Our version of the CSC

The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes,” […]
Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.”

You know, should a revolution come, I hope that special consideration be given to the marketing division of the UK government. As mentioned earlier, their big brotherish adverts are really annoying.

Especially that bloody DVLA one. You can’t escape the DVLA computer, apparently. And you probably can’t escape the mindless automatons who staff it, either. Because they’ve gone all zero-tolerance on the easiest things to go zero-tolerance on; all it requires is a shifting of the burden of proof and a quick query on the database.

Whereas going zero-tolerance on, for example, corruption or mindless street violence would require actual work, so there’re not on the adgenda.

How so?

Right, I think I saw the email mentioned here. And (if it’s the one I’m thinking of) it’s pretty distasteful. A man, running from the police, gets decapitated on some railings, and it’s captioned “Don’t run from the police”.

Now, it’s fairly gruesome, and I could see how people could be getting a bit of a slap by forwarding it about the office. But what, exactly, is racist about it? Why, exactly, is it disrespectful to the black people that live in Hertfordshire?

Had it been a picture of a white guy, would that have been ‘disrespectful’? If it had been of a woman, would it have been sexist? Had it been of a gay guy, would it have been homophobic? No. Clearly the racial (or any other) identity of the person involved is of no relevance to the message being put forth.

It is clearly racist to laugh at someone because of their colour. But, equally, would it not be racist to not laugh at them just because of their colour? And how is that a better form of racism?

You knew they’d screw it up more

First of all, let me say this: I am not, in principle against the idea of privatisation, including that of the Water Service over here. Nor am I against the principle of water charges.

What I am against is nearly everything about the way that the government are doing the privatisation of the Water Service. From the lack of consultation, to the complete shambles of the contract being awarded, to the downright stupid way they’re going to charge, to the way that no other taxation will be reduced to reflect the removal of the drain on public coffers… The list of things that have been done all fall under ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’.

And it gets worse, for they’re introducing wealth discrimination into the mix.

Low risk are those whose credit rating is good.

Everyone receives a bill at the same time, but those categorised as high risk will get a reminder after 14 days, but low risk householders will not get that letter for another two weeks.

On day 21, the final demand will arrive at the high risk house, but the low risk customer will not get that until day 49.

Meanwhile, on day 49, the high risk customer has been referred to a debt collection agency or recommended for legal action.

Call me cynical, but I think this makes political sense, if you’re a cold hearted bastard. Because it will sideline the deliberate non-payers (probably led by Bob McCartney) until the can’t-payers are being dealt with by bailiffs; those who would choose to fight it won’t be touched with until those who have to fight it have been crushed.

Or it could just be another in a long line of stupid mistakes, being made by people who are in a little bit of a rush and don’t care too much. But, lets be honest, I’m more likely to plump for the cynical option, aren’t I?

However, there is a silver lining. Free credit checks for everyone. Which is nice.

At least he’s an honest NSPB

More on the nannying, statist, pontificating bastard front, this time about drink:

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “I think the fact that we’re seeing things getting worse, rather than better, two years after a harm reduction strategy, means we need to revisit this very urgently.”

And he added alcohol should be made more expensive to deter youngsters.

“The government does not want to be accused of being in the nanny state. But I think we’re in a situation at the moment of where nanny knows best and if we don’t do something, we’re going to regret it in a few years time.”

Professor Gilmore: I salute you. You may espouse much that I find abhorrent, but at least you’re honest about it. Unlike, for example, nigh on every professional politician and lobbyist.

You’re still wrong, of course, but that’s never got in the way of a nannying, statist, pontificating bastard before, so why let it change anything now?

Nannying, statist, pontificating bastards

Now, say that there was a fact. And you didn’t like that fact. And you wanted to do something about that fact. How would you go about it?

Would you write letters to people, trying to educate them? If so, all very admirable. Have a healthy tofu snack, and think well of yourself. But it won’t change a lot, unless you have a watertight case and it makes sense to the people you’re educating, and won’t cost them a lot.

Would you organise a peaceful protest, drawing attention to your arguement, then try to educate people? If so, have another snack, this time a lovely lentil based thing. You’ve got a lot of people on your side, who’ll try and do the educating for you.

But what if you don’t have a lot of people on your side? And if your case is less than watertight? And if the principle isn’t somewhat annoying to a lot of people? But you’re right, you’re a certified professional pressure group, you must be right. So what can you do?

So, what would get you your way, screw over many companies (from confectionary to meejia, from advertising to retail), remove a little more free will and choice, and remove some entertainment from our lives? What could possibly do that?

Easy: state regulation:

Junk food ads during TV programmes targeted at under-16s will be banned, under rules put forward by regulators.
Ofcom says these foods include any that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

There will be a total ban on ads during children’s programmes and on children’s channels, as well as adult programmes watched by a large number of children.

Bugger. I’m still in mourning for the old Hamlet ads, and now they’re taking away all the rest of the funny ones. Bastards. Nannying, statist, pontificating bastards.

But it’s for the children, and there’s not been a stupid nannying, statist, pontificating policy for the children that’s not been passed by the nannying, statist, pontificating bastards in government, has there?

Another list of Bad Things About To Happen

This time last year, I had a quick glance at the Queen’s Speech, and vented my opinions upon said speech. Generally, as I’m sure you’d be aware, I was most decidedly not in favour of it.

Guess what? They’ve only gone and scheduled another Queen’s Speech! Only a year later! Who’d’a thunk it?

Again, there are things that are less than cheerful hidden within it.

Climate Change Bill
Yay! More greenish nonsense, but this time with big sticks to backup the bad words.
Pensions Bill
I’ll be honest, I dinnae know a lot about this, but since both Tony and Gordon like it, I can only assume that it involved assraping the populace in some way. ipso facto, is bad.
Serious Crime Bill
See that shape on the horizon, running away very fast? That’s the last of your freedoms, and the thing chasing it is hysteria.
Criminal Justice Bill
Won’t lock up and criminals and sure as shit won’t allow any more justice.
Anti-Terrorism Bill
The “THEY NEED US” bill
Fraud Bill
So, the government is admitting that they’re naught but a big fraud, are they? Oh wait, they’re saying that others are the fraudsters, and that they’re the cure. Yeah, right.
Mental Health Bill
To be honest, I think that the rest of the bills have done more than enough damage to my mental health, thankyouverymuch.
Road Transport Bill
Given past experience, I somehow doubt that this is providing more roads or more ease for transport.
Welfare Reform Bill
Deja vu, anyone? I’m sure that that was on the list last time round…
Crossrail Bill
Surely this was dealt with a decade ago? Oh, wait, they’ve been talking about talking about it for well over a decade, but now they’re making it law. Yessirree, only another decade before anything is working, though…

More fun and games, courtesy of the Westminister Comedy Club.

Still don’t like ‘em, but

On the whole, I don’t particularly like the LibDems. Too touchy feely, too greenish, too lefty for my likes. Especially with regards to taxation. But sometime, once in a while, they come up with something remarkably sensible.

Such as the concept of a “freedom bill”. Which, sez they, would remove from the statute book a number of laws with the following effect:

Death to ID cards
Correcting the bloody awful mess that is the current one sided US extradition treaty
Stop collecting & storing DNA from people not convicted of any crime
Get rid of the ridiculous restrictions on protesting near parliament
Curtailing police powers to impose conditions on public meetings
varies between good and plusgood, depending on context
Removing the right of the Home Sec to criminalise trespass in designated areas
as long as things like military sites are covered, doubleplusgood
Reinstate the right to silence

Whats not to like?

Of course, should the LibDems ever get within a hair’s breadth of any actual power, their freedom loving ways would go completely. Power corrupts, etc. Meaning that they’d keep all their wacky leftist nonsensical policies would be brought to the fore, and all the sensible things would disappear. But it’s nice to hear a politician say nice things about not crushing freedom.

Screw you, Tonyboy

Sorry, people, we were all wrong. It’s not about tagging everyone, it’s not about making them turn up to have their fingerprints and DNA taken like a criminal, it’s not about making every citizen of the country sit down and explain to some petty red tape merchant that they are who they say they are.

No, it’s about modernity.

Fuck you, Tony Blair. Fuck you and all your ID card ideas; your holier-than-thou attitude; your reckless disregard for civic freedom and centuries of tradition.

You may have no objections to being fingerprinted and interrogated, but I certainly do.

ID card? You can fuckin’ whistle for it, bitch, for you’ll not be getting one for me.

As always, this is an opportune time to pimp No2ID. And their excellent work in finding out where people like me will be ‘asked’ to turn up for interrogation.

Well, that worked well

The late Linda Smith once said:

“People knock ASBOs but you have to bear in mind they are the only qualification some of these kids are going to get”.

I think that she meant it as a joke. But it seems that it’s comming true. Sort of.

Anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) have become a “badge of honour” among young people, according to a survey.

“A considerable number of respondents alluded to the potential for the order to become glamorous,” the report adds.

Parents and carers of the young people given orders said an Asbos was now viewed as a “diploma” that boosted a child’s street credibility.

“Some of the friends are left out now because they are not on an Asbo,” said the mother of three young men who were all on Asbos.

I look forward to seeing their CVs in future.

  • 2 Cs at GCSE
  • 3 ASBOs
  • 1 Restraining Order
  • 18 Months AHMP

Who wouldn’t sign up to employ ‘em?

Circling the drain

I should know better than to read anything from Samizdata or the Register. Because it quite often results in me foaming a bit at the mouth.

That that linked Samizdata article, for example.

The Bill would create an Independent Barring Board (IBB), which would maintain “barred lists” preventing listed individuals from engaging in “regulated activities”. “In respect of an individual who is included in a barred list, IBB must keep other information of such description as is prescribed.” [cl.2(5)]

Sounds wonderful, for-the-children and all that. But look a bit closer, and it gets nasty. Look at the sheer number of “regulated activities”, look at the number of organisations that can add someone to the blacklist, look at how little recourse there is for someone on the barred list. I particularly like this little bit:

(1)IBB must ensure that in respect of any information it receives in relation to an individual from whatever source or of whatever nature it considers whether the information is relevant to its consideration as to whether the individual should be included in each barred list.

(2) Sub-paragraph (1) does not, without more, require IBB to give an individual the opportunity to make representations as to why he should not be included in a barred list.

So many ways for someone to be added, and so few for anyone to be removed. And that’s not going anywhere near the costs of compliance, the inflexibility, the lack of any sense of reality about the nature of care work.

And then this Reg article.

The boss of UK police technology has warned that government attempts to use surveillance and databases to impose law and order could backfire unless those with access to the system are prevented from abusing the power it gives them.

Yes, it’s talking about a different system. But only because the new one is only proposed, not yet actual. Of course, maybe criminality and corruption will have been removed from every public sector organisation by the time the IBB comes into force; thereby magicially making all access to the system secure and above board. No mistakes will be made, no people will have their lives ruined by incompetence or malice, and all will be well.

Of course, if that was the case there would be no need for the IBB in the first place. So a system to try and protect people from abuse of the system will become another part of the system open to abuse.

A perfect example of government fuckwittery, don’t you think?

He said what?

The government has been slapping it’s back a little recently with the success of the Freedom of Information Act. I have to say, my concerns about it don’t seem to have come to pass; the total pisstaking that I thought might happen didn’t.

But apparently things may have been a little too successful. And, surprise surprise, it’s costing a bit of money. So the government is considering trimming back, so that they can refuse to supply information if it costs too much to vet it, rather than to assemble it.

As it stands, if a request would cost £600 or more to answer, then it can be left unanswered. But, under these new proposals, if the costs to answer and the costs of “reading time, consideration time and consultation time” add up to more than £600, then it can be left unanswered. What, pray, would £600 get you in the modern civil service? One person spending half a day digging up the information, then two people taking a couple of hours to check it, then three people OKing it in electronic form before releasing it? That sounds about right, and would cut off a hell of a lot of requests. Including, handily, anything that required the minutes of a meeting to be released: all you’d have to do is ask all attendees to OK the release, and *bang* there’s your six hundred spent.

Oh course, the best part of the whole thing isn’t even this little loophole. The best big is a little quote from Lord Falconer:

Freedom of Information has to be balanced with good government.

Well, if the current lot are trading off one against the other, they’d better produce a hell of a lot of Freedom of Information, because the good government has been in a state of drought for a good few years.

It would be funny. Wrong, but funny.

So, it seems that professional blagger Cherie Booth, QC, has been investigated for ‘aiming a slap’ at a 17 year old. You know, pretending to slap someone in a non-serious fashion, stopping the hand many inches before contact. Ie, nothing threatening, agressive or intimidating.

And someone (not the boy or his family, apparently) felt that this should be looked at by police, presumably becuase it was some form of assault or child abuse. Now, while I’d dearly love to see Blair (Mr or Mrs) do some time behind bars, this is pushing it a bit too far. Crimes against humanity I could deal with; corruption you see from them regularly; shitting on the law is all in a day’s work; but battering children is something I don’t think they can be accused of.*

So, while it would be funny to see Mrs Blair dragged over the coals for breaking one of the bloody stupid laws or conventions that her husband is responsible for, I have to say it would need to be something that actually happened, not an imagined gesture of child abuse.

Bring on the coal-dragging though. I mean, there’s more than enough reason by now, what is Scotland Yard waiting for?

* – Que the gratitious Boris Johnson quotage: “I will hear many things against the Prime Minister, but I will not say that he Smacks his bitch up.”