Monday, July 30, 2007

NHS, Death Taxes & Ancient Romans.

Via Tim Worstall's site this heartwarming tale of the 'Envy of the World' (so much so that no other country has sought to emulate it) in action, 18-month wait for hearing aid at 108. At first glance this seems to illustrate the indifference to individual circumstances that is inherent in a top down socialised health system. However if you imagine yourself as a dedicated grasping socialist the reasoning behind this decision is perfectly justifiable. As all socialists know people don't really own their property, they merely hold on sufferance whatever the state permits them to keep. The favourite method of grabbing people's wealth is of course death taxes, nothing pleases the socialist more than robbing recently orphaned children of the cash their parents wished to pass on. So a 108 year old woman is an affront to the socialists sense of propriety, she is hanging around far too long and her death duties are long overdue, outreach workers don't get paid with leaves do they? She is essentially an tax evader holding on to what rightfully should be spent on the occupations advertised in the Guardian jobs section.

On the subject of death taxes here is Edward Gibbon on the inherent tyranny involved, which has existed at least since the time of the Byzantine Empire:
This base and mischievous tyranny invades the security of private life; and the monarch who has indulged the appetite for gain will soon be tempted to anticipate the moment of succession, to interpret wealth as an evidence of guilt, and to proceed from the claims of inheritance, to the power of confiscation.
Ok I admit it is unlikely at this stage that the government are going to start bumping off the rich in order to take their bequests, although now that Lord Levy can't flog peerages anymore they need the money from somewhere, but the basic point about the intrusion and the growth of state greed is apt.

What Goes Up....

The much welcomed win by the Iraqi football team in the Asian Cup has raised a question that philosophers may ponder down the ages. Are there any downsides to firing guns in the air in the middle of a crowded city? I don't know the answer to that but this old post on another blog answers that very question- Celebratory gunfire, good idea or not?

Child Suicide Bombers

This article (via Nourishing Obscurity) on Afghan suicide bombers is truly horrifying. The use of child recruits is particularly savage:
In an incident that caused tears of fury among villagers, a six-year-old street urchin approached an Afghan security checkpoint and claimed that he had been cornered by the Taliban and fitted with a suicide-bomber vest. They had told him to walk up to a US patrol and press a button on the vest that would "spray flowers". Fortunately, the quick-thinking boy instead asked for help, and the vest was removed.
Read the whole thing as the blog cliche goes. The Taliban unlike the Iraqi terror groups appears unable to recruit bombers who aren't drug addicts, children, dupes or lunatics, which does at least mean that their bombers are of minimal competence. Still the combination of ignorance and desperation that the Taliban requires does mean that this looks like a situation where an aggressive hearts and mind campaign to warn the population of the Taliban's tactics could reap enormous benefits.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Death Cat!!!

I'm not sure why everyone is so impressed with this cat that can appears in old people's rooms just as they are about to die, my pet black widow spider does exactly the same thing.

An Apology.

Look I've just read the most recent Harry Potter book and I'm afraid to say I haven't been able to figure out how to make a tendentious argument about how it is an analogy for my own political beliefs.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Victory For 'Human Rights'!

The fools who run our government were willing to prevent our intelligence services from cooperating with the CIA over the capture of Osama Bin Laden out of concern that they might not treat in the style to which he was accustomed.
Ministers insisted that British secret agents would only be allowed to pass intelligence to the CIA to help it capture Osama bin Laden if the agency promised he would not be tortured, it has emerged.

MI6 believed it was close to finding the al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan in 1998, and again the next year. The plan was for MI6 to hand the CIA vital information about Bin Laden. Ministers including Robin Cook, the then foreign secretary, gave their approval on condition that the CIA gave assurances he would be treated humanely. The plot is revealed in a 75-page report by parliament's intelligence and security committee on rendition, the practice of flying detainees to places where they may be tortured.

This ought to be front page news, but inevitably it will be quietly forgotten and the posthumous canonisation of Robin Cook will proceed unabated. It does rather make a mockery of the government's posturing on terrorism though. The report concludes that:

But 1998 and 1999 were not the only times Britain had Bin Laden in its sights. In January 1996 the Home Office wrote to him when he was in Sudan. The letter, seen by the Guardian, advised him that Michael Howard, then home secretary, had "given his personal direction that you be excluded from the United Kingdom on the grounds that your presence...would not be conducive to the public good."

Indeed it would not. No doubt the pens of a thousand BBC hacks are penning a tale of how Bin Laden was driven to terrorism by Britain's fascist immigration laws.

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's All About Oil!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!

A moonbat's cut out and keep guide to American foreign policy. Pick any country you like and work out the reason behind the USA's policy towards it by answering these questions. Of course enlightened individuals already know that it's all about oil, indeed as Dennis Kuchinch informed Democratic primary voters last month "Let's face it, if Darfur had a large supply of oil, this administration would be occupying it right now.". Whether his wide words were enough to make all those oil companies in Sudan realise that they are mistaken about Sudan's vast reserves was left unstated. Pick a country and begin:

1. Is this country friendly with the USA?
Yes- Clearly they have as much to gain from US hegemony of oil as the great Satan itself. Proceed to end.
No- Proceed to 2.

2. Has the United States or one of its allies invaded this country?
Yes- Proceed to 3.
No- Proceed to 5.

3. Does this country produce oil?
Yes- Clearly the USA wants to steal the oil. Proceed to end.
No- Proceed to 4.

4. Does this country have a land border?
Yes- Clearly it is in a strategic location for an oil pipeline. Proceed to end.
No- Clearly this country's territorial waters are ripe for oil exploration. Proceed to end.

5. Does this country produce oil?
Yes- Proceed to 6.
No- See America won't intervene in foreign countries unless they have oil. Proceed to end.

6. Does this country have any contracts with American oil companies?
Yes- See, US corporations are plotting to keep control of the oil! Proceed to end.
No- Proceed to 7.

7. Would a Chomsky reading student be aware that it produces oil with no input from the USA and has not been invaded?
Yes- Wrong. Proceed to 'No'.
No- Whew! Proceed to end.

8- See, it's ALL ABOUT OIL!!!!
With the help of this guide you can bluff your way through conversations with Socialist Worker salesproles or engage in constructive on Comment is Free.

The Honours System, A Good Way Of Managing Corruption

The Honours system is corrupt, everybody knows this. It is a means of rewarding cronies and sucking up to high society. Now most people seem to think that this a good reason to scrap the whole thing or at least reform it but that misses the point. As it is if you donate large amounts of money to political parties, or serve out a career in the civil service without spilling the beans you will be rewarded with a gong. If the OBEs, MBEs, KCMGs etc didn't exist then the politicians would still want to give something in return for services rendered so what would the various donors receive instead?

There would almost certainly be an expansion of patronage in the public sector, quangos already provide helpful sinecures for political allies so would become even more politically loaded. Posts that are in the gift of the PM would be stuffed full of cronies. For instance in the USA many ambassadorships are essentially reserved for large party donors of the President's party (obviously this only applies to the good countries, crap countries get professional diplomats), this is the sort of thing which could easily spread to Britain if we lose knighthoods to fob them off with.

The honours system doesn't create corruption, it merely channels what sleaze there is into a less harmful channel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Boo Hoo.

Some British idiots went abroad to attend a riot and were shocked when violence broke out. They are now mystified as to why the public isn't outraged by this. It's like going to an orgy and then complaining of sexual harassment.


Monday, July 23, 2007

A Heartwarming Tale For Guardian Readers.

Human rights laws save asylum seeker hounded by anti paedophile mob. Justice even manages to prevail in Bush's Amerikkka!

The only way this could be improved is if the perpe... victim sues his accuser for damages.

An Alliance Without Allies.

Michael Portillo, whom is usually a fool, makes some very good points about the war in Afghanistan here. Unlike Iraq, the Afghanistan war was not a war of choice because the Taliban were in symbiotic relationship with Al Qaeda who were responsible for the murder of thousands of civilians, including a couple of hundred Britons. Unfortunately the resolve to pacify Afghanistan that existed after the 9/11 attacks has largely evaporated, particularly so among many members of Nato.

Britain's government has left the armed forces underfunded which is shameful considering the sacrifices that are being demanded of them, but Gordon Brown has preferred to use the gargantuan increases in taxation to fund his personal follies such as the failed 'New Deal' scheme or to throw money at Labour voting areas. In short the government has consistently used the armed forces for various global vanity projects that will garner the government popularity, but refuses to fund the MOD is order to appease the pacifist leanings of many of their own backbenchers.

However Britain is at least meeting the commitments to keep the Taliban out of Afghanistan, and the army has been engaged in serious fighting, with all the losses that are entailed. Meanwhile other members of what is supposedly an alliance, are shirking their duties entirely or in part. Germany for example has troops in Afghanistan, and Angela Merkel has been resolute in refusing to be intimidated into leaving, but their soldiers are based in and around Kabul which is where the fighting isn't. Peace keeping is considered to be something distinct from fighting the groups that are threatening to destroy the peace. France, Spain, Italy and Turkey are all among the countries which have refused to commit more troops. Turkey aside most of the absentees are staying away purely for domestic political advantage, however short term that turns out to be.

Afghanistan has not been an easy place to win a war historically, and NATO is doing much better than other outside powers, but at the moment the strain of the struggle falls on a handful of members. The others need to be cajoled, persuaded and prodded into engaging fully. Germany for example wants to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK ought to make it clear that it cannot support the membership of a country that is unwilling to fight. Most of the members of NATO are also members of the EU, and thus receive money indirectly from the UK, that is another lever of power to be exploited.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The BBC Could Be Worse. Really!

This clip from a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation politics programme, an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is unintentionally hilarious. The presenter's tone of disbelief as he introduces her by saying, "...'there is no such thing as Islamophobia'... there's no way I can let these statements go unchallenged!". Quite right, every time someone says they don't believe in islamophobia a liberal dies.

{Via Damian Penny}

Hillary Clinton Cleavage.

Disturbing fact: right now on 'google trends' one of the most popular searches is ' Hilary Clinton Cleavage'.

Why would someone do that? Why?!

I suppose I ought to show a picture now:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Young Turks.

Turkish children are one of the poorest performing ethnic groups in London's schools and the BBC is mystified as to the cause of this unhappy situation.
BBC News education reporter Hannah Goff visited a school in Hackney, east London, to find out why.

Several weeks ago nine-year-old Duygu didn't want to wear her traditional Turkish outfit at a special musical performance at her school.

She thought it was "uncool" - that she would be left out, her mother Canan explained.

She had also gone off playing a traditional Turkish instrument, the saz, at which she excels.

"She said it didn't sound nice any more," Canan added.

But her music group teacher talked her round just in time for the day-long celebration of Turkish culture at Berger Primary School.
Perhaps forcing children who appear want to integrate back into their ethnic box has something to do with it? Nothing like making sure children know their place, and that the place is as a multicultural decoration for their school. No doubt the school forces other nationalities to live up to their national stereotypes, and the playground is filled with French kids cycling with strings of onions round their necks, Saudi girls in burqas, and Thai boys dressed confusingly as girls,
"Now she wants to wear special Turkish trousers too and she wants to play her saz every day.

"Thanks to the music teacher the cultural barriers have disappeared again," Canan said
It looks more like the cultural barriers were coming down quite nicely until the music teacher put them up again and reinforced them.
For many Turkish-speaking pupils the fact that they have two languages to deal with makes the hurdles they have to jump almost impossible without extra help from bi-lingual classroom assistants.
Children throughout history have traditionally found it easier to pick up new languages than adults, children basically pick up language from their peers, which is why most people speak in the language and dialect of the place they were raised, rather than how their parents talk. That is, it seems, until bi-lingual teaching staff are brought in. During the 19th century, educational reforms meant that in Wales schools taught their pupils in English rather than Welsh which was usually spoken in the home. This wasn't a good policy from an ethical standpoint, but it does demonstrate the effectiveness of immersing children in an English speaking environment as it largely ensured that English replaced Welsh as the first language in the principality. Would it be too much to ask that English were made the first language of pupils in London?

Update: Rereading this post and the comments, I realise that I could come across as misanthropic git who turns purple with rage when he sees 'ethnic' costumes. This is only half right, whilst misanthropy is something I strive for I have no objection to a child liking to wear traditional Turkish dress. What is objectionable is the way the article gives the impression that the child's reluctance to do so is something which must be overcome. When I went to school thankfully I was never coerced into wearing the traditional costumes of my ethnic background. Which is just as well because being Scottish on one side and Irish on the other would presumably meant me wearing a kilt and balaclava.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Taking the 'Intelligence' Out Of 'Intelligence Committee".

Here's a depressing and concerning story which emerged last year but I've only just read about:
Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam -- Sunni or Shiite -- Reyes answered "they are probably both," then ventured "Predominantly -- probably Shiite."
Reyes could also not answer questions put by Stein about Hezbollah, a Shiite group on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations that is based in Southern Lebanon.

George Galloway.

The litigious cat impersonator George Galloway has been found guilty by the parliamentary standards committee of lying about receiving money through 'charity' from the former regime of Saddam Hussein. The committee also concluded that the documents the Daily Telegraph printed about this several years ago were genuine. Did Galloway perjure himself in that trial? If so is there sufficient evidence to prosecute him for that?

George Galloway's depravity goes well beyond partisan politics, he has consistantly supported some of the most vile regimes on the planet, whether out of principle or to get rich doing so. The evidence against him is damning and no amount of bluster can disguise that, hopefully he will now disappear into the obscurity he deserves.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Non Apology, Apologies.

In one of those recurrent child abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church on a regular basis, the Los Angeles diocese has forked out several hundred million dollars to victims of abuse. There was a statement by the Cardinal of the diocese that seemed rather odd:
"Once again I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who's been abused by priests, by deacons, by religious men and women or by lay people ... It should not have happened and should not ever happen again."
The first part of the statement, which I have put in bold, is an apology to those who have been offended. That is the sort of language you use to get rid of noisy protests about wardrobe malfunctions or some other baseless complaint by whingers with nothing better to do. It sounds as though the Cardinal automatic response before correcting himself was to launch into a 'non apology' apology. Maybe it was just a slip of the tongue, but it sounds to me as though he doesn't believe that his organisation has done anything seriously wrong.

History Boys

After reading this critique of the late American historian Arthur Schlesinger I had intended to compare him unfavourably to another left wing historian A.J.P. Taylor whose political views were positively obnoxious, but whose personal politics did not drive his works. However it was an exceedingly dull post and had too many caveats and exceptions to be of any use to anyone. The article does offer get to the heart of what is wrong with Schlesinger's brand of liberalism that dominates the American left.
It's one thing to favor a bad policy, as liberals did in the controversy over busing in the 1970s. It's something else to castigate all opponents of busing as racists, and deny even the possibility that decent, intelligent people might have legitimate misgivings about that dubious policy. This "punitive, ram-it-down-their throats quality," in Nicholas Lemann's phrase, belonged to a politics that antagonized people on purpose, because they were deemed to have it coming.
The belief that your opponents aren't merely wrong but evil remains a core trait of the left to this day.

Onto A.J.P. Taylor, one of his political stances was an intense hostility to Germany. A claim in his Wikipedia entry, which I can't find else where, is that:
He held fierce Germanophobic views. In 1944, he was temporarily banned from the BBC following complaints about a series of lectures he gave on air in which he gave full vent to his anti-German feelings
The BBC banned someone for insulting Germany during World War 2? Whilst I could imagine the modern BBC being shocked at the thought of being judgmental I hadn't realised that this trend was so deep rooted. Actually given that the BBC was riddled with loyal Stalinists back then it suggests that Taylor's views must have been pretty wild to cause offence back then.

Relax, Don't Do It, Mike.

When the posters at 'Comment is Free' are highlighted it is usually because of their deranged antisemitism, which means they descend en masse to abuse anyone with a slightly Jewish name. Happily today I feel they deserve congratulating for their response to the ludicrous Mike Read announcement that he is quitting the contest for the Tory candidate for mayor of London, which let's face it is like John Prescott announcing that he won't be entering the 'Brain of Britain' contest.

Boris Johnson's candidacy has inspired many rants at the Guardian today and no one does it better than Polly Toynbee whose prose is so gloriously deranged that it can't help but convert all of us Boris Sceptics to the cause. I could quote most of the article and amuse myself for hours, essentially she claims that she doesn't like him because he's posh ( so is Polly) and he's funny ( So is Polly, albeit unintentionally). If this article was circulated to every household in Britain Boris Johnson could be voted mayor of Liverpool let alone London.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Alexander Litveninko Murder, Russian Diplomats Expelled.

Given the substance that was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko, it looks almost certain that the Russian government was at the very least complicit in the crime, although the Daily Telegraph might be blaming Conrad Black, and from an ethical point of view the expulsion of 4 Russian diplomats is certainly justified. That doesn't mean that it is a good idea though, I've been saying for several months that the Russian government seems intent on creating a siege mentality* to justify further erosions of liberty at home. In theory Vladimir Putin has to stand down at the end of next year, a looming foreign policy crisis could be enough to provide a pretext to extend Putin's time in office. Obviously Litvinenko cannot simply been forgotten but it would seem prudent to pursue the suspects without giving Putin an excuse to whine about being victimised,

* For instance the Estonian statue furore, or the missile defence row or the disruption of gas exports etc.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bandwagon Jumped On

Loads of other bloggers such as Pommygranate, Steve at Pub Philosopher and Chris Dillow have one of those sidebars stuffed with links to interesting posts that are worth directing their readers to without requiring a whole post just to say 'heh' and link to it.

So as my convoluted explanation of a simple subject demonstrates, I have installed and 'Interesting Stuff' sidebar which will be updated reasonably regularly, unless I get bored of it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Jeff Randall, Idiot.

For an example of the atrocious reporting of the Conrad Black case look at Jeff Randall in the Daily Telegraph, Black's former paper.
In short, when he sold Hollinger newspapers to rival media groups, some purchasers paid a fee to guarantee that the vendor (Hollinger) would not return to the market with new titles to compete against those it had just offloaded.

These payments should have been shared out among all of Hollinger's investors. Instead, Black and his cronies trousered millions.

His defence, in many ways, summed up the arrogance of Black. For, instead of denying that he had received the money, Black willingly conceded that he and his close chums were the beneficiaries of a king's ransom in "non-compete" fees. His argument, however, was that he was entitled to them.
The problem with this is that Black was entitled to them, as the jury found in most of the cases. If you had bought a newspaper from Hollinger, and then forked out again for a non compete fee, you'd be pretty pissed off if Black had created a fresh company to launch competing publications. In other words non compete fees would be absurd if the only went to the legal entity of Hollinger, rather than the individual newspaper men who ran it. Apparantly this is 'arrogance'.

Conrad Black Is Innocent.

Conrad Black was the best newspaper proprietor Britain has seen in decades, under his ownership the Spectator, along with Daily and Sunday Telegraphs were all superb publications and all three have declined in quality somewhat since he was forced out. This is perhaps because he was also a first rate writer as well as a businessman, his biographies of Presidents Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt are both critically acclaimed.

The unrestrained glee that has greeted his conviction in some quarters is something that I would find pretty unedifying even if I thought that he was actually guilty of the charges he has been convicted of. The fact that the charges seem so utterly uncompelling just exacerbates this fact, I do not believe that Black is guilty and I do not believe that his side of the story has been given a remotely fair hearing by the British press. Black's defence was so under reported. that despite the fact that the jury found it sufficiently plausible for him to be acquitted on 9 out of 13 counts it came as a complete surprise for readers of the UK press when the jury announced that it could not reach a verdict on all counts.

In some ways the Black case resembles the Duke Lacrosse case of last year when the media and prosecuters took an allegation of rape by a black woman against a largely white and wealthy sports team and turned it into a thinly veiled morality tale about race, power and wealth in the United States. In the Conrad Black case the salacious allegations about him and his wife (which were among the charges the jury rejected) has been told as a fable about greed and conspicuous consumption. In both cases the facts were of little consequence, the narrative had already been written and nothing would stop in its way.

Anyway the four convictions will be appealed and must have a good chance of being overturned seeing as the prosecution's tactic in the original trial appears to have been to throw in so many absurd but serious charges, such as racketeering, that the defence concentrated on those to the detriment of the less serious items that were more likely to result in a conviction.

UPDATE: Well I said that the less intelligent sections of the media were turning it into a thinly veiled morality tale about greed, but I didn't expect any journalist to be so cliche ridden to actually use the phrase, so congratulations to Tom Bower for coming out with "His rise and ruin is a familiar morality tale of those consumed by ambition and greed." How the hell does he get employed by any publication larger than 'Gerbil Lovers Monthly'?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tough On The Causes Of Crime.

It is one of the great frustrations of anti justice activists that reality has failed to meet their expectations and that when liberal criminal justice policies are introduced crime soars, whereas when the use of prison increases crime falls. The drops in the US crime rate during the 1990s are something that has to be explained away hence the desperation with which any alternatives are seized upon. So crackpot theories such as Steve Levitt's 'Abortion cuts crime'* are seized upon with zeal. Anyway the latest study has found that the real cause of the fall in crime was, and I can hardly believe I am typing something this stupid, the phasing out of leaded petrol. Whilst lead poisoning is obviously bad the only crime that banning 4 Star has possibly curtailed is arson.

So this is essentially what the anti prison brigade mean when they talk about being tough on the causes of crime, unleaded petrol and abortions all round.

* My objection to the Levitt theory isn't moral, as I'm not that concerned with abortion, not first trimester abortions anyway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Few Thoughts About Environmentalism.

I don't like environmentalists. This isn't because I have some desire to despoil the environment, in fact I think many concerns about the environment are valid and worth tackling. However I suspect that much of the environmental movement consists of people whose supposed concern for the environment is a Trojan horse for other causes and those who simply don't want the benighted masses to cramp their style.

The Green Party, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are all examples of organisations who conceal a far left socialist agenda under a fig leaf of concern for the planet. This can easily be seen by the way they react to market based solutions to the problems they themselves highlight. Carbon trading is the most obvious example of this, having such a system would restrict the total amount of CO2 emissions but would allow market forces to determine what was the most cost effective allocation. Most 'green' organisations opposed this energetically for years, although some have reversed gear, for no better reason that it meant that the USA might by credits from the likes of Russia. Almost all environmental groups oppose nuclear energy even though it is quite obviously the most efficient medium term solution to reduce emissions.

The hypocrisy of professional greenies like George Moonbat, Al Gore and every pop star who prattles on about the subject from the privacy of their private jet is infuriating. They don't belive that they personally should have to make any sacrifices because they themselves actually have to make any sacrifices and cut down on their dozens or scores of flights per year, yet they demand that the less enlightened plebians be priced out of their one foreign holiday a year, via the relatively efficient means of flight such as budget airlines. In truth these people are basically moderate versions of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, and like most professional environmentalists have come to the conclusion that the world would be much more aesthetically pleasing is it weren't for all those horrible little people cluttering it up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


There's an interview with UKIP's leader Nigel Farage over at A Tangled Web. Personally I agree with a lot of their policies, but outside of the European elections a vote for them is a wasted vote, until such time as an alternative to the first past the post system is implemented. DSD who conducted the interview did ask one question which I had submitted, namely why do UKIP put candidates up against genuinely eurosceptic MPs such as Bill Cash. I wasn't impressed with his answer which seemed to be putting ideological purity ahead of achieving anything. Even if UKIP don't endorse the views of Eurosceptic Tories it is obvious to me that from the point of view of the typical UKIP supporter they are clearly preferable to Eurofanatic alternatives.

Execution & Corruption.

The Chinese don't bugger about when it comes to anti corruption drives:
The former head of China's State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, has been executed for corruption, the state-run Xinhua news agency reports.
It seems harsh, particularly as he confessed, but from a utilitarian perspective his corruption made him more of a menace to society than most mass murderers. If his death makes officials who allow deadly food to go on sale or who give clean bills of health to coal mines which later turn out to be death traps, think twice then it could save thousands of lives.

Gullible & Innumerate Journalists.

Tim Worstall's post about the supposed 2 million people who watched the Tour De France at the weekend has reminded me of another dubious audience claim at the weekend on a far more preposterous scale. The claim that 2 billion people watched Al Gore's irony deficient Live Earth concerts is such obvious bullshit I can't understand why it has been repeated so credulously. Apart from the innumeracy and uncritical thinking of the press of course.

The population of the Earth is around 6 billion, however a large chunk of the world population have little access to television, 600 million people in India alone for instance. It isn't easy to get exact figures on television access, but it seems reasonable to guesstimate that at least 2 billion people have highly limited access to the medium because most African countries have lower television ownership rates than India, as do several other large Asian nations. So therefore in the rest of the world there needs to be around 1 in 2 people watching Love Earth for the figure to be even remotely plausible. Of course the Chinese government isn't too keen on the event either, so it wasn't broadcast on a national terrestrial network there, so that is probably another billion people who didn't see the event.

All this means that Live Earth would need to be seen by around 2 in 3 people in the west so what were the actual viewing figures in countries like the UK and the USA? Well, somewhaty less than 2 in 3:
The main three-hour American TV broadcast on NBC averaged a meagre 2.7 million viewers...
...It was the same story in Britain, where BBC One coverage of the Live Earth climax at London's Wembley Stadium, leading up to Madonna's eagerly awaited finale, averaged 3.1 million viewers, compared with 11.4 million for the Diana tribute.

In Germany, the ProSieben network registered 1 million viewers for its Live Earth telecast, accounting for a relatively healthy 6.3 percent market share.

Good Question.

'Let's - for the sake of Warsi's despicable argument - agree that otherwise perfectly peaceful Muslims are being driven to terrorism by the perception of oppression. Given that, wouldn't that mean that Muslims who circulate bogus stories of oppression are knowingly encouraging terrorism?'
Dumbjon, here. Not just muslims who circulate bogus stories of course, Piers Morgan printing phony prisoner abuse pictures in the Daily Mirror is also guilty of this, as is Robert Fisk with his wholly bogus claims of a massacre in Jenin.

Sayeeda Warsi's promotion ( even without her comments about terrorism, how many 34 year olds who have never been elected get promoted straight into the Shadow Cabinet? ) looks very much like an attempt by the Conservative party to engage in ethnically divisive communal politics which has traditionally been the preserve of the Labour party, and after the Iraq war, the Lib Dems. The rapid selection of Tony Lit, a prominent Sikh whose previous association with the party was about extensive as Arthur Scargill's, to fight the Ealing bye election is another example of this.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Environmentalists Whinge About Top Gear.

Some environmentalists are complaining about Top Gear because they filmed some scenes on some 'pristine wilderness' in Botswana, thus rendering it somewhat less pristine. It seems like a somewhat trumped up complaint:
Mary Rice of the Environmental Investigation Agency, which carries out conservation work in Botswana, said the BBC's example could lead hordes of "boy racers" to follow suit.

Guide David Dugmore was quoted in the Observer newspaper: "The thing that worries me is the viewers and public that are going to go out to the lakes, and we will end up with every Tom, Dick and Harry that comes up, with vehicles and quad bikes, which will absolutely spoil the place."
If television is so influential that simply watching Top Gear will persuade 'hordes' of people to travel hundreds and thousands of miles to drive about a bit in the middle of nowhere then I guess it is more powerful than I realised. There is a certain condescension in the tone of the tree huggers that is revealed by phrases such as 'hordes', boy racers' & 'every Tom, Dick and Harry', that reveals the actual source of concern. They think that Top Gear is watched by the sort of people who are stupid & vulgar who are too stupid to watch something on television without heading straight to the site. I doubt they would have been assumed that 'hordes' of visitors would descend to the Congo to stroke gorillas after watching David Attenborough do it.

The BBC's defence was pretty lame as well:
A BBC spokeswoman said: "We employed several environmental experts who advised us on where we could and couldn't go."
'Several' environmental experts were needed, not just one? Nice to know the BBC still provides value for money.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bureaucracy Harms Innocent Dog.

My dog has had a cough recently so I took him to the vet last week and he prescribed some antibiotics and recommended that I get something for his throat to ease the symptoms, namely the children's version of Benylin. So as I did my shopping in Tesco I went to their in store pharmacy and asked for some, in the course of my purchase I mentioned that it was for my dog. This turned out to be a mistake as the pharmacist stopped mid purchase to explain that she couldn't sell it to me anymore because they were only licensed to sell medicines for humans. This is problematic because there are no such thing as dog pharmacies as far as I can tell, and also it was me who was buying it not the dog, these explanations did not change the mind of the Tesco pharmacist. It seems an pointless rule to have, at least once they have established that it was recommended by a vet. They only notable side effects of Benylin appear to be drowsiness and seeing as my dog doesn't operate heavy machinery,unless attacking lawn mowers counts, so I really don't get this rule.

Recruiting Foreign Doctors.

The recently departed Home Secretary John Reid gave an answer on the 21st of June to a question in parliament by Lib Dem front bencher Nick Clegg:
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultation was carried out with the NHS and its associated bodies prior to the implementation of the new immigration rules on how the rules would affect foreign national doctors employed by the NHS. [122182]

John Reid: On 7 November, the Government announced changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant programme (HSMP). These changes included the removal of a GP Priority category, which awarded points to GPs registered with the General Medical Council, on the strength that the increase in funding for doctors’ training has increased the number of qualified GPs available, removing the need for special arrangements to attract GPs from abroad.

The removal of the GPs provision was agreed with the Department of Health and cleared across Government.

It is not the Government’s intention to disqualify highly-skilled applicants with medical qualifications, who could still qualify
The HSMP is the scheme whereby highly qualified immigrants can be fast tracked straight through the system, which is not a bad thing as long as it doesn't entail a reduction in scrutiny. Since the terrorist attacks in Glasgow the major critics of the government's proposed reforms to the programme, including the Conservatives, the Lib Dems, Ken Livingstone and the CRE have gone rather quiet, even though the reforms don't appear to directly enhance security and the retroactive nature of them will disrupt many innocent people. However there are several questions that need to be answered:
  • Did the existing HSMP enable doctors to enter Britain without adequate screening?
  • Did any of the suspects enter Britain under this scheme?
  • Have any of the opposition parties ever suggested tightening the background checks in the existing scheme prior to the attacks?
Gordon Brown has announced a review into the scheme which suggests that it is relevant to the suspects currently in custody. The changes that the Tories and Lib Dems were opposing were not directly related to security but rather economic factors but having spent the first half of June demanding that it be made easier for foreign doctors to enter the country they are going to be hamstrung when trying to keep the government to account over their own shortcomings.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hoist By His Own Petard.

Charles Kennedy has been reprimanded by the police for smoking on a train, in violation of the ban which he voted for. It isn't the first time that a senior Lib Dem has gotten himself in bother for causing a stink in a confined space with a fag.

Friday, July 06, 2007


A survivor of the Paddington train crash who claims he was turned into a killer by post-traumatic stress disorder has lost the bulk of his bid for compensation.
No comment.

Young & Dumb.

Watching the special schools edition of Question Time yesterday has confirmed a thought which I have had for a long time. The voting age ought to be raised back up to 21. People tend to be much more superficial and self absorbed before they take full responsibility for their lives, for example during yesterday's programme there was not a single question about the floods that have engulfed much of the north of England, but they of course found time to ask about tuition fees and lowering the voting age.

Pommygranate & David Vance of ATW weren't impressed with the show either.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Foreign Doctors & Terrorism.

Our new and improved Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that foreign doctors coming to Britain will be subject to more rigorous screening in future, which is a sensible step as far as it goes. However perhaps they ought to examine whether previous security screenings were left in a poor state for the sake of political point scoring. Throughout the tenure of Tony Blair the government repeatedly smeared anybody who suggested that any form of scrutiny should occur when it came to medical staff. One man in particular whose job ought to be under threat is John Hutton who as health minister launched a huge initiative to recruit foreign doctors, supposedly from developed countries which turns out to be places like Iraq & Jordan. Not only was the net cast seemingly haphazardly but Hutton was enthusiastically denouncing anyone who wanted the minimum standards from these new recruits of, you guessed it, racism.

Admittedly no one as far as I'm aware was suggesting security screening, but if even the polite suggestion that they should be able to speak English was enough for the government in connivance with its media allies such as the BBC, to try and have someone treated as though they had just signed up for the Klan, then it is pretty obvious why an intellectual atmosphere had been created where serious scrutiny was simply not tolerated. Seriously can you imagine what would have happened to a civil servant at either the Health or the Home departments who dared suggest that foreign doctors needed to be assessed as security risks?

Update: Did I suggest that no one had warned the government of lax vetting procedures? Turns out Migration Watch warned them of this two years ago.

Mansize Kleenex, Razzle & A Microwave Meal For One....

...why that must mean that it's my birthday, happy birthday to me.

Spot The Difference.

Here are two reports of the court appearances of two men both accused of stockpiling weapons for terrorist offences:
Plumber appears on terror charges
A London man has appeared in court charged with five offences relating to alleged terrorist activities and firearms possession.

Kazi Nurur Rahman, 28, a plumber from Newham, east London, appeared at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Mr Rahman was ordered to stand trial on 19 December at the Old Bailey.

He faces charges relating to alleged possession of three Uzi sub-machine guns and 3,000 rounds ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Mr Rahman was arrested by anti-terrorism detectives operating in Hertfordshire on 29 November.

Two of the charges are under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Now compare it with this:
Ex-BNP man 'wanted to shoot PM'

A former British National Party (BNP) candidate who held explosive chemicals in anticipation of a civil war wanted to shoot Tony Blair, a court heard.

Robert Cottage, 49, from Colne, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to possession of explosives at the start of his trial at Manchester Crown Court.

His wife said he often boasted of wanting to shoot Mr Blair and Lib Dem peer Lord Greaves, the court was told.

Mr Cottage denies conspiracy to cause an explosion.

A second man, David Jackson, 62, of Nelson, Lancashire, denies both charges under the Explosive Substances Act.

Alistair Webster QC, defending, said Mr Cottage, of Talbot Street, was a former BNP candidate and had been the subject of threats.
I guess Mr Rahman simply didn't have any political ideology that was pertinent to his case.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Dubious Fact Of The Day.

According to the CIA world factbook the wealthiest country in the world on a purchasing parity basis is Luxembourg, which is perhaps not too surprising. However number two on their list is, Equatorial Guinea. This is what I believe economists technically refer to as complete unadulterated bullshit.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Polly Quote Of The Day.

'People are waiting for governments to tell them they must: it requires a guarantee of collective action. Maybe this week's smoking ban will remind nervous politicians that people will do what they should, but only when everyone else does too.'
I almost got through an entire Toynbee column without being hit in the face with a ridiculously stupid and authoritarian comment. Thankfully right at the end she pulled it back.

Great Headlines Of Our Time.

'Who Let The Docs Out'
Damn I wish I'd come up with that.

Phallocentric Capitalism & Pharonic Circumcision

Last month I mentioned my 'hobby' of discovering the most pointless academic research that can be found via 'google scholar'. Quite by accident today I came across this paper which is unlikely to ever be surpassed-
'Pharonic Circumcision Under Patriarchy and Breast Augmentation Under Phallocentric Capitalism: Similarities and Differences'.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Did you know that Asians are disenfranchised in the United Kingdom? No nor did I, but the New York Times helpfully tells this to US readers:
In July 2005, four suicide bombers killed 52 people on London’s transit system, and another set of attacks failed two weeks later, bringing home to Britain fears of homegrown terrorist attacks among its disenfranchised South Asian population. Witnesses said the two men in the Glasgow attack were South Asian.

Via Tim Blair.

Ken Livingstone, Still Unfit For Office.

Ken Livingstone's tradition of pathetic responses to terrorism continues, from his tome at the head of the GLC when he rewarded IRA terrorism by inviting Gerry Adams over in a show of solidarity, to his digusting insertion of class war politics in his response to the London Tube bombing (which he condemned, but not because murder is evil but because they targeted 'working class Londoners'). Anyway his reaction to the recent failed car bombs continues that inglorious tradition, to simply pretend that disaffected white youths are the big danger, is risible.