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Friday, 23 April 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

Happy St George's Day to you all, and let's all celebrate those freedoms we have left that the State hasn't yet robbed from us.

I still have the freedom to take a train anywhere in the UK without a government permit or the sanction of the US security agencies. I still have the freedom to navigate my vessel in UK territorial waters without a government permit (though not beyond that limit any more). I don't need the State's permission to have a barbecue in my garden or drink alcohol or smoke in my own home. Intercourse remains unlicensed. I am free to read most books that have been published, and to listen to foreign radio stations without the risk of my front door being smashed down, unless they're in Arabic. I am free to possess tools in my own home, though I can't carry these in public without risk of arrest. I am free to choose the decor of my own home but no longer free to add an electrical spur socket or light fitting without State permission. I am free to use incandescent lamps, although their purchase is illegal. I am free to associate in public with up to two friends without police consent in advance. I am free to listen to people singing or playing musical instruments without State interference, so long as it's in the privacy of my own home or in theirs. I'm free to visit my family as long as fully State licensed adults, parents or guardians are present if there are any children under 16 there. I'm allowed to put State-approved specially purchased food out for the birds, but not food scraps or bread crumbs from my own kitchen. And I can eat with complete freedom and without State licence any fruit or vegetables I grow myself, though not meat or fish. And any food I buy rather than grow must be approved by the State in advance.

Happy St George's Day, all.

Noose tightens for Labour in London

Whatever the effect of the LibDem surge in the polls on Parliament, at a local level here in London it could well draw the noose tight around Labour's hold on the capital, forcing the party into a Berchtesgaden-like redoubt in East London. The Evening Standard printed the graphic reproduced below in last night's edition. Here in Lewisham, Green and LibDem Councillors robbed Labour of overall control in 2006, and to be frank we've done quite well out of the impasse. Unlike neighbouring boroughs we still have weekly refuse collection and the Council is quite laid back about the contents of our bins, with recycling being largely optional and no compulsory segregation of food waste. LibDem councillors are also less sympathetic to the creation of instant slums full of Nigerian village girls by the Housing Associations, and have fought to retain our free-market Tory Zebra crossings from replacement by socialist 'the State decides when you cross' Pelican crossings.

All eyes will be on Barking and Dagenham, where the BNP is making a concerted effort to displace Labour, and two weeks of hot, sunny weather could help them. Those of you who know London will know that the Sun brings out into public spaces our warm-blooded immigrants like the Spring brings forth Daffodils; suddenly the streets rebound with mega-bass rap from open car windows and every street corner and garden wall is decorated with half a dozen exotic young chaps until late into the evening. This enhanced visibility may well sway B & D's voters, and even Dianne Abbot being carried though the streets on a vast Palanquin on the shoulders of her Nubian honour-guard with an escort of praise-rap singing choirs may fail to shift the vote.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

1977 and all that

I remember 1977 very well. Beer was 25p a pint and 20 ciggies cost 27½p. We had a Silver Jubilee and HM visited Ipswich. Docklands were, er, docks and warehouses not expensive apartments with pressure-blasted brickwork and little galvanised steel balcony rails. And we had the Lib-Lab pact. And pound notes.

Of course we had the Ramones, the Clash and the Pistols as well. And Idi Amin, whom we were unaware had been eating his wives. And 15% inflation.

Ah, happy days.

LibDems are the epitome of the loathsome class

A Parliamentary party whose MPs are largely PR and spin merchants, whose snouts are deeper in the corruption trough than most, who favour an electoral system under which MPs are selected by party headquarters and not by local voters, who support a rigid system of central Statist control and social engineering is the very epitome of the loathsome political class. Not only that, but vote Clegg and get Von Rumpy. Voters, I suspect, know this, but right now their disgust with both Labour and Cameron's Conservatives is such that 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' in terms of using any tool to deliver a decent kicking to the Parliamentary duopoly. And really who can blame them.

Right now, the country still wants to inflict pain on politicians. This is more important that our international credit rating, than the confidence of the City, than inflation and unemployment. We still haven't seen the bastards suffer.

There is only one action that Cameron can take that will swing a significant number of voters to the Conservatives; sit down in Parliament Square, douse himself in five gallons of premium unleaded and immolate himself, in the manner of Thich Quan Duc in Saigon in 1963, with a sign simply saying 'Sorry'.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Back to the 1950s with the EU

I've posted before that there is no shortage of landfill in the UK*. The volume of aggregates extracted from quarries above the water table every year comfortably equals the volume of trade and domestic waste we produce. There is an imbalance in location; because of the south-east aggregates drag, landfill capacity is always northwards, and increasingly in Scotland where superquarries have hollowed out entire hills to feed the hunger for roadstone in the south, whereas waste production is greatest in and around London. So there's a transport issue, but not a capacity problem.

Much of Europe doesn't have our landfill capacity, and so on the principle of dragging everyone down to the capacity of the weakest, the EU are ending waste-to-landfill. Or sustainable Methane harvesting, as I prefer to term it. When the Methane has been exhausted, and all the putrescible and organic materials have decayed away, the residue can be quarried to recover metals and polymers. But the EU's inflexibility means that local councils are paying £56 / tonne Landfill Tax in 2010/2011 on top of the costs of waste collection and transport - hence the loathed fortnightly collections, bin police, rotting food and rats.

So no surprise that people have gone back to doing what their parents did in the 1950s, when a family's weekly waste fitted in a three-foot high galvanised dustbin, and are burning their flammable waste. Then it was on open coal fires, now it's largely in back gardens. The difference is that back then it was cardboard and paper, while now it's a lot of plastic. But plastics themselves are probably not the cause of the record levels of dioxins from domestic burning; the burning of organic waste where Chlorine ions are present will produce the most dioxins, a ready-made mix found in domestic waste. Anyway, thanks to the EU we're now not only poisoning ourselves but wasting valuable sustainable opportunities to really recycle waste into something useful - Methane and residual recoverable material.

Whether we leave the EU or not, it will take a government with balls to tell the EU that the UK will not comply with the EU Landfill policy, and turn us back to making use of all those empty quarries. Will Brown? Will Clegg? Will Cameron?

*And yes I'll repeat the figures and their sources for sceptics if called upon to do so

I'll post again with the evidence in the next day or so, as I have time

Monday, 19 April 2010

True mate found for Bastard Gumwood

On a non-politics day, I bring you a good news story from the St Helena Independent. Please don't all download at once; the island has a single satellite connection and too many hits will slow it down to the extent that Islanders, er, educational web browsing could be compromised.

For years a single Bastard Gum has been growing at a place called Pounceys. It was bad news for the tree, as Bastard Gums are not self pollinating, and are subject to cross-pollination from False Gumwoods. Many months of research by Lourens Malan, a horticultural research worker, led to the discovery of another, solitary Bastard Gum growing half way up the cliffs on far-away Manati Bay. Pollen and ovaries were brought together, and now a score of ethnically pure baby Bastard Gum seedlings are growing away in little pots. The Children of St Paul's primary school even acted out the germination and learned the dangers of miscegenation;

This turned out to be a lot of fun: some of the younger children volunteered to be pollinating bees, hoverflies or butterflies; three more children volunteered to be the False Gumwoods and one older student the Bastard Gumwood tree. The three False Gumwoods held up their arms for branches while Vanessa hung yellow paper balls on them, representing the pollen. The bees, hoverflies and butterflies then ran around gathering the pollen and tried to deposit it onto the Bastard Gumwood tree. In the meantime Vanessa frantically tried to stop them from passing on the pollen which would result in undesirable hybrid seed being produced. The pollinators were only stopped from hanging the pollen on the Bastard Gumwood when Lourens covered it in a big sheet to represent the cage! Many thanks to all the children who volunteered and for their enthusiastic participation.
All together ... aaaaah.

"Did I hear Cardinal Puff? You're nicked!"

The Americans have a version of a drinking game that consists of spinning a bottle flat on a table. Whoever it points at has to take a drink. Like the Australian's favourite gambling game of 'two up' it requires little skill to succeed and can be played even when blind drunk. It's even easier than nominating the drinker by the old playground method of "One potato two potatoes three potatoes four ..".

Not so the English middle classes, who long ago devised games in which the forfeit drinker penalised himself. "I drink to the health of Cardinal Puff for the third time!" knock knock "Oh bugger. Fill it up again". Such games have been a rite of passage for every nineteen year old rugger-playing student for as long as anyone can remember.

In a new report the release of which was buried by the legal highs row, the drugs committee headed by Professor Nutt - he who I seem to recall advocates that we should all smoke cannabis - have recommended that student drinking games be made illegal.

I'll bet every male medical student who studied before Rag Week was made illegal on Health and Safety grounds is a Cardinal. I'll bet every officer who passed out of Sandhurst before breastfeeding and childcare appeared on the curriculum is a Cardinal. I'll bet the Inns of Court are full of Cardinals, and I'm even willing to bet that the few remaining male heterosexual priests in the Church of England are not unacquainted with a metaphorical galero.

You see, whilst we were all in the Union bar quaffing healthy pints, young Nutt was on the floor of his rancid squat grooving to a candle flame and giggling like a girl. I'm willing to bet my right arm that Nutt never made Cardinal. And he's never forgotten it.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

I don't believe this LibDem surge

Clegg performs well in the leaders debate and the next morning the LibDems start to climb in the polls; by Saturday according to BPIX they lead both the Tories and Labour. I just don't believe it. Look, nine-odd million out of forty-five million voters saw the TV debate - fewer than a quarter of electors. To produce a swing of this magnitude, every single viewer must have been converted to Europe and Libdemitude overnight and persuaded their neighbours and people on the train to vote for Clegg too.

I think the reality is rather different. I think there's a bias in the poll samples; it's the same people who watch TV political debates and QT who participate in opinion polls. The other four out of five of us claim we're just about to have dinner. Or don't have a land-line. So the polls are just telling us what a sample of those nine-odd millions think, not what the other 36 million think.

On the train home from Southampton yesterday I was chatting with a young man who had his own very well developed idea of how the TV debates should have been designed. They should have started with more contestants, he said, with the losers being voted off each week until the final week was a run-off between the two finalists. And they should have used telephone voting.

And perhaps he was right. Perhaps a game-show format is as good a way of picking a Prime Minister as an election.