The theory of cock-up part 1

There are some sources that will try to convince you that there is some huge ‘New World Order’ or ‘Bilderberg’ or whatever global conspiracy to grind all free men under the heel of some totalitarian boot heel. While I have a good deal of sympathy towards those who espouse these views, and understand that there are those who are attempting to work towards such an end I understand these dreams of power are doomed to failure. My own view is that the enemies of free men and women everywhere are more prone to fall under the category of ‘aspirational but inept’. The evidence for this contention is everywhere in plain sight, and does not require a massive intellect to spot.

To quote the Scottish poet Robbie Burns; the best laid plans ‘o mice and men gang aft a-gley.” In short; fuck up rules. The world is FUBAR. The first time this principle was openly vouchsafed by a public figure was in a furore over the relaxation of UK Sunday licensing laws. I believe the actual quote was; “It wasn’t a conspiracy – it was cock-up” The American version of which is known as Hanlons Razor. A pithier, more generalised form was uttered by Sir Bernard Ingham; “Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.”

Living in Britain during the Blair years, and watching Brown decimate the UK economy (And two of my pension plans – the bastard) I was constantly struck by the ineptness of these people. They wanted power, but had not a clue what to do with it, nor the vaguest understanding of the things they sought power over. The situation has not improved with a PR man in the hot seat. You might as well have put Madame Tracey, Owner / Manager of ‘Curl up and Dye’ in the governmental driving seat, and I think said imaginary hairdresser might be doing a better job than the current incumbent. Same for the current Federal US administration.

Notwithstanding, my contention is that for every evil genius plotting world domination with scarred and bandaged hands from petting a bad tempered White Persian cat, there must be a dozen henchmen who bunk off early on Friday leaving critical henching jobs until Monday, having inconvenient bouts of illness, or bulk deleting important emails concerning plans for world domination after a heavy on the intoxicants long weekend. Having inconvenient dental appointments, or simply saying “But Boss… I thought you meant…” Which are pretty poor words to end a life as the trapdoor over the Piranha tank drops from under their feet. Even the late Ozzy B must have repeatedly ground his teeth to his jawline as a minion got cold feet over dying for his cause, or simply missed their bus because they got gossiping to an old friend on a point of religious dogma, or simply forgot to put a fresh battery in a detonator or soldered wire A to connection C instead of B. Fired a rocket launcher from within a car without opening the window to let out the backblast, toasting all within the vehicle. Bought raw materials for bomb making with their own personal credit card. I’m sure any anti-terrorist officer worth his salt can come up with a list of these comedy terrorist failures as long as your and their arm put together. The point is, the grander and more complex the scheme, the more likely it is that there will be too many potential points of failure.

Anyone who has been engaged in large scale IT projects, or even keeping a modest database completely up to date will be aware of this singular fact. ID Cards were (and still are) an expensive accident waiting to happen simply because databases are not static. Data values change with every passing hour and rapidly go out of date without constant intervention (Subject to aforementioned quality of staff and their motivation). The various schemes to bind everyone in red tape only work if everyone obeys the rules implicitly, not taking short cuts, or forgetting to check for typo’s. Show me such a perfect organisation with perfect staff, and I’ll show you the dayglo pixies living in my back yard.

Other examples would be the Euro. Wind and Solar power likewise. All top down, ill thought projects which were politically and ideologically driven. Ones that make no room for human fallibility. Schemes that are not practical but political. Aspirational rather than realistic. This is their weakness.

Practical objects work because they have purpose; a wheel rolls because it is round and will roll downhill until it reaches the bottom or falls over halfway and is left to rust. Certainly not because it is simply pushed. Purely political projects fail because they are impractical. Let’s look at the current mania for Wind Turbines. The only reason these things are going up is because they are huge subsidy generators, not because they are in any way, shape or form cost efficient generators of electricity. Greed, not need is behind their proliferation. The current Wind boom is a taxpayer funded bubble which is due to burst when the subsidies dry up, which is beginning to happen right now (Spain and Portugal – look it up). Simply because increased energy costs have demonstrably artificially prolonged the current world recession, meaning fewer employers are hiring, even more are laying off because they cannot afford to invest, so the downward spiral continues. To keep the subsidies mill turning the tax take has to increase, even though the taxpayer base is shrinking due to increased unemployment; which is due at least in part, to increased energy costs.

Again, the vicious circle tightens. The pips are squeaking and there is no more real money left in the system. The mania for ‘green’ jobs can therefore be seen to be destroying the real economy for which we will all suffer. The attempt to create a top down initiated ‘green’ economy can clearly be demonstrated to be a complete failure.

Not that anyone wanted everything to go tits-up, far from it, but the road to hell being paved as it is, this is what is happening and what must stop. Unfortunately it won’t. Not until those myopic carbon credit slobberers with their snouts slurping snugly in the subsidy trough have their swill supply cut off. That’s the problem, and it won’t go away until the subsidies do. Reliance upon expensive and unsustainable (Without subsidies wind and solar power technology will never be good enough) forms of energy generation because of the erroneous belief that carbon dioxide is a significant climate driver. That’s the cock up, and it’s so bloody huge that when it fails it will take half the world’s economy with it. Unless viable alternatives are allowed to be exploited.

On the other hand this seems to me like a self correcting situation. The subsidies will dry up because there’s no more money left, the political Environmental lobby that has demanded the ‘Green’ this and that will wither and die because their funding will shrivel. Their patrons money supply will evaporate as they move on to other tax-teats to suckle. Why? Because the political environmentalists do not do or produce anything useful, their memorial will be the stumps and rusting towers of defunct wind turbines when the subsidies dry up, and the West will slink into a dark age, silent but for the scratching of quills in candlelight as scholars and economic historians argue over what really happened. Not that there will be a dark age. Newer forms of affordable energy are becoming available, and unless the politico’s (Who, let’s face it, aren’t all that clever – most of them wouldn’t be in politics if they were really intelligent) completely fuck things up and somehow succeed against all the odds, at making more efficient energy resources illegal or too expensive, things shouldn’t get too bad. There’s no money for exploiters in abject poverty – apart for slum landlords and low pay exploiters. If you enjoy irony, you’ll understand this is the other side of ‘sustainability’.

However, in what passes for democracy in this day and age, policy swings with the political pendulum and that swings in time to the mood of a populace. Because when people finally understand that they’ve being played for fools, that mood can swing faster than a schizophrenic on bad acid. Policy can’t keep up, and tumbrils roll. In the meantime, the only people to get hurt by subsidy inflated energy costs will be John Q Public, who in their underinformed wisdom, vote for said politico’s, and fail to see that they are being bribed with their own money. Not that anyone who is part of the vested interests is going to ‘fess up and tell them what is in front of their own eyes. We humans are that good at deluding ourselves.

So there you have it; a classic example of how greed contains the seeds of its own undoing, and how cock-up both birthed and will bury it. Cock-up, Screw up, SNAFU, whatever, rules.

Another post on BC ‘Smart’ meters

Have been doing a little walking and talking (But mostly listening) of late, and heard some quite interesting snippets about these so-called ‘Smart’ meters.

Apart from the Smart meter recall initiative.

Word is that some smart meters are going back because too many ‘don’t work properly’

Word is that none of the meters are currently connected to the promised ‘Smart grid’ because of ‘issues’.

Word is that all the old meters won’t be reinstalled because they’ve already been ‘recycled’.

Word is there’s a political scandal brewing rather like that of the current furore over BC Liquor Distribution Licenses. Promises were made by politicians, then after a few visits from lobbyists, bing! “Smart grids are the future”. Verrrrry interesting.

Of course all the above is merely coffee shop gossip. Yet while gossip is often exaggerated and not wholly accurate, there is a seam of truth in what I’ve been hearing.

An old satellite and a song

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Telstar, the first proper TV relay satellite. This song is also from that time. As is the one below. Slightly weird, but fun. In a geeky sort of way.

Elder sibling bought a copy, or had it bought for him, and I found it in his old record collection. Honest guv. I used to play it on his old record deck, a mahogany cased monster of a thing. Good grief, the memories flood back. 405 line TV sets (The ones you had to hit to get a half decent picture), hiding behind the sofa during Doctor Who (William Hartnell era), and when Ford Zodiac Mark II’s were thought to be the bees articular interfaces.


In contrast to last years relative washout, I am happy to confirm that Summer is here in BC. The outdoor pool has seen use while Mrs S and I were up in the mountains, and the outlook is for blue skies and a steady 25-31 degrees Celsius. Huzzah! About time too. The seemingly near constant rain was really getting on my nerves.

Now before any clever clogs claims this period of warmer weather is indicative of globule warming (climate change – whatever), and we are all still doomed, I’d like to point out that studies from San Francisco and Mainz in Germany (See articles in The Register and Wattsupwiththat) have conclusively ‘decoupled’ Carbon dioxide and climate. Man made or not. So back to the drawing board, scaremongers!

The studies, drawn from ocean sediment cores as proxies and more reliable data than a single tree from Yamal, indicate cooling over the past 2000 years. To quote the Stark family saying from ‘Game of Thrones’, “Winter is coming.” But not yet. Not for a long time. So don’t panic.


I’ve been taking some of my free time away from watching the antics of Hummingbirds outside my kitchen window (I’ve set up a feeder there) to read Chris Snowdon’s IEA report; ‘Sockpuppets – how the government lobbies itself and why‘. I’ve also been looking up cases where charitable status has been withdrawn and why in search of some form of possible solution to the issue. Here are three suggestions;

Solution 1: Charitable institutions may not lobby government.
Attractive but unworkable. Charities need to have some lobbying component in order to speak up for the cause they represent.

Solution 2: No more Government funding, or funding from NGOs. Again, unworkable, those who run the NGO’s will find proxies to fund people they have sympathy with.

Solution 3: Disband / defund all NGO’s. No more money for these dumping grounds for the inconvenient / incompetent with powerful friends. No more sinecures for retired politicians or their friends. This will still leave charities open to financial manipulation from large trusts with their own agenda, but it will at least stop governments playing the same game. However, making charities more financially transparent (With which true charitable trusts will have no issue) should level out the playing field, and threatening to withdraw the charitable tax status of activists and lobbyists might help.

The test of a true charity like the Red Cross for example, should always be “What good have you done lately?” By ‘good’ I mean lives saved, wells drilled, people helped, infrastructure rebuilt and messes cleaned up. Protest or advocacy should not on their own count as charitable activities. Charities should be seen, as the major part of their activities, to get their hands dirty. Many do. Those that do not, aren’t. It’s not difficult.

Norman Jervis will be exhumed as soon as possible..

Not much to post about that I’ve wanted to think long of. Not of late, certainly. Real life has been too fully engaging, with too little me time. I occasionally browse the lamestream, but as always it seems to be chocker with Fark and Churnalism barely worth the read.

Every time I read through the columns of the UK Grauniad and Torygraph, thence the comments, and wonder if care in the community was such a wonderful idea. Entrenched viewpoints lob word bombs at each others ideologically fortified positions, and totally ignore any middle ground. They are so totally convinced of their absolute rightness (or leftness as the case may be) that it’s like watching someone try to fight their mirror image.

This week finds me at what I’m inclined to describe as a Bazaar of the Bizarre. A conference of ‘Educationalists’ no less, which my wife has promised faithfully will be the last we go to for several years. The cuisine at this event has also served to remind me that vegetarian food is vapid and unsatisfying. Why would anyone with any taste or discretion want to live on such a diet? Whilst I have nothing against a modicum of vegetable content in a healthy mixed diet, this obsession with eschewing protein altogether seems quite unhinged. As for fats, was anyone aware that too much lean protein is very bad, and can even prove fatal? All right, there’s only ever been one documented case in recent times, but more people suffer from low iron, and judging from the number of pallid faces I saw last evening, there are more than a few here. Odd that teaching as a profession seems a popular career choice amongst such bloodless people.

Regarding vegetarianism, I have the same opinion about it as or any other form of sado-masochism; I have no issue with people who wish to indulge in such practices – so long as I am not expected to join in. Fortunately, there are nearby restaurants noted for doing a good steak.

Update: The Gods of catering have heard my unspoken prayer, and steak has been provided and consumed with gusto and alacrity.

This is what is passing for my holidays this year and taking same into consideration I intend to be as chilled as possible, frigid even. Now I’m off to catch up with my viewing of ‘Game of thrones‘ which I’m finding highly entertaining. TTFN

Awesome if used right

Am I the only one thinking that this could be a great tool for close-up news coverage of dangerous / secretive events? Add sound to the video and increase the battery life, and the possibilities for wildlife coverage or war zones are incredible. That and not having to struggle in a press of journo’s covering an outdoor event to see what someone really said.

First hand news, first hand, at an affordable price. Coming soon via drone technology. Awesome if used well. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Now the possibility exists that watchers can be watched right back.

It might even be fun.

Re: my previous post

The point I was making, or trying to make; is that lobbying organisations pose as charities by giving the barest of lip service to the work of a charitable institution. If you got that, you will understand how howlingly funny I find the video below.

Yes, give these fake charities taxpayer money to pay for lawyers and lobbyists to lobby for new laws to outlaw and prevent smoking, drinking alcohol, meat eating, Canadian oil pipelines, cheap energy from shale gas and well, everything…….

You’d only spend it on enjoying yourself, anyway.


Here’s a riddle for you.

When is a charity not a charity?

When it’s primarily a government (or privately) funded lobbying organisation.

This is not a joke.

As one whose real life CV contains a good deal of volunteering for various (UK and Canadian) registered charities, I’d like to think I know the difference. My charity work has always been focused on the practical; restoring, cleaning, delivering, fitting and rebuilding kind of work. From rebuilding computer networks, helping restore a near derelict local facility to full use to scrubbing some horrendous gunge off various aids for the disabled. That sort of thing.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increased politicisation of the voluntary sector. Where lobbyists, disguising themselves as registered charities, do pure advocacy work for various clients, including Government agencies. Where I have no issue with citizen advocates speaking up for the less able and impoverished, what I do have an issue with is Government paying ‘charities’ to further the Governments (and their friends) own agenda.

Let’s take a classic example. Remember the Climate change kiddie snuff porn video by advocacy group 10:10? When I wrote to my UK MP to object, I was told plainly that the UK government would ‘continue to support’ such messages. 10:10 had purportedly received sponsorship from EU and UK sources to produce that obscenity (As well as Sony and O2). Now, forgive me for being as bit dogmatic here, but is that charity? Does it assist the poor or less able? No. It does help the vested financial interests who make their moolah by boosting energy prices and farming taxpayer funded subsidies. Most certainly not the poor buggers who are currently in ‘fuel poverty’.

The Devils Kitchen runs a little website called, which lists the details of some of the UK based lobbyists posing as charitable institutions.

This stuff isn’t new. It’s been doing the rounds on the UK blogosphere for several years now. See Tim Worstall’s 2009 piece on the Adam Smith Institute website. Now the mainstream are playing catch up.

Of course there have always been scam artists who pose as registered charities or who put out collection boxes for said charity with no intention of passing on the public’s generosity to the real organisation. What really pisses me off, as a real life worker for charity, is the biggest fraud of all; Governments paying advocacy groups to lobby for Government policy using taxpayer dollar.

The end result

Currently, the libertarian end of the blogosphere is under assault (Again?) from the forces of darkness. Cranmer has had some come catspaw using the ASA. Witterings from Witney from another source (on a three year old post? Is someone taking the mick?), and there are mutterings in various comment columns about “We’re coming to getcha.” (Oh noes, not again). Some sites, offering informal advice based on personal experience have been shut down by regulators. Bloggers, even in ‘free’ societies have been raided by Police and even faced criminal prosecution simply for publishing their version of events (Tallbloke over ‘Climategate’ springs to mind, follow the ‘Holly Grieg‘ subject blogs for others). Never mind the (Very) hastily taken down Greenpeace threat last year “We know where you live” – seriously? Just because of a disagreement on an issue – even though reality tells a different story? Talk about acute humour failure. Definitely the Violet Elizabeth Bott approach to dissent; (“Do what I want or I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick – I can too!” ) No one is fooled. Behind the attempts at suppressing free speech blogs come the echoes of marching jackboots, and it isn’t a pretty sound.

Aldous Huxley nailed the major weakness of suppressive tactics in 1941;

“For the means employed inevitably determine the nature of the result achieved, whereas, however good the end aimed at may be, its goodness is powerless to counteract the effects of the bad means we use to reach it. Similarly, a reform may be in the highest degree desirable; but if the contexts in which that reform is effected are undesirable, the results will inevitably be disappointing. These are simple and obvious truths. Nevertheless they are almost universally neglected.”

For a given value of ‘good’, I might add – there’s a downside to everything; and ‘good’ is mostly subjective anyway – even more so when preceded by the word ‘greater’.

So it is with attacks on free speech. In seeking out offence everything becomes offensive. Pointing out that something can’t work / isn’t working means being labelled a ‘Denier’. Highlighting the failures, areas of suspicion and dodgy dealings of an administration makes you a ‘Hater’. Mildly contentious comments that some might find slightly objectionable (Mostly if they contain a good deal of objective veracity) are turned into ‘Hate speech’ by offence seeking drama queens. Setting official agencies on people because of a flimsily perceived ‘offence’, likewise.

Like a school playground ruled by sneaks and snitches running to teacher every time their feelings are hurt, this creates an ugly place to live in, so such behaviour poisons discourse and spreads a fog of disinformation. Not to mention creating a huge enforcement overhead. It prevents open and reasoned examination of an issue, and hides that which should be known. As with war and truth, honesty is always the first casualty because in order to shut people up, the primary weapons are always emotive lies, disinformation and exaggeration.

Essentially what we’re dealing with is immature offence seeking such as;
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re saying bad things about me!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re smoking at me because I’m a non-smoker!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re drinking at me just because I’m teetotal!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re shooting guns at targets and it fwightens me!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re eating bacon sandwiches at me because I’m a Vegan!”
“Mummy, Mummy! They’re saying I’m bad because I tell on them all the time – stop them Mummy!”

All of the above have one thing in common – they are invented ‘offences’. Of course said attacks on freedom of expression are dressed up in grown-up speak, but the impulse that drives such behaviour is nonetheless childish, born of unreasoning fear. There’s only one real cogent response – overt mockery. Specifically Shakespeare’s classic from Twelfth night; “T’hart a fool. Go to.” or the more modern “STFU” and variants thereof. Which is why I often respond to them in baby talk and parody. “Has Oo had oo’s feelings hurt, den?” highlighting the attacks for the contemptible, selfish and immature outpourings that they are. Not to do so is to allow the jackboots to march again – and 20th century history holds a grim record of what that led to.

Here’s an Australian perspective on why freedom of speech and expression is so important. H/T Just about every blog I link to, but I believe the Angry Exile was first by a nose.

To Quote the late, great Ray Bradbury; “For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangu­tan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversation­ist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics.” The old adage of the road to hell being paved with good intentions springs to mind. For a given value of ‘good’.

H/T for the Huxley quote from Ends and Means to this post by Sackerson at OOL.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad


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