And finally I would like to wish a happy new year to the trots of the RMT workers' union. There will be an extremely limited tube service on new-years eve in Britain's capital, if any. I can't work out why there needs to be such disruption over so trivail a disagreement. See if anyone else can work out why they are on strike? Here's the link...
My suspision is that the New-York subway went on strike over christmas and Bob Crow decided that he couldn't bear to relinquish his "most hated union leader" title to Roger Toussiant.
Friday, 30 December 2005
And finally I would like to wish a happy new year to the trots of the RMT workers' union. There will be an extremely limited tube service on new-years eve in Britain's capital, if any. I can't work out why there needs to be such disruption over so trivail a disagreement. See if anyone else can work out why they are on strike? Here's the link...
Thursday, 29 December 2005
In a bid to cut salt in the diet (an area where consumer choice would surely be better than draconian government intervention), Stilton makers may have to cut the amount of salt in the recipie used to make what is currently the finest cheese in the world. Meanwhile the hunting fraternity is awaiting the first prosecutions, as is someone whose dog accidentally chases a hare and not a rabbit. Someone saying something evangelically secular will be prosecuted for Incitement to Religeous hatred. The police are so busy working out how to police the new laws, that burgalry is, to all intents and purposes, legal.
Why, oh why can't this bloody government just leave people alone?
Wednesday, 28 December 2005
I hope everyone had a merry Chrismas. Even the malignant turds of the animal rights lobby couldn't spoil mine, though they tried to by getting in touch with my employers concerning my blog. I mean what do they expect my employers to do? Private opinion and all that is not a sackable offence. In any case, I'm self employed. Anyway I'd like to thank eveyone for the support and reassurance I have recieved from friends in the real world and the blogosphere over this little incident. If you want to upset animal rights nutters, here's the link.
I fear I have been doing a disservice to our boys and girls in blue. I'm sure, like all of us, they are doing their bit to make society a better place, but the excessive powers they've been given are corrupting them and they are focussing on the wrong "crimes" alienating people like me (ex-forces, graduate, rural, middle-class. I don't even speed) who should be their allies.
It has led me to thnk about intimidation. Not just from extremists like the animal rights lobby, but also the police.
I'm staggered that more has not been made of the Police's new powers of arrest (which I will look into more), which combined with an agenda set by a very out of touch home office is corrupting the police, and driving a wedge between them and the law-abiding majority. Now when you try to talk to a copper, you can be arrested if he doesn't like the cut of your jib.
I remember stopping to berate an officer,hiding behind a wall with a radar gun along the "haven't you got anything better to do?" lines. I was threatened with arrest. Is criticising the police a crime? Can I be arrested for arguing in public for a change in the law? Will I recieve phone calls from our local constabulary, investigating my recent allegation that the police are stupid? Is insulting a copper a crime?
I have been mugged. I have been burgled. I have had the living crap beaten out of me by a bouncer, once because of my accent. On no incident did the police or the criminal justice system show any thing other than the most passing and superficial interest. The bad guys were certainly not punished. I compare this with the excellent service I recieved from the Amsterdam police when a mugger who got away with the pathetic change (less than a Euro) that I was carrying, was caught later that evening. I didn't expect him to be caught, and I certainly wasn't prepared for the courtesy, efficiency and thoroughness of the dutch police, despite my chemically attenuated state. The British police should be on our side. But they appear in the UK merely there to be there to hand out speeding tickets, and allow us to tick the box marked "informed police" for insurance purposes when stuff gets nicked. Only murderers, rapists (and those naughty, naughty people who drive too fast) ever get caught. It's barely worth the effort to inform the cops of anything else.
Meanwhile, the police themselves * are aware of the rift with the majority of the British public that this is creating, and they don't like it one bit.
So what can the police do? Well here's some ideas:
- The law abiding majority have priorities. Murder, violence, burgalry, robbery, graffiti/vandalism, almost anything else you can think of... then diversity, then speeding. Your priorites should reflect this to some extent.
- Cease the assault on the motorist.
- Excersise the highest standards. I object to being overtaken by a speeding jam sandwich** in a 40 zone, when I would be fined £60 for being caught doing the same speed. He was on his own and didn't have the blues and twos on. This is just plain indiscipline.
- Be respectful to the communities you serve, whatever the provocation. You are servants, not masters. Again this is a democracy, not a police state.
- Accept the law is an ass. Keep the peace, do not enforce the rules too inflexibly (though you must obey them yourselves absolutely).
- Pay attention when crimes are reported, and follow up. Burgalry is not just "middle class person loses some stuff", its a fundamental violation of home with deep psychological impact. Once someone's been burgled they no longer feel safe.
- You have no idea how badly this and this reflect on the police. A fundamental loss of trust beween law abiding majority and police will result unless you stop investigating thought crime.
Meanwhile a more locally accountable police force will help institutionalise the general principles laid out above. Directly electing someone (Sheriff? Mayor?) who can take responsibility for the way policing occurs in a town or community and will ensure that people have an outlet for complaint and a means of changing things if, like me you think the police are fundamentally good, but deeply misguided, and given too much power.
I would like to congratulate the police for resisting the Labour government's plans to merge the small forces. I wish they hadn't been sucked into lobbying for 90-day detention without charge, but their resistance to some of New Labour's battier ideas is improving my opinion of them. All they need to do now is catch a robber or two. ***
*With thanks to the whiskey priest for pointing this blog out to me.
** Police Car
***Specifically a Mr. Andrew Charles of Brixton Road, Oval, London who nicked my mobile phone in 2003. (arrested, failed to turn up to court, so basically let off)
Thursday, 22 December 2005
I do not like being threatend with legal action for expressing an opinion. It smacks of a police state. Anyway Here's an unpleasant exchange of e-mails, for the record. If I get anything else from this sad little prick, I'll post it.
from firstname.lastname@example.org 22/12/05
Well done for providing your name and two email addresses, along with your
homepage, then choosing to incite illegal activities on your blog. While you may have some reason for saying some of the things you do, it is
worrying that you generalize about most subjects, thereby destroying your
Look forward to getting your well earned 'rewards'
ha ha ha
p.s. I hope you like talking to the police. Oh, wait, you don't think
they're very good do you? Such a shame you don't like the way they use their
I replied (I thought he was commenting on this)
You sad little man.
Hiding behind anonymity. And yes. I don't like the police.
So fuck you. If you haven't the guts to post, comment or engage in free discourse in public, then you're not worth bothering with.
I want the law on reasonable force changed and I make no bones about it.
The law's an ass in so many areas to obey it risks hypocrisy.
Anyway I'm wating my time on a turd. Fuck off
1. thanks for providing me with ANOTHER email address and your business
2. thanks for wasting so much of your precious time. You life is one of
gives a good idea of your moral standing, though that was kind of obvious.
3. thanks for responding to comments I didn't make. (Reasonable force? Try
finding some reasoning first muppet)
4. thanks for swearing in your reply, from a registered company address.
That is illegal*, and you will soon be wishing you were more careful with
ha ha ha
ha ha ha
ha ha ha
(*it isn't illegal)
I replied (realising he was writing about this)
You are a twat
Are you an animal rights nutter? I like hunting.
and that's a second offensive email.
I'm not a christian. This is why I'm ambivalent about Christmas, but I satisfy myself that the festival we are all enjoying is a christian veneer on something much, much older. Yesterday was the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice. The shortest day. The ending of the dying of the light. And this is when I always have a little inward celebration. It'll get easier to get up in the mornings from here on, and my journey home will be a little less dusky.
Wednesday, 21 December 2005
Every time your train is delayed in the morning, the probable reason is the fat, lazy, overpaid, ignorant jobsworth who should be driving (a job which could easily be done by a computer) has decided that an extra hour in his fart-sack is more important than a thousand peoples' commute.
The lump behind the window who explains in self-righteous tones that it isn't her fault, is wrong. She's a member of the union. The same union that ensures the Train Driver with the hangover isn't fired for destroying Train operating comanies' customers' days. I don't care which union calls its members out, they are all a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem. There's no need for them.
Some of the more egregious excamples include Bob Crow's RMT union, which called the London Underground out over an individual on sick leave who was fired when it transpired that he had been playing regular squash**.
The Fire-fighters union under Andy Gilchrist walked out over changes to shift patterns, desiged originaly so that fire-fighters had enough chaps on the night shift to deal with German Incendiary bombs. These aren't much of a problem any more, so nowadays, firemen get paid to sleep. The people who picked up the tab were the young soldiers, who should have been training for Tony's wars.
Andy Gilchrist keeps pictures of Terrorist, Ernesto 'Che' Guevera on his wall. Bob 'Twat' Crow keeps a bust of the Mass Murderer, Lennin on his desk.
Surely the worst example is the Mineworkers strike orchestrated by Arthur Scargill. The Conservative's original plans for the coal industry involved no compulsory redundancies and a managed programme of pit closures. This was nessesary because the coal industry was massively subsidised by the state and the incoming administration needed to reduce state involvement in industry. Scargill was having none of it. He believed power lay at the point of production and wanted to prove it. Thatcher knew this, and had laid plans (a cable under the sea from nuclear powered France***) to ensure the coountry could cope without its coal. Thatcher won, and as a result the Industry was demolished. The Blame for this and much of the suffering and deprivation that followed in the mining communities can be laid at Scargill's door, for leading his men into an unessesary fight they couldn't win, against an opponent who couldn't afford to lose and had the support of most of the rest of the country, and all for an outdated political principle.
So unions can actually harm the interests of their members. The main problem now is national pay bargaining. Each individual should seek the best pay his labours can achieve. Companies should seek to employ the smallest number of people and pay them appropriately. Unfortunately, unions prevent the lazy and incompetent being fired, and as a result, prevent the able and hard-working getting pay-rises. (if you can't see how this follows, you're stupid*).
Thatcher destroyed the union's power by beholdening them to their members interests (the balloting of members before strike action) and banning secondary picketing (the pracice whereby other industries get called out in sympathy). This prevented the "winter of discontent" happening again and played a large part in Britain's economic miracle of the 80's and 90's.
There's no need to collectivise now. There's a minimum wage, full employment and legislation protecting workers' rights. People are free to move jobs and there are any number of governement funded retraining schemes. If you don't like the pay and conditions, it should be up to you to do something about it. Take responsibility for your own life, and don't rely on sticking your fat, idle thmbs in your braces and saying "you can't get me, I'm part of the union".
*Because unionised workforces have large numbers of people, any change to the pay of an individual is magnified in cost by 100,000. National pay bargaining means that companies aren't free to reward an exceptional worker. unions raison d'etre is to ensure that useless, lazy turds are not fired
**Not quite as bad as the copper caught refereeing a premiership football match having taken early retirement on medical grounds.
***This represents the one and only time in history that the French have helped us
Ranted by Jackart at 12/21/2005 10:05:00 am
Monday, 19 December 2005
Chiraq likes the deal Blair negotiated on our behalf. Of course he fucking does. He gave nothing, except a vague commitment to review the loathesome CAP in 2014. He has since indicated that he'll veto any changes to farm subsidies before then. Blair, the cowardly, spineless cunt* on the other hand gave away more than £1 billion a year, when he could have vetoed any changes to the rebate, just because he wants to be loved. Pathetic.
Did all those men die in vain on the fields of Waterloo?
I see no reason to be polite on this issue at all. Blair's wrong, and he's wrong for morally degenerate reasons. So "Cowardly, spineless cunt" sums up pretty accurately how I'm feeling right now about mr. Blair.
Ranted by Jackart at 12/19/2005 08:42:00 am
Friday, 16 December 2005
I'm not even sure we need a police force. Communities should be able to police themselves to a much greater extent than they do presently. It's just that we've been persuaded that more bobbies on the beat is a good thing. It might be, if they occasionally caught the little shits who break into our houses or rob us on the street . As it is, a certain amount of vigilantism probably wouldn't be a problem, and might be more effective a deterrent than the current policing arrangments. This is an extreme solution, but the police's inability to act within the law themselves is shocking, as is the number of people fixed up for crimes they didn't commit. What's even worse is that as corrupt, semi-literate, simian and incompetent the British bobby undoubtedly is, he's the best in the world.
With the North Wales Police acting as a the provisional wing of Welsh chippiness by investigating alleged anti-welsh comments on a BBC quiz show and the metroploitan Police acting as New Labour's PC stormtroopers by investigating a "homophobic incident" following a BBC radio discussion show, the police have demonstrated that they are unable use the vast powers they've been given wisely.
The police's fetish for speed cameras and CCTV indicate a desire to monitor and control society, not protect it, and their failure to define burgalry as a "priority crime" indicates they are now wildly out of step with public opinion. So what we need is a police force who serve communities. The US model of precincts and directly elected officials works well wherever the police force isn't corrupt. New labour's plans to centralise and expand the county forces into regional ones should therefore be resisted. There must be much more direct local accountability in policing, to force the police to serve us by catching criminals and vandals, not investigating thought-crime.
The argument that terrorism and organised crime need larger more centralised forces is correct, but this could be achieved by seconding officers from local forces to serve in units with a nationwide remit. I would resist an FBI-style semi-secret force with greater powers than the police, after all we've already got MI5.
As usual the Labour government has shown us its fundamental dislike of the British public by doing the exact opposite of what is right. By Divorcing the police from the communities they serve, by enforcing priorities on the police that are illiberal and just plain wrong, by attempting to overturn our genuine freedoms, the government and it's allies in the police are damaging this country more profoundly than even the anti-british Labour party could possibly want.
The police should be locally focussed and locally accountable to directly elected individuals.
Thursday, 15 December 2005
Risk is a funny concept.
In the gulf during the first 6 months of the British deployment (the actual war, and its immediate aftermath), the death rate in the British Army fell below its peace-time average. This is attributable to one simple fact. When you are being shot at by Iraqis, you are not driving a car to work.
If I am to take the train from London to Hitchin, I pass through Hatfield and Potters Bar, the scenes of the rail disasters which gave this awful governemnt an excuse to massively disrupt the British Rail network, and rape private investors into the bargain. These crashes killed 4 and 7 people respectively and they are still in the news 5 years after the events.
In those 5 years despite Britian having the safest roads in Europe about 17,500 people have died on British Roads. Between 9 and 10 a day. So it is possible, statistically that disruption to the rail services killed more people than the disater. In any case there's a Hatfield and a Potters bar on our roads almost every day.
Yet you would assume that serving in a conflict zone was more dangerous than serving in the UK. If you read the papers, you'd be forgiven for thinking that British trains weren't safe (they are very safe, by any comparison).
Which brings us to the concept of risk. Staistics are the only way of making sence of this, and nothing is perfectly safe, so people mustn't get their Knickers in a twist at everything that goes wrong, because as I constantly point out, there are unintended consequences. Disrupt the railways, more people drive. More people drive, more people die.
Now why would someone who drives 1,000 miles a week care about the infinitesimal risk of eating a piece of British Beef during the "mad cow disese" nonsence?
But people won't listen to what the statistics tell them. "Lies, damn lies and statistics" they smirk. Politicians are culpable. Twisting statistics, comparing apples with pears and using "average", when they mean "medain" are just some of the tricks some use to get a point across to someone who they assess won't know any better.
When I started on this post, I intended to write about financial risk where all this is most easily measured. Financial risk represents the potential rewards set against the liklihood of losing some, all or more of your money. The Gammut of fianancial risk runs from futures contracts and put options where the downside risk is unlimited (i.e. you can lose all your money and a lot more), through "three legged bob", a 200:1 outsider at the 3:15 at haydock park, (you'll more than likely lose all your money, but if all the other riders fall, you're quids in), all the way through equities, bonds, gilts, treasuries and finally overnight cash, where you earn whatever the central bank is paying and virtually no risk of losing it, except to inflation.
People are unwilling to shoulder downside financial risk when investing. They are wrong to think like that. This is what financial theorists call "asymetric risk tolerance". So the financial giants come up with products to protect capital. "80% of stock market growth, with no loss if the market falls" is a simple example. (The firm puts the money in an interest account paying enough to cover the premium of a Call option on the market with an expiry over the term of the contract). An extreme consequence of this is the split-cap scandal, where very complicated schemes, highly geared were sold as low-risk investments. Only this risk was predicated on the FTSE 100 staying over 6,000 or so. Market dropped, and lots of people lost all their money.
What these schemes also do is time your money up for a period of time, effectively charging you 20% of the stockmarket's growth for knowlege of the principle that "time ameliorates risk". so risk is therefore different depending on your time horizon. If you stick your money in overnight cash smug in the absolute security of your capital, eventually you'll lose out to inflation. In effect, there's a guarantee of losing money in real terms if your horizon is years, not days. Long dated gilts and Bonds are not much better, and index linked bonds only pay off if you think inflation will really shoot up.
So you need an asset class that will pay good returns over the long term (in return for some risk), is protected against inflation, you can get at your money if you want. you have the flexibility to invest a bit here, a bit there, and get at it if you need it. Equites are the way forward (but I would say that, wouldn't I!) Unit Trusts suck because of the charges, so if you want colloective investments, investment trusts are the way forward. Theres a lot to choose from and they move around, so bite the bullet. You're going to have to pay for advice. This is a problem, because everyone thinks they're Warren Buffett. (They also think they're a good driver)
So if you want to get rich and live to enjoy it, the holy trinity is time, patience and diversification. In the mean time, not all risk is bad and nothing that claims to be "risk-free" really is. And if you can, take the train.
Ranted by Jackart at 12/15/2005 08:42:00 am
Wednesday, 14 December 2005
Intelligence Agencies operate in a Legal Grey area. They use evidence which will not stand up in court (called intelligence) in a similar way to the police forces with whom they operate. There is a delicate balancing act to be achieved: Do you let your fox run, and hope to secure enough to prosecute or do you move in early and prevent an atrocity, but probably let him off scott-free? The latter option must often be taken, and that leads to the temptation to use extrajudicial means to get the man as well. Cover-ups must be pretty easy for people for whom secrecy is their trade.
For most of the UK's struggle with Irish Terrorism, any attempt to step outside the rule of law was counter productive, as demonstrated by the police fix-ups, internment and over reactions like "Bloody Sunday". The rule of law has won, and the terrorists have abandoned the armalite and have focussed their efforts on (organised crime and) the ballot box. This is a victory for doing things by the book.
Many argue that the Islamofacists of Al-Quaeda and the like are different, that they represent a bigger threat than previous generations of bearded nutters. They're wrong. Even 9/11 posed no existential threat to the western way of life. A bomb every now and again is a small price to pay for the knowlege that your govenment always obeys the rules. Let's face it, no terrorist threat represents a greater risk of killing you than driving a car every day, so let's get the risk to the individual in perspective.
So the US government should come clean about whether it lifts people and moves them round the world to places where the security aparatus is not so squeamish about roughing people up a bit. We aren't going to win this war against the fundamentalists until the Arab world stops torturing its own people, and we should stop turning a blind eye to their malpractice. If agencies are complicit then they are accesories to torture. And we don't torture; after all that's one of the reasons for knocking Saddam's regime on the head in the first place.
The CIA should focus on its role as an intelligence gatherer. If it tries to be a global anti-terrorist police force operating in the shadows without judicial oversight, then the potential propaganda coup it delivers to the United States' enemies in the Arab World and the International Left renders any short term gains extremely costly. Secondly without good intelligence, the agencies who should be rounding the bad guys up for trial and imprisonment can't get hold of the right individuals. Evidence obtained under torture is suspect anyway.
America should be setting an example. Camp X-ray at Guantanamo has surely served its purpose and its inmates should be given something like a trial or released. The CIA should leave arrests to agencies who operate squarely under the rule of law such as armies abroad and police at home, and Governments should explain to their agents that a long term strategy for winning this fight involves being better people than the terrorists.
I was going to put some thought into today's post, but something arrived in my inbox which just had to be mentioned....
The League against cruel sports, arseholes to a man, have got a freepost address for people to send donations to. So if lots of people send empty envelopes, or maybe envelopes containing an insulting note, they'll have to pick up the tab, and will have less money to spend bussing the unwashed green-hairs out into England's green and pleasant land. Come to think of it, wrap all those unwanted Telephone directories, magazines and any other bulky, heavy stuff you can.
I'm sure Southwarks recycling system can cope. You'll be helping these smashing young ladies continue doing what they love.
The address to write to (enclosing cash if you like...) is
League Against Cruel Sports
Freepost SE 5087
Tuesday, 13 December 2005
If you need a reason to punch* a lefty (and I don't) surely Polly Toynbee provides it with her sanctimonious drivel. She epitomises the left-wing view that all state spending is good especially if paid for by confiscatory taxation, and tax cuts are evil. She has a patronising and unpleasant assumption of moral superiority of the right of a state (only if run by people like her) to ban things of which they disaprove. She supports state funding of political parties (but only ones of which she approves, naturally) indicating a contempt for democracy. Her assumption that a well-heeled politican is nessesarily corrupt is horrible, and hardly likely to get the overachievers of society into politics. I want a camera pointed straight at her face when Cameron takes the Tories to a Landslide in the next election.
Worse even than Poly Toynbee is George Monbiot, whose striking ignorance of anything to to do with job or wealth creation should be clear even to the most doe-eyed of pinko idealists. I agree with everything he says about the ridiculous nature of the British and European Government's food subsidy policy, but he can't draw the obvious conclusion that state intervention in industry is counterproductive.
God, how i'd like to hit them both in the teeth with a lump hammer**.
Both talk about that last vestige of prejudice allowed to the Guardian-reading fuck-wit: Class. Both seem to hold the bizzare idea that privately educated people are unfit to hold office, especially if they don't atone for it by joining the Labour party and voting against anything which might enforce private sector standards of literacy, discipline and education on the public sector. Their support for the staggeringly illiberal banning of fox-hunting was a purely vindictive measure against "the Toffs" and had nothing to do with animal welfare. I could go on. So I will.
Both pander to the Guardian reader's prejudice against people who go and make things happen without the intervention of the state. They deride peoples natural desire to give a decent education to their children. They think it is wrong for a family to try to leave some cash or a home to help the offspring on their way. They think that all economic activity should come from and go to the government, not the family (who should be split and inspected to death) nor the private firm (who should be taxed and regulated to death)... Because it's "fairer".
Well it isn't fucking fair, and neither's life. Some people are born rich, pretty and intelligent and some are born poor, ugly and stupid. (Some born ugly and stupid have managed to make that pay). Some have parents who read to them, others have parents who inject smack between their toes. The state can't moderate for this gross dice-roll of fate, and any attempt the state makes, is so subject to the law of unintended consequences that it isn't worth the risk.
The Guardian-reader can't accept it is up to the individual and their family to make of life what they can out of whatever fate has thrown your way. It is not up to the state to make outcomes equal by thwarting the sucessful and cajoling the crap. Perhaps the lefty is so weak and unsure of their own abilities they feel the need of the blanket of nanny state? Perhaps they are so filled with envy and hate they can't bear to see anyone else doing well? Perhaps they are so arrogantly full of themselves that they think their solutions should be imposed on everyone? Whichever way, there's a virrulent mental illness at the heart of leftism and I wish the results weren't inflicted on me. I don't care, in my Shire fastness what you do in fucking Islington or the People's Republic of North Britain, leave me alone.
* I'm not actually advocating the punching of people on the basis of political views
** Nor am I advocating the hitting of their teeth with Lump hammers
Monday, 12 December 2005
The "Adult" entertainment industry has spent millions looking into and developing the female market, arguing that women like to get off too, so there's a huge untapped market.
Only it is already catered for.
Porn heads directly for male pleasure buttons, without accessing higher thought. Often in porn, even sex is bypassed, with the action heading straight for the "Money Shot". This fulfills the male desire for visual stimulus, fulfilment of fantasy and easily available sex, without emotional baggage. These are not female desires so Porn for women would take a very different shape.
"Love actually" is a gratuitously self-indulgent film in which writers transparently include an idealised version of themselves (have you noticed all the attractive men in the film are writers?) into the script. The film bypasses any notion of plot or character development, except to give the men an attractive reason to be emotionally vulnerable (wife dying, shagging brother etc...). This fulfills the female fantasy of emotionally incontinent men, who are in need of a woman to heal the hurt. As a result, all the men fall in love immedaitely with the first woman to make them a cup of tea. There is a pandering to the female hate figure of the "scarlet woman" who tries to break up a marriage, and she fails anyway. The nasty bit where Tony Blair stands up to George Bush is as blatant a piece of left-wing propaganda as I've seen since "battleship Potemkin", and the idea that a batchelor Prime Minister would fall for a Foul-Mouthed tea lady is almost as incredible as his wandering through the Arrivals gate at heathrow, escorted by a single copper, who happens also (handily) to be a fine baritone. But fall for her he does, as does every other male in the film; the script writers heading straight for the emotional money shot, and bypassing anything which would make the characters, or the film interesting.
The Failure of the Police to shoot the emotionally precocious brat who runs around Heathrow in the final, horrible scene merely compounds the failure of the movie to offer anything to half its potential audience.
Much like porn, in fact.
Friday, 9 December 2005
Don't get me wrong... I like Christmas. I like the gifts and the giving. A long weekend off to spend with friends and Family is most welcome. And I especially enjoy the period between Christmas and New year, where 'work' definately deserves those inverted commas. I like food and drink and parties and the Boxing day meet. What really pisses me off, though is having it rammed down your throat for 6 weeks beforehand. This Orgy of consumerism is quite unnessesary.
Here's a sensible policy for a happy Britain: any retailer caught mentioning Chrismas before the 1st of December should be made to dig a shallow pit and be summarily excecuted. "Jingle bell rock" by some twat, and "It's Christmas Everybody!" by Slade are crimes against humaity, and should be an allowable defence in murder trials.
The stories from the press and stuff on TV are the same every year and I'm Bored
- I don't care if some PC nutter town hall has banned the word "Christmas" for fear of offending someone of a different faith.
- "Chrismas tree" or "Holiday tree". I could't give a shit, It still takes 11 months to hoover up all the bastard needles.
- Any Cutsy Story about "kids" having their "Christmas ruined" because of the unavailability of some mass produced lump of plastic, can fuck off as far as I'm concerned.
- Cristmas lights are just lights. Turning them on ceased to be interesting while Eddison was still alive.
- Santa is just a Coca Cola corporation marketing ploy. If there are any "kids" (yeurgh) reading this, he doesn't exist. While we're on the subject, neither does God. In fact Mary's is probably the lamest excuse for pre-marital conception in recorded history.
- The Christmas number one is Shit, every year.
- Charles Dickens is Melodramatic, socialist crap. The only reworking of "a Christmas Carol" which has been any good is the "blackadder" one
- Sir Cliff Richard is not a "National Treasure".
- "Christmas movies for all the Family to enjoy" means "sentimental crap for anyone under 5 probably about an Orphan bunny or something". The only christmas movie I have ever liked is "Bad Santa"
So I say Bah Humbug until about the 24th of December!
Ranted by Jackart at 12/09/2005 03:44:00 pm
Wednesday, 7 December 2005
"Price elasticity" is the term used by economists to describe the consumer's change in propensity to purchase at different costs. Ususally the higher the price, the lower the propensity to purchase and vice-versa.
In financial transactions however, the dynamics can be very different. Usually in a rational market, the dyanmics outlined above prevail, but when the paradigm changes; when for example a company releases a profits warning or a surprising set of results, the market often becomes emotionally driven.
Fear is when investors watch each trade going through, terrified that evey sell is an insider, who knows something he doesn't. A fall in the shareprice will bring a fresh wave of selling. No-one will buy until the first uptick occurs, when a huge wave of buyers who have been waiting in the wings pile in. This is why you get long tails on daily candles at the key reversal points. See the chart on the Left. You could almost smell the fear as the market fell.
It's not just small companys' shares which are subject to such emotions. Have a look at this Chart to the right of the FTSE 100. The change in emotion happened overnight, following a strong afternoon session on the street on the 12th March 2003. This was the bottom of the biggest bear market in History.
On the upside the exact reverse occurs, with people greedy for profits. An uptick brings a wave of buyers who are greedy for an easy profit. The speed at which the market moves at these key revesal points means that trend followers who get it wrong, or bet on short term market movements mostly lose money over the long term. (that's not to say a punt now and again is not fun!)
The way to wealth is simply to save regulary, invest carefully for the long term and be patient. Do this, and one day you'll wake up rich. It really is that simple.
Which leads us to our esteemed Chancellor. Pensions are a simple business. All everyone needs to do is put away 5-15% of their income over their entire working lives into a pot, mostly invested in the stock-market when young, gradually moving into fixed income as pensionable age approaches. With a bit of luck, and good advice, the UK's pension problem will be solved without the government needing to get involved.
The Chancellor should simplify the system, allow auto enrollment in company schemes, not go back on his word concerning allowable investments. All contributions to pension funds should be tax free, as all pension income is taxed, the exchequer will get it's grubby paws on it one day. Gordon Brown's endless tinkering with the system brings the whole investment industry into disrepute. If we professionals cannot plan for the long-term, what hope does the private investor have?
Ranted by Jackart at 12/07/2005 08:18:00 am
Tuesday, 6 December 2005
Yesterday our Iron Chancellor delivered his pre Budget report.
UK growth forecasts were halved to below that of the sclerotic European economies. Obviously the Prudent one blamed the high oil price (despite Britain producing most of its Oil needs: the high oil price should be more-or-less neutral to the UK economy) and other manifestations of the winds of global trade. He should have blamed his over-taxing of the UK economy, and his own gross mismanagement.
I've heard people complain, saying "why doesn't the press/Tory party/professional bodies complain if the Chancellor is so bad?" The answer is he is so wrong, on so many issues, so often, all his critics can't agree on what's his worst policy. Without focus, all the public hear is noise. In any case there's even more to get your teeth into in yesterday's statement.
Having told the pensions industry to prepare for a liberal regime that allows, for example property to be held in "Self Invested Personal Pensions" (SIPPs), he announced that this would now, in fact not be allowed. This has left investors making property purchases off-plan in the expectation of relief at 40%, with a huge bill, and the industry with a huge potential miselling scandal.
Having encouraged small business and sole traders to incorporate (form a company, rather than act as an individual) to qualify for a tax break, he has suddenly removed it. This has left thousands of small traders with the burdens of company law and accounting, with none of the tax benefit they incorporated to gain.
Having demanded that the Oil industry invest in carbon sequestration technology, he has slapped a huge tax on the North sea, which will starve British oil of investment, just as reserves in the North Sea are running out and most in need of investment.
His plan to help "key workers" (definition: anyone who's low-paid, unionised industry votes Labour) get on the property ladder involves the taxpayer wearing the risk for the Mortgage Lenders' 25% stake in shared ownership mortgages: effectively buying property at the top of the market, with no exposure to upside and a potential 100% loss. Obviously private sector tax-payers are going to foot the bill for more pork-barrel politics aimed at Labour's heartland.
He is demonstrating a frustrating unwillingness to plan for the long term, as is shown by his dismissal of the Turner report on pensions. He rejected it on the grounds of cost, but changes to the treasury's model mean that the cost is nowhere near what the Chancellor suggested a few days ago. Instead he wants to further "target" resources at the poorest by means-testing. This is a massive disincentive to save amongst those who need it most.
Everything this incompetent, pig-headed Chancellor has done since he abandoned the Tories' spending plans has been wildly counter productive, anti-business, anti investment and anti freedom. He has entrenched means testing across the whole economy, creating a huge disincentive to save, or even find a job. He has strangled business with regulation and tax. He has sold assets at the bottom and bought assets at the top. He has taken this country from the fastest Growing major economy in Europe to the slowest. From the Lowest taxed to one of the highest. He has squandered an opportunity to entrench a high growth, enterprising, modern economy by his imposition of his dirigiste, tax and spend model.
The man's an arsehole, and I'm seriously considering assasination as the only hope. (Only joking if anyone from MI5 is reading this. There's no way in Brown's Britain I could afford the nessesary petrol to make a getaway)
Monday, 5 December 2005
We Won. And I have the bruises to prove it.
Rugby is a game where great vents of loquacity are rarely nessesary to describe the action, and the Phalanx warfare of Saturday was no different.
I was running the touch for the second half and narrowly escaped a lynching following a close call on the winning try*, but it did give me the perspective to see the game. Normally I spend the whole game buried in the scrum but I actually got to see what a psychopath "Kitzbuel" is when his blood's up, and the big hits that were put in in the centre of the park.
Most of all however this game was about forward grunt, and the pack's efforts early gained some valuable trunover ball, cementing our position deep inside their half. To my mind there are few more inspiring sights in rugby than one scrum pushing another off the ball and that's exactly what we did. The Grasshopper's last ditch defence was however superb and some magnificent tackles, plus our inability with the boot made it difficult to turn our position into points. Some unusual descisions denying us a brace of tries didn't help either. Nevertheless, Thanks to some individual brilliance from Luke and Mad Matt, we won. That's all there is to it.
Onwards to Hammersmith and Fulham next week, where it looks increasingly like the Heathens will have to do without my services in the Engine Room, as I have a particularly smart party to go to in Leicestershire.
*If any of the Grasshoppers navigate to this page... I saw both feet in play and he touched down in play therefore it was a try, a tight one, but still a try. Assaulting a match official..... You should be ashamed of yourselves. Tchsk!
Ranted by Jackart at 12/05/2005 12:56:00 pm
Friday, 2 December 2005
So Desperate is Tony Blair for someone to love him, and in his pathetic serch for a "legacy", he has just cost this country Billions to secure a budget agreement that will be ignored by all parties anyway.
The EU exists to keep the real world from biting the French on the bum, and it is payed for by British and German taxpayers. Anything else this corrupt, venal, bureaucratic monstrosity does is a sideshow. The grotesque Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidises European (mainly French) farmers to the tune of £33 billion (one third of sub-saharan Africa's GDP*), just under half of the EU's budget. Yet it actually does a very poor job of increasing farmers' incomes. It doesn't achieve its primary function, whilst distorting global markets, starving African farmers and preventing development in the Third World more effectively than Africa's endemic wars. (America's farm subsidies are also equally culpable).
Because Britain's farmers are both more efficient and better environmentalists than the French or the Spanish, the CAP doesn't subisdise them as much. As a result, Britain under its last true leader, Margaret Thatcher, negotiated a "Rebate" worth some £3.7 billion a year to offset some of this glaring inequality.
Without the rebate, Britain would be the biggest contributor to the EU budget. As it stands at the moment, we are just the biggest per capita contributor of the large economies.
Tony Blair has just opened up our rebate for negotiation. Britain's policy in negotiation has been "no change to the rebate without fundamental reform of the CAP". Obviously that venal, selfish, strutting, cockerel of a nation, France won't budge while its beak is in the trough. I think our negotiating policy should be "Withdrawl unless there's fundamental change to the CAP".
What Tony Blair has done is break under pressure. He has cost every man woman and child in the UK £711 each every year, because although his current compromise is only with the accession countries' shares of the rebate, you can bet that with the rubicon crossed, the rest is at risk, and the French want to get their greedy hands on more British taxpayer's money. After all despite the CAP, they are net contributors, a situation they can't be happy with. Spain is obviously unhappy with the current arrangements because although Britian pays for Spanish development, they want more. As they are just boorish, grasping peasants, 30 years out of Military dictatorship, I'll let them off. But the French have no Excuse.
I've yet to work out what we get for membership of the EU. As far as I can see, nothing that wouldn't accrue to a member of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Two of the richest countries in the world, Norway and Switzerland are members, but not members of the EU, and their trade isn't suffering. Indeed we run a massive trade deficit with the EU, and the EU would be desperate to keep our market open.
The Argument that the "seat at the negotiating table" is worth our huge contribution would hold water were this country not a permenant member of the UN security council, lead member of the Commonwealth and 4th largest economy in the world, which gives us access to the G8, WTO and other forums of the great and the good. Furthermore, the total inability of Europe to punch its weight in Trade negotiations, even on the rare ocasions it is arguing in Britain's interest, renders the whole edifice utterly useless.
I want someone to explain why we should remain members of this rotten club. There'll be a prize of a bottle of champagne for anyone who can come up with a convincing argument that I haven't heard and demolished before, which justifies the Billions we funnel to the brussels regulation factory. Do not expect polite replies.
*Not including the Republic of South Africa