What. The. Fuck.

I think I should point our, here and now, that I’m a fan of discrimination. And I discriminate quite a lot.

I discriminate when I shop: I choose between items. I may, for example, choose to buy bananas and not apples.

I discriminate when I choose to go out: I may choose to go with people I like, and not people I dislike.

I discriminate when I donate money: I may give to one charity and not to another because I prefer the one to the other.

I discriminate when I sleep: I sometimes sleep on one side, and not the other.

Discrimination is not a bad thing; it’s an essential part of the whole ‘Free Will’ concept.

Which is why I get really pissed off when people say that we must put an end to discrimination in all its forms. I really want to know how the people who propose this imagine the world when nobody can make choices based on discriminating factors.

It’ll probably look a little like this:

An eight-year-old boy has sparked an unlikely outcry in Sweden after failing to invite two of his classmates to his birthday party.

The boy’s school says he has violated the children’s rights and has complained to the Swedish Parliament.

The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises then it must ensure there is no discrimination.

What. The. Flying. Fuck.

A private citizen decided that a private party was to be had, with a guest list of their choosing. And employees of the state decided that the guest list wasn’t to their liking and obstructed it.

That’s fairly fucking scary, you know.

Incidentally, other discrimination was to be found this evening. In that I wanted Spain to win. And they did. Hooray.

Lord, deliver us from idiocy

I’m sure that those of you reading from within Norn Iron can remember the good old days of security checks, closed roads, closed town centres, all that.

For those of you from outside: here’s a sample: the security gates on major roads that could turn most of West Belfast into one big holding pen; the housing estates that could be closed to all road traffic merely by the judicious parking of a single armoured car; every car getting to within a mile of the airport being stopped and ID checked; the men in the little huts around Belfast city centre checking everything, the ban on vehicles in parts of the city centre.

Basically, the huge amount of rules, regulations, high tensile steel and concrete that attempted to stop terrorists getting to their targets.

Those both within and without Norn Iron will also likely remember this: the bombs still went off. People still died. Property was still destroyed. From Royal Avenue to Thiepval Barracks – hell, to Downing Street – these fortifications didn’t stop terrorist attacks.

So will someone please take this ‘security expert’ to one side and ask him what he suggests to make airports completely impervious to terrorists?

A terrorism expert has warned that UK airports are still vulnerable, one year on from the attack on Glasgow Airport.

Security consultant Chris Yates said many of the changes put in place at Glasgow had been copied at other airports around the world.

But he said that although some “weak points” in airport security had been addressed, others remained.

There is one glaring “weak point”: the general public need to be able to get to the airport, otherwise there isn’t any point in having the airport. And no matter how much you harden the target, that weak point will remain. All the rest – the nonsensical bans on picking up passengers from the terminal, the little bags for fluids, all that – is merely theatre. Smoke and mirrors to provide an illusion of security.

But we accept it; we accept the re-emergence of the huts at points of access and the concrete bollards. We accept the queues to produce our bags of toothpaste. We baa and shuffle along like the sheep that we are. And if we don’t we’ll get added to a list somewhere, in all probability.

It makes me a little sad, it really does…

Last one to leave, please turn out the lights

Truespeak is finally entering the mainstream, with government openly promoting wrongs by naming them for their opposite.

It’s been happening for a long time; the Ministry of Justice deals with the lack of justice, the Department of Education deals with dumbing down and the Ministry of Health deals with sickness.

But all of that has been blown out of the water by the Equality Bill, which openly promotes discrimination against an ethnic group (to whit, whitey) and against a specific gender (to whit, those with the XY combination).

Harriet Harman has defended plans to make it legal for firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minorities job candidates.

The equalities minister said firms should be able to choose a woman over a man of equal ability if they want to.

But fear not, other types of discrimination will be outlawed. Against hiring someone for a training post three weeks before they plan to retire, for example. But not really, of course:

Age discrimination will also be outlawed in the provision of goods and services, such as holidays and insurance.

Other age distinctions, such as free bus passes and holidays for the over-50s or 18-to-30s, will be exempt.

I assume, then, that discrimination against males in the field of insurance will be made illegal? Just because we’re a proven higher insurance risk doesn’t mean that we should have to pay more, does it?

Oh wait, no. That won’t be happening. Because it would be daft. But don’t let that get in the way of doing the same for old people…

Sweet Jaysus. How did we get to the point where this was even considered, let alone had a decent chance of becoming law?


There are two ways to call the impending refusal of Labour to stand a candidate against David Davis.

  1. It’s a pragmatic way to deal with it; there’s no way they could overturn his majority from the 2005 election, and by agreeing to stand they’re dancing to his tune and campaigning on his issues.
  2. It’s a cowards way out; the mark of principle isn’t fighting the fights you can win, it’s fighting the fights that need fighting. Not turning up because you think you’ll lose is hardly the point of modern politics.

Frankly, I think that it’s (2). But with a lot more invective and bile.

Why can’t it be (1)? Simple; they’re not David Davis’ issues. They the issues that the Labour party has been campaigning on for years: ID cards, ‘reform’ of the judicial system, greater powers for police and the security services.

It’s just that they can’t make a coherent case for them, and they know they’d lose if they had to try in front of an electorate.


Also, yer twat from the Sun has apparently pulled out. Which is a shame, because I’l like to see a) him be swatted like a bug and b) someone actually testing the power of the Sun…

A most excellent way to do it

I’m not a fan of all these scary government ads, threatening everyone that they better do everything by the book OR ELSE. Because you can’t escape the DVLA computer1, etc etc.

Nor am I a fan of all these wonderful campaigns to get people snitching on each other. There’s the one to report TV licence evaders, the one to report anyone earning cash money, the one to report minimum wage infringements, the one to report people selling cigarettes down t’pub, the one to report antisocial behaviour, the one to report less than complimentary comments about the Party, etc, etc.

Which is why I’m really very happy to see stories like this.

A hotline set up to catch income tax cheats has been flooded with calls from people making malicious and unfounded allegations, MPs have been told.

One woman made 68 calls to report her husband – none of which had led to an investigation, the Public Accounts Committee was told.

The hotline was launched in 2006 with television and radio adverts. It is aimed at catching income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, VAT, National Insurance and inheritance tax cheats and was modelled on the Department for Work and Pensions benefit cheat hotline.

I really hate the way that the government insists on saying that people not paying tax is in some way ‘defrauding’ it. It’s not. It’s merely minimising the indentured servitute that is forced upon us…

As I may have mentioned before: using every legal tool to minimise the tax we pay is not only a good thing, it the right thing.

And if that pisses off the government, and the Inland Revenue/successor agencies, all the better.

1 – Probably true, but the amount of things that seem to escape from the DVLA computer is scary all by itself…

The bad news hidden under the good

Ordinarily, news like this would cheer me up.

A Canadian hairdresser who says he suffered from depression and phobias after finding a dead fly in his bottled water has lost a case for damages.

Waddah Mustapha had been awarded $341,775 in damages in 2005, but the Supreme Court of Canada has now overturned that award.

The court said the bottling company, Culligan of Canada, could not have foreseen the psychological damage.

As I say, ordinarily this would make me happy. Victory for common sense, I’d say; rolling back some of the stupidity that’s created the compensation culture.

However, despite the overturning of this one case, it doesn’t actually mean anything of the sort. Because it only got over turned at the Supreme Court, meaning that it had gotten as far as there without being slapped down.

Which means that it took something this outrageously stupid to get knocked down… Which means that common sense has nothing to do with it.

And that’s more than a little bit depressing.

I’m sure someone warned of this…

… can’t think who it might have been, though.

Oh wait, it was me.

Using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which was sold as a way to restrict snooping by the state, Poole Borough Council have been spying on toddlers.

Poole Borough Council has admitted using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), designed to regulate snooping by police and other bodies, to check the usual address of a three-year-old child applying for a primary school place.

From 13 February until 3 March the family’s house was put under surveillance.

Surveillance logs show the family were watched at home and their car was followed

I did a piece of work on the RIPA while at uni; it was the best mark I got in any coursework because I got so into it. And even I didn’t think that so many state agencies would be using the powers this quickly in such a scary manner; I though we’d be on a timescale of decades before such minnows started abusing it like this.

Somehow, though, I’m not surprised that I was wrong…

Welcome to our world, punk

Anybody out there feeling a little sorry for the MPs whose expenses were released?


That’s good, I thought it might just be me who thought it served them right…

You know, I can see why they would want to keep quiet about said expenses. There are legitimate security concerns about parts of them, but there is also the much bigger concern about unnecessary invasion into details that someone should have an expectation of privacy about unless there is a specific suspicion of wrong doing.

Like, for instance, someone’s travel habits; spending habits; associations; communications. Those sorts of things. In fact, just the sort of things that have been opened to nigh on every agency within the public sector by this Parliament and the few preceding it.

Labour MP Ann Cryer said the pursuit of expenses details by journalists was “becoming a witch hunt” and politicians were “all being tarred with the same brush”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One: “We are all assumed to be wrong ‘uns.”

Welcome to our world. We’re steadily moving towards being guilty until proven innocent, thanks in no small part thanks to you, Ms Cryer.

© theyworkforyou.com

You’re worried about your expenses being broken down in the public domain; we’re worried about our entire fucking lives becoming the public domain. And your voting record puts you firmly in the vanguard of the movement doing it to us.

So yes, we do think you’re a wrong’un. Because you fucking are.

This could be a very good thing

In the same way that the best medicine is often the one that tastes worst and has the most side effects…

The aim of the medication, as I see it, is to wake up the population to the simple truth: the state is not your friend.

And the bitter taste/nasty side effect? It’s the warrantless entry and inspection powers just granted to the Tax Thieves.

Inspectors will be allowed to make lightning visits to taxpayers’ homes, under powers due to come into force next year.

Under the extraordinary new rules, they will be able to turn up unannounced and demand to see tax records.

They will not just target big business but could hit any taxpayer if they suspect money is owed, whatever the amount.

Obviously, there is a big difference between tax avoidance – the legal plays a person or company can make to reduce their tax burden, as we all should do – and tax evasion, which is the illegal version of same. And which I can’t condone, but I totally understand.

But why should the tax botherers have these extra powers of intrusion? Has there been a massive increase in evasion that nobody else has noticed? Have we all suddenly begun to hide earnings in a myriad of import/export schemes? No. They just want a little more power over us.

And if they continue to do things this way, then more and more people will wake up to the sad truth that they’re no longer here as public servants, if they ever were. And that can only be a good thing.

Pity it’d take things like this to make people notice, though.

Everything I know, I learned from…

… either Terry Pratchett or The Economist.

From Practhett, I’ve learned words like waily which has come in handy now that I’m totally addicted to playing online scrabble.

And from The Economist, I’ve learned about the cunning stunts that enable NIrish (and Scottish) banks to pull a fast one over the Bank of England. And, for that matter, lots and lots of other banks.

There are some £2.9 billion-worth of Scottish banknotes in circulation and £1.5 billion of Northern Irish. Issuing banks are currently required to deposit assets equalling about 95% of their notes with the central bank—but only from Friday to Sunday. The rest of the week the deposits are off earning interest elsewhere, and there is no financial backing for Scottish and Ulster banknotes. If an issuing bank went belly-up then, its notes would be so much lavatory paper.

Now, I’ve long been aware of the million pound notes that the Bank of England holds as backing for the NIrish and Scots notes, but I wasn’t aware that the local banks could go and put that backing money to work Monday to Thursday. Because that would mean that for the majority of the week, all those little bits of paper in my pocket carry LIES! How can they promise to pay the bearer on demand if the money is off gallivanting on the side, eh?

So, all my purdy little Norn Bank and Ulster Bank notes are lying to me, every time I use them.

© Ulster Bank Limited, I suppose.

What’s the world coming to, when you can’t even trust George Best banknotes, eh? I expected better from him…

Of course, when you go back to line one of this post, you could realise that I’ve missed a perfect opportunity to point out one of the many things I’ve learned from Pratchett. Fret not, dear reader, I’ve not forgotten. Making Money taught me many, many things about paper money and its illusionary status. But sometimes it takes a real world example to make the lesson hit home…

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

So, in a world where nigh on everything is listed on a government computer somewhere, and only the most very trusted of public servants1 have access to these computers, what does anyone have to fear?

Nothing at all, no sirree. Not that nearly everyone knows someone with some level of access to privileged information; not that the entire chain of data security is only as strong as its weakest link; not that human nature is to look at things that you’re not meant to look at.

Nothing to fear. Honest.

1 – and their families who can get onto the tele-working laptop, and the contractors who built the database, and the office junior on a 51 week contract, and the agency secretary covering maternity leave, and and and …

Watching the watchers

Like Hails I was a little amused by the story of a Chief Road Safety Bastard and Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police being caught breaking the motoring law. And escaping with a small fine, a driving ban and a bit of adverse publicity.

Speed Kills? Not hardly, but it does some damage to the careers of people who get caught breaking the rules they’re soooo keen on the rest of us following.

Speaking of the rules we have to follow, there’s a very nasty little clause that was introduced along with speed cameras by the Tories. Removing the right of someone not to incriminate themselves and the right to silence. Basically, if the owner of a vehicle caught by a camera doesn’t name the driver of said vehicle, the owner has broken the law, and the police will generally issue a penalty on the owner. Over the years, MUFC and several other high profile organisations have fallen victim to this in a highly publicised fashion.

Now guess who’s been caught doing the very same thing? Yes, South Yorkshire Police:

Roadside camera photographs of South Yorkshire Police officers caught speeding, but who later had their cases dropped, have been obtained by the BBC.

Those in cars caught on camera were all on duty but none was prosecuted after refusing to say who was at the wheel.

The force said cases were not pursued due to drivers not being identified.

One rule for thee, and one for me…

So the left hand of South Yorkshire Police refused to prosecute the right hand for refusing to incriminate the right thumb, despite the fact that they’d be happy to prosecute any other organisation in similar circumstances. Nice.

Also, it make me wonder what would have happened if the good Chief Constable had been caught on camera in his own force’s area, as opposed to being caught by the minions of Anti Car Bastard In Chief Brunstrom… Any bets on a swift No Further Action?

Again, asking the wrong question

This tale will surely be touted as being a triumph of common sense.

A council has apologised to an 88-year-old widow after a street cleaner told her she could be fined for sweeping leaves from her porch.

Betty Davies said the council worker had seen her sweeping the leaves and later knocked on her door in Splott, Cardiff.

Mrs Davies said she was “lost for words” when told she could be fined, but was being let off with a warning.

The council then quickly backtracked, and said that obviously they wouldn’t be fining anybody over sweeping leaves; that would be very silly, wouldn’t it. Thusly common sense triumphed.

Nobody, it seems, is even asking the bigger question: why the feck does a council have the power to fine people for such a heinous ‘crime’? Perhaps it’s a teeny-tiny overstepping of the line of common sense to put such a power into law? Who looked at the number of pressing things that need laws written about them, or existing laws that need enforcing (like, for example, criminal negligence in government and significant bribery in politics) and thought “No, what we really need is to punish those evil bastards who sweep leaves out of their damn gardens.”

Fuckwits, that’s who…

Spot the recent addition

It’s a common theme, among fans of trivia, to laugh at some of the more ridiculous laws out there; the laws in certain states of the US not allowing you to hang male and female underwear on the same washing line, for example, or the various bits of England where it’s perfectly legal to kill Scots/Welsh under certain rare criteria.

Which is why I found myself reading a BBC article on just that topic. But look carefully, and you’ll see something strange.

There are various laws there that are shockingly stupid to modern eyes, yet must have made sense at the time they were enacted. The one about people not being allowed to die at Westminister, for example, was merely an extension of the established legal precedent that commoners couldn’t be recognised as dying in a royal palace. The ones about shooting Scots were carry overs from harsh disarmaments following uprisings. The eating of mince pies on Christmas day was made illegal because Cromwell wanted to … well, because Cromwell was a nut, to be honest, but I’m sure he had a better explanation.

Yet, in the middle, there’s a law that’s only been on the books for a couple of years, and makes no less sense now than it did when enacted; it’s a fucking stupid idea from start to finish.

It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing

Enacted a couple of budgets ago, IIRC. And very muddleous, I think; all you have to do is think that you should tell the revenoo about your massive tax liability, and suddenly you don’t have to. However, if you don’t want to tell him about that gift of a £51 watch on retirement, then you’re legally obliged to.

Fucked up much? Not by the standards of recent governments, no.

The central issue

In passing, the Economist hits on a rather crucial problem with the entire European project.

So are national politicians silly to worry about being obliged to toe an imaginary EU line? Sometimes, yes. One diplomat this week marvelled that anybody could see a treaty article inviting people to support the “good functioning” of the EU as a legal instruction. It is, he said, a statement of political opinion—it means as much as European politicians agree it means.

But this is an unsatisfying answer to politicians in a place like Britain, where laws mean what they say, and are not deployed as mere slogans. If sweeping declarations in the charter about outlawing discrimination are not meant to overturn national policies, a Pole asks, why are they there? “When we ask what all these big words mean, everybody tells us: nothing special, don’t worry. But we should avoid this kind of rhetoric.”

Some of us are used (or were used, considering the recent spate of badly written laws) to laws saying what they mean, and being tested on what they mean in court. We’re unsure of how to take laws that ramble on a bit about grand ideals while not actually stating, definitively, what the fuck they’re on about.

Other EU countries do it differently, and are used to lots of flamboyant laws that consist of hundreds of lines of waffle for every word of law.

So how, pray, does anyone propose to write laws that satisfy both sides? How can you write a law that is both honest and overly grand? One that is legally sound with one that has aspirations to literary greatness? One that is common law versus one that is Napoleonic? How does one mesh chalk and cheese?

More to the point, why would you? Differences breed competition, competition breeds progress. Trying to put a one-size-fits-none law over the whole of europe can’t do anything but flatten the differences, and thereby flatten the things that make us what we are and define where we’re going.

Once again, I arrive at the biggest question I have about the EU and all the laws it brings forth: Why?

Cases, the not making of

Once again, the spectre of lowering the drink drive limit raises its ugly head. And I’m sure you’ll hear the same worthy causes trotted out, the same talking heads saying it should be lowered, someone saying it’s for the children. But I can tell you two things that won’t be said by the politicians pushing for it.

  1. What the drink drive limit is (or, to their mind) should be in terms we’ll understand. 80mg/100ml of blood is all very well, but what does it mean for fourteen stone of lager drinker? And what does it mean for a svelte lady who likes her half’un of gin? What is it in, say, the unit, which the medical lot have been pushing for years? They’ll not say it because the 80mg/100ml is dependent on so many different factors that it’s going to be a different amount of drink for everybody; short of actually testing yourself, you’d be hard pushed to know if you’re over it or not. Which, to my mind, makes it a badly written law.
  2. How many accidents are attributable to drivers whose driving is demonstrably impaired due to drink, yet are under the drink-drive limit? Because I assume if there was a significant number of such incidents, judges would be bemoaning their lack of powers, police officer would be up in arms, victim’s groups would be exceedingly vocal with details of each incident. But, on those fronts, what do I hear? Silence. I hear lots from people who lost relatives to drivers who were over the limit, and with just cause. And I hear lots from people who suffered at the wheel of irresponsible drivers.
    But I’ve heard sweet fuck all from people saying that there are x accidents, including y fatal accidents, that are directly or indirectly attributable to people who are driving with 60mg/100ml. If the numbers were there, I’d assume they’d be trumpeted from the rooftops to support the idea of lowering the limit, but they’re only conspicuous by their absence. Which suggests, to me, that there isn’t a need to lower it, except to be seen to be caring.

So, what are the odds that, in this particular round, the items above will be addressed? I’m not a betting man, but I’d say it’d be a fools wager…

I wondered when this would make the news

I have a sneaking suspicion that Messrs Clarkson and May were deliberately trying to draw out these fucktards with their behaviour on Sunday.

Anti-smoking campaigners have asked the BBC to apologise after Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May lit pipes on Sunday’s show.

“Smoking in a studio is illegal. We would hope programme-makers make some form of apology,” said a spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

I would hope that Assholes Shitting on Humans would just shut the fuck up and leave well alone. Because the law they pressured for for years was a stupid one, and they don’t particularly like that being pointed out…

It’ll be interesting to see how the nannies respond to this; they can ignore it and set a very welcome precedent, or they can prosecute to the full extent of the law – resulting in Clarkson having to spend some of his pocket change and becoming a bit of a martyr. Which would be exactly what he’d like to see…

Of course, it could always be the case that the law was so badly written that mere video/pictorial evidence isn’t acceptable, and that it needs to be witnessed by a council enforcement fucktard. In which case nothing would happen, and the idiocy of the law would be further displayed. So it’s a win-win-win situation.


Over the course of history, many individual rights and privileges have been temporarily given up in order to surmount a massive obstacle, which makes perfect sense at the time. Massive amounts of personal and property rights were given up to allow the UK to continue to fight the Second World War, for example, which was necessary at the time to free Europe and stay as a country. The problems arise later, when the example set by such sacrifice is used to steal rights on a more permanent basis, in pursuit of a less tangible goal. Like ‘eradicating poverty’, which can never happen unless everyone in the world has exactly the same amount of everything.

This sort of creep happens in many cases, and is a classic example of ‘give an inch, take a mile’. And the more paranoid sort of folk look for things like it happening.

Being one of those paranoid folk, I’ve often blathered on about how we’re all going to be asked1 to give up quite a few freedoms in the name of ‘climate change’, because it’s obviously going to kill everyone unless we are good little sheep and do exactly what the half-baked policy advisers tell the politicians to tell us to do.

And after that, the freedoms given up in that name will be demanded in the name of something else, with the excuse well you did it for climate change, why is this any different.

Think I’m kidding? Because Alan Johnson clearly doesn’t.

The public health threat posed by obesity in the UK is a “potential crisis on the scale of climate change”, the health secretary has warned.

Alan Johnson said the magnitude of the problem was becoming clear for the first time and “it is in everybody’s interest to turn things round”.

And because it’s in everybody’s interest, it’ll be everybody’s legal obligation. Because that’s how things seem to be working these days.

Which is slightly annoying.

1 – For which, read “be made to do under threat of government violence”

Now that would be indefensible

A senior judge has hit the crack pipe and stated that everyone should be on the UK DNA database.

Which is clearly seven hundred and forty three thousand, six hundred and twenty nine types of wrong.

The whole population and every UK visitor should be added to the national DNA database, a senior judge has said.

Lord Justice Sedley said the current database, which holds DNA from crime suspects and scenes, was “indefensible” because it was unfair and inconsistent.

He told BBC News an expanded database would also aid crime prevention. Four million profiles are currently held.

The UK database is currently the largest example of its type in the world; larger than China’s, which has twenty times the population, and larger than the US’s, which has many times the number of people in prison. It’s so large because anyone arrested can be added to it indefinitely, even if they aren’t charged with an offence.

In other words: it’s far too fucking big already. It should be downsized, seriously, and immediately. And if it was limited to holding information about people convicted of actual crimes – and maybe what the Portuguese would term arguido in serious crimes – that would be best.

But no; in the interests of fairness, this lovely judicial fella feels that it should move in the other direction; that we should all become entries on the world’s biggest SNAFU. Never mind that nobody knows how many false positives would be thrown up by a DNA registry that size, because nobody has been stupid enough to try it.

Because Sir Stephen Sedley feels it could benefit the fight against crime, he thinks we should all be on it. Do you know what else could be of value in that fight? Having to tell the police where you are at all times. Curfews. Secret police. Restrictions on travel. Bans on martial arts. Prohibition of people being in groups of three or more.

In other words: just because it could help the fight against crime doesn’t mean it’s not a fucking awful idea. So take it, grease it up, and stick it where the sun don’t shine.