Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Producing Crap.

How come the producer Jerry Bruckheimer is responsible for a string of dismal movies such as 'Pearl Harbour', the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' sequels, 'Coyote Ugly' and 'National Treasure' yet is also responsible for some of the very best television drama such as CSI and 'Without a Trace'? It seems reasonable to suppose that someone who makes cliched and overblown rubbish in one medium would to do the same in the other, yet this is clearly not the case.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More Free Speech.

This is the stupidest idea ever :
Human rights groups have opposed a plan by police chiefs to make flag-burning by protesters a new criminal offence.

The Liberal Democrats and Liberty said new legislation was unnecessary because police had powers to tackle incitement.

Scotland Yard has drawn up proposals to submit to the Attorney General because of a belief the UK has become a soft touch in dealing with extremists.
Scotland Yard refused to exercise their existing powers against the incitememnt of violence when they declined to arrest people waving placards saying "Behead those who insult islam" so they are now trying to deflect criticism by arguing that they need new laws. It is an absurd and unnecessary restriction on free speech.

Religion and Freedom of Speech.

In the all too frequent debates that have emerged over the limits of free speech when it offends religious sensibilities, mostly one religion in particular, one of the arguments of those who wish to inhibit free speech either by law or making certain ideas taboo is that the right to speak freely does not encompass the right to cause offence and the violent response of those who have been offended is in part the responsibility of the person who caused offence. This is of course bizarre as this article in the Australian publication 'Policy' by, Steve Edwards, elaborates:

Allow me to take stock of our new situation with reference to two hypothetical social groups, A and B. Group A is rather scientific and sceptical, curious and uncertain—at once interested in discovering ‘truths’ through rational inquiry, while remaining open to the possibility that existing knowledge can be falsified. Group B subscribes, with a famous ardour and certainty, to a bundle of unproven and unfalsifiable beliefs—a religion—and thus necessarily rejects the very premise of the ‘fallibility of human knowledge’. Clearly, as B already has The Truth, it shall be somewhat lukewarm on allowing any ‘conflicting notions’ to exist at all. Thus, legally-speaking, all demands that A take any notice of B’s sensibilities wherever something might grievously offend some pillar or derivative symbol of The Truth, imply both a justification for deploying force against A merely to placate the feelings of B and the subversion of Mill’s scientific case for free expression by allowing piecemeal incursions on behalf of ‘infallible’ dogma. That is, so long as B can bring enough rancour and enmity down on A for showing disrespect to some aspect of B’s unproven and unfalsifiable beliefs, the state may side with B against A.

In addition to this legal capitulation, our willingness to indulge B’s remarkable behaviour thus far has serious moral ramifications. Incredibly, due to the philosophical nature of B’s beliefs as unfalsifiable dogma, we have also necessarily admitted that B can be morally justified in heaping massive opprobrium on A, without being asked or even being able to explain precisely why. That is to say, B may mercilessly assault the character of A without bothering to provide a credible, logical, reason—I’m afraid ‘because God says so’ is no such reason. In short, by allowing any superstition to have a role in determining the theoretical legal limits of ‘free speech’ we are inadvertently crafting a doctrine for unscientific, irrational bullies.
The current governments long standing plans for a religious hatred bill will if it is ever allowed to pass do exactly that. It would be the most powerful tool for religious persecution since the eighteenth century.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Inflicting Torture To Prevent Torture.

I've just watched a Channel 4 plug for 'The Secret Policeman's Ball', a charity comedy gig to raise the profile of Amnesty International's work, which features routines from the likes of Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard and Jo Brand. It isn't hard to see why sitting through that would increase people's empathy for the victims of torture.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

'We Are All Hezbollah Now'

With the news that Argentinian prosecuters have announced that the bombing a decade of a Buenos Airies was an act that Iran's former president and Hezbollah were responsible for it is worth reminding everyone that these are the people John Pilger regards as 'heroes' and George Galloway believes should be glorified. The likely culpability of Hezbollah in the massacre has been known for years so I really don't see how there is any conclusion to be drawn other than that those on the left who supported Hezbollah when they attacked Israel earlier this year, believe that slaughtering dozens of jews is a heroic act. Incidently the government of Argentina is a left wing populist ally of Hugo Chavez so the inevitable squeals of Argentina being manipulated by Yanqui-Zionist plots are even more insane than usual.

More Policing.

Just when I thought that it was impossible to get more depressed about the police I see this story (via Dumbjon)-

Two police officers in Stroud barricaded themselves in a takeaway shop after youths became abusive.

About 20 youths were reported to police for swearing and threatening customers in the Subway Sandwich bar in Kings Street on Monday night.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Synergy, Vision, Ingenuity, Gobbledygook

After referring yesterday to the report that labels my local police force the worst in the country I was wondering what made it so bad. The Policeman's Blog provides an example of how Northants police operate:
VIKING: COURAGEOUS EXPLORER, DETERMINED PATHFINDER
17 October 2006

Operation Viking has been developed to coincide with the introduction of the SCT in Brackley Town. The initiative will focus on enhancing community safety issues in Brackley Town, through collaboration and problem solving methodologies.
The Viking title has been chosen for a number of reasons, primarily that the Brackley SCT is the pathfinder for South Northamptonshire, but also that we recognise the need to be bold and courageous in transforming Policing in Brackley from a reactive service that is distant in many ways from its statutory partners and the community it serves, into a formidable, cohesive alliance.
The challenge of Viking is not to commit local Police to working harder, but through collaboration and effective, meaningful problem solving partnerships to work smarter. Problem solving models have been developed to address the root causes of crime and disorder in the Town and we will systematically dismantle these. Viking will forge new partnerships and balance respective agendas, enabling the realisation of intelligence led Policing.
Where we lack resources, we will be innovative, when we respond, we will be lawfully audacious and by harnessing the potency of collaborations, we will ignite synergy.
Vision, Transparency, Ingenuity - we welcome you to Operation Viking.
Read the whole thing. Actually don't that would be cruel and inhuman.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Links.

Ok time for one of those periodic updatings of the links, in comes-

Prague Tory- A remarkably self explanatory blog title it must be said.

Blithering Bunny- I used to have a link there anyway but some technical problem led to me deleting it. This blog title is rather less self explanatory as he in fact is not a rabbit.

Choice Cuts- Good stuff, some interesting stuff on crime.

Ellee Seymour- One of those suspiciously professional looking blogs by an aspiring member of the great and the good. Wrote some of the more illuminating sections of the Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze.

Marmot's Hole- Focuses on Korea, invaluable during the DPRK's recent shenanigans.

The Raving Wingnut- Steve Edwards is Australian, but that doesn't mean he's bad, I'll be linking to an article of his later this week so I shall not bother with an introduction here.

Daniel Finkelstein- Times comment editor's blog. Not that good yet but seeing as his articles are usually very good I'm assuming it will improve.

Peter Hitchens- Unfashionably honest, even when I think he's wrong I usually find him to be commendably forthright.

Brian Appleyard- Another professional writer who is an intelligent and independent minded voice.

No Place Like Home.

Immigration is a subject where debate has atrophied in the public sphere due in large part to the tactic of tarring and feathering anyone who holds a sceptical viewpoint. My own views on the subject don't fall neatly in one camp or the other although because of the dishonesty of the pro immigration lobby I usually find myself arguing against them. There has been an almost complete denial that immigration has costs and benefits that have to be weighed up and anyone suggesting the downside of the equation should be taken into account has been treated as though they were the reincarnation of Dr Mengele. In such an atmosphere it is hardly surprising that public services have failed to respond swiftly to the sudden influx of migrants from Eastern Europe. For example schools in Northamptonshire are complaining of the sudden influx of non english speakers and the lack of additional money to cope.
SCHOOLS in the county want extra cash to help teach the growing numbers of foreign children in their classrooms.
The schools say their resources are being stretched to the limit by the need to provide for youngsters from eastern Europe and other nations.
Between September 2004 and April 2006 nearly 3,000 pupils with English as a foreign language started school in the county. The county council has not had any extra Government cash to help teach the new arrivals and many schools are making their own arrangements.
In other news Northamptonshire Police have been named the joint worst in England along with Humberside. I wonder what sort of priorities they have. The inadequacy of our police force might explain their role in getting an innocent man jailed for 3 years on a bogus, evidence free charge of sexual assault.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Unvoiced Voices Heard.

The Telegraph has gone downhill in recent years, one of the symptoms of this crappiness is the fact that Sam Leith is employed there. In his latest offering he refers to responses he received in relation to a comment about youths outside his house.
The latter type was the most crude and straightforward. It suggested, broadly, that the only way to prevent such things happening was to arm all home-owners (a 9mm Glock was the weapon suggested by one respondent) – apparently on the principle that civil society would be best maintained if private citizens were given charge of executing people for vandalism. Unvoiced was the sneaking hope that we should be empowered to go about shooting black children on suspicion of playing football.
Does anyone want to unravel the unvoiced hopes buried in the pysche of a man whose reaction to a suggestion that people have the right to self defence is to immediately start fantasising about executing black kids? No me neither.

Iran- No Big Deal.

The West has been having problems with Persia at least since the days of Themistocles but in all that time the nation's conflicts with the West have been largely indecisive and they have not attempted a major westward expansion of their power for hundreds if not thousands of years. The current regime is pretty unpleasant and what passes for civilised life seems to have regressed but that doesn't make it a danger to us. As this fascinating article by Gregory Cochran in the American Conservative points out, its behaviour is far more consistant with planning for a defensive war and they clearly have no great ambitions for conquest.
Iran’s GNP is 20 to 40 times smaller than that of the U.S., and the Iranians are hardly sophisticated technologists. If they tried hard, if they spent a huge fraction of their GNP on weapons, they might be able to spend 1/30th as much on arms as we do. But they’re not trying hard.

In truth, Iran hasn’t embarked upon any military adventures in years: there is no pattern of aggression and conquest, no frantic military buildup. The war with Iraq a generation ago seems to have used up most of the Iranians’ revolutionary zeal. We do not hear of their “last territorial demands.” In fact, we’re still waiting for the first.

Even when provoked, they’ve been cautious. The Taliban, back in 1998, killed a number of Iranian diplomats along with thousands of fellow Shi’ites. The Iranian government was angry, as any government would have been. The Iranians threatened, they mobilized troops on the Afghan border—but never invaded.
The one concern about Iran I have had is that their behaviour could be suicidely unpredictable and they might launch a nuclear attack regardless of the consequences, but:
Most of the people running Iran today could have easily become martyrs under the Shah if they’d felt like it. Somehow they avoided it.
It's a good point, for all that the ignorant peasant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks big, when the time came to put his courage to the test, either under the Shah or against Saddam, he was conveniently absent trimming his beard. Not the behaviour that one would expect from someone planning to die for their cause.

Iran having a nuclear weapon is not a desirable prospect, but it is not such an extreme threat that we should be willing to go to war.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Call Me Callous...

... but I can't say that I'm particularly bothered about this:
Poor-quality autopsies should cause public outcry, says report
For the simple reason that having the worst doctors work on the dead is vastly preferable to trying their luck on the living. I realise that in certain untimely deaths autopsies are important, but the majority of times death is natural and the families just want to get the formalities over and done with as quickly as possible.
"If one quarter of all surgical procedures undertaken on the living were deemed, by peers, to be poorly or unacceptably badly done, there would be a public outcry," says the report from the group, which operates under the umbrella of the National Patient Safety Agency.
Yes that is true, but there is quite an important distinction between 'dead' and 'alive' whiich will explain the lack of an outcry- the dead don't complain. In fact providing morticians avoid staging puppet shows with the cadavers I'm pretty relaxed about what they do or don't do.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Mr Caring Strikes Again.

In my previous post about the Salford school, Harrop Fold, which had one of its own pupils arrested for an alleged racist remark (racist being defined as 'not speaking Urdu') I had wondered if I had gone too far in describing the headmaster, Anthony Edkins, as a child abuser. The answer I'm happy to report is no:
A FURIOUS father has accused Harrop Fold school off treating pupils worse than animals after a whole year group were forced to stand out in thAlan Cavanagh says he feels ‘nothing but utter contempt’ after his daughter Amanda, 13, claimed she and her classmates were punished by being forced to endure a heavy downpour because of bad behaviour by some pupils during morning lessons.....
...Pupils then had to sit in afternoon lessons soaking wet and shivering and Alan says those responsible should face the sack.
Uh huh, as in the previous case Mr Edkins is insisting that the pupils are lying, presumably the 13 year old girls of Salford are all conspiring against him. They're like the mafia:
The school have denied Amanda’s account of the incident and say they were left outside because of a lack of available space.

Headteacher Antony Edkins said: "Students were standing in line outside as they always do following the lunch break, when an unforeseen downpour happened.

"Unfortunately, the current building offers limited shelter so we endeavoured to get them inside as soon as we could."
Yes, that sounds plausible, a school with insufficient shelter for every pupil. I suppose during classes some of them have to hang outside the window. The alternative explanation is that the school is run by inadequate bullies who get their kicks from employing strongarm tactics against young teenage girls.
Incidently John Derbyshire writes about the previous incident here:
This mild request had somewhat the same effect on her teacher as Oliver Twist’s request for " More" had on that beadle. All the school’s PC alarms went off simultaneously. According to Codie, the teacher "started shouting and screaming, saying ‘It's racist, you're going to get done by the police"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Calling For Debates.*

Wouldn't it be easier to have a debate rather than calling for debates all the time?

* Note that I resisted the chance to include "mass debate" in the title, this was very mature of me.

The Politicians Piggy Bank- Us.

It's seldom a good sign when a political class views the general public as their own inexhaustible ATM. The main parties have been hinting at the the idea of state funding for some time, they realise that this is about as popular as genital warts so they have appointed proxies to promote the idea:
More public money could resolve party funding row

LONDON (Reuters) - Greater levels of public funding for political parties is one option being considered in a review of party financing triggered by a recent cash-for-honours scandal.

Hayden Phillips, appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair in March to examine alternatives for party funding, will also suggest a cap on donations in an interim report on Thursday.
This concept doesn't work in other fields, if a policeman announced that because he had been caught taking bribes the "system" must be reviewed it wouldn't be popular. A supermarket that overspent three times its budget would not be allowed to get away with demanding state funding to bail them out. Politicians are seeking to foist the bill for their own incompetence and sleaze onto everyone else.

It isn't as if state funding reduces corruption anyway, presumably the various scandals that have afflicted European politics notably the Helmut Kohl case are known to everybody. Still it is never the fault of the politicians:
"As members of the public we cannot have it both ways. Party politics costs," Phillips said.
This patronising buffoon does not appear to understand that the public don't want it "both ways", they want parties to raise their money through legitimate means and spend only what they can afford. In what other sphere is that considered having it "both ways"?
Phillips' interim report aims to provoke a debate between political parties
That's lovely, I can't see any vested interests there then, just groups of people deciding whether they should be given free money. Should be some debate!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Who Could Have Predicted It?

A murderer has escaped from pris... a shopping centre,

Former market trader Mark Ryder, 37, escaped from Highpoint jail in Stradishall, Suffolk, on Thursday during an escorted visit to the Grafton Shopping Centre in Cambridge.
Oh well these things happen, it isn't as if this could have been predicted.

Ryder was originally jailed for theft but a judge imposed a life sentence in 1993 after he shot dead a love rival after escaping from prison guards during a trip to Brighton, East Sussex.
Oh.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Caring & Tolerant.

A Salford schoolgirl has been reported to the police by her school and subsequently arrested on suspicion of commiting a racial public order offence. The offence was asking not to be put in a discussion group with students who don't speak english, because obviously not being born with an instinctive understanding of Urdu marks someone out as part of the Ku Klux Klan. Anthony Edkins. the child abuser who is the headmaster at the school explained:
"We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards people and pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."
Mr Edkins obviously has problems with the English language as well if he thinks that this is a "caring and tolerent attitude".

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Nork Nuke Notes.

Following on from my question yesterday about whether the North Korean nuclear bomb test might be bogus I've been reading around a bit and asking questions elsewhere. Essentially there are four methods of determining whether a nuclear test has occurred the monitoring of seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, and atmospheric radionuclide activity, of which the first and the last are the most important although NK claims that their has been no radioactive leakage. There are methods of distinguishing between nuclear devices and large accidental explosions which the CTBTO uses, but the assumption has always been that states are more likely to want to conceal real nuclear blasts rather than pass off deliberate conventional blasts as nuclear.

So why was the North Korean blast so small? There are three possibilities- It was a failed test, it was deliberately kept small due to the absence of a large desert to test it under or it was a hoax designed to intimidate the country's enemies, ie everyone.

The arguments that it was an unsuccessful test for what was intended to be a larger explosion is set out in a series of posts at Defense Tech. Essentially the argument is that it produced an energy yield of only around ten percent of what it should have been expected to produce. These devices designed to be attached to Kim Jong Il's Dong missiles explode too soon. Kim's Dong goes off prematurely.

The possibility that shows North Korea's scientists in the best light is that they kept the explosion small deliberately either to avoid upsetting its neighbours too much or for enviromental reasons. As this article notes:
carrying out nuclear tests inside North Korea would be an extremely sticky action. That is because this kind of nuclear testing could only be carried out underground. There is absolutely no way they could do in the air or above ground. Even with underground nuclear testing, you normally need a fifty to sixty kilometer square of desert for a nuclear test. In the U.S., this would be something like the Nevada desert. Unless you have the kind they have in India or Pakistan, you cannot do it. The reason for this is that the underground water system gets damaged. North Korea has a very abundant flow of underground water, and if you carry out an underground nuclear test in this kind of place, radioactive materials would get into the water supply for the whole of the Korean peninsula
Whilst the hermit nation isn't known for its devotion to its citizen's welfare even a hellhole wants to keep some of its own people safe from radiation poisoning.

The arguments in favour of the proposition that it is a hoax by the DPRK are that the size of explosion can easily be reproduced by other means, the fact that NK has been trying to get the respect of its neighbours for a couple of years and the fact that they insist that there has been no radiation leakage which is highly unusual although it does have the convenient result that air samples can't confirm or disprove the claims of a successful blast. It is certainly the case that the possibility of it being a hoax is being discussed more widely since yesterday when I was worried that I had become the classic internet conspiracy crank for voicing my scepticism:
U.S. intelligence agencies say, based on preliminary indications, that North Korea did not produce its first nuclear blast yesterday.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that seismic readings show that the conventional high explosives used to create a chain reaction in a plutonium-based device went off, but that the blast's readings were shy of a typical nuclear detonation.
The consensus now appears to be that North Korea's military conducted an unsuccessful test and are probably going to behave even more crazily to regain some respect. For what it's worth I still believe the whole thing is a fraud perpetrated by Pyongyang.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nork Nukes.

The North Korean regime has it appears tested a nuclear bomb, one aspect of the reports puzzles me though, the explosion was the equivalent of 550 tonnes of TNT which is a very small nuke, far smaller that the Hiroshima bomb which was 15000 tonnes. The force of the World Trade Center collapse was equivalent to 600 tonnes of TNT and no nuclear weapons were used then. So either North Korea have very little nuclear material to use in tests or they have simply exploded 550 tonnes of TNT and claimed to have a workable nuclear bomb.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Comment is Free hits a new low.

Mark Ames, editor of the Exile magazine, writes about the trend of school massacres-
another Wisconsin town, Green Bay, was rocked by the arrest of a group of teenagers who were storing up weapons and planning to carry out a Columbine-style massacre....
....Indeed the only hero so far this school year is the Green Bay school snitch, senior Matt Atkinson, who turned the Wisconsin school plotter-nerds in. While many are already questioning how real the plot was, ABC News made Atkinson its "Hero of the Week," and the school principal is talking of setting up a Matt Atkinson scholarship fund.

In slave times, snitches were also well-regarded and rewarded, and received glowing coverage in local slaveholder newspapers. Snitching was one of the few ways a slave could advance socially, and in the eyes of the master. However, then, as now, slave rebellion plots "exposed" by slave snitches were often exaggerated or entirely invented. Slaves were put to death, and the snitches rewarded with freedom and cash.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Go Away, Go Away, Go Away.

George Monbiot's appearance at the Conservative Party conference appears to have caused some consternation, not least to himself. Thankfully in a previous column Moonbat has explained the correct way of deterring the crazy greenie-
I sensed that someone was standing over me, and looked up. I was surrounded by a ring of women. They held their palms out towards me and their eyes were closed. Slowly and quietly they started chanting. “Go away. Go away. Go away.” It was terrifying and extremely effective. I left immediately

Battle Of The Bullshitters.

OK, which smarmy political leader made the most absurd conference speech, Blair or Cameron?

On the one hand we have Tony Blair promising to try and solve the Middle East situation in the next few months despite the fact that even before he was a lame duck his main achievement in the holy land was to sit grinning like a muppet whilst Captain Darling, sorry I meant Bashir Assad, sang the praises of suicide bombers. This was a few months after 9/11, so naturally Blair's idea of taking a stand against terrorism involved visiting Syria. Anyway having comprehensively failed to accomplish anything useful with respect to the Israel-Palestinian problem for the last 9 years he announces his intention to work really hard at it whilst he is on his way out. Naturally this absurd pledge drew a round applause from the Labour delegates.

He also said that if Darfur "were in the continent of Europe we'd act." He is the only person in the entire country who can actually affect the situation, he isn't some bystander who can bewail the tragedy of it all, he is the Prime Minister of one of the most powerful nations on earth, one which could force the Sudanese government to back down if the will was there. What was supposed to come across as a reflection of his humanitarian conscience was basically an admission that he couldn't care less.

On the other hand we have Dave, who despite not being able to hand out conference passes at a conference, feels he is up to the task of 'safe guarding' the highly complex National Health Service. His argument is essentially that the Conservatives got every major issue wrong during the pst decade therefore the voters should put them back in charge.

Of course the people really to blame for these two masters of vacuity are the half witted shit-for-brained floating voters who lap up this stuff and consistancy reject politicians who try to engage with them on an intellectual level in favour of those who make simplistic emotional appeals.