Monday, March 31, 2008

Ten Nazi Children

This is worth reading by The Fink. Inspired preumsably by Max Mosley's (Oswald's son) recent problem being caught in some Nazi-style S&M, it chronicles what the lives of ten children related to prominent Nazis. Here's a snippet,

Paddy Hitler: Adolf Hitler did not have a son, but he did have a nephew, Paddy. Paddy, the son of Hitler's brother Alois, lived in Liverpool as a young boy. In 1933 he moved to Germany, trying to be a car salesman and cash in on his family name. Things didn't work out and he moved to the US, denouncing his Uncle and serving in the US Navy in the war. Finally he settled in Long Island where he had three sons, including Brian Hitler. I am not making this up.
Click here to read more.

How heroic!

Braunstone in Leicester has received quite a bit of money to reduce crime, and the ward councillor Anne Glover even made it into Gordon Brown's 'Everyday Heroes' book. This little video shows you an ordinary evening in the hero's ward.

Lovely place! And all on the day when Brown and Smith claim the streets are safe.

How the media will deliver BNP success

There is this morning a very interesting, and arguably accurate analysis by Tim Hames in the Times of why the BNP are going to do well this year in May, and that everyone should prepared for the shock. The only criticism I have of the piece is that Hames has missed one crucial point. The media will be complicit in bringing about the monetary revival of the BNP and this is why.

Hames argues, quite rightly, that the reason UKIP did well last time around was because the elections occured on the same day as European elections. This time round there are no European election so UKIP will see their vote squeeze. Hames is quite explicit it should b said in noting that whilst many who vote UKIP will vote BNP, the voters are not really identical, and neither are the parties.

The problem though is that UKIP, whilst it may contain some members who are as nutty as fruitcakes, and as mad as a box of frogs, not all of them are like that (every party has its loonies of course, not just the Right but the Left too). However, as a result of this kind of "they might be a bit mental" assumption about UKIP they have a tendency to be ignored by the media quite significantly.

Take the issue of immigration for example. UKIP tend to be the ones that push the issue the greatest, mainly because they get, quite rightly, annoyed with the fact that the Tories in the European parliament vote in favour of open border policies and then domestically stand up and shout and complain about them.

Does that get covered by the press though? Of course not. In fact, you will regularly see the three main parties quoted in the press in stories that have been sourced from the office of UKIP. From a purely party political point of view of course I don't mind that they get squeezed, but, at the same time, is it right that the media should actively cut them out?

Take for example the Home Affairs editor at the Daily Mail, James Slack. He writes often about the issue of immigration but will always go after the Tory quote. All fine and good of course from a party political standpoint, but is it responsible journalism given that he's allegedly acknowledged privately that he knows the Tories have acted hypocritically in European votes and the party cannot actually do half the things it says it will on immigration?

The side result of this sort of thing is that a party as odious as the BNP will, as Tim Hames points out, do well in local elections, whilst the far more moderate party UKIP find themselves wanting. This is why the media will play a part in seeing the white-power socialist BNP's brief and I expect momentary revival in May.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not about to become a member of UKIP (although I did sign up to Better Off Out), but as long as that party is ignored in domestic reporting the ones who gain are the BNP. Perhaps the decision to ignore them is driven by a belief amongst the right wing media that to pay them attention will split the Tory vote. The problem is that actually when they get ignored the vote does not stick with the Tories anyway, it shifts over to the BNP, and that is why Nick Griffin will be a happy bunny comes May.

How things change

Still on Charles Clarke's interview with the readership of the Independent, in responding to a question of why student politics is not what it was, he cites the end of fascism in western Europe, the end of apartheid, and the end of 'Soviet totalitarianism'.

The last citation did make me chuckle given that it's been alleged by former KGB operatives that Clarke once offered himself up to spy for the Soviets. Actually the allegation is that he virtually begged to become one of their assets. Assuming such allegations are true isn't it funny how things and people change?

Clarke calls Brown a 'ditherer'

Now that I've had a rant (see below) there is a priceless 'You Ask the Questions' with Charles Clarke in today's Indy. He is asked whether he regrets attacking Gordon Brown and says he does regret being candid and then seeing his words portrayed by the media as a personal attack. In the preceding question he was asked what he thinks Brown's biggest mistake has been and says it is indecision. I wonder if he regrets calling Brown a ditherer then, or am I being unfair and twisting his 'candid' words?

Home Office adverts in the paper

Have just spotted a full page advert by the Home Office in the Independent telling me that every commmunity in England and Wales has access to a 'dedicated and visible neighbourhood police team'. At this point I would like to have a quick reality check.

That claim, at least where I live, is the biggest pile of steaming dog crap bollocks in the world since Hitler stood up and said 'I promise you guv, I don't want to invade Poland honestly'. Note also that my use of Hitler is not an expression of Godwin's Law in action, I used him because it was the only example of a big fat whopper I could think of right at this moment.

Where I live in Greenwich our 'neighbourhood' police team is based down by the river in Thamesmead. Contacting them involves leaving a message on the answerphone and hoping they call back before the little oiks have burgled you and beaten you senseless. When you do see them they're fake policemen, i.e. CSOs and they stand in groups of about five chatting.

It's annoying enough having to listen to the crap coming out of Greenwich's Council's leader Chris Roberts' mouth about policing (who, incidentally, is alleged to occasionally grow a little Hitler moustache and throw computers around when angry). What I don't need is the Home Office pissing money up the wall on full page adverts telling me I live in a utopia of law and order when it's patently bollocks.

I feel so much better now that I have that bit of anger off my chest. Normal non-ranty service will resume shortly. I hope the leader of Greenwich Council reads it too, the man is an odious little turd you see.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ashamed of myself but......

I am ashamed, no really I am, but tonight I am going to watch something that I have not watched for years. Tonight you see is Wrestlemania XXIV. Do not fear though, I know it's fake OK, that's why I watch it. I used to buy a magazine called Powerslam which detailed all the internal politics of the business, as well as exploring the story lines that were being played out in the great (allegedly) homo-erotic soap opera.

Thing is, and I imagine some will say this is nonsense, but being a professional wrestler in something like WWE is not easy OK. Louis Thoureux discovered it when he spent time with WCW (later bought buy by WWF before they changed the name after the Wildlife Fund sued them). Most of them work every night of the week on house tours, with Christmas Day being their only day off.

To be blunt, you don't throw yourself around a ring, jump on to prepared tables that will break, and all the other nutty acrobatics and not be a serious athlete. Just because the result of the match is decided in advance it doesn't change the fact that your bosses say to you "you are going to go out there throw your body around for the next 35 minutes constantly until the ref gives the single to take the fall".

It's "sports entertainment" at the end of the day, but you still wouldn't like to square up to one of them in a pub. Sure they don't really hit each, and sometimes they carry a little razor in their shorts in order to create a bit of blood and drama (Mick Foley), but allowing yourself to be thrown through a cage onto a ring that is 15 foot below takes balls... and talent.

Please forgive me for my digression into pointless entertainment.

Surely some mistake?

From Lembit ÖPIK's Register of Members Interests.

Journalism for the Daily Sport. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 25 March 2008)
Journalism? In the Daily Sport? When did that start happening then?

Losing touch

There is a must read piece of commentary today in the Sunday Telegraph from the Spectator's editor Matthew d'Ancona that argues Brown has lost touch with the voters. d'Ancona's point is that people are no longer believing what he says about the economy because they tend to look at their own situation and do their economic that way. One point that struck me as needing to be extended though was this,

Suddenly, the talk at middle-class tables is less about Poppy's cello lessons and the simply divine Tuscan villa that Hugo has found: it is about bills, the credit crunch, banks collapsing, negative equity, repossessions, standing orders, school fees. The point is not that outright calamity has struck many people yet. It is that, for the first time in more than a decade, the chatterers fear it might.
It is not just the middle-classes that are having these discussions now. All you have to do is listen to the conversations on buses in South-East London to realise that the situation is far worse for Brown. Those people that Blair wooed away from the Tories are undoubtedly going to be lost by Brown, his greater problem is that the traditional working-class are feeling that same pinch too, even with their tax credits, and allegedly better-off status that Brown boasts about.

Ministers are well aware of this change, and arguably slow decline, in faith with the Labour Party from those they consider their traditional vote. The Health minister Ivan Lewis has told the News of the World that Labour has become the party of the Establishment and it is failing ordinary people. When Thatcher won in 1979 and subsequent elections it was the ordinary people that voted for her. It won't really come down to class, it will come down to how people see their world, and it is not as rosey as the Government's statistics say it is.

Home Office cover up on illegal immigrants

This morning's Sunday Times has quite a scoop that will cause yet more woes the Home Office. They have obtained a leaked memo that says that care industry is stocked the brim with illegal immigrants including a suspected murderer, and that because they're mostly Zimbabwean, Nigerian and South African, they're not considered a high priority.

According to the memo, the low priority given to the immigrant "does not allow the immigration service to take any form of action". I think it's fair to say that the more these sort of things come to light, the more the toxicity of talking about immigration will reduce.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stating the bleeding obvious!

Not that I'm boasting as I have chosen to live in South-East London but the news today that Buckinghamshire has the best quality of life of all counties in the countries doesn't surprise me in the least. The county fiercelessly clung on to grammar schools and the 12+ (not 11) for a start, and it is, I must admit, a great place to grow up.

Fields, fun, trees to climb (I'm a boy). It's like stating the bleeding obvious really. One day I will return I think because it is the "Shire", for now I love my life in one of the wost quality of life areas in the country, but I'm not going to lie and say I don't miss looking over Chequers on a nice Sunday afternoon on Coombe Hill!

What would happen if Gordon Brown's strings were cut?

I don't wish to labour [sic] this point but has anyone noticed this "push the back of your hands forward like Blair" approach that Brown is doing? (see video). When Blair did it it was 'cool', it looked natural, it looked like he had passion. When Gordon does it it just.... I don't know.... it just looked utterly forced. It's like he talks and you can actually see the thought bubble saying "must do Blairite style hand waving". Given this Telegraph article perhaps it provides the explanation.

I know this upsets some of the lefties, but seriously, the guy is just weird isn't it? There is this sort of "forcedness" (yes I know it's not a word) to everything he seems to do whilst speaking. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Blair was not doing it deliberately too. It's just, he didn't look like he was trying to do it when he did it. Brown on the other hand is just like... well... it's like watching a puppet show where you can see the puppet master control the actions. Waving hands around is fine, but the key is making it look natural isn't it?

From a purely objective standpoint, wouldn't it be interesting to see what would happen if the puppet master strings were cut? Perhaps though, he's convinced himself that if he just mimics Blair mannerism that is the key to success? Maybe it's not the strings that are in control by the 'psychologically flawed' psyche?

Friday, March 28, 2008

German politicians provide the best laughs

Vote Max Wank! *snigger*Found in b3ta archive

Never work with animals and hackers

Via b3ta

From now on you must call me Loretta?

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many gender reassignment operations were carried out by NHS trusts between January 2007 and January 2008; and at what cost.
Is there something you want to tell us Mark? It's OK, you're amongst friends!

The DWP appear to be rather workshy

Marvellous evidence of civil service laziness and the convenience of hiding behind the "disproportionate cost" line from the Department of Work and Pensions. They have been asked, much like DCMS were, along with other departments, how many Wikipedia entires had been created or amended from their central pool. The DWP's answer was,

The Department of Work and Pensions does not have a policy of regularly monitoring updates made to Wikipedia from DWP IP addresses. Therefore the Department would not as a matter of course determine Wikipedia entries that have been created or amended. The cost of obtaining and analysing such data could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
What a pile of crap huh? DCMS used the WikiScanner to compile their response. Is the DWP seriously trying to suggest that it will cost them more than £700 to type in a URL, list a range of IPs, hit submit and save the results?

The greatest news of the day

Spitting Image is coming back, albeit with a new name Headcases, and in CGI rather than latex. Sunday night is complete once again!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Which way to Windsor Mr Brown?

Boulton & Co

Who at DCMS has a car crash fetish?

Following on from the news that Department of Culture, Media and Sport had been known to be making many Wikipedia edits, Stephen O'Brien asked what they had been editing. It seems someone in DCMS really likes the book Crash. I'm wondering if it is the same person that edited "Aryan race" as well though? *shudder*

Abolition of Parliament Act returns

Anyone remeber the End of Parliament Act that the Government tried to get through a few years ago under the loosely titled "Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill"? It had a clause in it allowing minister to change the law at will and it was, quite rightly defeated by the Save Parliament campaign. Well read this on Spy Blog, because it's back in the "Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill".

Part 6
FINAL PROVISION

43 Power to make consequential provision

(1) A Minister of the Crown, or two or more Ministers of the Crown acting jointly, may by order make such provision as the Minister or Ministers consider appropriate in consequence of this Act.

(2) An order under subsection (1) may --

(a) amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by or an Act;
(b) include transitional or saving provision.

(3) An order under subsection (1) is to be made by statutory instrument.

(4) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which amends or repeals a provision of an Act may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.


(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which does not amend or repeal a provision of an Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
Thanks to Guido for pointing this one out to me, and good work by Spy Blog for detailing it. This is something that must not be allowed to become law. This is meant to be a Parliamentary democracy, not a Government by ministerial order.

Leona Lewis breaks America

Have just read in the Times that Leona Lewis, the winner of X Factor, is expected today to reach the Number One spot on the American billboard with her debut single, Bleeding Love. I don't care what people might think of that record, or that sort of R&B feel it has, I've said it before and I'll say it again, that girl has talent. Pure unadulterated singing ability.

She is the next Whitney and Mariah and she was a receptionist in Hackney with a dream that came true. No doubt she will make far less money than Cowell and her US promoters, but if it wasn't for the good old fashioned TV talent show the star may never has been born, so you have to praise Simon Cowell for creating a revival in the format. Breaking America is one hell of an achievement for the girl and her lungs.

The immorality of the anti-war lobby

Just a quick observation on the situation in Basra. The reports in the papers note that it is now Shia on Shia fighting as the Iraqi forces take on militia. The obvious cry is that of 'civil war' and you can guarantee that rabid anti-war protesters that bang on about how the whole thing was 'illegal' will play the connect the dot game with logic and say 'well it's all our fault' line.

You know how it works, if we had not gone into Iraq this fighting would not have happened, ergo, we are to blame for the fighting. It's understandabe why they say this because it's lazy and very easy thinking that is commonplace, particularly on the Left which is defined by its Hegelian tendencies to see the world through a master/slave, oppresser/oppressed type prism.

However, what should really be remembered is this. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni, and the Shias were considered scum of the earth and subjected to all manner of horrors under his regime. To thus play the comparison game and effectively say that if more die now than died under Saddam it would have been better to have done nothing simply results in two things. Firstly it is little more than 20/20 hindsight, but second, and much worse, it places the value of human life as little more than a statistic whilst masquerading itself as a moral position.

Frankly this is what sickens me most about the anti-war Left. They claim to care and cherish human life, and yet they will simultaneously be willing to sit on their hands and reduce that human life they care so much about down to a numbers game. Just look at what some of the idiots bang on about if you don't believe me. They scream about a million deaths in the war (a bollocks figure incidentally) and effectively postulate that because less died under Saddam it was 'better' under his dictatorship. What that really shows is that they don't care about human life at all, what they care about is their own moral self-righteousness.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is that a bandwagon I see?

Get me on there!
Facebook Group
Hat Tip: Many other bloggers first.

Has the Internet normalised extreme sex and porn?

As Guido noted yestedray, tonight on More 4, Ben Cohen has a documentary on about Gaydar and the .com decade. Rather than take the mickey out of Chris Bryant though the part of the show I think will be interesting is looking at how the Internet has normalised some of the most extreme sexual behaviour.

Update: Have just read in a press release for the documentary some of the more extreme behaviour that has become popular. For example something known as "bugsharing" in the gay community where people try to deliberately get two strains of HIV. It beggars belief really that anyone would actively be willing to do that. It makes base jumping looking like a mild and tame sport.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A non-sterilised observation

The funniest story in the papers today for me has to be the one in the Daily Mail about how a Tory councillor from Medway, Kent wrote on his blog that,

"I think there is an increasingly strong case for compulsory sterilisation of all those who have had a second (or third, or whatever) child while living off state handouts."
As is the way with politics, the arms of the local Labour and Lib Dems went up and screams of eugenics and Nazis were heard. Godwin's Law is alive and well around the Chatham Girls, with one Labour councillor saying "It's the sort of thing Nazis did in Germany." Yay!

The reason it's funny though is because yesterday a very non-right wing close friend of mine said almost exactly the same thing when I mentioned how I witnessed a mother and father take their three toddlers into the Smoking Room at a European airport. However, because she's not a politician no one would really care I guess.

It is surely worth noting though, that such authoritarian social engineering has no place on the ideological right wing of politics, and is, actually the soul preserve of the Left. So perhaps this councillor should resign and join the Labour Party instead? After all, it's the Labour Government that is putting through a quasi-eugenics bill in Parliament right now isn't it?

Monday, March 24, 2008

When will this madness end?

Another day, another assault on smokers. Apparently the Government is going to try and introduce a ban on tobacco being on display in shops putting it under the counter.

How exactly you're supposed to know who sells cigarettes I;m not sure, and what about Duty Free stores? Sometimes, people want to browse. Will you have to ask for a brochure of the products and made to feel like a pariah for wanting to have control over your own action?

This anti-smoking fascism that is going on nowadays is starting to seriously annoy me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How to make a killing from a tourist

Please allow me to introduce you to the most expensive disposable razor in the world that I am going to cherish until it goes blunt. You see, being male, and thus not having the ability to multitask or carry out very basic instructions without swearing profusely about how "real men don't read manuals" I decided in my infinite and ever so superb wisdom that I would buy a razor once I got away.

What's the point in rushing around buying the things in the UK when you're going to somewhere that is cheap. Sadly, in my haste, I forget to factor in the classic "tourist tax". That's the tax that
takes the approach of "oh you need something, we know you really need it, we know you're in a country where you don't speak language, please give me the shirt off your back and I will consider selling it to you".

A fiver that bloody thing cost. I am vaguely reminded of the episode of the Young Ones where they are appearing on University Challenge and have to get a train. Viviene gets some cups of tea and tells Rick it cost a fiver. "Five pounds for an empty paper cup?" says Rick. "Well it had sugar in it" is the response. Of course I don't begrudge them fleecing me, it's quite a poor country really, and membership of the EU doesn't seem to have helped them very much. Funny that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And God said......

Let there be snow!
Then came the pain and the shame.

My dear, I've never been one that is super good with words face to face as you know. Text is the name of my game. So I shall just say sorry once more very publicly to a very good friend that has had to put up with some right load of bollocks over the past week (including a broken wrist at high speed on top of a mountain).

In my very personal and entirely humble opinion (for I have no ego at all you know) you're worth at least four or maybe even five camels rather than the standard three. We shall meet again some time in a bar in Westminster no doubt, and I shall find you a nice young man to corrupt with your truly wicked and flirtatious ways! ;-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

A victory for tabloid journalism!

Well I may still be in a ski resort, but snowboarding is canceled thanks to me taking out my friend who was on skis. Have managed to damage my leg in a deeply bruised way. However, I came off lightly compared to her. Basically her wrist is buggered, and should she never be able to play the piano again I may as well cut my own knackers off before she does it for me. Mind you, this has had the advantage for her that the boys all act like man slaves around her, which I know she enjoys greatly.

Besides the pain though, I have just been greatly amused by the news that David Cameron has had to issue a public apology after being caught running red lights and going the wrong way down a one way street on his bike. Dare I say it, but a marvellous piece of tabloid journalism by the Mirror. He deserves all the slating he gets for doing that frankly. I've done enough rants about bloody cyclists so I won't do one right now.

Needless to say though that - as a pedestrian in London - I hate them with a passion when they think the rules of the road don't apply to them. I hate it even more when they claim that they only do it to stay safe. Praise be to the Daily Mirror! I never thought I would ever say that, and I doubt I will ever say it again.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The great legal aid cash cow?

The joy of being on holiday these days is that hotels have WiFi, even in Bulgaria. Banished from the room has I have been whilst my traveling companion tries to get some sleep after a night of putting up with snoring (makeshift ear plugs are now in place), I have taken the opportunity to have a look at some politics. I've been without news for a few days and it was starting to get a bit much.

Having said this I decided to have a look at some of the FoI requests that have been made to different departments over the past months and there are of course some gems in there, there really are. My favoruite has to be a response from the Ministry of Justice about the amount of money spent on legal aid, or more correctly the best paid barristers in the year 2006/07.

The thing that struck me as beautiful about the response has to be the fact that unlike most FoIs this one comes with many caveats. Nay.. it even comes with a Government line for the obvious question that someone might ask when reading the response. You have to love the desire to offer a counter spin in an FoI request right?

Unfortunately I am not able to link to the piece right now as I am using email posting, but essentially the highest paid Barrister last year was someone called Balbir Singh who received £957,000. There are actually three barristers above £900K in case you were wondering.

And what is the line? Well apparently we must remember that the Barrister has to pay VAT on the figure, and, more importantly in answer to the obvious question of 'how can you justifiy this' we are told in the FAQ that it's not the Ministry's fault but the Courts.

Well excuse me a minute, but isn't the MoJ responsible for the courts? Surely they can't shift blame on to the courts who are just carrying out their policies about legal aid can they? Oh wait. They can.

You may get a post tomorrow, it depends on whether (a) the snoring is sorted, and (b) if I am even more burnt on my forehead by the beating sun at the top of a mountain!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Back in a week or so....

If I break a leg I will no doubt be posting again sooner.

Friday, March 14, 2008

How the "green budget" punishes the disabled

Have just been speaking to someone I know that is an above the knee amputee on one leg. As you can imagine this means that when he drives he needs to have an automatic. He drives a dieseal Zafira and will have to pay £210 in 2008/09 for it. Meanwhile the manual, with the same engine, but different emissions because of the difference in the gearbox, will pay £145.

If he decides to replace the car in 2010-11, he will be expected to pay for the first year, road tax of £425 for the auto compared to £250 for the manual. He doesn't want to buy an auto but he has to. So much for fairness and equality for the disabled huh? The green budget is really just another ordinary tax-hike budget, and the losers seems to be the very people that Labour claims to be on the side of.

The voiceless phone call

Wow!

Seriously wow!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

£750 for a cd player?

The BBC seems rather excited, and rightly so, by the news that MPs full expenses will be published, and we're not just talking general terms but the infamous list on what the maximum that they can claim for things in their second homes. One thing that stuck out for me is £35 per square metre for flooring.

£35?!?! You can get a perfectly good floor for £15 to £20. Hell if this is your "second" home why do you need to spend that much money? It's effectively a crash pad for Christ's sake! It's not where they live, it's where they sleep. I'm not going to make a comment on who they might be sleeping with of course.

The so-called John Lewis List is based, presumably, upon the idea that John Lewis is "never knowingly undersold. Errr reality check, John Lewis is always undersold unless you tell them first. So £750 for a stereo is just taking the piss..... OK? Most of the "top" brands make all the "cheap" brands anyway. Take a look at Wharfdale televisions. They're just Toshiba's but cheaper.

It's like buying a car from GM Motors. You could buy the top-end badge, or you could buy the bottom-end badge but an identical car. I mean, £300 for a 'free standing mirror'? Come off it, I'm looking at a full length mirror on the wall right now, it was probably £50 from Ikea, maybe even less. And guess what.... it's a mirror. It mirrors things OK. It doesn't do anything special that justifies a £300 price tag.

Frankly, the list is absolutely absurd. Fifty quid for a shredder? You can get one in Argos for less than £8. 'Ahh' but they will say, 'it only does five sheets at a time!' Fine. Shop around. It's what normal people do. The fact there is a list at all is disgusting, Start submitting receipts and justify them.

Us proles live in the real world. If you want to represent us, then start living there with us too.
Note: Rant over
More: Nick Robinson

Allegience Oath Fridge Magnets

I think I may get hooked on this little gem from The Fink.

You don't want one of those, you want one of these!

Wouldn't it be wonderful to leave a paid a job and be able to go to a new one and do it for free? Who am I kidding, why would anyone want to work for bugger all? If you were rich you'd think you'd rather relax.

However, Jennifer Moses, one Gordon Brown new special advisors (former Director at Goldman Sachs) is doing just that it seems. In a response to Parliament Brown confirmed that "unpaid special adviser under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers".

If I was rich, as I presume Moes is, I wouldbn't bloody go and work in Downing Street for nothing. Although I suppose, when you do it for gratis you ahve the freedom to just walk out when you want. Still, I decided to have a look at the "Model Contract for Special Advisers" and there was a bit in it that made me giggle. One section says,

"You do not have to join the Civil Service pension arrangements. If you opt out, you will build up beneifts in the State Second Pension (S2P) instead. But if you are considering opting out, we strongly recommend that you read the Start Pack before you manke any decision"
I'm thinking the translation for that is along the lines of. "If you're thinking of opting out don't be a bloody idiot. This is a bullet-proof pension compared to the crap we give the proles."

Plasma-tastic in Belfast?

We all no how terrible for the environment plasma screens are meant to be, so you'd think that the Government would try not buy them, but just like the huge car fleet, it does. hat concerns me though is how many certain departments have bought.

For example, places like the Home Office, the Solictor-General, and DEFRA have bought no more than 10 in the last couple of years. In fact DEFRA has only bought 4, and the overall costs really hasn't been that much. Justice has managed to buy 397 at just over half a million though. In fairness to them they will be using them for video links at courts and such like though. It's the Northern Ireland office that confuses me really though.

In the last 24 months they've bought 15 plasma screen at a total cost of £106K. The Solictor General spent just £14K on nine. Someone needs to do some checking on procurement, and why does a tiny department need so many? Should you be wondering what the Cabinet Office spent, it seems that with expected regularity they've said they have no central records on what they've bought. Lost in the post I guess.

Whaty what what?

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether consideration has been given to applying gender responsive budgeting to her Department's budget.
What in the name of God is "gender responsive budgeting"? Someone elucidate me.

Some excitement with 2.0?

There seems to have been a little excitement yesterday about who said what first in the big debate about "Government 2.0". This is because of quotes in the post noting the similarities between a Tom Watson speech and those given by Tory Opposition members some months ago. The actual excitement stems from the source of the quote because, guess what, they came from a Tory staffer to George Osborne.

Apparently, my failure to state the source clearly was the first problem it seems. Apparently this meant that it was just 'propaganda' and was 'biased', and 'well the Tories nicked it to anyway'. The thing is, the source of the quotes is actually inconsequential to the points that I was making, which is why I just acknowledge it having come from email. Some may scream about how it is of consequence though, so let's just deal with that for a moment.

The reason that the source in my post is not of consequence is because it is only considered to be so as a bolster to the arguments about propaganda and bias. It is, what is known in logical philosophy as an "argument against the man" (or in this case more rightly a group). Many people will know it as an ad hominen argument, although the ones using it in this case probably think it applies purely to abuse rather than circumstance as well.

Putting it simply the source of the argument being made does not make the argument being made wrong. What was the argument being made though? That Tom Watson was making a speech that appears very much to be using concepts and ideas argued by the Opposition over some time. An Opposition might I add that is - because such is the nature of politics - constantly attacked by Tom and others on the Labour benches for anything it says. I don't begrudge Tom or any of the others doing that you understand, it's part of their job after all.

The other argument that has been put forward at length if you follow the external links from the Telegraph is the classic tu quoque or "you too". This is one of those positions that makes the claim that a proponent is wrong - and their words should be dismissed - upon the grounds that they are not acting consistently in accordance with the position that they are taking. This is a very common, and also weak argument, in politics and online discourse. In the context of the Osborne staffer it goes like this.

You're accusing someone of lifting your arguments, but your arguments were not yours originally; therefore your argument that notes the similarities is invalid simply because you stole them in the first place. It's logical nonsense but it's very easy because it's lazy. It's a bit like a thief stealing a stolen item from another thief and claiming that he did not steal it because it was already stolen. I mean, it might sound rather clever but it really doesn't make any sense. The actions of the proponent of an argument prior to making their argument, do not, by necessity, invalidate the argument that they make.

The thing is, putting the rather dodgy reasonings aside what were the two points in my post that the critics have tried to dismiss? First that the Government is being led by the Opposition on this specific matter, which continues into the second that the Government is running out of ideas and steam. In the case of the former there is, I'm afraid to say, a small matter of temporal reality. The Tory Opposition have been making these arguments for some time, and, if memory serves correctly, have been ridiculed for making them in the political ping-pong fight. Again that is to be expected of course, this is politics.

However, when a Government minister, (one who is famed for his by-election negative anti-Tory campaigning brilliance might I add (that was a compliment Tom)) stands up and starts to parrot things that the Opposition have been arguing for some time, it follows, that the Opposition will rightly question if the Government is leading the country or they are by proxy on the specific matter in hand. That is not to say that words and ideas have been directly lifted, stolen, or whatever. It is the action of embracing ideas which is being mimicked.

Even more importantly though, and in specific relation to all of the speeches contents about open source and collaboration, as Mick Fealty points out in the link at the top, "it may have been embarrassing, but a hat tip to the Opposition would have been a radical move for a blogging politician and, perhaps, put Tom in the driving seat of this debate." If the desire for open source type solutions is genuine, Mick points would have been so, wouldn't it? But then again, this is politics.

On the second point I made about the Government running out of ideas you have to come back to the ridicule faced by Tory politicians such as Cameron and Osborne when they have made these fluffy marketing webspeak speeches. You can guarantee their instant dismissal as the response from the Government. Understandable again, because this is politics, and the Government doesn't want to be seen to be being led by the Opposition on anything. However, when some months later such ideas and concepts are embraced it places the Governments in a questionable position in terms of what they might want to achieve and how.

During the last decade of politics in this country the Government has, with startling regularity, dismissed and rubbished ideas presented by the two main opposition parties only to quietly introduce or start embracing the ideas at a later date. We thus have a Government that is all about positioning and triangulation as a result. Pointing out when they do it, irrespective of the source, is neither wrong, nor an act of propaganda.
Note: I should add that the content of any of the speeches are not what I am attacking either.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Budget Live Blog

  • Started off with the expected lines about employment, inflation and interest rates.
  • I am dying of boredom already.
  • Stuff about the growth of the economy over the last decade.
  • Climate change mentioned. Tax on their way.
  • He want everyone to be able to "exploit their full potential". Presumably that also means the Government exploits everyone full wallet potential.
  • Blaming the rest of the world for problems in British economies. Not our fault Guv honest.
  • Dig about stability of economy in 1997 being better now. Pointless Tory jibe.
  • Claims welfare refrom is encouraging people off benefits. Why are there more people on benefits now than before then?
  • I am just getting the feeling that someone sent out a memo and said "find Darling some random positive statistics I can use"
  • Admits growth is dropping by over a percent but sweetens it by saying "we're not as bad as the others"
  • Another comment about inflation in the early 1990s, then admits that inflation is rising. Inflation target is 2% on CPI. What about RPI which is much higher?
  • Lots of absurd figures about borrowing being lower than ten years ago, am starting to zone out.
  • Freezing fuel duty increase until October.
  • I didn't know that it was possible to be more boring than Gordon Brown.
  • Oh look, did he just shift the economic cycle again in order to meet the "golden rule"?
  • You know that things must be bad because Darling is constantly referring back to over ten years ago.
  • "Investment" has trebled since 1997. That's spending in case you were wondering.
  • Nonsense claims on defence when we all know equipment has not been available. He has followed it up with a serious tone to pay tribute to troops which calms the House down.
  • Claims that debt management is only 5% instead fo 9% in 1997. That is because the debt is not on the balance sheet because of PFIs.
  • Says that Incapacity Benefit claimant will be reassesed in 2010. Kicked into long grass until after the next election then with the hope of neutralising the argument.
  • In 2009 they are going to change the rules on Council tax beneift and Housing beneift. No actual details you understand. he's just going to do it, and has thrown a figure out.
  • Putting up Child Benefit for first child to £20 from April next year.
  • Claims that a family on £28K will be £123 a year better off with tax credit changes. Like last year he's assuming that people want to fill the insane form in.
  • Says he wants to remove barriers to trade around the world. Tell me, how do you do that when you're in the EU?
  • A fund to encourage female entrepreneurs?
  • Praises the Government's transport policy. Doesn't use the trains much then.
  • Lots about Congestion. Here comes the sting. Road pricing is coming. That petition was under Blair so it doesn't matter now presumably.
  • Long term fixed rate mortgages. Didn't Brown talk about that last year, and the year before?
  • Is onto Climate Change and the doom that we all face. Every Government Department must reduce its carbon output. Note that DEFRA spent 3 million on flights whilst Miliband was there, so he's basically talking bollocks.
  • Legislation to charge for plastic bags. Jesus wept.
  • Pointless statement that all new homes will carbon-free by 2019.
  • Increasing the Climate Change Levy which as was said by a Select Committtee on Monday, has not worked.
  • Here it comes. Road tax. From 2009 there will be new bands for road tax.
  • All new cars will have a first year road tax rate based on their emission. No road tax for first year for low carbon cars. Not much point if you are a "hard working family of five"
  • 11p on to a packet of fags.
  • 4p a pint on a beer, spirits by 55p and an escalator of 2% above inflation on all alcohol for the next few years. Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. And he didn't say if it was CPI or RPI. I bet they use RPI.
I would just like to say that Alistair Darling is a marvellously skillful Chancellor who, through the use of the "bore them to death tactic" was able to make all sort of admissions that very few noticed.

The obviously heavily-caffeined up Fraser Nelson at the Coffee House managed to spot something though. Seems Darling managed to slip in that he was going to borrow £20bn more than he said he would in October. Good spot. I think i was using an adrenaline drip by that point and it still wasn't working.

Call the BNP Hotline?

You've got to love the irony of using a premium rate number (£1 per minute) by the party that claims it cares about the white working class. Like ITV and the BBC you'll never get through I bet, and if you do you'll get lots of expensive nonsense about evil people polluting the white purity.

Stupid bloody white power socialists.
Hat Tip: Her Trixyness

What next? Banning fire altogether?

You can't beat a good Early Day motion to get the blood boiling in the morning, and thanks to Lindsay Hoyle I've got one.

That this House notes with concern the number of fires caused by tea lights; recognises that these small lights can easily cause fires due to the flame being exposed; and calls on the Government to work with manufacturers to ensure that the lights are designed with sturdy mounts and fireproof casing in addition to warnings labels on the dangers of naked flames.
Reality check! Have you seen a tealight? Have you measured them? Where exactly do you intend to put a warning label? The only space is on the bottom for pitys sake where, guess what, no one would be able to see it. And anyway, anyone who needs a warning to remind them that fire is flammable deserves everything they get.

As the delightful Trixy said when I mentioned this to her, "'calls on the Government to work with manufacturers'? What are they going to do? Send a crack team of MPs on a junket and suddenly discover the manufacturers just happen to be in the Seychelles?".

What I wondered was whether some of them might go on round a tealight factory and say "hmmmm wax.... I like wax". They'll be calling for a ban on fire next.

A Guide to Anonymous Civil Servant Blogging

First the commentary from us right wingers was all praise for Civil Serf, then the civil servants who do blog, as Sam Coates at the Times points out started to say that she had broken trust etc etc and just generally annoyed them.

I don't agree with them personally, the Internet provides the means to stand up and keep a public diary anonymously if you want, the key is how to do it and not be caught, and, as much as people think you will be, it does not have to be that way. So here's a quick bullet point Anonymous Civil Servant Code for Blogging Anonymously and being honest about the absurdity in your workplace.

  1. Do all the posts on your blog, or comments on other blogs, using something like Tor. It's not guaranteed but it makes the possibility of someone tracing you that little bit harder.
  2. Do not do posts from work, do them in the evening or morning. If the bosses suspect you and you do it from the work network it won't take long for their suspicions to be confirmed.
  3. Don't take blog hosting on a UK based service. If your writing does upset the authorities they will go to the source. Being stateside is much better. Again not guaranteed of course.
  4. Gender switch your blogging personality, as well as changing your age.
  5. Make up a silly department name that is almost believable but doesn't really exist. Take PC Bloggs as a reference guide. She works in Blandmore. Amusing see?
  6. Think of your posts as satire and not reality. Take the truth and the absurdities that are grating you and exaggerate them just enough that the reader is left knowing there is a truth hidden within the words but not left knowing the home address of your boss.
  7. If you are going to write about some project with name X, make sure it is in the public domain first. If it isn't then at least wait a few weeks until you could easily have been told it by someone and are just writing satirically.
  8. Pay no attention to those who say anonymous bloggers must have an agenda. You're just posting what you see and offering your take on the world.
  9. If you get interest media via email and like ignore it. Do not engage with anyone unless they're offering you a book deal for the rights of a few years of postings in which case you can quit anyway.
It is entirely possible for someone working in the echelons of the Government machine to have a blog, do it anonymously, and lift the lid on the daily nonsense without getting caught. You just have to change the names to protect the guilty and not make it so the time between posts and events is easily cross-referenced.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Prezza Junior begs for second preference votes

You have to love the "I hope a 2nd preference isn't out of the question!! Yours David" at the bottom don't you? The letter is being sent to the CLP members.

Click image for enlarged version

Should Brown beware the Iddons of March?

He's not planning a leadership bid with six backers and that motion title is he?

Tom Watson becomes a Camroon?

Anyone paying attention to Tom Watson MP's blog may be aware he was giving a speech called "Government 2.0" about technology and, well... and Government. This is preusmably because, in the words of his friend Sion Simon he is a "proppa blogger".

Putting aside the entirely irritating use of "2.0" looking at his speech it would appear Tom Watson has decided to start agreeing with David Cameron and George Osborne. Do we need more evidence of a Government that is really being led by the Opposition? First on 'Crime Mapping'

Tom Watson – 10 March 2008:
"Just imagine if every incident of crime could be geographically tagged? It could transform community policing."

David Cameron – speech at the Google Zeitgeist Conference, October 12 2007:
"Crime mapping is a great example [of the power of open information]. At one and the same time it enables you to hold your police force to account, get the government to spend money in the right places, and even to help choose where to live."
Or how about standardising information across Government?
Tom Watson – 10 March 2008:
"Embedding data mash-up into thinking across all of government not just the early adopters within departments."

David Cameron – CCA speech on setting government information free, 29 February 2008:
"We will require local authorities to publish information online and in a standardised format. That way, it can be collected and used by the public and third party groups…Setting local information free really is the future."
Or so-called 'Open Source Politics'?
Tom Watson – 10 March 2008:
"There are three rules of open source: One, nobody owns it. Two, everybody uses it. And three, anyone can improve it. Our future thinking must view government more like a giant open source community. So far government ticks boxes one and two, no one person owns it and everybody uses it."

George Osborne – speech to the Royal Society of the Arts on ‘Open Source Politics’, 8 March 2007:
"Open source politics means rejecting the old monolithic top-down approach to decision-making. It means throwing open the doors and listening to new ideas and new contributors. It means harnessing the power of mass collaboration. And rather than relying on the input of a few trusted experts, it means drawing on the skills and expertise of millions.
Never let it be said that the Government have run out of ideas, oh no!
Hat Tip: To a kind and friendly email correspondent.

Livingstone campaign lies, lies and then it steals?

As Her Trixyness eloquently points out this morning, Ken Livingstone has been shown to be a liar of rapid speed in a recent interview with Vanessa Feltz with an average of one lie every 58 seconds. Putting aside Trixy's quite accurate concerns about Vanessa Feltz's inability to spot these lies, what other falsehoods are there coming from the Livingstone campaign?

Well, first of all there is the claim which I blogged about on Sunday which people like Alex Hilton have put out on their blogs. That being that Boris will put the bus fare up to £1.05 and Livingstone will reduce it to 90p. Boris has not actually said that he will increase bus fares though. Livingstone's poster is lucky that it does not directly say Boris did say that or might have to be pulped under electoral law I think.

Livingstone has also put out his new Transport manifesto, which runs to a massive 14 pages, full of lovely promises, none of which have been costed. This from the man who decided to use costing only last week to criticise Boris. We all know about Livingstone saying one thing just before an election and then doing the other of course, and then screwing over Londoners financially in the process.

Most surprisingly in his Transport Manifesto he seems to have made Boris's ideas key to his re-election bid. He wants a Veterans Card which was proposed by Boris last year and was in his manifesto last week. He also wants automated congestion charging. Another Boris idea. For a man who's campaign is basically running with the pathetic line that Boris is an evil Tory it's rather amusing that in between the campaign lies and deceit he should be lifting ideas from his opponent isn't it?

Great Google Search Terms of Our Time

There is very little more amusing than occasionally having a look at your inbound traffic statistics to see what people have been searching and then finding their way to your site. This is especially true if you have insomnia as I currently appear to have, so here are some of the more (mildly) amusing (or not) Google inbound searches.

  • 'Civil serf' - Well I did say mildly, but this one isn't really funny at all. The coverage in the press appears to have sparked significant interest in her blog. And they say people are disengaged with politics huh?
  • 'Gordon Brown gay' - But he's married with children!
  • 'rocking horse gordon brown' - Horrible horrible rumour hotly denied.
  • 'youtube uk' - I have no idea how that happened.
  • 'micha richards sex video' - You need to get out more if you just want to watch a footballer have sex.
  • 'gingers for justice' - As a ginger I support all justice for duracell coppernobs.
  • 'scottish porn' - This is because the Scottish Parliament accidentally left the adult channels available on the TVs that screen proceedings. I don't think that was what the person was looking for though.
  • 'car tax online' - If I only I was one above the DVLA instead of just below it it would be funnier.
  • 'tory boys never grow up' - The name of an anonymous Labour troll. Either he's got an ego or someone is trying to figure out which politician he is by reading all his postings.
  • 'sparkling wiggles' - That will be a video of a kid who could not pronounce 'sparkling wiggles' and instead sounds like she was saying something racist. The video caused a storm because the parents put in on YouTube and people questioned their prejudices.
  • 'father rape daughter' - This was a news story which needs little explaining really. Let's hope to God the person searching it was looking for that story and not a manual for running a Jersey Childrens Home.
  • 'dizzy' - The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button does the job for now. Won't always though. Such is life.
  • 'thinks' - Fifth on Google UK for that term, which is kind of scary given I don't really. At least that is what the trolls tell me constantly. Their creative wit is beyond my wildest expectations you know!
  • 'little mosque on the prairie' - A Canadian sitcom that the BBC will probably never have the balls to show.
  • 'kinky sex' - There appears to be a concurrent theme here doesn't there? I am so going to Hell, although they may play the Dead Kennedys there.
  • 'butt plug' - Oh dear, I've been projecting in my writing again haven't I? Still I'm sure Zac Goldsmith enjoyed having people reminded that he edited an Ecologist article that argued in favour of glass dildos over environmentally unfriendly plastic dildos.
  • 'aquapet' - You really have to see it to beleive it. Funnily enough the toy has been withdrawn now. Can't imagine why. Probably because it was environmentally unfriendly what with it being made of plastic.
  • 'boy butt' - Something tells me he was not looking for this. Word to the wise though, you will get caught one day and then you can be beaten to within an inch of your life by the nice people in prison like armed robbers.
  • 'fanny and dick' - I shall assume they were looking for Enid Blyton books.
  • 'rent boys' - This one was yesterday and I think it's safe to presume that they were not really interested in a post about Harriet Harman and prostitution. However, it is slightly disturbing that this site was on the first page of Google for said search term. At the same time I have beaten the sex trade with politics on 'teh interweb'. Go me! I am teh win! - note it has dropped out of the first page now.
  • 'free porn channels' - That will be the Scottish Parliament again.
  • 'how to become a gold digger' - If you have to use Google honey you should probably quit now. Although it looks like the Government may help you in your goal.
  • 'dress up tory' - I thought the party was past all that. I mean come on, it's so 1990s!
  • 'jesus wept' - What can I say? Jesus Wept?
  • 'usb blowjob' - OK, you have problems. Honestly. Please don't tell me you bought one for that purpose?
  • 'phil hendren weasel' - Come on now, surely arsehead is a fairer description? I'm sure my friendly trolls will think of worse.
  • 'can you buy a car in texas without a driving licence' - Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do and scratch our heads in confusion.
  • 'all of the above' - Not really in the logs but everything above will now get a link to this page eventually as well.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Politics Home launch party - showbizhome next?

The tom-tom drums have suggested that the son of Doughty Street, Politics Home (Index) will be having a launch party very shortly. The site has been actively used for a week or so now by select users apparently but as has already been mentioned, it will be a Bloomberg type aggregation with news headlines, blog headlines and the like in it.

It's also worth noting that ShowbizHome.com has also been registered by Stephan Shakespeare as well - presumably that will be aggregation of the 3AM Girls, Popbitch and Perez Hilton?

Select Committee says Climate Change Levy has not worked

The Climate Change Levy is a uch lauded piolicy by the Government if I recall correctly. A tax on businesses to be more environmentally friendly and reduce their carbon emmissions. A roaring success to according to the Government.

Yet, according to a report published by the Environmental Audit Select Committee it has not actually worked in the way the Government would like. The report summary says

The CCL has not worked quite as expected. According to economic theory, businesses should have acted rationally by seeking to reduce their costs through increased energy efficiency. In practice, they appear to have needed an extra stimulus to change their approach to energy use. This has profound implications for climate change policy more widely. If even large companies require additional policies to drive behavioural change, this must be all the more true for small businesses, public bodies, and private households.
In other words, the politics of pain (tax) over the politics of pleasure (incentives) ihas been shown to be wanting yet again.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Livingstone does it again with bus fares

If anyone would like a laugh I strongly suggest taking a look at Livingstone latest manifesto pledge. Apparently Boris Johnson has said that bus fares will be £1.05 so what does Livingstone say, 90p. Ya boo as they say! May I just draw people's attention to a fact.

Livingstone has made manifesto commitments on bus fares before, he promised not to put the price up. What did he do immediately after being elected? You've guessed it, he put the cost of bus fares up. Not once, but twice.

The fact that he did the opposite of what he said on bus fares before suggests that his latest advert is about as trustworthy as a serial thief. The man has been shown to say one thing and do the complete opposite on bus fares already. Does he seriously think anyone would believe a word he says?

Note also that he is only talking about Oyster fares, you can bet he will be putting up cash fares again and will then put up Oyster fares and pretend he never said he would reduce them. The man's bus fare promises are as bent as a ninety-pence coin.
Hat Tip: Recess Monkey

Civil Serf is no more?

If you've read the Sunday Times or Sunday Telegraph today then you'll probably be aware that the anonymous civil servant blogger Civil Serf is being hunted by the powers that be.

Some might remember that I linked to her back in early February and since then others have started reading too. Mostly at papers, Hugo Rifkind at the Times, along with Danny Finkelstein were fans. Sadly she's taken the blog down today and one must assume that it was either precautionary or she received a phone call.

If this was a private sector person blogging about their company anonymously then I would have zero sympathy for her really. It is, after all, silly to bite the hand that feeds you. However, this civil servant was actually doing a service in a way because she was letting her employers, that would be us, know about what goes on inside the bureaucracy.

Yes, she has written some embarrassing things for some politicians, but so what? If they were being stupid and she witnessed then why not let people know? Doing it anonymously may seem cowardly to some people, but I would rather read a witty anonymous whistleblower than some bland official "aren't we great" civil service type blog.

I don't know if she might read this post, but if she does I say don't stop. Let the dust settle then contact one of the political bloggers out there to see if they can help you. It's worth it for the humour and the way you lifted the lid on some the absurdity.

Will the UK survive the international hack?

Following on from the ID cards stuff in recent days and the Government's belief that it can build systems that simply cannot be hacked into, I wonder how the UK will fair in a few days time when Cyber Storm II begins?

Cyber Storm II is an international hacking exercise operated by the Department of Homeland Security that will see the national security of Australia, the United States, Canada, the UK and New Zealand put to the test between March 11 to 14.

More info on ComputerWorld.

News of the World blows anti-terror operation?

Well the News of the Screws certainly has a big splash this morning reporting that an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell are inside the Metropolitan Police and are being watched by MI5. The Screws says that it has the names of two of the men, but it doesn't name the saying,

Now spooks are watching the four suspects - who work at different police stations around London - around the clock while searching for the vital evidence needed to make arrests.
Surely that should be spooks were watching them because now any operation has been completely blown and the suspects will stop doing whatever it was they might have been doing?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What are the "right safeguards" Tom?

Have just read a post by Tom Watson, Cabinet Office minister, on his blog about how the case for a DNA database is strong so long as it has "the right safeguards". There we have it again, the "safeguards" line. So here's a little challenge to Tom, which I doubt he will answer, what are those "safeguards" Tom? Seriously, I know it's a great phrase, but what does it actually mean on a database that will have 40 million records of every British subject on it?

A system that will have multi-user access; accessible APIs for cross reference querying; a network cable plugged into the back of what presumably will be a clustered solution with network storage; a system that Microsoft is involved in; a system who's APIs will be accessed across TCP networks in most cases using tunneling across multiple exposed entry points on the PSTN.

Sitting there and simply saying there will be safeguards is not the same as there being safeguards. So come on Tom, what are the "right safeguards". What will stop someone phreaking a local loop into say, a Council office, and then using that weak access point to come into the GSI and access the database?

What will stop the accidental "delete from" query being run or a rogue piece of code exploiting some buffer overflow in MsSql server or Windows 2003 in general? The biometric passport has already been cracked, so this idea that the ID Register will be some Fort Knox of information security is nonsense.

I've said Eugene H. Spafford's rule once and I'll say it again. "The only system that is truly secure is one that is switched off and unplugged, locked in a titanium safe, buried in a concrete vault on the bottom of the sea and surrounded by very highly paid armed guards. Even then I wouldn't bet on it." So Tom, instead of using political rhetoric and bland generalised words about safeguarding why not start talking about details.

Is Jack Dromey on medication?

The current Labour treasurer Jack Dromey has (assuming the authenticity of the letter) sent an email out to every CLP secretary outlining his re-election campaign for the Treasurer job.

Yes, that's right, the man who was ultimately in charge of the Labour books during 'Cash for Honours' and 'Donorgate' (which involved Mrs Jack Dromey (Harriet Harman) wants to be re-elected to the job because apparently he thinks he's been good at it.

It's a bit like the Graham Taylor saying he wants the England manager job again because of all the hard work he did to achieve what he did when England failed to qualify for the World Cup isn't it? I am just assuming he's on medication or something.

Pentagon concedes it was hacked for two months

Some people may remeber that in June 2007 the Pentagon admitted that it had been hacked but played down the significance of the successful penetration of its systems. However, senior officials at the DoD are now saying that they have serious concerns about the amount of data that was stolen. They have now admitted that the intrusion, thought to be orchestrated by the Chinese, was in place for two months on their network, spreading malicious code and "culminating in an intrusion that created havoc by exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows".

As I said at the time, for the Pentagon to get rooted so successfully should bring into sharp focus the reality and danger of the proposed ID register by the Government. The Home Secretary has made claims that the ID database cannot be hacked because it is not "online". Does she think that internal systems in the Pentagon are "online"? You don't need a system to be online, or in other words, on 'teh interweb', for it to be hacked.

The ID register will inevitably be on a network somewhere, it's not going to a single system with a monitor and keyboard plugged into it. It will be remotely access across the so-called Government Secure Intranet. You'll note that the word "secure" is in the name. The problem is is that there are exit points from GSI that are on the wider Net. If one of those touch points with the outside world is compromised then GSI and the "not online" databases become available.

The sooner we have someone that knows about IT and security taking the Government to task and ripping the idiocy of their security claims apart the better.

'Saving' our Post Offices?

The leading story on the BBC this morning appears to be that Essex County Council is trying to negotiate a "localisation" of Post Office that the Council will own and run. What I find amusing about this is that the story is saying that the Government has given its blessing for Council to buy-out post offices that are closing. The thing is, the Government couldn't stop it happening anyway. Much like the Government can do nothing to stop the closures as well. What I don't understand is the Government's line that the closures are necessary for service provision. The actual reason for the closures stem from EU directives and EU treaties.

EU competition laws have meant that the Post Office subsidy has had to be slashed. What do you expect to happen if you have to slash the subsidy from central Government. The purpose behind this was to open the market for other postal companies across Europe. The end game will be different post boxes for different companies. Now you'd think, what with me being a market fundamentalist I'd support this, and in principle I don't have a problem with it per se. However there are two crucial problems with it. Firstly, we get the rough end of the deal because we're already highly liberalised when it comes to markets.

Unlike say Germany or Holland, we don't have national laws that protect something like a national universal postal coverage on the basis of a monopoly. Thus, Royal Mail cannot expand into many EU countries because it is illegal for them to do so there, in reverse however it is just fine. That produces a quite bizarre set of circumstances. In the name of open markets and liberalisation comes the EU competition laws, and yet the most liberalised market place finds itself screwed over by the very principles that it supports.

Practically as well, the result of the "reconfiguration" as the Government like to call it, is going to see some remote areas no longer having any service at all. Or, even worse, having a loss making service run by the local Council causing Council Tax to have to rise in areas where the local economy and demographic can probably not afford it anyway. What is clear though is that were we not a member of the European Union, the Government would not have been legally obliged to slash its subsidising of the post office, and the closures would not be happening.

Replacing beer and sandwichs with coffee and biscuits?

There once as a time when you can guarantee that the good old fashioned socialist working class politicos would have beer and sandwiches when they had something to discuss. I'm not sure what they would have in the sandwiches mind you, cucumber perhaps? Beer and sandwiches was of course kicked out of the door when Prescott said "we're all middle class now" and New Labour appeared.

Now it appears to have been replaced, according to Margaret Hodge at least, by coffee and biscuits. Apparently she said that the solution to making white working class people not feel shelved out by the complete failure of multiculturalism is for them to go to her office and have a biccy with a coffee.

Is there possibly anything quite so patronising as the thought that someone's problems and concerns about their identity and place in a community can be solved with a coffee and a custard cream with Sister Hodge?

The Cambridge graduate who will be a suspect for life to some people?

This morning Daily Mail is asking why a Cambridge graduate ended up in court fo sexual assault after a drunken night of fumbling with a girl. Apparently the Jury took only a couple of hours to acquit him. What I noticed when I read the story in the paper the other day was that the defendant had his picture and name splashed across the papers whilst the "victim" could not be named for legal reasons.

Sex offenders are, undoubtedly, the scum of the earth, but surely we should only be naming them and putting them in the papers when they've actually been convicted of something given how society generally repulses at them?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Number 10 versus Number 11 rolls on?

Just because it's not Tony versus Gordon anymore, it doesn't mean it can't be Gordon versus Alistair and Yvette does it? I wonder how heated the argument was?

Charities given green light to get more political

Danny Finkeltsein has an interesting post over at Comment Central about the new changes to the Charity Commission rules that means charities can start being more political. If I recall corrcetly this was something that Guido also suggested was coming along soon after all the Smith Institute stuff began happening.

As the Fink points out, the new rules means that instead of charities not being able to do political work as a "dominant" operating mode, they now simply have to show that political activity is not the only thing they do. Gordon and the Smith Institute will be pleased.

Labour bloggers try to spin lie about Boris and the busker?

I see that Labour bloggers who inevitably support the corrupt current London Mayoral maladministration are trying to spin a little lie out about Boris Johnson and a busker in Croydon. The story they are putting out is the Boris posed in front of a busker with a 20 pound note in his hand for photographs as if he was going to give the musician the money.

Once the photos were taken the note was said to have gone back into his pocket. As you'd expect, this has been greeted with the usual faux outrage from the Lefties. Bob Piper is doing his usual comment about how brilliant Livingstone is as well. That's the brilliant man of the people who likes to spend the people's money opening offices in Communist dictatorships.

The only problem with the story is that it is complete bullshit. What actually happened is that Boris Johnson gave the busker some change and there was never a note. Of course, you have to wonder don't you, if it was anywhere near the truth then why hasn't a single hack or photographer published it?

Why did it come from a single unnamed source that emailed a Back Ken blog and not from the journos that were actually there? The obvious answer is the smell that surrounds the Labour spin.

Laptop thefts at the Treasury

Losing computer equipment is par for the course at the moment, but those good people at the Treasury, who some might call theives anyway, seem to have been good at it for some time now. Since 1997 they've had 53 laptops stolen or just go missing (along with other assorted electrical gadgetry).

However, almost 50% of the disappearances occured in 2002 with a record 22 laptop disappearing. What happened then I wonder? I note that there was a reshuffle that year and Helen Liddell was moved to the Scotland Office. Office refurb perhaps?

Ray Gun tastic!

I want to be..... a tree!

From PopBitch

Minister's friends tell hair-raising tales

A friend of Housing Minister Caroline Flint claims that when she was a Students' Union leader at University of East Anglia she did the popular lefty women's thing at the time and kept her pubic hair au natural. Such was the density of her lower thatch, which can be imagined from the luxuriant black barnet on her head, and given the location of her choice of tertiary education, she was known as "Thetford Forest".
It's Friday so I thought I would be risque and post the quote in full.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quote of the Day from the Home Secretary

Apparently Jacqui Smith said on the Today prgramme this morning whilst being interviewed about ID cards that "the database cannot be hacked". Please ezxcuse me whilst I find a corner and curl up in a ball and laugh.

Pity poor Lord Rooker for he is mad!

Should you need evidence that members of the Government are somewhat out of touch with the electorate but also reality then you only have to look to the House of Lords where yesterday, the former MP and Labour peer, Lord Rooker (Minister at DEFRA) said,

I have found that I cannot get Malvern sparkling or Badoit out of the tap.
You can almost picture him walking to every bloody sink he can find and asking why there is no label for the Malvern and asking which one the Chablis comes out of.
Hat Tip: Croydonian for showing me the quote that I could take out of context for fun.

'Main water is not drinkable' says Minister?

In response to a question about how much bottled water the Wales Department bought over the past three years - which incidentally increased year on year - the Secretary of State of Wales Paul Murphy has implied that mains water (at least in London and Cardiff) is not drinkable unless it is filtered.

The implication came in his follow up response to justify his predecessor's increasing use of bottled water when he said his Department, "in line with Government initiatives on sustainable development, is exploring possibilities of installing filter taps to provide a drinking water tap in the kitchen at my London office.... My Cardiff office is fitted with a filter tap for drinking water."

Note that the filter will provide "drinking water" ergo, without a filter, the water is not drinkable. I wonder what the Drinking Water Inspectorate will make of that? Or is he seriously saying that the Wales Office on Whitehall only has a water supply from a tank and no mains feed piping into its kitchen?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Is it possible to kill GX Networks?

A bit of a personal post now because I am mightily amused by an email I have just received from Pipex (the ISP) that says.

We're writing to let you know that Pipex Communications Ltd - the parent company of 123-reg - has changed its name. We use the Pipex name on some of the emails and invoices we send you. Because Pipex Broadband was sold to Tiscali last year, the name of Pipex Communications Ltd has changed. The company is now known as GX Networks Ltd.
Why is this amusing? Well, because way back in the mists of time I started working for an Internet Service Provider called GX Networks. When I joined they were a subsidiary part of a greater whole called Internet Technology Groups (ITG).

ITG was in the process of being bought (middle of the .com boom) by an American firm called Concentric Networks. Concentric completed the sale and we changed from being GX Networks to Concentric Networks. Whilst Concentric were buying GX though they were being bought themselves.

This time the buyer was a Canadian based company called Nextlink. Nextlink couldn't trade in the EU under that name though due to another company existing with the same name. So, for a while, GX was called "Concentric Nextlink". At this point someone dug through domains that were owned and noticed that xo.com was in the porfolio.

At this point we became XO Communications. We still used GX Networks for some customers, but we were XO. Then the .com crash happened. The guys that owned ITG and sold it decided to buy it back and made a fortune in the deal... I personally missed out on £20,000 worth of share options because Salomon Smith-Barney lost a tax form. However, GX Networks was back!

A year or so later another company came along, Zipcom was its name and they were going to buy GX. However, this time with a difference. If I recall correctly, the guys that owned GX were to sell the company to Zipcom but between them hold 51% of buying company in the deal. I think it's called a reverse takeover. At this point I took redundancy and went to work for Tiscali (not working there now of course).

GX carried on trading as both Zipcom and GX for a while then Pipex came along and bought them. Pipex, being an old name and brand on "teh interweb" was a good thing. So the company became Pipex thorugh and through. Then, Pipex decided to sell to Tiscali (my former employer selling to my former employer) and we get back to the email quoted above about the trading name GX Networks Limited.

The moral of the story? Well, first the ISP industry is more incestuous than Norfolk is alleged to be. Think about it. In nine years I have only really worked for two companies, my current employer, and GX/Concentric/Nextlink/Zipcom/Pipex/Tiscali. And second, GX Networks doesn't seem to EVER die. I'm just waiting for my present employer to buy Tiscali and I will have gone full circle.
Note: The above tale began nine years ago in 1999.

Is the Lib Dem blogosphere rebelling too?

Guido has made hay today from Lib Dem resignations over the Lisbon Treaty issue. It's probably wise not to mince words here, but Nick Clegg was, so it was billed, something for Cameron and the Tories to be scared of, and yet, in the last few days it has become pretty clear that he really is nothing. Cameron has been slated by so many for being weak and light, but, as I said to a Cameron-hating UKIPer earlier today, compared to Clegg he looks like a Elder Statesman, and you know what? They nodded.

That is why resignations have come as they have, because the Lib Dems are clearly split right down the middle on the issue of Europe, the Lisbon Treaty, and the matter of trust about manifesto commitments. Even some of the most staunch Lib Dems cannot sit on the fence and buy the Government line about the treaty being very different, whilst simultaneously claiming they want a referendum on a different question. All power to those people I say, principles are a funny thing after all.

It even looks like the fallout is not just the important inner-circle politicos either. The former campaign manager to Norman Lamb MP, and Lib Dem blogger Nich Starling, even appears to have had enough. He's posted a stinging rebuke saying that "Lib Dems are as prepared to tell lies in order to win votes as any other political party." (err yeah!?!) He even makes it clear that it's not Europe but the "issue of trust". Will any other Lib Dem bloggers be so candid about the complete mess that their weak leader has got them into?

How long before another leadership contest? Third time lucky for Huhne?


 

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