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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Golf's Final Frontier

   Steve Sailor does an article on golf course architecture. Now I have no interest in golf but it is always worth watching somebody inteligent speak or write on something that really interests them and which they understand.

    What I got from this is that golf courses, while entirely artificial constructs, are designed to replicate the most desirable human environment.
the nearly universal favorite among children before they imprint upon their local look is grassy parkland, and that fondness survives into adulthood.
Richard Conniff wrote in Discover: "In separate surveys, Ulrich, Orians, and others have found that people respond strongly to landscapes with open, grassy vegetation, scattered stands of branchy trees, water, changes in elevation, winding trails, and brightly lit clearings..." In one amusing study, 1001 people from 15 different countries were surveyed about what they'd like to see in a painting. Then the sponsors of the research, conceptual art pranksters Komar and Melamid, painted each country's "Most Wanted Painting." Even though the researchers hadn't mentioned what type of picture it should be, the consensus in 13 of the 15 cultures favored landscapes and 11 of the 15 looked surprisingly like golf courses. All over the world, people want to see grassland, a lake, and some trees, but not a solid forest. And they always want to see it slightly from above. The project was intended to satirize popular taste, but it ended up revealing much about about human desires. Above is Komar and Melamid's rendition of America's Most Wanted Painting and here's a par 3 from the Coeur d'Alene golf course in Idaho that is similar in outline but aesthetically superior in execution.
The current theory for why golf courses are so attractive to millions (mostly men), perhaps first put forward in John Strawn's book Driving the Green: The Making of a Golf Course, is that they look like happy hunting grounds—a Disney-version of the primordial East African grasslands. Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, author of the landmark 1975 book Sociobiology, once told me, "I believe that the reason that people find well-landscaped golf courses 'beautiful' is that they look like savannas, down to the scattered trees, copses, and lakes, and most especially if they have vistas of the sea."
  Hmm perhaps the regular presence of either sea or running water in so many landscapes also supports the idea that much of human evolution came about with us moving to the seashore.
Whistling Straits 17th, par 3, Wisconsin, designed by Pete Dye, 1999, a wholly manufactured version of the wild Irish links

                         My personal favourite of the pictures he illustrates it with     Which brought up the thought. Within decades it will be possible to start building the first O'Neill colony. Since this is an almost infinitely scalable industry (even after we have removed a few kilometres of topsoil off the Moon there are many other asteroids, comets and such out there.      So in due course humanity will be manufacturing landscape by the hundreds, even thousands, of square miles. Yep - that does look like it could do with a bit of design work. Guess where we can find designers.   PS I also strikes me that this artificial re-Edenising of large chunks of land (minimum 1/4 square mile) each, is one in the eye to the ecofascist who insist that "it is undeniable that mankind is destroying the Earth". It is actually undeniable that in substantial places, by any standard of human beauty, we are making it far better than nature ever did.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Decivilisation, Overgovernment and Universal Empire

     I was impressed by this article from the Von Mises Institute on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The Misites are 100% free marketists & I only about 85% so, since our country is currently 75% the other way (50% of the money being spent by government and at least 50% of the free market being stifled by government controls) I am happy to be a fellow traveller for most of the journey. If we ever get to the place where government makes up 15% of the economy it may well be obvious.

    Anyway the basic premise is that  at the start of the Imperial period
as Peter Temin has shown ("The Economy of the Early Roman Empire," Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 20, no. 1, winter 2006, pp. 133–151), was characterized by a remarkable degree of institutional legal respect for private property (Roman law), and by the specialization and spread of exchanges in all sectors and factor markets (particularly the labor market, since, as Temin has demonstrated, the effect of slavery was much more modest that has been believed up to now). As a result, the Roman economy of the period reached a level of prosperity, economic development, urbanization, and culture that would not be seen again in the world until well into the 18th century.

  and that as time passed state parasitism, both in the form of regulators, inspectors and government employees and their friends and in the form of welfare aka free bread and circuses for the population of Rome, which unsurprisingly grew to 1 million, placed an ever growing burden on those participating in the free market.

   This effect is worsened because the taxes & impositions can most easily be extracted not from production but from dealing. Thus the forces behind Adam Smith's great observation, that people working together can produce far more than those working in isolation, are reversed. If you don't want to pay taxes limit yourself to subsistence farming.

   Nowadays we see this when doctors paint their own houses because, while they earn far more per hour than the painter, they pay for such services far more than the painter receives, so it is actually worth while taking time off earning to do so.

   Ditto the current fascination on every TV channel, with people building their own houses. In these programmes the people consistently do it in as expensive a way as possible while making elementary mistakes, due to inexperience - but still produce a home far cheaper than the professional government regulated builders do.

   We also see factories starting to set up their own "back up" electricity supplies.

   Then, to hide the fact that government is making everything more expensive they introduce price controls. Thus the goods stop being more expensive, they just become unavailable as demand, at lower prices, rises and supply, at loss making prices, drys up.

   The end result of this for the Roman Empire is described by Lanctantius 314/5 AD in very modern terms
There began to be fewer men who paid taxes than there were who received wages; so that the means of the husbandmen being exhausted by enormous impositions, the farms were abandoned, cultivated grounds became woodland … And many presidents and a multitude of inferior officers lay heavy on each territory, and almost on each city. There were also many stewards of different degrees, and deputies of presidents. Very few civil causes came before them: but there were condemnations daily, and forfeitures frequently inflicted; taxes on numberless commodities, and those not only often repeated, but perpetual, and, in exacting them, intolerable wrongs
    Then the barbarians arrive and destroy the Emipre - except they aren't destroying it, as Danny DeVito said  "it was dead when they got there".  Or as Salvian of Marseilles said
so that many, even persons of good birth, who have enjoyed a liberal education, seek refuge with the enemy to escape death under the trials of the general persecution. They seek among the barbarians the Roman mercy, since they cannot endure the barbarous mercilessness they find among the Romans.
   The Romans did not destroy the Empire they just gave it a decent burial.
  Von Mises put it 
A social order is doomed if the actions which its normal functioning requires are rejected by the standards of morality, are declared illegal by the laws of the country, and are prosecuted as criminal by the courts and the police. The Roman Empire crumbled to dust because it lacked the spirit of liberalism and free enterprise. The policy of interventionism and its political corollary, the Fuhrer principle, decomposed the mighty empire as they will by necessity always disintegrate and destroy any social entity.
  Which brings me to the unique danger the human race now face if we don't develop space. We are visibly heading for a one world government. Probably not defined as that. The individual states of the USA still call themselves "sovereign" in their constitutions. We have an ever growing international bureaucracy, whether it be the EU, the IMF, NATO, the ICC, to which nations "voluntarily" submit, having no real option. We also have blatantly illegal attacks (called humanitarian interventions or assistance to freedom fighters)  against any small state which refuses to do everything it is told - eg Syria, Iran, North Korea & over its new constitution, even Hungary; or against those who do everything they can to be obedient but what the hell, the "international community" likes to throw them against the wall anyway - Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq. That is how an empire works. The Romans did the same to their "friends and allies" though they remained nominally equally independent.

   But the Romans couldn't conquer the entire world. There was always an outside for people to take refuge in and perhaps more importantly, to give an example of freedom in successful action to.

   Over the last 2 decades we have seen the west adopting ecofascism and declining into recession while the other countries are growing at an average of 7%. That is a far more effective example than the barbarians could ever have given the Romans. But does anybody doubt that if the global bureaucracy had had a little more power, they would not have enforced their ecofascist Luddism on all the world? Does anybody dispute that they would like to be able to arrest people for disputing the CAGW lie?

  As technology makes the world smaller military capacity becomes ever more worldwide and the global bureaucracy thus becomes more able to enforce its parasitism everywhere.

   Our current Luddite rulers are visibly more parasitic than even the worst of the Roman Emperors (a rich society can afford more parasitism and insanity than a poor one). If we get a world government before humanity has built a refuge in space, there would be nothing to challenge or limit the universal growth of state parasitism. Thank Ghod for Communist China, the only state ultimately big enough to stand up for freed capitalism.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nuclear Is A Renewable Power - Moreso Than Windmills Or Dams

    It is years since Professor Bernard Cohen worked out that there was enough uranium in seawater to keep the current world nuclear programme running for 5 billion years - ie till after the sun explodes.

    So the news that extracting this uranium has become significantly cheaper is a difference of practice more than principle.
"Estimates indicate that the oceans are a mother lode of uranium, with far more uranium dissolved in seawater than in all the known terrestrial deposits that can be mined," said Robin D. Rogers, Ph.D., who organized the symposium and presented his own technology. "The difficulty has always been that the concentration is just very, very low, making the cost of extraction high. But we are gaining on that challenge."
,,,,DOE-funded technology now can extract about twice as much uranium from seawater as the first approaches, developed in Japan in the late 1990s.
That improvement reduces production costs down to around $300 per pound of uranium, from a cost of $560 per pound using the Japanese technology. However, extraction from seawater remains about five times more expensive than uranium mined from the ground.
Schneider explained, however, that the current goal is not to make seawater extraction as economical as terrestrial mining. Instead, scientists are trying to establish uranium from the ocean can act as a sort of "economic backstop" that will ensure there will be enough uranium to sustain nuclear power through the 21st century and beyond. companies want assurance that reasonably priced uranium fuel will be available on a century-long time frame.
"This uncertainty around whether there's enough terrestrial uranium is impacting the decision-making in the industry, because it's hard to make long-term research and development or deployment decisions in the face of big uncertainties about the resource," said Schneider. "So if we can tap into uranium from seawater, we can remove that uncertainty."

His research group is testing waste shrimp shells from the seafood industry to make a biodegradable absorbent material.
     This growth of technology making everything cheaper is precisely what Julian Simon forecast  (& Paul Ehrlich & the "environmentalists" didn't. It is what is driving the shale gas revolution and what would certainly get Britain out of our self induced recession if the government wanted.

      It almost doesn't matter whether the cost of this extraction ever drops below that of conventional mining. After all the costs of mining are also subject to technological improvement so it is not a race with a stationary target.

      What matters is that we know this can be done. Whether uranium costs $300 a pound or $50 is insignificant compared to the value of electricity it produces.

      An other argument used by the anti-nuclearists is that their power is secure because these nasty foreigners might refuse to sell it to us. Well since no nasty foreigner can keep the sea away from Britain we will obviously be seeing a public retraction of that argument by Ed Davy & his ministry  Well we will if he isn't a lying fascist parasite.

     When it comes to renewability - windmills may last about 25 years and use up a lot of rare earth materials so they are not fully "renewable". Hydro dams inevitably silt up, though it may take a few centuries so they are not fully renewable. Nuclear power can run for 5,000,000,000 years (200 million times more actually). It, alone, can honestly be called "renewable"

     Clearly Scottish Renewables, the government funded lobbyists of government and propagandists for windmills are going to have to change their name. Well they will if honesty is any slightest consideration. Any bets?

   Another point which strikes me is that with waste shells becoming of importance to this process, it may well be that there would be a serendipitous benefit to both sides if the floating island concept of Marshall Savage was developed. One side effect of the OTEC generator used to power the Aquarius project is fertile deep seawater which can be used to grow almost unlimited amounts of seafood, including of the shelled variety. This means virtually unlimited amounts of shell going a-begging.


   And somewhat facetiously - considering that all these radioactives come from the sea, if the waste were ground small and dumped back in it the net long term radiation would be marginally reduced. Facetiously because (A) the actinidess that make up radioactive waste are actually very valuable and (B) there would be a short term (ie decades) tiny increase as short term radioactives burned out.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Making Life Comfortable Pays

Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of Facebook, has abandoned his American citizenship ahead of the social networking company's possibly oversubscribed IPO in May (since not  entirely successful but he will have got his money)
“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” his spokesman Tom Goodman told Bloomberg.
Brazilian-born Saverin made the initial investment of $1,000 in Facebook when he and Zuckerberg were students together at Harvard...
Singapore has no capital gains tax, so renouncing his citizenship ahead of the IPO is a very smart idea, according to Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan’s law school. "Once it’s public you can’t fool around with the value." He'll still get a hefty bill from the IRS, but it shouldn't be too hard to swallow.
    We have long had European tax exiles living in Monaco & their like. We have also had rich people from the 3rd world setting up homes here (for example an extraordinary number of Bollywood stars choose to live in Britain).

      This shows that the trend is not one way. Singapore is by no stretch of the imagination a 3rd world country today. However it used to be. It is also one of world's most heavily populated areas with no natural resources or indeed natural beauty (it has a lot of wonderful sights but all man made). The super rich don't just choose where to live because of the taxes - after all at that level money is just numbers whereas luxury is lifestyle.

      Indeed if it weren't for the fact that it isn't floating Singapore would be a Victorian seasted - An island with few inhabitants the Victorians built into a major city & whose own inhabitants have built it into a major world city.

      If that can be done there it can be done anywhere.

      Within our lifetimes we may see the rich and talented no longer living in California, New York, London or even Aspen (itself a city that deliberately built itself into a home for the rich) but on ocean seasteds, permanently cruising ships, orbit, the Moon or L5 colonies. The important things will be (A) are they attractive places to live & (B) taxes (in that order).

     On one point the space orbital, Lunar and L5 settlements will have one unique selling point - low or zero gravity. We don't know if low gravity will slow ageing, though it is not unlikely. However it will certainly make it more comfortable and falls, a major cause of incapacity in the elderly, will lose its terrors.

    Will Mr Saverin eventually retire to an O'Neill colony with a particularly low spin?  I wouldn't bet against it. Will the money from others like him be invested in space and seasteds as soon as they look like comfortable places to live? That I would bet on.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

   I found this listing of government expenditure as a % of GDP to be interesting:

Country - Tax burden % GDP - Govt. expend. % GDP

Albania 24.3 32.3
Algeria 8.0 35.4
Angola 6.1 41.6
Argentina 26.1 24.7
Armenia 16.8 21.8
Australia 30.8 34.3
Austria 42.9 49.0
Azerbaijan 17.7 31.1
Bahamas 16.8 20.9
Bahrain 4.8 25.7
Bangladesh 8.8 15.9
Belarus 30.4 49.6
Belgium 46.5 50.0
Bolivia 28.5 34.8
Bosnia and Herzegovina 37.6 50.3
Brazil 34.4 41.0
Bulgaria 33.3 37.3
Burma 3.0 8.0
Canada 32.2 39.7
Central African Republic 7.9 15.5
China 18.0 20.8
Croatia 23.3 40.7
Cuba 41.2 78.1
Cyprus 39.2 42.6
Czech Republic 36.2 42.9
Egypt 15.4 34.0
Estonia 32.3 39.9
Finland 43.2 49.5
France 44.6 52.8
Germany 40.6 43.7
Ghana 20.6 42.4
Greece 35.1 46.8
Hong Kong 13.0 18.6
Hungary 40.5 49.2
Iceland 40.1 57.8
India 18.6 27.2
Indonesia 13.3 19.2
Iran 6.1 28.3
Ireland 30.8 42.0
Japan 28.3 37.1
Kuwait 1.5 31.8
Malaysia 15.3 26.3
Mexico 8.2 23.7
Montenegro 30.0 48.8
Morocco 26.9 29.1
Netherlands 39.8 45.9
New Zealand 34.5 41.1
Nigeria 5.9 30.0
Pakistan 10.2 19.3
Poland 34.9 43.3
Portugal 37.7 46.1
Qatar 4.9 27.0
Romania 28.5 37.6
Russia 34.1 34.1
Saudi Arabia 6.6 29.1
Serbia 36.3 44.0
Singapore 14.2 17.0
South Africa 25.7 27.4
South Korea 26.6 30.0
Spain 33.9 41.1
Sweden 47.9 52.5
Switzerland 29.4 32.0
Taiwan 12.9 18.5
Tanzania 14.8 25.5
Thailand 16.0 17.7
Ukraine 37.7 47.3
United Arab Emirates 1.8 26.4
United Kingdom 38.9 47.3
United States 26.9 38.9
Venezuela 13.6 34.0
Vietnam 23.6 28.8
Yemen 7.3 43.0
Zimbabwe 31.7 97.8

   I've edited out most of the smaller & island nations.      I assume governments getting money from oil count as owning the oil not getting it in tax & there may well be other countries with significant non-tax sources of income. This explaind how the UAE can manage to raise only 1.8% by taxes and spend 26.4%. Beyond that the correlatio9n between being poor and having low taxes seems closer than that between being competently run and having low expenditure, though bith exist. I guess when everybody is on the breadline government simply cannot walk off with 50% of the country's money but in richer countries we can afford parasitism without starving. Countries with low spanding rates (Burma) are not closely associated with those where government is not opporesive.      Everybody (except Russia & I'm not sure i 100% trust their figure) is spending more than they raise in taxes. The well run countries generally have a disparity of under 5%. Here it may be that economic growth, averaging above 5% world wide, allows an expansion of the money supply and that is how they make up the difference. The ones with significantly more than a 10% imbalance & no oil are mainly kletocracies (Montenegro, Zimbabwe) or in crisis (Egypt|). Despite our deficit our disparity is not to great which is probably why we can still borrow.      On the other hand as a proportion of GNP our government spends more than everybody but Belguim, Bosnia, Cuba, Finland, France, Iceland, Montenegro, Sweden and of course Zimbabwe. An interesting mixture of basket cases and some of the world's most wealthy. Though the wealthy ones are all slow growing.

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Monday, August 20, 2012


 If we want to improve education in the UK, why not do what we know actually works? – TIM WORSTALL Telegraph Blogs
Nothing Jerry Pournelle hasn't long spotted (he puts this recommendation on his blog) but Worstall puts it well. I find his columns normally worth it.
"Or as PJ O’Rourke once pointed out (and my own early experience confirmed) anyone who has ever dated an Education major knows what the problem in teaching is: it’s not an occupation attracting the clever.
What’s really remarkable about this empirical evidence is that the three things that seem to be important are the three things that would and do produce fits of the vapours in our educational experts and the teaching unions. But maybe it’s just a result of that third problem: they’re really not all that bright."
   Windmill induced fluctuations in the grid are worrying Germany.

   But fortunately our glorious We Eck has no such worries, the laws of physics applying differently here.

"The rolling mill's highly sensitive monitor stopped production so abruptly that the aluminium belts snagged. They hit the machines and destroyed a piece of the mill. The reason: The voltage off the electricity grid weakened for just a millisecond.
Workers had to free half-finished aluminium rolls from the machines, and several hours passed before they could be restarted. The damage to the machines cost some €10,000 ($12,300).
In the following three weeks, the voltage weakened at the Hamburg factory two more times, each time for a fraction of second

Via Bishop Hill - evidence given to Parliament & undisputed by them, that windmills mixed with combined gas turbines actually produce more CO2 than ordinary gas, which doesn't have to be so flexible if it isn't working as "back up" to windmills and is thus more efficient.

[A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup - which due to the necessity of fast response times needs OCGT generation (CCGT can respond quickly but the heat-exchanger systems upon which their increased efficiency relies, cannot - so CCGT behaves like OCGT under these circumstances). CCGT produces 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per MWh, OCGT produces 0.6 tonnes. Thus 0.6 tonnes x 75% = 0.45 tonnes. Conclusion: Wind + OCGT backup produces more 0.05 tonnes of CO2 per MWh than continuous CCGT.


   Again via Bishop Hill - rather long but the bottom line - the BBC claimed their opinions on catastrophic warming were formed by discussions with "leading scientists".

    They continue to maintain this and it must thus be classed as the very highest standard of honesty to which the BBC ever aspire. On the other hand  there is a lot of evidence that this is a total lie & they only asked ecofascist activists.

    The BBC could prove themselves honest, or dishonest at any time by answering a Freedom of Information inquiry on the subject but have always refused to.

    4 years of attempts to make them do so have finally been dismissed.
  Jo Nova on how the various warmist and  "environmentalist" scare predictions compare with subsequent reality. Obviously the governments, media and ecofascists have been wrong on virtually all points.
The data presented here is impeccably sourced, very relevant, publicly available, and from our best instruments. Yet it never appears in the mainstream media – have you ever seen anything like any of the figures here in the mainstream media? That alone tells you that the “debate” is about politics and power, and not about science or truth
This is an unusual political issue, because there is a right and a wrong answer and everyone will know what it is eventually. People are going ahead and emitting CO2 anyway, so we are doing the experiment: either the world heats up by several degrees by 2050 or so, or it doesn’t.
Notice that the skeptics agree with the government climate scientists about the direct effect of CO2; they just disagree just about the feedbacks. The climate debate is all about the feedbacks; everything else is merely a sideshow. Yet hardly anyone knows that.

More Scots in fuel poverty than in any other UK region

Herald Scotland   Fortunately every Holyrood politician who isn't personally wholly corrupt has publicly acknowledged this is their fault. Unfortunately there is no single Holyrood politician who is not personally wholly corrupt. ------------------------------- UK Can Run Power Grid for 500 Years On Current Waste Plutonium Stores see above item ------------------------------- Cost of energy bills have increased 140% in 8 years. ----------------------------- Wikipedia article on Land value Tax. Considering Wikipedia's generally reactionary big state stance they are surprisingly unable to find any downside of a tax the world's government (except Singapore) refuse to use. --------------------------------   And finally noblesse oblige requires us gentlemen to charitably help lesbians reform.
At first I was overwhelmed, and a little depressed, about how many of my lesbian clients and friends were rarely -- if ever -- having sex with their partners. But when I started doing research on this subject, I found reason to hope. There's some evidence that a minority (maybe 20 percent) of long-term lesbian partners sustain sexual intimacy after 10 or 20 or more years together.

 Poor things.
HT Steve Sailer.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Pussy Riot" - 10 Minutes At The Head Of The News - Stephen Birrell Wholly Censored

  The first 10 minutes of Friday's Channel 4 news was given over to the Russians imprisoning Pussy Riot for singing offensive and obscene comments in the middle of Moscow's cathedral. It has been all over the news with everybody from Madonna down, or up, getting airtime to say how dreadful it is. 4,900,000 items on Google news including this from the BBC's newspaper arm, the Guardian on Sunday. 
Pussy Riot: It took a bunch of bright, sassy women in colourful balaclavas to blow the lid off Putin's RussiaWhat Pussy Riot have done is show up the machinery of the state for what it is: scary, violent, punitive and male....

Pussy Riot blew apart the myth of modern Russia with little more than song and colourful outfits.
Three weeks ago, I met three (unimprisoned) members of the group on the eve of the trial opening. While they talked interestingly about all sorts of things – the church, the state, feminism, art – what struck me above and beyond anything else was simply how funny they were, how charming, how – I can't think of any other way of saying this – how nice they were.
  Obviously, the western media, not being simply corrupt totalitarian fascist parasites who care not in the smallest degree about freedom of speech and only use "human rights" as propaganda against countries they would really like to bomb, would give far more coverage if somebody were imprisoned, in our own country, for saying something somewhat less offensive to most people, in their own home.

   Or possibly I am wrong about our media not being simply corrupt totalitarian fascist parasites who care not in the smallest degree about freedom of speech.

   Google News hits turn out to be somewhat less than 4,900,000.  Not the considerably more they should be, bearing in mind that people are more interested in news about their home country. Not 250,000 as it would be if our media approched 50% honest; not the 100,000 if it were 10% honest or even the 5,000 if it were under 0.5% (ie zero to the nearest whole number) honest. Stephen Birrell  is mentioned in 0.0 news items.
Internet bigot Stephen Birrell jailed for eight months

A man who posted sectarian comments on a Facebook page called "Neil Lennon Should be Banned" has been jailed for eight months.
Stephen Birrell, 28, from Glasgow, admitted posting the religiously prejudiced abuse earlier this year.
Sheriff Bill Totten said what Birrell had done was a hate crime which would not be tolerated by "the right thinking people of Glasgow and Scotland".
He said he wanted to send out "a clear message to deter others".
  As reported by our state fascist broadcasting monopoly the BBC. This appears to have been written without the Beeboid author going to the trouble of going all the way to Glasgow to meet him.

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