Rants, Raves and Opinions:

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26/11/09
Well, it's time for another rant, me thinks.
After all, it's been a while. Several times I had already half written something and then couldn't be bothered. Hence the long wait.

But folks, this is a good one.

For anyone who thinks English law is in a good state, consider this.

Recently a Surrey local newspaper reported the bizarre case of an ex soldier who found a black bin bag at the bottom of his garden one day.
The man inspected the bag and found within it a sawn off shotgun and some cartridges. It appeared to have been lobbed over his garden wall, by someone who needed rid of it in a hurry.

I stress thus far, no one seems to disbelieve this man that this is how he came to have this gun.

What happened next though makes the mind boggle.

He called the police. He asked for an appointment with the current commanding officer, saying he had found something that he thought they would wish to have.

Next day, he marched into the police station with the bin bag, placed the gun on the table and explained how he had come by it.

Now, technically, he ought not to have done this. He ought to have called the police, informed them he had found a gun and let them come to collect it.
However, he did the next best thing and clearly acted in good faith.

Now, should anyone believe that common sense is alive today in English law, please consider what happened next.

This man was immediately arrested on the spot. - For unlicensed possession of a firearm. He was then charged with the offence.
He was next prosecuted by the crown prosecution.
He was finally found guilty in court.
The judge declared in court that possession of a fire arm is a 'strict liability offence' and that the intention of the person caught with a firearm is 'irrelevant'.

In short, he had a gun. He had no licence for it. Thus he was guilty.
The fact that he was bringing the gun in good faith to the police station was 'irrelevant'.

It gets better. We have of course had a series of mad governments in this country, trying to convince us how tough on crime they are. The current one being the worst of the bunch.
Possession of an unlicenced fire arm is now punishable with a minimum tariff of five years in prison.

Yes folks, a minimum of five years.
What they are going to do to let this man off I don't know. He will be sentenced on 11th December this year.

But anyone who believes that the repeated rape of English law by our political class has not had any negative effect, better look again.

If you believe I'm making this up, please take a look at this link to the newspaper in question.

http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/news/Ex-soldier-faces-jail-handing-gun/article-1509082-detail/article.html

So sentencing is still to come.
But frankly what does it matter? The credibility of the law has already been damaged beyond repair.

If the politicians as usual portrayed those to be caught in the net of their obscene laws as dangerous hoodlums in Yardie gangs, armed with no end of automatic weaponry, then the reality is that a man who acted in the best spirit of civic duty has now been convicted.

All hangs on the discretion of the judge in sentencing now.
But please, may I ask where was the discretion of the police? Why arrest this man in the first place? Had he done anything wrong? Was he a public danger? What point is being served with charging this man under fire arms offences?

Better yet, when the prosecution consider whether to take someone to court or not, they are supposed to consider whether prosecution is in the public interest.
Well, is it? Evidently not.

So why arrest him, charge him and prosecute him? Because technically you can?
Well, precisely.

The police and crown prosecution service these days have targets set by government. They are to get as many arrests and successful prosecutions as possible. The nature of these cases is – well – irrelevant.
Only the statistics matter. Therefore the police and prosecution simply no longer exercise discretion in deciding whom to pursue. They will simply pursue anyone.

Thus, statistically speaking this was a success. Another dangerous criminal has been foiled – for a very serious offence. The reality behind the case is of no import.
As the German saying goes, 'Operation gelungen, Pazient tot.' ('Operation successful, Patient dead.')

So there you are. A successful prosecution under English law. A perfectly innocent man looking down the barrel of a possible five year jail term for doing what he thought was the right thing.

But it gets a little more sinister, if you wonder about this case a little more.
Why is this not in the national news? The BBC reported nothing about this. - Nothing.

What precisely are the government, who created this hideous abomination of a law, doing to stifle this story? This case is a major embarrassment. It shows the government to be foolish, even incompetent in its drafting of law. It shows parliament to be practically defunct in its scrutiny of law.
Yet absolutely nobody deems this outrage worthy of ink or airtime. Nobody except the local newspaper with its tiny local readership.

How so? There is something very odd going on here.
Or, as Hamlet would put it, 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.'

12/07/09
Well, it's been a while since I had a good rant on here.
Frankly, there's been a lot to rant about. Possibly too much, which is most likely why I didn't do it.
Freedom is going down the plug hole in this country faster than you can say 'Bob's your uncle'.

First off we obviously had the first reported court case on 'extreme pornography' whereby just about everything yours truly warned about came true.

Remember all those corrupt politicians assuring us all that this law would only be used in the most extreme cases? That there was a serious hurdle to overcome before any case came to court by which the Director of Public Prosecutions needed to give the go ahead. Supposedly this was to occur in only the most rare circumstances designed for the most ghastly cases.

Well, a young man, a mere twenty years old, was done for possessing – wait for it – 14 pictures of communal garden bestiality (so much for those massive judicial hurdles and it only affecting the most extreme cases). The court even acknowledged that he had only viewed those pictures out of curiosity. So he wasn't 'into it', merely the opportunity had afforded itself and he'd peeked. For this he's now got a one and a half year supervision order around his neck and he'll have to attend 24 meetings – in which no doubt they'll try to teach him why he was 'wrong'.

The latter is especially interesting given that the court had accepted he'd just been curious. But curiosity it seems is now a crime in this country.

Why am I telling you this? Well, remember I was being paranoid when I warned people about this. This was only going to be for dirty old men in macs and would only affect the most depraved perverts.

Well, I was right. Period.

But things just got a whole lot worse yesterday when the BBC announced that the first verdict on 'incitement to racial hatred', another one of those politically correct laws which our current government thought we so desperately needed.

So two blokes distributed some leaflets and ran a website on which they spouted racist abuse about minorities, especially Jews. I have since visited the website in question. It is still up and running.
Frankly, I wasn't that much shocked. True, it was full of racist nonsense. But given that one of them was sentenced for 4 years for this 'grievous crime' I expected to find the lair of the Beelzebub.

So these men don't like Jews and say as much? So what? I cannot see how this is incitement to hatred. Speaking your mind is now illegal, if it offends someone.

The judge specifically pointed out how the material they had published was 'insulting and abusive'. The odd thing is I didn't know that being insulting was against the law.

Also a great deal was made out of a cartoon called 'The Holohoax'. It's the usual sort of holocaust denial nonsense you'd expect to hear from right wing nuts.
But holocaust denial is not illegal in the UK. It appears that now instead the authorities have simply invented an interpretation by which holocaust denial is to be deemed 'incitement to racial hatred'.

Thus they continue the masquerade of this being a liberal country where people can hold controversial views, yet get to gag people nonetheless under the guise of protecting minorities.

The whole thing is preposterous and I'm pig sick of it.

But please think about this.
A man has gone to prison for 4 years for voicing racist opinion.
Another man is being brainwashed in 24 meetings and is being supervised for 18 months for effectively being deemed mentally ill because he was curious about consenting adult material involving bestiality.

The nation has crossed a Rubicon.
Whereas political correctness previous was deemed something all public figures adhered to in order not to offend (albeit that it made them all sound bland and uniform), it has now been deemed that we all must abide by them.

Now many will say, this makes not that big a difference. After all, who likes racists and weirdos?
But we're effectively outlawing living outside of the mainstream. You either abide by the dominant doctrine or you go to jail. Which is frighteningly close to what was the case under Stalinism....

The idea that we ought to have the freedom to say something which offends the current doctrine is no longer granted any value. During the cold war you could be a member of the communist party in Britain. You were entitled to praise communism and to praise Stalin. Yet try praising terrorism now during the 'war on terror', especially if you're of Arabic descent.

Being contrary is suddenly no longer permitted. We're all to be good little soldiers and behave according to what 'they' want. Frankly, it's hideous.

22/05/09
Well, for once I want to speak of something thoroughly positive.
After all, it's never too late to start.

With this I mean the phenomenon that is 'Britain's got Talent'.

Personally, I loathed that crop of shows for some time. 'Pop Idol' etc...
For 'Britain's got Talent' I reserved a particularly grim part of the pit of my black, spiteful heart. It was to all avail a freak show where people who deluded themselves into thinking they were talented came on to a stage, to be laughed at and ridiculed by a nasty, ugly public. It was television entertainment for bullies.

Then something glorious happened. Some painfully shy soul called Paul Potts, a mundane mobile phone salesman with crooked teeth, came on and sung 'Nessun Dorma'. Now sure, he wasn't Pavarotti but he surprised people. Had he been set up for a fall, to be humiliated and laughed at, he displayed a genuine talent, an ability, a skill. The audience genuinely rose to its feet.

I only got to see his appearance much later on youtube, as I didn't watch the series at the time, it being still in it's come-laugh-at-the-freaks phase. Something must have happened way back then. Paul Potts must have shown that it was truly possible for someone to use the show as a launchpad, rather than merely to be sneered at by cynical judges and an audience baying for blood.

Two years on from Paul Potts this program has emerged as something truly sensational. Rather than a opportunity to sneer at the self-evidently talentless, it has become a springboard for people with a real talent.

I got drawn in when the news showed a clip of Susan Boyle, telling how she'd come to international attention having appeared on this latest series' first episode.
I caught a repeat of the program and was blown away.

Now sure, much of the first half of these programs is still filled with desperately hopeful people who will so clearly never be anything. But the latter half these days seems to be a stage for genuinely talented people. And in these days of manufactured pop and celebrities famous, solely for being on reality TV programs it is a breath of fresh air to see people with real talent doing their thing.

And the bar for talent is proving incredibly high. For the first time in a long time I'm being made to feel really inadequate by the talents others demonstrate. I love it.
We have ten and twelve year olds singing with a maturity that is frankly frightening. A thirty-something Welshman with stage fright with a wonderfully rich voice. A teenager singing soul. A saxophonist who can – really, really – play. Dance acts that blow your mind. Some very funny comedy acts, including Stavros Flatly, which is wet-your-pants hilarious. Yes, there's that Susan Doyle woman, a spinster from Scotland with a really big voice.

And in the latest part there is eleven year old Aidan Davis who could teach Michael Jackson a thing or two about dance moves...

It is remarkable how a program that was so nasty, so ugly at its core has suddenly turned into something so amazing. People are now turning to it to be dazzled, rather than just wanting an opportunity to jeer at the victims being goaded with a stick by Simon Cowell.

It really has become something wonderful and I love it. Long may it continue.

20/05/09
Well, here we go.

The MPs' expenses scandal has finally reached Carlisle.
Eric Martlew has, all of a sudden, decided to volunteer his expenses figures to the local newspapers.

He has, so he tells us, nothing to hide and is happy for everyone to look over his figures. More so, according to Eric, the scandal is merely that MPs are not paid enough, which is why they have to claim these frivolous expenses.

Most striking of all among the expenses (which are not very detailed) is that this rather chubby man has claimed 14,530 for food over the past 4 years. I think we know why he;s chubby now.

I'm sorry, but can anyone tell me why we are paying for his food. The expenses are supposed to cover additional costs he incurs for having to maintain a home in London and in his constituency. But, whether he is in London or not, the man has to eat. So I can't see how this entails 'additional costs. Sure as hell not to the tune of almost 15,000!

Frankly what the man is doing, is what we call 'brassing it out'. He's hoping that attack is the best defence and has come out fighting, rather than wait for the local media – or possibly even the national papers - to get wind of his expenses and shame him for what he is.

So we were today witness to the spectacle of Eric Martlew MP claiming that MPs ought to earn 90,000. It was 'the going rate', so we were told. For doctors perhaps, Eric. But for you? Who'd give him a job, if he weren't an MP? A union perhaps. I'm sure he has pals there. But other than that?

So with the lack of demand for his supposedly unique skills, how would we arrive at 90,000? I can't see it. Can anyone?

But there is perhaps another way of arriving at this magic figure. He earns roughly 65,000 as an MP. Add to that his 20,000 expenses claims and you get very close....
So, simply put. He thinks he's worth 90,000, but he only gets 65,000 in pay. So he simply makes up the difference in expenses. Even if it means charging Johnny taxpayer for his food. It's all right for some, isn't it? And all this in the middle of a recession...

Now, it doesn't take a genius to work out that I can't stand the man. I had the dubious honour of meeting him once. Ugh. He's the sort of politician who'd argue that it was right to keep sending men over the top of the trenches into German machine gun fire during the first world war, if I happened to be his party who were in charge at the time.

As for me, I'm just an amoral 'extreme libertarian'. That's pretty much his view of me. But morality cuts both ways, dear Eric. I've paid part of your food bill, Mr Wobblebottom, and I'm none too happy about that. Not least, because I, unlike you, don't earn sixty-five grand a year.
Taking from the less well off, because you think you're worth 90,000? Some would call that immoral.

But then I guess my initial impression when I met this 'man' was quite correct.
For those of you wondering. It's phonetically quite close to the word 'aerosol'....

15/05/09
So why haven't I been ranting and raving in this, my little private column, recently?
Well, where to start!

Not merely have been kept busy elsewhere, but I was also near apoplexy with rage given the current shenanigans in parliament. But here we are.

Where to begin? Well, Our dear UK parliamentarians fought tooth and nail against an official request by a campaigner under the freedom of information act about parliamentary expenses.
Officialdom should have released such information, but our democratic representatives thought it was none of our business what they chose to spend our money on.
The whole sorry tale ended up in the high court where the judges simply couldn't see any good reason why the expenses of MPs, funded by taxpayers' money, shouldn't be made known to those footing the bill, namely the taxpayers.

However, MPs being MPs they decided that they would 'redact' (i.e. censor) some of the sensitive information 'for security reasons'.

But someone within the Westminster government apparatus thought that a bad idea and handed the entire, unedited information to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The newspaper then analysed the data and went to work publishing headline after headline. The results have been amazing. The whole country has gone berserk.
Today a justice minister was suspended.

The amounts are unbelievable. Fifty thousand pounds here, seventyfive thousand pounds there. But perhaps the most annoying are the tiny mundane claims. When minister Hazel Blears claims for a KitKat chocolate bar it really is taken the mickey. Or that horrid harpie Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary) claims for an 88 pence bath plug.

The idea that an MP (basic salary over 60,000 pounds per annum), better yet a minister (around 100,000 per annum) sees fit to charge us for a chocolate bar or a bath plug, it really is going a bit far.

The house expenses and mortgage claims are unbelievable. They've been building up personal property portfolios – all at public expense.
What is remarkable is that many don't even seem to think anything wrong with it.

But all this corruption is only the beginning of the problem at the heart of it.

For you see, these are the same politicians who recently were berating bankers about the immorality of their greed and avarice.
Also, these were the same MPs who were lecturing us about 'the morality of it all' when it came to their dreadful 'dangerous pictures act'.

But let's not have me being accused of a fixation with that horrible piece of legislative tripe. What about smoking bans, fox hunting and no end of other patronising diatribes from up above about how we are to live our lives?

Frankly, I'd rather they'd go fox hunting than cream off my taxes for massage chairs, silk cushions or large plasma TVs (all things claimed under expenses!).

I don't smoke, yet I'd rather have smoking back in the pubs (which now all smell of stale beer, thank you very much!) than their pigging it at the trough.

But more so, if we accept that the banker's judgement in running their businesses might have been compromised by their flagrant greed then, pray, what must this mean for our politicians?

Could their slavish obedience to their leaders, enthusiastically voting through everything – no matter how idiotic – which their master propose, possibly have something to do with the fact that they would not wish to endanger their place at the trough?

Is it perhaps possible that proper parliamentary scrutiny has broken down because they're all receiving such lavish expenses via the back door?

Are the expenses in fact a bribe to the backbenchers by government in order to keep them docile and unquestioning?

The rule changes which brought about this fiasco apparently came in 2001. So once more under this utterly discredited government.

It may however go some way to explain how it was possible to get the war on Iraq through parliament, not to mention repeated calls for an inquiry into said war defeated.

Parliamentarians in effect had been bribed. Paid off, not to ask any too awkward questions.
And so a precedent was created whereby the lowly backbenchers abandoned any attempt at holding the executive to account and instead spent their time ordering chandeliers and meeting their interior designers (yep, you've got it, again claimed expenses).

What would Franco propose were he King for the day?
I'd dissolve parliament forcing a general election – and ! – I'd suspend any legislation created since 2001, pending review by the newly elected parliament.

The reason for a general election is clear. These bastards should have to answer for their behaviour at the ballot box right now and provide the electorate with a chance of ridding themselves of these vermin. And the latter? Well, if the laws introduced by parliament since 2001 were tainted by the fact that majority of parliamentarians were in essence bribed to comply, then it is highly questionable whether any of it has any legitimacy at all.

Will any of the above happen? Will it hell! Who knows, perhaps we ought to just shoot them all... or better, hunt them with hounds. Now that would be ironic.

08/04/09
Right, time for another rant from yours truly.
So, what's it about this time?
Well, the big brother state and the police, that's what.

We've had the police in the news for attacking a passer by in London during the G20 summit demonstrations. While I was at work on the radio we had some high ranking police pillock state that this was an unfortunate incident which shouldn't detract from what was a highly successful operation.

Now, excuse me. But the police nigh killed a guy who wasn't even part of the demonstration (he simply happened to be walking home at the time). After the assault, at least part of which was caught on video, he suffered a heart attack.
But aside from this incident, could any of this be called 'a success'?

Now, first off the police employed a tactic called 'kettling'. This means they simply lock demonstrators into a square or junction by blocking the exits.
This has proved successful in stopping violent protesters running wild. It's been used since the year 2000.
However, here's the downside. First, nothing stops them from smashing up anything they like in the area I which they are 'kettled' (it's hardy surprising that they should choose a term which is close to 'cauldron', no?).

But also it means that countless people get trapped within these 'kettles' who have nothing to do with the demonstrators per se.
If a demonstration is permitted to move, then passers-by have the possibility to stay out of trouble by finding alternative routes. The initiative is theirs. However, once the police draw up their iron curtains, you're stuck. This can happen without warning, and without your being able to foresee it. 'Kettling' is controversial. In summer heat or in rain, being stuck in a crush on a square can be downright dangerous. That's without considering your being stuck with a bunch of psychotic 'anti-capitalists' bent on trouble.
Meanwhile, should the police decide to charge and you happen to be in their way. Tough luck.

In my view 'kettling' is unacceptable. The policing of demonstrations should go back to what it was prior to 2000. Let's face it, London wasn't burnt to the ground in those days either.

More to the point, many a government minister (several were militant communists in their youth) may have themselves been throwing bricks at the police in days gone by. Yet now we're told that these demonstrations are 'worse than ever' requiring extreme measures by those very hypocrites.

The ends merely justify the means. 'Kettling' is easier and less gets broken. Well, on that note, curfews are even easier and not can get broken at all. Hell, why not introduce a shoot-to-kill policy? I'm sure tanks and helicopter gunships would be even more effective at keeping order. That way we'd all be really safe!

Thus, once more, we're on the slippery slope to hell.
Freedom is being explained away with ease, efficiency and convenience. The problem is, that freedom is supposed to be inconvenient, especially to those in power. They are supposed to seek to strike a balance preventing us from rioting, rather than seeking to introduce measures by which they can crush any trouble when it arises.

Shame only that Home Secretary and public purse porn queen Jacqui Smith has other priorities – such as getting her 88 pence bath pug paid for out of the public finances.
Freedom is what suits her, it appears. Our freedom, that is....

And sorry folks. But anyone who doesn't understand the above is a moron. I state that quite categorically.

It is not a choice between policing a demonstration or not. It is a question how far you go and what it is you're trying to achieve. Making your life easier is not a significant enough a reason for extreme measures. And 'kettling' is an extreme measure. Perhaps even – to draw from the government's favoured vocab – an extremist measure.

All in all, the police has deteriorated noticeably in the last ten years. The government are to blame, fair and square. The police are being fashioned into a political body and are striving ever more to secure interests of their own. For example, they can top up their budgets with assets they seize, totally destroying their objectivity and skewing their priorities.

We have seen them encouraged to ask for legislation to be passed. Government then using their 'request' as a means to bludgeon outrageous legislation through the house.
Yet police should enforce law, not request what it is it wishes to enforce.
But try explaining that to vote grubbing parliamentary expense account holders of the ilk currently in power in Westminster.

The police have a great tradition in the UK. The British bobby is famed throughout the world and with good reason. But the institution is being screwed by authoritarian politicians who are drunk on 'law and order' - or 'Zucht und Ordnung' as the Nazis called it.

30/03/09
Ooh, what a terrible weekend!
Most of all because your truly is dragging himself about in pain with what he suspects is a kidney infection.
But generally it's been one of those utterly forgettable weekends. You now the type. Those where you ask yourself what it actually was you've done in the last 48 hrs.

That said, there was some comic relief.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, a lock-em-up hardliner with a feminist bent and a particular hatred of all things pornographic has been tripped up by claiming her tv pay-per-view costs as parliamentary expenses. Among the things someone at that address appeared to have watched were also two 'adult' features.

What can I say? Once I stopped laughing I knew that I wouldn't have much trouble coming up with something to write in my little 'rants and opinions' page.

Now naturally, her husband fell on his sword and has made a public 'apology', claiming it all to be his fault. She meanwhile has let it be known that she is 'livid'.

Yeah, yeah. Of course she is... Well, it's easier being livid than shamefaced, right? This woman watches telly, and charges us, the taxpayers, for it!

Apparently that's quite all right. All that's embarrassing about this is that there were one or two 'adult' features on there.

Well, Jacqui, let me tell you a thing or two....
It's not all right that you think you can watch 'Free Willy' at our expense. Not now, during a bloody recession. Not ever.
Meanwhile, the fact that your household's consumption of porn is now out in the open for public delectation should perhaps teach you a lesson or two about making other people's sexual preferences a matter of state interest.
Frankly, you – of all people – deserve what happened to you. And yes, I do hope you lose your job over it. After all, it would be only fair that the Home Secretary of a government that has seen fit to create a rule whereby people of certain perfectly legal adult sexual interests can be barred from holding down a list of jobs should be fired over having porn on her TV bill.

But please, fair reader, make up your own mind. This vicious harridan determined on gaining ever more powers to spy upon us, lock folks up and prohibit anything that's fun in the name of probity has now even set her sights on facebook, myspace and bebo.

I kid you not, her chief firebrand underling at the Home Office, Vernon Coaker, has let it be known that the government wants all data to be stored showing with whom any users of those social networking sites corresponded. This would be part of their 'intercept modernisation program'. A nice euphemism for universal communications monitoring. After all, a complete database for all internet traffic, phone and mobile phone data is already being prepared.

Oh, but they're not 'big brother'. No, it's only about 'security'....

Frankly, I hope they find porn on many other Labour MP's bills. It's high time we got rid of these people. Anyone who is determined to know whom I write mails to is highly suspect to me by default. I have no doubt that my saying that immediately renders me a suspect to them. Because that's the way these people think. It's right out of the George W. Bush school of thinking: 'If you're not with us, you're against us.'

Well, I sure am against them. I'm against everything for which these supersnoops stand.

As for Jacqui Smith, I propose we shove the cow off the end of Brighton pier, preferably with that slime ball Vernon Coaker firmly attached to her by means of very heavy chains...

25/03/09
I tend to rate Richard Curtis as a script writer and – although at times it got quite mushy – I really liked his first movie as a director: 'Love, actually'.
But what I rate most of all about Richard Curtis is his innate sense of where Britain stands at any given moment.

In the nineties he wrote the hit series 'The Vicar of Dibley'. His feisty heroine was a dedicated Labour supporter and her antagonist, the mean spirited, egotistical grandee David Horton, was a Tory.

The message was quite clear: the Tories were the bad guys. It was time for a change. Curtis was absolutely right. The public wholeheartedly agreed. The Tories however seemed oblivious to it.
Next take 'Love, actually' in 2003. Here Curtis seemed to hint at a successor to Blair, someone from another party. (i.e. not Labour). And what did prime minister Hugh Grant do? He told the US president to take a hike, refusing to cosy up oh-so-closely.

The public agreed. While Blair was puckering up to Bush's backside - day in, day out - we all just wanted some distance between ourselves and that moron in the White House. Again, who was proved right? Richard Curtis.

More to the point, Curtis also shows attitudes and behaviours in his characters which represent the 'zeitgeist' of their age.

The Vicar of Dibley was a female vicar before the Church of England ever allowed women to be ordained. In fact, his series and its success proved instrumental in making the case for just that change.

In all his tv series and film scripts Curtis seemed to be reflecting the very progressive, liberal changes we have observed in British society. In 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' we a had a gay couple among the main protagonist's circle of friends.

One need only look at the selection of lifestyles in 'Love, actually' to see how he understood Britain to be a tolerant, thoroughly secular, multi-racial country which had long ditched the moral and social certainties and strictures to which our political classes still so desperately cling.

Curtis usually proved to be a step or two ahead of the public - and always proved miles ahead of the politicians.

So appreciated was Curtis' ability to predict public sentiment that, no sooner had he placed his weight behind the campaign to scrap 3rd world debt, that then chancellor Gordon Brown threw himself at the same goal with much fanfare – in fact he still goes on about it today.

It is therefore quite telling what his latest outing is. His second film as a director is about to be released in the cinemas in only a few days time.
'The Boat that Rocked' is all about the pirate radio ships in the 1960s which cocked a snoop at UK broadcasting licensing and simply did so from out to sea in international waters.

I just saw a snippet of Kenneth Branagh playing the minister who sets out to shut them down, no matter what. The clip I saw was short, but very telling. Curtis' keen eye has picked up on the public's disdain for its current batch of politicians and their intent on banning anything that moves. Branagh's character pretty much makes clear that one of the benefits of beg in government is that one can simply make laws which ban what one doesn't like.

If at any other time this ministerial performance would simply be that of the film's menacing bad guy, Curtis' message here is clear. The UK government is now perceived as an overbearing kill-joy which bans anything of which its members don't approve.
And yes, were the seaborne radio stations out there today, then this lot would indeed be fighting tooth and nail to kill them off. Public support be damned!

In essence today's little fleet of independent minded radio ships is the internet. We need only listen to their verbiage on that front to see how they see things.

Richard Curtis has his finger on the pulse as ever. The mean spirited minister is a perfect reflection of one of today's great ills; a decrepit, corrupt, yet morally pontificating government with an obsession for prohibition and an innate inability to see how times are a-changing. If Gordon Brown (or more to the point, Brown's PR advisors) understood Curtis' humanitarian message on 3rd world debt at the time, so much so that he not merely leapt, but rather pretentiously belly-flopped onto it, then now would be the time to take Curtis' message to heart.

But just as the Tories completely misunderstood the David Horton character and merely saw it as a party-political attack, just as Blair blanked the clear message to stay away from the Yanks while Mr Nasty was in charge of them, so too will the control freak Brown not realise that the Big Brother accusation being made is completely justified.

It appears Richard Curtis has very much still got it.
I doubt very much, that Brown ever had it.

13/03/09
Modern Art; I guess since my buddy Gerard is being ripped off by some 'artiste', it's time for me to have my rant about modern art.

As such, I did try to understand modern art. Fact is, I wanted to understand it, as I feared I was missing out on something.
But I wasn't. I am still not. Here's the rub with modern art.

Old art, as one would call it, was not merely about depicting something as accurately as possible. No, that would have been mere skill. Art is to express something beyond what mere skill can do.

This however has led people to believe that art is merely the 'added value' to the old oil paintings and marble sculptures. If, thus, you can distil only that added magical ingredient, then you don't need the skill component at all.

Therefore anything can be art, as was proved by the bloke who eventually exhibited a bidet as a work of art.

This however means that 'art' is merely a concept. You need to be skilled at nothing. You merely have to have some sort of message you wish to convey by placing your bidet in a gallery.

What we therefore got was a load of 'artistes' giving press interviews about what it was their particular bidet was supposedly expressing.
The individuals involved all created themselves a persona which appeared eccentric and intellectual, as though they were some sort of mad genius.

After all, a genius will no doubt have something significant to say by coating a a table in bubble wrap. Whereas anyone else would just be taking the piss.

So a personality cult is born. Andy Warhol had to look weird, talk weird, behave weird. However, he convinced everyone that he was some intellectual, creative genius. Dali did very much the same. Ditto for Picasso. i.e. if you're weird then surely you must be artistic.

In reality all this is just hard sell. The main challenge is not creating the work but convincing someone that your work is worth something. After all, a table wrapped in bubble wrap is just that. Anyone can do it. Or as the head of the Royal Academy of Art said on television, 'We live in a post skill era (of art).'

It is very telling that when discussing modern art, talk generally tends to shift toward who created a piece and what kind of person he or she is. We are told of their 'artistic journey' prior to making a particular painting or sculpture. We are told of their private lives at the time of this being made, etc, etc.

When discussing a Leonardo da Vinci painting however, oddly, this doesn't seem important. We are concerned with the piece, not its maker.

This to me shows how vacuous modern art is at heart. It is only art if its creator is deemed an artist. Whereas old art is understood as such, by what it is, not by what its maker was.

But there's more.
In my view modern art is inherently linked to the economic expansion in the late 19th and entire 20th century, especially in the USA.

In short: there is a need for modern art. Thus, the demand is filled.
What is the need? Well, consider the amount of public and corporate real estate space needing adornment in a city such as New York alone.

You ever noticed how many 'paintings' by modern artists are very, very large. Why is that? Because they are intended to go into the lobbies of gargantuan skyscrapers, that's why.

However, if you asked Messrs Donatello, Titian and Caravaggio to set to work it would take centuries to fill all this space.
Meanwhile, India and China are now also growing, have their own skyscrapers to fill and also desire something to stick into them which demonstrates their cultural sophistication.

Modern art is fast and large. It needs to be. It is essentially a product.

Meanwhile, Charles Saatchi makes shed loads of money 'discovering' new talent in the UK. He buys them when they start out, hypes them up, if need be by renting gallery space in central London, and then sells when they're established names. As we all know, he's also one of Britain's leading advertising executives.

That really says it all. Being an artist is about knowing how to sell. Who could do that better than an advertising guru like Charles Saatchi.

Modern art. Create a brand and then sell, sell, sell.

The actually content is by that time utterly irrelevant. As we found out with my friend Gerard. It can even just mean stealing (sorry, 'appropriating') someone else's work, blurring it and then selling it as your own.

In short, it's all pretentious bullshit, folks. But hardly anyone ever dares say it for fear of being called a philistine.

12/03/09
I'm bloody fuming!

The world is full of bullshit. There is no other way of explaining what I'm about to explain here.

I pride myself on knowing or having known some extraordinary individuals.
They needn't be famous. What matters is that they're unique, idiosyncratic, - fascinating.

One such outstanding individual is my old friend Gerard who lives outside Paris. He's a larger than life character who runs his own film studio and is a font of knowledge and innumerable anecdotes.
He also happens to divide the world into those who use the same oil for salad as for cooking and those who don't. French, what can I say....

But here is the tale and I swear it's true.

A picture has surfaced on the web. It's a still from one of Gerard's own productions. Accept it's been blurred.

Why is this picture of import?
Well – and hold onto your seats for this one – it's currently up for auction by Christies. It's estimate is $40'000-60'000.

It appears a German photographer (yes, it is ironic that it's a photographer) had published a series of pictures which he downloaded from the web and turned into 'art'.

Well, actually he took pictures from the web, blurred them in every day graphics software and printed them out.

Now, if you or I do that, it's called copyright theft.

But if an 'artiste' does it it's called 'appropriation'. To you and me it's still stealing, but legally he has taken an everyday object and made it into 'art'.
(I wonder why Michelangelo never thought of that...)

Thus, this man – who would no doubt complain and threaten to sue if anyone stole the copyright on his photographs (he's a photographer, right?) - can happily go around and steal everyone else's work with impunity.

The legal precedents for this sort of thing are examples like the multicoloured Warhol prints of Marilyn Monroe. After all, the photograph this was based on wasn't Warhol's.
But with Warhol's work at least you can see that something was done. There was some sort of conceptual idea behind it.

In Gerard's case (I have seen the picture in question, as well as the original) the work is really largely Gerard's.
This German 'artiste' has simply pressed a button to blur the image, pressed print and then invented a load of pseudo artistic bullshit to justify his actions.

The fact that the guy holds a professorship in photography makes the matter only worse in my mind. He's simply exploiting the knowledge of the fine print of copyright law he no doubt acquired during his academic studies.

But there you go. Professional skill, dedication, application and intuition are worth very little.
But being able to dress up a theft with a load of unadulterated bullshit and sell it will net you about $50'000 a piece – in a recession!!!

Gods have mercy! If I were that Kraut I'd stay away from Paris. Gerard's a big lad....

11/03/09
Well, there was I sitting in a pub recently, - something those who know me will know me to do very rarely indeed – and, talking to those around the table, I invariably drifted into a comment on the insanity of our dearest government wishing to ban drawings and cartoons depicting 'child abuse'.

There was blank looks all round. I find it fascinating how people cannot see the consequences and implications of such concepts. One or two individuals seemed quite taken aback that such a thing should be going on. 'Drawings, you say?'
Nonetheless, the surprise seemed merely to limit itself to the notion of banning such material, not to the overriding principle of entering – in law – into the realms of fiction.

Who isn't familiar with Donald Duck's mischievous nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie?
Now these characters are self-evidently minors. But are they wearing pants?
We all know the answer. But here's the rub, is it important whether they are or not? At least as far as this law is concerned....

Doesn't the whole innocence of these things get stolen when we have to see them in the light of lurid sexual insinuation by governmental busy bodies?
Is it not the minds of those who would put us in a situation where we have to question whether Huey, Dewey, and Louie is sexual which are truly twisted?

After all, prior to this law being suggested, this never occurred to me. Why should I be forced to suddenly examine three Disney characters in this light, when I have no interest in doing so?

Please consider that the moment 'some' drawings become potentially sexually illegal, it means that every drawing you see, no matter how innocent, must be evaluated by yourself regarding its legality. You must thus begin to suspect a sexual context in everything. You must start to think 'their way'.

You must query the drawings of Beatrix Potter. You must be suspicious of comic books. It all could be potentially harmful (to your legal status). Thus you must examine them like a censor, not like a mere reader. In fact, you become your own censor.

We have recently in Australia witnessed a court decision whereby some spoof material featuring various characters of the Simpsons was indeed deemed child pornography.
(Gives a new meaning to the expression 'kangaroo court', doesn't it?)

We are thus not talking of something purely academic. If you provide the lawyers with the necessary paragraphs to play with, they will go there.

But once you extend law into the area of fiction, where do you stop?

To say that child abuse is wrong, thus a drawing of it must be illegal, sounds on the surface to be all right. So why object?

Well, is murder wrong? Is running from the police in a high speed car chase wrong? The list of 'wrong' things is endless which we nonetheless feel free to explore in fiction.
James Bond baddies threaten the whole world with thermonuclear blackmail and people scoff popcorn without a care in the world.

To use the Australian example of the Simpsons: If a sexual context for the Simpsons is deemed pornographic in reality, then is Homer Simpson's frequent strangling of his son Bart not also to be deemed 'real violence', thus real assault?

Fiction is a separate world to humanity. It is our play ground, where no harm comes to anyone and nothing really matters.

To get a bit of emotional distance toward the matter, let's look at the classics, shall we?

Ancient mythology like the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid and the tales of Hercules are full of violence, sex (both hetero and homo), murders, serial killings, et alia. Other Greek myths include the tale of Theseus which involves the Cretan myth of the Minotaur, who was conceived by a queen shagging a bull. The product of this bestial union is the Minotaur to whom plenty of virgins are sacrificed on an annual basis.

Meanwhile Oedipus, who gave his name to a Freudian complex, killed his father and married his mother.
Has anyone considered the symbolism of the centaur, who is half man, half horse? Especially considering which half is which. (What wonder then, that I'm a Sagittarius? lol)

Seen in light of Greco-Roman mythology, it seems that all this bad stuff we're told we are not permitted to imagine isn't really that bad after all.
Europa shagged a bull, Leda shagged a Swan, the various early gods castrated each other, some parents ate their babies and on it goes....

Now if a Quentin Tarantino movie would feature any of the above there would be pandemonium!

So now consider all these supposed inconsiderables.
Is there really fiction which we should not indulge in?
Should there be works of fiction in text, film or pictures which we should be prohibited from possessing?

Drawings, which this proposed law seeks to ban, are the purest form of fiction. A drawing cannot be real by definition. It is created per se.

I thus really struggle with the principles behind this proposed ban.
More so, I worry where they'll go next. The concept of fiction is under attack in Britain; primarily on the grounds of obscenity and child abuse.

But once the boundary is breached what other 'wrongs' in fiction will be policed? On starting to cut certain forms of fiction away from our world, will they really stop?

If Homer were alive today telling his stories to the multitude, how long would it be before they would lock him up? If Titian were painting Leda and the Swan today they'd surely be questioning his motives.

I remember the piece of Vaclav Havel, which was later reinterpreted by the great Duerrenmatt for the then Czech president Havel's visit.
I paraphrase loosely:
'We all live in a prison. More so, we are the guards as well as the prisoners.'

Indeed, it is coming about. We are all supposed to guard what we watch now. In case the great over arching machine is watching and spots us not on our guard.

Worst of all, they are corrupting us whilst claiming to pursue a moral cause.

Their world consists of nothing but filth. They see it wherever they cast their gaze. (Mary Whitehouse famously saw it even in 'The Magic Roundabout' and 'Andy Pandy'.)

What they are doing with these new laws; forcing us to view the world as they do.
It is that, which is the ultimate corruption, because it makes us view even Huey, Dewey, and Louie as a group of semi-nude minors, rather than innocent comic figures.

05/03/09
I just sat through a podcast of a debate at the Cambridge Union about Internet Censorship. The entire 1 house and 22 minutes of it. Phew!

My, debates can be interesting if there's intelligent folk about. John Ozimek chaired it.

One psychologist, Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, produced the gem fact that as of 2004 a total of 25,000 individuals were on the national sex offenders register, yet only 26 of those seem to have actually been involved in some sort of violent, harmful, sexual crime. Makes you think, doesn't it...

What was interesting is the almost complete absence of nutters demanding things be banned.
It appears, when faced with serious argument their kind don't want to know. In fact Dr Brooks stated that there were some very vociferous individuals, totally enamoured with censorship, who refuse to appear on any panel with her. I wonder why that is....

The woman who represented the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) was fairly meek at times, not least because of the Wikipedia debacle. That said, her contribution seemed a little 'corporate', merely trying to justify her organisation and deflect any criticism.

Frank Fisher, who's introduced to us as 'a blogger' but who came across as fairly heavyweight, made a fairly strong impression, challenging all and everything on censorship.

The consensus seemed to be that the current situation is ridiculous and that the extreme porn law (which yours truly made so much noise about) is a disgrace. There seemed to be consensus of sorts that perhaps some regulation is required, but that it should be very light touch and kept to an absolute minimum. The law on extreme porn, it was argued should be repealed. (Told you so!) The upcoming law on cartoons featuring the abuse, among other things of 'imaginary children' they thought should indeed share the same fate. That said, the chances of this happening with teh current crop of parliamentarians are zilch. But at least someone said it.

Ozimek did state that it had more than likely been underestimated by most just how great a step the prohibition of possession of material actually was. (And yes – I told you that too!)
Once the government enters into the area of private possession of material it merely disapproves of, things indeed are very serious. When venturing further into the subject of censorship, Ozimek also touched on a great point when mentioning the ridiculous discrepancy whereby you can shag a 17 year old, but not have a topless photograph of her. For the latter you'll go to prison!

Fisher came in right behind that stating that there should be a complete review of the entire approach to child porn. Some sites appear to be being blocked for having pics of children on the beach, etc. - Again the woman of the IWF squirmed in her chair, muttering that they are indeed looking into that sort of thing. (But don't hold your breath.)

Fisher went on to say that it was very important what powers of prohibition a government possesses. One may indeed trust the current administration with such powers (I don't !), but can one trust a successive government in ten or twenty years time?

He was particularly interested in the list of blocked sites which the IWF enforce, saying he didn't think it was open enough to scrutiny.

So why did I like it so? Well, it's nice to see confirmed that – unlike from the genetically challenged mutants in parliament – there are actually some quite smart people out there who do realise just how dire the situation has become. The words of culture secretary Andy Burnham were mentioned, whereby that authoritarian nose-blow wants to see a lot of material 'taken off' the net.

It's perhaps a little depressing that you need to go to a place as exclusively peopled by smart brains as Cambridge University to find some folk who can sensibly talk about this stuff, without frothing at the mouth. But nonetheless the existence of enlightened, insightful people is heartening.

Who knows, perhaps one day we'll start electing their kind. Oh, now I'm just being silly....

21/02/09
So what's got my knickers in a twist this day?
Well, let's talk about the Home Secretaries powers to stop 'undesireables' from entering the country, shall we? Why? Because the power is being utterly abused.

Recently, a member of Dutch parliament, Geert Wilders, was invited by members of the Lords, thus members of the UK parliament to visit Britain and take part in a presentation and debate in the Houses of Parliament about his short film 'Fitna'.
So what is this film 'Fitna' about? Well, to put it simply, it's a fairly primitively put together mixture of clips, juxtaposing newspaper headlines with pieces of virulent, violent verbiage from Mullahs and terrorist sympathisers. This in turn is counterposed with paragraphs of the Koran.
The overall effect is designed to suggest that the Koran as such contains many violent passages, which religiously justify the actions of the terrorists.
Wilders in the past has made quite a few statements about Muslims and the suspicion is that he is in fact racist towards them. Charges have been brought against him in Holland, albeit that there seems to be a strong political element to these, as I believe not even the state prosecutors wanted this to happen.

Anyhow, our home Secretary then decided this man was an undesirable. He was not to be allowed to come to Britain and speak to members of parliament. She concluded that his visit would be a threat to public safety, as there would no doubt be violent demonstrations by enraged religious nuts. Thus Wilders was stopped at the airport and put on a plane back to Holland. The film 'Fitna' meanwhile was shown and a debate was held in one of the conference rooms of the House of Lords. At the following press conference, a Dutch reporter asked where the enraged hordes were in the streets burning Wilders in effigy, now that the film had been seen...
The protests never happened. They would never have happened. So why ban his entry into Britain?

Well, the Labour government lost pretty much all its Muslim vote when starting its 'war on terror' and then invading Iraq, which proved utterly free of weapons of mass destruction.
Clearly one is now hoping to gain a few votes by showing one is pro-Muslim by not letting Geert Wilders into the country.
So if the choice arises between freedom of expression or grubbing a few votes, this lot opt for the votes.

Better still, in the last two or three days it became known that two members of the notorious Phelps family were intending to visit the UK. The Phelps are the somewhat gaga clan who seem to run their own church, headed by their stern patriarch. The entire purpose of this church appears to be to spout hatred against those deemed sinners, especially gays. So, whenever you've come across one of those photos of an odd person standing at a road side in the US brandishing a placard stating 'God hates Fags' it's more than likely been one of the Phelps.

And again, entry into the UK has denied. The 79 tear old patriarch and his daughter wanted to come and demonstrate outside a theatre where a play was being staged about the violent death of a homosexual.
The most frightening bit was that the statement by the Home Office spoke of their 'unacceptable behaviour' as at least part of the reason why they were into permitted into the reason. In fact 'unacceptable behaviour' was used more than once within their statement.
Please note, it's not illegality, it's unacceptable behaviour which they seem concerned with.

Again, are we really thinking that these two oddballs present a threat to homosexuals in the UK? They can't find any followers for their 'religious' views outside their own family in the US. What chance them finding a following in the largely agnostic UK on the strength of their arguments?

So why ban 'em? Well, one is hoping to further secure support from the gay vote.

As it stands neither ploy seems to have worked. Muslims would generally tend rather to chew their own arm off than vote Labour after what's been going on in this country over the last few years. Meanwhile the most well known homosexual campaigner in Britain, Peter Tatchell, has let it be known that he doesn't think the Phelps should be banned from entering the country.

But the lesson is quite clear. The current government feel at ease with banning anyone from entry into this country on arbitrary grounds, not least if they hope to gain a political advantage from it.
They evidently grant little value to the idea of freedom of expression, if any at all.

Best yet, even an invite by UK parliamentarians is not sufficient cover for someone who holds views of which the Home Secretary disapproves to be permitted to set foot on this island.

It is really little wonder why the former head of MI5 has warned that we are heading toward a police state...

16/02/09
Well, it's been a busy time in in the land of the Angles. Of course we've had plenty of column space dedicated to the evil bankers by journalists who don't know diddlysquat about banking.
Naturally the politicians piled in too. Especially those politicians who are part responsible for the credit crunch mess we're in.

So we were witness to the national indignity of two ex board chairmen and to ex CEOs of national banks being hauled over the coals by the parliamentary treasury select committee last week.
Frankly, it made you cringe. First off we had four bankers who'd all been on multimillion pound salary and bonus schemes who'd utterly screwed up their companies. From what I understand two (possibly three of them) weren't actually proper bankers one had been head-hunted to run HBOS after having run a part of the company at the ASDA supermarket chain.
In short, they cut pretty ridiculous figures.

But worse by far was the committee. They were a seething, broiling cauldron of hate, spitting bile at these four souls. They had failed, they were told. Were they not ashamed of themselves. What ever had happened to proper banking, like that conducted by the fictional figure Captain Mainwaring in an old BBC sitcom (set in the second word war!)?

Here were parliamentary buffoons crowing at the downfall of four high-flying bankers.
The frustrations of long-standing envy were released spectacularly. After all, why should bankers earn more than MPs, know what I mean?
It was embarrassing to watch. Best of all was the Labour chairman of the committee who sounded like some former union shop steward who'd worked his way up the Labour party ranks and had now secured himself this cushy job. He sounded like a cross between Karl Marx and Alf Garnett, albeit with a Scottish accent.

Was anything constructive asked of these four? Nothing. Here were four people, albeit fairly incompetent ones, who'd been within the eye of the financial storm. Was there any attempt to glean an insight into the nature of the crisis and its details. Not a sausage. One just threw muck.
Better yet, some of this expert MPs displayed unbelievable ignorance at the matter in hand whilst speechifying.

But let's look a little deeper. This committee is to review state finances and the financial sector. It is their job to scrutinize and question. They have privileged access to virtually any expert they choose to hear. Yet what were they doing over the last few years? The banks were by complete incompetents who had the right daddy or otherwise the right connections and they did precisely what? Nothing.
Did they call for better regulation. Did they in fact conclude anything was wrong within the city? Did they question the bonuses in the boards and respective departments which caused a fatal conflict of interest between the enrichment of the individuals involved and the financial risk borne by the company? Did they hell!

This very committee is part of the problem which caused this mess, by not doing its job. The truth is, if those four bankers deserve this ritual public humiliation then so did the members of this fetid committee.

But there we are, with politicians such as these, all interested merely in deflecting blame unto scapegoats and unconcerned with gaining any deeper understanding of the problem where the opportunity arises, what chance of this problem being solved any time soon? None.

There are lessons to be learned. It's clear. But right now all politicians are queuing up telling us how they want to ban bonuses. Something which could do lasting damage to the British financial sector and displays deep ignorance of the workings of the financial system.

Yes, cut bonuses. But only where they involve a conflict of interest which undermines the company's integrity. Otherwise you drive the talent abroad.
Next, how about hiring bankers to run banks? Just an idea. I've never liked the corporate bandwagon whereby managerial talent plays musical chairs, moving from running an oil company to running an airline, to running a banking chain.
The idea that a CEO from a railway company has skills he can apply to running an international re-insurer seems laughable to me.

One of the problems at the heart of the crisis has been that banks heavily invested into asset backed bonds which now have turned 'toxic', i.e. nobody knows what they're worth as they're linked to sub-prime mortgages in the US.
To put it bluntly, the banks got in a mess because they didn't understand what they were investing in.

Could this ever have been a good idea? To a CEO in a bank who'd previously managed a national chain of stores selling shoes perhaps. But I think someone who had learned banking from the ground up might have been a little more cautious.

Now sure, it's also happened to banks not run by people who previously sold Spaghetti, but it would be a start to keep a industry so key to the entire economy run by people who know what banking actually involves...

It is in fact quite urgent that some lessons are learnt. Not merely as the freeze on credits needs unlocking somehow in order not to do for the entire world economy.
But also because, once the globe starts spinning again, there will be still a glut of available Asian capital drawn from surpluses from countries like China which will be looking for a home again. So if we're not careful we'll be re-entering the spiral of cheap loans and sales-driven credit all over again.

Asset-backed bonds need to be given the heave-ho and regulators need to assure that other forms of this suicidal 'investment' don't resurface under some other fancy name. This however will have as a prerequisite that regulators know what they're doing. Which perhaps should preclude clueless, former union workers from running the relevant committees in parliament.

Next the US need to consider what they wish to do with the ratings agencies. After all, it was they who provided the bands which triple A ratings. Again there was a clear conflict of interest. After all, it's the issuer who pays the ratings agency and hence they are keen to please their paying customer. Perhaps those rating companies will need to be nationalised. After all, right now nobody seems to credit their ratings with much credibility. So much so that not even the banks are lending to each other, no matter what their supposed credit rating is officially set at.

So yes, there are a few conclusions which can be drawn, even from a small terrace in Carlisle by a guy who once worked in a bank or two. Just think how much more people could learn who have privileged access to information, economists and various experts.

The problem is we need to rely on politicians. They in turn are all proving to be complete idiots. The deaf are leading the blind. One thus fears where it's all going to lead....

28/01/09
My computer problems are coming to an end. Albeit that I still can't receive email the way I'd like.

Meanwhile of course I feel much safer. The government long awaited 'extreme pornography' law has made it onto the statutes.

What has actually been banned no one knows (not even the Ministry of Justice, as they have in fact confirmed in writing), but Gordon Brown has banned it nonetheless because it's 'abhorrent' and 'has no place in our society today'. Whatever that something may eventually turn out to be.

Well Gordon, if there is really one thing that has no place in our society, it's you.
While the economy is going south and thousands are losing their jobs, what is our 'dear leader' talking about? He's upset that cartoonists portray him as fat.

Is it me? This arsehole (I use the word advisedly.) is presiding over a economic crisis in which thousands are losing their jobs and yet he's worried about his waste in the newspaper cartoons? If this isn't the sign of a moron, I'm not sure what is!

Aside from the fact that this man can't breath and speak at the same time, wants to reduce the British population to a state of cowed obedience and knows about as much of economic matters than a pet budgie, he's also consumed by vanity. Is there no end?

Have I made that clear? I hate Gordon Brown!
To use that quaint Australian phrase; I wouldn't piss on him, if he was on fire.

20/01/09
Weyhey!
President Obama has thus far survived his own inauguration, which I guess is an achievement in itself. That said, as I head him give his speech today I was fairly taken with this man. He has, impressed me ever more increasingly since he achieved his election victory way back when.

What I find amusing was the look of disappointment in the eyes of television pundits at the speech, as they stared forlornly at each other wondering what to make of it.

The speech didn't provide any snappy soundbites which they could pick up and rattle off as 'key points'. So they eventually concluded it was not one of his best.

It seems the press hasn't quite got the measure of Obama yet. They were either hoping for more 'Yes, we can!' slogans or some nifty verbal feel-good footwork on the 'credit crunch'.

Instead Obama used lengthy sentences and big words. More than anything, he spoke of values. This man is a former teacher on constitutional law. To him the constitution matters.

That constitutional idealism is going to be the big theme of his tenure, I believe. Whereas people are looking to him on the economy and foreign policy, I think Obama sees his duty as restoring a political ideal.

In his view it is the ideals of a nation which create the environment in which an economy may prosper and from which political relationships to other nations spring.

In that regard I believe Obama is a purist in political theory, who may therefore often find himself talking past his audience. In fact I did believe – fro what I could discern on a crackling radio at the office, that in the latter half of his inauguration speech he lost his audience.

Obama sees America as a leading light of liberty and justice in the world. But a light that was been sputtering as of late and which may at times have even been extinguished. I believe him to be right on both those points. America leads by example. It sets the standard of best practice in governance. It is, to use common parlance, 'the good guy'.

To most people the torture camp of Guantanamo Bay was an outrage. But what would it and the policies leading up to it be to a man like Obama? When George W Bush decided to deem the security services entitled to cease any person, be he a citizen of the US or not, be he within the territory of the US or not, imprison him ad will and subject him to torture, should the security apparatus saw fit, what would a constitutionalist like Obama make of it?

The cynicism expressed in the policies of Rumsfeld and Cheney must have been anathema to an idealist like Obama. To them extraordinary times justified extraordinary means. To him the very test of a nation's values is when they are put under strain.

I think thus that Obama will be more interested in the spirit by which the country is run, rather than the efficiency of his administration. I believe that may lead to disillusionment. At a time when people are queuing for bread, they may swiftly grow tired of hearing talk of values. That said, I think that what Obama is about is indeed necessary. The political theory others would so readily dismiss is indeed what is at the heart of a great nation such as America.

Pragmatism is a virtue, but only when it is backed by a dogma of sorts. This may sound paradoxical, but consider that torturing your detainees is indeed the ultimate form of pragmatism. After all, you want the information, right? Far better then a regime that is dogmatic about not torturing anybody at all, no matter what the circumstances.

It is in thus that I believe Obama may indeed be showing signs of greatness. If it will prove a greatness that the people appreciate is another matter. But he seems a man interested in restoring the nation's aspiration to an ideal of freedom and liberty.

I wish him well in that endeavour. More so, I hope his example inspires politicians over here, too, to realise that the principles by which you govern say more about you than the results you might seek to achieve.

So, yes, let's have a little theorising about how free we wish to be, how we should question anyone's motives who claims to make us a little safer if only we abandoned a few more of our principles.

Let's see what the future holds. For once we might actually have a good man on the job.

17/01/09
Well, the computer is here.

I've been installing it for some time now.
Trust me folks, it's like having my teeth pulled.
One would think it were easy. Take the programs you have on your old machine and simply install them on your new one. Right? Wrong!

The age old problem of compatibility. It appears that Bill Gate's lot have found no end of means of new quandaries which previously never existed.
Best of all is their creation of a 'Windows Mail' program which no longer does the job the old Windows Outlook Mail program did. Why? Why make software less capable? Who knows. So still some problems to solve...
Adobe Premiere I needed to update in order for it to work. At considerable expense...
Meanwhile Photoshop still wants me to re-register every time I run the program.
My HTML editor has also gone to the wall. It appears I once had a serial number which proved irretrievable. Unwilling to pay a second time for the same product, I hence found myself some freeware which will do the job. That said, it'll take getting used to...
Even my ftp loader needed to be tricked into working with the new operating system.
Well, I'll still need to get this thing bedded down is all I can say.

That said, the machine is running smoothly and the speed is impressive.
So if I manage to stave off the nervous breakdown for a sufficient length of time, I might even get this thing working.

30/12/08
So here I am shopping for a new computer.
Why is it so darn hard?
Why is every plug different now that it’s moved on a few years?
Suddenly I need a DVI-D socket instead of VGA to connect a computer to a screen.
Usually not a problem, but if you’re happy with your screen but simply want a new base unit, this is suddenly an issue.
Sure, it’s easily fixed. But it’s just bloody annoying.

You find yourself having to become an expert on matters you don’t want to know about. Does an old Dell screen work with a new Dell base unit? Better ask. You’d think so. But no. Better ask.
Why? Because you can’t be sure that anything will still be compatible. You can’t assume anything.

How much does a computer cost? For 500-600 you can have a decent one, no? Yes. But…. Ye gods, here we go again.

You can, but we’ve now got Blu-ray as a coming standard. Costs extra though. Windows Vista requires much more RAM, so better have plenty of that. Costs extra.
We’ve just changed to a higher grade cpu (intel’s new i7 rather than quadcore) and a new motherboard with it. Better to have the new standard as most future software will be geared to that. Costs more though.
That setup is for a non raid hard disk. Better have raid 0 as a failsafe (let’s face it it’s the only reason the computer I’m now using is still working!). Costs extra though.
So guess what? We’re soon back to what a computer has always cost, close to 1000.
All the while I’m not even getting one with a screen, in order to save some dough. Well, that’s the hope at least; that I can use my non-widescreen screen and connect it via a simple VGA DVI-D adapter. But let’s not hold our breath.

So why do I need a new machine? Well, my old hard drive is dying. One of the raid 0 disks has gone. It only starts up due to the mirror disk still working. Which is why I’m keen on having another pc with a raid 0 set up.
Generally, my old machine is beginning to struggle. For a guy who likes to play around in Photoshop and Premiere it means I need something with a bit of clout. My applications are getting too demanding for my current hardware.
When you get something new you want something that will last for a while and work with new standards to be a little ‘future proof’.

But it seems in order to do this, you have to be willing to let them skin you alive every time.
Else you get a cheap box which has you back to where you are in a year or two. Ugh.

More fool I, for thinking computing is getting cheaper. Yeah, right!

27/12/08
Can we please have the revolution soon, please?

Really, I can’t stomach much more.

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture has announced he wishes to see the internet censored. All of it.

He wishes to see sites given cinema style age rating certificates and he states, quite categorically, that some content – which is legally out there now - should not be permitted to be online at all.

Now I stress, Mr Burnham is not talking of kiddy porn or such things. That’s already banned. He’s also not talking of preventing kiddies from accessing adult material. No, Burnham is talking of banning access by adults to material for adults.

Eve more worryingly, he wishes to change the laws of libel, making it easier to sue. Britain has the easiest libel laws on the planet already. In fact celebrities tend to travel to Britain to sue international publishers under British law in what is called ‘libel tourism’.

But why bring libel into this, Mr Burnham? After all, libel concerns text, right? So, we’re not only talking porn here, are we? Libel affects the written word, so you’re talking as much about cutting ‘unsuitable’ text from the net, than you are about talking of curtailing porn (so again, back to Lady Chatterley’s Lover, folks). So, has Andy Burnham told us what sort of text he doesn’t want to tolerate online? Has he hell!

But let’s put our minds to what Mr Burnham is saying, shall we?
What age certificate should this site get? Hmmm. If I happen to use the word ‘bloody’ on this blog once in a while, no doubt it would be higher than if I didn’t. What if I used the word ‘fuck’? Oh dear, there I’ve gone and done it… I guess that’s a 16 certificate for me then. Unless I stick some nudity on a page, and then we can make it the full 18.

And if I have those nude people telling dirty jokes about Gordon Brown, then I can get it banned altogether. Welcome to the free world?

Remind me, someone. What exactly did our side seek to win the second world war for?

I suggest Mr Burnham so us all a favour. Either he can go and join the Taliban, who’s ideas of freedom of expression he so evidently agrees with. Or he can broadcast live on the internet while he leaps to his death off Beachy Head. After all, given his current outpourings there’d be quite a few people who’d like to see that.

It is odd how none of this was ever mentioned when they last stood for election, no? I mean, if they are so convinced about the popularity of such ideas, why do they not make them part of their manifesto and call an election?

The best bit about the ridiculous ministerial drivel, is that Burnham is claiming to be approaching the Barack Obama administration to work out a joint approach on this. Now, folks, we all know what George W. Bush and his religious nuts have been like. They tried every angle to censor and curtail adult material online.
Yet even they told the UK government to get lost, when they sought to ‘work together’ on banning what the British administration deemed ‘extreme pornography’.
So what chance could Gordon Brown’s lot possible stand in getting Barrack Obama to join in on a scheme to censor, well, everything? Not a cat in hell’s chance.

They know that. So why announce it?
The entire idea is to not let it seem as though they are alone in this. Whereby of course they are. There are no other countries interested in this.
All are aware that there is a price to pay for freedom of expression. You have to accept all forms of content if you wish to protect every individual’s right to say and express what he wants.

Frankly the existence of some stuff you don’t like (and can ignore at your ease) is a trifling price to pay for the right to say and do what you want.
The sheer breadth and weirdness of some of the porn or other offensive content out there is in fact a measure of how free we are.

Ask yourself what countries are keen to keep their people from seeing those things.

Recently a scandal has brewed up in Denmark where the list of sites blocked by the Danish government has become public knowledge. It has emerged that, far from being entirely child porn, there are sites on that list which are actually perfectly legal under Danish law. Inept reviewing or possible bias has lead to blatantly wrong decisions. It is highly likely that already in the UK a very similar situation exists.

One wonders thus, how much worse it would become if Andy Burnham got his way.

I am in no doubt that this is going to happen. Burnham has been chipping away at this for months now, releasing statement after statement.

Just like the oncoming runaway trains which were the law on ‘extreme porn’ and the attempt at outlawing prostitution, so too this is a moral crusade running utterly out of control. Like a loose cannon it’s careering around the ship of state.

It is unstoppable. Mostly, as no-one is willing to stand in its way.
No cabinet member is willing to ask ‘why do we need this?’.
And no opposition politician is willing to stand up and say, enough is enough. No-one wants to be the immoral libertine who objects to taste and decency.

And so ever more freedoms will disappear in this country because the people’s elected representatives are afraid of being sniggered at. Cowards to a man, they have not got the guts to say what needs saying, namely this:

‘Mr Burnham, fuck off!’

19/12/08
So why do I always get my knickers in a twist when I hear of politicians wanting to ban things to make us all more moral people?

We all know that the world is essentially getting more secular. We are moving away from the religiously inspired moral strictness which was all the rage at the beginning of the last century. In essence we’ve seen a universal trend in that regard, which is really beyond dispute.

Every so and so often, someone scandalized society and a lot of purse lipped naysayers jumped up and down in fury. It always passed and the scandal always became the accepted norm.

Josephine Baker did it in her banana skirt. Remember that? How much of a scandal would it cause today to see a woman dancing in a skirt made of bananas?
Then, picking at random, we had Elvis and his scandalous pelvic movements. Anyone worried by that anymore? Remember the fuss about the ‘long hair’ of the Beatles? What else? Oh, the Sex Pistols and their on-screen swearing and of course their rendition of ‘God save the Queen’. Would anyone give a hoot about this today?

The fact is quite simple. The puritans are always wrong. Yes, I mean it. The moralists are never right. I know this sounds frightfully like dogma. But it is a simple truth. Those who warn of something being abomination always turn out to be holding the wrong end of the stick.

Do you know that Plato already complained about the pornographic realism of Greek sculpture? When you look at ancient Greek sculpture, do you see pornography? Does anyone? Or was the supposed salaciousness in Plato’s mind alone?

Many contemporaries said that Mary Whitehouse had one of the dirtiest minds in the country. Yes, the very same Mary Whitehouse who barged around Britain in the seventies and eighties seeing filth that needed banning everywhere. She saw filth even in innocent children’s programs, demanding they be cut. Clearly the dirt was in her mind, not in the material.

Meanwhile, there is no denying that western society has liberalized beyond belief.
Does anyone care whether a music artist is gay anymore? What once would have been a scandal, now raises not so much as a titter.
The revolution has been immense and it has been entirely benign. People have grown more accepting and are much less likely to be judgmental. Indeed, the world can change to the better sometimes.

Yet what has brought this about? Simple. It was popular culture. The revolution in attitudes came from entertainment. Television, pop music, films, celebrities, soap operas.
Dare I say it, - porn played its part too. Being in fact the inspiration for much music video and movie output and – let’s face it, folks – being the force which built the internet.

But the problem is that the powers that be in the UK have declared war on the phenomenon of secularization. They hate it. At the introduction of several of their laws they spoke of ‘sending a message’ regarding what is acceptable in a society today.
What people are these? They are the same people who’ve always objected. Plato’s friends. They don’t like the sculpture of today, so to speak.

Their methods are the same age-old vandalism such people have always employed. Censorship and wholesale destruction of material of which they do not approve.
If they had their way there would be no girls in hot pants shaking their stuff in rap videos. There would be no Christina Aguilera, no Kylie Minogue, no Madonna. Why? Because these people never stop. Give them an inch and they will take all.

Just like Mary Whitehouse, they just keep seeing filth everywhere. Anything which they don’t ‘get’, will be banned if they have their way. Thus, trying to appease them is futile. They are the Taliban. They are Al Qaeda. There can be no compromise with those who would seek to drive you into the sea.

These forces of doom never cease. As we speak there is an attempt at changing the law in the UK by the Crown Prosecution Service by trying a man for obscenity for something he’s written and published on the internet. The trial is set for March at Newcastle Crown Court. This episode has more than a shade of the trial of the publishers of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. But it’s in 2009!

If they got their way on this, would they stop? Or would they press on? Is there anyone who thinks they would cease?

So hence I get pissed off, when I hear evil little biddies like Harriet Harman start banning things for morality’s sake.
These people are what creationists are to the theory of evolution. They are a retrograde step. They are obsolescence wanting to reaffirm itself over progress. They are the Neanderthals, the inquisition and the bloody Nazis. They are human misery.

This is not to say we should just allow shagging in the street, as the Neanderthals claim my position invariably entails. Elvis didn’t lead to shagging in the street and neither did the Beatles’ hair….
But society must be allowed to evolve towards where the people wish to go – and away from where the Neanderthals wish to keep us at all cost.

Had we listened to these people, there’d be no Greek sculpture, no theory of evolution, no Renaissance, no rock’n’roll, no sex, no jokes, no television. There would be no joy at all, most likely no science and definitely no individuality.

Remember, folks, it was Cromwell and his Puritans who forbade Christmas. (I think it was 1650.) The power of pure evil rests within those who purport to do only good.
Utopia is hell.

So folks, that’s why I get wound up, whenever George Bush Jr prattles on inanely about his Christianity and Harriet Harman tries to close strip clubs.

Just as I don’t want to hear the speeches of Hitler replayed to me again and again, I don’t want to here the latest equivalent drivel either.
The earth is round and someone ought to make them understand that no new laws insisting that it is flat will ever change that.

15/12/08
Would you believe it! A few days ago the Internet Watch Foundation has backed down on Wikipedia.
Why? Well, they don’t quite know. They still think they were right and that a 70s record cover should be illegal, but they’re allowing access to it again anyhow.
They’re a real clever lot, aren’t they?

Do we really think they changed their minds, when they’re still insisting that they were right all along? Of course we don’t. But here’s the rub. Once this news hit the media it became clear that this was now in the public eye. For once this pack of clipboard holders would have to be accountable. This meant that if they banned the image on Wikipedia, they’d also have to ban it on Amazon.com.

People watched with baited breath what the blue pen bearers at the IWF were going to do. Consequently everyone squealed in delight when they apparently decided that the cohorts of barristers that the well-heeled Amazon internet empire could call upon to prevent some censorial upstarts from tampering with access to their site during the Christmas shopping period were too much to take on.

It seems hard to imagine any other reason why the IWF reversed its ban. After all, in their own statement they still insist that they were right all along. Then again, it seems that, even to a censor, there’s nothing quite as terrifying as a pack of lawyers.

08/12/08
Here we go. That stalwart of ‘taste and decency’, ex communist Jack Straw who these days purports to be secretary of state for justice has given an interview to the Daily Mail. Well, he should be at home at the Daily Mail, right? Britain’s most paranoid tabloid which would no doubt wish to see all teenagers muzzled would no doubt welcome a rabid new-born right winger like Mr Straw.

What was it Jack had to say? Human rights have gone too far, that’s what!
You see, the Human Rights Act was introduced by Labour, but merely as a fig leaf. It was designed in such a way as to not inhibit the introduction of law which breached human rights in any way. (It suffices for the government to proclaim that in their opinion a new law does not breach human rights for the conditions to be met.)

However, in a few limited cases human rights have been applied in courts, usually inconveniencing government in the process. So, foreign suspected terrorists can’t be extradited to countries which routinely torture their prisoners. And drug addicted prisoners need to be provided with medical treatment to be helped off drugs in prison. (One cannot simply allow them to go ‘cold turkey’ and see if they make it through alive or not.)

In such cases the Daily Mail has usually performed a vociferous lament, bewailing the good old days when ‘filth’ could be treated any which way one fancied.
It thus is hardly surprising that Straw has now paid a visit to the Mail to announce that he wishes to amend the Human Rights Act. It’s alright to be afforded rights, says Jack, but we also have to have duties and responsibilities.
So we wait with baited breath until ex-comrade Straw announces what ‘duties’ we are all set to have in law.

Please let’s not piss about. These ‘duties and responsibilities’ will be things we must do, by force of law. Any failure to do so will no doubt mean the forfeiture of our human rights. Clever, no? Do as we say, or we’ll be able to do what we want to you – legally.
Of course, the Daily Mail loved it.

I just hope there’s an election some time soon so we can bury this lot. Frankly, they’re evil.

07/12/08

Good news, folks! Wikipedia.com is now censored in Britain.
Yes, I hope you all feel better now.

Apparently, the Internet Watch Foundation (a self-appointed institution of busybodies, set up by ‘the internet industry’ to keep the government off their back (yeah, right!)) has cited Wikipedia for child pornography.

Yes, I had trouble believing it too. Wikipedia supposedly do kiddie porn.
Well, what it really means is that there are a few old album covers on there. One of the sleeves in question is supposed to be the 70s LP cover for ‘Virgin Killer’ by the Scorpions. So fairly mainstream stuff, dare I say.
So it’s not really child porn at all. But it no doubt qualifies for censorship in this day and age of utter paranoia on that subject.
So there, I hope you all feel a lot safer that an old record sleeve by the Scorpions and other such matter can’t be viewed on an internet encyclopaedia anymore. Well, least not in Britain.

Folks, is it me? I feel not the slightest bit safer. Yet I feel incredibly patronized. Let’s face it. This is moronic.
If people at the Internet Watch Foundation really haven’t anything better to do than search for record sleeves online then they must live incredibly busy lives...
Imagine how much more of a pain in the arse this institution is going to become when they are empowered to advise the banning and takedowns of other material relating to ‘extreme pornography’ from January next year.

There can be little doubt that these people are the intellectual brethren of particularly pedantic parking attendants. Meanwhile, Gordon and his moronic cabinet have handed this lot the keys to the internet.
Not much longer and all that will be allowed online in Britain is shopping at Tesco’s.

As though only to further emphasize the way this country is going, today on Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson wanted to demonstrate the smoothness of a ride in a 4x4 over rough terrain by lighting a cigarette while driving, only to remember that he wasn’t permitted to do so as we no longer lived in a free country.

So here we are, at the fag end of 2008. Some jobsworths with clipboards are banning partial access to internet encyclopaedias and tv presenters aren’t permitted to use a car cigarette lighter on a tv show.
There's progress for you.

05/12/08

Rather than write another one for today, here’s one I put on a bulletin board a few weeks ago, shortly after the Obama election. See what you think.

Where America leads, Britain usually follows.

We have just seen a historic election result in the USA. A new generation came out to vote and the most powerful, most influential country on earth has changed fundamentally.
‘Liberal’ suddenly doesn’t seem a dirty word anymore. Not in America. Not today.

Especially the politics of fear will now definitely be coming to an end in the US with the election of Barack Obama. Not for him the stoking of fear to push through a ‘Patriot Act’.
How embarrassing therefore to see Britain’s leaders still mired in policy where they are advocating databases, surveillance and control in order to deal with all the purported dangers, threats and bogeymen out there.

Where America leads, Britain usually follows.

With George Bush Jr running America, Britain followed into disgrace. Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, oppressive legislation, even seeking to police private sexuality.
But what chance now of Britain following a resurgent, liberal United States? Currently on course towards the abyss of a Bush-inspired state of all-pervading surveillance and control, it is hard to imagine an about-turn without complete loss of face.

Barack Obama’s election led to a spontaneous demonstration outside the White House by jubilant democrat supporters. How ironic that such a demonstration at Westminster would be illegal, would lead to immediate arrest, prosecution and placement on the national DNA and fingerprint database for life. Some difference I’d say.

Where America leads the UK usually follows.

With the ascendency of a young, liberal generation in America we will also see the respective loss of influence of the Christian evangelists and their organisation of the ‘Moral Majority’. The US government will no doubt now turn its back on moral pontificating, denial of federal funds to AIDS charities who advocate condom use and federal prosecutors being fired for not being sufficiently zealous attack dogs against the adult industry.

However, here in Britain we are seeing our government speak of ‘moral compasses’, publicly expressing abhorrence at material it dislikes and desiring to legislate against prostitution and other sexual ills of sin and depravity. One might almost think Sarah Palin did get elected – to the UK administration…

Thus, once president elect Obama assumes power I think this government is going to set new standards for the term ‘out of touch’. It is going to be almost comedic to hear Jacqui Smith recite the Bush doctrine of fear over and over again in order to coax us into accepting her biometric ID cards, to hear her speak of databases for all children and to listen to Harriet Harman and Jack Straw demand ever more harsh penalties for the protection of public morals.

Odd to hear many Labour folk claim they were rooting for Obama when it really meant turkeys voting for Christmas.
For Obama’s victory has rendered the Labour government an anachronism of staggering proportion. America has dramatically changed course. Horrible episodes of the past years will be brought to an end.
Freedom will be valued again as it has not been for so many years, not merely as a title for military operations, but as an enduring value, a principle, - a virtue.

Where America leads the UK usually follows.

04/12/08

So here we are. The European Court of Human Rights has told Jacqui Smith and friends at the Home Office to take a hike. Retaining DNA samples and fingerprints of people they know to be innocent it illegal.
17 judges unanimously concluded that the UK government has gone completely off the rails here.

One of the individuals fighting to get his samples off the database had actually been eleven years old at the time of being logged by the police.
He happened to be unfortunate enough to be in the back of a car which the police suspected stolen at the time. It all turned out to be nothing. No crime had been committed. But the check-up resulted in his being deemed a criminal suspect for life.

And the government? They are now reviewing the matter. So not that wholly committed to clearing the innocent off their database then. Even now they’re not willing to admit that they broke the law – better still – they violated human rights.
Supposedly there are 800,000 individuals on there who were never even charged. This figure doesn’t include those who’d been charged, yet who were never convicted of anything.

Perhaps it’s about time we started showing zero tolerance toward politicians breaking human rights over here, instead of listening to them bang on about not tolerating anything from hoodies and the like. Frankly, I’d quite enjoy see Jacqui Smith get prosecuted for insisting on continued violation of the human rights of hundreds of thousands (most likely well over a million) of individuals.

But hey, will it happen? Will it hell.

Jacqui smith coincidentally also features in the other story of the hour. The Damian Green saga continues. First off, I don’t like Damian Green.
Politicians who like to titillate the media with stories on ‘outrages of immigration’ tend to be bottom feeders of the lowest order.

But what he did was perfectly legitimate, in one particular case even highly laudable.
It was he who revealed that the Home Office held data on which MPs were likely to vote for or against the ID card proposals. Now, why would a supposedly non-partisan civil service department wish to store such highly political information?

But when a government is embarrassed like that, what does it do? Usually it just flaps about and perhaps a minister needs to resign. But this government is different. They sent the boys round. Green was raided by anti-terror police and held for hours. Better yet, his parliamentary offices were searched.

There is such a thing as parliamentary immunity.
So how did the police get into parliament? By a series of mere ‘unfortunate misunderstandings’ of course. Meanwhile Jacqui Smith lies blatantly that she knew nothing about it. Today the speaker of the House (also Labour) blamed a functionary for letting the rozzers into parliament to do their search, albeit that it is his actual responsibility for overseeing such access.

It’s really quite clear to everyone what happened. Green has been routinely embarrassing government by handing information to the press which he’d received from a leak at the Home Office. Instead of clearing up their act in order to avoid further scandal government chose to try and intimidate this troublesome MP.

When did they launch their police raid? Why, in the middle of the Mumbai terror attack of course. One recalls the words of the infamous Labour spin doctor who advised that 9/11 was ‘a good day to bury bad news’.

However, it backfired. People are onto them. They are lying, saying they knew nothing about it. It all had nothing to do with them. Everyone knows they are lying. Better still, they know we all know they’re lying. Nonetheless they stick to their story.
As long as nobody admits anything, nobody is forced to resign. Meanwhile, if they grin and bear it for long enough, just lying continually, then it’s only a matter of time before events draw the media’s attentions elsewhere.

So nothing will change. No heads will roll. This, despite this having potentially more scandal to it than the infamous Profumo affair.

So we now live in an age where the government can intimidate MPs at will, sending the terror police round to bash down their doors. Should the proverbial then hit the fan, they merely need to hold their breath for long enough for the media to move on.

And if they can do this to members of parliament with impunity, what chance do we stand?

03/12/08

Is there actually anything sensible the current UK government are doing these days? I struggle to find a single policy I agree with – and I voted for them!
I will however, never vote for them again.

Then again, I recall saying that about the Tories in ’97. Yet now it looks as though I’ll be voting for them. Not because I have any great faith in Cameron and Osborne. Frankly, I think they’re two upper class twits who’ll soon fall into the same Tory pattern and whose policies will soon resemble that of John Major.

But I‘ll vote for them because any consideration of another five years of Labour is abomination to me. If they get that time, we won’t even be able to sell the island to the highest bidder. Nobody will want it.
It will be like Guantanamo Bay, just without the charm…
Exaggeration? I don’t think so. Just look at today’s Queen’s Speech: an endless list of drivel and utter bollocks. Of course there was yet another Crime Bill, to add to the 3,500 new offences created so far by this administration.

They want to outlaw prostitution by the back door. If a prostitute is ‘controlled for gain’ then any customer of hers is culpable, can be arrested, fined and placed on the sex offenders register. How the customer is supposed to know of her status is unknown. He simply has to. Even if he asked and she lied, he is still culpable. ‘Ignorance is no defence,’ Harriet Harman proudly proclaimed.
What is ‘controlled for gain’? No-one knows. The government publically speaks of trafficked woman and such controlled by pimps. But some politicians have also mentioned those feeding a drug habit. The solicitor general says they believe it will cover 90% of all prostitutes. So let’s take their word for it. They’re seeking to ban it.
Where Moses failed, Gordon will succeed. Yeah right!

When I wrote to one Eric Martlew, my local Labour MP, about this, concluding it was clearly idiotic, he complained back, objecting to my objection. Note; he didn’t actually seek to defend the policy. He just didn’t like my criticising it.

Here is of course one more bonus of seeing the Tories win next time around. It might do us the favour of seeing Eric Martlew thrown out on his backside. I’ve met him. I find him thoroughly odious. I’m sure the feeling’s mutual. After all, he does call me an ‘extreme libertarian’.

The sexual prudery doesn’t end there. Lap dancing clubs are to be reclassified as ‘sexual encounters establishments’. Why? So they can be denied planning application more easily. Wonderful, isn’t it?

But hey, it’s not all bad news, right? After all Jack Straw and Gordon Brown made a lot of play over the last few months about wanting to introduce a Bill of Rights, no? Ah well, that’s been shelved. It appears we don’t need rights after all. Guess I was proved right again, when I said they never intended this as it was counter to everything else they are doing.

Meanwhile the horrible powers police enjoy already, enabling them to seize assets, they’re to be expanded. This of course will make them even more trigger happy with those powers. But hey, I think we can see why we don’t need rights…

Oh and the defence of provocation is to be removed from law. Harriet Harman again decided that not enough people were being locked up for long enough. Oh, how I hate that woman.

Last I heard we were at 83,500 prisoners in the country. We’re building our way towards about 95,000 prison places. At the speed we’re going they’ll be full by the time they’re constructed. Quite a legacy so far to have increased the prison population from the 55,000 it was roughly at when the joint right wing menaces of Anne Widdecombe and Michael Howard were in charge of law and order, only eleven years ago. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

29/11/08

So, so. We’re dealing with ever more ‘sophisticated Mujahedin we’re told. After all, the terror assault on Mumbai (which let’s face it is Bombay to most of us) apparently proves this categorically. Does it?

Who’s telling us this is so sophisticated? A bunch of men with just about the lowest tech gear around – an AK47 each - take to a city and run into a few hotels?
Let’s face it, any moron could do it. There is nothing sophisticated about this sort of thing. It would take about two hours to give them a good understanding of the weapon. Other than that what would they need? Street maps and watches? Wow! How sophisticated!

Folks, who’s calling these guys sophisticated? It’s the people who’d like to have us think that we’ve got this breed of super terrorists out there, whom we need protecting from – at the expense of all our rights and liberties, of course.

Meanwhile being told how damn sophisticated they are, is music to these people’s ears. Every time some barely literate terror cell member turns on the telly he’s being told what a bloody evil genius he is and how afraid we all ought to be of him.

The fact is that the very reason terror attacks, such as the one in Mumbai, are successful is because they are pretty unsophisticated. They are simple.
They do not succeed due to brilliant plans by a mastermind being put into action by highly trained individuals.

The mastermind is most likely a psychotic living in some Pakistani cave and the terrorists are individuals who have so screwed up their lives that they firmly believe that their chances of reaching paradise are zilch – unless they blow something up and become martyrs. Terrorism is a modern form of ‘religious indulgences’.
Yes, it doesn’t matter if you’re a paedophile. Here’s an explosives belt. Blow up a bus and all is forgiven.

The fact is that’s how it works. Terrorists are pathetic losers who somehow believe they can blame the West for not finding a girlfriend (in a society of arranged marriages!).

Sophisticated? I don’t think so…

27/11/08

Today the weirdness that is our Labour government spilled over into TV comedy.
One of the Milliband brothers (I cannot keep them apart. They’re the political Ant and Dec!) featured on BBC’s Question Time program. In it he tried in vain to justify Labour’s idiotic proposed legislation on prostitution.
The laughter his attempt at explaining how customers ought to be legally culpable if their lady of the night was employed for someone else’s gain was unanimous.
The entire studio audience laughed out loud as a minister sat there trying to explain the impossible. I guess we can see where their credibility is right now…
After years of trying the government have finally succeeded in making the law an ass.
Public disrespect or disdain for the law is one thing, but ridicule is fatal.

That said, the day ain’t over yet. Just watched the BBC’s ‘This Week’.
It appears Damian Green MP has been arrested tonight, by eight or nine anti-terrorist police. His crime? Having received leaks from a Home Office public servant and having passed some of it onto to the media.

Apparently this was not ‘sensitive information, but stuff which embarrassed the government. (figures on illegal immigrants, etc)
Even Labour’s Dianne Abbott (whom I famously can’t stand!) agreed that Green’s actions had been entirely in the public interest.
But there you go. Even if you’re an MP, if you do something to embarrass the government, they’ll send the anti-terror police round.
All on the program agreed (once again, including Labour’s own Abbott), that this sort of thing doesn’t happen without political say so. The police would never arrest a member of parliament without political cover.
So here we are. Welcome to ‘New Britain’.
People like me have warning for ages about the relentless and deliberate erosion of civil liberties in this country. Now they’re even arresting MPs for being awkward.
I guess George Galloway must be pretty glad that the Iraq War’s over these day. Who knows, what else they might otherwise get up to…

26/11/08

Well, it’s about time I got a new site going.
It’s been an awful long time since I did anything to the last one.
Welcome speak of the web 2.0. So I guess this is my site to go with it.
The old version was looking terribly dated.
I think it was something like eight or nine years old, which on the net is the equivalent of BC.

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