PC Comics

A reader sends me this from a comic book convention in London:

It appears Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, or Beryl the Peril wouldn’t even get through the door of this particular comic convention. But it’s good to know the organisers take a robust stand against physical assault and battery, which lesser conventions presumably allow to occur unimpeded. I’m disappointed they appear reluctant to disavow murder and kidnapping, though. Then again, they reserve the right to take action in “any form they deem appropriate” so maybe they didn’t want to limit their options.

And thank heavens someone is on the lookout for bathroom policing in relation to citizenship: no longer will comic book fans have to swipe their passport just to access the clean toilets.  Readers who understand the difference between “inappropriate physical contact” and “unwelcome physical attention” or “gender identity” and “gender presentation” are welcome to leave explanations in the comments.


Lovers and Other Strangers

Via Tim Worstall, this article needs a fisking:

David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, told the Observer that identity politics had been hugely important in advancing the civil rights of many groups. But he warned of a danger that “individual interests” were narrowing people’s views and diminishing their connection to wider society.

Assigning special protections and privileges to certain minority groups at the expense of the wider population has weakened the social fabric? Who would have thought?

Speaking amid an intensifying row in Birmingham, where a group of predominantly Muslim parents have staged protests outside schools accused of promoting same-sex relationships, he suggested the commission would be prepared to use its legal powers to protect the teaching of LGBT issues in the face of opposition from faith groups.

You might just as easily say the commission could use its legal powers to protect the right to practice one’s religion and peacefully oppose government policy in the face of LGBT activists.

“We are a strategic regulator,” Isaac said. “We can’t support absolutely everybody, but we will take cases where we thinks it moves the law forward to protect human rights.”

Let’s be honest, your only problem here is that one protected class is facing off against another. If it were anything else, you’d be “moving the law forward” to hound the majority population into cowed acquiescence. Human rights really doesn’t have much to do with it.

Recently the commission has become more vigorous in using its legal powers against groups it believes threaten equality.

Equality being where certain, select groups are given special consideration under the law.

“We are about to make a decision whether to investigate antisemitism in the Labour party, and that’s a good example of where, without fear or favour, we are saying in relation to political parties, whether it is Islamophobia in the Tory party or whatever, that if we find unlawful acts we are prepared to use our powers to do something about it,” Isaac said.

If members of political parties hold opinions which contravene our self-serving and deliberately vague laws defining which views may be held, we will use our powers to prosecute them. To protect human rights.

On Friday, Birmingham city council took the decision to close Anderton Park primary school, where parents have been protesting for seven weeks, early for the half term. The MP for Birmingham Yardley, Jess Phillips, has attacked the decision, which she said was down to “bullies and bigots” and contrary to the Equality Act.

Isn’t the right to protest a fundamental human right? Or is there a clause which makes protesting certain viewpoints a crime? I’m confused.

“Everything that is happening at the Anderton school in Birmingham is probably making some headteachers nervous about their commitment to teaching about minority [same- sex] families,” Isaac said.

Headteachers are “probably” nervous? Time to abandon party politics and form a unified, national government until this existential threat is eliminated, don’t you think?

“Part of our job is to remind people that the law is the bottom line.”

And thanks to the vagueness with which it is written and the subjectivity with which it is enforced, the law is whatever we decide it is.

Anderton, a number of other Birmingham schools, and several outside the West Midlands have been targeted by religious groups who say they have concerns about teaching materials shared with pupils, which they claim promote LGBT equality and conflict with the teachings of their faith.

So you have conservative authoritarians arguing with progressive authoritarians over how children are best indoctrinated. Meanwhile, those who think kids should simply be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic at school are unrepentant bigots who must be purged from society.

“As a gay man who’s been very involved in the LGBT movement, I think identity politics have been hugely important historically, and it would be very easy to say identity politics has gone too far,” Isaac said.

Just in case anyone thought the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission ought to be neutral on this issue. Is his deputy an Imam?

But he acknowledged that such politics could be corrosive. “We are living in a world that is more divided, there’s more individualist thinking in relation to what is happening and less empathy, less hope.”

Thanks in large part to that industry you head which goes around slapping labels on people and threatening them with criminal prosecution for wrongthink.

The challenge, he suggested, was to ensure “we don’t end up in the siloed world where everybody is hypersensitive about their own individual interests and less empathetic about how other people are treated.”

Rarely does the head of an organisation come out and state their biggest challenge is the result of their own efforts.

He added: “The key issue is how do we move beyond the ‘I’ to the ‘we’, how do we think of ourselves as citizens in a country or in the world who are not just focused on what works for me and my narrow group. How do we ensure that we think about people who are different to us?”

Ooh, I don’t know. Maybe we could try a version of politics which emphasises what makes us the same – language, culture, shared history, values – rather than what makes everyone different and thus deserving of special treatment.

One solution, he suggested, would be for schools to include citizenship classes in their curriculum, to help them become “citizens of the 21st century”.

Yes, because the one thing missing from the lives of the parents protesting outside the schools is an appreciation of when Britain got its first female MP.

“Teaching kids about not just same-sex relationships but what it is to be a good citizen would be a really important start,” he said.

So Soviet kindergartens only with Lenin in drag.

Finding common ground where all parties accepted that they were subject to the law that protected minority rights would help remove the “binary” nature that engulfed much of the debate swirling around identity politics, Isaac suggested.

It’s those laws protecting minority rights that are the root cause of this problem, you clot.

“People do see it as a zero-sum game,

That’s because it is. Modern rights always come at the expense of someone else.

and my view is that it’s completely possible to teach the tenets of your faith in school, but at the same time say ‘that child over there has two mothers’.

I find it amusing when people who clearly don’t know the first thing about a religion start talking about how its adherents ought to think. Like with the Israel Folau case they think everyone holds the same wishy-washy pick ‘n choose views as your average pencil-necked modern CoE vicar.

We are asking them to respect somebody else’s lifestyle choice or desire to love someone of the same sex.”

The irony here is that in the theocracies of the Middle East, respecting Islam often means endorsing Islam, particularly during Ramadan. What we’re seeing here is less about respect than forced endorsement.

Isaac drew comparisons between the battle to promote equality and human rights and that now being waged to arrest the climate crisis.

In the sense that it’s a privileged, middle-class angst fest driven by a hatred of the plebs and the phenomenal achievements of developed, western societies, he’s quite right.

“Some things are in crisis, particularly in relation to what is happening to disabled people. We’ve made progress in other areas, LGBT being the obvious one, but when I look at gender and race I think we’ve made less progress.”

As the Communists were always just a million more corpses from utopia, progressives think we’re always another few thousand laws from the population thinking as they should. Note that in among all this hand-wringing there wasn’t a single mention of the majority population and what they might want: it’s all about the minorities. Little wonder society is fragmenting.


Maybe they should hide in the attic?

A few readers alerted me to this story, but I was going to blog about it anyway:

The German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner has urged Jews to avoid wearing skullcaps in public.

Wear the yellow star, don’t wear a yarmulke. I wish these Germans would make up their minds about how Jews should dress.

Felix Klein warned Jews against donning the kippa in parts of the country following a rise in anti-Semitism.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said the recommendation amounted to “an admittance that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil”.

A sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic offences was recorded by the German government last year.

So what’s driving this rise in antisemitism? Where did it come from?

Mr Klein suggested “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness” of society could be behind the spike in anti-Semitic crimes.

What inhibitions have been lifted in Germany over the past decade that might cause previously mild-mannered folk to go out Jew-bashing? Now the uncouth part I can well believe, but Mr Klein is being awfully coy about where that comes from. As is the BBC:

Jewish groups have warned that a rise in popularity of far-right groups is fostering anti-Semitism and hatred of other minorities throughout Europe.

Since 2017, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been the country’s main opposition party. AfD is openly against immigration but the party denies holding anti-Semitic views.

Oh, it’s the far-right, is it? According to the Jerusalem Post:

According to the interior ministry, right-wing extremists committed 90% of the 1,800 incidents in 2018. The real number of Islamic-animated antisemitic attacks in Germany is not well documented due to authorities characterizing Islamic antisemitism as right-wing antisemitism.

That’s handy: define all antisemitic attacks as being right wing and then blame right wingers for an increase in antisemitic attacks. Back in January 2017 I wrote about this story:

A regional court in Germany has decided that a brutal attempt to set fire to a local synagogue in 2014 was an act meant to express criticism against Israel’s conduct in its ongoing conflict with Hamas.

A German regional court in the city of Wuppertal affirmed a lower court decision last Friday stating that a violent attempt to burn the city’s Bergische Synagogue by three men in 2014 was a justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.

Those pesky right wingers, eh? Sorry, I must go. I’m in the kitchen now and I’ve just heard a noise from next door…



Some years ago I read a story in Private Eye – one of the long, earnest, features they put at the back – concerning a chap who worked in middle management at a major oil company. According to the article he’d spotted some wrongdoing (environmental IIRC), complained to his hierarchy, and been told to forget about it and keep his trap shut. He decided not to and kept making noise, then eventually blew the whistle to outsiders. The oil company tried to buy his silence, then fired him. He sued them, and they tried several times to settle with five-figure sums. But this guy’s aim was to get the oil company in court where they’d be found guilty, heavily fined, and forced to apologise to him, so he kept rejecting their offers. Eventually the oil company decided to come down on him hard and destroy his life with endless lawsuits and delays. Private Eye gave us a teary-eyed account of how the chap had been unemployed for years, had been forced to sell his house, and now his health was failing. Well, what the hell did he expect?

The legal system is not the route on which to launch a moral crusade, and the courts not the place to grandstand. If you’re thinking of launching legal action against your employer, your lawyer should ask you right at the start what you want: to stay in your job unmolested or to leave with a settlement. If your answer is neither and you want to go to trial and force the company to apologise, the lawyer should spend the next several hours talking you out of it. You’ve got to have a pragmatic resolution in mind, which usually means a settlement in which the company accepts no liability or wrongdoing. That’s just the way it goes, and any lawyer will tell you that trials are dicey as hell no matter how solid you think your case is and how right you are. That’s why everyone works overtime to avoid them in such cases. For everyone’s sake it’s better just to collect the cash and move on.

Some people insist on being martyrs, however. Last week I listened to the Joe Rogan podcast with a Canadian chap called Phil Demers. Demers is in something like the seventh or eighth year of grinding litigation with his ex-employer, a marine life park in Canada. Demers was unhappy with the treatment of the marine mammals in the park and sought to expose them, and that led to his being sued and his counter-suing them. Now morally Demers might be right, but he has refused settlement after settlement, determined his case goes to trial so his former employer be denounced in public. He said he is frustrated with his lawyer who doesn’t seem keen on it going to trial (why he’s paying for advice he won’t listen to I don’t know). He also said he’s not interested in money, will accept no figure to settle, and only wants custody of a walrus he used to work with and which he considers his child. I can’t see that going down too well in court. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that, regardless of his bond with the animal and its poor condition in the marine park, he has no legal claim on it. He says he is flat broke and is looking forward to when this whole thing finally goes to trial (there is no date in sight) and he can put the whole thing behind him and move on with his life. I suspect he’s going to be waiting an awful long time, and if and when the trial comes he’ll learn the harshest lesson of his life.

I listened to the podcast aghast, thinking someone needs to knock some sense into this chap. Rogan did query whether he really ought to be doing this to himself, but remained very supportive. I scoured the comments under the podcast looking for a dissenting opinion, but they are almost all along the lines of “Yeah, don’t back down, stick it to the man!” What they didn’t seem to appreciate is that it’s not so much David v Goliath than a man whacking his head against a brick wall in a long, painful suicide attempt. Company executives don’t lie awake at night worrying about some individual suing them, they simply cut a cheque and get a lawyer to take care of it. And if the absolute worst happens and they lose in court down the line, they cut another cheque and use the loss to lower their tax bill that year. For them it’s a simple business transaction, much the same as a paying customs charges. Their only interest is to minimise the bill, and right and wrong don’t come into it. If you’re going to bring legal action against a company without realising this it will never end well for you, even if you think you’ve won. You really do want to listen to that lawyer you’re paying so much for.


Never burst, buckled, or bent

The other day I received a PR email from a company based in Aberdeen which:

is aiming to significantly reduce the environmental impact caused by the oil and gas industry, by offering a new sustainable solution with the refurbishment and reuse of decommissioned subsea equipment and component parts.

This immediately struck me as a venture started by people who think sustainability is a product in itself.

Presently, the industry recycles as much of its subsea equipment as possible once it has no further need for them.

Meaning, they take it off the sea floor and sell it for scrap.

Instead of the traditional recycling process, Legasea takes the subsea production equipment from decommissioned fields and reuses as many parts as possible following a rigorous refurbishment process at its base

Here’s where I think the problem is. Despite the enormous cost of subsea equipment creating a massive industry, there’s not actually a lot of it made. Industry efforts to standardise subsea Xmas trees for example ran into the problem that at the height of the boom only about 150 were installed in a year. A couple of years ago it was in single figures. This is not the sort of mass-volume industry which lends itself to standardisation, and the potential savings not enough to persuade oil companies to abandon their own standards in favour of a common industry-wide design. In other words, these pieces of equipment are bespoke and have to be ultra-reliable, hence they’re very expensive. This isn’t the sort of kit which lends itself to using secondhand parts to reduce costs, and even if it were, how many units do these guys think they’ll be selling each year?

This leads to huge cost and lead time savings for clients and results in saving obsolete components, such as many types of subsea electrical connectors and hydraulic couplings making them available for reuse on producing fields.

The long lead times are due to oil companies demanding bespoke units. If they were willing to be flexible on that score they’d have agreed to a standard design and be buying brand new, off-the-shelf kit. But they haven’t, so they will still want bespoke designs and I suspect the long lead times are down to design and approvals rather than an availability of the parts this company is refurbishing. And what percentage savings will they make using refurbished parts instead of new? I can’t see many engineers in an oil company signing off on using refurbished parts for a piece of kit which will sit at the bottom of the sea for twenty years unless the cost savings really are substantial.

A common occurrence in many other industries, this repurposing of subsea parts helps to preserve vital resources for continued use and reduces the environmental impact of the oil and gas companies themselves.

Preserve vital resources? Such as? And it is debatable whether refurbishing these parts with all the material and manpower involved will use fewer resources than just producing them from new.

Co-founded by Lewis Sim (Managing Director) and Ray Milne (Operations Director), the Legasea team has been joined by team members Chris Howley (Service Technician), Graham Petrie (Projects Manager) and Chris Moffat (QHSE Manager).

So you’ve got your overheads sorted, then. How many units will they be refurbishing each month, do you think?

“We offer an alternative route for unwanted and recovered subsea production systems and will take liability and ownership for the equipment; making it safe, clean and disassembling it to its component parts. Reusable parts will then be used to fulfil the demand for urgent remanufacturing and spares when crucial production is at risk during routine preventative maintenance or when an unforeseen failure is encountered subsea.”

Okay, the business model might work if they’re providing urgently-required spare parts, but how many emergencies are they expecting each year? And I’d be interested to know just how much liability they’re willing to take on. One component failure and they could be on the hook for millions within an hour.

Hey, I wish them well and I’m just some bloke on a computer, but if I’m gonna get unsolicited PR emails I feel I’m entitled to look at them critically.


Holy Wars

A few weeks ago a mate asked me if I thought the climate change hysteria would begin to die down as skepticism increases and the alarmists’ predictions fail to materialise. The infantile reaction to Greta Thunberg’s nonsense aside, I think environmentalists are already forging ahead with Plan B:

Today, it has become clear that plastic is having a devastating effect not only on wildlife but on ourselves. It is now polluting every corner of our planet. I have seen first-hand, how it is choking our oceans and rivers.

It entangles animals with lethal effect. It causes perforated stomachs and starvation. Mammals, birds, fish and marine invertebrates – over 180 different species in all – have been identified accidentally eating it.

But the impact on humans is less well known. Now a report published jointly by the conservation organisation Fauna & Flora International and others highlights for the first time the effect of plastic waste on the health of the world’s poorest people.

It shows that 400,000 to one million people are dying every year as a result of mismanaged waste. If the upper end of this estimate is correct, then one person is dying every 30 seconds as a consequence of this dreadful pollution.

In the space of about three years plastic in the ocean has gone from something fringe campaigners banged on about to being ubiquitous in media, politics, and business. Barely a day goes by without somebody reminding us how much plastic is in the ocean and how terrible it is (although never actually admitting where it comes from).

As always, the proposed solutions are bans, restrictions, and higher prices imposed by central government following an increase in power, money, and privilege for politicians and environmental campaigners. Nobody considers more practical solutions (such as proper landfill whose CO2 emissions are captured), just as those claiming climate change is an imminent, existential threat refuse to endorse nuclear power. The plastic issue is cloaked in the language of morality whereby plastic is bad because it’s artificial but clearing the rainforest to grow plant-based alternatives is good. Whereas climate change was a political movement which became a quasi-religious one, the war on plastic is a spiritual campaign in which wealthy, middle-class mothers seek to capture politics in order to advance their cause. You’ll notice that of all the plastic items deemed unnecessary by our moral superiors, women’s cosmetic products never make the list. Nor do disposable nappies. If you were to get accurate data on how many men are really on board with environmentalism, organic produce, and bans on junk food compared with those who just wearily go along with whatever their partner deems important, I’d guess the latter outnumber the former ten to one.

So while I don’t think the climate change hysteria will die down, I reckon it my lose prominence to moral crusades such as the war on plastic. Climate change was always political, a route to power for authoritarians who found socialism no longer an option due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as western societies scrabbled around for something to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Christianity, it took on a religious bent. Now that seed has been planted we’re seeing cults forming for whom politics is the means to their spiritual ends. They’re already calling for the customary dietary restrictions. I expect what we’ll see is new cults springing up – indeed, identity politics probably already qualifies, perhaps third-wave feminism too – and fight among one another for state recognition, support, and resources. Meanwhile normal people will think they’re in the middle of a Third Great Awakening, dominated by box-wine suburban housewives, corporate power skirts with a repeat prescription for Prozac, children in Ralph Lauren jumpers with double-barreled surnames, and twenty-eight year olds who still live with their parents because they don’t like the idea of being on a cleaning roster.

It’s going to be fun, isn’t it?


Sex Flags of a Nexus

I think most people nowadays are familiar with the gay pride rainbow flag, but until a few days ago I was blissfully unaware the entire LGBT[a][b][c]…[z] list each has a flag of its own. I discovered this because a reader emailed me these photos taken at the Whitney Art Museum in New York:

There was a time when folk had to learn the meanings of a set of flags in order to signal to one another. How long before we’re expected to learn a different set in order to signal our virtue?


Social Womengineering

In the comments under my last post, David Thompson remarks:

But apparently, it’s more important to have women “in every role,” at “fifty percent,” because people mustn’t “see policing as primarily a male-dominated job.”

When it comes to gender equality we are rapidly abandoning equality of opportunity in favour of equality of outcomes, the latter of which can only result in a deeply unhappy and dysfunctional society. Here’s another example:

By 2028, Qantas hopes 40 percent of its pilot intakes are female – a move that comes after Virgin Australia exceeded its goal of having at least 50 percent of its pilot cadet intakes female in 2018.

And another (H/T Ken):

Goldman Sachs wants half of the next intake of its junior recruitment programme to be women, and will hold its managers responsible for promoting more minorities to managing director as part of a new diversity push.

If men aren’t taking note of this direction of travel and preparing to do something about it, things aren’t going to turn out well for them – nor anyone else.


The Desert Sun Podcast #013

Once again I am joined by Mike in Switzerland, with the recording this time taking place in his mountaintop fortress. In this episode we talk about corporate HR and the blurring of the line between work and private life.

You can listen to it on iTunes here, Player FM here, download it here, or listen on the blog by clicking the link below:

If you liked this podcast, please consider supporting me on my Patreon page.


More Sado than Macho

According to Met Chief and Slaughterer of Innocent Brazilians Cressida Dick:

The macho image of male police officers dealing with terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower disaster could be putting off women from joining the Met, Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick said today.

She said the terror attacks in London in 2017, when mainly male firearms officers were deployed on the streets, and the Grenfell fire in the same year had led to a mistaken view of policing as a “very physical service”.

Ah yes, who can forget the macho image portrayed by Craig Mackey:

The acting Metropolitan Police commissioner locked himself in his car as he watched terrorist Khalid Masood kill one of his colleagues in Westminster because he had “no protective equipment and no radio,” he has told an inquest.

Sir Craig Mackey, now deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard, said that despite witnessing Masood “purposefully” lunge at everyone in his path with a butcher’s knife, he realised that had he got out of his vehicle, he would have been a target.

Instead, he remained in his black saloon car, within the Palace of Westminster, and witnessed Masood, 52, fatally stab PC Keith Palmer.

I expect more women are put off joining by the abject cowardice in the Met’s leadership than images of tough-looking blokes out on patrol.

Ms Dick told the Standard: “People have got it into their heads that you have to be supremely fit or strong when actually the vast majority of our officers, most of the time, are not using huge amounts of physical strength to get the job done. They are using their communication skills, their problem-solving skills and their analytical skills.”

Indeed, what use is physical force on the streets of London:

Violent suspects could be released by police if officers do not get “backed up” by members of the public, a federation leader has warned.

Ken Marsh spoke out after a video of officers being attacked was shared widely on social media.

The video, taken in Merton, south London, on Saturday, shows a man aim a flying kick at a female officer, who is left clutching her head just yards away from a passing bus.

Another male officer is dragged across the road as he tries to stop a second suspect from running away.

The male officer suffered cuts and the female officer was left with head injuries.

Every few months a video circulates on the internet showing a feral thug getting the better of a policeman in a physical confrontation, but apparently the problem is they’re a bit too macho.

The Met commissioner said more had to be done to challenge the “stereotypes and myths” of policing as a macho culture.

Oh, don’t worry, that myth is dead and buried. The current perception of the Met police is they’re a mix of vanity-ridden wannabes who bully people from behind a computer screen and the paramilitary arm of the social studies department of a third-rate former polytechnic. And none realise this more than the knife-wielding criminals who operate in the capital with impunity.