Friday, 12 December 2008


Wah wah companies are evil because you have to write them a letter to complain why can't they take emails letters are so hard to write the bastards. Supermarkets sell things too cheap!

We need change! Change so that supermarkets can't sell stuff so cheap! Change so that internet retailers have to receive endless, mindless email complaints! No! Come back! This stuff is, like, important!

Oh, wait.

It's not that I don't agree with this stuff, but c'mon, there's surely a better platform to stand on than "evil businesses are evil"?

Friday, 5 December 2008


Question: how much did the Audit Commission spend on this, do you think?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


It's trivially obvious that the major Western car manufacturers are crippled by unions, overproducing and horrendously inefficient. Isn't it time they were allowed to fail, instead of propping them up like the banks?

Toyota isn't asking for any government handouts, I notice...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

No friends

Not making any friends here, but, hello: you're the problem. No-one, presented with the information about the dangers of smoking and taking a rational decision would say "uh, yeah, give me some of that emphysema, I really want a mild buzz and a desperate craving for an expensive habit that doesn't only kill me in a variety of creatively painful ways, it at best makes me smell awful and at worst kills the people around me too. Yes, let me sign right on that dotted line". No-one.

If you're a smoker, it's probably because you started as a kid because you thought it was cool (or at least grown-up) and you weren't really adult enough to make the decision, or if not, then at least because someone else you know smokes and you got peer-pressured into it, or got a bit drunk and decided to have a couple of fags since they were going. And then y'all got addicted. For life.

Honestly, if you want to sling a bunch of money into HMG's coffers and then die early before you need 30 years of respite care, go ahead, I don't give a toss, but it's purely because YOU smoke that other people start. If no-one smoked in the UK, and knowing what we know about it now, no-one would start because it's so retarded. That's why I'm angry, and that's why I'm happy that smoking is stigmatized as a filthy habit.

Kill yourself, I don't give a fuck. But don't take anyone else with you.

No smoke

Dear Smokers,

You're a bunch of fucking idiots. By banning smoking we're trying to help you break your addiction to a drug that kills 30-50% of people who use it. Stop whining.


Or, in a longer form:

OMG SMOKERS NOW STAY AT HOME AND DON'T CREATE JOBS IN PUBS - well, jobs aren't intrinsically valuable, are they? I mean, no-one actually wants a job, right? That's why it's called "work". If people wanted to do it, it would be called "fun" and they wouldn't pay you to do it.

No-one complains now about how we're not all subsistence farmers doing 12-hour days of backbreaking labour to put food on the table, instead we rejoice that automation has saved people from a life of drudgery.

OMG SMOKERS BUY CHEAP BEER FROM THE SUPERMARKETS - how terrible. You mean they're getting a substitute product for substantially less money? Well, that's good. Efficient. It means that they can spend the fucking money they saved on something else, like a Sky subscription or a flatscreen TV. Guess what? That's keeping people in jobs, innit?

OMG BANNING SMOKING STOPS ME DOING WHAT I WANT - what you want is idiotic. Stop it. Look, if you must be physiologically addicted to a drug, at least try something that's a bit less crap than nicotine. At least coke gives you a rush!

OMG BAR STAFF SIGN UP FOR PASSIVE SMOKING - fuck off. Who checks the box that says "yes please, I'd like an early death due to other people who can't stop themselves being disgusting"? It might come as news to you but bar staff make minimum wage. How many of them actually have a real choice, between "taking this job and feeding my kids" and "not", hmm?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Chandila's first email to the party is knacker-kickingly awful. I sympathize with the guy, who is clearly trying to shake things up, but someone who is leading on rebranding the party who can't even get his headings the same colour is clearly not the person for the job.

The text itself is not very high quality, the sentence structure and punctuation is odd at the best of times. Basically Chandila comes off as an Apprentice runner-up, and I don't mean that in a nice way. Sorry mate, I think you raise some valid points and hopefully these will be taken up by the membership, but you don't strike me as smart enough to actually do the job of president.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


First in an occasional series (knowing me, *very* occasional) tracking once-good phrases as they are abused in modern language.

Today Nick Clegg said that "We are in the eye of an economic storm".

The eye of a storm features mostly calm weather, as any fool knows. I don't think the Dow sliding 5% and the FTSE circling 4800 really counts as "calm", more like "terrifying". Even if you don't believe in the "financial crisis" it must still be at least "a bit worrying".

See also "more heat than light", desperately overused by Lib Dem bloggers this year. Anyone have any other nominations?

Friday, 29 August 2008


If the Americans vote in the young black guy then they will quickly have an old white guy in the Oval Office anyway, after he gets assassinated - and if they vote in the old white guy they're gonna get his VP in short order after he has a heart attack or cancer or whatever... so I really hope that McCain picks Rice or Powell as VP to complete the circle!

UPDATE: McCain has picked a woman, at least, so vote McCain if you want someone from a large disenfranchised section of society to get into power!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Hard choices

I'm glad that the BBC have an editors' blog - it makes it possible to ridicule cretins who believe that the Olympic opening ceremony is more important than Russia invading Georgia. Comment #2 is spot on.


I bet Gordon Brown is kicking himself for not going to the opening of the Olympics. They looked fucking awesome on the telly!

Sunday, 3 August 2008


Dear Gordon Brown,

You have two ways of escape:

(1a. Call leadership election. Stand. Squash opponents.
(1b. Sack all detractors in cabinet.
(1c. Solve 10p rate mess by jacking up personal allowance by £2k.
(1d. Start proposing more actually sensible laws that benefit lots of people instead of obsessing over terrorism and knife crime.


(2. Run away.


Saturday, 2 August 2008


New name, new look. Taken from the Justin Currie song "no surrender", which I urge you to hunt down.

Actual content will come later. Maybe :P

(Attribution: background picture from flickr, by Abduraman)

Thursday, 31 July 2008


It appears that British Gas are making a 4.3% operating profit. Oh noes!


Government agency sees sense on drugs: enforcement isn't working. It infuriates me that the only reason - the ONLY reason - why we are not taking a far more effective stance on drugs both nationally and globally is that it is politically dangerous to do so, simply because the average person's kneejerk reaction is "drugs are bad". It's pathetic, and people should grow up and stop reading tabloids. Grrrr.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

(float) ((int) egalitarianism)

So I've been reading Recasting Egalitarianism, one of the Real Utopias Project books, over the last few days. It's pretty interesting, although I buy the central premise - redestribution of assets rather than income as an egalitarian exercise that can be done without compromising economic efficiency - rather less than the premise of Redesigning Distribution, though the premise of that is the notion of a basic income scheme being A Good Thing.

Anyway, in a nutshell the authors are effectively proposing proper incentive alignment under the cover of egalitarianism. For example: tenants have no stake in the value of the properties they rent, and thus they will depreciate that asset faster than if they were the owners themselves. Another example: workers who work for the man have no incentive to maximise their own productivity because they will ultimately not be the big winners. In both of these cases, realigning incentives (by creating housing cooperatives and worker cooperatives) is not only redistributive but also has the power to actually increase productivity.

So, my question to you, dear lone reader, is how does one get from our current position to a position where housing cooperatives replace landlords? Is this viable? Is it even desirable? I feel another post coming on... later!

Monday, 16 June 2008


As of May 3, 139 soldiers, 25 Marines and seven sailors have killed themselves in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, according to Pentagon data.

Can we leave now?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Congrats to Parliament for doing the right thing on HFE. NB. Cameron voted for a cut in the abortion limit, despite no evidence showing that 22-24 week foetuses were more viable now than before. Cretin.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


I've submitted a couple of FoI requests to the home office for their data on the public consultation run before Christmas, but I suspect that my emails are being handily blocked by their mail server. Anyone else feel like dropping an email to asking for both the raw data and any statistical or summary information compiled relating to Question 39a and b on the consultation? Here's the email I wrote:


I note that the IPSOS/Mori report on the Home Office drugs consultation of late last year has now been issued, minus the section on cannabis reclassification, which is due to be published later. I would like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the full anonymized survey answers to Questions 39(a) and 39(b) of the "Our Community, Your Say" consultation along with any summary information that IPSOS/Mori or the Home Office has compiled based on these survey answers.

Thank you.

If you write in and get a reply, even a read receipt, I'd love to know.

Saturday, 26 April 2008


Soooooo, let's say you're a right-of-centre political party currently without any MPs, but a fair number of council- and Euro-level representatives. You are offered the services of a science-hating, racist, money-grubbing, gay-hating, Iraq-war-supporting defector who had previously been elected under both old Labour and new Tory banners to be your one and only MP, garnering a large amount of publicity for your organization, probably showing it in a rather poor light, and almost certainly convincing several people of your party's essential barminess.

What would you do?

(a. accept the services of the slimy spineless toad, compromising any principles you ever had in order to get a single, useless seat in the legislature...
(b. refuse politely and suggest he might prefer to switch to the BNP...
(c. beat him repeatedly around the face and neck into unconsciousness with his own shoes?

We report! You decide!


Spotted on CiF:
if you can still bring yourself to vote Labour after they've stolen from the poorest workers, lost your children's personal data, assaulted habeas corpus and the right to walk the streets without carrying a card like a criminal, left a million schoolchildren without even a single one of the devalued GCSEs to their name, wasted billions on the Olympics, borrowed in the good times with no thought for the coming downturn - then, frankly, you should be shot.
Great stuff.


Labour backbenchers last night convinced the government not to go out and just start punching poor people in the face.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


This is probably the slickest party political video I've seen this side of the pond:

I might not agree with everything they say, but it is very, very well produced.

(ps. can you see my google ads? I can't, but I think they do that on purpose)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Four ideas for better democracy

For every parliamentary candidate:

1. Criminal records indicated on the ballot paper.

2. Full CV and two references posted online for all to see.

3. Set your required salary (inc expenses) on the ballot paper.

4. Politics 101 test score also on the ballot paper (testing eg. stats, political history & philosophy, comprehension)

And that's just with the current system. Don't even get me started on electoral reform...

War On Progress

What annoys me most about the term "progressive" is that it only every seems to be used by lefties who think that the left has a monopoly on "progress", whatever that is. A lot of people think that Thatcher made a lot of "progress" by crushing the trade unions in the 80's, but does she get the "progressive" mantle? Of course not - progressivism is only for elitist left-wingers who think that their vision is the one and only true one. Just fuck off, m'kay? If you want to say that you are an environmentalist feminist multiculturalist left-leaning liberal, then don't try and appropriate a word that connotes "good". It's like the whole mess of the "decent left" all over again.

What progressivism really reminds me of is the wanky non-speak of the Transition Towns movement that seems to use an awful lot of words to mean not very much at all.

ps. no post on progress can go without mention of Daniel Davies superb "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There": the great thing about the status quo is that it is no worse than the status quo.


My local Sainsburys (and if you know Bath, you know it's not a big one by any means) devotes an entire frozen aisle to selling chips. It sells 26 varieties of frozen chips. TWENTY SIX! Twenty six products that are, at base, potatoes sliced into a particular shape. Furthermore, of those 26, many are simply duplicates by a different brand - so there is McCain's straight-cut oven chips and own brand straight-cut oven chips, which are different in price by pennies.

What I find most frustrating about this explosion of choice in the supermarket is that they still never manage to have exactly what you wanted in the first place. I wouldn't mind approaching-infinite choice if it meant that I could have the huge fat fluffy chips that the pub down the road from my old job did, but you don't get that - you always get a sub-par substitute. What's the point? If you're not going to get exactly what you want, they might as well pile it high and sell it cheap.

I like Marks & Spencer, because it knows that it is catering to a very specific market, and so doesn't need to offer ten different kinds of each product in order to target the wallet size of every customer shopping, and can just get on with selling one kind of each thing. Thus it manages to offer 75%+ of the products of Sainsburys in less than 25% of the floorspace. Of course, I realize that I'm paying for the privilege of less choice, which is barmy in its own special way.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Friday, 11 April 2008


If you don't read Fafblog, then you should.

So for the last five years all the liberals and the hippies and the nattering nabobs of normalcy have been coming up to Giblets and going "Was the war a mistake Giblets?" and "Are we losing the war Giblets?" and "Oh look at all the dead people Giblets, maybe we should stop the war." And the correct answers to these questions have been "Shut up," "Shut up you traitor," and "We'd be winning already if you'd just shut up."

It's great. Scroll down to Now They Hate Us With Our Freedom, too.

Thursday, 10 April 2008


The Independent today announced the 80p Euro on its front cover with a huge splash story. However, the paper itself was priced in the top-right corner "80p / E1.10". Doh.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Gordon Brown thinks smoking pot is worse than raping someone

The maximum penalty for possession of cannabis is five years. Considering that dealing is a separate offence (and, I think, you get automatically upgraded to dealing if you're holding a certain amount - anyone know if this is true?), that means you can do five years in jail for carrying a single person's supply of cannabis. What's that - a half?

The maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment - however, the average sentence seems to be about four years.

That means that, according to one person at least, holding a few spliffs' worth of pot is worse than the typical rape.

Great moral compass, eh?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Tom Watson MP: Liar

I don't normally link to Guido, but Tom Watson's return to government when he previously promised not to make one is worth pointing out.

Tom Watson MP: Liar.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Good to see that the government is holding all public servants to below-inflation pay rises this year...

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Story Writes Itself

Whose figures should we believe for the march this time? The police's figure of 22500 protesters or, er...

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


Blogging in support of Justin, here.

Ideology aside, if most people want to have their organs donated after they die, then we should have an opt-out system out of simplicity. Even with some very strong protections (ie. all it takes is a word from next-of-kin to prevent donation) the number of donations would increase substantially.

And if you opt out of allowing your organs to be donated, I think that it's only fair that you opt out of receiving organ donations from others.

Another Mystery

A single Milky Way costs 20p in the local corner store.

A twin pack costs 47p.

This seems to have been the case since records began. Why?

Sunday, 13 January 2008

National Debates

Is anyone else sick of politicians saying they want a "national debate" on a topic? This is not the most egregious by any means, but it's a stock phrase that is really starting to get to me. We employ politicians to have those national debates. The only other place we get them is the ill-informed and ready-biased mainstream media, which does not represent true public opinion at all. If politicians are so enamoured of the notion of a national debate, then they should put forward a framework for having national debates, culminating in a referendum so that the public can decide on the true outcome of the debate.

Second, to anyone accusing anyone of "generating more heat than light": oh, fuck off. Get a new phrase.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Rise of the Robots

A friend pointed me at a short story a while ago describing the rise of AI and robotization in two countries, the USA and Australia. In the USA, the robots forced everyone to work in shittier and shittier jobs, finally replacing the automaton-like humans at the bottom with robots, and tossing all of the poor people into, effectively, a prison.

In Australia, the robots were harnessed for good - every person was freed from having to work, because each person was awarded enough energy credits to buy enough food, shelter and warmth to live comfortably. Thus, people devoted their time to arts, philosophy, games, etc.

Now, I don't believe that either country would exactly end up like that, but it did prompt me to think, in the wake of people demanding that layabouts get jobs, that surely we already have the technical ability now to 99%+ automate the production of all food, clothes, houses and so on. We could live in such a society as the neo-Australian one, in which everyone gets enough to survive on, and spends their excess energy credits on fun things, or on entreprenurial activities that people would pay them energy credits for, aside from a small group of people engaged in the machinery of keeping everyone alive, of course.

Of course, it's probably not politically feasible. But I always think of this, now, when people suggest that the non-workers should get off their arses and get jobs - because the jobs that they can get are probably crappy minimum wage jobs that no-one wants to spend their life doing, and I think that it's pretty inhuman that the only reason that they are doing them is because it hasn't yet become cheap enough to replace them with robots.


People are moaning about ticket resellers again, to which I have to say: naff off, it's the sodding market at work. If artists wanted to make more money from their tickets then guess what? They should charge more in the first place. The problem is that most ticketing systems charge a flat rate to everyone on a first-come first-served basis, whereas there are some people who would be happy to pay more for those tickets, but don't win the time-based lottery, and thus will pay more than the face value of the ticket.

This incentivizes people to buy up what they view as underpriced tickets from the vendors and resell them at the price that the punters are willing to pay.

Clearly, the solution is for vendors to adopt a smarter approach to ticket prices, perhaps in the style of EasyJet, in which tickets bought early go for cheap, and the price increases as demand increases, and offer almost-at-cost buybacks if cancelled far enough in advance.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


I've seen yet another person proposing that people be forced to work in order to collect benefits. Oh, and this chap too, more worryingly.

Question - is the work that benefits-seekers are to be drafted into going to pay them the minimum wage? It doesn't seem so, since net benefits (for a single adult) don't add up to the same as the minimum wage. If that's the case, surely by forced labour one is essentially supplying a huge pool of labour who can (unwillingly) give their labour for less than the cost of a regular worker. If that's the case, won't that destroy minimum-wage jobs, as companies queue around the block to get their hands on the cheap slaves? And then they start shedding their existing minimum-wage staff back into the unemployment pool, and "rehiring" them as forced-workers, until there are no minimum-wage jobs left?

Another question - would you really want someone working for you who had effectively been forced into the job? I mean, I realize that a lot of people work in jobs that they don't like, and often it will be because they have little alternative, but isn't there a quantifiable difference between taking a job because it's the only one going that will pay the bills, and taking a job because if you don't, the government will force you onto the streets as a homeless person?

Third question - what would a government do with the heap of discarded people from this ludicrous policy who were homeless and wandering the streets? Existing charities would be stretched to breaking point.

So yeah - forced labour: it may sound seductive on the surface, but seriously, it's a stupid idea.


I'm pretty proud of that one. Thanks.

Before Christmas (topical blog, this) we had Harriet Harman claiming that we need to make prostitution illegal in order to protect trafficked sex slaves. This week, Fiona McTaggart attempts to make a feminist case for making buying sex illegal (and is thoroughly thrashed in the comments for doing so).

What I don't really understand is the mindset that prostitution is bad per se and thus should be criminalized. Of course there is a lot of danger and misery surrounding prostitution in this country and most (if not all) others, but it is not the act of exchanging money for sexual favours which is at the root of the problem. The illegality of doing so is what has led to a lot of the problems associated with prostitution.

Harriet Harman is being utterly cretinous when she asks "can we really stop [the sex slavery] trade when we've still got a lawful sex trade going on?". Can you imagine how hard it would be for government outreach workers to even find native prostitutes if all prostitution became illegal?

Legalizing prostitution and licensing (aha, the penny drops!) brothels would allow us to solve many of the problems that prostitutes face, including slave trafficking. Prostitutes could have a shagging licence (sorry) that would require regular STD checks, and punters would be able to look up the licence number by text message, receiving a photo of the prostitute and STD safety report by return MMS. This also ensures that unlicenced sex workers were not working (hence eliminating trafficked sex slaves), providing that engaging the services of an unlicenced sex worker became illegal. Brothels themselves could be regulated by a similar system, featuring a licence number that could be checked up by punters that would give the address of the licenced premises and perhaps a picture of the outside of the building, too.

This way, everyone has an incentive to play things straight - sex workers get the security of legal premises and can report abuse to the police with no fear of legal action to themselves. They are also easier targets for eg. drug rehabilitation programs since their working locations would be known, and punters would know that they had less chance of contracting an STD. Of course, I expect that the average price of sex services would increase, since the increase in regulation would impose significant operating costs on a sex business, but I can't imagine many punters choosing to use an illegal, unlicenced sex worker when the legal option was available.

Finally, and something I hadn't even considered, Mark Wadsworth points out very astutely that once a prostitute has an offence relating to prostitution on hir criminal record, it becomes very difficult indeed to get other work.