Theresa the terrormonger

Theresa May, the British Home Secretary is proposing some new anti terrorism laws.

Apparently we face the greatest threat ever and we will all be murdered in our beds if she does not get her way.

I can see that if you want to be the next Prime Minister then you do not want any 'incidents' on your watch. What are a few civil liberties when your career is at stake. 

Somehow I doubt if it will do her any good. The Conservative Party has been trying to get away from its 'the nasty party' image and I doubt if enough of them will see anointing 'Mrs Nasty' as the next supreme leader as the way forward.

Protecting the prissy

The BBC web site reports that

"Controversial US "pick-up artist" Julien Blanc has been barred from entering the UK by the Home Office. The self-styled "dating guru" holds seminars claiming to teach men how to attract women but his methods have been widely criticised as sexually abusive.

A petition to deny him a visa attracted more than 120,000 signatures ahead of his UK tour, due to start in February."

This is a bad decision and the Home Secretary should be ashamed. I know she wants to be the next Conservative Party leader [and perhaps Prime Minister] but this is a new low.

When did it become the government's duty to protect the prissy?

See my earlier post on an example of protecting people from offence.


The British War Office used to notify next of kin of a servicemen's death by sending them a telegram.  A uniformed lad on a bike [later a red motor bike] would knock on a door and hand the telegram to a father, mother or wife.

As casualties increased  people began to understand the system and dread the appearance of a telegram delivery boy and a knock on their door.

The Streets They Left Behind web site has produced  a map of the homes of the 9,400 men  who died in World War I who came from the London boroughs of Highbury and Finsbury.  Each red poppy would have meant a knock on the door and a telegram.

The green poppies shows those  casualties who are buried in Islington Cemetery. I suppose those are men who were badly wounded in the war and died back in London.

This page has a link to the above map and also one showing casualties from Toronto.  'By the war’s end in 1918, some neighbourhoods were devastated. Shannon Street, a block running just south of College between Ossington and Dovercourt, lost ten men in the First World War. The Baron family, at 113 Langford Ave. north of Pape and Danforth, lost three sons – 28, 30 and 31 years old. Robert died at Ypres in 1916; Lawson was killed by a shell during a trench raid at Vimy Ridge in 1917; Thomas, gassed in 1915, lingered on to die in Toronto a few weeks before the end of the war.'

There is also an interactive calendar for Toronto's WW1 deaths.

Cameron makes UK an ISIS target

Interesting to see the disinformation campaign that lead up to the House of Commons vote to bomb.

First the terrormongering

Then the failure to learn from experience

1. Intervening in Iraq = disaster

2. Intervening in Afghanistan = disaster

3. Intervening in Libya = disaster

Then claiming there is no alternative

Yes, there is. It is none of our business. We are not the world's policeman. I listened to this Labour numpty on the radio saying that we are not the kind of country that would stand idly by. That is right. We are the kind of country that does as the US tells us to do.

Then deciding to train and arm terrorist groups in Syria

Just look how well this as worked out in the past. For example, arming rebels in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation of the country. Do you remember when Bin Laden was a CIA pinup?

My understanding is that the only groups that is might be reasonably safe to arm are such pussies that the big bad boys will soon come along and take away their new toys. Just as ISIS got all its good stuff when the Iraqi army ran away and left all their expensive weapons for ISIS to pick up.

None of the reasons that the government and their fellow travellers have given for going to war are plausible.  We have not been told the real reasons and once again we are being taken to war on the basis of a pack of lies.

How did the House of Commons ever come to vote for this nonsense?

When politicians claim to be upset that so few people vote in UK elections they might consider that it might be a consequence of them being a bunch of lying, self serving tossers.


Baume-les-Messieurs is a small village deep in a steep valley in the Jura region of eastern France. Limestone cliffs tower over the village.

In addition to the attractive Hobbit village there is an abandoned abbey which may date back to the sixth century.

In the early eight century the abbey and some surrounding villages were destroyed by Saracen raiders. The abbey was refounded in the ninth century. It is now open to visitors. There is a small tourist shop and a restaurant. It looked as if there was also accommodation available.

A river flows alongside the road into the village and there is an attractive  camp site by the river.

We visited in August and the village was not too crowded. Free parking was available.

Computers and productivity

It has been remarked that, “We find IT investment everywhere,
except in the productivity statistics.” The thought was occasioned by the observation that business investment in IT did not appear to be producing any measurable increases in productivity. This ‘Productivity Paradox’ has been investigated by a number of researchers and a number of possible explanations for the paradox have been developed.

1. Productivity has not increased but will in time. This explanation recognises the slow pace of innovation diffusion, and the even slower pace of organisational change. Both individuals and organisation, with the exception of a few neophiles, are slow to adopt new developments, particularly revolutionary ones. It has been remarked that the innovations which will cause significant change over the next 10-20 years are probably around now. The table below lists some innovations. It can be seen that we regard as new and modern have been around a long time. the first email was sent over forty years ago, and there are still people who do not use email.

1960’s Mailbox - first email
1965 Dendral - first expert system
1968 Engelbart’s demonstrated graphical user interface [lead to Windows]
1969 Compuserve – first online system
1972 Dialog – first online database
1976 Adventure – first computer game
1977 Apple II – first PC
1979 Visicalc – first spreadsheet

It has also been observed that people are even slower to change practices and processes to exploit new technology. The seminal work in this area is ‘The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox’ by Paul A David.

It should also be noted that significant innovations are infrequent. The technologies that disrupt existing business models or cause major changes in productivity and practices are very rare. Many innovations are little more than extra chrome, or minor evolutionary improvements on existing technology.

2. Productivity has not increased because IT investments are mismanaged. There is ample evidence that there is a low success rate in IT projects, particularly the larger ones.

3. Productivity has increased. The productivity paradox is a measurement error arising from the nature of the problem and the limitations of the research tools used by economists. Economists have attempted to find correlations between IT investment and productivity, but it may be that the data sets and tools being used are too crude to reveal productivity movements.

4. Productivity has not increased because IT is marginal to knowledge based activities. The argument here is that computers are good at data processing but ineffective in processing the knowledge and expertise involved in many tasks. There may be some truth in this argument, but it would not explain why improvements in data processing productivity have not appeared in the statistics.

5. Productivity has increased but the gains are being used to make qualitative improvements, rather than quantitative changes. The argument here is that productivity gains are being used to provide greater variety, or other qualitative improvements, in products or services [no longer can buyers have a car in any colour as long as it is black]. They are not being used to reduce employment levels or increase output. Productivity gains are thus being used to “fund” innovative procedural changes rather than directly affecting employment or output. Economists have tried to measure productivity changes in terms of reductions in employment or increases in output. If this hypothesis is correct it is not surprising that they have found no changes.

There are a number of models which attempt to relate productivity and employment.

Model 1

This model argues that new technology increases productivity and therefore fewer employees are required. This may seem simplistic but the model was used for evaluating the viability of many IT investments. Savings in employments costs were used to measure the rate of return on proposed IT projects. If this model is plausible there should be evidence of productivity increases from IT investments.

Model 2

New technology increases productivity and enables new products and services. Employment may fall in some existing areas, but the development of the new products and services will produce compensating increases. If this model is plausible there may be no overall measurable changes in productivity.

Model 3

As model 2 but the effects of the compensating mechanisms may be delayed, disproportionate or occur elsewhere. If this model is plausible then there may, or may not be, measurable changes in productivity.

Ukraine - is it all about gas?

What happened in the Ukraine?  Well, one group of pro Russian oligarchs was replaced by another group of [possibly pro Western] oligarchs. Interesting, but nothing to do with us. The Ukraine is a poor country with nothing much that we want. The sensible thing to do was mind our own business.

Instead, we appear willing to go to the brink of war to get involved. Already we have applied sanctions to Russia and they have retaliated. The retaliation looks as if it will cost some EU countries a lot of money. It wont cost the US or UK  because neither country buys Russian gas or sells much to Russia.

There are a lot of noisy warmongers at work in politics, the military and the media and I sense an organised campaign. But why, and who is behind the campaign?

If you want to know who is behind something fishy try applying the lawyers test of 'cui bono' [who stands, or stood, to gain from something, and so might have been responsible for it].

I came up with two possibilities.

1.  Corruption - the Ukrainian oligarchs are behind the campaign and have bribed a number of political, military and media figures to spread their propaganda.  They know they cannot oppose Russia so they are bribing people in the West to get their countries involved and do their fighting for them. The oligarchs are people with billions to spend. Tossing a few millions to some rent a ranters is nothing to them.

2.  Gas - because of fracking the US has lots of gas and it is looking for people to buy it. Germany imports $72 billion worth of gas from Russia each year.

 Do you think there might be people in the US who would like part of that business? If Germany could be persuaded to buy US gas instead of Russian gas some people would get very rich. There would also be a political advantage. Germany and the EU have been showing signs of having minds of their own. The US cannot tolerate that and making Germany, France and Italy dependent on the US for part of their energy would be a good way of bringing them to heel.

Of course, if the hidden hands get it wrong then this will be the outcome -

Don't worry. The people behind the campaign will not be anywhere near ground zero. You and I might be, but they will make sure they are in a different hemisphere. Read this post for a report on the Iron Mountain hideaway they had set up during the last cold war.

"From this New Yorker article on the Iron Mountain storage facility.

'In the sixties and early seventies, Mesick said, people sometimes slept in the mine: it contained fallout shelters, built and maintained by Iron Mountain for executives from Exxon, Shell, and other big companies.

One especially elaborate shelter, he said, had sixty-five hotel rooms, each with a private bath, and a large cafeteria with a commercial kitchen; in the mid-century-modern bedrooms, curtains obscured the concrete. According to Mesick, in the event of nuclear war, some executives, along with their families, would have been evacuated by helicopter from New York City. “They’d hired local folks to tend to them, to cook for them, to clean for them,” Mesick told me. “Their idea was to wait out the storm while the debris and radioactivity were going on overhead—then they were going to come out and sell oil to everyone who was left.”

Fortunately, in contrast to the rabid warmongering from some people in the NATO countries Putin appears to be acting sensibly and moderately. I think they are trying to provoke him into threatening gas supplies, but I think he knows that and will not bite.

The Trail of the Perched Cat

Dole is a small town in the Jura region of France. We visited it on a day trip from Besancon.

It stands on a limestone hillside alongside the River Doub.  It was the capital of the County of Burgundy before it became part of the French kingdom in 1678.

To guide tourists around the town the tourist office has created two circular paths. A short one of two kilometres that is marked with pavement plaques like the one above and a four kilometres one marked like this -

These are called the trails of the Perched Cat in  reference to  Marcel Aymé, creator of the  tales about the Perched Cat who spent his childhood  in Dole.  It is a good idea because the trails lead you by the most appealing parts of the town and searching for the next marker adds interest to the walk.

The tower in the background looks as if it might belong to a cathedral, but it is only a church, though an impressive one [Basilique Notre-Dame de Dole].

Tanners Canal
Pasteur was born in Dole. In his time  time many tanneries operated beside the canal and it must have stunk to high heaven.  Now it is very clean and one side is lined with restaurants.

Tanners Canal

ISIS v Rotherham

The UK government and their media lickspittles have been busy trying to get us worked up about ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The aim is apparently to persuade us to get involved in military action against these fiends in human form.  The latest device was to heavily publicise the murder of an American journalist. The ISIS fiends apparently chopped off his head. This is so clearly beyond the pale that we must bomb them asap. If we don't they will be over here chopping our heads off.

The BBC has been doing its best to promote the government line by making it a lead story and announcing ISIS activities in that tone of shock-horror that some of their people do so well.

However, there are a few problems with the government's cunning plan.

1. Nobody here cares about headless Americans.

2. If we bomb ISIS that will make it more likely they will attack us, not less.

3. We have had enough of lying bastards taking us to war to last us for a long time.

I don't really blame David Cameron. The UK is a vassal state of the US and Dave has to do what the Yanks tell him to do.  If he ever does discover his testicles he could tell the Americans that the civil war in Syria and the creation of ISIS was a result of an Israeli black operation to topple the Syrian government and cut off arms supplies to Hamas. Now it has gone wrong and produced something worse than the Syrian regime they, as usual, want us to do their dirty work for them.

Rotherham is a different matter. Fourteen hundred young girls have been sexual abused over many years by gangs of Pakistani men. The activities of these gangs was covered up by members of the local council and South Yorkshire Police. The government has shown little inclination to do anything about this and is apparently hoping it will all go away and they can get back to doing more useful things like obeying their master's orders.

However, there are a few problems with the government's cunning plan.

1. The British public really does care about Rotherham.

2. The government needs to launch a massive arse kicking operation on the council and South Yorkshire Police.  A lot of people need to lose their jobs and some need to go to prison.

3. The government, in their little Whitehall bubble, are completely out of tune with the British public.

Bergheim haut Rhin

There are many half timbered houses in Germany. Not in the cities. They were burned in the WW2 air raids, but in small towns and villages.  I have a post on Quedlinberg & Goslar in the north. Amusing Planet has a recent post on Freudenberg. In Bavaria there are towns like Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber on the Romantic Road. Some of these towns still have all or part of their walls still intact. Germany promotes these towns. There is even a German Timber-Frame Road that runs almost 3,000 km and passes through dozens of half timbered towns.

Bergheim haut Rhin is typical of such towns.  Lots of well maintained half timbered houses and very clean and tidy.

It looks very touristy but it is not. The town is on a wine trail and there are several places selling local wines but otherwise there are very few places designed just for tourists. Many places have been ruined by a profusion of tourist traps. Especially in France. For example, Carcassonne, Mont Saint-Michel and Provins. The Germans are more careful.

Bergheim still has most of its walls

The backs of some of the half timbered houses

The most curious thing about this very German town is that it is not in Germany. It is currently in France. I say currently because it is in a region that has changed hands frequently.

Though it is in France I suspect most of the inhabitants are of German descent. Not only because of  the very un-French way in which they look after their town. When I looked at the WW1 memorial all the names on it were German.

We also called in Saint-Hippolyte which is only a few miles away and very different. It was an unpleasant place with traffic roaring through it all the time we were there.

Self addressed - Mr Bray's experiments with the post

At the end of the 19th century the young W R Bray started a series of experiments with the UK postal system. These included having his mother crochet an envelope and posting himself - three times. Later he became the Autograph King.

15 Sep, 2010. Englishman Who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects, the First Edition edition., New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
The book is well written and has lots of illustrations of Bray's experiments.

I heard about Bray from a Futility Closet podcast.

There is also a Bray website.
More recently Harriet Russel carried out a similar series of experiments.

EuroVelo 6 - Cycling along the Doubs near Bresancon

The EuroVelo bicycle routes are a network of long-distance cycling routes criss-crossing Europe. Currently there are fourteen routes making up a total of  27,962 miles.

EuroVelo 6 runs 2,270 miles alongside several rivers, including the Rhine, Loire and Danube. It goes all the way from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. Part of it runs alongside the Doubs River by the French city of Besancon.

Looking down on EV6 and the Doubs from Vaubans fortress.

The Danube Bike Trail is part of EV6. I cycled a section of the Trail a few years ago [see this post].  This time I cycled east and west along the EV6, on either side of Besancon.

The path to the east and west of the city is joined by a river, foot and bike tunnel underneath Besancon's Vauban fortress.

 When I asked about hiring a bike the Tourist Office suggested two shops in the city but I found a much better one, called Lerelaisvelo [] right  by the bike path [see map]. They had an excellent selection of cycles, including electric bikes and tandems. I choose an hybrid.

The Wikipedia page states that only 8% of the EV network is traffic free asphalted path and 56% is low traffic public roads. The section I was on was about 80% traffic free asphalted path and the rest  low traffic public roads. The paths were in very good condition and free of anything likely to cause a puncture. Though it was mid week there were a lot of cyclists and skaters on the path.

In theory the Doubs is navigable by boat. In practice there are many low falls, each with either a lock or a bypass canal. 

The Fontinettes Boat Lift

There are three ways in which you can move boats on a canal or river between different levels.

Locks - but these are slow and take up a lot of land.

Slopes - dragging boats up a slope [inclined plane or water slope]. Link to post about an inclined plane.

Boat Lifts - boats are moved into caissons and lifted between different levels. Link to post about a large new boat lift.  Link to some nearby boat lifts.

The boat lift at Fontinettes was built in 1887 to enable 300 tons barges to cross a 13 meter difference in level between two points on a river.  It replaced five locks. Moving boats by the lift took 5 minutes. The locks had taken 90 minutes. The lift was inspired by the Anderton Boat Lift built in 1875 in Cheshire. Link to post about Anderton Boat Lift.

The lift was in operation until 1967. It was replaced by a single large lock nearby that can lift 6 boats in a 20 minute operation.  The boat lift is a listed building and in the hands of a conservation group who give tours and boat trips.

The lift is in Arques, near the road to the Channel Tunnel

The lift is not far off the A26 but hard to find without GPS.  The lift coordinates are 50.7313, 2.3037. The coordinates of the replacement lock are 50.7285, 2.3075.

Blue arrows mark the channel from the lift to the river

One of the caissons

The filled and grassed over channel

BBC Elements podcasts

The BBC has an excellent new series of podcasts about the elements that affect our life. They are produced by the Business Daily team of the BBC World Service. So far they have produced 25 podcasts and the series is continuing. The elements that have been covered so far include carbon [three podcasts], vanadium, gold, sulphur, sodium and chlorine.

Some of the topics covered include why is gold our metal of value and which element is essential to our life and which country has almost a monopoly of that element [its not anybody you might expect]?

There are two podcasts on nitrogen. One on its role in explosives. The other on its role on fertilisers. In 1960 the worlds population was  3 billion, now it is over 7 billion. Crops need fertilisers and traditional methods of fertilising soil [manure, guano, saltpetre from the Atacama desert and crop rotation] can only produce food for 3 billion. The other 4 billion are only alive because of the Haber-Bosch Process. This produces artificial fertiliser, but at the cost of using one percent of the worlds energy production.

Without it we would have either learned how to control our breeding or would be heavily into war and cannibalism.

Haber with Einstein. Haber won his Nobel Prize first

The podcasts are available here


There are also a series of articles which are being published in the BBC Magazine. You can find them here


This is the kind of thing the BBC does well and justifies the licence fee.

I hope that the BBC will follow this series with one on the most important chemical compounds.

If you enjoy this kind of podcast you may be interested in some earlier programmes on numbers, shapes and mathematical laws.

US supported Israel seeks final solution to Gaza problem

Sometimes, when trains arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp, some of the Jews would be armed and would start shooting at the guards, using the other Jews as human shields.

After such terrorism, of course the guards had to kill all the 6,000 or so people on the train. What else could they do? The Jews should not have opened fire but passively accepted their fate.

The terrorists in Gaza have killed three Israelis with their rockets. So, of course, the Israeli government must kill several thousand Palestinians. What else can they do? They have to seek a final solution to the Palestinian problem.

Knotty Studies

One of my favourite books is Aubrey's Brief Lives. John Aubrey was born in 1626 and his book is a series of short essays about prominent figures of his time. His memoirs are often scandalous, gossipy, startling and funny. They are always very readable.

For example, in his memoir of John Colet he mentions that Colet was buried in a lead coffin and the coffin was filled with liquor to preserve the body. After the Great Fire of London someone made a small hole in the lid of the coffin and a Mr Wyld and a Mr Greatorex sampled the liquid and gave their opinion on its taste.

One of his best quotes is about himself. He confesses that he wanted patience for knotty studies'. Me too.

US supported Israelis killing children in Gaza

Guilt by association

Since the media is doing guilt by association with the Ukrainian rebels always referred to as the pro-Russian rebels I thought I should do  the same for the pro-American Israelis. After all, the USA is giving money and arms to the Israeli terrorists.


UK Prime Minister David Cameron, acting consistently as always, called on the EU to impose harsh new sanctions on the USA for supporting and arming Israeli child killers.

42 photographs from Gaza

42 photographs from Gaza.  Don't worry, nothing evil going on. Just dealing with a few human shields.


A Boys Guide to Detecting Evil

Evil v Definitely Not Evil
Evil Not Evil
Supplying arms to Ukrainian rebels Supplying arms to Syrian rebels
Russians not giving money to US & UK politicians Zionists giving money to US & UK politicians
Killing civilians Killing human shields
Occupying Crimea Occupying Iraq, Afghanistan etc.
Selling Russian oil & gas to Europe Selling US oil & gas to Europe
Shooting down a civilian airliner [MH 17] Shooting down a civilian airliner [Iranian Air 655]  See note 1
Facts & evidence Unsupported accusations and ranting


1. In 1988 the USS Vincennes guided missile cruiser shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 civilian passengers on board, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children. At the time of the attack the Vincennes was inside Iranian territorial waters and IR655 was within Iranian airspace. It was also broadcasting an IFF signal indicating it was a civilian aircraft. When the Vincennes  returned to port its officers were rewarded with medals and promotions.

A Greater Love

Prime Minister David Cameron has sacked his friend Michael Gove as Education Secretary in a cabinet reshuffle. Gove was thought to be doing a good job but was apparently seen as unpopular asnd therefor an electoral liability.

Greater self love has no man that he layeth down the career of a friend to save his own arse.

Gove tries to spot the coming head shot


Utopia is a six part series that was broadcast on the UK's Channel 4 in early 2013.  I have only just found it.  It is the best thing I have seen for a long time. Superb acting. Very violent.

The Wikipedia article is here.

Utopia is available on DVD and as a torrent.

A second series starts on Channel 4 next week.  HBO are doing an American version.

Another series worth seeing is Rubicon.  This will be harder to find since, strangely enough, it was only shown once and is not available on DVD. It is barely available as a torrent.

Privacy Badger

If you don't like having your internet browsing being tracked by commercial companies you might be interested in the new Privacy Badger extension from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  It works with Firefox and Chrome.


Eddie Mair and 'fishy' data retention

On today's edition of the BBC five o'clock news Eddie Mair gave a pathetic Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister a good kicking over the new Data Retention laws which are to be rushed through Parliament.

At one point he asked the poor sod if the public should find it fishy that all the three main political parties were supporting this nonsense.

Of course it is not fishy, Eddie.  It just means that our secret police have gathered enough blackmail information on the parties from past data retention that they can force them to do whatever they want.  An situation that was entirely foreseeable once that fool Blair was talked into forcing data retention through the EU Parliament and then through the UK Parliament.

Politicians and journalists must be truly stupid if they do not realise they are going to be the main targets of data retention. We might catch a few criminals and terrorists but political power for our UK versions of J Edgar Hoover is the main pay-off from data retention.

They are the masters now and are so confident of their powers that they don't even bother to think up plausible excuses or reasons for their actions.

As Craig Murray says in his latest post, "It is not that they expect us to believe them – they just don’t care. They have the power, and we don’t.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron to do honourable thing?

The BBC reports

"Tomorrow members of the National Union of Teachers will walk out in a long-running dispute over performance related pay, pensions and workload – forcing many schools to close.

Mr Cameron told Prime Minister’s Questions the NUT’s strike ballot had taken place in 2012 on a 27%  turn out.

"I think the time has come for looking at setting thresholds in strike ballots.

"How can it possibly be right for our children's education to be disrupted by trade unions acting in that way? It is time to legislate and it will be in the Conservative manifesto."

Dave is right,  27%  is not enough. That is why I know he is going to resign.

He became Prime Minister after the 2010 General Election in which his party got 36.1% of the vote on a turn out of 65.1%.

36.1% x 65.1% = 23.5%

I know that if Dave the Dim really believes in thresholds he will realise that he cannot be Prime Minister when only 23.5% of the electorate voted for his party.  That is well below any legitimacy threshold.

Obviously he will now do the honourable thing and resign.