Thursday, December 31, 2009

In Praise Of Northamptonshire Police

The last time I mentioned them it was to criticise their response after a previous experience. So it is only fair to praise them now that I've had a more positive experience.

For reasons that aren't very interesting I had to register a car in my name today. Registering it is a necessary first step before taxing it, so I drove to the DVLA centre in Northampton. I was therefore driving an untaxed car but I figured the chances of being caught out this one time were minimal. So I was horrified when blue lights started flashing on the black BMW behind me and it was clear that I was being pulled over.

I had clearly broken the law and I was convinced that at a minimum I would have points on my licence and would probably have a motoring conviction too. If the officer had been interested in making his numbers look impressive he could easily have booked me. However once I explained what I was doing and showed him the completed DVLA form on my front seat he said he didn't want to book someone who was trying to do the right thing in getting the vehicle legal and after checking my details let me off with just a verbal warning.

This will probably surprise people given the reputation of Northamptonshire Police with respect to motorists, but I found them reasonable, flexible and far from the quota obsessed jobsworths I had feared. So I'm extremely grateful to the officer in question and my lesson has been learned.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let's Begin The Third Opium War!

China's governing regime is corrupt and brutal. It executes many people on trumped up charges and is not deserving of much sympathy. Plus my blog is being plagued by Mandarin spammers (do they really believe that I have enough Chinese readers to make it worthwhile?). However I can't understand the outrage over them executing a convicted drug smuggler.

I do feel sympathy for Akmal Shaikh and his family, however I can't feel a great deal of outrage over the execution of someone who knowingly chose to commit a capital offence even if his supporters claim he was mentally ill (was there any evidence that he was considered mentally ill before his arrest?). It is a tragic waste of a life but China has the right to set penalties for drug smuggling.

Whilst Iain Dale is right to say that "Wars have been started over less", most people consider the Opium Wars, fought to give Britain the right to sell dope to the Chinese, to have been one of our less heroic military ventures.The Chinese are quite touchy about that part of history, burning down the Summer Palace* is a particular sore point, so it would be a mistake for the British government to push this issue too hard as it will weaken our credibility when objecting to real injustices.

* Although I can't see why it should be considered that bad, insofar as it specifically targeted the Chinese government rather than the masses it seems quite a humane policy. The Americans aren't upset about us burning down the White House during the war of 1812 after all, so why the Chinese are so upset is beyond me.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time To 419 Scam Al Qaeda

With the arrest of the Nigerian failed plane bomber I can see that this new Islamist-Nigerian connection could be potentially lucrative. So I'm sending this out to every fundamentalist I can think of:
Dear Sir,

Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into terrorist relationship with you. I have the believe you are a reputable and responsible and pious person I can do business with from the little information so far I gathered about you during my search for a partner and by matter of trust I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere business.

I am Mahmoud Abacha 29 years of age the only son of late General Abacha whom was killed by the infidels that attacked our country and took over our town. I ran to Lagos the economical capital of Nigeria from were I am contacting you. Before the death of my father he told me that he has US$9,000,000(Nine million united states dollars) worth of diamonds kept in a private security company here in Nigeria in my name as the next of kin.

Naturally this is too much for me to access as I am a man of modest means. It would make great use to me if a man of your prestige could could help me to access the value of the diamonds. Perhaps in exhange for $1 000 000 you could take control of the diamonds for me. In order to to get the diamonds out of the country into your care I need an initial deposit of $500 000 to make good my plans.

I am contacting you with due sence of humanity that you will give it a sympathetic and mutual consideration.

I am honourably seeking your assistance in the following ways.

(1)To serve as the guardian of this fund and to come assist me visit the security company here to retrive the consignment to be utilised in an aviation based project.

(2)To make arrangement for me to come over to your country to further my education and to secure a residential permit for me in your country.

(3)To provide good investment plans for the fund and to manage the diamonds for 5 years, during the investment period,only our profit will be shared annually 70% for me the investor while 30% will be for you the fund manager annually. Obviously this is a fee not he charging of usury.

(4) To utilise said funds for the purposes of jihad against the Great Satan.

Moreover, I am willing to offer you 15 % of the total sum as compensation for your effort /input after the successful transfer of this fund to your nominated account overseas, before the investments starts.and I have maped 5% for any expenses that might be incured during the course of this transaction.

furthermore, you can indicate your option towards assisting me as I believe that this transaction would be concluded within a stipulated period of time you signify your interest to assist me.

I will need your bank details for the purposes of transferring the money into your trusteeship.

With my warm heart I offer friendship. It would help us further our friendship if we could share some personal information, for instancewhat is your mother's maiden name?

Thanks and God bless.
Best Regards.

Quote Of The Day

On Radio 5's "Fighting Talk", Dara O'Brien rails against the use of the phrase "guilty pleasure" to describe perfectly good pop songs from the likes of Abba:
"Guilty Pleasures should be something you genuinely feel some sense of regret and disgust and self anger for. You know what my guilty pleasure is? Using a crowded tube to touch women."
Hard to argue with his definition.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Plane Bombing

Observations on the attempted plane bombing:
  1. Anyone who thought that Islamist terrorism was purely a reaction to Bush was an idiot.
  2. The fact that an engineering alumnus from one of Britain's most prestigious universities can't even detonate an explosive is a damning indictment of our education system. It was one thing when an ex con retard like Richard Reid couldn't light up his shoes but this is absurd.
  3. Plane passengers aren't passive in the face of perceived threats any more.
  4. It will be interesting to see whether the suspect was radicalised in the UK or in Nigeria.
  5. Al Qaeda have never actually managed to blow a plane up (though they have crashed planes obviously) despite numerous attempts over the years. Perhaps smuggling substantial quantities of usable explosives on to planes is actually harder than is generally assumed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Apology Of The Day


We mistakenly stated that the BBC producer behind Dragon’s Den had been convicted of having 1,410 repulsive child porn images.

He had not.

No hard feelings then!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy 25th Of December

Blogging's light today as I have to maintain the charade of not being so devoid of a life that I have time to blog on Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.

Christmas time is that special day when a bearded man sneaks into childrens' rooms to empty his sack. Unless of course you are in the Gerry Adams household when it is pretty much a daily occurance.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Heroes Of New Labour

The Economist's Bagehot has a column hailing the "Heroes of New Labour", the figures who in the last 12 years have accomplished something positive. The list is understandably short with only 5 names making the cut:
  1. Lord Adonis for education reforms which is reasonable enough, except the big policy for which he is credited- City Acadamies- is essentially the recreation of the Grant Maintained Schools that Labour abolished in 1997.
  2. Donald Dewar for devolution- I wouldn't argue with that.
  3. Lord Mandelson for peace in Northern Ireland, I've said previously that I rate Mandy's work in the province so I agree with that.
  4. Sir William MacPherson for improving race relations. This is a ridiculous choice, the MacPherson report poisoned race relations. How can anyone claim that race relations are better now- when the BNP regularly wins council seats and MEPs- than in 1997?
  5. Robin Cook for his resignation over Iraq and his presience about the absence of WMDs. This is fair enough I guess.
Are there any other "Heroes of New Labour" who should be included?

Incidentally the presence of Dewar and Cook on the list reminds me of something I've been wondering- do Labour cabinet ministers have a higher mortality rate than their Tory counterparts? All of the last Tory cabinet are still alive, whereas of the first New Labour cabinet three (Cook, Dewar and Mowlam) are dead. There has been at least one other cabinet minister who has died since 1997, Lord Williams of Mostyn, and I strongly suspect that Alastair Darling is a ghost.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

AGW Sceptics & Carbon Trading.

The Copenhagen summit doesn't appear to have achieved much. Not a surprise.

Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of Australia's Liberal Party was recently deposed due to his support for a carbon emissions trading programme. He writes about this in the Times. He is highly critical of the sceptics and deniers (I don't like the word in this context given its connotations but I am assuming a denier here means someone who is convinced that global warming is not happening whereas a sceptic is simply someone unconvinced that it is happening). He is surely right about an emissions trading scheme being the rational response because it restricts the output of CO2 and the creation of a market encourages CO2 emissions to be reallocated in the most efficient manner.

Scepticism about climate change is fine, I would define myself as reasonably sceptical in that I don't accept the claims that "the debate is over" and the idea that AGW is as solidly proven as the spherical shape of Earth or evolution. The behaviour of individual advocates of AGW has not inspired confidence, as is pointed out here the scandalous aspect of the leaked University of East Anglia emails wasn't that they tried to evade a Freedom of Information Act request, but that an FOI request was necessary in the first place. The denunciations of anyone who questions AGW also serve to undermine the cause, when even someone as committed to rationalism as James Randi can be attacked in really quite distasteful terms- "Could it be that the fact he is currently suffering through chemotherapy for intestinal cancer explain the lapse?"*- for simply arguing that we should keep an open mind.

However the fact remains that it is the view of the overwhelming majority of people who have studied this have concluded that CO2 emissions lead to an increase in global temperatures, so at the very least it is quite probable that AGW is real. Therefore even if one thinks that instead of being an incontrovertable fact that CO2 emissions are contributing to environmental damage, that it is actually something that is only 90%, 75% or 40% likely, it still makes sense to calculate the expected cost of CO2 emissions and set a price that will reflect that.

In fact anyone who doesn't believe with 100% certainty that global warming is not man made should support some kind of price for emitting greenhouse gases, shouldn't they?

* via

Sheep Rejected

The news that Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas is gay will send shockwaves throughout the principality and in truth it will probably freak out his team mates because having sex with other humans when there are plenty of sheep to go around is simply deviant behaviour in the valleys.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

PR Stunts As News

This is terrible:

For the warring couples in your life, it could be the perfect gift this Christmas - a divorce gift voucher.

They have been put on sale for the first time in this country by Vanessa Lloyd Platt, who runs her own legal practice and is renowned for representing high profile clients and celebrities such as Anne Diamond and Les Dennis.

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell is, to me, a modern day Lord Longford in that even though his politics are somewhat alarmingly wrong headed he is never the less a man of personal integrity and courage.

In the field for which he is most famous- gay rights- he doesn't make the two mistakes that a lot of his contemporaries make:
Which means that is a great shame that he has had to stand down as a candidate for the general election due to the injuries he has suffered in the course of his campaigning, particularly the beatings he took at the hands of Robert Mugabe's bodyguards and at the hands of Moscow thugs.

Admitting that he has suffered brain injuries is also very brave, there is a certain stigma to that kind of thing which makes it difficult to address openly. There is a perception that when somebody suffers an injury it is just a case of waiting for bruises to fade, bones to heal and then everything is back to normal. That isn't always the case particularly with head injuries, often the effects of a beating last a lifetime or at least several years. Which is something to remember when reading of an assault case in the newspaper- even non fatal attacks can often leave victims permanently affected. There have recently been a number of news stories about the long term effects of head trauma on certain kind of athletes, but any form of repeated blows to the head will have the same effect.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Drug Dealers- Saviours Of The World

Drugs money saved some banks from collapse at the height of the global crisis the United Nations' drugs and crime chief claimed today.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, told the Observer that there were signs that some banks were rescued by billions of dollars that 'originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities.'

Of course if drugs were legal, dealers would not have so many liquid assets to prop up our financial institutions.

The Perfect Eurovision Song

I was going to wait a few months before posting this as it isn't topical right now, however I can't wait that long:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Real Victims

I knew there had to be some reason why attacking and seriously injuring a septuagenarian man was a bad thing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Labour Within 9%. Still Doomed

So Labour have closed the polling gap to 9%.

Admittedly when a party celebrates a 9% deficit that show how badly they've been doing, but it could indicate a Labour fightback. However looking at the record of ICM polls I can't help noticing that Labour have closed the gap during the last 2 Decembers and it has opened up again by spring.

Come the election I can't really believe that the voters will decide that Labour's performance merits another 5 years in power, so I'm predicting that this will be another false dawn although if it encourages an earlier election then it is a good thing.

Guardian: Bring Back The Death Penalty

Okay they don't exactly say that, but Alexander Chancellor writes about the relative treatment of murderers in the USA and Italy (referring to the recent conviction of Amanda Knox for the killing of Meredith Kercher):
The good news is that disillusion with all these methods, and growing evidence of their unjust application, continues to weaken America's faith in capital punishment and could lead one day to its abolition. In the meantime, if convicted of murder, justly or not, I would much rather be in Perugia than the US.
So the deterrent effect of the death penalty is established then.

[via Ambush Predator]

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Google: Enemy Of Libel Laws?

The top google news search suggestions, in the UK at least, when you enter "Tiger Woods" are:
  1. Tiger Woods Kirsty Gallacher
  2. Tiger Woods Injunction

Friday, December 11, 2009

How Crap Is Labour's Economic Management- A Comparison.

As I mentioned earlier the UK is dead last out of the G20 economies to leave the recession. This means we are the bottom 5%. If we assume economic competence is normally distributed, this means that Gordon Brown is at least 1.65 standard deviations below the world mean of economic competence. So what is the equivalent of being 1.65 standard deviations below the mean whilst simultaneously boasting about leading the world economically? I can think of a couple of comparisons:
  1. Someone 5 foot 5 but claiming to be drafted by the NBA.
  2. Having an IQ of 75 but claiming to be a Mastermind champion (No Blunkett/Lammy jokes)
Any other comparisons are welcome in the comments.

Quote Of The Day

From Frank Skinner on being disinvited from Question Time:
It seems I was considered a bit too light-entertainment for a show set in Wootton Bassett. I wasn’t serious enough. Years of public flippancy, low-brow preoccupations and populist TV appearances had made me an inappropriate guest. I was replaced by Piers Morgan.

Is Whoring The Secret To Economic Recovery?

Britain is the last G20 country in recession, Italy being the latest major economy to exit the recession.

The thing is unlike Gordon Brown, Italy's PM has never pretended to be some kind of economics expert and spends most of his time drinking and whoring at one of his many villas. However it turns out that this is actually a better strategy for coping with the global downturn than Gordon Brown has managed despite McDoom's self professed expertise in economic affairs.

Since Berlusconi is probably unavailable, perhaps we should invite Tiger Woods to be Prime Minister and put Britain back on the road to recovery.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dumb Criminals.

In what possible world is this not a stupid plan?:
  1. Commit a burglary.
  2. Escape along a railway track....
  3. .... on a quad bike whose engine drowns out the sound approaching trains.....
  4. ...... in the middle of the night.
It isn't a plan that ended in disaster, it was a disaster that was disguised as a plan. In fairness the burglary isn't confirmed, as one of their friends explains:
'They were just good lads. They just enjoy going out midnight racing in the dark down by the track and the fields around there.'
Sounds like a plausible explanation to me, after all me and my friends like to go out visiting jewellers in fancy dress with replica guns, doesn't everyone have a hobby?

Update: In the circumstances it is horrible to laugh at someone's sincere expression of grief but can anyone keep a straight face when reading stuff like this?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Defending The Borders Of The Shire Is A Risky Job.

Immigration minister and hobbit* Phil Woolas has been mocked for claims that UK Borders Agency staff are risking their lives. I think this displays a very callous attitute towards the victims of deep vein thrombosis.

Sitting down is a very risky activity.

* Did anyone see him on Question Time a couple of weeks ago? He's tiny.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Judging A Book By Its Title

Amanda Craig writes about the "pink stinks" campaign to stop little girls wearing pink. She references one of the most important popular science books of the last decade to make her point:

While our daughters squabbled over whose turn it was to use the glittery pink crayon, we would moan on about the tyranny of this repulsive colour.

Where had we all gone so wrong? If our children are born blank slates, as the scientist Stephen Pinker (no, I haven't made up his name) claims, then all this mania for a particular colour has to be culturally imposed, an addiction caused by nurture, not nature.

But there was just one problem with this theory: I kept a very close eye on everything my daughter was exposed to.

Pinker did write a book called "The Blank Slate". It was a book emphatically rejecting the blank slate theory and criticising those scientists who promote it. In other words he is making the precise opposite argument to the one she attributes to him.

She doesn't have to have read the book to know this, just a single review or even a Wikipedia article. She has not even judged the book by it's cover, but purely by its title.

When she writes "(no, I haven't made up his name)", she is also mistaken, as he is "Steven Pinker" not "Stephen Pinker", so she did make up his first name.

Via Neil at Harry's Place.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Liddle: Then & Now.

On the subject of Rod Liddle, in the comments here Laban Tall recalls how ferociously politically correct he used to be back when he was the editor of the Today programme:

In 1998 he was working to death the hideous revelation that “Asians applying to study medicine are more likely to be rejected than other students.”

To be exact, “while one third of all applications for medical school places are from Asians, they represent only one fifth of those accepted”.

If that Rod Liddle were still at the Today programme then one suspect they would be denouncing this Rod Liddle from the airwaves every morning.

Blame Canada

I missed this George Monbiot column last week, however it was in the "Spotlight" section of google news yesterday. Moonbat writes:
Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling
I don't think he has thought his analogy through though, Japan is rather good at whaling indeed they are the best at catching whales in the whole wide world. So in effect George Monbiot is actually saying that Canada is better for the climate than any other nation on Earth.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Cripple Spectator Blogger Fight!!!!

What's worse Rod Liddle's childish attention seeking or Alex Massie's pompous denunciation of Liddle? I'd say Massie is worse because whereas Liddle presents information in a deliberately provocative manner, Massie seems to actually object to knowledge per se:
the left's inclination to see people as members of a group rather than individuals is tedious and, often, less than productive. Which makes one wonder why you insist on doing likewise, lumping all blacks (and all muslims) together as though skin colour or religion reveal, determine or dictate everything.
The thing is though the prevalence of different behaviours among different groups, in this case crime, is an interesting phenomenon. Massie angriliy denounces Liddle for things Liddle didn't say, "that blackness is somehow the cause of these problems". Cultural differences among different groups doesn't imply that the origins are innate. As the great Thomas Sowell has frequently pointed out:
All explanations of differences between groups can be broken down into heredity and environment. Yet a world view of the history of cultural diversity seems, on the surface at least, to deny both. One reason for this is that we have thought of environment too narrowly-- as the immediate surrounding circumstances or differing institutional policies toward different groups. Environment in that narrow sense may explain some group differences, but the histories of many groups completely contradict that particular version of environment as an explanation. Let us take just two examples out of many which are available.

Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italian immigrants from southern Italy began arriving in the United States in large numbers at about the same time in the late nineteenth century, and their large-scale immigration also ended at the same time, when restrictive immigration laws were passed in the 1920s. The two groups arrived here in virtually the same economic condition-- namely, destitute. They often lived in the same neighborhoods, and their children attended the same schools, sitting side by side in the same classrooms. Their environments-- in the narrow sense in which the term is commonly used-- were virtually identical. Yet their social histories in the United States have been very different.
Jews are not Italians and Italians are not Jews. Anyone familiar with their very different histories over many centuries should not be surprised. Their fate in America was not determined solely by their surrounding social conditions in America or by how they were treated by American society. They were different before they got on the boats to cross the ocean, and those differences crossed the ocean with them.
In other words cultural traits, both positive and negative, don't have to be innate in order to be powerful and able to express themselves over immediate environmental factors.

Massie seems to believe that we should not allow ourselves to be aware of group differences because he prefers "to see people as individuals." Well great but if certain negative behaviours are particularly widespread among particular groups then it is going to be difficult.

As for Liddle, as I say he is being needlessly childish, but he is writing at the Spectator website, and the Speccy hordes aren't going descend en masse to Hackney to start a race riot.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The New Jade Is A US Senator!

The late Jade Goody (pbuh) was mocked for thinking that East Anglia was abroad but apparently US Senator Barbara Boxer agrees and thinks East Anglia is in the United States. I assume that is what she believes because otherwise she is claiming the right for the USA to investigate and prosecute offences that occur in the UK:
Senator Boxer reacts to the 'climategate' question on leaked emails that appear to suppress the scientific process of peer review, saying hackers should face criminal prosecution.
"We may well have a hearing on this, we may not. We may have a briefing for senators, we may not," Boxer said. "Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated."
I visited the UEA campus in Norwich about 20 years ago, my abiding memory of the place is that there are an awful lot of rabbits and hares running about.


A Surprising Denial

I don't think I've ever heard of Islamist groups denying responsibility for a suicide bombing:
Somalia's hardline Islamist insurgents denied Friday that they carried out a suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu that killed at least 23 people, including three government ministers.
It is the sort of thing they claim responsibiity for even if they had nothing to do with it.

It could be that blowing up a graduation ceremony for doctors is unpopular even among Islamists.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Smoking Prevents Heart Attacks (Not Really)

Remember back in February when medical researchers made the improbable claim that the ban on smoking in public was responsible for a 26% reduction in heart attacks? It turns out that using pretty much the same methodology* a ban on smoking in public in Indianaoplis has led to a 16% increase in the number of heart attacks.

Clearly we must start smoking like chimneys in order to help fellow members of the public.

Via the Agitator.

* I say methodology, but what I actually mean is finding two things occurring at the same time and claiming that one caused the other without any evidence whatsoever.

Why Oh Why?

Why has my "Recent Comments" widget stopped working for the last two days?


Nick M says most of what needs to be said about the Scottish Trades Union Congress's request for people attending the Celtic versus Hapoel Tel Aviv football match to "show solidarity" with the Palestinians. It is a disgraceful attempt to insert politics and sectarianism into sport. The STUC's secretary general, Dave Moxham, explains their demand with this:
“This December marks the one year anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in which 1,400 men, women and children were killed in an act described by the United Nations as ‘indicating serious violations of international human rights’ and ‘amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity’.
Oddly enough Celtic played Dynamo Moscow in August, which marked the one year anniversary of the Russia invasion of Georgia, yet I don't seem to be able to find the STUC's calls for solidarity from back then. I also don't seem to be able to find the STUC calling for similar displays when teams from Turkey or the former Yugoslavia have played in Scotland, despite the conflicts that have beset them.

Odd that.

* Headline shamelessly stolen from a comment by 'Kevin B' in the same post that I linked to at the beginning of the article.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My Affair With Tiger

Like everyone else I know feel it is time to reveal the sordid details and seeing as the National Enquirer aren't offering me enough money I'll shall share the truth, including the sordid emails, here. He was someone who seemed to have it all, in a long career he had been at the top of his profession for years and was well loved. But behind the image of perfection there was a dark secret.

It started when we met in a hotel bar, he pawed me as I passed him. We got talking and it was clear he was on the prowl. One thing led to another and soon we went to his cage and spent the night together. In the morning he was gone without so much as a note. I felt used. He had given me his email address the night before so we began the following exchange:

From: Ross [] (save address)
Subject: Are we okay?

Tony, why did you just leave, I thought we were good together. Were you using me? Did I upset you?

To: Ross []
Subject: RE: Are we okay?

No Ross, you were Grrrrrrrrrrrrreat. I just had to et up early to film an advert.

From: Ross [] (save address)
Subject: Good, lets get it on again Tiger.

I'm glad to hear it, I was so worried lol. Who are you shooting the advert for?

To: Ross []
Subject: Take a hint and fuck off.

Stop emailing me, you bunny boiler.

And who the fuck do you think the advert is for you brainless fuckwit? Every fucking advert I do is for Kelloggs Frosties. Every. Single. One. I can't even get the fucking Esso ads any more. Just Frosties, Frosties AND MORE FUCKING FROSTIES! My teeth are rotten from their sugary shit. Even David Fucking Attenborough won't feature me in his documentaries- I'm typecast and "not scary enough". I'm a fucking toothless tiger and my only slight relief from my miserable life is casual sex with loose knickered skanks like you. IHATE MY LIFE, I HATE MY WIFE, I HATE FROSTIES & above all I REALLY FUCKING HATE YOU!!!!!!!

I was distraught and realised he had taken advantage of me. My illusions were shattered once and for all when I found a box of Coco Pops and realised he was in fact a cereal adulterer.

Strange Laws

Officers are examining whether any crime was committed, and looking into suggestions that Woods may have been driving without shoes, which is illegal in Florida

The dangers of shoeless driving escape me.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Social & Religious Conservatism.

The man suspected of the Washington police massacre turns out to have been pardoned by former Arkansas governer Mike Huckabee, which pretty much torpedoes his shot at the Republican presidential nomination for 2012. Quite rightly too.

Mike Huckabee is described as a social conservative, but that is only true on matters where politics intersects with religion- abortion for example. Law and order are very much social issues yet Huckabee's position on crime puts him well to the left of supposed social liberals like Rudy Guiliani. Social conservatism is not the same as religious conservatism even though the two may overlap on occassion.

It is unwise for political conservatives to conflate the two positions, even if practical politics creates an alliance between political and religious conservatives. Experience shows that conservatives motivated soley by religion tend not to be too bothered about secular conservative issues, to take an extreme case look at the ease with which ex Sandinista Daniel Ortega has won over the Catholic church simply by banning abortion.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How Would They Like It If We Banned Cuckoo Clocks?

I don't support banning things, so obviously I can't support the Swiss decision to ban minarets even though the hand wringing is amusing. As I understand it most Swiss nominal Muslims are from the largely secular European Muslim cultures of Bosnia and Albania in any case, so annoying them for no reason seems pointless at best and vindictive at worst.

It is also trivial, what is more likely to lead to the rise of Islamism- the building of minarets or mass immigration from countries where Islamism is a major force?

That said the whining from various Muslim nations is absurd given their own behaviour towards church building. Egypt has objected to the Swiss ban, this is the same country which has for many years prevented Coptic Christians from building new churches or even repairing existing ones. No doubt the Saudi royal family will threaten to withdraw their secret bank accounts from Switzerland too.

Still it is impressive how Swiss voters can simply override the wishes of their politicians through referenda.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tree Huggers Cause Tree Massacre.

Investigators are trying to determine who drove six-inch nails into hundreds of red pine trees near Backus. They think the vandals might have thought they were saving the trees from logging; about 100 of the 600 trees were slated to be cut down and sold this month. But now the entire forest will be cut down because of safety concerns, the authorities said. Mike Diekmann of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said that if a saw hit one of the nails, “it would explode like a gun going off” and could cause serious injury

Unintended consequences are a bugger aren't they?

Gillette- Razor Of Cheats.

You've got to feel sorry for Gillette, they go to the trouble of recruiting three of the most prominent sportsmen in the world to advertise their razors. They've obviously gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that they've got athletes who aren't merely highly talented but admired for their clean living. So they can't be too happy about the last fortnight:

  1. November 17th, Thierry Henry's handball knocks Ireland out of the World Cup, thus giving Henry a reputation as a cheat.
  2. November 27th, Tiger Woods crashes his car and seriously injures himself in a comical escapade running away from his irate wife (allegedly), thus giving Woods a reputation as a love cheat.
No doubt some hideous skeleton is going to fall out of Roger Federer's closet next week.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Those Climate Emails

Are all the environmental campaigners who are denouncing the leaking of the CRU emails as theft against direct action now?

It is reasonable for the proponents of climate change to point out that unethical practices don't invalidate the theory itself. Some of the world's greatest scientists have been gits of the highest order yet their work remains valuable, the feud between Isaac Newton and Gottifried Liebnitz doesn't show either man in a positive light even though they were both incredible polymaths. The Piltdown man hoax does not disprove evolution

AGW advocates George Monbiot in the Guardian and Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post have both robustly defended the theory of manmade warming without soft peddling the serious issues raised by the emails, Robinson writes:

From my reading, the most damning e-mails are those in which scientists seem to be trying to squelch dissent from climate change orthodoxy -- threatening to withhold papers from journals if they publish the work of naysayers, vowing to keep skeptical research out of the official U.N.-sponsored report on climate change.

Which is exactly right. Unfortunately most of the AGW advocates have twisted themselves in knots to defend, contextualise and explain away the behaviour of the CRU scientists.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Criminal Faces

The idea that facial characteristics give clues to a person's nature has been out of fashion since the Victorian era. Yet I was intrigued to read in my daily tabloid trawl that one of the actors in the Harry Potter films seems to be a bit of a thug. He plays one of a pair of thuggish characters who flanked one of the main villains. Interestingly the other member of the pair has also been in serious trouble.

So the two young actors cast in roles due to their ability to appear thuggish turn out to actually be thuggish. Quite a coincidence.

These are the features associated with criminality by Cesare Lombroso:
  • Unusually shaped ears, occasionally very small but more likely large “jug handle” types similar to those of chimpanzees;
  • Upturned or twisted noses – hawk-like in murderers and flattened in thieves;
  • Large, protruding jaws;
  • High cheekbones;
  • Fleshy, swollen, or protruding lips;
  • Hard, shifty eyes; and,
  • Excessively long arms.
Looks pretty convincing to me and as someone ticks at none of those features I can be trusted.

Victimhood Poker: Oriental Edition.

A South Korean man has been fined one million won ($865; £520) for making discriminatory remarks against an Indian professor.
I've read things about casual racism towards foreigners in Korea before so this is perhaps not a huge surprise, although I don't know how widespread it is. However:

The man yelled racist comments and said "Arab! Arab!" at the Indian man while on a bus in July, the judge said.

The professor felt publically insulted by the comments, he added.

Surely the it is also a bit racist ot consider "Arab" to be an insult? So the Korean simply has to find himself an Arab who is offended at the Indian in order to perform victimhood jujitsu on him.

Dumberer Than Ever.

It must be difficult to lose the services of Fiona Phillips and then dumb down, but apparently GMTV have managed it.

How is that even possible?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Who Are The Monsters? We Are The Monsters

The epidemic of cow violence has shocked us all, some more than others. However what we never ask is why do they hate us? What have we done to provoke their wrath?

Now it emerges that far from the attacks being random and unprovoked it was in fact we humans who started the war.

Let me tell you the story of a classic Whitehall farce, a tale of how the government came within a whisker of advocating bovine genocide.

It all began when officials at the Department of Health decided to part-fund a piece of independent research looking at how health professionals could help combat the effects of climate change.

The boffins came up with a rather courageous idea. Why not kill 30% of Britain's cows and sheep?

Sensationalist bolding is mine. This is what they call blowback and if we want to end this war we must have the courage to end the cycle of violence, we spend ten times as much on bolt guns to slaughter cows as we do on day care centres for little calves! Why wouldn't the cows attack us?

Unsurprisingly Andy Burnham, whose specialness I have often admired on this blog was at the heart of this plan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Can't Be Bothered To Think Up A Title For This Post.

Feminists like to say things like:
Discrimination against men on the basis of gender is so unusual as to be non-existent, so what exactly will a men’s society do? To suggest that men need a specific space to be ‘men’ is ludicrous, when everywhere you turn you will find male-dominated spaces.”
I don't think men are routinely discriminated against, despite the best efforts of the femiloon movement. Then again I don't think women are routinely discriminated against either, because lets face it that were the case surely Women's Studies professors would be able to find more substantial examples of discrimination than this:
Carmen Siering, assistant professor of English and women's studies at Ball State University, said: "With just a moment of critical analysis, feminists can't be too happy about how the latest episode in the Twilight series, adapted from Stephenie Meyer's popular books, represents a young woman and her place in the modern world. In fact, the New film is really just more of the same, only worse."

Making His Mind Up.

The Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth's criticism of Obama's dithering over Afghanistan was probably not wise. However as I said earlier this month the leadership vacuum has put the US's allies in an impossible position. It is almost impossible for the British government or that of any other NATO member to shore up support for staying in Afghanistan if the United States seems to be less than wholly committed to the enterprise.

Either go with the McCrystal plan to increase troop numbers or get out, either decision is better than no decision.

Human Sacrifice.

Human sacrifice has been practiced in ancient Britain, Meso America, Africa, India and the Middle East.

These cultures were sufficiently isolated from each other as to make it highly unlikely that they copied each other.

Therefore cultures throughout history have independently come to the conclusion that ritually slaughtering someone in order to appease the gods is a good idea.

Therefore humans have an innate tendency to consider human sacrifice to be a good thing.

So human sacrifice is a natural human response to deal with challenging conditions.

With the credit crunch and all that we are enduring challenging conditions.

Therefore we should consider ceremonially killing someone in order to satiate the thirst of an angry god.

Nominate the victim offering in the comments below or speculate as to why the practice has arisen so often in so many different places.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Comas & Consciousness

The news that a patient who was thought to have been in a vegetative state was in fact fully conscious for quarter of a century is horrifying.

Currently the procedure for allowing people in that state to die is to withdraw feeding, as it is a more passive form of death than simply pumping them full of morphine or suffocating them with an inert gas, even though the latter two methods are clearly more humane. If we have been starving conscious people to death then this is worse than horrifying.

I Forgot To Even Write A Title For This One.

The Independent asks- "Does this picture show British soldiers broke Geneva Conventions?":

If controlling suspects by restraining their hands is a violation of the Geneva Conventions then yes it does. Of course if this is a violation of the Geneva Conventions then who gives a fuck about the Geneva Conventions?

Ian Blair Reviewed.

Say what you like about the Daily Mail, but no one else can trash someone as whole heartedly as them. When they do this to someone who is kind of asking for it, like Ian Blair, then it is a joy to behold.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Elections Bad For Democracy.

Hugh Orde claimed last week that elected police boards would "undermine democracy".

No really he did!

I'm sure he means that increased democratic control of policing would have negative consequences for the rule of law or something like that because his statement as it stands is absurd.

He also says:

"There will be no votes in protecting people from terrorism, from organised crime and from serial rapists that cross the country because they won't be local and they won't get you votes."

The idea that police chiefs are dispassionate experts capable of weighing up crime fighting priroties whereas voters can't would be more plausible if, in the real world, the police weren't doing things like hiring psychic detectives.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Best Wankers In Spain.

A Spanish region's new approach to sex education has provoked anger by suggesting children be taught "self-exploration and self-pleasure".

Teaching teenagers to whack off is a bit like teaching fish to swim, although I'm sure once Ed Balls realises the potential to increase pass rates we will have a GCSE in the subject in this country too.

I did like this comment:

"Extremadura should be pleased with itself," Pilar Rahola, a columnist in the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper, wrote.

"It may have the most unemployed young people in Spain but they will be the best at masturbation."

I like this story too much to check whether it is actually true, so let's just assume it is.

Friday, November 20, 2009

She Planned It!

This looks like pretty convincing evidence that Harriet Harman's crime rampage was premeditated.

Via Public Interest.

Is Von Rumpuy The Scarlet Whore Of Babylon?

No, but I wanted to use the phrase "Scarlet Whore of Babylon" and link to this post about Von Rumpoy's deeply held Roman Catholicism which appears to influence his political outlook strongly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Although it's traditional to wait for the trial, sometimes you just have to throw away the key while you have the chance.

Quote Of The Day

Macho, manic productionism relies on force, it valorises conquest of nature and other humans. It marginalises the means of reproduction – how societies sustain themselves, breathe, give birth, grow and rest, clean up; how people take care, give pleasure and co-operate.

Beatrix Campbell OBE yesterday.

I have no idea what she's on about either. That particular passage was found here.

Palin 2012?

Anyone who has read this blog since last year will know that I'm not hostile to Sarah Palin, she was an effective governor and a good communicator. Much of the criticism she received was unfair and some of it went into the realm of the deranged (I'm thinking of Andrew Sullivan with his demands that her gynecological records be released in order to prove that she isn't her son's grandmother).

Having said all that the idea that she is a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for 2012 is ludicrous. For one reason above all others- she quit the role she was elected to fill, governor of Alaska, in order to go on a book tour. How could someone seriously ask to be elected president when they have a record of resigning elected offices mid term for no good reason?

I would therefore be inclined to believe her when she says that she that a presidential run is "not on her radar".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unlikely Headline Of The Day.

'I Thought I Was Going To Drown': Katie Price Panics
That seems very unlikely.

War: The Answer To All Life's Problems.

War is doing a better job of species conservation than the WWF, the wildlife charity that is not the Wrestling organisation (although they probably don't do that much conservation either):
Indian Kashmir's wildlife population has seen a dramatic increase after two decades of fighting scared off poachers and hunters from the region, a wildlife official said on Tuesday.
Similarly 50 million people died in World War 2 but it did wonders for replenishing the North Sea cod stocks, so it's an ill wind that blows no good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is This A Repeat?

After the myth of widespread sexual trafficking of women had been debunked last month there was always going to be a fresh moral panic:

Sophisticated networks of older men may be grooming hundreds of British children to be trafficked within the UK for sexual exploitation, the charity Barnardo's believes.

Or they may not, who knows? Best not to worry about it until someone presents some actual facts rather than idle speculation.

I'm not saying that they are definately wrong, but after the fiasco of the sex trafficking nonsense I don't think too many people will be willing to rely upon a report by 'campaigners' that says something "could" be happening or "may" be going on.

via Obnoxio.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Importance Of Punctuation.

Newspapers often use quote marks when covering criminal cases in order to not appear to be actually accusing a suspect of a crime, so much so that it must be so routine that they forget why they are using quotation marks in the first place.

I'm guessing this is why when I saw the Sun in the newsagents today it had this headline:
'Night Stalk' rapist charged
Whereas the online edition currently has this subtly different headline:
'Night Stalk rapist' charged
A small but very important difference. Being called a "Night stalker" isn't the bit that they are supposed to treat as unproven, 'Night Stalker' actually sounds kind of awesome, but the 'rapist' is thus far only an accusation.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Families Are Fair Game.

Having achieved the impossible feat of making people feel sorry for Gordon Brown last week, the Sun has decided to go lower.

The Sun presumably opposes the former drugs advisor David Nutt for his views on the relative safety of alcohol, cannabis and horse riding. Which is fair enough but this is really pretty sleazy behaviour on their part- scouring the Facebook pages of his children to take some pictures and quotes to smear them:

It was not known if the professor at London's elite Imperial College has been privy to his daughter Lydia's Facebook pages.

Photos show her and girl pals cavorting with a bottle of spirits in hand - and were uploaded two years before she turned 18.

Meanwhile older lad Johnny, 26, has posted photos of himself prancing NAKED in the snow in Sweden.

The Sun has photos of people prancing around naked on Page 3 every single day ( and good on them for that)! This is just tawdry character assassination to punish Professor Nutt for having a different opinion than the Sun, his children are not in the public eye and frothing about their trivial or non existent misdeeds is underhand.

Friday, November 13, 2009


One of the greatest single issue blogs ever created- Angry people in local newspapers: Celebrating excellence in the field of local newspaper photography.

Sample post, "Didn't-win-the-lottery anger":

Via Clive Davis.

Not Dead Yet.

Labour have done extremely well in the Glasgow North East bye election. Labour and Brown in particular are more popular in Scotland than in England and Wales but that probably isn't the main factor behind this win. What is probably more important is that in Scotland the SNP are in power so Labour benefit from being a vehicle for opposition to the status quo, if that is the case then they will probably make some kind of recovery in the UK as a whole once they are removed from government next year.

Labour: Still Not Big On Free Speech.

I see the government remains as authoritarian and contemptuous of freedom now as it has been for the last ten years:

Ministers have admitted defeat in their efforts to remove a "free speech" defence from new laws against inciting homophobic hatred.

MPs have voted four times to scrap it but it has been repeatedly overturned in the Lords, who again last night voted by 179 to 135 to keep it.

Supporters of the bill argued that it was intended to target rare and extreme cases, but as we have all too frequently seen the intended target of a bill is something of a distraction. In fact the police have been used to harass people for their views on the matter even in the absence of any actual law and it is difficult to see how that could fail to get worse if there was such a law.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not Taking Crime Seriously.

It sounds like the judge really cracked down hard on this rapist who was convicted of abducting and raping a 5 year old boy 8 days after he had been convicted and released for raping a 7 year old:

"You are a devious and manipulative young man with an unhealthy and completely unacceptable sexual interest in young boys.

"It is likely you will not be released for some very considerable period of time."

He added that it was "highly unusual" for a court to categorise a 16-year-old as a danger to the public but in this case it was merited.

"I have to say I have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in reaching the conclusion that you are indeed a dangerous offender," the judge said.

So he's dangerous and devious and the judge says he won't be released for a very long time. So what is his sentence:

He must serve a minimum of three years minus five days before being considered for parole.

Thank God that this monster will be in his late teens before he can roam the streets again!

How The World Sees Communism.

Interesting survey* at the BBC on how the world views the collapse of Communism 20 years on: Relief at the demise of the USSR seems to be widespread throughout the West even though feelings are mixed in the poorer countries. I'd argue that it the poor countries who have benefited most from the end of communism with the wave of democratisation that has spread throughout Eastern Europe, South East Asia and Latin America being a direct result of the absence of a communist threat.

The survey also asks what people think about free markets and the results are much more mixed:

With more than 40% of the French population believing that capitalism is "fatally flawed", the failure of the French left to win power for 15 years is remarkable.

In Britain only about half that number believe that capitalism is doomed and an even smaller number that the demise of the USSR was a bad thing although if they had surveyed Guardian Towers the results would have been very different.

* and an "interesting" headline!


Spammers have been littering my site for the last week or so. I don't want to reactivate word verification because I find it cumbersome but may have to if the problem continues. I will delete any spam as soon as I see it so they are wasting their time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Experts Better With Hindsight Than Foresight

To mark the execution of Beltway sniper John Allen Mohammed in a few hours, I decided to look up some of the most inept speculation as to the identity of the killer before he was caught. My favourite is Philip Kerr's article that appeared in the Daily Mail on October 21st 2002, 4 days before the snipers were caught:
If the Washington Sniper is taken alive, it is more than likely that he will be not some Al Qaeda terrorist, or even a cackling nutcase like Scorpio, but a quiet, white- skinned male, aged 40-55, who is a stalwart member of the National Rifle Association.

It may even be found that somehow, the key to the whole spree is the first shooting, on October 2 - a single shot fired through the window of Michael's Craft Store in Washington's Wheaton district, that fizzed through a display of silk autumnal flowers, smashed the lamp over the cash register and ricocheted off a shelf of prayer books called Inspiration For The Heart.

OR PERHAPS the answer lies somewhere in the identity of the first victim, 55-year-old James Martin.

Like Martin, several other victims have been fairly heavyset men in their 40s and 50s.

Equally, four of the men had beards; and if I were an FBI profiler I'd be working on the possibility that our man is also heavyset, with a beard, and that he may have shopped at Michael's Craft Shop, where a second shot was fired two days after the first.
Bearded, white, craft shop aficionados are notoriously dangerous.

Monday, November 09, 2009

MPs- Beyond Parody

A group of female MPs has protested at proposals to ban second homes within commuting distance from Parliament on the grounds that this would put them at risk of attack.
Pretend for a moment that this isn't a brazen attempt to play victimhood poker in order to keep their snouts in the trough.

If they are serious then implicit in this argument is that London's transport system is too dangerous for women to use, but that it is only a problem when MPs are at risk.

Meaningless Statistic Of The Day.

A huge rise in the number of children calling to report sexual abuse by women has been revealed by Childline.

Over the past five years, the charity says the number of such calls has risen five times faster than youngsters reporting abuse by a man.

This is a useless figure on its own and the fact that it is being used as the headline figure suggests to me that the useful figures aren't nearly as scary sounding.

Sure enough the actually useful statistics aren't that dramatic, female abusers make up about 1/8th or the caseload of Childline. However even that is misleading because as Esther Rantzen says "we specifically targeted boys, hoping to reassure them that it was not a sign of weakness to ask for help with a difficult or painful problem.". So after targetting boys the number of boys who contacted them rose.

The thing is I'm sure much of what Childline and the NSPCC say is true- that sexual abuse by females is probably underreported due to a reluctance to acknowledge that it exists- however the use of dubious shock stats makes me think that someone is attempting to mislead me.


Dead woman 'threatened to jump'


With the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (metaphorical fall, the Germans are quite good at engineering), the commemorations are portraying it as the trigger for the fall of communism. However the event occurred about two weeks after the Hungarian government authorised multiparty elections, so I wonder whether undue significance has been placed on the Berlin Wall because of it's obvious symbolism.

I remember at the end of 1989 the news seemed to be coming from a different Eastern European capital each week as one by one the old regimes fell like dominos. The Romanian revolution was probably the most dramatic although not as I remember for the events which seem most significant in hindsight- the Ceaucescus on the balcony and their later execution- but for the brief civil war that occurred between the army and the secret police. The Western reporters would be on the streets filming the Army when shots would be fired from a tower by secret police snipers and everyone would react but the snipers would have disappeared by the time the army got there.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Origins Of Sub-Prime

From something that had been sitting unread on my bookshelf for a couple of years, that was written well before the credit crunch:

Dan says the vast majority of junk mail - be it loans or otherwise - is directed at the sub-prime market: "The best thing you can tell a client is that you can accurately identify sub-prime individuals. Which is why, when people are asked to fill in lifestyle surveys, they'll often see questions like, 'Have you ever experienced difficulty getting credit?' or, 'Have you ever missed a mortgage payment?' Those are the sorts of triggers that will identify you as potentially sub-prime."

So an inability to pay debts wasn't merely a flaw to be overlooked, but something that was actually desirable in creditors. More to the point this was generally known before the bubble burst.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mr Bono....

Tear down this wall.

Criminalising Witnesses.

I'm feeling bored and have nothing to write about, I wish there was another incredibly stupid article by Beatrix Campbell OBE to mock.


She applauds a move to punish men who pay for sex with prostitutes who have been coerced, even if they were unaware of the fact. The incidence of trafficking has been vastly and systematically exaggerated as Nick Davies demonstrated last month. Bea dismisses Davies and insists that trafficking is no more of a moral panic than satanic abuse. Or something,

However trafficking does happen on occasion . In fact some Romanian traffickers were convicted this week:

A GANG who trafficked a woman from Romania to work the streets of Manchester as a prostitute has been jailed.

The migrant workers lured their victim - a single mum in her twenties - to the UK after their building work dried up because of the credit crunch.

They promised the woman she could earn money as a dancer but forced her to have sex with up to ten men a night in Manchester's red light districts.

And the case demonstrates the biggest problem with criminalising the users of prostitutes:

She finally escaped their clutches when she appealed to one of her 'punters' and he helped her flee to his house.
Would the 'punter' have helped her if doing so would have ensured that he was charged with a criminal offence?


"My cousin is not a terrorist," said Mohammed Hasan. "He was born in America, he graduated from Virginia (Tech) University. He was proud to be graduate. He was always preaching about the US education system. He was an optimistic person. He loved life."
Note to self: Avoid culturally alienated loners from Virginia Tech.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Obama's Dithering Towards Afghan Exit.

The Afghan war is growing increasingly unpopular, it was only a few months ago that most people supported it, now 73% think we should leave. Gordon Brown has belatedly attempted to reverse that today by making the case for staying, whilst simultaneously signposting a way out*.

Obama's dithering between the two options of escalating the war or winding down the NATO presence is putting other Nato leaders in an awkward position because they need to spell out a coherent position to their electorates. However without an American decision there is only one unilateral decision they can make. They can't promise to stay the course, because if the US decides to go the other way they would have to do a u-turn. On the other hand they can withdraw regardless of what Obama decides and if there is no American decision that is what they will have to do.

* As Dilbert creator Scott Adams points out, Gordon Brown was employing "the cat is on the roof" strategy of preparing the ground for an announcement.


Guess the programme being described (without googling):

The show crossed the Atlantic 18 months after its US launch, but the BBC rejected it because of its "authoritarian aims"

Psychiatrists- As Dangerous As Plumbers.

This New York Times report on the massacre at Fort Hood- "Army Doctor Held in Fort Hood Rampage"- is more notable for the words it doesn't use than those it does. In that sense it resembles the BBC's classic- " Plumber appears on terror charges".

Do they think that readers won't put 2 and 2 together when they see the suspect's name? Not that they should have headlines blaring out "Muslim Nutter Goes On Rampage", but it is clearly worth mentioning that the chief suspect is a Muslim given that the US is fighting islamist organisations that purport to represent Muslims. It could be that religion isn't the shooter's motive but it is legitimate line of enquiry. If reports in other more open newspapers are accurate, then it is highly likely that the massacre was related to the shooter's beliefs.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mouse In Trap.

Bea Does Belfast

Beatrix Campbell OBE, diverts her attention away from uncovering ritual abuse to look at Northern Ireland.

The coverage of the Independent Monitoring Commission's (IMC's) 22nd report on paramilitary activities, vindicates that tradition. Shootings by dissident republican sects at war with both the British and Sinn Féin defined the news. A month ago when US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited Northern Ireland it was the same story: new threat from republicans. So, is peace in Northern Ireland still threatened by the republicans?

No, says the IMC.

As useless as the IMC are it does seem unlikely that in a year which has seen three murders and several foiled car bombings they would say that there was no threat from republicans. Sure enough on pages 11-14 of the IMC report that she links to it goes into detail about a great number of attacks by the Real IRA. This has been pointed out in the comments of the article by someone.

She continues:

In fact, the Provisional IRA has disarmed and disbanded.
First of all the PIRA has not disbanded, the IMC believes they have disarmed though. Secondly she was talking about "dissident republicans", which are those not in Sinn Fein or the PIRA.

She then indulges in a bit of unsourced allegations:
The sovereign government finally established at Stormont was wrecked not by republicans but Peter Mandelson's undiplomatic and undignified endorsement of a unionist agenda and by MI5's messing about with spooks at Stormont.
Peter Mandelson, whom in most respects I can't stand, was probably the best Northern Ireland secretary since Roy Mason. So who is Campbell referring to when she talks about "the sovereign government" and where is their evidence of this great plot? She doesn't even provide a link that flatly contradicts her claim as she did earlier, evidence is not needed.

Jumping forward a bit Bea adds:
These figures indicate some very worrying trends: loyalist gangsterism is rife, dangerous and productive, and dissident sects have murdered members of the security forces
This is evidence that she is mendacious rather than simply stupid. Reading the sentence is clearly supposed to give the impression that the "dissident sects" who have murdered members of the security forces were loyalist gangsters rather than the republican gangsters who she is trying to airbrush out of the picture.

Is there anyone else who is so consistently wrong about so many issues as Beatrix Campbell?

Who Pays The Piper

Curious isn't it, David Milband has adopted a highly critical approach to Russia during his tenure as Foreign Secretary (rightly so in my opinion) and yet soon after his name starts being touted for the role of EU foreign minister he does a 180 degree u-turn, decides that murder by nuclear terrorism on the streets of London is no biggie and that the Merkel-Sarkozy appeasement approach is much better.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I Hate Young People

Not people who happen to be young, but the phrase "young people". Is there anything more irritating than constantly referring to young people as "young people" when done by politicians or other professional busybodies? The phrase grates like nails being dragged down a blackboard. This is the immediate article that prompted this post:
Many of the 300 young people attending the debate, including the young person I accompanied, left home at 5.30am during their half-term holiday to represent the views and opinions of their peers, and they did so with passion and integrity. Young people rely on public transport, and it was this that let them down and resulted in the late start to the debate.
Young people have never been allowed to sit on the formidable green benches before, and I imagine that some were daunted by the prospect.
I have worked with children and young people for many years, and do not consider them to be a helpless group who will eventually grow into citizens.
I saw young people of all shapes and sizes; some were shy and others were confident. None were brazen.These young people are not merely "playing" at politics – they are elected by young people to raise awareness of the issues that matter to them.
It showed that, when given the opportunity, young people are able to forcefully debate, discuss and fully participate in local and national decision-making.

I fear that your article disrespected the many young people of this country who are trying to make a difference and contribute positively.

This is about the "youth parliament", a body made up of the sort of young people who refer to themselves as "young people".

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Musical Interlude

Mentioning US TV a couple of posts ago reminded me of a song that appeared once in the soundtrack of what is my personal favourite show. Anyway as I've never heard the track anywhere else or heard of the band in any other context I'm guessing that few of my readers have either so I thought I'd put it up here. It is called Cuentan Que El and it's by 'Whitehouse':

No Vote On Lisbon

As widely expected David Cameron has announced that there won't be a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty now that it is in force. I always thought this was obvious because it would weaken him greatly if he lost and even if he won it would over shadow his government for at least a couple of years as he tries to negotiate a fresh arrangement.

I still think he should find some EU related topic to have a referendum on in order to satisfy the eurosceptic wing of the party* and the public.

* Within the Tory party probably everyone under the age of 55 is some kind of eurosceptic at least relative to 15 years ago, even if there is a divide between those who want to leave and those who simply want to pull back a bit. There is no longer a substantial body of opinion in favour of ever deeper union.

Conspiracies New & Old

After the Polish Chief Rabbi torpedoed Labour's smear campaign against the Tories' European ally last week the journalists who had been going along with Labour's spin had some explaining to do. For instance Toby Helm:
What I understand is that Schudrich has been under the most enormous pressure from the highest authorities in Poland to retract the remarks, but has refused to do so. The pressure, I am told, came from Kamiński's Law and Justice party, the party of the Polish president.
So could we be seeing the an old conspiracy being inverted to create a new one?
  • Old Conspiracy- International Jewry is conspiring behind the scenes to control the political leaders of sovereign nations.
  • New Conspiracy- Domestic political parties are conspiring behind the scenes to control international Jewry.


The mouse has been caught, I put down the trap without any bait in the hope that the mouse would get used to it (as suggested by Richard in the comments) but it ended up going right into the trap on the first day without any bait at all. I feel bad for the mouse, he should at least have had something to eat before he got evicted.

After taking a picture of him (which I'll put up later) I released the rodent into a lay by a couple of miles from the house.

Monday, November 02, 2009

First They Came For The Idiots....

.... and I did not speak out because I was not an idiot.

Media Concentration Is Bad

In Prospect magazine Peter Jukes compares British and American television drama, something which I have done frequently here. Jukes knows a lot more about the behind the screen workings of television drama so he isn't simply comparing the output but also what goes into making TV drama.

The difference between 1994 and 2008 is startling. Instead of being the responsibility of four network controllers, most drama is now commissioned by one person.

That person is Ben Stephenson, BBC controller of drama commissioning. He has faced mounting criticism since last year, when he made ill-advised remarks about a “limited pool of talent” for television drama


But everyone missed the glaring issue: why are these questions being addressed to only one person? In 1994, I worried about the cultural power of four network controllers. Now you can forget Channel 4 and BBC2: they can make decent one-offs, such as Red Riding and Freefall this year, but both have basically dropped out of adult dramas. ITV has fared no better. In the 1990s the powerful baronies of Granada, Yorkshire TV, LWT and Thames had some autonomy. But their amalgamation into one corporation, followed by a catastrophic fall in advertising revenue, has turned ITV drama into a shadow of its former self. Whatever your view of public service broadcasting (and I support it) the near-monopoly of the BBC in drama commissioning is disastrous.

So maybe a start to rebuilding the quality of British television (assuming that abolishing the license fee isn't going to happen in the near future) would be to make the BBC split the drama commissioning between their different channels and try to find some means of enticing the other channels to get back in the game.

Incidentally is the decline in ITV's advertisng revenues wholly unrelated to the manner in which they have rushed downmarket at breakneck speed, I realise that a multi-channel environment makes their job harder but that isn't the whole explanation is it?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Meet The New Boss.

According to Political Betting the Tory lead with ICM is bigger than Labour's at this stage prior to the 1997 election. Hooray we will soon be able to kick out the authoritarian, nepotistic Labour government with an ,authoritarian nepotistic Conservative government.

It's moments like this that make me just happy to be alive at this hour.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mouse Update.

Okay I got one of these mousetraps and so the battle of wits between human and rodent begins. At the moment it's 1-0 to the mouse.

I added the bait (some Chocolate Buttons) and placed the trap behind the settee that I'd seen the mouse emerge from before. Unfortunately my dog likes choclate too and rather impressively he managed to squeeze in behind the settee pull out the trap and open it.

So I am now out of bait and in need of a dog free place to set the trap.

Dubious Associates Uncovered.

The intervention of the Chief Rabbi of Poland into the Michael Kaminsky on the Today programme appeared to have scuppered the Miliband/ Guardian/ New Statesman smear campaign.

However it now emerges that there is incontrovertable proof that Kaminsky has been associating with deeply unsavoury figures.

Quote Of The Day

The footballer Marlon King was recently jailed for attacking a woman, given that he has a track record of committing very similar attacks I wouldn't have thought that there was much debate over his guilt. However:

As the sentence was delivered , several of King's supporters stormed from court, swearing at the judge.

One screamed: 'This is a clear case of institutional racism.

'You should not be up there... Up the National Front. Heil Hitler.'

Friday, October 30, 2009

Drug Czar Czacked.

Not only is lying not a sackable offence with this government, telling the truth is.

I support legalisng most drugs, including cannabis, but I do accept that sometimes those in favour can be too complacent about the negative consequences. There are strong arguments against legalising or decriminalising drugs, see James Q Wilson's article here for instance:
The central problem with legalizing drugs is that it will increase drug consumption under almost any reasonable guess as to what the legalization (or more modestly, the decriminalization) regime would look like. The debate, I think, must be between those who admit this increase and then explain why they would find it tolerable and those who admit the increase and find it intolerable.
Now what happens? Here is where the only meaningful debate can exist. Do you think that there will be a decrease in drug crime? Maybe—if the crime committed by users seeking money to buy drugs and the dealers protecting their right to sell drugs falls by an amount greater than the increase in crime committed by addicted users who are no longer capable of holding a job. Not all coke or heroin addicts are incapacitated, but a significant fraction—perhaps one-fifth, perhaps more—are.
However any argument either for or against has to be rooted in the facts not in spin and propaganda. Ignoring reality is not a basis for making good policy.

This also applies to other controversial subjects. This week it emerged that the government had suppressed discussion of the relationship between crime and immigration when being honest about it would have avoided the dual dangers of complacency and hysteria.

The fact that fear mongers like Liam Donaldson remain in post and David Nutt is sacked speaks volumes.

One Face Per Person.

Kelly Brook reveals: Two-faced Ant and Dec wrecked my TV career
I don't claim to be fully up to date with light entertainment figures but I'm fairly sure that "Ant and Dec" are two separate individuals and therefore the number of faces that they would be expected to have is in fact two. One each.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of Mouse & Man.

Oh bugger.

I've got a mouse in my house.

It's a very cocky rodent and doesn't seem to mind scurrying righy past me when the lights are on. Oh well, I guess I'll have to buy one of those "catch them alive" mousetraps and release it near the home of someone I don't like.

What To Do With A Miliband?

Bearded europhile Timothy Garton Ash backs David Miliband to be the EU's new High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy aka the EU Foreign Minister on the grounds that Milipede has:
just delivered one of the most eloquent, forceful arguments for a European foreign policy I have read in a long time.
Meanwhile unbearded eurosceptic Irwin Stelzer backs David Miliband to be the EU's new High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy aka the EU Foreign Minister on the grounds that:
the force of the [Lisbon} treaty will depend on the quality of the key appointees, we should all be pleased if he does get the post.
Stelzer seems more convincing but wonder whether David Miliband's abilities would be better utilised leading the Labour Party after the next election.