Monday, March 31, 2008


So the £10 000 000 inquest has discovered that Prince Philip didn't murder Princess Diana and that Paul Burrell is a charlatan. These are things which I was aware of before £10 million was spent.

World To End, Lawyer Objects.

The New York Times reports:
Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a “strangelet” that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called “strange matter.” Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
So not only will these scientists destroy the planet, they've also failed to produce an environmental impact study, the fiends!! Of course being the New York Times I'm surprised they haven't mentioned the impact that the end of the world would have on women and minorities.

Racist Traffic Accidents.

In a tract on racial inequality in London, Cif contributer Claudia Webbe writes:
Recent research highlights that BME groups make up a significant proportion of the 51% inner London children living in poverty. For Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups, this reaches 69%, and 33% of people accepted as homeless in London were from BME groups.

Black African and black Caribbean children are still twice as likely to be casualties in road traffic accidents as their white counterparts.
Let's run over more white kids! OK let's not, but I'm struggling to see what point she is making, is she seriously suggesting that drivers are hitting more black kids because they are racist?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shut Up & Do What You're Told.

Labour Councillor Bob Piper, decries the lack of member participation in his own party. Given his demonstrable lack of judgment this might seem like a good thing in his particular case. However in general it highlights the lack of accountablity of the upper echelons of the political class. The Conservative Party is no better than Labour in this regard, for instance earlier this week the Party pretended to allow its members to choose the candidates for the next European elections.

This seems like a simple enough task, send out forms to members and let them put a cross next to the names of the candidates they support and then count the votes. However the leadership decided to make the process so byzantine in complexity that the authors and commentators over at Conservative Home's 'Seats and Candidates' blog find it to be highly dubious:
The exclusion of the whole membership from vetting incumbent MEPs, restrictions on hustings, the preferential treatment of women candidates so that they have leapfrogged men who won more votes, the confusing nature of the voting process that has led to large number of ballot papers being spoilt.
Now when the writers of a Conservative supporting blog dedicated to covering candidate selection don't understand the process by which the Conservative Party 'elected' their MEP cnadidates then this is a clue that something is up. Unsurprisingly the Europhiles did rather better than might have been predicted by an observer. The man who oversaw the process was John Maples, a keen Europhile.

Both parties are baffled by declining interest in politics and membership of political parties.

This lack of accountability would be bad enough if it just concerned how they managed their internal affairs but this is not the case, Wellingborough Councillor Tony Sharp explains over at his blog how local government works in England:
Wellingborough can choose up to 35 local priorities from a long list of actions on which money can be spent. However 28 of the priorities are being imposed on us. That leaves seven priorities we can identify. But even then, the money is shared around the county, so Wellingborough's needs may not be addressed as money could be allocated to somewhere in Corby or Northampton as a 'more deserving case'.
In other words local councils don't represent their constituents' wishes but instead largely administer tasks that are set for them by unelected Quangos who are accountable to no one. Both parties are equally mystified by the low turnouts for local elections. Iain Dale also points out the increasing use of faux 'Consultations' which end up 'consulting' a few hand picked lackeys who approve of whatever schemes the Quangos which to push through. In this case it involves the minor matter of allowing several Norfolk villages to be flooded, I guess all those webbed toes will come in handy now.

The end result of all this is that Britain is run by bureaucrats who are too distant to run things well and have little or no incentive to listen to the public and a select group of politicos who are willing to dedicate their whole careers to climbing up the greasy pole high enough so that they can actually be the ones to appoint the bureaucrats. There is little or no role that concerned citizens can play in how the country is run. In fact British citizenship consists of shutting up and doing what you're told.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Insightful Economic Analysis.

After not blogging anything for close to four days I must come up with an important and hard hitting entry that cuts right to the heart of contemporary issues.

So is it me or does the stricken US bank, Bear Stearns, sound like it should be the name of a male porn star?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NUTfest '08- They Take A Stand On Indoctrination.

Letting propagandists into schools, they're against it:

Members of the National Union of Teachers said military visitors to schools pushed a partisan view of becoming a soldier which promotes the career prospects, training and travel, while downplaying the "fatal realities".

In a motion put forward at the union's annual conference in Manchester, they said: "Schools should not be conduits for either the dissemination of MoD propaganda or the recruitment of military personnel."

Except when they are for it:

Muslim clerics and other faith leaders should be sent into state schools to teach children about religion, according to a teachers' union.

Pupils should also be given the time and facilities to pray during the school day, it said.

The system drawn up by the National Union of Teachers would replace traditional religious assemblies - which must be broadly Christian - as part of a radical overhaul of faith-based education in England.

Glad that's cleared up then. Okay no more NUT related posts until NUTfest '09.

Monday, March 24, 2008

First They Came For The Loonies...

Recruitment drive as mentally ill teachers asked back to school

Well obviously, the NUT conference has finished now so where else are the delegates going to go back to?
Teachers who have been declared unfit to work in the classroom are being approached in a “desperate” recruitment drive to fill vacancies in key subject areas, the National Union of Teachers said yesterday.
This must be the first time in recorded history that the NUT have tried to stop someone teaching just because they happen to be unfit for the job.

In other NUT news:
Schools should return to an early 1980s style of liberal education with more time for play and less rigid methods of teaching children to read, according to the largest teachers' union.

Citing mounting evidence of a crisis in children's happiness and mental health, the National Union of Teachers will today debate calls to scrap the most restrictive elements of the national curriculum and reverse a government order that literacy be taught through phonics.

"Teachers want a return to a system which is liberal and flexible and not top-down [and] imposed by government. We want a return to a time when there was a potential for magic moments in the classroom," said Steve Sinnott, the general secretary of the NUT.

For all that the 1980s is considered a right wing decade, it was actually where the left reached an high water mark of influence in many sectors including education. I grew up in that decade and had a headmistress from the age of 5 to 8 who believed that children shouldn't be forced to learn. It seemed to involve a lot of playing with plasticine and little actual learning (I can't recall any books that I read at school in those years for example), if I hadn't spent my very first year at a school that thought that literacy was kind of important I don't know what would have happened.

That doesn't mean that a less prescriptive approach to teaching is off limits, it's just that the freedom to teach flexibly can only happen if it is combined with a freedom to choose schools and a freedom for schools to sack under performing teachers.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

NUTfest 2008.

After last years NUTfest, where the head NUT made a rambling Gallowayesque speech denouncing capitalism, Zionism and of course Britain, I have been looking forwards to NUTfest 2008. Sadly it doesn't appear to have scaled the heights of last year just yet but there have been some highlights. Notably the demand by the new head NUT that independent schools be abolished:
“Let’s consider our own direction of travel – from private to public, towards bringing all schools into the state sector,” he said. “Then we would soon see some urgent improvements in our state system.”
I think that Mr Greenshields in suggesting that private schools do better because they have better pupils, because how else would taking over the independent sector improve the state sector? Of course their might well be another reason why he wants to get rid of them.

The relatively strong performance of independent schools might have something to do with the fact that their staff don't attempt to sabotage the students education once a year by going out on strike unlike the chippy & workshy members of the NUT.

{first link via}

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Quote of the Day.

Inayat Bunglawala writes:
An alcohol-fuelled attack on a Christian priest in east London has stirred up more Islamophobia
You see who the real victims are here!


Pretexts For Terrorism.

When I referred in my previous post to how I focused too much on the arguments made by the antiwar crowd, one of the claims that I had in mind is the idea that it would cause more terrorism. The recent statement released in the name of Osama Bin Laden shows the problem with that line of reasoning:
Osama bin Laden accused Pope Benedict XVI of helping in a "new Crusade" against Islam and warned of a "severe" reaction to European publications of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that insulted many Muslims.

Bin Laden's new audiotape message raised concerns al-Qaida was plotting new attacks in Europe. Some experts said bin Laden, believed to be in hiding in the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border area, may be unable to organize an attack himself and instead is trying to fan anger and inspire his supporters to violence.

Sure the terrorists might find that an invasion of an Arab country is an excuse to commit terrorism, but if they also regard publishing cartoons or making obscure references to what medieval statesmen thought about Islam is an excuse for mass murder then it suggests that they were hardly going to lead productive and peaceful lives in the absence of an invasion. The Iraq invasion may well provide the pretext for a terrorist attack but it is not the real reason.

Iraq Five Years On.

The fifth anniversary of the start of Iraq war is coming up in the next couple of days. As I wasn't blogging at the time  I can't remember my precise views. I was though broadly in favour of it although I had reservations over how achievable some of the ambitions for the country were. After the massacres of Shias and Kurds after the allies had encouraged them to rise up at the end of the first Gulf War it seemed like a point of honour to rectify that mistake. Also I believed that a country in the Middle East that was a more or less open democracy would neutralise the attempts by Islamists to encourage young men into terrorism as the only way of accomplishing anything with their lives.

Overall though I did not enough attention to examining the claims of the proponents of the war and too much attention looking at what the opponents were saying. Just because the anti war case was mostly nonsense that did not preclude the pro war case from also being mostly wrong.

In my lifetime up to that point almost every war that Britain or the United States had entered (Falklands, Panama, Grenada, Iraq 1, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and others) had accomplished the stated aims in the face of nay saying by the anti war mob so I kind of assumed that any reservations that I thought of about Iraq, had been taken care of by the planners in the Pentagon and MOD.

Five years on I still believe that there was a case for entering Iraq but not a strong one, and not in the way that we did. There should have been far more troops, the Iraqi army should not have been disbanded and we should have moved to set up democratically elected bodies to administer Iraq within weeks of taking over.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quote Of The Day.

"If we can get it right in our big cities, humanity has a future. That's what is at stake in this election."
Ken Livingstone keeping municipal government in perspective.

Persecution Fantasies.

In the group letter to the Guardian warning London's Oirish community about the sinister plans of the BNP to recruit them it states:
Only a generation ago, signs in British pubs and boarding houses reading: "No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs" - were not an uncommon sight.
Now by my reckoning generation is about 20-30 years and I very much doubt that these signs were around in the 1980s. In fact I doubt whether the signs were ever a common sight. Think about it, in a country with a large ethnically Irish population like Britain putting a sign like that in your window would be like painting a target an saying "Throw brick here". The sign has about as much basis in reality as the "No Irish Need Apply" signs that supposedly existed in the United States.

It's also rather strange to see that whenever someone shows an example of these all too common signs it's always the same sign, in other words one sign was put up once some time in the 1950s and the left uses that to propagate a myth of racial oppression. Actually the letter writers don't even go so far as linking to the solitary genuine example and instead link to a book by the Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon. In a world where the fictional incarceration of two make believe stoners is evidence of the inherent racism of the USA this is actually a relatively high standard of proof.

The paternal side of my family came over from Ireland yet they appear not to have endless tales of oppression, it turns out that the oppressors chose to target only those whose children and grandchildren would find it quite useful to identify to a persecuted group. Whether this is because left wing politicians and their groupies are bare faced liars or because parents with a strong disposition towards cultural self pity are likely to produce little race hustlers I do not know. The ironic thing is the creation of a narrative of racial victimisation is almost exactly the same as what the BNP do gain recruits.

Monday, March 17, 2008

We The Undersigned....

.... are pompous wankers whose self regard is not shared by anyone else. I suppose what gets me about these group letters is the sense of being lectured to by those who have demonstrated no particular reason why there opinion is of special importance. Without even looking at the subject of this letter it would be hard to see what credibility any of the signatories would have on any subject whatsoever, take a look at some of signatories before reading the letter and try and guess what the letter is about, and why these people are authorities on the subject:
Franz Ferdinand
Will Self
Peter Doherty
Tony Robinson
The Bluetones
Billy Bragg
Diane Abbott MP
Jon Cruddas MP
George Galloway MP
David Kelly, ex-Newcastle Utd, West Ham Utd and Republic of Ireland international
John McDonnell MP
Bob Crow, general secretary, RMT
Pete Doherty!!! Who is supposed to be called to action by the considered opinion of a cokehead?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Labour's Death Wish.

With the latest opinion polls indicating a 16 point lead for the Conservatives and Labour seemingly down to their core support of white, working class males in the North, what do Labour come up with? A plan to screw over white men:

White men could be legally blocked from jobs or promotions under controversial government plans to help women and black employees achieve equality.

Employers would be allowed to give jobs to qualified minority candidates in preference to other candidates under a change in discrimination law being drawn up by the Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman. The 'positive action' tactic, already used in the United States, has been a legal minefield in the UK and Harman's plans are likely to upset MPs who believe that merit alone should determine who is hired.

Brilliant, when Labour elected Harriet Harperson as their deputy leader it was obvious that it would end in tears. She may be able to push Labour's support below 20%.

Dutch Ban Bestiality.

I was going to speak up against this but I was feeling a little hoarse. That joke works much better when spoken aloud. Speaking up for zoophiles isn't a popular position but should our prisons really be filled with people whose only crime is to fancy a bit of cow, goat, pig, dog, frozen or chicken? Hell yeah!

As ever it is the details of animal sex cases that make them so hilarious, take the goat lover:

A CHEF had sex with a goat ? and was seen by a trainload of passengers, a court heard.

Stephen Hall, 23, lassoed the animal with his belt at the Paradise allotments near his home.

As the packed Hull to Bridlington train stopped at signals, dozens of passengers stared out in amazement.


British Transport Police Detective Inspector Dave Crinnion, who investigated, said: "I saw the goat the next day ? it did not seem too upset but it is difficult to tell."
That is good to know, but the part that really got my er goat was this:

Hall, who says he is gay, said after the hearing: "My friends have been giving me a lot of stick. They are all joking with me about it.

"I have never done anything like this before."

He has friends! I don't consider myself a judgmental sort but if you mount a goat we aren't going to be friends.

Via A Tangled Web.

Angry White Black man..

Hasn't Ali G already done the 'white man with a stupid goatee who thinks he's black and comes out with racial victimisation crap?'

Well this character the Guardian has invented 'Orlando Lima' seems not to have noticed, as he says:
Let's set the record straight on this race issue yet again. I'm a black man. Despite how close my skin tone is to white,
In that case I'm black too, just because my skin tone is white and my hair is blond that doesn't stop me being a victim of our kkkountry's racist power structure. Just like the equally black Mr Lima:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Stupid Poor People.

Polly Toynbee writes:
Child poverty is "boring" because it hasn't entered the political bloodstream..... But the word "poverty" plays badly with focus groups, even with the poor themselves: people are unconvinced it exists outside Africa.
So the people whom Polly is so keen to rescue from poverty, don't actually consider themselves to be in poverty? To me this suggests that the formal definition of poverty is not really measuring poverty. To Polly Toynbee this shows that she is better able to judge whether someone is impoverished than the poverty stricken wretch themselves.

Mamet Don't Leave Us.

David Mamet's ideological conversion has upset the Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington:
As a citizen, Mamet is free to do as he likes. What worries me is the effect on his talent of locking himself into a rigid ideological position.
It's true, we conservatives are all talentless dolts with rigid unyielding positions.
In Glengarry Glen Ross - arguably his finest play - he depicts the way a group of salesmen are demeaned by a cruelly competitive, capitalist ethic. At the same time, Mamet shows a wary admiration for these guys who, unlike the desk-wallahs, have to venture out into the jungle of the hard sell. Given his new-found conservatism, I doubt he could ever write a play riddled with such moral ambiguity.
Which tells me that Billington hasn't actually read the Mamet's self outing, the conservatism of the writers Mamet praises such as Thomas Sowell and Paul Johnson is rooted deeply in an awareness of the human condition. It is because all humans are so riddled with flaws and conflicting motivations that the utopianism of the left falls short.
Only last week I also found myself defending Mamet from the charge, levelled by the wife of an American playwright-friend, that he was a misogynist.
Yes I see the problem, now that you know he is conservative isn't it obvious that he secretly wants to chain women to the kitchen sink?
Already in his last but one play, Romance, seen here in 2005, there were tell-tale signs of his talent going off the boil. And the precedents for a shift to the right on the part of creative artists are not exactly encouraging. Would anyone seriously argue that, in Britain, Kingsley Amis and John Osborne became better writers as they endorsed right-wing views?
Whereas Harold Pinter's later work improved massively as he hardened his left wing ideology as he got older.

This would all be more convincing if Billington didn't give the impression that he was about as open minded as Mullah Omar.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Prodigal Conservative.

There's a superb article in the Village Voice by the playwright David Mamet on why he is no longer a 'Brain Dead Liberal', normally I'd just stick a link to it in my 'topical links' list but it deserves more attention. The reasoning of thinkers who change their philosophical outlooks (not just their partisan alleigance) is often particularly interesting to consider because it so often involves articulating beliefs that are otherwise simply taken for granted:

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices....
And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine
The failure to recognise that people are deeply flawed is the route of many of contemporary liberalisms contradictions. It is why granting power to a select group of people in the belief that as long as you choose the people wisely then they will be able to act in everyone's best interests inevitably leads to disaster. Or as Mamet puts it:
the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.
Power corrupts.

I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered.

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

This comparison doesn't go down well with

the Village Voice's readership. I would quote the whole article if it weren't a blatant infringement on copyright, as I can't do that I'll just say read the whole thing. Just one last excerpt though:
What about the role of government? Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow.
Me too.

Stealth Editing.

This morning Comment is Free published an article by Anne Perkins about politicians wives who stand by their husband after he's been caught cheating. It originally contained the line:
In recent American politics there has been Mrs Craig standing next to Senator Larry ("I am not gay") Craig, and Mrs Vitter beside her erring senator-husband David. Of course in British politics the list is long and getting longer all the time: Mrs Mark Oaten, Mrs Rhodri Morgan, Mrs Tim Yeo, Mrs David Mellor.
There was a slight problem here, Rhodri Morgan has not been exposed for having an affair, in all likelihood she confused him with another prominent Welsh politician the badger watcher Ron Davies. Needless to say Mrs Rhodri Morgan has now found herself replaced by Mrs Jeffrey Archer in the gallery as the Guardian's libel lawyers went into convulsions.

Personally I think Mrs Mark Oaten is deserving of special praise for standing by her man considering the stink that was emanating from his brief case.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Snubbing Washington's Hookers.

This Eliot Spitzer scandal is confusing me for two reasons, first of all why is it being covered so much over here when it's only a state governor involved? Finding out that someone who has styled themsleves as a 'crusading lawyer' is actually a sleazy little shit sure can't be news. From what I've read of the man this assessment by Reason's David Wiegel seems closest to the mark:
"The irony of Spitzer's scandal is that, unless we find out something far worse than what we know, this is the rare case of him not abusing power. He took some time off from a hard day of ruining careers with innuendo and novel applications of the law to buy some sex. Fine by me."
The second source of confusion is why he needed to have New York hookers brought down to the capital, why couldn't he use Washington's own prostitutes? In this age of frivolous accusations of racism I can only conclude that Spitzer's penis is racist and has discriminated against the largely black women of Washington DC in favour of white New Yorkers.

Update: Of course one thing that isn't confusing is the fact that he managed to spend thousands of dollars on his prostitutes, he's a Democrat after all.

Terrorism & Identification.

There was something I was going to say in my previous post about India's warning over Sikh extremists in the UK but didn't because of a lack of time.

The phenomenon of ethnic diasporas supporting extremists back in there homeland is not unusual, as well as Sikhs and Tamils that I mentioned in the previous post there are also examples like the support for the IRA from plastic paddies in the USA and support for the Nazis by the German American Bund and so on. If a country takes a large number of immigrants from a volatile part of the world then it is quite likely that they will become involved in that conflict to some extent. This also one reason why the problem of Islamism is so different and potentially hard to defeat compared to the others.

If a Sikh in the West is an alienated loser and wishes to channel his self pity into supporting terrorism there is only one potential outlet* for him to identify with, the struggle of Sikh separatists in India. Once that conflict is resolved the aforementioned oddball has nowhere to channel his loserness.

However with an alienated Muslim loser there are dozens of conflicts for him to whet his self pity with from Sudan to Israel/Palestine to Kashmir to Thailand to the Philippines. It is almost impossible to resolve all of these conflicts, so there is almost always some grievance that can be nurtured. This will remain the case for as long as it is considered normal and acceptable to show solidarity for overseas groups based purely on their ethnic background.

* I realise that in theory they could identify with ideological terrorism like the various far left groups that infested Europe and the USA during the 1960s and 70s, but in reality these groups never seem to attract a broad swathe of support and tolerance so their support has remained confined to a tiny slither of the spoilt offspring of the very rich. Most major terrorist groups are based around ethnic identity.


What is the point of liveblogging the Budget? The whole point about New Labour budgets is that they hide all the nasty information so that you don't realise you're being robbed until months after the event.

Still Complacant About Terrorism.

Londonistan was supposedly the nickname given to the capital over the UK's relative
softness on islamist groups prior to the 9/11 attacks. Whilst Britain has gotten tougher on Islamawhackos it appears that we might still be a little complacent over other terrorists. No doubt this warning is all down to the Sikhophobia of India's current government led by er Manmohan Singh or something.

Senior Indian officals have warned have warned that Sikh militant groups in the UK may be planning and funding attacks on targets in India.

On 4 March, the BBC's File on Four programme quoted senior Indian police offiers as saying that money raised by Sikh groups in the UK is being used to "fund militant activities in the Punjab".

I've heard of similar claims with respect to Tamil Tiger sympathisers raising money in Tamil diaspora communities around the world, including Britain.

Apart from being an unfriendly act, allowing terrorist activity to go unhindered as long as it doesn't affect us is a dangerous game to play, because it can so easily spill over. The clearest example of that with respect to Sikh extremists is the 1985 bombing of an Air India flight from Canada to the UK which left over 300 people dead.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Designing Disability.

A deaf couple who wanted to use IVF to ensure that they have a deaf baby are angry that the government is proposing to ban the knowing use of embryos with a genetic defect in IVF treatment. This isn't the first time that a deaf couple have deliberately tried to ensure that their child is also deaf. The reason why it is deaf couples trying to propagate their disability rather than couple's with another disability is because uniquely the deafness creates a linguistic minority and a subculture that goes with it.

The problem is that some deaf advocates take the view that because deafness is a cultural identifier it is therefore not really a disability. This leads to situations such as opposition to treating deaf children with cochlear implants because it shrinks the 'community' or doctors failing to offer easy genetic screening for deafness (ironic considering the first story I linked to) in foetuses because of pressure from deafness advocates.

I would guess that the initial reaction for most people to parents 'designing' their children for deafness is probably that it is abhorrent and close to child abuse, that was certainly my first reaction. Considering the matter in more depth certainly creates more sympathy towards the motivations of the parents but it doesn't change the conclusion. The absence of hearing impairs the quality of life of a child and increases the risks they face ( for example they can't hear fire alarms, oncoming traffic etc) and the benefits to the deaf community don't outweigh them.

We're Doomed.

So big stormsthis night and last, following on from an earthquake last week, if we have plague of locusts next week then I'm emigrating.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quick Points.

Three quick points that don't quite merit separate posts.
  • Barack Obama's foreign policy adviser Samantha Power is forced to quit after being reported referring to Hillary Clinton as a 'monster'. Quite right, honesty has no place in politics. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to anyone who read her first book 'A Problem From Hell' that the isn't a fan of the Clintons. There have understandably been criticisms of interventionism in recent years after the very poor handling of the Iraqi occupation, but it is often forgotten that doing nothing also has a price which is hidden. Samantha Power's retelling of Bill Clinton's almost vegetative approach to the genocides of the 1990s in Rwanda and Bosnia cost far more lives than the Iraq war ever will.
  • The government has decided to allow 66 Ethiopian refugees to settle in Middlesbrough has been criticised. I have to say that for once I think that the government have got something right though (saying that feels horrible), the fundamental problem with our asylum and immigration system is the large numbers of people who enter either illegally or on bogus pretenses and then claim asylum. What has happened in Middlesbrough is closer to how the system should operate, the Ethiopians fled to a Kenyan refugee camp and then applied lawfully to be allowed to resettle somewhere else permanently and were accepted. Controlled immigration is not a major problem, uncontrolled immigration is.
  • The BBC and other media outlets have been shocked, shocked I tell you, by the abuse suffered by uniformed RAF personnel in Peterborough. This is the same BBC who recently devoted a whole episode of their flagship current affairs programme, Panorama, to a sleazy activist lawyer to repreat already discredited claims about British servicemen conducting massacres (and being so ruthless that they left no actual evidence) of Iraqi civilians. If I went around spreading vicious lies about someone who was later attacked I'm pretty sure that I would face prosecution.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Left, Right, Right, Right.

Spain has an election tomorrow with the result very much in the balance. The Socialists are slight favourites but if the Popular Party does win the election we could well be heading in the near future to a situation where all the world's major industrialised democracies are governed by the right. At the moment the major developed countries are split, with the right governing the USA, Canada, Japan Germany (albeit in a coalition with the left) and France whereas the left is in charge in Spain, Italy and of course the UK. Italy has an election coming up too and Burlusconi is the clear favourite to be the next Prime Minister, in the UK the Tories have consistently been polling better than Labour for months, although there isn't an election until 2009 at the earliest. Even so it's possible that after the next UK general election the world may well move in the direction of a broad centre right consensus.

Update: Boo hiss, the Socialists have won in Spain thus ruining my plot for global right wing domination.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Eurofanatics Deploy The Chewbacca Defence.

I'm wondering, have the euro-fanatics now simply developed so much contempt for the electorate that they can't even be bothered to try to appear honest. I watched Question Time last night and watched veteran Liberal Democrat being caught out by David Davis when she claimed that the Lisbon Treaty was a minor and unimportant treaty with no constitutional significance and then five minutes later telling the audience that if the treaty was rejected it would mean Britain would have to leave the EU.

Amazingly Baroness Williams isn't even the most ludicrous proponent of the treaty, that honour goes to David Aaronovitch. The other day Peter Briffa mused on how magnificent it must be to be Aaronovitch:
It must be quite fantastic being David Aaronovitch. I mean, imagine waking up every morning, turning on the Today programme, and basically nodding in approval every five minutes at every new government initiative.
His attitude to the referendum is exactly the same as the government's, obviously, but his argument, if you can call it that, is even less coherent than theirs:
‘There’s been no referendum on our membership of NATO – a treaty organisation. Nor on immigration. Nor on the death penalty. Nor on the Act of Union in 1707. I haven’t had a chance to vote on that. Nor did my great-great-great-great-grandmother!’ Laughter and some angry heckles.

During questions from the floor Aaronovitch was roundly booed when he suggested that people didn’t want a referendum. ‘Oh OK, you lot do,’ he said. ‘But some people believe the Americans blew up the twin towers.’

Or as the lawyer told the jury "sure 600 witnesses saw my client climbing out of the window with a bag marked 'swag', but did you know that some people believe that Prince Phillip killed Diana?". Presumably Aaronovitch is a big South Park fan.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quote of the Day.

This was actually said last year, but it's topical enough in light of the government forcing through the EU constitution yesterday with the connivance of the Liberal Democrats (there were 13 honourable exceptions. This is Lib Dem MEP Andrew Duff who expounding to a European media outlet on how to ram the revised constitution through:
If the English can be defeated then the opposition in Prague will disappear".

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Competitive Victimhood.

On the subject of the Democratic primary.....

The archetypal New York Times headline it is said would be "World to end- women, minorities hardest hit". Well it seems that the 'blacks' versus 'women' victimhood competition that the Clinton-Obama fight embodies is manna from heaven for them and their columnist Maureen Dowd:

With Obama saying the hour is upon us to elect a black man and Hillary saying the hour is upon us to elect a woman, the Democratic primary has become the ultimate nightmare of liberal identity politics. All the victimizations go tripping over each other and colliding, a competition of historical guilts.

People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?

As it turns out, making history is actually a way of being imprisoned by history. It’s all about the past. Will America’s racial past be expunged or America’s sexist past be expunged?

Leaving aside whether "America sexist past"* is in urgent need of expunging for a moment the next question is whether it makes any sense whatsoever.

If I understand it correctly in order to expunge the guilt of America's past racism against black slaves and their descendants who were heavily discriminated against up until the 1960s, Americans should vote for a guy who was conceived by a middle class Kenyan father and a white mother in 1961 and then raised in one of the most racially tolerant societies on the planet, Hawaii.

In order to expunge America's sexist past they should vote for the woman whose career has essentially depended on her being married to Bill Clinton, and in order to do this has stayed married to him even as he has conducted affairs with and sexually harassed his female subordinates. By Dowd's logic Pakistan must have really put sexism behind it when they elected Benazir Bhutto all those years ago.

This no doubt makes perfect sense to some Diversity Studies professor out there somewhere but it's baffling me.

* Does anyone really believe that the USA's past was especially sexist? Sure women had fewer rights than men until the 20th century and that is deeply regrettable but by any reasonable comparison to other societies the USA fares pretty well.

Hasta La Vista..... Oh She's Still Here.

Hillary is out there. She can't be bargained with. She can't be reasoned with. She doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And she absolutely will not stop, ever, until she is President.

Sheesh her campaign is harder to kill off than Rasputin.

Ian Paisley.

I'm not sorry to see him go, for decades he pretended to be opposed to the sight of Unionist leadersentering power sharing arrangements with terrorists. Then last year he showed that he didn't object in principle to politicians prostituting themselves to terrorism but that he was merely haggling over the price all along.

The potential realignment of Northern Irish politics could be interesting to watch, a lot of the UUP couldn't join the DUP because of Paisley, so now he's gone there could be a surge to the DUP, but having only one Unionist party is simply not a tenable long term solution so there could be an entry by the mainland parties into the province.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Taffophobia Latest..

Most pointless Comment is Free entry ever from complaining Welsh woman Yvonne Roberts:
As Chris Bryant, the Rhondda Labour MP, told the Western Mail last week: "It's the British Broadcasting Corporation not the English Broadcasting Corporation."

Bryant was complaining about the coverage last month where the BBC's focus was almost entirely on England's win against France. The latter was televised but the Scotland and Wales games were confined to Five Live.

There is just one problem with this as the very first comment points out:
All the games were live on BBC One.
Is there some militant Welsh nationalist without a television somewhere who enjoys complaining about imagined taffophobic insults?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Just Defect Already

Back when the speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin was elected amid a betting scandal there were just eight MPs who were willing to take a principled stand and vote against him.

The rest either approved of the sleazy way he had been elected or weren't brave enough to take a stand. One of the eight was the dwarvish John Bercow, who back in 2000 was a coherent right wing Tory who had been surprisingly effective in his handling of parliamentary procedure to oppose the government, sometime in 2001 he began to drift to the left, initially in a kind of Portillo-esque way towards a socially liberal, fiscally conservative and remaining a eurosceptic. After a while he began to drift way further to left to the point where his only contribution to the Conservative Party was theatrical resignations. By 2005 he was a Conservative in name only and was an enthusiastic Blairite, who regarded even David Cameron as dangerously right wing.

Now in 2008 he has gone so far to the left that he is in George Galloway territory, believing that the corruption mired Speaker whom he voted against 8 years ago is now the victim of a class based conspiracy:
"What a pleasure it is to see you in the Chair, Mr. Speaker, and to know that we have as our Speaker somebody who is simply not prepared to be pushed around, either by snobs or by bullies."
Also in those eight short years he has gone from being one of just eight MPs who were willing to
oppose the sleaze of the political class to being one of just 5 Tory MPs who are supporting the government's pledge to abandon the commitment that all three major parties made in their manifestos to hold a referendum on the European Constitution. Isn't it time the pock marked midget just defected to Labour or the Socialist Workers Party?

Why Actors Are Stupid.

I see that the recent 'Best Actress' winner Oscar winner Marion Cotillard has outed herself as a truther. She's hardly the first thespian to be revealed as a halfwit and she won't be the last. In most lines of work being dumb is a severe handicap to one's job performance but the interesting thing about luvvies is that it is often very good ones who are short of a few braincells, as well as Cotillard the list of actors and actresses who are attracted to idiocies like far left politics or Scientology is vast, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn and Gwyneth Paltrow are all very successful at what they do but an interview with any of them is enough to confirm that they are utter airheads.

My belief is that the lack of intelligence is what makes them good at their job, credulousness is part of their job. I'm not being facetious but I honestly think that some of them are good at letting directors mould their on screen personalities because they are highly suggestible. If they were highly intelligent they couldn't act.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ethical Preening As A Substitute For Evidence.

Earlier in the week I got into a discussion on another blog about the death penalty, well I say a discussion but it was more me slapping around a half witted and abusive troll, but having done so I want to elaborate on one aspect of the anti death penalty argument. That is the claim that it does not act as a deterrent, unlike most of the other arguments this makes an empirical claim rather than an appeal to moral judgment which means that it can be looked at objectively, unlike fatuous assertions that it is "uncivilised" or "cruel".

Some opponents of capital punishment such as Amnesty International say "It has never been shown to deter crime more effectively than other punishments", this can only be described as a bare faced lie. The evidence that scholars who have examined this over the last few years tends strongly towards the likelihood that it does in fact deter would be murderers. Some studies have suggested that up to 18 murders are prevented for each execution, with other studies finding smaller but still impressive effects of 4 or 5 murders prevented per execution. Of course the studies aren't conclusive, with such a small data set (the USA which is the subject of these studies only executes around 60 murderers a year despite having more than 15000 murders.) but very few people actually care about the evidence. On a purely utilitarian basis the case for letting killers swing (or fry) is very strong.

As it happens I'm not currently in favour of restoring the death penalty because personally I dislike the thought of actively taking part in an innocent persons death (miscarriages of justice will always be with us), more than I dislike a far larger number of innocent people being murdered by those who would have otherwise have been deterred. This is a common psychological trait in which actively participating in a death is felt to be worse than passively allowing it to happen. My opposition isn't categorical and if our murder rate were to increase somewhat the balance of moral values would for me change somewhat, certainly I believe that countries with murder rates as high as those in Jamaica would be right to bring it back.

Most of the discussion of the Sun's recent reports on the by the enlightened classes has consisted of denouncing Sun readers as ignorant, knuckle-dragging fascists who are too stupid to form a sensible opinion, yet the empirical evidence strongly suggests that they are better informed than the nation's leading opinion formers.