September 28, 2007

Political Memories

Tagged, oh well its kind of a good one. My First political memories? I can't honestly say that it was any major event, like the sinking of the Belgrano or an election. It was from reading a book.

At the time I held the same vaguely soft left views as my parents. A fairly standard set of middle class values of the type that colour the BBC, more Liberal Democrat than Classical Liberal. Amoungst these was the view that the EEC, as it was then, was basically a Good Thing even if I didn't really know why.

I had had holidays in various European countries and gone to school in Sweden for a couple of months (no, I didn't and don't know Swedish. Their English was perfect). Dad had even once brought a set of Euro coins back from a meeting once when they where still called ECU. Europe had plenty of good associations which had attached themselves to the EEC.

I was browsing in the school library at the time and came across a book on the EEC, curious I started to read and came across an entry on the European Parliament. It told me that each MEP had to represent about haft a million constituents making it hard for them to be truly representative, but this mattered little because it had so few powers, and that most people understood this so that elections to the EP had the lowest turnout of any elections.

All true I was to find, but so at odds with the warm and fuzzy feelings that I had that it jolted me and made me feel that I needed to learn out more to be able to refute it. This started a path of looking into what the EEC did, and my path to EUskepticism.

Quickly I discovered the CAP, still the biggest item in the EU's budget, with the "What the FUCK?!" moment comes to anybody when the CAP is explained. This was before the recent reforms when it truly mind boggling in its insanity. Now it is a bit better merely a stupid, expensive, counter productive, subsidy for the very rich. Then came the CFP a policy that is so twisted and counter productive, and so stacked against British interests that it could almost be seen as evidence of a conspiracy against Britain. Except that conspiracy requires competence, a rare commodity in any of the political elites and seemingly vanishingly so in the EEC/EU. The more I learned of what the EEC did the worse it looked until soon my journey to the Dark Side was complete.

Who shall I tag to carry on this meme?
Adrian Sanders Marcus Wood and of course President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran

September 27, 2007

Filthy porn

Via Stumbling and Mumbling I discover there is a storm brewing up about an artwork in the Baltic Gallery that has been removed because some people think that it is child porn. However that is not the only one, how about this piece of disgusting filth:

The world must be wiped clean of this degrading slime. Does this pervert, this bastard Leonardo whatever-his-name, think he can get away with such moral degeneracy. Bet he was an immigrant as well. He should be strung up. He's already dead? Well, dig him up and hang him anyway! Grrrrr!!!!

On a more serious note Nan Goldin's art probably is child porn under the current legal definition, because it contains people that could be thought to be under 18 (whether they actually are or not is irrelevant) in positions that some people think that other people might think is sexually provocative. Whether anybody actually does find them sexually provocative, something that I would find extremely unlikely in this case, is again irrelevant. Yes I did get the age right, you can legally make love at 16, but if you take a happy snap the law would put you in jail if you haven't already been killed by a tabloid lynch mob.

It is rather depressing of sign of the paranoia of our society that a photo that would a mere 10 or 20 years ago not be given a second glance has now been imbued with sexual overtones by a public desperate to create demons out of shadows.

September 26, 2007

the EU CONstitution

Via The Devil and Vindico this should give the SNP something to think about. The North Sea Oil revenues always being what they point to when asked how they will fund their planned socialist nirvana if they can get Scotland from being a vassal of Westminster to being one of Brussels as they hope. First the EU destroyed their fishing industry, and following the Constitution Reform Treaty the EU is going to take over (and given the EU's track record destroy) their oil industry.

North sea oil is on the decline, and has been since 1999, so I am sure that the EUphiles will argue that it is not a major issue and will become an even lesser one in future. But they would be wrong. The UK is still, just, an oil exporter and it does provide lots of revenue for the treasury and jobs for Scots. However it is not just about oil. Oil is not the only energy resource, it is not even the only energy resource that we get out of the North Sea.

Everybody forgets about North Sea gas, possibly because it is not used as the cornerstone of a long standing political debate like the oil is as it is off of England rather than Scotland. However it is gas, not oil, that most people will be using to cook their food and heat their homes with. The output from the gas fields have not yet peaked and are still increasing. There are also the onshore gas fields that have not yet even begun to be exploited. It is also gas, and not oil, that provides much of our electricity in efficient gas turbine based power stations which we are going to need even more of in future as the political elites vacillate over replacing our nuclear capacity and try to pretend that all can be taken care of with renewable. In electricity generation terms gas is second only to coal.

Energy security is a major issue of national sovereignty as has been amply demonstrated by the way that the miner's unions brought down the Heath government in the UK and their attempt to bring down Thatcher, or Russia's use of gas supplies to strong arm it's neighbours. Aneurin Bevan once claimed: "This island is almost made of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish in Great Britain at the same time." Thanks to the EU we have no more fish, and socialism mismanaged away the coal until it was uneconomical. Should the Constitution Reform Treaty come into force soon we will not have any other energy resources either.

September 25, 2007

Sparticus lives

Looks like Tim Ireland has a new server, one living in a rack in the United States of America one would hope. Boris Johnson is back, and his main bloggerheads site at least has a holding page now. That does not mean that the affair is over. The threat to free speech certainly isn't, and won't be while our current Libel laws stand.

September 24, 2007

For the sake of the planet ... don't take the train

With green politics high on the agenda of all three of the main parties the concept that the polluter should pay has found quite a voice recently. This is entirely sensible, by internalising the external costs by using a Pigou tax on pollution we can let the markets sort out the optimal amount in the most efficient way that we have yet discovered, as we do with every other resource.

Car drivers and bike rider pay the full cost of their carbon, and then some, through fuel duty. Last year's increases in Air Passenger Duty mean that aviation is pretty close (with some caveats since this is a much cruder way internatising carbon than taxing it directly) to paying its way as well. Walking and cycling the only carbon produced is through breathing so I would hope that even the deepest green isn't going to try and stop people breathing, in which case they should lead by example. If we take the polluter pays principle seriously then the principal means of private transport do. No need for road pricing, no need for extra taxes on big cars, no need to force companies to charge for car parking when they do not want to.

So for private transport everybody pays roughly the amount that they pollute. Then so far as transport is concerned we are done then? Not quite.

In addition to the private transport networks there is also public transport. By choosing to take public transport are you paying for the full cost of this choice? No. The railways do pay fuel duty but unlike motorists they can use red diesel that is only taxed at 7.69p. This is a little lower than is needed to pay for climate change according to the Stern numbers, the numbers preferred by the green lobby that is always trying to get us out of cars and onto trains. In addition to this both buses and trains are heavily subsidised by central government. Public transport users are not even paying the full cost of transporting themselves to their destinations, let alone paying for the externalities that are also associated with them. These external costs are still external and being footed by everybody else.

Only when the principle of the polluter paying extends to public transport will we truly be done with the climate change effects of transport. So with green politics so high up the agenda at the moment when should we expect this loophole to be closed?


The political and media elites of the Westminster bubble all rely on public transport, working in London they are in one of the few places in the country where the utility of public transport is actually greater than private. To close this loophole they would be lobbying for an increase on the costs to themselves. This isn't going to happen. It is much easier and cheaper for them to plicate their consciences about climate change by taking it out on those that use private transport, even though it is for private transport that the external costs have been fully taken into account.

September 20, 2007

School independence - it works

More evidence that schools that are more independent of the state control do better than schools that aren't. Of course they do, because they are independent.

The parents are willing to pay (twice) in order to give their children the best start they can and are prefectly willing to take their children, and their money, to where they think is best. This means that the schools have to react in order to retain their customers and do so by using their relative independence from central government dictats to offer the best possible education they can. Is it really such a surprise that the schools with the greatest incentive to give the best education, and possibility of experimenting to find the best form of education, produce better results than schools with less incentive and no power to put any ideas they may have into practice? The product of the competitive market has yet again beaten the product of the state industry.

Expect more nashing of teeth from the left as they demand that the State's failure be covered up by the State interfering universities admission policies to make them accept people that they would not otherwise accept, just because their education to that point has been blighted by State interference. They will declaim how unfair it is that some people have not had their educations crippled by the state. They will scream that all must have prizes. They will keep very, very quiet about giving the state funded sector the same independence from state control that gives the independent sector its edge, like they do in Sweden.

As for the examinations that make it so difficult to differentiate between the best pupils and so lead to these accusation of bias from the universities, the pre-U can not come too soon.


Yep, like shooting fish in a barrel, only Fiona Millar manages to add her own nutty conspiracy theories onto the standard template to keep it interesting.

At least Vince Cable seems to have been reading his Mill with a policy like the Conservative's Assisted Places scheme, that Labour scrapped with the Lib Dem's approval.

September 18, 2007

Condoleezza Rice

When Bush finally knuckles his way off the the world stage (to die a lonely alcohol soaked death when the guy that stands behind him reminding him to chew before swallowing calls in sick one day) there are a number of potentially good candidates to replace him, though quite frankly it would be hard to find one that did not look good when compared to the current incumbent. As a libertarian obviously I would quite like to see Ron Paul up there, but for a long time I have had a soft spot for Condoleezza Rice. She is smart, tough, competent she would make a good candidate. Added to that she is also black, female, and quite possibly gay. It would be worth it simply to see Stir Frei explode from not being able to reconcile his lefty anti-americanism with the first female president, the first black president, and the second gay president being a Republican.

September 13, 2007

Google X-Prize

Wow the X-prize foundation is launching a new competition with Google $30 million to land a robotic probe on the moon.

SpaceX with their Falcon launcher are probably the ones to watch here as the only private company with a vehicle that can reach orbit, though all of the Ansari X-Prize contestants will being thinking about it. The X-Prize Foundation's prize's have kicked the market out of its current equilibrium point and up to a new level just as the Gordon-Bennett Prizes did in ballooning and Schneider Trophy spurred on innovation in seaplanes. Exactly as was intended. If this spawns anything like the number of spin offs and new companies as the Ansari X-Prize there will be some very exiting times ahead.

September 11, 2007

The Boy King does the right thing

Cameron might actually be about to try and do something right. It looks like he is going to try and make Labour stand by its manifesto pledge to give us a referendum on the EU Constitution, under its new name of the Reform Treaty.

This is right for him tactically because when Brown starts arguing against carrying out a manifesto pledge will show him up as the unscrupulous lieing bastard that he is.
It is right for him party politically because this is a measure that has overwhelming support within his party (most of which will be itching to vote 'No').
It is right electorally because the overwhelming majority of the population wants a referendum.
Finally it is right constitutionally because holding the government to account over what it promised in order to gain power is exactly what Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is there to do.

However this issue is such a gift for him it would hardly takes a genius to realise that he should grasp it with both hands.

September 10, 2007

Clever bullshit from Brown

The strapline is 'Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to set out measures designed to create 500,000 new jobs for British workers.'. Great pro-Labour spin, as you would expect from the BBC but to the more cynical this immediately raises some questions.

Really. So is Gordon, despite never having a proper job himself other than a very short spell as a journalist, secretly an entrepeneur with plans for epoc making new products that will set the world alight needing tens of thousands of people working on them to keep up with demand? If, dispite the utter implausiability, Brown is actually able to create new productive jobs for people wouldn't it be better to simply have the right people for the job, no matter where they came from? Then finally even if it was desirable isn't this kind of discrimination, by saying that he is only going to employ British people, illegal?

Then perhaps this is just spin and bullshitting.

In the article itself if becomes clear that Brown isn't going to create a single job. It will be the private sector that will create any jobs, then the government will force them to give interviews to its prefered client groups even if they are obvious no-hopers. Brown also intends to make the benefits system even more complicated and expensive to try and give them a reason to want to work by slightly reducing the level of benefit withdrawl (symptoms include: confusion about where the money they should be getting has disappeared to, disorientation that they are no longer in Labours prefered client class, and agitation brought about by having less money despite working hard) that comes from getting a job.

However it is clever spin and bullshitting. Brown is using his protected status as the leader of a left wing party to say things that the leader of a right wing party could never do, because it is anti-immigrant and would therefore raise screams of 'RACIST!!!', which strike a cord with a considerable amount of public opinion while also reaching out to the old left with his promise of working towards full employment. Even though full employment is a condition that can never be achieve by those actively working towards it.

September 06, 2007

No to national service

Dear Mr Cameron. Please Fuck off. Fuck right off. Go fuck yourself, without lube, with a tree trunk, that is wrapped in barbed wire. JUST FUCK OFF. Young people are not your slaves.

Yes you claim that it will voluntary, at the moment, but since you admit that actually you want it compulsory are we really to believe that it will remain so? Especially since you claim that the reason that you want it is to get a mixing of social classes, and you taken away the incentive for those from less priverledged backgrounds to take part by taking away any money that the teenagers would receive. National Service, or working to raise enough money to go somewhere really fun with your friends? I know which I would choose. For the middle classes however will quickly end up under de facto compulsion as national service becomes yet another checkbox to tick in order to make up for the increasingly devalued examination system.

Soon enough all your claims of that National Service will break down class barriers will be shown to be bogus. The left will be bleating that it is just another gheto for the rich and that the less well off have been excluded. The charities and activity centres will be lobbying hard for you not to scrap it, it will be a nice little earner for them. The only way out will be to find a way of getting more poorer people involved without, without actually giving them a reason to want to like cash. Then a brainwave hits, and suddenly it will get sucked into the formal education system as yet another compulsory activity. Just as you had always intended. So fuck of now before you start.

September 04, 2007

The British Crime Survey

The British Crime Survey, it comes out every year and is the governments favoured measure of crime. It is based around interviewing a random sampling of people and asking them about their experiences. Every year since 1995 it reports an overall fall in crime and every year the methodology used to is hotly debated.

I now know how much they value people participating in it, the price of a book of 6 first class stamps. I know this because I also now know one of those random samples, as it was me. When I got my letter instructing me that I was going to take part in their survey (whether I wanted to or not, as it also told me that once an address has been selected it cannot be deselected) it included said book of stamps as a gift to compensate me for my time. Well its better than a kick in the teeth from a drunken yob, but still bit less than the minimum wage for 40 minutes of my time.

There where a few questions about crime that I have experienced in the last year, but more about my feelings about crime. I answered honestly, as I always do, and stated that I don't have much fear of crime because I live in a fairly safe neighborhood. One of the questions was on the fear of terrorism, which again I answered honestly stating that I have none. Terrorism simply isn't an issue.

There was also a sequence of questions that you filled in yourself rather than telling the person conducting the interview, these where exclusively about sex and drugs. So if the number and variety of drugs that the survey claims to be taken seems a little high when the numbers come out you will know whom to blame. The sex part was a bit weird, it was obsessed with anal rape. It was recorded on a computer and there must have been at least 5 screens asking again and again whether I had been taken up the ass without consent. The answer being no, again and again, as despite my looks (think Joseph Merrick on a bad hair day) somehow people seem to find a way of restraining themselves.

The culture of the middle east

Another interesting link, this one on the culture of the middle east by somebody that lived there. I think that this last point is particually interesting:
12) Our civilization is destroying theirs. We cannot share a world in peace. They understand this; we have yet to learn it.

Another culturally-imposed blindness we have is the notion that everybody can get along with enough good will. There is absolutely no evidence to support this and a great deal to oppose it. Can the subjugation of women coexist with Western Civilization with Western media ubiquitous throughout the world? Can a pluralistic and tolerant society be governed by Islamic law? Can a modern economy exist where interest is forbidden and many forms of business risk-taking are considered gambling, and thus forbidden? Can a society that educates its young men by a process of rote recitation produce critically thinking, technically educated men to build and operate a modern economy? Can you even teach elementary concepts of maintenance to a people who believe that anything that happens is inshalla (As God wills it)? To compete, or even just survive in the world they must become more like us and less like themselves - and they know this.

How freedom fades

An interesting comment on Slash dot as to how piece by piece freedom is worn away, though thanks to Labour this process is happening rather faster this side of the Atlantic.

Liberalism, Socialism, and Sunny Hundal

The Devil has had a crack at Sunny Hundal for not understanding that liberalism is at heart about liberty not empathy. That we can never truly know anothers mind is one of the arguments that J S Mill uses for defending Liberalism in 'On Liberty':
with respect to his own feelings and circumstances, the most ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by any one else. The interference of society to overrule his judgment and purposes in what only regards himself, must be grounded on general presumptions; which may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases, by persons no better acquainted with the circumstances of such cases than those are who look at them merely from without.
However Sunny is just making a rather common mangling of language. He is saying 'Liberal' when he means 'socialist'. Liberalism, as we know, is not socialism and has a long history that predates socialism. It is possible to be liberal and (the milder varieties of) socialist at the same time. It is also possible, and the historical norm, to be Authoritarian and socialist.

Socialism is primarily economic, and on the political compass takes up the left area. Liberalism is primarily social and takes up the lower area of the political compass.

However socialists have begun to call themselves liberals, be they socially liberal or not, socialism having become discredited after the fall of the Berlin Wall meant that even the most willfully blind could no longer claim that a society that has to build a wall to keeps its people in is somehow a good society. The fact that the name of their political creed has become so discredited that they have had to take on a different one to try and disguise what they are arguing for should be a bit of hint that their argument has already been lost because of the facts on the ground. While they would have to find ways of arguing around the simple fact that economically socialism does not work, and that it tends towards creating societies that are highly authoritarian (the opposite of being liberalism), and the 110 million dead people, at least they could be respected for being honest if they had the courage to actually use the correct name for their political creed.

The world of regulations

From the bizarre world of pettifogging regulations, it is apparently a 'crime' to put your feet up on a seat in a train. Did you know that? I didn't. Anyway two recent examples of 'criminals' of this sort.

1. A young female student, who works with disabled children in addition to being a cub scout leader.
2. A group of violent youths.

Which do you think gets the book thrown at them for having their feet on the furniture? Anybody cynical enough to pick number 1? Well you'd be right. What should have been dealt with by a quiet suggestion ends up with the young woman being taken to court and getting a criminal record. The youths might also have been taken to court (this is not mentioned in the story) having been arrested for attacking the guard who did try just asking them to remove their feet from the seats. However so was the guard, for defending himself from their attack, and he will now become yet another statistic in the gigantic police databases. The guard also ended up loosing his job, which I guess shows that the one think that the modern managerial geist hates more than not obeying pointless regulations is trying to defend yourself.

The train guard's union is quite rightly defending him and helping him take his case to a tribunal. Defending their members is exactly what unions are for and personally I wish they would spend more time on, rather than using threats to try and extract rents from the public purse.

The Brown Bounce

Drop a turd from high enough and it will bounce. The Brown bounce could well have passed its peak now with the Conservatives regaining on him according to some polls. Brown was only ever going to get one 'thank god Blair is gone' bounce and he knows it, so if the main thrust of it is over then so are the prospects of an early election. Gordon Brown is caucious, as can be seen by the amount of time he left and the number of opportunities that he ignored for sticking the knife into Blair. Like all politicians he also has a deep beleif in his own abilities and is deeply competetive and knows that during the next election he will be compared to the Blair, the great election winner, and does not want to come out looking second best now he finally has his place in the sun. He will want to call an election at the absolutely optimum time for him, and if an early election no longer looks like that then he will not call it he does theorically have until 2010. Three years of Brown, how could they not learn to love him? That will be what he will think. The next set of polls should be better for Brown, if only because of regression to the mean, but with luck this is the beginning of a downward trend as the honeymoon period fades away.

As the chance of an early election fades the chance of a referendum on the EU Constitution Reform Treaty increase. Had their been an early election then Gordon could easily have taken his mandate for signing the treaty from winning that knowing full well that by putting it in his manefesto would mean that the Conservatives would have to campaigne against him on that issue returning them to their old election losing image that Cameron has worked so hard to get rid of. The general view in the country is consistently anti-EU, but this is also consistently overshadowed by other issues.

September 03, 2007

The Lebanon war you didn't hear about

After about 4 months of war Lebonon has declared victory over Fatah al-Islam and taken control over the Nahr al-Bared 'refugee camp' in Northern Lebanon. The months of warfare, including substantial amounts artilery bombardment, mean that there is not much left of the 'camp' (which would have been more accurately discribed as a town). Not heard much about it? Despite being the bloodiest internal violence since the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war there was no rolling news coverage, no protests, no people chanting 'we are all Fatah al-Islam now'. I guess that could be because there wheren't Jews involved to protest against.


Dr. Bussard might have just got funding to complete his WB-7 reactor from the US Navy. Whether this is true or not is likely to be confirmed in the next few weeks.