Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Quote Of The Day- Polly Toynbee Edition

Polly Toynbee writes about the effects that child care policies of successive governments have had:

all these sent the number of Sure Start places soaring, even though child poverty was falling.
I may have changed a couple of details.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Speaking Truth To Power.

Nick Griffin has been kicked off of Twitter for publishing the addresses of two men who sued a B&B owner for not allowing them to share a room. There certainly seems to be an implied threat in that action so this is appropriate.

Or at least so I thought, because it turns out that criminally violating other people's rights, is actually the purest form of protest. According to some people anyway.

The home of misunderstanding things, the Guardian, has had a couple of examples of this. Mona Eltahawy's believes that the right to protest means the right to vandalise and deface posters legally put up by people she disagree with. Because as she says she supports free speech, but free speech includes the right to be free of opposing speech.

Or something.

Today Nina Power writes about the twit who disrupted the University Boat Race this year, and who has just been sentenced to six months in prison:
Trenton Oldfield, who disrupted the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April this year to protest against inequality, was sentenced to six months in jail for the offence of "public nuisance". Although the race was restarted 25 minutes later, Judge Molyneux made it clear that Trenton had disrupted the smooth running of things, and for that he must go to jail: "Thousands of people had lined the banks of the river to enjoy a sporting competition. Many more were watching at home on live television." The message is blunt: if it's on TV and aristocrats are involved, then the state can deprive you of your liberty for as long as it likes.

 In a period where many people have died following benefit cuts, Oldfield's protest against elitism and inequality is timely and symbolic.

The working class hero who making the protest against elitism is a privately educated Australian called Trenton who used a grant from the Arts Council to buy himself a flat and has as his lawyer the socialist son of privilege Matt Foot* (son of Paul Foot).

Power continues:
Oldfield's sentence is clearly designed to deter others from protesting, and there is evidence that the use of the charge of public nuisance (which carries a maximum sentence of life) was upgraded under government pressure and precisely because of the varied spectacles of 2012. 
Public nuisance is of course what the idiot who threw a coin on the track at the Olympic 100m final was charged with. It seems to be used when someone is being a nuisance, to the general public. I don't recall Guardian editorials in support of the defrocked Irish priest who disrupted the British Grand Prix in 2003 when he was jailed, even though he was also protesting against something or other.

Nina Power continues:
So who, in the end, is the public on behalf of whom Oldfield is being punished? 
In this particular case it is the spectators and viewers who wanted to see the boat race rather than the Trenton Show. And the rowers whose event was disrupted.
Is it the public sector workers who will march in their thousands tomorrow against austerity, or is it the "public" represented by the judge
Er neither, it is the public who wanted to watch an event, this may include people from different political persuasions.

What the likes of Mona Eltahawy and especially Nina Power represent is narcissism- what they believe is so important that the rights of others are simply pale before them. In the case of Power it doesn't even matter if the lesser beings being attacked have only the most tenuous connection to whatever is being protested against, they should still have their apolitical event disrupted for some spoiled brat's gratification.

* Matt Foot specialises in defending people who use aggressive protests to violate others' rights. He defended the idiot who threw the fire extinguisher off the top of Millbank Tower and other idiots who who went to Italy to riot against something or other.

Quote Of The Day

I had wondered why guardianistas and assorted poverty pimps complained so vocally about the benefit cap- this government's best policy so far- considering that by definition it won't affect anyone who isn't already well provided for.

I think Julia explains it here:
Yes, this is all about the effect on low-income families of the benefit cap, which numerous charities and pressure groups fear will remove their client base from comfortable walking distance from their cosy London offices…

It would be  unthinkable to have to commute all the way to Luton when doing one's bit to help the (high income) poor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Closing Of The Economy

 On Radio 4's "The World At One" they had a discussion about childcare which it was agreed is too expensive. On one side of the discussion they had Nick Pearce from the IPPR who was arguing for having even more highly qualified child minders, who rebutted an argument for deregulation by pointing out:
"The child minders' own professional body says they don't want deregulation, they want high standard professional child minders"
This is of course a fatuous point, all professional bodies oppose deregulation and support credentialising- because that keeps out entrants to the market and enables their members to make more money. If anyone can find a single example of an organisation representing established people in a profession that lobbies for barriers to entry to be loosened then I will tip my hat to them, but I doubt anyone could.

Credentialising and occupational licensing make jobs harder to get without actually improving the standard of service being provided.

The two jobs that I did when I was a student- working as a security guard in various warehouses and offices and on building sites putting up ceilings- both now require the possession of formal qualifications in those fields so that I would not be able to do either job today.

This was only just over a decade ago. Similar barriers to entry have been placed in other lines of work. This of modest importance to current and future students but is a serious barrier for the long term unemployed and for anyone who uses the services of industries that are insulated from competition and innovation in this way.

Update: As proof that quoting the childminder's professional body is a fatuous and moronic argument- Polly Toynbee repeats it today:
The National Childminding Association protests against Truss's deregulation plan: it wants to keep inspections. Nor does it want higher staff-child ratios, saying it fears childminders becoming deprofessionalised

Art: Then & Then.

I am currently watching "Cave of Forgotten Dreams", Werner Herzog's documentary about the incredible cave paintings in Chauvet, France.

On thing which is notable to me is that despite being painted tens of thousands of years ago the quality of the pictures in very good. In face the depictions of some animals seem far more realistic than those of medieval artists who were thousands of years more technologically advanced.

Compare cavemen depiction of horses:
Now look at the horses in the Bayeux Tapestry:
Which are frankly a bit crap.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Top Ten Non Winners Of The Nobel Peace Prize

  1. The United States Military. Has used it's hegemonic status over the last 65 years to give an unprecedented level of national security to countries throughout the world, especially in Europe. Is also a major provider of international aid during disasters.
  2. Mahatma Gandhi- pretty ,much pioneered the principle of non violent resistance to oppression. He didn't get a prize, but Yasser Arafat did.
  3. The Manhattan Project: Nuclear weapons have pretty much made full scale war between great powers unthinkable.
  4. Mobile phone companies: have massively advanced development throughout Africa by allowing communication that does not rely on government infrastructure.
  5. Winston Churchill- the disarmament campaigners of the 1930s received many prizes even though their policies led to war. The rearmament campaigners are never described as peace campaigns though.
  6. Pharmaceutical companies- have taken the lead in eliminating and reducing the impact of so many devastating diseases.
  7. Paul Kagame- Rwanda's president. Very autocratic but did end the Rwanda genocide by leading a counter attack against the Hutu militias.
  8. Konrad Adenaeur- Germany's first post war leader who took over a country responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history and led it to being a model global citizen.
  9. Television:- makes excessive brutality much harder to hush up which has to contribute to peace.
  10. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee- although they probably will do soon.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize ought to be of no real importance judging by the motley crew of previous winners the award of the prize to the European Union is not absurd.

One of the reasons why membership of the Euro is still the majority opinion in Spain, Greece and Portugal is because the EU is strongly associated with the move away from dictatorship. Many Eastern European countries have made reforms in order to enter the EU. One of the reasons the Serbs eventually handed Karadic and Mladic over to face trial is to make themselves eligible to join the EU.

The European Union has not been beneficial to the UK- with our long tradition of pluralistic democracy we don't associate the EU with freedom- but for the countries that have thrown off dictatorship the desire to join has been a positive influence.

If I lived somwhere like Hungary with an increasingly authoritarian government, I would be glad of the moderating effect of EU membership upon what the government can do.These benefits are threatened by the destabilisation brought on by the drive for "ever closer union" and for the increased acquisition of powers by Brussels.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

As An Inadequate...

John Kampfner writes:
Sickipedia, the site where the young Lancashire man Matthew Woods found inspiration to post "jokes" about the missing child April Jones on his Facebook page was "down for maintenance" when I tried to check it out this morning, though I managed to get a glimpse of the kind of content it publishes courtesy of Twitter.
I'll reproduce just one, which should come with the equivalent of one of those taste and decency disclaimers you get on TV: "My dick is a lot like Marmite. My wife hates it when I rub it on her toast". That was from May. That alone should allow you to conclude, if you hadn't already realised from its name, that this site is for the seriously sad and inadequate. That should be the end of the story. The decision of Woods, however, to reproduce "jokes" about April Jones and Madeleine McCann has led him to be sent for 12 weeks to a young offenders' institution. Prior to that he had been taken into protective custody to prevent him being lynched.
Firstly I agree that it is outrageous for someone to be jailed for reposting jokes on Facebook. Attempted Hilarity is not a crime.

Secondly as someone who has put up about 500 jokes on Sickipedia I have to object to Kampfner's description of as being for the sad and inadequate. Obviously it is true in my case but even so he misses the point of the site.

It is user generated so anyone can put jokes up, this can lead to dire jokes, plagiarised jokes and offensive jokes devoid of comedic merit. However it can also lead to brilliant jokes of the kind that will be liked by 1000s of people. The site has a voting system so the good jokes get more exposure and the crap gets washed away. In the forums of the site there is a lot of ranting about and mocking of the terrible jokes that get posted- there is no one among the regular users who doesn't realise that there is a good deal of rubbish on site. (I odubt that Matthew Jones is a regular user as his efforts were abysmally unfunny).

Taking one shit joke which didn't score well as being indicitive of the site is as fair as taking one Beatrix Campbell article and concluding that the Guardian is crap.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Spot The Agenda!

There is a horrible story about a teenage girl who has had to have her stomach removed after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen (the nitrogen wasn't an ingredient in the cocktail, it got in there by mistake) at a bar.

Can you spot the the agenda of the spokesghoul/ shroud waver quoted by the Daily Mail?:

But last night Dr John Ashton, director of public health for Cumbria, said she was a victim of a dangerous gimmick used to sell more alcohol.
He said: 'This girl is the victim of an irresponsible alcohol industry that's now competing on gimmicks.

Dr Ashton said it was time the Government brought in better regulation of the drinks industry to stop such tragic incidents.
He said: 'It is shocking that a teenage girl goes out to celebrate her 18th birthday and ends up in intensive care with life-changing injuries.
'The alcohol industry uses these types of gimmicks to make alcoholic drinks more enticing - yet staff can use liquid nitrogen without any proper training.
'These things are allowed to continue in this country because of the Government's lack on control over the drinks industry.
'Essentially it amounts to a form of cowardice because there are drinks industry interests in every constituency and the Government is worried about repercussions.'

Enoch Powell Was Right.

About the treatment of Kenyan prisoners during the Mau Mau rebellion.

Two things the news reports don't mention about the Mau-Mau torture case currently winding its way through the legal system:

  • The Mau Mau themselves were fairly nasty and hardly innocent victims (although many of the prisoners were wholly innocent).
  • The leading voice in Britain denouncing the savage treatment of the Kenyan prisoners at the time was Enoch Powell, the supposed racist.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Jimmy Savile & Conspiracy Theories.

I have always been firmly opposed to long term, successful conspiracy theories, finding them both malevolent and implausible.

One of the main reasons I find them implausible is that the number of people who would need to cover up a conspiracy is so huge that it is simply crazy to think it could be done successfully.

However in the case of Jimmy Savile's probable abuse of young girls, it appears that his behavior was known by hundreds of people and no one went public. This is partly due to our libel laws, but no one would have been sued for tipping off the police, yet this does not seem to have occurred.

Should I therefore re-evaluate my contempt for conspiracy theories in general? Except the 9/11, Diana and JFK conspiracy theories of course, which are still retarded.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Labour Stupidity In Action

As the previous post demonstrated, Labour MPs are on average very stupid- yet very confident about their own ability despite any evidence to the contrary.

Their conference has thrown up many examples of this, but lets start with Ed Balls and his big idea- taking the money from the sale of 4G licences to mobile phone operators and using it to build 100000 homes and subsidise first time buyers.

It isn't exactly clear why widespread property ownership is such an obvious public good that it should be subsidised. Germany has far lower rates of home ownership than Britain, yet seems to have a more robust economy.

The problem of not enough homes being built is fundamentally about nimbyism and a lack of clear property rights. If neighbours are given too much say in what people can build on their own land, then building is going to be artificially depressed.

So after a crash caused to some extent by a housing bubble his solution is to reflate the bubble! And to squander 4-5 Billion pounds on benefiting a tiny, tiny minority of the country at everyone else's expense.

Whilst the national debt keeps rising ever higher.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

MPs Thick, Labour MPs Especially

A total of 97 MPs were asked this probability problem: if you spin a coin twice, what is the probability of getting two heads?

Among Conservative members, 47% gave the wrong answer, which is disappointing enough. But of the 44 Labour MPs who took part, 77% answered incorrectly.

It does explain a few things though- the basic innumeracy could be one of the reasons why Labour always propose spending bonanzas that are vastly greater than any real increase in wealth- and why Labour governments always leave economic catastrophes behind them.

I am being serious here- the inability to think past stage one is evident in a lot of Labour's previous actions and at the ideas on show at their conference this week- registering journalists, spending all the 4G money on one particular pet project etc, etc.

Humans use two mental methods for reaching conclusions- the one we use most often is intuitive and takes little effort. This means it is often wrong. The slower method uses reasoning and logic- this is hard work but tends to be right more often.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Good Die Young

I see that the unrepentant Stalin Apologist, Eric Hobsbawm has died.

Like many apologists for Communism of his era he later framed his support for the USSR as being anti-Nazi. This is of course twaddle as the Communist party of Germany was far more likely to collaborate with the Nazis than opponents on the democratic left and right.

An appalling man and an untrustworthy historian.