and in fact I have a golfing friend who once proudly told me that he had never once bought a golf ball in his life – he just collects any he finds and tends to find more than he loses.

So biodegradable lobster golf balls, a solution looking for a problem? Could there be a better use for recycled lobster shells than being turned into environmentally sound golf balls, and has anyone ever checked to find out what the half life of a lost golf ball is anyway?

This evening these questions will occupy me for quite literally minutes. Well, the footy’s going to start soon.

Remind us, Barack…

… how goes the work for which you were preemptively awarded that Nobel Peace thingy?

Ah. And of course just like Cameramong you haven’t got round to dismantling any of your predecessor’s authoritarian legislation, on top of which you still have military in Iraq and Afghanistan and have now begun sabre rattling at Libya.

I’m sorry I asked.

A personal plea

Could all parts suppliers please just fucking admit that in the twenty-first century it should not take two and a half fucking months to move things that weigh a few hundred grams a couple of thousand miles, okay? Melbourne is not on the fucking moon, and even if it was NASA used to manage the trip in a few days. Even if you insist on rogering me for shipping and then sending the cunts by surface it surely shouldn’t take three weeks longer than an efficient company managed to move the contents of a whole fucking house from Southampton docks halfway around the fucking planet a few years ago. JIT, folks, do please look it up. It’s the new alternative to SIA.* Now, if you all take this point on board then perhaps I will not be left with nearly bugger all to do than play with myself for half a month before suddenly being buried by a fucking avalanche of shit that’s been on the back burner waiting for fucking parts that all fucking arrive at once.

I’d be so grateful.

* Sometime in autumn.

In space no one can hear you hurl

Only the Aussies could possibly Aussies could possibly think it important do develop a beer for drinking in space when Australia hasn’t got a space program. And probably only an Australian journo would claim that it’s getting priorities right.

WE might not have our own space program yet, but we sure as hell have our priorities right.
Two Australian companies have developed the very first space beer.
With the space tourism industry preparing for take off as early as next year — Saber Astronautics Australia teamed up with the Four Pines Brewing Company to develop the very first beer that can be consumed safely in space.

Human biology changes in zero gravity conditions. The tongue swells, the senses dull — altering the way food and drink tastes.
“This is a well known problem in the astronaut corps, in the space industry,” Dr Held told news.com.au.
“The longer people spend in space the more reduced flavours they detect.”
Saber’s first goal was to develop a recipe that people could enjoy comfortably.
“We also wanted to make the beer good to drink on earth as well. So the idea is you can drink this beer anywhere in the universe,” said Dr Held.
Saber picked a high-flavoured beer as a baseline recipe to ensure that space travellers could enjoy the full flavour of the smoky Irish style stout, no matter how long the flight duration.
“The gases and the liquids don’t like to separate in zero gravity,” said Dr Held.
“So we’ve reduced the carbonation a bit and given a really strong flavour to the beer.
“It’s actually one of the reasons I approached the Four Pines brewery in the first place, because their recipes, from the get go, are very tasty.”

The first swig is like a bit of a slap of cold air to the face – space beer really is smoky. But the flavour does grow on you, and has a wonderful aftertaste, kind of like a coffee in the morning.

More tests will need to be done to ensure humans can consume beer safely as they sail across the Milky Way.
“The blood alcohol content I think has broader implications for space tourism,” said Dr Held.
“Because you can have a lot of people going into space, surely some people are going to drink even if you tell them not to.
“We know that in aviation, an Australian footy player whose name I will not mention drank too much at high altitude, just on a regular flight — and when you’re drinking at high altitude your body doesn’t absorb it as quickly.
“So when he got on the ground after drinking a whole bunch of drinks, it hit him all at once and he got sick.”

Whahey! I fuckin’ love you, mate, your my besht mate. Give ush a kish, ya shoppy bardshtud.

And then comes the nanny.

“That’s the kind of effect we want to measure and avoid.”

And since Australia is also becoming strangely anti-grog with talk of lowering the drink driving limit from .05 to .02 and widespread support for extending a no drinking zone in Adelaide (despite the fact it’s not working) I can’t help wondering if it’s a good job Australia doesn’t have a space program. I have a nasty idea what it might end up looking like.

Would you mind opening your window, please sir.

WHOOOOOSH – aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Was he the pilot?

No, that’s me.

Did you know you were doing more than 24,000
km/h just now?

Yes, of course. We still are. We’re in low earth
orbit. You have to go 24,000 km/h just to get
up here in the first place.

Well, I’m afraid we’ll have to impound your re-entry
capsule for 48 hours. Hoon spaceflight legislation.

Hoon whaaaat? You’ve got to be kidding me.
It’s the laws of bloody physics.

I don’t enforce those laws, sir. Just the other kind.

But that’s ridiculous. We need it to get down
again.

You should have thought of that before, sir. There
anyone who can come up here and get you?

Not before we run out of air and not without
 doing bloody 24,000 km/h.

Now, you’re sounding a bit agressive and I notice a
couple of bottles of space beer floating about in there.
Have you had anything to drink?

No, of course I haven’t.

Well, I just need you to take a deep breath and blow
into this tube.

WHOOOSH – aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

You’re only making it worse for yourself by refusing, sir.

Tick tock

They’re not even waiting for Gaddafi to either get captured or do a runner.

UNABLE to contain the revolt that has overrun most of Libya and shredded support for him abroad, besieged dictator Muammar Gaddafi remained sequestered in his Tripoli compound yesterday as rebel military leaders planned moves to oust him.

With almost no chance of Colonel Gaddafi suppressing the uprising that began on February 17, civilian leaders in Libya’s second city of Benghazi are building an administration that will run the country before national elections can be held.

Can’t be long now. Wonder if he’s picked out a nice wall to stand against yet.

PS – Equatorial Guinea could probably take a lesson from the Libyans here.

THE son of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator commissioned plans to build a super yacht costing $US380 million, nearly three times what the country spends on health and education each year, says a corruption watchdog.

Global Witness has been urging Washington to institute sanctions against Teodorin Obiang, whose extravagant lifestyle includes a $US35 million mansion in Malibu, California, a $US33 million jet and a fleet of luxury cars, while earning a salary of just $US6799 a month as agriculture minister.

The government press office in Equatorial Guinea confirmed that the president’s son had ordered the yacht design, but said he ”then dismissed the idea of buying it”. It said that if the order had gone ahead, he would have bought it with income from private business activities and not ”with funds derived from sources of illegal financing or corruption”.

President Teodoro Obiang, who reportedly is grooming his son to succeed him as president, took power in a bloody 1979 coup.

Some days I feel that far too much of the world is being run by epic bastards. But sometimes I’m cynical and think all of it is being run by epic bastards.

Some people really are weapons grade cunts

Despite liberally sprinkling my posts with Anglo-Saxon on many occasions I try not to put swearwords in post titles too often if I can help it. However, it’s hard to avoid it when I read something like this.

Click pic for link – also at The Telegraph

The needle on my personal misanthropy meter went so sharply to the right of the dial that it broke the stop off, smashed through the side of the case and is now stuck a half inch deep in the wall. What kind of colossal übercunt does that? What kind of fucking parasite sinks that low? Actually using the word ‘parasite’ is a little unfair and I should probably apologise now, just in case I’ve offended any cases of amoebic dysentery that resent the comparison with cunts who take off their own kind in time of natural disaster. They might live in shit and spend much of their time making their victims feeling wretched and miserable, but at least parasitic amoebas don’t sink to doing it to their own kind.

Of course the unspeakable fucking mutations that were responsible almost certainly didn’t know they were looting the home of someone who’d died, that they were stealing the possessions of her grieving family. But they surely would have known that some people had died or at least that it was a strong possibility. The fact that there had been a fucking earthquake can’t have escaped their attention, for Christ’s sake. It’s not a huge mental leap to imagine that when looting damaged and unattended homes you might possibly be only one remove from fucking grave robbing.

Obviously I hope that they’re caught, that the New Zealand police and prosecutors nail them with a completely watertight case, and that the court chooses to impose the most severe sentences that it can to reflect the utter depths of bastardry and cuntishness that is using the damage caused by a fucking earthquake as an opportunity to steal. That’s certainly what ought to happen in a civilised society, but failing that some poetic justice would be appropriate… is it wrong of me to hope that a fucking building falls on them too?

Cunts.

Libertarians and cats – UPDATED

Before a cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend
Some little token of esteem
is needed, like a dish of cream.

T. S. Eliot

Why is it that so many in the libertarian leaning bit of the blogosphere have or like cats? I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes to think that they’re natural libertarians but I’ve been watching ours today and I’m not so sure anymore.

Take the Non Aggression Principle, and take the fact that one of our cats just chased the other the length of the house for no readily apparent reason. And no, it wasn’t a game if the hissing and growling was any indication.* Cats like to have a territory and defend it aggressively, and what’s that if it’s not protectionism? They hunt and kill not because they’re hungry but because it pleases them to do so. And the remains of those garden creatures whose last sight in this world was five kilos of striped doom are often brought to us, their human companions, for… well, for reasons best understood if you’re a cat, obviously. What have you got there? A battered but still slightly warm mouse? Why, thank you, it’s what I’ve always wanted. It’ll go just perfectly with the partially dismembered frog you gave me last weekend.

Libertarian?

And then there’s the whole thing with the domestic arrangements. We feed them, sometimes with food from our own plates – one of ours will literally take food out of your mouth.** We keep them in our houses and often provide per beds especially for their exclusive use, and they still want to get on our beds and sometimes even in our beds. That we might already be in there is irrelevant. We’re expected either to make room, stroke them, be a warm thing to sit on, or hold a book nice and steady so it can be nuzzled, butted and face-rubbed, and more private activities are permitted only if you don’t object to miaowing and scratching from the other side of the door. We are their healthcare provider and transport, as well as worming and flea control service. We praise them for being naturally clean animals but as often as not end up providing them with their own toilet facilities so they don’t have to go outside if it’s raining. And who cleans those toilet facilities and refills it with fresh litter? Yeah, that’s right.

And in return for all this they repay us by restricting the choice of furniture to something that is either claw-proof or too cheap to matter, and looking out for our safety by making us turn lights on while wandering the house at night so we can avoid any strategically placed hairballs and piles of sick. I’m sure they would keep mice and rats out of the granary if we had a granary, but since we don’t the arrangement seems a little one sided.

Nature’s libertarians? Orly?

Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy….Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people (expensive girlfriends, for instance) that it’s often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.

P. J. O’Rourke

Perhaps the appeal is choice. Without having a practical need we choose the company of these preternaturally self-centred creatures knowing that we’ll have to provide so much for them. But what we get back is knowing that they stay with us because they choose to, and that they’ll seek out a hand to nuzzle or a lap to sit on not because they’re hungry or want warmth, but simply because they feel like being near us. So tomorrow morning when the retarded, howling vomit boxes decide they want breakfast about 45 minutes before either of us are really ready to wake up they’ll be forgiven. Because this evening they will, as usual, follow us into the bedroom and curl up by our knees, happily burbling away to themselves as we fall asleep.

What it comes down to is that when a creature that’s both utterly self-absorbed and afflicted with raging attention deficit disorder chooses to spend its time in your company of its own free will, it’s paying you the highest compliment it can.

The dog, on the other hand, just thinks you’re the boss.

UPDATE – Awwwwwww, cute!.

* Normally they get on but now and then a small war happens. Before long things are peaceful again. Cat lovers with more than one probably know this.
** Mrs Exile said I should never have been lying face up on the floor with bits of medium rare fillet steak held between my lips in the first place and that I have nobody else to blame.

Nutter vs Nutter – UPDATED

Apparently Gaddafi is blaming Osama Bin Laden for causing unrest in Libya, though I have no idea if this means he’s madder than we all thought or if it’s a tactic aimed at trying to get western support (in which case he might be madder than we all thought). But it’s make a great special for a Celebrity Deathmatch comeback.

UPDATE – hanging on but looks like he’s struggling to keep his grip.

In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak’s first address to his people was defiant. By his second speech, he tried to be conciliatory, to present himself as an elder statesman.
Col Gaddafi did the same, moving from irate father wagging his finger at his disobedient teenage subjects to saying all he ever wanted was to be a loved and respected constitutional monarch with no real power, like our Queen.
Later, there was an even more direct echo: Mr Mubarak told ABC News in the US he was “fed up” with ruling his country and carried on only to stop it falling apart. Col Gaddafi yesterday said he was not “interested” any more but would stay out of patriotism.

If he hasn’t settled on a destination for an indefinite holiday he probably needs to start thinking about his preferences for a wall with a nice view.

Fake Charities – UPDATED

I’ve been meaning to mention that the Devil has fakecharities.org 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 fakecharities.org 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.

Motor racing news

The Bahrain Grand Prix is being called off due to protests, and already that makes it more interesting than last year’s race.