Thursday 31 December 2009

Hogmanay time.

Resistance is taxable.

Happy Easter, according to the Telegraph.

Or Happy New Year. Whatever. It's time to drink until I forget all my troubles and possibly my name. I'm starting with a bottle of the Singleton but I'm going out before denting it too hard, and probably resuming on my return. This is the last post of 2009 for sure because even if I have sufficient finger control to type later, it'll be 2010 before I get back.

Next year, we might finally see the back of the Borgon, when an entirely new and different leader will take control of buggering up the country. The EU have him charging up as we speak. May I present... Borgeron.

EU will be assimilated.

I'm going to have another drink now...

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Smoke and drink.

Ah, the perfect pairing. At the Smoky Drinky place last night, one of the unofficial tobacconists had his post-Christmas sale so I'm stocked up and the Brown Gorgon can whistle for his duty. The trick is to keep a few empty packs with 'UK Duty Paid' stamped on them and transfer the baccy into those, in case of spontaneous checks or of being observed by Council Stasi while rolling. Alternatively get a good baccy tin, but it's been a long time since baccy came in tins.

There are no snoops in the Smoky Drinky place. We are very, very careful who gets invited. It's all getting a bit 'resistance'-like but then with the increasing criminalisation of smokers, we don't really have a lot of choice.

As for the duty part, well the Gorgon won't get any support from his EU puppetmasters. If the stuff's bought in the EU, then the EU have already had their cut. They don't care about the Gorgon's coffers at all, and if he realised that, he might review his relationship with the Faceless Ones who run this country now. I thought the Cameroids might be starting to catch on but sadly it seems they are just as gullible as the Gorgon and his nosegoblins.

Lately it seems the Righteous want to stop the cross-channel trade in dodgy baccy and cheap wine. My first thought was 'Good, that will stir up anti-EU feeling' but then I realised that it doesn't matter. The EU no longer needs the bribery of cheap fags and booze to keep the British onside. Lisbon means they can do as they please and if that means stopping us buying on the continent, there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it. They can stop the cross-channel trade and we can howl all we want. The Cameroids won't help us.

The grandfather whose grandson was stolen for socialist indoctrination was there, with a strange tale to tell. The foster parents who were allocated the child were ill so could not look after him for a few weeks, so he was placed with the paternal grandmother (they are divorced but on amicable terms). This meant that the whole family could visit the child for Christmas after all. Even though the SS had forbidden this, you won't find council staff working on Christmas day so nobody could check.

The grandfather has spoken with the foster parents. They have been looking after the child until they became ill and they don't understand why he was taken. He is absolutely unmarked, is the correct weight for his age (neither over nor underfed) and shows no sign at all of any psychological problems. He is a slow developer but those parents have fostered children with the same disability - and for those with his disability, he is normal. They see no reason why he should have been taken into care. I hope they don't say anything to the SS about this because all the SS will do is move him somewhere else. I really, really hope they save their opinions for a courtroom.

Increasingly, it seems the only reason for this care order is a) the father smokes and b) the grandfather ejected the same social worker from his house when she objected to him smoking in it. I have passed on the advice from the comments you all left last time - thanks again - so we'll see what develops.

Smoky drinky tonight is solo. Tomorrow night I have some invitations to consider (all smoky drinky) so might or might not be here, depending on the growth of Street Glacier. Typing might not be a valid option anyway, not if I reach the stage where I have twenty fingers and can't control any of them.

In Scotland, Hogmanay extends well beyond any thought of 'units' and 'limits' and 'sensible'. Here, the holiday covers both the first and second of January to allow extra recovery time. I have, in the past, missed January 1st entirely although I'm getting too old for that level of excess these days. Last year I was ill and only managed a few sips at midnight. This year I am in much better health and have been practising. Even so, there are those I won't take on in a drinking contest.

This year, since the 2nd is Saturday, there is a bank holiday on Monday 4th. Therefore the Scots don't need to sober up until Tuesday and I know some who won't. Not for me the liver transplant queue. I have to drum up some new projects and the English companies will be back at work on Monday.

I still have to do my tax, too. It's getting harder because now that I know what they'll do with the money, I'd rather give it to some smackhead on the street. At least he's only screwing up his own life.

VAT and salt

Not for road use. This is food!

There was not one grain of salt on Morrisons' shelves this evening, even though today the temperature touched the friendly side of zero for the first time in at least a week. The glacier outside my house took the opportunity to melt its surface and smooth itself, ready to freeze again tonight. I think there's a postman in there. We'll find out in a thousand years or so.

I've never seen such a run on salt and it's not an unusually cold winter so far. There have been worse ones, and I don't recall any similar salt panic. It did snow last night but it was only half an inch, and there was a little flurry this afternoon that made no detectable difference. Otherwise, it's a normal winter, not too harsh and not too mild. It's cold enough to silence any local global warmers. Those who claimed we'd be growing grapes within the decade are staring into their beer and avoiding eye contact. Others have switched to quoting 'The Day After Tomorrow' as if it's some kind of documentary. Sometimes, people are so scared to be seen as gullible idiots they'll cling to whatever line they've been spun no matter what happens.

There are three possible reasons for the salt rush, as far as I can see. First, there was a time, not so long ago, when councils had memories that spanned a time greater than the date of their last expenses claim. They used to prepare for winter and stock up on rock salt. There's not so much of that any more. Councillors are stunned at the mysterious white stuff that appears every year because their little brains can't recall seeing it before. So people are buying their own salt.

Second, people are lazy selfish bastards these days, on the whole, and the idea of actually digging the snow with a shovel horrifies them. They pour loads of salt on their driveways because they're too idle to do a bit of digging. That certainly seems to be the prevailing attitude here. The pavement outside my house is the only bit that's been cleared so far (although I'm not venturing past the kerb, onto the glacier. The ice is higher than the kerb!). Nobody else has made the attempt, not even on their own paths and drives. They pour salt on the ground and drive their cars over it. In the spring I'll be chuckling at the sprouting rust-bubbles they've planted.

Third, and this is the least likely because it implies an ability to think ahead being far more prevalent in the population than I can believe - perhaps they've noticed that the Salt Police have been flexing their banning muscles lately. This weather is a good excuse to stockpile without anyone noticing. Nah, I don't think there are enough people who'd think that way. Thinking ahead is what they pay the council for, not something they'd do themselves.

I have a few kilos of salt here. I like to dip cholesterol-laden boiled eggs into it. It's far too nice to throw it on the pavements.

There's also the frenetic activity in all the shops. That mystified me for a while. Don't these people have enough stuff yet? There are always hordes of people suckered into buying stuff they don't need just because it's half price. Every January sale, they come out in droves as if someone's poked a stick into their hive. I notice they aren't January sales any more, they are Boxing Day sales now and they start before Christmas. Anyone else remember when every single shop, without exception, was closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and the sales actually started in January? We used to have a few days of actual relaxation back then. Even the Righteous took a day off from nagging.

This year seemed worse than usual and there is, in fact, a simple reason. On January 1st, VAT goes back up to 17.5%. I noticed this because the lab rental is in two parts - the rent itself (zero VAT) and the service charge for electricity, heating etc, which is VAT rated and is higher on the bill due in January.

So everything will be that little bit more expensive on Friday. Now that's a Day After Tomorrow everyone should pay attention to. Especially if you drive. Petrol's about to go up again.

Ah well, the saltless Morrisons didn't bother me. I wasn't there for salt. They did have a good stock of the Singleton (now one unit less) and of Bruaichladdich (one unit less) and I picked up a bottle of visitor whisky for tomorrow night, just in case. It's Grants Ale Cask reserve, which is very nice for a blend and at £11 a bottle on special offer at the moment.

This crazy holiday continues until Tuesday. Monday is a bank holiday so it'll be the middle of next week before anything sensible happens. It's irritating because all the companies I work for are closed. They're on paid leave. I'm not. The sooner the country gets back to normal, the better.

Although 'normal' is probably asking way too much.

And now it's time for food. Morrisons did have some nice fillet steak at very reasonable prices. I've eaten enough turkey and ham this week to deplete the livestock of an average farm so it's time for a change. Medium rare, I think. With mustard and chips.

And salt.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Today I nearly became a Tory voter...

...but they blew it at the last minute.

The Tories want to scrap ID cards and other overpriced and pointless databases and have come out and said so. They also plan to cap government spending on IT projects so there can be no more constant bleeding of funds into inefficient and useless companies that deliver late, over budget stuff that turns out to be no actual use at all.

Francis Maude, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Labour’s IT procurement process has been marked by a catalogue of failures, late deliveries and cost overruns.
“We need a freeze on signing up to yet more failed projects.

“We have a once in a generation chance to ensure greater value for money, rein in Labour’s database state and use modern technology to transform government...

Sounds good to me. An actual Tory policy at last, and one that makes sense. But then he goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like -

...and society for the better.”

No no no no no. Society votes you into office. You work for society, not the other way round. You are not employed by us to change us to suit some personal ideal of your own, you are there to run the country so we don't have to. That's your job. That's it. You are not there to tell us how to live, you are there to ensure we have police and fire brigades and buses and trains and so on. You are there to negotiate with other countries on our behalf and organise defence against them where necessary.

You, politicians, are responsible for collecting the rubbish in our bins and ensuring the sewage works don't back up. Feel too important for that? Then get a different job.

Consider what Labour have done to change society. Every intervention a disaster. What have they really changed? Well, they have changed this society from one that was willing to vote for them into one that isn't. That will happen to you too, Tories, unless you grasp this simple basic fact.

You work for the people of this country. They do not work for you and they are not your playthings. Society is your employer, not your modelling clay. Get on with your jobs and stop irritating your employers.

The first government to realise this will hold office for a very long time. That government will never be Labour nor will it be Lib Dem.

I don't think it'll be Tory either.

New hat considerations.

I had a little anvil for Christmas. I've always wanted a suit of armour but the real thing is way off the scale of my budget. I can't make it all on one O-level in metalwork while trying to run an entirely unrelated business. So I'm building some of it myself and buying the hard bits. It's based loosely on mediaeval armour - though I have neither the patience nor skill to make my own chain mail - and made on a lightweight, under-clothes design. The horn of the anvil is perfect for shaping.

The main things beyond my skill and patience are the helmet and gauntlets Fortunately there are options available. Gauntlets are already out there.

I have helmets already but I am tempted by this and this.

It's not easy. What's the well-dressed psycho wearing these days?

Monday 28 December 2009

Sympathy for the smoking devils.

Yes, it's another smoking rant. Antismokers might want to skip straight to the comments as usual and leave the standard responses.

Smokers are portrayed as the spawn of Satan these days. We are terrible people whose main aim in life is to seek out nonsmokers and infuse their hair and clothing with tobacco scent. One whiff of the deadly smoke will kill a nonsmoker instantly, but we smokers are a different species, born and bred in the sulphurous fumes of Hell, so we are immune. If we do get sick, we must not be treated by the NHS because we will only persuade the patients and staff to take up smoking too, with our silver tongues and yellow fingers. Children? We eat your children and our own too, roasted over a fire of tobacco leaves and phenol and flavoured with benzene and tar.

None of that is true. It is the description put out by the Book of Righteousness and the one favoured by those who take up the torch and pitchfork of the antismoker's league. Smokers are just ordinary people who happen to like a smoke. We are not all ravening addicts who want to stop but can't. If we were, there would have been many cases of violent nervous breakdowns on trains and especially in airport departure lounges when flights are delayed or cancelled. How many such cases have you heard about?

We are not heartless. We do not laugh at the deaths of others. We don't want to break into your house, decapitate your children and use their heads as ashtrays. We don't want to lay seige to any non-smoking venue and demand everyone start smoking in there. We don't care if you don't smoke, we are not going to force you to live like us and we are not interested in 'converting' your children to our 'cause'. We just want a quiet smoke now and then, and when it's -10 C outside, we'd quite like a place where we can do it inside. It doesn't have to be any place you antismokers visit.

Not good enough, though, is it? There must be no smoking in any indoor place at all, just in case you antismokers might one day travel hundreds of miles to a new town, bypass the fifteen non-smoking venues and insist on visiting the one smoking venue. Just in case that were to happen, no smoking can be allowed anywhere, ever.

Every time I put up one of these posts I can guarantee I'll get at least one comment along the lines of 'Smoking is filthy and vile and you must be prevented because I don't like it'. 'Smoking is dangerous to non-smokers so you have to be killed'. 'Smoking harms the cheeeldren.' Then there is always 'I watched a relative die of smoking and it was horrible and you are horrible because you are just a filthy addict who wants everyone to join you in hell'. No I don't. I am the very definition of a solitary individual. I don't see much of other people and I like it that way. I certainly have no wish to spend eternity in the company of the Righteous or their brainwashed pets because that would be Hell indeed.

Let's play smoker's advocate for a moment. Suppose I told you that pot-pourri was filthy and vile and I don't like the smell. Or perhaps certain brands of aftershave or perfume. Suppose I objected to leaving a cat-owner's house smelling of cat. Should all those things be banned just because I don't like them?

Answer: No, but not for the obvious and sensible reasons, but because smokers' opinions don't count. Only those who don't like the smell of smoke have a valid objection. Smokers who don't like other smells are only saying that out of spite. And then they wonder why smokers get angry.

I am, in fact, allergic to cat fur. So should cats be banned from everywhere because they make me ill? Not some imagined connection between meeting a cat today and a possible illness twenty years in the future, but actually and really ill, right now. Surely that is a stronger case than second-hand smoke?

Answer: No, because smoking is the only thing that causes harm. Besides, if you're a smoker, it doesn't matter what else affects you because the smoking will kill you anyway. So just put up with it. And then they wonder why smokers get angry.

Cars harm cheeeldren. Ban all forms of road transport. Trains, too. In fact, children harm each other so let's ban them all and that's that sorted out. Well, if smoking is banned because of the possibility of harm, involving a vague and unspecified form of harm at some unspecified future time, surely it is only common sense to ban all forms of immediate and definite harm?

Answer: No, because that's just silly. The risk to children from traffic is acceptable even though it causes hundreds of child deaths, while smoking has not been shown as a cause of even one, because we need to get around. We need cars and buses and trains. We don't need people smoking at all on any part of them because it's dangerous to children. That's Righteous logic. And then they wonder why smokers get angry.

Finally, the dead relative ploy. I smoke. I have never killed anyone. If someone you know is dying of a smoke-related illness, try to remember that the only reason it's a 'smoking related illness' is that it has been defined as such by people who start from the premise that smoking is bad. It might be caused by smoking or it might not be. Whether it is or is not caused by smoking, I didn't do that. I'm not the car driver who ran over your relative. I'm not the armed burglar they disturbed. I didn't even sell them the cigarettes and I certainly didn't encourage them to start smoking.

Lung cancer, in particular, is always billed as a smoking related illness. I recall a study which demonstrated a high risk of lung cancer from hot showers because the chemicals added to the water supply are vapourised and inhaled in the shower. That seems to have been sidelined. (I recall another that had strong evidence to show that smokers are at lower risk of diseases like Alzheimer's, but that one vanished under a ton of Righteous disapproval too.)

Cancer is not the sole preserve of smokers. Non-smokers get it too and not from associating with smokers. If you want to put cervical, rectal and prostate cancer down to smoking then you must have an unusual lifestyle indeed. Lung cancer is linked only because the lungs are where the smoke goes. They are also where the traffic fumes go, and where the air fresheners go, but these airborne chemicals are blameless for some reason. If a smoker gets lung cancer, no other possible cause is investigated. Smoking did it and that's that. If a non-smoker living in the same house or working in the same building gets lung cancer too, it was the smoker who did it. No other possible cause is investigated or considered. That's why cancer research is making little progress - it's all blamed on one cause these days, with no investigation and no consideration of the possibility of other causes. Even if every smoker stopped, there'd still be lung cancer. Who would you blame then?

I'm sure I sound like a heartless bastard who doesn't care that your relatives are dying of cancer. I am not heartless - but I don't care. If I were to take on the burden of worrying about the six billion people I've never met I'd be in a padded room within a month. It's not that I am unsympathetic, but I don't know you, I don't know your relative and we'll probably never meet. I have no idea whether your relative's illness is due to their smoking or not, and no way of finding out. I cannot feel guilty about it, nor can I make or suggest any form of restitution, because I played no part in it at all.

Likewise, antismokers, you don't know me. Yet you presume to tell me, with absolute conviction, that I am an addict in denial, that I am responsible for making your clothes smell and I am responsible for the second hand smoke you claim is killing you. Oh, and third hand smoke too, which apparently involves pathogens attached to clothing in some Mail reader's minds. If only the schools taught - well, anything.

I know a lot of people who stopped smoking. The ones who didn't go back were not the ones using patches and gum, nor the ones on the NHS programmes. The ones who stopped for good are the ones who stopped because they wanted to. Those who, one day, thought 'I'm not enjoying this any more' and just stopped. Addicts? Really? Can an addict just stop like that?

Many smokers believe they are addicted, not because they are, but because the antismokers tell them so. Many attempt to stop not because they want to but because they have been guilt-tripped and harassed into it. They are told they have an addiction and must be cured. So they react as if they were addicted. As one of those who stopped told me; 'It's easy to stop smoking. Just stop putting cigarettes in your mouth and lighting them'. He's right. It is easy to stop if you're not enjoying it. If you are, you don't want to stop. If you are harassed into stopping, the natural human reaction is to resist. If you are convinced it's an addiction, you will produce psychosomatic withdrawal symptoms which are not real, but feel real.

Why do you imagine it's billed as an addiction? To sell the cures. Nothing more. You can't sell cures to people who don't believe they are ill. Allan Carr had a stop-smoking method that worked well but involved nothing more than reading a book or attending a seminar. It worked so well because those who tried it were those who wanted to stop but believed the addiction hype. Patches and gum don't work because they are foisted onto those who don't want to stop but feel pressured to do so. The NHS programmes all start from the premise that we are filthy addicts who all want to stop but can't. That's why they don't work.

They aren't supposed to work, of course, because the government don't really want to lose all that revenue. So we have a situation where a non-illness is classed as an illness to sell a 'cure' that won't work. The revenue streams from both sources just keep coming. The antismokers are primed to spread the addiction meme and instil guilt in smokers so the smokers think they can't quit but should. It's all a scam, and a very profitable one. Allan Carr was prevented from advertising his stop-smoking method as 'doesn't require willpower' and Electrofag, the best alternative to tobacco so far, is banned all over the place, because they encroach upon the Righteous profit machine. If you want to stop smoking, those things are your best bet (speaking as a smoker, not a drone) but they are not feeding money into Righteous coffers so they must be silenced.

I smoke because I like it. I have Electrofag because I like that too, but I still like real smoking as well. If the day comes when I don't like it any more, I'll stop. Until then, just leave me the hell alone.

No matter what those 'experts' tell you, I am doing you no harm at all. I'm not even allowed near you any more. You have every public space to yourself. Soon the ban will extend into my own home, even though it's child-free and will remain that way. Isn't it enough? You have won.

Yet I know I will get at least one 'filthy smoker' comment. The same ones, over and over and over. Continuous nagging from the people who have banned me from every pub in the land and whose laws will not let me set up a club for smokers anywhere, ever, and who want to encroach upon my home with their ban in the future. No matter that they experience no inconvenience at all from my smoking, they will berate me for it anyway.

And they'll wonder why smokers are angry.

The coldest warming on record.

Over at Boatang and Demetriou (which I can't get the RSS feed to work for) they have a rant about the absurdity of the Met office. Their insistence that the world is warming has now become an 'Oh no it isn't' response to current weather.

Here, today's forecast was for temperatures of between 1 degC to -1 degC and cloud. The sky is perfectly clear, the sun is shining, yet last night's frost is unmoved. The gadget in my shed that transmits outside temperatures into the house said it was -5 degC at 1 pm. Someone has parked a glacier in my street and it's unsafe to venture outside sober, never mind tipsy. If I saw a polar bear walk past, I wouldn't even raise an eyebrow.

We are told that the cold snap is over but that it will return in time for New Year. So is that really just a continuation of what's here now or is it going to get worse? Either way, once those drunken revellers take to the streets at Hogmanay, the A&E departments are going to be very busy indeed. They are every year but this year is likely to be special.

It's not snow out there any more. A light drizzle now and then, clear skies and continuous sub-zero temperatures combined with compaction of the snow by traffic and pedestrians means that if you fancy a go at curling, just grab a stone and make your way outside. If you want to go anywhere, forget it.

I have to go out tomorrow. It's an emergency. I'm nearly out of whisky. There's also a drinky-smoky evening tomorrow night and I'd like to be able to get there. What to wear? Simple. Everything.

Still, that's global warming, eh? The believers still defend it. They say it's the Gulf stream shutting down and refer us to that authoritative publication, the film 'The Day After Tomorrow' as proof. Centuries from now, copies of that film will be dug out of glaciers to the amusement of archaeologists of the day.

I say it's getting closer to an ice age. If you've migrated to this country to avoid the effects of global warming on a more equatorial environment, you've made a very big mistake.

Meanwhile, those who should be dealing with this weather are still insisting it's warming outside. Councils who fell for it didn't bother stocking up on grit, bookies paid out on a white Christmas I wish I'd bet on in the summer, government imposes more taxes on heating so those with no money die faster, even the light bulbs are colder this year than last.

This government has to forget global warming, which might or might not happen one day. The ice is here now. Deal with that.

Then again, dealing with real, current problems has never been this government's priority. It's easier to deal with things that aren't happening and then claim they stopped it happening.

More profitable, too.

Looking for directions.

I have many memories of childhood because I was sober for most of it. I remember when my father had a Hillman Imp. He drove it fast, my brother and myself were in the back without seatbelts (they weren't compulsory and booster seats had not been invented, yet we survived!). I don't remember which of us thought it might be fun to open the rear window - an unusual feature of the Imp - but I do know that neither of us were old enough to appreciate that with the front windows open, opening the rear screen would make maps and directions and anything else made of paper disappear in an instant. Yes, we were whacked for it but it was so funny it was worth the walloping.

My father once had a metallic green Cortina mk IIE estate. If he'd kept it, he'd be richer now. But that's another story.

Another enduring memory is of my mother's navigational skills. This involved sitting in silence and staring at a map. Once in a while she'd speak.

Mother: "You should have turned left."

Father: "When?"

Mother: "Back there."

Father: "^%&&%$£"^&*!"£$%^^&!"

My mother had many names. Most of them were names we'd get walloped for saying aloud.

Nowadays we have cellphones and satnav so nobody ever need get lost again. Okay, you can't use your phone when driving but the satnav thing just sits on the dashboard. That can't be a problem.

On the phone-and-driving ban, I am in that quantum state of being simultaneously for and against it. Even handsfree. I've been a passenger in a car where the driver was chatting on the phone (handsfree) and talking to me and all I could think was 'Watch the road, you stupid bastard'. Then again, the old 'driving without due care and attention' law covers it. We didn't need a specific one for phones.

Satnav, though, can't possibly be a problem. Unlike my mother, it will tell you when a turn is coming, not when you've missed it. You can turn off the sound and just use it as a moving map. It saves carrying maps for everywhere you want to go and utterly destroys map-reading ability in the young but not in me so sod them. If it gives nonsensical instructions, pretend my mother is navigating and ignore them. Easy.

However, the Righteous have some spurious research designed to take your satnavs away.

Fears that sat-nav devices may pose a risk to motorists follow research which showed that 78 per cent of crashes were caused by driver inattention.

78 per cent were caused by driver inattention. Phones, nagging spouses, screaming kids, short-skirted wenches at the side of the road, tiredness and so on, are now all the fault of satnavs. As Rolf Harris used to say - can you see what it is yet?

According to the same survey, carried out by Direct Line insurance, one driver in 50 said sat-nav had either caused or nearly caused an accident.

One in fifty. Even then, that assumes that no driver in this country, in this day and age, would try to blame someone or something else for their very expensive crash. Again - can you see what it is yet?

It's the smoking ban. It's the alcohol controls. It's the beating down of meat, salt and fat in foods. It's the same technique again and again and again. I can't see why satnav is the target here apart from the research funding and the general love of banning things. It's on the way though.

They can't control our movements if we have maps of the whole country. Ask East Germany about that one. Or ask T-Mobile. Based in Germany, they have seen it all before.

Well, here it comes again.

Will they tell him when he's dead?

I've never been able to decide what to think about Akmal Shaikh, the British citizen facing execution in China for smuggling drugs. His defence seems to hinge on 'well, yes, he did it but he's a bit dim, you know?'

There is no denying he was carrying drugs. His defence lawyers say he can't be held responsible because of mental illness. He has bipolar disorder. The thing is, as Chinese doctors will be aware, bipolar disorder does not affect intelligence. It's a mood-swing thing, sufferers might be ecstatic one day and suicidal the next with no reference to what's happening around them. Whichever phase they're in, their intelligence is still there. I can't see why it would be a defence in this case.

It's a British thing, and a very recent one, to try to defend anyone caught in the act with a mental illness defence. It's not going to work in China. Ever. Not even the story that he went there because he's not very bright and someone convinced him he was going to be a recording star. That might be true. Such things happen to people. China might or might not accept that one, but they will not accept bipolar disorder as a defence. It doesn't make people stupid.

He's been sentenced to death. Right or wrong? I don't know. Should he be let off just because he's British? No. If you visit another country then you are subject to their laws. Which is why so many criminals come here, where the law puts them above their victims.

If it can be proved that he genuinely had no idea what he was doing, should he be let off? Not entirely. He did carry the drugs, even if he was duped into it, so should be punished for that. The death sentence is far too high for that crime but it is still a crime.

Even though there are people out there who I'd like to see strung up, and a few who should be peeled and salted first, I am not in favour of the death penalty. The law makes mistakes. Someone wrongly imprisoned can be released and compensated. Someone wrongly hanged, well, all we can do is carve 'sorry' into the gravestone. So, other than in cases where the criminal was caught in the act, and that act involved murder or rape, I'd never support a death sentence.

What strikes me as particularly horrible about this case is that everyone on the planet knows this guy has been sentenced to death, except one. Him.

He has not been told.

Imagine sitting in a cell, not knowing what's coming but perhaps confident that you'll be freed. Then you're told you've been sentenced to death and it'll happen within 24 hours. How would you feel about that? How would you feel when you find that the whole world has known about this for weeks, including the guards and everyone who visited you? You wouldn't need to be bipolar to hit a severe depression. It's not a good feeling for the last day of life.

Whether he deserves the death penalty or not, telling everyone but him that he's doomed is just nasty.

It's on humanitarian grounds, apparently.

Saturday 26 December 2009

The award for remembering to breathe goes to...

I was in the Scouts, you know. I wasn't one of the greatest scouts but I did get a few badges. One was the 'science' badge which involved stuff I was interested in so it was an easy one. If I ever find it I'll sew it onto my lab coat and when anyone asks about my scientific qualifications, I'll point to the badge.

I didn't get many badges. I had one for knots, but I doubt I can remember how to tie a bowline or a sheepshank now. I can't even remember what the sheepshank was for. Still, I've never lost a fishing hook due to a badly tied line, so some of it stuck. Those badges weren't easy to get, apart from the 'science' one and I don't think I've ever met anyone else who had one of those. You had to work for them and earn them.

There was no badge for 'banging in a tent peg' or 'keeping your kit clean'. Those were simply expected. Failure could lead to punishment but the only reward for success was the absence of punishment. Likewise, the expression of good manners in dealing with people. Expected. Not rewarded.

The only thing I remember winning in school was an essay competition. There were prizes on sports day but, well, sports and me just never quite gelled. I didn't like sports and sports didn't like me so we kept away from each other. It worked well. I didn't get a certificate for the essay competition either - the prize was book tokens. Much more useful.

Well, that wasn't the only thing I won. I won a clutch of O levels, A levels and an S level (no, no employer knew what it was back then, either, but it meant I had the full set of biology qualifications when I left). I say 'won' because I had to put in the effort to get them. No certificate was ever handed out without good reason, so we valued the ones we managed to get.

Teachers didn't give us things. They taught us how to get things or make things. My parents still have the aluminium-and-steel model cannon I made in metalwork. I never did get around to making it fire, but I did learn to use a lathe, cast and shape metal, anneal and temper steel, riveting and much more. The only certificate I have is the O level at the end.

What I learned in chemistry and physics is probably best kept quiet about these days. I might get banned from flying if I put it here.

The point is, those certificates and prizes mattered because we had to work for them. The sporty types won prizes for running fastest or throwing things the furthest or lifting the heaviest thing. First, second and third counted. Nothing else. There was no certificate for 'totally bloody useless' so there was no point in me entering. I didn't feel left out or isolated. Those folk might be able to throw me around or run rings round me but not one of them would ever beat me in an insult contest. It meant sports day was worth watching because only those who thought they were in with a chance would enter, which meant there was a real competition going on.

Even the physically useless had an interest in sports day. Some naughty children ran a book (cough).

If our teachers had given us certificates for things like this -

...awards for remembering to bring their PE kit to school, upholding class rules and displaying good table manners.

- or these -

“Being very grateful for all the toys”
“Making a lovely Christmas decoration”
“Upholding class rules”
“Good table manners”
“Attending the multi-skills day”
“Trying really hard to play nicely”
“Being brave about trying Greek food”
“For reading, writing and skipping”
“Returning your form on time”
"Bringing your PE kit to school”
“Listening well and remembering to put your hand up”
“Good sitting on the carpet”

- we would have been bemused at best and embarrassed at worst. An award for listening? The point of listening was that it was the only way to get the award that mattered - the qualification at the end of the course. It's the equivalent of the sports award for being totally bloody useless. It means 'well, he's no good at it but at least he looks as though he's trying'.

As with the scouts, there was no award for remembering to bring PE kit or homework or anything else that was required. There were punishments for failure to do those things. It was made clear that we were responsible for those things and if we failed, nobody else was to blame.

Likewise, if I had been given an award for 'trying really hard to play nicely', I would have taken it as a sarcastic comment meaning 'this little twat is uncontrollable' and so would my father. That award would never have reached home. If I'd shown him an award for 'good table manners' he'd have wanted to know how I was eating before then. The only reason for such an award would be that the child previously ate like a starved and somewhat demented warthog, then learned how to do it like a human. When I was at school, receiving something like that would have been seriously humiliating.

These awards are for things that we were simply expected to do as civilised children. Even the class dope could use a knife and fork and dress themselves. Even the thugs had their ties on straight and their shirts clean and ironed. Even the scruffy ones, like me, would never dare turn up without their jackets.

I mean, an award for reading, writing and skipping? What course is that? If it involves all three at once then it certainly deserves an award. Good sitting on the carpet? Even the wording of the award is grammatical heresy. I expect my old English teacher to rise from the grave at any moment, kill the teachers concerned and leave convoluted sarcastic comments on the wall, written in the victim's own blood. That woman never hit a pupil. No need. She could have convinced us to hit ourselves if she'd wanted.

What is happening in schools now? An award for 'attending the multi-skills day', when attendance at school is already compulsory? That's like an employer handing out awards for 'turning up at a meeting'. Actually, I did get one of those. It was shortly before I became self employed. A visiting consultant was charged with telling a roomful of us about 'commercialisation of research' but instead waffled for most of the day then handed out certificates proving we had endured his pointless droning. Mine went straight in the bin. These days I charge for meetings so nobody asks for one unless it actually matters.

These kids will eventually leave school. Some might get jobs. They will expect to be applauded into work every morning and to get a certificate for turning up more than half the time. They will want sitting-at-a-desk certificates and coffee-making awards. They are going to get a very nasty shock.

In real life, there are punishments for getting things wrong but no awards for getting trivia right. Some things are just expected and if you can't do those things without constant praise, nobody will employ you for long. The way we were taught prepared us for that. The way these kids are being taught does not. Worse, many will fail to spot the difference between these random awards and real qualifications. Imagine receiving a CV with a list of these things!

The one that really caught my eye was this -

"Creating a lovely jellyfish independently”

Craig Ventner, the man whose team won the race to sequence the human genome, is currently trying to create a simple bacterium from scratch. It seems the schools are a little bit ahead of him on that one.

Perhaps that child will be applying for God's job one day.

Thursday 24 December 2009

A bit of Christmas cheer.

Apparently NASA or someone have set up some kind of system to track Santa. Let's hope those Patriot missiles don't get him this year.

Outside, light rain has turned the snow into a sheet of polished ice but I have no plans to go anywhere for a few days at least. Nobody will be able to get near the house either. It's better than a moat and cheaper too.

I have a stock of whisky, wine and food and I'm dug in for the duration. Just need to set up the candles and prepare the 'Hail Santa' chant for midnight.

No ranting tomorrow. I'll only be on if I have something funny to say and am sober enough to say it. It's every curmudgeon's day off.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Except politicians. For you lot, I hope Rudolph shits down your chimney.

And I hope he's been eating a particularly virulent curry.

I'll catch up on all those comments on Boxing Day or maybe tomorrow if the TV is as crap as usual. For now, oblivion beckons...

The Blue Klux Klan

I have not seen Avatar. I generally wait until the fuss has died down for new films, listen to a range of opinions and then decide whether to see it in the cinema (on a day when all the little popcorn-crunchers are at school) or wait until it turns up in the bargain bins. This one sounds like its special effects might make it worth a cinema trip.

So it has an eco-message. I don't care. So it's basically 'Dances with Smurfs' or 'Pocahontas in Space'. There are only about seven basic plots in existence and every story involves re-use. The Magnificent Seven was The Seven Samurai remade and I enjoyed both. How many of Clint Eastwood's cowboy films had different basic plots? Star Wars followed a similar spaghetti-western format with small-force-defeats-superior-force and it all hinged on the actions of a single character. They are films, not real life. In real life, no commanding officer with half a brain is going to let his entire mission depend on one soldier making it through impossible odds.

Fiction is meant to be fun. It's supposed to take you into an illusory world where you're not just hearing, reading, watching the story, you feel as if you're in it. Sure, stick a message in there if you want but don't force it. If the message becomes the main focus of the story then you've blown it. The story becomes a lecture. It breaks the illusion and nobody will buy it.

On the other hand, there are those who seek out a message in every book, film, magazine, TV programme or blog. Usually the same message. The one they want to find, no matter what the story is about. These days, it's usually racism and some are willing to stretch the definition to its absolute limits, and beyond, to fit their preconceived message into whatever is before their eyes.

Will Heaven is such a message-seeker. He has decided Avatar is racist because one side is blue and the other is not. As I said, I haven't seen the film but if it follows the standard plot for such films, the blue side are bound to win even though the humans have guns and the blues have sticks. To Will, the blues represent every minority everywhere except in countries where whites are a minority, and the humans (of all colours, creeds and gender) represent the evil white man. Minorities of Earth, rejoice. Under Emperor Will, all are eligible to join the Blue Klux Klan. Actually, aliens are usually blue or green precisely to avoid any human race links. Blue and green people don't exist, therefore blue or green people must be aliens.

There was an episode of Star Trek (the original series with William Shatner) that did explore racism in a very clever way. Two aliens were fighting, both were black on one side of their bodies and white on the other. When questioned as to why one of them thought himself superior when they were both half-black and half-white, one alien said "Are you blind? He's black on the left side and I'm black on the right." Nicely done, I thought. A racism-based plot with neither black nor white portrayed as the good guys or the bad guys. However, most films don't have racist plots. It's a very difficult one to balance so only the bravest film-makers will touch it.

Will Heaven notes in the comments that he does not accept anti-white racism under any circumstances. He regards it as a form of self-pity. I'm sure he'd enjoy a midnight stroll through certain streets of certain towns, to be found all over the world, because he's white and nobody, anywhere, is racist against whites. We could club together and get him a ticket to Zimbabwe. Jolly Bob Mugabe just loves us honkies, you know.

In Will's World, 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' must be racist because the smart Il Buono is white, and the dim and volatile Il Brutto is Mexican. We'll overlook the evil one, who is also white, because he's not patronising the minority character and that doesn't fit the agenda. 'Star Wars' is racist because Darth Vader's suit was black and Luke's spaceship was white. Even in the 'Alien' films, the alien was black. If you want to find a racist subtext, you'll find it. Any connection, no matter how tenuous, will do.

Lord of the Rings must have sent Will into orgasms of imagined racism. Hobbits are white, orcs are coloured (I think. They were covered in so much dirt it was hard to tell). Sauron is depicted in black, Gandalf becomes 'the White', the elves lose their power because of the actions of the evil imperialist white humans and hobbits, and the elves have to leave their lands as a result. All the orcs are killed.

Will, as a global warmist and ecoloon supreme, must have hugged himself in glee when the trees came to life and destroyed the mechanised land of Saruman the White (yep).

Sometimes there really is a not-so-subtle dig. Remember Waterworld? The seas had risen to cover the entire planet and nobody alive remembered land. It had been a while. Yet the Evil Ones, the Smokers, still had plenty of cigarettes and lived on a rusting oil tanker half-full of flammable liquid. Where did they get the smokes? Why hadn't they blown themselves up long before the droning mutant arrived? How did they refine the oil into aviation fuel for their plane? They made no obvious attempt to grow anything on the deck, nor to go fishing, they looked and acted like middle-ages village idiots apart from the vicious elite. How did they survive?

There were plot holes in that film you could fly an airbus through but it didn't matter - the scriptwriter wanted his evil ones to be 'The Smokers' and no mere plot chasm was going to prevent that. It destroyed the film's illusion. Everyone else was using sail but the Smokers had oil. Everyone else was struggling to survive but the Smokers had no apparent need of food or drink. The Smokers had an apparently endless supply of ready-made cigarettes, perhaps from a magic vending machine on their oil tanker. The message was clear - eco-life good, oil-life bad and to drive the point home, the bad guys all smoke too - but the story's credibility was ruined by overemphasising that message.

Will must have loved that one. When one floating village tried to kill the mutant just because he was different, Will could have engaged his 'racism overdrive' again although the mutant was white, which must have set Will's internal gears grinding.

Any work of fiction must, above all else, be enjoyable and for that to work it has to be internally consistent. It doesn't have to be real but whatever world it portrays must have logical rules and stick to those rules throughout. As long as Avatar does that, I'll be happy to sit back and watch the aliens fight the spacemen. Just for the fun of it.

I'm not wasting my leisure time in looking for things to be offended at.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

PC Christmas songs.

Christmas songs of the future will have to pass through the transformative equalisation of PC Newspeak, subject to official approval, checking, rechecking and future adjustment as and when required.

White Christmas, by Bingo McChrimbo.

First pass - the Diversity Office.

I'm dreaming of a censored Censored
(might offend coloured minorities and other religions)
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a censored Censored
With every Censored card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Censoreds be censored

Second pass - For the Cheeeldren Department.

I'm censored of a censored Censored
(dreaming can suggest nightmares)
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the censoreds glisten,
(talk of trees encourages hazardous tree climbing)
and censoreds censored
To censored censored in the snow
(mention of children will attract paedos: listen, hear and bells,
discriminates against deaf children)
(sleighs encourage hazardous speeding on slopes)

I'm censored of a censored Censored
With every Censored card censored
(discriminates against the illiterate)
May your days be censored censored
(discriminates against sad children)
And may all your Censoreds be censored

Third pass - Health Department

I'm censored of a censored Censored
Censored censored censored censored
(discriminates against those with poor memories)
Where the censoreds censored,
('glisten' discriminates against the blind)
and censoreds censored
To censored censored in censored
('snow' is offensive to those whose
have died in unheated homes)

I'm censored of a censored Censored
With every Censored card censored
May your days be censored censored
And may all your Censoreds be censored

Final version approved for circulation to all licenced carol-singers, along with a reminder that any unlicenced carol-singers will be required to undertake re-education. Any carol-singer found singing an unapproved version at any time will have their licence and eyes withdrawn and will be rewired by an undertaker and re-ducttaped.

(Note by inspection clerk 22391: re-check original dictation on final notes)

(Note by inspection clerk 40126: rechecked and that's what it sounds like to me, innit?)

A little frivolity, but don't laugh too loud. It's the logical conclusion to what's happening in this country. We really aren't that far away from this now.

The scary part is, you can still sing it...

UPDATE: It's already begun.

"Bring Out Your Veg."

A couple of years ago, I fancied building myself a compost bin. Then the council started up with their green initiatives and said they'd sell us compost bins for a tenner. I took a look, decided it looked better than anything I could build at that price, and bought one.

It's a good composter, still there and still in use. Grass clippings go in there, chopped up bush trimmings, and best of all, shredded bank statements and credit card bills. Identity thieves can't even piece together the bits.

There was also kitchen waste. Vegetable peelings and the like. Even cigarette ends, because with rollups, all you're left with is a few leaves and a bit of paper. I had a little bucket to keep it all in before transferring it to the compost.

That bucket is no more. Kitchen waste only goes to compost if I have enough at one time to make it worthwhile going down the garden to the compost bin. So why have I de-greened this part of my routine?

Well, if you had asked me in the winter, I'd have said it was working perfectly well and I was happy with it.

In summer, the kitchen filled with tiny flies and any attempt to approach that bin sent up a cloud of them. The bin initially moved to outside the back door, but then the crows found it and sweeping it all up again became tiresome. The bin ended up in the bigger bin.

So it's no surprise to find that the brainwashed populace, when asked if they like their new, compulsory, Prison-style slopping out buckets, are happy to go along with the authorities while it's too cold for insect and rodent infestations. They are happy with the handcarts manned by mediaeval men, ringing a bell and shouting 'Bring out your veg' as long as that week-old bucket of rotting muck is controlled by the cold.

Next summer, when those same buckets contain a single lump held together by fungus and are host to a million flies, just watch that attitude change.

Of course, it'll be too late then. The fines for non-compliance will have started.

Johnny the Hutt got it right...or wrong.

Back when the Brown Gorgon finally pushed the Tiny Blur out of the high chair, an anonymous monster said the Gorgon would be a disaster as Prime Monster. Prophetic words indeed.

Now, it is revealed, that monster was none other than Johnny the Hutt.

He said: "There's no point me denying that I didn't have very serious concerns. I did say it, yes."

There you are. Straight from the horse's arse. However.

Asked if he still believed Mr Brown was a "disaster," Mr Hutton said he had changed his view.
He said: "My opinion has changed. I personally have no criticisms of Gordon's performance as Prime Minister at all.

"He's been a tremendously hard-working man who has really put his heart and soul into it."

Huh? He was right the first time. Or was he?

Well, it depends on what he expected the Brown Gorgon to do. What the Brown Gorgon has actually done, it seems, has met with the full approval of Johnny the Hutt which can only mean that the Hutt thought he would do something different.

Therefore, the things that have happened since the Gorgon became Prime Monster are things that Johnny the Hutt wanted to happen. Which makes no sense.

Until you read this.

The Gorgon has, it seems, performed exactly as expected.

Tuesday 22 December 2009


Imagine God has an assembly line churning out humans. He's bound to get the odd reject. A mis-shape, a rather too deranged one, a totally useless one. There'd be a proportion of rejects depending on the production method so the number of rejects will increase, in proportion, with any increase in production.

As the world population swells, he's going to need a bigger reject bin.

He used to put a lot of them in our local pub. It's not the only reject bin, I'm sure there are many, but this pub is certainly one of them. There isn't a normal body shape in there. Last night, watching one of the women dancing while mouthing the words to 'I feel like a woman', I was forced to conclude that she didn't much look like one. If Bella Emberg frequented that pub, she'd be classed as a hotty. As an aside, I notice that the ugly women always have vast boobs. Not just big. Vast. Some of them could hide a bicycle in there. You could replace a dairy herd with just three of these women. It must be some sort of consolation prize they get awarded to distract attention from their faces.

This pub is a mis-shapes bin. There aren't many psychotic or totally useless in there, other than those who are an odd shape and have extra defects on top. There are other pubs where the psychos gather and whenever I identify such a place, I avoid it. Mis-shapes should never, ever visit psycho pubs.

Two things have now happened. The pubs are closing fast, and the number of rejects is rising fast. It seems that, rather than having a few pubs in which to store our mis-shapes and assorted loonies, we now have so many we need a whole country to keep them in. Last night I realised that someone had already thought of that and had nominated a country for the purpose.

This one.

The Quiet Man has an article that led to another realisation and possibly an explanation for the above. I never quite understood why the Brown Gorgon and his Scottish gang had it in for the English quite so much. Oh, sure, there's the old English/Scots rivalry that goes back a long way but even so, he's Prime Monster and many of his MPs come from English constituencies. You'd expect a Prime Monster to act with a little consideration for his MPs, if not for his people.

Except, as Quiet Man points out, he's not actually working for the people who elected him. They are in Scotland and subject to the whims of the Scottish parliament. Much of the crap the Brown Gorgon dishes out doesn't make it into Scotland. The people who voted for him experience little of his malice. When something ludicrous happens to them, they blame Al the Oily Fish and the SNP government here. Even when Labour's laws do apply to Scotland too, it's the Scottish government who get the blame.

So the Gorgon, his eyebrow-wielding sock puppet and all the rest of them can do just as they please, knowing that the people who vote for them will blame someone else. Those who place the blame firmly at the Gorgon's grimy feet will never see his name on a ballot paper. Those who see what he's done can't shift him and those who can shift him don't see what he's done.

That's why the country is becoming such a dump. Our leaders have no reason to fear the ballot box in England and every reason to make life as crap as possible in Scotland too. The English can't shift them and the Scots can be induced to blame the SNP.

Then the SNP start banging on about how terrible it is to drink any alcohol at all and they just reinforce the image. Which is not a smart move. When the enemy is trying to blame you for every controlling and nannying rule they put out, coming up with more of your own is stupid.

The country is filling up with rejects because some of those psycho rejects have managed to get elected and are turning the place into one giant psycho pub, but without the booze or the crisps or the smoking. There are far too many psychos around nowadays. Even ordinary-looking people are now looking down at the ground as they walk about, because if they pretend they haven't seen the person coming towards them, they won't have to get out of the way. They won't have to take the two steps required to move aside and let someone pass. They think it makes them look important whereas it just makes them appear arrogant and spiteful. More and more, I see the psychological trick attempted at checkouts, where the person behind moves gradually closer to get you to pack faster and get lost. When you spot it, pack more slowly. Exceptionally slowly. And insist on checking all your change to see if you have the right money.

The country is filling up with such people. Whoops has spotted them too.

And it's all down to a government who are untouchable and they know it. Their own voters don't see where the stupid laws are coming from. They blame the SNP. The SNP don't help by making up more stupid laws of their own. The people who are most affected by New Labour Lunacy will never be able to vote them out.

We have a lunatic running the asylum and his doctors think he's the sane one.

Monday 21 December 2009

Works night out.

There's only me here so it'll be cheap. Rather, it would be if I wasn't so keen on expensive whiskies.

Today was the last day of posting until the Christmas chaos is over. Even the stuff I sent out today probably won't reach its destination until after the companies close for the holiday. No matter. Those invoices will be waiting to cheer them up when they get back.

The snow has now been joined by a freezing fog so I won't be visiting the lab in the next few days and I have already decided to have a day off on Friday so work has sort of ground to a halt. I'm not a Scrooge but I don't see the need to shut the whole world down for two weeks of gluttony and drunkenness, especially since so many seem to do that all year anyway. I have work to do!

I suppose, if I was religious, I'd be able to see the point of it all. But I'm not. So I can't.

Might as well just get used to the idea that nothing sensible is going to happen for the next couple of weeks, and enjoy it. So, tonight, it's out for a bit of merry carousing and quaffing, in the spirit of the season. Looking at the world out there, I'll need a fair bit of antifreeze in my system tonight. Electrofag is definitely coming along!

Tomorrow I suppose I could start that Christmas shopping thing. Or maybe the next day.

Here we go.

Campaigning for the next election has begun with a swipe at the Taxpayer's Alliance. They have a charity through which they can funnel donations and get tax relief on them.

It might or might not be dodgy but the Labour outrage seems a little hypocritical since they've set up and funded more fakecharities than you can shake a collecting tin at.

Labour politicians attacked the apparent scheme as hypocritical, and tax accountants warned it could breach charity law, which states that organisations may not be charitable if they have political purposes.

Oh, really? How about ASH, whose social engineering agenda cannot be other than political? How about all the other social engineers masquerading as charities, eh?

"The Taxpayers' Alliance appears to be exploiting the taxpayer rather than protecting their interests as they claim to do," said John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister. "This body ought not to be subsidised to pursue its political goals. They have now become properly the non-taxpayers' alliance."

Nice try, Tumbleguts. They are only doing what the rest of your dodgy charities are doing and they do it from a basis that excessive tax is wrong, whereas the Labour collection of nagging drones do it from the basis that excessive taxation is just fine and dandy as long as they get the money.

It does suggest, of course, that the fakecharity circus will continue under the Tories along with the licking of EU sphincter and the deep, nasty control of every aspect of life. So I won't vote Tory either. Okay, there wouldn't be any point here because they'll get about as many votes as the Monster Raving Loonies in this part of the country, if they're lucky. Labour do get votes here but not from me.

It is amusing though, to see Labour attack the Tories for doing exactly the same sort of thing they've been doing themselves for the last twelve years.

It's going to be an interesting campaign as the parties attempt to show the people there is a difference between them when really, there isn't. It's like Edam slagging off Jarlsberger for being a bland cheese, and Jarlsberger countering with the same argument.

It'll be fun to watch but the fun will end when one of those parties wins.

Unless we vote them out. We can, you know. Just put the 'X' in a different box. It's easy, fun and you'll live longer and your teeth and hair will grow back.

Trust me. I'm a Doctor.

Oh, come on.

I have noticed, over the years, a general decline in quality of rolling tobacco. All brands are guilty of this. There was a time when an occasional twig would appear in the pack and we'd just pick it out and throw it away.

Now there are great chunks of wood like the one pictured above - not occasionally, but in every pack - and if this continues we'll soon have to search through a pack of wood shavings to find enough tobacco for one cigarette.

I mean, is it too much to ask that someone out there is on our side, and that that someone could at least be the people who we have bought our tobacco from all these years?

We smokers are used to being shat on and despised by all and sundry. We are used to paying extra tax which the government then use to ban us from everywhere, even to the extent of putting 'no smoking' signs on non-enclosed bus stops in the middle of nowhere. We know we will have to go outside to smoke and that we will hear fake coughs and loud complaints while we are outside smoking, from the same people who forced us outside. We are used to hearing the health authorities pretend that every illness under the sun is caused by smoking and if you don't smoke, you're only sick because an evil smoker once blew smoke in your direction twenty years ago in an open field, a hundred yards away against a force nine gale.

We know most of the population delights in the mob mentality of the Nazi and loves to have someone to blame. It doesn't matter who they are or what you blame them for, as long as they are there to be blamed. We know it's our turn for that. Again.

But come on, tobacco companies. If you're going to treat us like dirt too, what's the point of trying any more? We could all switch to Electrofag or stop, you know. We know the 'addiction' story is a lie because many of us have experienced hours and hours in an airport departure lounge with no place to smoke and we didn't dissolve into gibbering wrecks.

We know we're not addicted. We smoke the stuff because we like it, not because we must. And no, I am not going to 'prove' I'm not addicted by 'giving up' something I enjoy. I could equally claim that anyone with a car is addicted to driving and demand they 'prove' they are not by selling their car and not having another one for a year. I have proved it on ten-hour train journeys because even with train changes, you can't smoke on the stations either. I have proved it every time I go through to departures to find my flight is delayed by hours, I can't go back outside and I can't smoke in there, on the plane or in the airport at the other end. I proved it to myself over and over, not-smoking isn't going to make me bite my nails or break out in a sweat. I see no need to prove it to anyone else.

I smoke because I find it enjoyable. That's all there is to it.

When I find a bit of a branch in the packet, that enjoyment subsides quite a lot.

Tobacco companies, we smokers are your only customers. Nobody else wants the stuff. Non-smokers have no use for it. Those who have fully gone over to Electrofag have no use for it. Is it really a good idea to piss us off every time we open a packet of tobacco?

I'm not switching to readymades. I don't like them. Electrofag is, for me, better than the readymades. It's rolling tobacco, cigars or Electrofag in that order.

If the quality of rolling tobacco keeps declining at this rate, I'll consider starting on the small cigars instead.

Maybe next year I could plant my own. I'd probably need a greenhouse, which I don't have - but I know a smoker who does.

By next year I won't even have to look for seeds. They'll be in the tobacco packets along with the stems and other junk.

Sunday 20 December 2009


Yes, I am pissed. Yes, I have been to the smoky-drinky place tonight.

Does anyone recall the grandfather, one of we smoky drinkers, whose grandson (with the muscular dystrophy and the brain heamorrage at birth) who was concerned that Socialist Services took too much interest?

Well, Socialist Services have now taken the child. Just before Christmas. Even though there is no sign of child abuse at all.

I am incandescent with rage. It's best I say no more tonight.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Treetime, and Tillfinger.

I have begun the Christmas stuff. The tree is assembled. It's a little one, four foot, because I'm not a druid so it really doesn't mean all that much to me. It's black because the very mention of that word could cause an anuerism in a Righteous head and I keep trying because everyone should have a hobby.

It's artificial, made of petroleum products, because I am not going to kill a tree, haul it indoors and humiliate its corpse by dressing it up in drag. A politician, yes. A tree, no.

I need more decorations. Still working on a decent intestinal simulation. The decorations so far are economy ones. You can get them for free if you call in at any sitting MP's office and ask to look in the till. They always have a few fingers in there. Which gives me an idea concerning Shirley Bassey (no, not that one. I had that idea many years ago and several times since).

This idea (although the other one was pretty good, as the picture reminds me).

Tillfinger. The MP
MP with expenses trough
A porcine trough.
Oh that Tillfinger
Laughs at you from deep in the pig swill bin.
You can't go in.

Spinning words he will squeal in your ear
But his lies, full of control and fear
Are all tax generating for you, sir
Pay to be spat on by MP Tillfinger.
Taxpayer, beware of the second homes.
And porno films.

(There's not much more to this song it seems, other than 'he loves only cash'. It was fun while it lasted.)

For those to young to remember the film, here's the theme. It also contains one of my favourite ever lines.

Bond: 'So, Goldfinger, you expect me to talk?'

Goldfinger: 'No, Mister Bond. I expect you to die'.

Classic stuff. Really puts me in the Christmas mood.

Friday 18 December 2009

Get moving, fat boy!

Shock horror probe, screams the headline. People are not doing the recommended amount of exercise as defined by some random number generator on its day off from producing definitive alcohol unit limits and calorie rations.

Only a very tiny proportion of men and women actually do the amount of exercise recommended to keep them fit and healthy, a comprehensive study shows today.

Are we not men? We are Weebles!

When 15,000 adults were asked how much moderate exercise they had taken, 38% of men and 29% of women thought they had hit the target.

The magic word 'target' again. We must hit those targets, no matter how irrelevant they might be. Expect Japanese-style physical jerks before work in the near future.

"As a rule of thumb, it is moderate activity if it makes you out of breath or sweaty," she [Righteous Rachel Craig] said. "That indicates you are doing cardiovascular activity.

No, that indicates you are having a heart attack. From too much unaccustomed exertion.

Housework is also said to count towards moderate activity, but, said Craig, dusting and washing up do not count. Rigorous scrubbing may be physically active enough to register, but what the experts really have in mind is digging the garden, tilling rough ground, mowing large areas with a hand-mower and chopping wood.

Uh, Rachel, it's December. My garden is frozen solid and covered in cold white stuff due to global warming. I don't have a large area to mow and I have a petrol mower, thanks. I'd chop wood more often if I had a coal fire but I don't even have a chimney. A lot of people have no gardens at all. Should they till their window boxes, dig up their Yucca plants and mow the carpet once a week?

What Righteous Rachel describes as 'moderate exercise' sounds to me like the life of a crofter with a decent patch of land. Or, perhaps, a peasant. Yes, indeed, a Green peasant lifestyle with no powered garden tools and lots and lots of manual work and dead by thirty.

What's good for us, it seems, is a return to the Middle Ages. Which would be embarrassing for the Righteous since it was warmer then than it is now. It all sounds a bit, well, ultra-socialist.

How long before she wants all the academics rounded up and shot? Can't be that far away now.

What adults are really doing is sitting in front of the computer at work or at home, watching television, reading, eating, studying or drawing. This is how most of us occupy around 10 hours a day, the survey shows.

The Gorgon wants broadband in every home. She wants a scythe above every mantlepiece and pigs in every garage. Those naughty people are out there learning things and relaxing! How dare they! Those ploughs won't push themselves you know. Well, actually they do. They have engines attached to them these days.

I will exercise as and when necessary in order to get some specific task completed. I will not lift heavy weights that don't need to be moved, I will never have my BMI measured and I am not obese. I am chubby because I can afford it. I was thin when I was skint and I didn't like it all that much.

People don't exercise as much as they used to. There's a reason for that. Farms and factories are now run with far fewer people than they used to be. There's a reason for that too.

We have machinery that does the stuff we don't really want to do.

These people never stop. They want control over absolutely every aspect of life. If they continue to get their way, the next generation will work eight hours, play eight hours, sleep eight hours, day in and day out, to rigidly controlled timetables and targets that must be met. Not exceeded because that's elitist. The targets must be met exactly. By everyone.

What you eat.
What you drink.
What you say.
What you think.
Where you go.
What you learn.
Who you see.
What you earn.

All of it under central control. It's not Orwell's 1984. It's worse than that. It's not Terry Gilliam's Brazil. It's madder than that. In both of those, people had some small freedoms. In both, people could smoke indoors. That's right, even those dystopian visionaries didn't think it would go that far. In both, people could drink alcohol if they wanted to.

We now have 'official guidelines' on every morsel of food, labelled with traffic light symbols that have no effect. The response? Something more controlling is needed to make people eat what they must be made to eat. Otherwise they'll just eat what they like and that simply will not do. It's not sustainable. Even though nobody knows what a sustainable diet is, they're going to make it up anyway. Then enforce it. For us? For the planet? No. For profit.

The alcohol controls are all over the papers and the blogs already. Does anyone need reminding about the lunacy that is 'passive drinking'?

Who has seen the signs on buses that have a picture of someone with 'police line do not cross' tape over their ears? Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will get you a prison sentence. Be very careful what you say and who you say it to in this Democratic Republic of Airstrip One. Freedom of speech only applies if you say the right things.

What you think is determined by the news you hear. Who controls that? You really should consider that question because who controls the information you get, controls you.

I'll leave the rest for later. The viewscreen is demanding I do my daily bending and you never know when telly is watching you these days.

Chris Evans disposal failure.

Chris Evans has been found, dressed as a cat, on a ferry bound for Spain and was immediately returned by the Spanish.

Despite the protestations of his owner, a Mr. Wogan, that the hyperactive fleabag should be subject to six months of quarantine in Spain with a pack of rabid dogs, the Spanish response was to put him on a ferry straight back to the UK. Staff checked his room every hour to make sure he was still in it.

Border agency guards waved him through from behind soundproof screens. The Spanish authorities released a statement denouncing the BBC for attempting to dispose of toxic wasters in their country and claimed that if they ever try to send either of the Brand constructions, they can bloody well swim back.

Mr. Wogan has resigned his job and gone into hiding.

The Mandelsnake notices something.

Plans to sell tobacco products in plain wrapping are on hold for the moment. Mandelsnake has realised something important.

It is understood government ministers will talk about the huge impact the ban would have on the profitability of the tobacco industry, which spends billions of pounds every year developing glossy brands based around colourful designs and distinctive logos.The impact on the tobacco industry is that it will save billions of pounds a year and sell the stuff anyway. We smokers all have our particular favourite brands. We aren't diverted by shiny packets on other brands, we ask for the brand we want and putting them all in plain wrappers under the counter won't affect that one bit. The tobacco industry knows this, which is why they aren't kicking up a big stink.

In fact, the tobacco industry loves this idea. Plain wrappers are cheap and since everyone has to do it, there's no need to spend billions trying to attract smokers of other brands to move.

So what has Mandelson noticed? It's not the tobacco companies who lose out here.

It's the advertising agencies, the brand consultants, the logo designers, all his pals in the City. They stand to lose billions because the tobacco companies will have no further use for their services. Soon, neither will the booze companies or the fast food companies because that plain packaging 'for the cheeldren' is coming their way too.

Unintended consequences. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Meanwhile the smokers, banned from everywhere, forced to look at pictures of pre-pubescent sweet-ravaged teeth, baffled by the claims that smoking makes you impotent and also damages sperm (if it makes you impotent, what would it matter if it damages sperm?) when a whole generation of smoking fathers seemed to manage perfectly well, those smokers, ah, they just keep puffing away.

Increasingly, from packs that aren't in plain wrappers and have more to do with the inside of a suitcase than the underside of a counter.

Tobacco companies don't care. They make the same money no matter where you buy it.

The price difference is all tax.

Note on Electrofag flavourings.

They are seriously concentrated. Use a drop at a time until you get to the strength you like.

I used too much roast chicken flavour, it burned into the heater and it's taken a day to wear that flavour out. Everything tasted of roast chicken on that heater.

Less is good.

Another scare story

Apparently smoking 15 cigarettes is enough to mutate your genes.

If that's true, I'm now a whole new species.

If it's true, then let the coppers have your DNA then take up smoking. By the time they come back to get you, your DNA has changed into someone else's.

If there is any truth at all in that story, the DNA database is a total waste of time because smoker's DNA is changing too fast to monitor.

There is no truth in it, naturally. The sequencing of the cancer they mention took place on one cancer from one patient. Not mine and not yours. Mutations do not happen in any sort of logical sequence and a mutation can even be accidentally fixed by a subsequent mutation. If you're having one every 15 smokes you're mutating faster than bacteria.

Not all mutations cause cancer. Most of your DNA is junk so mutations in that part do nothing. Not all mutations are detrimental (although most are) and mutations do not occur in all parts of your body simultaneously. They occur in one cell. You have a lot of cells. No cell lives forever, all are replaced and broken ones are replaced earlier. The chance of cancer from any activity is not as great as advertised. The risk rises with age because of the laws of chance - the longer you're around and getting mutated (by UV light, by food components, by breathing traffic fumes, by having hot showers which vapourise the chemicals added to water - a million risks, even for non smokers) the greater the chance of one of those mutations producing a nasty.

Chance, of course, isn't so simple. 'One in a million' does not mean you can do something 999,999 times and then stop. The 'one' can be anywhere in the 'million'. It can be first just as well as it can be last. So babies can potentially get cancer the moment they pop into the light.

Exposure to the same carcinogens every day gives you the same risk today as yesterday and tomorrow. It's like playing the same numbers on the lottery. One day the numbers might match but the chance of a match is the same in every draw. The chance doesn't increase. The number of attempts increases.

So it is with cancer. The chance of getting cancer (from any routinely-experienced source) today is the same as yesterday and the same as tomorrow. As you get older, you've just played more hands and so the accumulated plays mean you could get the match just by persistence. You might never get it. There was once a story in the local paper here about a 90-year-old woman whose budgie died of 'passive smoking'. We smokers took it to heart, knowing a little history. When the canary dies it's time to open a window. The budgie in question was nine years old, which is Zimmer frame and Stanner perch-lift time for such birds. The old lady was fine.

There are genetic predispositions to cancer, as there are genetic predispositions to all sorts of things. If cancer runs in the family you should watch your step with exposure to known risks, just as if colour blindness runs in the family you should avoid getting sold a Barbie pink car by a salesman who insists it's pale green. If there's no cancer in the family, that doesn't guarantee you won't get it. It's a lottery.

One cancer in one person cannot be extrapolated to the whole population. Biology scoffs at such notions. Even if you studied every person in the world but one, that last one could be very different from your conclusions. Biology pays scant attention to statistics. Especially the motor-mechanic variety so beloved of the ban brigades.

Unfortunately, government doesn't.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Who'd have children?

About this time of year, schizophrenia grips every child in the country as their parents turn reality on its head. It's good for the pharmaceutical industry. They'll sell more happy pills to people who don't really need them.

All year, kids have been told 'Don't talk to strangers. Stay away from strangers. Don't accept anything from strangers. When a stranger tries to give you something nice it means he's going to kill you. Strangers are evil. Strangers want to poke things into your naughty places and then boil you and eat you and make flutes from your ribs and use your skull as an ashtray. Strangers are nasty, filthy, evil people who drink and smoke and eat fatty foods and they must be run away from. Always run screaming to the police if any strangers come near you.'

Then, without warning, these same children are told that a strange old man with a sack is going to sneak into the house at midnight, tiptoe into their bedroom while they're asleep and give them lots of nice things. They have to be asleep because they mustn't see him and if they ever do, they mustn't ever tell anyone at all. Oh, and he likes a mince pie and a glass of sherry, and perhaps a cigar, in every house he visits.

I'm surprised any child can sleep on Christmas Eve. This fat, drink-sozzled, tobacco-laden stranger is coming into their bedrooms in the middle of the night and he has a sack! I bet they lie there wide awake all night clutching the biggest kitchen knife they can reach.

These are the same parents who wonder why their kids grow up deranged.

Santa's days are numbered anyway. He drinks, smokes and eats too much and he hasn't been CRB checked. He gets a worse press than Satan these days. Next year it'll be Ed Balls sneaking into your child's room and staring at them, Gollum-eyed, while he fills their stockings with dictionaries of text-message spellings and A-levels in socialist dogma. Make sure your child has a really big wooden stake and a mallet to hand.

I don't know why anyone has children these days. They sound expensive to run and they make a lot of noise. Now you can't smoke in your own house if you have a child infestation and you can't drink in there either. If you do, they'll tell teacher and teacher will call the police. If they don't tell teacher, then teacher is authorised to use thumbscrews to get them to confess. You're expected to lie to them about everything and then when they find out you're lying, you get the blame for that too. Socialist Services take far too much interest in you when these creatures take root. You're better off having rats.

Imagine that. Coming home to wife/civil partner to be told 'I hear the patter of tiny feet'.
'Oh my God! Don't say we've got...'
'Rats? Phew. That's a relief.'

Adopt those rats and send them off to be educated. They stand as much chance as a child in the current system and will probably end up just as qualified even though the only word they know is 'eeek' and they can't spell it. They can look forward to a career in parliament just like their real parents.

There was a time when people looked forward to having children. Children were something to be treasured and nurtured. Now they are a serious liability.

I'm going out to burn a gooseberry bush and kill a stork. You can't be too careful.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Christmas? Already?

Avaunt thee, Santa!

Can we put it back a week? I'm not ready. I have too much to do so can't go out boozing and haven't started Christmas shopping yet. I tried but the shops are full of people complaining they have no money and spending it anyway. Unless they're on £23,000 tax free income but you have to give up everything and become State breeding cattle to get that.

Most of the stuff in the shops is the kind of stuff you open on Christmas day, say 'thanks' through a rictus grin and then lose it two days later. Isn't there anything worthwhile to give to anyone now? It'll be jars of humbugs all round at this rate.

It catches me out every year because it starts even before Halloween is over these days. There's such a long lead-in I forget when it's getting to the actual time.

I had a phone call today from a client who forgot to tell me he's coming up tomorrow and could we arrange a meeting. I bit my lip and agreed because I charge for meetings. He's forgiven now because later in the day, a case of wine appeared with 'Merry Christmas' on it. Twelve bottles of high class hooch, twelve days of Christmas, you can see what's going to happen here, can't you? The downside is that I have around 13 hours to prepare for the meeting and I'd hoped to spend a few of them asleep.

So no more from me tonight. Have to work. I opened one of the bottles to help me concentrate.

I'll shut up now.