Friday, December 31, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere (Except In The Taps).

Northern Ireland is suffering water shortages despite being the wettest part of the UK. This old post by Tim Worstall about the difference in water standards in the UK is worth looking at again:
England got for profit private companies, Wales a not for profit mutual, Scotland a government run company and Northern Ireland direct government supply. In terms of cheapness of supply, higher purity of that supply and lower environmental damage from that supply a decade later the best to worst in order was England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland.
It probably isn't so surprising that Northern Ireland is the place having trouble.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spot The Spin

From some neurological research into brain structure and political leanings:

Scans of 90 students' brains at University College London (UCL) uncovered a "strong correlation" between the thickness of two particular areas of grey matter and an individual's views.
Self-proclaimed right-wingers had a more pronounced amygdala - a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion while their political opponents from the opposite end of the spectrum had thicker anterior cingulates.
See what they did there?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Words Mean What I Want Them To Mean

One way to win an argument is to completely redefine the English language so that what you say must be true. Take this blog post about the success and failure of the US military over the course of the last half century:
The US military has fought five large-scale wars in the past fifty years, resulting in a draw in Korea[1], a defeat in Vietnam, and three inconclusive outcomes in Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan. 
It's fair to say that anyone who argues that the first war against Iraq is lying through their teeth to prove a political point. In fact it would be difficult to find a more conclusive victory by any country in any war at any time. Not only were all of the USA's objectives met it was done quickly and with very little loss of life by the USA or its allies.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Guide To Guardian Pundits.

Most pundits in the MSM or blogs with MSM pretensions are fairly interchangeable. I'm thinking of working out ways to categorise them so as to save time.For instance at the Guardian most of the regular columnists  come into one of these categories:
  • Identity pundit: someone like Gary Younge or Julie Bindel for whom every issue is addressed through the prism of identity politics. This has the great advantage of rendering much of the criticism directed against them as invalid because it is from people who are the wrong colour, have the wrong genitals or want to sleep with the wrong people.
  • Trustafarian Radical: Someone who is from an absurdly privileged background who compensates by taking radical stances to an extreme level presumably due to unresolved Daddy issues. They can be nice (George Monbiot) or nasty (Seamus Milne) but one thing they will always be, is extremely silly.
  • Party Harpy- Middle aged women with an iron clad loyalty to the Labour Party, fond of making bold predictions and wish fulfilment fantasies. Usually insert calls to action which are widely ignored. Polly Toynbee and Jackie Ashley fill this slot.
  • Olympian God- Someone who is so assured at their own righteousness and sensible outlook that they issue columns like Delphic prophecies that aren't meant to be questioned by lesser mortals. The late Hugo Young is the best example of this although Michael White and Timothy Garton Ash also fit the bill.
  • The Hitchens- Someone who makes a living being a professional martyr to the the rest of the left by criticising other elements of the left. Ususally denounces everyone else for selling out the principles of pure liberalism. Nick Cohen is the Observer's resident Hitchens at present.
  • Will This Do?- Someone whose job it is to write about anything that pops through their head, preferably tying it to some event in the news. Has nothing to say but insists on saying it anyway. Often convinced of how terribly witty they are but have usually only got the gig through nepotism or sleeping with the editor. Examples include Marina Hyde and anyone whose name is "Coren".
  • The Celebrity- Similar to the "Will this do?" merchant but the column is usually even worse unless it's ghost written. Think David Mitchell or Maureen Lipman.
  • The Specialist- Someone who knows what they're talking about and who even people like me have to acknowledge are worth reading. Ben Goldacre and the occasional foreign correspondent are the main examples of this.
Next time- a guide to Daily Mail columnists.

Ownership & Control

Even if one takes the view that Rupert Murdoch is the antichrist, I don't get the opposition to his proposed purchase of the BSkyB shares that he doesn't already own. Given that no one seriously doubts that he already controls the company despite owning around 40% of the shares it is hard to see how his influence will increase because he owns more shares in BSkyB.

Besides which in the era of the internet and satellite broadcasting it isn't as though other broadcasters can't challenge Murdoch if he tried to misuse his position.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Google Search Results To Be Proud Of

On the front page for the phrase "Tommy Sheridan is a swinger" for a post I originally made over 4 years ago. My favourite Tommy Sheridan gag from this blog was this one from January 2007:

One of the overlooked facets of the recent Saddam hanging is the fact that George Galloway has a lost an indefatigable friend. What's more it came as a terrible surprise to him, the day before Saddam went to the gallows George was informed that one of his closest allies would be swinging that night but naturally he assumed that it was a reference to Tommy Sheridan's plans for the holiday season.

Better Never Than Late

I'm thinking now would be a good time to start the Christmas shopping, mind you motorway service stations are open on Christmas Day and have an impressive range of products....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Think Of The Children

No I am Pornacus.

Actually I'm not and want to keep the site work safe for now but I approve of the idea.

The government's proposal to ban porn from ISPs is probably the worst idea they've come up with yet. Whilst I can appreciate why they want to keep pornography out of the reach of schoolchildren- after all teaching kids about felching in sex education classes is much less fun when the element of surprise is lost it is a very slippery slope to be on. If the government can ban ISPs from delivering porn it isn't much of a stretch to suppose that they will soon be banning other stuff.

Moreover it isn't just bad because of what it may lead to, but bad in itself- like most adults on the internet, including I am 100% sure the minister behind this idea, ED Vaizey- I sometimes look at websites that might be classified as pornographic (and cruel to penguins but that's an issue for the RSPB). I don't want to have to write to a government agency to ask for permission to continue my viewing habits. There is zero evidence that pornography is harmful despite numerous attempts to find such a link.

The presence of Ed Vaizey at the heart of this is interesting, he was for a long time one on of the Conservatives' self proclaimed social liberals. He probably still is. Yet it is clear that he doesn't have socially liberal principles from his actions here, instead socially liberal is a euphemism for socially fashionable- a means for ingratiating themselves with younger urban voters rather than a principled stand.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Can I Claim Royalties Or Something?

There are plans to start broadcasting NFL games with a musical soundtrack. This is an idea that I had for football games years ago, except I was thinking more along the lines of giving each player their own individual tunes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Self Pity Week

Since Tuesday I've been ill with 'flu and it really isn't nice. Blogging will remain light until every part of my body doesn't ache.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quote Of The Day

From an article on the unusual family background of Charlie Gilmour- the cenotaph disrespecting student rioter against tuition fees:
But the occasion ended in chaos when a fight broke out at the studio between two members of Williams’s [Gilmour's father] anarchist group, who were dressed as a gorilla and a wizard. The ‘wizard’ pulled a knife on the ‘gorilla’, who promptly kicked the ‘wizard’ in the testicles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dodgy Stat Of The Day

According to Time's Healthland column:

In numerical terms, people with red hair are a decided minority. They comprise just 2-6% of the population of the northern hemisphere and 1-2% worldwide.
Given that the Northern Hemisphere has about 90% of the World's population I don't see how if the red menace comprises 2 to 6 % of the North's population they could only comprise 1 to 2% of the total population. even if there were zero gingers in the South.

The Assassination Of Yogi Bear By The Coward Booboo

Pure genius:



via

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Real Danger Posed By The Swedish Suicide Bombing

It might play into the hands of the EDL.

In fairness in this instance I can see why Muslims might be aggrieved by the coverage of the self detonation- Muslims are frequently criticised for not integrating into their host societies and adopting local culture so when someone does something as quintessentially Swedish as ending his existance in a desolate Nordic landscape shouldn't he be praised?

Fair Enough

What could possibly drive someone to detonate themselves in a Swedish street?

Suicide bomber lived in Britain: Islamic fanatic in Stockholm car blast was radicalised while studying in Luton
Ah Luton, enough said.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Assanity

Julian Assange is a bit of a twat but he does have the knack of bringing out the crazies on all sides of the aisle. Among his detractors the craziest are those demanding that he be killed because he's a "terrorist", ironically the US Congressman who referred to Assange as a terrorist is the most enthusiastic supporter of the IRA in the US, Peter King- so planting bombs in shopping centres and forcing victims to become human bombs isn't terrorism but publishing the gossip from the Ferrero Rocher set is. OK.

Mike Huckabee who is probably going to compete for the GOP presidential nomination has called for the soldier who leaked the information to be executed- given his record of leniancy towards even the most dangerous criminals this seems surprising.

 Assange's supporters are perhaps worse, resembling a cult in which no criticism of the leader can be tolerated. The hackers targetting his enemies are a case in point- they are even targetting the Swedish prosecuters who want him extradited- I don't know whether Assange is guilty or not but neither do they so the fact that they are angry at the Swedes suggest that they think that it doesn't matter whether he rapes anyone or not. Like DJ I've been struck by the difference with how the left usually wants accusations of rape to be treated.

Pea brained American demagoge & TV host Keith Olbermann has even been promoting the prominent  Swedish neo Nazi Israel Shamir in an attempt to discredit Assange's accusers.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Masterminding Equality

David Lammy writes about the low number of black students at Oxbridge. I think he underestimates the role of the media in perpetuating stereotypes about black academic performance, for example I remember seeing a comedy sketch featuring a black guy on Mastermind who kept giving comically wrong answers to really easy questions.

Seriously though most of his arguments are demolished in the comments so I won't go over every wrong fact and unsafe assumption- although the fact he uses different definitions of "black" for the number of people who apply and the number accepted is telling. The fact that other minority groups are statistically over represented is also interesting.

However one thing that is always worth remembering is that the differences in academic performance are evident from before children even start school, so it isn't obvious how higher education institutions can have proportional numbers of different groups.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Typical

Essex girls eh!

Behead Those Who Insult Aslan

Liam Neeson is probably just trying to be multicultural and inclusive when he claims that Aslan the lion from the Narnia books could just as easily be Mohammed as Jesus. Whilst he may be trying to broaden the appeal of his film, if Aslan could also be Mohmammed then he is guilty of depicting Islam's prophet which does get many Muslims somewhat irate.

Remember how upset the Sudanese got when they thought someone had portrayed Mohammed as a teddy bear?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Title

I'm sceptical about the benefits of hosting big sporting events like the World Cup, so I'm not too upset that England did not win. However the brazenness of FIFAs corruption is startling. The fact the the two winners of the contests to host the 2018 & 2022 events (Russia and Qatar) were also the two countries whose shortcomings were highlighted by FIFA's own technical committee demonstrates that they could not possibly have believed that they were the best bids. Qatar isn't much more than a city state and absolutely tiny compared to any cup host since Uruguay in 1930. Russia has the opposite problem- utter vastness with poor transport links. The one thing the two countries do have in common is a willingness to bribe FIFA officials.


It also shows what a waste of time England's kowtowing to FIFA's crooks was, appeasing the likes of this guy by sending the England team halfway across the world is not only undignified but also a waste of time. They were always going to be outbid by even more overtly corrupt.

I suspect that by diminishing their prestige event so badly they have ensured that the future of the game lies with the clubs.

Stuff To Read

A very good piece by Sunny Hundal (yes I really did write those words) defending Wikileaks. Certainly the latest batch of revelations is not especially harmful and individually nothing leaked is of a nature that has never been leaked before. The comparison of the criticism of Wikileaks with the praise bestowed on the Daily Telegraph for their expose based upon leaked parliamentary expenses is telling.

Actually the USA comes out rather well insofar as their private communications largely echo their public pronouncements except that they are politer. Certainly the US isn't operating under any illlusions about the nature of the world's autocratic regimes.

Other stuff to read is Mark Wadsworth's channelling of Will Hutton's enquiry into high pay.