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Targets & What they do to Priorities.

Pointed out by Mr. Eugenides who’s outsoursing some of his blogging to me. This is absolutely disgusting. So you’re not allowed to tell people to stop doing something illegal so that the police can high-five each other for catching them instead?


I’d ask you to consider this quote: A CPS spokeswoman said: “Cost is not a consideration in our decision to prosecute”. It is deemed entirely reasonable to waste a day of court time costing several tens of thousands of pounds to prosecute a man warning motorists of an upcoming speed trap.

As Mr E. Said. What a fucking country.

Update. He’s written it up at the kitchen

The Life and Trials Of Julian Assange

Guest post by Mara
Much of the media frenzy surrounding Assange is born of the fact that little is known about him. Thirty nine years old. Australian. No fixed address. Parents ran a touring company. Attended thirty seven schools. Has a child from a failed relationship. Malcolm Rifkind describes him as a ‘frighteningly amoral figure’, Edward Heathcoat-Armory as ‘paranoic and archaic’, one who lives a ‘bizarre peripatetic life’. Assange has been ritualistically demonized by the media as a shadowy, sinister and above all wicked figure who will stop at nothing in order to print a sensational story. In a savage evocation of the McCarthy era, politicians across the world have been baying for his arrest, his silence, and even his blood. It is ironic that some of these politicians, Attorney General Eric Holder who refused to prosecute the CIA for torture in particular, are now mounting a moral crusade using the ‘forces of darkness and light’ narrative to achieve their ends.
The latest move to silence Assange lies in the lap of a Swedish prosecutor who, despite a wealth of contradictory evidence, has issued a European Arrest Warrant in order to prosecute him for the alleged coercion and rape of two women. Prior to the issuing of said warrant, the case had been thrown out by a second Swedish prosecutor for lack of evidence. The first woman invited him to stay at her home, had intercourse with him, and threw a party for him the following evening. The second, evidently starstruck (describing him as ‘interesting, brave and admirable’), invited him to her home and paid for his rail fare in both directions. Later, the two women got together, the first “victim” having attempted to expunge an entry on her blog entitled ‘7 Steps to Get Legal Revenge’ and to erase a Tweet which read ‘Sitting outside … nearly freezing, with the world’s coolest people. It’s pretty amazing!’ They appear to have blown the whistle based on the fact that Assange had Biblical knowledge of them both within a matter of days. Whether this is a case of ‘sexfalla’, which may be loosely translated as a ‘honeytrap’, or two women seething with indignation that Assange shared his sexual favours impartially, there is negligable evidence that any crime was committed. Indeed, Assange has been attempting to meet face-to-face with the Swedish prosecutor for over a year in order to set the record straight.
The typical media response, imbued as it is with a prurient need to know the explicit details of this and every other case involving sex and a kneejerkist Puritannical desire to punish those involved for their morality or lack thereof, has been to define Assange’s character in relation to the allegations. Sex, though a powerful motivation, is not sufficient to explain, or detract, from Assange’s desire to see justice done: to make public a file passed on to him by Bradley Manning, a man whose own character has been torn to shreds, in order that global governance may not get away with covering up its sins. The release of a number of diplomatic telegrams, which has prompted Sarah Palin to call for the death sentence to be imposed on Assange, is both important and necessary. The intelligence that the Obama administration views ours with suspicion, believing that our PM isn’t up to the job and our military is inadequate, has a profound effect on our supposedly ‘joint’ efforts to pacify Afghanistan. Why should we continue to expend resources and lives to assist those who have no faith in us?
The fact that Hilary Clinton deliberately gave orders to pervert the course of justice by covertly obtaining biometric and personal data of UN delegates, including the Secretary General, highlights the fact that the United States believes itself to be above petty legal concerns. Such a profound insult, perversely, may make those waiting to be groped by the TSA at US airports or exposed to radiation via body scanners feel a little more solidarity with the powers-that-be. In relation to Iraq, US troops were commanded not to release details or investigate tortures of Iraqis under an order called ‘Frago 242’. And the latest ‘atrocity’ to be leaked, a list of defence facilities which has been characterised by the US State Department as ‘arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way,’ a move that puts the ‘national security of the United States has been put at risk; the lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk; the American people themselves’ at risk, despite the fact that said information has been available in the public domain for a considerable time. The claim that such an act is tantamount to ‘giving a targeting list to groups like al-Qaeda’ is risible. Though it is easy to represent those committing atrocious acts as the Other, an amorphous mass lacking both in intelligence and self-governance, it is more than likely that said group has both access to the Internet and a fair idea of what they want to target.
On balance, I would applaud Assange’s stance. He has, at personal risk, sought to expose the prim-lipped hypocrisy employed by Western governments towards each other, towards those nations they attempt to subdue and subvert in the name of ‘democracy’ and towards their citizens. This information is very much in the national interest. It is in the interest of each and every working man and woman because they are the ones who bear the financial and moral burden, and the after-effects, of governmental decisions taken on their behalf. Far from villifying Assange, we should applaud his endeavours; to hold those responsible for gross travesties of justice, rather than embarking on a witch hunt. We should overcome the Washington-driven jargon that seeks to make a laughing stock of Assange in order to sweep their dirty dealings under the carpet. Media analyst Glenn Greenwald noted that: ‘this kind of character smear (‘he’s not in his right mind,’ pronounced a 25-year-old who sort of knows him) is reserved for people who don’t matter in the world of establishment journalists – i.e., people without power or standing in Washington and, especially, those whom American Government authorities scorn. In official Washington, Assange is a contemptible loser – the Pentagon hates him and wants him destroyed, and therefore the ‘reporters’ who rely on, admire and identify with Pentagon officials immediately adopt that perspective – and that’s why he was the target of this type of attack.’
And, in making such an attack so personal, all accountability passes to the person being demonised. Higher standards need to be employed by those journalists who, despite bleating about impartiality, hop on to whatever political bandwagon happens to be rolling out that week so they gain approval. Where the bravery, where the unflinching honesty, that once used to epitomise reporting, from Deep Throat to the Killing Fields? Ironically, what most party line journalists seem to have overlooked is that in villifying one of their own, they are encouraging the establisment of a system wherein their own right to free speech, should they ever use it, could be revoked. An unhappy notion for the ‘global’ world we live in. And harping on about ‘responsibility’ and the ‘balance of liberty and power’ simply won’t cut it, for if they are willing to shore up the system unquestioningly, they are willing to shore up its abuses of liberty and power too. As Assange stated, ‘when governments stop torturing and killing people, and when corporations stop abusing the legal system, then perhaps it will be time to ask if free-speech activists are accountable.’Guest post by Mara

Shopped for Shopping on Call?

Given that the fines for motoring offences are considerably more severe than those meted for kicking the shit out of someone (generally unpunished, if the victim is me for example), it is clear that society regards illegal parking as really very serious indeed.

There are few things that give me more rage and hate for the state than a parking ticket because I take care to obey the rules, and the couple of times I’ve been caught in the past few years, has been because of a misunderstanding of which bay was residents’ and which was pay & display (whilst training, as it happened with the TA) and an unavoidable delay (I’d stopped to help a cyclist who’d been knocked off). Neither excuse washed and I was made to pay the fines anyway. Often the rules are unclear, and the parking attendents act as if they’re on comission, though I understand this is no longer the case.

Obviously though certain, public servants are granted exemption, when in execution of their duties. Clearly the police, or ambulance service responding to a call can reasonably ignore many of the rules of the road including the only crime the police take seriously, speed; and they can abandon a vehicle more or less where they like, if the circumstances demand it. So when I saw this “ambulance” (in truth a vehicle which is designed to meet targets rather than save lives) parked on the double yellow lines outside the front door of our local Sainsbury’s, I thought that someone had suffered a turn at the fish-counter in reaction to the price of Halibut, and fully expected to see a paramedic giving CPR, or at least comforting someone next to the frozen peas.

I saw no such thing.

Do we “little people” who don’t get exemptions from parking tickets when we stop to scrape a cyclist off the pavement allow paramedics or the police to leave their cars wherever they like whilst they go shopping? You could argue that “If a call comes in” she could drop everything and make a quick get away. But if speed is THAT important, should she be picking up her groceries when she’s on call?

The other question would be whether bringing this to the attention of the authorities in the local ambulance service would mark me out as an astonishingly petty twat. Because I hate the police, I’d always shop a cop for speeding if I see one, and the rage I feel when I get a parking ticket means I’m erring on the side of a snot-o-gram e-mail with these attatchments (If I can be bothered).

But I’m seeking the advice of the blogospehere first…

The Strange Death of Cycling England

“Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the Human race”. HG Wells, himself a keen cycle tourist, may have been a disgusting socialist, but in this at least, he was right.

The bike is one of the perfect machines – certainly in terms of distance travelled for energy expended, it’s the best there is. A bike runs on fat, and saves you money, not only in terms of fuel not used in the car, but also in time wasted pouring tea and coffee into yourself to wake yourself up, when you can have some fun on the commute in, and feel great when you arrive. This is as true as my 4-mile country road cycle as it was when I dodged traffic in London or Edinburgh. Indeed, in many ways I feel safer in London than I do on country roads. Stationary traffic, you see, won’t kill you.

No matter how pissed up I am the night before, how late I go to bed, and how rubbish I feel in the morning IF I unlock the bike, rather than get in the car, the rest of the day just seems better. So, whenever I have spare money, it goes on bike stuff. I’ve just ordered a custom messenger bag from these guys (British Racing Green, with yellow detailing as per Lotus Racing team’s colours with a broad, reflective chequerboard design. Oh and a Union Jack, and this Blog’s URL), and if anyone wants to buy me a present, any of the gear from here would be very much appreciated. So… I’m an enthusiastic cyclist and evangelical about the joys of getting to work under your own steam. When I read that ‘cycling england‘ was heading for the great Quango feather bed in the sky, I should be furious, right? (Afterall, TravelGall says it’s so...)

Wrong.

What is the fucking point? Car drivers will not be any more polite to you, because there’s a quango spunking everyone’s money putting out glossy leaflets about cutting one’s carbon emissions by cycling. Nor will a piece of green or red tarmac widen the road enough to allow you and the car simultaneousuly through he gap between a traffic island and the pavement. In Fact more often, the cycle lane will make the driver THINK there’s enough room, and kill you by trying to squeeze through without considering the manoevre.

I’m all for the (expensive) well-designed cycle lane, but If cycling england lobbied for the targets for miles of cycle lanes that councils accross the country have painted on the road, then they’re not only useless, they’re responsible for death and injury as cyclists are hit by motorists who think that the lane means they don’t have to slow down. Do you think I like speed-bumps? They cause the motorist to be focussing on something other than not hitting me, AND they are bloody uncomfortable if you hit them fast. And I am ALSO a motorist. Cycling England agitates for speed humps. Cycle parking is so simple and inexpensive that it doesn’t need a quango to tell councils and businesses how to install it.

What about the cycle to work scheme where tax breaks are given to cyclists to buy equipment? Unfortunately, I’m self-employed, so I have to buy my kit out of taxed income, because the Last government would rather me be a slave to a company than be an independent trader. In recent months, London has become a MUCH more cycle friendly city, but I suspect that’s because of the Cycling Mayor, not because of this useless quango.

My cycling manifesto:

  1. All cycling equipment should be tax-deductable, and VAT-free to everyone, not just those with employers.
  2. left-turn on red allowed for cyclists (& probably cars too).
  3. Roads to be properly maintained. Potholes are an annoyance to a motorist, they’re potentially lethal for a cyclist. Cycling on smooth tarmac is a joy.
  4. red lights advisory for cyclists. (If you have an opinion on this, but don’t cycle, please feel free to keep it to yourself)
  5. No cycle lane built without input from cyclists to put an end to dangerous, badly designed lanes, which encourage motorists to not give enough room.
  6. Money which did go to pay for ‘Cycle England’ leaflets & Bureaucracy to be spent on a properly designed network of cycle routes.

But Cycling England agitated for none of these things, and spent a great deal of wasted time trying to get cyclists to obey the red light (again, motorists, keep your ignorant “thoughts” on this issue to yourselves, I’m really not intersted, I’ve heard them all before) and making helmets compulsory, despite most evidence linking them to a HIGHER rate of injury amongst cyclists, again becaue they give motoritst a reason to think it’s safe to drive aggressively against a cyclists. So. From this cyclist (and motorist) good riddance to Cycle England. Maybe councils will actually listen to cyclists rather than bureaucrats if they want encourage the one single thing one can do most easily to make one’s life better.

You see the cycle is the last bastion of freedom. You can outrun the police. Something I highly recommend you do as a cyclist is provoke the police to a chase in central London – the best sport you’ll ever have – you can’t be caught by number-plate recognition technology, you don’t need fuel, and if you get caught, are they REALLY going to prosecute you for going the wrong way up a one-way street, and accusing a motorcycle cop of being in it because his boyfriend likes the leather? But it’s not just the sport of running from the police. You are genuinely free on a bike, in a way you are not on any other form of transport. Sunk cost of the equipment, which with a bit of skill and elbow-grease you could have a bike capable of beating anyone’s… if you’re fit, for £50, cycling’s free. No-one’s going to breathalyse you on the way home from the pub if you’ve have one or two too many. Speed-humps, one-way systems and traffic lights are advisory. The reason this is OK is that unless you’re a total twat (like fixie affecionados who think it reasonable to cycle in town without brakes, and the people who ride on the pavement, for example) you’re only risking your OWN life. It’s democratic – The bike is truly the libertarian’s mode of transport. And the final benefit is that girls are more likely to want to go to bed with men who have firm thighs…

Get on your bike. You don’t need a Quango to tell you to do so.

In Which the Dude takes ACTION!

Mr Eugenides said it first, and I heartily concur with his response to the proposal that all PAYE salary goes to the Taxman who then deigns to give you an allowance: a response of FUCK OFF.

Anyway as he’s said everything that needs to be said about this disgusting proposal, I thought I would DO something about it. So here’s the text of the letter I wrote to my MP.

I am sure you have seen the Telegraph report about an idea that the HMRC takes one’s monthly salary and then gives you back what it thinks you should have “to reduce errors”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7985181/HMRC-could-take-direct-control-of-pay-cheques-after-tax-errors.html

This is one of the most disgusting, totalitarian proposals I have ever seen; It would shame the last “Government” and shows that there are people in this administration too who don’t understand the correct role of the state: the SERVANT of the people, not our MASTER. I am having trouble writing to you about this without using Anglo-Saxon invective. Are we Tories civil-libertarians, or not? Are there really people so trusting of the all-powerful state who can’t see anything wrong with this?

Can you reassure me that it’s not a serious proposal so I can shelve plans to emigrate to somewhere business-friendly and free, like North Korea, or Cuba?

Furthermore would It be possible to find out who came up with this revolting proposal, so I can campaign to have them removed from whatever post they may hold?

I will keep you updated as to the response.

Plus ca Change…

Gentlemen,

Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters.

We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty’s Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion’s petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as the the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain.

This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.

This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty’s Government so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below.

I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:

1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London

2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

Your most obedient servant,

Wellington

The above was sent to me by an Officer currently trying to fill posts on operations in the teeth of bureaucratic nit-picking in Whitehall and HQs elsewhere. I am not sure of its veracity, but it’s the sort of irracible thing the Iron Duke, and every great commander of the British Army since has felt:
The dead hand of the bureaucracy, preventing victory since 1707.

Tennis, Porn and Gender Discrimination.

The three areas of endeavour in which women are paid more than men for equivalent work are Tennis, Modelling and Porn, and this is because we men like to look at pretty girls. Preferably naked, but a short skirt will do. Or one with all see-through bits like Jasper Conran‘s latest catwalk show.


Let’s go back to sport. I don’t know why women get offended by people choosing to watch pretty tennis players. The motivation for women to watch rugby always seems to involve the word “thighs”. Do I feel objectified? I like pretty tennis players because I am biologically programmed to seek out healthy, youthful-looking women as mates. Girls like muscular Rugby players because they are programmed to seek out dominant, physically fit men to give their offspring the best genetic inheritance. A pretty face, and large size are some of the unfakable caricteristics with which men and women signal their biological fitness to each other. The fact is we are, as the Bloodhound gang pointed out, “nothing but Mammals”. Men and women want to check each other out, and then get to grips with those they fancy. Because we like different characteristics in each other, men and women have evolved to please the opposite sex’s predilections leading to sexual dimorphism.

You may not like me saying what I am about to say, but I do not like reading “men are redundant” in what is supposed to be Britain’s paper of record. Wishful thinking based on better exam marks does not mean the hairy half of the human race is ‘worthless’. Men are not redundant. Despite male performance in academia falling behind that of females, this can be put down to Girls’ greater diligence, and the increase in coursework, which favours the ‘female’ way of doing things over exams, which in general favour boys.

Life is a little less fair, and more rewarding of risk-taking than school. Whatever the exam results, Men are largely responsible for the advances which have seen people’s life expectancy at birth to reach 80, as for all their dominance at university, few Girls take a pure science. Name me one thing a woman has invented, Or one field of human endeavour in which a woman has blazed the trail. For every Marie Curie, there’s a dozen men of greater achievement: Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton or Charles Darwin leap to mind. Would you pay to watch women play sport? Don’t say ‘yes’, the audience figures on TV and in the stands shout otherwise.

These are facts. There are many reasons for this. Women are on average more risk averse, preferring the safe, if less remunerative job. Women are weaker, more prone to injury if subjected to physical exertion, and therefore aren’t as much fun to watch competing. In any case, Women tend to be more consensual, preferring cooperation to vigorous debate, and tend to be less competitive. Which is why they rarely come up with ground-breaking innovation, which requires a bloody minded arrogance that you know best which is much more common in men. Naturally these characteristics are variables, there are women with male pattern behaviour, and vice versa, but there is no doubt where the mean lies, and this explains much of the difference in representation in Boardrooms, trading floors, politics and the upper echelons of professions. When you adjust for the fact that women on average prioritise job security, and do more part-time work, and above all, have and raise children the Gender pay gap becomes the motherhood pay gap. There is a no gender pay gap amongst the single, childless population.

The sisterhood will probably put all this down to “society imposing gender roles” or something, but there are important biological differences, which any attempt to explain away with social-science wishful thinking renders their entire political philosophy ridiculous; like Frances in The Life of Brian, it is pointless to fight for “Men’s right to have children”. Women have less testosterone, which makes men aggressive and take risks. Women are often observed to have lager Corpus Callosae which enable the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate and is responsible for Women’s much vaunted
inability to focus on one thing at a timeability to multitask. Women also have 2 copies of the X chromosome, whereas men have just one and the much smaller Y. This means men express many more recessive alleles, and therefore have greater phenotypic variety than women. The male normal distribution in many measures is platykurtic. Thus there are more male Geniuses, and more dunces, whilst the mean intelligence is the same for both genders. So perhaps we should not expect to see women equally represented in boardrooms and parliament, if society is, as it is supposed to be, meritocratic. There are just more remarkable (and remarkably stupid) men than women.

Then there’s the undeniable fact of parturition. Women give birth and men generally don’t. When they do, women more often than not want to nurture their offspring. Those years taken out of the workforce, and female preference for safer, less well paid work explain almost all of the Gender pay gap. Men, if they’ve been given a say by the mother of their child tend to feel the urge to provide. Married men with kids work harder and earn more than their single, childless peers. Which again leads us to the ‘Men are redundant’ meme. Are single mothers happy? No. It appears that women choosing to have children out of wedlock is a large contributory factor in women’s happiness declining relative to men since the 1970s.

Most people need a significant other to be happy, and for the majority of people, that means someone of the opposite sex. Herein lies the problem – the opposite sex are space aliens, because as I outlined above, men and women are not the same. We should try to understand each other, and have sex rather than engage in a futile battle of the sexes. But accept that for all the necessary equality, men and women are likely to be very different. Complimentary, but different.

But there is the question of what, if anything public policy can do to address these issues. My solution is to allow genuine choice. There are options available to Men and Women which include Nuclear Families, Childlessness, Single Motherhood, Celibacy. The state should not be sanctioning people’s life choices, and measuring things like the gender pay gap or the number of women in Board-rooms lead to measures to do something about it which may well be worse than the disease. As are policies like defining marriage so as to exclude homosexuals. Single or homosexual parents may not be ideal (and even that is debatable), but what is certain is that a loving home is better than state “care”. Whenever the state intervenes in people’s lives, it creates perverse incentives and misery.

Take parliament. There are many fewer women than men on the green benches. But fewer women put themselves forward than men, probably for reasons outlined above. If 80% of applicants for a job are men, then if everything else is equal you would expect 80% of the successful candidates to be men. By this measure men are discriminated AGAINST in politics. It is therefore reasonable to argue more women should be persuaded to apply for politics, in the interests of better representation. It is not reasonable to look at a very male House of Commons and cite this as evidence of discrimination. Just as the Labour party enshrines discrimination with all-woman shortlists, Harriet Harman, by comparing Male full time work with female part-time work to come up with a Gender pay gap of 17% is guilty of the abuse of statistics to justify what she already thinks is necessary: more anti-discrimination legislation.

I am not arguing for a return to traditional gender roles. Nor am I arguing that women are on average less able. Nor am I arguing that discrimination should be tolerated. Just that with the complexities involved it would be better from a public policy point of view if we were all treated as individual people, not put into gender boxes, by making the insane assumption that men will choose the same things in the same numbers as women.

Now overt discrimination is a thing of the past, better just to let people get on with their lives, without being told they’re a failure if they want to bring up children, or take a safer, easier job for better quality of life. Or indeed if they work every hour of the day to provide for a family, or even buy a bigger car. How about just accepting that people whether they’re men or women are the experts in the incentives in their own lives and react accordingly? Because if you’re arguing for more state regulation, when you look at the evidence it rarely tells the story you wish to tell.