Monday, August 31, 2009

That Difficult 20th Term.

The most successful political party in the democratic world, Japan's LDP, lost power in a landslide election after having been in power more or less uninterrupted since the 1950s. After almost 2 decades with an economy in the doldrums it's amazing that it didn't happen sooner.

In fact since the end of the Cold War their original raison d'etre has disappeared. As with Italy's Christian Democrats they were initially established as the eternal party of government thanks to large piles of cash from the CIA during the post war era in order to act as a bulwark against Communism. Rigging elections was an important part of preserving democracy back then.

So here's a clip from a Japanese game show:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

46

I like to think that this is what a little bit of talent and a lot of hard work can achieve. In reality it shows what multiple voting on a scale that would make a Zanu-PF election monitor blush can achieve.

Victimhood Poker: World Series.

This is my entry into Mark Wadsworth's "Victimhood Poker" challenge. Obviously everything in it is complete nonsense and shouldn't be taken as reflecting anything at all:

Muslims have been banned from a Black Eyed Peas concert next month because the event is organised by Guinness, an official said Thursday. The prohibition comes amid a clampdown on alcohol consumption among Malaysia's Muslim majority. A Muslim woman who drank beer in public was sentenced to caning by an Islamic court last month, though authorities this week agreed to review the penalty.

On the face of it the decision of the Middle Eastern nation (sub editor please check) Malaysia to ban Muslims from attending a Black Eyed Peas concert seems wholly appropriate. What right do neo cons have to force American music along with Coca Cola and McDonalds down the throats of the indigenous Malays who like other Arabs have great pride in their own culture who were building the Pyramids whilst Europeans were still living in mud huts?

That the Black Eyed Peas are to be sponsored by the global corporate brand, Guiness, only adds to that feeling of outrage at their insensitive arrogance.

And yet, and yet I feel a deep sense of unease against singling out an African American pop group in this manner. Do the feelings of global Muslims really give an excuse to send African Americans to the back of the bus again?

Furthermore as in other Caribbean Islands (subeditor please check) blacks are still greatly discriminated against in Malaysia- in downtown Kuala Lumpa, just a few miles from the border with Pakistan, some years ago I didn't see a single black face and there are certainly no blacks in the government. Of course this is not the fault of the Malaysians themselves, the country was for many years under the yoke of British colonialism and even in the post colonial era the scars of racism left by the oppressors still mark this society.

By banning Muslims from attending the concert are unconsciously mimicking the worst of their colonisers behaviour. As it is they are denying Malaysian Muslims the opportunity to see a politically aware group who also know what is like to suffer discrimination, whether it be because of the colour of their skin, their political activism or their lead singer's status as a survivor of adult incontinence.

What Malaysia doesn't understand is that music is very important to black people. Not just in that it's something to listen to, but that traditionally, along with sport, it's been the only way to rise out of inner-city poverty. When they tries to drive those musicians out of business, they are cutting off their escape route.

Contrary to first impressions the 'Peas aren't politically unaware and have written powerfully about American imperialism- "In the USA, the big CIA The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK". One has to wonder whether exposing the CIA is what has turned Malaysia (An American ally lest we forget) against them.In fact not only are they turning their backs on black people but on all oppressed people of colour who have been victimised by the CIA- Palestinians, Iraqis Symbionese, Nicaraguans, Klingons, Polynesians and Mexicans.

"There Was No Such Thing As Incompetence"

This article about the New York Schools Chancellor and his efforts to rid the city's school system of is great fun, although if I lived in New York it would be terrifying. Thanks to the unions it is impossible to fire utterly useless teachers and pretty difficult not to promote them but some of the worst of the worst get sent to the "Rubber Room" where they receive full pay but don't go anywhere near a classroom:
Neither the Mayor nor the chancellor is popular in the Rubber Room. “Before Bloomberg and Klein took over, there was no such thing as incompetence,” Brandi Scheiner, standing just under the Manhattan Rubber Room’s “Handle with Care” poster, said recently. Scheiner, who is fifty-six, talks with a raspy Queens accent. Suspended with pay from her job as an elementary-school teacher, she earns more than a hundred thousand dollars a year
They see themselves as a persecuted group, (First they came for the idiots.....):
We talk about human rights in China. What about human rights right here in the Rubber Room?” Seven of the fifteen Rubber Room teachers with whom I spoke compared their plight to that of prisoners at Guant√°namo Bay or political dissidents in China or Iran.
The whole thing is here.

<via>

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Would We Be Without Surveys?

English turn to booze on holiday
Who Knew?

A Rabbitty Version Of His Masterpiece.

As a big fan of Richard Adams's novel 'Watership Down' I was thrilled to discover it had been made into a movie. However as I sat down to watch it I was horrified to discover that the director had seen fit to cram the film adaptation with dozens and dozens of rabbits!

Okay not really. But my complaint makes about as much sense as Johann Hari's shock at finding out that the cinematic version of Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" is "garbled to the point of meaninglessness".

"The Shock Doctrine" has been recognised as dishonest, dumb and deluded by critics not only on the right but also on the sane wing of the left. What the hell do you think is going to be produced when it is based on the works of a woman so stupid that she manages to defeat her own argument before anyone else even has a go? Citizen Kane?

It's vaguely distasteful to see Hari praising an exceptionally dishonest and ignorant hack, it's like watching someone masturbate over a photograph of themselves.

It's Completely Unacceptable, Except When It Isn't

As I understand it for a contemporary politician to praise a dead politician who made some controversial remarks about ethnic relations 40 years ago means that he should be ostracised and must lose the whip.

However when a contemporary politician praises a dead politician who made some controversial remarks about ethnic relations 40 years ago then that's fine.

I must be missing something. Labour calls for Daniel Hannan to be disciplined for praising Enoch Powell, even though it was quite clearly not in relation to Powell's record on immigration and even the ludicrous 'dog whistle' argument doesn't stand up to much scrutiny given the forum in which he made the remarks.

The predictions made in Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech were incorrect and it is not unreasonable to argue that they inflamed racial tensions in a most unhelpful way. The late W.F. Deedes has argued that Powell's speech made it much harder for later politicians to even address immigration.

However he never argued for mass ethnic cleansing as the recently deceased Ted Kennedy did when in the context of Northern Ireland he said that protestants " should be given a decent opportunity to go back to Britain". Kennedy's remarks were made in the context of the murderous atmosphere of early 1970s Ulster where the rivers were already "foaming with much blood" even before this crass ignorant intervention. It was a much more dangerous arena for political demagoguery than peaceful mainland Britain.

Yet Gordon Brown's praise of this man is acceptable whereas Hannan's praise of Powell is beyond the pale and Brown specifically praises Kennedy in relation to Northern Ireland whereas Hannan specifically disagrees with Powell comments on immigration! If instead of warning of the dangers of mass immigration (however inaccurately), Enoch Powell had waited for several hundred years before demanding that the descendents of those immigrants be given an opportunity to leave then that would it be okay to praise him?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guest Post- Ed Balls

The first group of young people to have been entirely educated under Labour pick up their GCSE results today. After they have found someone to read the results out to them they will find that more young people are succeeding than ever before.

The Tories have begun a concerted campaign to claim that exams are dumbing down. This is nonsense, whilst it is true that many functional illiterates are now getting 15 GCSE's including grade 'A's in English, this is a testament as to how, under a Labour government, qualifications are for the many not just the privileged few who can read.

David Cameron's focus on discriminating against the stupid would close the doors of opportunity for millions of hard working young people. Under David Cameron an amiable simpleton with a heart of gold will be relegated to the scrapheap whereas under Labour they can achieve any goal they want to- just ask Andy Burnham! Just because he regularly gets outwitted by pot plants doesn't mean he can't make a good cabinet minister.

My ambition is a state education system in which every child can succeed and can fulfil their potential. That requires a choice of excellent qualifications for all young people – whether their strengths are practical, academic or both or wholly imaginary; whether they want to go to university, prison, get a job or an apprenticeship. Well maybe not 'get a job'.

It demands, as our children's plan sets out, that schools work with parents and other professionals to ensure that all of our young people are above average young people.

Over the past year, Michael Gove has set himself against this vision of excellence for all. He dismisses our children's plan as a distraction, and as our children worked on that plan for nearly half an hour this is very hurtful. And he refuses to match our guarantee this September of a free pony for every 16- and 17-year-old who wants one. This is why you should vote for politicians who have no chance of being on office next year, our promises are much bolder.

Michael Gove dismisses all vocational qualifications I find this baffling. Time after time I've visited schools where heads have proudly shown me design and dance lessons and told me those subjects have inspired young people and improved their maths and English results too. Strangely enough they didn't actually show me their maths and English lessons to show how they improved their maths and English results.

Our schools white paper set out how we will establish chains of schools so our best school leaders can help transform other schools where young people go. And our national challenge means there is now extra investment and an action plan for all schools where less than 30% of pupils get five GCSEs at A*-C grade, including English and maths. This action plan involves awarding GCSEs in more vocational subjects such as 'Practical Haircare', 'Ambulatory Studies' and Burglary that are just as valid as the likes of French or Chemistry that MichaelGove thinks are so wonderful.

While parents want action to raise standards and guarantee choice, the Tories would leave underperforming schools, disproportionately in poorer areas, to decline and slowly wither away whereas we will keep bad schools nicely stocked with enough chav pupils to keep the teaching unions supplied with fresh victims.

As for the Tories bold talk of 3,000 new schools, that would mean one new school opening every working day for 15 years. No wonder senior Tories are whispering that the policy is unworkable and unrealistic. As opposed to my completely realistic policy to remove all barriers to success both inside and outside school.

Under a Labour government there will be no more artificial distinctions between academic and vocational qualifications or between middle and working class young people or between literate and illiterate. We are all one people, in one country under one great leader.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bad Fads.

'Nurtureshock' looks like an interesting book on fads in education, judging by the review:
the psychologist Nathaniel Brandon published a path-breaking paper in 1969 called "The Psychology of Self-Esteem" in which he argued that feelings of self-worth were a key to success in life. The theory became a big hit in the nation's schools; in the mid-1980s, the California Legislature even ­established a self-esteem task force. By now, there are 15,000 scholarly articles on the subject.

And what do they show? That high self-esteem doesn't improve grades, reduce ­anti-social behavior, deter alcohol drinking or do much of anything good for kids. In fact, telling kids how smart they are can be ­counterproductive. Many children who are convinced that they are little geniuses tend not to put much effort into their work. Others are troubled by the latent anxiety of adults who feel it necessary to praise them constantly.

The benefits of teaching tolerance and promoting ­diversity look equally unimpressive in the current ­research. According to "NurtureShock," a lot of well-meaning adult nostrums—"we're all friends," "we're all equal"—pass right over the heads of young children. Attempts to increase racial sensitivity in older students can even lead to unintended consequences. One ­researcher found that "more diversity translates into more divisions between students." Another warns that too much discussion of past discrimination can make minority children over-reactive to perceived future slights. As for trying to increase emotional intelligence, the education fad of the 1990s, it doesn't seem to ­promote "pro-social values" either. It turns out that bullies use their considerable EQ, as it is called, to ­control their peers.
So telling how wonderful children are makes them complacent and banging on about diversity heightens racial divisions (the second point probably applies equally to adults). The amazing thing is that there are people who will be shocked by this.

I suspect that it isn't so much self esteem that is damaging but unmerited self esteem where someone is praised for no good reason and seldom criticised for any reason at all..

<Via>

Square Eyed Politicians.

Do shadow ministers watch too much TV? I only ask because first of they condemn the "Jeremy Kyle Generation", then they target "Holby City Woman" for votes and they are saying that parts of Britain are like 'the Wire'. In fairness they do appear to be watching better television nowadays.

Not that the government is any better- see Gordon Brown's obsession with appointing celebrities as advisors for instance (the real reason for his tardiness in commenting on the Megrahi decision was actually because his 'Terrorism Czar' Kiefer Sutherland was on holiday).

Boat Seen On Lake.

Is this Nessie on Google Earth?
Possibly, I mean if the Loch Ness Monster happens to look exactly like a fishing boat it would explain why it has been so hard to find.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cow Safety

Cows are supposedly dangerous, with 3 people being killed in the UK this year alone as well as numerous deaths overseas. David Blunkett was also reported to have been attacked by a cow although seeing as he's blind how can he be sure it wasn't a disgruntled voter making a moo sound as they kicked him?

The safest method of approaching a cow is to put it between two slices of bread and garnish it with lettuce, ketchup and gherkins, however if you insist on live bovine encounters the this is how to deal with the danger:


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mercy To The Guilty Is Cruelty To The Innocent.

As the fall out from the decision to release Megrahi continues- with President Obama and FBI Director Robert Mueller both making unusually strong criticisms of the decision by the SNP government- I thought this quote Adam Smith, one of Scotland's greatest thinkers (even greater than Kenny MacAskill) explains why compassion to someone convicted of Megrahi's crimes is not something that one should base decisions upon:
Such is the account commonly given of our approbation of the punishment of injustice. And so far this account is undoubtedly true, that we frequently have occasion to confirm our natural sense of the propriety and fitness of punishment, by reflecting how necessary it is for preserving the order of society. When the guilty is about to suffer that just retaliation, which the natural indignation of mankind tells them is due to his crimes; when the insolence of his injustice is broken and humbled by the terror of his approaching punishment; when he ceases to be an object of fear, with the generous and humane he begins to be an object of pity. The thought of what he is about to suffer extinguishes their resentment for the sufferings of others to which he has given occasion. They are disposed to pardon and forgive him, and to save him from that punishment, which in all their cool hours they had considered as the retribution due to such crimes. Here, therefore, they have occasion to call to their assistance the consideration of the general interest of society. They counterbalance the impulse of this weak and partial humanity by the dictates of a humanity that is more generous and comprehensive. They reflect that mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent, and oppose to the emotions of compassion which they feel for a particular person, a more enlarged compassion which they feel for mankind.
{Full quote via- The American Thinker- although I already knew the "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent" and was googling it when I found the full passage. }

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meerkat Manners

Most pathetic bid for victimhood yet!:

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were watching TV at home when the advert for comparethemarket.com appeared on our screen. I had seen the ad before and not thought anything of it. However on this occasion, my girlfriend, who is Ukrainian, turned to me and said: "I don't like this advert, it is very offensive to me." I mentioned it to a friend who said his Latvian lodger also found it offensive.

Cameron Launches Plan To Tackle Drunks (Not By Deselecting Them).

David Cameron's previous crusades against Chocolate Orange's and "Lads' mags" weren't an aberration or a publicity stunt. Bossing people about is a core belief:

The Tories have unveiled radical plans to crack down on the binge-drinking culture.

They would treble taxes on alcopops and strong lagers and ciders, outlaw 'loss leader' sales in supermarkets and strip takeaways and food stores of late-night licences.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Big Bug.

I found this dragonfly in my house today:



So wtf is something of that size doing in here!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Misplaced Compassion.

The decision of the Scottish government to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bomb is disturbing at least if their reasons are truthful. The SNP's justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, claims that Megrahi has been released on compassionate grounds, but if a man responsible for the murder of 270 people is eligible for release on compassionate grounds then how can they possibly justify not releasing anyone on compassionate grounds after this?

If the real motivation for his release is that they believe Megrahi is innocent- or at least that there is insufficient evidence for his guilt- then they should be open about saying so because that at least doesn't create a precedent that would allow anyone to walk out of prison regardless of the severity of their crimes.

The Public Loves Taxes!

Also from the BSA survey I referred to in the previous post, here is how people's attitudes to taxation and spending have changed over time:



The bad news is that the public seems historically to be in favour of tax and spend, on the other hand there has been a pretty dramatic fall in public support for increasing taxes and spending over the five years from 2002 to 2007.

Update: In the comments Matthew plots the support for tax & spend against actual levels of tax & spend. There is a pretty strong negative correllation:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

People Are Liars

I've been looking at the British Social Attitudes survey* because I'm extremely boring. One of the questions is "Which party did you vote for in the 1992 General Election?" and it's interesting how the numbers changed over the course of a decade as the Tories became ever more unpopular:

1994: Conservative- 32.28, Labour- 29.26, Liberal Democrat- 12.5
1996: Conservative- 30.24, Labour- 30.90, Liberal Democrat- 9.21
1999: Conservative- 21.34, Labour- 39.30, Liberal Democrat- 9.18

In reality the Conservative vote in the 1992 election was over 40%, yet by the end of the decade at around half of thosr voters had blotted the memory of voting Tory from their minds.

A similar process is probably underway with Labour voters now.

Despite the headline I doubt that this many people are liars, it's just that they tend to subconsciously rewrite their own histories to fit in better with whatever they believe now, unless they were unfortunate enough to have been on the record about their earlier opinions at the time. This is why the vast majority of people who discuss the Iraq war now insist that they were always opposed to it, yet the opinion polls at the time showed public opinion was split more or less equally.

* It isn't as useful as it's American equivalent the General Social Survey because you can't cross reference as many variables.

His Original Plan To Commute From Bolivia Didn't Work Out

Is this the lamest 'gotcha' ever:
Now it turns out that the MEP [Daniel Hannan] is planning to move to and live in Brussels. He hates it so much he’s actually planning to move out there.
Ignoring the implicit assumption that being hostile to the European Union means hostility towards Europe, is anyone really going to be shocked that a Member of the European Parliament is going to live in the city where the institution is mostly based?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Civilisation For Or Against?

The Guardian hosts a discussion on whether the collapse of civilisation would be a good thing or not.

In fairness George Monbiot argues against the idea on the basis that the deaths of billions would be a bad thing but the fact that it is debateable whether civilisation is a good thing or not is rather striking.

Korea's 2nd Greatest Golfer Wins Something.

I don't see why anyone is impressed that a Korean has won one of golf's majors for the first time. Haven't we known that the Koreans have an aptitude for the sport ever since Kim Jong Il sank 11 holes-in-one in his first ever round of golf!

Source Poll Results.

The results into my poll as to the identity of the exclusive source of New Statesman columnist James Macintyre who repeatedly discovers the Barack Obama has identical views on the minutiae of British Politics to James Macintyre, although never lets it slip to anyone other than James Macintyre's source.

The results are:
Joe Biden- 10%
Fuzzy Dunlop- 5%
Mark Felt (Deep Throat)- 5%
Macintyre subscribes to his own column and mistakes that for a source- 30%
Michelle Obama- 15%
Damian McBride doing an American accent- 20%
Heinze Ketchup- 15%
So the verdict is in, James Macintyre's exclusive source is James Macintyre and you really can't get more exclusive than that!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Britishier Than Thou.

I've just taken the British Citizenship test online. On the plus side I passed with 19/25 which they say is 79% although it clearly isn't.

The downside is that it is a completely idiotic test, for example one of the questions is "How many children under 19 are there in the UK?":

a) 13 Million
b) 14 million
c) 15 million
d) 16 million

To which the only sensible answer is "What the hell does this have to do with being British?".

{via}

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quote Of The Day.

Peter Risdon on Darius Guppy- fraudster, moron, thug, friend of Boris and latterly a supporter of the Iranian ayatollahs:
But it would be a mistake to get too drawn into his argument. Guppy's theme is not, in fact, Iran. It's Darius Guppy. Ever since being released from jail, he has been convinced that Britain's failure to hail him as a warrior prince is a sign of its decadence. This was in him before, in the form of a fascination with strong-man leaders of the past, like Napoleon and Hitler, but has become more entrenched since.

Unpopular Populist.

On the subject of the NHS, Health Secretary Andy Burnham twitters:
Over the moon about strong support for NHS – an institution I will defend to my dying day, 2nd only to Everton FC.
No one at all is impressed by this kind of populism. Didn't politicians ostentatiously advertising one's allegiance to a football team jump the shark when Tony Blair discovered at the age of 42 that he was in fact a life long supporter of Newcastle United?

Equal Right To Brain Damage

The introduction of women's boxing to the Olympics has been greeted as a step forwards for equality not least by Olympics minister Tessa Jowell. I'm not sure why giving women an equal chance to experience brain damage as men is so brilliant, although given concerns over the decline in the number of female cabinet ministers I can see why Tessa is interested in increasing the available pool.

As I've said before I'm not a fan of boxing although I can't see a rational reason to actively discourage it for women in particular (although I do feel a greater instinctive opposition to it) but nor does it make sense to actually encourage something that has clear harmful effects.

I doubt that the number of women who box would be sufficient to merit a slot in the Olympics for reasons other than sheer tokenism. The reasoning appears to be that anything women and men do in differing proportions must be a problem to be solved.

Oh well, at least they haven't introduced men's rythmic gymnastics yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Faith Healing.

Regardless of what the optimal health policy is, it should be a matter for rational discussion in the same way than any other public policy ought to be.

Yet when someone criticises the NHS the response isn't what one would expect from people who simply have a policy disagreement over how best to deliver a public service, but instead resembles the calm detached level of dispassionate analysis more commonly found in a Pakistani mob who have heard rumours of a Koranic desecration.

Take the reaction to Daniel Hannan's criticism of the NHS:

'Daniel Hannan is a national disgrace', for criticising our health system! Other politicians routinely suggest that Britain kills Muslims for the hell of it or that the IRA were heroes yet this is all within the bounds of reasonable opinion but to suggest that we have a sub optimal system of healthcare delivery render one a national disgrace.

Elsewhere Hannan's criticism of the NHS is seen as uncivilised (presumably mainland Europe and the USA are barbarian lands since their benighted leaders haven't seen fit to institute NHS style systems).

There are many ways of comparing healthcare systems and what criteria are used is a value judgement but after deciding what a health system is meant to accomplish it really should be an empirical question over which country does it best and not a cause for insular and myopic national cheer leading, insisting that the NHS is 'the Envy of the World' (EotW)is not a statement of fact it is a profession of faith unsupported by any evidence whatsoever (I even heard an Labour drone on Newsnight claim that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence was the EotW.


PS- This post isn't about what policy I favour, but suffice to say I don't think either the USA or the UK are close to the top of the table when it comes to health provision.

I also don't agree with everything Hannan says (the NHS isn't particularly 'Marxist' for example).

Conversation Overheard.

I heard two elderly people talking today:

Elderly Man: Hello ......... , I haven't seen you around for a while.

Elderly Woman: I've been { explanation of what she had been doing, I wasn't following the conversation that closely}.

Elderly Man: Oh I thought you were dead!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Murder He Wrote

If Nick Ross had done this then he wouldn't have been dropped from Crimewatch:

Wallace Souza raised suspicions because of his uncanny knack to be first at the scene of a crime, gathering graphic footage of the victims.

The TV host is thought to have commissioned at least five murders to boost his show's popularity and prove his claim that Brazil's Amazon region is awash in violent crime.

Souza, who is also a state lawmaker, has been accused of drug trafficking too, amid a police probe into the murders.

If constantly being on the scene first when murders are committed is fairly clear grounds for suspicion then how come Jessica Fletcher was never arrested during her long reign of terror in Cabot Cove?

Witch Finder Returns.

The Witch Finder General, Beatrix Campbell OBE, uses the naming of the killers of Baby P to pursue her favourite hobby horse:

The three decades that span the lifetimes of these perpetrators is the era of the rise and fall of child protection. There has been a revolution in collective consciousness about the abuse and adversity endured by thousands of children. Many survive, sad and struggling, often nobly, to live well, to cause no harm either to themselves or anyone else.

Three decades ago, society gave itself permission to take their side, for its institutions to support them, learn from them, become their champions, honour them. But they didn't. The goodwill towards suffering children that endures residually in communities has been squandered.

Yep, she's again implying that the ritual abuse hoax that she was instrumental in promoting was real, and the reaction against it meant that society was on the side of child abusers. She is rather coy about it though, she knows that she can't come straight out and reaffirm her belief in Satanists conspiracies without being laughed at so instead she merely refers to 'the Cleveland Child Abuse controversy'.

If someone as completely discredited as Beatrix Campbell can still get wheeled out as some kind of expert then what exactly does someone have to do to be classified as a loon?

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Communist Plot

I can't believe some people still support putting fluoride in the water more than twenty years after P.J. O'Rourke demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that it causes communism:

Sunday, August 09, 2009

'Source' Poll

My awe for James Macintyre and his amazing sources is so great that I think that it's time for a poll to determine how the New Statesman's political editor gets scoops about the US President's opinions that have escaped the notice of all American observers and coincidentally happen to align themselves neatly with whatever Macintyre has been writing about in the weeks leading up to his scoop.

Who is James Macintyre's source who repeatedly reveals that Obama has strong opinions about minor British political stories which invariably coincide with whatever James Macintyre has been writing about?



Joe Biden
Fuzzy Dunlop
Mark Felt (aka 'Deep Throat')
Macintyre subscribes to his own columns by email but has mistaken this for the views of his American friend.
Michelle Obama
Damian McBride doing an American accent
.
Heinz Ketchup

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Rod Liddle Needs To Read A Book.

Rod Liddle denounces Harriet Harman as being thick. This is true enough although I'm not sure why the Spectator consider it to be a worthy cover story. Perhaps next week I can make the front cover with an edgy opinion piece arguing that Ronnie Corbett isn't very tall.

Anyway there is a rather odd sentence in the piece:
The reason we should have disquiet about Harriet is because she is either thick or criminally disingenuous. My guess is thick. Being a bit thick should not disqualify someone from leading their party, I suppose, as both Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Salisbury would concur.
Lord Salisbury thick? This the man whom Churchill described as "that mighty intellect" and is generally regarded as one of our most astute PMs ever.

I was going to write more on this subject but having just googled the subject I see that Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata has noticed the same bizarre sentence, so go and read his post instead.

I suspect that Liddle has seen an aristocratic PM and assumed that he must be some Bertie Wooster type of upper class twit but hasn't thought it necessary to actually know learn anything about Lord Salisbury before developing an opinion.

Friday, August 07, 2009

James Macintyre Has "Sources"!

A very funny post on Hot Air skewers liberal blogs that make up transparently bogus rumours and then ascribe them to "sources". The media then recycles the risible stories, because obviously it is perfectly plausible that Democrat bloggers will have inside information into Sarah Palin's sleeping arrangements.

In the UK it isn't just bloggers who have "sources", it is the MSM. Take James MacIntyre of the New Statesman, he has amazing "sources". Last year he broke the story of how after meeting David Cameron, Barack Obama had abruptly stopped speaking like Obama and started sounding like a Labour press release:
"On meeting Cameron, Obama was, according to diplomatic sources, “distinctly unimpressed”, contrary to some reports (excitedly spun by the Conservatives) which suggested that the two men had formed an instant “bond”. Instead, I have been told, Obama exclaimed of Cameron after their meeting: “What a lightweight!” He apparently also asked officials about Tory Euroscepticism.
This revelation was missed by the dozens of US journalists who had been following Obama intently for months and had cultivated relationships with the people surrounding Obama. Of late Labour have been running a smear campaign against the Tories new European allies and by an astonishing coincidence James MacIntyre otherwise silent sources inside the Obama administration have revealed that Barack Obama feels the same way!:
Most recently, Obama's aides have been alarmed by Cameron's European alliance with Michal Kaminski, a former member of the neo-Nazi National Revival of Poland (NOP) party. I have learned that a 29 July column by Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian - echoing my own report of Jewish leaders' concerns over Kaminski in last week's NS - has been circulated inside the Obama camp. One Democratic Party source close to the administration confirmed to me: "Your assumptions about the beliefs of Obama's foreign policy team are correct - there are concerns about Cameron among top members of the team."
No doubt Barack Obama is also absolutely dismayed at the prospect of the Tory's imposing 10% cuts in public services. Still not all of Macintyre's sources are anonymous, sometimes his frankly implausible tales are attributed to his New Statesman colleagues:
The New Statesman’s senior editor Mehdi Hasan had a troubling encounter on the Tube last week. “Are you Indian?” demanded a leering, apparently well-oiled skinhead. When Hasan confirmed he was of Indian origin, there followed a sinister tirade: “Your time has come. You’ll be out when my boys get into power.” Whom did he mean, Hasan wondered, the BNP? Then came the answer: “The Tories.”
It's the ear for realistic street dialogue that makes this tale so terrifyingly convincing.

When Jayson Blair made crap up he did to save himself the effort of actual reporting, when Stephen Glass made stuff up he did so creatively to amuse his readers. These are kind of understandable reasons (in Glass's case his stories were actually very funny), making stuff up to ingratiate yourself with politicians is a dismal excuse in comparison.

Never Too Young For Extreme Sports.

Indian baby dropping.

Localism & Postcode Lotteries.

Tory spokesman Grant Shapps has been criticised for denouncing the 'postcode lottery' of IVF treatment because he also advocates "localism" of which "Postcode lotteries" are an inherent part.

However localism is about devolving power down to elected local bodies not to unelected quangoes. Whilst I dislike the cliche "postcode lottery", there is every reason to be aggrieved when one receives an inferior service than people living in a different area because of the decisions of unelected appointees- like the people who sit on health boards.

Shapps is therfore quite right to highlight the wildly uneven level of service being delivered in different places.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

National Image Not Good.

Just in case anyone thinks Britain's yob culture is a figment of the British media:

The mayor of the Latvian capital of Riga says British stag parties will no longer be welcomed with open arms.

Nils Usakovs told Latvian magazine Rigas Laiks the city had run out of patience with unruly British tourists who misbehaved.

Mr Usakovs said: "The only problem is that we have a large share of those British tourists."

Riga is one of a handful of low-cost central and eastern European cities popular with stag parties.

Mr Usakovs said some British visitors were guilty of misbehaving: "Let's not be politically correct - unfortunately, this is their speciality."

Latvia doesn't want our drunken holiday makers which is kind of embarrassing. On the plus side, they can't really afford to be too choosy in this recession! We may be a nation of drunken lowlifes but we have hard(ish) currency and they are poor..... bwahahahahaha.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What Is Harriet Harman Playing At?

Harriet Harman has now made a 3rd statement in as many days attacking half the population, so it is clear that it is no gaffe on her part. So what does she hope to accomplish with these interventions?

I don't think it can be for the benefit of the Labour Party, they have won the male vote in every election since the war and jeopardising that while they are in such dire straits seems unlikely. I can't imagine that many women share Harman's views either. For the same reason I don't think she believes that Labour will adopt her ideas, even in the Labour Party her views are extreme.

She could be acting as an insurance policy for Gordon Brown- letting Labour MPs know that however bad their predicament is now it could be worsened still further if she were to succeed him. I doubt she is that selfless though.

I think she is positioning herself to remain as a key player in the Labour Party after the election. As I say her views aren't mainstream even within Labour but there is enough of a grouping of hard core 'wimmin' on the left that someone establishing herself as their champion is going to have to be incorporated in the leadership after the election.


PS. I'm probably preaching to the converted here but it is a point worth repeating anyway, when different groups of people are represented in different proportions in something it doesn't prove that there is some insidious form of discrimination going on.

The fact that there are fewer female politicians than male ones doesn't mean that women are being kept out- those claiming that it does demonstrate something is wrong ususally make no effort to discover whether the proportion of men and women interested in politics is the same or whether the willingness to make the necessary sacrifices for a political career is the same.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Putting God Before Doctors (But After Lawyers)

A US jury has found a man guilty of killing his sick 11-year-old daughter by praying for her recovery rather than seeking medical care.

......

"If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God," he said. "I am not believing what he said he would do."

So getting a doctor for his daughter would have been usurping God's role. However when it is he who is in trouble rather than his daughter his attitude to relevant expertise changes somewhat:

A lawyer representing Dale Neumann said he would appeal.
A lawyer! Why does he need a lawyer? Surely God will overturn his conviction.

Harman Speaks.

Harriet Harman says:
“I think it’s a thoroughly bad thing to have a men-only leadership. In a country where women regard themselves as equal, they are not prepared to see men just running the show themselves. I think a balanced team of men and women makes better decisions.”
This explains why Labour have gone from strength to strength under the joint rule of Brown and Harman. Without a gender balanced leadership we might not see such brilliant policies as subsiding graduates who fancy swanning off to Borneo for a year. Who says Labour have lost their committment to wealth redistribution?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Accents.

Here are two clips of unusual American accents, the first is of the Tangier Islanders whose ancestors came from Devon & Cornwall over 300 years ago and their accent is probably closer to that of 17th century South West England that that of people living there today:



The second is of two "Boston Brahmin's" who sound like they've been cast by Hollywood to play two English aristocrats.

There's no point to this post, I just found it interesting.

A 'Beer Summit' Exclusive.

The news that has been dominating the United States and indeed the World over the last week has been Iraq, Afghanistan, Healthcare Reform, The Economy, Global Warming, some bloke getting arrested in Massachussetts.

No it really has with there currently being almost 30000 stories in the google news search.

In what will surely be seen by future historians as the 21st century equivalent of Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat at Camp David, President Obama invited the two particpants, Professor Gates and Officer Crowley, to a beer summit. The press photographed them from afar but no one actually knows what was said. That is because I have the only transcript of the meeting:

Transcript of White House meeting on the 31st of July 2009:


Obama: Thank you for coming today Professor Gates, I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart & what we do here can heal the scars of many years of injustice. Although I wish that you had come in through the front rather than shimmied the lock at the side. Take a seat back there while I talk to Officer Crowley.

Gates: What! You want me to sit at the back whilst the white guy gets to meet the president? Yo Momma and I are going to have words. Do you know who I am?

Obama: Yes Mr Poitier, but if you forget again just read it off my autocue. [points at autocue]

Gates: This is what it's like being a persecuted Harvard professor in America! This is profiling!

Obama: Officer Crowley how nice to see you, let me tell you that I do not think that you are a racist. It's just that I have always deplored racism so much that when an incident like this occurs I like to immediately jump to conclusions based on the race of the participants.

Crowley: Can I see some Identification please sir?

Obama: What!? I'm the President you must know me.

Crowley: Okay sir, you are under arrest for Disorderly Conduct, put your hands behind your back.

Obama: Ow get off me, that hurts.

Crowley [on his radio]: I need back up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there is a large African American male refusing to identify himself and resisting arrest.

Gates: It has been 15 minutes and I still haven't seen any of those bears we were promised and I was looking forward to seeing a grizzly.