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July, 2011:

Guido Fawkes Loses The Plot

I’m not sure he ever had it.

I’ve just found out via Tim Worstall’s blog that Fawkes is campaigning for the return of the death penalty. I won’t link to his tawdry little blog, you probably know how to find it, I daresay.

Whatever libertarian-ish credentials he may have had (he wrote a pamphlet for the Libertarian Alliance about the right to dance while on drugs, or something), I’ve always suspected that the man was deeply unsound. I think this pretty much clears up any doubt. For all his railing against corruption, or whatever he thinks is corrupt, or whatever he does, it’s pretty clear that his only real aim in life is to be the internet age’s replacement for the yellow press, hence his writing in that fuckwit tabloid style and this bit is in red because I’m making a stupid point for my audience of whooping chimps to echo that he does, like the Sun or the Mirror with their it’s time to bring back hanging, drawing and quartering crapola. As such, he only attacks the press because they’re his competitors in the dimwit rabble rouser market.

So here he is grasping the “lynch mob? Over here guys! Follow me!” stylee that led us all via a sequence from naughty vicars to paedohysteria to phone hacking. Not surprisingly therefore, he’s twiddling the emotional dial by demanding it for “child killers” (inevitable Hindley and Brady/Ian Huntley duly follows) and “cop killers” to pull in the rest of the hang’em and flog’em vote.

Because giving an out of control State with an increasingly flawed legal system the duty to kill people, that’s really going to make life better, isn’t it Guido?

There haven’t been many indubitably beneficial achievements of the reform movements over the years beyond banning slavery and legalising sodomy, but getting rid of this barbaric mediaeval remnant, the death penalty, was one of them. I’ve said for some time now, we’re heading back into a rerun of the Victorian Era, but only the bad parts. This would appear to be another reflection of that.

The Scum says: Hanging’s too good for him.

Welcome to the United iStates of Apple!

Apple now has more cash to spend than the United States government.

Latest figures from the US Treasury Department show that the country has an operating cash balance of $73.7bn (£45.3bn).

Apple’s most recent financial results put its reserves at $76.4bn.

Fancy a new challenge in 2012 Steve?

Loadsa Money!

I have posted something very similar to this before. I make no apologies whatsoever for reposting a rather slicker visualisation of what very large sums (national debts) of money look like.

I would like to add just two one things.

Most businesses in the USA don’t tend to accept denominations larger than $20 due to forgery and these images are produced using $100 bills. Considering the fact that US bills are all the same size this means if we were to run this comparison with “walking around money” you can multiply everything by a factor of five. Oh, I dunno, that would start to look silly wouldn’t it?

The second is the about the final image.

$114,500,000,000,000. – US unfunded liabilities

To the right you can see the pillar of cold hard $100 bills that dwarfs the
WTC & Empire State Building – both at one point world’s tallest buildings.
If you look carefully you can see the Statue of Liberty.

The 114.5 Trillion dollar super-skyscraper is the amount of money the U.S. Government knows it does not have to fully fund the Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Program, Social Security, Military and civil servant pensions. It is the money USA knows it will not have to pay all its bills.

This is the really worrying sum. In Britain we are in much the same boat. There is currently hell on over public-sector pensions. Indeed last week on the morning news I saw someone (minister, pundit, some bloke – I forget) stating that a problem we have is people withdrawing en masse from public-sector pension schemes because this would mean the government would be unable to meet current pension payments. That is a tacit admission that the whole edifice is a Ponzi scheme and something I don’t recall hearing on TV before.

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your Sunday and don’t have nightmares!

H/T Anna Raccoon.

Nick’s Law of Beer Advertising

It has come to my attention that Counting Cats has taken a rather serious turn of late with a lot of politics and philosophy being discussed. This is a dreadful state of affairs. So I shall expound a law I worked out recently:

The quality of an advert for beer is inversely proportional to the quality of the beer advertised.

Foster’s is not exactly the worst beer in the world but it’s not great…

I’ve never had a Coors Light but if it’s anyting like it’s Budweiser equivalent heaven help the USA…

Carling is dreadful stuff – the very quintessence of the urine of Beelzebub himself but this is a brilliant advert…

Now compare with this advert from Stella Artois a brand that likes to think of itself as classy (recall the old slogan, “Reassuringly Expensive” . Yes I know it’s for cider not beer but it’s undoubtedly by the same team of creatives that do their beer advrts and I find this one particularly annoying…

Now perhaps you’re thinking that Guinness is an exception here. Certainly it is marketed as a premium brand and it’s advertising is almost as legendary as the black stuff itself (a few years back Guinness tankers were emblazoned with the slogan, “Relief for the Guinnless”) but this is my law and I don’t like Guinness.

Anyway enjoy…

The Pragmatist philosopher William James and the Oslo murderer.

According to the Oslo muderer his favourate philosopher was William James.

Of course the ravings of a mass murderer may not be very reliable – but this favouring of William James seems to have gone back quite some time.

Well who was William James?

William James was an American philosopher known (along with Charles Pierce and John Dewey) as a founder of the “Pragmatist” school of philosophy.

This school of thought set itself up in opposition to both Artistotelianism and to the “Scottish Philosophy” favoured by such philosophers as Noah Porter and James McCosh (see the latter’s “The Scottish Philosophy”).

The central point of Pramatism is that (contrary to both Aristoteliamism and the “Scottish” Philosophy) no such thing as objective truth – as William James put it “the right is just the expedient in our way of thinking”.

William James was an influential writer in “Progressive” religious circles – indeed he was cited more than any other philosopher of the early 20th century. As, in opposition, to the “Fundementalists” he held one did not need to hold any particular doctrine (or set of doctrines) to be objectively true in order to hold a post in a Church (which was very useful for ministers, bishops, academics and so on – who wanted to hold such positions of authority, but did not believe the traditional creeds were objectively true).

Almost needless to say this follower of William James (the arch enemy of American “fundementalists”) was described as a “Christian fundementalist” by the Oslo police (the same people who took over an hour to reach victims begging for help on their mobile phones – victims who were a few minutes helecopter time from the H.Q. of the police in Norway). The moron “mainstream media” followed suit. Even ignoring the murderer’s favourable talk  about “Christian athieism” (I am not going to go into that).

However, the Oslo murderer was not the first person William James had influenced.

For example Sorel (the sickly “apostle of violence”) based his belief that a doctrine did not actually need to be true for it to be worth killing for on the work of William James – true a “myth” was not objectively true, but then nothing was objectively true. So it was O.K. that a myth was not objectively true.

One could make the philosophical attack that if nothing is objectively true how can Pragmatism be objectively true…… but I do not want to be accused of nit picking.

Evidence was piling up against Marxism by the early 1900s – for example about a century of rising wages (when the theory of Marxism predicted that wages would fall over time – hence Karl Marx’s deliberate distortion of what Gladstone said, Gladstone said that wages were rising and Karl Marx dishonestly cites him as saying that wages are falling). Some Marxists react to the ever increasing pile of evidence against Marxism (on this and other matters) by trying to think of rational ways out.

For example, “Lenin” takes the idea of the radical “liberal” Hobson that the reason wages are going up is because overseas colonies are being plundered – this leads to the “Imperialism” theory of Marxism, still (as “neo colonialism”) popular in academic (and other) circles to this day.

However, other leading Marxists choose to just give up the idea of objective truth all together – if nothing was really true (if “truth” is just whatever one desires to be true) then one can “justify” anything.

Mussolini took this course – giving up classical Marxism (he had been the leading Marxist in Italy – and senior to Lenin in international Marxist ranks) for his own subjective socialism based on his desires (and the desires of others) this bacame known as “Fascism”.

It is worth remembering what Aristotelianism and the “Scottish” school have in common – what they both share with such philosphers Ralph Cudworth (in 17th century England) and Harold Prichard, Sir William David Ross (and the rest of the “Oxford Realists” – argueably going up to Antony Flew).

The universe objectively exists independent of my (or your) mind – if a tree fell in a forest and we were not there it would still make a noise (there would still be an air pressure curve).

One exists – I exist (and so do you). The mind (agency – “free will”, the ability to choose) is not just an “illusion” (if the mind does not exist who is having this “illusion”). We are not just objects we are also subjects – human BEINGS (people).

Other minds (other people) also exist. They are not just thoughts in my (or your) own mind, and they are not just inanimate objects (with no moral moral importance than bits of clockwork).

The universe exists – it is not an illusion. One exists also (the mind is not an “illusion”). Other people (other minds) exist, and one can choose what one does or does not do to them. These actions are REAL (not a dream – because the universe is real), are a matter of CHOICE (because the mind exists), and, therefore, one has moral responsiblity for them – for one is a moral agent (a reasoning mind) and other humans are  BEINGS (moral agents – people) also.

Now William James did not go around murdering people – but as his philosophy denies the truth (the objective truth) of all of the above points (holding that “truth” is whatever one wants it to be), it is a perfect philosophy for someone who is going to go out and either support, or commit, mass murder.

For example, does one have to prove any specific crime against people before killing them?

According to Pragmatism – the whole concept of objective truth is wrong, so NO (one does not).

So perfect for Sorel, perfect for Mussolini, and perfect for the Oslo murderer.

“Paul the idea was designed to allow people who did not believe in the objective truth of Christian doctrines to stay Ministers and Bishops – how dare you associate it with mass murder on an island near Oslo”.

Once you discard the notion of truth (or “redefine truth” in a way that makes it without objective meaning) you open the door to horror.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer tried desperatly to explain this (both in Germany and in the United States) in the 1930s, but the “Progressives” choose to ignore his warnings.

Better (a thousand times better) an athiest who believes in objective truth than a “religious” person who does not.

As for claimed links (in thought) between the Pragmatists and David Hume (more than a century before) and the Pragmatists and the Logical Positivists (of their own time and after) – I am not going to go into all that here.

Other than to say that, my opinion is that David Hume asks QUESTIONS (he is a sceptic) he does not make the claim that objective truth (whether in relation to one’s own existance, the existance of the objective universe, and the objective existance of other reasoning and choosing minds – other PEOPLE) does not exist.

However,  I have not studied Hume enough to make a stand – even on this.

C:\> @ 30

Yesterday MS-DOS had it’s 30th birthday!

I remember when it was all CP/M round here. Well not really but I do recall using one of those God-awful Amstrad PCW256s with the green screen and utterly non-standard 3″ disks. Almost everything Amstrad ever made was maliciously non-standard. When they took over the Spectrum from Sinclair they switched pins on the standard Atari joystick port so you had to buy an Amstrad stick. Of course adapters came along but…

Anyway. I remember howls of outrage at the bloatededness of DOS 4.01 (as compared to 3.3). I remember people saying Windows would never catch on. I would argue before 3.1 (scaleable fonts!!!) that was not an unreasonable idea.

And I remember the 640K limit and loading drivers into the high memory area (between 640K and 1024K) and creating boot disks to get games to work. Try explaining this to the iJobs and PS3 generation and you might as well say you started out with a wooden difference engine made by getting a Victorian beadle to force workhouse orphans to gnaw the cogs with their teeth.

My last real memory of MS-DOS is instructive, perhaps. I was setting up a laptop for a neighbour. As tends to be the way with laptops the OS (Vista in this case) came freeze-dried and had to self-install on first run. This was also my first experience of Vista (or Fistula as I came to think of it). Anyway during this process this factory-fresh HP crashes. And for one brief instant I see on the screen an MS-DOS version number (can’t recall it). Still chained like the mad woman in the attic then. Still turning the wheels down in the engine room like the gimp it truly is. I would not bet against it still railing against the dying of the light in Windows 7. It’s like re-capitulation in embryology. It’s the appendix that rumbles but never quite bursts. It is the id to the ego of Windows.

My own first real experience of DOS was with my first PC – a second-hand Elonex “laptop” (Mains only – it was a size too – it looked like it had done the digital equivalent of eating it’s way through an entire branch of Greggs, 16 shades of orange plasma screen, 4 Meg RAM, 105 Meg HD, 386SX-16). I came to MS-DOS from AmigaDos which is/was very Unix-like in syntax and methodology. You could set-up pipes and things. DOS was a rude awakening I can tell you.

Oh, well happy birthday DOS! You were always bloody awful but you were there at least.

And if this is a day late… Well, that is fitting.

Altogether now!

Abort, Retry, Fail?

And so the madness begins…

Exactly one year from now the London Olympics will start. Oh, how I look forward to it. I’d really, really be looking forward to it if I lived in London. Well, I’d really be looking forward to getting anywhere else on the planet. “We’ve only got self-catering in Mogadishu left sir”. “I’ll take it!”

I saw Seb Coe wittering on about it on the telly box this morning. He was on about how it was already helping everyone. He noted it was currently employing 12,000 people. Lord Coe or Lord Keynes I wondered? Quite frankly they could employ 12,000 people to clean the highways of Britain with toothbrushes to much the same effect. This is not productive work as such. Indeed most of the facilities will be at least partially dismantled after the sports day is over. Seeing as the total cost of this caper is allegedly £12 billion to the taxpayer my modest proposal would have just to have given 12,000 random Brits a million quid each to do with as they will. Some undoubtedly would spend it on slow horses and fast women and the rest would squander it (maybe settting-up businesses and such). That’s a stimulus I can believe in! Oh and we could have tossed the ball over the Channel. Paris really wanted it. I guarantee whilst our humble pie might not taste as sweet as the cake they’d be eating it would ultimately be more nutritious.

But what about the regenerative effects for the local area? Well, Olympic 400m gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu who hails from that neck of the woods doesn’t seem to think it’s engaging the interest of local kids which is a shame because getting kids into doing sport was a primary stated aim of the whole boondoggle. And then of course if you are a local water-borne resident you’re out because you make the place look “untidy” and might upset the “dignitaries”. I seem to recall hearing something like that happened just last year in South Africa for the World Cup in case Mr Step Ladder got upset and became Mr Slack Bladder.

I hate the way the Olympics is conceived. It is pure bread and circuses (without the bread) run by and for the air-con, 5*, Learjet elites. It is quite simply the most absurdly top-down thing. It’s like the circus coming to town, demanding you pay for the big-top and the wages of all the clowns whether you want to see the whole ghastly spectacle or not. I mean is it even possible to enjoy watching the 10,000m? A load of folks going round and round and round whilst Brendan Foster drones on interminably about “tactics”.

I’m maybe being unfair to circuses here. They, like the Olympics, promise the “Greatest Show on Earth” yet do it off their own bat don’t they? Surely if that Olympic promise is true then the games could be run at a profit?

P T Barnum managed it.

The Vatican/The Roman Catholic Church – free enterprise, socialism, or something else?

A little while ago it was anounced that the budgets of the Vatican State and the Papacy (they are counted as two different budgets) were back in balance (after some years of deficits). And this got me thinking about what this institution is – in terms of political economy. And this led to other thoughts about other matters.

In some countries there is still a church tax – although (as with Germany) one can normally choose what church it goes to and (just by filling out a form declarling that one has no religious beliefs) one need not pay the tax at all. So whether it can really be understood as a “tax” (in the normal sense – other than a tax in the time and effort it would take an athiest to fill out the form) is a difficult question.

However, the Vatican (and the Papacy) are not supported by taxation. The Vatican state supports itself by selling stamps and by charging admission to its museums (and so on), but no one has to go to the Vatican – and there is no charge for just entering the Vatican State (or leaving it). So is it the ultimate example of free enterprise (A. Herbert style taxless voluntary state) or is it socialism (as the state owns everything) or is it something else? And do we make a mistake trying to put everything in the world of human interactions into neat little boxes with labels on?

And there is the Roman Catholic Church itself…… the international Church.

Ask a Western “liberal” about the Catholic Church and their first words are likely to be “child abuse”. However,  sex crimes are hardly the full story – although there may well have been increase in them with the laxity of oversight that came with the changes to the Church brought by Vatican II. In that while there were, doubtless, always terrible sex (and other) crimes going on (as with any institutions made up of human beings – sinners) the removal of any real attempt at oversight and discipline from Rome (in the name of “humanizing” the Church and “local autonomy” – i.e. letting local Bishops and so on sort things out, or cover things up, without anyone checking on them) may well have increased these crimes.

Even leftist Hollywood has entertained this possibility – as the film “Doubt” makes clear, the destruction of old systems of checks and balances (in the name of reform) may have done evil as well as good. It may well be that people who were disturbed by Vatican II on political grounds (the opening it,  unintentionally, gave to the Marxism of “Liberation Theology”) should have also been concerned with the opening it gave to non political perversions.

However, even in its darkest days and in its darkest places the Roman Catholic Church was about vastly more than the sins of some its priests. A huge network of schools, hospitals, homes for the old (and so on and so on) were and are maintained by the Church – without (in most nations) any form of taxation, just the voluntary gifts (of money – and time) of believers and the profits from Church investments.

The libertarian writer (and leading Von Mises Institute man) Thomas Woods often tells the story of how he spent his youth looking for an alternative to the state – something that was interested in learning and culture, and in the poor and the sick, in education and in health. And also was on a sufficient scale to actually make a difference in these areas.

And then one day he suddenly understood that what he had been looking for (a nonstatist alternative for people who could not pay for their own education, health, old age….) was staring him in the face all along. The Catholic Church.

Now I am not saying that Thomas Woods was or is correct – but he is no fool (as his writings show) so what he says needs to be taken seriously – even by athiests who hate Christian theology in general and the Roman Catholic Church in general.

Of course there is also a special American factor here. Originally Protestant “fundementalists” were not antiscience – indeed some of the authors of the orginal early 1900′s essays on the “fundementals” of Christiainity (from which we get the word “fundementalist”) were leading natural scientists – including evolutionary biologists (hardly the buck toothed morons of Hollywood depictions of “fundementalists”). Their foe was not science – it was the disguised socialist collectivism of the “Social Gospel” (with its “theological” message that the collective is God – and its practical result of tyranny).

The Fundementalists simply listed the fundemental beliefs of Christians – the virgin birth, the physical resurrection of Jesus… and so on. And asked if the Social Gospel supporters believed in these things – and demanded straight replies (not the mists of words that the Social Gospelists tended to give people).

The Fundementalists also (by stating the core, fundemental, beliefs of Christians) also (by implication) stated what were NOT the fundemental beliefs of Christians – “Social Justice” (i.e. plunder and tyranny – I know the term “Social Justice” can have other definitions, but the implications of the collectivist use of the term are clear), the extermination of all dissent from the self appointed representatives of the collective……and so on.

Now the Fundementalists were not Roman Catholics (far from it – America had no need for some professional virgin in Rome, as they might have put it – if politeness had not forbidden it), but they were learned men, they were devoted to science and learning, and they were politically (as well as theologically) basically sound.

However, over time things have changed (indeed, famously, even by the 1920s things had changed).

Now (according to David Barton the Texas educater and Conservative Protestant) about half of all American Conservative Protestants do not believe in basic science – for example in evolution.

I must be plain in what I am saying – I am not saying that they claim that God picked evolution as the method of creating human beings. I am saying (following Barton and others) that half of American Conservative Protestants do not believe in evolution at all.

Turn on any of the “religion” stations on your television service (if you have one) and look at the output of the Protestant American stations.

The passion is there certainly, the faith is there. But is there any learning? Outside the narrow learning of the text of the Bible itself?

I am not saying anything bad about the study of the text of the Bible – but I am saying it is not enough to study the text of the Bible. It will not tell you about biology, or physics or any other science – and those who claim it does are just flat wrong.

Now compare this output on the Protestant American stations with the output of EWTN (the American Catholic station), the coverage of such things as physics is of the highest quality – without any feeling that their are hidden athiests (Liberation Theology types) at work. Learning is respected – and not just biblical learning.

Now I am not a Roman Catholic many things such as the authority of the Pope and the demanded celibacy of the ordinary parish clergy (as opposed to the Regular clergy – the monks and nuns, who are quite differnet in Christian tradition) hold me back from that. But there is a clear difference between the quality (the very atmosphere) of the Catholic conservatives (in the sense of anti sociaists) and many Protestant ones (in the sense of Protestant ministers broadcasting) – at least in the American context.

An understanding that one can reject the philosophy, (and theology), economics and politics taught by the secular education system (and media) without rejecting learning in general, including scientific learning.

No conclusions – just things to think about.

However, even as a non Roman Catholic I am convinced that the victory of anti socialist (or “anti liberal” as Americans would say) forces over socialist ones within the Roman Catholic church is vital for the survival of Western Civilization – both theologically and spiritually, and in terms of practical political economy.

For Thomas Woods is right about the following – the Church is, overwhelmingly, the most important non state insitution that exists. Without it (should it be destroyed or corrupted from within) hope fades for the West.

For a certain value of mad…

Is Anders Behring Breivik “mad”?

He is clearly not mad in the raving dolally sense of the word. This is not someone who “snapped” and started an impromptu bullet festival. There was cold calculation and quite frankly extremely impressive planning to his atrocities. To cause one terrorist outrage in a day might be seen as madness but to cause two looks like organisation.

So, if it was madness (we can lose the scare quotes now – I’m bored typing them), there was method in it. What precisely his aim was… God knows. My best guess would be that he hated the left-wing government of his country so he tried to blow it up. He hated them because he hated immigrants but was smart enough to go for the root cause as he saw it. Given that, it then makes perfect sense for him to then kill as many of the next generation of that party. Well, that was his proximate aim, anyway. Wider than that it was to commit n act so vile, so notorious that it will haunt any political debate on multi-culturalism in Norway and further afield for years to come.

Though foul the logical deduction is impeccable if you accept the same axioms. Many err by faulty (sometimes wilfully so) reasoning. He didn’t. His reasoning is not at fault here, it’s only the axioms that are mad. Or wrong or evil or whatever you want to call them.

It is possible to be sane, intelligent, diligent and even moral and do the most atrocious things if your basic underpinning philosophical principles are wrong. I mean “wrong” there in the strongest and widest sense of the word.

I’m sorry if this post offends anyone by being perhaps too analytical about such an appalling crime but it’s all I can do other type, “coat the fucker in honey and tie him down over an ant nest” and that frankly is not very helpful.

Fallout From The Norwegian Massacre

This is an edited version of a comment I just left over at the Libertarian Alliance blog.

I have downloaded Breivik’s book, but my ancient computer choked on so huge a document so I have only read scraps of it so far. From what I have read, his ideology seems to be standard internet-right-wing. He launches into the Cultural Marxism Hypothesis right off the bat, for instance, which is currently very popular among conservatives, particularly american ones trying to understand why the 1960s happened.

Breivik has apparently deliberately dropped everybody to the right of Harriet Harman into the shit. He seems to have knowingly and deliberately done so. He has in effect ordered the authorities to target and clamp down on the Right. It is hard to think of anybody providing a better justification to them for a ruthless assault on right wingers. He does not appear to be a stupid man, so why would he declare the existence of, for instance, a secret brotherhood of “Knights Templar”? The first rule of secret organisations is that you don’t tell people about them, so that they can strike again from the shadows.

He may just be mad, in which case analysis is fruitless. Mad people by definition act irrationally. But I think one possible answer is that he is actively trying to drop everybody into the brown stuff, the idea being to trigger a “tribulation” which will radicalise more right wingers from merely words to taking action. By forcing an extreme reaction from the authorities, who will cause suffering to other right wingers, those right wingers will be driven to action by the persecution they suffer.

Whatever his intentions, the whole game has changed. This man is the fulfillment of warnings by the ruling class- of rightwingextremism- that we used to laugh off as scaremongering. We cannot do that now. We are all now justifiable targets for the authorities. There is, it turns out a vast Right Wing Conspiracy, a murderous one, after all. The authorities will have carte blanche to round up any and all they so desire to. They will also have all the justification they need for wiping off the internet any website they consider a “hate” site. Breivik’s book, replete with incriminatory references to websites and bloggers, is all the evidence they need to demonstrate that freedom of speech kills. This may well be the very precise moment in history that the last hope of preserving some sort of free internet was extinguished. He has virtually ensured that groups like the English Defence League, Stop Islamisation Of Europe, etc, will be proscribed, and that from here on in anyone attempting to state fears about immigration, islamisation, etc, will be silenced with a simple riposte of, “you feel the same as Anders Breivik, do you?”

In proportionate terms, for Norway this massacre is twice as murderous as 9/11 (Norway’s population is 1/60th of the USA, so proportionately it is equivalent to nearly 6000 US deaths). The Americans felt justified in responding to that atrocity with a decade of war against people who had not been directly responsible for it, but were merely part of the same ideology in some way, generally cheered on by many right wingers saying that 9/11 was the consequence of a particular belief system. It will now be impossible to argue for restraint against the ideological Right. Those who have loudly declared that there is No Moderate Islam are about to discover what it is like to have it declared that there is No Moderate Anti-Islam. Breivik has ensured that. He has proved that the Left were right all along.

Oh, I do find it weird to be beside the seaside…

I wish I’d filmed it! I was in a sea-side town yesterday. Jeez, I wish I’d took video and stills respectively of these things but I was saving my SD card and charge for the airshow. Anyway there was a waltzer playing – I kid you not – the theme from Schindler’s List and just nearby a hoopla stall which gave the opportunity to win what can only be described as Michael Jackson gollywogs.

And that was in Southport. Lord knows about Blackpool just up the coast.

Single Acts of Tyranny

I just finished reading Stuart Fairney’s novel Single Acts of Tyranny.

It’s a cracking read which Fairney claims to be “a beach novel with a libertarian philosophy”.

Now it’s probably against the rules of book reviewing to say the best summation I can think of is to quote the author! But that is exactly what it is.

Now I found this description ominous before I read the book. How can you combine the two without it sounding disjointed? And yes the novel does contain some polemics of a libertarian form but they feel integral because it is essentially a political thriller so of course the characters talk politics at times!

Anyway, it works and has really nice moments that I can’t give away. Except to say “talking about nuns”. That pivotal scene is realised very nicely and sees the villain of the piece reveal to the heroine his one true weakness. Having that within seconds of them meeting is pretty original and it creates a lovely tension as the plot unfolds. Both the reader and Halle du Bois knows John Legree’s weakness. He has his sword of Damocles hanging over him from the start.

So I’m giving Single Acts of Tyranny almost two thumbs up.

“Almost” because there are flaws. This is difficult to explain. They are niggles really but the problem is that I like to feel immersed in a book and these jolt you back into your own reality and not the author’s. Some are just poor editing. Halle would never call her mother “Mum” because she’s Atlantan she’d say “Mom”. Just really silly stuf like that that is only annoying because otherwise you’re really enjoying the book. And then there are the sex scenes. Now I know these are notoriously difficult to write well but these really are bad. The use of the word “impaled” springs to mind. So if Fairney has a bit of time on his hands and plans to revise the novel then there are some pointers.

In summary. It’s a spot on little novel with some annoying glitches which are only annoying because they take you out of the fictional world. They momentarily force you to unsuspend your disbelief. And I’m not being dismissive by using the word “little”. It’s short and that is good. I thought I’d add that because the term “political thriller” generally conjures images of tombstone tomes.

You can get it here. And it’s only seven quid so give it a go.

Might I suggest a sequel. Halle du Bois running for the presidency of the newly re-united USA?

The New Bullshit – Part 5

Gore’s Climate of Denial (CoD) is a cyclone of alarmism, outrageous lies, pseudo-science and desperation.  Now read on…

The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come.

When all else fails – think of the chiiiildren!  Whoooooo-whooooo!  All aboard the Guiltsville cliché Express!

As for ecological curses, that’s what sceptics are fighting against.  That is, fighting against opportunist bastards like Gore who absolutely, positively insist on burdening us with the biggest ecological curse in the history of personal enrichment politics.

Twenty percent of the global-warming pollution we spew into the sky each day will still be there 20,000 years from now!

Nature makes you a fucking liar, Al.  Ever heard of the twin inconvenient truths known as the carbon cycle and carbon sinks?   How do you suppose limestone or a fossil fuel like coal was formed, you fool?  How do you think plants survive?

We do have another choice.

What choice is that, pray?  The choice to comply and make you rich at the expense of our civil liberties or be demonised for calling you what your are, a fuckwitted bilker?

Renewable energy sources are coming into their own. Both solar and wind will soon produce power at costs that are competitive with fossil fuels; indications are that twice as many solar installations were erected worldwide last year as compared to 2009. The reductions in cost and the improvements in efficiency of photovoltaic cells over the past decade appear to be following an exponential curve that resembles a less dramatic but still startling version of what happened with computer chips over the past 50 years.

How much did “sustainable” energy contribute to the US power grid last winter?  1%?  2%.  So tell me, Al.  When you up the ante on sustainables, what happens when the sun goes down and the wind doesn’t blow?  Do you sit in the dark and twiddle your thumbs (in the way you conspicuously didn’t during Earth Hour 2009) or do you switch to energy generated by a power station using fossil fuel or nukes?  If energy generated from sun and wind is so über-efficient why the hell is it so heavily subsidised to the severe detriment of taxpayers?  Perhaps you should ask T Boone Pickens why he scrapped his ambitious plan for a huge wind farm in Texas and began lobbying for natural gas instead.

BTW, the microchip industry bears no relevance to “sustainable” energy production and is therefore a non sequitur so I call BULLSHIT on it.

Enhanced geothermal energy is potentially a nearly limitless source of competitive electricity.

Sure it is.  If you are fortunate enough to live close to a high temperature geothermal source and you believe that the 10-23% thermal efficiency of your heat engine is viable.  But then, if you believe you can run the US power grid on sun and wind as efficiently as you can on fossil fuels and nuclear energy I guess you’ll believe anything.

Increased energy efficiency is already saving businesses money and reducing emissions significantly.

So why did companies like Northrop Grumman, Hilton Hotels and Nissan transfer operations away from the People’s Socialist Republic of California green utopia of the Sunshine State?  How come EBay and Yahoo have opened new data centres elsewhere?  Did all those Californian employees lose their jobs for the hell of it or were those companies driven out by the huge “anti-carbon” taxes being imposed on them because of the CO2 is pollution fraud?

New generations of biomass energy — ones that do not rely on food crops, unlike the mistaken strategy of making ethanol from corn — are extremely promising. Sustainable forestry and agriculture both make economic as well as environmental sense. And all of these options would spread even more rapidly if we stopped subsidizing Big Oil and Coal and put a price on carbon that reflected the true cost of fossil energy — either through the much-maligned cap-and-trade approach, or through a revenue-neutral tax swap.

Put a price (massive tax) on carbon?  What the fuck do you think biomass is you numbskull?  Magic moon dust?  And what do you call the by-product when you burn biomass in the presence of atmospheric oxygen?  Non-anthropogenic CO2?  Unless of course biomass has a magical property that allows it to burn cleanly in a vacuum…

All over the world, the grassroots movement in favor of changing public policies to confront the climate crisis and build a more prosperous, sustainable future is growing rapidly. But most governments remain paralyzed, unable to take action — even after years of volatile gasoline prices, repeated wars in the Persian Gulf, one energy-related disaster after another, and a seemingly endless stream of unprecedented and lethal weather disasters.

Grass roots?  You mean AGW pressure groups, avariciously insane politicians and climate alarmist NGOs like Greenpeace and WWF?  As opposed to the ordinary people whom, when polled, tend not to put much faith in the warbal gloming scam?  Do you honestly expect us to believe that energy only the well off can afford is either prosperous or sustainable?  Do you think we’re all as stupid as you look and sound?

What the hell is an energy related disaster?  Fukushima?  Chernobyl? Neither of which are fossil fuel related unless you believe AGW caused the Japanese earthquake.   Do you mean war in the Middle East?  How about the energy related disaster we’re all heading for if you, and all the other religious fanatics alarmist, shit for brains gauleiters, get your way and destroy the energy security of the West?

How come you don’t mention massive domestic oil reserves like Prudhoe?  Or the Bakken Formation? Or the massive untapped oil reserves of the outer continental shelf?   How about shale gas?  They aren’t under the control of Arab States. Are they?

As for cap and trade, well what can I say?  The licence to make money by destroying the economy Chicago Carbon Exchange was a bust and has been closed down.  People don’t want your crap legislation.  Get the fuck over it already.

Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer selling tickets to a phony wrestling match?

You are as phony, as prevaricating and as power crazed as they come, Al.  Or didn’t you think anyone had noticed?

The “wrestling ring” in this metaphor is the conversation of democracy. It used to be called the “public square.” In ancient Athens, it was the Agora. In the Roman Republic, it was the Forum. In the Egypt of the recent Arab Spring, “Tahrir Square” was both real and metaphorical — encompassing Facebook, Twitter, Al-Jazeera and texting.

Controlling people by rationing the supply of energy has bugger all to do with democracy so please feel free to piss the hell off.  Immediately would be nice, last week would be better.

In the America of the late-18th century, the conversation that led to our own “Spring” took place in printed words: pamphlets, newsprint, books, the “Republic of Letters.” It represented the fullest flower of the Enlightenment, during which the oligarchic power of the monarchies, the feudal lords and the Medieval Church was overthrown and replaced with a new sovereign: the Rule of Reason.

Yet you want the People to relinquish the Rule of Reason to soulless, authoritarian state corporatism and irrational cretins like yourself instead?  Are you fucking insane?

Gore rants on for several more pages about US politics and how nasty, selfish and thoroughly disgusting are the people with whom he does not agree, particularly Republican politicians and the right-wing media.  Not even the Obamessiah escapes his scorn.  Gore’s continued ravings are too dense and interminable to fisk so I’m not even going to attempt it.  I’ve said all I want to say on Gore’s religious zealotry.  I’ll end on the damning note that Al Gore, this towering example of intellectual superiority and scientific integrity, actually equates Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, with Harry Potter.  To say Gore is a wickedly insidious and ignorant cunt is not an exaggeration.  Some of the people who pay attention to this bluffoon (intentional spelling) have the potential to control the way we live.  We must stop this vileness dead in its tracks before it’s too late.

This is how you do it

For those who follow American politics, an email from Congressman Alan West to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Chair of Democratic National Committee, i.e. the boss of the Democratic Party.

From: Z112 West, Allen 
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Wasserman Schultz, Debbie 
Cc: McCarthy, Kevin; Blyth, Jonathan; Pelosi, Nancy; Cantor, Eric 
Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz 

Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!

I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.

You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!

Steadfast and Loyal

Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)

Go for it boy.

What impresses the heck out of me, is, heck, even in his rage he restricts himself to saying, well heck, “heck”.

Good for him.

The Madness Of The New Puritan State

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

-H. L. Mencken

I was going to write something long and historical about historical matters, but I don’t have the time today and then this caught my eye, via The Anti-Feminist, who is well worth a read.

American Apparel advert featuring 23 year old model banned because the woman appeared to be under 16 and ‘semi-nude’

and

Pervert jailed indefinitely for drawings found on his computer

The second of those refers to a dirty old man who was briefly infamous as head of the long defunct Paedophile Information Exchange, having some drawings on his computer that the Ulema and Mutaween have decided are of underage persons having sex. The first of those refers to another arm of the censorious state taking it upon themselves to decide that a real human being, whose birth certificate quite clearly shows is 23 years old, “looks under 16″.

You see the problem here?

I have to declare an interest here. I draw rude pictures for a living, so, the “underage pictures” law, introduced in those faraway days of 2009, is a genuine concern. How is one supposed to defend oneself against an accusation that a drawing “looks” under 18, when even pictures of real people can be declared to be seven years different to the actual age? Drawings don’t have birth certificates. They don’t have any human characteristics at all. Because they aren’t real people.

Now at this point I’m supposed by convention to lob in some kind of disclaimer about the men convicted; vile perverts, hanging’s too good for them, and try to use an argument that it’s right to convict them but, well, innocent folks might get caught as well, and that’s why libertarians oppose it, or something. Well, I don’t like that kind of wishy washy argument. A crime is a crime when you hurt somebody. If you write a 10 million word novel about hurting people, if you draw a thousand pictures of people being hurt, those aren’t crimes. That’s the beginning and end of it.

Picking through the yellow journalism typical of the BBC on this issue, and stripping out excited words like “ring”, what we’re left with is some blokes who had collected some Japanese hentai pictures and games- all legal in Japan and all legal here until 2009, under a law designed to enable fishing by the Mutaween. This stuff is all over the web. The particular issue is that the Japanese have a big thing about schoolgirls and the like, or at least the Japs who like porn seem to; and the “anime” style of cartooning is a very broad cartoon style with a lot of neotenous (i.e. juvenile) features- large head/body ratio, big eyes, small noses and mouths. It’s impossible meaningfully to assign an “age” to any of it. They’re cartoons, extremely stylised cartoons, for fuck’s sake.

As for the fishing question, one is left to wonder how exactly the Mutaween found out about their hentai collections. It doesn’t seem unlikely that it was a case of “get our list of nonces and seize their computers, they’re bound to have something on there”. Does it?

Where this will end I don’t know. All I do know is that this man- who has harmed nobody so far as we know- has been thrown in prison and the key literally thrown away. For make believe drawings. Welcome to the free world!

And, okay, I will use that “nobody is safe” argument. Consider this. When the State has decided you can be prosecuted not for how old somebody is but how old somebody, in their opinion looks- well, make sure you haven’t got any fruity pics of that slim, small breasted girlfriend. You’ve been warned.

While I’m at it, here’s an exellent blast from the past from Sean Gabb, where amongst other things he discusses how the rule of law can divorce itself from justice, and already had done when he wrote it… in 1989.

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