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Barque to the Future…

This is USS Zumwalt…

Just launched at a cost of umpty billions. Now I know aeroplanes and bugger all about ships but does that not look rather similar to a US Civil War ironclad to you? Like this…

The Zumwalt class is designed to have the radar sig of a fishing smack. I guess you might get much the same from the CSS Albermarle not, obviously, that it was an issue at the time. It is possible (and the USN has been ickling on about railguns for some time and a planning sea trials in 2016 which is when the Zumwalt is due to enter service. So clearly looks may deceive and it might look the same but be bigger on the inside so to speak.)

So… It’s kinda odd but for completely different reasons the naval architects have gone back to the future. Either that or the Confederacy had some unknown naval genius beavering away and designing a low radar-return ship almost a century before radar.

But, and this is a biggy for me. Now it might sound nit-picking but how the heck is that a destroyer? It displaces 15,000 tons, it is 610ft long. That is a cruiser at least. Surely. Is this some bizarre ruse to get the funding past Congress? Because the Zumwalt class is essentially designed as a 1-1 replacement for the Iowa class battleships.

That is a broadside from an Iowa class (Actually BB61 USS Iowa). Those are 16″ guns. Who needs railguns when you can hurl a shell the mass of a VW for a couple of dozen miles. I’d be much more impressed by railguns on the Zumwalt if it was nuclear powered and therefore had practically unlimited electricity. Hell’s teeth I’d be going for a fully nuclear navy! No need for oilers and fill ‘er up every 25 years! You’d buy a car that did that. Especially if it had a railgun. It has to be noted though that we won the Cold War partly (thank you Ronnie!) with recommissioned Iowa class battleships and the off-key caterwauling of skanty-clad songstresses. I dunno which scared the Kremlin most. But they are very big guns indeed and Cher is wearing very little indeed. That was the ’80s and that is how we won. Hard and soft pressure. Ronnie and MTV – an unstoppable alliance.

I mean can you imagine how dull communism must have been?

Yeah, and inevitably here’s the video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G4O5AMSevc

Yeah, I liked the ’80s. We seemed to be going somewhere and that dear reader is a guilty pleasure from the era. But that’s one hell of a ship whatever you think of Cher.

And if we had another Ronnie then Vlad would be hiding under a table in the Kremlin with stained trews. And if we could take out Comrade Kim and the Ayatollahs and dear old Bob and… I can dream. But that video speaks to me of serious belief in our moral, social, military and economic might. We believed it then. That is why I liked the ’80s.

PS. The Iowa class were designed to be Panamax. They had 18″ wiggle room so never again complain about parking in TESCO.

PPS. This has been edited by moi. This fecking Toshiba is at the very end of the tether.

Obama and Putin: Playing the Same Game

The War of the Community Organizers. Mr. Greenfield explains that both of them need their enemies, in order to ensure their power.

Obama and Putin: Two Totalitarians, One Game
March 27, 2014 by Daniel Greenfield
86 Comments

[ ... ]

Every time a battle is won and an election ends, a new source of social conflict is dug up and deployed for war.

As a domestic radical, divisiveness is his natural weapon. Obama plays on fragmented identities, assembling coalitions to wage war against some phantom white heteronormative patriarchy consisting of a middle class barely able to pay its bills.

[ ... ]

[Obama's coalition] needs an enemy to give it meaning. Without a common enemy it will tear itself apart and die.

The same is true of the anti-American coalition that Putin has cobbled together out of Marxist dictators in Latin America, Shiite fanatics in Iran, a North Korean prep school grad who starves his people to build nukes and radical American leftists convinced that every war is a CIA conspiracy. Like allying the NAACP, AFL-CIO and GLAAD; it’s an odd conclave, but as long as everyone focuses on a common foe, they can all be herded in the right direction.

Obama is an adequate national community organizer, but Putin is a global community organizer.

It’s not just that Obama is weak and inept, but he’s using a rulebook that Moscow is entirely familiar with because its men helped write it. The KGB vets running the show understand Obama intimately because they understood his mentors. The tactics that Obama and his people imagine are clever and innovative are minor examples of the tactics that the USSR was using abroad before he was even born.

Obama isn’t isolating Putin. Putin is isolating Obama. He’s doing it in the same way that Obama did it to Republicans.

Anti-Americanism has nothing to with America. Anti-Americanism creates a phantom enemy.

[ ... ]

Obama needs a Republican enemy to keep his people in line. Putin needs an American enemy to keep his people in line. If Obama understood this, he would also understand that Putin is as likely to work with him to defuse the conflict, as Obama would with John Boehner.

Putin and Obama are both deeply corrupt men whose former popularity has waned and are badly in need of distractions.

[ ... ]

Obama thinks globally and acts locally. Putin thinks locally and acts globally.

Putin is determined to score points from the post-American transition. Reducing American power and influence worldwide was a move that the foreign policy left believed would defuse tensions. Instead it has turned into a gold rush for every petty tyrant and terrorist eager to count coup by humiliating the United States.

Obama wanted a peaceful post-American transition. Instead he’s getting worldwide chaos and war.

Putin seeks out a conflict with the United States for the same reason that Obama seeks one out with Republicans….

[...SNIP...]

The Egg Dance

I’ve recently got back from Amsterdam. Now I suppose it is moderately unusual to collapse into giggles in the Rijksmuseum’s section on Dutch 12th-17th Century art but I managed it. This is a detail from the picture that made me laugh…

That is a detail from The Egg Dance by Pieter Aertsen.

What made me laugh though was the caption next to it…

At right, in this brothel, a young man does an egg dance to the music of a bagpiper. While dancing, he had to roll an egg within a chalk circle – without it breaking – and to cover it with a wooden bowl. This ‘pointless’ amusement, along with the dissolute behaviour of the other figures, served as a moral warning against debauchery.

Emphasis mine. I just loved the phrase “This ‘pointless’ amusement”. Sums up life really. Less, seriously though, this was painted in 1552 and I guess you had to make your own amusement back then. The Rijksmuseum does also boast a large collection of impedimenta for drinking games. An inventive (if drunken) lot those renaissance Dutch.

In fact it stuck in my mind so much that upon my return I googled (I think the term is so ubiquitous as to have lost the capital like “hoover” has) the picture. I found this.

Now one of the first things I wondered was why the Rijksmuseum was so sure it was a brothel. To me (and my wife) it just looked like a fairly chaotic party in a home…

At the back of the room an old man is playing the bagpipes. Because of its shape, the instrument often symbolised the male genitalia. In the window is a jug containing a leek, a vegetable of the onion family. A sixteenth-century viewer would immediately have realised that the scene was a room in a brothel. Onions were supposed to be a stimulant. All around lie onion flowers, leek leaves and mussels, which were supposed to have the same quality. It was also thought to be true of eggs, the theme of the painting.

OK, the bagpipes I kinda got already. That’s a bit of a classic (cf Hieronymous Bosch)…

… Or indeed this. It is amazing how, across culture, time and geography, symbolism can be both steady yet sometimes obscure like the leek. Though that might explain the perennial appeal of Sir Tom Jones (or why, as I type, the Welsh are giving the Scots a hammering at the Rugby). This evening I shall be in the peculiar situation of cheering on France). Anyway back to my point.

From the same source (I almost hit “sauce” – hmm…)…

Pieter Aertsen has given this piquant scene a moral message that appears to reflect his own moral reservations. A joker is depicted on one of the wooden boards on the table, left, and on the other a goat jumping. These are cards in a Tarot set. In the sixteenth century everyone would have understood that these symbolised drunkenness and lust. The reel above the fireplace on the right is a sign of folly: in fact ‘reeling’ is still used today to describe a person swaying or staggering from the effects of alcohol.

The Egg Dance is one of the earliest paintings of a peasant scene. The elongated form suggests it was designed to be hung above a fireplace. This kind of genre painting was popular among the burghers of the cities. The moralistic message was often an excuse to paint a piquant scene. Aertsen was also commissioned to paint large religious works for churches. However, many of these were destroyed during the Iconoclast fury.

Emphasis mine. There is something almost reassuring about the continuity of this moral hypocrisy. We see it in modern times with the Islamosphere and the idea that a normally dressed woman is a hussy. And elsewhere.

“…the American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs” and she shows all this and does not hide it.”

- Sayyid Qutb (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood who are currently sexually assaulting “inappropriately hijabed” women and girls in Egypt” describing a Methodist tea-dance in Colorado in 1950.

Qutb apparently died a virgin having failed to find a woman “pure” enough for him. It would be farcical but for the Hell that has followed in his wake.

Or what about the most sanctimonious of businesses – the Co-op and it’s “Crystal Methodist”? The Co-op sells “ethical water” (whatever that might be) and it’s ordained Methodist preacher bank boss was using crystal meth, crack cocaine, ketamine and rent boys. Oh, and the bank had a “black hole” of over GBP1.5bn.

My favouritist newspaper in all the World is of course the Daily Mail which routinely in it’s “News” section includes scare stories about the sexualization of girls and women being driven into eating disorders by being “forced” by the media into looking like models and starlets right next to the “Femail” column (how cute) which is supposed to be about women’s issues (yeah, right). It includes stuff like this all the time.

So, to tie this all together… I’m not sure how but in some sense (and there are different variations but the basic tune is always the same) “elites”* of all descriptions will always find some sort of justification to indulge in the sins they would deny the plebs or… Well, something along those lines. Qutb is an outlier but there is still the same infernal moral arrogance of “I can see this for I am pure but you can’t”. It is the same as the burghers of Amsterdam all those years ago titillating themselves whilst feeling (or pretending to feel) morally superior to the lower orders.

Apparently there are things in the dungeon of the British Library that are so vile they can only be accessed in the presence of a couple of trustees of the British Library and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I bet Prince Philip has had a gleg…

*A term in political discourse I hate because when I was a lad “elite” meant the SAS and such. And not just gits.

D. Greenfield / Sultan Knish: The Green Socialists of Mars

A most interesting, longish piece in which Daniel Greenfield discusses the place of Climate-Alarmism, and of turn-of-the-20th-century SF, in what one might call “The Project for Social Change” (cue the Usual Suspects). Follow the Kitties to Zanzibar: Read the whole thing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Green Socialists of Mars

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog — 14 Comments

We live in a strange world in which the weather is a subject of furious political debate. People have been arguing about the weather ever since the first rainstorm caught the first man without the umbrella that he did not yet know how to make, but they didn’t hold political debates over it.

For the last fifty years, the anti-weather side has been insisting that the world is headed toward a Frostean apocalypse of ice or fire. …. The end of weather was here.

[ ... ]

The original error of climate researchers was their assumption that planets were more fragile than they truly are and could be undone by a nuclear exchange or even by a few coal plants. Carl Sagan, who had done much to popularize unscientific paranoia about nuclear winter and global warming, warned that the Gulf War’s oil fires would lead to a miniature nuclear winter.

They did not.

The mingling of philosophical paranoia over a godless universe and political pacifism disguised as science shaped not only Sagan’s musings, but the entire ideology of weather apocalypses which derived from the conviction that ungoverned man was bound to destroy his environment.

[ ... ]

Socialist science fiction had become a booming field in the late 19th century. Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward had envisioned time travel to a Socialist American utopia in the year 2000. It was a bad book, but a popular bestseller because it used the frame of pseudoscience to depict Socialism as both a practical model and inevitable. …

Novels such as “Politics and Life in Mars”, “Unveiling a Parallel”, “To Mars via the Moon”, “A Prophetic Romance” and “Red Star” envisioned culturally superior Martians demonstrating their advanced Socialist societies with income equality, planetary labor unions and pacifism to the human race.

In the Russian “Red Star,” the Lowellian canals are a Communist triumph over inhospitable nature anticipating the USSR and Communist China’s disastrous dam projects. The German writer of “Two Planets” envisioned the advanced Martians invading Earth to impose their superior Socialist society on human beings.

The Martians, like Global Warming, were a tool of radical social change.

[ ... SNIP]

The War against Eastasia: Theatre: The Paranoid Style in Libertarianism

Single Acts of Tyranny proposes to tyrannize us by destroying our fondest dream, which is that hell is the creation of the Devil which takes the form of bringing to Humanity that most desirable of conditions, happiness and joy — O hell, World PEACE, happiness and joy — by denying us everything that any human being could possibly need or want. In this case, the sense of physical sweetness that sugar brings us.

Now along comes Perfesser “Nudge” Sunstein, who says, “No such thing”: It’s all the woolly-minded Paranoid Libertarians, who broadcast to us the Sirens’ wail in the form of warnings against such things as slippery-slope arguments, plus four more dreadful paranoid ploys.

On the other hand, the Comments to the articule (what an apt typo! think I’ll leave it) seem to be running rather heavily against what they see as the Prof’s muddying of the waters.

Actually, it’s my observation that as soon as you let the meaning of words (that is, their meaning in Standard English, since there does have to be a standard for interpretation somewhere or “it’s deuces wild”) — as soon as you let the meaning of words become unmoored from their core meaning in Standard English, you are deep into the territory of the Slippery Slope and worse. Mr. Whittle did a wonderful illustration of how this works, on a Trifecta a few years back. If you have a “standard” as opposed to “basic” (but still paid) membership, I think it is, you can still watch it.

But I’m O/T there. The point is that ANY argument can, in my experience, be stretched to prove anything whatsoever, if you have just the teensiest bit of imagination. And Lefties are loaded with it, as long it informs them that their plans will work so well that they should just naturally have the final say.

Go, read — including the Comments, until you get bored: there are 288 of them so far, some meaty — and be Enlightened.

PS: Acts, no offense. That first line is my idea of humor. I do like your idea of putting 5 kg. of sugar in jail, though. Maybe it work to help me lose a little around the hips. :>)

Cooking with Nick Griffin

Yes, you heard it right. For my next trick I suspect it’ll have to be kite-surfing with the Dalai Lama.

Anyway, Nick Griffin, the now bankrupt leader of the BNP is presenting cookery shows on Youtube. I suppose it’s a bit like de-snagging LANs with Hitler. Or something. “Goering, you never told me this network was installed by a Herr Cohen!!!”. I digress and must move on because I have a 9am building a tokamak with Ant & Dec.

Anyway, here is the new Nigella in all his shambolic glory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8_HThEYP2o&noredirect=1

Well, there are things to note. I can cook and a beef casserole is one of my “signature dishes”. OK, I’m not exactly Michel Roux Jr (who is a perfidious frog, obviously – despite being a UK citizen – and my Mum fancies him!) and Mr Griffin cooked this veritable feast upon an Aga which is of course Swedish and we don’t want those Scandies coming over here with their affordable, but unfathomable furniture and their raping and pillaging of Lindisfarne (Northumberland folk-rock *shudder*) and all that. I once saw a doc about a plumber of Pakistani origin who fixed Agas. He was making a mint out of deranged cougars in Surrey who thought the path to enlightenment required the boiler from the Great Eastern chugging away in their kitchen. Anyway this guy who was doing well (and fair play) branded himself as “The Aga Khan”. It amused me.

Please watch the whole thing if you can. It is long but hilarious in parts. Some of it didn’t exactly amuse me though such as Nicky wearing a “Help for Heroes” shirt. I wonder what the Gurkhas or the many other Commonwealth troops in our armed forces think of that? Or what women make of it or how anyone who isn’t a total moron takes his advice on the need to remove the foil from a stock cube? Well the last one is funny. As are some similar “Top Tips”…

The Overhead.

The Internet c.1800s...

That was the semaphore system built by Claude Chappe in France around the time of the French Revolution. If the idea of big semaphore machines connecting a nation (indeed internationally) reminds you of the “Clacks” on Discworld then you are in the right ball-park – almost. There is a key difference which we shall come to though and it is a biggy.

Anyway, this is the size of the network…

... and its reach.

Now here is the big difference. What is the modern, electronic, internet as we know it used for? It is a chaos of chatter and (in)sanity, logic and weirdness, bank transactions, Christmas greetings, pornography, blogging, tweeting, facebook, gaming, terrorist plots and how to build a bomb or how to cook a risotto. It can be anything from an interview with One Direction or a seminar on quantum entanglement. It is humanity in toto.

The French clacks wasn’t (that is the “biggy” I mentioned) and neither could it technically be nor was intended to be. The inventor had this rather disingenuous thing to say,

“Chappe once claimed that a signal could go from Toulon to Paris – 120 stations across 475 miles – in just ten or twelve minutes. But he could not make that claim for a full message, even a relatively short one. Three signals per minute was the most that could be expected of even the fastest telegraph operator.”

In modern terms that is 1/20 bit per second (roughly – the Chappe code had a signal space of 98 symbols (2 beam positions and 7 positions each for the “arms” = 2x7x7=98) which is near enough the size of the standard 7 bit ASCII code – 128 symbols – to compare with allowing a bit of wiggle on human factors). Difference is the first common(ish) home modems worked at like 2000 bps or 40,000 times that speed. Sending a signal as simple as, “Advance at noon, reinforcements will meet on your left flank by 1pm.” would be nightmarish. And that is assuming absolute accuracy in transcription at all stations along the way. It need not be said that 2000bps is dismal. A slow ADSL line is over a thousand times faster and if BT Reach-Around has deemed fit to bother with laying fibre even ADSL on Cu is laughable. Sky (my broadband, TV and landline provider keep on trying to get BT to get us into the C21st – to no avail so far). There are always BT vans prowling and doing nowt. I’m not surprised. I used to work for BT and trying to get them to do anything to the porpoise is like assaulting Broadmoor with soft fruit. They might technically be private but they still behave like a state monopoly. Utterly complacent Bertram Blunts plus ultra.

Anyhoo, back to those old French folk. Not only was the system technically very limited (in that it was fast but with abysmal bandwidth) and therefore unsuitable for general communication but it was never intended for such use. Chappe again,

“…took it for granted that the telegraph network of which he dreamed would be a department of the state, government owned and operated. He saw it not as an instrument of knowledge or of riches, but as an instrument of power. ‘The day will come,” he wrote, ‘when the Government will be able to achieve the grandest idea we can possibly have of power, by using the telegraph system in order to spread directly, every day, every hour, and simultaneously, its influence over the whole republic.”

Chilling but not a million miles away from how our Lords and Masters see the internet. Fortunately they don’t really understand TCP/IP and all that jazz and I don’t think they understand the importance of a technology they simply don’t understand (they don’t understand much tech stuff). But they try, hence such things as the unbelievably poorly thought out violent and extreme pornography bill or assorted attempts around the globe to make pornography an “opt-in” service (for the sake of the children, naturally). And will it stop at porn? Does it ever stop? No, of course not!

Now obviously, there is a difference here – almost an inversion. The old French mechanical “clacks” was a way to govern and the modern internet is a way to keep tabs on the governed. This morning for the first time ever I used my bank card contactless (I’ve forgotten my PIN!!!). Some bugger at the NSA or GCHQ now knows what toilet paper I buy, the brand of ciggies I smoke and that I drink semi-skimmed milk. And yeah, I know they could harvest that from the chip anyway but… as a true believing physicist I find action at a distance, “spooky” ;-) That’s a quote from Einstein by the way though Newton himself was not 100% happy with gravity working like that. General Relativity is at least a locally realistic theory. It may be (usually) more mathematically complicated but Relativity makes far fewer metaphysical assumptions than did Newton. Newton has a fair few mad old dears stashed in the attic clad in their wedding dresses. But I digress…

The simple truth is that by hook or by crook any advance in comms will be seen by our Lords and Masters as a potential means of control. Whether it is owning the entire shooting match or just spying on it is a mere matter of tech to the L&M. Tech they will, thankfully, cock-up profoundly but they do try, bless ‘em.

All quotes from “The Information” by James Glieck.

On the worship of little tin gods

St. Edward of Snowden, patron saint of whistleblowers

In part this comes down to SAoT’s recent post on the death of Nelson Mandela, but mainly from an argument with Perry de Havilland over at Samizdata who appears to be so utterly blinded by the “what” of St. Edward of Snowden’s revelations that he is unable to ask the fundamental question of “why” did he do what he did.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that the truth has come out about the NSA’s activities and if Snowden honestly felt that the way he did it was the only way that it could have been done then fair enough.

The problem is I find that the way that Snowden has gone about his revelations has been distinctly dubious.

This may be just the capricious nature of fate ruining the best laid plans of mice and men, but I consider that Snowden’s deliberately outing himself on the front page of the Guardian (when he could have revealed the necessary information without doing so), to be somewhat questionable.

I am uncomfortable with the fact that he is hiding under the coat tails of a country which would probably have killed him if he had committed the same offence there (as they did with Alexander Litvinenko)

I am uncomfortable that he has potentially carried US state secrets into Russia and, if so,  potentially revealed them to their state security apparatus in return for asylum in Russia.

I am uncomfortable about the sheer volume of information that he has in his possession, which he now appears to be either releasing in dribs-and-drabs to keep himself newsworthy or alternately holding back in some vain attempt to keep out of the clutches of the US Government by blackmailing the NSA from a safe haven in Russia.

Now I am, as some of you will know, a paranoid and suspicious son-of-a-bitch by nature and so it is entirely possible that my natural scepticism is preventing me from seeing the inherent beatitude of our glorious brother Snowden who shines his light of truth into the dark corners of the world.

If the general consensus is that I am being unreasonable, I promise to make amends by wearing a tinfoil hat and sitting in the corner murmuring quietly for a week (as if! Can you imagine…? :-) )

Orwell on Verbal Vandalism

Pursuant to an earlier discussion in which YrsTrly expressed displeasure with those who from ulterior motives hijack words in our rich and colorful language, stripping them of their original meaning and impoverishing our tongue … the Foot of All Knowledge explains Newspeak, and what I was trying to get at. :>)

Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit free thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, peace, etc. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as “thoughtcrime.”

Newspeak is explained in chapters 4 and 5 of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and in an appendix to the book. The language follows, for the most part, the same grammatical rules as English, but has a much more limiting, and constantly shifting vocabulary. Any synonyms or antonyms, along with undesirable concepts are eradicated. …

Orwell was inspired to invent Newspeak by the constructed language Basic English, which he promoted from 1942 to 1944 before emphatically rejecting it in his essay “Politics and the English Language.”[1]

Our Enemy, The State

Our enemy, the state

“It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men.

– Henry L. Mencken, 1926 

The above is one of the opening quotations in Albert J Nock’s 1935 classic “Our enemy, the state” and to my mind this single phrase along with the above quotation typifies my current view of the increasingly statist world within which we are forced to exist (I will not say “live”).

I am well aware that this viewpoint, while being common among libertarians, is very much at odds with the propagandised masses that surround us, who see the state as a beneficent or at least benign entity which would deliver an earthly utopia if only it weren’t for x, y or z. (more…)

Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?

Given that the wit and wisdom of Mandy Rice Davies is becoming all the rage with the upcoming Andrew Lloyd Gargoyle’s production of Stephen Ward… The Musical (yes I’m trying and failing to get my head round that one frankly). John Selwyn Gummer (fangs are a memory) as was, Lord Deben, as now is…and Chairman of the Uk’s “Independent” Committee on Climate Change, has smugly waded into the Global warming debate condemning the Media for even bothering trying to find a balance in the conflicting views of a very complex subject. According to Gummy…

Evidence in favour of climate change is so strong, he said, that it could be compared to evidence linking smoking to cancer or evidence that the Moon Landing was not staged.

Not the best analogies I have ever come across your Lordliness. Gummy has a degree in History and probably hasn’t enough science to wire a plug properly, but he is so certain that man made Global warming is a fact that he wants all dissenting voices silenced. Yep that’s Democracy in action alright !

But I wonder why he is so certain given his complete lack of scientific knowledge? Could it be that he is a smug, self satisfied, venal troughing  bastard (just LOOK at that pic), filling his boots at the expense of the rest of us, just like Tim Yeo, Ed Davey, and that still on Licence old lag, Chris Huhne? Why yes it could!

Whatever the fuck happened to declaring a conflict of interest?

Politics in it’s old hat.

This started as a reply to Sam’s comment here.

Sam, you have a point. The older I get the more I realise that politically we are regressing to a bastardized-Victoriana that never really existed. How else would the largest ever proposed engineering project in British history be a railway that George and Robert Stephenson could envisage – literally – it’s George’s gauge metal rails of course. It’s also 50 billion quid jizzed up the wall

It was cutting edge when George and son were building the Rocket but that was nigh on 200 years from an MP idling on the track and getting mown-down by the Rocket to the first paying passenger getting on the “new” HS2. What happened to the Fairey Rotodyne? Political pignorance and bastarding fuckwittery is what happened. There were concerns over noise (Fairey had got it down to the sound of a tube train). The fact the US military wanted loads of ‘em was irrelevant. The fact there was significant commercial interest in a high-speed city to city VTOL aircraft matter nothing if it scared the horses. Literally. The Bellendius Maximus who first championed HS2 was (and is) Lord Adonis. Yes, it does sound like he should be a porn-star. Lord Andrew [which means "manly" BTW] Adonis looks like this…

What mental image do you have of a Lord Adonis? A sort of demi-god who traded blows with Hektor of Troy? Or that piss-poor wankenshaft? He wrote a scholarly history of the poll-tax.

Short version. I did more against that. I simply didn’t pay. Not because I objected nor because I knew it was wrong as such but because I knew I could get the feck away with it and those quids in my pocket were worth more to me than being in the pockets of the cuntcil. At the time, there was, as ever a C19th (perceived as) idea that the community charge was either right or wrong. I just didn’t want to pay. Yes, I was shellfish. I was the full lobster.

So I didn’t pay and they never got me. So, what’s my point? Well, possibly it is Ike’s about “guided missiles but unguided men”. No politricks this last fifty years has moved much beyond WWI. Anywhere.

Look at the lavish expense of HS2 and compare with the dismal spending on Skylon? The first is a C19th solution to a C21st problem and the second is an SSTO aerospace plane that would result in Bristol Filton being re-monikered “Bristol International Spaceport”. Now if that isn’t cooler than making the trip from London to Birmingham 15 minutes shorter I despair. I have been to Birmingham. It’s OK but space!

It is the chronic lack of imagination that gets me about politricks.

And put it this way… 50 billion quid in you or my pocket is much more likely to get us to Mars than any ammount in the poche of the taxman. And that will only get you to Brum.

Which is like OK and all but seriously nothing to write home about.

Birmingham – it’s OK I guess.

Nick Clegg has a plan…

When I first heard that the Lib-Dem “flag-ship” proposal (to distance themselves from the Tories) was a 5p levy (to go to like charidee) on placky bags I almost wet myself with mirth. God knows what William Gladstone would think. The Mash as ever has it spot-on.

PLASTIC bags are to be printed with lurid sexual imagery in a bid to discourage their use. Tesco bags will carry an image of a dwarf having sex with a trumpet, while Sainsbury’s carriers will feature a manga-style orgy involving sexy animals.

A government spokesman said: “A detailed design showing a woodland creature getting wanked off will do much more to reduce plastic consumption than a paltry 5p charge.

“Shoppers will stop and think ‘do I really need this bag enough that I am prepared to walk through town carrying a picture of a squirrel with a massive erection?’”

Mother-of-two Nikki Hollis said: “It’s a good idea in principle but yesterday I forgot my ‘bag for life’ at Morrison’s so the checkout girl gave me carriers showing male bikers stroking each other’s bits.

“Now my children want leather jackets for Christmas.”

The spokesman added: “We’ve made an exception with Waitrose bags. Waitrose shoppers will simply be offered Lidl bags, or nothing at all.”

Shopper Roy Hobbs said: “It’s great to see the government taking positive action. I care about the planet so I’ve got a rustic hessian satchel in which to place all my plastic-packaged shopping.”

Absolute fucking genius. And, yes, for once, I quoted the whole thing. Nothing else would do. Charge me 5p.

Wreck the Casbah. Again.

Ooer, Missus.  Someone really has got his knickers in a knot.

Britain has stepped through the looking glass into a weird and distorting new world, and one from which I fear she will never step back. By refusing to punish a foreign dictator for his despicable use of poison gas on unarmed civilians, we have deliberately relinquished our once-cherished role as one of the world’s foremost moral policemen, and joined the ranks of global spectators, merely tut-tutting from the sidelines rather than taking an active part in defending decency.

It seems that Andrew Roberts would have us believe that Cameron is a shining beacon of masterful statesmanship rather than the vacillating and incompetent spiv we know he really is.  It was the Assad regime wot dunnit because that is the direction in which the Prime Ministerial finger has been told to point.   Others beg to differ.  Our masters are demanding that we discriminate between two evils, despite the lack of any substantiated evidence, when it is far from clear which evil, if any, is the lesser. The only decent thing we can do in such circumstances is to not bomb the crap out of Damascus and kill even more civilians in the name of defending a questionable sense of “decency”.

A huge cultural shift has taken place in our country and historians of the future will focus on Thursday night, in the House of Commons, as the time that the new Britain emerged in all its hideous, amoral selfishness.

If future historians display the blind stupidity Andrew Roberts appears to possess who gives a Scammel Truck what they think?

The Britain we have lost is the one that took its historic responsibilities as a former Great Power seriously and sought to enforce international agreements, such as those banning the use of chemical weapons.

I think the operative word in that sentence is former, everything else is hyperventilated twaddle.  We are a small group of islands.  We are broke.  We no longer have the military might we once possessed.  We can’t even equip an aircraft carrier without the assistance of the French.  Our responsibility is to supply humanitarian aid and nothing more.  Let the Arabs sort their own mess out.  They’re going to blame us for the outcome whether we send in the missiles or not.

The Britain we must now look forward to is the one exemplified by Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony, where everything socialistic, feel-goody, hipster and ‘progressive’ was glorified, whereas the things we should really be proud about Britain for – such as her place in the front lines of the struggles against Fascism, Communism, Islamofascism and other totalitarian ideologies – were entirely ignored.

Because everyone who came out against bombing Damascus without the benefit of proof is a tofu-eating, Guardian reading surrender marmoset?  Because what we are all required to be are trained acceptance monkeys who swallow every morsel of posturing bollocks fed to us by our political effete, no questions asked?

Where were the references to Winston Churchill, 1940 or the Battle of Britain? They were replaced by children jumping up and down on NHS beds.

STOP PRESS! World War II ends in 1945.  Shift forwards sixty-eight years and the dumb as rocks legacy media runs stories about trampolining kiddies as Syria descends deeper into sectarian violence.   Meanwhile a so called academic jumps up and down on the spot, making a weapons grade prat of himself over something he clearly doesn’t have much of a clue about other than what Cameron says is true because his pal Barry told him so.  And all this before the UN investigation team have even begun to write their report.

I don’t recognise this culturally, socially and morally very different country. On Thursday night the majority of our Parliament knew that they had nothing to fear from their constituents if they indulged in a gross display of Little Englandism, in stark contrast to centuries of traditionally supporting the victims of monstrous oppression.

I don’t recall reading Roberts’ moral outrage about our non-intervention in Rwanda.  Or is genocide not as monstrously oppressive as CWs in Big Academia’s view?

And nothing qualifies as worse oppression than having at least 1,429 innocents slaughtered – 400 of those children – with a weapon so obscene that the world came together in Geneva in 1925 to outlaw it. The only people to have used this monstrous weapon since then have been Benito Mussolini against the Ethiopians in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler in his war against the Jews in the 1940s, and Saddam Hussein in his massacre of the Kurds in the 1980s.

How about the fanatical religious terrorists, Aum Shinriyko, who released Sarin gas into Tokyo’s subway in 1995?  Don’t they count because they were an evil cult rather than an evil regime?

The re-emergence of this foul weapon in the Damascus suburb ought to have – especially as we prepare to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War – brought together the House of Commons in solemn support of the Prime Minister’s commendable efforts to punish Assad for taking it out of history’s Pandora’s Box and unleashing it on his own people.

The Prime Minister’s commendable efforts to punish someone whose guilt has only been proven in the court of Australian giant marsupialism Obama his opinion?  For once the HoC did the right thing.  There is nothing commendable about Cameron’s efforts to push us into a war where both sides are as evil as each other.

Yet instead Mr Cameron’s initiative, which stood foursquare in the historical tradition of previous prime ministers faced with such a crime, was voted down. Have we really been so traumatised by the decision to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 that we cannot even fire a few missiles at a vicious dictator like Assad? If so, Britain’s days as a power that deserves its prominent position in Nato and the United Nations Security Council are going to come to an end.

But we won’t be firing them at Assad.  We’ll be firing them at a city where people live.  And we will be doing it in support of Sunni terrorists rebels who are every bit as vicious as Assad and are as equally capable of using Sarin gas.  For all we know they may already have.

Our ineptitude is compounded by U.S president Barack Obama’s decisive statement last night that military strikes are needed. Yes, he is seeking congressional authority. But he has also declared that he will take unilateral action and ‘confront the menace’ alone.

Obama, no matter how tumescent for war he becomes, is going to have to consult Congress first and Congress seems so concerned about the urgency of the situation it isn’t going to convene and discuss the matter until 9th September when hopefully the information regarding the identity of the guilty parties will be more robust.  If Congress follows the UK’s lead and says no will that make the Yanks global spectating, bagel-eating surrender monkeys in Roberts’ gimlet eyes?

And what of the quality of Obama’s leadership?  This is the man who took fourteen days to admit the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, that took the lives of four American citizens including the US ambassador, was a planned and efficiently executed terrorist attack and not due to a mob enraged by by a pathetic film called Innocence of Muslims.  Suddenly he knows exactly who the Syrian CW culprits are before anyone has had a chance to actually investigate what happened?  And we are all yoghurt knitting traitors for not bowing down to The One’s prescience on all matters Middle East?

Of course there are plenty of Britons who would love to see Britain relegated to the sidelines of world history, and simply opt for the quiet life. All too often, we see on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, a new generation who want Britain to become just another minor power that watches events from the sidelines: another Norway, Japan, Sweden or Ireland. Somewhere that likes to be liked. Lovely countries all, but they do not matter on the world stage like Britain did – until Thursday night.

That’s bollocks on steroids.  The people of this country will fight tooth and nail to protect their own against invasion no matter what bilge they spout on Twatter or Farcebook.  What we are sick to death of is brain-dead, glory hunting, self-aggrandising politicians getting us involved in wars we have no business poking our noses into especially when we don’t have an ice crystal’s chance in hell of either winning or improving the situation by bombing stuff and hoping for the best.  We already know from bitter experience that this strategy doesn’t work.

I could continue to fisk Roberts’ dross but what would be the point?  It seems that Roberts’ main gripe is that the so called, very one-sided “special relationship” has been fatally compromised.  He thinks that because the majority of people in Britain are against intervention in Syria, with or without proof, its because we are all traitors in the Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden mould.  He fails to consider that we’re Scammelling sick of bankrolling and fighting foreign wars that improve nothing, solve nothing, achieve nothing and come at a cost in lives politicians and their families rarely, if ever, have to pay.

Ever since the initial footage of an unconfirmed CW attack was released onto YouTube the US and UK governments have been arguing the case for “punishing” Assad because the “rebels” couldn’t possibly have obtained a CW (Sarin gas) and deployed it. If Sarin gas is so hard to obtain, unless you are a tyrannical government, how did the religious fanatics of Aum Shinrikyo managed to get hold of enough of the stuff to launch not one but two attacks before they were caught?

The first attack, in 1994 killed seven people and injured five hundred.  The second attack came in 1995, when Sarin gas was released into the Tokyo subway during the morning rush hour.  Eight people died  and thousands were injured, many critically.  It remains the worst terrorist atrocity to take place on Japanese soil.  So who supplied the cult with CW?  Some rogue state?  No.  They manufactured it themselves in a laboratory.  Is it such a huge leap to believe that Islamic terrorists, who we know can manufacture Ricin, also have the knowledge to manufacture Sarin gas?  After all, the poison has been around since 1938 so the procedure can’t be that complicated.

To point the finger at Assad alone is disingenuous.  It is a dangerous lie to insist that only the Assad regime has the capability to possess and deploy CWs in Syria.  To go ahead and launch missiles using this deeply suspect presumption as a justification  is nothing less than a war crime.

Hysterical warmongering aside, no must mean no.  We’ve had enough of this false prospectus, interventionist BS.  End of.

 

Hard Drivin’

Who are the most dangerous road-users in the UK (the UK at least)?

Boy racers in pimped Vauxhall Astras?

Ditzy lasses in Renault Clios twittering about One Direction?

Nah!

It’s the crumblies. Oh, and the lycra-clad kamikazes that call themselves “cyclists” deserve an dishonourable mention too. The small burg I live in is wick with the buggers. I have had to leap into gutters to avoid them on occasion whizzing down the hills at the speed of heat*. I’m fairly sure on one occasion it was Barney Storey who almost made me a paralympic competitor as well. Equestrian types (other than their on-road “deposits”) are fine. But even cyclists pale in comparison to the biddies and codgers sucking their Werther’s Originals, through their falsies, hunched over the tiller of the Panzerkampfwagen XI (aka Nissan Micra) and Panzerkampfwagen XII (aka Honda Jazz). I doubt they have globally killed more than the Wehrmacht but if frustration, annoyance and minor bumps are “liitle deaths” then the aggregated toll…

You think I’m being unfair? Geriatricist? You ought to see them doing their “slow and steady” on the M6. You probably have. And no, it ain’t just the Micra and Jazz, there is also the “last of the hold-outs” in the Olde Worlde boxy Rover 214s with the driving gloves clutching the wheel like the icy fingers of death. They clamp the middle-lane like honey badgers on a treacled scrotum. You will have gone past them making their stately progress at a maximum of 60-65mph when every other bugger is doing 80mph+

And you just know that if the codger at the wheel pushes the speedo dial a merest hint above 65mph there shall be a repeated hand-bagging accompanied with the admonishment, “You’re not Stirling Moss, you know!” whilst the motor swerves randomly across three lanes as Mrs Biddie makes a grab for the steering wheel. My wife and I were once trapped on a 60mph limit road in the Lakes behind a horseless Micra with a full load of the most bidulent doing 25. Hell’s teeth they might as well of had a daft sod waving a red-flag in front of them. I could smell the exhaust. It smelt of shortbread with high-notes of Kendal mint cake and Sterodent. It’s like those folks who thought you’d asphyxiate on Stephenson’s rocket when it hit 20 mph.

So that is whilst driving. But the biddies and codgers also excel at parking. Not just any parking. Oh no. Within days of my wife getting the current Corsa some biddie managed to scratch it in her Jazz performing an act of parking of such epic crapularity as to beggar belief. But no! What really beggared belief was her denial of culpability in the face of not only the Highway Code but the basic laws of mechanics as outlined by Sir Issac Newton in the Principia Mathematica. Every Sunday I used to have to play car marshall. It’s got better since I got “lion tamer” on their crumpled asses. Apart from anything else it’s the thoughtless blocking-in not just of us but of the neighbours too. I’m a warden of a religious meeting house (Quaker) and part of my duties include maintaining cordial relations with the neighbours. Well, I say that but it’s just good manners really.  The same ageing moo (by which I don’t mean destined for MacDonalds but for a dodgy halal burger gaff in Gorton**) “young-manned” me over her horrendous parking. Put it this way, if she’d been a USN Hornet pilot she’d have put it down not just off the wire, not just off the deck but in the wrong ocean. It was parking of the most piss-poor standard I’ve ever seen and utterly dangerous so this “young man” (I must’ve been about 36 at the time!) guided her into the bay. Any thanks? Yeah right! And at the time I didn’t know she’d scratched my wife’s Corsa otherwise…

In any case that particular parking bay is directly opposite a house with a blind driveway onto the street. The folk who live there have a Range Rover. Unless a car parked in the bay is neatly tucked in (and the venerable Micra and Jazz jockeys don’t do that – unless I’m playing tick-tack man) leaving them projecting into the single lane er, lane) the Range Rover will go straight through it and down the bank and into the stream. Yes! We have posh 4x4s and streams round this neck of the woods. Welcome to Cheshire!

Of course nothing compares to the driving (or roads) on Malta. Nothing. Having said that the bus service was excellent and cheap and the old buses really cool. They did though have “private” decoration such as, “If you want to know the truth about the afterlife, try overtaking me.” Maltese bus-drivers look and act like something out of Top Gun. Well they did when I was there a few years back… It was kinda cool and dead handy.

Though I’m not sure if the emphasis ought to be on the “dead” or the “handy”.

I really liked Malta. And I’d rather have an affordable, well-organised bus system driven by lotharios in aviator shades with ante-deluvian buses and “nose-art” to put US Army’s 8th Airforce to shame than the drivel we have round here. Actually it ain’t too bad round here compared to other gaffs in the country. Perhaps dear Dr Beeching put his coffee mug down on East Cheshire/South-East Manchester and forget. A small point here is worth making. I had  a pint of something Czech in the local wine bar yesterday (I said it was Cheshire so obviously I’m stumblin’ distance from a wine bar – not a wet or cooked monger of fish but at least three tapas gaffs – for shame! ) and I overheard two lasses (one of whom had a boyf  down London way). Now I don’t normally earwig but this was dynamite. By which I mean  not so much the respect for privacy but my respect for not really caring but the lass with the squeeze in London opined that it is two hours from here to London on Virgin Pendolino. What she said subsequently (her boy doesn’t live directly opposite Euston station, natch, byt was like balm to me. Precisely! If they really want to make rail more attractive screw shaving a few minutes off the “headline” route times but spend that GBP80bn on a truly integrated network – or better yet let the market decide.

Of course I was wrong. It ain’t the biddies and codgers that are the greatest menace to transport (though they are a menace) but the government who just love big schemes when what really matters is the integration and not the “headline figures” between London, Euston and Birmingham New Street or Manchester Piccadilly but the actual door-to-door times.

 

*USAF slang for as fast as possible – technically being any speed between that of sound and that of  light. Usually used in the context of egressing a particularly tricky situation.

**Gorton Girls know all the words to songs by Chaka Khan. I used to live in Levenshulme. I’ll give it a thumbs-up mind for Aria Tech - where I still get my stuff. It is a true den of geek set-up on a shoe-string and a hope by a refugee from Iran. And Levy isn’t that bad.

Big schemes when what really matters is the integration and not the “headline figures” between London, Euston and Birmingham New Street or Manchester Piccadilly but the actual door-to-door times.

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