Blog Archives

Vote early, vote often

Bucko the Moose has a link up to an online poll about banning smoking in all cars – ha, fat lot of good the BMA’s retraction of the 23 times lie has done, eh? They got the headlines and response they wanted and now idiots passing as journalists who can’t or won’t question the no-stop feed of bullshit PRs they’re given. So do pop along and have a little vote at the Lancashire Borgograph and remember what it is you’re voting for. On the one hand it’s the right to be left alone in property that you’ve paid for and belongs to you. On the other hand, well, you work it out.

New enemies in the war on terror?

Please see note at the end of this post.

From Wiktionary as:

Noun
terror (countable and uncountable; plural terrors)

  1. (uncountable) intense dread, fright, or fear.
  2. (countable) specific instances of being intensely terrified
  3. (uncountable) the action or quality of causing dread; terribleness, especially such qualities in narrative fiction
  4. (countable) something or someone that causes such fear.

And coercion as

Noun
coercion (plural coercions)

  1. (not countable) Actual or threatened force for the purpose of compelling action by another person; the act of coercing.
  2. (law, not countable) Use of physical or moral force to compel a person to do something, or to abstain from doing something, thereby depriving that person of the exercise of free will.
  3. (countable) A specific instance of coercing.
  4. (computing, countable) Conversion of a value of one data type to a value of another data type.

So ignoring that last definition that relates to computing and thinking about that very first sentence in which Wikipedia suggests terrorism is simply the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion, I find myself wondering how broadly this applies and whether any organisation or organisations that use scare tactics in order to get their way, to see people cowed – terrified, in fact – into submission, would count as being terrorists. Specifically, I’m thinking about whether the BMA, ASH and so on could be seen as terrorists. Ridiculous? Of course it is. Absolutely ridiculous. I mean, most or all of these anti-smoking – and of course the anti-drinking, anti-drugs, anti… er, where are we up to now? Oh yes, anti-soft drinks, anti-red meat and/or junk food (like I even need to bother finding a link for that), anti-muesli – anti fucking muesli for Christ’s fucking sake, oh I wish I was making that one up – basically anti-whatever it is you do that you enjoy that might shave even a picosecond off your life according to anything that even passes for a scientific study in a bad light, most of these anti-whatever groups are either run by or partly funded by the government, or at least exist with their tacit approval. And clearly that legitimises them, doesn’t it? How can they be terrorists with government approval and even funding, no matter how much they try to coerce people by means of fear?

Ummm, well, I didn’t want to mention it, Nick Hogan, 43, was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to pay a fine imposed for flouting the legislation.
Two years ago Hogan, who ran two pubs in Bolton, became the first landlord convicted of breaking the law for allowing his customers to routinely light up in his bars.

Gillian Leah has never had a cigarette and is vehemently anti-litter.
So the 46-year-old, of Hove Edge, Brighouse, thought the matter would soon be sorted after contacting council officials.
But her dispute has left her paying £50 for a crime she claims she didn’t commit.
The alternative was a fight through the courts with no guarantee of winning – and a legal bill running into thousands.

A RETIRED policeman was fined for dropping a cigarette end out of his car window – despite being a non-smoker and not even driving at the time.
Robert Marshall received a £50 fine from Nottingham City Council after a warden reported spotting him littering while driving along Hucknall Road, Nottingham.
But the council has now dropped the fine against the former officer after he told them he does not smoke and his car was in a car park at the time of the alleged offence.
The authority was also unable to confirm to Mr Marshall where in Hucknall Road the offence had taken place.
It has told him that a line has been drawn under the matter, after speaking to the warden involved.

A near miss, but (my bold)…

Mr Marshall, 48, of Moor Road, Bestwood Village, said: “The council have said they had a word with the warden, he said he was mistaken, and that is the end of the matter.
“This sort of thing is just unacceptable. I wonder how many others have been unfortunate enough to get this sort of ticket and have just paid the £50 fine because they cannot prove otherwise?

So we’ve got an intention to coerce by scaring away resistance, a willingness to use force and innocent bystanders getting affected too. And now, this very week, Wolfers called them – are claiming that smoking must be banned Chris Snowdon but, as he pointed out Canadian Medical Association Journal entitled ‘Second-hand smoke in cars: How did the “23 times more toxic” myth turn into fact?’, MacKenzie and Freeman showed that the “fact” was entirely without scientific evidence and stemmed from a, obscure quote in a local newspaper in 1998 (as I had revealed on Dick Puddlecote’s smoke psychosis gallery will tell you.

So is it terrorism? I don’t know, I really don’t. I suppose the day I feel genuinely afraid to do something I’ve always done and which was done peacefully by millions in past generations then I’ll have my answer.

PS If you haven’t already seen it there’s a good op-ed piece in The Tele titled ”

And now, the campaigners are back: some people, they’ve noticed, have been smoking in their own cars. And other people might be in the car with them! So we need a new law, and a new set of criminals to prosecute – because, honestly, there’s nothing more important for either the political class or the medical establishment to be thinking about just now, right?
[…]
You might wonder how – were the ban to be introduced – it could be policed. Well, Oxford City Council has the answer to that. It plans to force CCTV into every taxi in the city, in order to record every conversation between driver and passenger. (I pity the official who had to review my conversations: it’s bad enough that the poor cabbie has to listen to me wittering on, without council officers having to listen in as well.)
Why not take it one step further, and insist on CCTV in every vehicle? Indeed, why stop there? (I doubt the BMA will.) Why not put cameras into every house, so that functionaries from the BMA’s Professional Activities Division can monitor our every move? You could even make it two-way, so that Dr Nathanson’s acolytes can bark out instructions every time some foolish little person tries to have a cigarette, or pours a second glass of wine.

Worth a read.

 

Note: as indicated by the links that point there this post was imported, along with all the others before 2012, from my old Blogger blog, though this particular one has been edited slightly from the original. The quoted paragraph about the trucker Chris Minihan is from The Daily Mail here, but in the original post was from an online store selling e-cigs. For reasons I’m not remotely interested in discovering WordPress ban all links to this company, so as long as it was here this blog was subject to suspension (and indeed was suspended without warning before some helpful soul at WordPress got my email and reinstated it, while advising that I needed to remove the link) and it seemed best to find the story elsewhere. If anyone is interested in the company concerned or its products it shouldn’t take too much working out to find that original link.

The best weapon against smokophobic nannies

Good quality piss taking, as ably demonstrated by The Daily Mash in response to the anti smoking mob again trotting out the tired and demonstrably ridiculous line about smoking in cars (see Velvet Glove, Iron Fist).

JAGUARS are not the only cars with fully opening windows, doctors have been told.

As the British Medical Association called for a ban on smoking in cars, experts said the windows on cars like the 1998 Ford Focus or some grubby little Astra went right the way down into the door.

Dr Bill McKay, a GP from Peterborough, said: “Are you absolutely sure? Well, I’m afraid that if poor people’s cars can do the same things as our cars then we are going to need more money.”

[…]

Smoker, Tom Logan, said: “I don’t have kids and in the interests of my health I don’t allow kids in my car.

“And if an adult is sitting in the passenger seat when I light up they can either open the window – because my car is one of the ones that does that – or they can get the fucking bus.

“Because it’s my car. D’you see?”

Gold. Do go and read the whole thing.

A perfect storm of stupid – UPDATED

So we’ve just had the Greens’ carbon tax rammed through with the support of the minority Labor government, and now it’s the plain tobacco packaging, which I read…

…will pass the Senate with the support of the Greens.

Is it speculative to wonder if the price for supporting Labor’s pointless plain fag packets – pointless not least because it follows recently introduced laws that generally prevent the fucking packets being on display anyway – was the carbon tax and vice versa?

Who knows? But what I am very confident of is that these two pieces of legislation, one extremely divisive and the other egregiously illiberal, will each achieve as near to nothing as makes no odds.

“If this legislation stops one young Australian from picking up a shiny, coloured packet and prevents them becoming addicted to cigarettes then in my view it will have been worthwhile,” Labor senator John Faulkner told the upper house today.

It won’t. Hell’s bells, I’m getting tired of saying this, but just look at the illegal drug trade. Just fucking look at it. Do they have trademarks? Do they have shiny, coloured packets? No. Does the trade have any difficulty in retaining customers? No, but of course the nanny screams of “Addiction!” will be starting any second, so let’s ask a different question. Does the drugs trade have any difficulty attracting new business despite the complete lack of trademarks and shiny, coloured packets? Again the answer is no. And the reason is that people want to take the bloody stuff. No, I don’t particularly get the attraction either, but there’s a very good chance that someone somewhere in this very suburb is getting wasted right now and we all know that whatever s/he’s on came in some kind of plain and most likely ad hoc packaging. Hell, even illegal chop-chop tobacco already comes in plain packaging, and I’m sure the suppliers are just delighted that their main competition, the legal and regulated tobacco trade, are taking one in the crotch and losing one more thing that distinguishes the legal from the illegal product. And, er, correct me if I’m wrong but they don’t even pay tax, do they? Christ, they must think all their Christmases came at once.

Via the Real World Libertarian

And if in return for that utter pointlessness, unless the idea really is to benefit the criminal tobacco trade, Labor brought in the carbon tax for the Greens it doesn’t seem to me to be any more likely to achieve anything noticeable. As I mentioned the other day other countries seem quick to praise Australia for the carbon tax but oh so reluctant to follow suit, and with such a small population we could cut emissions to nothing at the cost of utterly destroying the economy and going back to being a pre-industrial society, and the self-sacrifice would have a measurable effect on the climate of zero. And that’s making the assumption that the whole warble gloaming catastrophism bandwagon isn’t garbage to begin with. The reality is that we’re on our own.

Earlier this week Climate Change Minister Greg Combet rejected the idea that there are serious issues with international carbon trading and yesterday spoke rosily about the global carbon market’s prospects while the EU carbon price crashed.
To support his argument Combet cited the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit State and Trends of the Global Carbon Market 2011 report that the market has now grown to $US140 billion ($136bn). But he’s clearly only read it to recite convenient anecdotes.
According to the report “after five consecutive years of robust growth, the total value of the global carbon market stalled suffering from the lack of post-2012 regulatory clarity”.
Meanwhile the price of some emissions permits “fell by double-digits for the third year in a row” and “shrank as well in 2010”.
A carbon market recession should hardly come as a surprise.
[…]
Before its closure in the middle of last year, the price of voluntary Chicago carbon exchange permits plunged from $7.40 a tonne to a mere 5c.
And Europe’s carbon price has not been in parity with Australia’s $23 a tonne price since June and now sits at about $10 following a downward price trend.
As long as the EU’s emissions trading scheme accounts for 97 per cent of the global carbon market, the price will be set in Europe and a price drop there will significantly influence whether emissions cuts will be achieved in Australia.

And as that article also points out, arguments between the industrialised and developing worlds over a replacement treaty for the Kyoto Accord, itself not credited with achieving a measurable temperature change as far as I’ve heard, are deadlocked on the issue of whether the developing world is included this time.

Worse, like the tobacco legislation, it seems that criminals are going to gain from this too, or at least have a bloody good try.

The Australian Federal Police is preparing to investigate cases of serious fraud that could arise from Labor’s carbon pricing scheme, including the possible sale of bogus carbon credits.
The AFP’s deputy commissioner of operations Andrew Colvin said a working group had been established with the Department of Climate Change to discuss possible responses to carbon tax breaches.
Appearing before a Senate committee hearing today, Mr Colvin said the AFP’s efforts would focus on serious fraud offences, particularly those involving the sale of counterfeit carbon permits or credits.

And of course they’re quite right to if experience elsewhere is any guide.

Click for link – H/T to WUWT

So to recap, what we’ve got here is a couple of bits of legislation that will attract and likely benefit criminals, add to the workloads of the police, and achieve two-fifths of fuck all. But on the upside they’re ideologically sound, keep wealthy lobby groups onside, and of course Australia gets to say it’s leading the world even if the world isn’t all that keen to follow.

Marvellous.

UPDATE – Coincidentally WUWT has a post looking at Kyoto’s effects which concludes that it did nothing in signatory countries that didn’t happen in the US too, and did quite a lot less than the financial crisis. Now, about that carbon tax, Jules and Bob…

Occupy everywhere – UPDATED

Via Simon Cooke, an interesting little fact that should make a lot of the Occupy mob, many of whom seem to be middle class and uni educated, reconsider their claim to represent the 99%.

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests (and their Occupy Sydney and Occupy Melbourne cousins) have aimed their message at the income disparity between the 1% richest and the rest of the country. But what happens when you expand that and look at the 1% richest of the entire world? Some really interesting numbers emerge….
[…]
In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. In Australia, the top 3% of households earn more than $250,000 per week, according to the ABS. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?
$34,000.
That was the finding World Bank economist Branko Milanovic presented in his 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Going down the distribution ladder may be just as surprising. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it’s $5,000 per year.[…]
It means Australians we consider poor are among some of the world’s most well-off. As Milanovic notes, “the poorest [5%] of Americans are better off than more than two-thirds of the world population.” Furthermore, “only about 3 percent of the Indian population have incomes higher than the bottom (the very poorest) U.S. percentile.”
In short, most of those protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement would be considered wealthy — perhaps extraordinarily wealthy — by much of the world. Many of those protesting the 1% are, ironically, the 1%.

So to any Occupy folks, in the unlikely event any happen to be be reading this, perhaps you should pack up the tent and go re-erect it in your own gardens.* Not only will you be more representative by protesting against yourselves but no one will mind if you don’t stay in the tent all night or use the bird bath as a lavatory.

UPDATE – Very belated recognition of a comment from a few weeks ago, this. Rational Anarchist made a very similar point on In Masho veritas? and referenced Tim Worstall writing for Forbes. Unfortunately RA’s comment got sucked into the ID spam trap and I only just noticed today. Sorry, RA.

* 99% of people probably do not have 3G for a poor protestor’s internet capable smartphone or a handy Starbucks providing a free wifi signal for their ≈$2,000 MacBook Pro and so could not be reading this from local equivalent of Wall Street, or the steps of St Paul’s, or City Square, or Martin Place etc etc. Just a thought, that’s all.

Er, aren’t we forgetting someone?

In the wake of Nicolas Sarkozy and Barry Ohbuggerit being caught at the G20 slagging off the Prime Minister of Israel behind his back (“I can’t stand him, he’s a liar.” “How do you think I feel? I have to deal with him every day.” – really, lads, that’s quality diplomacy there) The Age this morning has a little collection of other instances of politicians’ mouths digging big holes over an open mic.

There may be no true windows into the souls of politicians, but perhaps the inadvertently open microphone is an aural equivalent – the briefest of glimpses of what lies beneath the polished veneer of stock phrases and party lines.

[Nicolas Sarkozy’s and Barack Obama’s exchange] is up there with the best of past open-mic gaffes. It is reminiscent of former British prime minister John Major referring to his Eurosceptic cabinet colleagues in 1993 as “bastards” in a post-interview chat with an TV news reporter. There is also George Bush Jr’s open-mic aside to Dick Cheney, referring to a prominent New York Times reporter in 2000 as a “major league asshole”.

Those cases somehow said less about the intended targets than the speakers. Major and Bush had gone out of their way to cultivate an image of politeness and fair play, and for a moment the curtain was swept aside. Similarly, Bush’s open-mic conversation with Tony Blair at the G8 summit in Russia (“Yo Blair. How are you doing?”) said as much about his casual lack of respect for foreign leaders as it did about Blair’s obsequiousness around the American leader.

I don’t know, I just get the feeling there’s a really good one missing there. Now, who could it have been? Oh yeah, I remember.

P.S. As an aside the article also joins in with bagging Netanyahu.

On balance, Sarko’s aside does more damage to Netanyahu. After all, he came to power as the most pro-Israel French president in decades and is clearly losing patience. To call someone a liar is no profanity (although MPs are not permitted to apply it to each other in parliament), but is all the more cutting because of it, especially with another world leader nodding in agreement. It reinforces Netanyahu’s image at home as an opportunist who is losing Israel friends abroad.

That may be true, I really wouldn’t know. But I’m not at all sure it doesn’t damage both Obama and especially Sarkozy, whose mouth seems to be very busy lately, at least as much or more than it does Netanyahu.

Big Eco advertising your forthcoming death… again

Via Watts Up With That.

Okay, this is not as bad as the 1010 mob’s gleeful explosive execution of anyone expressing ambivalence toward warble gloaming or that aborted video with hundreds and hundreds of airliners zooming towards a New York with smoke curling up from the World Trade Centre, but it’s still pretty nasty. “You, you evil sceptics,” goes the message, “You’ll get it first.” Not quite sure how that works – how can the climate tell who believed and us Untermenschen who weren’t convinced? Maybe it’s the same kind of magic by which the climate can tell difference between the evil CO2 emitted by a power station or your breath and the benign and harmless CO2 that’s puffed out from the blowholes of whales and dolphins to feed their dear friends, the trees. Or maybe the climate is relying on the warble gloaming believers to muck and help with a set of matches. I’ve no idea, but somehow or other we’re first in line for death despite the usual exhortations to cut down on our selfish energy use because poor people in developing nations are first in line for death. Consistency? Meh.

And so at this point I want to bring up my intermittently maintained list of warble gloaming dates for your diary, because a few weeks ago I noticed an addition spotted by The Filthy Engineer, who notes that in two-thirds of the spirit of reduce, reuse, recycle this has been reused and recycled since 2007.

Runaway Global Warming promises to literally burn-up agricultural areas into dust worldwide by 2012, causing global famine, anarchy, diseases, and war on a global scale as military powers including the U.S., Russia, and China, fight for control of the Earth’s remaining resources.
Over 4.5 billion people could die from Global Warming related causes by 2012, as planet Earth accelarates into a greed-driven horrific catastrophe.

“Promises” does it? Then with less than two months ’til the start of 2012 we should see some signs of it already, shouldn’t we? And “literally burn-up”? Seriously? Actual fields actually on actual fire? 4.5 billion of the world’s 7 billion people dead (which still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the most extreme eco-psychos, such as this fucktroon)? As much as I’m prepared to believe that many warble gloaming catastrophists do actually believe what they claim when someone comes out with ridiculously over the top scare claims like this I suspect that even they don’t believe it. It’s the old tactic suggested years ago by the late Dr Stephen Schneider of offering up scary scenarios to get attention even if they’re vanishingly unlikely. I’ve no idea whether to blame overzealous PR of the kind Dr Schneider once suggested or journalistic license, but I suspect there’s probably only one thing that’s literally going to burn up.

Being generous and giving them ’til the end of next year the updated list now looks like this:

Warble gloaming – I refuse to use the term climate change when climate has always been changing since the planet’s ancient beginnings – warble gloaming might not need you to believe in it, but warble gloaming catastrophists very much do need you and everyone else to believe. Because they’re all out of a job otherwise.

Questions to which the answer is "Fuck off"

Yes, I know there are lots of these and that anything on an official census probably qualifies, but the one that’s uppermost in my mind at the moment is this:

How much do you drink?

A report to be published on Monday will say eight million professionals are routinely drinking too much alcohol, and endangering their health, even though they do not binge drink or get drunk.
It calls for new checks, so that GPs quiz all patients about their drinking habits, first at the age of 30, and again as part of general health checks which occur every five years from the age of 40.

And even though it’s a non-issue for me and my honest answer would score maximum healthist brownie points, my inclination would be to choose from a range of replies starting with “Why are you asking?” and finishing with “Go fuck yourself.” Aside from the intrusiveness I hope everyone can see in this that the concept of no-safe-level-every-drop-is-killing-you-a-bit has taken one more jackbooted step from neo-puritan idealism to policy. You don’t have to binge and you don’t have to get drunk, but you can still be drinking too much. How much is too much? Who can possibly know when, as pointed out on Devil’s Kitchen a couple of years back, the recommended consumption levels for alcohol were pulled out of the collective arse of a working party of the Royal College of Physicians (the article is only available to people who pay The Times as even archives are behind the paywall now, so the rest of us have to put up with seeing it for free on Wayback – fuck you, Rupes).

Guidelines on safe alcohol consumption limits that have shaped health policy in Britain for 20 years were “plucked out of the air” as an “intelligent guess”.
The Times reveals today that the recommended weekly drinking limits of 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 for women, first introduced in 1987 and still in use today, had no firm scientific basis whatsoever.
[…]
The disclosure that the 1987 recommendation was prompted by “a feeling that you had to say something” came from Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians working party that produced it.
He told The Times that the committee’s epidemiologist had confessed that “it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t” because “we don’t really have any data whatsoever”.
Mr Smith, a former Editor of the British Medical Journal, said that members of the working party were so concerned by growing evidence of the chronic damage caused by heavy, long-term drinking that they felt obliged to produce guidelines. “Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee,” he said.

I’m not sure how a guess can be both intelligent and plucked out of the air, but really it’s by the by. The point is that they have a number based on fuck all evidence and a vague feeling that the medical profession really ought have an answer, and if you exceed that number then you’re drinking too much, end of discussion. Doesn’t matter whether you’re an enormous flanker type with the capacity to out-drink a small Moscow suburb or a five foot nothing woman who can get pissed on a glass of wine, you’re drinking an amount which is officially unhealthy, and since a large glass of wine is three units on its own you certainly don’t have to get sloshed to get there. Small wonder that some healthist think tank can found that 8 million people – about a fifth of the workforce overall and so a good chunk of the number of white collar jobs I suspect they mean by “professionals” –  are drinking too much. Christ, even if you just get tipsy once a week and that’s not the only time you drank then you almost certainly had more than 21 units, although the current article implies that they’ve been raised slightly at some point.

Government advice states men should drink no more than four units a day and women no more than three.

Which despite being more over the course of a week is actually a subtle move towards further puritanism – it’s still no more than a large glass of wine or a pint of medium beer per day for the ladies and a pint and a half of the same beer or maybe two pints of coloured water variety beer for the fellas. Even your openly teetotal and increasingly lightweight Exile could probably still drink two pints of piss-strength without being what anyone would really call drunk, and if I was going to make them last all day I seriously doubt I’d even feel it. That the goalposts have quietly been made so wide seems a little suspicious, and so I had a little Google and almost immediately I found a BBC article from August 09 that mentions the reason for the low daily limit rather than an even lower weekly one.

The 1987 sensible drinking limits, which set the bar at 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women, remained in place until 1995.
It was then that the government decided to switch the limits from weekly to daily in a bid to curb binge drinking and emphasise the harms of saving up a week’s limit to blow in one or two sessions at the weekend – a decision it stands by today.

Which should be surprising only in that it was the previous Tory nannies rather than the Labour nannies or the current Cobbleition nannies who were behind the move. It certainly shouldn’t be any surprise that after three different governments under four different PMs British drinkers are still being told to restrict themselves to the equivalent of two pints of fizzy piss a day in case they choose – and how dare, how very bloody dare they even think of choosing for themselves – to lay off the sauce during the week so they can make merry, or at least a little less miserable, at the weekend. Oh, except for British drinkers with breasts, who are to have no more than a pint and a half of fizzy piss, probably not even that if they’ve got children. Jesus, these days you could probably heave a brick at an Alcohol Concern meeting and hit half a dozen people who’d tell you it should be less even if someone hasn’t got children but was in a slightly wistful and broody mood for half an hour or so around mid-afternoon. Yes, of course I’m being sarcastic but I’m afraid to Google again in case I also turn out to be right.

As an aside before returning to the current nannying there’s one other thing in that 09 BBC article I’d like to draw attention to, which is that it was basically about neo-puritans getting their cocks in a knot because – you’ll never guess, oh, fuck me sideways with a beer barrel, you just did already – the guidelines aren’t tough enough and are fooling everyone into drinking too much.

Daily limits on alcohol consumption are meaningless and potentially harmful, experts have warned.
The government says men should drink no more than three to four units per day and women no more than two to three.
Liver specialist Dr Nick Sheron, of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, says these limits were devised by civil servants with “no good evidence” for doing so.

Why should there be? There was no good evidence for the previous suggestions either, remember?

He says the advice runs the risk of people taking it to mean that it is safe to drink alcohol every day.

And the older advice risked people not drinking daily and having what the puritans doubtless regard as a skinful and what everyone else would think of as a few drinks at the weekend. Heads the nannies win, tails the drinkers lose.

Dr Sheron’s comments follow a report by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee which suggested public confusion about safe drinking levels was fuelling problem drinking.

Of course it is. On Planet Righteous where the public naturally deals with any confusion by getting throughly shitfaced nearly anything can fuel problem drinking. Certainly anything that doesn’t make it absolutely crystal clear that no level of alcohol… come on, everyone, you all know the words by now.

Dr Sheron says we should go back to using the old weekly limits, which are based on sound research.

Sound research? Do us a fucking favour, they were based on two fifths of fuck all. Calling it sound research is either ignorant of the Times article less than two years before in which someone who was actually there admits that they were made up, or is simply bullshit.

And from misleading, ah, sorry, confusing the public with arbitrary limits based on nothing much and other policy based evidence it’s now suggested that GPs have yet another set of boxes to tick, along with a financial incentive to tick ’em, in the form of interrogating patients about their alcohol consumption and having a regular schedule of opportunities to do so. All backed up by a report with some numbers to make it sound justified, natch. And don’t go thinking this is lefty do-gooders at work here (my bold).

The report, by 2020 Health, a centre-right think tank, says many middle class drinkers are not aware of the risks of their evening tipple…

See? This is nudge stuff. That (mostly) unspoken assumption that you don’t know what’s best for you, are incapable of finding out for yourself and understanding, and therefore can’t be trusted make your own decisions on the matter. It’s old style rightist paternalism of the kind the alleged Tory PM, David Cameramong, is absolutely in fucking love with, the supercilious prick. In the minds of these people failing to comply with recommendations cannot possibly mean that an individual has simply weighed and accepted the risks – it can only mean that they didn’t understand, that they’re in a state of confusion and must be helped and guided and steered, and if need be cajoled and bullied and forced.

It’s denormalisation, folks. Come now, you didn’t think that was just something to be used on smokers, did you? The “normal” amount of alcohol consumption has been determined to be as near to nothing as makes no odds, and you will be questioned to see if you comply and nagged if you don’t. And in case you’re wondering who did the determining, here’s a familiar name.

The Royal College of Physicians said the current guidance was ‘extremely dangerous’ because it implied that drinking every day was safe.

This is presumably the very same Royal College of Physicians that not so very long ago more or less sat around a table making up some very similar sounding guidance. There isn’t an actual question in there, not as such, but all the same the answer to that is also “Fuck off.”

In Masho veritas?

Well, if it applies to wine couldn’t it apply to The Daily Mash talking here about the ‘Occupy’ mob’s spread from New York to other cities?

… first-time protestor, Roy Hobbs, insisted: “I’m here because I’m sick and tired of all the greed that stops me from getting what I want.

“That’s why I’ve come up with a plan that will solve everything. It involves dividing all the money in the world equally and then waiting to see what happens next.”

You know, I really believer that is the plan. I really, really do.

Occupational therapy

From Watts Up With That.

Chuckle. Do go read the rest.

Occupy Wall Street…

… and then what, you clueless bunch of fucknuts? Going to throw America’s captains of industry from the roofs of their own buildings, are you? Should be pretty fucking entertaining given the US has a national debt on the order of fifteen trillion dollars. Now, what’s Mandarin for, “Nice one, you fucking idiots”?

Cunts.

Light blogging this week…

… means that the only comment I really have time to make on the above headline is “Are you fucking serious or have you been doing lines of mercury?” Not that Cameron is not a complete twat and his government almost as big a bunch of disappointing and feckless wankers as, well, as the Labour governments of the previous 13 years, but for one thing the government isn’t actually cutting police numbers. Seems to me that if forces want to spend their budgets on expensive or irrelevant bullshit rather than police officers then their numbers, or lack thereof, is a problem of their own making. Just an idea this, but they could start with multiplying the number of officers they’d like by the salaries they’d need to pay and then subtracting that number from the budget before spunking money away on other stuff. It’s a thought, that’s all.

And for another thing the Cobbleition hasn’t made any cuts. This is getting really fucking tedious to have  to keep saying this, but cuts are badly needed and the Cobbleition has failed to cut a penny off of overall public spending, and in fact they’ve managed to spend even more. Yes, they have been more profligate than even the crazed fuckwits who preceded them, and only those crazed fuckwits and their equally crazed and fuckwitted followers could possibly imagine that a government that spends more than the last one has cut a fucking thing. The only point at which the concept of spending less enters into it is that they are spending less than the profligate cocksocket Brown would have spent if he’d managed to win the election. That’s it, and it does not qualify as a cut any more than saying I’ll take out a loan to buy a Ferrari next year and then changing my mind is saving money.<

I’d suggest to Yvette Cooper that she goes home and asks around her family to see if someone can explain it to her, but since her family has got Ed Balls in it that’s probably a waste of time.

‘Kinell!

When did Australia turn into America?

Not having a dig at our American cousins here, but I’ve always felt flag veneration is more their thing what with their national anthem being about it and with every other person you meet prepared to tell you that it’s illegal to set fire to it (which apparently it isn’t). Maybe some of my fellow Brits feel much the same for the Union Jack, especially those who know it’s real name is the Union Flag, but here in Oz most people I’ve come across seem much less attached to the Australian Flag. There are those republican types who dislike the constant reminder of Britain’s influence provided by the Union Flag in the top left quarter, and there are those who say that it doesn’t represent the aborigines and Torres Strait islanders who were here first. There are those who think the Southern Cross bit has been hijacked by bogans anyway. And there are those to whom it’s just the flag and apart from maybe waving one on Australia Day or watching it being lowered to half mast on ANZAC Day they probably don’t think about it often.*

I didn’t realise there were a group that venerated it in a similar fashion to the Americans and ‘Old Glory’ or that this group was more commonly known as opposition MPs, but apparently it’s so because they’re angry about a scene in an ABC satirical comedy called At Home With Julia, featuring Julia Gillard impersonator Amanda Bishop (you’ve seen her on this blog before). In this scene, to be broadcast this evening unless the ABC have chickened out and pulled it, Bishop’s Julia Gillard dances the horizontal tango with the First Bloke, Tim Mathieson, as played by Phil Lloyd. On the floor of the Prime Minister’s office. Under a duvet sized Australian flag. And the Liberal Party and their allies have gone apeshit.

COALITION MPs have attacked a controversial TV satire on Julia Gillard as demeaning and suggested ABC funding should be reviewed.
[…]
Liberal MP Teresa Gambaro also expressed disgust with At Home with Julia, suggesting to the party room that the national broadcaster’s funding should be reviewed.

I’d agree, but not for that reason. Where I’m from many people complain about the TV licence forcing people who don’t watch BBC programmes to pay for the BBC anyway, but since it’s funded out of general taxation people pay for the ABC even if they haven’t got a television. Review away, but review the principle of making people pay for a service they don’t necessarily use rather than use it as a stick to beat them with because you find some of their content objectionable. Once again, this is liberalism in name only – the Australian Liberal Party seems to be as conservative as they come.

… Nationals MP John Forrest [urged] the return of tasteful comedy shows such as the 1970s series Are You Being Served.
Mr Forrest told colleagues the satirical take on Ms Gillard’s private life demeaned the office of prime minister, after learning tomorrow’s episode features on-air prime minister Amanda Bishop and actor Phil Lloyd, playing Tim Mathieson, naked on her office floor under an Australian flag.
“Having sex in the prime minister’s office under the Australian flag is the last straw for me,” Mr Forrest reportedly told MPs.

So, is this sticking up for Julia Gillard or disappointment that you won’t get to see Amanda Bishop’s arse, John? Apparently, neither. It’s the flaaaaag.

“It’s nothing to do with Julia Gillard. I’m not trying to defend her. It’s the office of prime minister and it’s not even funny.
“The old English traditional shows like Are You Being Served – they were funny, but this isn’t.”

John, they weren’t funny. You found them funny. Lots of other people also find them funny. Other people don’t. I’ve been for a look on YouTube to refresh my memory, and I found it to be a repetitive series of jokes mostly involving the ambiguous availability of an unambiguously camp salesman in a menswear department and the pussy of the ancient woman with a blue rinse who works opposite (feline kind, but – oh, my sides – never referred to as a cat). This may have been bleeding edge comedy in the 1970s when it began, and to be honest I did think the I’m free/pussy gags were funny the first time, but it felt like the show really didn’t have much else. Blackadder or Yes Minister it ain’t, but if John Forrest is amused by it then he’s welcome to buy it on DVD. I suspect the ABC, despite all the things for which it could be criticised, has a better grasp of what audiences in 2011 want. In fact if ratings are any guide what they want is actually on Channel 7 (and much of it is shit if you ask me) but the ABC seem to be doing an okay job of treading the middle ground, and if it makes John Forrest feel better they are still buying second hand stuff from Britain.

“And to desecrate the flag dishonours what my dad did.”

I don’t know what your dad did, John, but was it anything to do with fighting to prevent dictatorial types attempting to control other people’s lives? I’m only asking.

Or, bearing in mind the religious nut element of Australian politics, is it just the thought of Julia Gillard having sex that’s upsetting people? Newsflash, prudes: the woman is 50 in a couple of weeks – she’s probably not a virgin, and having had a stable relationship with the same guy for some years she probably enjoys it when he gives her a nice hot fuck as an alternative to a cup of Milo at bedtime. I wouldn’t want to see it on my TV either – in a weird kind of way that has to do with her job and personality it’d be like seeing your parents do it – but I can live with it being referred to on TV. And if not I know what to do about it, as does one Liberal who does actually act up to the name and understands what choice means.

But Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop said if people didn’t like the show they could change channels.
She said former prime minister John Howard had been lampooned for years by comedy shows.

And Julia Gillard herself? To her credit also, she’s calmly said she won’t be watching (fair enough – I can’t even look at myself making a speech on someone else’s wedding video) and other than that has no commented the whole thing. And while I haven’t got a lot of time for her that attitude as raised my opinion of her a smidgeon.

VIDEO: Gillard on that naked flag scene

Americans seem to venerate their flag because they think it stands for freedom, representing as it does the original 13 colonies which gained independence from Britain as well as the 50 states of today. Brits and Aussies not so much because their flags are more hybrids of other flags, and in the case of Australia independence was granted at least as much as it was won. So let’s leave the flag veneration to people that not only understand it but, understand also that what a flag stands for is rather more important than the flag itself. Because I think that if something’s symbolic of being free to do only as you’re told I’m not sure it’s worth venerating in the first place, as illustrated by a couple of my favourite American libertarians.

* Personally I’m happy with whatever flag Australia choose to have and don’t mind what people choose to tattoo on themselves, so I suppose that puts me in the last group.

www.PETA.xxx

Is it just me or does this sound like the worst porn in the universe?*

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, no stranger to attention-grabbing campaigns featuring nude women, plans to launch a pornography website in the name of animal rights.

The non-profit organisation, whose controversial campaigns draw criticism from women’s rights groups, said it hopes to raise awareness of veganism through a mix of pornography and graphic footage of animal suffering.

What the fuck is that going to look like?

DINGDONG

Hi, I’ve come to fix your
washing machine.
    Oh, good. So would you like to
    [meaningful pause] come inside?
Yeah. Hey, is it hot in 
here or is it me?
            Yes, I [meaningful pause] like it that
        way. Would you be more comfortable
 if you took your shirt off?
Well, I will if you will.
Wanna help me? You might
get a bit [meaningful
pause] wet.
             Okay, but first let me stab this rabbit
            in the face and dissect its brains all
over your chest, big boy. 

Squeak, stab, splat, gurgle, squelch, slice, plop

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

SLAM!

Never mind all the jumping up and down about degradation of women – if they’re not being dragged into the porn studio then women who choose to have sex on camera for money is a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. But I do think it suggests that PETA have got more money than they know what to do with because I can’t imagine anybody gave them a loan for this. Seriously, PETA, by mixing porn and images of animal cruelty you’re going to have two problems. First you’ll attract the the most deeply depraved, sick deviant fucks who’ll actually get off on that sort of thing, which sounds rather counter-productive from your perspective. Second, you’ll be responsible for preventing more erections than the combined efforts of every local council planning office on the planet, which doesn’t seem likely to produce much in the way of repeat business. Oh, and if it’s vegan pornography the leather fetishists won’t watch it in the first place.

Really, PETA, you’ve jumped the cruelly caged and ruthlessly exploited shark this time.

* In time that might really fuck up some search results.

Innocent ’til Jon Snow decides otherwise?

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

Click for linky

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

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

We were told at the time that the banking regulator, the FSA, had started a ‘major investigation’. Last night on Channel 4 News when I pressed the City Minister, Mark Hoban, he referred constantly to the FSA’s involvement. But where is the Serious Fraud Office? No sign of much happening on that front.

Well, Jon, do you have evidence of a serious fraud? And if so have you brought it to the attention of the SFO? Because if not have you considered the possibility that they looked and didn’t actually find one?

Yet investigators on both sides of the Atlantic have had no doubt that criminality, subterfuge, and downright dishonesty accompanied many of the ingredients that brought about the crash.

“No doubt of criminality”? Well, many people are in no doubt that a damn sight more parliamentarians were feeding of the taxpayers’ backs via dodgy expenses claims than the half dozen or so who’ve been found guilty and gaoled, and that far more than that deserved to have gone to prison in disgrace – possibly even some who didn’t even have the decency to stand down as MPs and have, thanks to seats in which tribal electorates would vote in a priapic chimpanzee if it was eating the appropriate colour rosette, even kept their seats – but lacking doubt is still meaningless if you also lack evidence. I don’t think that varies much on either side of the Atlantic.

The convenient fall-guy was the Ponzi magician, Bernie Madoff who was quickly jailed for thieving billions with his criminal scheme.

Quite irrelevant and only a fall guy in the minds of those who don’t understand that he had square root of bugger all to do with it, which is something Jon Snow brings up himself in the very next sentence.

But Madoff had nothing to do with bringing down the banks.

So why fucking mention him then? You might as well bring up Dick Turpin.

But his jailing served to suggest that a high profile scalp had been secured.

As I said, only in the minds of people credulous enough to think he had anything to do with it. His was a genuine fraud that had been going on for years, possibly since the 70s, and he could as easily have been caught, convicted and forgotten before the GFC began. About eight years before if the US authorities had listened to a guy named Harry Markopolos, who in 1999 realised that Madoff’s numbers didn’t add up after looking at them for about five minutes and reckoned he knew it was fraud four hours later. And incidentally, a fraud that’s not all that unlike National Insurance Contributions in that all the money coming in was going straight out to pay earlier ‘investors’, the quotes being necessary because little money and possibly not a single cent was ever actually invested. This is, of course, quite illegal when it’s not governments doing it, and if you don’t believe me try setting up a health insurance and pension scheme on exactly the same business model as NICs and see what it gets you. About 150 years if Bernie Madoff’s case is any guide.

Anyway, the point is that Madoff’s Ponzi scheme could not only have been stopped earlier had the SEC heeded Markopolos’ regular warnings from 1999 rather than ignored them until it imploded of it’s own accord, but was also as incidental to the GFC as the Enron scandal. It happened at around the same time, and that’s about it. In fact far from contributing to the GFC the effects of the GFC made it harder for Madoff to keep all those plates spinning and probably brought about an early end to the scam. If, as Jon Snow says, Madoff’s arrest and imprisonment suggested a high profile scalp had been collected then it was because the media failed in their duty to make it crystal clear what the significance actually was, i.e. none at all.

Last year, the then New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo produced a laundry list of institutions and individuals who were being investigated for potential prosecution. That work too has slowed.

Slowed, Jon, or just uncovered too little evidence of any actual indictable offences? You’re the journo – why don’t you go find out which?

In one month, hundreds of rioters and looters have been prosecuted and punished by the English courts, often for offences with a value of under fifty pounds. Yet the threat to the wellbeing of UKplc was far greater from the bankers than from any number of more arrestable rioters.

Yes, but as I’ve mentioned once or twice, stupidity, negligence and incompetence are not necessarily crimes. Rioting and looting, on the other hand, most definitely are. If you can’t find an actual offence and make a case then nobody goes to prison, see? And if you believe that every single looter and rioter will be punished you’re dreaming, because again they’ll have got only the ones with good evidence against them.

There is a strong impression abroad that the UK doesn’t want to prosecute anyone for the banking crisis, a crisis that has affected every tax payer in the Kingdom.

Look, the only reason it’s affected every taxpayer is because the Prime Mentalist of the day bailed the bastards out with taxpayers’ money. Had the meddling prick been able to restrain his urge to interfere the bad banks would have failed, affecting just staff, shareholders and people with money in them (less the compensation of up to £30K or so each account holder would have got from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme). Instead him and his badger faced sock puppet tried to fill in the holes with taxpayers’ money – that was their decision and nobody else’s. Yes, the banks came and begged to be bailed out, but Brown and Darling could and should have said no.

Soon enough the statute of limitations will kick in to ensure that no-one will ever be prosecuted for their role.

Oh, yes, that’ll be that famous statute of limitations that Asil Nadir so successfully used to avoid prosecution by kicking back in Cyprus for 17 years until he was untoucha… no, wait, actually the SFO arrested him as soon as he got off the plane, didn’t they? Still, Jon, how were you supposed to know about that? Apart from the fact you fucking reported on it on Channel Four news.

So tell us, Jon, precisely what statute of limitations are you talking about? I’m no lawyer so I’m willing to be corrected on this, but I was under the impression that the UK doesn’t actually have a statute of limitations. Not for criminal offences anyway, though as I keep saying, Jon Snow has mentioned precisely zero offences that have definitely been committed and a total of absolutely none laws that have been broken. But if it turns out otherwise, Jon, well, 17 years wasn’t long enough to protect Asil Nadir from arrest so you’re probably complaining about it just a smidgeon early.

However, there are time limitations on bringing a civil cases, and while I keep repeating that stupidity, negligence and incompetence aren’t generally crimes they may of course be tortious, and if that’s so then there is a ticking clock against which anyone who’s suffered a financial loss because of those overconfident cocksockets who bought up all those toxic assets without looking sufficiently carefully at what it actually was they were getting can sue the bastards. Not sure if it’s possible to sue someone into prison, as the oh so self-righteous Snow seems to wish, but for all my defence of them against Snow’s tirade I’m no fan of the likes of Fred the Shred – if I recall I called him a smarmy arsehole and expressed hope that he’d fall down the stairs and land, against all probability, on his balls – and would happily see them sued for every penny they’ve got. Which, when I wrote that, Fred Goodwin was, even if it was for the unusual offence of hubris and in an American court “where the courts are more flexible and less expensive” rather than a British one, making any limitations in Britain rather irrelevant.

PUNISHMENT!

But Jon Snow’s still not happy, and like that mad caretaker out of Harry Potter, shambling around screaming about his cat, he clearly wants to see some punishment.

Then we can all breathe easy – no banker will ever go to jail, and we can stop asking the nightly question, ‘why not?’

Because, Jon, as I keep explaining and as much as it pains me, you can’t send someone to jail unless you can actually prove they’ve committed a crime. It’s this thing we have in civilised countries called ‘the law’, and the idea is that ‘the law’ is extra extra careful about things like evidence and proving the case so as not to send innocent people off to prison all the time. It’s not that way to protect the world’s Fred Goodwins, it’s to protect you and me all the rest of us. Jon Snow is coming across a bit like Thomas More’s wife and son-in-law in A Man for All Seasons.

Arrest them.

                                Why?

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

There’s no law against that.

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

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

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

A twenty-first century More might have put it like this: “If you’re so keen to bang people up that you’re prepared to shortcut things, Roper, then we’re all in fucking trouble.”