Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hyper Inflation Is Back

But it's a good thing because it applies to property, where the normal rules of inflation being harmful magically don't apply. The people who would normally object to a transfer of unearned wealth from the poor to the rich are also silent.


Election Prediction

I'm going to make my official election prediction now so people can laugh at how wrong I am.

I suspect that the Labour & Conservative vote is being accurately reflected in the polls however given the relative uncertainty of Lib Dem supporters to vote I believe that their support will be lower than anticipated.

So I am predicting a wafer thin Tory majority rather than a hung parliament and Lib Dem gains to be under 30 seats, with Labour getting around the same as the Lib Dems in the popular vote but still having around 200 seats.


Conservatives*: 35%, 325 seats
Labour: 28%, 195 seats.
Liberal Democrats: 28%, 90 seats

* Includes Ulster Unionists.


One of the things I've noticed about this story is that foreign newspapers have picked up on it in a way in which they haven't done on any other issue in the campaign thus far.

I suppose Brown can be given some credit for apologising profusely rather than doing what Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell would have done which would be to smear the woman via anonymous leaks to the press.


Three quick things:
  1. My problems with my computer have flaired up again, possibly because the shop I took it to previously fobbed me off. Therefore blogging may be light again until Monday.
  2. It's ironic that one of Disney's most iconic characters, Donald Duck, is famous for being naked from the waist down and yet I have received a lifetime ban from all Disney stores.
  3. Wetherspoons pub chain offer a bacon roll and a coffee at breakfast for £1.50, isn't that great value?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In Praise Of The Heretical Lib Dems

They are the only party willing to dissent from the cult of the NHS, arguing that no department can be ring fenced from spending cuts. The Tories don't believe in the cult either but they are terrified of being exposed like an atheist in Saudi Arabia. Ring fencing the NHS's vast budget inevitably means that other services have to endure deeper cuts in order to maintain millionaire consultants in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Public "Not Angry" With Brown- Says Brown

He's probably right though. The public have moved onto far more dangerous emotions- pity and contempt. At least there is a certain respect that goes with anger.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Memory Lane Has Been Done Up.

I saw my old house, that I grew up in until I was 12, being advertised in the window of an estate agent home. When I got home I decided to look it up online, to see what had been done to the place in the intervening 18 years. It had all been done up, none of the rooms on display looked as they were, in fact it has the over furnished look of a house that is there to be looked at, not lived in, with white and cream decor. The dining room has a chandelier ffs!

The weird thing is I actually feel resentful of the fact that they've changed it even though as I say I haven't set foot in there for almost two decades, because it means that the house that is in my memories doesn't exist anymore in a sense.

It is very inconsiderate of them not to preserve the house as a monument to my childhood.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Remarkable Letter Of The Day

The head of War Child seems to understand the importance of not becoming an adjunct to a political party, perhaps this letter should be posted on the wall of every 'charity' that doesn't understand the where the line is drawn with respect to political campaigning:

I am surprised that former employees of aid agencies are willing to use the good names of their former employers for political purposes during an election campaign ('Cameron aid policy about populism, not poverty, say former charity bosses', News). Every major aid agency prizes its impartiality. We don't shy away from criticising any party policy when we think it is wrong and welcoming it when we think it is right.

Organisations such as mine are funded by the public. This money is not given to us for political purposes. When former employees of respected aid agencies use the reputations of their previous employers for political campaigning it has negative implications for all non-governmental organisations working to address poverty in a way that is impartial.

Mark Waddington

CEO War Child

Indeed. Whilst there may be an argument for public funding for charities and NGOs, not one that I'd agree with, there is no argument for funding partisan political campaigns.

Good Luck

At least two bloggers whom I regularly read are standing for election on May the 6th. Mark Wadsworth is standing for UKIP in Uxbridge & South Ruslip and David Vance is standing for the new Northern Ireland party the TUV in East Belfast (against NI first minister Peter Robinson).

So good luck to both of them and to anybody else who I know that is standing but have overlooked.

Gordon's Elvis Moment

This is the moment commentators will look back on and proclaim that it was when Gordon Brown completely lost his marbles.

In a couple of months it is going to be revealed that the Labour leadership has been tearing itself apart in this election.

Atheist Asbo

Oh ffs:

An atheist who left leaflets mocking Jesus Christ, Islam and the Pope in an airport's prayer room has been given an Asbo.

Harry Taylor, 59, from Higher Broughton, Salford, left the anti-religious posters in prayer rooms at Liverpool John Lennon Airport in November and December 2008.

Admittedly getting Muslims angry before they fly can have certain consequences which we wish to avoid.

It's somewhat ironic for an airport named after John Lennon to seek to ban someone for expressing views that might be offensive to religious people. Sure, if they asked him not to leave the leaflets in the room and he kept doing it then he is partly in the wrong, but given the enthusiasm of religion for proselytising their beliefs you'd think they would appreciate it.

I suppose as it is an election right now I should look up which party is committed to getting rid of "religiously aggravated" offences, all I know is that Labour supports the idea.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free Speech- Swings & Roundabouts

Good week for free speech.

Bad week for free speech.

Orlando Figes- Too Stupid To Troll

Academic feuds are notoriously unpleasant and vicious, so the fact that historian Orlando Figes wrote psuedonymous reviews of his rivals works on Amazon isn't remarkable.

What is incredible is that he is such a complete moron who can't even troll properly. He posts a number of comments praising himself and trashing his rivals which might be enough to raise suspicions that he might be him. So how did he cover his trail? He used the nom de plume "Historian" as well as "Orlando Birkbeck". Orlando is a historian at Birkbeck just in case you hadn't guessed.

How can anyone that stupid be a professor?

Friday, April 23, 2010

St George's Day

A few observations:
  • For all the inevitable talk about 'reclaiming' St George's day and the flag from fascists, it has never been a major fascist symbol. When someone claims otherwise they are articulating an unconcious prejudice that any patriotic display is racist.
  • Celebrating St George's day is very un-English. A defining feature of Englishness is not going in for national days, national costumes and all that.
  • Shakespeare was born and died on St George's day, which makes his prolific output all the more impressive if he only lived for one day.

Career Options- Human Torpedo

In the recession it always pays to keep an eye out for new and potentially lucrative new careers. So it is interesting to read that North Korea has been using "human torpedoes" to sink South Korean ships.

By definition this immediately creates a vacancy which if you strive hard enough you can fill. There are many advantages to this line of work:
  • The swimming is good exercise.
  • The work is challenging and varied.
  • It is a job for life.
In truth no job is just about the positives and there are downsides to being in a "crack squad of human torpedoes"*.
  • The pension plan is rubbish.
  • When people hear that you are a human torpedo, you are likely to be chased out your home by an angry mob chanting "No 'Pedos"
* A crack squad? As opposed to what bog standard human torpedoes?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Nick Clegg Sees Britain.

I'm in two minds over the Daily Mail's attack on Nick Clegg.

Describing his remarks about Britain's place in Europe and attitude to World War 2 as a "Nazi slur" is grossly unfair to him. If what he said is a "Nazi slur" then almost any comment that tangentially references the War can be a "Nazi slur". I also don't like the reference to his foreign parentage and marriage which seems gratuitous. Churchill had a foreign mother of course and it didn't seem to affect his love of country.

However Nick Clegg's articles on Britain's role in the world are worth airing as they reveal how he views the world. The first thing to make note of is how unimaginative he is with cliches about the "loss of empire" popping up. He churns out the default positions of Guardianistas in the Guardian yet does so in a patronising tone that suggests that he is bravely challenging the orthodoxy. He does not challenge his opponents positions because he doesn't seem to see any need to actually know what they believe because they are so self evidently stupid. Therefore he simply creates a straw man and knocks it down.

This attitude also infuses the Lib Dems statements about other issues, for example on crime they come out with the canard that prisons are "colleges of crime" and try to pass this off as original thinking that contrasts to their opponents more emotive and irrational positions.

In fact it is almost 180 degrees opposite from the truth, the idea that prison doesn't prevent crime was for many decades the policy of both Conservative and Labour governments but when Michael Howard finally made prison a more likely outcome for criminals, crime fell for the first time in decades. There are counter arguments that can be made against this but Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne can't be bothered to understand the position of their opponents let alone refute them, so instead dismiss it as an emotional spasm that is self evidently stupid.

Dogmatic thinking is never appealing especially when it is presented as being the result of open minded and non ideological policy making.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

But Don't Question Their Patriotism

I see Australian academics* are demanding that Australians stop commemorating ANZAC day, which commemorate those fine biscuits those Australians and New Zealanders who fought in wars for their countries.
Nina Burridge of the University of Technology in Sydney - said Anzac Day glorified white males.

"It's something about male mateship in many ways to me - it doesn't celebrate the wide diversity in Australia," she said.

"The very fact we focus on Gallipoli means we symbolically exclude others, even if we don't intend to."

Right. The implications of that idea is probably not what Burridge would intend, but her argument that Australia's history can't be remembered because it "excludes" non whites etc, implies that multiculturalism and large scale immigration necessitate forgetting a country's history and customs.

* No, Australian academics is not an oxymoron.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dont Kros The Teetchurs

It's quite funny that when teaching unions launch a grassroots campaign against pay restraint in the face of a financial, and demonstrate exactly why they shouldn't get more money:

One educator, a librarian with a Master's degree, described the cuts as "rediculous."


"Remember Pol Pot, dictator of Cambodia?" warned another. "He reigned in terror, his target was teachers and intellectuals. They were either killed or put into forced labor

The debate appears to be taking a slightly more civil course lately, especially after the founder of the anti-Christie page was shut out from posting on the site for about a week because of all the hateful comments.

"I have deleted and will continue to delete commets comparing Governor Christie to genocidal maniacs," read a recent post, complete with a typo. "He is not a genocidal maniac. He is a crappy governor."

Is there any other profession where the semi literate nature of the hate mail is so inevitable? How can they hope to teach children anything?

Impact Of The Debate May Be Overstated

I was wondering why my prediction that the debate would have no impact turned out to be so completely wrong. The answer may be that it didn't, it just happened to occur as the Liberal Democrats were on the rise.

How Crazy Are The Lib Dems?

Well consider this:
Nick Clegg deserves the praise heaped on him. He has style and substance and though immersed in the bog of politics still smells of integrity. Last year he invited me to write a pamphlet on the need to develop a progressive national British identity.
That was written by Yasmin Alibhai Brown. Someone who decides that a well established extremist like Yaz is the go to woman for shaping our national identity is not some moderate. Yasmin Alibhai Brown is someone with a visceral hatred of the white working class, a racial monomaniac and who applies an absurd double standard that seems to depend on the colour of someone's skin.

Turning to Yaz to draft a report on such a subject, especially after she was involved in a similar effort a decade ago, demonstrates that on cultural matters Nick Clegg is an extremist and any pressure they bring to bear as a coalition partner in government will be to maistream such views.

(Via Julia)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bad Taste

Last night Channel 4 broadcast a live performance by comedian Frankie Boyle that had previously been released on DVD. They cut this though:

Jokes about abducted children and suicidal TV presenters don't get on 4 it seems.

I'm not sure they should describe it as live when they edit the more tasteless bits out.

On A More Serious Note....

.... It is quite likely that there will be a volcanic eruption somewhere on Earth that disrupts air travel for months and months, in the medium term. The kind of eruptions that occur once a century or so haven't occurred in the aviation age yet but it is inevitable that one will happen at some point and it will probably occur in this century.

There are upsides to volcanic eruptions, but the economic devastation and food shortages that result are something that we have to plan for.

If a Super Volcano erupts then it is unlikely civilisation will survive in any recognisable form bit they only happen once every few hundred thousand years.

Does Iceland Really Exist?

Or is it an elaborate hoax?

Let's consider the evidence:
  1. I can't actually see any volcanic ash in the sky, despite the claims in the news that this has caused planes to be grounded.
  2. I have never met an Icelander.
  3. Their naming system, a given first name and a surname that is your father's first name with "son" or "dottir" suffixed on the end, means that anyone can create their own Icelandic name is an instant. Quite convenient if they are faking it.
  4. Their language is quite obviously a children's game, so bank is "banki".
  5. They are supposedly a modern country yet believe in elves.
  6. The North Atlantic location is quite convenient if it is bogus, because no one goes there by accident.
  7. Beer supposedly costs £7 a pint, pah!
  8. Icelanders are supposed to be nordic, but the most famous Icelander, Bjork, looks distinctly East Asian.
  9. Googling "Iceland doesn't exist" reveals that others have realised this fact independently. What are the odds that we are all wrong?
  10. Their military history consists of the Cod Wars, who goes to war over fish yet doesn't kill anyone? Performance artists engaged in a hoax, that is who.
Forget the troofers, birthers, JFK nuts, this is the real conspiracy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

They're Actually Taking This To Court?

I hadn't realised that this case is still ongoing:

A firefighter charged with the manslaughter of a farmer who was trampled to death by cows has had his case adjourned until 2 July.

Julian Lawford, 49, from Glastonbury, Somerset, appeared at Exeter Crown Court in connection with the death of 75-year-old Harold Lee. He is on bail.

It is alleged the siren from his fire engine may have frightened the cows.

Maybe there is more to it than meets the eye, they cannot seriously want to send him to prison for using his siren?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mea Culpa

I suppose I should acknowledge that my confident assertion that the leaders' debate would have no major impact appears to have been very wrong.

Any explanations as to why the debate has provided such a big boost?

The Debate

As I said yesterday I didn't think the debate between Brown, Cameron and Clegg would be worth watching. Unless the three way stand off probably went something like this, then I will stick to preconceived notion that it is a waste of time:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tying One Hand Behind The Back.

President Obama's announcement that the United States will not use nuclear weapons first in any future conflict has been praised as the end of an outdated doctrine that only applied to the Cold War.

However this isn't really the case, during the first Gulf War Saddam Hussein indisputably had chemical and biological weapons. However he didn't use them despite having done so against Iran and the Kurds. Whilst it cannot be proven definitively it seems probably that the thinly veiled threat of a nuclear counterstrike was decisive in deterring him from trying this.

That threat would not have been credible had a promise not to launch a first strike been in place.

A Worthwhile Manifesto

I have always considered George Walden to be a rather ridiculous psuedo intellectual who is not nearly as clever as he believes he is*. That said his analysis of what policies are desirable but politically unsayable absolutely hits the nail on the head.
  • An end to the worship of the NHS to the point where reforms can't be discussed rationally.
  • The cult of high house prices- since when in hyper inflation a good thing.
  • Strong local government.
  • A change in the culture of education ( I slightly disagree with his proposed solution but his assessment of the problem is correct.)
* For example he wrote a book blaming all America's ills, including propensity to go to war, on their puritan inheritance- despite the fact that the puritan parts of America (New England etc) have been by far the most pacifist regions.

Update: I've added the missing link now.

Apathy 2010

Most people have very little interest in politics.

If you are reading political blogs you are probably an exception, but most people cannot name more than half a dozen MPs. If you can name several Lib Dem front benchers then you are probably in the most politically informed 5% of the population. If you know what a front bencher is then you are in the top 50%.

The Times reports that most voters have completely misattributed which policy each party has on VAT despite it being the main focus of discussion for the first week of the campaign, this echoes what I found from personal experience in relation to another area of policy.

Basically almost nothing that is said over the next few weeks will have any impact with the voters and what does have an effect will probably not be in the way that might be predicted.

Ignore The Leaders' Debate

Contrary to popular beliefs US presidential debates don't appear to have much impact on the polls despite the retroactive importance placed upon them. What usually happens is that whichever candidate wins has some moment in the debate retroactively turned into a campaign winning one liner. In the absence of debates our media attribute random poll fluctuations to other events.

I feel confident in predicting that unless one of the candidates appears on stage in a nappy flinging his own faeces there will be no noticeable difference in the first batch of post-election polls that in the last batch of pre-election polls.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prevention Better Than Cure?

This is going to be controversial:
Addicts are being offered up to £200 cash to be sterilised so they do not give birth to drug dependent children.
The people funding this, Project Prevention, are doing so out of concern for the babies born to drug addicts but there is another aspect to the project.

There is probably a genetic basis to addiction so preventing it being passed on would be an effective means of reducing the problem in future generations but acknowledging the hereditary basis of negative traits is not considered acceptable, even though more and more human traits are found to be influenced much more by genes than the environment. So no one could propose it on that basis.

I'm not sure why pro-life groups like the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children oppose this though, it isn't as though they are aborting foetuses merely preventing conception. I don't see why it is any different from using contraception from their point of view. Surely even the broadest definition as to when a foetus becomes a child doesn't extend back before conception.

So... We Should Shoot Him?

Cameron invokes JFK as he puts Broken Britain at heart of manifesto
The "Ask what you can do for your country" is a wonderful rhetorical flourish but the implication behind it does verge on the sinister- the idea that we are here to serve the state rather than vice versa.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Classic Sentences From The Guardian

I don't know whether David Thompson's series of Classic Sentences From the Guardian is still going but here is an entry:
Feminism is the form of women's organisation that is prioritised both in the media and academia, but many black women have turned to womanism in an attempt to counter the ways in which the combined oppressions of race and gender affect our lives.
Of course. There are several other sentences in the same article that I could have chosen instead.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Confectionery- A Key Industry!

Despite the tightening of the opinion polls since January, Labour clearly do not believe that they have a chance of winning the election or they wouldn't be proposing laws like this:

A 'Cadbury's Law' to prevent foreign takeovers of key British firms will be in Gordon Brown's manifesto on Monday.

Currently, a simple majority of shareholders can accept a takeover. Labour wants that threshold raised to two-thirds in firms where there is a national interest in keeping a company British.

Polish President Dies....

.... but on the plus side he has an identical twin who can act as a spare, so it's not all bad news.

Quote Of The Day

Many of those on the right won't be voting Conservative because they think that Cameron is a sell out and a liberal in Tory clothing. Let Polly Toynbee reassure you otherwise:

A Financial Times survey of Tory candidates this week pointed to the scale of climate change denial in the party. Most resist a cap on bankers' bonuses and want less financial regulation: many come from the financial sector, others from PR and marketing, and they want the 50p top tax scrapped. finds them rabidly Eurosceptic. All that is radical, a fundamentalist return to Conservative roots. No change there, then.

Doesn't that reassure you doubters?

Thursday, April 08, 2010


My computer is still broken. I explained to the man in the shop that I am a political blogger and this is a general election so it was in the interests of free speech that he prioritises my computer above others that may also be in for repair.

"Don't you know who I am", I asked.

Apparently he doesn't, some people are surprisingly out of touch.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


The most ridiculous story over the weekend, which was loyally hyped up by the BBC, was the controversy over Chris Graylings remarks about whether B & B owners should be allowed to choose whom they allow in their establishments. His opinion was that whilst it would be unacceptable for a hotel to bar gay couples, B & B owners should be allowed to. This seems unexceptional to me for the following reason:


Whilst I can understand that some people view the matter differently there surely cannot be anyone who doesn't understand the point that Grayling was making there is a fundamental difference between how a purely commercial establishment operates and how a private house operates, Even if they decide that the discrimination laws should be applicable to both equally no one can be so dense as to not understand that it's a dilemma.


Incredibly the BBC said it would raise questions over the Tories commitment to 'tolerance'. Does tolerance have some new meaning that I've missed? Tt seems obvious to me that whatever the merits of not allowing establishments to select their clientele 'tolerance' is not an argument that bolsters the case. I wouldn't object to gay people sharing a bed in my home, although I do have a strict no fisting rule, despite what the computer shop may happen to find on my computer. Enforcing the state's standards of morality is intolerant, whether it is a necessary level of intolerance is a matter for debate. Personally I don't believe that it is, in fact I think B&B owners would be perfectly entitled to deny someone entry for wearing mixed fibres if it conflicted with their beliefs.


If gay couple want to open B & B's and exclude bible reading on their premises that is also ok.


I don't recall the BBC lambasting the Conservatives for intolerance when shadow minister Alan Duncan threatened to murder US beauty queen Carrie Prejean for respectfully expressing the view that marriage is between a man and woman when asked. Ironically her response was almost identical to Barack Obama's answer to the same question, so if Obama comes to visit Cameron in Number 10, we could well see the first presidential assassination since 1963, if Alan Duncan is in the government. So threatening to murder someone isn't intolerant but saying that people should be allowed to choose who enters their home is.

I've lost a lot of sympathy for gay rights activists over the last 12 months to be honest, they often compare their fight to the civil rights struggle, but they've already won equality in the Western world and are now trying to hype up non issues into major grievances. If a comparison to the civil rights movement is to be made then the activists are more Al Sharpton than Martin Luther King.

The gay rights movement obviously has serious work to do in the 3rd world such as Uganda, where the government wants to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality, but in the West the "civil rights" struggle seems to consist of demanding entry into people's homes, launching hate campaigns against beauty pageant contestants and genarally demanding a right not to be offended in any way.

When Graham Norton can be officially rebuked for homophobia isn't a sign that things have gotten a little bit crazy.

Computer Broken.

My computer packed up on Saturday, hence the absence of blogging which may continue into this week. Saturday on the Easter weekend is a very inconvenient time for something to pack in as it is hard to get it repaired before the Tuesday. This is very frustrating, and I may have developed withdrawal symptoms. Jesus certainly picked a bad time of year to die, why do all his main life events appear to coincide with bank holidays?

The worst part though is that because my computer more or less stopped working completely, with no warning, I have not had an opportunity to delete anything of a 'sensitive' nature before taking my computer into the shop. Yes, 'sensitive' is a euphemism for 'pornographic'. It isn't that I am a crazed porn freak who has a Glitteresque pornucopia on my harddrive, but I challenge any male computer user who has broadband and access to google video to deny looking at some stuff from time to time. Not an excessive amount, no more than 15 minutes an hour day week but enough that I wouldn't want anyone else to be aware of it.

The annoying thing is that I was "in the zone" on Saturday and was in the mood to write a very long and funny post, something which only happens once a month and I can't just recapture it.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Biased Opinion Polls?

YouGov have been the most reliable pollsters over the last few years, so it's interesting to see that they are being accussed of having a pro Labour bias. During the London mayoral election they were accused of having a pro Tory bias but they were vindicated by the actual result. Whether they are right this time remains to be seen but their track record indicates that they aren't motivated by political bias.

In any case I don't see how boosting Labour's apparent level of support this close to an election would benefit anyone except the Conservatives. If Labour are thought to be in with a real chance of clinging on then it will do wonders for the Conservative turn out.