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June, 2009:


The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy, except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous.*

– Edward Gibbon

You can take a whore to culture but you cannot make her think.

– Dorothy Parker

It is a truth univerally acknowledged that Ed Balls (The UK’s “Minister for Children”**) is a warp-factor 9 gigacunt. Here he is…

Is that not a face you want to beat repeatedly with a hammer? Not to make him uglier for that would be unpossible – just to take out the rage. He is cabinet minister and earns vastly more than almost all of you do or I do. But here’s the kicker… You probably make your dough doing something of benefit to someone. He earns his for fucking things up for everyone.

Apparently Neddy Balls wants a statutary requirement for every “failing” kid to get individual tuition in math and English. Look, Neddy, you cunt, I have done (privately – nice little earner for a post-grad) tuition and it only works if the parents and the kid give a toss (pretty much by definition you have the parents onboard). Your ideas Ned are not what real education is about. Some kids “fail” because they’re just thick (fact of life – for every Einstein there’s a million Jade Goodys). Some fail because they simply can’t be arsed. Some fail because their parents couldn’t give a fuck. There is of course a complex interaction between all those factors.

But this is intensely personal and intrinsically individual. Every target set and every pledge made is worse than drivel: it is evil. Education (real education) is about individuals learning stuff of interest and use to them. Anything else is nonsense or indoctrination.

Balls is planning on squandering huge amounts of monies we don’t have on trying to make an entire generation all equal and all “successful” by whatever deranged metric he is using to define that. We shall all have graduate jobs! Does he have the slightest idea how the world works? Does he not realise he is bigging-up the thick and yanking down the bright so all can be equal under the benign Lord-Protector Mandelson? I think he does and that’s why I’m calling him for the utter cunt he is because he know he will be in the inner party. Everyone being equal means everyone is a slave.

Can we please, as a nation, torture Ed Balls to death?

*I only know that because Feynman quotes it in his magesterial “Lectures on Physics”. And RPF knew a bit about teaching. Of all the awards he won (including the 1965 Nobel Prize for physics) he was proudest of his Ørsted Medal for teaching.
**Only still in the position because Mickey J is now dead.

Zee Flashing Knobs!

Ask Herr Flick (of the Gestapo).

And when you get bored with that there is always this.

I so love ‘Allo ‘Allo.

It would never be made today. When was the last time the BBC actually made a sitcom that was funny?

Stuff and Nonsense

Jaded Haven says exactly what I also think about the ‘stan. We need to get out or get medieval on their asses. She puts it better than me though. If you don’t have Jaded Haven bookmarked you are wasting the money you pay your ISP.

More press rot on what shape and size women ought to be from some deranged lunatic at the Daily Mail (I know that doesn’t narrow it down). Money quote:

But the truth is even her bosoms were tiny: a 34B at most. They merely looked enormous because the rest of her was so svelte.

Huh? That’s quite a “normal” breast size in my experience. And this is Britain, love. It ain’t that froggy metric 34B nonsense. That is what is known as 1BSH (British Standard Handful). She then goes on to describe her own anorexia and then having reduction surgery on her “udders” as she calls ’em. Might I humbly suggest that Liz Jones (for it is she) has perhaps got body image issues herself and really ought not to be hectoring the rest of womankind? Not that she ought to be anyway.

In Britain they are trying to “cure” homosexuals with exorcism. Money quote

Mr Ogbe-Ogbeide last performed the ritual in January to help a young man, who was planning to marry his girlfriend but said he was also in love with another man.

He added: ‘He said if it carried on it would upset their plans to have kids and he wanted to live in matrimony.’

Why do I see that one ending up on Tricia in a couple of years time?

Anthropogenic Global Warmers are no longer even pretending they are not a cult. The Polar Bear Specialist Group have banned a Canadian scientist with 30 years of polar bear-ing from attending their beanie in Copenhagen because his views on climate-change are “not helpful”. He’d signed the Manhatten Declaration and also believed that polar bear numbers were actually growing. I’m beside myself with rage over this. That. Just. Isn’t. Science. Science has to defend itself against contrary viewpoints. This is more like Medieval Demonology. I wonder if that true lion of atmospheric physics, Al Gore PhD* will give the keynote?

Fortunately proper science is carrying on elsewhere. Craig Venter and BP might just be onto something. I wonder if something similar might work on the Alberta oil-shale? OK, it’s early days and all that but Venter is very much a can-do kinda guy. If anyone is gonna do for this century what Tesla did for the twentieth it’s him. Remember his private concern putting a bomb under the Human Genome Program? How much fun would it be if we could finally poke in the eye with a pointed stick Tsar Putin and the Oil Sheiks?

That of course is only if we aren’t reduced to eating dung first… Magisterial return to form from the Devil who seemed to have been a little sick of sin recently. Read the whole thing. I shall though quote from the original Telegraph article…

The disclosure that ministers have little intention of reigning back on spending in the short term came as the Centre for Economics and Business Research warned that public spending was set to rise to 50 per cent of gross domestic product by the end of the next financial year.

That’s an important psychological tipping point. Once it is a penny over 50% we will be a fully owned “pocket-money” economy. We will no longer be paying taxes, they will be (through their infinite largesse) allowing us to keep some of our money. How generous is Gauleiter Balls! All Praise to Balls! Gassing the fuckers like tubercular badgers is now the only answer. Although I’d like five minutes alone with Ed Balls, two bricks and a rusty farm-implement first. His surname would be hideously ironic by the end of it.

*Prickheaded Dunce

Born to Run

I’m not really a Springsteen fan but I watched the last half-hour of his set at Glastonbury on the telly box last night. Well I say I’m not a fan but whilst I don’t like his politics I do find him evocative of a certain pre-Prius America. And…

Jeezus, he’s nearly sixty and he was well belting it out and putting on a hellishly kinetic show right to the end. I only found out later that was a 5/2 hour set (physics backgound – I think in vulgar fractions – for some reason it winds peeps up). Gotta hand it to the guy. Like Tom Jones he’s still got it. I mean really still got it. He’s like The Stones and the Divine Debbie and Tom Jones and Tina Turner. He just keeps on truckin’.

I thought three things though, mainly –

The first was wondering what Jacko, nine years Springsteen’s junior, would have been like if he had looked after himself and not degenerated into the drug-addled wreck of a man he was in his twilight years

The second was that unlike so many contemporary beat combos Bruce and the E-Street Band actually looked like they were really enjoying themselves. That was great to see. I have had a gutfull of watching professional miserablists thinking they were being profound by looking like they’d rather be having dental surgery from Larry Olivier in Argentina at the time. Yes, that’s you Mozzer, you utterly dismal twat. Or my personal bête noire, Moby. Moby is a right-on, non-smoking, teetotal and vegan god-botherer who really doesn’t do drugs and who has been known to descend into the musical Room 101 that is known as “Christian Rock”. I’d rather climb coconut trees with Keef Richards. At least we could have a larf on the way to A&E.

But mainly what I thought was…. Well, at one point Springsteen who was sweating like a pig in a sauna and heavily backlit and the perspiration was evaporating off him and it looked like smoke and that he was literally on fire. My wife says, “Bloody hell! They’ve set The Boss on fire!” It really did look like it. It was quite bizarre to watch.

Fortunately we didn’t lose two musical legends in the same week. The intermong would collapse under the weight of the faux-grief…

Although to be fair spontaneous human combustion is one hell of a way to end a gig.

Very Spinal Tap.

Though I guess only if it happens to the drummer.

Stonehenge, Where The Demons Dwell…

…Where the banshees live, and they do live well,
Stonehenge, where a man’s a man
And the children dance to the pipes of pan.

A short but interesting discussion about policing of Stonehenge at Samizdata led me to reflect a little on alternatives. That is, how choices are made depending on what alternatives are on offer. As I said in the Samizdata thread, I have a little emotional investment in the Henge issue, as I’m a bit of an old hippy so, rather more than some other folks, I felt very aware of a kind of police state evolving long before New Labour arrived. In fact, many of those now decrying New Labour were, I suspect, rather pleased with the Thatcher government’s harsh treatment of hippies and, moreso, the miners back then, and would have ridiculed talk of a police state and described these actions as necessary.

I also remember watching one of those po-faced BBC shows with Michael Buerk, The Moral Maze or Pillock Talk or something, in which a few worthies including pudding-faced Michael debated some moral issue, and it was around the time the Tories decided to follow up cracking down on hippies by cracking down on raves, and for pretty much the same reasons- and that was something the esteemed Guido Fawkes was involved in back then, and indeed he wrote a Libertarian Alliance pamphlet thingy warning about the new Health And Safety Police. So there was one of the procession of Criminal Justice Acts that made “rhythmic electronic music” illegal, or some such piffle, and this young lady from the Ravey Davey Gravy scene was on Buerk Talk, and she said it was like a police state. And after she’d done her five minutes and been dragged off by a floor assistant, Buerk snorted down his nose about how he’d been to real police states, and she was talking a load of poo.

But nowadays, there’s a lot more people talking about Britain being some kind of police state, and maybe she wasn’t talking so much poo after all. It’s not unreasonable to chart the progress from the early 80s to today, as the requirement for the entire state to get involved in ever more trivial matters has progressed. You need a licence for this, approval for that, an inspection of the other, you can protest if you don’t say Bollix to Blair and don’t offend anybody and it’s on an agreed day somewhere approved by the Police where nobody can hear you. We have smoking inspectors and bin inspectors and policemen checking that nobody is standing up in a pub (“vertical drinking”) and fingerprinting everywhere and Glastonbury so I hear is rather like Stalingrad but a bit more polychromatic, and so on. We get stopped and searched and searched and stopped and randomly checked for this and that, and PCSOs leap into the breach to tell us to pour our beer away and so on, and are you carrying a knife sir? Can we just search you to check?

So, er, back to the point. The inestimable commenter Sam Duncan made a valid point during that discussion- that it’s all very well talking about heavy handed police tactics, but on the other hand being kept awake all night by Ravey Davey and his hundred gigawatt sound system is no fun at all. I can certainly appreciate that too. I suffered the most appallingly noisy neighbour once, at a time when I was working long hours and needed my beauty sleep particularly, and indeed it is no joy. Something has to be done.

But this is where we must ask about the alternatives on offer. If the question is, would you like to be kept awake all night, or get a good night’s sleep, obviously virtually anyone would answer, “I’ll take the good night’s sleep. Make it so, state!”

But if the question is, “Would you rather occasionally (e.g. one night per year) experience the disturbance of a pop festival several fields away, or would you rather live in the state I described above- the one with the endless police powers and inspectors and all that crap- then I at least would answer, “I’ll put up with the pop festival, thanks”. So we need very much when choosing what we want to be presented with the actual alternatives on offer.

This applies for instance to drugs- current policy pretends to offer a choice of a society with heroin addicts or one without heroin addicts- that is prohibition is presented as if it can attain that second state. But it can’t. So the actual alternatives on offer are, “would you like a state with legal heroin addicts, or one with illegal heroin addicts, an immense illegal drugs industry and devastated inner city communities?” We don’t have a choice of “no heroin addicts”. It isn’t on the table.

“Would you like everyone to be healthier?” you are asked. “Why, yes!” you may reply. But the actual choices on offer are, “some people become ill due to drinking too much” and “the state snatching your beer out of your hand”.

“Would you like to be safer?”. Most people think that sounds good. Until they find it means not being able to bake a cake for the church social because their kitchen hasn’t been inspected and their labrador likes to sleep under the big table, health and safety, can’t be too careful.

And so on.

So we should be careful of what choices we are making. If we want our old freedoms, we may have to put up with some things we don’t like, or take a risk of Mrs Poggit’s raisins giving us food poisoning (though they never have before). We may decide we’d prefer that the state bans raves. Or farmhouse cakes in church. But we should at least stand back and check that we know what the actual alternatives being offered are.

Dies Irae

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

– John 3:16

What can men do against such reckless hate?

– King Theoden, The Two Towers, JRR Tolkien

I have been following the deranged “career” of Fred Phelps of Westboro “Baptist” “Church” Topeka, KS for sometime. When I first found their website years ago I emailed a Topeka paper because I thought it was a spoof. I got a nice email back from a sub-editor explaining that Phelps was alas very real and the entire State of Kansas was embarrassed about his deranged vitriol. And that is before they started picketting funerals of US Iraq war-dead.

They jumped the shark years ago. This though is performing formation aerobatics over a tank of plesiosaurs that would put Moscow State Circus acrobats equipped with TsAGI jet-packs to shame…

Well at least the tune’s a bit more upbeat than this I guess.

That kid at the end is something else though…

Talking of religious child abuse from the other end of the spectrum she could always be packed off to Dickie Dawkin’s Atheist Bootcamp.

Yup, The Dawkster who has for years railed against religions for indoctrinating kids is doing the same thing. My personal beef is mainly that camp-fire songs will include that appalling nihilistic dirge, Lennon’s “Imagine”.

A plague on both their houses!


Your radical house-trained principled agnostic, Nick.

Big mouth frog

Have you noticed that there is a single name associated with the Carbon Cult in your country? America has the supreme, the almighty Al Gore as the loudmouthed do-right, Britain’s George Monbiot is the one the press turn to as oracle, Canada has some cove called David Suzuki and Australia has Tim Flannery (who?).

Is it the same elsewhere? One single person whose foghorn voice is taken to speak as the carbon grand panjandrum?

Honesty in print

Remember nearly a year ago renowned carbon cultist Georgie boy Monbiot threw a strop because Channel 4 didn’t stick exclusively to his preapproved climate message? How do you think this petty little wannabe dictator would react to this, from the Melbourne Sun Herald, if it were printed in a British paper:

Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong’s totally false and deliberately misleading "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme" is nothing less than a disgraceful fraud which the media to its utter and almost total shame has allowed them to get away with.

But it almost pales in comparison with what Barack Obama had to say at his press conference yesterday. The relevant quote is [here].

That a political leader could say something so stupid and so fundamentally false almost defies comprehension. Although depressingly, perhaps not, given the Kevin and Penny falsehoods.

It’s important to understand that this wasn’t an off-the-cuff comment. It came in Obama’s prepared comments. That the emissions "contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe."

Which is worse. That the President of the US doesn’t understand that he is talking about carbon dioxide. What we all breathe out, and which far from polluting the air, is the tree and plant food.

And which nobody, not even the most hysterical climate changer has suggested until Obama yesterday that rising CO2 levels will cause any direct asbestos-type damage. Yes, it might fry the planet, but if so, the trees will die happy and never healthier.

Or that he does.

Obama and his falsehoods and Kevin and Penny and theirs are all of a deliberate piece. To play off the cognitive dissonance of people.

Attacking carbon pollution? Of course. Who could possibly be against stopping those dirty power stations pumping out those little bits of black stuff.

When it has got nothing repeat, nothing to do with that sort of real pollution. Which will actually be increased on a global scale if we close our clean coal stations and they are replaced by really dirty ones in the developing world, as they will be.

Equally, perhaps more, depressing is the way the business community meekly goes along with the government’s lies. Either as ‘useful idiots’ or feeding the tiger in the hope of being last.

Or those like energy companies such as AGL hoping to feast on the alternative energy scam.

H/T Australian Climate Madness


Checking the post this morning, I found that a package I’d been expecting from France had arrived. It’s a software CD, sent by a French friend, containing some audio software which he could no longer use as it won’t run on his new Vista64 machine, which he’d sent me because my very old copy of Cubase VST won’t run on my XP machine (it would run under Win98, but I can’t be bothered to dual boot, and if I did many of the newer toys wouldn’t run anyway on 98, etc, etc).

The CD was in a card envelope, standard 100g one. That in turn was in a Royal Mail plastic bag, upon which were the words-

Our Sincere Apologies

Dear Customer,
I am sorry that the enclosed item, addressed to you, has been damaged whilst in our care. Although we do all we can to prevent such damage, it does occasionally occur.

etc etc

Except the envelope hasn’t been damaged. It has been opened– neatly along the perforations along the top.

Now it doesn’t need much imagination to conclude that this was so somebody could take a look at what was on the CD inside. Was somebody looking for kiddie porn, or “terrorist” plans, and disappointed mightily by the discovery of nothing but Cubasis 4? What I find depressing was my own reaction; the presumption that a functionary of the State has opened my mail.

Now of course I can’t prove that’s true. Maybe it was a post office worker hoping for porn, but it seems to me we’ve now reached the stage where nobody would be surprised at the State routinely going through our mail. We used to criticise the Soviet Union and other dictatorships for such things. Now, we are so beaten by the State that we accept it here. Or at least, I do.

We’re already in a police state, aren’t we?

Good idea

Liberal Democrat Norman Baker on he of the thousand titles, Hissing Sid himself:

The man is totally unaccountable. Since he first supported Tony Blair he has operated in the shadows and it’s time he stepped into the light.

Won’t he explode into a cloud of dust? Or melt? Or burst into flames? Or something?

Tell me, is it murder to ‘kill’ the undead?


I think my co-blogger Cats has got it wrong.

Jacko was completely hatstand. That is not something anyone would deny.

I think we as libertarians can’t deny that any adult has the fundamental responsibilty for their own behaviour. Jacko was at best utterly unhinged and at worst a kiddie-fiddler. Whilst I don’t believe his own abysmal childhood is an excuse for that I think it is a reason. From Cat’s post…

“it’s an insult to every individual who has overcome true childhood hardship, deprivation and/or abuse to emerge as a functioning member of society.”

Well I see where that is coming from and I have known people who, for whatever reasons, had rough childhoods but I think that comment is entirely wrong-headed. The people I have known who got through it and became “functioning members of society” are amongst the people I am proudest to have ever known. Getting over what they went through was not easy and I am proud to have known them because they did very well because not everyone makes it through. Jackson clearly didn’t and for that he deserves our pity. Maybe he was unlucky. Maybe he lacked the willpower. I shall not judge because unlike the people I know who suffered into adulthood with things like deliberate self-harm and eating disorders and got over them I never knew Jackson so it would be unfair to compare and contrast.

There is only one caveat I shall put to this. I am not 100% Jacko didn’t abuse kids. I suspect he certainly did things which were “inappropriate” though not in either his or the child’s mind conceived of as sexual at the time. But I’m not sure and I think Jackson deserves the benefit (which we all deserve) of the doubt here.

My final thoughts on this are not exactly related – tragedy and wrongdoing having a tenous relationship at best. Jackson had, as far as I can tell, a terrible life. In that life he earned more than you or me ever will. In that life he sold 250 million albums (just slightly more than Ian B’s shifted). In that life he could have pretty much slept with anyone male or female on the planet but mainly slept in an oxygen tent with a Chimp. That is tragic anyway you put it. One of the most tragic images I ever saw was something that some UK TV station CGIed. It was a few years ago. It was an image of Michael Jackson in his mid-40s without the surgery. It was almost worse than looking at the real thing because it was a picture of a handsome middle-aged black fella rather than the travesty Jackson became.

We should pity Jackson for that as we should pity Elvis. Maybe they should have overcome the horrors of their childhoods but not everyone can do that. Before you cast aspertions ask two questions… Do you really think because he was extraordinarily odd he actually harmed children? And do you not pity him for never being able to grow up?

I suspect he never specifically harmed kids, much*. I know that my life as a complete unknown not shifting millions of albums and not a friend of Elizabeth Taylor has almost certainly been much happier than Mr Jackson’s. I also don’t think he interfered with children as such. Maybe he had no conception of sex as a game played upon a pubic lawn and maybe didn’t even see his physical contact with kiddies as being wrong (because he didn’t actually see it as “sexual” – what actually is “sexual” is a bloody good question) but it is almost impossible to see anyone other than Jackson as the fundamental loser in this tragedy. And I would also wager that it’s almost impossible to see him as a sexual actor in the way we probs see ourselves.

He was merely a tragic and lonely man. He ought to have been able to get over that and if he had he would deserve our unstinting admiration for that as much as his undoubted showmanship. Alas, he never did. That sometimes happens to our greatest stars. It also sometimes happens to us.

*If any damage was done I suspect most of it was done by the post-abuse counselling.

Michael Jackson – RIP

After reading Nicks comments on Michael Jackson I find myself having to pass on these observations. This posting from Small Dead Animals is the most apposite I have seen:

The A "tragic childhood" is a 4 year old in Bangladesh with retinoblastoma. A "tragic life" is a Russian teenager sold into the sex trade.

Michael Jackson did not have a tragic childhood, nor did he have a tragic life.

He had the life he chose.

To excuse his behavior as though it was simply a pre-programmed result of his years as a child performer is not just intellectually lazy, it’s an insult to every individual who has overcome true childhood hardship, deprivation and/or abuse to emerge as a functioning member of society.

Michael Jackson was no bobbing cork on the sea of circumstance – he was a multi-millionaire with the means to choose any lifestyle he wanted. "Functional adult" was one of the options. He chose otherwise.

Celebrate the music if you like, but for decency’s sake, don’t celebrate the man.

I am sorry a mothers son is dead, and he certainly added to the gaiety of nations, but his talent was never to my taste.

Michael Jackson is Dead

It was the first thing I heard this morning. Michael jackson, the King of Pop and absolute mentalist had kicked the bucket and joined the choir eternal.

I have never been much of a fan of Jackson but I felt sad kinda partly in a Donne-ish way and partly because Jackson, like the Princess of Wales, just was popular culture. The world is poorer without Jackson. He might have been mad as a box of frogs and he might have done nothing worthwhile musically since the ’80s (one of the tragedies of jackson’s life was his inability to re-invent himself periodically – the comparison with his rough contemporary Madonna on this was especially glaring) but he was just there all my life as Jacko a complete nutcase and, at the height of his powers, a phenomenal performer.

But there is something more personal for me here. About 15 years ago I had a weird Gibsonian thought. I thought Jackson couldn’t die. I mean they’d freeze him with Walt Disney or upload his mind to a hard disk or some similar nonsense. I mean he was just too rich and raving to to do something mundane like pop his clogs in anything like a commonplace manner. I never bought any of the Diana conspiracies and I’m not gonna buy the ones which will inevitably grow up around Jackson but I can kinda see why they happened about Diana and will around Jackson. These people were just too famous to die from such prosaic causes as a car crash or a heart attack. But that is the truth about life and death. Even the Queen uses the lav and even the stupendously famous die from the same daft things that claim the rest of us whether it be drunk Frenchmen driving into ferro-concrete at 80mph or a dodgy ticker. I know how I’m gonna go. Not exactly obviously but I have always had the intuition that the verdict will be “death by misadventure”. I just hope it isn’t too David Carridine. Not that I ought to care being dead and all.

Anyway, the choir eternal has just got a new member and a staggeringly talented one at that…

Michael, as I said, I’m not a fan but for one time only on Counting Cats this is for you…

Quackery on the NHS

I was going to do a bit on the NHS and homeopathy, but Nick got there ahead. All I can add to his comments is – at a cost of £3067 per patient one would have thought that they could have been given at least something worth having.

18th Amendment

Not long ago my wife and I purchased a picnic hamper for picnics. It has an insultated pocket for a bottle of wine. It may though land us in trouble with the rozzers

Just read the whole thing. It’s abysmal.

Confiscating two cans of lager from a bloke in Brigthon because they suspected he “might drink them”?

I used to be proud to be English. Not any more.

There is this bizarre idea here that the USA is some sort of Southern Baptist puritanical totalitarian state. Well, last time I was there (Key West admittedly) folks were walking naked but for body paint and flip-flops in the streets, the bars never shut and you could smoke in them and the police were very nice. And ya know what? I never saw a single incident of Barnabus Rubble.