Saturday, November 29, 2008

Put A Tiger In A Tank.

A post by Laban Tall on British politicians of all parties happily attending a Tamil Tigers shindig in London is a reminder of just how lax we ( or our political class) are about terrorists.

This isn't new, Britain used to be a safe haven for Islamist groups before the World Trade Center attacks and even now the government is quite keen on engaging with British Muslims through 'moderate' Islamic groups, which invariably turn out to only be moderate in comparison to Mullah Omar . We are quite ecumenical in which terrorist groups we tolerate, from the Sub-Continent alone we allow our politicians to:
  • Attend meetings set up by supporters of the Tamil Tigers.
  • Grant visas to members of a Hindu extremist organisation that is alleged to be behind a recent anti Christian pogrom in Orissa that left dozens dead.
  • Employ supporters of the Sikh separatist group that blew up an Air India flight in 1985 killing over 300 people (including 112 children).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Is Opposition Allowed?

Gordon Brown is now growing into his Private Eye caricature as a Stalinist who views opposition and dissent as being forms of treason. Just consider some of the behaviour of the government in November so far:
This has all happened since the return of Peter Mandelson and more importantly Alistair Campbell to the government. Gordon Brown's psychological flaws have been discussed before but when he is in cahoots with Alistair Campbell whose mental health problems have been well documented and has a history of abusing office to try and discredit opponents of the government (David Kelly, Black Rod & Rose Addis spring to mind) then a worrying trend is evident. One paranoid man mught be able to curb his instincts, if surrounded by balanced individuals, but two together will egg each other on to ever greater depths of derangement.

Their own mental health is their private concern but the fact that they are at the helm of the country during a crisis is deeply disturbing.

The Oxygen Of Publicity.

The power of terrorists doesn't derive from military strength but, as the term suggests, from terror and fear that their attacks create. Terrorist attacks therefore need media coverage in order to be successful, and the blanket coverage of the Mumbai/Bombay attacks is unfortunately giving them a victory of sorts.

Without television as a force multiplier the events in India would just be a mob of war criminals launching attacks on civilians and then being routed when a real army shows up. Yet Television imprints images of carnage and chaos into the minds of millions of viewers worldwide, even though rationally the scale of the attacks is miniscule in global terms.

I realise that this isn't China and we cannot simply censor coverage of terrorist atrocities but the coverage should be more restrained so that even the slowest terrorists realise that they are wasting their time and their deaths won't even make the front page of the local paper.

PS. I have made this point before in 2006 and 2007.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ignorance + Malice = Political Correctness

I must admit I find it hard to keep up with whom the politically correct are directing their latest two minute hate at. Sure I understand that white heterosexual males are a long standing target, but who the fuck decided that cystic fibrosis sufferers were on the PC blacklist?:
The Carleton University Students' Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not "inclusive" enough.

Cystic fibrosis "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men" said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it. The decision caused heated reaction and left at least one member of council calling for a new vote.

Whilst it goes without saying that refusing to fund raise for a disease based on the demographic profile of the victims would be obnoxious in any case, it is of course entirely untrue that cystic fibrosis is a condition that the white patriarchy are hogging all to themselves

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Biker Gangs & Crime.

The conviction of members of a biker gang "the Outlaws" over the murder of Hell's Angel Gerry Tobin is hard to understand. Are British motorbike gangs linked with organised crime as they are in some countries? I've never heard of British bikers being involved in that kind of thing and I had always assumed that they were just blokes who were into motorbikes. Yet it is hard to understand how a group of middle aged motor bike enthusiasts could decide to respond to a disagreement with another group of other enthusiasts by deciding to murder a random member of that group.

The Ratchet Effect.

The ratchet effect is the process whereby when left wing parties get into government they move the country to the left, but when right wing parties enter government they simply hold things steady and rarely move things rightwards.

Part of the reason is that the Tories are often wimps and because political insiders are often more centrist than their supporters. However I wonder if the current economic crisis demonstrates another reason why. If the Tories win the next election they will inherit an economy that has been utterly wrecked by the global recession and the monumental incompetence of Labour in office. There will be very little appetite to reform public services or to shrink the state in a serious manner. This was also true of incoming Conservative governments in 1950 and 1979.

In contrast when Labour took office in 1997 they took over an economy that had been reformed and was growing strongly and was in a very healthy state. The opportunity to reform anything from welfare to schools to healthcare was huge.

We're Doomed.

So let me get this straight if the government's forecasts about the economy are right then the national debt will amount to around £20000 per household. However the government's forecasts are almost certainly insanely optimistic.

The national debt is going to be with us for at least 7 or 8 years based on the best estimates but really we could be paying this off for a generation. We are screwed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Journalism Works.

The Daily Telegraph has a story headlined:
Reptiles now more popular pets than dogs
Judging from personal experience this doesn't seem likely, I know a lot of dog owners but very few reptile owners. There don't seem to be many products aimed at reptile owners available in supermarkets as there are for dogs. So what is the Telegraph basing their report on:
Calculations by the British Federation of Herpetologists (BFH).....
A herpetologist is someone who studies Amphibians & Reptiles. The BFH appears to have a very small web presence, and most of their appearances are in the capacity of promoting reptiles as pets, so I'm guessing that they are an industry group who want to promote the sale of reptiles as pets.

No newspaper will simply print a story saying "Reptiles Make Great Pets" because that isn't news, but if you hire a PR agency and they publicise a "study" which makes a startling and newsworthy claim the newspapers will lap it up and the reptile sellers will be quoted on what great pets they make. After all rehashing press releases is easier than actually reporting.

With this in mind I'm hoping I can get this published in the newspaper next week:
A study recently commissioned by the Blogging Research Council has revealed that regular readers of Unenlightened Commentary are now more numerous than readers of the Sun and the Bible, when asked to comment on why this is the president of the council, Ross F, speculated that it might be because Unenlightend Commentary had been shown to cure AIDs as well as improving readers' sex lives and granting them the ability to speak Mandarin. He added that prominent readers such as the Dalai Lama and Paris Hilton had also increased the blog's profile.

He didn't provide any evidence for any of his claims, and the BRC doesn't appear to actually exist, but he did save us the burden of actually reporting as well as providing a feeble excuse to print a picture of a scantily clad female celebrity in the news section.
Well I've provided as much evidence for my claims as the British Federation of Herpetologists has.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good News.

It appears that "Tragic Life Stories" are on their way out!

Who Knew?

Surprisingly it turns out that the leaders of an murderous and insular cult aren't too keen on people different from themselves and might even be a bit racist. The mass murder of people from different ethnic groups was in retrospect something of a clue.

The strange thing is that this has shocked some 'experts', Zaheri has previously said the same kind of things before about Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice. He is the elderly relative of the Islamist movement who can't be stopped from blurting out racial epithats much to the embarrassment of the more progressive minded psychopaths. Anyway whose default assumption is that Al Qaeda were an anti-racist group?

* Osama Bin Laden has casually referred to blacks in general as 'slaves'.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yo Ho Ho.

Pirates; International menace or misunderstood community activists? It's a tough call so let's look the experts to resolve this age old question:

Another sum is less frequently mentioned: the estimated $300m of fish poached in Somali waters annually by trawlers hailing from nations as far away as Taiwan - or France and Spain, for that matter. Seen from this perspective, it is hardly surprising that some pirate groups see themselves as defenders of Somali fishermen, giving their groups names such as National Volunteer Coast Guard of Somalia, or Somali Marines.
Well shiver my timbers! Piracy is actually a form of fair trade activism. Quite how oil tankers are inpinging upon Somali fish stocks isn't 199% clear to me but I'm not a details person.


Compare & Contrast.

The unrestrained glee with which the media is reporting the leaking of the BNP membership list is interesting. I personally am uncomfortable with the leak as everyone has a right to keep their political views private. The justification appears to be that they deserve it and that people have a right to know whether someone is a supporter of a racist party.

This may be true, but why is that the same media outlets that sympathise with the outing of BNP members are often those the most voraciously opposed to the naming of convicted sex offenders?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mystic Minister

Last month I wrote to the government's science minister, Lord Drayson, to tell him that the off the cuff remarks he was going to make this weekend about being able to predict the future were clearly nonsense. Now that the remarks have taken place, I still hold to this view.

He isn't actually claiming to be psychic but merely latching on the ideas in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink*, however if Gordon Brown had a sense of humour he might emulate Kelvin Mackenzie who famously informed the Sun's resident astrologer of his redundancy in a letter that began "As you will already know....".

* I haven't read Blink, but am I correct in thinking that the basic idea is that the subconscious mind can ofter assemble information and reach a decision before we are conscious of it?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Downside Of Juries: Jurors.

The big problem with trial by one's peers is that frequently those peers are gibbering imbeciles. Example one:

A rape victim has hit out at the law after the man accused of attacking her was cleared because he was sleepwalking.

Jane McKenna, 33, was asleep at home when a friend's husband, who had been a guest at a barbecue, walked into the bedroom and started having sex with her.

Jason Jeal, a 37-year-old roofer with no medical history of sleepwalking, admitted sex had taken place. But he was cleared of rape after he insisted he had been asleep and had no idea what he was doing.
Uh huh. This defence could clear anyone of anything. The only evidence that he was sleepwalking is that he claims not to remember what he was doing, this is also a symptom of being drunk.
Speaking outside his home in Portsmouth, the former member of Portchester Cricket Club said: 'I did not use sleepwalking in my defence as I did not have any doctor's evidence or anything to back that up,' he said. 'With me, sleepwalking normally comes on through drink. People have told me I've done it before.'
So he exhibits symptoms similar to being drunk after drinking and concludes he must have been sleepwalking, and a jury buys that?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Evolution In Practice.

Who knew that there is an 'epidemic'* of deaths resulting from "car surfing"? And aren't car manufacturers at fault for not including warnings that standing atop a moving vehicle might be perilous? Hopefully the new Car Czar can tackle this worrying trend.

* 'Epidemic' is over egging it of course.

The 1970s Have Made A Comeback!

This 1970s revival is in full swing now. Following on from the success of 'Life on Mars' about a modern policeman who wakes up to find himself in 1973, comes the tale of a 1970s politician who has found himself in 2008- 'The Obama Presidency".

The US President Elect is supposed to be new, exciting, fresh, modern, 21st century etc. So why do his ideas appear to come straight from the 1970s? The car makers bailout he is proposing is reminiscent of British Leyland. Obama is shaping up to be the American Stephen Byers.

American car manufacturing isn't actually in a bad way, it's just that it is the foreign companies whose inward investment has created thousands of jobs in the industry who are benefiting, for reasons that Charles Krauthammer sums up here:
Saving Detroit means saving it from bankruptcy. As we have seen with the airlines, bankruptcy can allow operations to continue while helping to shed fatally unsupportable obligations. For Detroit, this means release from ruinous wage deals with their astronomical benefits (the hourly cost of a Big Three worker: $73; of an American worker for Toyota: $48), massive pension obligations and unworkable work rules such as "job banks," a euphemism for paying vast numbers of employees not to work.
So if automobile manufacturing is going perfectly well in states without the employment restrictions that Michigan imposes on businesses then surely the sensible thing to do would be to emulate those states. However the Unions are big Democratic party donors and Michigan is a large swing state so bugger what is right.

On the plus side we should all have a laugh when the new eco-friendly models the politicians are going to make Ford, GM and Chrysler produce are unveiled.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Baby P.

Iain Duncan Smith writing about the Baby P case claims:
A recent US study found that children living with a non-biological adult are 50 times more likely to die from afflicted injuries than those living with their biological parents.
This seems extraordinary. Whilst I was aware that children are at greater risk from step parents than biological ones it is hard to believe that it is on this scale. A lot of child abuse could be prevented simply by discouraging some groups of people from becoming parents, particularly welfare cases who have never had a job and move from one unstable relationship to another.

Yesterday I speculated as to whether the reason the parents weren't being named was because more children were involved, sadly this is the case. Baby P has 4 siblings (or half siblings). I would hope that they are being adopted by a family that has nothing to do with the mother.

Meanwhile the Sun has a report about Haringey's Social Services department which is worth reading:

Baby P’s evil mum was backed by the council’s staff after she gave birth to a girl in March while on remand in jail and demanded access to the tot.

Fearful cops refused — only to be told by one social worker: “She has a human right to see the child. We need to let her bond.”
Words fail me! These aren't the kind of mistakes that could be eliminated with more training or better procedures, it should be patently obvious that you do not give someone suspected of torturing a baby to death access to another baby.

The Independent reports on a whistle blower who alerted ministers to the failings of Haringey over a year ago.

Update: Regarding IDS's point about the relative dangers of biological parents and a succession of step parents, it is an important point to make because some commentators group the two together and give the impression that it is the nuclear family is dangerous, like Mary Riddell in the Telegraph who writes:

In the popular myth, paedophiles and abductors lurk at every corner. In reality, there never was a golden age of childhood. The demons threatening the young are not evil outsiders but, most often, the fathers and the mothers brought up in dysfunctional families and wreaking the destruction they suffered on their own children.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Will Get Fooled Again.

The news that the "Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent" story turns out to have been a hoax, and not a particularly elaborate one at that is quite funny. The great thing about the story is that all those who repeated it as though it were plausible were trying to make a point about extreme stupidity and in their own special way they have!

The Wicker Man Was Not A Documentary.

It appears that contary to claims made by Jersey's police force and the media, the people of Jersey do not routinely sacrifice children to whatever god those bloodthirsty heathens have worshipped since time immemorial.

I've been sceptical of the wild claims for a while, particularly when the 'skull fragment was found to be a coconut shell, but didn't want to say anything in case I was wrong and ended up making light of real abuse. Others have been openly sceptical for a while. As with the infamous Orkney "Satanic Abuse" case there seems to be an irresistable urge to believe that seemingly idyllic but remote communities are hiding dark secrets.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Despicable Gordon Brown.

I used to think that Gordon Brown's uselessness as PM was purely a professional failing and that he probably was a perfectly decent human being. After his behaviour in the House of Commons today over the death of "Baby P" it is no longer possible to believe that. The man is a scumbag and if the Labour Party had any sense of decency let alone self preservation they would not merely depose him as PM but expel him from the party and tell him to never blacken their doors again.

Must Remember To Include A Title.

This is serious:

TalkSport presenter Jon Gaunt has been suspended by the UTV-owned station after he called a London councillor a "Nazi" during a live debate.

It seems harsh, and I agree with Jon Gaunt on the issue he was discussing, a London council's ban on letting children be adopted by smokers, but if he wanted to insult the Nazis he should have used a less offensive comparison.

Biggest News Ever!

The new cast of I'm A Celebrity..... has been announced. Norman the local registered sex offender and something of a local celebrity in these parts had turned down an invitation to appear on the show because he thought it would damage his image so the producers have gone down further on the fame ladder such as footballers' girlfriends:
“I’m a dare devil and I’m very sociable and very social. I think at the moment the public’s perception of me is quite moody and quite sporty as well.”
No, the public doesn't have any perception of you and two weeks after the show is over that will be the case still.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Interlektules Rool OK!

I blogged a couple of months ago on the tendency of liberals to believe that their favoured political candidates are intellectual giants and their opponents are stupid. Thomas Sowell has an article today on that very subject:

Among the many wonders to be expected from an Obama administration, if Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times is to be believed, is ending "the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life."

He cited Adlai Stevenson, the suave and debonair governor of Illinois, who twice ran for president against Eisenhower in the 1950s, as an example of an intellectual in politics.

Intellectuals, according to Mr. Kristof, are people who are "interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity," people who "read the classics."


Historian Michael Beschloss, among others, has noted that Stevenson "could go quite happily for months or years without picking up a book." But Stevenson had the airs of an intellectual -- the form, rather than the substance.

What is more telling, form was enough to impress the intellectuals, not only then but even now, years after the facts have been revealed, though apparently not to Mr. Kristof.

That is one of many reasons why intellectuals are not taken as seriously by others as they take themselves.

Stevenson is not the only example of an empty headed liberal being hailed as deep thinkers, John Kerry and Joe Biden are more recent examples of this type. A couple of weeks ago on another blog I gave my opinion that the 3 best presidents of 20th century were Coolidge, Truman and Reagan. All three of them were dismissed as amiable dunces, the New York Times backed their opponents each time, yet Reagan's intellect can be seen clearly by looking up any of his self penned speeches on YouTube and his long struggle to advance what were often unpopular ideas and Sowell says of Coolidge and Truman:
President Harry Truman, whom no one thought of as an intellectual, was a voracious reader of heavyweight stuff like Thucydides and read Cicero in the original Latin. When Chief Justice Carl Vinson quoted in Latin, Truman was able to correct him.

Yet intellectuals tended to think of the unpretentious and plain-spoken Truman as little more than a country bumpkin.

Similarly, no one ever thought of President Calvin Coolidge as an intellectual. Yet Coolidge also read the classics in the White House. He read both Latin and Greek, and read Dante in the original Italian, since he spoke several languages. It was said that the taciturn Coolidge could be silent in five different languages.

So whilst intelligence is a valuable commodity in a leader, intellectualism is not and most pundits have a demonstrable inability to distinguish the two. The easiest way to convince people that you're smart is to agree with them so politicians whose beliefs reflect the prejudices of journalists can easily be regarded as latter day Einstein's by the press.

Lessons Will Be Learned (part 3655)

It has been said of the world's pledge of "never again" after the holocaust, instead of meaning that we would never again allow genocide to occur again it actually meant that we would never again allow genocide against the Jews in 1940s Germany to happen again. Our social services work in a similar way, and when they said a case like the Victoria Climbie murder would never happen again, they actually meant that no little girl called Victoria Climbie would ever be murdered again.

Everytime the Social Services screw up the we are always told that "lessons will be learned", even if the failings didn't really require 'lessons' as much as basic common sense. Earlier this year Victoria Climbie's mother said that the lessons have not been learned and it now appears that she was right.

It isn't as if the social services are usually reticent about separating children from their legal guardians so how is that when a child is clearly being violently abused they do nothing?

Update: Does the fact that the media aren't naming the mother and stepfather suggest that there is another minor involved here?

"Extremely Seriously".

Tony Blair had to be rushed on to his plane at an Israeli airport after one of his British bodyguards accidentally fired his gun causing a security scare.

Accidental firings are taken extremely seriously in Israel and its Airports Authority has launched an inquiry.

Is there anywhere that accidental firings aren't taken too seriously? It's not as if you let of a couple of rounds at Stanstead they let you laugh it off.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Terrorists Criticised, Guardianistas Offended.

No time to blog today, so I'll just link to an article by the Guardian's "Readers Editor" denouncing as an unperson David Cox, who upset Guardian readers by mocking the recent Bobby Sands hagiography in a movie review.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Quote Of The Day.

Gordon Brown has a risible article, trying to attach himself to the Obama bandwagon, in the Guardian. The readers aren't impressed, as one says:

I feel privileged to be able to read so many openly abusive comments before they are removed.

Update: I've spotted an even better comment:

Thank you, Gordon, for this inspiring epistle. Now I understand.

People looking for a UK version of the President-elect's spine-tingling rhetoric, spirit of openness and sense of generational change should vote for you.

Can we have five more years of Gordon in 10 Downing Street? Yes we can!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Joining The Dots.

Hazel Blears is unhappy about bloggers.

But she added: "Unless and until political blogging 'adds value' to our political culture, by allowing new and disparate voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and pessimism."
The rather Orwellian talk about "legitimate protest" and "allowing" new voices is dealt with elsewhere. I want to deal with the culture of cynicism aspect. Blaming bloggers or the media for public cynicism about politicians is like blaming wet pavements for rain, if politicians treat people like idiots and exult in tricking the general public then they cannot be blamed for being cynical. Take Blears herself, how else can we look at someone who pulls a stunt like this?

Hazel Blears was forced to defend herself against charges of hypocrisy yesterday after she joined a protest against the proposed closure of a maternity unit in her constituency.
Admiration perhaps? She isn't the only Labour cabinet minister to have joined protests against their own government's decisions.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Small War In Mexico, Many Dead.

One topic that never came up in the US election was the drug war that is raging between the Mexican government and the cartels. This has been escalating for a few years now and thousands of people have been killed yet it gets little attention. Just to put the carnage in context the annual death toll exceeds all the killings that occurred during Northern Ireland's 'troubles' over a 30 year period. There is a real danger though that the war could spill over into the United States especially as the cartels have put American citizens including police officers, on their hit lists.

On the day of the election Mexico's 37 year old Interior minister, responsible for fighting the cartels and likely to be the country's next president, was killed in a plane crash, which may just be an accident but you have to wonder.

This situation could be one of the big issues of the next few years, partly because Mexico is an important large country in its own right and partly because it has a rather porous border with the USA and the violence could easily spill over into the South-Western states. It could make border controls and the "War on Drugs" important issues again.

Passive Smoking Worse Than Being In Care Says Council.

Whilst smoking is a bad habit and should be discouraged this is ridiculous:

Smokers in a north-east London borough will not be able to foster children from January 2010 - unless there are "exceptional circumstances".

If a child is in care then that is a pretty exceptional circumstance all by itself. If there were a surplus of foster carers then the policy might be justified as a way of filtering the candidates, but according to everything I have heard there is in fact a shortage. The justification for the ban is that most evidence suggests that various risk factors correlate with being in a smoking environment and this is true. However there are also strong correlations between poor life outcomes and being in care. and it seems implausible that children raised in households with smokers do worse than those raised in care homes. So the reasoning behind the ban demonstrates an inability to quantify risk.

Quote Of The Day.

John Derbyshire in NRO's Corner:

I'm thinking of another election 29½ years ago, when Margaret Thatcher swept into power in the U.K. As I recall, there was no great fuss one way or the other about her being the first female Prime Minister. Those of us who supported her just knew she had the right stuff, and so she did.

If the first female Prime Minister had been someone lesser, especially someone from out in left field — Barbara Castle, say — that likely would have been a disaster, and a great many people would have concluded that electing a woman Prime Minister had been a really bad idea.

It is of course a great thing that we are (it seems pretty certain) electing a black President. It's just a crying shame it had to be this shallow, empty man, who has never shown a flicker of interest in wealth creation, whose head is stuffed with all the vapid nostrums of 1980s student leftism, and who seems — putting the most charitable construction on it — not to mind the brazenly thuggish tactics of his supporters.

I'd gladly join in the cheering and self-congratulation of our nation's first black president, if it were a person of the caliber of Margaret Thatcher. This guy is just Jimmy Carter lite. Way lite — ol' Jimbo had at least run a business and served in the military.

I suppose I should try and find something less depressing to write about.


There have been developments in the election that are not necessarily to our advantage.

Update: The single most disturbing image of the night was the one conjured up in my mind when pollster Bob Worcester attributed Obama's win in Ohio to the fact that Hillary had been "Beating it out" for Obama all over Ohio.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thought For The Day.

No food item has a more unappetising name than "Digestive Biscuits". Who originally thought that it would be a good idea to promote a biscuit by reminding people of the digestive process?

Join The Herd Of Free Thinkers!

Senator McCain is clearly the best candidate to any genuine conservative and come to that any serious minded moderate, with a track record of integrity and competence going back decades which stands in comparison to his opponent's wafer thin resume and extreme political stances when not running for election.

However as a bandwagon jumper it is important to endorse the candidate who is likely to win not the one who is likely to govern best, because otherwise you're like totally out of touch with the zeitgeist. However such naked opportunism is unseemly so ought to be clothed with a fig leaf of intellectual respectability. This can be done easily enough by agonising over trivial or even imaginary failings of the likely losing candidate whilst ignoring the actual failings of the likely victor.

Therefore I am endorsing Barack Obama. Although John McCain is closer to my position on Taxes, regulation, foreign policy, defence, judges, trade and every major issue I can think of I just feel I can't bring myself to vote for a candidate who [insert bullshit here]. Also frankly I've been shocked at how dirty McCain's campaign has been, shortly after the Obama campaign sent out an email accusing his running mate of being a Nazi, John McCain plumbed depths previously unimagined by suggesting that it was possible that Senator Obama's economic plan wasn't very good.

Hooray, I am now free to join the herd of free thinking "Obamacons".

My Prediction.

Plus the Democrats to pick up 6 Senate seats.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Unlikely Statistic Of The Week.

Teenagers who watch Sex in the City [sic], Friends and other TV shows featuring sex scenes and discussions of sex are far more likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant than their peers
Ok I'm just about prepared to accept that teenage girls who watch Sex & the City are more likely to get pregnant. However it seems unlikely that teenage boys who watch it are more likely to get someone pregnant. Gay sex does not result in pregnancy.

Dennis MacShameless.

Just how shameless is the hyper partisan* New Labour MP Denis MacShane? This shameless:
The Tories chez nous are now the party of the super-wealthy as the millionaires' frontbench presided over by Oligarch Osborne and super-rich Cameron demonstrate.

I'm sure I remember that there was some other politician on board the yacht with George Osborne and the oligarch but surely MacShane would have mentioned it if one of his close political allies was on board too.

* MacShane is generally despised on the left as a Blairite ultra, so he isn't a far left figure. It's strange how the most relentlessly (and dishonestly) partisan figures in politics are often the relative centrists rather than the hard liners.

A Transformational Figure.

Okay after the last post you will want a serious post on the most pressing issue of the day. I can't help but be impressed with a black man who has challenged to win in a field traditionally dominated by white men. Yet he doesn't compete as the "black guy" instead he embodies a post racial narrative where the colour of his skin neither defines a man's identity nor imposes limits on what he can accomplish.

The calm and composure with which he has kept the lead even when his rivals looked like gaining on him has truly been impressive. Some say he's too young to win but in that case why couldn't his more experienced rivals exploit his naivete? Some say it is because he is backed with more money, but why did the power brokers trust him with their investments?

So congratulations Lewis Hamilton on a well deserved championship!

The Election Everyone's Talking About!

So we reach the end game of the 2008 election and interest has never been higher. It some ways the candidate of "change" has proved irresistable and appears all but unstoppable. The stark contrast between youth and experience, left and right is making it all the more compelling.

The UK's interest in foreign elections is generally limited but this isn't the case here, perhaps because it in another english speaking country.

It is time to make a prediction though, I think the National Party will win this week's New Zealand election.


Donald Trump is a ludicrous man in a wig. That said he is also filthy rich and presumably knows a bit about making money. Which is why it seems extraordinary that he has had to fight tooth and nail for the privilege of being allowed to invest £1 Billion to build a Scottish golf complex. When face with a choice between a guarenteed £1 Billion and the prospect of tourism for decades to come on one hand and a possibility that some sand dunes might be disturbedon the other they initially chose to protect the dunes!

This demonstrates the deleterious effects of letting politicians and pressure groups decide on investment priorities when they have nothing personally at stake in the investment.

Not As Good As It Used To Be.

This blog's new wikio ranking is 118, down from 74 last month. Damn you fickle readers!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Straw Clutching.

Is it possible that McCain could still win the presidency? Almost certainly not but why not delude myself with the possibility for three more days? Political Betting has a post wondering about the reliability of American pollsters:
Given that the lat two Presidential elections have seen very close races, I would posit that ‘Independents’ includes more people that voted for Bush than for Kerry (even allowing for turnout differentials - Independents are also more likely to vote in many states). The fall in percentage of registered Republicans in the last two years, and the growth in the number of Independents smacks of what we would call ‘Shy Tory Syndrome’ - not wanting to affiliate with the party, but not necessarily reconciled to becoming Democrats, or voting for the Democratic Party. My concern would be that if the ‘Independents’ being polled and giving a slight lead to Obama are largely Dem-leaners (the eagerness of Democrats to answer questions in the same way that Labour voters are over-polled in the UK), that the whole 24% of Independents are being miscast.
It sounds plausible and I want to believe it but it is probably best not to get one's hopes up. If it is true I will be spending Wednesday engaging in unseemly gloating at various left wing sites. Although if the elections goes as expected they are more than welcome to come here to gloat.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Witch Watch.

Petitions calling for the pardon of those executed in the UK's witch trials are being handed to the UK and Scottish governments.

About 400 people in England and 2,000 in Scotland were executed following accusations of witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries
Obviously as there are no such thing as witches these people were innocent. They were usually just the local medieval equivalents of Mystic Meg or Gillian McKeith so they were kind of asking for it.

Pardoning people 500 years on seems like a waste of time perhaps it would be better if instead we learnt from the mistakes of that era and could rid of legal processes that are designed so that it is impossible to clear one's name.