Yet More Jihad Fatigue

When the news of yesterday’s attacks in London reached me I was sitting at my desk diligently working on engineering designs which would, if implemented, unquestionably contribute to the betterment of mankind. The contrast between my selfless efforts and the mindless destruction of human life in Westminster could not have been more stark, and as one of the few Brits in the office I believed it was my duty to make every discussion thereafter about me and how I felt.

My first thoughts went out to those whose job it is to respond to such incidents, the people on whom we rely to bring order to the chaos, provide comfort where it is needed, and return things to normal. I am referring, of course, to those responsible for switching the lighting schemes on global landmarks into displays of meaningless solidarity. It was but a simple task to light up the Sydney opera house in the tricolor of France, or the Brandenburg gate in the red, black, and yellow of the Belgian flag. But what to do when an Islamist massacre happens in the UK?

A solution came from an expected source: Israel. Since its formation Israel has been plagued with terror attacks and hence is far better prepared to respond to them than perhaps any other nation. It was therefore unsurprising that within hours of the attack, the town hall in Tel Aviv had been transformed thusly:

Seeing this was triggering for me, though. It reminded me of the early 1990s and playing Wolfenstein 3D which would go all pixellated if you ran too close to something, like a Swastika or British flag, and this was during the time of the IRA mainland bombing campaigns and painful memories came flooding back. So although the Israelis meant well, this really didn’t help much and I might have fucked up a crucial element of my engineering calculations.

Besides, nobody is interested in how Israelis respond to terror attacks, even if their methods are strikingly effective. By which I mean air strikes on those believed responsible, of course. No, this attack on the UK required a European response, especially given the motivation of the terrorist might well turn out to be the grim realities of Brexit. At this stage, we just don’t know. So just as Prime Minister Manuel Valls said “times have changed, and we should learn to live with terrorism”, it was once again the French who provided much-needed leadership in these difficult times:

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced Wednesday evening local time that the city’s most famous landmark would go dark in solidarity with those killed and injured near the British Parliament building earlier in the day.

Given that I live in Paris I found this doubly touching, so much so that I touched a female colleague in a clumsy attempt at solidarity. I now have to report to HR this morning. However, and while I do not wish to disparage the brave efforts of those running the Eiffel Tower lighting display for one second, the whole affair does raise some worrying questions.

For instance, is turning off lights really the same as displaying the national colours? Why, given how commonplace these attacks are becoming in Europe, were lighting systems not upgraded to cope with all national flags? If the Israelis can manage it, why can’t we? Surely it can’t be a matter of cost? We were perhaps fortunate that this time it was just London. A friend back in the UK overheard a worried-looking policeman say to his colleague “What if it had been in Cardiff?” One can only imagine. I can only hope and pray that no such attack takes place in Croatia, Slovakia, or even Portugal but if it does I further hope and pray that the appropriate authorities will be ready this time.

Having been calmed down somewhat by the prompt actions of the Paris mayor, my next concern was perhaps equally unsettling: what cutesy image can I put on my Facebook profile to show that I care? I waited and waited for a graphic artist to come up with Cutesy Image of the Massacre™ for this particular event but none came, and I was feeling completely helpless. I even asked one of my more talented colleagues to design one for me as visions of cashing in big-time flashed before my eyes, but his initial idea of a teddy bear in a bobby’s uniform left me cold, especially when I saw it was carrying its own severed head. Perhaps I should have asked somebody other than Abdul. Fortunately, the stoic Londoners shrugged off adversity as they always do and came through with this:

I felt better immediately, although if I’m honest I wasn’t afraid before: I’m in Paris after all, miles from Westminster. I wasn’t even afraid when Islamist nutters were on one of their rampages around these parts because by the time I heard about them everyone was already dead and I was still alive and well. So I wasn’t afraid. Perhaps I ought to have been angry, but alas these days I just feel so weary. I spoke to a doctor and he said it was simply a case of Jihad Fatigue. There’s been a lot of it going around lately, and my symptoms were so far gone that when people mentioned the one year anniversary of the massacre in Brussels, I’d completely forgotten it had taken place.

The words of Manuel Valls quoted above, which were echoed by London’s mayor Sadiq Khan last September when he said terrorist attacks were simply “part and parcel of living in a big city”, were absolutely right. Random people being murdered by Islamic terrorists is something we’re going to have to get used to, because the leadership isn’t interested in doing anything about it and the majority of citizens are not interested in electing leaders who are. For my part, I intend to sell everything I own and invest the proceeds into the suppliers of high-resolution, large scale lighting equipment. The world is gonna need more of them.

Security or Protectionism?

New flying rules are afoot:

The US has announced a ban on large electronic devices from cabin baggage on passenger flights from eight Muslim-majority countries.

Bombs could be hidden in laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said.

Well yes, they could be. Which is generally why everyone has to go through that pantomime of taking out all electronic items and scanning them separately. Or doesn’t this actually work?

The nine airlines affected are Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The cynic in me thinks this is less about security and more about hobbling Middle East airlines which are cheaper, cleaner, better, and have nicer staff than airlines operating out of the US.

The UK is due to announce shortly a similar ban on certain flights.

Which is good news for British Airways, no doubt.

[A]viation security experts were alarmed by an incident in Somalia last year when the insurgent group al-Shabaab smuggled an explosive-filled laptop on a flight out of Mogadishu, blowing a hole in the side of the plane.

Somalia. On Daallo Airlines, whoever the hell they are. But this might be a concern:

A suspected suicide bomber on a Daallo Airlines flight was originally meant to be aboard a Turkish Airlines plane, Reuters cited Daallo’s CEO Mohamed Yassin as saying. A separate report claimed the blast had come from explosives hidden inside a laptop.
The majority of the passengers on the bombed Airbus A321 flight were scheduled to fly with Turkish Airlines, but were redirected after the Turkish carrier cancelled the flight due to bad weather.

I’m a bit concerned about Turkish Airlines. They have done an impressive job of becoming a very good, high-profile airline offering flights practically everywhere through an airport which I’ve been told is excellent…but at the same time, as I wrote here, Turkey’s state security services might have been severely compromised. If so, their national airline makes for a ripe target indeed. I sincerely hope this is not the case because, regardless of what I think about Turkish politics right now, plane bombings is something we really need to see eradicated.

The problem is, aircraft security has been so badly handled what with so many senseless, arbitrary rules applied inconsistently across airports and jurisdictions and the ubiquitous security theatre seemingly designed to make passengers docile and compliant rather than safe, trust in the authorities is pretty low these days.

Jamil al-Qsous, a former Jordanian aviation security official, told the Associated Press news agency that the ban meant “one less headache” for security agencies.

And for the passengers? Who cares about them? Presumably they will be invited to fly with a different airline, an American one, onto which they can bring their electronic devices. Yeah, it’s all about security.

What are the police for?

Back when I lived in Nigeria it was fun on slow afternoons to browse the news reports online. A lot of them were unintentionally amusing (see here, for example), but some gave an idea as to the regularity with which vigilante mob-justice is seen in the country. It was not uncommon for a newspaper report into some alleged crime to end with words to the effect of:

A mob formed, and the miscreant was beaten to a pulp.

Lest you think I am exaggerating, consider this report:

A police corporal, Olufemi Ajayi, was yesterday set ablaze in Ayete, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, by an irate mob, after he allegedly shot and killed a commercial driver at a checkpoint.

Ajayi, who is attached to Igboora Police Station, allegedly shot the victim, Mr. Emiola Kolade, after a minor argument.

Kolade died in a hospital in Igboora.

An eyewitness, Alhaji Salau Adele, said: “It all started at one of the many illegal checkpoints on Idere-Ayete road, when the corporal flagged down the driver and demanded a bribe. The driver gave him N100, but the policeman said the money was too small and refused to accept it.

“This led to an argument between the two. We heard a gunshot later and the driver was found injured on the ground. The policeman tried to escape, but he was caught.”

It was learnt that the policeman was beaten and set ablaze by the mob.

Let me take a step back from Nigeria for a minute. Back in early November I wrote a post on the matter of Swedish policemen resigning by the lorryload in which I wondered to whom Hillary Clinton would turn to enforce the law in American cities should she be elected (now a redundant question, thankfully). In the comments underneath “Duffy” made the following remark, which hitherto had never occurred to me:

Here’s what many people often seem to forget. Police are there to protect us from criminals. But they are also there to protect the criminals from mob justice.

When I thought about this comment later on, I realised that in the absence of a justice system that is seen to be working, the mob steps in. Then last week I came across this article:

We have often suggested that, if we wish to know what is coming politically, socially, and economically in jurisdictions such as the EU and US, we might have a look at countries like Argentina and Venezuela, as they are in a similar state of near-collapse (for the very same reasons as the EU and US) but are a bit further along in the historical pattern.

Such a bellwether was seen in Argentina recently. Although the event in question is a very minor one, it is an illustration of the social tipping point—the manner in which a government loses control over its people.

Briefly, the events were as follows: Two men on a motorbike cruised a posh neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, seeking opportunities for purse-snatching. The pillion rider dismounted and snatched a purse from a woman. Bystanders saw the act, ran down the thief before he could re-mount the motorbike, and knocked him to the ground. Other onlookers (very possibly fed up with street crime caused by economic hardships) joined in. In a fury, they beat the thief senseless.

A policewoman managed to calm the group and handcuff the thief. Twenty minutes later, police assistance and an ambulance arrived.

Furious neighbours complained bitterly that the police had protected the thief but are generally doing little to protect law-abiding citizens.

It’s not quite Nigeria, but it’s heading in that direction. The entire article is worth reading, particularly its description of the 6-point process which leads to such incidents occurring.

Around the same time we had this comment thread at Mr Worstall’s in relation to the UK:

The State’s “legal protection” benefits the middle classes and prosperous working classes far more than the wealthiest.

In the absence of a State the wealthiest could easily afford to hire whatever protection they needed – they did, after all, do this for centuries and even millennia before “States” started to appear with their “legal protection”.

And:

Police forces are relatively modern. Under Good Queen Bess, for example, if you were wealthy your only chance of getting around London without being set upon by pickpockets and cutpurses was to surround yourself with an armed retinue. State protection came in maybe under Robert Peel but it’s not the wealthy who benefit most from it. The very rich still have bodyguards. The police drink tea in their huge office buildings.

And:

The rich would sort out their own guards if the State left the scene. It’s the low income communities which most benefit from the Rule of Law. Bring in effectively policing to a pit village in Durham and kick out disruptive children from schools and those who want to get on in life have a chance. Take the State away and a local strongman and his gang will take over.

And:

In my experience of a few years living in a village with lots of City fat-cats, they get better policing because they hire private security instead of relying on the public sector police who exist primarily to protect criminals from their victims.

My point in all of this, in case you were wondering, is that for policing to work a critical mass of ordinary, law-abiding people across both the middle classes and working classes must see them as being on their side against the criminals. Not necessarily on their side per se, just on their side against the criminals. It doesn’t really matter what the rich think, they can hire their own security and/or lobby government to have the police look after their interests as first priority. It is the masses that need to be kept on side.

Clearly this has failed in Nigeria. It has failed in Argentina, and the results in either case weren’t pretty. When London descended into rioting in 2011, the police stood by idly as property got trashed and businesses destroyed. When I saw this happening I wondered who the police were actually serving, because it sure as hell wasn’t the ordinary citizen. The comments at Tim Worstall’s, although perhaps not representative of Britain as a whole, suggests there is some disagreement as to whom the police actually serve. If this attitude is reflected in the broader population there could be trouble brewing.

It’s worth keeping this in mind when looking at the United States, too. Over the past few years there has been an increase in rioting: firstly that connected with the shooting of black folk by policemen, later the election of Donald Trump, and more recently people with unpopular opinions speaking at universities. More and more often the police are standing by idly as property gets destroyed and people’s lives put at risk.

If the police in Britain and the USA want to remain relevant, they had better make up their minds whose side they are on and inform the law-abiding masses of their decision, preferably via demonstration rather than empty speeches. The criminals might want to urge them to get on with it, because the mob is probably closer than they think.

More from the Recycling Commissar

Remember Mark Hall of Businesswaste.co.uk, who was after Nikolai Yezhov’s old job? He’s spamming me again. Let’s take a look.

Calls to government to force Amazon and retailers to take back your packaging

Last week it was re-education camps and indoctrination of schoolkids. This week it’s deploying government force against private companies. Next week he’ll be extolling the virtues of barbed wire and watchtowers.

Popular mail order companies like Amazon and Asos should take back their packaging for recycling and ethical disposal in a money-saving move that could result in thousands of tonnes of waste being recycled.

If it was money-saving they’d already be doing it, wouldn’t they?

In the same way that grocery delivery services such as Ocado take back their own (and any other supermarkets’) plastic bags, couriers should ask if there is any mail order cardboard or plastic packing that needs to go back to the depot, a national waste and recycling company says.

According to BusinessWaste.co.uk, this is likely to boost recycling rates all over the country, and encourage householders and companies to think greener. And it would be great for Amazon’s sometimes-battered reputation, too.

Among whom is Amazon’s reputation battered? Not the customers: they seem to love it. And if not them, who cares what everyone else thinks?

“If Ocado can take back bags, then Amazon should take back boxes and Asos take back packaging,” Business Waste spokesperson Mark Hall says.

Presumably Dulux should take back empty paint tins, Castrol empty oil drums, and McDonald’s empty burger cartons.

“It might even encourage ethical consumers to shop with them, and that would be good for business.”

However has Amazon managed so far without the sagely business advice from people running garbage bins out of North Yorkshire? My guess is in their ignorance they have decided against costly side-operations irrelevant to their core business and concentrated instead on keeping their overheads as low as possible.

Latest government figures show that Britain throws away 4.7 million tonnes of paper and cardboard packaging every year, and only 3.4 million of this is recycled. While this is above EU target rates, a missing 1.3 million tonnes is still lost to the system, Business Waste says.

So cardboard can be recycled an infinite number of times, can it? From what I can tell most cardboard packaging is already recycled from higher-grade paper, and I very much doubt this recycled packaging can be further recycled too many times. In other words, there will always be wastage. Perhaps 1.3m tonnes is too high, but only an idiot would think this is “lost” to the system.

The same figures show that only a third of the 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging discarded every year is recycled. Again, this is above generous European targets, but still far short of what can be achieved.

At what cost? Apparently it doesn’t matter.

“It’s hard to imagine 1.3 million tonnes of anything,” Hall says,

I think this says more about Mr Hall’s brain capacity than it does Britain’s recycling efforts.

“But that amount of paper and cardboard would probably reach most of the way to the moon, if not further.”

The moon is about 385,000 kilometres away. The density of cardboard is about 0.7 tonnes per metre cubed. 1.3m tonnes of cardboard therefore has a volume of about 1.9m cubic metres. If this were to stretch to the moon it would need to be stacked in a square of 0.005 metres square, which is 7cm on each side. This doesn’t seem like the best analogy.

Here’s what BusinessWaste.co.uk suggests:

All couriers should ask if there’s “Anything to go back?” when making a delivery. Customers can hand over any mail order packaging, from any source.

Right, so couriers are expected to collect materials of unknown size, type, and quantity when making deliveries. What could possibly be wrong with this idea?

Customers expecting a delivery can leave old card and plastic packaging out to be collected

Leave out? Where? In the road?

Recycled card and plastic is sorted straight from the returning courier’s van into appropriate bins at the depot

Sorted by whom? The van driver? I bet he’s chuffed with his new role. And it may come as a surprise to the geniuses at Businesswaste.co.uk but Amazon uses third party couriers such as Royal Mail and DHL. Are postmen now going to be lugging discarded packaging around behind them as they go about their business of delivering things? Is DHL going to be driving about with a van full of somebody else’s packaging?

Bins are emptied or collected by a commercial waste and recycling company

Such as yourselves, of course.

These bins, while strictly commercial waste, should be exempted from landfill tax bills as they have been collected from domestic sources with the intent to recycle.

Sorry? I assumed this material would be exempt from landfill tax because it is going to be recycled, not dumped in landfill. Did you read this press release before spamming me with it?

This scheme should apply to online retailers such as Amazon, as well as mail order clothing outlets such as Asos which use courier services

And hence your own company can tap into Amazon’s revenue streams. Very clever.

“We see a large and enthusiastic take-up for such a system,” says Business Waste’s Mark Hall,

If there is a large and enthusiastic uptake then the problem is already solved, isn’t it?

“and it should push all mail order companies into considering more environmentally friendly packaging in the future.”

Which they did years ago anyway, without the input from from people running garbage bins out of North Yorkshire. Almost all Amazon’s packaging is made from recycled materials these days.

BusinessWaste.co.uk applauds the efforts of online mail order giants Amazon for their efforts in reducing excess packaging, but they are still occasionally guilty of sending tiny items in huge boxes padded out with rolls of brown paper.

Yes, because the packaging is done robotically using standard box sizes.

“We’d say they’re getting it right nine times out of ten,” says Hall, “But we’re still occasionally getting printer ink cartridges in boxes the size of a small car.”

If only Amazon hired glorified binmen from North Yorkshire to advise them on how best to run a logistics operation.

With the onus on the vendors to accept returned packaging, it would encourage them use much less of it, BusinessWaste.co.uk says.

Why would vendors be using more packaging than necessary? Don’t you think they’ve already thought of this and reached an optimum solution without the input of rent-seeking binmen?

“The transport network is already in place, through the courier companies” says Hall.

I’m sure they’re delighted to know that you’ve commandeered their fleets for your own hare-brained ideas.

“It just takes a brave step in the right direction to make this work.”

Getting the government to force through changes that result in staggeringly inefficient logistics, inconvenience, and higher prices for customers in order to increase the revenues of Mr Hall’s company. Why yes, how very brave.

Soviet-Style Recycling

For some reason I’ve been sent an unsolicited email by an outfit calling themselves BusinessWaste.co.uk. I can only assume they think the contents make them look good. Do they? Let’s take a look.

Whole lorries full of domestic waste are being sent to landfill instead of going for recycling because people are just not separating their rubbish.

This is particularly case where a round has a large proportion of communal bins where the actions of just a few recycling refuseniks can spoil an entire housing estate’s recycling efforts, a national waste and recycling company says.

So there is a recycling system in place that can be rendered useless if only a few members of the public don’t comply with the requirements. Whoever devised such a system should be fired immediately and never employed again in any position other than perhaps to collect rocks from ploughed fields. Anybody – and I mean anybody – who has worked with the general public knows that no matter how hard you try to implement anything, there will be a substantial minority who through stupidity, malice, or both will simply not cooperate.

According to BusinessWaste.co.uk, the only solution could be lessons in domestic recycling funded in partnership between local authorities and the major waste companies in order to get the message across.

So the system doesn’t work because human beings don’t behave as the system expects them to. The “only solution” is re-education camps. Sorry, didn’t the Soviet Union end some time back?

“The truth of the matter is that only around 45% of domestic refuse goes to recycling these days,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall,

Is this good or bad? Anyone saying that 100% of domestic refuse should be recycled is engaged in religious worship not reasonable inquiry. We probably should recycle something, but we definitely shouldn’t recycle everything: for each material (or group of materials) we need to work out whether recycling it uses more resources (in terms of energy and cost) than simply burying or incinerating it. Perhaps 45% is too low but this is something that needs to be proved, not merely asserted.

“and one of the major reasons that we’ve failed to get this figure higher is that people still don’t know how to recycle.

Then the system of multiple bins with different collection days at varying frequencies is too complicated or confusing. Whose fault is that?

“And worse than that – there’s people who just don’t care.”

Hence the need for re-education camps and, if necessary, liquidation.

BusinessWaste.co.uk is already well aware that there is resistance to recycling from certain sections of society who are convinced – quite wrongly – that climate change and challenges to natural resources are a “con”, and that there’s no need to change lifestyles.

Who says they’re wrong? Somebody with a deep financial interest in their being wrong? Uh-huh.

“It doesn’t help when we have politicians who say we can ignore the opinions of experts, because this is one thing where all the world’s experts agree,” says Hall.

In other words, experts – such as Mr Hall – should be the ones setting policy and nobody should be allowed to question them. Lovely.

But it’s areas where the message hasn’t got through that practical lessons in recycling can help.

Citizens must undergo a minimum hundred hours garbage sorting, unpaid. For their own good.

One recent example where there’s been such a call is in the Berkshire town of Reading, where some domestic waste collections are so contaminated with the wrong kind of refuse that there is no option but to send the entire load to the town’s already straining landfill sites.

Build more landfill then. Oh we can’t, because of EU regulations written to address issues specific to Denmark and The Netherlands. But wait! We can, because we’re leaving: get digging.

In one estate in the town, communal recycling bins are left overflowing with general waste, and there’s also a problem with vermin, the Get Reading news website reports.

In other words, local governments, egged on by rent-seekers like Mr Hall, have taken a garbage collection system that worked well and turned it into one that doesn’t, then added rats.

The situation has got so bad, some residents are calling for lessons from their council to show their neighbours how to use the bins.

That’s one idea. Another is to give the council lessons in effective waste management which takes into account the whims of the public. Then Mr Hall can be put to work cleaning the insides of the bins that have just been emptied under the new system, and when he’s finished doing that he can start on the garbage trucks.

It’s a call that BusinessWaste.co.uk supports, because it means that the end result could be an end to people’s time and effort being wasted, and an increase in local recycling rates.

And let me guess: BusinessWaste.co.uk just so happens to provide such lessons. For a fee, of course.

Who’s going to pay?

As Meatloaf sang, you took the words right out of my mouth.

“Of course, there’s the problem of funding,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall, “And that’s where partnerships between councils and the major waste service providers could work wonders.

The partnership being the taxpayer coughs up for the lessons and Mr Hall’s company delivers them. Cha-ching!

“It’s in everybody’s interest to get this off the ground,” he says.

Well, it’s certainly in your interest. I’m not sure about everybody’s.

And, of course, there are savings to be made by not sending whole lorries full of waste to landfill, BusinessWaste.co.uk points out, saying that burying rubbish in the ground is an expensive business, and half-hearted council campaigns tend to fail miserably.

Landfills are expensive? Then why does the EU need to impose regulations and fines to discourage their use? Why does it need supra-national cajoling to get people recycling if the economic argument is already made?

As Reading resident Mark Williams told Get Reading, it’s the same on a local level where clean-up costs are more expensive that teaching people to get it right in the first place: “It will cost them more when they have to get it cleared up. The rats will come back so it’s an ongoing problem,” he told his local news service.

I know what’s happened here. Local governments have been told to recycle instead of dumping everything into landfills, and that requires sorting the rubbish. It is a near-certainty that the most cost-effective and efficient way of doing this would be to take everything to a giant, industrial-sized sorting facility and do it all there. But that would require capital investment as well as operational costs, and councils have blown their budgets on Diversity Outreach Coordinators and supporting fashionable lefty causes. So they’ve simply decided to instruct the citizenry to sort their rubbish at home in their own time and at their own cost, ignoring the obvious concerns that 1) perhaps millions of people individually rinsing out jam jars under the hot water tap probably isn’t energy-efficient and 2) some people are just not going to bother. Usually people declare that the sorting of rubbish takes no effort at all, but alas this idea is rather disproved by the fact that there seem to be people who can’t be arsed to do it. Sure, they may be being lazy but that also proves the sorting requires effort. Perhaps somebody ought to have considered this effort before switching the entire nation’s rubbish collection system to one which relies heavily on not a single person being bone-idle. This is Britain, not Japan.

From leaflet campaigns to door-knocking and practical demonstrations, a multi-pronged approach could really bring forth results, BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall explains.

This idiot really thinks the problem is people not being lectured enough by the government on environmental issues.

“And where the adults won’t listen, we can take the message into schools,” he says.

Start the brainwashing early, comrades! Let’s create a whole new generation of Pavlik Morozovs!

“Children and young people have traditionally been the standard bearers when it comes to changing adult habits on recycling.

So the people most receptive to your ideas are those whose education is incomplete and whose brains are not yet fully developed. What’s that telling you?

“After all, they’re the generation that’s going to have to clear up this mess we’re in.”

Aye. They’ll be the ones paying the price for your dingbat policies, too.

With millions of British people getting their recycling spot-on week-in, week-out. It’s a shame that there are a few who simply don’t get it right and wreck everybody’s efforts.

Wreckers! You couldn’t make it up.

Also, if I’d designed a system with a crucial, fundamental, and glaring obvious design flaw I’d probably be expected to say something a bit more substantial than “it’s a shame”, as if kitty just died of old age.

“It’s these people we have to reach,” says Hall, “The message is everything.”

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

This is a problem entirely of the government’s own making, a government that has been advised by rent-seeking idiots like Mr Hall whose religious-like devotion to recycling is surpassed only by his enthusiasm for treating citizens as if he was living in the Soviet Union, it was 1935, and Stalin had just appointed him head of the NKVD.

A Working Class Liaison Officer

I came across this via Obo the Clown on Twitter and thought it was good, especially given it concerned idiotic policies at the University of Manchester. I particularly liked this bit:

But words can maim, as proven by the recent disturbing video showing a female SJW reacting to the words ‘Hugh Mongous’ as if she’s been kicked in the tits. But while we outright condone micro-aggressions aimed at working-class students based on their race or gender, it’s perfectly legitimate and not micro-aggressive at all to smear them as knuckle-dragging racists one Sun headline away from setting fire to a mosque.

Luckily, the job criteria was simple: the successful applicant need merely ‘identify’ as working-class, leaving the door open for Princess Eugenie to apply just as long as she woke that day and decided she was a brickie called Keith. Because actual experience is no substitute for imagined empathy and it’d be a sad day if the student union discriminated against a plethora of capable candidates just because they’d never eaten a kebab, appeared on Jeremy Kyle or drowned one of their illegitimate children in a bath-tub.

The author, who goes by the name of Ben Pensant, has a blog here.

The Parallel Continues

Over the course of the past twelve months something rather interesting happened on social media. Certain people, mainly those who are middle class and wealthy, have gone from:

“The Republicans represent the 1% and Big Business, whereas the Democrats represent the poor people and ordinary workers. The Republicans couldn’t care less about the poor and would happily leave them to die, that’s why they oppose things like Obamacare and other Democrat policies which help ordinary people.”

To:

“The Republicans have preyed on the fears of the poor and ignorant and told them lies which have got Trump elected. It is all about education, all those with a college degree voted for Hillary because they understood the issues, but the Trump supporters are mainly uneducated and don’t understand the complexity of the world we live in. He took advantage of their fears over jobs and made the economic situation look much worse than it was so he could get elected.”

This switch happened almost overnight. One minute the Democrats are the champions of the poor and working classes and the Republicans are wearing top hats and lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills. The next minute the Democrats are the party of the college-educated elites who should be left to run things and the Republicans are only propped up by the ignorant masses and the fearful poor.

This is doubly interesting because if you swap Republican for Conservative, Democrat for Labour, and the US election for Brexit you get exactly the same switch. The refrain before Brexit was that the Conservatives were toffs who hob-nobbed around in London with their wealthy pals and Labour was the party of the poor and downtrodden workers. Then Brexit happened and the poor and the workers instantly became hordes of ignorant racists and the wealthy elites suddenly became wise, educated experts to whom everyone should listen. It was quite a change.

There is a reason for this, of course. Both the Democrats and Labour have long since abandoned the working classes and become parties for the over-educated urban elites, throwing the occasional sop to the poor to help maintain the pretence that they give a shit. The Republicans and Tories don’t give much of a shit either but the nature of their daily lives brings them into contact with ordinary people much more often and so they at least know they exist and have a vague idea that ignoring them or insulting them isn’t going to win them any votes. I’ve said this before, and if I didn’t then I should have, but the problem the Democrats and Labour have is not that they don’t know the opinions of ordinary people but they don’t seem to know such people even exist.

I wrote before the US election about the parallel’s between Trump and Brexit. I also wrote following the election that the Democrats, unable to comprehend their devastating loss, were in danger of lurching further to the left and into the political wilderness as Britain’s Labour did when they allowed a grassroots campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Via Bayou Renaissance Man I found this article which suggests I might be correct on this point and the parallels between the US and UK still hold:

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) turned out en masse at ordinarily sleepy party caucuses earlier this month, electing a slate of delegates who could be poised to take over the largest Democratic Party organization outside of Washington, D.C.

As final vote totals trickled in, Sanders backers claimed to have elected more than 650 delegates out of 1,120 available seats chosen at this month’s caucuses. Those delegates will choose the next state Democratic Party chairman, along with other party officials.

Sanders supporters say they hope to change the very nature of the Democratic Party.

California is not the only state in which Sanders backers are trying to take over Democratic parties. The group is also organizing in Florida, Iowa, Colorado and Michigan, Jackson said.

“Hopefully, within a year or two, we’ll have a majority of the states covered,” Jackson said.

The only thing that remains to be seen is how many other countries will witness the same course of events in the coming months and years.

British Policing

There’s a good discussion going on over at Tim Worstall’s about this incident, where two blitheringly incompetent policemen tasered a Rastafarian who was being a dick, only he turned out to have been a police race relations adviser. The video of the tasering can be seen in the second link and it says so much about the state of the British police it’s hard to know where to begin.

So let’s take a step back. Growing up in Britain you are sort of taught that policemen are nice people who are there to help. Terms like “citizens in uniform” and “friendly neighbourhood policeman” are bandied about, and this mindset appears in the British culture in shows like Dixon of Dock Green and the Noddy series of books where Noddy invites the policeman into his house for a cup of tea. As far as I can tell, British citizens still view the police as people to be trusted, approached for help, and to cooperate with at all times. For how long this continues is open to question.

I recently referenced Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, by Keith Lowe in another post and I shall do so again. One of the points made in the book was that Britain was fortunate enough never to be occupied during WWII and as such people are not wary of authorities in uniform. This contrasts sharply with places that were occupied, such as France for example. Here people think the gendarmes and other police forces are there to catch criminals and keep the piece, but are to be avoided wherever possible. They are not your friend, you don’t ask them the time or for directions, and nor do you invite them into your home for a cup of tea. You hope to go through life with a minimum of contact with them, and any other uniformed authority. The same view of the police and other security forces very much applies in Russia and I daresay in other European countries too.

My own dealings with the British police have been thankfully brief, but I was left distinctly underwhelmed by their competence. Others have not been so lucky – see the anecdotes of monoi and DocBud in Tim’s comments, and I have heard many, many other similar stories of police incompetence and/or dishonesty. Now I’m sure the police often do a good job and there are plenty of good policemen, and I am also under no illusions that their task is thankless and they have suffered far too much political interference. But, as somebody put it on another blog recently, the British police are increasingly acting like a blend of Robocop and the worst type of jobsworth you encounter in the public sector.

The policemen involved in the tasering incident I mentioned at the start of the post were a man and woman, with the woman being a sergeant and therefore the senior officer. Their control of the situation is pathetic, woefully so. Yes, the Rastafarian was being a dick but he is perfectly within his rights to do so: people in Britain are still allowed to go about their lawful business without Plod demanding to see identification. It is clear from the video that the police have no “presence”: they may as well be a couple of kids. The WPC appears to know everything about demanding respect and nothing about commanding it because faced with somebody who isn’t cooperating with a request to identify himself (but is otherwise harmless) she whips out her taser as a first resort. And once it’s out, you know she’s going to fire it, which she does, into his face. They have no authority over the situation at all, and as JuliaM of this blog points out wonderfully in Tim’s comments:

Authority is precisely what they lack. Instead, they have weapons.

This is what “diversity” policies have wrought (although they’re not solely to blame): a police force which cannot command respect, has no authority, panics at the slightest sign of legal non-cooperation, are unable to control the most benign of situations, and fires their weapons at the first chance they get. I am amazed this WPC is even a police officer so incompetent and unprofessional she is, let alone a sergeant. I’ve long since thought the British police is broken beyond repair, and it’s only a matter of time – perhaps one more generation – before they will be treated by the population in the same manner as European populations treat theirs. They will only have themselves to blame.

Bradley/Chelsea Manning’s West Wales Roots

I see that Bradley/Chelsea Manning is back in the news as Barack Obama has decided that giving Wikileaks classified information on the US military in Afghanistan is less severe than passing on information embarrassing to the DNC, and pardoned him/her.

I always paid attention to the news articles regarding Manning for no other reason than part of his biography reads as follows:

Born Bradley Edward Manning in 1987 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, she was the second child of Susan Fox, originally from Wales, and Brian Manning, an American. Brian had joined the United States Navy in 1974 at the age of 19, and served for five years as an intelligence analyst. Brian met Susan in a local Woolworths store while stationed in Wales at RAF Brawdy.

In November 2001, Manning and her mother left the United States and moved to Haverfordwest, Wales, where her mother had family. Manning attended the town’s Tasker Milward secondary school.

I was born in Haverfordwest and grew up in nearby Pembroke, and Tasker Milward was one of the big rivals of my local comprehensive school’s rugby team, alongside Milford Haven School. I knew the local Woolworths store that is mentioned, I used to get taken there as a kid where I’d look at the hoppers of sweets which were about as available to me as gold bullion. I have often wondered how much of the way Manning turned out is a result of growing up partly in Haverfordwest: they are all a bit odd down that way. Give it a year or two and we might hear that everything stems from his not being able to understand a damned word anyone was saying and the discovery that everyone was related.

On another issue entirely, the following Wikipedia paragraph is a good demonstration of how political correctness and the obsession with flexible pronouns is turning otherwise sensible English into gibberish:

Manning became the target of bullying at the school because she was the only American and was viewed as effeminate.

She was bullied because she was effeminate. This makes Tasker Milward school sound like a place where feminine girls were some sort of rarity. Actually, now you mention it…

Britain’s “Restaurant” Culture

Every now and again the comments section at Tim Worstall’s blog gets taken over by a discussion of British restaurants and how they compare to their European counterparts.  I think it was Bloke in Spain (again) who said a major difference is that people in Britain go to a restaurant for a special occasion, hence when the food or service turns out to be crap nobody wants to make a fuss because it would “spoil the occasion”.  By contrast, people in France go to restaurants because they are hungry and want to eat, and if the food or service is awful then the very purpose of going there has been defeated, and therefore they will complain.  This goes part of the way to explain the difference in dining experience between the two countries.

This article in The Telegraph, via Mr Worstall, would appear to support this theory:

Britain’s booming restaurant culture is fuelling record levels of childhood obesity, with today’s children spending at least twice as much time spent eating out as previous generations did, experts have warned.

French provincial restaurants are full of kids, and yet they are not all a bunch of porkers.  In fact, trying to find a fat French kid requires considerable effort.

Health officials said families no longer behaved as though dining out was a “treat” and have instead allowed restaurant meals and fast food to become a major part of youngsters’ weekly diet.

Dining out in Britain is often an endurance rather than a treat.

Today’s families are spending at least twice as much time eating out as those who grew up in the 1970s, its report warns.

People eating in restaurants generates a warning?  In most places this is considered a good thing.

She said parents needed help – including calorie labelling on menus – to look after their children’s health.

At which point my French readers wonder why British parents are so thick.

“Every day we are bombarded by cheap, high calorie food and drinks; what we see in the media, in our shops and on the street encourages us to consume too much and gain weight,” she said.

If this has anything to do with eating in restaurants, they’re keeping it secret.

We need action from across society to help the nation to consume less,” the senior official said.

I wish these idiots in charge would make up their mind as to whether girls are anorexic because of unrealistically skinny bodies displayed in adverts, or everyone is too fat because the media is promoting junk food.  And last time I heard, telling women they are too fat and ought to eat less was considered a no-no and big was beautiful.  Some consistency would be nice.

Research involving almost 2,000 people found 75 per cent had eaten out or had a takeaway in the last week, a rise from 68 per cent five years ago.

Only in Britain is eating at a restaurant considered the same as having a takeaway.

Last year, Harvard researchers discovered that people who eat out regularly are more likely to be overweight and to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to those who eat at home.

“We now buy a very large proportion of our food from the out of home sector. It is not a treat, it is an everyday event,” Dr Tedstone said.

Note there is no consideration of the quality of restaurant here.  A family eating at a four star brasserie is lumped in with somebody handing their kids a bucket of KFC.

“Children on average have three meals from the ‘out of home sector’ [restaurants, takeaways and fast-food outlets] every week,” she added. “That’s a lot of calories.”

This is wonderful commentary on how the British view eating out, it really is.  But as an article warning of the dangers posed by frequent restaurant attendance, it’s not so good..

One in five families now has at least two takeaways a week, the official added.

The headline of this article is “Britain’s booming restaurant culture fuels record childhood obesity levels”.  Well, I guess McDonald’s refer to their premises as restaurants…

Dr Tedstone said making improvements to restaurants and fast food would be crucial to tackling Britain’s obesity epidemic.

You want to improve British restaurants?  Good luck.

The nutritionist welcomed efforts by some councils were trying to limit the number of fast food outlets near schools, but said restaurants needed to do far more to help customers make healthier choices.

By hiring a decent chef who can actually cook things?

The nutritionist welcomed efforts by some councils were trying to limit the number of fast food outlets near schools, but said restaurants needed to do far more to help customers make healthier choices.

“Restaurants, cafes and takeaways can contribute by reducing portion sizes, sugar, saturated fat and salt across their menus …” she said.

Are British restaurants really so bad they need external advice on what ingredients to use in their dishes?

Thank God I live in France.