Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

January, 2012:

The moral panic that runs and runs…

… and takes on many forms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“In the past people had genuine relationships with empathy and compassion which has been replaced by this virtual relationship where they are not necessarily having to show empathy or compassion.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spot The Difference

Image H/T PetaPixel

The images have a similar theme: a red Routemaster bus against a greyscale Westminster Palace background.  Both shots of familiar London landmarks and fairly innocuous as such images go.  At least you would think so.

The image at the top is the intellectual property of Temple Island Collection (TIC), a company that produces souvenir gifts.  The lower image belongs to New English Teas (NET).

So far, so mundane.  So what?

If you scroll down to the bottom of TIC’s page you’ll see this:


However, TIC fail to elaborate what their victories entail.

Take another look at those images.  Red Routemaster bus, greyscale Westminster Palace.  There the similarities end.  The compositions are different even if the subjects are the same.  We’ve all seen similar images and they are nothing new.  Here’s one selling promoting London and Hyde Park Towers hotel.  Here’s another one being sold as a poster.  Such images are all over the internet and have been popular with the souvenir/poster buying tourists and public for decades.  It’s a typical London scene that must have been photographed millions of times.  Yet NET has been denied the use of their image on product packaging by a British judge because of a perceived breach of copyright.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Red bus + greyscale Westminster Palace = copyrighted by TIC.  Kerrrrr-ching.

So you want to market goods promoting Britain using an image synonymous with all that is London and British. You shoot a photograph of a world renowned London Routemaster bus using Westminster Palace as a backdrop.  You then Photoshop the image in a popular and highly unoriginal way and use it to sell your merchandise.  Job done.  But wait, what’s this?  TIC own the intellectual rights to ALL similar images even if the composition is different and the concept of a coloured subject against a greyscale background predates Adobe Photoshop by a century or more?  How come you suddenly have no choice but to approach TIC for a licence to use your image commercially?  Has the UK gone completely nucking futz?

Sadly, the answer is yes.  Yes it has.

We have a controversial and deeply stupid copyright law ruling to blame for this latest insult against fairness and common sense.  For photographers nothing is safe from the lawyers and the legal system.  Not familiar landmarks.  Not tried and tested photographic manipulation.  Not even the fruits of your creative imagination.  Not unless you are a bastard and patent your output even though it’s not original by a long shot.

You can read about the whole sorry story here.

The War on Drugs.

I can’t agree with all Sir Richard has to say here but it’s a good start and it is good that such a bearded twat notable businessman has said what everyone else is thinking. Here is my take. I guess I could go into a heck of a lot on drugs but I could also stick to one story. It’s LS6 (Cardigan Rd – so next to the Co-op and Village Video and an otherwise reasonable-looking looking crib. And I mean really because it is a nice gaff with fellow postgrads so I ask my bomb-shell question (the one I always ask) – “Been burgled in the last year?”. And they are good, honest decent people so give me an honest answer. Unfortunately it’s the wrong one which is a shame because they had a nice gaff, nicely located and at a reasonable rent. Guess what they killed it for me with? Some scrote had legged-it up the drain-pipe to steal a bottle of “Wash’n'Go”. The cops had been called and said it’s spot-on for “cooking-up” heroin (the cops had lamentable experience). Well I sort of liked to think at the time I was a Man of the World but clearly not that primed for such epic scumbaggery. I mean scaling a drain to knock a window out to steal shampoo (ignoring the laptops). I mean apart from anything the Co-op was just over the road and surely shop-lifting from that was much easier than cat burglary.

More Spam

If you’re married and DO NOT want to get divorced but are interested in having an affair, then we want you to understand that You are NOT alone!

There are thousands of married people in your city that feel the same way that you do.

Not Newt Gingrich I hope! That would be both cruel and unusual. Or Billious Clinton. Or Ryan Giggs (though he keeps his infidelity strictly in the family rather than on the internet).

This is why you need to join the Ashley Madison Dating Agency that was created for married people that want to have an affair without getting caught.

If you join the Ashley Madison Dating Agency you will be able to have sexual relationships with other married women or men that DO NOT want to get divorced, but want to have a discreet affair without being caught.

After you have an affair you will feel ALIVE and HAPPY once again…You’ll feel like you did when you were single and dating new people.

Undoubtedly true. Every time the phone goes you shall sprint in a manner that makes Usain Bolt look like Christopher Biggins.

In fact, you may start feeling like working on your marriage again to make it better…You just need that spark again in your life that only someone new can give you.

Yeah… I can really see that. I have often found myself reaching new heights of sexual arousal after kitchen utensils have been hurled at me with murderous intent.

Go here if you are interested in learning more:

[yes, the fuckers quoted my email]

If you’re not married and reading this message, then you can also join the Ashley Madison Dating Agency to meet married people that would love to have a sexual relationship with you.

Or you could do what normal people do and hook up with another single person via bars, restaurants, facebook… They will also have a penis or vagina (according to tatse) and you won’t have to have a coronary episode getting to the phone only to discover you have been paying too much for payment protection insurance or indeed even have to learn to dodge hurled pans.

Listen, we understand that you’re worried about getting caught and possibly getting divorced, but if you join today you’ll see how easy it is to stay married and enjoy multiple affairs with many people.

How? There’s only so many “business trips” you can make and some of them (at least) have to be about business – and not of the monkey variety.

You don’t have to pay anything to join today…just check it out and see what you think.

I think not.

Leonard of Quirm Strikes Again!

Anyone who knows the works of Sir Terry will be aware of the innovations of Leonard of Quirm and his complete inability to give them snappy names. Lord Vetinari ought to tell him just to put an “i” in front and Jobs done if you see what I mean.

It would appear the European science establishment has the same disease. What do you think the very large telescope they built in Chile is called? Here’s a clue. It’s generally known by it’s initials “VLT”. Then there is the Large Hadron Collider which is a large thing that collides hadrons. “Hadron” mind has been misprinted on occasion to general hilarity – well in physics you get your laughs where you can. But the Multi-Cubic Kilometre Neutrino Telescope or KM3NeT takes the last custard cream from the packet.

Run to the Hills Ma Parker, it’s the Feds…

This is a new one on me…

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Counter-terrorism Division and Cyber Crime Division
J. Edgar. Hoover Building Washington DC

Dear Beneficiary,

Series of meetings have been held over the past 7 months with the secretary
general of the United Nations Organization. This ended 3 days ago. It is
obvious that you have not received your fund which is to the tune of
$850,000.00 due to past corrupt Governmental Officials who almost held the
fund to themselves for their selfish reason and some individuals who have
taken advantage of your fund all in an attempt to swindle your fund which
has led to so many losses from your end and unnecessary delay in the
receipt of your fund.

The National Central Bureau of Interpol enhanced by the United Nations and
Federal Bureau of Investigation have successfully passed a mandate to the
current president of Nigeria his Excellency President Good luck Jonathan to
boost the exercise of clearing all foreign debts owed to you and other
individuals and organizations who have been found not to have receive their
Contract Sum, Lottery/Gambling, Inheritance and the likes. Now how would
you like to receive your payment? Because we have two method of payment
which is by Check or by ATM card?

ATM Card: We will be issuing you a custom pin based ATM card which you will
use to withdraw up to $3,000 per day from any ATM machine that has the
Master Card Logo on it and the card have to be renewed in 4 years time
which is 2015. Also with the ATM card you will be able to transfer your
funds to your local bank account. The ATM card comes with a handbook or
manual to enlighten you about how to use it. Even if you do not have a bank

Check: To be deposited in your bank for it to be cleared within three
working days. Your payment would be sent to you via any of your preferred
option and would be mailed to you via FedEx. Because we have signed a
contract with FedEx Express which should expire by 30th of January 2012 you
will only need to pay $135 instead of $420 saving you $285 So if you pay
before 30th of January 2012 you save $285 Take note that anyone asking you
for some kind of money above the usual fee is definitely a fraudsters and
you will have to stop communication with every other person if you have
been in contact with any. Also remember that all you will ever have to
spend is $135.00 nothing more! Nothing less! And we guarantee the receipt
of your fund to be successfully delivered to you within the next 48hours
after the receipt of payment has been confirmed.

Note: Everything has been taken care of by the Federal Government of
Nigeria, The United Nation and also the FBI and including taxes, custom
paper and clearance duty so all you will ever need to pay is $135.

shipping your ATM card is $420 but because FedEx have temporarily
discontinued the C.O.D which gives you the chance to pay when package is
delivered for international shipping We had to sign contract with them for
bulk shipping which makes the fees reduce from the actual fee of $420 to
$135 nothing more and no hidden fees of any sort!

To effect the release of your fund valued at $850,000.00 you are advised to
contact our correspondent in Africa the delivery officer Andrew Lamar with
the information below,

Name: Andrew D. Lamar

You are advised to contact him with the information’s as stated below:

Your full Name..
Your Address:…………..
Home/Cell Phone:…………..
Preferred Payment Method (ATM / Cashier Check)

Upon receipt of payment the delivery officer will ensure that your package
is sent within 48 working hours. Because we are so sure of everything we
are giving you a 100% money back guarantee if you do not receive
payment/package within the next 48hours after you have made the payment for

Yours sincerely,

TELEPHONE: (206) 309-0312
FAX: (202) 666-5283

Note: Do disregard any email you get from any impostors or offices claiming
to be in possession of your ATM CARD, you are hereby advice only to be in
contact with Andrew Lamar of the ATM CARD CENTRE who is the rightful person
to deal with in regards to your ATM CARD PAYMENT and forward any emails you
get from impostors to this office so we could act upon and commence

Right firstly, if anyone owed me $850,000 I think I would have noticed. I once lent a colleague of Nigerian origin some change for the Coke machine at work and he repaid me the next day but then the reason the lad was living in England and not Nigeria was much though he loved many aspects of Nigerian life: food, culture, music etc he could not stand the endemic and epic corruption.

Secondly despite the impressive addresses that head and tail this the email address it is sent from is:

Are these people actually trying anymore?

RIP Etta James – January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012

Take 2, from the 2′nd best Etta James, ever

Wrong conclusion

Having attended many parties, of many sorts, and mixed with many different groups of people over many years and in many cities, I plump for B. Every time.

Truly Scrumptious

The phrase was used on the TV recently (we were watching a cooking show) and I asked which musical it came from. So my wife and I had a disagreement. She posited “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and I thought of “Mary Poppins” (for some reason*). Obviously she was correct but a Google ( search revealed this as the second highest ranking page (it does have dreadful muzak – wasn’t that a web-design idea cast beyond the Door of Night over a decade ago).

I really don’t know what to think.

*”Positively Perfect in Every Way” and all that.

Science Fail From the Daily Mail

1. Why is the moon sometimes out in the day?
2. Why is the Sky Blue?
3. Will we ever discover aliens?
4. How much does the earth weigh?
5. How do aeroplanes stay in the air?
6. Why is water wet?
7. How do I do long division?
8. Where to birds / bees go in winter?
9. What makes a rainbow?
10. Why are there different times on earth?

Apparently these are the ten questions parents dread most and there is nothing about “birds and bees” (apart from the question actually about birds and bees). The answer to the other birds and bees question is obviously, “When a mummy and daddy love each other very much they remortgage the house and give a load of money to mustachioed fanny-mechanic Lord Winston”.

And these are the Daily Mail’s suggested answers…

1. The moon can be lit up by the sun, depending on where it is in the sky. If it reflects the sun’s rays, we can see it, even during the day. It all depends on its angle towards the Earth.
2. Sunlight arrives on Earth in every colour, but it hits particles in our air that ‘shine’ blue.
3. No one knows.
4. The earth weighs 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000kg – weighed by its gravitational attraction to nearby objects.
5. Planes lift up by ‘driving’ air downwards using specially shaped wings – the ‘push’ from the air flow is stronger than gravity.
6. Wet is a word that people use for liquids – primarily water – and the way they feel. Not all liquids behave the same way.
7. On paper, preferably.
8. Bees stop flying and birds flock together or migrate.
9. Sunlight going through water droplets in the air ‘splits’ into all the colours.
10. People decided to have ‘time zones’ so that it would be light during the day everywhere on Earth – if we didn’t, some people would have midday in the middle of the night.

I can’t say I’m especially happy with any of them.

1. Obviously depends upon the relative positions of all three bodies (easily demonstrated with pencil and paper if you don’t have an orrery (which you easily can have if you got a computer) and also the brightness of sunshine experienced. Hence the moon in daylight tends to be seen in winter.
3. Is not really an answer. You tell a smart kid “no one knows” they shall interpret that as “you don’t know”. It might be better to tell them about Pioneer and Voyager and SETI.
4. Now is it really? In order to play in that park you need to know G. Cavendish first got there in 1798 with an experiment that staggers me to this day. It’s like Raman’s original spectroscopic work done with Heath-Robinson kit in Calcutta. It’s now done with lasers. Respect!
6. Not an answer at all. That’s just saying it’s wet because it’s wet. A smart kid will see through that and a dumb one wouldn’t bother to ask.
7. Not an answer. I can’t remember how to do it, mind.
8. Not exactly true. There are birds in my garden right now. Some migrate. What flocking has to do with this is beyond me. Time I would suggest to get out some fat balls and feed the spuggies rather than that nonsense.
9. Not an answer. Note the scare quotes. There are really easy ways to explain this with a prism*. You can also use this as an opportunity to explain why that apochromatic ‘scope you just bought means that the school trip is off.
10. I am staggered that anyone could actually frame an answer to that without any reference to the rotation of the Earth.

You will note I have left out 2. and 5. This is because they are especially staggeringly wrong. Note again the scare quotes. Now this is kids so it is probably not the time to talk about Rayleigh scattering or the Kutta–Joukowski theorem but… those “explanations” are just lies. Actually they are worse than that they are ganz falsch. (That phrase of Wolfgang Pauli has variously been translated as “quite false”, “utterly false” and (my favourite) “not even false”). Let’s start with the blue sky before we try to fly in it. This is dead easy. This is my kiddy explanation. Light is a wave** and the shorter the wavelength the more it is scattered by the atmosphere so the blue (shorter wavelength) light is scattered all over the sky which is why we see a blue sky and a yellow sun. As to the planes. Gods this annoys me! I don’t know where to end but I know where to start and that is with a spoon and a tap. The first point is forward movement through the air is required and over some shapes lift is created not by a force down but by a suction up. Then get building model planes and with a bright little charver they’ll start on about things like laminar flow…

*In Nottingham there is a restored and working windmill. This belonged to the mysterious mathematical prodigy George Green (Green’s theorem, Green’s functions anyone?) anyway it now operates as a science education centre and it’s like… Well it doesn’t pretend to explain Green’s work because that’s college level stuff but for the kids it’s, “let’s play with prisms!”
**We can get into wave/particle duality later.

The MoD is having a yard sale!

There is all matter of drivel like regimental kilts but this is my baby.

Now all we gotta figure is how to get it to Manchester and where to get a brace of Rolls Royce Avons. Probably need a bit more work but I have a set of posidrives…

As it’s the T5 there is a second seat so there is every opportunity to get that legacy by scaring your maiden aunt to death.

A straightforward suggestion.

There is endless complaint (and has been for years – from the msm and so on) about some rich people in the United States “only” paying 15% of their income to the Federal government (because they pay capital gains tax), whereas other people can pay as much as 35% (as they pay income tax).

It is much more complicated than the above – because, for example, there are many tax allowances with the various rates of income tax that capital gains tax does not have (so NO Warren Buffet – your secretary does NOT pay a lower rate of tax than you do).

But, O.K. – say the income tax should not be higher than the capital gains tax, say that is “unfair”.

Why does that mean the capital gains tax should be INCREASED – why should the income tax not be CUT?

Sorry Ron Paul but a “zero” rate of Federal income tax for everyone is not possible without a Revolution (and not the peaceful one you have in mind), but a 15% top rate of income tax (with State income taxes on top – no more deducting your State income tax from the income you present to the Federal tax collectors, rich leftists please note – and I do not see why local, State and Federal govenment bonds should be tax free either, why should lending money to the government get special tax treatment?) is perfectly possible.

After all the Federal government would stil have the Social Security tax (sorry “contributions” – although FDRs lawyers said it was a tax when it was challenged before the Supreme Court) and Corporation Tax and …….

So a flat rate 15% income and capital gains tax would be perfectly “fair” and would not require a Revolutionary transformation in the size of the Federal government (just a bit of serious cutting).

“You are only saying the above because it is the centre piece of the Gingrich campaign”.

Not at all – I have supported a “flat” Federal income tax for 30 years.

And the candidate it would most help is MITT ROMNEY – as he would not have to worry about his tax returns anymore. He could just say “yes I pay 15% – SO DO YOU”.

Obama’s Other First.

Everyone knows Barack Obama is the first black president of the USA*. But what is his other first as president?

Hint: It really doesn’t matter to his presidency. Just a curious thing.

*Well, actually mixed race but whatever.

Such a “Demanding” Religion Islam, isn’t it?

Our little Muslim buddies are at it again folks, when are they never you ask? and you would be right.


Now what is the main thrust of an Atheist Society do you think? Reverence and respect for those who believe in the Sky Fairy? Or debunking the whole damn scam? Discuss politely and with no reference whatsoever to the glaring holes and contradictions that exist at the centre of every religion that ever existed on this planet.


I am an Atheist. I’m not the slightest bit militant about it, I just don’t believe in a Supreme Being or Creator. I get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say myself… “ You’re still looking good RAB my old son, but how much longer do you have left to enjoy this wonderful accident of existence? Best make the most of it while you can, cos you’re only going to get one shot at it and you’re a long time dead,  gone and forgotten”. Then I proceed with my day, and get on with it in the most joyful and productive way that I may.

Fisk it yourselves folks, I could do it myself but that would leave less scope for the rest of you commentators. I don’t blame the bloke for running for cover, you need brass balls and police protection to go head to head with the thin skinned practitioners of the “Religion of Peace” these days , but bloody good on the rest of the Society , for refusing to take the cartoons down.

Is drinking Alcohol actually prohibited in the Koran? Well it’s a mute point, I heard that it came first from Big Mo himself, admonishing his followers for not slaughtering the Infidel unbelievers fast enough and conquering their lands, because they stopped to party after every victory.

And if this is blasphemy or in the slightest bit insulting to normal rational human beings, then I am a baboon’s arse.

Sign of the Times

Maybe you noticed this story around and about this morning:

Eastman Kodak Co, which invented the hand-held camera and helped bring the world the first pictures from the moon, has filed for bankruptcy protection, capping a prolonged plunge for one of America’s best-known companies.

No doubt there’ll be a lot of sic-transit-gloria-mundi-ing going on over the next few days, but that’s not the Sign that caught my eye. There are plenty of companies around today that aren’t doing what they were set up for any more*, and it’s Kodak’s own fault for failing to see the end of film and preparing itself adequately. Shell doesn’t transport or trade very many shells these days. And – one for my fellow jocks – it was only John Menzies’ retail arm that was taken over by WHSmith back in the ’90s: the firm’s still around, doing corporate logistics and whatnot. I saw one of their crates just the other day, in fact.

No, the bit that struck me as significant was right at the bottom of the Fox Business piece. Here it is:

It is unclear how Kodak will address its pension obligations, many of which were built up decades ago when U.S. manufacturers offered more generous retirement and medical benefits than they do now.

Remind you of anyone we know?

The company had promised to inject $800 million over the next decade into its UK pension fund. It now remains unclear how that country’s pension regulator might seek to preserve some or all of the company’s obligations to British pensioners.

Yeah, tricky one, that. I wonder if the difficulty of paying out money that doesn’t exist will penetrate any bureaucratic skulls.

*On the other hand, the Aberdeen Shore Porters’ Society was founded in 1498, and is still porting stuff around the shore at Aberdeen (and elsewhere). It’s often cited as being the oldest company in the world, although, as you can tell from the name, the definition of “company” gets a bit murky when you go that far back. Until 1850 it was a sort of co-op under the control of the Town Council. Still, even 160 years as an independent business is pretty impressive.

%d bloggers like this: