THE FORESIGHT ARCHIVES

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Visually challenged government and governed: the story so far


For the curtain-twitchers shall inherit the earth

Try as one might, there are some folks who will just never reach that stage of joining up the dots and saying, "Ooo look - it's a bear-trap, and we're heading right for it".

We have quite a few friends like this. They thought Tony Blair a safe pair of hands. Miss trains a lot. Overspend their credit cards. Get muddled about why their breathing, farting lifestyle is more important than the odd aeroplane flight. And so forth.

Last week, we were at supper when a Bright Young Thing treated us all to her enthusiastic approval of folks snitching on their neighbours about what were 'obviously' acts of perversion going on in that next-door household.

For once, I didn't let rip. I suspect this is because my long-suffering wife has finally convinced me that those who spout this unsuspecting stuff are merely under-educated rather than nasty. Had I been across the table from Lord Mandelson or Boris Johnson, it would've been different.

Snitchers are the Next Big Thing in Cruel Britannia. So far, I have come across three cases of these curtain-twitching low life telling on neighbours who were recycling incorrectly, or kicking dog-poo into the hedgerows rather than using a designated council-issued pooper-scooper. But other cases are abundant.

The case recounted recently by our own dear Thaddeus about the lollipop-man who hadn't been vetted, and was therefore barred - thanks to a busybody who saw him helping kids across the road near their school. The fact that police forces are now openly encouraging citizens to grass up anyone who tells a homophobic joke. The growing reliance of planning authorities on neighbourly resentment for information about breaches of planning regulations.

This is not the stuff of Daily Mail urban myth. Rather, it's the kind of thing I find myself following up these days....and discovering to my chagrin that it is entirely true. As a result of this, I unearthed a married couple in Plymouth who had lost their kids - because the social services had paid the neighbours to spy on them.

It makes me want to demand a documentary to appear at peak time on every terrestrial channel about the ways in which first Nazi Germany and then Communist East Germany relied upon exactly this kind of information to turn citizen against citizen - and into reliance upon the State for income as a regular spy. In this way was community trust lost...and forced loyalty to the all-powerful State evoked. (If you find this fanciful, rent the marvellous Oscar-winning German movie The lives of others.)

As I wrote at the outset, some people never join up the dots and see where all this is leading. Our nation is going to get poorer and poorer over the next decade - pretty much regardless of what anyone does in the immediate term. In such an environment, snitchers in search of additional income come into their own. Old scores are settled via this method, spite is used to bring good folks down, and weak people used to confirm the fantasies of those in government who are constantly on the lookout for any form of deviation - however harmless.

One last, spectacular example will suffice. A couple of years ago I became personally involved in a case where a group of neighbours had decided to sell wasteland to a developer. One dissenting resident objected and - when overruled - made life a misery for the others with a stream of unfounded accusations about land misuse, broken planning rules, traffic violations, building irregularities and bribery. Imagine what a field-day that old biddy would've had with a local authority's police force desperate for gossip about everything from sexual diversity crime to Islamophobia.

We should all beware of the situation - uncomfortably close now - in which 'good' citizens are defined as those whose tittle-tattle condemns the innocent; and 'bad' citizens become those who shrink from finding such innocents guilty without trial.

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Soft options versus hard reality: how the police have got it wrong

Those of you keeping up with the extraordinary case of Bernadette McManus in Tavistock might be interested to read just one of the many emails nby received after this crazy use of police time was revealed:

'....they [the police] probably went (as they usually do) for the soft cases like the one you highlight of Bernadette Mc Manus - single mum, no hassle from violent father/supporting relatives etc etc....

The correspondent goes on to to quote his relative (a teacher) as saying there are

'....some horrendous cases of child abuse seen from some of his pupils. They willingly stay on after school to avoid for a few hours the abuse they will get at home. So Plymouth CPS/Social Services have a lot to answer for...'

The pursuit of soft options destroys civilised cultures - and nowhere is this more obvious than with the UK police force. To tick boxes and show action, it seems that Devon County Council may well be engaged in reaching their quota of rehomed kids; if so (as the McManus piece suggests) they're getting every cooperation from Devon & Cornwall police.

There is ample evidence that Britain's police prefer charging the easy wins, high-profile 'pc' crimes and non-criminal cases....while neglecting the real threat to society of largely unrestrained lawless activity. And the most recent consumer research supports my position, not police spin.

In April this year, LSE researcher Ben Bradford concluded that

'Falls in public confidence over the last 20 years have been mirrored by growing dissatisfaction with personal contact [between police and public]'

A month later, figures issued by the IPCC showed a record level of complaints about the police, of which just over 25% related to the various forces not doing their job:

'One complaint in every four was for "neglect of duty" which covers officers being slow or ineffective...'

Fascinated by this finding, in September 2009 the BBCNews website instigated a comment thread on people's levels of satisfaction. More than three in five of the commenters expressed mild to great dissatisfaction with police performance, criticising a lack of focus on 'real' crime. The following succinct comment was broadly representative:

'No, they dont need more training, they need a culture change. They have lost the confidence of the public, thats why complaints continue to rise'

But just as our correspondent earlier noted how perhaps in Devon easy cases of abuse (if they indeed represent abuse at all) are followed up in preference to more messy ones, so too the police prosecution of driving/speeding offences nationally demonstrates far more commitment than their approach to crimes against person and property.

Last year (2008) 3.01 million speeding tickets were sent out in England and Wales, this from a total driving population estimated by the National Travel Survey at 34 million. All offences are automatically prosecuted, and (said the Telegraph earlier this year) the average conviction rate is around 80%. Since Labour came to power, the number of speeding tickets issued has exploded to more than five times its 1997 level.

But also in 2008 (says the Home Office) two-thirds of all police authorities reported lower rates of non-motoring crime detection. And while the Government trumpets a 24% rise in burglaries solved, the national rate itself is still below 10%. (Sources in at least one police force insist it is far lower.)

Nine years ago (according to the ONS) almost exactly 50% more robberies were solved versus today. 481,000 violent attacks and 41,000 sex offences went unsolved in 2008 alone. Youth homicide has doubled since 1997. Earlier this year, the Daily Mail noted that people

'...blame the police for being too tied-up in red tape to concentrate on solving crime. They are also forced to focus their efforts on so-called hate-crimes, such as homophobia or racism...'

We're back to Chief Constable Otter and his diversity specialism....in charge of Devon & Cornwall, which has a Caucasian percentage in excess of 94%, and just 2.7% of the UK population recorded as male homosexuals.

It is a strange police culture indeed which thinks tackling those who break speed limits is more important than catching those who break into houses. Cop websites continue to present this as an urban myth, but again the data don't support their view. Last year 1000 UK citizens died in speeding-related offences. This means that just one motoring offence in 3,400 results in a serious crime being committed.

By contrast, all burglaries are serious to a property owner: the loss of sentimental items and the feeling of having one's private space 'raped' are very real traumas. As only burglaries where enough is stolen to warrant reporting get recorded, we must assume that all of these are serious crimes by definition.

But too often, the police response to such data is framed in crypto social worker speak, rather than showing determination to control it. One such recent quote from Association of Police Authorities Chairman Bob Jones reacted to a 25% increase in 'bag-from-car-snatch' crime as follows:

'This is a worrying development, and one which police authorities will want to monitor closely with their forces, so that any correlation with the economic downturn can be established, and effective action taken to tackle this increase'

Why should any potential burglary or mugging victim be remotely interested in a senior policeman's clumsy attempt at cod socio-economics? It is the job, surely, of experienced social scientists and political strategists to assess cause and effect, not policemen.

There is no way one can firmly establish why the police seem to have awarded themselves a radical change in job definition; this would be akin to asking the child molester if he'd stopped having anal sex with minors. But police interviews I have conducted in both a personal and professional capacity over the last three decades lead me to conclude there are four key motivations:

* The desire to avoid controversy, having been demonised by the Left in the 1970s.

* The ambition to achieve promotion via toadying to the pc agenda.

* The chronic need for fine-funding, given successive real budget cuts from central government - despite rapidly rising technology and white-collar crime.

* Being massively distracted by two areas: maintaining public order in the face of poor youth discipline (heavily drink-related) and administration involving bureaucrat-generated paperwork requests.

This is lack of foresight on a grand scale. As a criminal in 2009 - be you banker, technology fraudster, mugger, burglar, car thief, drug dealer or homicidal maniac - you have in most cases far more chance of evading capture than being caught. And even if you are, the shambles which is the judicial system and our prisons will ensure you either never come to trial - or serve very little of your sentence.

They can grumble until the Keystone cops come back into fashion, but the police stand condemned by their own politicking and Home Office statistics. Citizens don't want the thin blue line to behave like third-rate psychiatrists and social workers: they want them to nick villains pour encourager les autres. And theyre right.

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Three in a row and a bonus point for New Labour

Hammering the pensioners. The weekend press were full of speculation about Salvador Darling's imminent assault on pension plans. So then, clearly Ally Doo-L'ally has learned nothing from Gordo's 1998 mistake.

Given that Starling and Broooon are barely on speaking terms these days, it does seem odd that the Chancellor should march so exactly in the footprints of his infamous predecessor. But then, he is but a small-town lawyer-twit and thus unable to grasp that a great many of these deprived folks will fall back on the State.

On the other hand, as this is 103.9% likely to be a Tory State, perhaps I understand at last.....

Cutting the Bobbies. Another of the Zanu-Label money-saving wheezes is to cut local government expenditure by £11billion between now and 2013. By then of course, we'll not only be recycling our own faeces, but also very probably shooting our own burglars.

All of which slots quite neatly into a statistical factoid: that eleven billion quid is almost exactly what the Thin Blue Line costs to keep them in speeding fines and cultural diversity courses across the UK. And in case you hadn't realised,our local taxes pay for them to attend lesbian anti fox-smacking seminars and the like.

My vote goes for abolishing the police. We won't notice any difference....but your average burglar will feel the pinch a bit when Johnny Householder blows his head off during that attempted back door break-in. This must be good news for the judicial system, which could do with some relief.

Playing dominoes in Egypt. I wonder if anyone in the Foreign Office has been keeping an eye on events in Egypt. For increasingly, Mubarak's realm is chucking wrongs at wrongs in the hope of creating a right.

The Brotherhood of Islam (a real movement in Egypt, not me being sarcastic) is making huge gains in elections. Hardly surprising given the level of corruption in the land of the Pharaohs, but the Government is taking the suppression route....as opposed to firing the fat sods who daily give thousands of votes to the nutters.

Do you think a Sisterhood of Islam would represent an oxymoron? Do you think an Egyptian Government will ever represent the People?

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YES, BUT WHO'S GOING TO WIPE THE BOTTOMS?

I note with sadness that 'I wanna be important' has finally infected the RCN. From here on, disaster is inevitable.

For those of you who may have missed it, it's official: all nurses in future will have degrees. They could be given away free with every issue of the COHSE Magazine for all I care: they might as well be, the ownership of a degree being roughly akin to having an O-level in General Studies forty years ago.

While this is really no more than a tributary of the 100%-will-go-to-Uni insanity, it still leaves me breathless with wonder at how those 'in authority' (and how silly that term sounds in 2009) take decisions like these. As you're on this site and gaping at all the other myopia, an enumeration of the reasons why the idea is daft may seem superfluous. But the strange and dark forces once mentioned to me by Her Majesty visit nby these days, so you never know - they might read them and ponder.

1. It will make all existing nurses resentful, and leave them feeling second-class. (Based on the interviews I heard yesterday, it already has)

2. It will restrict the pool available for recruitment - except that, natch, they'll lower the bar to let more in...and standards will fall, and....(see 4,301 other case histories)

3. It misses the point: the key requirement in nursing alongside practical skills is compassion. If there is a correlation between compassion and IQ (or common sense and IQ) I'm unaware of it - although there is a mountain of data suggesting it's inverse.

4. It will cause friction between nurses and doctors - and, from a legal viewpoint, blur the lines of responsibility in cases of malpractice. Ah, the sound of barristers rubbing their hands in the early morning....

5. It will make straightforward medical students think twice about whether they really want to have uppity folks contradicting them all the time; and it will make others think 'Why bother with all this six years crap when I can just do it the easy way?'

6. Everybody will feel far too superior to wipe bottoms, change sanitary towels, bathe sores and a million other unpleasant jobs that only those with a remarkable (and admirable) sense of vocation can stomach day after day. There will be (as we already see with 'graduates') too many chiefs and hardly any indians.

A clue to the thinking behind this move was uttered on Radio 4 yesterday morning when one of The Sisters (political mind, not Ward) rather snottily pointed out "nurses will no longer be simply the handmaidens of doctors". She pronounced 'doctors' as if the word might be interchangeable with gauleiters. Ah right, so that's the agenda then.

One day - and to be honest, I really don't think it's that far off - commentators will look back at the rigid lunacy of affirmative action, universal degrees, polyclinics, Gay Hate Bills and the rest of delusional Wuttism* and ask how on earth any of us allowed it to happen. Well, I've got my answer and you're reading it.

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* WUT is an acronym coined five years ago by nby. It stands for Wishful Unthinking Tendency. The term nebver caught on, a fact probably explained by one simple reality: the world is currently being run by Wuts.

The problem our leaders never foresaw is about to go ballistic. And they still don't get it.

Some thirty years ago I was trying to get a new ad agency off the ground with four partners. As always at this stage of a company's development, new business was paramount. So we were delighted when into our offices walked the marketing director of a large paperware company.

We got the business, and during a celebratory lunch soon afterwards (in those days, lunch was code for 'the rest of the day') the new client explained his view of the future. I can't remember why he chose to do this, although I recall very well thinking 'Oh my God, here we go'. But rather than talking about his vision of paperware in 1990, this chap treated us to a succinct and chilling prediction about expansionist Islam.

We all thought he was off his trolley to be honest. However, almost everything he said has come to pass. After 9/11, I began to take his outlook more seriously; today, I'm convinced he was absolutely right.

Islam's intolerance of other viewpoints is about to go head to head with intolerance of Islam. And this is happening on four fronts.

As we predicted here earlier this year (although far from exclusively) Iran has played the Atomic Energy Commission, the EU, the UN and Uncle Tom whatnot and all along - but in the end, not only told the infidel to stuff it, but also forged ahead with an expansionist uranium enrichment programme. This the Middle East nuclear dimension.

Dubai has as near as damn it reneged on its loan commitment, thus handing the trump cards to neighbouring Abu Dhabi. The latter will now become the dominant partner: and lest you're unsure about it, let me tell you that Abu Dhabi is considerably more Islamist than Dubai. This is the financial dimension.

In Switzerland, a right-wing law has unexpectedly won sweeping approval. It states categorically that no more minarets may be constructed in that country. In France, religious jewellery and burkhas are banned from educational establishments. In the Balkans, old emnities have been open sores for a decade or more. In the UK, research shows an increasing antipathy towards the Muslim minority. This is the Euro-backlash dimension.

And last but not least, among the NATO allies patience with Pakistan's yes-and-no approach to Al Q'eida has finally run out. There's no sign that Obama and Brown understand how stretched Pakistan is already: only signs that while more troops are being committed by these two bewildered men, from the other side of the mouth they talk about disengagement from the conflict. This is the military dimension.

There is also a Chinese/African dimension, but this is (I suspect) further down the road. In the meantime, let's take each aspect of the existing problem in turn.

In Tehran, Ahmadinnejad must know by now that, unlike Hitler, he won't be allowed to keep on pretending what a nice chap he is. Being intelligent but full of himself (and underestimating mixed signals from the West) he may not as yet know that retribution is coming. But there is a more than outside chance he fancies himself in the martyr role - only ultimately, using the nuclear solution to take the impure infidel with him. He must be destabilised and/or removed as a matter of great urgency.

When it comes to Dubai, for once Western business is genuinely between a rock and a hard place: we can't afford - morally or financially - to reward mendacity. But equally, we can't stand by as a rich Islamic State gets even richer by taking over. It goes without saying that - the quarterly results mentality now holding sway among the globalists - we will choose the former, easier way out. But we will be storing up problems for the future in the region: for Abu Dhabi will be more than happy to arm Islamists of every shape and hue.

The European dimension at first sight looks like little more than a long-awaited realisation by the West that (at least on home ground) the age of appeasement must end. It's what follows that worries me. Although I do not doubt that the mad folks would brand nby Islamaphobic, I have no phobia about Islam: rather, I have an awareness of Islam, and where its own blindness will lead. The Islamic reaction to being told they can't have all those religious rights after all will not be temperate - few Muslim reactions ever are. This will hand more votes to the BNP and other Parties of the Euro-Right: but it's what the poor working class will do of their own accord that should concern us.

There is an elitist middle-class Left-leaning view that the downtrodden in society are noble - but stupid, and therefore open to the infernal arguments of those nasty racists. The poor are, in my experience, neither noble nor stupid: they know a threat when they see one, and they will show no mercy to those whom (they already feel) have enjoyed privileges at their expense.

The non-nuclear military dimension is the one that really worries me, because it is the area where we have given the most confusing signals to the Deluded Ones. From applauding televised confessions to emotional incontinence about those who have died, we have looked decadent - and yet at the same time, shown the awesome power of our misguided revenge. To the average Mid-Eastern Muslim, the US/EU/UK alliance probably comes across as a self-obsessed weakling given the power of Armageddon for his birthday by a false prophet. There are few spectres more effective than that at recruiting martyrs.

We in the UK are going to fail this last test, because in the age of easy solutions it seems almost 'a no-brainer' to simply retreat back behind our own borders - where a series of increasingly draconian anti-terrorist laws will remove the very libertarian democracy Islam wants to see the back of anyway.

The most newsworthy of these facets right now is the Dubai thing. If ever there was a situation where denial and lack of foresight clouded the issue for those intimately involved, then this is it. The Financial Times unconsciously gave this away when it wrote on the 27th November:

'As always, the problem in Dubai is that no one had all the facts, and perhaps some in the financial community had made all the wrong assumptions'

Right then, apart from making assumptions based on trusting the innately untrustworthy, where exactly did we go wrong here? In most circumstances it would be truly laughable; but in our current position, it will surely make a final, tragic showdown inevitable.

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13th October 2009

The perpetual surprise of the Planners

I drove from Devon to Hereford last Friday, a journey which is (almost from end to end) dual carriageway and motorway in nature. It consisted (entirely from end to end) of slow-moving traffic, solid weight-of-traffic, diverted traffic, road works, cones and Hereford. Hereford has no autre directions option such as would be standard in France: it is a large and informal car park, from the pavements of which the lucky inhabitants could sell a three-course meal and be sure they'd have to move their stands no more than a few yards to collect the money.

Most UK car journeys are like this today are because:

1. There has never been a coordinated traffic management strategy devolved to local level

2. There has never been a national public transport project whose aim was to keep cars out of towns

3. Nobody thought to send traffic round towns rather than through them

4. Consistent underestimation of future traffic weight by MoT regimes for over sixty years

5. Appalling road quality specifications and workmanship during the 1970s

6. Funds starvation, nimby and muddle about road-building during the 1990s

7. Cheating and corner-cutting by road-building contractors since God was a girl

8. Production-driven car capitalism with no thought given to the social and environmental ramifications

9. No immigration or population controls

10. No traffic-flow 'stagger' schemes ever getting off the drawing board since they were first suggested by Ernie Marples in 1958.

The single most distinguishing facet of Britain's ruling elite these days (after opportunistic greed) is the surprised reaction to the inevitable. Spent too much on IT bollocks and banker demands, and now we're selling the voters into slavery - how the fuck did that happen?

The list above may look like simply a list of zero-foresight, but it's rather more than that. Although the cunning 'foresight saga' title of this column suggests a high degree of enumeration, the 'lack of foresight' explanation is often rather kind to the governmental class: other phrases like 'too smelly for me', 'leave it for the next poor bugger to sort out','do something flashy but irrelevant', 'not an immediate vote-winner' and 'we've overspent on the motorway bus-lanes' would be more accurate.

Politicians and civil servants never grasp nettles. They rarely grasp anything of any importance, but they most certainly don't do nettles, dilemma-solving, tough decisions and unpopularity. All the nasty stuff is left for another day.

Peter Oborne writes convincingly about the new political 'ruling class' these gargoyles have created. But as a rule, this self-styled elite doesn't rule, doesn't obey the rules itself, never uses a ruler where bigoted polemics will suffice, and always rules out the tricky (or expensive) option. A life of public service has become one of self-service, where the deal is 'all you can eat'.

 

4th October 2009

Swopping braindead pc for mindless free-markets

The Camergoon's 'solution' to the cost of Britain's long-term unemployed (LTUs) and more recently tossed-aside victims of mad banking is to involve private companies in getting them jobs....with of course, bonuses for achieving targets. This he revealed briefly to an admiring nation on the Marr Show today - and, in doing so, his inability to learn anything.

The sooner some genuinely commercial people are put in charge of dealing with private sector government contracts (while the berks in Parliament and the Civil Service are kept entirely away from the process) the safer our institutions and tax monies will be.

Poor old Dave, eh? In media and pr for a few years, and then swept into the leadership of a Party desperate to look and sound nice. So not enough time, then, to grasp that one thing and one thing alone matters to commercial concerns in Cool Britannia: profit. Corners they have to cut (and taxpayers they have to cheat) are of no import whatsoever, for the shareholders' greed must be satisfied, and the City given its 25% per annum gross bottom line growth.

Involving the jerry builders in putting up new hospitals brought us Gordon's off-balance sheet private finance initiatives. The brilliant New Labour Third Way re this one saddled the NHS with huge debts and crappy construction quality - while landing you and me with an enormous tax bill the Great Cyclops cannot see, on account of he has, ahem, turned a blind eye to the matter.

Guaranteed What-Will-Happen scenario: Assuming this cunning stunt gets onto the Statute Book, private headhunters will pile in and apply zero thought to long-term careers or structural shifts in the nature of employment need. Square pegs will be applied to round holes, and the life quality of clients sacrificed to the only criterion of any relevance: volumes hit, and thus bonuses triggered. What were you before? Diamond polisher? Job here as a shoe-shine boy: take it or I'll tell your social worker.

We have seen clamping and parking fine collection turned into a glorified protection racket. Now we can expect thousands to be blackmailed into taking the wrong job. The result will be even less satisfaction, poorer quality goods, and growth industry needs being neglected.

David, wake up: business today is nasty, brutish, short-termist and crooked. It's the culture, stupid.

 

22nd September 2009

The University of Life

Oh dear, but how New Labour's barminess is coming home to roost in the Education system. While Fat Ed (See Education Balls) drivels on about shooting every third Headmaster wearing glasses (King Herod, eat your heart out) the Further Education mess now represents 140 own goals by the Party supposedly in favour of social justice.

What we face today is the end result of Blairite/Birtist process bollocks: a surreal alternative Universe in which all the aims of genuinely inclusive educational excellence have been swamped by altered pc reality.

Those who think societies are moved forward by pretending that every baby is born with the same IQ must now face the consequences of their insanity. These same maniacs who insisted that everyone would go to University by 2020 gulp in the face of budget realities. The one and only good outcome of the Barmy Banking Baleout could be that Universities might once again become the reserve of those who deserve to be there.

But hark! Is this the sound of yet more mad crowds I hear in the distance, coming ever nearer? My God yes - it is: the cavalcade of clowns now desire that every student must pay still more for the privilege of attending a University, most of whom should never have aspired to in the first place.

Unfair? Consider the facts: in 1965, 185,000 bright kids from every walk of life and social class went to a limited number of very good Universities which were the envy of the world. In 2008, 1.87 million went to a dreck hotch-potch of half-baked former Polytechnics offering degrees in every dumb subject from The Searchers (1963-67) to Pine Needle Studies.

And the result......is that in future only the wealthy kids - thick or clever - will go to University.

Well pardon me for swearing New fucking shithead Labour....but wasn't that the case when your far more worthy ancestors came to power in 1945?

I give up. Please, somebody - anyone - get these wankers into a room and explain how the world works. Explain why University is the b-all and end-all of fuck-all for those who shouldn't go there, why there's nothing demeaning in being a plumber, chippy or retail sales executive, and why not having been to Uni does not a bitter and twisted revolutionary make. Usually, it makes a person with infinitely more common sense than the privileged Oxbridge silk elite busy cocking up every area of our lives. It did not a Nye Bevan make - it made a Harold Wilson. It did not a Major make - it made a Thatcher.

Please can we just play to our strengths, and not the precious gallery in Islington?

OK, here's my two-pennorth: cut the Uni entrances by 80%, and donate the savings to poor, bright kids who will appreciate the three years they would not otherwise have had....by giving them a free three-year grant. Just like my Grammar School generation got - and my brother's did too, after he failed the 11-plus but fought his way through anyway.

The brainless bigotry of the Establishment defies obscenity-free description - for which I apologise. I wouldn't mind if I thought the other lot knew any better: but what can we expect from a thick Etonian toff apart from more irrelevant platitudes about a fairness in which he never partook?

Give me bloody strength.

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17th September 2009

Burnham Bollocks in full swing.

Burnham IVc...'very poor essay, see me'

Andrew Burnham (the latest recipient of the NHS Hospital Pass) has done precisely what you'd expect a New Labour clone to do....move the tables round and ensure zero expenditure.

Problem in NHS: too many GPs of poor quality, not enough specialists, ergo unwritten edict to GPs 'Thou shalt not refer'.

Burnham answer: Thatcher-lite approach of abolishing all GP territories and allowing any patient to go anywhere they like.

When I was young and going to change the world, older folks used to use a cold water bucket which ran 'It's a nice idea in theory, but.....' The Burnham Plan doesn't even pass the theory test: in practice, it will be a disaster that addresses no major problem and causes widespread chaos.

Problems with Burnham Plan:

1. While brainlessly going down the blind alley called 'choice is good' (not a bad idea given the arrogance of many GPs) the key problem - the need for more specialists and quicker referral - is in another labyrinthe somewhere that Bungalow Burnham has yet to even notice, let alone enter.

2. The single most important thing in primary healthcare is records and consultation consistency. The Burnham plan is a stray shell heading with clinical precision for the engine room of that system.

3. Everyone knows who the 'good doctors' are: what happens when their list is full and they can't take anyone else? Andy Pandy is full of the same internal market drivel that's been busy screwing up the NHS for fifteen years. Where no money is being charged for services there cannot be a real market - see page one of Marketing for Half-Baked Bunglers.

4. Is Burnbum really trying to suggest that the answer to a situation of limited healthcare is for some parts of that system to go out of business? In the commercial world, great idea because others will fill the spaces. In the world of universally free healthcare, incredibly dumb idea - because those who might fill in the spaces are halfway through getting a medical degree, the pursuance of which (thanks to more New Labour bullshit) is rapidly bankrupting them and their families.

What in Tarnation Kansas does this man think he's at? 'Clown' gets nowhere near doing him justice. Over-promoted, flatulent booby goes some of the way. But as I'm trying to clean up my act these days, the real word we need in this case will be reserved for the dustbin, into which I just placed my head to have a good scream.

 

13th September 2009

Product placement = TV in the basement. It's odd, is it not, how many facets of our unique national life are being fucked up as a result of lunatic bankers and their craven slavelings, government. The megadebt is about to infect our television content.

In order 'to help commercial television ride the massive fall in advertising earnings' (caused by the culprits named above) product placement is to be allowed across the board.

This is not so much the thin end of the wedge as a fat-head of an idea that can only lead to one thing: braindead plots built around watches, pcs and cars.

Anyone - and I mean anyone - who's seen the way Hollywood movies and US TV has gone knows this is a downgrade waiting to happen.

But when there is institutional incompetence, civilisation disappears. It was true in ancient Greece, and it's just as true in Cruel Britannia.

25th August 2009

How many Brussels sprouts does it take to change a lightbulb? (See The Slog for the punchline) From those wunnerful folks who gave you the biofuels disaster comes something else to get incandescent about: as from effectively now, all 'old-style' lightbulbs are gone, over and kaput - in the light of their carbon output problems.

This operation is about as inverted as upside-down thinking gets. Stopping the use of incandescent lightbulbs is the ecological equivalent of banning the heroin derivative paracetamol. A few facts, maestro please....

* 74% of the UK's electricity generation is thermal - ie, based on fossil fuels and therefore mucky. This sort of power generation doubles the CO2 output. Lighting use is but 8.8% of our domestic electricity consumption. The problem we have (as does most of the rest of the world) is that we have old-style generators and little or no nuclear. The only country in the EU where switching to low-output lighting makes sense is France, which went nuclear when everyone else was going 'uuurrggg' at the thought of it. So thank you for that, Greenpeace.

* The operation in the UK will reduce carbon output by five million tons per annum. Sound a lot? Just one power plant inTaiwan at Lung Ching knocks out over forty million tons a year. It too is mucky one. But not as nasty as the coal-to-liquid relic currently being built by the Shenhua Company in Inner Mongolia, which will pump out over twice as much. If every US household ditched incandescent bulbs, the nation's carbon output would slump by a massive.....three per cent.

* Low-output bulbs take a while to warm up, give out a light found less pleasing than the existing format, generate far less heat and contain more mercury. In non-tropical areas, the increased use of heating to compensate for the heat loss easily wipes out any carbon advantage gained. (This is especially true of office blocks, where overhead lighting is a major heat contributor at present)

Now I'm fully aware of the maxim 'every little helps'. But this is nothing more than a piece of grubby gesture politics allowing business to keep on happily belting out far more significant amounts of carbon on a daily basis. Worse still, it isn't going to help at all in most parts of the world: what would help is to immediately phase out fossil generators and go full-pelt towards nuclear - instead of fannying about with giant propellers all over the place.

But that's a political and economic problem, d'y'see? Because having soaked up the numbers fed to them by the 'Nuclear Power No Thanks' nutters, the blotting paper we call politicians have run out of time. Even worse, having lent the banks thirty-one NHS budgets, they've run out of money too.

We are shooting ourselves in the foot by doing this: we're getting a less effective lighting type with little or no net benefit. Yes but, yes but....pour encourager les autres and all that. In principle I agree, but there are a hundred big-win things we could do right away: better insulated daylight glass in all commercial and public buildings for one. This increases the light available and heats the interior better during winter.

But that gives us a shareholder problem, d'y'see? Ooooh dear, lots of money off the bottom line, oooo noonoonoo. Yet the fact is that most lighting wastage and carbon output occurs in large urban centre office blocks. Next time you fly over the States or London or Paris or Adelaide late at night, look out the window: thousands and thousand of skyscrapers belting out light being used by the sad 5% of employees still at the cutting edge of capitalism.

Now this one is a bit of a corker. Here's what the US Government says about the problem:

‘In the United States, urban buildings account for 70 per cent of electric lighting use and close to 40 percent of total CO2 emissions...(but)....turning these lights off would reduce their CO2 output by only 0.2%'.

Sorry? That is simply statistically impossible. One of those figures must be wrong, because if one shuts down the lighting from, say, ten pm to six am (thereby allowing keen employees in the derestricted job market to work a sixteen-hour day) the lighting use MUST decrease by....er....a third. And at my school, 0.2% was a lot less than a third.

This is the sort of risible nonsense one can get away with if nobody's paying attention. Employees are in offices after 10pm because globalised banking and business demand that they should be. Turning off lights during the night is simply not an option under 24/7 money-making. So best tell a whopper to shut them all up, Hank.

In conclusion, this disgraceful episode demonstrates two things above all. First, unelected bureaucrats not only make huge mistakes, they can still push them onto us (whether we like it or not) by riding a wave of mendacity and obfuscation. This is where the EU is heading, so we better get used to it - or vote UKIP. (I'm not entirely sure which would be worse).

And second - as is so clear now I'm at a loss to understand why people dub it 'conspiracy theory' - governments around the world will do whatever the banking and business community ask of them with barely enough time to draw breath, because their mutual interdependence is utterly addictive and absolutely total.

I have a correspondent-cum-chum who wrote to me recently advising that 'being anti-capitalist isn't going to make a better pint of Guinness'. He's right on the money about that: the only way is to go to Ireland to drink it anyway, but capitalism is the only one of a number of flawed approaches that offers any chance - in the end - of hardly anyone ending up in poor serfdom, and a reasonably high percentage winding up better off. Anyone who doubts that should look at the numbers: between the Roman Empire's collapse and 1789, the world standard of living doubled. Since then, it's multiplied 150 times.

But whatever the neo-liberalists continue to insist, mixed capitalism is far and away the most efficient and equable form of capitalism developed to date. Between 1954 and 1975, the developed world economy grew 130% faster than it has over the last thirty-five years. And while I admit it is tricky getting the mix right without destroying productivity, that period also saw the highest levels of social stability, work satisfaction and 'general happiness'. (Amusingly, the source of all that information is the CIA website)

Given the ecological issues, resource poverty, social problems, climate changes, economic challenges and geopolitical upheaval we face, that we are still going along with all this fat-cat Friedmanite bollocks is hard to credit. And so to inject a little reality, I offer in closing these recently spoken words from Professor Lovelock - a man who (whatever you may think of his current doom-laden pessimism) has been right about climate change more often than all the rest of the confused ecological lobby put together:

" Politicians here and elsewhere must spend more money on dealing with the consequences of climate change, rather than simply concentrating on trying to reduce carbon emissions. We have over-reproduced, and are now engaged in a frantic and futile exercise in damage limitation. All our low-watt light bulbs will do no good, and may aggravate the situation further"

Hear-hear.

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22nd August 2009

Goofy Gordon gags on Gadaffi, and other Stories. I have recently decided that Einstein's expression of infinity was way too small. He explained that once you'd travelled an infinite distance, you would arrive back where you started on the infinite circle; this would take an infinite amount of time.

But you see, Albert Einstein had never met Gordon Brown, the wee third form fattie in short troosers. For oor Gordy could meet Machiavellian politicians from now until half-past infinity, and he would never grasp that these guys are only out for themselves. So defying all Einstein's laws, the Prime Minister doesn't actually set off on an infinite circle: he stands, bemused, precisely where he's always stood, and watches as everyone else dances circles round him.

It is astonishing how so often truly nasty pieces of work with controlling power-freak tendencies have this oddly naive view of the world. Hattie has it (and Thatcher had it too, amiable as she was about some of the world's greatest shits); but Gordon is the bollocks when it comes to bollocks.

Turned inside out by Putin in Japan, he powered around the world as its self-styled saviour, and was in turn giggled at by Sarkozy, Merkel , Berlusconi and a Chinese bloke whose name escapes me. Indeed, only the essentially kindly nature of a greenhorn like Obama saved him from the calamitously humiliating five-minute audience lined up for this bumbling idiot savant by the President's staff. (Barack's new in the job, but he'll get nastier as the years pass)

Now Brown sends a message in advance to the clearly deranged Gadaffi that we're about to release a serial-killing terrorist. He asks - nay, begs - the Barmy One to make the return 'low-key'. The sensible thing to do here is obvious to anyone ever faced with a real-life decision about real-life nutters: the Kilt Snake should've instead said 'We're gonna throw away chummy's cell-door key, now fuck off', and then quietly put the dying mass murderer on a commercial flight home. Also (see today's Slog) I wouldn't have bothered to even tell the Americans: after all, with steel-tipped boot on other swinging foot aimed at Limey's ass, they wouldn't have troubled us with the news either.

Cut to shocked Number Ten Occupant when the usual hordes of screaming abdabs greet the returning son at the airport with the Arab equivalent of a ticker-tape parade, viz, huge wastage of valuable ammunition being expended on the clouds.

When is this Caledonian clown (and our Establishment in general) going to get it: we don't matter any more. We're crap, small, broke and an economic basket case. Nobody gives a mosquito's dump whether we all starve in these islands, because we've used up all the gas and oil,our bankers are mad, we don't make anything - and don't have an army, navy, military bases, proper weapons or indeed anything to sell except a distant memory of when we had a big empire and a stiff spine. Nobody cares about the UK drivelling on with a promise 'not to become a siege economy'. Which is actually terrific, because that is precisely what we need to become, and quick.

Mainly, however, we need to stop being a soft touch for French politicians, US Presidents, terrorist immigrants, the EU's poor and Third World dictators: fuck 'em all. They don't like us anyway; and if we're honest about it, we don't like Johnny bloody Foreigner either.

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18th August 2009

'Police cannot be trusted to hand out summary justice and will act as “judge and jury” if given powers to issue more on-the-spot fines, magistrates have warned'. (Daily Telegraph)

Well bless me, who'd've thunk it, eh? I mean, if you can't trust a policeman.....

Bus passes. They're costing the Government rather a lot. Well they would, really - what with private bus companies fiddling the returns and two years-worth of hard-up Baby Boomers on the books.

Now the Government's wondering what to do: a few weeks back I heard it had already ruled out means testing, but on the news tonight it said means testing was being ruled back in again.

But let's be fair: nobody could've predicted that from 2007 onwards (or sixty years after 1947) we'd need an awaful lot of bus passes; and of course, absolutely nobody would've imagined any Government giving the banks three years worth of Treasury expenditure budget in a month, thus leaving not even enough for bus passes. Oh no.

As I keep on trying to get it through to people, we're borassic: B-R-O-K-E, broke.

 

17th August 2009

Water off a duck's back. A new report by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) warns Asian countries that their water conservation and supply systems are unfit for purpose and being made worse by exploitation affecting water tables. I'm sure the gargoyles concerned already know this and thus the UN is wasting its breath as usual: but at least they're trying.

In the next thirty-fifty years (it's that exact) Asia's population will double. Sooner or later government will have to face up to this and do something. Take my advice and bet the farm on 'later'.

When the market decides to crush creativity. An excellent piece by Stephen Adams and Dominic Cavendish at The Daily Telegraph on how theatre (and arts generally) are being knackered by all those jolly decisive markets out there. Nicholas Hytner in particular gathers deserved praise for his stand on braindead derivative performance arts answering to no master beyond ticket sales among the proles. Educated audiences, he says 'are losing out to the obsession with youth'.

They are indeed, and I am allowed to be triumphalist about this because I predicted back in 1980 that this was precisely where free market economics would lead. In fact, it had led to this ghastly resting place for all decent ideas by the early 1990s, and continues today as Buddy The Poem on Ice, Dracula's Stand Up Christmas Special and a thousand other crossovers of drivel besmirch the London stage.

This is where brainless 'everything must wash its face' alongside anal pc was always going to end up: squeaky-clean urchin faces singing 'Food Glorious Food especially if it's low GI and multicultural'.

 

15th August 2009

The Madness of footie Crowds. I'm not talking here about what we used to call the spectators, but rather the progress of the Barmy Army running the contemporary Bedlam loosely known as English soccer. We are just one week into the last season of the Naughties, and already the insanity couldn't be funnier.

Oddly enough, I found out about Bryan Gunn's dismissal as Norwich manager after one game from Stephen Fry. Twitter's greatest English Twit broke the news and at first I thought he was joking...you know, being what Stephen would call 'a bit of a silly boy oh dear me lawks a mercy' etc etc ad nauseam. But it was true.

I mean c'mon, the stupid bastards running the club (and that means you too, Dealyah) have had a whole, three-month close season to observe the competence of the bloke; but no, they chose one result over ninety minutes to act as a mind upmaking catalyst.

Meanwhile, with Sovereign wealth funds washing all around Notts County, they have won their first two games in Coca Cola 2 5-0 and 3-0. One could be forgiven for thinking that winning their League is somewhat on the cards. (This might even be helped by the presence of Sven Boring Erikkksssonnn as their manager). As there anyone in a senior position in the game anywhere capable of seeing that this is a playlet called Jonathan Swift Rides the South Sea Bubble?

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13th August 2009

Daily Telegraph yesterday:

'It was reported this week, for example, that the Government is afraid that the security of our food supply is threatened by the paucity of produce grown here, and our reliance on imports'

You read it here first

 

1oth August 2009

Only little Nerdies go tweet, tweet, tweet. Networkers, marketers and the media are all a-flutter about Twitter. Users of this service ‘tweet’ messages to the World, and are allowed 140 characters in cyberspace to do so. They are then ‘followed’ by disciples of their tweeting, and themselves follow other tweeting sages.

Twitter is big news. The MoD urges UK troops to use it in the field, and the Royal Opera House has created a Twitter opera.

But do we need it? One person who thinks so is US trend-spotter Marian Salzman, who has (in various articles this year) expressed the following opinions about it:

‘‘tweeting is blowing the roof off the messaging trend…. Short is smart and powerful. It connects thinkers, shrinks distances and engenders change… ….a popular blogger can create as much impact as a 30-second spot….the blogosphere certainly loves the good people of Twitterville’  

Ms Salzman is and rated fifth best trend-spotter on the planet, so her words carry a good deal of weight. But when you read Twitter’s ‘about us’ page, there is a sense of, shall we say, caution:

‘Twitter has many appealing opportunities for generating revenue but we are holding off on implementation for now because we don't want to distract ourselves from the more important work at hand which is to create a compelling service and great user experience for millions of people around the world. While our business model is in a research phase, we spend more money than we make.’  

The ‘what’s next for Twitter?’ page is equally tentative:

‘We plan to build Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business’  

To be a world-class, successful, revenue-generating, inspirational company is certainly a goal, and the vagueness is perhaps understandable, given that keen tweeters feel the service could fulfil three roles: lightning-fast carrier of news, a way for marketing to latch onto the big-following tweeters, and more ‘famous’ alternative to texting.

However, the uncertainty is turning to doubt in marketing land. According to research company Ragan Select, 54% of communications professionals think Twitter is a fad; and only 8% of their clients see Twitter as an effective promotional tool. Senior clients I contacted last week reflected the doubts:

‘You’ve only got 140 characters to play with, so it’s difficult to communicate the brand values required to support a business case. We think it’s a fad’.

But does it have legs as a networking tool or news medium? Nielsen online found in April 2009 that over 60% of Twitter users joined and then almost immediately fell dormant – twice the rate experienced by Face book.

Other later data are equally disturbing. Webpro News on 12 th June published research undertaken by Purewire. This found, among other things, that 40% of users have been inactive since their first day on Twitter, over a third of members haven't posted anything, a third haven’t got any followers, and 80% post under ten tweets before giving up.

So as a distributor of news, or viral brand-weapon, it doesn’t look very efficient. Fans of the service insist that the smallish number of people actually on ‘send’ put out lots of information; but if the audience has left the theatre, the news isn’t going to spread as efficiently as, for example, just turning on the TV.

In short, there’s a lot of evidence that Twitter is simply working its way through the potential population of trialists: once these are exhausted, it has nowhere to go.

I believe there’s an important reason for this.

A successful socialising site must add value to the existing user experience of using SMS or email. And to attract serious advertising revenue, it has to capture that increasingly important group of Silvers now embracing the internet in huge numbers. According to Softpedia, 46% of all Mac users are now over 55, and in 2008 Nielsen found almost as many US baby- boomers using mobile internet as teenagers. As early as 2007, Microsoft announced that in the UK, this same group were the most prolific pc users, 77% using it daily, with half of all usage being the manipulation of photographs.

Unlike most twittering, Face book has a strong visual, photographic element, and posting photography is a massive part of the site’s overall activity. Thus, Face book is now doing very well among silver surfers: a 2008 growth rate of 175% has been turned into a staggering 517% increase to June this year. Web research site Techcrunchies, by contrast, found only 4% of 55 pluses who had ever tried Twitter.

In short, Myspace, Face book, Linkedin and the other networking sites offer the 2009 equivalent of sending a letter with photographs enclosed to people in or on the fringes of a social or business circle. In doing so, they appeal to all ages, and offer the perfect introduction to the Net for older folks with families and grandchildren. Twitter offers (most of the time) a couple of sentences recording the locality of someone you may never have met. That’s why it’s a fad without a future.

 

29th July 2009

Getting on Dacre's tits, but not his bandwagon. The latest immigrant vs indigenous birth-rate figures from the ONS no doubt gave Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre an attack of the vapours last February. In particular, he must've been dusting off those headline-screamers in readiness for a report on the following extract:

'foreign-born women living in England and Wales continue to have higher fertility than UK born women in all age groups. In 2007, the estimated TFR for non-UK born women was 2.54 compared with an estimated 1.79 children for women born in the UK'

He's a rum sort of cove your UK birth-rate statistic, because habits and customs change as people integrate into British life, and British life itself changes. For example, projecting forward from the number of out-of-wedlockbirths in 1950 would've got the urban planners in a terrible pickle, had they planned for that at all.

But be all that as it may, the fact is that at present, 30% more kids are popping out of Mrs Immigrant than her indigenous counterpart. And 'indigenous' itself (the BNP is always keen to remind us) does not mean Caucasian: it means 'born here#.

Your births, by contrast (if you know the raw number behind them) point the way very clearly to the future. That's to say, when all those sexually frustrated soldiers got their wives up the duff in 1946, it was pretty obvious that in the years 2011 - 2013, a huge number of people would go on the national pension payroll all at once. But as nothing is obvious to those in government, no preparation was made for this historically enormous cost increase; and as we've seen over the last year and a half, the banks have had all the money (and lost it again) anyway. We await still the signal from Ten Downing Street as to what Our Greatest Ever Statistician proposes to do about that one, but let's move on.

There are now 6.5 million people in the UK who weren't born here - just over ten per cent of the population. But when it comes to live births, the women of this multivariate community represent 15% - or, put another way, they're over-represented by 50%.

Now what all this adds up to is, well, not simple addition at all. At base camp, we see that immigrant ladies are turning up at the maternity ward 50% more often - and having four children for every three - compared to their indigenous compatriots. 6.5 million divided roughly by two (assuming the men don't get pregnant) = 3.25 million. Of these, while we're unclear about the age of the women, assuming they mirror the population - big assumption - then about 40% of them (1.3 million) will have 2.54 kids each over the next fifteen years. So the population of 'immigrants' will rise to ten million by 2024. Except a third of them won't be immigrants, they'll be the children of immigrants.

This also assumes that immigration becomes zero from today, which clearly isn't the case. New arrivals are running at 250,000 a year, while UK citizens emigrating represent roughly a third of that figure. Many new entrants head for the capital - where people born outside the UK are now 30% of the population.

The point here is not to suggest we make Nick Griffin a national hero, but to ask ourselves how Britain is preparing for the consequences of population change. For while all the mealy-mouthed in our community skip delicately over it, what we're really talking about here is (a) are these folks going to pull their weight? And (b) is the absorption of their cultural mores into our mix a good thing? Call me racist if you like (I'm not) but given the country's broke and the culture broken, these are both fair questions to ask - and ones that sit silently in the worried heads of an awful lot of people in Britain.

The biggest immigration of the last five years has been that of East Europeans - especially the Poles. I have no worries on this score, as I've yet to meet one who's either surly or lazy. This influx has now tailed off dramatically (presumably because the sensible ones can see where we're headed).

Indian Sikhs and born-British Indians suffer only a slightly higher unemployment rate than whites; Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, however (overwhelmingly Muslim) have rates ranging from 13-23% by area. A third of all UK immigrants are still from the Third World, so we must assume a massive culture shock on their arrival. As to birth rate, that of Pakistanis is the highest of any immigrant, and 2.5 times the rate of the indigenous white population.

In short, Muslim south Asians arrive with three inherent problems: high birth rate, cultural unemployment shock, and an adherence to Islam. The pc brigade would call this prejudice, but it's nothing other than a fact. We've had enough denial about what Britain can handle (both as a culture and an economy) over the last forty years to last a millennium; I'm not 'singling out' South Asiatic Islam, merely highlighting that it is the biggest potential flashpoint...and the fastest on its way to being one.

One ponders as to what New Labour - having shown its largesse on immigration - proposes to do about indigenous backlashes....against Islamist recruitment, soaring birth levels and a capital City not so much cosmopolitan as foreign.

Personally, I'm all for an ethnically diverse Britain which might hopefully in the end produce a light coffee-creme coloured 'indigenous' citizen. But like most Brits in private, I don't want an anarchic multicultural free-for-all alongside lots of pc balm. We should accept additions to our culture.....and those who benefit from it will from now have to accept the reality of being a late arrival. The host culture is not going to do somersaults just to suit them any more: those of all cultures and ethnicities born here (as last year's Race Relations study showed very clearly) want the inflow stopped, and no further liberties to be taken.

What can I say except, from my initial look around the various Government departments and quangos this week, such foresight isn't even on the radar. We are still at the gestures-to-shut-them-up stage, and the noisy folks are still shouting the odds about what a crap place Britain is. With higher taxes, a falling GDP and increasing poverty, this is asking for trouble.

 

25th July 2009

Brains, quins, longevity reasearch, and other crimes against humanity. Much as the idea of permanently replacing Hattie Harperson's brain is attractive, the news that scientists are a mere decade away from producing real, living brains fills me with both horror and mystification.

I've always been a bit Aldous Huxley about this sort of thing, largely on the grounds that giving the sorcerer's apprentice the job of making a better brain for the sorcerer's apprentice strikes me as the wrong starting point - and one doomed to end in tears. But it's also a question of allowing doctors to muck about in this manner in the first place.

I'm not a Luddite about such things: but while happy to embrace technology, I'm unhappy about doing wrong stuff - in both senses of the word wrong. I have two blindingly obvious objections to such medical research.

The first concerns my already verbosely documented objection to giving the medical profession the power to do anything important beyond make people better. In summary, I wouldn't give quacks the right to decide anything beyond the amount of surgical instruments and bogrolls that need to be replenished in a smallish hospital. Evidence I would cite in support of this notion includes idiot 'philosophical' decisions about who they will and won't treat, silly ideas about megaclinics where patient history is deemed unimportant, the ignorance GPs display in relation to almost all medical advances and issues, the alacrity with which they grabbed Hewitt's free weekends and fat pay increase in order to spend more time in their new Mercs, their collaboration with New Labour gesture bollocks about memory clinics, 'monitoring' patients rather than actually giving them something, and their appalling record of under-prescription for both mental health problems in general and Alzheimer's in particular.

The second is a specific arising out of the first - ie, a demonstration that they haven't the first clue about priorities. They give 45 year-old women quins with the world massively overpopulated, replace the hearts of seventy years olds, develop drugs to let fatties carry on stuffing their exploding faces, and give stern advice about how to live longer....before they've managed to crack what to do about unwanted babies and senile dementia. Now they want to build a human brain....before they've worked out why the existing one produces everything ghastly from parents who abuse and/or rape and kill their children to Rupert Murdoch and Patricia Hewitt. Building a man-made Homo sapiens brain is akin to giving Mel Gibson the job of running Belsen; it would come about ten billionth on my list of Things to do before We All Die.

I do understand that all research produces beneficial side-effects - but this is taking the art of lateral thinking to ludicrous extremes. I want stem cell research to end spinal atrophy among 40 year olds, MS among 20 soemthings, and remove the chances of anyone ever again giving birth to a George Bush - not thirty fucking clone of Putin, equipped even nastier brains.

18th July 2009

Do our farming Quangos have their priorities right? This week I have been mainly writing a piece about being green and how bloody hopelessly complicated it is (read it now at http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/ ) during the course of which I picked up some really quite amazing facts about Britain's rural economy, and the Quangorganisations allegedly looking out for it.

The story so far: New Labour (which has no rural seats to speak of at all) has slaughtered tens of thousands of cattle unnecessarily, but somehow got away with it. They have however allowed vermin to roam rural areas while wantonly killing farmers' chickens, and moving into suburban areas as and when the pickings get a tad slim to terrorise cats and pensioners. (That's the foxes, not Labour MPs). Apart from Kate Hooey (very severely out of favour) there is not a single New Labour backbencher of any importance who even knows where milk comes from, let alone how to increase our food productivity.

Later, they (this time it is New Labour) promised the world that in no way will we ever, ever resort to a siege economy and grow more of our own food, despite this being the only option left to us after the Brownshirts sold all our gold.....and spent the rest of the money baling out empty bank premises.

Now read on.

Environment Minister Hilary Benn was forced into 0% set-aside by the EU's Agriculture Council in 2007. His answer to charges of craven jelly-spine in the face of this daft idea was to trumpet an EU 'U-turn' in November 2008, in which he (to quote the spin) 'defied the rest of Europe and won the right to help Britain's farmland wildlife. This means Britain and other countries can make payments to farmers conditional on land being left for birds like skylarks, yellowhammers and linnets.'

This is of course New Labour drivel: the skylark's the linnet, perhaps. The fact remains that compulsory set-aside has been replaced with a vague load of old bollocks giving him nothing more than the right to spend his own department's money (aka our money) to save the yellowhammer. Set aside 'will now be left to individual countries to enforce.' But there is to be no enforcement: as the NFU site confirms, the scheme will be voluntary in the UK.

As far as his Department (Defra's) aims are concerned, Benn the Younger is entirely on-message. The Mission reads like this:

'The overarching challenge for Defra is to secure a healthy environment in which we and future generations can prosper'

Putting the merest pound of flesh on this bone, Defra lists its priorities in descending order as follows:

1. To secure a healthy, natural environment

2. To create a sustainable low-carbon resource-efficient economy

3. To promote a thriving farming sector, and secure the nation's food supply

I know I'm perhaps being a bit harsh, but for me the food supply comes before the low-carbon natural environment, if only because without food we won't be here to to look at it and say "My, what a gloriously healthy right-on view that is".

In concert with the aimy-fluffy thing, the Defra website also witters on at length about animal welfare and environmental protection: long, long, long before it gets to a heading called 'farming'. I'm all for protecting our beasts of the field from cruelty and Britain's wildlife from the ghastly clutches of agrobusiness, but we do need to retain a sense of proportion: much as the sight of a yellowhammer is enough to make me burst into tears, this feathery dinosaur isn't going to grow anything for human consumption, as such. And 100% of cows dying humanely is not alone going to put steak on the plate.

Let's be frank here: the Defra website is the sort of place where eco-warriors, hikers and pc sisters would love to go and mooch about in their twilight years. But it doesn't feel to me like a space (I think that's the term these days) where the basic practicalities (and farmers) of life are going to feel entirely at home.

Worryingly, the NFU website is also keen to be singing from the same page of the same hymn book. It says it champions the farmer; but under 'What we Do', animal and plant welfare, climate change, the environment and Health & Safety get four out of the top six priorities. In fact, the first mention of producing food comes in at Number Seven under Hill Farming. Forgetting the Hill part for a minute, isn't Farming the bit that actually - excuse me for spelling this out again - gives the human tooth set something upon which to munch?

Perhaps I'm sounding too smart-arsed. On the other hand, this column is called The Foresight Saga. And my straightforward foresight (because I am going Forward Not Back nowadays) is that in a world where (a) our financial services sector is shot (b) our manufacturing bases is minimal (c) our export market shares are derisory (d) foreigners are less and less likely to lend us money and (e) twenty per cent of our land area - and over 90% of our urban plots - go unused, things are going to have to change.

Do the aims, websites and press releases of Defra and the NFU inspire me towards belief in a heroic crew of folks who have seen the future and want to make it work?

No, they don't. Not even a weeny bit.

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17th July 2009

Swine Flu (the story goes on)

This from a senior hospital consultant blogging anonymously on the BBC website today:

'Gordon Brown announced yesterday, that the Government has ordered 60 million doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine, enough to vaccinate everyone in the UK. What he has neglected to mention is what would happen to the UK's vaccine supply if the H1N1 strain mutates and becomes more severe than it currently is.
The UK has no vaccine manufacturing facility within the country and is solely dependent on supplies manufactured in Europe by GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Baxter International Inc., whose production plants are in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. These three countries have a combined population of over 100 million.
If the H1N1 virus becomes more virulent before the UK's delivery of vaccine has been produced and delivered, it is not conceivable that the political establishment in these production countries would allow vaccine to be exported to other countries before first inoculating their own populations; if they did there would be total anarchy. Just like any contract I have ever seen I am sure that the vaccine producers have a get out clause which will allow them to divert pre ordered doses to their own population.
A recent news item stated that the production process of producing the vaccine has proved to be not as successful as was hoped, adding even more pressure to the supply chain. In past years these manufactures have had serious difficulty in producing enough vaccine to support the regular Global flu season, so what are the chances that they will be able to produce sufficient quantities of the regular flu season vaccine and enough H1N1 vaccine to inoculate the world's population. The production of flu vaccine requires a lead time of about six months before the season begins; assuming the production of the H1N1 vaccine was started within a month of the Mexico outbreak in May the first vaccine would not be available until November.
We have been told that we will receive our first vaccine doses at the end of August, and the first sector of the population to receive it will be members of essential services, Doctors, nurses, police, fire, government etc. From this fact we are looking at around 5million doses, if we extrapolate these figures for just the European Union which has a population of 1/2 a billion people it would require a minimum of 35 million doses off the top just to keep essential services running. If we add the 100 million doses the three countries that produce the vaccine, will need to protect their own population we are looking at 135 million doses required before the public see one dose for themselves. This figure does not even take into account the 300 million doses ordered by the USA
The point is we are not being told the truth, the numbers just don't add up. We as a population are being fed this Pandemic in bite sized sound bites. The effect to the World's already weak economy will be catastrophic. Our only hope is that the N1H1 virus becomes no more virulent than it already is, because the alternative is something I don't even want to consider.'

The bollocks goes on.......and anyone who speaks out is mad/wrong/panicky/talking Britain down.

Now the figure of 65,000 potential deaths has suddenly popped out of the woodwork - and terrified everyone, so BBC 'journalist' Fergus Walsh devoted his column today to explaining why the figure put out officially isn't really anything significant at all. So, um, why.....??? And get this for Fergus the Bogeyman's 'explanation':

'This post was updated overnight - it now includes a table and a different explanation of the technical language'

We're not all going to die. But equally, those in charge are not without blame: we didn't get the world's highest incidence and fastest spread-rate by chance.

Home

 

16th July 2009

The Helicopter View. Just as over the last six weeks we have had first expenses, then Michael Jackson and penultimately, spending cuts wherever one looks in the media, the next big thing is clearly going to be helicopters.

Why does this belong in the Foresight Saga you don't bother to ask. It's going slap bang in the middle of this column for one big reason.

In 2004 an extremely arrogant and overweight Scot - already busy flogging the family gold and ripping off pensioners - decided that troops didn't need quite so many helicopters. He was probably looking to fund some creches for one-legged single Haringey care workers at the time, but whatever the reason, against all the advice of the Chiefs of Staff (and bear in mind, the nearest Macbeth has ever been to a uniform is wearing a bloody kilt on Burns Night) he cancelled over 70% of all the orders for helicopters. Given that helicopters are expensive, hard to make, in huge demand around the world* and require their crews to be extensively trained, the supply chain is long both in terms of time and numbers. But never likely to be the one getting his feet blown off by a road-bomb, Cyclops the Invincible ignored this reality (in precisely the manner he'd brushed aside the Treasury five years earlier on the question of gold sales) and squirrelled the cash away elsewhere.

This and this alone is the reason why British troops have about 25% of the helicopters they need in Afghanistan at the moment. Given this delightful tid-bit (and background) by a quasi-military chum last week, I was delighted to see the Macaroon raise it at PMQs yesterday. (Once again, needless to say, he managed to let the visually challenged clown off the hook by wittering on about numbers as opposed to responsibility). However, despite yet another execrable Opposition performance, let it be known here in the real world of nby that Brown lied his fat head off non-stop throughout the Commons encounter.

Things might've ended there, but they're not going to. For the top brass have started breaking ranks. And military experts are queueing up to tell the News stations why UK Commanders are turning up for staff meetings in US helicopters.

With a bit of luck, a rogue rotor blade just might take the Trouser Snake's head off. But don't hold your breath.

* Rather like gold,on the whole

 

15th July 2009

Votes for Foetuses. If I may just ask a simply question of any reader aged over twenty-one, when you were sixteen did you know which way was up, and did you think about anything very much apart from clothese/boys/girls/scruffy grunge stars/action movies/ celebs and TV talent shows?

Yes, quite - neither did I. We have enough people incompetent to vote as it is without adding more folks with out-of-control hormones and gullible natures. If the decision were mine, the voting would only be given to anyone with a vague notion of what was going on.

Now New Labour wants to enfranchise the acne and cider sector, presumably on the grounds that they need more votes from somewhere. There is of course the usual fantasy drivel about more civic education in schools, as if they didn't have enough trouble just getting the buggers to pass some exams. Like the Swine Flu national helpline and the memory clinic in every town and the pc on every school desk, it will not happen; but of course, when asked at the Dispatch if it has, Ministers will answer "Of course".

Rome here we come....votes for horses. It's only a matter of time.

11th July 2009

Google says that the project to produce a direct competitor to Microsoft Office is a “natural extension” of its Chrome browser. The company said it was necessary because older operating systems were built at a time when the internet did not exist.

“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS,” said Sundar Pichai, a Google Vice President, and Linus Upson, engineering director, in a blog post. “We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds.”

Well thanks for the bullshit guys (I can't wait for the Onion version) but for those of us on Planet Earth, what this means is - at long long long long long long long last - Microsoft will have to answer (a) emails (b) phone calls (c) government enquiries (d) anti-Trust hearings and (f) very searching questions about why its product has been crap for the last twenty years.

I have grave doubts about Google, but at least as a company they do occasionally show foresight - not counting the bizarre idea to launch a burglar's charter.

 

Davis the Boring. (See also Wing)

David Davis said two days ago he had pieced together evidence that British intelligence had “outsourced torture”, and added that the evidence was compelling to him.

He said he had spoken to a lot of people who know the case of Rangzieb Ahmed, cross-checked their stories, and added that the evidence was “compelling to me, I am absolutely certain of the case”.

Put to him that David Miliband had insisted that the UK did not procure torture he said: “I don’t believe him
The government has fought tooth and nail to prevent things coming out in the public domain”.

Will anyone with the evidence or brass neck to deny the obvious truth of this please get back to me at their earliest opportunity?

7th July 2009

On BBC1's The One Show tonight, what set out to be an entirely approving discussion took place about how different local authorities are using their ingenuity in finding lots of different ways to remove individual liberty.

The subject was dropping litter, and how civic values are so deficient these days, we need lots of uniformed stormtroopers unable to perform a proper job goose-stepping about the streets and finding litterbugs guilty without trial.

While I don't for a minute deny that 99% of those apprehended will be guilty, the brainless 'strategy' behind the whole idea is both pure New Labour, and based on the idea that only The State knows how to behave - on the grounds that its child-citizens are so feral, a Gestapo in the making must be preferable to education and persuasion. As with almost everything else in 2009, the blown values of the last fifty years (and the arrogance of those who advanced them) are ignored in favour of the quick-fix solution which fixes and solves nothing.

However, there was some consolation to be gained from the realisation that only Christine Bleakley and the female reporter involved failed to spot the insanity of it. Adrian Childs was sarcastic throughout the item (much to Bleakley's amazement) and guest Gryff Rees-Jones said he'd prefer to pick up the litter himself than see any more laws and jackboots.

So there is life in the body cultural yet. But boy, do we need to watch out.

 

4th July 2009

Who, me?

I know it's hard governing a place as daft as Britain. And I know some of the folks involved in doing that are easy targets who try hard.

But trying hard isn't enough if you're in senior public office; trying hard is for the fat kid who alway got chosen last for footie in the playground. That obese, bullied child genuinely deserves our admiration. But we don't need him as the director of a Quango called Eating Sensibly.

The lack of even trying (let alone foresight) in allowing Mrs Mrinal Patel to get away with lying about her address (to get her kid into a better school) is disgraceful. This is a case with so many contrary aspects to it, it's the sort of news equivalent of an Escher painting. And it's only complicated because twits in local and national government have made it that way.

Address cheating to get into good schools is commonplace. I've never done it, although my wife and I did lie about her address to get into a nicer Registry Office when we got married. The difference with schools-cheats is that they are providing another more worthy child of an education by lying.

Why more worthy? Because Britain is one big huge lottery about the standard of education, health care or housing those at the lower to bottom end of the salary scale might receive....depending on where they live. And this is a clear case of somebody who is middle class depriving a potentially poor kid of good State education because she doesn't want to pay to go private.

But equally, the real madness behind this saga is that she is called not Davies or Walsh or Bunion but Patel. And had the law thrown the book at her, I do not doubt that the Race Industry would've been on her case within seconds. Before accusations of racism get tossed at me, a few simple facts:

1. Mrs Patel is guilty of the charge she faced. We have her application with a fictitious address on it, in her handwriting. Her 'defence' is that she made the application 'in good faith'. How?

2. Utterly unrepentant, she strode before a news conference and announced how proud she was to have been cleared, and her good name restored.

3. She then gave an interview to the BBC saying she had 'never' done anything wrong. What, never dear?

Mrinal Patel seems confused about the good/wrong dimension of life. Once separated from her husband, she lived with her mum for four weeks while sorting herself out. But she admitted saying on the form that she'd lived there for fourteen years.

In behaving like this, she has betrayed all those who work tirelessly (even if often muddled about their aims) helping people to whom society doesn't always give a fair crack of the whip. In getting caught and getting off, she just handed the BNP another 60,000 votes. So thanks for that, Mrs P: see you at the next Rock Against Racism gig.

But my main ire is reserved for the gutless Ed Balls, and Harrow's legal advisors - the latter because they described the law as having a 'loophole' (loophole?) on the issue; and Ballsbrain because his response - here we go again - has been to establish an enquiry to see 'how widespread the practice is'. Another fruitless search for hotspots then, because he's too lacking in, ahem, balls to censure Patel's actions. Dark-skinned single mother with Asian name....ooooh, nonononono....we mustn't do that. Bad for race relations, see?

Use your eyes you great fat, poisonous Yorkshire pudding: observe the facts, and at least ensure that under no circumstances Patel Jr goes to that school. Condemn this woman morally for what she did and her lack of repentance. And try to use your common sense for once: oddlyenough, address cheats are not going to fess up to what they've done any more than paedophiles are going to volunteer hotspot information. Pillock.

Why not give her an ASBO? That'll deter everyone for sure. Especially those people now grinning inanely all over Britain as they falsify their address.

3rd July 2009

The myopia is coming thick and fast this week - especially the thick part.

1. The Government seems keen to sell Northern Rock to Tesco. Apart from this being (in my eyes) like selling South Africa to the Chinese, there is a very obvious monopoly issue here. With everyone withdrawing investment from the banks and pouring into the inflationary supermarkets, Tesco would go not from strength to strength, but from dominance to unassailability. For them now to become a major player in money transmission is just begging for Tescomnivore to have us all by the short and curlies within a decade. And on top of that, Tesco owns the biggest human behavioural and financial database in Britain.

It's bad enough watching the grizzly alliance between paymaster banks and bailout governments. Can you imagine how awful it would be - how enormous the danger to environment and liberty - if the clones at Big T were able to play cat to the Government's mouse - and footsie with GCHQ?

2. As the Government steams full speed ahead to 100% of those in education going to University by 2020, garduatae vacancies have fallen 13.5% year on year. Quel Surprise: the average graduate now has no job and a £20,000 debt. Didn't that scheme go well, then?

It was a cynical and disastrous mistake to lower University entrance standards and teach Media Studies to the barbarians. We may have been as blind as bats to date, but for Heaven's sake let's put the madness into reverse right now. We don't need more intellectuals: we need better, more rounded intellectuals and millions more technicians, electricians, plumbers and those skilled in building energy-efficient housing.

3. This one is a cracker, even by the standards of Bourse trading-floor logic. When asked why they had been buying stocks last week, a sample of LSE traders said 'because the FTSE just had the best quarter-rise for 25 years'. Isn't that a Lulu? 'We're buying more stocks because the stocks we just bought went up.'*

And in an unrelated incident, The Ford Motor Company has begun to raise confidence by buying its own cars.

In the Kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed Trouser Snake is King. And the fork-tongued snake is his Queen.

* Many years ago, the ad agency CDP began buying primitive animal art of the English eighteenth century. After a couple of years, director Julian Seymour toddled down to a gallery and asked how such art was doing. "Prices are going through the roof" said the gallery's somewhat rough and ready auctioneer. Really, said Jules and who's buying mainly? To which chummy replied, "Some bunch of nonces in a fucking advertising agency".

2nd July 2009

And so we come closer and closer to where our Great March to Nirvhana began some thirty years ago. (See The Political Wing today, 'The Circle Line'). East Coast Rail is to 'have its franchise removed' - obviously this month's word for 'renationalisation', the temporary scam having lost its underwear some months ago. In 2005, nby wrote a long and largely unremarked essay pointing out that, of all the privatisations brought forth by the Iron Horse, rail was the daftest of the lot. The prospectus took 115 pages just to explain who owned what, causing a somewhat crabby Richard Branson to describe the whole as 'an appalling mess'. Only a bunch of hubris-fuelled mandarins could have created such a nine-humped two-legged camel. And it would've taken but one sane man and/or woman to ask "Why are we doing this?"

Looking back to its inception is instructive. The general consensus among the Right was that the trains would now at last arrive on time and have been constructed some time after 1922. They were entirely wrong in the first opinion, and mostly wrong about the second: Britain has the worst safety, puncuality and product development record for rail transport among the EU Big Six.

For those reading everything from the Guardian to the Mirror, there was ample evidence of largely prescient folks worried about whether private owners would invest enough (they didn't), charge too much (they did) and be able properly to liaise with the various other bits of the multi-layered structure (they haven't).

The deregulated rail system has gone the same entirely predictable way as the deregulated water industry and the deregulated banking sector: lots of bollocks and promises followed by an enormous bill for the taxpayer - and three absolutely vital sectors very poorly prepared for what is going to be a difficult future.*

The lesson from this is not 'turn the clock back'; rather, it is to accept that deregulating people whose egos are out of control (with ethics out of the stone age) is a very, very bad idea. And like Brown's pathetic 'nobody could have foreseen this' whinge, many of us did. On election night in 1979, I was the lonely Liberal at a Tory supper getting quietly pissed as the Porkies guzzled their pheasant and quaffed their Bolly. What they didn't know was that I'd voted Tory - purely to put the Unions back in their box. Sadly, as the box opened, the City barrow-boys, bankers, Essex morons, Fat Cats and other assorted human detritus flew out. By 1983 this was so obvious, somebody watching from Alpha Centauri could've seen it.

Until such time as we can re-engineer our individual and collective culture to be genuinely concerned about society, community and the planet, a mixed economy is the only sensible solution. And it probably always will be until Home sapiens evolves into something better.

* Every cloud - even one this dark - has a silver lining. If nothing else, it has delivered into our presence Lord Adonis, probably the worst human misnomer in history. The idea of a former Tory having to explain a renationalisation was a dish of revenge served very well chilled indeed. Especially amusing was his opening gambit - 'we had to do it, they were in such a mess' - followed just forty seconds later by his second - 'this will not cost the taxpayer money, as he will make money from running the franchise'. Poor Lord A appears to have the same profit/loss/up/down/long/short/sharp/mild/cut/investment confusion as his boss Gordon Brown.

26th June 2009

The following complaint correspondence between a fairly witty citizen and the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary has been illegally leaked to nby.

 

Dear Sir/Madam/Automated telephone answering service,


Having spent the past twenty minutes waiting for someone at Bodmin police
> station to pick up a telephone I have decided to abandon the idea and try
> e-mailing you instead.
>
> Perhaps you would be so kind as to pass this message on to your colleagues
> in Bodmin, by means of smoke signal, carrier pigeon or Ouija board.
>
> As I'm writing this e-mail there are eleven failed medical experiments (I
> think you call them youths) in St Mary's Crescent, which is just off St
> Mary's Road in Bodmin.
>
> Six of them seem happy enough to play a game which involves kicking a
> football against an iron gate with the force of a meteorite. This causes an
> earth shattering CLANG! which rings throughout the entire building.
> This game is now in its third week and as I am unsure how the scoring
> system works, I have no idea if it will end any time soon..
>
> The remaining five walking-abortions are happily rummaging through several
> bags of rubbish and items of furniture that someone has so thoughtfully
> dumped beside the wheelie bins. One of them has found a saw and is setting
> about a discarded chair like a beaver on speed.
>
> I fear that it's only a matter of time before they turn their limited
> attention to the bottle of Calor gas that is lying on its side between the
> two bins.
> If they could be relied on to only blow their own arms and legs off then I
> would happily leave them to it. I would even go so far as to lend them the
> matches.
>
> Unfortunately they are far more likely to blow up half the street with them
> and I've just finished decorating the kitchen.
>
> What I suggest is this - after replying to this e-mail with worthless
> assurances that the matter is being looked into and will be dealt with, why
> not leave it until the one night of the year (probably bath night) when
> there are no mutants around then drive up the street in a Panda car before
> doing a three point turn and disappearing again. This will of course serve
> no other purpose than to remind us what policemen actually look like.
>
> I trust that when I take a claw hammer to the skull of one of these
> throwbacks you'll do me the same courtesy of giving me a four month head
> start before coming to arrest me.
>
> I remain sirs, your obedient servant
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Mr ,
>
> I have read your e-mail and understand your frustration at the problems
> caused by youths playing in the area and the problems you have encountered
> in trying to contact the police.
>
> As the Community Beat Officer for your street I would like to extend an
> offer of discussing the matter fully with you.
>
> Should you wish to discuss the matter, please provide contact details
> (address / telephone number) and when may be suitable.
>
> Regards
>
> Community Beat Officer
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Dear Community Beat Officer


> First of all I would like to thank you for the speedy response to my
> original e-mail.
>
> 16 hours and 38 minutes must be a personal record for Bodmin Police
> Station, and rest assured that I will forward these details to Norris
> McWhirter for inclusion in his next book.
>
> Secondly I was delighted to hear that our street has its own Community Beat
> Officer.
>
> May I be the first to congratulate you on your covert skills? In the five
> or so years I have lived in St Mary's Crescent, I have never seen you. Do
> you hide up a tree or have you gone deep undercover and infiltrated the
> gang itself? Are you the one with the acne and the moustache on his
> forehead or the one with a chin like a wash hand basin? It's surely only a
> matter of time before you are head-hunted by MI5.
>
> Whilst I realise that there may be far more serious crimes taking place in
> Bodmin, such as smoking in a public place or being Christian without due
> care and attention, is it too much to ask for a policeman to explain (using
> words of no more than two syllables at a time) to these tw@ts that they
> might want to play their strange football game elsewhere.
>
> The pitch on Fairpark Road, or the one at Priory Park are both within
> spitting distance as is the bottom of the Par Dock, the latter being the
> preferred option especially if the tide is in.
>
> Should you wish to discuss these matters further you should feel free to
> contact me on <DATE>. If after 25 minutes I have still failed to answer,
> I'll buy you a large one in the Cat and Fiddle Pub.
>
> Regards

It's quite well done, although of course as Plod doesn't do irony (and Citizen X got only the standard response for his trouble) nothing whatsoever will change. Emails to the police don't cut it any more: one has to illegally obtain the private inbox of a vote-catcher, and then bombard the brainless buggers with hundreds of such complaints until it finally twigs somewhere in their jerking knee-joints that Gesture Politics is rapidly producing a Clockwork Orange society in the UK. (The Opposition is favourite as a target for this, as they have a vested interest in giving the Hell-in-a-handcart speech at PMQs)

This piece appears in the Foresight Saga column because a safe society alongside a well paid, high-morale and focused constabulary is one of the most important corner-stones of a libertarian society - the only alternative to which is more and more draconian laws which fewer and fewer people obey. But certainly since I became an adult in the late 1960s, no Government has done any more than make hardline speeches, followed by token gestures. It is without doubt one of the more disgraceful examples of pathetic forward planning and social insight by the Establishment - and another reason why it has to go.

I do not doubt that many readers regard the above as the fulminations of an ageing, former Leftie fart - but you'd be wrong on two out of three counts. Allow me a brief contemporary anecdote from here in rural France where, to all intents and purposes, it is still 1957.

Our Dutch friends Leo and Tini were burgled a fortnight ago. This is a rare not say almost unique occurrence down here. It seems that a gang of kids is targeting expat newcomers - not with any political intent, but rather to nick some booze and money for a good time.

The police turned up within twenty minutes with forensics in tow. They took samples, DNA and fingerprints and said they'd get back to them. They've since given Leo and Tini two updates. The general view in the commune is that suspicion has fallen upon one infamous trouble-making group, and the flics will catch them soon because the perpetrators aren't that bright.

Read it and weep. Three points are of paramount importance here:

1. The Underclass in our area is small and pinpointed

2. The police still take crime-detection seriously

3. The community has confidence in the ultimate success of the police operation

That's why gallic-latin cultures are in far better shape socially than their anglo-saxon equivalents: parenting, faith in the authorities, communal spirit, acceptance that shit happens and it's partly their responsibility, and police catching villains....all these are alive and well. They may not have our building regs and Health & Safety and pc and community officers, but that's because the garbage goes in the poubelle, not into social 'policy'.

UK policymakers with insight and foresight - please take note.

 

24th June 2009

At last, a good idea. Forbes reports a fascinating finding in the US HIV Atlas, which records incidence of the disease by postcode and thus identifies hotspots for future focus of health resources. The following extract is instructive:

'TheAtlas draws on 2005-07 data from health departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and New York City. It found that, of 3,027 counties that provided data for the report, 556 counties bear the lion's share of the nation's HIV/AIDS burden.

Furthermore, the epidemic has hit hardest in the two-thirds of the 556 counties that are predominantly minority populations, including blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders.'

This is what I call foresight and preparation. AIDS is hitting hard and spreading faster in just 20% of US postcodes. I also note from the tone of the report that pc denial is at last on the wane in the States. After all, there are only so many ways of interpreting the data:

1. God wants rid of all the blacks, gays, hispanics and Asians, and is currently working on the bankers.

2. Poor cultural mores and educational standards are making for faster transmission among minority groups.

I'd like to think the banker part is true, but my head tells me No.2 explains most everything going on here. We must all thank God that New Labour in general and Hattie Harman in particular played no part in this decision about targeting funds.

Home

18th June 2009

The uncommonly silly EU agricultural policy. Like most things over half a century old, the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been a pro-French joke instrument for well over twenty years already. But as ever with government - and even more so with supra-national organisations - no foresight or urgency is being shown in the light of both world fuel/climate data, and the coming budget emergency once East European members start falling apart at the seams.

As long ago as 1991, a project undertaken by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Governmental Policy (Ground for Choices) demonstrated that the EU’s food supply could be met with half as much cultivated land, 80% less pesticides, and at a 50% lower cost. Pollution would be reduced by 70% as a result of fewer nitrates in the surface water, and greenhouse gases would also be cut substantially.

Eighteen years later, the gravy-trainers* in Brussels have finally gotten around to talking about reform, and expect to have a reformed CAP in place by 2013.

What they should do is scrap the CAP (not a bad slogan, that) and start again from a point one might describe thus:

1. Biofuels are a nonsense environmentally, and only increase 3rd World starvation. Stop planting crops aimed at the biofuels sector NOW

2. Crops grown solely to feed cattle (eg Maize) should either be re-targeted at the UK & US (where corn on the cob is popular) or phased out as soon as possible. We need less cattle on the European mainland, not more. (Although oddly, in the UK the situation in terms of milk production is the other way round)

3. The Germans are fed up of paying de facto war reparations whereby they subsidise already rich French farmers. They and the Brits should join hands with Holland and Spain to paint the French into a corner called No More Taking the Piss.

4. The name is daft, and should be changed to make explicit what the new goal will be: the protection of clean agriculture, NOT the subsidising of harmful and wasteful agriculture. What about.....

5. The strategy needs to be spelt out simply: to encourage farming that helps the planet, and has as its first priority the promotion of a healthy diet for EU citizens.

But don't hold your breath waiting for this outcome.

* Once again I am indebted to veteran nbyer and former Olympic athlete Michael Heryet for inventing the term 'gravy trainer'. Given that the sole object of Brussels Eurocrats is to train others in the production of pure gravy, it strikes me as particularly apt. Mike offered this as the new term for backbenchers (see nby essay Let's not bash the backbencher) but his entry was turned down on the grounds of suggesting that UK MPs have the intelligence to train anyone to do anything.

17th June 2009

The Milk of human madness. As one of the major UK Dairy cooperatives goes bust, the Government's response is to tell us they will 'meet with the industry to see what can be done'. So there we have it: the Brownshirts are now so weak, so dense and so blind, they'd rather pin Britain's agricultural future on multiple supermarkets than think carefully about our agricultural heartland heading down the toilet on its way up the pictures.

During his globe-trotting pre-G20 crisis Wankathon, the Prime Minister prattled on about his insane 'no siege economies' view of the world. In the face of almost every nation preparing to do just that, he seems hell-bent on proving his genuine commitment to the idea by actively torpedoing the UK's ability to feed itself and then export whatever's left over.

I can only repeat the consistent nby line: multiple food retailers screw farmers and destroy communities. Arable land is woefully underused in this country, and could - if properly used - cut our imports bill massively.

Ergo, the answer is to get more people into agriculture and stop giving the Tescos and Walmarts a free hand to bugger up everything.

How hard can this get?

6th June 1944, no, er...sorry....2009

Anyone noticed we're not all in recession? At dinner the other night I chatted at length to an Asian stock trader. "The money's all in Asia and South America" he said. Nothing new there, but he expanded on the point to stress that nobody - nobody - is investing in Western business or banking at the minute. In fact, he added a degree of doubt as to whether they would at all "until such time as the Arabs and Chinese see some sign that the West is awake to what's going on".

By 'what's going on' he means the whole plethora of data nby has been banging on about for the last three years: the shift of production capacity, share of world trade, influence in emerging countries, and gold reserves towards the non-Caucasian world.

China's economy, by the way, has yet to shrink at all: slowed growth is the worst they've experienced. Given their gearing and employment issues, this was still a serious blow to the gerontocracy at the top, but a small rat-trap compared to the mine-shaft we face on this side of the planet. Brazil too remains in better shape than the US and Europe....probably because its President Da Silva is vaguely sane on most vital socio-economic issues.

As always in this column, we ask the question: has there been any serious, investment-related forward planning in the UK with this irreversible shift in power going on? Any stimulus applied to the 'new economy'? Any thought of going back to some elements of the old economy that came before the rice-paper one we have now?

Well, as long ago as 1995 the OECD pinpointed Britain's 'deindustrialisation' and 'overdependence on services'. It also warned of the UK's 'manufacturing stagnation', commenting specifically:

'....this has not been seen in other advanced Western economies...'

But of course, the Tories were in power at the time and (having run out of ideas) dared not observe that the Mad Handbag's scorched-earth approach to trade unions had also knackered our manufacturing output forever. As I wrote for Marketing Week in 1990:

'Mrs Thatcher's greatest folly has been to chuck out the industrial capacity baby with the bathwater of industrial unrest...'

But from 1997 onwards, the One-Eyed Trouser Snake swanned into the Treasury on a wave of electoral support - a huge victory partly achieved by reassuring those middle classes and upper managements engaged in service industries that there would be no interfering with what they were up to. Since the day Gordon Brown arrived at Number Eleven Downing Street with his plethora of unelected advisors in tow, small entrepreneurs have watched in anger as big business has been cuddled and allowed to employ various reptilian life-forms in order to avoid - some would say 'evade' - tax. (see The Tax Scam).

Type into Google 'Changing world economics uk preparations', and 151 million sites are listed. I got bored after the first hundred, a few of which showed British lack of preparation, but none of which could describe any foresight in relation to what most people's ordinary sight (ie, reading the papers) has already told them many times. This would tend to suggest that there is thus no preparation under way. As Wikipedia observes, the lack of change applied to our economy remains painfully obvious:

'The UK has the world's third-largest current account deficit - despite significant oil revenues. This is mainly the result of a large deficit in the trade in manufactured goods'

We lack the manufacturing skills of Germany and the agricultural clout of France. And we will head rapidly towards Third World status unless we find a way to use Britain's cachet to export luxury goods, technological advancement, added-value food products and non-financial (for example, marketing) services to Asia.

We need to provide cheap finance for enterpreneurs. We need to open up the 37 million hectares of potential arable land for responsible agricultural exploitation. And we need to examine what the values of the UK 'brand' are, and then make the most of them in our export drive.

This piece records that I can find no evidence of serious measures being taken by the governmental elite to effect this - or even awareness of the urgency involved.

5th June 2009

Salvaging the car salvage scheme. Oooh look, we're running out of money. A victim of its own trumpeted 'success', the car scrappage scheme has ripped its way through a sizeable chunk of the £300 million set aside for it by the Government. At this rate of take-up, in fact, the cupboard will be bare by August 2009: a long time before the scheme is due to end in Spring 2010.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said: 'We are really pleased that the scheme seems to be delivering a boost so early in the scheme.' Well he would say that really, but an analysis of who's buying what with the free money paints a slightly different picture. It seems that the vast majority of purchases have been at the cheap (eg KIA) runabout end of the market. Both VW and Ford were dubious about the scheme from the start, and word is now leaking out that the whole three hundred million will be spent this year, only without stimulating the mainstream of the market at all.

The scrappage scheme is pure New Labour: naively framed, badly targeted and underfunded. We must all pray most earnestly to our individual makers that Mandy is still in charge when it all goes completely tits-up.

 

24th May 2009

There will be bad guys in the future, too. The French Government is pressing ahead with its plans to have car-tracing Satnav fitted as standard for all vehicles registered in France. In Britain, GCHQ has been awarded £13 billion to bug our mobile phone calls, watch where we go on the Web, monitor our emails and stick cameras pretty much wherever they like. In the last eleven years, roughly 30% of Magna Carta has been casually tossed away. Britain today has a detention-without-trial period three times longer than any other democratic state in the world.

The aim of all this (we're told) is to 'counterract terrorism'. The Islamists about whom New Labour drivels on represent perhaps three people in ten thousand of the population. But to counter this, they also want all of us to have ID cards.

I don't know whether the intent of the Home Office and the security services is evil or simply - as usual - a reflection of braindead incompetence across the board. All one can observe is that you would have to be unbelievable dense not to see how all the surveillance incursions and sweeping rights reductions of recent years lay all of us open to a pernicious politician in future. 'Lord' Mandelson, for example, would I'm sure be happy to explain away a State of Emergency tomorrow....all the while insisting that accusations of anti-libertarianism were 'smears'.

Equally dumb are those who think the expenses revelations some form of revenge for all of that. Rather, it shows how sleazy, controlling, self-protective and dismissive of so-called Freedom of Information legislation our leaders are. (Bear in mind, the Government is still lying its head off about the GCHQ project being merely in a test stage. This is a blatant lie: the centre has the money and is already liaising with ISPs across Europe)

The cynicism and stealth demonstrate all too well how none of these reptiles should ever be trusted with the sort of laws and surveillance systems currently being put in place.

There are two things we must do immediately. One, determinedly reinstitute the Rule of Law - with no exceptions, Arab arms contracts or not; and two, draft and then pass a British Constitution. When Brown was finally crowned and talked gaily about all this, nby predicted none of it would happen. It wasn't exactly one of our hardest bits of correct soothsaying.

 

23rd May 2009

There is no such thing as a virtual community. The world presses ahead with Facebook, MySpace, Arsewipe, Titfeatures and God knows what else. All over the planet, virtual make-believe worlds captivate saddos from age nine to ninety. Kids lummox about with Walkman MP3s clamped over their ears, lost in a world of porno-rap and indie-pop. Three-TV homes will be in the majority within a decade - if by then pcs haven't taken over (which I think they will). And in various rooms around the house, children leave details all over the internet I wouldn't have told my mother about.

Is there a single MP in the Mother of all Corrupt Parliaments thinking about what the obvious consequences of this are? Splintered families, isolated individuals, empty real communities...and oddly muttering folks working out in readiness for the next mass-murder pre-advertised on YouTube?

The answer of course is 'No'.

We know this with a degree of depressing certainty, because - and do excuse the tangent here - every time a piece of entirely predictable socio-econmic data rolls into town, the first para of every last news report ends with '....was worse than expected'.

What you expect is 100% to do with how well you inspect. And those in charge of our culture don't do inspection. They don't even do introspection.

So all we can expect is the expected repackaged as the unexpected.

Taking it one game at a time. As some of you may have spotted by now, the soccer team I've supported since 1955 has been Manchester United. I'm pleased they're in the Champions' League Final, and obviously I hope they succeed in becoming the first team ever to defend that title successfully.

Today, United play Hull City away - a team facing relegation if they lose. Having already won the Premiership - and facing Barcelona in the final - United will rest almost all their star players. And the FA, in their wisdom, have enthusiastically approved the Manchester club's freedom so to do.

This means two things. First, that another team may be relegated purely because Manyoo made it easy for Hull. And second, spectators who pay good money to keep these pillocks buying multi-style tasteless Spanish haciendas will watch a United team whose players are largely unknown to them.

When I started nby in 2003, I said then that all this concentration on foreign players and money at the top would starve England's own youth policies, which remain vital for the creation of a national side able to compete at the highest level. So it has proved. If the FA are so dense they can't grasp how one very rich club's insatiable ambition might well bankrupt a smaller club through relegation, then they deserve to be shot with dum-dum bullets aimed at the scrotal sac, thus ensuring a slow, painful and entirely, pointlessly ironic death.

Hull manager Phil Brown is delighted by United's decision....as well he might be.

 

21st May 2009

A prescription for disaster. Hot on the heels of the Porkers' Charter (Saga, 20.4.09) we now have the super-pill designed to allow every middle-aged fuckwit to continue doing nothing whatsoever about that diet of lard and beef sandwiches.

The Government wants everyone over fifty (regardless of sensitivity to disease) to take anti-stroke and heart-attack pills on a daily basis.

Three foresight issues here: 1. How exactly will this act as a motivation for fatties to change their ways? 2. How will we pay for the medication? 3. Why are we encouraging the survival of oldies whom - even at current levels - we lack the facilities and institutions for their care in decrepitude?

Bonkers. Absolutely and completely barking.

15th May 2009

From the Birmingham Post yesterday:

'Farmers and landowners should be able to earn “credits” for environmental measures which could be traded under schemes to boost funding to protect the countryside, it has been urged.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) outlined proposals for a “green stock exchange” to ensure natural services such as unpolluted water and wildlife are maintained.

The CLA said there were a number of different schemes to create markets which pay for environmental benefits, some of which had been shown to work in other countries.

They include “floor and trade” schemes which set minimum quotas for the environmental benefits that landowners must deliver, and those that overperform can sell the excess credits to those who don’t meet the standards.'

You read it here first

11th May 2009

From today's Times:

The Government said that the sudden shortage of cash was a result of the huge demand for its MyChoice Homebuy scheme, which enables buyers who do not have enough money for a deposit to obtain a mortgage with the Government stumping up the balance.

Some would-be buyers had already had offers on properties accepted and had instructed solicitors when they learnt that their previously accepted applications would no longer be successful, forcing them to back out of the transaction.

Richard Stone, of SPF Sherwins, one of the biggest affordable housing mortgage brokers, said: “There are literally thousands of buyers viewing houses and putting offers in thinking that they are in line for a government loan, but the way it is done means that only a handful will actually be approved. Demand is unlimited at the moment, people are queueing up but the money is running out quickly.”

Surely not?

30th April 2009

Things not to invest in ever again. Swimming pools.....water shortages and ecological police will ensure that this object becomes persona non grata within ten years. If you've got one and you're in southern Europe, install solar heating now. A large lawn....watering these too will be banned eventually, as will the use of pollutant sit-on motor mowers to take the effort out of it. Plant a vegetable garden instead.

Things to do that will help you. Sink a well. If your land has a slope, this is free water. Buy a generator: within five years they'll be ten times more expensive. Plant fruit trees and learn how to bottle fruit. If you have some money and you live in England or Wales, buy agricultural land: it is historically cheap at the moment, but will be at a premium by 2015 at the latest.

25th April 2009

Wander back with me in time now to 2006, when all thoughts of financial meltdown were the gibberings of alienated nutters, and all those who said Tessa Jowell's booze charter was the daftest social law ever passed were dismissed as simplistic killjoys.

It was indeed pointed out to Tessa Jellybrain by many of us at the time why comparisons of 24/7 drink laws with Belgian and French experiences were invalid, those countries having little or no binge culture. Equally odd was the use of the Irish experience as another glowing tribute to non-stop piss-artistry; after a two-year experiment, the Irish (who have a long-standing alcoholism issue) reversed most of their legislation and banned Happy Hours. But for some reason, all those UK government 'experts' couldn't make this add up to a conclusion.

Fast forward to today. In the last twelve months, drink related assaults rose by 21,000 (7%) to reach a growing total of 350,000 per year. Every single A&E in the country now has 100 booze-violence cases a day to deal with - and that is a fraction of the longterm abuse casesbeing dealt withon the wards.

Funny how one never hears Hattie Harman demanding that Tessa's pension be revoked. And amazing that this very silly woman is now in charge of the Olympics budget....which is spiralling out of control.

NB(y) Our piece in May 2007 on the two-lane road into Weymouth (site of the sailing Olympics) can now be updated: nimby has ensured that the thoroughfare will remain with two (2) lanes. 'Visitors will use the train instead' said a spokesperson looking into his crystal ball. Prepare for chaos.

20th April 2009

Today the pharmaceutical sector announced, with great fanfare, the development of a pill that is effectively a Blobbies' charter. Eat as much as you like...and don't put on weight. Be as greedy and unhealthy as you desire, because Mummy's pills will sort you out.

To be more precise, they'll clear you out: to stop fat absorption, all these tablets will achieve is more pooing, and more quickly. Do we have more loos laid on in public places in preparation? Am I having a laugh? Er yes, I am actually. But to avoid bulimics buying them in bulk, the Government insists that you have a BMI (Body Mass Index) over twenty-eight. Two points here: how exactly will this be checked? And over 40% of the population have a BMI of 30+....so it's not exactly for serious cases only.

I ask the question about checking practicality because (a) it will be easy for chubby Underclass folk to pitch up and buy them on behalf of models and other assorted pond life and (b) it will be especially easy because these pills will be available OTC from Day One. Although they sound expensive at fifty quid per month, £1.25 or so a day isn't that much if you want to shed pounds while eating shedloads of McDonalds a la lard.

This medication should be available to the morbidly obese only, and on prescription. But our Government has no money and no foresight...so undisciplined bingeing will continue unabated until le merde is seeping up from the sewers and Britain sinks under the weight of combined fatties.

NB(y) Last year, obesity problems cost the NHS £45 million.

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