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July, 2009:

Sir Bobby Robson RIP

I just heard that former England and Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson has died.

He knew his football and always came over as a decent chap. Arguably couldn’t cope with the modern players – his playing experience being in the age of a maximum wage (twenty quid a week!) and most of that went on a couple pints of shandy and bryllcream… Nah, he might not have been cut out to deal with the dogging antics of the likes of Keiron Dyer but then who is? But he did know football and he was a gentleman and unlike later England managers (a certain Swede can stand up right now) he understood that it mattered and unlike that Swede he treated his position as an avocation rather than a temp job. Admittedly for Sven a temp job on four and a half million a year. And you know what? Every boozer in England has at least one bar-fly who would do it for nowt (well a couple of pints and a pie). Bobby knew that. Sven thought he was a gift from the Gods. I recall Ulrikka Johnsson saying Sven was better looking up close. She said up close he looked like Kevin Costner. I will shoot in the face and genitals any fucker who says at any range that I resemble the dancer with wolves.

Bobby Robson was real. When they appointed Sven he was made out as some sort of intellectual because he read Tibetan poetry. Well that’s gonna have the likes of Paulo Maldini quacking in their boots. Bobby wasn’t like that. He didn’t give a toss about South Asian poets or Swedish weathergirls but he knew that trick that the Arsenal back-four did.

And apart from anything else he was gloriously quotable…

“Des Walker jumped like a salmon and bit like a ferret”

So goodbye Bobby. You will be missed. And not just by me. I’ll bet you get a standing ovation at Sunderland. Now that would be something…

Just for you…

Adam Smith was Right!

Last weekend my mother had a house party. At one point there were only four of us in the living room. That would be me, my wife, Michael (a mate) and his girlfriend Alison (who I’d only just met). Anyway.. I’m an IT guy and Alison is massage therapist (kerching!) but Michael and Lizzy are both freelance translators…

Dive behind the sofa folks if you don’t want full and frank translator shop-talk. If you don’t want to know how to rack the Japs up to 80 quid a thou or who in Denmark doesn’t pay on time then look away now. Alison fell asleep and dear reader my brain melted which is one of the reasons why I am not providing a transcript.

That and Cats, Ian and Daphne would kill me over what it would do to the stats.

All I can recall from that encounter (and I am not up for beating any more out of me with the leg I had to chew off) is that Alison is very nice and that Michael has not just fallen on his feet but got 5.9s for both technical merit and artistic impression from all the judges including the snarky North Korean. And if I am honest I felt a sense of pride because Michael has frequently been unlucky in love and I have frequently opined he ought to get an English girlfriend. Previously he has almost perversely pursued ladies from every continent apart from Antarctica (though he made some penguins nervous once) and now he has a bird from Hull (and spot on she is too) and it seems to be going well. So fair play to the lad but me, slightly older, and somewhat wiser (yeah, right!) feels somewhat vindicated that it seems to be working out with a Brit. He once dated a Luxemburger. All I know about that small nation is that it has low taxes and is the world’s largest manufacturer of false teeth. Well somewhere has to be I guess. All of that and the fact my mate got dumped in Luxemburg City for no apparent reason.

Professional Journalism

From The Telegraph

Last week an amateur astronomer spotted that a comet or asteroid the size of the Earth had crashed into Jupiter, leaving a large crater.

…because only professional journalists can ensure high quality, reliable, fact checked news.

(I don’t need to explain what’s wrong with the quote to anyone, do I?)

Absence Of Evidence May Be Evidence Of Absence

Well, this looks odd. The police are saying some young men are terrorists. The evidence as described seems somewhere between flimsy and farcical. They haven’t got any actual evidence of bomb making, which is normally a prerequisite of a bombing campaign, but they’ve got, er, emails with girls’ names in them that may be codewords and a reference to a wedding that may be a codeword.

I don’t trust the police any more. I used to sort of generally trust them. I mean, I knew they planted drugs on people and hit people they shouldn’t, and stuff, so didn’t trust them in that regard, but I generally thought most coppers were decent enough people trying to do a difficult job in difficult circumstances, often in very grey areas, and I happen to think, despite being a minarchist, that state policing has a useful role. But I now think something has gone very very wrong with our entire policing apparat.

Over the past few decades, policing- the capture of criminals- has been replaced by policing as a sort of state guardianship. They are moral guardians now- a mutaween- but more than that we now have this enormous, uber-powerful “security apparatus” which is profoundly menacing. Such apparats rarely stay within sensible bounds- power leads to excess. The days of the village bobby are long gone.

We know that cases like Operation Ore- the paedophile ring that never was- are driven by a kind of excess of zeal and groupthink, often being pushed along by specific high ranking officers who believe they are on a mission to save humanity. When the matters being investigated are the subject of societal panic- paedophilia, or terrorism- we need to be very cynical. There seems to be a psychological effect which occurs whereby the security apparat fall into a groupthink feedback. They’re certain they’re right and, like conspiracy theorists, fall into a mindset of trying to pull together whatever snippets of information they have to fit their preconceived picture. The public tend to be ready to support them too in these panic situations, for much the same reason- when terroristsandpaedophiles are involved, any smoke proves there is a raging inferno. We become too ready to accept reductions in standards of evidence and due process of law because in our gut we know they’re guilty and terroristsandpaedophiles are as sly as foxes and capturing them requires the suspension of caution.

I have no idea whether these young men are terrorists caught in the nick of time, or innocent men caught in a web of circumstancially justified certainty by the security apparat. But when I read about “bombers” who have no bombs, and that emails describing a wedding are the evidence, I feel disquieted.

Geordie Masochism

I am a masochist. I don’t mean that I get turned on by the idea of Dita von Teese making me wear stockings and then getting medieval on my ass turns me on (though it does). That is a simple fetish but alas I am already way beyond that level of perversion. I am a lifelong Newcastle United fan.

Stop laughing at the back. Oh! carry on it’s the only way I can cope as well.

After a dismal season which saw us relegated I recently saw the new away strip for our up-comming campaign in the Championship (say it quickly and it don’t hurt as much). Here it is…

Now I’m no Trinny and Susannah and normally dress like a mildly deranged Korean War fighter pilot but that is fucking ghastly. That knocks into a cocked hat the abysmal Arsenal away strip of the early nineties (also heavy on the yellow) and it makes the Notts Forest away strip of the same era look tasteful. I have seen some dreadful outfits in my time but that new Newcastle strip takes the battenburg and performs an unatural act with it. It is horrid. Is it a cunning plan? I mean are NUFC so devoid of cash or ideas that their only option is to dazzle the opposition so our strikers (whoever they may be – could be me – rail fare every Saturday and a complimentary pie – we are that potless) wearing that garb will cause defenders from sunnier climes to collapse screaming, “My eyes!”. Is that what the Toon Army is reduced to?

Wiser viewers might (if they can cope) have spotted the shirt sponsor. Yup, it’s still Northern Rock. I think that says it all really. A shit team, utterly insolvent, wearing kit that would be rejected by a fairground barker on the grounds of tastelessness playing the likes of West Brom Albion and sponsored by a bankrupt bank…

That’s modern Britain in a nutshell for you.

But I have no choice. I’m a fan. I have lived these last few years in and around Manchester and I could have become a fan of Sir Alex’s Reds or Man City or even (God help me for saying this) Stockport County, or Bolton Wanderers but no. When I pop my cloggs and Quincy gets Sam (ever noticed that Sam actually does all the work whilst Quincy merely grandstands?) to open me up my heart will be striped black and white and therefore probs readable by a Tesco scanner. And Sam will sagely remark that I could have got that Wash And Go on a three for a price of two offer. Not that it will matter because I’m quitting this mortal coil via misadventure and that don’t exactly go along with open casket ceremonies.

Enough of that already!

How the hell can I support a team playing in that? I will though because I’m a Geordie and the fact that they are going to dress like rejects from a Gay Pride march and haven’t won anything since before I was born doesn’t matter. I will support them because they are my team.

Unfortunately.

Casting False Pearls Before Real Swine

Ian just made a most excellent (a bit Bill & Ted I know) post about education and social mobility.

“Social Mobility” is the the great (bone) idol of NeuArbeit. It’s the whole the daughter of the local grocer can become Prime Minister schtick.

Oh wait… that happened. But onward socialist soldiers! For they will not allow such a simple thing as reality to stop them in their tracks.

It’s bollocks. Coming from a government that imposed university tuition fees (imagine the howls from the Labour benches if the Tories had done that) and has gleefully presided over UK manufacturing turning into two blokes in a shed with no apprenticeships available it is beyond conception. It is acutally beyond contraception and if only a condom had been used I wouldn’t have had to hear that true working class hero Lord Mandleson wittering on about it at considerable length yesterday. Yeah, Lord Mandelson who’s grandad was Sec State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Yeah, him lecturing the rest of us on social mobility.

But what is social mobility? For me it is the idea that the daughter of the dustman could end up dating the Duke or that someone from a back-to-back terrace could become the next Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. Or that the grocer’s daughter could become leader of the Conservative Party and win three general elections (I done that one already, sorry). I used to be quite leftist (really) but a few things shifted me. The first came from actually living in rough areas and the realization that at least some of the underclass deserved gassing like TB ridden badgers. The second was what made the prole class and it was a rampant welfare state. At some level I can’t help but connect thinking great Marxist thoughts with the creation of a permanently dependent prole class drinking White Lightning and watching Virgin CATV. It’s the same fucking thing only one lot are on cheeky Merlots and the other are on wrecking juice.

Even gubbermint research shows that by whatever demented metric they use social mobility and access to the professions has declined over the last decade. This despite because of NeuArbeit’s pissing about.  The remedy of course is more of the same.

It always is.

A Soupcon Of Whine

Today on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free we find a sad but revealing little article by one Ryan Shorthouse on that buzzword policy “social mobility”, the gist of which is that he is a graduate, and like zillions of other graduates he finally ran out of road in the educational system and found himself distressingly in the adult world after Uni clutching his degree, only to discover that it’s not worth all that he dreamed it would be worth. It starts with a whine that the bank lending him money actually dare to expect him to pay them a trifling amount for the privelege of doing so, and then rapidly descend into a general complaint that since the state helped him get his degree in post-modernist deconstructionistism, it should bally well make sure there are ample very well paid jobs for post-modernist deconstructionistists for him to choose from. This is “social mobility”, apparently.

One interesting thing to consider before we stride forward into the dimly lit uplands of Ryan Shortarse’s mental landscape is that although this is a standard “leftie” complaint, he actually is “political secretary” of The Bow Group, who declare themselves, the oldest – and one of the most influential – centre-right Think-Tanks in Britain. The Group exists to develop policy, publish research and stimulate debate within the Conservative Party. It has no corporate view, but represents all strands of Conservative opinion. So much for the great ideological left/right divide. Eager Bow Groupies are no doubt looking forward to their next event-

”I’m big so what are you going to do about it?”

A discussion on obesity with Anne Milton MP, Shadow Health Minister

Sounds like riveting stuff, Ryan. Glad you’re doing something useful with your life.

Anyway, back to “social mobility”. What do the Ruling Class mean by this? It all sounds very nice, the idea that the son of a humble ferret-wrangler can rise to the highest position in the land, the world is their oyster- indeed young Ryan Shithouse uses this very phrase-

With a degree in your hand, the world is supposedly your oyster.

Supposedly? Supposed by whom, exactly? The young Ryans of this world?

The problem with “social mobility” is that it actually accepts that there is a rigorous class system, a greasy pole which must be climbed in order to lead a life of reasonable comfort and success and- rather than address the real problem, the greasy pole- instead offers everybody the chance to try to shimmy up it. The problem is, there isn’t much room at the top of the pole. All you’ve created through “social mobility” policies is more people shimmying and sliding back down the pole, leading to fiercer competition to get to the top and more failures. You haven’t created social mobility at all.

What we should be asking is why the pole exists. Let’s ask, who is at the top of it. Well, young Ryan soon sorts us out-

But many talented twentysomething graduates are finding it hard to complete the next chapter – accessing the eventually fruitful professions of law, journalism, politics, publishing – because of the enormous financial barriers.

[...]

Without root-and-branch reform of the access to professions, gifted twentysomethings from modest backgrounds will remain trapped in jobs that pay the bills, rather than flourishing in experiences that provide an outlet for their talent.

There we have it. Lawyers, journalists, politics. The Ruling Class. Ryan Shitforbrains wants to be one of the elite, the rulers, the opinion formers. God forbid he should have to spend his life doing something useful that merely “pays the bills”.

Just a reminder again, The Bow Group. “Centre Right“.

The lack of understanding of what the economy is and does is depressing here. The purpose of working isn’t to “flourish in experiences”. It is to make or do something that is useful to other people so that they will trade what they make or do with you. When you create something useful to other people- your labour, or bespoke walking sticks, or bread, or music, it has value to them and they will pay you for it and then you can (merely) pay your bills. If you do a lot of stuff people want from you- that is, create a lot of value- you can trade it for a lot of other peoples’ stuff and do more than merely pay your bills. That’s how the market works.

There is a complete disconnect here between Ryan’s perception of reality and how reality actually is. And it’s probably not too daring of me to suggest that this view is commonplace today, particularly among graduates. They have been told their degree is a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket to the life of Reilly, and they damned well expect somebody else to provide it.

The Class System is alive and well, and strengthening by the day. There is nothing specifically wrong with lawyers or journalists- they provide services others wish to purchase, that’s fine. What is wrong is an inherent class belief that being a lawyer or journalist is inherently superior to being a hairdresser or plumber. Hairdressers and plumbers and the myriad other “lowly” jobs in the economy provide essential services to the market- that is, these people are vital to the wellbeing of their fellow humans. But we have a system which despises them as lesser mortals, and indoctrinates young children via the odious mass education system with the idea that success is defined as gaining entry to the limited supply of high class jobs, most of which are directly or indirectly supported by the State. We even have a special name for these upper class jobs- they aren’t jobs or even careers, they are “professions”. The Law in particular is naught but a mediaeval guild- a protectionist cartel- and it would be remiss of me not to quote Mussolini at this point, heh

It may be objected that this program implies a return to the guilds (corporazioni). No matter!… I therefore hope this assembly will accept the economic claims advanced by national syndicalism.

An economy cannot hope to survive when more and more people believe the same rubbish that young Ryan Shiftless believes. The professional classes- university educated academics in the frame here- have tricked themselves into believing that they are the economy. We hear often that we are a “knowledge economy” in which there is only employment for “knowledge workers” and everyone needs a degree. That is simply not true. The evidence, as young Ryan’s article shows, is that there are not enough such jobs to be done. An economy relies, more than anything, on diversity, that buzzword the Ruling Class love to use but cannot understand. It relies on all kinds of people doing all sorts of stuff, and that stuff has to be stuff that is of use to their fellow human beings. That is why the free market is so goddamned social and truly egalitarian; everyone can play, whatever their talents. There is no better class of jobs. The idea is meaningless. There are just useful things that other people want to purchase. That is all there is.

The colour of your collar doesn’t matter. Young Mr Shitarse, think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your fellow human beings. What will they freely purchase from you, as goods or services? Figure that out- as everyone in a free market should do- and you’ll soon find yourself up to your neck in “experiences that provide an outlet for your talent.”

It’s time to stop telling children that joining the lawyers guild, or the journalists guild, or the doctors guild, is the only means of success in life. It’s time to stop the state supporting these guilds with laws and money and patronage. It’s time to stop pretending that handing out ever greater numbers of degrees in bullshit has any merit whatsoever. We don’t need more lawyers, journalists or politicians. We need people to make things and do things that other people need and want.

Let’s stop wasting resources on providing access to the greasy pole. Let’s take the greasy pole down.

Fuck the NHS

This morning I walked into the doctor’s gaff – it’s just down the road – and told them I want to deregister. I was asked to which practice I was transferring to. I told them none. You should have seen the faces of the three witches behind the desk at that point. They deemed it unpossible but eventually agreed to put a note on my records that I wanted no more to do with them. They seemed to think it might be because I was getting too many letters from them. As I have no chronic conditions and am unlikely (I say “unlikely” because this is the NHS where anything farcical is possible) to be called in for a cervical smear I thought that somewhat odd.

It isn’t the letters I neither need nor get that beckoned me to this tumult in the reception area. I had just had a vicarious sickener yesterday which broke the neck of the cameleopard.

I am, I think, still technically registered. I was told if I was rushed to hospital and wasn’t registered there would be a problem. I replied that I would rather die face down in a gutter than have anything more to do with the NHS. I was very polite and thanked the weird sisters for adding that note. It was a start at least…

What I want is my full medical records so I can use them as tinder for the bonfire and full deregistration from the NHS. Is this possible? Any ideas how that can be done? (My particular area of computational astrophysical fluid dynamics was nuclear combustion so I can manage the bonfire – as long as it isn’t absolutely pissing down).

If it is not possible then we are a totalitarian state and therefore I don’t care a monkey’s chuff for the tender ministrations of the NHS any more than a Jew cared for those of Mengele. I know that was hyperbolic but the difference is a quantative rather than qualitative.

The three witches did though suggest that I would become King of Scotland. So was Idi Amin so fuck that for a game of cribbage which is a game I only ever played once and didn’t much care for.

I’m opting out of the NHS. After I was told this was not possible that only made me doubly quit.

And if this makes me seem like a one-legged man in an arse kicking contest against a porcupine then so fucking be it.

A little light music

I don’t feel like being serious today. Found this over at Power and Control:

A woman in a hot-air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am."
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.
She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican."
"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded, "You must be an Obama Democrat."
"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You’ve risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it’s my fault."

Enjoy

Sod it, it’s a great day and I’m in a good mood. Here is Terry Fator singing Tony Bennet better than Tony Bennet -

And I’m not a country fan, but I can tell when it is being done well. Damn, but this man is good.

Pearls of Wisdom

The case for a right of self defence:

Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

Wishful thinking

What an idiot, what does he think he is? Free or something?

I want an America with no more grand utopian schemes to save an environment that doesn’t need saving, to prevent global warming that isn’t happening, or to force people to participate in a collectivized medical system that is a hollow farce and a justification for snoopery, robbery, and tyranny.

I want an America where the few, pitiful, starving, underpaid bureaucrats that remain—eking out their final days before their positions are abolished forever—have nothing to say about what I eat, what I drink, what I drive, what I keep in my gun cabinet, who I love, how I do it, and even what, in the immortal words of the great George Carlin, I shoot, snort, smoke, or rub into my belly.

L. Neil Smith

Double Clutch

His fingers were firmly threaded through my long, dark hair, down near the nape of my neck, tilting my head back to almost meet his mouth, the other hand gently cupping the small of my back, lifting and pulling me closer, my legs spread wide, black patent leather stilettos braced against the back of two chairs, the edge of my g-stringed ass barely brushing past the edge of the stage. He wrapped his hand high around my bare thigh right above the place where smooth skin met silk stocking, rubbing his thumb lightly in that small concave of inner velvet flesh found only on a young woman’s leg just below a man’s greatest desire. Then he leaned into my neck and took a long, quiet breath. With his left hand still wrapped in my hair, he held me posed, young skin pulled taught, back arched, breasts spilling sweetly over the tightly laced bra, he slowly began tucking a neat string of fifty dollar bills around the black lace garter belt skimming my hips, dark eyes locked on mine, open lips a sweet breath away, he silently let me go with a hand softly stroking the side of my face. I was five hundred dollars richer and wet as a river a few minutes later.

I stood up and finished my first set of the evening, nearly two thousand dollars circling my waist as I exited to applause. The marks crowding the house that night ate it up and insisted on paying the pretty girl in the fine, black bustier and garters proper homage, trying to match the handsome man’s generosity. I walked into my cab five grand richer that night for a short six hours worth of work.

Did I mention I worked the mild end of the skin trade way back in the day? Slap the stupid surprise off your face, how in the hell else do you think a smart, good looking, abandoned fifteen year old makes enough money to keep a decent roof over her head? Besides the club work, I had a nice side business bubbling in primo redbud and long, hermetically sealed, strips of pharmaceutical quaaludes. Irony ran rich in Houston back in the late seventies. I could drink myself under the table at most nightclubs in town and out earn a school teacher in one easy weekend, but I couldn’t register for school or rent an apartment without an adult signature. I wasn’t allowed to work at respectable McDonalds or Macy’s, thank goodness, but I could strip in outlaw nightclubs. Excuse me if I don’t have a scintilla of respect for hypocritical government sensibilities that keep trying to manage our lives with a slew of nebby, feel good laws that limit my freedom and grab for my money all these years later. The political class couldn’t smell a rational clue if it was wrapped in rotting meat and shoved up their noses.

I’m betting you want to hear more about titty clubs, drug deals and dancing girls before I assault you with a fine polemic rant skewering the ivory tower intellectuals and obtuse government grunts who create expensively useless ways to save ourselves from the most natural of human proclivities. People like to get high, have sex and generally misbehave on occasion, the officials need to come to grips with that reality. I have never underestimated the power of sex and titillation to sell a product, especially my own, so I’ll indulge the voyeuristically inclined who’ve led sheltered lives and I don’t mind helping out the curious folks who occasionally walk the crooked path on the paying end of the business, either. Hell, I’ll even give you the goods today without the gospel.

I can sum it all up in a few unsexy words – it’s just work. No different than most jobs really, it just pays better, the hours are shorter and the perks can be really spectacular because you happen to work without a shirt. Men have a thing for boobs and they’re willing to pay ridiculous sums to look at them in naughty venues. There is rarely anything truly sexy about the work, the women who excel at it just make it seem that way. Like any ordinary office full of women, only a small percentage put out a brilliant product. A slightly larger group perform adequately and the rest range from barely tolerable to downright awful. The customer’s are viewed with a jaded eye and no small amount of contempt. The ladies are happy to see you walk in the door, but you become objectified the minute you plant your ass in a chair – you men are little more than a ripe cash bag with a face and an annoying habit of talking too much.

Insert drug dealers for women and dope for tits in the above paragraph and we have that gritty subject pretty much covered in spades. Except it’s all illegal if you’re underage.

Gads, those dastardly Israelis

In reference to this posting; over at Harry’s Place listed amongst the crimes Israel is lambasted for are ads touting something called Tapuzina. Now, never having been anywhere near Israel I had never heard of the stuff or seen the ads, but of course, once I had been warned away from them with words like ‘tasteless’ and ‘crass’ and ‘large-breasted-model’, what were my choices?

Wanna share the results of my research?

Go on, I know you do:

Tapuzina Soft Drink

And we could all live with Hamas in fluffy bunny land

Bloody Israelis, how dare they try and protect their citizens. Don’t they realise how much nicer the world would be if they were all just blown into bloody scraps?

And as if that weren’t bad enough, they go and make satirical ads as well. Bastards.

It may have helped end the suicide bombings of the second intifada, but

Yeah, for some people there’s always a “but”

You know, I usually expect better of Harry.

Update:  Comment by Shmuel on the posting:

I’m sorry, but this is the silliest thing I’ve ever read at Harry’s Place.

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