Thursday, December 31, 2009
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
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
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.
"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
- Anyone who thought that Islamist terrorism was purely a reaction to Bush was an idiot.
- 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.
- Plane passengers aren't passive in the face of perceived threats any more.
- It will be interesting to see whether the suspect was radicalised in the UK or in Nigeria.
- 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
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
- 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.
- Donald Dewar for devolution- I wouldn't argue with that.
- 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.
- 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?
- Robin Cook for his resignation over Iraq and his presience about the absence of WMDs. This is fair enough I guess.
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.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
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?
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
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.
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:
- Demanding that other peoples' rights are curtailed in order to outlaw any disapproval of homosexuality.
- Making excuses for violent anti-gay rhetoric among people belonging to designated victim groups.
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
Of course if drugs were legal, dealers would not have so many liquid assets to prop up our financial institutions.
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.'
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
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.
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
Friday, December 11, 2009
- Someone 5 foot 5 but claiming to be drafted by the NBA.
- Having an IQ of 75 but claiming to be a Mastermind champion (No Blunkett/Lammy jokes)
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.
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
- Commit a burglary.
- Escape along a railway track....
- .... on a quad bike whose engine drowns out the sound approaching trains.....
- ...... in the middle of the night.
'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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Canada's image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whalingI 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
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.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.
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.
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
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.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.
"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."
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
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.
“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.
* 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
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 [Ross@unenlightened.co.uk] (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 [Ross@Unenlightened.co.uk]
Subject: RE: Are we okay?
No Ross, you were Grrrrrrrrrrrrreat. I just had to et up early to film an advert.
From: Ross [Ross@unenlightened.co.uk] (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 [Ross@Unenlightened.co.uk]
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.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
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.