Monday, January 31, 2011

John Barry

I was very sad to see that John Barry had died. This was partly because I initally thought that John Barrowman had died and was gutted to realise otherwise. But it's mostly because he could compose such memorable themes as this:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Extremists Won't Win, But The Moderates Are Pretty Extreme

This Pew survey from last year gives an indication of where public opinion in Egypt stands. It stands in the corner of the room marked "crazy"- with a large majority in favour of the public concerned about the rise of Islamic extremist but an equally large majority in favour of stoning for adultery and flogging for petty crimes.

So whilst the religious extremists probably won't take sole of Egypt, even the moderates & liberals aren't going tp be the Egyptian equivalents of Christopher Hitchens and will be likely to throw the Islamists a few bones.

It Must Be Bad

This is a turn up:
US, Turkey, Iraq, China urge citizens to leave Egypt

Egypt is too dangerous for Iraqis?

The Blame Game

The school that suspended teacher Katharine Birbalsingh after she spoke at the Tory conference, is to be closed down due to a drop in applications. Naturally they've responded to this news by reflecting on whether their behaviour towards critics and inept management contributed to this decision blaming Birbalsingh for her speech:
Canon Peter Clark, the chairman of the school’s governors, said that her attack on incapable teachers “blinded by Leftist ideology” had dealt a fatal blow to the school. “The publicity that she generated was very unhelpful, which certainly didn’t help in terms of pupil recruitment,” said Canon Clark.
He added that an inspection of the school held shortly before Christmas had shown that “nothing that she said was right”. 
 Yes, clearly her references to them being "blinded by Leftist ideology" were way off the mark and the school only suspended her because she brought the schools name into a political debate, unlike the head teacher who had previously let her school be used as the venue for the launch of Labour's 2001 General Election campaign.

Least Terrifying Threat Ever

The arrest of hackers from the group "Anonymous" has prompted this terrifying threat-
Last night Anonymous issued a statement branding the UK arrests "a serious declaration of war" against the group of internet "hacktivists"
.First of all I'd be interested to see how Anonymous can issue statements, because it isn't an official organisation with a spokesperson to present the groups decisions to the world- it's a bunch of youngish men who meet online anonymously to discuss shit and share porn.

In fact when looking at the home of Anonymous- 4Chan's /b/ board- you can see that the main interests of Anonymous are getting a laugh* and wanking. To the extent that they're into hacking it largely seems to involve invading the Facebook accounts of teenage girls they know, not bringing down the world financial system. It isn't that they can't cause problems for people- it's just that the people they cause problems for are more likely to be 11 year old girls they are cyber stalking than the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Some people from Anonymous will try to hack UK websites in retaliation for the arrests- but so what, it isn't as if their previous attacks have caused huge disruption- they brought paypal down for a few hours- oh no. I suspect most of the members are actually jealous of the arrested hackers seeing as when they go to prison they are likely to be the only members of Anonymous to be having regular sex.

* Some of the stuff is quite funny- the 'Pedobear' meme for example originated there, although that is at least partially a response to the amount of child porn that gets posted on there.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I don't think the Egyptian regime will fall any time soon, all the vested interests who control Egypt have too much to lose if Mubarek is toppled. As Egypt is home one of the busiest shipping routes in the world this matters a great deal.

Unless you know what would take it's place a revolution is a very big gamble for all concerned. Still it is depressing to see a resurgence of the idea that the West should continue to back the likes of Egypt because other wise the Islamists will take over.

It is similar to the misguided policy of the Cold War to cooperate with strongmen with appalling human rights records because they proclaimed themselves to be anti-communist- usually opportunistically. The policy of backing nutters like Joseph Savimbi or General Suharto did more to sully our image than every Marxist tract ever written.

There isn't much evidence that the Islamists are the ones poised to take advantage of the void left by Mubarek, as the Economist's Lexington points out there is usually a ceiling of about 20% in terms of support for Islamists in Muslim countries.The protesters aren't demanding a Caliphate and even the usual "Death to Israel" banners aren't widespread. Whilst we shouldn't openly work against the Egyptian government, there is little to be gained from propping them up either.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Sorry for the lack of blogging, there are so many important issues to discuss- the uprisings in the Arab world, the bad economic news and the terrorist attack in Moscow. So lets talk about shagging horses:

A man was caught on a covert infra-red camera performing a sex act on a horse at a stable in Devon.
Derek Woods was caught when he triggered alarms at the stable which had been set up by police after they were alerted by the animal's owner.
Woods, 26 and originally from Glasgow, admitted charges of animal cruelty and one of committing a sex act on a horse.
These cases of men being charged with having sex with animals seem to come up every few months. I can find at least three previous posts about horse bothering inj my own archives and I haven't even touched on cases involving goats, pigs, geordies and cows. There is even a website called "zoo tube" which will make you  hate yourself if you look up.

In other words the number of people who enjoy sex with animals is much larger than one might have suspected. There are probably at least a couple of people you know who are into it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shades Of Gray.

As a committed anti-sexist I applaud Sky Sports for the decisiveness in sacking Andy Gray over sexist comment he made about the female assistant referee Sian Massey.

The embarrassment suffered by Massey should not be tolerated, however she wouldn't have had to endure that had she been in kitchen.

Food for thought.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Influence Of The MSM....

.... is a lot less than is widely thought.

After the Tucson massacre there was a concerted campaign by the media, led by the New York Times and the local sheriff, to smear their political opponents by linking the killer to "polarising rhetoric", which was naturally only found on the right not the left.

So you'd think with such a concerted campaign of vilification would have results. Actually no, according to a Pew Survey, the proportion of the US population who believe that the shooting was linked to political rhetoric is.... 0.6%.

There are probably more people who claim to have been abducted by aliens.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Deja Polly

Polly Toynbee's latest article praising the appointment of Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor seems strangely familiar:
Ed Balls the bruiser is the man to confront these Tory lies

Oh yeah, here's the earleir version:
Alan Johnson can wipe smirks off Cameron's chainsaw mob

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Over at 'A Tangled Web' Mahons comments on the resignation of Alan Johnson:

Tough times. Losing one’s Johnson but keeping your Balls

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Eds Is Worse Than One

The problem with the promotion of Ed Balls to Labour's economic brief isn't that he is a serial backstabber who will play dirty to destroy anyone in his way- that is abhorrent but quite a useful trait in politics. It isn't that he was Gordon Brown's right hand man as he wrecked our finances- who will recall that? It isn't even that his strategy for dealing with the downturn is to keep on borrowing until we make Greece look like a model of financial probity.

The problem with the appointment of Ed Balls as Labour's Shadow Chancellor is that it shows that Ed Miliband has no idea what the economic policy of a future Labour government should look like. Alan Johnson's economic outlook was more moderate and recognised the need to tackle the deficit than that of Ed Balls- who believes that cutting the deficit should wait until after the economy recovers.

Obviously I think Ed Balls is wrong but that isn't the point, the point is that by appointing Alan Johnson, Labour were advocating one approach and just three months later they have flipped and are now promoting a previously rejected strategy.

How can Labour hope to effectively communicate with the public if their leader does not know what it is that he wants to communicate. The only hope of any coherence to Labour's economic strategy is to cede control to Balls- which would put Miliband in the same position Tony Blair was with respect to Gordon Brown.

The Horror!

Students are protesting against the abolition of the EMA grant:
"I would have had to get a part-time job if I hadn't had the EMA,"

Oddly enough the Guardian now seem to have removed this quote from the article.

The Less Unfunny Terry Jones Banned.

Koran burning (actually threatening to burn then wimping out) pastor Terry Jones has been banned from entering the UK.Fair enough- he is a provocatuer with few followers who wants to cause contoversy for its own sake. At least he can console himself that he is funnier than his namesake.

Plus the government wants some anti-islamic speakers to ban to say to Muslims that they aren't being singled out when Jihadis are banned. Unlike the last government's target they have actually banned someone who expressed an interest in visiting this country (although I believe Michael Savage is still banned even under this government).

Still the contrast between what gets an Islamist banned- nothing short of direct calls to murder infidels will result in a ban- with what gets an extreme "islamophobe" banned- burning paper.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stuxnet In The Middle With You

Like Infidel I am very impressed by what the Stuxnet computer virus thingy has done to the Iranian nuclear programme. Making war by outwitting the enemy rather than killing them is an all round improvement.

Up until now cyber warfare has largely meant either Chinese epionage or Russia's petulant denial of service attacks against their enemies. This is much more sophisticated and suggests that the West is just as keen on using computers as weapons.

The only regrettable part is that it is now known about so therefore less effective.

Tone Down Your Rhetoric You Bloodthirsty Nazi!

So many other people have written about the bizarre attempts by the media to pin the blame for the Tucson shooting on crazed Tea-Partiers that I can't add much. The repudiation of these theories even by Barack Obama (who would have more reason than most to believe them) and the utter rejection by the public should send the smear merchants away in shame- if they were capable of such an emotion.

However what strikes me is that the likes of the New York Times went full steam ahead even after they've been burnt so many times in the last couple of years trying to find an act of violence to pin on the political right. After the stories about anti-government activists murdering census workers, islamophobes stabbing Muslim taxi drivers and other false stories surely a simple desire not to be humiliated would encourage them to lay off until the facts are better known.

Ironically the only extreme rhetoric on display is on the part of those denouncing their opponents as blood thirst nazi lunatics despite a complete lack of evidence.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Quote Of The Day

I don't want to be too harsh on Ed Miliband because I think we've got a lot in common- for instance I'm never going to be Prime Minister either- but he does sound a bit Stalinist doesn't he?

"Only Labour can build the good society. Society can only function if based on progressive Labour values,"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Labour Recovery?

Before the last election Lib Dem voters were split between preferring a coalition with the Tories or a coalition with Labour. Since then they have lost most of their Labour leaning supporters. This is probably why Labour now have a solid lead in the opinion polls despite the disastrous performance of the last government and the widespread lack of faith in Ed Miliband.

This isn't to say the Lib Dems made the wrong decision in May, had they gone into coalition with Labour then their more right leaning supporters would have left instead.

What this means though is that Labour will do much better in bye elections, such as the one yesterday in Oldham, between now and 2015 than had previously been anticipated and could be a much more substantial force at the election than previously believed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shorter Simon Jenkins:

We must destroy free speech to save it!!!

Lines On Maps

It looks as though the South of Sudan is going to vote to secede from the North- who will let it happen, which is nice for genocidal maniacs. This is a very good step in the right direction, like many countries in Africa all that links the country is a colonial history not a sense of nationhood. In fact nations in the European sense of the word that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries don't really exist in Africa.

Instead there are a hodge podge of multi ethnic polities based on who colonised them a 150 years ago, in which the prime goal of any aspiring is to improve the standing of his people relative to the other ethnicities. This breeds corruption and racial hatred. In Sudan the racial differences are obvious because the North is Arab and the South black African but the differences between different black groups in Nigeria or Zimbabwe are just as real.

Creating function ethnic based states won't be possible everywhere but in cases where it is it should be encouraged regardless of the vested interests opposed to reform.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Guest Post- George Monbiot

During a recent international conference in the Bahama to discuss how to reduce air travel I spoke to some of my fellow environmentalists and campaigners. One of the subjects which dismayed us all was how environmentalists have been successfully protrayed by the well funded corporate lobby as being Luddites.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Green movement embraces cutting edge technology to address the looming problems we must face.

Our hospitals are filling up with infants barely able to breathe, Norwich will be drowned by 2004 and 8/10 children are so overweight that they have to be rolled to school. The three crises affecting Britain today are the toll of global warming, as shown recently by the snow storms that have beleaguered much of the North and West, inner city congestion that chokes our most vibrant communities and finally our expanding waistlines as we grow up eating too much and exercising too little.

What do they all have in common? They are all caused in total or in part by the selfish motorist. Car drivers are taking up an ever increasing proportion of the land as our insatiable need for speed in order to build motorways and car parks.

What if I said there was an alternative to cars that would reduce emissions, cut congestion and cut the deaths from road crashes in half. If I now tell you that the technology to do this has existed since the 1970s readers might start to wonder whether I've gone mad. Yet it does exist. Two words- Pogo Sticks.

.The words pogo sticks elicits a fixed reaction in almost everyone who hears them: “What about when I fell of my pogo stick and cracked my skull when I was 7”. It’s as if, every time someone proposed travelling on a cruise ship, you were to ask, “but what about the Titanic?”. Whilst pogo technology has advanced there are still problems, the pogo stick is slower than the car and cannot carry as much luggage. The bouncing can also damage the roads. In truth safety technology has advanced greatly since the 70s with helmets and elbow pads available very cheaply.

But with travel so much easier and the roads so much clearer who could complain about such trifles? The coalition makes much of it's environmental credentials yet Chris Huhne, the Climate Change Secretary has released no funds for pogo research, nor has Andrew Lansley the health secretary despite professing to be serious about tackling child obesity. If we just scrapped Trident we could ensure that everyone had their own stick. So far it is a Pogo no go.

A more serious objection to banning cars and moving to pogo sticks will benefit the rich who will buy bigger sticks which they won't share with everyone else. The answer is simple, anyone with more pogo than is strictly necessary should be forced to share with those less fortunate. A committee of ethically aware individuals could determines which pogo sticks everyone has to ensure no one has more pogo than anyone else, except members of the Pogo Committee who surely deserve special Pogo Sticks for all the hard work we, I mean they, will be doing.

It may be a distant dream but perhaps this is the only alternative to the Earth burning up in a fiery ball.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


The shooting of a US Representitive, Gabrielle Giffords, and a crowd of other people has inevitably been seized upon by various factions to advance political agendas and find a way of blaming their political opponents. This is inevitable I suppose even thought the evidence about the shooter's political leanings is highly patchy and paranoia seems like the common theme rather than a left or right ideology.

The Guardian's Alex Hannaford's effort is particularly nauseating though because after running through a litany of smears: along with a wide eyed protestation of innocence- "Of course, there's no suggestion that the suspected gunman – a college graduate from Arizona who lists reading as his favourite pastime – was particularly inspired by Sarah Palin"- he then has the chutzpah to express outrage that people are expoiting the
shooting to advance their political agendas:
Incredibly, though, what happened on Saturday is already being seized upon by the pro-gun lobby. One comment on Sarah Palin's Facebook page reads: "This will be another avenue for gun control groups to further their sick agenda."
I didn't detect one hint of irony.
Me neither Alex, me neither.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Just So You Know

When men commit crimes all men are partly responsible, however if they are MONAs then there is no reason to draw any conclusions at all.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Simon Jenkins on the rise in VAT:

Osborne's desire to reduce public spending to roughly what Gordon Brown thought right a decade ago is hardly draconian. He is sensible in attacking the big, demand-led programmes such as social benefits and housing, to which previous governments, including Margaret Thatcher's, turned a blind eye. He is right too in wanting fewer jobs in the public sector to be met by more in the private. In other words, he expects private demand to replace public in the cause of growth.

So why, given all this, does he tax private demand? And why tax it at precisely the point where it must cost jobs in the high street and among its suppliers?
It's a good question. As others have pointed out there are alternatives to VAT such as a Land Value Tax.

The three main things to consider about different types of taxations are:
  1. Is it efficient to collect.
  2. What incentives and disincentives does it create.
  3. Who will it effect
VAT is efficient to collect but it does create disincentives to spend and the less well off end up paying proportionately more.

Bad Job Interview Techniques

A woman is released from jail after police officer is found to have planted evidence. So how did this fabrication come to light?
The fabrication emerged after Harding, seeking a job with the CIA, bragged that he had fabricated evidence, apparently to impress the interviewer. The CIA notified New York authorities, and the investigation began, eventually leading to several other investigators to plead guilty to evidence tampering or fabrication, and the re-opening of several criminal cases.

It does suggest that this sort of corruption wasn't seen as outlandish in his own police force, if he thought it was something that would impress other law enforcement agencies, which is slightly disturbing.


Monday, January 03, 2011

How Government Works

To mark the passing of actor Pete Postlethwaite, John Prescott pens a moving tribute to the courage, decency and effectiveness of..... John Prescott. He writes how Postlethwaite influenced him:

His character, band leader Danny, after spending his life wanting to win the national brass band trophy, symbolically turns it down because he knows it's the only way he can get publicity for the 1,000 miners who were sacked from his pit.

The line that got me was: "This government has systematically destroyed an entire industry – our industry. And not just our industry – our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of 'progress'. And for a few lousy bob."

You can watch it here. I defy you not to cry.

These communities had their heart ripped out by successive Tory governments. 200,000 were thrown on to the dole and were just left to rot. That led to increasing rates of worklessness and despair.

It made me so angry and I thought we must do something. I then realised I was the minister in charge!
So presumably if  Prezza had watched Toy Story he would have directed his ministry to create a programme to tackle the problem of old toys being discarded when children get newer, shinier ones.

Last Year's Moderates Are This Years Extremists

Nick Cohen writes of the rather worrying developments in Hungary where the ruling Fidezs party appears to be authoritarian and extreme:
You can catch a smell of it in Fidesz's propaganda. Its first act was to order public buildings to display a passage from its manifesto. "In spring 2010, the Hungarian nation gathered its strength once again and brought about a successful revolution in the polling booth," the citizenry was informed. They should rejoice because Fidesz will lead Hungary to a bright new tomorrow based on "work, home, family, health and order".

Fidesz then seized control of private pensions, hacked back the powers of a supreme court that might have checked its supremacy and established a media council, which can impose large fines on broadcasters and print and online publishers for such fuzzily worded crimes as "offending human dignity". It has packed the council with party loyalists, naturally, and already Hungarian newspapers and magazines are publishing blank pages in protest against official censorship.
The case against them looks very strong and their behaviour does not seem in keeping with the behaviour of a democratic party.

However last year Cohen was attacking the Conservative party for leaving the European grouping to which Fidesz belongs on the grounds that it was rejecting "moderation" and embracing extremist parties from Eastern Europe. Wonder what's changed since then?

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Ten punchlines to jokes I heard in 2010:
  1. Yeah, but I can't knit sleeves.
  2. The lead goes limp.
  3. "Shut up Refrigerator"
  4. I can't tell you because you're not a monk.
  5. "No Father, we're just taking a shortcut through the Children's Ward"
  6. Having two legs.
  7. "You are Nissan Main Dealer?"
  8. Because she's red hot and he's well hung.
  9. Gang Rape.
  10. Because she didn't wear a seatbelt

An Apology

In previous posts I may have given the impression that anti drink campaigns are driven by hysterical nitwits who just want to boss people around and that furthermore alcohol really isn't that bad. Overnight I have reconsidered my opinion and now accept that alcohol is and evil vomit provoking and headache inducing poison that should be banned immediately.