Friday 29 July 2005


I have discovered that someone has sent out a "hate" e-mail purporting to be from myself. The e-mail was sent to a Glasgow charity and was forwarded on by them to members of the Scottish parliament and also to some journalists. The charity has now advised those on their contacts list that the e-mail was not from me. I have a strong suspicion as to who may have sent the fake e-mail. A fellow blogger suffered in the same way earlier this year and at that time sent me an e-mail on the subject, part of which reads as follows:
... he bombarded it (his blog) with hate comments - generally of a racist nature. I banned a lot of IP addresses and deleted them. I should have saved them on harddisk, but I was so angry I did not keep copies. He also sent a lot of racist emails to my Hotmail account, and used my hotmail address to send racist material to academics, politicians and other anti-racism campaigners, using the "email a friend" facility at various news websites. I sent a lot of complaints to and others, but there was nothing they could do.
It is sad that we have to put up with this nonsense - I believe that a fake e-mail was issued in the name of a Scottish politician some time ago. It would be useful if Internet businesses could put an end to this sort of thing. In the meantime be careful with your own web security and be aware that not all e-mails are what they may seem.

Thursday 28 July 2005

In defence of Prince Charles

It's not exactly the most shocking thing to read that Members of Parliament are criticising Prince Charles for his management of the Duchy of Cornwall. That's what we expect MPs to do - it's much more exciting than examining their own expenditure.

I have no idea whether the Duchy is managed efficiently, or indeed whether it can be argued that it came into the possession of the Royal Family by means that are acceptable to libertarians. It would certainly be fascinating to conduct an audit of the Duchy's affairs, but that's not my concern here.

This is what caught my eye:

The landed estates are supposed to be in trust for future monarchs, but MPs had concerns that current beneficiaries could draw loans from the capital.
Charles's spokesmen say that the estate is not being run down by excessive current expenditure:
They denied that the prince's role in the running of the duchy would compromise the interest of future dukes, such as Prince William.
It seems clear to me that the MPs concerned take it as axiomatic that a private owner such as the Prince will prefer to spend the estate's income now instead of taking a long-term approach and conserving capital for the benefit of his heirs. I submit that this is nonsense.

I strongly recommend that readers purchase a copy of Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Democracy, the God that Failed, in which:

... monarchical government is reconstructed theoretically as privately owned government, which in turn is explained as promoting future-orientedness and a concern for capital values and economic calculation by the government ruler. Secondly, equally unorthodox but by the same theoretical token, democracy and the democratic experience are cast in an untypically unfavorable light. Democratic government is reconstructed as publicly owned government, which is explained as leading to present-orientedness and a disregard or neglect of capital values in government rulers, and the transition from monarchy to democracy is interpreted accordingly as civilizational decline.
Like Murray Rothbard, Hoppe understands that it's democracy, not monarchy, that's more likely to lead to economic short-sightedness. When Members of Parliament demonstrate that they have a good understanding of economic principles I'll be willing to treat them with a bit more respect. In the meantime we need to be far more concerned about politicians' expenditure than by anything that Prince Charles might be up to.

Pure rubbish

I'm a former resident of Prestwick and have to say that I agree with these people:
They think it is shocking and an insult to Prestwick airport and to the people of Scotland along with its history.
Prestwick Airport's new slogan "Pure Dead Brilliant" is ludicrous and embarrassing. Who on earth thought that "dead" is an appropriate word for promoting an airport?

Monday 25 July 2005

Have you seen this woman?

As if the police didn't have enough to worry about these days, along comes this:
POLICE are appealing for help to find a naked woman who has gone missing from her Borders home.
Helpfully, we have been given this useful description:
She is described as slim, with short gingery brownish hair.
So if you see any:
fat naked women,
any longhaired naked women,
any blonde naked women,
there's absolutely no need to bother the authorities at all.

Sunday 24 July 2005

New photos

I've posted some more photos on the other blog. CLICK on them to enlarge.

I'm a little disappointed with the clarity of these. They were taken using an own-brand print film that came "free" with some recent processing. It's back to slide film again until I splash out on a digital SLR.

(UPDATE: I've realised that the first postings were from low-resolution scans. They've now been changed to high-res. I still think that slide film gives a better result.)

An example:

South Queensferry
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Appropriate to comment

Thinking about the vast and growing numbers employed in Scotland's "public" sector (see yesterday's item) it does rather look as if some of them haven't quite mastered basic business sense. Perhaps I should make that common sense. Imagine that you're placing a contract for an £80 million PPP construction project. Would you give the job to a company:
despite the fact it does not have an office, Companies House accounts or a history of handling PPP schemes.
Let's not be too hard on the seemingly hapless North Ayrshire public servants. It's not as if the company in question doesn't actually exist. But shouldn't this have triggered off a little warning bell:
CES, which was incorporated as a private company days after the council agreed to the PPP project plan in July 2003, has yet to file any accounts with Companies House, while a recent credit check reads: “This company has an average risk status and should be treated with a degree of caution.”
The Scottish Executive at Holyrood escapes financial responsibility as a result of being funded by Westminster. In similar fashion our local councils get most of their cash directly from the Scottish Executive. And the Executive has indeed commented on this matter by saying:
It would be inappropriate for the Executive to comment.

Saturday 23 July 2005

Our booming "job" market

There was fascinating letter in yesterday's Scotsman:
Recent reports have highlighted the number of public sector jobs in Scotland. On 16 July, you reported that one in four people are employed in the public sector, more than in any other western nation.

The Scottish Executive defence is: "Since 2002 the number of people working in the public sector has gone up by [only] 27,600, while the private sector has increased by 58,400."

I know that I shouldn't be surprised but one does wonder what planet these people are on. If the number of "public" sector jobs had increased at the same rate as those in the private sector the total would have been around 19,500 and not 27,600. Putting it another way, government jobs grew by 40% more than the number needed to keep them at the already ludicrously high level. I believe that I wrote some time ago that I was destined to be the last private sector worker in Scotland. Perhaps I'll even enjoy a flat tax rate: say, a million percent.

Tuesday 19 July 2005

Independent in Europe?

Thanks to Andrew Duffin for pointing out this story about Scotland's ferry services:
A spokeswoman for the Executive said: "The minister and the commission vice-president had a very clear discussion. The vice-president was sympathetic to the situation and was aware of the specific circumstances of the west of Scotland.

"However, the vice-president was absolutely clear that changes to existing ferry arrangements had to be put in place urgently to make the situation compatible with Community law

As Andrew says: "You may think you're the government, but we are in charge and we'll tell you what to do."

Your taxes at work

Am I the only one to wonder why our taxes are financing this sort of thing?

Hammer and Sickle. 100 million (plus) dead. "Proudly supported by the Scottish Arts Council".
(According to the leaflet)

Monday 18 July 2005

All the news that's fit to blog

The first Scottish Political Blogs Review is up.

The coming fiasco

Read this if you want to know how the London Olympics will pan out.

For example:

When foreign athletes win, their national anthems will be played, but when a British athlete wins something, every other country's national anthem will be played instead of ours, to avoid causing offence to the rest of the world.
I fear it will be much worse.

Are they cutting what needs cutting?

The Scottish Tories are on the front page of the Scotsman again. This time the news isn't about taxis but - shock, horror - taxes:
THE Scottish Conservatives are preparing to go into the 2007 election with a radical pledge to cut the basic rate of income tax by 3p in the pound, The Scotsman has learned.

Party researchers have been told to come up with ways of funding the income tax cut, which would then be adopted as the centrepiece of the Scottish Tory manifesto for the next Holyrood election.

It's that second paragraph that will cause problems: how are the books to be balanced? The Tories seem to be relying on that old favourite: "cutting bureaucracy and back-office staff". I'm sorry, that won't do. We need to abolish whole swathes of "front-office" government jobs that should never have been in the state sector in the first place.

Elsewhere in the Scotsman George Kerevan writes:

Contrary to another myth, cutting tax would not actually reduce the amount of cash spent in Scotland; it would only transfer the spending decision from the Executive to the ordinary citizen.
Exactly: the money that could and should be saved by slashing taxes can be recycled back into the economy via spending on privatised "schools 'n' hospitals", ones that would work far better than the "bog standard" products of the welfare state. I fear that we'll have to wait a little bit longer before the Scottish Tories campaign along these lines. Eventually, someone will.

With friends like this...

This is very disappointing:
SCOTTISH Enterprise should be given an increased budget if First Minister Jack McConnell is serious about boosting Scotland’s economy being the number one priority of the Scottish Executive, according to the Institute of Directors.
The IoD used to be a consistent opponent of unnecessary government spending but it seems to have been nobbled by the Blair regime:
Watt’s comments are unusual for business groups, which have more often called for the SE budget to be trimmed back.
At least Mr Watt acknowledges that the Scottish economy suffers from the burden of higher business taxation and an out-of-control planning system. But it simply isn't good enough for the IoD to advocate higher spending on quangos like Scottish Enterprise. Abolish it and cut taxes.

Help sought from other Blogger users.

I've noticed that if you click on a link in another blog to a posting in this one you initially see a blank screen and have to scroll down to view the actual post that I have written.

I'm fairly sure that this is a newish change and don't remember changing the template or settings to cause this. Does anyone have any idea how to fix this problem?

Sunday 17 July 2005

The money supply

The other day I mentioned the Royal Bank's special Jack Nicklaus five-pound notes. My wife and I each bought ten of the notes when we were at St Andrews on Friday. The notes were on sale at par (how appropriate!) and each person was limited to a maximum of ten notes. Apparently, the Royal ran out of Nicklaus notes quite early on the Thursday and new stocks were rushed to the course.

There seems to be a large market for these notes on eBay. I noticed one bid for five notes at £102 - a profit of more than 300% for the seller. I can't remember this sort of thing being covered by Mises or Rothbard in their writings on matters monetary.

Saturday 16 July 2005

The long and the short of it

I see that Doctorvee spotted this one as well:
Binmen in Dunfermline have threatened a work to rule after being banned from wearing shorts in hot weather.
Fife Council has a bureaucratic explanation of course:
"Binmen can suffer from cuts and grazes, insect bites, dog bites and this is just an added safety measure for the men.

"They could also suffer sun damage which could lead to serious problems such as skin cancer."

The Doc thinks that:
binmen are smart enough to know when they can and can’t safely wear shorts themselves.
Quite right. Let's hope Edinburgh Council doesn't antagonise its binmen in the same way - this was the view from my window the last time there was a dispute here:

Yesterday I went to the Open at St Andrews (also in Fife). I noticed that many of the support staff on and off the fairways were wearing shorts.

Does this mean that:

(A) Fife Council is a kindly and benevolent organisation without which residents of the Kingdom would be completely unable to go about their day to day affairs, and also that the Royal and Ancient is an exploitative cabal of Victorian mill owners who are probably plotting to send greenkeepers' children up chimneys.


(B) That Fife Council are a bunch of interfering busybodies, unable to earn an honest living in the free market, and that the R & A is a civilised part of Scotland's national life that brings millions of pounds into the country every year and provides gainful employment to thousands at no cost to the taxpayer?

Brian's back

Look here.

Wednesday 13 July 2005

Royal Bank fights inflation

Whereas the Bank of England looks likely to continue its War on Savers by cutting interest rates shortly, the Royal Bank of Scotland is doing its bit to fight inflation:
ONLY the irredeemably romantic could fail to recognise the marketing astuteness behind the Royal Bank of Scotland's decision to issue a special £5 note in honour of Jack Nicklaus.

This mild cynicism over the commercial aspect of the exercise is not, however, sufficiently distracting to obscure the fact that it is an extraordinary form of acknowledgment of a colossal talent. Even George Washington managed only the one-dollar bill.

The Edinburgh-based bank, now an institution of global renown, will put two million of the special fivers into circulation from tomorrow, the first day of the celebrated Nicklaus's last major championship. They will undoubtedly disappear from the streets with the suddenness of urchins sensing an approaching copper, RBS having achieved a priceless level of publicity it doesn't even have to buy.

So the Royal will be issuing money, but stuff that will immediately be removed from circulation by the public. I'll be going to St Andrews on Friday and shall do my bit to reduce the nation's money supply. Could we extend this idea? How about Tony Blair one pound notes issued on perforated toilet paper?

Monday 11 July 2005

Strange goings on: UK

What on earth was happening in Birmingham on Saturday night?
About 20,000 people were evacuated from pubs, restaurants and clubs in the city centre and a number of controlled explosions were carried out.
As is the way of the world nowadays I first found out about the evacuation from an American website and then turned on Radio Five which was broadcasting from Birmingham. Shortly afterwards the BBC studio itself was evacuated. Some estimates were that as many as 30,000 had been moved out of the city centre.

We've been given this "explanation":

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Paul Scott Lee, declined to describe the nature of Saturday's threat but said intelligence indicated it was genuine.
The most up to date reporting on Saturday night was on the US site Free Republic who had a couple of correspondents in central Birmingham. When people began asking from which direction the wind was blowing and whether "men in white boiler suits" had been deployed on the streets, I knew exactly what they were concerned about. And then it was all over.

Move along folks, nothing to see here. I hope.

Strange goings on: USA

A couple of times I have recommended that readers take a look at the Housing Bubble blog. That site has been giving excellent insights into the amazing boom in US house prices and the possible (unsavoury) consequences. We have a similar situation here in the UK that has the same causes - a fiat monetary system, financial recklessness on the part of borrowers and, probably, lax lending policies by banks.

At the weekend the Housing Bubble site suddenly disappeared, as did its predecessor site which contained earlier archives. There's been much speculation as to why the two sites have gone. A lot of money rests on the continuation of the housing bubble and a large proportion of new jobs in the US are dependant on that continuation.

Ben Jones has now set up a replacement site that uses WordPress in place of Blogger. I wonder if we'll ever find out just why the previous blogs disappeared.

(UPDATE: Why Don't Americans Save?)

Friday 8 July 2005

Where was I today?

I posted this comment on the thread of the day:

George Bush waving to the aviation enthusiasts at Prestwick Airport today and the hundreds of large policemen and cute policewomen who let us be there. FUCK YEAH!

The same enthusiasts giving the finger to Chirac's plane. FUCK YEAH!

I took a lot of close-up photos with my film SLR and this general view on a Canon A80 compact digital. CLICK on photo to enlarge.

From left to right: Japanese, Japanese, Putin, another Russian, Chirac, Russian, Schroeder, Berlusconi. Airforce 1, 2 and 3 had been parked on this side of the runway and to the left - just opposite my old High School.

Fuck Yeah!

Read here.

Wednesday 6 July 2005

CLICK on photos to enlarge

CLICK on photos to enlarge

CLICK on photos to enlarge

The bar on the route to Murrayfield

Early this evening I paid a visit to my local gentleman's club for a swift beverage. With all of this week's excitements I had completely forgotten about tonight's event at Murrayfield.

Generally speaking, people going to Murrayfield are seven feet tall, six feet wide, and male. Tonight they were five feet tall, six inches wide, and female. (Admittedly a few of the deep-fried Mars Bar generation were a tad wider than half a foot.)

At the serious end of the bar a few of the regulars had commenced the rigorous seven-year-long training regime that is incumbent upon members of the British Tennent's Lager-Drinking Olympic Team. On tonight's evidence, a gold is in the bag.

The chaos continues

There's been more trouble in Edinburgh this afternoon. At around 1:30 I arrived by bus in Hanover Street and walked down to Princes Street. To the left I could see three coaches parked on the westbound carriageway with several police officers milling around. When I got closer I could see a group from the protesting community sitting on the road in front of the vehicles. It turned out that they were the passengers. They had been removed by the police from the coaches and had hoped to go to Gleneagles.

Only then did I notice that the far western end of Princes Street was blocked by police vehicles across all six lanes. I walked in that direction and realised that what I had seen was a very slow-moving march proceeding eastwards. Three police vans led the procession and the group of a few hundred marchers was completely surrounded by police officers - mainly from London. After around thirty minutes they reached the junction with the Mound. By this time several mounted police were lined up in Hanover Street and shortly afterwards a large steel barrier was erected across the road. This prevented more people from getting into Princes Street, but "normal" folk were being let out. I walked down Rose Street and re-entered Princes Street further west. It was possible to walk back towards the demonstration where several people had been arrested and were being processed and put into police vans. When I left, the demonstrators were surrounded by a ring of nose to tail police vans with some mounted police manoeuvring inside the "corral".

The Blogger system isn't allowing photos to be uploaded at the moment. They should be available later.

Tuesday 5 July 2005

I pees on his Frog's legs

Quelle horreur!

L'escroc has ended the Auld Alliance.

(UPDATE: I was told last night that the haggis is one of the very few unsubsidised food products in Europe. That would explain M Chirac's distaste.)

Monday 4 July 2005

Edinburgh Observations

A policewoman:
"They're all over the town at the moment. But that lot (Canning Street) aren't going anywhere."
Tattooed building worker:
"If you invite a million idiots to the town you can expect trouble. Why doesn't Geldof sell some of his stuff and send the money to Africa?"
"The Revolutionary Clowns' Army is at Bristo Place."
My response:
"Did they let them out of Holyrood?"
Pub landlady:
"They're in Hanover Street now. Let's hope they don't come here."
"All the bars in Lothian Road have been shut."
The funniest thing was when I saw a gentleman who had been barred from my local pub last Saturday standing in the middle of Coates Place directing police vans to their parking spots.

CLICK on photos to enlarge

The crowd of anarchists (sic) gathered at the West End at noon and proceeded along Shandwick Place towards Haymarket. They paused outside Starbucks for about 10 minutes and then turned left, past the West End Police Station (protected by mounted police!), and then went up Torphichen Street and into Canning Street. When I left there an hour ago the anarchists were trapped in the narrow Canning Street by a vast number of police - local and from Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire. The riot police are now at the western end of Canning Street.

A young lad wanted to get back into Exchange Tower but was stopped by the police. He got out his mobile to call the boss. The policeman told him to tell the boss that: "Constable Atkinson from Merseyside says that the lad is having a long lunch hour and deserves a rise!"

There's a constant helicopter presence overhead and the never-ending sound of police sirens.

CLICK on photos to enlarge

CLICK on photos to enlarge

CLICK on photos to enlarge

The police were "interviewing" an anarchist outside McDonald's where I had supported international capitalism by having a cheeseburger.

Note the English police uniforms.

Sunday 3 July 2005

A meeting

Walking back from photographing yesterday's march in Edinburgh I was approached by an elderly gentleman wearing a Scottish Socialist Party badge. He asked if I would like to purchase a postcard of Che. I asked him why on earth would I want to buy a photo of a mass murderer who shot small boys. I enjoyed this confrontation so much that I had to go and celebrate with a beer.