Friday, 26 December 2008

Hidden

I finally got around to watching Caché by Michael Haneke, without a doubt the best film I've seen in years. Moreover, it made me aware of the Paris massacre of 1961, an event I admit to my great shame I'd never even heard of until last week.

Might there be parallels between France in 1961 and Britain today? In both cases, an abject war abroad triggers domestic turmoil, including terrorism committed by a small minority. In both cases, the powers that be decide that under these circumstances, human rights are to be suspended, if not in law then in practice. In both cases, the police are unaccountable; no one has ever been convicted of the Paris massacre, as no one has been convicted of the killing of De Menezes and no police officer has received even the slightest reprimand for any of the many thousands of baseless arrests, search warrants and other forms of harassment of what turn out to be innocent people, under 'anti-terrorism' laws that lack any moral or other justification. As in France in the 1960s, the press is all too eager to do its 'duty' demonising those breaking the law, while glorifying the law enforcement agencies that protect us, our children and our way of life.

If none of this makes any sense and the analogies are false, then forget all this, except that the film is highly recommended.

'More sex offenders' go missing

'More sex offenders' go missing (BBC News, Tuesday, 23 December 2008)

The horror! Do the missing sex offenders include the man convicted of having sex with a bicycle (BBC News, Friday, 16 November 2007)? Better lock up your bike sheds then!
Child protection charities warned it was common for sex offenders to re-offend

Define 'common'. Some types of sex offence have the lowest reconviction rates among all crimes, according to government statistics, which regrettably leave out of consideration those cases where the victims were bicycles, shoes, traffic cones, or other inanimate objects involved in recent convictions.

The above article should be seen against the backdrop of a growing awareness that the sex offenders register as it is maintained in the UK breaches human rights:

Sex offenders win rights ruling (BBC News, Friday, 19 December 2008)

Of course, it is not politically correct to talk about this. And think about the poor underage Vettas, Konas and Raleighs!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

star of wonder

My Christmas message? There's probably no God (Guardian, Tuesday 23 December 2008)

Polly Toynbee's article doesn't contain much that we didn't know before, but we need more of this as long as media such as the BBC continue to feed us theist crap like this, disguised as science reporting:

Star of wonder (BBC News, Tuesday, 23 December 2008)

Basically the same 'story' the BBC have been recycling year after year, e.g. December 24, 1998; February 23, 1999; November 28, 2003; December 22, 2005; May 8, 2006.

Ahmadinejad show causes offence

Ahmadinejad show 'causes offence' (Thursday, 25 December 2008)

I don't watch Channel 4, nor the infantile rubbish on any of the other TV channels, but it seems that this year's alternative Christmas Message was particularly successful in exposing the hypocrisy rampant in this country. It is so much easier to throw predictable verbal abuse at an insane foreign leader than to come to terms with the embarrassment of having to further tolerate Gordon Brown's fruity club, possibly until June 2010, heaven forbid.
Allowing Iran's president to deliver Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message will cause "international offence", the UK government has said.

... whereas the war in Iraq has caused no offence at all, least of all internationally.

The war has in fact significantly strengthened the position of hardliners in neighbouring Iran, among other things leading to the election of its current president. Considering we indirectly helped Ahmadinejad get his post, why would we not ask him to give us a speech?
"The British media are rightly free to make their own editorial choices, but [...]

The word 'but' pretty much sums up New Labour's position on freedom of expression and civil liberties. You little people have rights. But not really.
"Who will deliver next year's alternative Christmas message? Will it be David Irving or Robert Mugabe?"

I don't give a damn, as long as it is not Tony Blair. With one half of the British media spouting sexist, racist, xenophobic rant, and the other offering little more than docile, law-abiding platitudes never straying too far from the government's position, apparently it takes someone like Ahmadinejad to provoke a debate. Too bad.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

opera is harmful

BBC's Christmas Day Hansel and Gretel will show 'dead children' (Telegraph 12 Dec 2008)

(Found via Melonfarmers.)

Children's campaigners have criticised the BBC's decision to broadcast it at a time when young children will be watching. [...]

This is the most violent stuff young children will ever see on TV! And the blasted thing is sung in some weird language that normal people don't understand!

The Torygraph and self-proclaimed 'children's campaigners' would do anything to protect children from foreign culture. Right, let's stick our heads in the sand and pretend that if British children grow up to be violent or otherwise dysfunctional, it is because they once saw a non-Anglo-Saxon opera with puppets of dead people in it. It can't have anything to do with our educational system, the many violent cartoons on TV, our crypto-fascist government, or anything like that, can it? So, blame it on zee Germans!

In this age of cultural barbarism and instant gratification, the 0.001% of British children who can be bothered to watch any opera for more than 5 minutes may be expected to have the intelligence to cope with the discussed scenes.

On a happier note, I can highly recommend Humperdinck's delightful opera, for children and adults of all ages. If you miss the broadcast, or if it is cancelled thanks to xenophobic, self-important bigots, there is a wonderful recording on CD with Anna Moffo, Helen Donath, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Kurt Eichhorn conducting.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Most 'do not believe in nativity'

Most 'do not believe in nativity' (BBC News, Saturday, 20 December 2008)

I know the BBC see it as their task to cater for a wide audience, which includes those who suffer from organised delusion. That is no reason however to quote an 'expert' whose comments are very unlike those of a scholar and very much like those of a propagandist.
Simon Gathercole, a new testament scholar at Cambridge University, said people were sceptical because they were not aware the origins of Christianity were anchored in real history.

Looking at biblical writings from a sound historical perspective is the realm of biblical criticism, which, unlike theology, is a serious discipline. Its study of the origins of among other things the New Testament is often reported by believers (and former believers) to be a powerful antidote to literalism, as it lays bare the fatal weaknesses of any suggestions that events must have taken place exactly as reported in the four gospels from the New Testament.
"Jesus was born while Augustus was emperor of Rome just before Herod died... we're talking about events that are anchored in real history not in ancient Greek myths."

There is solid evidence that Mohammed actually existed, and did at least some of the things the Quran reports he did (which includes some quite nasty stuff, as everyone knows or should know), whereas very little is certain about the life of Jesus, except maybe that he must have been a much nicer bloke. Should we therefore take the Quran as the Word of God, just because it is more archored in history than the New Testament is?
"There's something in us that misses that connection with God that we sometimes feel our historical forebears had," he said.

We? Speak for yourself. The great lie of our time is that atheism would have existed only since Charles Darwin. Although On the Origin of Species delivered the death blow to theism, at least among those in possession of full mental faculties, there is solid evidence that the 'connection with God' has been tenuous throughout the ages, and religious beliefs had to be hammered into the flock, by force, by threats of force, or merely by lies and trickery. The many crackpot 'proofs' for God's existence by Thomas Aquinas and hordes of other 'thinkers' from the middle ages only show just how familiar the concept of not believing in a god was to many people. And those who genuinely believed may not have had the same 'connection with God' as some sufferers of schizophrenia quoted by BBC News.

Merry Christmas by the way.

Friday, 12 December 2008

virtual reality

Gordon Brown saved the world and a fake Simpsons cartoon is child abuse. Reality has ceased to be a relevant concept. More examples:

Stone jailed for Stormont attack (BBC News, Monday, 8 December 2008)
Stone had denied the charges, claiming the incident was performance art.

Spending time in prison is also performance art. It now appears the judge is an art lover.

How do avatars have sex? (BBC News, Friday, 14 November 2008)
So how do computerised characters have sex?

"First you need to buy genitals,"

Call me old-fashioned...

As usual, last month's prize for the most warped view on reality goes to the Labour government:

£1,000 fine for wrong ID details (BBC News, Friday, 21 November 2008)
the government plans to fine innocent people for inaccuracies on the government's own database

Open verdict at Menezes inquest (BBC News, Friday, 12 December 2008)

A gagged jury returns the only reasonable verdict that remains and the response by wacky Jacqui is:
What we have learnt from the accounts of the tragic events that day reminds us all of the extremely demanding circumstances under which the police work to protect us from further terrorist attack,

So if police shoot an innocent and unarmed civilian, then feel sorry for the police. Because the police are the police, and civilians are just civilians.

The Labour government is making it rather hard to still think of policeman as an honourable profession, a feeling that I may share with many thousands of others who have been the victim of random stop and search under Section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act, such as Terence Eden.

Arrogance, megalomania and sheer stupidity among the British police force are not restricted to the Menezes killing. The following is nowhere as serious, but it is symptomatic that anyone with the slightest understanding of computer security falls on the floor laughing when they read comments from a computer 'expert' of the police force:

UK police: 'We need crime breathalysers for PCs' (Silicon.com, 11 December 2008)

Councils are using 'lie detectors' about as reliable as the ancient Roman practice of inspecting the entrails of sacrificed animals (but less bloody):

Lie detectors for benefit claims
(BBC News, Thursday, 4 December 2008)

When it comes to distinguishing make-believe from reality, there is a glimmer of hope. For the first time in years, the word 'piracy' is used for what it means, rather than as a catch-all for anything that makes the music, movie and game industries lose revenues from the sale of overpriced rubbish:

US asks UN to allow pirate hunters into Somalia
(Guardian, Friday 12 December 2008)

Monday, 8 December 2008

censored Wikipedia image

Wikipedia child image censored (BBC News, Monday, 8 December 2008)

Wikipedia page censored in the UK for 'child pornography' (Guardian blog, 8 December 2008)

I don't exactly enjoy living in a country where people are put in jail every day by narrow-minded and self-righteous judges and magistrates, for an ever increasing number of victimless crimes, thought up by a maniacal government intent on obliterating every last shred of our civil liberties. But it is an outright affront to freedom and democracy that government-funded bodies operating outside the control of the judicial system decide what is good for us to see, hear and read.

Forms of censorship that are not answerable to anyone are at the basis of every dictatorship, and countries that are democratic, at least in name, have become a lot less so because of such censorship. Those who dare speak out are often themselves censored, as in the case of Lapsiporno:

Finnish government blacklists 'free speech' site (CNET news, February 18, 2008)

In Britain, internet censorship is implemented by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which was initially only concerned with identifying child abuse websites. Through the function-creep that is inevitable with such organisations, they then started to widen their scope to material that they deemed objectionable for a variety of reasons, from obscenity to incitement to racist violence (BBC News, Friday, 24 October 2008), and all major ISPs now adopt their blacklists blindly. No one except the government and ISPs have access to the blacklist, which makes the IWF unaccountable. The censored material will of course also cover (and likely now already covers) "extreme porn", in the light of new legislation:

Porn, abuse, depravity - and how they plan to stop it (The Register, 9th October 2008)

Government finally names the day for porn ban (The Register, 26th November 2008)

backlash-uk.org.uk

The case at hand involves an album cover from 1976, which is of historical interest, notwithstanding its bad taste, and unless the decision to blacklist the image is withdrawn soon, Britain will become the laughingstock of the (supposedly) free world even more than it already is.

If you cannot access the Wikipedia page, then it is advisable to change your provider to a decent one that doesn't play ball with the nanny state, or use a proxy situated in the free world, or to be more exact, anywhere except Britain, Australia and North Korea. (Check out Relakks and Anonymouse.org.) Alternatively, you can see the controversial album cover here or here or here or here or here of here. That is, if you're curious what the fuss is about, and are not shocked by a naked body!

If you haven't had enough yet, check out Le Sommeil de l'Enfant Jésus by Benvenuto Tisi. Every day, hordes of paedophiles go on a pilgrimage to the Louvre to see it.

And what to think of The Three Graces, either the painting by Raphael or the sculpture by Antonio Canova. Those girls look rather underage don't they?

You want bondage thrown in as well? No problem. See The White Captive by Erastus Dow Palmer.

But hush! Don't tell the IWF, or a large portion of classical and neo-classical sculpture will be ostracised, only to be appreciated by a handful of scholars, authorised after thorough psychological testing that qualifies them to see such depraved and depraving material.

By the way, our friends down under are in an even worse predicament than we are. But it won't be long till we catch up:

Fake Simpsons cartoon 'is porn' (BBC News, Monday, 8 December 2008)

In Conroy’s muddy waters you'll never know what’s being filtered (Computerworld, 28/10/2008)

www.somebodythinkofthechildren.com

Addendum:

For an update and thorough analysis, recommended reading is:

Scorpions tale leaves IWF exposed (The Register, 9th December 2008)

Addendum 2:

IWF backs down on Wiki censorship (BBC News, Tuesday, 9 December 2008)
"IWF's overriding objective is to minimise the availability of indecent images of children on the internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect. We regret the unintended consequences for Wikipedia and its users."

So they couldn't foresee that blocking a Wikipedia page (and other collateral damage) would upset people? One cannot but wonder what incompetent fools are behind that organisation. It is very plausible that more harmless, or at least legal, images and textual material have ended up on the blacklist that we don't know about.

One of these days, some hacker will get hold of the blacklist, and distribute it on the web, thereby giving paedophiles the most concentrated list of filth in existence, and as we all know, the offending websites are and will always remain accessible with a minimum of technical know-how, by means of proxies, the TOR network, etc. How's that for "unintended consequences"?

The IWF is a serious threat to free speech, while having no effect whatsoever on the availability of child abuse material to those intent on finding it. Close the IWF down, now!

Addendum 3:

There are in fact now leaked blacklists for Denmark (Melonfarmers, Dec 24, 2008), Thailand (CircleID, Dec 2, 2008), and Finland as mentioned above.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Pope urged to admit common ground

Pope urged to admit common ground (BBC News, Tuesday, 4 November 2008)
When 138 senior Muslim scholars and clergy tried to establish the common ground between Islam and Christianity last year, they said the very peace of the world hung on the outcome.

So we're all doomed!

The idea that we should look to religion as the source of world peace has lost its last shred of credibility a long, long time ago, and the opposite seems much closer to the truth. The alleged motives behind the creation of a body claiming to represent all Muslims in Europe should receive a fair amount of scepticism, whether one represents the Pope or whether one is an atheist in possession of full mental faculties.

See also:

Is Europe Trying to Build a Fundamentalist Islam? (by Prof. Philip Jenkins, Pennsylvania State University; Qantara.de, 04.11.2008)
When governments recognize particular clerical and religious groups as the official spokesmen for their communities, they are treating ordinary people as members of collective religious/cultural entities, holding rights as members of those groups, not as citizens and individuals.

Prince hopes to pass on charities

Prince hopes to pass on charities (BBC News, Wednesday, 12 November 2008)
He said he hoped one day people would realise "that some of the things I've been trying to do aren't all that mad".

That a toxic substance would obtain medicinal value when it is diluted to such an extent as if it were one pulverised grain of rice in a sphere of water the size of the solar system (including Pluto), and this repeated two billion times, this idea is not stark raving mad. I repeat: not stark raving mad. Because Prince Charles said so.

Heartily recommended viewing:

James Randi explains homeopathy

which is part of:

James Randi Lecture at Princeton 2001

Addendum

Not to be missed:

Richard Dawkins interviews Prof. Michael Baum (RichardDawkins.net, December 22, 2008)


Sunday, 2 November 2008

Out of body or all in the mind?

Out of body or all in the mind? (BBC News, Friday, 24 October 2008)

There we go again. The last article on this topic didn't include enough woo-woo yet.
He explained: "We know that in the sub-atomic world, smaller than atoms - things behave in really bizarre ways we don't understand, they call it quantum physics.

For any responsible journalist with a little knowledge of science and non-science, alarm bells should start ringing at the first mention of quantum physics in a context where it has no business. But no, phrases such as:
but dealing with these patients when he worked in an intensive care unit, has forced him to challenge his own scepticism.

are used to try to pull down any natural defences that BBC News readers might have against supernatural claptrap.

To the BBC's credit, they do cite Susan Blackmore, world-renowned skeptic and expert on near-death experiences. But woo-woo must prevail, so the final words are:
"When I die I'm going to go somewhere else. I'm 110% what I saw is what I saw."

redneck

Redneck support for Obama (BBC News, Sunday, 2 November 2008)

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, via dictionary.com:

red·neck

n. Offensive Slang
  1. Used as a disparaging term for a member of the white rural laboring class, especially in the southern United States
  2. A white person regarded as having a provincial, conservative, often bigoted attitude.
I can see the interviewee has tattoos, but why does he deserve to be called a redneck? Several royalty, such as Harold II of England, Edward VII, and George V all had tattoos. Were they rednecks? And why is it 'news' if one person with ink in his dermis hands out bumper stickers in favour of Obama?

As so often, it appears the BBC have recruited too many 'journalists' who will produce any rubbish to reach their quotas.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

'No God' slogans

'No God' slogans for city's buses (BBC News, Tuesday, 21 October 2008)
"I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti.

Can Stephen 'Birdshit' Green not be prosecuted for incitement to cause damage to property? Or is his phrasing not direct enough for that? In that case, I should be surprised if, after this ludicrous statement, the attributes of Green's own theist campaigns did not attract graffiti.

This is a good occasion to witness again that not all religions and branches of religions are created equal:
Spirituality and discipleship officer Rev Jenny Ellis said: "This campaign will be a good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life."

She added: "Christianity is for people who aren't afraid to think about life and meaning."

It should be 'interesting' to hear the views of the Muslim Council of Britain on this matter. But don't bother.

Addendum:

The 'veiled' threats by Green are in fact more concrete than the BBC News article might suggest. He even includes a practical hint related to causing said damage, where he writes, at Christian Voice:
'I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti. People don't like being preached at. Sometimes it does them good, but they still don't like it. The advertising space on a bendy-bus is just the right height as well.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that legislation on hate crimes also covers theist incitement to commit crimes against atheists, according to www.homeoffice.gov.uk:
This law, which came into effect in 2007, makes it a criminal offence to use threatening words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up hatred against any group of people because of their religious beliefs or their lack of religious beliefs.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Airliner had near miss with UFO

Airliner had near miss with UFO (BBC News, Monday, 20 October 2008)

As so often in these kinds of BBC News stories, it is difficult to find falsehoods, and the cited expert is an 'open-minded sceptic', whose past work on UFOs and UFOlogy has been sound and helpful. Nevertheless, the weak of mind may well take the title and some paragraphs as support of the claim that extraterrestrials are fucking with us.

The phrase "it is career suicide to have your name associated with UFOs" suggests existence of self-censorship keeping the truth from being discovered, and it may be all too tempting for believers to take the phrase "and make your mind up" and the comments form at the end of the article as supportive of a relativistic stance.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

children and fools cannot lie

'People doing drugs is really bad' (BBC News, Sunday, 5 October 2008)
In time, things turned even nastier. Bricks were thrown through their windows and they suffered an attempted break-in.

Chinese government propaganda against Falun Gong uses basically the same techniques. "Little girl meets family practising that evil religion, and before long, bricks are thrown through the windows." QED: Falun Gong is really bad. After all, who wouldn't believe a little girl?

Different issues, same stupid rhetoric. Thank you, BBC, for treating us like adults. By the way, how many journalists from the former Fernsehen der DDR did you recruit after 1989?

there's weird and there's weird

Healer methods doubted by expert (BBC News, Wednesday, 8 October 2008)
Professor Ernst, professor of complementary and alternative medicine at Exeter University, was asked about evidence from the woman about how Mr Hands had touched her.

[...]

Prof Ernst told the court that the methods she described were "not part of lymphatic drainage of the groin".

Curious. The guilt of the quack seems to depend on whether his holistic healing methods are more wacky than holistic healing methods are anyway. My understanding was that if reason goes out the window, then nothing is too weird. The legal profession apparently has a different view.

sex in public

Sex-on-beach trial Britons guilty (BBC News, Thursday, 16 October 2008)

Those cursed Muslims in Dubai with their outdated morals! We in Britain are more open-minded. Aren't we? Well, apparently the following is still not self-evident:

Police leniency call on park sex (BBC News, Friday, 17 October 2008)

quantum cryptography

'Unbreakable' encryption unveiled (BBC News, Thursday, 9 October 2008)

Experts in the field of computer security are aware that quantum cryptography is an answer in search of a question. But let reality not spoil a good story.

Recommended reading is:

Quantum Cryptography: As Awesome As It Is Pointless by Bruce Schneier (Wired, 10.16.08)

afrocentrism

What does medicine owe to Africa? (BBC News, Friday, 17 October 2008)
But there is a debate to be had about why Indian and Chinese medicines which you can get on the High Street, but African medicine is still very much a taboo subject.

Perhaps that is because there is no such thing as "African medicine", no more than there is an "African culture" or an "African race". Equating Ancient Egypt to Africa, and overstating cultural and scientific achievements by peoples from Africa in ancient times is known as afrocentrism, a pseudo-science especially rampant in the US, where it is now considered offensive to point out that the Egyptian kings were in general not black (the Meroitic kings were an exception). If the BBC News article was not written by an afrocentrist pur sang, you could have fooled me.

See also:

Fallacies of Afrocentrism by Grover Furr (Montclair State University)

Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax

Why you should avoid 'mingqutnguaq' (BBC News, Saturday, 18 October 2008)

It seems BBC News has now started recycling news that must be at least 25 years old, which includes perpetuating an urban myth. The justification seems to be little more than a new video of a native Inuit blabbing about snow and ice.

The idea that Eskimo languages have many more words for snow than an average language from a culture familiar with sub-zero temperatures is known as the Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax, and dates from the beginning of the 20th century. It was debunked by anthropologist Laura Martin in the 1980s. See also:

Pullum, Geoffrey K. (1991). The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and other
Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language. University of Chicago Press.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Where are they when you need them?

Ecstasy downgrade is considered (BBC News, Friday, 26 September 2008)
As part of the discussions, panel members will consider the submission from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), stating that transferring ecstasy to class B would send out an "unfortunate message".

Instead of giving unhelpful advice contradicting scientific evidence, would the police perhaps care to go after the bad guys? Apparently not, not if the bad guys have money and power:

Police close file on BT's trials (BBC News, Thursday, 25 September 2008)

CNN

The BBC is not yet as bad as CNN. Just checking:

Tomkat protests (CNN, September 22, 2008)

Brooke Whatever:
Anti-Scientology protesters chanted "Scientology kills" [...]

April Somethingorother:
I mean, considering that these people are protesting with masks and their name is Anonymous, Tom and Katie are probably thinking: "Come up with a real name!"

Brooke Whatever:
HA-HA-HA-GIGGLE-GIGGLE!

The protesters want to remain anonymous and wear masks because Scientology pursues its critics, short of employing polonium-210. Try explaining to cunts from CNN Showbiz that some people go out of their way to make the world a better place, and that this does not include reporting on which celebrity accidentally exposed how many nipples during which award ceremony.

In a next post, I may write about Larry King, also known as the King of Paranormal, giving free publicity to 'psychics' and other scum. But then again, I may find I don't have the stomach for watching more of this rubbish.

Addendum (2008-09-30):

As some are apparently offended by my mentioning Scientology, here is something to make it up:

Being Tom Cruise : How Scientology is in No Way Mental

unlawfully killed

Inquest told of pressure on Met (BBC News, Monday, 29 September 2008)
The inquest is being held at London's Oval cricket ground and the jury will consider whether or not the Brazilian electrician was unlawfully killed.

No matter how often I read about the public execution of Jean Charles de Menezes, I find myself raising my eyebrows every time I come across the phrase "unlawfully killed". Perhaps I'm a linguistic simpleton unable to appreciate the subtle legal meaning of the word "unlawful". But how could it possibly be lawful to shoot an innocent man in the head? Seven times? With hollow point bullets? At point-blank range, and after he had been restrained?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Millionaire spooked from mansion

Millionaire spooked from mansion (BBC News, Sunday, 21 September 2008)
Paranormal experts were unable to solve the problem.

WTF?!

With many people still relying on the BBC as their main news source, no wonder democracy in the UK is under such a strain.

What's next? Horoscopes and Elvis sightings?

Addendum:

Audio slideshow: The art of mathematics

Why do people waste their time with ghost stories, woo-woo medicine, religion and all that bunk when there is science?

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Sex offenders to face lie tests

Sex offenders to face lie tests (BBC News, Friday, 19 September 2008)

It won't be long until we can read in the newspapers:

Labour to replace police investigations by 16th century witch-hunting methods

Decades of experience with polygraphs used by the US federal government have established that the high number of false negatives and the high number of false positives make the method useless for any purpose whatsoever. For example, all those who were tested and later turned out to be spies had passed the test successfully, while the careers of several innocent people were ruined after they failed a lie detector test.

Polygraph examiners are the lowest of the low. With their bogus claims to possess magical powers of truth finding, they are as deceitful and fraudulent as dowsers, psychics, chiropractors, homoeopaths, and senior members of the Labour Party. Letting them have any function at all in any kind of legal process will cause immeasurable damage. Innocent people will be made to suffer because of false positives, and a misplaced sense of security in the case of false negatives will endanger potential victims.

Once more it is demonstrated that people's brains stop functioning as soon as an issue involves child abuse. No one in Britain would propose use of polygraphs in the case of mass murder, terrorism, or the treason committed by Blair and Brown over the war in Iraq. So why is it okay to apply polygraphs to sex offenders? Because with their conviction, they forfeited their human rights for all eternity? Then why not reintroduce trial by drowning? That would be the ultimate solution to keeping these freaks away from our children.

Study into near-death experiences

Study into near-death experiences (BBC News, Thursday, 18 September 2008)

Doctors at 25 UK and US hospitals will study 1,500 survivors to see if people with no heartbeat or brain activity can have "out of body" experiences.

No one doubts that people can have such experiences. But having an out-of-body experience (OBE) does not mean that the mind can detach itself from the body, floating about the operating room looking from above upon the surgeons and upon the corporeal self. It is clear the knucklehead who wrote this piece doesn't understand the basic vocabulary of near-death studies.

The study, due to take three years and co-ordinated by Southampton University, will include placing on shelves images that could only be seen from above.

Very interesting, but from the cited comments by the researchers it is clear they themselves do not find it very plausible that anything (mind, consciousness, soul, whatever) would actually leave the body during an OBE. A number of neuro-biological factors have been identified that may well cause OBEs and other near-death experiences, and I imagine the proposed studies will attempt to shed more light on these primarily.

One could have presented this story with an emphasis on medical science, but no, BBC News goes straight for the woo-woo.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

former monopolies

I am getting annoying phone calls from British Gas again, from this dreaded number: 08450700827. It turns out that anyone who dares to move to another supplier from British Gas will be harassed even more, with silent calls as punishment for desertion. So never ever get involved with British Gas in the first place, or you might regret it for years to come. Their service is crap anyway.

Then there is:

UK government responds on Phorm (BBC News, Tuesday, 16 September 2008)
"After conducting its enquiries with Phorm the UK authorities consider that Phorm's products are capable of being operated in a lawful, appropriate and transparent fashion," said a Berr statement.

The scumbags at BT who concocted the Phorm trials, thereby violating the privacy of about 18,000 customers, should be in jail. But the government thinks everything is hunky-dory. What's wrong with spying on people? We do it all the time ourselves!

If you can't leave this cursed country, then at least stay away from BT as far as you can. Also avoid Virgin Media and TalkTalk. You want an ISP that has the interests of its customers at heart rather than any shady deals with advertisers. See also:

Phorm: Our business is fine, honest (The Register, 4th September 2008)

Update (2008-09-22):

Since last time, I've received several more calls from British Gas, some of which were silent. I'm trying to find the magical formula to keep them at bay. So far I've tried "Thank you very much but please do not call me anymore", "sod off", "drop dead", and "drop dead after suffering from a horrible disease". No success so far.

Monday, 15 September 2008

double standards

A selection from today's news:

Driver jailed for killing couple (BBC News, Monday, 15 September 2008)

RAF Iraq base deaths 'unlawful' (BBC News, Monday, 15 September 2008)

A driver is jailed for two years and four months over a split-second lapse in concentration.

Blair, Brown and several others who conspired to start a disastrous war that has cost the lives of 176 British soldiers, and many, many more innocent Iraqis, may never face justice.

Bus driver stalker spared prison (BBC News, Monday, 15 September 2008)

Minister 'set to quit' over Brown (BBC News, Monday, 15 September 2008)

The BBC has no qualms about publishing names and intimate details concerning a case of obsessive love, including the name of the victim. (No photo today, but one can be sure they tried to obtain one.)

The BBC allows a minister who is playing political games in the Labour government to remain unnamed.

The British police, who are so eager to pursue all who step out of line whether they actually break the law or not, demonstrate their own incompetence:

Police admit to lost data blunder (BBC News, Monday, 15 September 2008)

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Why are there so few female conductors?

Why are there so few female conductors? (BBC News, Friday, 12 September 2008)

Another article that is more politically correct than informative, by avoiding all thorny issues.

THE ANSWER
* Long tradition of male conductors proving hard to shake off

With all due respect to Marin Alsop, to whom we owe a number of truly outstanding performances, female conductors are nothing new. The great Nadia Boulanger appeared as conductor of several major American orchestras in the 1930s. (How could they write a piece about female conductors without mentioning her?) In Britain around the same time there was Ethel Leginska.

There is a long tradition of female concert pianists, starting with Clara Schumann. Is there gender equality among the top 50 most celebrated pianists of the world today? I don't think so. Off the cuff, I suspect the situation is more balanced for top violinists, whereas there were few noted female violinists before 1900.

* Many conductors don't reach their peak until later life
* Top females still working up through system

That's it? This three point answer explains why there are so few female conductors? Would the same answer be given if asked why there are so few women CEOs? Just a matter of tradition, and in time it will even out?

Of course there are more important factors behind gender inequality in many professions, especially those that carry prestige. Some of these factors are 'nurture', and others, whether we like it or not, are 'nature'. Conjecturing about the relative importance of these factors without having done adequate research would reveal more about one's prejudices than about reality. But one thing is clear: the usual escapism of BBC News won't get us any nearer to real answers.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Woman jailed for sex with boy

Woman jailed for sex with boy, 15 (BBC News, Friday, 12 September 2008)

Here we go again. Apparently jails aren't full enough yet.

As in the case two weeks ago, there was consensual sex, and the father had nothing better to do than snoop on his offspring, who might have been months, days or seconds away from the age of consent.

Passing sentence Judge Peter Jacobs told her: "If this was a 35-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl no one would raise an eyebrow if he was sent to prison."

I would. And I don't understand the reasoning. Did she deserve 15 months in jail for reasons of gender equality?

The court heard there was no victim impact statement as he had been a willing party.

So this is a victimless crime? Why are victimless crimes punished so harshly in this country? Is there a rational explanation for this?

"His parents have been very upset," Mrs Tucker added.

So it is really the parents who are the victims. Just let the implications sink in for a moment.

Monday, 8 September 2008

TV licence fee tactics

Review of TV licence fee tactics (BBC News, Monday, 8 September 2008)
He was particularly angry at the requirement for people who do not own
televisions - some one million people in Britain - to prove their "non-use".

It is typical for the BBC to repeat misleading information when their own interests are at stake. People who do not watch television don't have to prove anything, although they may be harassed a bit if they don't. (Note furthermore that one should distinguish between "own a television" and "watch television".)

If a TV Licensing agent calls, don't open the door. If you've already opened the door, smile friendly if you must, and then close the door again. Don't say anything, especially not your name! Everything you say can and will be used against you and so on. If they call more often than once every 6 months or so, withdraw their implied right of access (under an assumed name if they don't know your name already).

These TV Licensing agents are not police and have no special powers, despite their frequent lies to suggest otherwise. Only if they come with a search warrant do you have to let them in, and then they will usually be accompanied by a police officer. For once, regard that police officer as your friend. His or her presence will keep the TV Licensing creep from opening the drawer with your undies and sniffing where he's not allowed to.

If you happen to have a video camera lying around, film the event. Don't believe them if they tell you you can't film in your own home. Make it as embarrassing for them as it is for you, but without actually hindering the search. You must also comply with any reasonable request to assist the search. But for goodness sake, don't sign anything, under any circumstances and whatever they tell you!

Unless you watch television with the curtains open, TV Licensing officers don't usually go so far as to seek a search warrant. In a truly free, civilised society, it wouldn't happen that one of them convinces some dork of a magistrate that there are reasonable grounds for believing that you watch television while you don't. But regrettably, we live in Britain. The real problem here is of course the legal system as a whole, but that's a different story.

As to the letters from TV Licensing you receive about every two months, just throw them away unopened. Reading them is bad for your health, I've been told.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Sarah Palin

Pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the Yanks will make the right choice in November, or we might soon have another nut in the White House.

If you haven't seen it yet, watch the video and shudder:

Palin: average isn't good enough (at RichardDawkins.net)

Addendum (2008-09-22):

When Atheists Attack (by Sam Harris, at RichardDawkins.net)

our civil liberties or our wallets?

'Environmental volunteers' will be encouraged to spy on their neighbours (Telegraph, 02 Sep 2008)

Anti-terrorism laws used to spy on noisy children (Telegraph, 06 Sep 2008)

Children aged eight enlisted as council snoopers (Telegraph, 06 Sep 2008)

Child sleuths 'are not snoopers' (BBC News, Saturday, 6 September 2008)

Some observations:

First, the justified expressions of discontent if not outrage everywhere on the web in response to the above news may be ultimately driven by the worsening economic climate, which is mostly to blame on global factors rather than on Labour's incompetence. The surveillance state has been unfolding itself for several years now. Why are people waking up at this moment? Why were there no mass demonstrations five years ago, or as far back as eight years ago, when some of our most fundamental human rights were annulled? Remember that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill is from 2000, and wide-ranging extensions are from 2003. But our economy wasn't doing so badly then, and any financial adversity could always be blamed on the EU.

Secondly, even if the present government is overthrown tomorrow by an angry mob, and its senior members are tarred and feathered, they might be elected again at the next occasion, after a future Tory government will inevitably fuck up too, unable to find their place to the right of Labour on the political spectrum, and unable to turn the tide on our economy. Such is the memory of the average constituent.

Lastly, given that the news comes from the Daily Telegraph, could there be an element of opportunism from the side of the Tories?

Tories condemn rise in number of civilians given police powers
(Guardian, Wednesday August 27 2008)

Still remember how civil liberties existed in perfect harmony with the fight on crime and terrorism in times when the Conservatives were in power? Neither do I. See e.g.:

British Detention Law Is Ruled a Breach of Rights (The New York Times, November 30, 1988)

One more noteworthy link:

'Spying' requests exceed 500,000 (BBC News, Tuesday, 22 July 2008)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

grammar

20 examples of grammar misuse (BBC News, Wednesday, 3 September 2008)

Having strong opinions about grammar is of all nationalities and of all ages. Having strong opinions while being wrong requires a special breed. See the annotated items.

Spy software snares child abuser

Spy software snares child abuser (BBC News, Tuesday, 2 September 2008)

There is not much about this case in the press, and perhaps the offender is really pure evil and the victim is pure innocence. The only practical way to criminalise child abuse is to set an age of consent, which according to my sources happens to be 12 in Malta, 14 in Austria, 15 in France, and 18 in Turkey. The case reported here is clearly statutory rape in the UK, as the girl was not yet 16. (By how many months or how many days?)

This said, am I a vile monster myself if I feel some compassion for this guy who is being sent to jail for 4.5 years? Having sex is what has saved the human race from extinction, and urges programmed into our genes tend to take precedence over social conventions about, for example, age difference. Moreover, the reality seems to be that a third of British teens have sex below the age of consent (Third 'have sex below legal age', BBC News, 13 Aug 06), and for gay teens this may be more than half (Report Finds 58% of Gay Teens Have Sex Before Legal Age of 16, UKGayNews, 1 December 2006).

Incidentally, judging from our overcrowded prisons (e.g. Scots jail numbers at record high, BBC News, Friday, 29 August 2008), it seems that either Britons are more inclined to commit crimes than our neighbours oversees, or most people in UK jails don't deserve to be there, due to an antiquated legal system and self-righteous legislators who think that all that is undesirable will go away if only penalties are high enough, irrespective of any sense of justice.

Of course, in the present climate of child abuse hysteria, it is no longer allowed to consider such matters rationally. This holds in the UK as much as in the US, cf. the Rind et al. controversy. Further recommended reading is Predator Panic: A Closer Look by Benjamin Radford, Skeptical Inquirer 30(5). In France we saw the Outreau trial a few years ago.

Back to the original BBC News article: If an attempt was made to provide a balanced view on the trial, it wasn't successful. Could it be that the father who installed spy software on his daughter's computer was himself a bit off his rocker? This doesn't sound very sane to me:
I picked up the software for £60 and is the best thing I have ever bought and is now on all my children's PCs.

Poor children. Will they sustain more permanent trauma from the consequences of their budding sexuality or from being continuously spied on by their parents?

This is a good occasion to reread:

Girl to get tracker implant to ease parents' fears (The Guardian, Tuesday September 3 2002)

A less gullible source is:

Cap Cyborg to chip 11 year old in wake of UK child killings (The Register, Monday 2nd September 2002)

Want to mould people into a surveillance society? Start early!

WWII body

'It seemed to be a body from WWII' (BBC News, Thursday, 4 September 2008)

Papua 'remains' are not WWII body (BBC News, Friday, 5 September 2008)

Did you think the BBC would wait one day for confirmation before publishing a sensationalist story that turns out to be complete bollocks?

aren't we brave

Muhammad novel set for UK release (BBC News, Thursday, 4 September 2008)

American publishers were too chicken to release this novel, and also a Serbian publisher was forced to pull the title (US Book Stirs Debate in Europe on Self-Censorship and Islam, Deutsche Welle, 19-08-2008). The British were called in to restore freedom of expression. Hurrah!

Well, not so fast. It seems the only thing that scared Random House into scrapping the novel was a review from an 'expert' on Islam who had never even been to the Middle East. Recall:

Prophet Muhammad novel scrapped (BBC News, Saturday, 9 August 2008)

It takes an American reviewer to assume that what is offensive to the Western mind (a 52 year old man having sex with a 9 year old girl) must be offensive to the entire Muslim world. Statements by the author herself (e.g. "Anyone who reads the book will see that it honours the prophet and his favourite wife") do not exclude the possibility the book is meant as glorification of part of the history of Islam. Until the novel is released, we can only guess.

See also the column:

The Wages of Fear kill The Jewel of Medina
(New Europe, 1 September 2008)

The Danish (three cheers for them!) are perhaps the only people in the world at the moment who wouldn't let their freedom of expression be compromised by Islamophobia:

Danish publisher hopes to publish 'inflammatory' Islam novel (Guardian, Tuesday August 26 2008)

Now from pulp literature to something that actually matters: our health. If it weren't for Quackometer, the UK-skeptics, and several other blogs, we would never have known about the latest assault by charlatans on the freedom of speech, in this case chiroquacks, who try to silence author Dr. Simon Singh by suing him for libel over his article 'Beware the spinal trap' in The Guardian on April 19th 2008, in which he exposes chiropractic for the laughable sham it is. Moreover, The Guardian has pulled the article. (But thanks to Svetlana Pertsovich, there is an internet-cached copy.)

That chirofascists go after anyone who dares criticise their fraudulent practices is nothing new. By their own admission (pp. 6-7 of News from General Chiropractic Council, issue 23, March 08), they have in the past bullied several newspapers (The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph) into either watering down their critical comments to insignificance or into removing a critical article altogether, replacing it by chiropractic propaganda. They have resorted to similar legal intimidation in Canada and New Zealand.

But what is truly shocking is that news about this censorship is in turn being (self-)censored. That a newspaper is forced to pull an article because of a legal threat should be headline news, but somehow it isn't, not in Britain. It is perhaps not surprising that the Guardian itself hasn't provided any justification for removing the article, as their legal department may have advised against making any further comments. But how many other newspapers have reported this story? The Times? No! The Independent? Nope! BBC News? Only in your dreams would these weasels stick their necks out over a controversial issue! Daily Mail, Daily Express, Mirror, Sun? You must be kidding! I've found only one mention in the 'old media', and that reads as a pro-chiropractic piece, devoid of any critical thinking:

Doctors take Simon Singh to court (Telegraph, 16 Aug 2008)

The British press sucks.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

GM crops

Trying to catch up with the news from the past few weeks:

Charles in GM 'disaster' warning (BBC News, Wednesday, 13 August 2008)

Prince 'must prove anti-GM claim' (BBC News, Sunday, 17 August 2008)

The world is facing an increasing number of famines, and GM crops may provide some relief, potentially saving millions of lives. But concerns over the safety have been raised, and if the worries are justified, again millions of lives could be at stake.

As I'm not a biologist, I will have to rely on the judgement of experts. If reputable scientists say that GM food crops pose a considerable risk, then perhaps we should ban GM crops. If Prince Homoeoquack says that GM food crops pose a considerable risk, then perhaps we should abolish the monarchy.

Monday, 25 August 2008

next generations

I've been to Vienna. Just what the doctor ordered. Among many other things, I enjoyed hearing three young women playing in the street as string trio. I suspect they were music students earning a little money on the side. They played e.g. Piazzolla with a skill and enthusiasm one may expect from members of the London Symphony Orchestra. If they have an exceptionally good day. Maybe.

Trying to maintain my sanity within an Anglo-Saxon monoculture, I'm now at the Edinburgh International Festival. Last night I attended the most amazing concert by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. The performance of Dvořák's 7th symphony after the interval was phenomenal, but truly unforgettable was the first half, with the Dutch National Youth Choir, consisting of girls many as young as 16. Apart from their ability to sing (by heart) in Czech and Hungarian without floundering once, they had also fully mastered the intricate musical language of songs by Dvořák and Bartók, which were inspired by folk music so far from the triviality of most of Western-European traditional music.

All in all, I witnessed a small miracle yesterday. Culture in the Netherlands has supposedly gone to the dogs as badly as in Britain, and yet a choir of two dozen Dutch girls is able to pull off such a stunt!

A last thought for today: If we are to survive cultural relativism and Islamofascism, we should look to the continent, rather than sucking up to the United Theocracy. (And don't expect President Obama will bring Enlightenment.)

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

BBC churnalists fall for another marketing stunt

Spam experiment overloads inboxes (BBC News, Tuesday, 1 July 2008)

The hidden message is: buy McAfee's software or you're screwed.

Surfing the web unprotected will leave the average web user with 70 spam messages each day, according to an experiment by security firm McAfee.

Surfing the web, in the usual sense of visiting web pages, cannot attract spam by itself. If you visit a dodgy web site operated by spammers, they can see your IP address, but they can't find out your email address, unless you tell them. After tracking down more reports on this meaningless experiment, I found that participants were encouraged to do just this.

surf without spam filters

Huh? The person who wrote this may know the meaning of the word "without". Well, one word out of four is not so bad, not for the brilliant, well-informed boys and girls from the technology section of BBC News.

By "websites were installing malware" they may be referring to drive-by downloads, due to the Windows Metafile vulnerability. What is conveniently ignored is that Mac OS and Linux are unaffected by this. Also unaffected are most browsers running on Windows that are slightly less crappy than that pinnacle of crappiness, Internet Explorer. The article does not mention what platform and browser were used in the experiment, perhaps because this would not serve the business interests of McAfee. But one can guess.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Councils warned over spying laws

Councils warned over spying laws (BBC News, Monday, 23 June 2008)
I don't think councils are abusing their powers, but there have been one or two instances... where it could be said that perhaps some of the offences being investigated were too trivial to be using surveillance techniques.

There were offences even more trivial than those mentioned in the article? What would those be? Saying 'outwith' in place of 'beyond'? Changing a roll of toilet paper with the sheet hanging against the wall? Supporting the French football team?

Don't be fooled by death-penalty supporter David Davis. The Tories don't really give a damn either that Britain has become a surveillance state.

Social survey

An interviewer from National Statistics called the other day. Whether I could please make an appointment. I told him it was against my principles to cooperate with surveys. Too much information is collected by the authorities as it is, and they're particularly bad at keeping confidential data confidential.

He then asked whether there was anyone else living at the same address whom he could interview. After I refused to answer even this, he left without saying anything more, visibly annoyed that anyone would be less inclined to reveal private information to a total stranger than to their hairdresser.

It will be compulsory to take part in the 2011 census if one would be asked to do so. However, taking part in any other survey is not. Now, why would one take part? For the common good? Giving blood or helping an old lady cross the street is a lot more commendable.

A last thought: One should be wary to have one's house advertise any more information than the house number. For example, one's name can be used by creeps from TVL/BBC. In the past two years I've received dozens of their letters, which I've been throwing away unopened, as my name is not "Legal Occupier".

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Public 'need to see justice done'

Public 'need to see justice done' (BBC News, Wednesday, 18 June 2008)

Criminals' punishment needs to be much more "visible"

Put them in the stocks and pelt them with rotten eggs and tomatoes!

We're all a little tired of hearing about the human rights and civil liberties of people who break the law.

This nutter, appointed by Tony Blair in 2005 "to put respect back into British life", pretty much sums up NuLabour's position on human rights. With socialists like that, who needs fascists.

However, she said she did not want to "see this debate trivialised [...]"

Thank goodness.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

PM hits back over civil liberties

PM hits back over civil liberties (BBC News, Tuesday, 17 June 2008)

Our PM is seriously off his rocker. It is instructive to play the video and hear the doublespeak drivel first-hand.

and the increasing complexity of plots

In other words, it's too complex for us common folk to understand.

networks spanning the globe

It is widely known that al-Qaida operates in networks that are much more decentralised than a few years ago, and it is the absence rather that the presence of global networks that makes regional terror cells so difficult to unravel before they strike. Brown has it backwards here.

people do appreciate the complexity of the issue

Yes, keep stressing "complexity". We are so stupid are we?

changing world

The inalienable human rights we thought we were entitled to belonged to another world, before it changed. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.

longer pre-detention charge

The fool means "pre-charge detention". Perhaps he originally meant to reduce the detention limit to 24 days, but got that backwards as well.

something which would in the end harm all of our civil liberties

I think Gordon Brown means to say that a successful terrorist attack would harm our civil liberties. So, we should thank him for protecting our civil liberties. I'm glad we have cleared that up.

civil liberties of a person detained

Any detention of an innocent person by definition violates his civil liberties. No "oversight by the judiciary, parliamentary scrutiny, independent review, [...]" can change that. If someone is clearly guilty, let him be charged. Everything else violates fundamental human rights.

'terror' update

My expectation that the matter would soon be forgotten was proven wrong, although I had to look hard to find this, as it was classified as regional Nottinghamshire news:

Former terror suspect given bail (BBC News, Tuesday, 17 June 2008)

Some of the comments by the 'former terror suspect' are heart-warming. Notwithstanding our government, feelings of solidarity and common decency still exist.

The comments by the other 'former terror suspect' are also informative, at:

Terror vote 'will be very tight' (BBC News, Tuesday, 10 June 2008)

A small victory for human rights:

'Lyrical terrorist' wins appeal (BBC News, Tuesday, 17 June 2008)

Internet meltdown

Victim of its own success (BBC Today, Tuesday, 17 June 2008)
But one of the world's leading academics on the impact of the net warns we could be facing its destruction.

Remember The Onion had it first: Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash (ONN, July 2007)

Then: Over Logging (South Park, Season 12, Episode 6)

One expert claims the internet is facing meltdown? I know ten experts who claim the BBC News site is filled with alarmist bollocks.

See also: Moore confessions: Internet meltdown (The Guardian, April 15, 2008)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

habeas corpus suspended

Brown wins crunch vote on 42 days (BBC News, Wednesday, 11 June 2008)

It is now official: Britain has become a third-rate banana republic. Apart from the 42 day detention limit itself, the process that led to it, which included horsetrading, bribery, extortion, and plain old lying, should take away any illusion that Britain is still a democracy.

Key points: Terror detention vote (BBC News, Wednesday, 11 June 2008)

1244: Opening the debate Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says it is possible to safeguard civil liberties and rights and to protect people. She tells MPs the threat is more complex and international than ever before as terrorists use technology to cover their tracks.

Do the police now have to solve Rubik's Cube before they are able to tell whether someone has done something bad?

With strong passwords and state-of-the-art cryptosystems with 256-bit keys, all the energy in the universe is insufficient for cryptanalysis. Whether the police is given 42 days or 42 millennia is inconsequential. If code breaking is the argument, why allow any limit on pre-charge detention at all?

The choice of 42 days rather than 41 or 43 is truly bizarre. Did Jacqui Smith derive her sense of reality from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? I would not be surprised. See also: Their answer is 42. What, exactly, is the question? (The Herald, June 04 2008)

1257: Ms Smith says she and her minister Tony McNulty have been working on proposals for the best part of a year - and denies proposing a permanent, automatic or immediate detention beyond 28 days. She says the bill contains a reserve power only to be used in exceptional circumstances - with strong safeguards and for a temporary period.

If there are no permanent exceptional circumstances, then what is the justification for all the draconian legislation introduced in the last few years by these NuLab gits?

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Women demand equal opportunities

Women demand equal opportunities – to blow themselves to smithereens (The Scotsman, 02 June 2008)

Poignant headers like this are unprofessional, ... and spoil all the fun for us bloggers.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

lambs to the slaughter

Family's shock at council spying (BBC News, Friday, 11 April 2008)

Spy law 'used in dog fouling war' (BBC News, Sunday, 27 April 2008)

Draconian legislation that was presented to us as indispensable in the fight against terrorism and organised crime is now being used to investigate minor offences. How much furore did this spark? Not much. It took The Guardian several weeks to pursue the second story:

Council accused of foul play to catch guilty dog owners
(The Guardian, Thursday May 22 2008)

although the issue was parenthetically mentioned in:

Council used terror law to spy on fishermen
(The Guardian, Wednesday May 14 2008)

Apparently, even newspapers said to be to the left of the political spectrum are slow to report about the government snooping on us.

It also took much of the British press more than a week to get the facts straight on this shameful matter:

Student was 'studying terrorism' (BBC News, Friday, 23 May 2008)

Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days (The Guardian, Saturday May 24, 2008)

Note that the facts were known many days before:

Anger Over "Terror Arrests" at Nottingham University (Indymedia UK, 20.05.2008)

I would not be surprised if this is the last we hear about it from the 'respectable' media. Who cares about two young guys with Islamic sounding names, one of whom is fucking Algerian! The daily gibberish uttered by a warmonger and religious crackpot is much more newsworthy: Blair's faith in difficult task, BBC News 31 May; Blair launches faith foundation, BBC News 30 May; Blair 'to devote life to faith', BBC News 29 May.

Your name is not Rizwaan or Hisham? You're not a student of politics and international relations? You've nothing to hide? Then rest assured your government will fully respect your privacy and not put you in jail for up to 28 (soon 42) days for no reason whatsoever. Sleep tight!

virtual freedom

Computer generated abuse 'banned' (BBC News, Wednesday, 28 May 2008)

This loophole is real. But the remedy is really perverse
(The Guardian, Saturday May 31 2008)

Soon, they may put me in jail for three years for publishing this drawing on the internet:



However, this would be perfectly legal:



Under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, drawing and distributing this image may also carry a prison sentence of 2 years (virtual zoophile pornography):



Kudos to the brave people who challenge Scientology (and its collaborators among the City of London police), but let us not ignore an even greater threat to freedom and democracy. NuLabour is a dangerous cult that will continue to nibble at the edges of our civil liberties until there is nothing left.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Church to debate convert motion

Church to debate convert motion (BBC News, Sunday, 25 May 2008)
BBC News religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says Mr Eddy's stance is likely to alienate many Muslims at a highly-sensitive time in the relationship between Islam and Christianity in the UK.

This says more about Robert Pigott than about the reality of Britain today. A religion is a delusion that sees itself as superior to similar delusions. This certainly holds for the three main Abrahamic religions. The supposition that Islam is somehow more open-minded is refuted by its pronounced belief that Christianity and Judaism are at best corruptions of the pure message of Islam.

As antitheist, I would like to see people convert to reason rather than to fiction. To argue against conversion of Muslims to Christianity because this might insult some other Muslims is preposterous however. In the current climate, anything is seen as an insult, even refusal to convert to Islam.

priorities

US strike 'kills Iraqi civilians' (BBC News, Thursday, 22 May 2008)

It is likely this is the first and last report we will receive about the latest atrocity committed by our 'allies', under the guise of 'collateral damage'. Note that two children were among those who died.

What the Maddie circus is concerned, May has been a relatively quiet month, but still, there were BBC News articles about the McCann girl on May 24, May 14, May 12, May 7, May 6, May 3 (three articles), May 2 (two articles), May 1 (three articles). All this for one child, who has been missing for over a year.

At the moment, the Americans seem more concerned about the Koran shooting incident than about human lives:

Bush apology for Koran shooting (BBC News, Tuesday, 20 May 2008)

Also in some parts of the Islamic world, aforementioned bundle of paper with the ramblings of a 7th century psychopath takes precedence over the value of human lives:

Three die in Afghan Koran protest (BBC News, Thursday, 22 May 2008)

Not that this should come as a surprise. Consider e.g.:

Nigeria teacher dies 'over Koran' (BBC News, Wednesday, 21 March 2007)

To see things in perspective, remember that whenever someone is foolish enough to try to bring a Bible into Saudi Arabia, it is confiscated at the airport and unceremoniously shredded. If someone is foolish enough to bring more than one Bible, he or she is in for a lot of trouble indeed.

Blair was chased over unpaid bill

Blair was chased over unpaid bill (BBC News, Friday, 23 May 2008)

Perhaps someone should kindly point out to the BBC editors that just because they can publish such information, it doesn't mean they should.

The Blairs at some point misplaced a bill of £147. Is this Tony Blair's greatest sin? Wasn't there some other matter?

Unless they want to report that the death penalty will be reintroduced for political leaders who have betrayed Britain and all of humanity in a particularly blatant manner, what's the purpose of boring us with irrelevant financial details about the Blair household?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Brown reveals global moral vision

Brown reveals global moral vision (BBC News, Saturday, 17 May 2008)

Way to go, Gordon! If you don't have any, then at least talk about them. Morals, I mean.

Friday, 16 May 2008

travel advice

Taking your laptop into the US? Be sure to hide all your data first (Guardian, Thursday May 15 2008)

In fact, why only do this when travelling?

Many search warrants in the UK are granted by magistrates. As a rule, magistrates are incompetent twats, who receive an impressive six days of training before being allowed to throw people in jail and order the violation of the sanctity of someone's home. Consequently, any turd in a suit, for example a TV licence inspector, can convince a magistrate to issue a search warrant, on the basis of the fuzzy concept 'reasonable grounds'. During the search, computer equipment may be confiscated and subjected to computer forensics.

(By the way, Britain is really the odd one out in Europe. For example, no search warrant would ever be issued in Germany for the trifling matter of TV licences.)

For a minority of us, our PCs and laptops contain some data that might be incriminating in a legal sense. Very often, this data is present without us realising it. Examples are browsing histories and cached data, which may reveal we have a predilection for a certain type of images. For a minute portion of computer users, there may be an actual intent to break the law by storing certain data. For most of us however, it is simply a huge embarrassment to find our most private data, such as diaries and nude images of lovers, in the hands of a spotty lab technician, even if this data is not unlawful.

There are a few things however that computer users can do to arm themselves against this form of oppression. First, never use any Microsoft crap. Use of Vista and related inferior products will in the end make you lose your sanity. More important in this context is that they offer the user little control over what happens behind the scenes, and it is difficult to ascertain that data one thinks has been deleted is really gone irretrievably.

Secondly, one should make an inventory of log files and 'tmp' directories where data is silently being collected while one views and manipulates other files. Notorious culprits are multimedia players, which create logs of viewed files, and file browsers, which keep 'deleted' files until the relevant 'trash cans' are explicitly emptied. All such log files and temporary directories should be erased regularly. Computer savvy users may want to write scripts to do that automatically upon logout. This will of course only be effective if one logs out regularly, which is recommended in any case.

It may also be advisable to run tools that temporarily swallow up all unused memory and erase any residual information contained therein.

Lastly, one should keep confidential data separate from other data, on an encrypted hard disk, with an outer and hidden volume, accessible with two different passwords. From here, Bruce Schneier's instructions in above-mentioned article should be followed.

Addendum (2008-06-08):

It seems many computer users in the past have been screwed thanks to their browsers. Apart from aforementioned browsing history, there is the cache, which stores copies of visited web pages, including images therein. Furthermore, many sites leave cookies, which represent evidence of browsing habits. Some browsers (e.g. Firefox) can be configured to clear some or all private data upon closing. Make use of this!

Lastly, beware of compromised software or hardware. After someone who cannot be trusted has had access to one's computer equipment, it is no longer safe to enter a password, as spyware might have been installed that monitors the keyboard.

Addendum (2008-06-17):

As we already knew, Microsoft sucks:

Vista encryption 'no threat' to computer forensics
(The Register, Friday 2nd February 2007)

In contrast, full disk encryption is entirely secure, given a few precautions. In particular, the machine must be switched off well before the adversary gets hold of it. And of course, a strong password is essential.

Cf. The impact of full disk encryption on digital forensics

Cartoonist Arrested for Discrimination

Furore over Cartoonist Arrested for Discrimination (NIS News Bulletin 17/05/08)

In some countries, police protect cartoonists against Islamist scum trying to harm them. In other countries, the police are the scum.

If it is any comfort to the Dutch people: The police here in Britain are even worse, but our cartoonists are simply too docile to get themselves into any kind of trouble over sensitive issues.

Then there is a Canadian cartoon controversy (GagWatch, Tuesday 13 May 2008).

Thursday, 15 May 2008

kill the messenger

Police apologise over mosque show (BBC News, Thursday, 15 May 2008)

Political correctness in the UK...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Cannabis laws to be strengthened

Cannabis laws to be strengthened (BBC News, Wednesday, 7 May 2008)
protect the public

Right, spending up to 5 years in jail is much healtier than smoking a few joints.

Reclassifying cannabis as class B drug will not change the penalties for dealing, only for possession, i.e. for using. Users are not normally caught, except for a few unlucky sods, for example, whose 'friends' send videotapes to the police. After being branded as criminals, their lives will subsequently be ruined, whereas before they might have been decent people with an occasional craving for a high.

And Gordon Brown said at prime minister's questions that he believed making cannabis a class B drug was supported by the public and the police.

The war on Iraq was not supported by the public.

What would be supported by the public is if Gordon Brown and his ilk would sod off, as confirmed by the recent local elections.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

CCTV boom 'failing to cut crime'

CCTV boom 'failing to cut crime' (BBC News, Tuesday, 6 May 2008)

From the data, sensible people would conclude the loss of privacy due to surveillance cameras cannot be justified by the insignificant portion of crimes that they help prevent or solve. But no, the solution is a "new database", and no doubt more cameras in the near future.
There are more than 4.2 million cameras in the UK
That is roughly one camera per 15 Britons, but it's still not enough to reduce crime to a measurable degree. Perhaps we should go for one camera per person, implanted into our foreheads after birth, so no crime need ever go unsolved.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Passenger 'moons' at speed camera

Passenger 'moons' at speed camera (BBC News, Thursday, 1 May 2008)

The story is without merit in itself, except as cheap entertainment for the typical braindead BBC audience. The way it is presented however deserves some thought. We witness here that voyeurism takes precedence over any critical attitude towards Big Brother.
Officers have the registration of the car, which was not breaking the speed limit, and intend to contact its owner. [...] no driving offence was being committed.
The passenger was obviously not wearing his seat belt, but that does not seem to be the main concern to the police. Now I wonder, if the car was not breaking the speed limit and no other driving offence was being committed, why was any policeman looking at these pictures in the first place? There is mention of a speed camera, but under the circumstances, it seems more appropriate to talk of a surveillance camera, as if we didn't have enough of those in Britain.

"Not only is it disrespectful, but distasteful and offensive, particularly to children who may have been exposed to this nonsense.
Was it disrespectful to the policeman who is wasting taxpayers' money checking whether all car passengers are properly dressed? He deserves all our heartfelt disrespect. And are we Americans, who think that the sight of an inch of bare skin will unavoidably turn children into sex criminals?

In this country, it does not suffice that we tolerate being observed by CCTV cameras all the time, we are actually supposed to give them friendly smiles. Give one the finger, and we are personally rebuked by a copper who has nothing better to do.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Foreign beef 'is sold as British'

Foreign beef 'is sold as British' (BBC News, Thursday, 1 May 2008)

Aren't we glad the BBC is so concerned with our welfare.

They claim consumers do not realise when they are being served poor-quality meat from parts of the world with lower standards of animal welfare and hygiene.

Of 188,535 documented cases of BSE world wide, 183,823 occurred in Britain. Of 193 documented cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, 163 occurred in Britain.

Enjoy your British beef!