Monday, 27 February 2006

A Bad Weekend

Supporting the England Rugby side is a painful business. There is potential to be a great side... men like Sheridan, Grewcock, Cueto and Lewsey are world class. And then they go and lose to Scotland. Now Don't get me wrong, the scots played better than England and deserved their win. but if England are to be counted amongst the Great sides (and this actually goes for France too) they've got to destroy the likes of Scotland every time.

New Zealand have Never lost to the Scots, and good though this side are, can you ever see these Scots beating the all blacks? The Wallabys? The Springboks? So why do England trip up on every third visit to Murrayfield?

And the bloody Saints lost too. And I've got a hangover.



Friday, 24 February 2006

Metrication

These people can Fuck off. It's just another ploy by Federasts* to pull us away from the Anglosphere and tie us to Europe culturally as well as politically. Imagine government wanting to spend £80m doing something which is against the settled will of the British people (converting road signs to Kilometers).

Oh hang on... they do. People are still prosecuted for obeying their customers wishes and selling food in Pounds and Ounces.

A simple example of government where it's neither wanted nor needed.

*A word meaning people in favour of European Federalism, supporters of a European Superstate. Traitors.



Thursday, 23 February 2006

Fair Democracy?

Labour is massively increasing the size of the state. This is uncontroversial fact and is now taking nearly half of the national pie.

They might be doing it, to the obvious detriment to the economy, to create a client class of public-sector vassals who will always vote labour. I cannot see any other reason.

So here's a plan to prevent this kind of abuse of the system. If you derive your income from the state, you shouldn't be allowed to vote. In effect disenfranchise public servants in return for their job for life and generaous taxpayer-funded final salary pensions.

Unfair?

He who pays the piper calls the tune. Unfortunately this isn't true in modern Britain. Those of us who pay the bills for Gordon Brown's profligacy have no redress. We're harried and put upon by the state, through stealth and wealth taxes designed to transfer money from Private to Public, From south to North, England to Scotaland, rural to Urban. In short Tory to Labour. In the Private sector, we're subject to draconian laws to make us less competitve. All this is given to benefit Gordon Brown's serfs in the Public Sector who gratefully vote Labour in return for their tax-credits, subsidised homes and above inflation wage deals.

When this client class reaches half the population, we're doomed like France to perpetual strikes, low productivity, 35 hour weeks, mass unemployment and economic stagnation AND perpetual left-of-centre Governement.

Obviously this anti-democratic proposal is not a real policy idea, just an airing of my fear and frustration at the way this country is going. But it is beholden upon David Cameron, when he becomes PM to reverse this dynamic, shrink the state and set us all free.



Monday, 20 February 2006

Education, Education, Education

Parliamentarians are debating in the houses of Parliament "Synthetic Phonics" as opposed to "Analytic Phonics" as a means of teaching reading to toddlers. (Most teachers would like the freedom to use both). Just as Aneurin Bevan's remark about the sound of a falling bedpan reverberating round the palace of Westminster upon Nationalisation of Health has come horribly true, the screech of chalk on the board is deafening parliamentarians.

Methods of teaching and schools admissions are now party political issues, with the tribal tom-toms that this brings. There is no more fraught issue on the left than selection by merit. Labour and the Liberal Democrats, mostly grammar or minor public-school boys and girls favour a comprehensive system, where selection by merit is considered evil (akin to Herod's infanticide: the issue has taken on a totemic quality). The Tories, as befits alumni of difficult to get into great public schools, are comfortable with selection on merit, can see that it works but really aren't greatly fussed. After all, little Toby and Celia will get places at Eton and Cheltenham and the public sector isn't really on their horizon, nevertheless they prefer a system with some selection to keep it nice and rigorous.

Now this is a gross charicature of the positions but that is the debate in which the government finds itself. It is stuck between the reality that selection, independance for schools and choice for parents drives standards, and a luddite Politics-of-envy, Smash-the-rich egalitarianism on the Labour back benches (who given the chance send their own children to fee paying selective schools anyway). Having taken control over every schools reading programme for 4-6 year olds as well as every childs' admission, there's a tendency to micromanage with the horrible effects on Teachers' morale and Childrens' education that this brings. Debates on highly specialiused areas of the curriculum and education policy divide into arbitary camps based on political party.

The Problem is that central government actually has this much control.

There is no way that this kind of detailed interference helps children's education. Teachers spend more time running around, ticking boxes and worrying about the next ofstead inspection than thinking about the Little Johnny's arithmetic.

This also leads to the kind of utilitarian hot-house mentality where children are trained as functionaries to pass exams (and then do mundane jobs in later life) rather than being trained for life as free agents. Perhaps this is what New Labour wants: a nation of unthinking supplicants to Gordon Brown's will. Education, in this Orwellian centralised nightmare is losing out to mere training. If you think I'm wrong, listen to comments by the higher Education minister, Bill Rammell who suggested that the slow death of subjects like philospohy and History was "no bad thing" implying that "Useful" subjects like social work should be encouraged.

That's great if education was about training for a job, but to create the free thinking entrepreneurs, the research chemists, the rocket scientists and people who can change the way we think, the John Maynard Keynes of this world, we need ivory tower subjects like physics that mr Rammell might consider "useless". If we are not to be condemned to repeat the past, we need people to bring it to light, we need historians and classicists. We need philosophers to put modern society into context and help us work out what is right. I didn't know what I wanted to do when I went up to Edinburgh. If I had to train for some dead-end job for three years it would have killed me. Instead I'm educated, not trained and I can turn my mind to anything. I'm now a Biologically trained stockbroker, and I'm better at it for having a broad learning.

Parents know what constitutes a good school, and exam results are only a part of the mix. The university is then chosen on merits that are only partly academic. But if schools and universities are to educate the youth of Britain, they must be left alone by Government so that they can do their Job. Give the parents and school-leavers freedom to choose, and the results will follow. After all Mums want the best for Little Johnny. Does a Civil Servant really care that much?

Heisenberg's uncirtainty principle states that you cannot know both a particle's position and velocity. To put this in context: to measure a thing changes a thing. It's a law of nature. Perhaps a Physicist should point this out to the Government.



Friday, 17 February 2006

Pointless Legislation

  1. Glorification of Terrorism bill
  2. The Hunting Ban
  3. Identity Cards
  4. Increased taxation and massive public spending.

This is very similar to the pre-war German National Socialist agenda.

You don't have to be evil to be a Nazi. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.



Thursday, 16 February 2006

Curling


I love the winter olympics. Alpine skiing (another sport invented by the brits that we're basically rubbish at) is very exciting. Short track speed skating is just bonkers. But I love the compelling mystery of Curling best. I don't want it explained to me. I love tuning in once every 4 years to see Scots, Candians and Norwegians doing housework on ice. Vigorously. Whatever demons prompted people to venture onto frozen lakes with big lumps of Granite should be applauded. The inpenetrabe strategies should remain a mystery, so I can sink in soporific wonder into my couch and enjoy the skill and try to work out what's going on.

Long live minority sports!



Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Rocking the foundations of Capitalism

Britains regulators in the securities industry rule with a very light touch compared to other juristctions.

This has seen a huge influx of companies foreign and domestic which have chosen to list in the UK, accessing what is becomming the world's favourite capital market. Small companies are chosing to list on AIM (the alternative Investment Market) precisely because of the cheap and easy regulatory regime which allows small companies access to the capital markets.

But light touch regulation can be abused and the principle underpinning the City of London's suceess is under threat if those regulators do not do their job. At present FSA rules demand brokers have certain pieces of information before we can deal. Typically we must verify the identity of the individual and have some idea where the money has come from.

This can be a major irritation, constantle bombarding clients for ID when anyone who's up to nefariousness will have the relevant ID and documentation in place and to hand simply to not arouse suspicion. So there is a lot of misplaced regulatory effort expended ticking boxes, when there are companies whose actions shake investor confidence in the entire market.

A company can put poorly checked information, in Langbar international's case a mere £390,000,000 overstatement of assets (a later investigation by Kroll said that they could "verify neither the existence of nor Langbar's claim to any of the assets") then someone is clearly not doing their job.

Langbar is Britian's largest ever stockmarket fraud, and it was perpetrated in the open. Those who invested near the top of the market did so on the back of a statement saying that some $297m dollars had been transferred to Holland, ABN Amro, no less. At nearly a pound a share, this meant that the then price, 80 p or so was a 20% discount to Cash in a respectable European bank. Clearly any remaining money in Brazil, some $370m was a bonus, and the buy case was obvious.

Apparently, the documentation on which this was released was a laughably ameteurish fraud. A journalist ringing the Banco Do Brazil yielded the information that "term deposits are not offered outside Brazil" and no-one at ABN Amro had heard of Langbar. There were insiders selling left, right and centre yet no-one on the exchange wondered why a cash shell, trading at a massive discount to NAV was plummetting. It was The Chief Executive, Pearson who called a halt - citing burmudan takeover law to force a founder shareholder, Dr. Mariusz Rybak to reveal his dealings. Where was the FSA enforcing insider dealing legislation? The Stock exchange must have been suspicious of trading activity which went so contrary to the published accounts. What about the NOMAD, did they not Know their Client?

If you can't trust the RNS statements in the market then you can't trust anything, and we might as well invest in snake-oil. We rely on the regulators and market to keep companies honest. It is the Quid-pro quo for enduring their bureaucracy.

Someone defrauded the shareholders of Langbar. It could have been Stuart Pearson, It could have been Gironella Velasco, the auditors in spain, who clearly didn't make the most basic of checks, and may have been complicit. There are other potential culprits. Lambert (supposedly a vehicle for south american Jews), Dr Mariusz Rybak, and a host of other colourful characters. The Serious Fraud Office is investigating. The court cases will rumble on for years and the only winners will be the Lawyers. The shareholders, as usual will get nothing.

Basically someone picked up a load of stock at less than 2p and unloaded it at 50-80p. That's got to be worth a couple of years in gaol if the size is sufficient. All they needed to do is convince the market that cash in a south american bank was there, watch the shares rise and sell at a massive profit.

It turned out to be too easy.



Friday, 10 February 2006

How to win Friends and Influence People

The BBC has been running a series called "Lefties" which takes a rosy-eyed view of the kind of squatters' rights and and the Fourth International, Marx-spouting, Beret-Wearing Pinkos who died out in the '80's. Their Ideology and Rhetoric couldn't withstand the assault by the self-confident forces of Thatcherism, who also happened to be right on almost every issue.

Only these creatures haven't died, they've moved to Venezuela and become president.

I've mentioned Chavez in an indulgent way (here), but this time he's pissed me off. He's called for Britain to Hand over the Falkland Islands to Argentina, despite every man-jack of the Islanders wearing Union Jack underpants. His speech was littered with such phrases as "Imperialist", and descriptions of GWB as "the main ally of Hitler".

There's no limit to this man's silliness. Everything Britain and America do is "opressive" despite our two nations doing more than any to advance the cause of freedom world-wide, meanwhile he allies his country with Castro's cuba. Whilst Castro is not the monster he's painted to be by the US, there are more advantageous alliances available, with countries more committed to freedom.

Unfortunatley, his semi-literate people seem to like his land-reform agenda and actually believe that the Yanquis may invade, so they'll continue to give him the reins. I'm just worried what'll happen when they see sense. This is what Tony Blair was talking about.

Hugo Chavez should take his 1970's rhetoric back to the Junior Common Room of some minor former Polytechnic where it belongs and fuck off.



Thursday, 9 February 2006

Another goodie for the sidebar!

I found this, Whilst searching for a Quote. Follow the link only if you have a Y chromosome. The Dude does not concur with the opinions found therein, but he can see where it's coming from....



Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Sex n' Drugs & Rock n' Roll

So the line "Let's spend the night together" sung by a Geriatric rubber-lipped Knight is a bit racy for prime-time America. Public toplessness is frowned upon, nipples are pixellated out in reality TV, as are offensive hand signals, and bad words. So the public face is of "conservative family values" (sex is sinful and you'll burn in hell). Meanwhile this* is a protected first amendment right. That's why we had the good sence to expel the joyless puritan arse-holes Americans call the Pilgrim Fathers, restore our rightful king, have a beer and get laid.

The more repressive society is: churchy outraged parents waving placards protesting about stuff they don't understand and won't find out about; neighbourhood watches; police moving bums along**; the worse the excess is when it eventually squeezes out. Liberal film makers are right about the crushing conformity of suburbia. It takes moral outrage to generate hypocrisy and in private, man's darkest desires are unchecked.

The absolute obverse is The Netherlands. "Hi, my name is Jan. I'm going home for some soft drugs and Hard sex with my gay lover and my wife and her girlfriend" would not raise an eyebrow, let alone a hackle. This conceals a coservative society, where most of the metrics like teenage pregnancy, divorce and drug abuse (different from use) are better than any other similarly wealthy society.

This is because the Dutch understand tolerance on a deep level. "Hey man, so long as it doesn't hurt anyone... why not? Pass the spliff." Americans fight for their beliefs and too many want to impose theirs on others. When this is Conservative Christians trying to save the Nation's soul or Liberal loons comparing Bush to Hitler, this muddies the water of debate. Drugs are bad for you, so you try to stop everyone from taking them. All users are addicts and reality is the loser. God's word is your truth and before you know it you're teaching creationism in Biology class. "Abortion is a right", fundamentalism fights "right to life" fundamentalism in a battle where neither side maintains any perspective. This damages all concerned, especially american science, with stem cell research on the cutting edge of medicine.

The trick in domestic policy is to NOT CARE ABOUT WHAT DOESN'T AFFECT YOU, and for the Government to be concerned with less. And that goes directly to everyone, not just politicains. Work out what works, not what you think is moraly acceptable. Who actually cares if people take drugs. The problem is AIDS from shared needles and theft to fund habits, not from people getting high. Why do people care about marriages other than their own? Why does the government prevent me buying a pint of beer at 10 past 11?

What people eat, what Gods they bow to, what or whether they smoke, who they sleep with, when they drink, what they watch on TV. These are not functions of Government. Nor are they the function of your neighbours. Look to your own soul, have fun with your friends. Be considerate to others and ignore what you disapprove of, or try to persuade them as free agents and adults if you can't. Please don't spoil everyone's fun by agitating for legislation, because some day someone might ban your hobby.

*P45 warning... Link not to be followed on a work PC.
**think Rambo, First Blood



Friday, 3 February 2006

The Mohammed Cartoons

This is a cartoon from an Arabic newspaper Arab News*. It takes its imagery from a Nazi film which depicts Jews as vermin to be exterminated. Rats coming out of the western wall wearing skullcaps marked, just in case you didn't get it, with a Star of David.


Click on the link in the title of this to find more cartoons depicting Jews as blood-drinking Nazis, or endless repetitions of the old 14th century Blood Libel. How is this intellectually consistent with the entire Arab world having a massive tantrum about a depiction of the Prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb?

I know the Muslim faith forbids figurative art in general and depictions of The Prophet in particular (Christianity has similar stipulations, but they're ignored), but to demand the same standards in the rest of the world is just childish. The fact is that whilst we disapprove of the depictions in Arab newspapers of Hook-Nosed Jews sacrificing children, we don't actually care what the Arabs think any more.

The Arabs care deeply what we think of them. And at times like this, most reasonable people don't like what they see. After all, perhaps the reasons the Cartoons hurt so much is because they contain a kernel of truth?

Islam as a faith was written with the soldiers of the Allah in the ascendancy. Islam was then the most advanced, civilised and militarily powerful civilisation in the world. All the stipulations of tolerance towards "People of the Book" therefore have implicit in them the assumption that the Muslims were in control. There is nothing in the Koran to comfort the society in the station in which it now finds itself: Backward, oppressed, poor and weak. Compare the central themes of Christianity, or Judaism as it is practiced in most of the world: both religions endured oppression or attempted genocide in their early history. Both teach their adherents to endure oppression with courage. Christianity almost expects its adherents to be poor and oppressed and has raised ineffectual weakness to a virtue. It is wealth and power it can't cope with. Both faiths contain passages which explain the station in which the faithful may find themselves. The Muslim who turns to his holy book is a little less reassured.

Islam contains much to succour the individual in times of need, but the collective inferiority complex that Islam is currently feeling is difficult to explain with reference to the predictions made in the Koran.

What is going on on the "Arab street" is manufactured outrage. Whilst the spark that lit the current flame is the Cartoons, the fuel is a bitter resentment of the station of the Muslim in world affairs and the grinding lack of opportunity for young men in particular. Arab leaders have successfully diverted these feelings of powerlessness caused by thwarted ambition and hopeless poverty, into resentment against the
Israel and the west. This excuses their running of staggeringly kleptokratic regimes which would shame Africa**. Hopeless young men then go off and fan the lames of war. Perhaps as a result of this, most of the world's recent wars are on Islam's bloody borders. Chechnya, Indonesia, Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Bosnia, Cyprus, Palestine/Israel, Indonesia, Afghanistan.

The Palestinians, that most benighted people, did not chose Hamas because they hated
Israel, though they do, but because of corruption, and they deserve to have that democratic choice respected. It is the Arab regimes whose corruption is responsible both directly and indirectly for the kicking-off on the Arab street deserve the opprobrium, not the Muslims themselves.

It is rooting out the corruption and the successful development of the Rule of Law which will see an end to Muslim resentment and violence. People with opportunity and freedom do not, in general blow themselves up. Which is why invading
Iraq was the right thing to do, and once Hamas accept a two-state solution, they should be engaged with in talks. It is also why Iran must not be allowed to develop a Nuclear weapon. Until the Muslim world grows up and stops having hypocritical hissy-fits over perceived slights, they do not deserve the power to hold the world to ransom. The Muslim world should be persuaded, pushed, cajoled and occasionally beaten into accepting democratic norms, which has the potential to have the Muslim world rich and powerful again.

But if you're an Arab and you ask "why does the west despise us?", The reaction to the Cartoons is a pretty good explanation.

*with thanks to Tom Gross Media
**Though recent developments in Kenya have given cause for real hope



Thursday, 2 February 2006

Has Boris Been Reading "A Very British Dude"?

Because this says similar things to this and this... Maybe I should be the next editor of The Spectator.



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