Thursday, April 30, 2009


This thread is impressive even by Guardian standards, with a whopping 55 out of 87 comments deleted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Churchill & Poison Gas.

There is an widely repeated myth that Winston Churchill urged the mass killing of Kurdish tribes people in the 1920s using poison gas, in some versions of the myth he actually carried out the process. The infamous phrase of his which this is based on is "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes."

I've long been aware of that the claim that he carried out such an atrocity is nonsense, but had vaguely assumed that he probably did urge something like that- after all poison gas wasn't as taboo then as it is now and Churchill did come up with a lot of miserable schemes. However it turns out that even that version wildly distorts what Churchill actually proposed. Paul Bogdanor's list of 200 Chomsky lies (Chomsky is another who has spread this myth) provides the actual context for the phrase:
“It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”
In other words Churchill was urging the use of tear gas as a means of minimising fatalities that might be caused with conventional weapons. Tear gas would not routinely be described as "poison gas" nowadays so using the phrase without any context to make it clear that he wasn't referring to stuff like mustard gas or Sarin is deliberately misleading.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quote Of The Day.

This weekend, I celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the mothers of western feminism, by eating a cake baked entirely by men.

- the subversive Natalie Hanman.

{via Ambush Predator}

Your Swine Flu Questions Answered.

Are we all going to die a horrible fluey death?

No, in the UK we have enough retro viral treatments to save 50% of the population, other countries have lower amounts, so in all likelihood 10-15% of the world's population will survive into a post apocalyptic future a year from now, sort of like Mad Max or 28 Days Later.

I have never been to Mexico but I do like Mexican food such as the Burritos I had for dinner last night, will this kill me?

No, most Mexican food consists of ingredients from one's own country and would be better described as Mexican style food. However if you had Salsa sauce with the burritos then all bets are off.

Can I immunise myself from Swine Flu by injecting myself with bacon extract?

It has to be worth a try.

How safe are pig products at this time?

I don't wish to come across all hammy but if you want to save your bacon then I'd advise going the whole hog and not touch them. The government won't ban them because there are too many pork barrelling special interests to get this pig out of a poke.

Mexico is right next door to the United States, is there any means by which we can blame America for the crisis?

Not yet but researchers are investigating various possibilities.

Can you think of any groups who rather conveniently don't touch pig products who seem well placed to do well out of Swine flu?

That's right, I've got many Jewish friends but this is all just too much of a coincidence.

Is it safe to let my children watch Babe?

Babe was filmed in Australia, which hasn't been touched by Swine flu yet, so it should be safe. Once the outbreak reaches Australia though you should burn your Babe DVD.

Is it true that human flesh tastes like pork, and if so could this be a short term replacement?

Yes, the longpig is a very good source of pork like products although cannibalism is banned in most of the UK (except Cornwall).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Alan Duncan Might As Well Resign.

As politicians go Alan Duncan seems okay to me, he appears to want a freer society and has written about such issues. He is a radical careerist who holds ideas that are genuinely radical but is always willing to shelve them if they become to inconvenient, like his decision to remove the arguments he made for drug legalisation in future editions of "Saturn's Children" ( although he does still carry that chapter on his website). This isn't the worst sin in a politician and has to be compared to rigid ideologues who quit the minute their party adopts any policy they oppose (John Bercow springs to mind).

He should probably quit the front bench though. His comments about wanting to see Miss California dead because she opposed gay marriage were obviously intended as comical, and the people who complained really should have better things to do. That said it came across very badly, with even the other guest of Have I Got News For You being visibly startled. One of the strongest cards that the gay rights movement has had in recent decades is the principle of tolerance, so when Alan Duncan reveals a level of tolerance for differing opinions that would make Stalin uncomfortable, it clearly undercuts any argument he wishes to make.

More importantly gaffes like that don't make that much impact in opposition and with his party leading in the polls but when he is a minister that kind of indiscretion is going to cause a serious problem. Does anyone really doubt that when he enters David Cameron's cabinet in a year or so, he will soon have to be fired after blurting out something he shouldn't and that I will be referring back to this post saying "I told you so!"?

So what is the point of toiling away in the shadow cabinet for a decade when your spell in government will last a few months, tops. Especially when a career as a media tart beckons.

Opportunity Lost.

I was going to comment on this headline:
Rare albino buffalo spotted in Kenyan game park
Unfortunately they've since altered the headline so that it no longer claims that the albino was spotted.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Get Your Own Machine Gun.

I don't know what's worse about Jacob Zuma's campaign song "Bring Me My Machine Gun", the implied violence or the sheer laziness of not being able to go and get his own sodding gun.

I've said before that a lot of the negativity about South Africa is undue, the crime rate is very high, but the murder rate has been falling staedily for over a decade and is now about half of what it once was. The economy isn't a basket case like it was towards the end of the Apartheid era and there is a growing black middle class.

Yet electing someone like Zuma puts all that at risk.

Senseless & Unjustified.

When it comes to coercive interrogation techniques like water boarding, regardless of whether it is torture or not, there is a legitimate discussion to be had about whether it is justified in a ticking bomb scenario. It is unpleasant but not seriously harmful so whether that outweighs the potential mass slaughter that may be prevented* by water boarding someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a dilemma. I am genuinely ambivalent about what has happened to him, I don't like the idea of subjecting prisoners to water boarding but I don't like the idea of letting hundreds of people be killed by the terrorist cells that he gave up.

That said most of the uses of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' were not for the purpose of preventing imminent attacks and saving lives, but instead used to confirm the Bush administration's preconceived notions of Iraqi - Al Qaeda links, which is both a retarded way to interrogate anyone and renders arguments over whether that the ends can justify the means rather moot, as there were no credible ends in the first place.

As I've said before I don't think prosecuting anyone makes much sense from a legal or pragmatic position, but the treatment of those prisoners really was shockingly incompetent and served no discernible purpose and those that thought it was a good idea should have to explain themselves to the public in full.

* I discount the idea that "torture doesn't work", as merely a slogan to avoid having to decide between two hideous alternatives. Torture can work, just today for example is an news story about a criminal torturing a hostage in order to get her bank details and various examples can be found throughout history.

EU Profiler

This is a quiz for matching yourself to the closest political party, ideologically. Unsurprisingly my closest match among UK parties is the Tory party, however among the European parties my closest match's are the Folkpartiet liberalerna of Sweden and the Liberalų ir centro sąjunga of Lithuania who are both members of Liberal International (the grouping which includes the Lib Dems). This is very damaging to my self image as a crazed right wing extremist.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Canine Kicking Voyeur.

This story is on the one hand quite sad, no one likes to see a dog being attacked after all but there is something I don't quite get:

The Sun told yesterday how a sickened neighbour filmed the attack for 13 minutes.
Surely if they were that sickened they would have stopped it, rather than just filmed it for quarter of an hour.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beyond Parody.

What can you say about this?:

A TV talent show to find an "ordinary girl" to play Jade Goody in a musical based on her life is being planned, it has been announced.

Goody's ex-business partner Danny Hayward said no deal had been struck with a TV network but that the stage musical would "definitely happen".

Ex-publicist Max Clifford said it was "a wonderful idea that has got very, very strong potential".

Truly inspired.

Wife Beating Number Crunching.

Julie Bindel's latest column is relatively sane so I wouldn't normally blog about it, but she reminds me of a story that was making the rounds a few months ago:
As highlighted in The Way Forward, there is evidence that young boys consider it fine to hit a woman or force her to have sex; and that there are some young girls who think that this way of behaving is acceptable.
I think this refers to the Home Office report of a few months ago. They asked a bunch of questions as to how acceptable it was for a man to hit his girlfriend in a variety of circumstances, and usually there was 1 or 2 percent saying it was acceptable, 75% or 90% saying it is never acceptable and 10% to 20% saying it was sometimes acceptable.

At first glance then it does look as if a significant proportion of people believe that it can be OK. However using my favourite survey of the week, it seems that something more subtle is going on. They asked 1000 respondents in Great Britain whether it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife, with a score of 1 meaning it is never acceptable and a score of 10 meaning that it is always acceptable. The results were as follows:
  1. 87.6%
  2. 7.0%
  3. 1.6%
  4. 0.6%
  5. 0.9
  6. 0.6
  7. 0.2
  8. 0.4
  9. 0.3
  10. 0.8
The majority of those who do not say that it never acceptable by selecting 1, choose 2 which looks to be as though they are saying that there are almost no circumstances in which it is acceptable. Whilst it would be better if the 2s chose 1, the fact they haven't doesn't necessarily mean that there is a large groundswell who support wife beating but could simply mean that 7-8% of people don't like being categorical in their answers so avoid saying that it is never justified.

More international data on the same sunject from the same survey can be seen here via here.

Obama Is White.

According to Shameless Milne he is:
What credibility is there in Geneva's all-white boycott?
I was hoping for an MSM writer to defend Durban 2 so I could sanctimoniously attack them for their hypocrisy and stupidity, but Milne is the only one to do so and I just don't feel motivated to do so.

Milne's command of the fact remain as firm as it as ever been:

The dispute was mainly about Israel and western fears that the conference would be used, like its torrid predecessor in Durban at the height of the Palestinian intifada in 2001, to denounce the Jewish state and attack the west over colonialism and the slave trade. In fact, although it was the only conflict mentioned in the final Durban declaration, the reference was so mild (recognising the Palestinian right to self-determination alongside Israel's right to security) that the then Israeli prime minister, ­Shimon Peres, called it "an accomplishment of the first order for Israel".

Shimon Peres was Israel's PM in September 2001! Who knew?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gordon Brown's Webcast

I've rejigged this from a parody into a fisking, so if you saw it before I altered it then that is why. It's about Gordon Brown's cringe inducing webcast.

Going round the country I have been struck by the comments that are made by young people when I meet them about the jobs they want to do when they grow up.

I meet large numbers of people who want to be doctors and nurses, many who want to be teachers and firemen and ambulancemen and many who want to be in the caring services. And when I ask them why they want to do what they plan to do, they say because they want to make a difference.

But mostly because you've wrecked the economy so completely that a public sector job is the only hope they have of getting a job that won't be taxed to the hilt in order to pay off the colossal public debt you have created.

But these days I rarely meet anyone who wants to be a Member of Parliament when they grow up, at least not once you introduce yourself as Gordon Brown MP. and that is a shame, because I think MPs can make an enormous difference to people they represent.

You've certainly 'made a difference', think of all the people who might still be in work if you had never been an MP.

Now the vast majority of MPs I know do an excellent job. They are in public service not for what they can get, but for what they can give.

Yet the issue of expenses is casting a cloud over the whole of Parliament. So MPs need to have the humility to recognise that the country has lost confidence in the current system, because carrying on regardless even after the public has made clear that they have lost confidence in them would be ridiculous.- To restore our faith in Parliament, and the good that it can do on the public’s behalf, we must commit to tightening up the system of allowances urgently. How? byy renaming the system MPs allowances as 'investing in MPs' perhaps.

- the additional costs allowance - or second homes allowance - should be abolished and replaced by a flat rate daily allowance. This will reflect the fact that MPs do incur extra costs from working in two different places but it should be based on attendance in the House of Commons. Because obviously houses are cheaper if you use them less often.

While the committee on standards in public life looks into the issue more fully, we will ensure there is greater transparency on second jobs held by MPs. Where members of parliament have a second source of income from second jobs, every payment should be declared with a full description of what it is for and who paid it. There shall also be a full declaration of the hours worked for the payment received.

This isn't obviously related to expenses but you want to use it to bash the Tories, many of whom have directorships or City jobs, so it is a cardinal point on your moral compass.

The Prosecution Rests Indefinitely.

President Obama acknowledged yesterday that lawyers from the Bush Administration who drafted memos authorising the use of harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects could potentially face prosecution.
They won't, for three reasons:

  • Obama is smart enough to realise that prosecuting people for causing discomfort to terrorists who have murdered thousands of US citizens would not be a popular move outside of his base. This is doubly true if the interrogation methods actually worked.
  • The whole point about the memos is that they were trying to clarify what was legal and what was not, there is no fixed definition of 'torture' and it is not obvious that the likes of water boarding come into that category*. No court is going to convict someone for making a judgment call on the issue.
  • The precedent it would create would be damaging for any US administration, as future White House advisers would be preoccupied with avoiding any possibility to the exclusion of giving the best advice possible.
* I realise that might be controversial, but water boarding causes no serious physical harm and the subject recovers within a few minutes of the process ending, so the argument for it being torture comes down to the fact it induces panic. If that is sufficient to classify something as torture then a lot of other methods of scaring interview subjects would then be classified as torture. It may well be torture and thus illegal but it is not so clear that someone who came to a different conclusion could be prosecuted in any legal system predicated upon the idea of that people can only be punished for breaking rules that are known in advance.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Polly & Harriet Go Fact Finding.

I see that Polly Toynbee, Harriet Harman and assorted other left wing women are going off to Ghana to learn about women's equality. Whilst I will never begrudge using taxpayer's money to send those two off to Timbuktu I can't help wondering whether Ghana is an obvious choice of destination to learn about women's equality. It seems like going to Bhutan to learn about coastal erosion.

Luckily the World Values Survey which I referred to in my previous post allows us to compare Ghanaian and British attitudes towards gender equality and it doesn't cost taxpayers a penny.
Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women

Great Britain: Agree- 16.2%, Disagree- 76.1%
Ghana: Agree- 53.6, Disagree- 37.4%
Okay Polly, Harriet, you know what you have to do in these hard economic times, resign so that a man can have your jobs. Of course that's just one variable, the folk wisdom of the Ghanaians is far more enlightened than that of our capitialistic patriarchal society, we need to look at some more questions:
If a woman wants to have a child as a single parent but she doesn't want to have a stable relationship with a man, do you approve or disapprove?

GB: Approve- 33.5%, Disapprove- 34.7%, Depends- 31.7%
Ghana: Approve- 6.2%, Disapprove- 92.0%, Depends- 1.2%
I sure hope Polly and Harriet are learning from the vibrant cultural traditions of Ghana. I'm not even going to dwell on the results for " On the whole, men make better political leaders than women do", because I'm sure that if Ghana had Gordon Brown then their result would be closer to our 20% than their 77%.

(via Mr Eugenides)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Durban 'Anti' Racism Fun.

The UN World Conference Against Racism, aka Durban 2, begins next week. The last conference in September 2001 was marred by the unfortunate fact that anti racist activists are actually racist loons.

This time around it looks as though the same process is going to occur so a number of governments have decided to boycott the event including those of Canada, the USA, Israel, then Netherlands, Australia, Sweden and Italy. They will inevitably be accused of being racist for doing so, therefore it seems like a good idea to examine how racist these countries are compared to the ones attending. The World Values Survey is probably the best place to start, they don't ask respondents a direct 'are you racist?' question, but they do ask:
'On this list are various groups of people. Could you please sort out any that you would not like to have as neighbors?'
and one of the groups is "People of a different race", so this will serve as a rough approximation for how widespread racism is in a country. Israel wasn't asked this question but the others were and these were their results for what percentage of respondents who said they wouldn't like to be neighbours to people of a different race:

USA: 8.0%
Canada: 3.4%
Sweden: 2.5%
Netherlands: 5.0%
Australia: 5.1%
Italy: 15.6%

The global average for this question is 18.3%, therefore all of the countries appear to be less racist than average, so really why should they go to a conference to be lectured to and denounced by the representitives of Iran (24.2%), Saudi Arabia (37.7%), Egypt (65.6%) and South Africa (23.6%)?

Friday, April 17, 2009

MEP Tackles Critical Issue.

At long last an MEP is standing up to corruption in Europe and demanding an investigation. Not corruption in the EU of course, but alleged and unproveable corruption in European football three and a half decades ago. Funnily enough I can barely find any references on his website to issues of corruption within the organisation he is responsible for.

I can't help also notice that for all their lectures about xenophobia EU-philes are more than happy to play on stereotypes about dodgy Greeks and Italians conspiring to cheat the English out of a trophy.

If You Ask Nicely, You Still Aren't Getting Any.

I must say I do like this new relaxed approach to raising money that the EU is taking:
Taxpayers could be asked to plug a £106 million black hole in a fund providing a second pension for MEPs, to make up for cash lost to fraudulent investment schemes and during the financial crisis.
It's nice of them to ask rather than just stick their snouts straight in, but I'll have to decline, they really should be able to afford a private pension on their salary.


Thursday, April 16, 2009


Fireman is to arsonist as lorry driver is to serial killer.

What proportion of arsonists are failed firefighters? t certainly seems like an awful lot.

New Policy- Being Civilised.

I have been thinking of adopting a policy in which I don't insult people on my weblog in any manner in which I wouldn't be comfortable saying to their face.

For example I won't be accusing nearly so many people of being idiots, twats or liars just because I strongly object to their stated viewpoint on matters, because in real life these traits seem to exist across the political spectrum so if I'm repeatedly seeing them only in political opponents online then I am probably misjudging the matter.

Obviously if they demonstrate beyond doubt that they are any of those things then I'll still say so.

Commentators are free to continue insulting whomever they wish.

Hack, heal thyself.

Steven Glover denounces bloggers for having the power to spread lies and slanders against innocent people- on the 20th anniversery of the Hillsborough disaster where the press spread lies and slanders against innocent people.


I hope Iain Dale doesn't have a pet rabbit because he has a crazed stalker.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bibliophiles Unimpressed.

In the comments to the previous post "It's Either Banned Or Compulsory" points to the recent reviews for Derek Draper's book over at Amazon.

L'Affaire Smeargate: The Blogosphere Responds.

Smeargate has dominated the blogosphere to such an exten that it is hard to keep track of what everyone has been writing. Which is why I have taken the step of creating a reader's digest of all the views from across the political blogging spectrum so it can all be read in one place. Don't thank me, public service is what I do. Of course if any other bloggers' responses deserve a mention feel free to put them in the comments.


The assassination of JFK, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, 9/11- all events that act as milestones for the modern age yet pale into insignificance in comparison to McBride and Draper's plot to smear their political opponents. Guido was so shocked at the depths to which they had sunk that he immediately stopped work on a light hearted post he was working on, speculating on whether Gordon Brown has turned Number 11 Downing Street into a prison to keep Madelaine McCann in, and immediately set to work.

Guido has more emails to reveal soon.

Downing Street has repeated implied that Guido might not be the best placed person to express outrage over a smear campaign having previously labelled Brown as “bonkers”.

This is complete nonsense unlike the supposed psychotherapist Derek Draper, Guido is full of sincere concern about the Prime Mentalists’s rapidly disintegrating health, in fact the PM has even taken to referrring to himself in the 3rd person.

Derek Draper:

This is all a fuss over nothing, whilst the emails might seem to be in bad taste you have to remember that what actually happened was that Damien and I had decided to embark on a creative writing course and thought up a variety of interesting plots, and then rather foolishly we accidentally transposed the names of the characters with our Chriistmas card list and then........

Iain Dale:

Brown's response is wholly inadequate, is it too much to ask for him to come before the House of Commons wearing a sandwich board apologising for his guilt. Meanwhile what are we to make of the silence of Bob Thompson, head of the office supplies? His silence speaks volumes. When did he know and why isn’t he telling us?

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learnt from this is that I am available for appearances on a variety of media outlets, please contact my agent.

Derek Draper:

Actually what I meant to say is that Damien and I are mates, so when he learned of scurriolous rumours being spread about senior Tories he immediately emailed me so we could work together to stop it but then Paul Staines leaked the email.

Sunny Hundal:

All the right wing blogs and their mates in the media are talking about the supposed ‘smeargate’ being the moment when political blogs have come of age. I don’t see why anyone would even want to read poisonous right wing blogs which promote different views to mine, and therefore must be written by people who aren’t nearly as clever as me.

Back when I invented blogging in 2004 I hoped it would become a medium for good, but this has not been the case. Whilst the likes of Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale aren’t nearly as successful as me either in terms of blogging or in terms of growing a sexy goatee, they do unfortunately have some readers, as I have previously outlined in “why everyone should stop talking about Guido & Iain Volumes 1-12”.

Whilst liberal left blogs have been instrumental in breaking such stories as the death squads employed by the Metropolitan police against the G-20 protesters, it is perhaps necessary that we should look towards they way progressive blogs in the USA have civilised the political discourse, sites such as the Daily Kos, the Huffington Post and have done wonders in raising the tone.

The biggest outrage here is that the Labour Party chose Derek Draper to spearhead their online media operation when there were other bloggers on the left who would have been much better suited for such a task of constructing a tediously partisan echo chamber, bloggers who are in touch with ethnic issues and trim their beards into gorgeous goatee styles rather than the Draper style tramp look. Please pay attention to me!

James Graham:

There has been a noticeable silence from myself. I complain obsessively about infringement on civil liberties but my silence on civil servants plotting to smear private citizens has been striking. I have been given a salient lesson about just how much I value freedom.

Derek Draper:

You see what really happened was that Damien had been leaked some of Paul Staines' emails and thought it would be a good idea to change all the names from Labour members to Conservative members to make a powerful point about the inappropriateness of smearing.

Oliver Kamm:

Congratulations to the Sunday Times for this scoop, it just goes to show that in the age of the blogs the serious newspapers are still the organs breaking real stories and bloggers like Guido Fawkes are essentially parasitic upon the good work of professional journalists at those newspapers.

Derek Draper:

My previous attempts at clarifying what happened might have been inadvertent lies, so let me set the record straight. It wasn’t actually my computer that the emails were sent to those of a renowned Cornish fishmonger who happens to share my name.

Nadine Dorres:

I am so outraged about the career boosting lies being spread about me that I have appeared on GMTV, Sky, ITN, BBC Breakfast, The Today Programme, CBeebies and Channel 4 news to discuss them in more detail. There may be legal consequences for Damian McBride, if his smears had been believed then my reputation as a puritanical nag would be irreparably damaged and the Panto bookings will dry up next Christmas.


These emails expose the hypocrisy at the heart of the Conservative Party. Let’s examine Guido’s claims.

The first thing to realise is that Guido isn’t his real name, it’s Paul Staines. He lied about that so let’s see what more he has lied about. Paul Staines claims to have been sent the emails by an anonymous source.

Some context is needed here, email is a system of sending electronic messages in order to facilitate communication between users of computers, but emails are not ‘sent’ to a person, they are sent to a server which has to be accessed by the other user. So the email could not have been sent to Paul Staines at all it could only have been sent to his email account which he then accessed.

His lies don’t end there though, he claims that he ‘read’ the emails, but several software programmes exist that allow the email to be ‘read’ by the computer, as far as I am aware Staines provides no proof that this isn’t what happened here.

{several thousand words discussing the definitions of ‘computer’, ‘is’ and ‘chair’ have been edited for reasons of space}

So in conclusion Paul Staines and Nadine Dorres should resign.

Tom Watson:

If you make fun of me or imply that I had anything to do with what happened with one of my closest confidants who shared an office with me then I’ll sue you, and I've got a propah lawyah.

Derek Draper:

My earlier posts my have contained some lies that I didn't really mean. I realise now that we shouldn’t have sent emails to each other, plotting to spread rumours that David Cameron sacrificed his son to Satan but you’ve got to remember that we hadn’t actually gotten around to putting them on our website so did we really do anything wrong? Can't we all just move on and accept that everyone is partly to blame? Except me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Now I know How Livingstone Felt.

I've had a widget giving my ranking on the Wikio political blog ranking in my sidebar for a few months now, and this month I'm at 62 which is nice. However looking at the Wikio top 200 blogs of all types sees me at 88, up 77 on last month (mostly due to the passive masturbation post) which makes this site the second biggest climber in the whole UK blogosphere after Boris Johnson who has deprived me of the number one spot.

Elderly Woman Who Retired Two Decades Ago Responsible For All World's Ills.

Maggie to blame for:
Is there anything beyond her powers?

Green Taxes- So What?

I don't really get the purpose of the Taxpayers Alliance and their new 'Green Tax' calculator. If one accepts that taxes have to be raised in some manner then surely taxing something which creates negative externalities is a good thing. Obviously I'd prefer it if government spending were much lower but I don't really see why Green taxes are any worse than income tax, National Insurance, Stamp Duty or VAT.

They have been used in part to raise taxes by stealth- so the government doesn't have to raise income tax- but the problem there is surely ever rising taxes not the form they take.

Update: Just to clarify, when I say "I don't really get the purpose of the Taxpayers Alliance and their new 'Green Tax' calculator" I didn't intend to say that I didn't get the purpose of the TPA, I was just referring to the Green Tax Calculator.

Population Alarmism.

David Attenborough is climbing aboard the population alarmist bandwagon:

Sir David Attenborough has warned British couples to limit the number of children they have to help quell the 'frightening' growth in the world's population.

The veteran broadcaster said the planet is under 'mounting pressure' from an 'explosion in human numbers'.
Britain's fertility rate is between 1.6 and 1.9 depending on how it is measured, in other words it is below two and once the demographic momentum of previous years plays out the population will fall. So there is no need for Britain to do anything about our population.

There are some countries where the population is growing too fast but they are not in the West. Almost invariably population alarmism goes hand in hand with an admiration for totalitarian government:

Sir David, 82, said families in the UK need to control their number of offspring - a policy already adopted by China where parents are allowed just one child.

If my younger brother was Richard Attenborough then I might also support a one child policy but how successful is China's policy? Well there are 5 countries or territories with a majority Chinese population- China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and Taiwan. Only one adopts a one child policy- China- and guess which one has by far the highest birth rate? China.

With the exception of a few Middle Eastern countries where women aren't allowed to do much else beyond breed, the factors that correlates most strongly with low birth rates are increasing prosperity and a reduction in infant mortality not a totalitarian government.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Would We Do Without Quangos?

The Croydonian points to the latest invaluable advice from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency- don't walk off cliffs. I certainly won't now I've been warned that it's bad for me.

I haven't felt this relieved since the Health & Safety Executive warned us not to fall off ladders.

There don't appear to be any warnings about falling off bridges so I'm guessing that's safe.

A Monday Round-Up

Various things:

  • Following on from a French counter piracy operation last week the Americans have killed three pirates and freed their hostage. The next few months should provide a test of whether deterrence works, because up until now the piracy has been pretty much cost free. The pirates who downloaded Hugh Jackman's latest film have yet to be punished, but given President Obama's support within the Hollywood community this is just a matter of time.
  • There have been a fair number of classy responses to the 'Smeargate' story from various Labour supporters, so good on Tom Harris MP, David T and Neil D of Harry's Place and no doubt a fair few others.It's easy to get stuck in when it is the other side crossing the boundaries of good taste but it takes guts to do so when it is one's own side.
  • Last year when Hillary Clinton supporters were spreading rumours of a supposed tape of Michelle Obama denouncing 'Whitey' I dismissed it as a hoax and predicted "the end result of one Democrat trying to smear another will be that the credulous will use the smear as an example of Republican dirty tricks." Well I told you so.
  • Is it me or has the NUT's conference been a bit of a damp squib this year? With only a scarf to really express political radicalism.
  • The voluntary option has failed, again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Whitehouse Hacks Face Competition.

President Obama has found a dumb creature to love him uncritically, obey every word he utters and to sniff his arse as though it smells of roses. Some journalists are going to be very jealous of the competition aren't they?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dolly & Damian Go Smearing.

If this government's thuggishness* wasn't balanced by their incompetence I'd be seriously worried.

It's notable that the smear campaign is apparently coordinated by a civil servant, Damian McBride, someone who should not be engaging in partisan politics. If the civil service can so easily be co-opted to serve the governing party's interests it provides yet another reason why it is a bad idea to allow them to collect and store any more of our personal information.

* I won't pretend to be that outraged without knowing the details of what was said, although once the actual emails are published I'll fulminate with the best of 'em.

Update: Dolly's hostility to right of centre bloggers is hard to explain.

Update 2:
In what is perhaps the most vicious section, McBride suggests spreading rumours about the mental health of Frances
Derek Draper is a psychotherapist remember.

Quote Of The Day.

Squander Two isn't impressed with the residents of Broughton, near Milton Keynes, who stopped the google streetview car from taking photos. Particularly the claim that Google Streetview helps burglars:
Because that's what burglars do. Your typical burglar isn't sure where to find actual houses and has no idea where wealthy people live, often mistakenly breaking into hovels full of shit and making off with hauls consisting of little more than toenails and cheese, so will travel thousands of miles if he sees evidence of that Holy Grail, a house with some decent stuff in it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Family Trusts & Tax Dodging- A Timeless Combination.

One of the ways the super rich avoid having their descendants pay tax on their inheritances or go on a mad spending spree that squanders the family fortune is to form charitable trusts which their family can administrate for a lucrative salary for generations, hence the Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford foundations (the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation is a bit different because that is planned so it will expire at some point in the future).

I'd always assumed this was a 20th century American invention, so was surprised to learn that it is a dodge that has been going on since at least the time of the medieval Ottoman Empire:
Under Islamic law property given to endow a Vakif {An Islamic Charity} could never be taken from it, and its income was meant to be tax free, many rich Muslims would appoint their descendants as salaried administrators of these endowments, thus creating in effect a financially advantageous family trust.
The quote is from Noel Malcolm's 'Kosovo- A Short History'.

The Ottomans hadn't advanced to the stage where the Sultan would pay the vakifs to lobby him, but it's interesting how similar tax arrangements will create similar dodges hundreds of years apart in completely different cultures.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Competitive Shroud Waving.

Anyone else noticed that certain shroud wavers who were taking the silence* of right wing bloggers over the death of a G-20 protester (or passerby) to be "The stench of hypocrisy" or a "salient demonstration of quite what the right really thinks about freedom in this country" have been remarkably silent over the conviction of a police officer for causing the death of a schoolgirl by dangerous driving?

It can't really be claimed that the one death is less outrageous than the other, because driving at 94mph in a built up are without a siren on is clearly more likely to cause death than hitting someone in the legs and then pushing them in the back. So why the double standard? Could it be that synthetic outrage over one incident is being cultivated so that it can provide an opportunity for sanctimonious moralising and pretending that we live in a police state?

I suppose I should state my own views on the death of Ian Tomlinson to prevent any accusations that I'm justifying it, although my thoughts on the matter aren't terribly interesting. The degree of force he was subjected to was unnecessary and even though it could not really have been anticipated that it would cause serious harm let alone death it may be involuntary manslaughter if a medical examination concludes that it led directly to his death. It is possible that he had been deliberately walking slowly in front of the police but even if that is the case it doesn't justify being beaten with a baton.

* There wasn't any actual silence of course.


Whilst looking up something about the Sami (Lapps) yesterday I discovered that one of Britain's worst newspaper columnists is actually a Sami woman:

If Doctors Make You Better Then Why Are Hospitals Full Of Sick People?

I saw this story a couple of days ago:

Patients with higher IQs are better at caring for their long-term health, new Scottish research has suggested.

A study involving 2000 Scots showed those with high intelligence are more likely to continue taking prescribed medication over a long period.

They were also able to consider the future of their health and to follow a course of preventative medication, even when there were no symptoms of illness.

This seems plausible, and one recent high profile celebrity death bears out the idea. However the reason I'm blogging about the story isn't because of any interest in the research, but because I remember seeing this same story a couple of months ago in the Daily Mail* and at the time thinking to myself that the comments demonstrate exactly why stupid people are a high risk group:

After my heart attack 4 years ago I have never missed taking my medication once ! does this mean I am now in the same category as Albert Einstein ?
what a load of Tosh ""

I don't agree. IQ has nothing to do with being smart or intelligent or skilled or anything else. I don't need to go to 'doctors' because I am healthy and won't allow them to inject filth into my body in any form and become unhealthy.

Many of tose folk with a higher IQ live longer because they avoid anything to do with the medical profession preferring to diagnose to themselves as to keeping their fitness.

- hills, Aquitaine,

And the really intelligent amongst us stay away from doctors in the first place.

What a load of rubbish. I would have thought that an intelligent person would look at all options not just do as the doctor says. Where is the intelligence in taking pills that you have been told to take by someone wearing a white coat?

The whole thread continues in that style with the general consensus being that doctors and modern medicine make you ill.

* I don't usually go in for sneering at the 'Daily Mail', except for their health coverage which is aimed at hypochondriacs and idiots.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Quote Of The Day.

A defendant has been on the run for the past five years after wounding a man in Potterspury who had tried to stop him drink driving.
So where was this criminal mastermind when he was hiding from the law for half a decade?
Judge Richard Bray said: "A bizarre feature of this case is that in the meantime you have twice been dealt with at the magistrates' court".

We Must Understand The Root Causes Of Police Violence.

It is easy to rush to condemn the apparent assault by the police on Ian Tomlinson, however surely we as a society must ask ourselves what are the root causes of violent behaviour. A simplistic argument would be to place the blame on the person responsible but that would be to ignore the complex interactions that lead to violence such as poverty, inequality, US foreign policy, global warming and non organic food.

Seemingly common sense solutions serve to ignore what should be a wake up call to the problems faced by the policing community. Sure it is easier to demonise the individual police officer who hit Mr Tomlinson but .......... Stop.

I've just got the memo 'violence has root causes unless it is perpetrated by members of special oppressor groups' so forget what I just wrote.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Who Needs The Public?

Charities will lose public trust if they put political campaigning above helping the needy
Yes but so what? Who needs the public's trust when you can get free money from the government? I haven't checked but I bet most of the organisations listed in the article are fake charities.

Phony Peace Protests

Peace protesters are not really peace protesters when they only protest for peace when the bloodthirsty lunatics they support are losing.

There's no particular reason for the UK to take sides, both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers are fairly unpleasant.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Jacqui Smith Porn Poll Result.

Astonishingly most people think that I am shameless exploiting the Jacqui Smith porn scandal!:

Are some bloggers covering the Jacqui Smith porn scandal excessively in order to bolster their site traffic?

A) Yes they are, the scandal mongerers. 3 (7%)
B) Yes YOU are, you shameless c**t: 24 (61%)
C) No they are covering it appropriately: 7 (17%)
D) What Jacqui Smith porn scandal?: 5 (12%)

Update; Jacqui Smith's porn obsession knows no bounds!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Homeless.

Someone is complaining about homelessness, this time in Sacramento, California. It isn't a coincidence that homelessness is most common in left wing strongholds like Northern California because there are a set of policies that will invariably create a homeless problem:
  • Onerous environmental restrictions on development.
  • Rent control to remove the incentive to build more houses.
  • Free money for homeless people, removing the incentive to get off the streets. Giving cash to drug addicts is about as good an idea as it sounds.
  • A thriving homelessness industry, whose adherents will do anything they can to avoid the cash cow problem actually being dealt with.
Despite this whenever left wingers raise the problem it is always blamed on the right (hence the Wall Street Journal's "Homelessness Rediscovery Watch" which ran throughout the Bush administration).

Quote Of The Day.

Laban Tall looks at some recently convicted criminals:
Yaw Darko-Kwakye ?

If you shouted his name at him in the street you'd be jailed for racist abuse.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Told You So.

Remember what I was saying about spree killings inspring copycat events in the following days and weeks? Well I told you so.

Update: The shooter appears to be Vietnamese, so perhaps I should make a tenuous connection to Vietnamese incarceration rates in the UK and make it a double I told you so.

Lost & Found.

I lent my hang glider to my old mate Fred the Leper last week and I haven't seen him or it since.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hypocrite Of The Day- Sunny Hundal.

Following on from my previous post- Sunny Hundal, today:
It's worth stressing that the police decision to form a cordon and not allow people free movement started becoming a focus point for their annoyance. For a while the chanting was their only form of protest. But we felt like we were in a pressure cooker.
So he doesnt like being cooped up and not allowed to leave. Quite understandable, so you'd expect he would have condemned outright the idiots who kept passengers stuck in Stansted Airport a few months back right? Er no:
Well Done Plane Stupid.

Honestly, I love these guys. It does somewhat worry me that Plane Stupid is so unwilling to have a constitution or an organisational structure that soon enough someone malicious will try something violent and claim he/she was doing it as part of Plane Stupid to save the planet.

Otherwise, fully supportive of yesterday’s occupation of Stansted.
Obviously detaining the ghastly chavvy holiday makers is a price worth paying whereas stopping important people like Sunny who explained to the stupid police officers who they were is an outrageous violation of civil liberties.

Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Crusty.

One of the G20 protests yesterday was the Climate Camp, who set up their tents in the middle of London's streets.

Now what happens if there is an ad hoc camp site in the middle of the road? The roads become unusable for ordinary people trying to come in and out.

So the climate campers blocked other people's free movement.

So does anyone want to have a guess at what there bitching about in relation to the police's treatment of them? The police prevented them from going in or out of the protest zone.

Their free movement was blocked.


(See also Julia and LfaT).

The Sincerity Of A Greeting Card.

Gordon Brown is pleased by the effusive praise for his 'extraordinary leadership' he received by the US president Barack Oprompta, which is understandable given the latter's impressive popularity.

It certainly sounds impressive until you realise that he says something similar about everyone, even Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, whose leadership he also praised, which is akin to praising Kermit the Frog for his stewardship of the Muppet show whilst not mentioning Jim Henson.

Maths: Chicks Versus Children.

Two stories:
Baby chicks do basic arithmetic
Pupils 'not performing' in maths
I'm not criticising our hard working teachers, but surely if our avian friends, with brains the size of walnuts are outperforming British schoolchildren, then maybe there are flaws in our teaching system.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Get Ahead.

I'm no detective but I think I could do a better job than Leicestershire constabulary. A head has been discovered in a field:

"In the meantime we're looking into the circumstances surrounding the discovery, but are keeping an open mind as to why and how the head came to be in the field.

Are there really that many possibilities as to how a head, sans body, came to be in a field? Is it really likely that it just fell off spontaneously and the body made it's way home separately?

Quote Of The Day.

Can you guess who is being discussed here?:

The executive summary: he drives like a cunt, and it's the Tories' fault.

G-20- Why?

Is it me or is the G20 basically the G8 with Affirmative Action, in which we pretend that a bunch of large third world countries are of critical importance on the world stage? Does anyone really believe that it matters whether or not Argentina or Indonesia go along with whatever is proposed or not?

There was a leaked paper a couple of weeks ago suggesting that the British government had divided the countries into two tiers based on their importance, Canadians were surprised to discover that their country was 2nd tier, whilst South Africa with an economy about a quarter the size of Canada's was first tier. It isn't as if the world is awaiting the deep insight of third world leaders.

While all sorts of countries that simply don't matter that much clog up the space, important economic players like Spain and the Netherlands aren't even in the G20 (although are represented this time, so it's really the G22).

Of course given that the chances of the G20 summit accomplishing anything except allow anti-globalisation protesters demonstrate what tossers they are, let alone Broon's "Global New Deal" (what we want to prolong the downturn for a decade?), it doesn't really matter who attends.