Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Police Shroud Waving

Shroud waving refers to the process whereby any public body facing cuts starts talking about all the people who will die if any cuts are made. So for example if a local council has it's government grant cut by 10% then they start issueing apocalyptic warnings about how this will mean that the elderly will thrown onto the streets and will die, instead of maybe cutting the "Children's Play Awareness Officers".

The head of ACPO, the Chief Constables' lobby group, is trying a similar trick here:

Specialist police units dedicated to investigating crimes such as murder, rape or child abduction could be abolished because of the cutbacks in Whitehall, a senior officer warned yesterday.

Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and a former chief constable of Northern Ireland, warned that teams dealing with one specific type of crime could be merged or scrapped as officers were moved elsewhere.

Really, so the only areas where the police could possible make cutbacks or efficiency savings are in things like murder and child rape?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blogging Advice

Boycott Squarespace if at all possible.

Football Before Sky

Polly Toynbee writes:

Was it Rupert Murdoch wot lost England the World Cup? With shedloads of sports rights money he corrupted the game, turning clubs into highly leveraged financial instruments overpaying their players, while fans pay for what was once free on TV. So say some, but I leave that to football aficionados.

It isn't true that Rupert Murdoch simply charges people for what was free before, in the days before Sky the terrestrial channels did very little with the rights to live top flight football with barely 2 dozen games shown live each season. They didn't recognise the value of what they had and Rupert Murdoch did. In other words he substantially improved the product that was on offer.

Incidentally I'd be willing to bet that corruption was a far bigger problem before Sky as well, back in the 1960s there was an infamous betting scandal that cost several players their careers. Underpaid players are much more vulnerable to corruption that the disgustingly rich. It is the love of money that corrupts not money itself and people tend to love it just a bit more when they don't have any.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lacklustre Spin Of The Day

Michael Tomasky mourns the death of long serving Democratic senator Robert Byrd in the Guardian:
Detractors point to his opposition to civil rights in 1964 and his brief membership in the Ku Klux Klan as evidence of his reactionary leanings.
As long as it was brief I guess.....

Because for the likes of Tomasky, being in the Ku Klux Klan is a nuanced decision that needs to be seen in context...... if it is by a liberal Democrat.

Lessie Nessie?

Nessie sightings are down:

But sightings have declined drastically from a high of 17 in 1996 to ONE last year... and none so far in 2010.

The drop has alarmed Steve and other devotees.

As he crafts the souvenir Nessie models that provide the bulk of his income, 45-year-old Steve remains determined to stay put for an encounter, no matter how long it takes.

"The drop in sightings does concern me but there are several factors at play," he says. "There is surely more than one Nessie, so the animals we are looking for could be dying out

I'd say there are four reasons why sightings are down, firstly because the park is already stretched to capacity by the number of tourists and there isn't any need for more, secondly contrary to popular opinion the campaign against binge drinking has had some success. The third factor is that the base year, 1996, was at the height of the popularity of the X-Files. Lastly the presence of camera phones enables people who've see a shadow take a picture of it and realise that it is in fact just a shadow.

I shouldn't laugh I suppose, because some people have thrown away their entire lives looking for this shit:

It is 19 years since Steve left his girlfriend, well-paid job and Dorset home to live without electricity or running water in a bid to solve the riddle.

He's like the Timothy Treadwell of crap, except as it doesn't exist there will be no such decisive ending.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Violence Forecast

Hot weather + Alcohol + Possible England World Cup Exit = High Possibility Of Being Bottled.

Update: Great minds and all that.

Update 2: The much anticipated riots haven't occurred, I attribute this to the aggression sapping limpness of the England performance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Helpful Information

And Gareth Remblance pointed out: "Horse boy isn't a person, it's a cheap mask - for example I saw at least three people wearing similar heads at this year's Download Festival in Donington."

Thanks Gareth, I'd been under the impression that we were being overwhelmed by human-equine hybrids.

Deeply Gratifying Search Results

A few months ago I did this post as a joke. Today this blog is the number one site on the internet for anyone who googles "teenage lesbians"!

Update: Actually it seems to be jumping between 1st and 7th, still front page though!

People I Have An Irrational Dislike Of- Part 4

I'm not the only one who has irrational hatreds. Regarding Ranting Stan's hatred of broadcasters who affect a dodgy faux French accent when pronouncing French words, the worst thing is they the French accent even if the subject isn't French. So for example General Pinochet was aloways pronounced as "Pinoshay" despite the clear presence of a 't', which is pronounced in the Spanish language.

So they are both pretentious and ignorant.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Perpetually Offended Are Offended.

Stating the obvious offends people:

John Redwood provoked outrage yesterday by saying victims of the budget cuts should wear more clothes, turn the thermostat down and eat more vegetables.

Seems pretty sensible to actually. Everyone knows people who moan about the cold crank up the heating, all while wearing a tee shirt.

As it happens Redwood was specifically referring to those on middle incomes rather than the poor so the idea that his comments were aimed at the "cold and hungry" as the Mirror headline claims is nonsense.


An Elegant Knifing.

Australia has a new Prime Minister after an internal coup d'etat by the ruling Labor Party replaced Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard. They ditch leaders quite a lot in that party, Rudd himself came to office when he knifed Kim Beazley. Several other Labor leaders have found themselves unceremoniously dumped starting with Bill Hayden 30 years ago who was replaced by the much more effective Bob Hawke.

The ruthlessness of the party is in stark contrast to their British equivalent, our Labour Party develops a sentimental attachment to their leaders no matter how useless they turn out to be and no matter how much it hurts their party. Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock and Gordon Brown have all benefited from this. The only leader they have knifed was the one who brought them multiple election victories.

The Australians have it right in my view, keeping a leader who isn't cutting the mustard is a betrayal of the voters, especially in a two party system.

Fact Of The Day

Germany have done better than England in each of the last ten World Cups. Which makes next week's knock out game interesting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Senior Moment

When newspapers refer to a "Senior Liberal Democrat" who is concerned at the direction of the coalition, wouldn't it be more convincing if it were someone anybody had heard of. I think the Guardian knows that the person in question isn't that senior as they don't mention his name until the 2nd paragraph.
Reflecting some unease in the ranks, Richard Grayson, vice-chair of the Lib Dems' federal policy committee, also appeared to suggest.....
This is one of the perils of going into government with the Tories for the Lib Dems, any disgruntled figure is elevated in the press to the status of senior figure. They'll have Lib Dem "Grandees" next.

Of course it is true that there are real elements in the party who are hostile to the coalition. Charles Kennedy for instance.

Slogan Outdated

Scrap 'breast is best' slogan, say campaigners
The campaigners are more arse men I guess.

Centrism Is Overrated.

As anyone who has read this blog for a while will know, I am not averse to the argument that it is often necessary to nominate moderate candidates who can win rather than more ideologically rigourous candidates. However arguing for centrist candidates by using the example of a centrist candidate who has very recently had an extremely disappointing election result shows a certain lack of interest in the real world. David Frum criticises the US Tea Party movement by invoking David Cameron:
David Cameron's Conservatism responds to local British conditions. It's not an export product. But there is at least one big lesson that Americans could learn from him when the Tea Party finally ends: yes, a party must champion the values of the voters it already has. But it must also speak to the voters it still needs to win
Why would Republicans want to learn how to blow a 20%+ poll lead? Whilst speaking to the voters concerns is one thing, surrendering the ideological argument to them is foolish. It is one thing to appeal to moderates, it is quite another to throw mud at your base in order to suck up to people who will never vote for you.

In Australia recently, the Liberal Party (the main centre-right party) deposed its moderate and media friendly leader, Malcolm Turnbull, last year and replaced him with the "extremist" and less compromising Tony Abbott. The result hasn't been what the pundits had predicted, as the Liberals have rebounded strongly in the polls.

This doesn't mean that it always right to select less centrist candidates but that it isn't always a mistake.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Very Creepy Movie Dialogue

I was watching the film Sliding Doors the other day (not my usual viewing to be honest). The film was made in 1998 when this dialogue would not have been disturbing:
Helen: Who are you on the rebound from?
James: A girl called Pamela. It was 1974. We were eight. She left me for Gary Glitter. Gary Glitter!! All the other fellows were getting left for Greg Brady and Donny Osmond. I mean, I could have come to terms with that, given time, but Gary Glitter? Oh she wanted to touch him there, yeah.

Alcohol Puritans

Any hopes that this government might be less puritanical than the last one seems unfounded:

Officials are looking at changing the wording on licence applications so that pubs and clubs wanting to extend their hours will have to prove after-hours drinking offers a tangible "benefit" to the local community.

If they didn't provide a tangible benefit then presumably people wouldn't be willing to spend money in return for goods and services from them. This is just a way of empowering busybodies to shut down pubs, if certain establishments have a problems with alcohol related violence then deal with them individually.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Movies Not Historically Inaccurate Enough Say Race Baiters

Some people really are too stupid to breathe:

Essence.com recently featured a commentary titled, “Another White Actress to Play Cleopatra?” where the writer opined, “Honestly, I don't care how full Angelina Jolie's lips are, how many African children she adopts, or how bronzed her skin will become for the film, I firmly believe this role should have gone to a Black woman.”

First of all Egyptians in general are at least as close to white people as to black people in terms of their physical appearance, in fact probably closer. Secondly Cleopatra was not a typical Egyptian as she was part of the ruling Ptolemic dynasty and would therefore have been ethnically Greek. The only thing that should disqualify Angelina Jolie from playing Cleopatra is that the queen was actually a bit of a munter to be honest.

This is what happens when the branch of pseudohistory that is Afrocentrism enters the mainstream.

Leeches

Polly Toynbee writes:
Cameron and Clegg are pre-modern leech doctors: the more they bleed the economy, the sicker the patient, the higher the deficit – so the more they apply leeches.
Leeches are actually very useful in medicine, they help patients recover if used right.

People I Have An Irrational Dislike Of- Part 3

Grown men who wear England football shirts with the name of their favourite player on the back.

It makes them look 12 years old. In fact in the pub yesterday I even saw adults not merely wearing an England shirt with "Rooney" on the back, but wearing the shorts as well!

If you call out after them "Wayne can I have your autograph..... oh sorry I mistook you for Wayne Rooney", they don't appreciate it.

It looks completely tragic.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Vuvuzelas- The Downfall

Saville

After spending over a hundred million pounds to reach a pre-determined verdict the Saville Inquiry is being treated as though it actually uncovered any new information.

We know now what we knew before, that the soldiers claim to have believed that they were under attack before they shot the protesters whereas the protesters say that the paras fired without provocation.

Nothing has changed as a result of Lord Saville declaring that he believes the latter version of events.

All the talk about whether the soldiers involved will be prosecuted ignores the fact that whilst the Saville Report is portrayed as being definitive and unarguable, it is extremely unlikely that the evidence could be considered to prove the guilt of anyone beyond reasonable doubt.

In fact official inquiries are a useful way of throwing the authority of the law behind a particular version of history without actually subjecting it to the rigour the law usually requires.

See also.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's For Children.

Whilst I agree with whoever it was that described Stephen Fry as "a stupid person’s idea of what an intelligent person is like", he's not wrong here:
: 'It's just shocking. The only dramas the BBC will boast about are Merlin and Doctor Who, which are fine but they're children's programmes. They're not for adults.
Exactly right. I saw adults complaining that the new Dalek design was obviously aimed at children, to which the only reasonable response is "well duh". The only occasionally adult aspects to the show are when the writers try to shoehorn in unsubtle political propaganda.

There are very few high quality programmes aimed at adults on British television, particular with dramas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wizbit

For some reason I had an urge to look up something about 1980s TV show, Wizbit, today. I think the Wikipedia entry raises some important points about the internal contradictions of the show:
Although it was stated in the show that Wizbit's year-and-a-day mission was to find out all about planet Earth, this clashed somewhat with the events witnessed on screen. Wizbit was (apparently) to learn about everyday life on earth by solving puzzles in a town inhabited by walking, talking (and often singing) sponge-balls, dice, magic wands, playing cards and 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) rabbits.
I feel so stupid for not having spotted that 20 years ago.

Best Twitter Account Ever

The Vuvuzela Horn Twitter page. Sample post:

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Culture Clash

The BBC recalls the last time North Korea were at the World Cup, in England 1966.

North Korea played all three of their group games at Middlesbrough's Ayresome Park ground and when they travelled to Liverpool to take on Portugal, thousands of Teessiders followed.

In 2002, Pak and the other six surviving members of the squad returned to parade around Middlesbrough's new Riverside home ahead of a match against Leeds while Boro's ladies team are planning to tour North Korea in the autumn.

"They came up to Middlesbrough and because of their attitude were embraced by the local population," said Bonner.

Teesiders and North Koreans, that must have been a real culture shock, one the one hand there were people who lived in a socialist fortress where every activity was dictated to by an all powerful state who controlled the entire economy and on the other hand the North Koreans.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sad But Almost Inevitable

The world's oldest mother is dying just 18 months after giving birth at the age of 70.
Very sad, but it does raise the obvious question as to why doctors helped a woman of that age become a mother.
'The doctor never warned me it was dangerous to have a baby at my age. But I was healthy before, and now I am very sick.'
Does anyone really need to be told that having a baby at 70 might have health risks?

Even The Butler Was Poor

There was once a pupil at Eton who had to write a short story about being poor, the opening lines of the essay were something like, "They were a poor family, the father was poor, the mother was poor, even the butler was poor.....". It's probably apocryphal but I suspect Mark Field MP would concur with the sentiment:
Many people who buy a second home outside the capital as an addition to a small London base do so not because they are enormously wealthy but precisely because they are not.

It is virtually impossible even for many of those earning multiples of the average national wage to trade up the property ladder in the capital. For those with growing families, the only option is often to buy a [second] house with garden outside London
Via Mark Wadsworth.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gardening Tip

If you have a lawn, start mowing it sometime before the middle of June when the grass is higher than your waist, as it will clog up the lawnmower.

Unreciprocated Love

Peter Hitchens writes about anti-British sentiment in the USA something I've written about before albeit more tongue in cheek than Hitchens' column, he even quotes the same buffoonish Chicago mayor of the 1920s that I mentioned- Bill Thompson.

Of course the fact that we both have to cite a figure from the 1920s to bolster the case for US anglophobia does suggest that current examples are thin on the ground despite President Obama's posturing over the oil spill.

Whilst the political posturing of US politicians such as President Obama over the BP oil leak is undignified the fact remains that they are attacking BP because BP is in the wrong not because it is British.

However whilst the President probably has nothing against us it, his rather undiplomatic blundering does illustrate another point- he isn't much interested in the world outside the United States. For all the talk of how his background meant that he would be exceptionally astute in dealing with the outside world, his outlook is intensely insular. There is nothing in the way he sees the world that consists of anything beyond the standard positions of the company he has mixed in for his adult life. To the extent he has any interest in the outside world it extends only to the impact it has on US domestic politics.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quote Of The Day

From the current edition of Viz:
'General Public Spoiling Planet For Stars'- Says Sting

Helpful Observation Of The Day

When the South African fans have finally deafened themselves (and everyone in the immediate vicinity) with their vuvuzelas, they can of course move them round and use them as ear trumpets.

An encouraging thought for these economically-straitened times.
- Edwin Greenwood.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Caviar For Every Child

According to the "Left Foot Forward" blog, Michael Gove is the "regressive of the week" for:
scrapping Labour’s plans to lift 50,000 of the poorest children out of poverty, failing to extend free school meals to 500,000 of the poorest working families. The move will cost families up to £600 more a week – the equivalent of an extra penny in income tax per child.
Leaving aside the shamelessness of complaining about cuts when you supported the policies that made them inevitable just consider the figures.

Who the hell spends £600 a week on school meals? Given that children are only at school 5 days a week, LFF must believe that spending £120 a day on food is reasonable, I realise that the site's main man Will Straw is the son of an MP but even for MPs that's excessive.

Ok it does say the cost is per family, and many families have more than one child. Even then though if you assume that an acceptable lunch costs about a fiver (probably less actually) one would need to have around 24 school age children to be spending £120 a day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Comedian Tells Joke!

Frankie Boyle stuns audience with joke about Cumbria gun tragedy... just ONE DAY after 12 were shot dead
Lightweight, I joked about it on the same day.

One For The Privacy Paranoiacs

World Cup Drinking Games

The World Cup starts today, and for the last month the supermarkets have been offering cut price deals on crates of beer. However you have to be careful with World Cup drinking games.

For instance back in 2002 I was playing a game where if David Beckham was man of the match we drank Becks for the rest of the night, if Paul Scholes was man of the match we drank Skol etc.

Unfortunately David Seaman was outstanding.......



A night to forget.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seamus Milne Does History- Oh Dear

Compare and contrast- Seamus Milne discusses the history of Communism and the history of the British Empire:

Nazi Comparisons:

With the USSR are bad-
The fashionable attempt to equate communism and Nazism is in reality a moral and historical nonsense. Despite the cruelties of the Stalin terror, there was no Soviet Treblinka or Sobibor, no extermination camps built to murder millions.
With the British Empire are entirely reasonable-
No wonder Hitler was such an enthusiastic admirer of Britain's empire, which he described as an "inestimable factor of value". The echoes of Nazism in the colonial record are unmistakable

The Ends Justifies The Means:

With the USSR, yes-
communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment, captured even by critical films and books of the post-Stalin era such as Wajda's Man of Marble and Rybakov's Children of the Arbat. Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination.
With the Empire, no-

But the question, as Colin Jones, president of the Royal Historical Society, puts it, should be: "Which narrative?" If Britain had genuinely come to terms with its imperial history, no senior politician would have dared suggest celebrating it or mobilising apologists to sanitise its record for schoolchildren.

The British empire was, after all, an avowedly racist despotism built on ethnic cleansing, enslavement, continual wars and savage repression, land theft and merciless exploitation. Far from bringing good governance, democracy or economic progress, the empire undeveloped vast areas, executed and jailed hundreds of thousands for fighting for self-rule, ran concentration camps, carried out medical experiments on prisoners and oversaw famines that killed tens of millions of people.

By the numbers:

For the USSR, we must avoid an "ideologically-fuelled inflation game":
The real records of repression now available from the Soviet archives are horrific enough (799,455 people were recorded as executed between 1921 and 1953 and the labour camp population reached 2.5 million at its peak) without engaging in an ideologically-fuelled inflation game.
With the Empire we can cherry pick sources about death tolls from idealogically fuelled nutjobs whose estimates are more than ten times those of mainstream historians:
To this day, Kenyan victims of the 1950s campaign of torture, killing and mass internment are still trying, and failing, to win British compensation during a "counter-insurgency" war that, by some estimates, left 100,000 dead.

Etc etc.

Predictable Joke Made.

The uncertain status of Caster Semenya is to be clarified today with the 800 metres world champion set to announce that she has been given the all-clear to return to competition.

It takes a lot of balls to come back from something like that.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Curse Of The Great Escape

This is incredible- all of the servicemen who took part in the Great Escape later died. I'm not superstitious but how can anyone dismiss something like that?

The Fragility Of Life.

A neighbour died of cancer last Monday, she was only in her early 40s. I didn't know her well but from what conversations I had with her she seemed very friendly. The most terrifying thing is that she was diagnosed less than 4 weeks before she died.

Labour Comedy Evening

Apparently fantasising about murdering Margaret Thatcher is guaranteed to raise a titter at Labour & Union gatherings, especially when it's done by a man who enthusiastically praises an organisation that actually did try to murder her.

The thing is I can't imagine anyone making a "joke" like that at a Tory gathering about a leading left wing figure and receiving applause for it, and it was applause McDonnell got not laughter.

Whilst I certainly hope we don't see Mr McDonnell being charged with anything, the fact that such unhinged hatred is so widely accepted on the left is telling. In fact this sort of hatred is so ingrained that they can't see anything wrong with it, so for example Sunny Hundal believes that it is comparable to Daniel Hannan arguing that we should have a different form of health care provision. I don't follow that line of reasoning either. In fairness his response is at least better than the complete silence by the rest of the left.

Not a single Labour leadership rival has condemned him for his remarks either which tells you how they judge the likely reaction within the Labour Party to the sentiments he expressed.

Via Obo.

Monday, June 07, 2010

No Bloodbath

The coalition are looking to Canada as an example of how to make necessary budget cuts. In the early 1990s the Canadian government was running a huge deficit and had been doing so for years before the Liberal government instituted huge budget cuts that set the stage for a prolonged period of growth that continues to this day.

However there is a crucial point that indicates things won't be as effective here:

The following year, Jean Chr├ętien, the Liberal prime minister, unveiled what became known as the "bloodbath budget", in which departmental spending was reduced by an average of 20 per cent.

By 1997 the deficit had been eradicated. However, health and education budgets were slashed and thousands in the public sector lost their jobs.

That's the point, when Canada looked at its over spending problem there were no areas of spending that were sacred cows that couldn't be touched even politically sensitive things like health and education. This government has decided to ring fence NHS spending, purely to give the Tories political protection in an area where the public don't trust them enough.

Essentially the Conservative Party gave up trying to make the argument that public spending was in and of itself a good thing some time after 2005, and their efforts since 1997 had been insipid, so they are not in a position to make the argument that cuts aren't necessarily a bad thing.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Unfunny Comedy Axed

The BBC have announced that Last of the Summer Wine is being axed after approximately 40 years on air. What's extraordinary is that this supposed comedy has survived since 1973 despite being completely devoid of laughs. The only purpose it seems to have ever served was to make Songs of Praise seem like a laugh riot.

How does a programme about three old men survive for nearly 4 decades anyway?

Don't Learn Their Names

.... or you'll get attached to Japanese Prime Ministers.

What is it with that country, the last few PMs have averaged less than a year in office.

How Useful Is Gun Control?

I've always been sceptical of the role played by the legality and availability of guns in the overall murder rates. People often compare the British murder rate with the American rate, but the thing to note is that the difference between the two countries was apparent long before the UK had any gun control laws. In fact the high levels of violence in the USA's southern states goes back to before the States was a country.

It also ignores the fact that plenty of countries with restrictive gun control laws have even higher murder rates than the USA, such as Brazil or Russia.

However it seems pretty clear that the one exception to this is with killing sprees by previously law abiding individuals who end up killing themselves at the end of the massacre.

A killing spree differs from regular crime in two key points- the shooter usually commits suicide so isn't deterred by any repercussions of their act and also it is usually done by otherwise law abiding people. The fact that they don't have to worry about consequences means that the usual disincentives for crime don't apply. Because they are otherwise law abiding they would not have access to firearms if they were illegal. This makes killing sprees much more likely if guns are readily available.

This isn't to say that gun laws are the most important factor in massacres or even that we should definitely have tough gun laws (there are some advantages to gun ownership too). However insisting that the availability of guns is somehow irrelevant to gun massacres seems to put ideology over evidence.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Quote Of The Day

A professor at some hippy university in the USA and former soccer international has a proposal about how to deal with the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, Tim Worstall isn't impressed:

So, we've got a gusher of an underwater oil well. And we're going to say that no one with any contact with the oil companies can work on attempting to cap said gusher.

That is, everyone who might have even teh slightest idea of how to cap it won't be let near it.

No, got to hand it to you, this is pure friggin' genius.

Tell you what, let's get Peter Crouch on to it shall we? See if there's some parrot, moon, over thing that can be put together?
I feel sorry for the politicians in all this, there is nothing they can helpfully add to the solution so they are left like Obama issueing press releases informing the people that they are still very cross indeed about this, which simply underlines their impotence on the matter.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Positive Discrimination.

Bristol City Council have set aside a job (officially an extended training role) exclusively for ethnic minority candidates.

Today Harriet Harman has proposed to amend the Labour Party's rules to ensure a 50:50 split between men and women for cabinet positions.

Both of these ideas are rationalised on the grounds of guaranteeing proportionate representation for all groups in society. The idea is flawed on a number of levels, first of all it is hard not to notice that there are never plans for positive discrimination when white males are underrepresented, for example in medical schools.

Secondly the idea that there is something intrinsically awry if groups are not represented in proportion to their presence in the population. It isn't the case, men and women behave differently and different ethnic groups are just that different in their cultural capital, attitudes and social history.

Finally the harm caused by these sort of actions is much greater than any potential benefit. Seeing as only two candidates will get the Bristol job, it means that dozens of white applicants will feel that they have been denied a job, even though most of them would not have got the post anyway.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Horrific Massacre Claims Twelve Lives

A small community was in shock today as a massacre left observers in shock. As the scale of the tragedy unfolded the tight knit community was demanding answers.

In the House of Commons the House united as the Prime Minister promised that any knee jerk proposal by the opposition would be implemented in full without any examination or thought. Harriet Harman, representing the Opposition concurred and suggested a ban on red meat.

The killings began as a horde of criminologists trying to enter the ITN studios to offer punditry on the Cumbria shootings panicked and stampeded. All the victims were trampled to death. Many of Britain's best loved TV ghouls including Paul Wilson, author of "Inside the mind of Killers" and Reg West, author of "Killers: Murder On Their Minds" were among the dead.

One expert who narrowly survived the massacre due to being called by the Daily Mail at the last minute to pen 800 words on the Cumbrian killing spree for tomorrow, Carl Bowden, said:
"This is in many ways a tragedy for everyone but we mustn't forget that I am now available to fulfil any media appearances that the deceased might have been due to complete. Any speculation at this stage is pointless but that won't stop me- we have to consider whether this stampede reflected the decades of sexual abuse that the victims may have suffered and perhaps they were frightened being in a situation....... oh God is this really being reported, I think I've just ejaculated"
As an act of sensitivity the BBC has cancelled a planned episode of Teletubbies where Po & Tinky Winky fall over each other, so as not to offend the relatives of the deceased.

Experts were divided on the cause of the tragedy although psychologist Paul Britton was adamant that the role of Colin Stagg should be considered.

It is a particular tragedy for Reg West who had been thrilled by the Cumbrian massacre after failing to attract any media interest in his idle speculation about the alleged "Crossbow Killer" last week. The interview he did earlier in the day on talkSPORT had been considered one of the most incisive takes on the Cumbrian massacre:
Presenter: So what does the suspect's suicide mean?

Reg West: The important thing is that it establishes as sense of control.

Presenter: For the killer?

Reg West: No for the criminology community, now we can indulge in idle speculation for 6 months without risking contempt of court, it should lead to writing gigs in the Guardian, Express and Sun and possibly a number of slots as a talking head on Sky News...... oh God I think I've just come.
The spouses of the deceased were to be informed until it was discovered that they were actually all single men who lived with their mothers.

Chutzpah

Noted Labour intellectual, David Lammy, writes:

If we get these things right, Boris will be vulnerable. In 2008 Labour recorded its worst local election results for 40 years. This time, Tory ministers will be overseeing some of the most savage cuts to public services since Margaret Thatcher's time in office. Boris, meanwhile, will have his own record to defend.

Two years ago Boris was an irreverent figure, cycling to City Hall to announce his candidacy. But every day it becomes clearer he is just another politician. He has developed a reputation for reneging on pledges, indulging in cronyism, and dodging responsibility for issues like policing. He has done nothing to ease London's chronic housing shortage, the Olympics risks running way over budget, and he has wasted money on vanity projects. He seems more interested in replacing Cameron than in his own job.

That's right, Labour have been out of office less than a month and he is already using Labour's failures- the Olympic Budget, lack of housing, and the necessity of cuts- to bash his opponents. For a support of Ken Livingstone to denounce mayoral vanity projects is pretty impressive too given that Livingstone decided that London needed its own foreign policy during his tenure.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

You Won't Win Anything With Kids

The England squad announced by Fabio Capello today isn't the most talented there has been. However they do have one advantage that previous squads have not had- they are about the right age to win the thing. The average age is between 28 & 29 which is about typical for world cup winning squads. Typical England squads have been around 25 or 26 in the past which is far younger than any team that has won the tournament. This squad's age is illustrated by the fact that the youngest player is Aaron Lennon- who was only the 2nd youngest player four years ago.

The common mistake is to overrate the value of potential- the element of surprise- and underrate the importance of proven players who talents and limits are already known. This applies in other sports as well- during the Rugby World Cup I was always sceptical of New Zealand's chances, even though they were overwhelming favourites, because of their young age meant that they would be unused to a high pressure situation. I feel the same about Spain's chances in this tournament, their squad is about 25.