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Learning to pickpocket grandma


That reminds me… my parents don’t have to have a licence because they’re over 70. Don’t know why; presumably even the government realises pensioners would balk at £150 a year for Dickinson’s Real Deal and reruns of Murder, She Wrote. Anyway, I’ll bet they won’t get let off the TV component of the Council Tax.

@Sam Duncan

Not for much longer Sam, it appears that the BBC are about to take lessons from OXFAM in terms of screwing money from the elderly:

The BBC is to urge pensioners to voluntarily give up their free licence fee to save the corporation and protect their favourite programmes.

The BBC is to ask the over-75s to opt out of their entitlement to free licence fees, hinting that it will help secure the future of television or radio programmes.

A senior executive at the corporation said the elderly will be invited to pay at least £145.50 each year to the “cost of the BBC’s services” after it takes over responsibility for funding free licence fees in the years to come.

James Heath, director of policy at the BBC, said: “We will give those eligible households an opportunity to voluntarily pay for a TV licence and so make a contribution to the cost of the BBC’s services.”

BBC urges pensioners to voluntarily give up free licence fee

Various “charities” have no qualms extracting cash from those with dementia. An Oxfam spokesman said:

“Our agencies have clear, regulated policies that help strike the appropriate balance between enabling people with dementia to live as full a life as possible, including supporting their favourite charity, and protecting them from the vulnerability caused by dementia.”

Charities hounding people on official ‘no-call’ list

The argument put forward by the “charities” being that the telephone chuggers are trained to support callers with dementia and not exploit them for commission.

Yeah. Right.

Pissing our Hard Earned up the wall…

In a report out this week,  The Independent Commission for Aid Impact has concluded that almost our entire ring fenced 10 Billion Foreign Aid budget is being wasted. Where it was hoped it would reduce corruption and support the most vunerable members of developing nations, they find that our hand outs are actually increasing corruption and never finding its way to those who need it most.

Well Doh! No shit Sherlock!! etc etc. We Kitty Counters could have told them that for virtually nothing. If you hand over large amounts of our cash direct to corrupt foreign Governments, all you are doing is topping up the regime and its cronies bank accounts, and providing the readies for their wives and families to go on a spending spree in Paris, London and New York. It does nothing for poor peasants whatsoever.

And I do not believe that iDave and the Coalition, or Mr Ed and Labour are naive fools, I believe they know exactly where the money is going. The money is a massive bribe for various services rendered, like voting the right way in the UN, not putting trade barriers up, buying a load of surplus weaponary that we can’t unload by legitimate means etc.

NickM of this Parish, has always been of the opinion that the only Aid that works is the money sent home by our various groups of immigrants, straight back to those who need it, their families and villages. It’s a shame that they are not spending their money in our country, but it beats the shit out of what the Department for International Development is doing, which is worse than nothing at all.

Add this to the 9 Billion net and rising that we give away to the EU every year, that is almost 20 Billion pounds. This is not chump change that has got lost down the back of the sofa, that is serious fuckin money! The only way to make a poor country less poor is to trade with it. So let’s can the Aid and fire up the trade.

The Smell of Derbyshire…

Air Wick has partnered with the UK National Parks, developing a range of fragrances inspired by the UK’s distinctive and majestic National Parks. These evocative fragrances not only capture the freshness of Britain’s ‘breathing spaces’, but are also designed to bring the countryside…inside. As well as experiencing the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Peak District, Exmoor and Brecon Beacons first hand, you can now enjoy fragrances inspired by these parks from the comfort of your own home. Whist, supporting the UK National Parks with every purchase.

The Air Wick Master Perfumers have crafted an exclusive collection of four fragrances which will help reignite memories of individual parks. Our scents reflect the changing seasons and intense variety of the British outdoors, evoking the beautiful landscapes the National Parks represent.

I live kicking distance from the Peak District I do wonder… I dunno what to wonder but some products should just not exist. Let us hope the market prevails.

The gift that keeps on giving…

… to the fisker. Yes, “Sir” Bob Geldof who wanks higher than any in Wome. Read this…

Bob Geldof has claimed that the Earth as we know it could end by 2030 thanks to the ravages of climate change.

That’s actually quite unfiskable in the sense that I don’t want (if I am spared to be living in 2013 seventeen years hence – I want my jet-pack!). Anyway the Boomtown Prat proceeds…

The campaigner [for whom?] and former Boomtown Rats singer said the human race could soon be extinct at the One Young World summit in Johannesburg.

“The world can decide in a fit of madness to kill itself,” he said, according to the Telegraph. “Sometimes progress may not be possible.”

Well, it certainly wasn’t in his musical career. He could have been a veritable Chesney Hawkes and wasn’t it Midge Ure who wrote that song anyway?

“We’re in a very fraught time,” he continued, warning the 8,000 international delegates: “There will be a mass extinction event. That could happen on your watch. The signs are that it will happen and soon.”

You can’t make this up. Anyway how old are his kids? Like that one who fronted a show on Islam without even having read the Qu’ran? Was that Peaches?

The conference – a networking and debate event for young people from 190 countries – featured speeches from high profile ‘counsellors’. Former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan and business mogul Richard Branson also took to the stage, but none appeared to match Mr Geldof for urgency.

Is his prostate playing up? But more to the point isn’t telling “young people” they basically have no future nasty? This from the guy that apparently worked so hard for Ethiopia’s future?

And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning
And the lesson today is how to die.

- From the only Boomtown Rats song anyone recalls.

There was more guff but I’ll give Bob the penultimate words…

Departing the stage, he apologised for being “bloody miserable” and told delegates to “just get on with it”.

What horrifying nonsense is this? I have a tremendous hope for the future. I shall probs live to see things from SF novels I read as a kid. How dare “Sir” Bob tell kids, “Sometimes progress may not be possible”. Get them a Raspberry Pi and see what fools they make of pontificating old geezers like Bob and Dave! Gods almighty they are misanthropic old sods are they not?

Let’s just build Skylon and stick ‘em in eternal LEO! Way too much political discourse is undertaken at the level of a Smith’s album after Johnnie Marr had just run over Mozzer’s cat. It is dismal. Utter professional miserablism.

And I was only on the Indy to look-up a recipe for cod and parma ham and now I don’t like Mondays and Heaven knows I’m miserable now.

Civil Society Fantasy

Australia is hosting the G20 meeting next year, and the whole thing is being turned into a circus by Julia Gillard. Of course.

The only up side to this whole thing is that Julia, whether by election or replacement, has no chance of presiding over this carnival of rent seekers.

Anyway, Gary Johns reports that as part of this whole waste of taxpayers money the organisers are putting on a C20 Summit, a committee of twenty of the great and good to prepare Civil Society recommendations to put before the G20 meeting.

Yeah, sure. Not quite what one would call representative. The whole lot, with one or two exceptions, span the whole political gamut from the far left to the really far left. No representatives from mainstream charities or grassroots civil organisations, and no representatives from any organisation in the centre ground, or of liberal or free market persuasion. At a guess, between two thirds to three quarters of civil society is excluded from this Civil Society Summit.

This is just the normal pack of oikophobes, working against your interests. These people really do despise you, you know.

Andrew Bolt’s take on the whole affair.

The fix is in.

One Way or Another…

I was speechless – literally – when I heard of this cultural malfeasance. It was like some scrote had drawn a cock and balls on the “Rokeby Venus” with a magic marker and then sniggered. This is sheer musical vandalism.

The epically crap “boyband” One Direction have “covered” (under the aegis of the deranged and creepy Louis Walsh) the Blondie song, “One Way or Another” (from “Parallel Lines” – the Greatest Album Ever).

But wait there is more! It includes a wankensteinian “mash-up” with “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones. And just to make Jesus Christ himself vomit choleric stools with inchoate rage it also includes iDave.

They are doing it for “Comic Relief”. God help us! If comics want to help starving Africans then send Dawn French with a cooking pot and a bouquet-garni to the frigging Congo and be done with it! It isn’t just the music it is the sheer patronizing nature of the video. Nothing to do with helping the poor but all about looking good to naive fans. And for the rich to salve the consciences for being rich which is pathetic.

You appreciate it’s a song about stalking?

One way or another I’m gonna getcha, I’ll getcha, I’ll getcha getcha getcha getcha…

… Oh yes! If Ms Harry wants to do that down a back-alley somewhere I shall applaud and if Fergal Sharkey then decides to give those teenagers kicks “All through the night” then I shall be even better pleased!

It has nearly 20,000,000 hits on Youtube. And people seem to really like it. Dear God!

I wonder how many of those have even heard of the originals.

PS – For those fortunate enough not to have heard of these bum-fluffed troubadours the press, which is always reporting on them, call them, “1D” for short. This appeals both to the music lover in me and also to the mathematician.

Crime of the Century…

Well, it’s been bitter cold a few days ago. I know I was varnishing an external door.

I then thought for dinner I might fancy (It was my wife’s idea) making a hearty Spanish style stew. So I went on a hunt for chorizo… and found it at the Co-op which staggered me for it was the only “filthy foreign sausages” (insert Sid James line of choice) the Co-op did have among it’s bewildering variety of almost identical British (Gawd bless ‘er! etc.) mechanically recovered offal tubes (there’s a ref there and not a prize if you get it – well not from me, anyway) there was chorizo! My flabber was gasted. None of that other continental filth, mind. None of your French or German or Czech or Polish or whatever sausage (insert Sid James line of choice). Apart from their many other sins the Co-op is staggeringly parochial. On the little screens at the tills there’s loads of piccies of “jolly natives” with their new water-pump but (with the exception of chorizo) nothing else paid for by buying Fairtrade tat or buying bottles of “ethical water” (why does that always remind me of homeopathy?)

And, yes, I am aware the British sausage industry (insert Sid James line of choice) makes lovely sausages too but those were not represented. Just umpty varieties of bog-standard “bangers”* of the sort I only ate as a student and only when I was on my uppers. Fortunately not too often. Anyway I got chatting to J who works there and is by far and away the most competent member of staff. He used to be a pub land-lord but… Well, I dunno – what with pubs closing 16 to the dozen and all – but he’s a shelf-stacker now. He’ll never make management because I suspect he is regarded as “not a team player” which is HR talk for, “shows initiative and is capable of thinking independently”. The way to get ahead in such organisations (I saw much the same when temping for the Government) is to just keep your head down and schmooze. Never, ever suggest a better way of doing things it shows your line-manager up. I did once and was “pruned”.

Anyway he told me a story… He’d recently apprehended a shop-lifter. The shop-lifter had gone over to the freezers and purloined a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and had concealed it down the front of his trousers**.

“Is that stolen goods in your pants or are you just pleased to see me?”

J told me something else bizarre too. Apparently ice-cream sales rocket in the last half of December. I found that odd considering what I was making for dinner that night.

*Insert Sid James line of choice. etc. This is getting tired, so I’m retiring it.
**Oh, go on, that is very “Carry On”. On pretty much the coldest day of the year he had put a tub of ice-cream next to his genitals. Perhaps he was planning on wooing a lady? Well, I guess the poor mare would have been disappointed as the Barry White was playing and the lights went low. Unless he’d previous half-inched a magnifying glass and tweezers. Some how I doubt he had the fore-sight. He might have had a cryogenic foreskin mind :-)

The opposite of camouflage.

Almost all serious warships defend themselves with CIWS guns and missiles and also with chaff and flares. Tanks trundle around firing off smoke to confuse IR seekers. Aircraft also deploy chaff and flares and have done since at least Operation Gomorrah – the RAF’s complete destruction of Hamburg. It was codenamed “Window” at the time.

Guns and missiles target things. Chaff and flares do something else. They are in a sense the opposite of camouflage. Camouflage is about not being seen. Launched counter measures and some of the electronic types such as used by the Luftwaffe’s Tornado ECR or the USN’s EF-18 Growler are about making your-self super-visible. Yes, the other side will see there is an armoured column but the smoke will obscure the individual vehicles. The radar reports when chaff is deployed and will result in ther othe guys seeing something wicked this way coming but individual aircraft – forget it!

And that is what I think Savile did. It is entirely imaginable that a seemingly perfectly normal man is a sexual predator of kids. He hides behind normality (camouflage) of I dunno, reading the Telegraph, having a wife and kids, a Ford Focus and a dull but respectable Job. He wears M&S clothes and is the sort of bloke you could walk past in the street without batting an eyelid. We all know such people. Some of us are such people. Very, very few of us are kiddie-fiddlers. That’s the point about camouflage. You know the credit sequence from “Dad’s Army”? They have foliage in their helmets. Now we all know most foliage doesn’t shoot back. That is how camouflage works.

The alternative of making yourself very big indeed works rather differently. I am sure many rapists and peadophiles go to extraordinary lengths to hide their preversions behind a veneer of normality verging on dullness. Jimmy Savile clearly didn’t. The bamboozle. It’s an alternative tactic. To put it in crude and approximate military terms. If you want to count the birds all out and all back to home plate for a big raid you can either make the enemy radar show nothing (stealth) or light-up their screens like a Christmas tree (EW aircraft, chaff, flares, whatever). The difference between the two is the stealth raid is invisible* and the alternative is very visible but amorphous and utterly confusing. It’s like this, “Major, we have something enormous coming in from the West”. “Sergeant, can you give me plot lines and numbers?” “Er.. sorry Sir, no. It’s everywhere!”

A completely white screen shows no information in the same way a completely black screen does.

Jimmy Saville was the white screen, the Christmas tree. I always thought his “confirmed batchelor” status and nothing coming out about his sex-life meant that like many celebs of his generation he was gay but didn’t want to come out. Also of course he was such a pantomime grotesque that the very idea of him having sex at all was enough for me to puke. He certainly wasn’t ever anyone’s Brad or Angelina. So he throws up the absurd smokescreen – the cigar chomping, more jewellery than Mr T, marathon runner who does lots of work for charidee utterly weirdo persona. And just like the armoured column with their smoke rockets or the aerial armada with it’s Window he gets away with what he is really up to. And in the same way such a stratagem can be very effective. The RAF did that over Hamburg in WWII and the IAF did much the same taking out that apparent nuke site in Syria a few years back. The opposite of camouflage is frequently very effective. Lots of people thought Jimmy Savile was hiding being gay behind his smokescreen so we didn’t look because we just assumed. This covered the fact he was abusing his charity work to rape spinally injured children. Here Savile was channeling another very bright and very evil man, Goebbels. You recall his dictum about lies? Whoppers are the way forward.

Well, sort of. It’s a bit cleverer than that. Your smokescreen makes people suspect the assumed little white lie so that is where they look so the great lie is not even looked for. And what is really clever is that if there is no little white lie anyway journalists and the like just give up. Especially when the real truth is from the bowels of Hell itself. If 1/10 of the accusations against Savile are true then he was a grotesque human being. We frequently use that adjective to denote extreme horribleness but it is worth reminding ourselves perhaps of the dictionary definition…

gro·tesque   [groh-tesk] Show IPA
odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.
fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms, as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls, foliage, etc.

Savile was grotesque (common parlance) and hid behind grotesque (dictionary definition). It worked for five decades because the hideous truth was so obfuscated behind a screen of studied weirdness that it was almost unbelievable. Yes he played the loveable English eccentric card as well as the Goebbels one (how can anyone believe he is sexually abusing these kids he raises money for – you’re just saying it because he looks odd – and how dare you cast doubt on a National Treasure!)

It’s a strange cognitive dissonance that someone wily and evil can use to great effect. Consider Michael Jackson. I have no idea if he was a peadophile. Partly because I have no idea how his mind worked. Maybe he was and if so his smokescreen of weirdness was even more effective than Savile’s. I suspect not in Jackson’s case. I think he was just a genuinely very odd man made so by bizarre circumstances (note the difference of the influence of family between the Osmonds and the Jacksons). .

Consider also the case of Gordon “Prudence” Brown, the Iron Chancellor. He spent money like water but hid in clear sight because no grim, humourless son of the manse could spend money like a drunk sailor could they? Now that was camouflage and it worked for a time.

We all for good or ill hide (to an extent) hide behind creations, deceptions, personae we wittingly or unwittingly create (or at times have forced upon us). Some of these are camouflage and some are the opposite. The later often works better than the former. It is misdirection rather than hiding. Ask any accomplished stage magician about that one.

*I’m talking in broad terms for the analogy here.

Tossed the toilet and jumped the shark…

The heir to the Dutch throne was in the small eastern village of Rhenen on Queen’s Day, April 30, where he entered – and won – a traditional village game of toilet-bowl tossing.

Throne, geddit?

Well, I guess we have Morris dancing which is vastly more embarrassing.

But speaking at a function [not a bodily one we hope] in Rotterdam on Wednesday, the prince admitted he felt ashamed when hurling the orange-coloured ceramic potty given the lack of proper sanitary conditions in the developing world.

“Here in the Netherlands there are towns that take part in the throwing of toilet-bowls for a laugh,” he said.

“I participated with a smile, but not without shame in thinking about the some 2.6 billion people around the world that do not have this most basic infrastructure to fulfil a daily need with dignity.”

And therein lies the rub. It isn’t basic infrastructure in the sense of simple infrastructure. Here is a bit from Wikipedia on one of my Victorian heroes… You know those folks who built the modern world like George Stephenson and Nikola Tesla.

At the time, the Thames was little more than an open sewer, devoid of any fish or other wildlife, and an obvious health hazard to Londoners. Bazalgette’s solution (similar to a proposal made by painter John Martin 25 years earlier) was to construct 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of underground brick main sewers to intercept sewage outflows, and 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of street sewers, to intercept the raw sewage which up until then flowed freely through the streets and thoroughfares of London. The outflows were diverted downstream where they were dumped, untreated, into the Thames. Extensive sewage treatment facilities were built only decades later.

The scheme involved major pumping stations at Deptford (1864) and at Crossness (1865) on the Erith marshes, both on the south side of the Thames, and at Abbey Mills (in the River Lea valley, 1868) and on the Chelsea Embankment (close to Grosvenor Bridge; 1875), north of the river.

The system was opened by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1865, although the whole project was not actually completed for another ten years.

Bazalgette’s foresight may be seen in the diameter of the sewers. When planning the network he took the densest population, gave every person the most generous allowance of sewage production and came up with a diameter of pipe needed. He then said ‘Well, we’re only going to do this once and there’s always the unforeseen’ and doubled the diameter to be used. His foresight allowed for the unforeseen increase in population density with the introduction of the tower block; with the original, smaller pipe diameter the sewer would have overflowed in the 1960s [that would have brought meant the stinking '60s rather than the swinging ones - George Harrison would have been in his wellies rather than barefoot on that album cover crossing Abbey Road], rather than coping until the present day as it has.

The unintended consequence of the new sewer system was to eliminate cholera not only in places that no longer stank, but wherever water supplies ceased to be contaminated by sewage. The basic premise of this expensive project, that miasma spread cholera infection, was wrong; however, instead of this causing the project to fail, the new sewers succeeded in virtually eliminating the disease by removing the contamination.

[the good old "right for the wrong reason"].

Bazalgette’s capacity for hard work was remarkable; every connection to the sewerage system by the various Vestry Councils had to be checked and Bazalgette did this himself and the records contain thousands of linen tracings with handwritten comments in Indian ink on them “Approved JWB” “I do not like 6″ used here and 9″ should be used. JWB” and so on. It is perhaps not surprising that his health suffered as a result. The records are held by Thames Water in large blue binders gold-blocked reading “Metropolitan Board of Works” and then dated, usually two per year.

So, it isn’t simple. The richest and greatest city the World has ever seen only managed it by 1875 and then only via much kicking and screaming and even then the effective treatment of sewage took much longer to achieve. And it only started when the stink reached parliament. A jaundiced chap like me might suggest these days that is were the Dame Judiths come from. These are massive civil works and it is naive beyond belief that a toilet alone constitutes sanitation. When my parents worked in Zambia before I was born Kenneth Kaunda, one of the less murderous despots of that benighted continent (and he was up against some stiff opposition with the likes of Idi Amin – my parents had Indian friends and smuggled gold out of Uganda – the border guards were easy to bribe if you had Marlboros and Scotch and some USD anyway after a couple of swigs of The Quickening they wouldn’t give a toss if you had 10kgs of cocaine a murdered hooker and a Picasso in the boot of the car).

And herein lies the fundamental point about the developing world. It is poor because it is poor. It is poor because the infrastructure Dutch crown-princes take for granted is neither obvious nor simple. It is fundamental but that is not the same thing as simple. It’s just an engineering problem. “Just”? Tell that one to the shade of Kelly Johnson because you’d leave with your teeth in a paper bag. It’s like the old saw from the ’80s about the planet producing enough food to feed everyone – you “just” need to distribute it – yeah now if I could master that TESCO would be scared. It just isn’t that simple. You need distribution and that means roads and service stations and motor dealerships and that means electricity and reasonably uncorrupt courts and building storm drains and sewers and railways and airports and getting investment done without having to pay grand an hour hookers. Modernity cannot be achieved one system at a time because all systems interlink. How do you run a railway if the phone network is pants? How do you install or maintain a phone network if the roads are dreadful? How do you persuade the skilled people to stay in such countries and not take-up that offer from Japan if the lifestyle is medieval and you have to shit in a bucket and chuck it out the window?

Moreover it’s like some of the demented anti HIV/AIDS campaigns. Let’s roll-out anti-retrovirals like smarties to Africa pro-bono (and also pro the ego of Bono). Won’t work. These are powerful drugs and they need doctors to prescribe them and check things and adjust specific doses of the cocktail and some drugs need refrigeration and that means electricity and trucks and roads for the getting them about and…

I guess what I am saying is you can’t just have toilets. Or cake. You have to have the full nine yards. There is a model and it is capitalism. It’s not an especially quick fix (though alleged quick fixes do more harm than good) but, I dunno, the Republic of Korea went in much less than a lifetime from medieval poverty to being a high-tech wonderland. This is because capitalism distributes resources efficiently and widely so unlike Mao and his war on sparrows which led to the Great Leap Backwards. It’s tough but it works.

Here endeth the lesson.

The moral panic that runs and runs…

… and takes on many forms.

I recall as a very small kid there was a moral panic over Space Invaders and that was over thirty years ago. Ever since this panic has periodically risen like a zombie on you didn’t put enough (virtual) ordnance into. Computer games have been blamed for almost everything: addiction and ensuing social misfittery, obesity, violence, militarism, school shootings, RSI, satanism, peadophile “grooming”… Not even class-A drug use has been blamed for such a variety of things. Makes you wonder why so many things. Wouldn’t one social evil be enough if it were true?

This courtesy of the BBC and a charidee is the latest installment in a longer runninng series than Final Fantasy…

Social workers at Wings South West said the result was that the social skills of gamers were going downhill.

A computer games advice charity said youngsters were in danger of losing empathy and the compassion of “genuine relationships”. said youngsters were in danger of losing empathy and the compassion of “genuine relationships”.

Yes, you read that right. A computer games advice advice charity. I have now heard it all.

Paul Bowser, who works with young people at Wings South West in Bideford, said: “We have a number of young people who most of the time look almost stoned, not necessarily on drugs, but just with sleep deprivation because they’re gaming all the time.

How do you know they aren’t actually stoned? I mean Occam’s razor and all that.

“It’s certainly different from a few years ago, partly because the technology wasn’t there.”

Except it was, wasn’t it? Because an Atari VCS2600 wasn’t exactly an XBox 360 but it looked amazing to the kids back then. Then the Spectrum, Amiga, a series of PCs and that’s just my gaming machine history. Each one was spankier than the last.

Robert Hart Fletcher, who runs Kids and Media, a charity giving information about children’s use of digital media, said: “Gaming is a phenomenon that’s been around quite a while.”

Now we are starting to see the effects in behaviour of young people.

Now as I said at the start this moral panic is not new. The way it is articulated changes over time but it’s the same thing.

“In the past people had genuine relationships with empathy and compassion which has been replaced by this virtual relationship where they are not necessarily having to show empathy or compassion.”

Oh, what drivel from another rent-seeking technophobe! Technology allows unprecedented social contact. I wonder if he is aware that most people people know on Facebook for example are known to them in “real life”?

“That’s starting perhaps to affect the way they interact on a day to day basis.”

Bradley Bown of the Game store in Plymouth said more education should be available to parents about the controls available.

Bradley – typical. Industry keeling over over in the face of ridiculous demands from what are quite frankly self-serving pressure groups rather saying, “Sod Off!”. Anyway Brad me old China who do you think shall provide this education? For (I assume) a gamer yourself you’ve made a bit of a tactical cock-up there.

For what it’s worth I don’t think any of these nonces really know anything about gaming. Almost proper all studies have shown it improves hand/eye co-ordination reflexes, and teaches things like problem solving tactics and planning. I had to lay-off playing Hardwar many years ago because I’d found myself knocking up an Excel spreadsheet to maximise my trading strategy. I just had an epiphany that in other circumstances someone could be paying me to do that!

PS. In the context this is interesting and the suggestion of gaming PTSD is deeply stupid and insulting.


I flicked on the telly box to BBC News this morning and…

Well they had guests. They had a posh young man from Wiltshire who had had a shotgun certificate since he was 11 and some dismal old trout from wherever wearing what looked like the torso of the Honey Monster in waistcoat fashion. She apparently founded a charidee or some form of theatrical gayness called “Mothers Against Guns” – at this point I wished I’d kept the puke bag from THY. So the posh fella explains that he needed his shotgun certificate – note not a license – as a minor all this enabled him to do was shoot clay pigeons under the supervision of an adult with a full license. In order to get even this he had been interviewed at length by a police firearms officer and his house had been inspected to ensure the gun or guns would be secure. This lad was a competition clay pigeon shooter. He was not the sort to walk into an HSBC and demand cash with menaces (from my experience of HSBC they are more likely to do that to the customer which is essentially why I don’t bank with them no more). But still this woman harrumphed and moaned during this fella’s explanation of the hoops he and his parents had to jump through so he could pursue a hobby he was clearly good at and which harmed nothing other than clay pigeons. Shooting clays is quite simply about as innocuous a sport as you can imagine but by this woman’s twisted logic because it involved a gun it had to be definitively evil.

I couldn’t watch much more but I think I saw enough. Her obvious discomfort was enough. I assume she founded this charidee because she had a child (probably a son) shot to death. I would bet my wife’s breasts that said gun was not legally owned. I would bet my own kidneys that tragic though her loss may have been (it may not have been exactly tragic – when I lived in Manchester a woman came on the local telly holding a candlelight vigil against guns in much the same way – her son had been shot dead in a a pub in South East Manchester – but you know how? He was a teenager and took a contract to off a drug dealer who managed to be swifter on the draw so my nano-scale violin plays the lament). It in no way involved folks in Wiltshire shooting inanimate objects for fun. Or indeed any of the totally justifiable reasons why one might want to own a gun. My brother has taken up archery. He does it with a mate of ours who is actually a copper. My Bro got into it after a trip to Vegas where he shot an AK-47 and loved it. Obviously back in England this was not an option so he took-up the bow. Now as our Frogulent pals discovered at Crecy and Agincourt a bow is also an extremely lethal weapon. But then so is everything if used right. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not defending the posh fella from Wiltshire having a shotgun purely because his personal use is clay pigeon shooting. Oh, no. I am perfectly happy with guns being used to cause lethal harm in the right circumstances. I only mention this chap because he was on TV and because his gun use was so impossible to “unjustify” that the only way to claim it was unjustifiable was to argue that guns in and of themselves are immoral and I will go to a pool party courtesy of Michael Barrymore before I will accept that there is any moral issue with shooting clay pigeons or gun ownership in general or indeed the general idea that inanimate objects can be discussed in moral terms at all. Obviously there are moral issues related to how guns are used but… Well do I need to draw a diagram? Lets not talk of guns, let’s talk of vans. When I last moved house my brother hired a van (it wasn’t a Transit but something of that ilk). This enabled a sofa (and much else) to be moved from Gateshead to Cheshire. You got a problem with that? Thought not. Ah, but what about vans in the service of evil? If you believe the media then loads, van-loads, of girls are being trafficked into my country as sex-slaves or something. Possibly dusting Lord Mandelson’s wainscotting – God knows! But when I was 17 I had an (un)fortunate encounter with a Transit – I use the brackets because whilst I was extremely unlucky to be hit given that I was hit I was extremely lucky to gt off with cuts and bruises – it was matter of cms and milliseconds between feeling pretty rough for a week and feeling nothing ever again. It was doing 60 through the fog and came off worse than I did (stern stuff us Geordies). My arm did though ache for weeks after. That was my left arm and my elbow took the wing-mirror off, “ouch!”. I also apparently left a Nick-shaped dent in the side of it in classic “spread-eagle” fashion. So let’s ban vans. Lets. Except this incident saw an NHS ambulance (which is essentially a van with flashing lights) pick me up and take me to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital A&E where the doctors and nurses glued (literally) me back together and sent me home. I had rather long hair back then so you should have seen the bottom of the shower the morning after – it looked like a field dressing station at Stalingrad. So you see for every problem a van creates, a van solves.

But if you think about it… The real problem here was the road and me being a bit late already and hurrying and it being very foggy. The problem was not the van. It was how straight that newly built bypass was which at the best of times made judgement of distance tricky and with a heavy fog up from the Tyne Valley impossible for both me and the driver. The devil was as ever in the details. As with shotguns. The BBC flagged-up the number of 11 year olds with shotgun certificates. This was apparently a bad thing. The real question here of course is how many pre-teen farmer’s sons and daughters actually murder people with them and this was not mentioned. Let’s just ban guns entirely (except for the cops obviously) because banning decent law-abiding citizens from owning lethal weapons will reduce the murder rate of course. What profound silliness!

The simple truth is that the sort of person who wants a legally owned weapon is not the problem. The criminal who doesn’t (by definition) give a monkey’s about the law as to owning a gun or pretty much anything else is the problem. Further restricting the generally law-abiding from legal gun ownership essentially prevents people from doing what they wouldn’t anyway.

I know it’s trite but there is truth in the NRA slogan, “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. And also their other slogan, “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns” rings similarly true. But then is that not the bansturbatory cycle? More gun regulation will inevitably lead to more shootings by criminals which will be spun as justification for even more regulation which completely misses the point that obviously the sort of people who cause problems with guns are also criminals who pretty much by definition don’t give a toss about the law anyway.

The same with vans I guess.

Or indeed anything.

I have never even touched a “live” firearm, never really had the chance. Does that make me ultra-moral by that lady’s obscure calculus? It probably does by her deranged reckoning because guns have to be intrinsically evil in her world. That is a failure of imagination. I could, but probably will not, do quite appalling things to you with a stick. Or a rock, or indeed anything the cave-personage Ugg could bring to hand. Essentially the intent is always the issue. Not the article. To believe so is to be mad. My wife has just driven off to go to the supermarket and meet her parent’s new dog. That is a ton of steel which could easily kill a small child. That ought to be banned. As should the dog which could also kill a small child. The fact my wife is a very safe driver and her parents are very good dog owners is not something that occurs to the bansturbators. Indeed if my brother had an AK-47 would I be scared? No. I have known him since the mid-70s (as long as anyone) and if he did have such a shooter I’d be like, “Can I have a go?”. Just for the hell of it. Not to kill anyone because quite frankly I simply don’t desire to kill anyone. Oh, George Monbiot is annoying but do I really want to empty a clip of 7.62 into his bladder? Probably not. Though I would insist on using things from my tool-box on his pal Jonathan. But then again that is the point. My tool box with which I fix computers and stuff contains vastly more vile (when connected to this brain that has read some awful stuff) possibilities than a mere shooting which is sort of clean in a way. Well cleaner than removing a rectum with a claw hammer.

Or to put it another way… Why should a 37 year old man (that’s me) not be allowed to carry despite in all those years never being even cautioned by the rozzers and that by some alchemical process improves public safety? Why? I’ll tell you why. Because the “do-gooders” think, they have it in their DNA, that if something is against the law their work is done because obviously making something against the law solves the problem by which I mean as far as they are concerned and they can then wash their hands of it. They think that if guns are illegal shootings will also be and essentially that by making guns against the law they feel their work is indeed done. Because making a bad thing against the law works right? Well, yeah, except it doesn’t with respect to criminals does it? It doesn’t because… Do I need to explain again?

And they clearly never hung in the gaffs I have. And I have lived in some rum cribs in my time. Meanwood Road in Leeds springs to mind.

Libyan, Socialist, Evil

From the Telegraph’s Libya Live feed

The London School of Economics has abandoned its educational program funded by a charity chaired by Saif-al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, following a “highly distressing” crackdown on government protesters in the North African nation, Bloomberg reports.

What, you just noticed that something is not quite right with Libya, LSE? What prompted this, killing people in public rather than killing them decently in private? I like the “highly distressing” part; imagine a bunch of hard-left academics sobbing into their hankies after a brutal collision with reality.

The London-based school suspended its LSE Global Governance research center, which had received funding from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.

Because of course vicious dictatorships have so much to teach the world about “governance”.

Qaddafi’s son is a graduate of the LSE

We need to run an ad campaign with that as the slogan.

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