Saturday, December 31, 2011

Scaremongering

I'm not a Ron Paul fan but I can see why he gets support when mainstream Republicans are coming out with horseshit like this by GOP congressman Steve King of Iowa:

“To paint an image of what I think it looks like under a Ron Paul presidency, it would be Iranian nuclear missiles placed in Cuba and Katyusha rockets in Tijuana."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Prediction USA 2012

Back in 2008 I correctly predicted the outcomes of the Republican and Democratic primaries and the general election. In fairness my prediction of the British election was way off but like most people I am psychologically inclined to attribute my successes to talent and failures to bad luck.

The Republican Primary is much easier to predict this year simply because only one first class candidate has decided to put himself forward- Mitt Romney. There were other candidates who could have won, like Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush, but they didn't run. Rick Perry should have put up a more impressive challenge than he did but that did not materialise.

Earlier this year I also predicted that Barack Obama would win a 2nd term, because of the weakness of the Republican candidates. However given how efficiently Mitt Romney's campaign has gone so far- with no sign of being perturbed by the succession of great right hopes who have come and gone- I now think he can overcome his history of ridiculous flip flopping to win against Obama.

So my final prediction is that Mitt Romney will be the president elect this time next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: King Leopold's Ghost

I haven't written any book reviews for about two years. Partly because I have been reading fewer books (although probably more online material) than I did before and partly because I've been less interested in writing reviews of what I have read.

Here is a review of Adam Hochschild's book King Leopold's Ghost.. I am out of practice when it comes to writing reviews so forgive me if I ramble or repeat adjectives too frequently:
 A Forgotten Genocide

King Leopold's Ghost was written to remind the world of a forgotten atrocity- as such it is both highly accessible and informative.

The atrocities in the Congo included mass murder, enslaving the local population and working them to death and stealing and burning their. Much of the cruelty was officially sanctioned- with secret instructions to the authorities on how to enslave the natives. Some of it was done by individual sadists who were free to execute Africans for trivial offences or massacre villages at will if they refused to collect rubber.

One of the frustrations that Hochschild repeatedly refers to is that the tale largely has to be told from the point of view of foreigners, as the Congo's native population was not literate at the time and left few direct testimonies. However the records of the colonial authorities, missionaries, traders and diplomats are used to great effect.

The portraits of individuals involved in the story are well done, the story of ED Morel who initiated the international campaign against King Leopold's rule is particularly inspiring- a lowly shipping clerk who used his powers of deduction to realise that the Congo must be a slave state and then devoted his life to exposing it.

Whilst I was vaguely aware of the atrocities in the Congo I had not realised how much of it was the doing of King Leopold II personally. He was a deceitful, manipulative and immensely greedy man and his personal culpability in the genocide is established beyond doubt. He deserves to be considered along with Mao, Hitler and Stalin as one of the great monsters of the 20th Century.

Give Us Money- Says Guardian

The Guardian is droning on about equality in an editorial today.

It's full of all the usual intellectual fallacies that characterises the diversity industry concerning supposed pay gaps, role models, questionable ideas asserted as facts and things like that.

There is an implied threat that quotas may be needed if things don't become more diverse in Britain's biggest companies. Which is what made me realise that the piece isn't mere liberal hand wringing but a shakedown by Guardian PLC::
The McKinsey work found it wasn't lack of ambition that stops women, more a lack of confidence in being able to fulfil that ambition, and not enough role models showing them the way. Mentoring, coaching and sponsorship are all important to stop women taking another job, or going in another direction. So is dealing with embedded prejudices among senior managers about the risk of employing women.
Who would be doing this much needed mentoring and coaching. Who can challenge the embedded prejudices of senior managers?

Why diversity managers of course!

And where do you find diversity officers? The famous Guardian Jobs Section!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vicar Fight!

This piece by a Church of England vicar, Nick Howard* on his fellow vicar- the brazenly antisemitic Stephen Sizer- is well worth reading. It seems extraordinary that Sizer is allowed to remain in his position when he is promoting racial hatred.

Especially at a time when the head of the Church is droning on about  bankers and speculators- which is perfectly legitimate but anyone with any sense of history knows that those professions have often been used as euphemisms for "Jews".

Maintaining an actual neo-Nazi in a job while making those kinds of attacks is very unwise in my view.

* Is that Michael Howard's vicar son?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Genocide, Gulags- No Bad Thing

If this is what is behind the Times's paywall then I am glad that I never see it. Writing about North Korea, Simon Winchester pays tribute to Korean uniqueness:
North Korea, for all its faults, is undeniably still Korea, a place uniquely representative of an ancient and rather remarkable Asian culture. And that, in a world otherwise rendered so bland, is perhaps no bad thing.
This is a regime that has let millions of people starve to death and runs gulags which whole families get sent to.

Winchester is an idiot, but he is repeating the argument of a more notable idiot, the North Korean apologist Bruce Cumings,  whose own version of the argument is skewered brilliantly here:
It seems to have slipped the professor's notice that many countries manage to stay independent without dragging children off to gulags, and that North Korea is a place where a lot of characteristically Korean behavior—speaking bluntly, for example—is punishable by execution.
He also makes the point that North Korea has been highly dependent on support from outside to prop up the Kim dynasty so is about as far from representing an independent Korea as it is possible to get.

Renowned Historians

I must admit I found the tone of the BBC interview with David Irving a little bit surprising:

The renowned historian David Irving has watched the revolutions of 2011 with excitement - and notes that it's now the middle class, not the working class, that is making waves.

He has lived his life in the shadow, or the glow, of upheavel.

Born just months before the Anschluss of 1938, he was a Nazi for most of his adult life - as well as an innovative and influential writer and thinker.

He has been a historian of revolution, and at times an advocate of revolutionary change.

Now in his mid-nineties, his continuing passion for politics is reflected in the title of his most recent book How to Change the World - and in his keen interest in the Arab Spring.


As you can probably guess I've changed a couple of details in the report.

ps. Is this a euphemism?
"I certainly felt a sense of excitement and relief," he says, talking to me in his north London home, which is strolling distance from Hampstead Heath.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kim Jong-un Will Probably Be Crazier Than His Father

The new leader of North Korea is 28 year old Kim Jong-un.

When the US constitution was written a lower age limit of 35 was put in place for the holder of the office of president. This was partly because as the founders looked through history they noticed that the most completely crazy, paranoid and murderous rulers were often those who took office at a very young age.

Roman emperors are a good case in point- most of the really terrible emperors were those who took power at a very young age. For example this list ranks the five worst emperors and I have added their age at ascension in brackets:
  1. Caligula (25)
  2. Elagabalus (14)
  3. Commodus (19)
  4. Nero (17)
  5. Domitian (30)
The list is obviously subjective but broadly indicative of how things are seen. Getting absolute power while still young and full of the desires and immaturity that goes with that tends to be a very bad thing. In the case of Kim Jong-un he is part of dynasty that has held absolute power for 70 years and has grown up in an environment where questioning his authority is tantamount to treason.

This is not an environment in which openness and responsibility are likely to be nurtured.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dictator Lemon Party*

Amy Winehouse joined the "27 Club" when she died at the same age as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin & Kurt Cobain. Which means that Kim Jong Il has joined the "69 Club" of dictators along with Saddam and Gadaffi.

* If you don't know what Lemon Party refers to, then do not google it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Death Of A Journalist.

Christopher Hitchens was a first rate polemnicist and deserves to be remembered for a long while. His ability to skewer lazy and dishonest public figures was often used to devastating effect.

Having said that does anyone else think that the coverage of his death is probably an example of journalists finding the lives of journalists to be intrinsically fascinating. I will be surprised if the English language media give nearly as much coverage to the death of Vaclev Havel in the next few days.

Given his famous & brilliant denucniation of the Princess Diana cult that formed after her death, it's ironic that so many of his professed admirerers are going into full Dianaesque sentimental gushing over his life.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

SOPA Not Super

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill going through Congress ostensibly aimed at stopping online piracy. In reality it looks like a payoff to big political donors in Hollywood who want to stop the dissemination of their products among people not willing to pay top dollar.

This is short sighted as people who download torrents and sample music are more likely to pay for the products at a later point than those who do not. In many ways their mindset resembles that of football club owners who for many decades resisted live televisions coverage of games because they didn't realise that it fueled the demand for tickets rather than replaced it. However they have the right to want their intellectual property protected by the law.

 The problem with the bill is that the powers to enforce copyright are so vague and punitive to advertisers and search engines that wealthy producers merely need to threaten a site to effectively kill it.

A committee seems to have delayed the legislation for now but it isn't dead yet.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cluelessness Or Comic Genius

The England rugby team's defence coach, Mike Ford, has quit. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph we get this:
Comments critical of Ford, given anonymously by some England ­players, were published, saying “his analysis was like a white wall of jargon”, “defensive and line-out drills were two to three years behind” and “he was full of pointless stats.”

Ford maintains these comments only represented “11 per cent” of the feedback and a number of players have been in contact to say as much. He is disappointed mostly because those who held critical views did not feel they could approach him.

{observation nicked from someone in the comments to the article}

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rapists & Lads Mags Not Too Similar It Appears

A few years ago there was a quiz inviting respondents to guess whether a particular phrase had been written by Al Gore or the Unabomber. The more alarming quotes were generally by Al Gore.

Fun though it was to point the similarities out, you didn't get very-serious-people in newspapers and academia arguing that it proved that Al Gore literally was like Ted Kaczynski or that he created a swamp in which the Unabomber could thrive.

That's because media and academic types basically approve of Al Gore. They do not approve of "lads mags" like Nuts and Zoo*.

So here the superficial similarities between cherry picked phrases uttered by rapists and those in the magazines is treated as though it means something by Britain's most hysterical newspapers (the Guardian and the Daily Mail). This is despite the fact that reading between the lines reveals some interesting findings:
A separate group, including women, the participants were asked to rank the comments on how derogatory they were.

The results found the magazine descriptions more demeaning than those from the sex offenders, reports the British Psychological Society's British Journal of Psychology.

If the comments by actual rapists were less derogatory than those by the non-rapists who write the magazines then doesn't that demonstrate that those kind of obnoxious quotes aren't indicative of being a rapist?

* Nor do I really, they revel in their stupidity and lack any redeeming wit that they originally had in the 1990s.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

David Cameron Evicted For Urinating In Street

The top story at the Northampton Chronicle & Echo is this:

BREAKING NEWS: David Cameron evicted after neighbours complain of drunken anti-social behaviour, foul language and urinating in the street


An important story to cover I am sure you will agree.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poor Phrasing

Just heard a radio bulletin describe sacked Sunderland FC boss Steve Bruce as "the first managerial casualty of the season".

I'm not saying anything.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Insider Information

Good post by Laban about what Germany will do about the Eurozone crisis (and how to profit from it). The four options seem about right to me:
a) print ?
b) bail out Southern Europe ?
c) neither - at which point defaults start, absent
d) Euro-area fiscal union - with Germany running the show hands-on, because while they may trust the Irish, Dutch and Finns, they can't trust the Greeks or the Italians, and maybe even the French ?
The political committment to the Euro is sufficiently strong that I can't see (c) being allowed to happen as it would unravel the whole thing.

In the short run I'd say (b) leading to (d) in the long term.

Those Who Fail To Learn The Lessons Of History Are Destined To... Do Well Politically

This government refuses to learn from history. Their attempts to inflate another house price bubble is proof enough of that. 

They also seem to be pushing for reducing lending standards. Nick Clegg for example gave a speech on race yesterday in which he pointed to:
evidence suggesting that firms owned by black people are four times more likely than those owned by whites to be turned down for loans.
This is highly reminiscent of similar claims made in the USA in the 1980s and 90s. As it happens the statistics were highly misleading because they did not take into account the applicants credit histories or net worth at the time they applied for the loans. It did however lead to political outrage and the enhancement of the infamous Community Reinvestment Act which pushed banks to make sub-prime loans.

Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister in a government that came into office because of the economic mismanagement of the previous administration- yet he is in essence trying to force banks to make riskier loans less than a week after Northern Rock was finally sold off.

Zeus Speaks!

Ex-Olympus boss says board meeting was 'constructive'

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No One Knows Everything

But you'd think that when specifically mocking presidential candidates for ignorance of the Middle East people ought to research basic facts. The Telegraph's Tim Stanley disagrees:
According to Perry, the US can’t deal with Iran in isolation. You see, “There is an area over there of all of them working together” [one might call it, "the Middle East"], and if we’re going to tackle Iran as a nuclear threat then “we need to bring Syria into the mix.” His logic seemed to be that the only way to safeguard the world against the Shiite theocracy of Iran was to launch a war against the Sunni-dominated secular dictatorship of Syria.
No, the Syrian regime is dominated by the Alawi sect. They are recognised as Shias by the Iranian mullahs although some would regard them as heretics. They certainly are not Sunnis though.

This matters because given the religious fanaticism of the Middle East and the Alawi's status as near-heretics to many fundamentalists, the recognition as being legitimate Muslims by the Iranian regime is extremely valuable to the Assad junta.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Basil D'Olivera

The cricketer Basil D'Oliveira, whose inclusion in the England team ultimately led to the sporting boycott of Apartheid South Africa, has died aged 80.

I don't follow cricket but the behaviour of the South Africans at the time does demonstrate why that country was boycotted when other regimes that were even nastier have not been.


When D'Oliveira was added to the England team due to tour South Africa the host nation cancelled the tour. In other words they would only participate in sporting contests if their opponents agreed to implement apartheid on themselves. Unlike the USSR, Nazi Germany & China in the Olympic Games (or Zimbabwe and Pakistan in cricket) for example, they forced opposing teams to collaborate with their ideology.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Proof At Last

OK Bigfoot sceptics, brace yourselves because Sasquatch experts have provided proof of their existence:

The discovery in Siberia of tree branches twisted together could be proof that Bigfoot really does exist

Well if twisted branches aren't enough to settle the matter then I really don't know what is.

While I'm on the subject I found a slightly charred twig in my garden this morning- would I be jumping the gun in publishing my research paper "Evidence Of Dragon Activity In England"?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Lord Taylor Redefines Chutzpah

Lord Taylor of Warwick, who was jailed over his expenses, says he will return to the Lords as he has a "role to play" informing the debate on prison reform. 
 OK

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Police Baseball Team?

The case of the six police officers filmed smashing up a stolen car with baseball bats bothers me. The man who bought the stolen vehicle is a criminal who was trasnporting stolen goods at the time, so I don't feel sorry for him.

First of all they can clearly be seen smashing the car in places where it does not make it easier to open the door and remove the driver- who did not appear to be resisting in any case. Secondly why were the officers going round with baseball bats and pick axe handles anyway? Either they were part of the Met's baseball squad or they routinely go equipped to smash things up for no obvious reason.

Apparently the Enfield Crime Squad have been accused of corruption before, in light of the behaviour in the video it is difficult to believe that those accusations are untrue.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Why Is Pakistani Cricket Corrupt?

There is an idea that international sports stars get paid vast amounts for very little work. In the case of the Pakistani cricket team it really is not true- the basic salary for international cricketers is £22000. While that is a considerable sum in Pakistan, it probably goes fast if you are travelling the world almost non stop in countries where the cost of living is much more that in Pakistan.

With millions of pounds being made through betting on cricket and so little being paid to the players it is not difficult to see why so many of their players were corrupt.

So the next question is why are they paid so little and the answer to that seems to be that their is no competitive market for cricket players- the money is largely in international cricket (the IPL is a positive step in the other direction.and players cannot simply offer their services to the highest bidder.

Despite football having teams from nations even more corrupt than Pakistan there are few credible reports of match fixing in international football because the clubs will pay players from poor countries what they are worth.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

From Top To Bottom

Russia and China come bottom of bribe-paying survey

Companies from Russia and China are most likely to pay bribes when doing business abroad, a survey suggests.
Surely that puts them top of the bribe paying survey. It's like when people talk about "one of the worst serial killers" it's always actually one of the best ones whose killed loads of people.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

6 Posts!?

Well October was abysmal for this blog with my least productive month ever by far.

A combination of taking up Twitter and being busy is to blame.

I'm not going to quit or anything but this blog is not going to be as prolific as it was from 2006 to 2009.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can You Get Geo-Thermal Powered Range Rovers?

The Telegraph reports that:
Novellist Winterson in 'screaming rant' with neighbour

Best-selling author Jeanette Winterson has been embroiled in a confrontation with a neighbour after accusing him of damaging her Range Rover, it is claimed.

This is obviously a bizarre mistake. Jeanette Winterson would hardly own a gas guzzling Range Rover given her passion for saving the environment, as she has explained on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions:
WINTERSON
 
I think everything that we're talking about tonight keys into much larger questions about what these so-called values are that we want to uphold, how exactly we want to live, what sort of people we think we are. We said we want a good health service but do we want to pay for it? We want to reduce our environmental footprint but we don't want to have bin collections every fortnight, we want them every week, so that we can go on making as much rubbish as we've always made, and piling it up outside the front gate. If anybody suddenly says make less rubbish we say but that's interfering with my civil liberties, I must make as much rubbish as I like because I live in the rich West. So some where there are a lot of contradictions which need to be straightened out and we do need - we need less packaging, we need less rubbish, we need to be a lot more conscious about what we're doing to the planet, to the environment. But in order to do that it can't just be about us putting stuff out in the bins at night it has to be about supermarkets and packaging which is a huge issue [CLAPPING]. I've been a member of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for the last 25 years and we used to do those symbolic protests where you unpack everything at the checkout and just chuck it all back at them and you have at least two bin bags worth full before you've even eaten anything. That is a big problem and I think we should all start addressing that and be going in there and saying we don't want all this crap and then we could have fortnightly collections but it's up to us to change things and no you can't keep putting your rubbish out every week you know, we're all in here going to have to change our ways. [CLAPPING]

....
WINTERSON
 
This is a very tricky question and James Lovelock, a scientist whom I have a huge amount of respect as you know, is a proponent of nuclear energy and really thinks it's the only way forward. And it is someone we have to take seriously. I am trying to wade through the mass of evidence information on this to make up my own mind because it's tricky. However unlike James I do find wind farms rather beautiful. And I would rather see as much power as we can get coming from renewables rather than go down the nuclear route. But again it's back to what - how much are we prepared to give up, will you use less power, less electricity? I've just put in a geothermal system underground for my electricity which is fantastic but it costs £12,000 and Gordon Brown took seventeen and a half per cent VAT off me in order to put it in. That doesn't help the householder to help the planet. But there's a lot that we can do ourselves but we are going to have to rein in, pull back a little bit. We can't just say this is a problem for politicians, it's bigger than us, it's not bigger than us, it's about us in our homes tonight, so switch the light off. [CLAPPING]

Jeanette is a passionate environmentalist who spends £12000 on geothermal energy systems (more than you peasants spend) and has been a member of both Greenpeace & Friends of the Earth (not just one or other) for over a quarter of a century yet the Telegraph expects us to believe that she has a carbon spewing Chelsea Tractor. They should apologise.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Amnesty International Continue To Morph Into Socialist Workers Party

Does anyone still take Amnesty International* seriously?
Amnesty International called on Canadian authorities Wednesday to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush, saying the former U.S. president authorized “torture” when he directed the U.S.-led war on terror.
The former human rights organisation has also described the system by which the USA detains enemy combatants as "the Gulag of our times". There are flaws with Guantanamo Bay- it seems likely that some of the detainees are innocent and they fall into neither the category of prisoner of war or standard criminals. However to compare a  detention camp with a few hundred individuals suspected of terrorism- which two US administrations have found no adequate alternative to- with the Soviet system of  gulags under which millions of people were sent to their deaths is a lie. Not only a lie but a trivialisation of genocide that David Irving would be proud of.

Perhaps if Bush had instituted a system of public executions, stopped the education of women etc, Amnesty would not only not condemn him but invite him to be an official partner of the organisation.

* To my great shame I actually joined the organisation for a year about a decade ago.

Image Of The Day

From Cracked:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Talentless Scions

On another site I was discussing children following in the footsteps of their famous parents- with reference to various musicians with more famous parents. A handful have lived up to or excelled their parents- Jeff Buckley, Norah Jones & Kirsty MacColl spring to mind but by far the most.

With actors though it is another story- many in that profession equal or exceed the success of famous parents- Kate Hudson, Michael Douglas, innumerable Redgraves, Baldwins, Sheens, Fondas etc spring to mind. Not to mention thespians who are the children of non-actors involved in the entertainment industry.

Dynasties are much more likely to emerge in fields where talent is difficult to distinguish. Talent wise there is not much to separate a Hollywood A-Lister and the average jobbing actor on the stage in provincial theatres, because fundamentally acting isn’t a tremendously difficult task.

Being connected to directors, writers and producers is much more critical than mere ability in achieving success.

Song writing on the other hand is very difficult and it is quite easy for a layman to tell the difference between a brilliant song and a perfectly competent but unexceptional tune. The children of the Beatles and Rolling Stones are not going to achieve more success as song writers than someone born to a builder and a shop assistant in Preston if they cannot write a catchy tune.

Therefore the children of successful actors have a much easier time following in their parents footsteps than those of song writers.

Dynasties exist in all fields, even intensely meritocratic pursuits like sport, but are most noticeable in areas where talent is the least critical and connections matter. Based on that idea it can be concluded that other areas where talent is not very important include politics*, media** & fashion.

* Assorted Bushes, Kennedys, Benns, Prescotts, Hurds, Maudes.
** Various Milnes, Corens, Toynbees & more.
*** Multiple daughters of Beatles, Stones as well as the odd Geldof.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Foxy Knoxy & Faily Maily

The Daily Mail has been caught out publishing a story that Amanda Knox had been found guilty when she was of course released (even though it is fairly clear that she is as guilty as sin).

In itself that would only be slightly embarrassing- I am sure most newspapers had two versions of the story written up and waited on the verdict to see which one to use. What makes the Daily Mail's story interesting is the use of quotes in their since retracted story:

Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said "Justice has been done" although they said on a "human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail"
Now because we now know Knox and her male accomplice no one cares about were in fact released it is clear that the prosecutors did not say any of these things. The Daily Mail was intending to use a piece with fabricated quotes in other words- doing a Hari as it were.

So either the reporter- Nick Pisa- made them up off his own bat or the Daily Mail routinely make things up for the sake of a better story. I do not believe that we are going to hear about an investigation into Pisa's work by a shocked Daily Mail editor any time soon.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Euro- Still Doomed.

Writing in defence of the Euro, Oliver Kamm does raise some good points- that the principle cause of Greece's debt crisis is not the Euro but the lack of any fiscal discipline by the Greek state.

Even so this is not a reassuring argument for the future of the Euro:
The fundamental problem of the euro is the lack of a fiscal dimension. Successful currency unions, such as the US, have mechanisms for fiscal transfers from members that are thriving to those that are struggling.
This is completely true, but whereas people are willing to allow their money to be taxed in order to subsidise their compatriots, they are unlikely to be satisifed with transfering billions of Euros a year, for decades to come, to give to foreign countries. Every time a country that is a net recipient of fiscal transfers institutes some kind of benefit for their citizens that a net contributer does not provide, tensions will be inflamed.

Given that the theory behind currency unions was already well known in the 1990s, there is a reason why the architects of the single currency were unwilling to take that necessary step to ensure the project's stability.

It seems like a recipe for promoting nationalistic hostility between nations.

Australia's Shame

Australian newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt has been convicted of a crime for two columns he wrote in 2009 in which he noted that many Aborigine activists were in fact white. This greatly offended people like Pat Eatock who did not appreciate it being pointed out that she is slightly less convincing as an aborigine than Ali G was as a Jamaican.

So naturally she wrote to the newspaper demanding an apology- wait no she didn't do that- she went to the police and demanded that Bolt be charged. Which he was, and rather incredibly convicted. This is a confidence trickster's charter- develop an identity in order to siphon government grants then sue for racism when it is pointed out.

The plaintiffs go well beyond simply being con artists though, one of them, Geoff Clark- is a serial rapist of teenage girls.One has to wonder whether his hyper sensitivity to having his identity queried is because that provided a useful shield against criminal proceedings into his sexual abuse.

Equally incredible other journalists have rushed to support the verdict- that is to say they support giving the state the right to criminalise somebody whose views fall outside of a narrow range- this loathsome editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald is an example that should become notorious. Apologists for the suppression of free speech are claiming that Bolt deserved to be punished because his columns contained inaccuracies- as if mistakenly saying that someone's father was white European rather than their mother is some kind of libel worthy of censure.

The judge- Mordacai Bromberg embodies the same mindset as Mohammed Bouyari- the assassin on Theo Van Gogh- in that he believes that certain ethnic groups have a right not to offended or treated with sarcasm, and that transgressors must be punished.

This is a shameful verdict that has empowered those who want to use their pretend ethnic identity to put themselves beyond any kind of criticism and is more suitable to countries like Iran and Cuba than to Australia.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hail To The All Knowing Ed Miliband.

Oh joy, Labour have a new policy:
The Labour leader will criticise companies with the “wrong values” who do not create jobs, invest in companies or train their staff.
Mr Miliband will tell the party’s annual conference that the days when all businesses are taxed and regulated equally should be over. Instead, firms will be judged according to how they make their money.
So Labour's solution to the economy is to micromanage businesses by judging whether they have the "wrong values"?

Equality before the law is one of the things that enabled England to become a financial and commercial centre centuries ago- as traders knew that if they had a legal dispute in England they would be protected by a legal system where the rule of law was what mattered- not if you were favoured by the powers that be.

This is a valuable asset to this country and to throw it away in favour of special rules for different businesses depending upon whether ministers (with no obvious qualifications for judging the worthiness of businesses) is insane.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Indeed, a small leftwing publisher, Zero Books, has commissioned Atzmon to write a book on the Jews as part of an otherwise entirely credible series by respected left figures such as Richard Seymour, Nina Power and Laurie Penny.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Think Of The Children

 Child cage fight organisers will not face police action

I suspect that calls for prosecution are because mixed martial arts is a relatively new discipline rather than because of the inherent dangers posed given that the same publications that condemn it are happy to give space to promote youth boxing, which also has the potential to cause real damage.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Lib Dems #Sigh#

Like other parties The Liberal Democrats have two wings, the economically liberal wing and the Labour-lite wing. In opposition this does not matter as they can unify around a few civil liberties and constitutional reform issues and fudge the rest. In government though you get this:
12.23pm: Danny Alexander has just started his speech. Now. He started with a tribute to his grandfather, who is in the audience and who has been a Liberal since 1936. But then he had a couple of rocky moments. He told a rather lame 'it's all Balls" joke about Labour (which was very funny when Michael Heseltine first tried it in the 1990s, but which made us groan in the press room). And then, when he talked about Gordon Brown's "unsustainable spending", someone shouted "rubbish".
 For a coalition whose unifying purpose is to rescue the economy, having one of the parties fundamentally split on whether there even is a problem is worrying.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Harigate- Part 3 of 3- Hopefully The Last Time Johann Hari Gets Mentioned Here

All of Hari's sins seem to derive from severe narcissism. This is fairly obvious in the case of his David Rose sock puppet where he writes things like this about himself:
'The only bully here is you, who is trying to insert false smears into an entry about an honest journalist who risks his life to report on human rights abuses and who has been given awards for his "courage" by Amnesty International, just because you think he is "self-publicising" and "a careerist".'
It also seems to like all his other failings- plagiarism, inventive reporting, blocking critics on Twitter, appearing as a talking head on any TV discussion show that would have him.

That there are literally hundreds of edits like that is remarkable.It also explains why he feels such deep and personal hatred towards those who remind him that he is not above everybody else- his vendetta against Christine Odone began when she told him not to use the New Statesman's printers for his personal use and his grudge against one of his professors began when he was told off for treating college staff like dirt.

Tim Worstall has written about Hari's economic ignorance for years, and this lack of knowledge about the things he is writing about extends into other areas, such as his piece on Haiti in which he clearly believed it was an island. When you realise that Hari wants to portray himself as a renaissance man it becomes clear why cannot simply acknowledge that he has no competence to write about an important event and move on. He has to reassure the World and himself that he really is a deeply learned figure who can comment authoritatively upon economics, post war history, climate science, Venezuela, Northern Ireland, literature, Big Brother and whatever other topic it is important for a commentator to discuss. To anyone knowledgeable in those fields his writings were often considered superficial but few people know enough about everything to call him out as a complete bullshitter. Though many were struck by his obnoxious behaviour when they did call him up on their area of expertise.

It is why he cannot simply admit that he was not up to the task of eliciting an interesting response in an interview and therefore simply lifts interesting quotes from other sources. It is why he cannot allow everyone to know that he had a fairly elite educational background.

He was not simply lazy and looking for shortcuts like Jayson Blair or a wild fabulist who enjoys making things up like Stephen Glass. He was constantly trying to assert and boost his status among his peers and the public.

It is also why he is still clinging with the assistance of his employers to the idea that he will one day be taken seriously as a commentator again. To realise that his name will not be spoken of alongside liberal intellectual icons like George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens or Roy Jenkins but instead be a footnote in a litany of fraudsters and fantasists alongside Stephen Glass, Damian McBryde and Jeffrey Archer must be exceptionally hard to take.

Yet it is exactly what he deserves.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Harigate- Part 2 of 3- Harigate Becomes Indygate

Johann Hari's inventiveness when it comes to reporting has been common knowledge for many years. See here for many examples. However in his faux-apology he still refuses to accept that he lied in his journalism. In particular he stands by the reporting from the Central African Republic that won him an Orwell Prize:


After it emerged that I had done this, some defenders of the powerful people I had taken on over the years for their wrongdoing saw an opportunity to try to discredit what I had written about them. Amid legitimate criticism of what I had done wrong, there were lots of untrue statements, but I’m hardly in a position to complain that some people saw it as an opportunity to take a free kick. 

In 2007, I travelled through the Central African Republic to report on the fact the French government had been bombing the country. An anonymous claim was made that I had exaggerated the extent of the French bombing, and that I had fabricated a quote from a French soldier on the ground. Two representatives of the NGO that I travelled with came forward to The Independent’s investigation into my journalism and they said my description of the bombing damage was entirely accurate, and that they have photographs of it. They also explained that they witnessed me speaking to several French soldiers when the person making these charges was otherwise occupied. 

The collosal self regard shines through- "defenders of the powerful people I had taken on over the years for their wrongdoing saw an opportunity to try to discredit what I had written about them".

As he is sticking to this story and the Independent have not fired him it must be assumed that they believe his denial. Which is to say they believe an absolutely extraordinary story- that African children were approaching French soldiers carrying the severed heads of their parents screaming for help- despite the fact that an aid worker who was there flatly refutes his claims.

Given that Hari's use of deceit has been proven- with anonymous libel on Wikipedia and misrepresenting other people's interview quotes as his own work- and he has had questions raised over his honesty since he was a student why would the Independent give him the benefit of the doubt over this wild tale? Is the aid worker who went to Private Eye with her complaint one of the shadowy "defenders of powerful people"?

Hari says that two other aid workers backed him up. However as it has already been established that they had become personal friends of his and he has used friends of his to support his lies before- by posing as the real life David Rose and Niko- that surely cannot carry any weight. It seems pretty unlikely that given the brazenness of the lies Hari admits to that his foreign reporting would be clean, as that is an area notoriously easy to fake.

It is quite clear that from the word go the Independent had no interest in investigating what Hari did. The absurd delay in investigating him, the fact that they did not speak to any of the other journalists who criticised him and the insistence in keeping the results of their investigation secret demonstrate this. 

The Independent's cover up means that they can simply not be trusted to report on any subject as they have made it clear that they do not respect their readers enough to tell them the truth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Harigate- Part One Of Three- Wars Of The Roses

This week the Independent concluded their "investigation" into Johann Hari's various misdeeds. Just to go over them they came into three main categories:
  • Plagiarism.
  • Making things up.
  • Anonymous wikipedia vandalism.
I will focus on the 3rd of these in this post (although I will post about the other two later this week and the cover up by the independent. In his graceless non-apology, Hari confesses to vandalising the Wikipedia entries of those who crossed him:

The other thing I did wrong was that several years ago I started to notice some things I didn’t like in the Wikipedia entry about me, so I took them out. To do that, I created a user-name that wasn’t my own. Using that user-name, I continued to edit my own Wikipedia entry and some other people’s too. I took out nasty passages about people I admire – like Polly Toynbee, George Monbiot, Deborah Orr and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I factually corrected some other entries about other people. But in a few instances, I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk. I am mortified to have done this, because it breaches the most basic ethical rule: don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. I apologise to the latter group unreservedly and totally.
First of all it is hardly a "few instances", his list of vandalism under his David Rose identity stretches to almost a thousand entries over the course of years. David Rose was not his only identity, he was also active on other forums and had at least one other pseudonym "Niko".

Furthermore his habit of anonymous defamation did not begin with being unhappy about noticing things were awry in his Wikipedia entry. As Private Eye has shown- he was posting nasty reviews of a University professor, Simon Goldhill,  on Amazon under a pseudonym as far back as June 2000- before Wikipedia was even founded.

It's amazing how consistent different people's stories about Hari are- someone pulling him for some poor behaviour and him claiming the disagreement is about some greater issue which casts him in a heroic light.

Goldhill says he told Hari off for being rude to staff- Hari claims the disagreement began when he defended Mo Mowlam. Christine Odone today claims her squabble with Hari began when she told him off for misusing the New Statesman printer- he claims it was some epic dispute over antisemitism and secularism.

Many of his Wikipedia edits demonstrate a similar level of pettiness- he is desperate to not let people know that he went to an exclusive independent prep school affiliated with Harrow, he is very keen for everyone to acknowledge what a serious intellectual he is.

yet ironically it demonstrates that he is not merely nasty but also rather stupid- his bogus identities had aroused suspicion  for years and the fact he was so incompetent as to use the Independent's offices to conduct the vandalism without understanding things like IP addresses, is beyond moronic.

In addition he appears to have roped in friends to pose as David Rose and Niko when he met real people. Roping in his friends to help cover up his misdeeds is quite significant when you consider his rebuttal of the allegations made about his reporting from the Central African Republic.

It would not surprise me if someone whose entry had been vandalised sues Hari- they may have easily lost writing gigs as a result of his defamation if a lazy editor had used Wikipedia to do a spot of background research.

He would deserve this.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Non Sequitur Of The Day

From the Daily Mail's celebrity pages. A sleb used a 14 year old to model her clothes on the catwalk, a choice which is:
all the more surprising because she is such a strong advocate of animal rights - a passion that does not seem to translate into protecting underage girls.
What?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ideology- More Important than Theory Or Reality

The report by Sir John Vickers into how to reform banking so that we never again have to face a choice between bailing out bankers and risking a domino like collapse of the entire economy has made a number of recommendations- most prominently that retail and investment banking should be ring fenced  from one another.

What a brilliant idea, in order to avoid banking crises we should ensure that all banks either do nice safe low risk retail banking (like Northern Rock for example) or engage purely in risky investment banking so there would not be a knock on effect to the wider economy if they did collapse (like Lehman Brothers).

The Roosevelt administration brought in a similar law during the Great Depression- and bank collapses continued at a rate of 1 a week throughout the 1930s.

In theory spreading risk widely (by engaging in multiple sectors) should make banks sturdier.

And in practice none of the combined banks have actually suffered the kind of collapses that sent the economy into freefall in 2008 but they are the ones we should break up it seems.

So it neither works in theory or reality but in terms of ideology it is a winner.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Foxy Murderey Knoxy

As someone who did not follow the Amanda Knox case in much detail  I was getting the impression from the media coverage that there were serious question marks over her conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher. This article by an American lawyer dispels those fears:

Knox's first-of-several alibis for the night of the murder was that she was at her boyfriend (and co-defendant) Sollecito's house all night, sound asleep until 10 a.m. the next morning.
A few days later, when that was proved false by telephone records, eyewitnesses and Sollecito's admission that it was a lie, Knox claimed she was in the house during Meredith's murder ... and she knew who the murderer was!
She said it was her boss, Patrick Lumumba, the owner of a popular bar in town:
"He wanted her. ... Raffaele and I went into another room and then I heard screams. ... Patrick and Meredith were in Meredith's bedroom while I think I stayed in the kitchen. ... I can't remember how long they were together in the bedroom, but the only thing I can say is that at a certain point I remember hearing Meredith's screams and I covered my ears. ... I can't remember if Meredith was screaming and if I heard thuds but I could imagine what was going on."
Solely because of Knox's claim that Lumumba murdered Meredith, he was arrested and sat in jail for two weeks before being released when the police discovered about a hundred eyewitnesses who could place him at his bar all night, the night of the murder.
If the police were intent on framing Knox for the murder, they were easily distracted by this wild goose chase.

It is a piece worth reading in full, although many people will dismiss it because the lawyer's name is Ann Coulter.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Handing A Madman The Controls

Alastair Darling's take on Gordon Brown tenure as Prime Minister is devastating even if it merely confirms what has already been written- that Brown was deluded about the economic situation, impossible to reason with, a bully and governed through lackeys.

It also confirms my belief that if Labour had wanted to be a serious opposition to the coalition, who could form a credible alternative government, then they should have persuaded Alastair Darling to stand for the leadership.

Still given that this is the latest memoir- following on from Mandelson's and Blair's- to confirm that all the hotly denied rumours of Gordon Brown's behaviour were in fact true and had been an issue in government since day one- why was he elevated to the leadership without any opposition? It is hard to believe that there were not enough MPs who knew about Brown's behaviour to give their signatures to a rival candidate. They chose collectively to put their own careers ahead of saving their party and the country the disaster of a Brown premiership.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Cunning Plan

The BBC has learned* that David Cameron set up a secret unit within Whitehall to mount covert economic operations against Colonel Gaddafi.
The UK has been conducting sabotage against the Gadaffi regime? That certainly explains this photograph:



Brilliant, yet diabolical.

* I believe "has learnt" means "has been leaked by spin doctors".

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Putin Pics

Yeah, he's still quite gay:
He isn't only playing doctor though, he's also an adorable sailor:
First pic via Julia the 2nd one seen at Harry's Place.

More Libyan Health Miracles

If you thought that the miraculous lifespan of Lockerbie bomber Al Megrahi was an impressive testament to Libya's health service then you ain't seen nothing yet. Hana Muammar Gadafywho was killed in the bombing raid ordered by Ronald Reagan in 1986, has recovered from her tragic death and is now working as a doctor in the country!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Kinky Friedman, musician and former opponent of Rick Perry, issues an endorsement of the man who beat him to the Texas governorship:
Obama has done for the economy what pantyhose did for foreplay.

What The World Has Been Waiting For....

..... Laurie Penny interviews Johnie Marbles (pie thrower).

Marbles claims that:
I think the reason that a lot of people were so negative is that they really thought they were watching a trial, a trial I had interrupted. But a select committee has so few powers. The judge at my appeal compared what I did to contempt of court, but if they had been in a court I wouldn't have done it, there'd have been no need. If we had any real justice in our society, the dock is exactly where the Murdochs would have been. Instead, it was a circus, so I played the clown.
Well no.  If you want "You can't handle the truth!" style theatrics a parliamentary committee is not the place to find it. However by asking dull but critical questions the person being interviewed is forced to give answers. Whilst the answers given may not be explosive at the time that they are given they can become much more significant later on. As James Murdoch has since discovered.

If Johnie Marbles had not decided to turn the event in to the Johnie Marbles show then maybe Rupert Murdoch would be in a similar position now.

Despite?

Strange headline in the Daily Mail:

Booming 99p Stores ready to double its shops by 2015 despite the downturn


Thrift stores do well despite people not having much money, what a shock.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poor Widows, Cat Food & Property Taxes

Whenever proposals to tax wealth rather than income are made there is invariably a backlash as the spectre of poor widows being evicted from their homes is brought up, as the Economist's Bagehot does here:
But here is my other worry. You could also name such a tax a "force Home Counties widows to sell their homes and downsize tax". This is a blog posting, not a finished print article, so I do not have hard and fast numbers for this, but a fair number of the people living in "mansions" are certain to be pensioners on relatively low incomes. Charge them several thousand pounds a year to stay in their homes, and many would simply have to move out.
This is an emotive point of course even if it isn't rational- the current system compels people to choose to live where they don't want to as well- I wonder if the effect on the "poor widows" is not actually positive.

Anyone unable to pay a tax of 0.5% on the value of a house is likely to be having to be very careful with what they spend. Let's say a 75 year old mansion dwelling widow's budget is a mere £70 a week and it is currently spend like this:
  • £40 Food
  • £14 Heating
  • £16 Cat food.
Now she has to move out of her £800 000 house into a more modest £300 000 property. Using this windfall she now lets herself spend £250 a week- so she now spends it like this:
  • £40 Food
  • £10 Heating (smaller house)
  • £150 Cat food.
  • £40 Bingo
  • £10 Holiday fund.
As you can see her lifestyle has improved considerably as she now gets to go out and meet people and enjoy life and has more well fed cats.

A property or land tax will shift wealth that is currently tied up in houses into the general economy- and  it will be the poor widows who reap the initial dividend. And then cat food manufacturers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

David Starkey On The Riots

In the Telegraph David Starkey reiterates and expands upon his comments about the riots. In doing so he also provides a potential explanation for my question of why there were no riots in Scotland:
Consider the converse. One of the most striking things about the England riots is where they did not happen: Yorkshire, the North East, Wales and Scotland. These areas contain some of the worst pockets of unemployment in the country. But they are also characterised by a powerful sense of regional or national identity and difference that cuts across all classes and binds them together. And it is this, I am sure, which has inoculated them against the disease of “gangsta” culture and its attendant, indiscriminate violence. 
 Which is to some extent related to the idea that it is those groups whose identity has been so thoroughly ridiculed and despised over the years who have adopted the chavvy faux gangsta' identity. I am not totally convinced- doesn't Liverpool have a strong regional culture?- don't other places that didn't erupt also have weak cultural identities like Portsmouth or Milton Keynes?

Culture plays a part but there must be other factors at play like policing etc.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Texas & Job Creation

I linked yesterday to this summary of Texas's record on job creation and growth. With Rick Perry's entry into the contest to become President, Democrats are seeking to dispute the success of the Texan economy. The weakest effort so far must be this from The Centre For American Progress- the Soros funded liberal advocacy group:
Texas Ranks Dead Last In Total Job Creation, Accounting For Labor Force Growth
This seems unlikely, so how have they managed to work this out? The key phrase is "Accounting For Labor Force Growth", the method is astoundingly simply- subtract the total number of people entering the workforce from the total number of jobs.

The flaw in this approach should be easy enough to spot, but just to spell it out:

Imagine if there were 2 states, each with 10 million people in the workforce.

State A- Loses 500 000 jobs and 1 million people move to state B.
State B- Adds 500 000 jobs and 1 million people come in from state A.

Which state is a basket case and which one is thriving? For sane people the answer is that B is doing better than A, but not according to the Center For American Progress, because using their statistic- change in jobs minus change in labor force-  A scores +500 000 and whereas B gets -500 000.

So if Texas scores worst on job creation according to CAP which state tops the table job creators and should presumably be emulated?

Michigan!

The same Michigan that has had among the highest levels of unemployment in the USA for decades- but is losing population quicker than any other state in the nation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dogs That Don't Bark

Also on the riots, Alec Salmond was criticised for insisting that the riots weren't UK riots, but English riots.

The criticism is misplaced, Salmond is perfectly correct. The rioting did not spread north of the border, nor did previous bouts of riots such as those in the early 1980s.

In fact rioting in Scotland seems to be very rare, whilst I am no expert I cannot think of any in the 20th or 21st centuries. This is surprising because the most widespread explanations of riots apply at least as much to Glasgow as to London and Birmingham- poverty, ethnic division, haves and have nots, general level of violence- but no riots occurred.

So why have their been no riots in Scotland either this year or much at all in the last century?

On The Republican Nomination

The Iowa straw poll did it's job of whittling down the field of candidates for the Republican nomination, with only Michelle Bachman, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney & Rick Perry likely to pick up serious numbers of delegates once voting begins in the primary process.

I agree with most mainstream pundits that only Romney and Perry can win the nomination. Both have lovely hair which is a key attribute in a presidential candidate. My preference is Romney because he is a highly effective leader in both government and business- and he can win the votes of moderates and even disgruntled liberals. Also Perry's record of cronyism and lack of concern about executing innocent people are disturbing.

For the last two years Romney's strategy has been to run as the candidate of economic competence for a general election that would be about the dismal record on jobs and growth by the Obama administration. Against the presumed candidates up until now- Huckabee, Palin, Pawlenty, Huntsman, Gingrich etc- he could reasonably claim to be far and away the most plausible man to turn around the US economy.

Rick Perry is the one candidate who Romney cannot play the economy card against with much success for the simple reason that Texas has an incredibly successful economy compared to the rest of the United States. There is a question of how much that has to do with Perry personally or how much he could apply Texan policies to the USA as a whole but politics is partly about being in the right place to take credit for good things that happen. He is also a better campaigner than Romney.

However I am going to predict a Romney win because:
  • Bachman will take more votes from Perry.
  • Romney is a more attractive candidate outside the South, support for him will be strong in the North East of course but also in the Mormon heavy Western states around Utah and the Mid West where his father was a successful governor.
  • He has a campaign network in place from 2008 and will probably out organise Perry.
  • The Republicans tend to nominate from the more moderate wing of the party.
It is a much more intriguing campaign than it looked a few months ago when Donald Trump & Herman Cain were the flavours of the month.

The Punishment For Rioters Is Not Unduly Harsh

The harsh sentences handed to people who have taken part in the riots that swept the country last week- such as the 6 months for stealing a water bottle and 4 years for setting up a Facebook page to encourage rioting*- are in the main justified.

The comparison with other offenders who have stolen greater amounts and received much lower sentences is misleading- the fact that the crimes were part of a much larger picture- nationwide riots- is a huge aggravating factor. Simply by participating in a small way they were spreading fear among millions of people and enabling more destructive criminals to commit their crimes in the ensuing chaos- crimes such as murder, rape and arson.


Riots create a situation where the strong prey upon the weak- they can destroy communities (see the decline of many of Northern cities in the USA, such as Detroit & Newark, after the race riots of the 1960s). They can lead to mass bloodshed.Therefore the legal system needs to punish them to the full extent of the law.
 

Last week the predators felt little fear of punishment as they looted without covering their faces and set up Facebook pages under their own names. Right now those predators who used chaos to terrorise their neighbours and enrich themselves with stolen goods are feeling some of the same fear that they inspired in others, as they know that if their mug is on a CCTV camera or stolen goods are traced to them they will lose their liberty. This is a very good thing in my view.



* I am assuming that the Facebook page was a serious attempt to incite a riot, not a woefully misconceived prank.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick: Lets Ban Something!

The government has floated the idea of shutting down social networking sites during major riots, so that trouble makers will not be able to use them to coordinate their activities. Needless to say this idea is stupid, knee jerk authoritarianism of the worst kind, as Obo explains here.

When looking at history it soon becomes apparent that riots occasionally occurred before Twitter was even invented- hard to believe I know but when I looked it up on Wikipedia it turned out there have been a handful of high profile riots throughout British & indeed World history. Who knew?

The only difference between people inciting violence by word of mouth or by Twitter is that with Twitter anyone dumb enough to advocate violence (Hello Jody McIntyre) leaves a trail of evidence. Shutting down Twitter & Facebook would make it harder to convict rioters later on.

There is also the small matter of it being a punishment for the innocent as well as the guilty- some people have used social media to instigate violence but many more have used social networks to find out where trouble is happening and avoid it.

All in all the proposal is gimmicky, counter productive and unworkable.Witless authoritarianism did not die with New Labour.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Heroes, Er I Mean Vigilantes.

The double standard between how the media and police react to groups of Sikhs and Turks resisting the riots on the one hand and white men in Enfield is pretty brazen. Whereas a quick google search for - "Sikhs" "Riots"- willl turn up dozens of articles with words like "heroes" & "Fightback", a similar google for- "Enfield" "Riots"- turns up words like "vigilante".

More generally if the police are not in a position to protect the population, what alternative is there to "acting like vigilantes"?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Panic On The Streets Of London, Panic On The Streets Of Birmingham...

I thought this would be innappropriate tonight.


Meanwhile lets hope that some of the rioters manage to kill themselves.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jody MacIntyre

A good piece by Autonomous Mind on the unravelling story of Jody MacIntyre- the disabled student protester who was pulled out of his wheelchair- who far from being a innocent disabled protester who was brutally assaulted is actually a serial thug who has, inevitably, popped up at the Tottenham riots.

He also is being encouraged by Guardian hacks to provide rolling coverage (so to speak) of the event.

The public faces of the student protesters do seem to be spectacularly unlikeable:



Jody MacIntyre- a serial liar caught on camera attacking police who then brazen played the disability card to make out that he was incapable of violence.

Johnie Marbles- Universally reviled twat and self styled comedian who was surprised that assaulting an 81 year old man didn't meet with widespread acclaim.

Charlie Gilmour- The epitome of the spoiled overclass demanding that he be taken seriously.

Alfie Meadows- Poor guy struck with a police baton- or a violent thug who got hit by friendly fire from his own side.

Edward Woolard- Fire extinguisher chucker.


They have managed to earn contempt for the movement they represent not least because of the mealy mouthed apologetics over their actions by their fellow travellers.

One Day Son, All This Will Be Yours

Labour have chosen their candidate to take on Louise Mensch in the constituency of Corby (twinned with Mordor)- a man named Andy Sawford. The name is familiar because from 1997 to 2005 my MP in the neighbouring constituency of Kettering was Phil Sawford- Andy's father who was:
"one of the few avowed republicans in the Commons."
Because hereditary privilege is a terrible thing.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Stop The Millenium

This post makes no sense if you have not seen the films I am discussing or read the books upon which they are based.

This week I have been watching the "Millenium Trilogy" of films adapted from Stieg Larrson's novels (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire & The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest). The films are very good, well paced and with plots that sit together nicely.

There is one quibble that I have though- the investigative magazine that features throughout the trilogy "Millenium" seems to be the most tedious publication ever committed to print. Obviously it is a fictional magazine that I cannot actually read but just consider the following:
  • In the second film the magazine's big story that is going to be the focus of their next issue is that men are using prostitutes. I know this is feminist Sweden but is that really news. There is dramatic talk of them confronting the punters with the kind of bullying prurience that makes them seem like the house organ of Iran's Revolutionary Guard investigating couples for holding hands.
  • It is almost always out of date, despite one of the characters being an ace hacker, the Internet is unheard of among magazine staffers. They have to get their rapidly developing story to the printers a week in advance of printing it in order to get it out.
  • As you would expect of earnest socialist Swedes, they don't believe in being pithy. As the journalists discuss writing up the big story in the 3rd film, you realise that they are talking about writing 30 to 50 pages each. For a magazine this seems excessive- a Private Eye special might run to 20 pages in total, yet they are talking about 200 pages of prose just on one story.
  • Being socialists and Swedes they all come across as being devoid of a sense of humour, so this is 200 pages of an out of date story with no laughs in it whatsoever.
Of course being in a fictional universe, this magazine appears to actually sell to people beyond the friends and family of the staff whereas in reality it would be as widely read as Roundabout Enthusiasts Monthly.

Generational War

The deal made in Washington between Congress & President Obama is a pretty bad one all round. Cuts are an integral part of the deal but the three sections of the US budget than consume the most wealth- social security, health spending and defence- have all been ring fenced so the cuts will hit everything else very severely.

The amount the United States spends militarily is excessive and much of it is wasted as money is given directly to defence contractors who in return create jobs in the constituencies of key politicians.

Entitlements- Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid- are protected in order to preserve the interests of older voters- at the expense of the young. Any attempts to reform them have hit the political buffers whereas efforts to increase them get bipartisan support.

This isn't the only example of government policies that benefit the old at the expense of the young- the housing boom also created a de facto transfer of wealth from the young to the old.

There is no obvious moral imperitive to transfer wealth to older people who are on average considerably wealthier already than younger people (these aren't targeted benefits that help the poorest pensioners but universal ones). It is certainly not a pragmatic approach in a society that is getting older.

However older people actually pay attention to politics and vote- so they are far more valuable than the young- which is why politicians bend over backwards to help older voters.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Being On The Same Side As Idiots

I am against reintroducing the death penalty to the UK for reasons which I have stated before- executing innocent people is inevitable and I don't want to be party to that. Arguments that we would only use it if we were "really 100% sure" are silly because we think we are 100% sure when we lock anybody up. So to argue for the death penalty is to say that the deaths of innocent people are a price worth paying.

In addition I have to say I find many of those on the same side as me to be smug and stupid. Take Ian Dunt from Politics.co.uk for the first example from google news who manages to combine all the worst traits of opponents in one article:

  • Self congratulation: "The capital punishment argument is particularly unsatisfying because it is so easy to refute."- It is not easy enough for him it seems.
  •  Ignorance: "the US is the only developed, supposedly civilised country which still conducts executions."- Japan is not a developed and civilised country according to Dunt.
  • Bad Stats:  Too long to quote but he cherry picks studies to conclude that all reputable research refutes the idea that the death penalty deters crime when in fact most recent evidence point to a small but real deterrent effect although it is difficult to be certain with the social sciences.
  • Hypocrisy: "Once the deterrent argument falls apart, capital punishment proponents have very little to fall back on but their own sense of emotional outrage"- after sneering at the "supposedly civilised" USA he wants to accuse other people of relying on emotional outrage?
  • Stupidity:  "In 1996, those US states with the death penalty had an average murder rate of 7.1 per 100,000 of population. Those states without had 3.6 per 100,000."- Lesson 1 of statistics is "correlation does not imply causation" and even if it did you could equally argue that the political support for the death penalty is due to high murder rate. In reality the southern states have been about twice as violent as the northern ones since the days when they were colonies and both hanged people with gusto and enthusiasm.
 I hate being on the same side as people like this.

Update: I am now feeling slightly bad about being so harsh on Mr Dunt, so if you come here via a vanity search, then please ignore all the insulting points and just not the facts.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Sigh

The Daily Mash reports:


MUSCULAR homosexual Russian men have been giving free titillating car washes in support of their beloved Vladimir Putin.

The handsome, hairy gay men who called themselves Putin's Bear Army showed their support for Russia's prime minister by donning tight denim cut-offs and getting soapy at the event in downtown Moscow.

Self-styled 'Putin bear' Oleg Komarov said: "Putin is a strong and powerful leader with excellent economic policies. He is also insanely hot and droolsome.

"I love it when he takes his shirt off and plays with guns. Of course a gun is just a metal penis, all gays know this.

"One time I saw a bead of sweat drip from his left nipple as he climbed a cliff face. I said 'hubba hubba' under my breath without even thinking about it.

"Vladimir Putin truly inspires me to go out and have anal sex with men."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Film Subsidies- Finally Giving The Children Of A-List Actors The Chance To Appear In Movies

As has been explained before the massive funding given to the UK Film Council was never intended to promote good art or good investments but merely to buy the support of greedy luvvies:
Stephen Frears recalls meeting him soon after [Gordon Brown] had announced a big increase in money for films. "Do you know what you've done?'' the movie man asked. "Created a rush of absolutely terrible British films?'' the benefactor replied, laughing.
So it's no surprise to learn that most of the films funded by the Quango failed to return their investment. Even spectacularly successful films like The Queen didn't repay the money that they had borrowed.

Still the supporters of continued subsidies have a new argument to make:

"Not all of the ones that have been released have started to recoup," explained the BFI spokesman. "The rationale for investing in films is not necessarily on the cultural strength of them. A large part of it is for developing new talent.
"Donkey Punch was invested in under the Warp X new talent initiative – it's new talent, a new director, and one of its cast, Jaime Winstone, has gone on to do new things, and to make a name for herself."
I don't begrudge Jaime Winstone a successful career but as her surname suggests she is the daughter of Ray Winstone, so she was not some undiscovered talent who would never have an opportunity to make a name for herself in film without a half a million pound subsidy for a crappy British film like Donkey Punch.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm Not Religious But....

.... I also find professional grievence mongering atheist organsiations to be full of insuffrable, egotistical, tossers who don't give a damn about anyone else's feelings while demanding that everyone tread on tip toes to avoid hurting theirs.

The Debt Ceiling.

The big argumemt over the debt ceiling rumbles on in Washington. Failing to raise it would be a disaster because cuts deep enough not to exceed the ceiling would have to be massive and immediate. While spending does need to come down cutting 40% in one year is not possible without damaging the economy more.

Anyway the deal that Obama and Boehner eventually come up with is going to involve spending cuts and once again demonstrates that the most effective combination for fiscal responsibility is a Democratic president and a Republican congress- the combination that produced welfare reform in the 990s for example.

With a Republican president a Republican congress will happily forget any notion of limited government and support massive increases in healthcare entitlements, military expenditure and education spending. Equally a Democratic president with a congress of his own party will spend like Charlie Sheen in a brothel.

So while Obama doesn't like being forced to offer cuts, he will in a few years be claiming credit for them as Clinton does for the policies forced on him in the 1990s which led to higher growth.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dead Children Are Great For Point Scoring

Sunny Hundal writes about the Olso massacre:
But there is no suggestion that his actions were inspired by Melanie Phillips, nor am I making that claim.
In an article titled:

Oslo terrorist cited Melanie Phillips in his manifesto

I almost wonder whether he might be being disingenuous.

Less cynical and more honest approaches to the link between mainstream opponents of multiculturalism and immigration and Ander Breivik are here by Edmund Standing on the left and Ed West on the right.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Media Irresponsibility

Just watching ITN's News At Ten. Reporting the Oslo massacre the reporter says "These are the pictures Anders Brievik wanted the world to see" as they show glamourous looking photos of him posing with guns.

If he wanted the world to see them then showing them is doing his work for him.

It is utterly irresponsible.

Terrorist attacks really do bring out the worst in TV news, especially 24 hour rolling news channels.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Norway & Criminal Justice Disturbing Fact

Norway does not have life sentences in its criminal justice system.

The maximum sentence is 21 years.

I am not sure whether the killer could be sentenced to consecutive sentences for each killing but the way I've understood it in the past is that it doesn't work like that.

Oslo & Jumping To Conclusions

Many people's initial reaction to the Oslo attack was to assume Islamists were responsible. This has led to a certain amount of gloating and scolding now that it turns out to be a blond, nationalist terrorist of the kind that populate Hollywood movies but are rather rare in real life.

I said almost immediately that it was probably either an Islamist or a lone nutjob and have been proven correct so this is not defensiveness on my part.

However that does not mean that those who initially assumed it was an Islamist attack have something to apologise for because it is not irrational or bigoted to assume that synchronised terror attacks in a Western city targeting civilians were perpetrated by the kind of groups who have most recently committed synchronised terror attacks, attacks on Western cities and attacks which focus on murdering civilians.

It was a rational assumption to make even though it turned out to be incorrect.


PS. I am not defending those who said that the attack was definately by Muslims without any evidence only those who said it was likely.

Oslo

Whilst nothing is certain at this stage, it seems as though the massacre in Norway was perpetrated by an extreme nationalist, Anders Breivit.

While a movement or political grouping shouldn'tbe discredited simply because someone like Ander Behring Breivit expressed admiration for or approval of them this will inevitably happen to some extent. His obsessions seem to have been immigration, Islam and multiculturalism. I hope very much that this does not make it harder to point out the flaws and failings in any of those subjects, althoug it will.

The one aspect of his online writings which I do hope become discreditiable after this is his tendency to believe that the other side is engaged in some kind of plot to destroy civilisation. In Brevit's world immigration to Europe wasn't being encouraged because the left believed that it would benefit both Europe and the immigrants but  because they hated in Europe and were determined to destroy it.

It is perfectly legitimate to argue that policies will have catastrophic results but believing that your opponents are actively trying to destroy civilisation is usually paranoid nonsense and is not going to lead to anything good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stick A Fork In Him, He's Done.

This has been my most productive blogging month for close to two years so far in terms of visits, links and my enthusiasm.

The subject that seems to bring the most hits is the Johann Hari career implosion.

So let's talk about that some more. I've disliked him for years but the scale of his disgrace makes me feel sorry for him. His career is over at the age of 32 and his reputation in tatters. A recap of the main scandals:
  1. Harigate 1 was the plagiarism scandal which was probably survivable, 
  2. Harigate 2 was the sockpuppetery revelations which were a hefty blow but other journalists have survived similar exposure (although their sock puppets didn't slander enemies.
  3. Harigate 3 is the longstanding allegations of lying in his articles and fabricating quotes look have gained strength. He can't come back from being a confirmed liar.
Private Eye looks to have provided the final blow:
Hari did not hire a translator, instead browbeating a charity worker into translating for him. He promised to give her his notes when they returned so she could file her own report on the war, and then broke his word. He continued to hold on to the notes even after she complained to Simon Kelner, the Independent’s editor. “The reason for this became clear when his article came out, as most of the content differed from what interviewees told us,” the aid worker told us. Hari “completely exaggerated the extent of destruction in Birao”. He “completely invented quotes, in particular those of the French soldiers”. In one gruesome vignette, Hari had French soldiers telling a piteous story of how “children would bring us the severed heads of their parents and scream for help, but our orders were not to help them”. “They did not say this. I know because I was there and I did the translating for them.”
Inventing atrocities in a conflict zone, such as the one highlighted,  is something I spotted him doing a few years ago, although I initially assumed that he was simply gullible.

However the other interesting aspect is the position of the Independent's editor at the time, Simon Kelner. Despite the charity worker contacting him to raise concerns about this article and previous question marks raised about Hari, he doesn't appear to have made any efforts to look into the matter.

Indeed he actively vouched for Hari to the committee of the Orwell Prize and accused his critics in Harigate 1 of being politically motivated.

The Independent investigation into Johann Hari has to look at the editor who did not do their job editing his work.


Important Note: In accordance with the official Right of Centre Blogger's Code to which I am a signitory, I shall not be devoting any posts to covering the News International scandals in this much depth unless it is to say "What about the Mirror?"

Replacing Cameron

Sooooo if David Cameron is engulfed by the Murdocalypse and forced to quit (which is unlikely but I think a regular cabinet minister would have already quit by now) who is likely to replace him? The way I see it, the race would be very different to the last few contests because of the coalition. 

In a purely Conservative government William Hague and Liam Fox would be best placed, but it would be difficult for the Liberal Democrats to remain in a coalition headed by either man, because they are seen as too right wing. On the other hand Cameron loyalists like Osbourne will be tainted if Cameron had been forced out in controversy.


So the likely successor has to be seen as being- not too conservative, not tainted by Cameron and not responsible for any major screw ups in government.

Whilst that leaves some decent candidates- David Davis, Phil Hammond- I have a horrible feeling that this means the most likely next PM is either Ken Clarke or Theresa May.