Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oh Yeah...

Viral Marketing? Have a look at this.

You heard it here first.

Worstall: eat you heart out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


This just in from some dodgy lot of headhunters who refuse, steadfastly, to take me off their mailing list...
Virus fuelled computers
Some clever boffins at MIT have been tinkering with nature. They have engineered (biological) viruses to build miniature long life batteries, which one day will find their way into mobile electronic devices. The heady mix of nano-technology and gene manipulation should be a cause for concern. Can we look forward to a future whereby symptoms of the common cold move from the build up of catarrh to a thin lining of cobalt oxide in the mucous membranes? A give away sign of a cold will no longer be sneezing, but the accumulation of paper clips and other metallic objects drawn to one's electrically polarised nose.
Readers of this blog who have been awarded their LS&GC will know that Lady P-G would not be in the least surprised if I started sneezing paperclips. But it is a diverting thought anyway.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

When Gordo Goes to Hell

Not that one (though I very much doubt that he will escape a roasting when his time comes): this one.

Whilst I am not aware that Dante reserved a particular special circle of Hell for chefs, celebrity or otherwise, your well-connected Pedant-General has information that old Beelzebub is a cunning wee chap and appears to have made arrangements for the foul-mouthed ex-footballer and his ilk.

How do I know? Well, not content with being well-connected, your indomitable Pedant-General in Ordinary is also ruthlessly organised, blisteringly efficient and more-than-ordinarily far-sighted. Scarcely have I put away the portmanteaux from our last trip, when I am in the throes of planning our next trip. This time, the family P-G is bound for sunnier climes for a wedding. Getting to sunnier climes from here can be tricky. (There seems to be a congenital aversion on the part of decent airlines to allow Edinburghers to fly direct to anywhere nice at all.)

Those nice chaps at Travelocity are, however, more than a match for our demanding travel needs. They even go so far as to allow us to pre-book a special meal for our eldest from the astonishingly long list of peculiar requirements for which airlines have to cater.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand. Whatever other punishments old nick might have lined up for Mr Ramsay, we do know what he will be forced to eat:

Airline food...

With a special "Bland" option...

... On Lufthansa.

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Toy!

Via DK, a new toy.

All hail the benign dictator of InfinitesUnsplitia! Naturally, DK has swiped the best motto.

Interestingly, on answering the very simple cut-down version of the political compass (to give my nascent state a suitably libertarian outlook), the tax rate comes out at a positively penal 1%. That's right: One Percent. One penny for every pound that you earn. Also encouraging is that the quiz gives the following major outcomes:

Civil Rights:
Political Freedoms:
Very Good

One to watch I suggest.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Everyone is noting this auspicious occasion, so consider a suitably grovelling doffing of the peacock feather hat and marched bands tossed in Her Majesty's general direction.

Note that I have refrained from a rousing, full-bodied rendition of "Happy Birthday" as I understand that it is still subject to Copyright.

This anomaly is of course newsworthy following this little campaign. I must say that I support this wholeheartedly as, to be honest, anything that:
1) places restrictions on people lawfully signing singing "Living Doll" whilst simultaneously
2) ensuring that Cliff Richard is condemned to do so forever
is an extraordinarily good thing in my book.

Many Happy Returns of the day, Your Majesty.

[Doffs hat, bows to scrape the floor and backs gently out of the double-doors]

UPDATE: If you do not already sit, staring at your RSS reader, waiting for the next nugget of wisdom from Deogolwulf, you are either spectacularly ill-informed or almost inhumanly immune to the finer things in life. He comments here on this topic. RTWT.

Crime, Clarke, Compensation and Cluelessness (Continued)

The inestimably brilliant, public-spirited, noble, fearless, erudite, kind, sensible and generally nice Tom Reynolds, an ambulance-type paramedic who blogs - superbly, with erudition, kindness and nobility - at Random Acts of Reality, illustrates far more graphically than I can hope to expect a point I made yesterday.

Tom has been called to attend to

"Two people in collapsed state".

Turns out they were a couple of smackheads who had overdone it a bit. One was 6' 2" and

built like a brick outhouse apparent weightlifter

As he was being lifted into the ambulance, he came round and smacked Tom around the head, shattering his glasses. A station officer is helpful and tells Tom to buy a new pair and

... that when I got new glasses I should give the receipt to him so that he can do battle with the finances department and then I can claim the money back. Asking him if the patient would be made to pay by the LAS, I was told that this wouldn't be the case, and that the money would come out of our normal funding.

I was told not to buy any solid gold glasses.

I find this a bit ridiculous – here is a patient who has indulged in something illegal – he has assaulted a number of ambulance and hospital staff (thankfully no-one was seriously injured), he has wasted all our time and broken and essential bit of kit for the running of an ambulance. Because of him there was one less ambulance covering our area that night.

And he's going to get away without losing a penny.

There are a number of illuminating points here:
1. Tom should not have to pay for new glasses. The DSO, it seems, is going to have to have a fight to get this sorted out. Why?
2. Notwithstanding 1 above, it IS right that Tom should go and buy glasses and get his money refunded, rather than someone else go and buy them for him. This way Tom will get the glasses he wants (because he is going to choose them) quicker (because he can go to any shop he chooses and because he won't have to wait for forms to be processed and money released) and cheaper (because there won't be lots of people without access to the relevant information - such as his taste in glasses - in between him and his choice of glasses).
3. Notwithstanding 1 (Tom should not ultimately pay) and 2 (Tom should buy and be refunded) above, the TAXPAYER HAS ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING RESPONSIBILITY TO PICK UP THE TAB FOR TOM'S GLASSES, WHETHER SOLID GOLD

In these times of asymmetric warfare, Sam Johnson's line that
"Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier"
is perhaps wide of the mark. It is to people like Tom that this sentiment now refers. One cannot fail to be humbled the sense of duty and true public service that blazes from his writing. Imagine how many blankets we could supply if we were not having to pick up the tab that results from the timidity of our criminal justice system.

UPDATE: I meant to update this post with the classic "afterthought-that-strikes-you-immediately-you-press-the-publish-button"-type afterthought. I have been beaten to it by DK. The afterthought is this:

The only reason that it is futile to attempt to extract compensation from this scrote is that he is supported by the welfare state and has no income or assets of his own. Any extraction therefore comes straight out of the taxpayer anyway. The answer: Abolish the welfare state. If this scrote - and indeed all who are supported by the taxpayer - was dependent upon the generosity of his family or others in his immediate community, he would not be able to get away with this sort of behaviour. The welfare state is not - and can never be - consistent with individual responsibility for your actions. It must be abolished. NOW.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Reptile Returns

The reptile is on superlative form today - must be the after-effects of all that refreshing mountain air.

Two excellent posts.
1) Clarke - may he rot in hell:
"Charles Clarke has issued a blizzard of ropy initiatives over the last few days that range from the inept to the immoral via the ineffective."
2) The Gurkhas. RTWT.

I recall vividly being given a demonstration on the correct method to deploy for a section attack, by the Gurkha demonstration company at RMAS. The first step is, of course, Preparation. The Gurkha corporal marched along the line of his soldiers to inspect their efforts, checking camouflage, ensuring they had ammunition etc and finally performing the "jump test". Each soldier jumps up and down to check whether he has any loose equipment that make an unwanted noise. One stooge is of course replete with dangling mess tins and loose cutlery. Corporal duly sets about him with vigour and then declares to roars of applause from the watching Officer Cadets:
But as Tim so rightly says: Don't mess....

Crime, Clarke, Compensation and Cluelessness

Tim goes off the deep-end at this latest outpouring of arrant nonsense from the execrable safety elephant.

He points out, pithily, that there might be better sources for the estimated savings of ~£5m per annum:

Do you know what else costs some 5 million a year? Subsidising the snouts in the trough in Parliament. Literally:
parliament's £5.7m annual catering subsidy


I heard this report on the Today programme this morning and thought vaguely to myself:
Cutting the compensation for wrongful convictions in favour of taxpayer payouts to the victims of actions by criminals? This is all the wrong way round surely?
Tim's last line to his post crystallises my unease:
If we as a society get things wrong and imprison the innocent it is our duty, as that very society, to both say sorry and to compensate them as best we can. What we offer can only ever be inadequate but to deny this moral fact, to save the price of MP's pork pies?
You fuck Clarke, for shame.

Cutting the compensation to victims of errors by the state is clearly morally wrong. The state makes a mistake that ruins the lives of those affected: the state should pay up.  Those operating the systems of the state ought also to be held to account for the waste of taxpayers' money, but that is a separate issue.

However, Clarke is proposing to use these savings to pay out to victims of the crimes of others. This is total bollocks. The state does not have the same duty to compensate the victims of crime: that should be the sole responsibility of the criminals who committed the crimes. The role of the state should be simply to effect the swift and smooth transfer of compensation from the criminal to his victim.

If such criminals are not able to pay the compensation that ought to be extracted, tough: let that act as a deterrent.

Knowing that the state can confiscate any and all of your assets and then continue to hound you for the rest of your life until you have paid sufficient compensation to repair the damage you have caused ought to be an additional incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.

The criminal justice system in this country is shot to bits as far as deterrence is concerned. Bystander is always good, but some of the comments to a post of his on this particular topic are extremely illuminating: here is "Katie" on the criminal's view of cautions:

Since I've had a very, very rough life I need have no fear of prison or any meaningful punishment. Just repeated bland admonishments that I'm on my last chance and must not do it again, or I'll be asked not to do it again... again.

Crime might not pay, but it certainly doesn't seem to carry any cost at the moment.

The real problem is that the taxpayer is currently insulating criminals from facing the bill for cleaning up after their actions. Clarke's moronic intervention here is making this problem worse, not better.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

From our own correspondent - Russian Politics Revisited

As the snow begins to melt, my Moscow-based spy emerges from hibernation, blinking, smelly and scattering empty vodka bottles and crumpled fag packets, to draw our attention to this marvellous article (paid subscription) in the Moscow Times:

The party in power, "United Russia", is closely related to the Kremlin and bound to win any elections that are likely to take place. Nevertheless, they have decided that they need to develop a platform and policies.... That's right, they became the party in power without any.

To add to the confusion, they are not doing it because they want/need to appeal to voters, but because President Putin's chief of staff "told them it was necessary to come up with an ideology before the elections... [in order to]...preempt criticism from the West".

It is not clear whether he also told them what policies to include, or whether any of the policies will in fact be enacted. Gotta love that way of building a political/civil culture.

All good fun indeed. Yet, perhaps this is not a purely Russian phenomenon:
  • Taking office before publishing any policies?
  • Not needing to appeal to voters?
Isn't that how the EU Commission operates?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Glasshouse? Meet Stone-Thrower.

Careful readers will have noticed that I have - and regularly make use of - direct hotlines to many persons of great import, the "movers and shakers" if you will allow me a little sashay in the direction of the vernacular.

I must report on a snippet of one such conversation in which I am rebuked thusly:
"... pseudonyms are so yesterday ..."
My correspondent? Mr Seat.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Holiday Reports (2)

Secret Room
Originally uploaded by The Pedant-General.
Here we see the collected Pedants-General at bedtime in the log-cabin-in-Ordinary.

This particular photo was taken in a rather natty little extra secret room in the eaves of said cabin, which was accessible only by a ladder/trapdoor thing.

The boys have already colonised this room as a "secret den". Lady P-G and I are apparently unaware of its existence.

It's not a Secret Den. It's a rocket.

UPDATE: It's not a Rocket. It's a dungeon.

The youngest master Pedant-General has been incarcerated. It is not clear if a ransom is being demanded. Neither is it clear whether or not Lady P-G or I would be minded to pony up. (And if we did, Gordon Brown would probably want to try and tax the capital transfer. Bastard.)

UPDATE: It's not a Dungeon. It's a Hotel.

The youngest master Pedant-General is some kind of bag-carrier and room service waiter. Whether or not this represents a release from his earlier incarceration or merely a further descent into slavery is similarly unclear.

UPDATE: It's not a Hotel. It's a Helicopter.

Although apparently fairly fast (capable of something approaching the speed of light, it seems), this particular helicopter is demonstrably lacking in range and may not make it to the other side of the loch. Lady P-G and I are being requested to take some petrol to an island in the middle where it can refuel. The youngest master Pedant-General seems to have been emancipated so that is at least something.

Holiday Reports (1)

That nice Mr McGuinness gave some excellent advice following my post on the problems of packing to go on holiday.
Do not pack a live squirrel. You probably won't have any call for it.
Whilst I would normally be, shall we say, circumspect regarding the suggestions, even if freely offered, from a man who took the lyrics of 50 cent sufficiently literally to "tickle his bollocks", on this occasion he could not have been closer to the mark. The one thing I did not need was a squirrel: they were in generous abundance.

Red Squirrel CloseUp
Red Squirrel CloseUp,
originally uploaded by The Pedant-General.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Holiday Weather


The BBC weather forecast for our chosen holiday destination looks like this:

Lady P-G is currently in a flat spin as regards packing arrangements. Suggestions welcome.

Crumbs from the High Table

How exciting!

A flippant note, sent in an unguarded moment, is acknowledged and published.

In other news, your diligent and hard-working Pedant-General is overdue - and therefore taking - a well deserved break.

You will all have to keep your colons un-semi-ed and infinitives reluctantly unsplit until our return.

Light Posting!