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Crash landings

I can barely bring myself to write on this lunacy.

Up to 100 student pilots will be told the news on Tuesday with some of them only a few hours away from becoming fully qualified to fly fighters, helicopters and transport aircraft.
The cuts will mean the waste of an estimated £300million already paid for training the pilots, plus the cost of redundancies. The training of RAF pilots can cost up to £4million a man.

And this is not the end of the problem.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, a former head of the RAF, warned that the cuts would leave the Air Force with a “black hole” of pilots in future years.
“If you don’t have a steady stream of youth, you will end up with a shortage of people,” he said.
Commander John Muxworthy, the chairman of the UK National Defence Association, said the defence cuts were now into the “seed corn” of the Services.

Which should be blindingly obvious to everyone.

Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said: “The harmful human impact of the Government’s defence plans is becoming clearer by the day.”

True, but to be fair let’s just remind ourselves which cunts spunked away all the money. Still, it must be said that it seems like an insane place to try to make savings. In terms of a sports team it would be like hanging on to everyone that has got maybe a season or two left plus the current crop of regular players, but abandoning all investment in young players and cutting loose the ones you have trained and made ready to replace those older ones soon to swap the sporting scrum for the media version. Like some American sports Aussie Rules football operates a draft system which gives the bottom placed club each year the first opportunity to pick young talent. Such is the focus on young players – and bear in mind that some may not play a senior game for a year or two – that clubs that have done particularly poorly are occasionally accused of doing it deliberately purely to get better draft picks. Such is the interest among supporters that the draft night is televised. It’s understood by everyone that youth with potential literally determines a club’s future ability to win, and while I don’t claim any military expertise whatsoever I’d be astonished if what applies on the sports field doesn’t also apply on the battlefield.

So what the fuck is Britain playing at binning these young pilots, pilots that will be needed rather than might be needed, if only to replace those older ones who leave? What’s the plan, keep them on past the time their knees can’t take the G’s and sorties hold less appeal than SAGA cruises? And why is this happening at all when, as I keep saying, the UK isn’t actually cutting expenditure? It certainly fucking needs to but this is pinching pennies when there are massive gold bars’ worth of savings that could be made elsewhere, starting with Britain’s £50 billion quangocracy that the Cobbleition’s axe largely bounced clean off without leaving a mark. And this hurts, it really does. It hurts at a time when Britain is engaged in combat operations (needless or not, it’s a fact), and will mean worse hurt in the future and beyond as you have fewer pilots both to fight if needed and to pass on knowledge to the next lot of young pilots. It certainly risks more than giving the Spanish Archer to some arts quangos and overcompensated town clerks calling themselves chief executives. Britain may end up with comical abilities as far as air power go but it’ll proudly lead the world in twinning towns and conceptual bollocks art made, perhaps literally, from shit.

Anyone ever see Aliens? Do you remember the bit when the Colonial Marines are in the tunnels under the giant atmosphere processor? When someone notices that firing their rifles in there will damage the cooling systems for its nuclear power source, eventually causing a very, very large explosion? Remember the reaction of the Marines when they have to hand their magazines in and sling their rifles?

What the hell are we supposed to use, man? Harsh language?

I suppose it’s too much to hope that any senior RAF officers have quoted that verbatim to the Defence Secretary, Chancellor or PM.

Please tell me it’s faked – UPDATED

I think it is. I hope it is. This isn’t somewhere obscure – there are rough maps on travel brochures, for Christ’s sake. So this really should be just a gag that’s been mocked up to take the piss out of Fox.

But if JuliaM’s latest post is any guide to the quality of media failing, it might not be.

UPDATE – Thanks to Steve in the comments, who informs me that it is not a fake but an absolutely genuine media balls up on a grand scale and that some other parts of the media are going apeshit over it. That prompted a little bit of googling to see what they’re saying and it actually turns out that it’s a year and a half old and so doesn’t relate to the current news about Egypt. All the same Fox were certainly doing geography wrong. You’d think they’d be able to identify a country America has occupied for several years.

How many times?

Click for linky

Jesus H Christ with an abacus, were you fucking like this back in the 90s when you were Chancellor of the fucking Exchequer? Were you this innumerate, Ken? You Cobbleition fuckmonkeys are spending more this year than Labour spent last year. The only difference is that you are increasing spending at a slower rate than your predecessors, the key word there being ‘increasing’. Because an increase is not a cut, d’you see? So unless you’re just saying this in the hope of giving Polly Toynbee an aneurism, and to be fair that’s actually not a bad reason, and really you’re quite aware that spending is going up rather than down, I’ll ask the question yet again:

What fucking cuts?

It comes to something when even pollies from the so-called party of business think spending ever increasing amounts of someone else’s money can ever qualify as a cut. Profligate fucking twat.

A pathetic bellend with an uninspiring career who deserves to disappear up his own arse with alacrity…

meets David Hasselhoff.

Roobar or FUBAR

In a change to my scheduled ranting todays planned rant on soccer and misogyny is replaced by one about a Nanny state story that I noticed mid week and which has been jammed up my nose ever since, because otherwise I’d probably never get round to it. 

Nannyism occasionally seems to be less about making things safer than shifting the harm to somewhere that Nanny tends not to look at too often. So it is with the latest proposal of the federal Nannies, which is to ban roobars and bullbars. And for why? Well, as was the case for the bullbar ban in the UK and Europe it’s all in the name of pedestrian safety, natch, but apparently it’s also because the UK and Europe have banned them. No, seriously.

According to reports, the Federal Government is thinking of taking on rules adopted by European countries which were developed by the United Nations Economic Cooperation. These rules also ban things like Roo bars, nudge bars and the like.

Okay, but Europe is not known for having millions of bouncing animals with the road sense of retarded toddlers, each of which is capable of doing up to around 40 mph, can change direction very quickly and without warning, and is close to the weight of an adult human. Let me just show you this:

And what can you expect to happen to your car when you hit one? As one of the commenters on this YouTube clip of a kangaroo damaged ute puts it, it depends on how high up in the air the bastard is when you hit him. By the looks of the intact front end and caved in roof of the police Ford Falcon on the left it probably collected Skippy when he was three feet up or so, though you’d be forgiven for thinking something fell on it. Apparently it wrote the car off. Things aren’t much better if you get it lower down unless you’re not on speaking terms with your lights and radiator.

That apparently happened about 70 kms from Alice Springs (though north or south I’m not sure) and since the car is on a recovery vehicle it’s a pretty safe bet it wasn’t drivable. And just in case you’re wondering how hard it is to phone for a reccer when you’re stuck 70 kms from Alice, here’s the answer.

Bloody hard.

Dark orange is covered, mid orange should get a signal if you’ve got an external antenna. And coverage in the yellow areas? That’s shouting or Telstra Mobile Satellite, the cheapest package being nearly $2,500 for a two year contract (but includes the handset and $10 of calls per month – enough to last a whole 8½ minutes). The only other options are a walk to the nearest roadside emergency phone or to wait for someone else to come along and stop, and hope they either have a satphone or will let the police and/or recovery services know you’re stuck. The highway either side of Alice Springs is fairly busy and is a fairly benign place to hit wildlife and bugger the car as far as being rescued goes, but needless to say there are roads far less frequently travelled and with fewer or no emergency phones.

Mobile reception, you ask? Ahahahahaha.

And all this assumes that having run into Skippy the car is the only thing that’s damaged and it doesn’t actually kill you. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that 50+ kilos of bone, muscle and fur (though almost no brain whatsoever) coming through your windscreen might well do that, which is why the first time one of the bastards jumped out on a road in front of me my arse opened so wide I needed surgery to get the driver’s seat out of it. And with livestock, wild horses and feral camels the roos aren’t even the biggest things you can run into on outback roads. For my money though kangaroos are the scariest just because there are so many of them, and they’re scarier still at night when they appear without any warning and, because it’s cooled down enough for them to be more active, you’re much more likely to be sharing the road with one without even knowing it. What? Did you think you just had the snakes and spiders to worry about when you booked your holiday?

And although you obviously want to avoid hitting it if you can, according to the Northern Territory’s Transport Minister (who sounds fairly sane and un-Nannyish for a politician) you don’t want to try too hard and crash off the road either.

… Gerry McCarthy, the Northern Territory’s Transport Minister who drives more than 110,000 kilometres a year on remote roads, told The Age bullbars were a necessary vehicle accessory for people in regional and remote Australia [and he] he would block any attempt to ban bullbars at a meeting of federal and state transport ministers in Alice Springs in May, and was confident his colleagues from Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland would support him.

”Bullbars are a protective device. If there is a 800-kilogram scrub bull on the road, I want a bullbar on the front of my vehicle,” he said.

Mr McCarthy said he wanted to send a strong message to drivers on outback roads. ”I know it may sound harsh to people in the cities, but drivers should not swerve their vehicle to avoid hitting an animal such as a kangaroo on the road,” he said.

”It is better to hit the animal rather than risk a single-vehicle rollover,” he said. ”Statistics in the NT show that many accidents and some fatalities are caused by rollovers.”

I can well believe it. As bad as it would be to have broken down on the side of the road hundreds of miles from anywhere and be sitting watching the front of your car dripping vital fluids of engine and roo alike, it’d be far worse to have missed him only to end up just off the road and upside down. The obvious solution then is something sturdy mounted to the front of the car so that if you do hit an animal the cooling system and lights, the bits that are probably most vulnerable to damage and the loss of which will stop the car from limping on, actually have a decent chance of surviving the impact in working order.

Now I’m not going to argue that they aren’t fairly pointless in towns and cities because clearly they are. They add weight to the car’s front end, and over the axle at that, which obviously has a knock on effect on fuel consumption and possibly handling (you’ll also lose whatever it weighs off the vehicle’s maximum carrying capacity). And yes, they are also very dangerous to pedestrians if you happen to hit one. But is that reason to ban them when they are quite literally lifesavers in areas where kangaroo collisions are common? Don’t you run the risk of saving some extra lives in towns at the expense of losing some extra lives elsewhere? You’d need to convince me that there really is a net benefit and I think that could be tricky. For starters you have to consider that according to Prof. Robert Anderson, the Deputy Director for the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Research (and not particularly a bullbar supporter) speaking on this recording of an ABC radio talk show (or download for later here) only 7-10% of pedestrian collisions involve a vehicle fitted with bars. Since less than 200 pedestrians die each year (193 in 2008 (PDF)) the upper limit you could save by banning roo bars is under 20. Then you’d have to discard all those who for whatever reason – speed, size of vehicle, health, knocked into the path of another vehicle, etc – would have died even if the car had not had bars. That PDF indicates that about 10% of pedestrian deaths involve trucks and buses hitting pedestrians and for that number I’d guess it probably doesn’t make much difference whether the vehicle was fitted with bars. Looking at other tables it shows that around a quarter of deaths involve elderly pedestrians and that proportion increases to about a third when you add the under 4s. I think it’s likely that a significant percentage will be non-survivable even without bars, so realistically the best a ban is likely to achieve is about 12-15 saved. How does that stack up against the numbers who are saved by their roo bars, or who might have been if they’d been encouraged to fit some? Difficult to say since there are no figures to say exactly how many vehicles have got them (this PDF mentions an estimate of 10% or 1.15 million) and nor can I find any to say how many of those vehicles hit animals in a way which would have killed an occupant. Nobody ever records non-deaths and there isn’t an obvious way to do it anyway, but since one source suggests upward of 200,000 kangaroo collisions a year I feel it’s likely to be rather more 12-15.

Okay, so what about making owners take their bars off to come into urban areas or banning them from vehicles registered to an urban address (comments made on the ABC website here at 25 Jan 2011 8:56:12am and 9:26:55am, apparently in all seriousness):

It would be worthwhile banning the little “nudge bars” that some cars have. They wouldn’t stop anything bigger than a rabbit, but they could injure a pedestrian.

I don’t know how bullbars attach, but maybe they should be removed in the cities, just like the way you need to remove fishing rod carriers (the ones that attach to the bullbar) unless you are actually carrying rods in them.

… when you register a car it would be a simple matter to apply a rule depending on which suburb the owner lives in. It wouldnt stop country people driving to the city, but it would remove the problem of a huge number of people commuting everyday with bullbars in suburban areas.

Oh dear, oh dear. Firstly the name nudge bar implies it’s to protect from nudges, i.e. impacts at extremely low speed, and possibly for nudging things out of the way. No, it won’t do much against anything you hit at cruising speed, but that wouldn’t be called a nudge, would it? It’s also as much use as a tit on a fish for mounting a winch to, which is something off roaders sometimes like to have fitted for when they get stuck. Secondly taking them off and on is not a quick job like changing a wheel. It can take hours and could bugger up the airbags if not done properly, to say nothing of the obvious dangers implied by a poorly fitted bar. It should probably be left to the pros but if people are forced to go to a specialist on the edge of town every time they go on a camping trip or come into the city from a rural area it won’t be – people will do DIY to save the expense and some of them will do poor jobs. As for the other guy’s idea of banning urban owners, what about the driver who does most of his driving in the city but goes out into remote areas now and then? Is that a reason to deprive him of what he regards as essential safety equipment just because the people who see him driving round the inner suburbs think he’s posing? Is that a reason to make his car possibly less desirable to rural buyers when he comes to sell it?

And even a bar fitted for purely for pose value shouldn’t be banned. Personally I wouldn’t have one but I don’t support banning anything based on what I personally wouldn’t do, especially if my personal risk seems pretty low. As far as cars and roobars go I’ve always had an unspoken agreement with motorised traffic that if it would stay off the pavement then I’d stay out of the road or exercise due care if I had to cross, and since this has so far had 100% success at not being run over I really don’t care what someone fits to their car. Christ, deck it out like a prop from a Mad Max movie if you want. If we both obey the road rules and be sensible I’m probably more likely to be hit by lightning. For me bullbars and roobars are even more motivation for me to stay out of the road, but above all else I recognise that they’re an essential piece of safety equipment for some people. And oddly enough while the federal government seems oblivious this fact is actually quite well known in Canberra.

Canberra, the ACT (Australian Capital Territory – Angry E) and adjacent areas in NSW, are ‘hot spots’ for motor vehicle collisions involving kangaroos. NSW police have attended far more collisions in the Yass-Goulburn-Queanbeyan area than anywhere else, including other NSW country towns and rural districts. In Canberra, rangers commonly record more than 1,000 roadside kangaroo attendances per year, and estimate there are twice as many collisions as attendances. This is not reducing the kangaroo populations, nor is the annual increase in the number of collisions due merely to expansion of Canberra and increased numbers of cars. The rate per registered vehicle, of motor vehicle collisions involving kangaroos, has been increasing significantly.

In a 2008 telephone survey of 600 Canberra residents, out of the respondents who had ever owned an ACT registered vehicle, 17 per cent stated that the vehicle had hit a kangaroo on an ACT road.

Recall that a ban would save perhaps 15 lives a year nationwide and consider that 17% of the ACT, which for comparison is roughly comparable in size and population density to East Yorkshire or one of the smaller French departments such as Vaucluse, comes to more than 60,000 people. Now what do you think would happen if 17% of the residents there had hit a similar sized animal, say a fallow deer? Yeah, exactly. Canberra are talking about following Europe’s lead but I can’t help thinking that if faced with the same problem far from banning the things the Euronannies might have made “deer-bars” compulsory by now.

PS – there was another comment on the ABC website that caught my attention because it touched on recent themes on this blog, those of intolerance, denormalisation and the march of those little boots of hatred. Yes, I’m talking about the ongoing vilification of the poor smokers again, and this comment is a perfect example of why I stand with them even though I quit ages ago. As I often find myself saying,
Niemöller was right.

george: 25 Jan 2011 8:47:24am
There is clearly no place for bullbars on urban vehicles or in urban settings.

Why do we police speeding and other other sometimes minor misdemeanors so ferociously but ignore known hazards?

Another approach might be to legislate that those who choose to have potentially hazardous and harmful accessories fitted to their car might have to bear greater liability for their cost to society. Either through insurance or culpability in the event of 3rd party injury.

Non smoker: 25 Jan 2011 9:07:56am
Good point george. Smokers would thus be in this group of drivers who fall into this group of hazardous drivers

And onwards they march, towards the rest of us, getting closer and closer…..

The price of nico-hatred.

And for a change it’s in pound and pence, and, thanks to the PFI system, it’s also fucking extortionate. The whole thing is the usual litany of waste but this one stood out.

A hospital which charged £52,000 for a job that cost £750. Demolishing a shelter for smokers resulted in the PFI contractor charging £2,600 a year for the “extra cleaning”.

Profit from hatred and denormalisation, eh. Marvellous.

Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink – UPDATED

If someone somewhere isn’t blaming Australia’s pissy weather in general and the flooding in Queensland in particular on warble gloaming I’d be very surprised, but it’s worth remembering that there are ways in which we can bugger things up which are much harder to argue. Take flood meadows, for example. In the UK it’s been noted that some have been built on and that as a result when the local river swells it doesn’t have nice permeable fields to spill into but roads and car parks, which means the flood waters extend further than they would have before some dickheads pitched up and covered acres of natural drainage with concrete and tarmac. It shouldn’t come as a great shock to find out that a similar variety of anthropogenic fuckuparation has been at work here (my emphasis).

… Toowoomba – Australia’s Garden City – has been battling drought for almost a decade. … Along the way, the creeks have been prettied and preened and slotted into your typical modern urban plan. And the breadth of their flow – and their seminal right to a small flood plain – has been gradually stolen away.

At the intersections of Victoria, Margaret and Russell streets – where the boiling muddy tsunami was its fiercest and most graphically filmed – the city council had embarked on an ambitious beautification plan to turn the creek into a pleasing urban feature, complete with boardwalks, gardens, illumination and seating. Everyone thought it was wonderful, except for cynics such as my husband and me. In fact, every time we drove past the feature we would say to no one in particular: This little creek is going to make them sorry one day. Tragically, we were right.

Early yesterday morning I went back to the bruised and battered Margaret Street to support any local business that still had the heart to open. … When I went to buy my newspaper, the newsagent told me he was devastated, not because of what had happened but because the engineer who had worked on the beautification project told him he couldn’t make them listen when he pleaded for bigger pipes – “18-footers” he called them – to let the water through, because it simply didn’t suit the aesthetics of the architects and landscapers.

So that’s what happened to my city, folks, the same as happened to so much of flooded Queensland. We did stupid and really, really dumb things because we thought we could get away with them. We built the wrong sort of houses and the wrong sort of bridges. We built towns and suburbs on flood plains. And we ignored at our peril the forces of nature and the history of the great floods that have shaped this continent for thousands of years.

In our arrogance, we created towns and cities better suited to the whims of bean-counters and city-bound architects than the natural lie of the land. And for 20 years we cheerfully welcomed new settlers to Queensland with a “beautiful one day, perfect the next”.

We didn’t tell them what this place was really like when it rained.

I don’t know that I’d agree that anyone, much less something inanimate like a geographical feature, has a “seminal right” to a flood plain but I get her point: we take risks when we build on something that has flooded in the past since in developing the land it loses some of its ability to drain away excess water. I’m not saying that developing such areas should not be allowed or that the decision to do so should only be made by experts such as council planners – in the former case I take the normal libertarian line that you should be able to do what you like with land you own, and in the latter case whoever refused to heed the advice about bigger pipes in Toowoomba demonstrates why leaving it to such “experts” is no solution either. However, if what someone does with their land affects what happens to someone else’s that’s another matter.

We can’t control the rain but we can make its effects worse when it lands, and those who choose to take that risk should be liable for the effects those decisions have on others. What I’m sure will happen is a great exercise in collectivism* in which the Commonwealth government in Canberra will give billions of dollars (either already paid by or eventually to be paid by everyone in Australia) to add to that of the Queensland state government (either paid by or to be paid by Queenslanders). What ought to happen is that anyone who has been part of a decision to develop in such a way as to affect the drainage and allow flooding to reach areas that would otherwise be above water should be in a fucking court, sweating at the thought of how much this might cost them. The problem is that when any level of government is involved, and since they just luuurve telling everyone what they may and may not do with their own land this is a given, you can’t simply sue the bastards. Take ’em to court by all means, but remember that while private developers may get clobbered any win against any level of government will still come from your own future taxes. An entry is made on the books and taxes, present and future, will be adjusted accordingly. It’s not so much like punching fog as punching yourself in the face.

There are really only two options. First, and most obvious, is that all government planning oversight must end. This might sound as if the developers will be let off the leash completely but right now the leash is probably not kept particularly short in many cases anyway, and its length might even be directly proportional to how loaded the developers are. Ending planning oversight will at least mean that when things go pear shaped and law suits are brought it will not be the fucking plaintiffs who end up paying damages to themselves. The second option, for those who really believe that planning departments are an absolute necessity, is even simpler: make planners personally liable as well as corporate developers.

For want of an 18 foot pipe a part of Toowoomba is lost, even if only temporarily. It might not have made any difference but it is just possible that the chance of bankruptcy for ignoring that advice might have focussed a few minds sufficiently for someone to tell the architects and landscape designers to go jump in a lake.

UPDATE – not that this has much to do with the theme of planning and poor decisions, but in addition to all the problems Queenslanders are facing with the water itself they are also having to deal with other things that are either trying to escape the floods or swimming around in the extra water. Snakes, crocodiles and even bloody sharks are just noticeable hazards that might cause you to overlook the mosquito that’s just helped itself to some of your blood and left you with a case of dengue fever by way of a thank you. On the other hand some animals really aren’t with the scare-the-shit-out-of-everyone program and are acting like a collaboration between Aesop and Disney.

I am a frog, it’s in my nature to bag a free ride. No, really it is.

* I’m hoping for a rather more inspiring act of collectivism than the “You vill make donationz by vay of your vunderful governmentz” variety. A couple of years ago the Black Saturday bush fires here in Victoria prompted people to put their hands in their pockets to help those affected, and I’m sure it’ll be the same for the Queensland flooding. I’ve already seen at least one retailer collecting (and chipped in) and I’m sure others are doing the same. How much more would be offered if so much wasn’t already taken by force I leave to your imagination.

Drawing a line.

I’ve made no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Chuckles FcKnuckles, his over priced biscuits, and his loopy beliefs, or that in principle I’m a republican (small “r”). I think the guy is an over-priviliged tool. But this is out of order:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/template/utils/ooyala/telegraph_player.swf

Well done, protest drones and other useful idiots. You’ve brought out sympathy in me for a guy I have held in contempt probably for far longer than many of you. You stupid, stupid twats.

‘Nothing he can do.’

Prisoners in Britain will soon be able to vote, thanks to the European Court, and apparently David Cameramong is exasperated and furious. Good. He bloody should be. Plenty of other people have been exasperated and furious for bloody years that Europe has so much say over British law, and it’s more than time the Prime Minister of the day got a taste of it. What’s worrying is Cameramong’s admission that there’s nothing he can do about it.

Nothing the Prime Minister can do about it? Or nothing that David Cameramong can do about it? They don’t have to be the same thing, and if it’s the latter we’ve clearly got the wrong man in No. 10. On the other hand if it’s the former then that’s something that needs to be changed, in which case I think we’ve still got the wrong man in No. 10.

‘kinell!

Symmetry.

Just as the UK is finding its political parties are more alike than ever, so it is Down Under. A front bench politician is suggesting, apparently in all seriousness, that the High Street banks are charging too much interest on top of the base rate set by the Reserve Bank of Australia. You might think it sounds like a Labor policy but while I wouldn’t have put it past them to consider it, control freaks that they are, it actually isn’t one of theirs. You might think that maybe, if the Australian Greens are of the watermelon variety, that it’s one of their policies, and certainly at least one person in Canberra did.

Liberal parliamentary secretary Don Randall, though, lampooned the idea as one typical of the Australian Greens.

“This is just another one of their … lunatic fringe-type ideas,” he told reporters in Canberra.

But it wasn’t the Greens either, although it didn’t take them long to point out that they do have a Bill in the Senate intended to do something similar. Unfortunately for Don Randall it was actually said by his fellow Liberal and Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and so not for the first time I’m sitting here wondering where the fuck some of the Australian Liberals were when the dictionaries were handed out.

Liberal

Adjective
1. Showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; “a broad political stance”; “generous and broad sympathies”; “a liberal newspaper”; “tolerant of his opponent’s opinions”.
2. Having political or social views favoring reform and progress.
3. Tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition.
4. Given or giving freely; “was a big tipper”; “the bounteous goodness of God”; “bountiful compliments”; “a freehanded host”; “a handsome allowance”; “Saturday’s child is loving and giving”; “a liberal backer of the arts”; “a munificent gift”; “her fond and openhanded grandfather”.
5. Not literal; “a loose interpretation of what she had been told”; “a free translation of the poem”.

Noun
1. A person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties.
2. A person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets.

Just considering the nouns, and in particular the second one, does this clown sound remotely liberal? And if not what the hell does that say about the party’s leadership?

Well, I have news for you, Joe Hockey. I don’t fucking need you to protect me from my nasty bank, which I don’t find all that nasty to be perfectly honest. But if I do feel they are taking the piss I will, being more a Classic Liberal than whatever kind of liberal you pass for in poor light, take my business away and fuck off elsewhere. My threshold for doing this might not be the same as the bloke over the road but when a bank or any other business offers too little value its customers will increasingly look elsewhere. I haven’t as yet, but for all I know the bloke over the road already has. This is the self regulating market referred to in definition 2. Your not so liberal suggestion, Joe, verges on nationalising the banks. Oh, not with taxpayers’ money but by legislative fiat, by chaining them with more government oversight and by removing their freedom to operate freely as private enterprises. In your desire to jump on the bank bashing bandwagon and appear all ‘fair go’ to everyone all you have actually achieved is briefly to out-socialist the fucking Australian Labor Party and put yourself out there in – sorry, what did your colleague call it again? Oh yes – the lunatic fringe with the bloody Greens.

So there you have it, folks. Liberal, Labor, Green – similar kinds of authoritarian fucknuts dreaming up similar kinds of ways in which the lives and private business of 22 million people can be run by their little cabal in Canberra.

Fuck you, Joe, and fuck the lot of you up there.

Nuclearphobia.

Australia in general and Victoria in particular are chronic sufferers of nuclearphobia, the irrational fear of a form of power generation that elsewhere in the world is used quite safely to supply nearly four fifths of their electricity, and even though there is shortly to be a state election this isn’t likely to change. It can be taken as read that the Greens are nuclearphobes but I’m disappointed to see both the main parties ruling it out as well.

VICTORIA will remain a nuclear-free state, regardless of who wins next month’s state election. Nuclear power is not needed in Victoria because it is expensive, dangerous and obsolete given the state’s abundance of energy options, say Premier John Brumby and Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu.

A Committee for Melbourne study reported in The Age yesterday called for nuclear power stations to cope with growing electricity demand and to reduce carbon emissions.

Great, just fucking great. And what the fuck do you propose to use to keep the fucking lights on, John? It’s not going to be bloody unicorn tears and fairy wishes, is it?

Close, very close.

He said his government was focused on renewable energy.

And I’m sure that Big Eco, having many of its renewable fingers in various taxpayer funded subsidy pies, is just fucking tumescent to hear it. As, of course, are the coal mining and oil and gas drilling mobs, because they know what John Brumby isn’t saying, which is that for the majority of the time when renewables aren’t supplying you have to produce power by conventional means, i.e. burning coal, oil and gas. Worse, when your renewables are something as intermittent and unreliable as wind you need to keep the conventional generators spinning even though they’re not producing electricity just so they can take over at a moment’s notice. How do you think they’re kept spinning? Yep, by burning coal, oil or gas.

Now for parties that believe the warble gloaming weather gods are angry with us, as both Liberals and Labor seem to, the solution to all this carbon emitting-ness would appear to be a simple one: go nuclear. Even if you are, like me, a sceptic nuclear is a good option but if you’re a warmist, or at least a warmist willing to retain modern living standards, it ought to be at least part of the answer to your prayers. And as The Age said they’re not the only ones who believe both in the carbon dioxide problem and the nuclear solution:

SERIOUS consideration should be given to building nuclear power stations in Victoria within decades to cope with growing demand for electricity and the need to slash carbon emissions, a report by a business think tank says.

Committee for Melbourne chief executive Andrew MacLeod said if Melbourne was to cope with the serious infrastructure problems it faced over coming decades, there needed to be a ‘‘serious examination’’ of options such as nuclear power.

‘‘We need to take the emotion out of this [nuclear power] debate and put the logic back in,’’ he said. ‘‘Right now we rule out nuclear, don’t even talk about it. We need to have a serious discussion.’’

I’m going to leave out discussing some of their other ideas (such as road charging) for another day, but when you boil it down I’m absolutely with them on nuclear power: we need to strip out the emotion and have an adult discussion.

Unfortunately we haven’t got adults leading the discussion. We’ve got fucking politicians.

But Mr Brumby said yesterday: ”Nuclear power is expensive, there are some risks with it and we have had a long-standing policy in Victoria about a nuclear-free state.”

Oh, Jesus. I hardly know where to start.

Yes, it is expensive but the same applies to renewables, much less all the untested and immature technology that is being touted as the fix to make the angry weather gods calm down. And Christ, any big infrastructure project is expensive. You buggers have committed Victorians to a large and incidentally energy hungry desalination plant in Wonthaggi at a cost of $4 billion plus ongoing costs, but that expense was deemed less important than guaranteeing Melbourne’s future water supply. Why isn’t the same thinking applied to energy? You took a punt on desal at Wonthaggi despite the risk that the drought might break and fresh rains would begin refilling the dams and reservoirs, and of course sod’s law that seems to be what’s happened now we’ve all been committed to the bloody thing. But with energy it’s not like you’re going to get lots of electricity just drop out of the fucking sky over Melbourne.

Yeah, okay, but it’s not exactly easy to recharge my phone with it.

Alright, what about these risks that the Great Leader Premier is so concerned about? Yes, nuclear energy is not 100% safe, but then not a lot is absolutely risk free and as this table shows when compared with other forms of power generation nuclear has actually got a bloody good record:

Now that table is from an industry website and might not be completely impartial (I admit I haven’t checked the sources mentioned – I’ve got a bit too much on my plate right now) but even assuming they’re off by a factor of ten it suggests that the nuclear power industry is no more dangerous than natural gas, which certainly isn’t viewed as too dangerous for Victoria despite incidents like this:

The 1998 Esso Longford gas explosion was a catastrophic industrial accident which occurred at the Esso natural gas plant at Longford in the Australian state of Victoria’s Gippsland region. On 25 September 1998, an explosion took place at the plant, killing two workers and injuring eight. Gas supplies to the state of Victoria were severely affected for two weeks.

No doubt Brumby and his fellow nuclearphobes are concerned about the potential for an incident such as Windscale or Chernobyl that causes casualties and deaths in the wider population. Fair enough, although Windscale wasn’t a civil industry power reactor but made for weapons production, and that was also a feature of the Russian RBMK reactor design used at Chernobyl. Nuclearphobes should also note that both designs lacked a proper containment structure and are therefore not reactors that anyone with even a shaky grip on sanity would construct anywhere in the world today. Since any discussion of nuclear power in a currently non-nuclear state should only revolve around designs which you would construct we can surely ignore both. So what about the popular reactor designs, the Light Water Reactors? The worst accident involving an LWR, actually the pressurised water variety, is of course Three Mile Island, and while I’m sure that the only things relaxed during that event were a lot of sphincters the number of dead as a result of the accident has been estimated as less than one.* You probably wouldn’t choose to copy exactly that design for a modern power reactor in Victoria either, but it’s a fair point that like Chernobyl and Windscale people outside the plant itself were put at risk. And of course that never happens with natural gas, does it?

Medical student in horror gas explosion.

Ah. Yes, as per that table above, fatalities involved in natural gas use are about 85 per Terawatt-year and, unlike the 8 (8!) for nuclear include members of the general public.

So risk wise I’d call that honours even, if not a win for nuclear since the next generation reactor designs include passively safe and even inherently safe designs. Has natural gas moved on in the same way? We’ve been using it a lot longer and are pretty aware of the risks, and yet still people die. Possibly we’ve hit or are nearing the buffers for safety in gas at a time when nuclear, already being no less safe than gas if we’re being very pessimistic about it, and probably actually better, is getting safer still. The only other risk is terrorism, and aside from the fact that the only terrorist attack on a reactor I’ve ever heard of was carried out not on the orders of some cave dwelling fucknuts but by a member of the fucking Green Party of Switzerland you could make a pretty convincing case for paranoia about almost any form of generation. We worry about terrorists getting their hands on nuclear material – although again, new designs may use nearly all their fuel and solve both that problem and the long term waste storage issue – but gas based bombs can and have been used by terrorists too. That’s no more going to stop gas production than the fact that now and again there are accidents which kill and injure people. Hydro failures can be hugely destructive. Christ, the Yanks have been so worried about someone blowing themselves up on the Hoover Dam they haven’t allowed trucks to cross it for ages and have just finished a snazzy new bridge to deal with the problem. Do we worry about building dams? Well, actually yes we do, but we’re fucking adult about it and just do what we can to work out all the risks in advance and design to minimise or mitigate them. Plane crashing into the containment building? Just fucking test it, man!

So why is it that so many governments, including Victoria’s, seem congenitally incapable of this sort of testing and risk management when it comes to anything involving the word “nuclear”? A rational look at the issues of costs and risks shows nothing that can’t also apply to other forms of generation and even other large infrastructure projects, though I accept that rational looks at the nuclear option from a politician may be pretty rare events. But perhaps it’s John Brumby’s last justification for continuing to piss about with windmills while burning hydrocarbons and emitting the CO2 that we’re supposed to fear so much. Remember what he said?

… we have had a long-standing policy in Victoria about a nuclear-free state.

The favourite excuse for avoiding progress. This is how we’ve always done it and we’re not prepared to change. Remind me, John. How many years did mankind eat raw meat caught with sharpened sticks and bits of flint, and did anyone think the length of time we’d been doing it that way was a reason not to master faire and eventually invent supermarkets and ovens? Would you have had us still setting traps and cooking in fire pits? Would you even be advocating avoiding this new fangled, hot, orangey, wavey stuff that makes the meat go brown and taste different? Of course you bloody wouldn’t. So why, aside from competing for part of the Green vote, do you continue this childish hysteria about nuclear power?

Still, why should you be worried when the tool you’re up against in next month’s election is actually saying the same thing? It’s not like you’re at risk of losing because of the Liberals’ sensible energy policy.

‘Kinell!

* A similar claim has been made in the New England Journal of Medicine here. It’s here, but only for subscribers. However, I got part of the relevant section with a Google search: “If we take a figure of 5000 person-rems per cancer, the accident at Three Mile Island caused less than one cancer.”).

Nannying twats.

.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) will announce that dozens of new powers are to be handed down from Whitehall to local authorities, including strategies to tackle vandalism.

On the one hand I like the idea of power being devolved to a local level and think there should be rather more of it. On the other hand since this idea still involves a business being unable to set its own prices according to its needs it doesn’t go nearly far enough for me. In fact since, as far as I’m aware, the current situation is that a business may set its own prices for whatever reasons it chooses this idea is actually the opposite of devolution. Deciding what to charge is to be taken away from the individuals and businesses who currently have it and placed in the hands of the lowest tier of the state. The councils, of course, are on the end of a set of financial strings held by central government, which in turn is lead by a Mr David William Donald Cameron, a nannying cunt of the first ordure.

Among the most eye-catching is the new power to put a stop to cheap alcohol offers at supermarkets if such deals seriously undercut prices charged at local pubs.
David Cameron has already voiced his support for stopping supermarkets selling what he described as “20 tins of Stella for a fiver”.

Did the UK get a change of government or did I fucking dream it? Look, Dave, you illiberal fucktard, it was always cheaper to buy booze in the shops than the pubs which strongly suggests that it wasn’t the price of beer that people went to the pubs for in the first place. It was the social aspect, not beer as such but beer and good company, that kept pubs selling booze for more than the supermarkets. This lasted right up until a wedge was driven into all the social groups, dividing them into those who smoked and were not welcome and those who didn’t and were. I neither drink nor smoke but I socialise with people who do, and guess what – because of the same authoritarian legislation here this socialising never ever happens in a pub. The state government thinks it has made the pubs a friendly environment for me, but I don’t call the sitting with a few fellow non-smokers and an over priced coke while the smokers are temporarily banished to the car park “friendly”. The last government in the UK made the same mistake and yours, Davey, seems determined to blow the opportunity to fix it.

In July, the Coalition government said it was to publish a consultation paper including proposals to ban shops selling alcohol below cost price.
The following month, the Prime Minister backed plans by 10 councils in the North West to create a by-law making it illegal to sell alcohol for less than 50p a unit.
He said at the time: “I think the idea of the councils coming together on this is a good one and we will certainly look at it very sympathetically.”

And what the fuck’s it got to do with you if someone does sell at under 50p per unit or even offers twenty cans of Stella for a fiver (if indeed that’s ever happened)? In your nanny shaped mind the person buying it can only want to chug the whole lot in one sitting, while the reality is that many would be buying for a party where ten or twelve people would have one or two each of those twenty cans, and others simply want to buy a lot of beer in one go for consumption over a long period. Nearly every Aussie I know buys their beer in ‘slabs’ but not one ever drinks it all in one go. Yes, some do have too much and cause problems, but if you told the police to stop fucking twittering about it long enough to make some fucking arrests and the courts to actually deal effectively with drunken troublemakers you wouldn’t need to concern yourself with other people’s private transaction. But because Dave thinks the irresponsible few who do get absolutely shitfaced are representative of everybody who buys alcohol there must be no promos and no bargains for the responsible majority. Ain’t that right, Dave? So if I were to buy beer for guests in a UK supermarket – beer I have no intention of drinking myself – I have to be charged a higher price because you assume I’m going to drink it all and be an obnoxious drunken pain in the arse, and getting ripped off somehow makes up for that.

Well, fuck you, Dave, fuck you very much. The irony is that the whole fucking thing might well be illegal anyway.

The new move is likely to require a change in legislation -as current competition laws ban discrimination against suppliers who can offer goods at the cheapest price.

Good luck with that, because you might actually have to grow balls and stand up to the EU. Every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case I hope it’s getting to watch you twisting on the horns of a quite unnecessary dilemma.

Quote of the Day.

Seen at Douglas Carswell’s:

Witnessed yesterday … as a throng of left-wing extremists hurled abuse at by-standers.

“Scum!” one yelled at a well-dressed woman towing one of those little suitcases on wheels.

“I work for the Guardian!” she protested “You shouldn’t make assumptions”.

Pffffffffttt. The only thing that could have improved it is if the answer had come back: “We know”.

Skidding off the Laffer Curve.

I do hope this doesn’t come as a shock to anyone in the real world.

The Treasury will lose hundreds of millions of pounds in vital tax revenues each year as hedge fund managers move overseas, experts have warned.
One-in-four hedge fund employees has already left London to move to Switzerland, which is said to have a more stable tax regime, according to consultancy Kinetic partners.
Calculations by the company claim the UK could have already forgone about £500m in tax revenues, based on the 1,000 or so hedge fund managers it says have already left the country.
The introduction of the 50pc tax rate on earnings above £150,000 is thought to have triggered the departure of many hedge fund managers. Political attacks and regulatory uncertainty have also been cited as key reasons.

Well done, Gordon. Well done, Ally. If you foresaw the election result and chose to leave a little land mine for the Cobbleition in the form of a tax George’ll be tempted to keep just to try to make ends meet (not a hope) but which will actually tempt the wealthiest and most mobile taxpayers to bugger off to where they can keep more of what they earn, then well done to you both – it was a brilliant move.

On the other hand if, as is much more likely, you actually thought it was going to make more money for HM Treasury you are indeed the pair of deluded twats that I always thought you were.

Ideas for spicing up the Labour party leadership contest.

Kickboxing? Sounds just perfect, especially if we can have the two Gallagh… er, Miliband brothers in some kind of Inches-From-Deathmatch.

“It’s good that I can still stand,” said Payap Tongchuen, 59, after donning gloves and trunks and going two rounds with Direk Tungfang.

Sounding better all the time.


The pair battled it out in a boxing ring set up for the occasion in front of the parliament building in Bangkok.

Parliament Square is practically made for it.

Muay Thai, as Thai kick-boxing is known, is the national sport and its popularity has been growing worldwide.
Fighters employ punches, kicks and elbow and knee strikes against their opponents.

Oh, I’d pay money, I really would.

In the rrrrrred corner, ‘Bananaman’ Daaaaaaaaaaaay-vid Milibaaaaand. In the other rrrrrrrrrred corner, Eahhhhyedd ‘Forrest Gump’ Milibaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand. Now, I want a vicious, bloody fight with claret everywhere. Seconds out. Gentlemen, you may start your chainsaws.

Maybe I’m straying away from the original format here but I really feel this would make everyone sit up and watch.