Sunday, August 31, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
I was reading the likes of Kos and Democratic Underground last night and several of the commentators were blaming Sarah Palin for her son's Downs Syndrome, I suspect it will only be a matter of time before that meme breaks into the mainstream too.
2) As a governor has actually run something (Dems are saying that Alaska only has 600000 people, but that is far larger than anything Obama or Biden have run, by a couple of orders of magnitude)
5) Son in Iraq
6) Never plagiarised Neil Kinnock
7) Conservative bona fides established.
8) Reformist anti corruption campaigner.
9) Took on her own state party to become governor.
10) Female, I don't care much for tokenism but it blunts Obama's novelty value.
When organisations start deviating from their purpose to take up political posturing then it almost inevitably coincides with a decline in effectiveness in how they perform their core tasks. As the WHO is one of the few multinational NGO's to have done good work (ie the eradication of Smallpox) this is a worrying step. It might be time to start stocking up on vaccine for a Polio epidemic in the next few years.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
There has been much talk among western politicians in recent days about Russia isolating itself from the international community. But unless that simply means North America and Europe, nothing could be further from the truth. While the US and British media have swung into full cold-war mode over the Georgia crisis, the rest of the world has seen it in a very different light. As Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore's former UN ambassador, observed in the Financial Times a few days ago, "most of the world is bemused by western moralising on Georgia". While the western view is that the world "should support the underdog, Georgia, against Russia ... most support Russia against the bullying west. The gap between the western narrative and the rest of the world could not be clearer."
It's only the West that objects to Russia's behaviour. Alas the rest of the world doesn't appear to want to play along with Milne's wish fulfillment fantasy of the third world masses uniting behind a challenger to AmeriKKKan capitalist hegemony.
Russia faced increased diplomatic isolation over its military action against Georgia on Thursday, with its Asian allies failing to offer support and France saying EU leaders were considering sanctions.....
Even China, which often sides with Russia in diplomatic disputes, issued a veiled criticism of Moscow's actions, saying it was "concerned about the latest changes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia" and calling for dialogue to resolve the issue.
In fact Putin is now claiming that the Americans made him attack Georgia. This would be like George Bush claiming that the Bilderberg Group were behind the invasion of Iraq. Searching for conspiracy theories is quite common, but when the man who makes the decisions claims that that the Illuminati are behind it all this is either full blown insanity or desperate backtracking from someone who has overplayed his hand.
This supports the theory I put forward last week that Putin is in fact a moron.
In the same newspaper there is a more interesting story about a local museum which has an exhibit about Charles Darwin and the theory his most famous theory. Someone complained about the accompanying signs explaining the theory, and so the council decided to blank out the "offensive" paragraph so as to to upset the unnamed religious fundamentalist who lodged the complaint.
It is only a minor story in itself but it is symptomatic of a wider trend.
I haven't been checking out many new sites over the last few months so if anyone has any suggestions about what is worth looking at please feel free to say so. As you can see from my sidebar I have a section devoted to blogs that link to me, so if anyone does link to me and I haven't put a reciprocal link in, again let me know.
One thing the Greeks frowned upon a great deal was hubris.
(via House of Dumb)
Update: Rumours that Obama is going to appoint his horse to fill his old Senate position when he become President are completely unfounded. Although he is having an ass as his V.P.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In 1996, after 17 years of Conservative government, the past six under the premiership of the cricketing Major, Great Britain went to the Atlanta Olympics and won precisely one gold medal. We ended that Games in 36th position, just behind Ethiopia and just ahead of Belarus. It wasn't just that Greece did better than us - Kazakhstan got four golds. If one were to take the Olympics as any kind of indicator of national health (and why should we not?) we would have to conclude that the past 12 years have been very well spent.So on Aaro's reading by 1996 Britain was in a worse state than Ethiopia and Kazakhstan? I wonder how he would explain the 1988 table where the two leading countries ceased to exist by the time the next games came around, no doubt to the consternation of the East German and Soviet Aaronivitches.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The reasons require a bit of background information which I shall attempt to summarise briefly:
- The lecturers union the UCU launched an academic boycott of Israel a few years ago whilst under the influence of a hard left faction before the more moderate members reversed that policy some while later.
- The issue has remained extremely significant within the union and there is some discussion list where the issue gets discussed.
- One member of that list is leaking the content to Harry's Place, who have published some of it.
- This includes posts by one anti Israel activist, Jenna Delich a Sheffield based academic who has been circulation material from the website of David Duke, the notorious former Klansman. She also links directly to Duke's website so there is no possibility that she didn't know the source of what she was circulating.
The best way to respond to threats to free speech is to give what is trying to be suppressed as much publicity as is possible so as to defeat the purpose.
Update: Just before I pressed "Publish Post", I checked again and see that they are back up for now.
The scientists were unable to distinguish between the head and rear of the cattle, but could tell that the animals tended to face either north or south.Ok the trick to identifying which end is which is fairly straightforward if you follow these suggestions:
- Count the number of eyes, if there are two it is the face, if there is one brown eye you may be at the other end.
- Try putting a treat in the animals mouth, if it swallows it then it's the face again, if you get kicked, don't blame me.
- Check which direction the animal moves in, usually the head is at the front.
Monday, August 25, 2008
- Iain Dale starts a blog meme, asking what you were doing when various epochal events occurred.
- The Grauniad's Jeremy Lott on why Joe Biden is a poor Vice President pick for Obama.
- A Taekwondo player is unhappy with his disqualification. This is why it's better to judge rhythmic gymnastics or diving than combat sports.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
For the Atlanta Games in 1996, the French synchronised swimming team prepared a routine based on the Holocaust. They were to goose-step toward the pool, before diving in and re-enacting the arrival of female Jews at the concentration camps, their abuse by Nazi doctors and their last march to the gas chambers. It would be set to music from Schindler's List. Alas, reminding us why politicians should never meddle in sport, they were ordered to abandon the enterprise by the then French sports minister, despite their protestations that it had "great emotional value".Damn the French sports minister for sabotaging what would have been the single greatest moment in sporting history ever.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Which is understandable because for as long as he is living in the UK Glitter ensures that Gordon Brown isn't the most hated man in the country.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I wonder what would motivate someone to fake a bigfoot corpse anyway:
Also present were Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, the two who say they discovered the Bigfoot corpse while hiking in the woods of northern Georgia. They also are co-owners of a company that offers Bigfoot merchandise.Oh.
Mind you this zoologist doesn't reckon that the existence of the sasquatch is completely crazy.
Update: I suppose we should all just be thankful that they weren't selling Jack the Ripper merchendise.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Yes Russia now looks to have brought two Georgian provinces into Russian control but at the cost of driving Ukraine into the Western camp and earning his country near universal contempt in the civilised world. The word for someone who would trade the Ukraine for two tiny provinces plus the uncritical love of the far left is not 'genius'.
Friday, August 15, 2008
I'm just mentioning this for two reasons firstly because seeing as I now have the image of that ring of big purple piles imprinted on my mind for all time it seems only fair to share the misery and imprint it on your mind too. Secondly isn't it a demonstration of how strong the desire to be on television is, that people with conditions that are so embarrassing that they have refused to speak to their doctors about it for years, decades in some cases, are suddenly willing to be probed in front of a camera for the voyeuristic pleasure of the discerning viewer.
It's a fair point, but it is inevitable that we rely on targets if the police forces are all run by the Home Office. When the people in charge of the police are so remote from what's going on they have to use a simplistic set of statistics to determine what is going on. So if the police are to actually focus on the important stuff then control should be transferred to a locally accountable body.
A senior police officer has criticised some Home Office targets, saying they have had a damaging impact on policing in England and Wales.
Chief Constable of Staffordshire Chris Sims said they encouraged a "policing to targets" culture, rather than one focusing on the public's needs.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Russians have had no behavior over the last couple of years. From the way you spell behaviour, you are probably an Israeli yourself doing hasbara.Yep that's right I'm a secret Israeli* because I er use British spellings!!!
*It isn't everyday that I feel the need to declare myself to be Judenfrei but I suppose I should add that I'm not Israeli, not Jewish, never been to Israel and don't even have a single Jewish friend that I know of, although I haven't run everyone's spelling yet to check.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
- Why do swimmers get the opportunity to win medals for different swimming styles, like the breast stroke, the butterfly or back stroke? It's like giving track & field athletes the opportunity to win medals for doing the 100m whilst hopping, mincing or moonwalking.
- Laban Tall discovers Times columnist Matthew Syed rehashing a piece he wrote last year almost line for line, with just a plagiarised paragraph to change things since last year.
- Syed's column was a critique of Jon Entine's theory, that he explained in his book "Taboo: Why Blacks Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk about it" that black people are better natural athletes than white people. The book includes this priceless paragraph:
"When stripped of the drug factor, what appears in the history books as a decades-long duel between European and African American female sprinters has been a fraud. Black female sprinters are a cut above, much like their male counterparts. Marion Jones is the indisputable top female sprinter...the epitome of an elite athlete...gifted with the explosive speed and jumping ability that mark the prototypical athlete with West African ancestry.... Although she now trains feverishly, Jones is as close to being a born athlete as exists in sprinting."
- What sort of people tell a little girl that she's being kicked out of her role in the Olympic opening ceremony because she isn't attractive enough? Chinese communists that's who.
- Isn't it sad that despite a British competitor putting in thousands of hours of hard work in order to win a canoing silver, he will still be less famous than John "Canoe Man" Darwin.
- Is spell check right to insist that "Canoing" is the correct spelling and "Canoeing" is wrong?
Monday, August 11, 2008
I'm sure the demand for Russia to actually stop the war was edited for reasons of space. Much more important to stop a war that isn't taking place and isn't being widely proposed. Although for what it's worth (nothing) I personally think we should intervene in Georgia and establish a no fly zone, Russia will back down if confronted.
The oubreak of war in Georgia is already a disaster for the people of the region. It risks being turned into a still broader problem by Dick Cheney's threats.
The conflict is in large measure the product of George Bush's policy of US global hegemony, in the Caucauses as in the Middle East. Attempts to extend NATO eastwards, specifically incorporating Georgia, directly challenge Russian interests.
Plans to build more pipelines to siphon gas and oil from the Caucasus to ensure western control of these resources have added to the tension.
The Stop the War Coalition supports the right of self determination, but we oppose any calls for intervention by the US or NATO.
Demands from US, British and other western leaders to Russia to respect countries' territorial integrity are simply not credible after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the bombing of Somalia and the constant threats against Iran.
The comment by US envoy to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad that "the days of overthrowing leaders by military means in Europe are over" is an expression of this hypocrisy.
Russia's attack on Georgia looks more and more as though it were planned in advance. The behaviour of the Russian state over recent years demonstrates that not only is it extremely unpleasant but unlike say China, it is a danger to the rest of the world. To list a few examples of Russia's recent behaviour:
- Nuclear terrorism in London, by which I mean the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
- Refusing to extradite the main suspect in the Litvinenko case, despite having signed an international extradition treaty.
- Occupation of Moldovan and Georgian territory.
- The attempted murder of Victor Yuchenko, now president of Ukraine.
- Threatening Estonia over the placement of a statue honouring the Red Army.
- Threatening to annex part of the Ukraine.
- Murdering exiled opponents in Qatar.
Georgia should be brought into NATO immediately and a base established there.
Various other Russia related points to comment on include the Norfolk Blogger asking why the west has allowed itself to become dependent on Russian gas, this is true to a point but we should also realise that Russia is dependent upon our buying it. Marko Attila Hoare rejects the bogus comparison between the Georgian breakaway regions and Kosovo. EU referendum has a series of good posts on the issue including the reaction of the EU:
Russia is bombing cities inside Georgia, including the outskirts of Tbilisi, and has sunk at least one Georgian boat in Georgian waters. Gori is being evacuated and the Baku-Tbilisi oil pipeline has been bombed though not, apparently, put out of action.This is called a Rapid Reaction in EU circles.
The EU, the body that demands that it becomes our sole representative on the international scene is preparing to call an emergency meeting of foreign ministers and this will take place, possibly, on Wednesday. Or possibly not.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Mr Cao Dong was a tour guide in Beijing. When I met him he was 42. He was terrified, but he came to a dingy hotel room to tell me about his life in a prison camp in North East China. There are about 15 such camps in that province alone, each holding thousands of the seven million Chinese undergoing forced labour, or for many, torture.
Cao Dong said that one evening, his best friend was taken from their cell. Next, he saw his friend’s cadaver in the morgue with holes where body parts had been removed.
His crime was being in the Falun Gong.
Behind some of the anti-Chinese rhetoric, I detect just a hint of Western resentment. Perhaps, as with anti-Americanism, anti-Chinese sentiment will become a form of Euro-jingoism?
Many commentators seem clever enough to realise that China is going places on the world stage. Yet few have thought through how we might need to respond.
Rather than hurling shrill certainties, perhaps we should use the occasion of these Olympics to ponder; the West has learnt much from China over past centuries. Perhaps its time to learn again?
Yes that's right Dominic Carswell appears to believe that objecting to a regime that imprisons people for their religion then murders them for their organs is a sign of jingoism!
In fairness to Carswell it should be noted that he does recognise some of the problems and furthermore is hardly alone in sucking up to China. Tony Blair, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway have been praising the Chinese regime to the skies in recent weeks.
Friday, August 08, 2008
There's an interesting piece on the economics of the Olympics in Foreign Policy. In short the games make a lot of money.... for the IOC. The host country is pretty much screwed. The effects of hosting the games include:
- Costs that are well over estimate. China's games were originally supposed to cost about $2 Billion but have now had more than $40 Billion spent on them.
- Hosting the games in usually a precursor to slower economic growth in the following year as investment tails off and big unused facilities have to be dealt with.
If we do enter a nuclear war and erase civilisation then my next post on the soaring cost of the Olympic Games is a bit redundant, so in a sense I'm the real victim here.
Tony Sharp's blog has been covering some of the latest developments. Strategy Page is also a good website to follow these sort of things on.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
However she has persuaded me that this situation has to be remedied so from now on I will campaign against the practice of releasing female inmates from prison which appears to cause so much hardship.
Update: Sorry I should have referred to "the problems faced by fictional female prisoners"
(Apologies for making the very obvious joke of linking to a story about poor spelling with an example of poor spelling. I know even without checking that around 650 other bloggers will have made the exact same joke, I feel so ashamed to have wasted everybody's time)
What's most noticeable about most of the ads that branded vicious is just how tame they are, take the fuss over the recent McCain advert comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. The definition of 'Republican Dirty Tricks' basically involves any attempt to highlight the Democrat candidates policy positions and flaws. Hence discussing John Kerry's long record of weakness on national security was 'questioning his patriotism', highlighting Al Gore's record as a fantasist was a smear and most bizarrely pointing out that Michael Dukakis's policy of letting convicted murderers out of prison on day trips was criminally irresponsible was racist.
Actually racism is the gold standard of whining for the Democrats, if you can claim that your opponent is racially smearing you then your position as a lofty superior individual is assured. Hence racism is detected in almost any attack on Democrat, it has for example become received wisdom that this advert from 2006 was racist:
Personally I don't see anything wrong with attending a Playboy party but it is an obvious gift to political opponents and it is absurd to suggest that there is something racist about using it, if the other bloke is black. With a black candidate for president the search for racist 'code words' for 'kill the blacks' has stepped up to a new level, which is quite impressive when they already think 'law and order' is racist. Like the supposed 'dog whistles' in the UK, code words are magical phrases which can be understood only by knuckle dragging reactionary racists plus a few enlightened liberals but appear to most outside observers to be perfectly innocuous. These include referring to Obama as skinny:
A particularly negative ad titled "Who Hasn't?" sponsored by the Republican National Committee ("RNC") that aired during the third and fourth weeks of October gained national attention and condemnation from both Ford and Corker. The ad portrayed a scantily clad white woman (Johanna Goldsmith) acting as a Playboy bunny who "met Harold at the Playboy party" and invites Ford to "call me".
Responding to questions about the ad, a Ford spokesperson said that Ford went to a 2005 Playboy-sponsored Super Bowl party that was attended by more than 3,000 people, and Ford himself said that he likes "football and girls" and makes no apology for either.
any discussion of Obama's "skinniness" and its impact on the typical American voter can't avoid being interpreted as a coded discussion of race.Comparing him to Paris Hilton or calling him presumptuous:
The various portrayals of Obama as different from the rest of us - whether it's calling him "arrogant" or "presumptuous" or comparing him with Paris Hilton - are subtle reminders of the biggest difference of all.In fact just about the only person who isn't racist is Jeremiah Wright.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
The Daily Telegraph and Conservative Home both seem to think that this is a good idea, as the Telegraph puts it:
Mr Gove is elaborating and extending that most elemental of Tory creeds: the belief that we should take responsibility for our actions.Blaming your problems on the publishers of downmarket magazines is taking responsibility?
If someone did take Zoo or Nuts as a guide to how to live life it would indeed be disastrous but thankfully the vast majority of the readers simply buy Nuts or Zoo to whack off to the latest airbrushed images of glamour models and female Big Brother rejects.
Gove's approach is frivolous, having identified a real societal problem, fatherless families, he simply tries to pin the blame on something that his audience will disapprove of, tacky magazines. The emergence of 'Lads Mags' occurred long after family breakdown became widespread in this country, so quite obviously they are not to blame for it. If anything the mid 1990s arrival of Loaded and FHM appears to have coincided with a decline in divorce rates, the opposite of what you'd expect if Gove's ideas were correct.
Michael Gove is generally considered to be an intelligent man, he really should know better than to play the hack pundit's game of simply tying any negative phenomenon to something he doesn't approve of regardless of the evidence.
Update: John East isn't impressed with Gove's speech either.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Personally I think that Barry George was behind the anthrax. Unlikely you say? There is about as much evidence for my theory as there is for any of the other conspiracy theories so I don't see why he can't be blamed.
The most widespread conspiracy theory is roughly that someone inside the government mailed Anthrax to individuals including Democratic Senators Tom Daschle and Pat Leahy in order to push through the dreaded Patriot Act. Exactly how bolstering the anti terror credentials of two of the leading opponents of the Act (at that time) was supposed to help them isn't clear.
Over at the Belmont Club blog, Richard Fernandez has more on the subject.
As it happens I do not believe that George Galloway is an anti-semite, he is merely a totalitarian. In other words he hates Israel because it is a democracy in a region filled with Islamist and Fascist regimes. If Israel was instead a hell hole, run by a dictator with a bushy mustache, in a sea of Arab democracies then George Galloway would be the most enthusiastic zionist ever.
A High Court judge yesterday ruled that Respect MP George Galloway was seriously defamed when a radio station broadcast a programme containing a character called “Georgie Galloway”, who spewed out vile and violent anti-semitism.
Judge Eady, who also heard Galloway’s libel action against the Daily Telegraph three years ago, said that the sick spoof character, whose catchphrase was “kill the Jews, kill the Jews”, was “in appalling taste”. It clearly implied that there was a streak of anti-semitism, which was then exaggerated in the spoof character. Eady said that the initial claim by the radio station, Jcom, that its broadcast was not defamatory was “absurd”.
However whilst he doesn't hate Jews for being Jews, his hatred of democracy is such that he is wiling to back anti-semites to the hilt, even if they explicitly wish to exterminate the Jews. For instance take his boast back in 2006:
I glorify the Hizbollah national resistance movement, and I glorify the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.Nasrallah is a man who has openly stated his desire to exterminate all Jews, not simply Israel:
If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide. (Daily Star, Oct. 23, 2002)So if George Galloway openly supports someone who openly wishes to exterminate Jews then how is it libellous to satirise him as saying “kill the Jews, kill the Jews”? George Galloway does endorse the racial genocide of Jews for being Jews, due to his adoration for fascists such as Nasrallah. If Nasrallah wanted to exterminate the Welsh, the Zulus or the Melanesians then Galloway would endorse him so he isn't an anti semite, but merely a grubby little totalitarian wannabe who is willing to support anti semites in accomplishing their goals.