Sunday 30 April 2006

East Fife again

Over on the other blog I've posted the next batch of photos from the many that I took last Sunday. This collection was taken at Pittenweem.

I like this one in particular:

Have you seen this dog?

A black man has been attacked in Aberdeen:
An assault in which a man was bitten on the chest by a dog may have been racially motivated, police have said.
Surely the local police will quickly catch the dog in question:
The attacker was described as 5ft 11ins, of slim build, with short brown hair, and with a local accent.

Saturday 29 April 2006

None of the above

I share the frustration felt by the good folks over on EU Referendum. What would happen if around 5,000 of us were to change our names by deed poll to "None of the Above" and stand in local and national elections? Would we form the next government? Or perhaps we would do even better by changing our names to "String 'em all up".

You've got to laugh

If Gordon Brown really is behind all of this, then he's the most evil genius of all time.

(And if it's true that the Mail on Sunday coughed up £250,000 for the Tracey Temple story, £100,000 of it will go to Gordon Brown!)

Friday 28 April 2006

He's after you

Gordon Brown is an MP for Fife. I note that "Economy" was moored in Anstruther Harbour last Sunday. How appropriate to observe "Taxit" lurking nearby. (To the left of "Hotplate")

Thursday 27 April 2006

Anti-social behaviour

I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to meet F A Hayek a couple of times. On of his many insights was that the concept of "social justice" is essentially meaningless:
Reason: Well, then, why isn't there any such thing as social justice?

Hayek: Because justice refers to rules of individual conduct. And no rules of the conduct of individuals can have the effect that the good things of life are distributed in a particular manner. No state of affairs as such is just or unjust: it is only when we assume that somebody is responsible for having brought it about.

Now, we do complain that God has been unjust when one family has suffered many deaths and another family has all of its children grow up safely. But we know we can't take that seriously. We don't mean that anybody has been unjust.

In the same sense, a spontaneously working market, where prices act as guides to action, cannot take account of what people in any sense need or deserve, because it creates a distribution which nobody has designed, and something which has not been designed, a mere state of affairs as such, cannot be just or unjust. And the idea that things ought to be designed in a 'just' manner means, in effect, that we must abandon the market and turn to a planned economy in which somebody decides how much each ought to have, and that means, of course, that we can only have it at the price of the complete abolition of personal liberty.

How sad it is to read about this misguided event:
SCOTLAND’S GROWING social enterprise sector held its first national trade fair in Perth yesterday.
We are told that:
Social enterprise is a growing part of Scotland’s business mix
That's unfortunate then. A proper business exists to provide its services in the marketplace and makes a profit if it succeeds in that aim. There's nothing at all wrong with businesses that are cooperatives and don't have non-employee shareholders provided that those organisations exist in the free market. As I suspected, the organisation behind this fair doesn't support that kind of enterprise. They claim that they want "social" enterprises to be "Competing on a level playing field to deliver public services across Scotland".

And here's how that is to be achieved:

The Scottish Executive should:

* Support the development of social enterprise through continued, significant and long-term investment in Futurebuilders Scotland

* Recognise and take action to address the distinct needs of social enterprise within the wider social economy

* Work with finance institutions to develop forms of finance which meet the needs of emerging and existing social enterprises

* Play a lead role in putting social enterprise at the heart of social and economic policy across Scotland

Scotland's local authorities and other public agencies should set targets for social enterprises winning procurement contracts, and take all necessary action to meet these targets.

Scotland's economic development and regeneration agencies should put social enterprise at the heart of their policies and practice and take positive action to support the development of social enterprise.

The voluntary sector should recognise and work with social enterprise as a partner in its work to meet social need and develop the social economy.

The private sector should explore how it can work with social enterprise to deliver responsible and sustainable business growth.

In other words this whole boondoggle is about spending taxpayers' money on politically correct non-businesses that can't exist fair and square in the marketplace. Scotland's problem is that politicians of all parties refuse to speak out in favour of the real businesses that are forced to pay for their "social" competitors.

Hayek was right. When we abandon the market and turn instead to the incoherent ideas of social justice and social enterprise the ultimate outcome will be "the complete abolition of personal liberty".

Wednesday 26 April 2006

More photos

The next batch of photos taken in East Fife last Sunday is now up on Scottish Clouds.

These ones were taken at Elie and St Monans.

Joined up government

I always wondered why I never see any police on the streets near where I live despite the West End Station being only a couple of hundred yards away.

The cops want to get out on the beat, they claim:

SCOTLAND’S RANK-and-file police officers yesterday accused ministers of bringing in new laws and regulations which keep bobbies off the beat.

The Scottish Police Federation conference called on justice minister Cathy Jamieson to free up police time to fight crime on the streets.

Fear not, the justice minister is sorting this out:
However in reply Ms Jamieson said that the current shake up of the police service would give officers more time for frontline policing.
On the other hand, perhaps not
PLANS being considered by Lothian and Borders Police to close all but four of the city's police stations throughout the night are certain to be unpopular. There is already a great deal of public concern that the thin blue line is overstretched and that access to assistance is not as readily available as it should be.
The solution to all this is to get rid of all laws that relate to victimless crimes and free the police up to deal with those who actually aggress against our rights.

Some of the police agree with this argument.

(Of course, it may be that the police are just hoping to replace their drug testing paraphernalia with measuring tapes.)

Sunday 23 April 2006

The menace of the Aussie tourist

Thank goodness for the vigilance of the Scottish Executive. If it weren't for their far-sightedness and efficiency East Fife would be overrun with rabid kangaroos:

Pittenweem 23rd April 2006
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

New photos...

... are up on Scottish Clouds.

I've posted shots taken at Dunkeld last weekend, Gourock on Friday, and West Wemyss earlier today.

A lot more were taken in East Fife today and they'll be up shortly.

Click the link

Like me, Martin's feeling a bit blogged out. So why not click and read his site?

I was surprised to learn that I hadn't linked to Martin's current blog. That's because I rarely use my own links nowadays, preferring to use Bloglines. Anyway, Martin has now been re-added to my blogroll.

Saturday 22 April 2006

The OU

This earlier post has generated a few comments about the Open University.

Andrew Duffin writes:

It would - in theory - be possible to complete an OU first degree in two years, but it would be a pretty serious undertaking. Those courses are not dumbed down, and the assessment is rigorous.

Disclaimer - I have experience only of hard science OU courses. Possibly (probably) in liberal arts subjects it's quite different.

I did my first (in both senses of the word!) degree with the OU. Three of my four courses were in history and one in economics. All seemed rigorous to me. The economics tutor confessed to being an old-fashioned Keynesian but enjoyed sparring with my free market heresies. I even drew a diagram by Murray Rothbard in my final - God knows what expletives were uttered, but the marks were good. I only had to do four courses (the equivalent of two years at a conventional English university) as I had previously passed professional exams as a Company Secretary.

In the week of the Queen's birthday

I took this photo in Dunkeld last weekend - a link to the age of Queen Victoria.

This second link explains the Dunkeld connection.

I was amazed by the extent of the deployment within Scotland. This is just one squadron of the Scottish Horse Imperial Yeomanry (great name!):

H Squadron at Connell, Argyll (dets at Kilchrenan, Appin, Easdale, Ardrishaig, Taynuilt, Calgary (Mull), Tiree, Craignure (Mull), Cambeltown, Bunessan (Mull), Torloisk (Mull), Port Ellen, Port Charlotte, Bowmore, Bridghead
Were they expecting the return of Bonnie Prince Charlie?

Dunkeld 15th April 2006
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Still here

I've been a bit "blogged-out" recently but hope to get back to more regular posting from now on.

In the meantime, here's a photograph of Gourock that I took yesterday:

Gourock 21st April 2006
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Tuesday 18 April 2006

About time

So, the government is going to introduce a two-year degree option:
Students in England can do honours degrees in two years, under new "fast track" plans to save time and money.
Er, what's with this "new" nonsense? The University of Buckingham has been doing two-year degrees for thirty-odd years. But Buckingham's a PRIVATE university, so it can't be mentioned by the powers that be, can it? Like other private organisations, Buckingham is geared towards satisfying its customers - the students - rather than its staff. The minister seems to understand the problem with state universities:
Traditional degrees had been organised for the convenience of academics rather than students, he said.
It's a pity he didn't acknowledge that the private sector had solved that problem decades ago.

Saturday 15 April 2006

Change of plan

This must have been a bit scary:
A plane flying from Luton to Galway in the Republic of Ireland has been diverted to Prestwick, after a note was found claiming a bomb was on board.
Fortunately all turned out well:
The plane's 53 passengers and crew all disembarked safely. Police later confirmed the note was a hoax.

The passengers and crew were kept in the airport terminal while a bomb disposal unit searched the plane.

You may be wondering why I'm only now getting round to mentioning this story. Surely it happened a few days ago?

Not so: that was the earlier Prestwick bomb scare. It's the second time this week that a plane en route to Ireland was "escorted" into Prestwick by the RAF after the airline crew had found notes about bombs. But I note a subtle difference this time. The passengers on last night's flight were taken off the plane to enable it to be searched. Obvious procedure one would think. Not on Wednesday though:

Passengers criticised officials for forcing them to remain on the plane while it was searched row by row. It is claimed the Ryanair pilot, who feared for their safety, pleaded for their evacuation but was refused
What's going on here I wonder. Are Ryanair passengers typically more dangerous than those on Aer Arann? Or are people heading for Dublin less trustworthy than those going to Galway? Surely it can't be because the authorities on Wednesday were operating in their all-too-typical "screw the public, let's show who's boss mode" but by Friday were feeling the heat from angry airline pilots?

To see ourselves as others see us

"We are strengthening investment in technology, to use technology to strengthen the control of society and monitoring of public security," Xu Zhongheng, the mayor of Shenzhen, said.

"In this regard we've taken particular note of Britain, where basically everyone lives under the electronic eye."

Wouldn't the mayor be some sort of commie?

Thursday 13 April 2006

Important message

Please read this as quickly as possible AND THEN LOG OFF.

In praise of profit

In a cafe earlier today I came across a copy of the Daily Express. Keith Aitken was writing about the proposed new Scottish law on corporate manslaughter.

He starts as follows:

There are no good reasons to kill innocent people...
OK. Who could disagree with that?

But the rest of the sentence goes like this:

...but the profit motive is one of the worst of all.
I think there's a great deal of confusion here. Everything we undertake is in the hope of a better result than inaction. That's the case whether money is involved or not, and whether businessmen are involved or not. So why does Aitken perceive financial motives to be worse than others?

Imagine Aitken is being attacked by a criminal with a knife. "OK," Aitken says. "Take the money." "Oh no," replies the attacker. "I don't want your money, I just feel like killing you."

At that moment is Mr Aitken thinking that he's glad that the criminal isn't motivated by financial gain? I think not. On the contrary, he's desperately wishing that "profit" were the motive.

What we're actually seeing here is another example of the unthinking, anti-capitalist nonsense that pervades the British media. The tragedy is that so many readers of newspapers are influenced by articles like that written by Mr Aitken.

Strange business model

Later in the year I have to fly one-way from Amsterdam to Edinburgh. EasyJet flies once a day and their website is offering a ticket at a reasonable 53.99 Euros (including tax).

But once a day is a bit restrictive timewise, so I thought I'd check with KLM. The Dutch carrier operates five services to Edinburgh every day and I entered the details onto their site. A one-way ticket is quoted at 459 Euros (including tax). That was for the lowest available fare. On a travel agent's website I was quoted the same fare for KLM but they didn't mention EasyJet. They did however suggest several much cheaper alternatives to KLM - via London, Dublin, Frankfurt or even Prague. It transpired that the KLM quote is for business class and that's the only option on the website. But I knew that most of the seats on the KLM flights between Amsterdam and Edinburgh flights are economy - last year my wife flew from Edinburgh to the US and back via Amsterdam for not much more than 459 Euros. Then I decided to ask KLM to quote for a return flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam and back. That's 214.30 Euros - less than half the cheapest one-way fare. Going both ways allows you to go economy, but not if you go one-way - according to KLM's website.

Isn't this somewhat ludicrous? The unwary passenger could end up flying via Prague - or, more worryingly, Heathrow - if they went by what options seem to be available. What's the logic here? Other than perhaps that KLM is now part of Air France?

Sunday 9 April 2006

The Auld Alliance

But what about Scotland?
In a 22-country survey published in January, France was the only nation disagreeing with the premise that the best system is "the free-market economy."
I'm sure we can beat the Frogs on that one.

(Hat tip: Marginal Revolution)

Don't trust these liars

The Scottish Executive attempted to play up its civil liberties credentials by being somewhat cooler on ID cards than its English political allies:
However, earlier this year MSPs voted against them and the Scottish Executive said they would not be used in devolved areas like health and education. (May 2005)
It now turns out that we were conned:
Campaign group NO2ID claimed the project went far beyond Westminster plans for an identity register and cards. Spokesman Phil Booth said: “This appears to go much further than the UK National Identity Register. There would be far more detailed information collected in one place and available to the state at the touch of a button.

“It appears that Scots are first in the firing line for lifelong surveillance and an end to life as a private citizen.” (April 2006)

A Green MSP asks:
“Who can predict what purposes ministers may think of for it in the future?"
Good question. But why should we believe any answers?

Exhibit A:

Last night, the Executive at first denied there was any project as outlined in the Segis document. A spokesman said: “There are no plans to use citizen entitlement cards in this way.”
Exhibit B:
Later, however, a spokeswoman admitted: “The Scottish Executive officials developing the Geographic Information strategy are in discussion with the Customer First programme. The development and discussions are at an early stage and there is a lot of work to be done, but we are fully committed to delivering a joined-up solution.”

Big Brother will make you small

OK, that's smoking fixed. Now let's deal with fatism.

Having created crowds of smokers outside every pub in Scotland it's on with the next crusade:

EVERY schoolchild will have to undergo an obesity test in their first year at primary school, in the latest controversial attempt by ministers to force Scots to improve their health.

Five-year-olds will be weighed and measured by health workers to assess whether or not they are clinically overweight.

"Controversial". You can say that again. Apart from the sheer disgust I feel about this latest push towards the fascist state, a couple of questions occur to me.

First: can the government possibly insist that private schools "weigh and measure" children?

Second: how long will it be before one of the state measuring operatives is charged with paedophilia?

April Fool's Day

seems to be running a little late at Scotland on Sunday:
UP TO 25,000 bureaucrats in Scotland face the axe under a plan being prepared by ministers to slash the nation's public sector wage bill.

(That one's worthy of an entry here.)

Thursday 6 April 2006


Well, here's some good news:
Staff at (Inland Revenue) processing centres in Grayfield House and Saughton House, west Edinburgh, and Pentland House, Livingston, are in dispute over the introduction of a method of working.
Before, of course, there was no method.


Our First Minister has lost the plot:
JACK McConnell will today compare the post-devolution era to the Scottish Enlightenment in his Tartan Day address to mark the 686th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath
Surely he can't really believe this. The current Labour regime here in Edinburgh - like its masters in London - is as far removed from the values and ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment as could be possible.

A real modern embodiment of the Enlightenment is Glasgow entrepreneur Ivor Tiefenbrun. The full article that he has written is behind the subscription wall, but the first paragraph says this:

SCOTLAND had the world's first literate and numerate population. Our educational system was once unrivalled. This is hard to reconcile with the failure of our current educational system. At Linn, we recruit from around the world as fewer and fewer Scottish applicants have the necessary skills and qualifications.
I think that a successful self-made businessman personifies enlightenment values; politicians like McConnell don't even begin to understand them.

Monday 3 April 2006

Sociology notes


If you’re on a train at around 8.30 on a Saturday evening, how do you know that the next station is Newcastle?


Because, not only are all the girls furiously applying their make-up, but they also have their portable hair styling devices plugged into the on-board power sockets that GNER provides for laptop users.

Chris would have enjoyed that.

Apologies ...

... for no recent postings. Among other things that have precluded blogging, I went down to Sussex at the end of last week for the funeral of Chris Tame.

Since returning home, I have received this e-mail from Sean Gabb:

Dear David,

I am writing to thank all who attended the funeral yesterday of Chris Tame. We all managed in our various ways to make the service dignified and memorable. I am sure that Chris would have been moved and honoured to see so many of those who meant so much to him come to pay tribute to him.

A full DVD recording of the service will be made available in due course for those who could not attend and for those who did attend and wish to have some permanent record of the occasion. For those who did attend, there will be no charge. For anyone else, there will be a small charge to cover burning and posting of the disk.

There will also be a full audio file of the service on the Libertarian Alliance website.

Best wishes to all,
Sean Gabb
Director, the Libertarian Alliance