Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Poll About Jacqui Smith's Porn.

I'm interested to see whether some bloggers have been covering the Jacqui Smith porn scandal in such a way as to encourage hits, perhaps by including 'Jacqui Smith' and 'porn' in the title of every post, or by referring to the alleged titles "Raw Meat 3" and "By Special Request".

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quote Of The Day.

On Question Time, Conservative chairman Eric Pickles was explaining why he needed to have a second home, despite living just 37 miles from Westminster, explaining that it really was necessary because being an MP meant that he had to be on time and stuff. David Dimbleby replied:
“Like a job, in other words?”
Whilst I'm criticising the Conservatives, Peter Risdon's post about the relationship between Darius Guppy and the mayor of London- Boris Johnson- is worth reading.

Jacqui Smith's Porn.

I really don't know what to say:

The Home Secretary is to pay back parliamentary allowances claimed for pay-per-view television services, reportedly including two adult films.

Jacqui Smith said she "mistakenly" claimed for the TV package while billing for an internet connection.

The Sunday Express claims the £67 Virgin Media bill included two 18-rated features viewed last April.

Ms Smith was not home when the films were viewed, sources told the BBC. She lives with her husband, Richard Timney.

How are we supposed to trust the government with data protection if the Home Secretary can't even keep the fact that her husband has been watching porn secret?

Update: Can I suggest that everyone adopts Daniel 1979's term for this story- "Wankergate".

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Copycat Instinct.

Ben Goldacre criticises the media coverage of a high profile suicide case, on the grounds that such coverage tends to lead to a spike in the number of suicides* . Similarly after a high profile spree killing there tends to be a few similar events that follow. The almost pornographic focus on that German killer recently is an example of the kind of coverage that shouldn't happen.

In other words humans are influenced by what we see or hear about, this includes fictional depictions as well as news coverage. Sure only a very small proportion of people will be pushed into suicide or spree killings by what they see, but the nature of the mass media is that it reaches a large number of people- and a small proportion of a huge number can be quite significant. Less extreme behaviours might be easier to prod people towards.

It therefore seems likely that the depiction of various kinds of negative behaviour in the media will make them more widespread, particularly if it is in a glamorous form. This is a problem if one believes in free speech or enjoys entertainment that features undesirable behaviour, a solution can't be imposed without violating free speech. Naming and shaming the outlets which do revel in horror stories rather than simply report them is probably the only thing that can be done.

* Conversely suicides decline after blanket coverage of a terrorist attack, so if any terrorists do want to kill a bunch of people, but are feeling kind of guilty about the prospect then do so after a high profile suicide and you'll probably save lives.

update: Just to emphasise- this isn't a call to restrict free speech, just a recognition that for all its benefits it has costs too.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Turner Prize Already Settled For 2009.

This is very good:

Rory McInnes, 18, climbed on to the flat roof of his parents' home and daubed the symbol using a tin of white paint, after watching a programme about Google Earth.

Web surfers can view detailed images from satellites using the Google software, enabling them to zoom in on their homes to see them from above.

You've got to admire his initiative.

The Thieving Welshman Myth In Action

A Welshman picked £50 from my pocket today, well I didn't actually see him taking it because I wasn't paying attention but I am fairly sure he did. When I went to the police they patiently explained that seeing as I had no evidence that he took anything I couldn't really expect them to arrest him and that no jury would convict him without any proof. In fact they even suggested that I might have lost the cash!

What I find so depressing here is that they believe I would go through all the hassle and stress of bringing this guy to court if I believed that it was anything other than theft. It seems that the idea that people frequently lie about being pick pocketed is so prevalent that it is now seen as the norm. Not only that, but their view of people who accuse the Welsh of theft is so low that they believe us incapable of judging for ourselves what happened to us.

Why should his story be believed over mine? Again, this idea that innocent Welshies are getting banged up left, right and centre has skewed the public’s perception of justice.

What's that you say? My idea of justice is perverse, grossly prejudiced and would invariably result in thousands of Welsh people being locked up for no good reason because they had lost their right to be presumed innocent in a court of law?

Yes it is, and in fact the incident is completely made up, but I'm only following the line of argument being expressed by a contributer to the weblog of the feminist site "The F Word" when it comes to rape convictions.

Down With The Blue Eyed Devils!

Has Yaz begun writing for the President of Brazil?:

"This was a crisis fostered and boosted by the irrational behaviour of people that are white and blue eyed," he said.

Now if he had said "white and one eyed" then he might have a point.

Derek Draper & Pyschotherapy.

Channel 4 news had a piece on the Internet phenomenon that was Daniel Hannan's speech delivered to and about Gordon Brown. To respond to it they had Derek Draper, a sometime Labour hack who after leaving politics in disgrace in the late 1990s became Psycho the Rapist a psychotherapist* and has subsequently returned to work with Gordon Brown.

Draper described the speech as "a demented speech from a demented party". Isn't there something seriously unethical about a supposed psychotherapist using 'demented' as a term of abuse? It's like someone who works for SCOPE calling someone a 'spaz'.

* Although Draper's credentials as a psychotherapist may be a bit murky.

Update: Just in case anyone thinks I'm being hypocritical for making a joke about 'Pyscho the Rapist' then criticising Draper for using 'demented', this would only be the case if I worked in a field that involved particular sensitivity towards rape or psychopaths. If some other Labour figure who wasn't a pychotherapist, had used 'demented' as an insult t would just be part of the rough and tumble of politics.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Leap Into The Unknown.

Earlier in the week some confusion emerged over whether the Conservative Party intended to stick to its commitment to reform inheritance taxes. Officially they are continuing with the idea, but in reality who knows?

Equally as Matthew Parris was saying a couple of weeks ago- no one knows what their foreign policy will be. I'm not entirely sure what their social policy is either, I understand their diagnosis of what's wrong, broken Britain etc, but not the policies that should follow from that.

Given how much of a leap into the unknown a Conservative government will be I can't see any reason to be enthusiastic about the prospect, except in so far as it means the end of the Blair-Brown era.

A Opportunity Arises..... Possibly.

The risible proposals for schools to teach blogging and twittering has generated a lot of criticism and understandably so. However whilst it is obviously a complete waste of time, effort and money, does it offer an opening for lazy bloggers to advertise themselves as blog consultants citing their expertise in the field as reasons why we they should get paid large amounts of money by the government for creating the blogging syllabus? Sure it would be a scam but with the increasing demand to credentialise any old crap there has to be an opening.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jane Woody- We Will Never Forget You.

Whilst the death of a young mother is very sad, the torrent of sentimental nonsense that the death of Jade Goody has brought forth is getting a bit excessive. The Sun's 30 page pull out was more than they would have produced if World War Three started.

I'm not totally immine to this sentimentalism myself, I've already deleted one derogotary comment I made about her in 2007, and I'm thinking of editing the others.

Anyway here is a round up of the best posts concerning her demise:
  1. Dungeekin: Max Clifford to sue Liam Neeson- "In a statement released through his solicitors Frameup, Chasem & Ambulance, Mr Clifford stated that the legal action was to compensate him for loss of earnings after Ms Richardsons' death denied him the front pages of the tabloids."
  2. Mark Wadsworth- Jade Goody's intelligent estate planning. There are several posts on a similar theme.
  3. A Tangled Web- The 'Dianaification' of Jade's death.
  4. Will Self at the First Post- The celebrity death 'freak show'

Gordon Brown on Jade, January 2007:
“I understand that in the UK there have already been 10,000 complaints from viewers about these remarks, which people see, rightly, as offensive.

“I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance. Anything detracting from this I condemn.”
Gordon Brown on Jade, March 2009:

'She was a courageous woman both in life and death and the whole country have admired her determination to provide a bright future for her children.

'She will be remembered fondly by all who knew her and her family can be extremely proud of the work she has done to raise awareness of cervical cancer which will benefit thousands of women across the UK.

Worst Argument For A DNA Database Yet.

Is David Aaronovitch retarded? I don't wish to be abusive, but he seems to be spending a column unable to figure out the difference between 'guilty' and 'innocent'.

His argument is, and I'm not making this up, that opponents of the current practice of putting innocent people who have been convicted of no crime on the DNA database are hypocrites because they don't object to keeping convicted criminals on the database, and after all those criminals are really just differently innocent because they haven't yet committed the offences which the DNA database might help convict them of.

I'm sure he thinks he's found a very clever example of hypocrisy although if we were to follow his logic we would either have to get rid of all criminal records or give everyone a criminal record because otherwise it's completely unfair on convicts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Department Of Made Up Statistics.

You may remember the great slapfight in the left section of the blogosphere over Amnesty's abuse of the data to make the claim that 1 in 10 women suffer from rape and violence each year, when as more numerate bloggers this was completely unsupported by any data.

Anyway one of Northern Ireland's hundreds of human rights quangos has produced a report claiming that 1 in 4 men in the province physically abuse their partners each year, because evidently 1 in 10 wasn't ludicrous enough. The actual evidence suggests that even the lifetime rate of abuse is substantially lower than that.

What is the motivation behind the absurd abuse of statistics to try and make out that violence against women is endemic? The actual figures suggest that it is a serious enough problem, but when they produce numbers that purport to prove that domestic violence is endemic within society they achieve three things- demonise all men, make domestic violence seem almost normal rather than deviant behaviour and to make sensible people sceptical of all claims made by the organisations that tell such big lies.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Smile- Or Else!

Trying to measure happiness is a tricky proposition, so for the government to be considering using it to assess schools is odd, although picking arbitary and hard to measure criteria with which to assess schools does make it easier to show 'improvement' year on year.

It follows a recent report from the Children's Society that said that competitive schooling, league tables and selfish parenting was creating a generation of miserable young people.

But the "happiness" measures are being opposed by teachers' leaders, who claim they are almost impossible to quantify.

f one believes that the unhappiness is caused by competitiveness then making schools compete to show how happy they are is a very New Labour solution.

Extra Terrestrial Or Swede?

In November 1989 a "completely terrified" woman contacted RAF Wattisham in Suffolk to report her close encounter with a man claiming to be an alien.

She said she met the fair-haired man with a Scandinavian-type accent as she walked her dog on a sports field.

If that isn't proof of extra terrestrial life then frankly I don't know what is.

Advice For Bloggers.

I have to say an extended wanking joke to satirise nanny state scaremongering really does wonders for the site traffic. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here for example. Even here! Although it doesn't meet with the approval of the commentators one of whom writes "Why post this blog, it comes across as a pompous 16 year old trying to be funny", I have to object to that, the idea that I have an adolescent sense of humour is..... huh huh... he said 'come across'.... snigger, fnarr, chortle.

All the links are much appreciated.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Horror Of Racism In Modern Britain.

The bonds of racial oppression vary from country to country, in South Africa it was Apartheid where black people were officially second class citizens, in antebellum South black citizens were denied the vote and subjected to mob violence.

In the UK today there is also vicious oppression against the black population as Joseph Harker explains:

The struggle to find greeting cards with black faces on them is a reminder that discrimination is still rife in the UK

Truly he is the Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela of our times.

Update: What makes the article even funnier is that Harker's mother is white! One commentator, "Beaton the Donis" pictures the scene:

Joe: Here you go mum, happy mother's day!

Ma Harker: Thanks son. What a lovely card. Who's this on the front?

Joe: It's supposed to represent you mum.

Ma Harker: But she's... black?

Joe: And so are you mum.

Ma Harker: Um, no, Joe, I'm white. Your father is black.

Joe: Sorry mum, but I'm a black man, and you're my mum, so therefore you must be black.

Ma Harker: Um, okay Joe... you got me a present as well!

Joe: Sure did. Afro hair products.

Ma Harker: Oh for fu...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guest Post- Sir Liam Donaldson On Passive Masturbation.

First of all thank you to Ross for lending me his blog for the purposes of conducting a campaign against the health hazards facing society.


The solitary vice is a deeply ingrained part of our society; each year, the average output per adult male is equivalent to 12 jars of Tartare Sauce.

Success on another big public health killer – tobacco – continues to require multifactorial action, but a key element has been raising awareness about the impact of passive smoking has been factually dubious health campaigns.

There is no similar awareness or concern about ‘passive wanking’ – the consequences of one person’s wanking on another’s well-being. It is not recognised as a concept or a rationale for action. Mostly because I just made it up.


There is no stated national consensus that as a country we should substantially reduce overall masturbation, but such a reduction would benefit the health of many who wank – and those affected by passive wanking- the concept I invented a few sentences ago and am now treating as a genuine problem.

In 2006, 180,000 people died from pornographic-related causes. Wanking has a major impact on individual wanker's health: it causes cancers of the liver, bowel, breast, throat, mouth, larynx and oesophagus; it causes blindness, hairy palms, a pale pallor and insanity. Here is an image of a testicle wasted by excessive onanism:

Some point to the potential benefits of self-pleasuring, but these tend to be greatly overstated.
Despite its known harms, one-quarter of the adult population – about 10 million people – now wank above the recommended low-risk levels. I made this figure up but as the Chief Medical Officer I can cite myself because I am in a position of authority.

Here is a graph to illustrate how many people are killed by masturbation. It actually represents something completely different, possibly cat food sales, but I'm guessing that most of you are actually too stupid to actually look at the graph in any detail:

The effects of passive wanking continue into adulthood. Living with somebody who misuses porn can be a horrendous ordeal. Wanking can make a partner’s behaviour unpredictable, withdrawn and surly. Marriages in which one or both partners get themselves off are twice as likely to end in divorce.

Making Masturbation More Expensive

Research has estimated that if a minimum price of £1 per hour of pornography, 50p per sheet of Kleenex and £2.20 per unit of pornographic magazine were imposed then masturbation could be cut by as much as 26%. This would save up to £4 billion a year and 5600 deaths.

It would also save many lives to make these devices compulsory for all males between 11 and 30, to be worn at all times.

Establishing minimum pricing requires government action. Websites are particularly liable to sell porn at low prices. Currently, no single website would increase its prices and risk losing customers to competitors. The free market has failed, the workers need to control the means of production, and distribution of porn. It is not unreasonable to ask that the government over throws the shackles of capitalism that are tying the proletariat down.

A minimum price per unit would overcome this problem caused by the dominant capitalist patriarchal hegemonic discourse that currently sets the paradigm by which running dogs of the neo-colonial oppressors enforce their cultural norms on the masses.

Counter revolutionary forces may argue that the effects of my proposals restrict freedom and are an overreaction to a nonexistant problem. These reactionary bleatings impress no one, freedom is a technology of control imposed by the ruling class on society.

This may seem controversial but I'm the Chief Medical Officer so it is science and not some third rate student leftism.

We Are All Going To Die!!!!

On the subject of Liam Donaldson, his comments about alcohol were part of his annual report, a kind of State of the Nation address for medical issues. The same report covered a variety of topics including the reduced effectiveness of anti-biotics, which is what my post title is subtly alluding to. Essentially we are screwed if we don't cut back on anti-biotics. That is uncontroversial, but the culprit that Donaldson singles out for the blame for this process whereby drugs are over prescribed and thus rendered ineffective is revealing:
In pursuit of profit, drug companies aggressively market new products to ensure that they are prescribed as often as possible. The latest drugs, to which resistance has not yet been developed, should be held in reserve as a last resort. A profit-driven market cannot be relied upon to meet society’s needs.
See it isn't the fault of doctors, who dole out anti-biotics to pushy patients with colds (not a bacterial infection), but to the profit motive.

I'm just going out on a limb here but I think I can guess Sir Liam's political leanings....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Booze Views In News.

I'm not going to gratuitously insult the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, who proposed a minimum price for alcohol last week, others have already done that better than I could anyway.

His demand would reduce consumption, but indiscriminately so with the decrease affecting responsible drinkers as much as binge drinkers and alcoholics.

It isn't even as if alcohol abuse is a crisis that we have to deal with, alcohol consumption is falling and has been for a few years. I can't find up to date information but as of 2002 (pdf file) the number of heavy drinkers was also falling slightly.
Since 2000,however, there has been some indication of a slight
decline. The proportion of men drinking more than 21
units a week on average fell from 29% to 28% in 2001
and 27% in 2002. This appears to be due to a fall in
consumption among younger men (in particular those
aged 16 to 24). Because of the relatively small sample
size, however, the decline in that age group is not large
enough to be statistically significant. There was also a
fall in the proportion of women drinking more than 14
units a week (from 17% in 2000 to 15% in 2001, rising
back to 17% in 2002).
Even the data that Sir Liam Donaldson is using shows that alcohol consumption has declined slightly since 2004, even as it becomes more affordable. So in effect he is advocating a radical expansion of state power to solve a problem that appears to be improving slightly anyway.

None of this is to say that Britain doesn't have problems with drink, the fact that many of our town centres are no go areas on Friday evenings testifies to that, but the problem is cultural and not caused by bargain basement booze, after all how many bars sell the stuff at below the minimum price Donaldson advocates?

Lessons To Be Learned.

The people who oversee catastrophic failures in child care are also not very good at investigating catastrophic failures. Who knew?

Don't worry though, because lessons will be learned.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blogging Will Be Light.

Not non-existant but light, due to limited access to my computer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shock! Rewarding Vermin Doesn't Make Them Nicer.

The government this week decided not to allow Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi into Britain, which is a good thing even if it was done belatedly and under public pressure. Even so we have re-established links with Hezbollah's 'political wing'. So how's that going?

The leader of Lebanon's Islamist Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, has said his group will never recognise Israel's right to exist.

He was responding to a US suggestion that both Hezbollah and the Palestinian faction Hamas should recognise Israel before expecting any US engagement.

From Hezbollah's point of view why should they recognise Israel when they can get Arab support and Western acceptance without making any pretence of moderation?

Hezbollah's hostility towards Israel isn't Britain's responsibility in particular. However their hatred isn't confined towards Israel, but to all Jews- Nasrallah* has made plain his wish to kill all Jews & Hezbollah's bombing of an Argentinian Jewish centre cannot be explained by anti-Zionism- and that includes British citizens. We should not have contacts with a group that wants to murder a small proportion of our population, it really is that simple.

* The same Nasrallah whom George Galloway 'glorifies'.

This Can't Be Right

I suppose the sentence for stabbing someone should be greater than for possessing child pornography but this seems very off to me:
A Northampton man whose son stabbed him after discovering he had downloaded child porn has escaped a prison term after admitting his perverted obsession.

Martyn Croft was jailed for seven-and-a-half years at Northampton Crown Court in November after he admitted repeatedly stabbing his father, Brian, then leaving the former bank worker bleeding in his bedroom.

Rape Conviction Rates.

The conviction of serial rapist John Worboys has produced a lot of complaints over the extremely low conviction rates for rape. This is understandable, when one considers that most reasonable estimates also suggest that at least 90% of rapes are never even reported it is clear that the vast majority of rapes go unpunished.

Despite what certain fanatics say the low conviction rate isn't due to a tacit tolerance of rape or police indifference but mostly due to it being a uniquely difficult crime to prove beyond reasonable doubt because their are usually no witnesses and the physical evidence is usually indistinguishable from consensual sex (although not in the Worboys case where sedatives were administered).

There isn't much that can be used to dramatically increase the conviction rate without also sending a lot of innocent men to prison as well (the rate of false reporting to the police is probably quite high with the best estimates suggesting that between a quarter and a half of all complaints to the police are false).

So if nothing can be done to increase the conviction rate then what else be done to make the law a more effective deterrent? The only solution seems to me to drastically increase the sentences for those convicted of the crime, because if the probability of being caught is low then the consequences of of being convicted have to be made higher in order to compensate for that.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sock Puppet Theatre.

The comments under this post about the anti-semitic jazz musician Gilad Atzmon are thoroughly entertaining. If you enjoy watching anti-semitic jazz musicians being exposed using sock puppets to praise themselves to the skies.

Eurovision Defends Biggest Fan.

Apparantly a Eurovision entry from Georgia has been rejected because it insults Vladimir Putin. I can nderstand Eurovision's decision because you just know that he is one of their biggest fans.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The 100 Years War- On Drugs.

Apparently it is the 100th anniversary of the War on Drugs, not the actual slogan coined in the 1960s, but the founding of the International Opium Commission.

The Economist argues that the effort has failed and that drugs should be legalised, I am inclined to agree with them. Thankfully it avoids the utopianism associated with many advocates of legalisation.

To argue that the benefits will outweigh the costs does not mean that there won't be serious problems associated with legalising narcotics. In particular it will make drug use less costly and therefore more widespread. The people who chose to outlaw drugs a century ago didn't do it for its own sake, they were addressing a real problem, that a large proportion of the population was addling their minds on dope.

The costs of legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol are the increased rates of disease among users, addiction and in the case of alcohol an increased rate of violence. It is likely that similar effects would be seen if cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin were legal.

Having said all that, the effects of banning them are a lot worse, most of the harm caused by legal drugs is done to the users themselves, whilst it would be regrettable if more cannabis users developed schizophrenia, they have done it to themselves, however the hundreds of thousands of people gunned down in Latin America by drug cartels didn't choose to be killed. Inner city communities throughout the Western world didn't choose to have their neighbourhoods controlled by drug gangs. The children of drug addicts who contract hepatitis or Aids didn't choose to do so.

One thing I should add though is that legalisation is not the same as decriminalisation, which is a halfway house policy that encompasses the worst aspects of legalisation and criminalisation.

Quote Of The Day.

From a Guardian editorial, the closest you can get to the official voice of the left:
The EU can ill afford the luxury of amateur voices, let alone of populist, Eurosceptic neoliberals like Mr Klaus.
They don't just think that Vaclav Klaus is mistaken, they think that allowing him to speak is a 'luxery'.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Is Deflation Here?

Although I've long thought that the government made a mistake* in using the Consumer Price Index to measure inflation, rather than the Retail Price Index which includes house prices I haven't actually been following the RPI. Anyway looking it up now, it appears that with the collapse in house prices we may already have deflation:

Maybe 'printing money', is something to be welcomed.

* I say a mistake, but it was politically convenient because it allowed the government to claim that it had conquered inflation, whilst simultaneously allowing all those home owning swing voters to benefit from rising house prices.

Vietnamese Drug Gangs.

In my previous post about incarceration rates for different nationaliities, the Vietnamese were at the top of the list, which was somewhat surprising, to me at least. In the comments 'NW London Cynic' points out that it is because of the involvement of Vietnamese gangs in running cannabis farms. Doing a google news search on "Vietnamese" & "Cannabis" seems to confirm that with citizens of the country being sentenced for running cannabis factories in Bradford, Reading, Croydon, Ely, Norwich, and Keighly:

This cannabis factory — found in an upmarket Keighley suburb — was among several operated by a trio of Vietnamese drug producers.
Hard to believe isn't it- there is such a thing as an upmarkey Keighly suburb!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Reverting To Type.

I was going to post something about the murders perpetrated by the provisional, continuity, I can't believe it's not the, Real IRA but other people have pretty much said what I was going to say.

Can we stop flattering them with the term 'dissidents' though? It gives the impression that they are some kind of Ulster Solzhenitsyn's bravely standing up to oppression.

It's a shame that over the last decade the government, media and ultimately the public have already shown that they are willing to reward terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Incarceration Rates By Nationality In The UK

Following on from the government's spat with the ONS's population figures. I have decided to compare the number of foreign citizens from each country in the UK with the number of foreign citizens in prison in England & Wales.

Figures for for the incarceration and nationality are here, these refer to December 2006 so I'll use the 2006 population figures to compare them to.

Before I start I should note a few limitations of my comparison:
  • The population figures are from the UK, whereas the prison figures are limited to England & Wales. This isn't a huge problem- except for the UK figure- because more than 90% of foreigners come to England & Wales
  • I've made no allowance for the different age structures of the populations, older groups will have lower crime rates than younger ones.
  • I've made no allowance for the sex ratio which will be different for each country. The low Filipino ranking is probably partly due to the fact that the most common reason for coming to the UK from there is to work in the, largely female, nursing profession.
  • It only refers to adult prison, so youth crime isn't accounted for.
  • Some countries are part of drug smuggling routes, as smugglers enter the country purely to commit a crime they are unrepresentative of their nation's citizens as a whole.
  • Countries with whom we exchange prisoners will be under represented.
  • The population figures only list the 60 most common nationalities in the UK. Some nationalities outside that top 60 would be at least in the top 10 if they were included, such as DR Congo, Serbia & Netherlands Antilles.
  • There may be errors in the data. For example according to the prison stats there are no Ukrainian prisoners in England & Wales, which is obviously wrong. Others may also be suspect.
Having said all that it isn't a useless comparison as big differences will reflect something real regardless of all the provisos. So here is the list with the figures representing prisoners per 100,000 citizens of that country resident in the UK:
  1. Vietnam-3320
  2. Jamaica- 2674
  3. Nigeria- 1516
  4. Albania- 1064
  5. Romania- 829
  6. Sierra Leonne- 871
  7. Trinidad & Tobago- 777
  8. Iraq- 756
  9. Iran- 754
  10. Colombia- 712
  11. Russia- 616
  12. Uganda- 607
  13. Somalia- 573
  14. Turkey- 502
  15. Cyprus- 500
  16. Pakistan- 414
  17. Ghana- 404
  18. Lithuania- 366
  19. Kenya- 353
  20. China- 341
  21. Sri Lanka- 322
  22. Netherlands- 296
  23. Latvia- 261
  24. Zimbabwe- 252
  25. Libya- 250
  26. Belgium- 229
  27. Bangladesh- 201
  28. Portugal- 198
  29. Ireland- 195
  30. Brazil- 187
  31. Czech- 185
  32. Hungary- 183
  33. South Africa- 165
  34. Zambia- 160
  35. Germany- 151
  36. Spain- 149
  37. France- 139
  38. UK- 124
  39. Austria- 120
  40. Italy- 115
  41. Poland- 113
  42. India- 105
  43. USA- 83
  44. Malaysia- 69
  45. Greece- 69
  46. Bulgaria- 64
  47. Hong Kong- 60
  48. Canada- 58
  49. Sweden- 55
  50. Denmark- 53
  51. Norway- 50
  52. Slovakia- 48
  53. Philippines- 34
  54. Korea- 33
  55. Switzerland- 33
  56. Australia- 28
  57. Honduras- 21
  58. New Zealand- 17
  59. Finland- 14
  60. Japan- 0
  61. Ukraine- 0
The overall trends are harder to see, citizens from rich countries tend to be locked up less frequently than those from poor countries but there are major exceptions (India, Zambia, Bulgaria). The largest source of immigrants in the last few years- Poland- has a fairly low incarceration rate. Recently war torn countries seem to have fairly high rates.

Friday, March 06, 2009


It's hard to turn down a bargain in the middle of a recession even if you don't really want it, so you can understand why this couple took advantage of the "buy one get one free" offer.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cartoon Violence

High levels of violence in cartoons such as Scooby-Doo can make children more aggressive, researchers claimed yesterday.

They found that animated shows aimed at youngsters often have more brutality than programmes broadcast for general audiences.
It's true that cartoons can cause violence, just ask the Danes.


A Shameful Decision.

Britain is re-establishing links with Hezbollah and organisation whose leader as made it clear that he wishes to exterminate all Jews (not simply 'Zionists' although that would be despicable enough) , which includes many British citizens. An organisation that has carried out mass murder to accomplish this goal as far afield as Argentina.

Morally it is shameful to treat this organisation as anything other than pariahs, in some cases there may be a pragmatic reason to talk to bastards- say with Stalin during WW2- but Hezbollah isn't an all powerful organisation that we simply have to talk to. To open contacts with them is a choice and it is a shameful one.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Where Johnny Foreigner Is From.

Update: The ONS have actually published updated estimates for the population by country of origin here. I can't open zip folders right now, so if anyone wants to open it and see where the new immigration since the last census has come from. feel free to paste it into my comments.

Original Post:

In the comments to my previous it is pointed out that the government is claiming that the '1 in 9' statisitic is misleading because many of the foreign born are actually people born to British forces families stationed overseas.

This seems implausible to me. Here is a list of the top 25 countries of birth for residents of the UK according to the 2001 census (rounded to the nearest 1000):

Great Britain: 53,923,000
Ireland: 537,000
India: 468,000
Pakistan: 321,000
Germany: 266,000
USA: 158,000
Bangladesh: 154,000
Jamaica: 146,000
South Africa: 141,000
Kenya: 130,000
Australia: 108,000
Italy: 107,000
Hong Kong: 96,000
France: 96,000
Nigeria: 88,000
Cyprus: 78,000
Canada: 73,000
Sri Lanka: 68,000
Poland: 61,000
New Zealand: 58,000
Ghana: 56,000
Uganda: 55,000
Spain: 54,000
Turkey: 54,000
China: 51,000

Of those countries it is fair to say that a fairly large proportion of the German and Cypriot births are from British forces overseas, as may smaller proportions of those from Kenya, Hong Kong and Canada, but it is clear that they only make up a very small percentage of all those born overseas.

Mind you the raw statistics also show that a considerable number of those not born here are from other reasonably wealthy english speaking countries, some of which are cultural off shoots of Britain in the first place, which is probably worth emphasisising.

Labour Now Officially Pro-Ignorance.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has accused the Office for National Statistics of "playing politics" with population figures.

He said he was "appalled" at the release of figures showing one in nine British residents was born abroad.


Surely the problem with the immigration debate is that it largely takes place in the absence of sufficient factual evidence to support the assertions of either side. If even a dry statistic like this- which doesn't really tell us much in terms of the costs and benefits of immigration - is considered too appalling to reveal then you have to wonder whether more controversial topics surrounding immigration can even be researched, let alone be made public so they can be considered when it comes to setting government policy.

{via Mark Wadsworth}

They've Found A Way To Make Cricket Exciting!

Apparently the attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Pakistan proves:
  • The war on terror is a bad thing because it has destabilised Pakistan.
  • Pushing Pakistan to restore democracy was a bad thing because it has weakened control of the country. (I heard this argument being put by someone or other on Newsnight last night)
Neither of these arguments are convincing, Pakistan found itself involved in the Afghanistan war because it had supported the Taliban in the 1990s, who in turn gave Al Qaeda a free hand to run terrorist training camps which ultimately resulted in the 9/11 attacks (not to mention dozens of other attacks prior to that). Pakistan's involvement with terrorism caused the war in Afghanistan not the other wat round.

Similarly it doesn't make much sense to blame the instability on the return of civilian rule (even if the Pakistani leader is a thief of epic proportions), seeing as these terrorists appear to have been trained in camps set up by the Pakistani army to train terrorists to attack India in Kashmir.

Ultimately Pakistan's problems are caused largely by the Pakistani army and intelligence services trying to meddle in its neighbouring countries.

Rubbish Escapologist.

Look I'm glad she didn't die but I hope she wasn't paid in advance for her services:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Clown Shortage

Sometimes it takes more effort not to make a quip than to take shots at the open goal:
Britain is suffering a shortage of home grown clowns
No comment.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Ed Balls: Genius.

Of school selection, Ed Balls says:
“I have sympathy with the view that a lottery system can feel arbitrary, random and hard to explain to children in years five and six who don’t know what’s going to happen and don’t know which children in their class they’re going to be going on to secondary school with,”
Yes Ed, the whole point of a lottery is that it is arbitrary and random. That is why it is a lottery. If it's hard to explain to chidren in years 5 and 6 that just shows how crap our schools really are.

Anyway there is a reason why there are waiting lists for the best state schools- because the supply is essentially fixed. If good schools could expand or spread out and poor ones close then demand could equal supply.

Insert Title Here

Tim Montgomerie has a post up about the Conservative Party's internet strategy, which includes this amusing fact:
Before Eric Pickles became Chairman £500,000 was spent by the Conservative Party on newspaper advertising to recruit online supporters!
Is the internet likely to be as prominent in the UK as it has been in the US political system? I doubt it because I don't think our political system really encourages popular participation in the political process. The parties want you to vote for them every 4 or 5 years and then shut up in the mean time. There is no sense that by getting involved in grassroots politics you can really influence the highly centralised political parties.

Quote Of The Day.

Letter from a Tory has a piece up on the government's explicitly racialised education policies, which is noteworthy given the chief inspector of schools' recent comments about the low educational accomplishments of white working class pupils, which is well worth reading:
Unknown to almost every voter, the ‘Standards Fund’ contains a huge sum of money that is given to local authorities through the ’Ethnic Minority Achievement’ grant. Notice that it is not called the ‘Underachievement’ grant or the ‘Supporting weaker pupils ‘grant - it’s labelled the ‘Ethnic Minority Achievement’ grant because not a single British child with white skin gets a penny from it. This grant is ring-fenced so that every local authority is forced to use it on non-white children, even if they have very high percentages of white children in their schools.
I have to admit I was somewhat surprised to realise how explicit the racial aspect of school funding was.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Junk Science & Political Ideology.

The search for the pathological conservative is one of the great missions among a certain part of academia. James Q Wilson comments on a certain aspect of it:

Another challenge is politicized assessment of the genetic evidence. Ever since 1950, when Theodor Adorno and his colleagues published The Authoritarian Personality, scholars have studied right-wing authoritarianism but neglected its counterpart on the left. In his study of identical twins reared apart, Bouchard concludes that right-wing authoritarianism is, to a large degree, inherited—but he says nothing about the Left. This omission is puzzling, since as Bouchard was studying twins at the University of Minnesota, he was regularly attacked by left-wing students outraged by the idea that any traits might be inherited. A few students even threatened to kill him. When I pointed this out to him, he suggested, in good humor, that I was a troublemaker.


In more 'pathological conservatives' news the New Scientist reports- "Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers". This is based on a study which find that some of the more conservative states (based on voting) have higher rates of porn channel subscription, using this logic you could conclude that blacks in the US are overwhelmingly Republican because the states with the highest proportion of African-Americans are overwhelmingly Republican (ie Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana etc).

Furthermore it isn't as if more detailed evidence on porn consumption and political preference isn't available and the evidence from the US shows that 32% of Democrats have watched a X-rated movie in the past year compared to 26% of Republicans (and this is before carrying out any correction for the sex of respondents) confirming that the biggest wankers are indeed on the left.