Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Scaremongering About Vaccines.

The coverage of the cervical cancer jab has been ridiculous, with a flood of speculation that the girl who died was killed by the jab followed by a trickle of reporting that she probably wasn't.

Of course it it possible that some people will have bad reactions to some vaccines even if that doesn't appear to have occurred here. However as Theodore Dalrymple points out we have become so accustomed to the benefits of vaccination that the minuscule risks are no longer weighed against the dangers of infectious diseases.

The comments on this Daily Mail thread have to be read to be believed, with a solid majority of commentators peddling psuedo science, hypochondria and conspiracy theories (I'm not a fan of the government but anyone who thinks they are covering up the mass poisoning of children to protect the pharmaceutical industry's profits is insane).

Although deaths among 14 year old girls are very rare they do happen, the risk of death at that age is around 1 in 5000. So if there are roughly 500,000 14 year old girls in the UK then around 100 will die each year. If they have all received a jab that year then it is highly likely that once every couple of years someone will die with 24 hours of being vaccinated. These will be heavily publicised whereas the far more frequent deaths from HPV related cancers among adults will be ignored, unless it's Jade Goody.

As there are several routine vaccinations at around that age, it is amazing that more deaths don't get spuriously linked to vaccinations.

A Lap Dance Club On Every Corner

Okay I think that it is now fair to say that Harriet Harman has completely lost it:
George Osborne, instead of a Sure Start centre in every community, would promise a lap dancing club in every community.
Cretinous. The whole speech is beyond the normal levels of conference stupidity. Mind you at least lap dancing clubs would be less expensive to the tax payer and would provide well paid jobs.

This demonstrates that regardless of Brown's speech yesterday, many of Labour's senior figures have given up on trying to attract moderates and floating voters so are instead playing to the gallery in order to position themselves for the party infighting that is sure to follow.

Funny How Only People Who Oppose Me Are Mad.

Gordon Brown isn't the first politician to have his sanity questioned, a few year ago an article in the New Statesman (owned by Brown's friend and ally Geoffrey Robinson) asserted that:
For several weeks, I have been talking to psychologists and psychiatrists about what drives the Prime Minister. One view emerged strongly: there appears to be something worryingly adrift in the mind of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, a man who doesn't really know who or what he is. More technically, he is diagnosed as a psychopath
Oliver James has made a career out of pretending that people of differing political views to his are certifiable.

Gordon Brown supposedly has a deep interest in US politics (he holidays in Cape Cod apparently), so he'll be aware of the infamous poll of psychiatrists in the 1964 election where over a thousand of them declared Barry Goldwater to be mentally unfit to be president. Some of the jargon laden 'diagnoses' are quite startling:

"Senator Barry Goldwater gives the superficial appearance of solidity, stability, and honesty. However, my impression is of a brittle, rigid personality structure, based on a soft-spoken continuous demand for power and authority and capable of either shattering like crystal glass or bolstering itself by the assumption of a paranoid stance and more power over others..."

"Goldwater suffers from a kind of social and political infantilism in his complete failure to grasp the economic and political realities of the modern world. Playing "cops and robbers" may seem like fun for the John Birchers and reactionaries who support him, but to put at the helm of our nation a bespectacled, grey-haired man with the social comprehension of a four-year-old (who solves problems by going "bang bang" at the bad guys) is as dangerous as putting a child of that age at the controls of a jet airliner."

In fairness back in 1964 there was no where frustrated academics could express their ill informed opinions about matters unrelated to their areas of expertise.

However the fact that this sort of thing is still going on today suggests that something else is going on and I think it is down to the "Cracker" effect. A belief that rudimentary psychology is a shortcut to understanding important facts about someone's inner world on the basis of superficial behavioural clues.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Gord Is My Shepherd.

Google's suggestions when entering a search can be a little odd, for example when you enter "I am" one of the top suggestions is "I am extremely terrified of Chinese people". They are a little scary perhaps but not extremely terrifying surely?

Anyway this is all a prelude to seeing what people are searching about for prominet individuals, I'll start off with some politicians:
Barack Obama is: "Your new bicycle", "the antichrist", "Irish", "not black" and "a Muslim".

Gordon Brown is: "shit", "my shepherd", "a prick", "an idiot" and "a moron".

David Cameron is: "an idiot", "sexy", "hot", "a joke" and "Jewish".

George Bush is: "an Islamic fundamentalist", "an alien", "dead", "an idiot" and "a monkey"
David Cameron's secret Jewishness could make his meeting with Barack Obama who is a secret Muslim awkward although at least the Islamic Fundamentalist, George Bush is no longer in office.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Poles Apart

Last Week:
Polish MPs have passed legislation making it obligatory to chemically castrate certain sex offenders.

Under the law anyone found guilty of raping children under 15, or close relatives, will be given drugs to lower their sex drive.
They were part of a bill that also increases jail terms for incest and paedophilia, and criminalises any attempt to justify paedophilia.

This Week:
Oscar-winning director Andrzej Wajda and other Polish filmmakers appealed Monday to U.S. and Swiss authorities to free Roman Polanski, decrying his arrest as a "provocation."

Their appeal came as the Polish and French governments wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and called up Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey about the case.


William Safire the former token conservative at the New York Times who died yesterday should spend several thousand years in purgatory as penitence for one of the great sins of recent history- he began the use of the suffix "gate" to describe and hype up non Watergate* related scandals when he applied it to a story about one of Jimmy Carter's high level appointees Bert Lance.

The story was trivial with no actual evidence of wrongdoing but by attaching the word 'gate', Lancegate became a damaging scandal that forced the resignation of the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

* If another scandal involving the Watergate Hotel happened now, would it be known as 'Watergategate'?

126 Not Out

Sources close to Weinstein said the mogul would reach out to Hollywood to lobby against any move to bring Polanski to the US, where he could face up to 50 years in jail.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't believe Polanski will be in prison until he is 126 years old.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Quite a few news organisations are describing Roman Polanski as "The controversial Polish-French director" or some variant thereof. It seems a surprising description of someone who drugged and raped a 13 year old girl as most people tend to agree that this is a bad thing.

Prime Ministerial Pill Popping Probed

Andrew Marr has surprised a lot of people by asking Gordon Brown about the rumours that he is addicted to pain killers.

Whilst I enjoyed watching Brown's reaction I'm not convinced it was right to ask the question because when someone as prominent as Andrew Marr asks the question it gives credence to what had previously been unsourced rumours.

It might be argued that we have a right to know whether the PM takes painkillers but we also have a right to know whether he has sex with farmyard animals but asking him about that directly would give credence to the rumour that he committed bestiality even though he has (probably) never done so.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Has the massive expansion of biodefence research in the US since the anthrax letters of 2001 made America a safer place, or more dangerous?

That's the burning question among specialists in infectious disease, after a flurry of concerns about safety at labs handling potential bioweapons agents.
The chief suspect in the 2001 anthrax case is thought to be Bruce Ivins*, a biodefence researcher who committed suicide shortly before charges were brought against him last year. It is a bit of a murky affair and lots of alternative theories of varying plausibility abound though.

However it seems likely that the anthrax was sent by someone who only had access to weaponised anthrax in order to prepare a response in case anyone use weaponised anthrax. In other words if it weren't for the efforts to prepare for an anthrax attack there would have been no anthrax attack.

So wouldn't the safest method of avoiding future attacks with biological weapons be to stop making them? As it is it seems to be somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy, to prepare for biological warfare by getting leading scientists to develop more effective forms of biological warfare.

Most terrorist groups can't develop weapons themselves because they have neither the resources nor the expertise to carry out complex research and development. Countries can make them, and in some cases probably are doing so, but by and large those most likely to use them would be more likely to harm themselves than to harm the countries with the highest standards of public health and the best medical researchers on the planet.

* He appears to have been the scientific equivalent of those firemen/arsonists, releasing the anthrax in order to push the US government to increase research on anthrax.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quote Of The Day.

Well quote of Tuesday. Phil Woolas interviewed on Newsnight about the Baroness Scotland brouhaha:
Are we really saying that anybody who commits a civil offence has to resign from public life 'cos there wouldn't be many left would there?
That's the defence? She shouldn't resign because the rest of them are just as bad?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wrong Piers.

I was very sad to see that the former Tory MP Piers Merchant has died. Not because I know anything about him apart from the scandal that forced his resignation, but because I initially thought it said the Piers Morgan had died so I was gutted to discover this wasn't the case.


I'll probably be busy tomorrow and maybe Friday.

It's actually kind of big deal, I'm finalising my screenplay that I hope will turn me into a Hollywood player. It's a franchise merger similar to Alien Vs Predator, and I hope then when my script for "Seven Samurai for Seven Brothers"* is seen by a producer success will be mine.

* It's a heart warming musical about 7 hillbilly brothers who are desperate for brides but never get to meet anyone because they live in the mountains, so they travel to feudal era Japan to kidnap 7 renowned warriors to become their civil partners.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Government By Targets

Figures released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families today showed that Conservative-controlled Kent County Council had the highest number of schools failing to reach the Government’s target of 30 per cent of pupils getting five A* to C grade passes at GCSE including maths and English.
This target of is meaningless, ridiculous and counter productive, because it focuses on the number of schools achieving certain targets rather than the numbers of pupils.

The Independent highlights Kent because it has a selective system* (although the report mentions Leeds & Suffolk too) Obviously Secondary Moderns will have lower than pass rates at GCSE than Comprehensives, all things being equal, and the Grammars will have higher pass rates.

However what matters in not what pass rate a school has, but what actual real flesh and blood children get. It is quite possible that the average child in Kent has a higher than average chance of achieving 5 or more GCSEs in Kent than in a non selective area, I don't know if this is the case because that data does not appear to be available. If this is the case then Kent could end up simultaneously reducing the number of failing schools but increasing the number of failing pupils.

It creates perverse incentives for education authorities, by forcing them to focus on schools rather than pupils, it becomes more beneficial to them to restrict parental choice so that failing schools aren't deprived of fresh victims rather than allowing successful schools to expand.

The use of arbitrary and unhelpful targets isn't simply the result of the personal failings of Ed Balls, it is an inevitable consequence of trying to run every school in the country from the ministry.

* See here for previous thoughts on Grammars and Comprehensives. In short neither system is ideal and they are not the only two options.

Who Knew?

China not always open to reporters

Live Blogging The Lib Dem Conference.

9:50- a worth while speech on the merits of.......... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz [snore] zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz [snore] zzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzz [snore] zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

4:30- Where am I?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Suspense Is Killing Me.

Watching Newsnight just now I saw Jeremy Paxman introduce an interview with film director Spike Lee and he said he was going to ask the director whether the opposition to Obama is about race.

Unfortunately I missed the actual interview. So it's a complete mystery as to whether Lee will detect racism or not.

Vladimir & His Life Partner.

To return to one of this blog's most familiar themes*, the glaring obvious homosexuality of Vladimir Putin, here is a link to a photo gallery of him and Dmitri Medvedev.

{via the Agitator}

* I don't know whether I was kicked off the meme, but if you google "Putin" "Gay" then this blog is the 4th most popular result, and all the higher ranked results are more recent.

Medical Breakthrough

Even the placebo seems to work quite well.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baroness Scotland.

She is one of the few members of the government who is probably making a financial sacrifice to be a minister. As a qualified QC she could be raking it in.

So it is a bit surprising that she hasn't resigned already.

However if a caution or conviction for employing an illegal immigrant would lead to her disbarment then she has every incentive to cling on to office for dear life. Anyone know whether this is the case?

Can We Not Just Shoot Them Now?

US Advocates Push To Expand Community Reinvestment Act
Because sending the world economy crashing of the edge of a cliff isn't enough to discredit a piece of legislation it seems.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The New Statesman's James MacInitup Macintyre complains:
Hannan is a former newspaper columnist (you may remember he tried to smear me
Is that even possible?

In a week or so we shall no doubt be hearing, in James Macintyre's column, that President Obama has been concerned about Daniel Hannan for sometime now.....

Update: Macintyre's article appears to have disappeared into the ether. It could be a technical problem or Daniel Hannan's lawyers might have had a word.

Awesome Lapdancing Video.

Here's a video of native Laplanders performing a traditional dance:

Apparently Harriet Harman wants to ban this which seems to be a little racist against one of Europe's indigenous minorities to me.

Update: Here's some Pole dancing too:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Curse Of Brown Strikes Again.

He really is bad luck.

Free Heroin Probably Not A Good Idea

I am in favour of legalising most drugs, including cocaine & heroin. That doesn't mean I see drug addicts as victims though, so I have to disagree with Madsen Pirie, of the excellent Adam Smith Institute, when he proposes:
Drug addiction should be viewed as a medical problem. Doctors and nurses, rather than police, should handle it. There should be high-street clinics, staffed by medical personnel, where addicts can receive supplies to be consumed on the premises.
If someone chooses to take heroin I don't want to lock them up for it, but I don't want to pay for their hobby either. They have chosen to be engage in self indulgent and self destructive behavior so why on Earth should tax payers have to subsidise them?

I very much doubt that giving heroin aways for free will reduce consumption of the stuff any more than free bars would cut rates of alcoholism.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interesting Definition Of 'Right'

Polly Toynbee ends her latest column, about Gordon Brown's admission that contrary to what he had previously been saying, there would have to be cuts after all, with this:

Sadly, being right is not always enough.

The whole point of the Brown U-turn is that he was not right. He had been knowing telling the public untruths about what his government would do, in order to create one of his beloved 'dividing lines' between Labour and the Tories.

Incidentally this just confirms what has been obvious for a long time- Gordon Brown is the Wile E Coyote of British politics. He is an inveterate schemer but utterly useless at it. He thought it would be a brilliant wheeze to seize on Andrew Lansley's comments about there being a necessity for cuts by pretending that there wouldn't be cuts under Labour. The plan was always going to backfire and leave Brown looking dishonest when he made the claims and feeble when he was forced to back down. He also squandered a potentially effective approach for Labour- making the debate be about whom the public trusted to make the necessary cuts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Zealand Birds

An interesting headline in the Telegraph:
Legendary man-eating New Zealand bird 'did exist'
However according to the Australian press New Zealand's legendary man eating birds are quite real even today.

Evaluating Mr Toad.

I'm inclined to agree with Dominic Lawson's opinion about Alan Clark- he was " sleazy, vindictive, greedy, callous and cruel" and largely got away with it because having a castle meant that a sufficient number of social climbers were willing to indulge him in a manner they would not have done had he been the son of a taxi driver.

He was somewhat amusing as a kind of sitcom character but unsavoury and corrupt nonetheless.

The Ancestor's Tale.

- Hello, I'm an amateur genealogist and I've been tracking down relatives of a very prominent historic individual. You're one of his closest relatives!

- Wow that's wonderful to hear, I'm always interested in family history, who is it.

- Well you know you're Austrian uncle?

- Gosh who could he be related to, Mozart, Scwarzenegger or Sigmund Freud perhaps....

- Nope guess again.

- Oh bollocks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

11th of September 2009- John Denham. the Communities Secretary* denounces groups who move to an area and then form enclaves and refuse to adapt to the host community's culture.

12th of September 2009- John Denham denounces people who demonstrate against groups who they claim move into an area and then form enclaves and refuse to adapt to the host commuity's culture.

* When we get a new government can we please go back to having grown up names for cabinet portfolios that recognise some limits to the scope of government- no more Secretaries of State for "Communities", "Children, Schools & Families" and the like?

{Via Julia, Leg Iron & Devil's Kitchen}

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cop Rock & Other Doomed TV Concepts

Whilst I frequently praise American television part of the reason for their success is that they take risks. The nature of probablitity means that many risks fail abysmally as this list of the "Most Outlandish TV Concepts Ever" demonstrates. For every "The Shield" there must be a "Cop Rock" a police procedural/musical!

Free Money!

Naomi Klein has produced a veritable stupidity mine with her latest article- one could extract nuggets of pure dumb for weeks. However I'm just going to highlight just one passage:

The hardest part of selling reparations in the US has always been the perception that something would have to be taken away from whites in order for it to be given to blacks and other minorities. But because of the broad support for large stimulus spending, there is a staggering amount of new money floating around – money that does not yet belong to any one group.
Yep she's really proposing to use the stimulus package for reparations for slavery. Plus she thinks that because there is new money, giving it to one particular group (actually political activist organisations that purport to represent them) won't represent a transfer of wealth from everyone else. Tell you what why doesn't the government treble the supply of money and spread it among everyone except Naomi Klein, after all by her reasoning this will mean that nothing has been taken from her.

Feel free to cite any other jaw dropping examples of stupidity in her article.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Think Of The Children. (Unless You Are On The Register)

Compulsory CRB checks for anyone who has any official contact with children ever seems like a waste of time to me. Aside from discouraging adults from having any interaction with children, it doesn't seem like a particularly effective method of protecting children in any case.

There are around 16 million children in Britain, let's suppose that there are around 15 million parents of children ( a very rough estimate of course but that doesn't matter for now). Assuming that maybe 1 in 15 of them wishes to get involved with helping children other than their own that would require 1 million CRB checks each year. This is a guesstimate but it seems like a reasonable ball park figure. Each test costs around £30, so let's say the total cost of all this is £30 million (not including the cost of lost volunteers).

Meanwhile there are around 30000 people on the sex offenders register. Why not take the £30 million and add £1000 per known offender in additional funding, for monitoring the people on the register? With that money they could easily carry out a number of random spot checks on each known offender throughout the year, in addition to the sex offender monitoring that already occurs.

Since it is effectively impossible to check every single person who has access to children in any case the whole thing amounts to trying to catch water with a sieve in any case and risks creating false complacency about child safety by pretending that comprehensive monitoring is possible when it is not and probably never will be.

Parliamentary Punch Ups.

I love the fact that Taiwan's parliament is so violent that a montage of the best brawls can be compiled:


Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm So Sorry That People In The Past Weren't As Morally Worthy As Myself.

One of the reason apologising for historic wrongs is usually a bad idea is that there is often a very strong subtext of self congratulation masquerading as regret, comparing the moral failings of others and contrasting it with one's own enlightened and modern sensibilities.

I say subtext but in Gordon Brown's clunking fist it just becomes text, as today's apology to Alan Turing who died over half a century ago:
I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.
How can you be sorry and proud at the same time? There is nothing for Gordon Brown to be sorry for, he isn't responsible for something that happened when he was a toddler. Equally he has nothing to be proud of, the treatment of Alan Turing was disgraceful and tragic but that applies to a lot of events in history why feel proud simply because we live in an era with slightly different moral codes than that which existed at other times?

Historic apologies are just an excuse for sanctimonious moral preening.

{via Plato}

Undisputed World Champion.

I see that I have won the World Series of Victimhood Poker. One day I hope to mentioned in the same breathe as previous champions of Victimhood Poker- such as the great Rigoberta Menchu who won a Nobel prize for her harrowing account of victimhood.

This isn't just for me though, this is for all those who have suffered from oppression, be they victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonial rule in India, Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, the cruel silenceing of Van Jones, global warming, corporate profits, white privilige, homophobia, Islamophobia, so called "war on terror"...... sorry where was I?

Book Review- The Housing Boom & Bust.

This will appear on my Amazon review page shortly:

The Housing Boom & Bust by Thomas Sowell

The boom and bust in the US housing market has had enormous implications for the world economy as a whole so it is useful to have a grasp of what caused it, how we can avoid doing it again and how not to respond.

The bust is easy to explain- house prices rises vastly exceeded gains in income, population or productivity so could not be sustained. A bust was inevitable, explaining the boom is the tricky part.

Contrary to popular dogma the boom wasn't fueled by 'deregulation' or the free market but was brought into being by the government interventions- whether in restricting land use or coercing banks to drop lending standards.

I won't attempt to rehash the entire book but Sowell looks at the impact of all the main players- the banks, the federal government, Fannie & Freddie and the regulators and explains how they each interacted to cause this failure. Unsurprisingly politicians come out particularly badly.

The book probably was rushed out by the publishers soon after the crisis came to a head in late 2008 and early 2009, hence the awkward lack of numbered end notes (there is a chapter by chapter list of sources but it is much harder to cross reference). However the analysis doesn't really suffer because Sowell has been writing about aspects of the crisis for years before the actual crash.


I've got an email from Ed Miliband, not to me personally but to Labour supporters in general.

Can anyone spot the problem here?

Someone, somehow has mistaken* me for a Labour supporter!!

That is pretty insulting.

* I assume that's what has happened although I might have given them my email address about 4 years ago during the General Election when they had a "Proud Of Britain" website which accepted contributions from the public and so practically demanded that piss takers register in order to post really ridiculous things we were proud of. If that's where they got my email then their web operation must be awful because it's the first communique I've received in 4 years!

Join The Queue Mate

David Morrissey up for one more stab at Gordon Brown
Aren't we all?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Like The Real Thing But With More Viewers.

Is it me or does this scam- convincing assorted young women to enter a house for several months under the false impression that they will be appearing on a popular reality show when in reality the only people watching them are perverts on the internet- seem pretty much like the real Big Brother?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tabloid Story Of The Day

I went on illicit affair site for fun and found my husband already there
And then you went to the newspaper to tell everyone!

Then Sara, 40, caught sight of someone she hadn't expected to find.

Staring back from the computer screen was her husband, Paul, 50.

He put his photograph onto the site? She didn't marry him for his brains did she?

Realising the depths to which her marriage had sunk, Sara's world came crashing down.

She explains: "It sounds hypocritical, but I was totally gutted.

Yes because it is hypocritical.

"I'd joined the site on the spur of the moment because I was feeling unattractive.
Well at least there's nothing wrong with her eyesight.

"I've always been big but after getting pregnant with our 15-year-old son Andrew I'd ballooned.
Being pregnant with a 15 year old would be strenuous. I'm sure he's appreciates his mother spilling the beans to the Sun on his parents' pathetic attempted adultery. It must really be making his life at school easier.

While he failed to get any responses, Sara received requests from two men who wanted to meet.

She says: "They were both married but said the spark had gone out of their relationships.

"I was flattered to think other men still found me attractive.

The found you available not 'attractive'.

"I got in touch with them and the messages quickly turned steamy. One of them started pushing for us to meet. I probably would have done - but then Paul found out."

He was furious. A friend had told him Sara had joined the site.

Jesus fucking Christ, even their friends are on the site! Makes you wonder why they had to go online to cheat if they are surrounded by fellow afficianados of that site.

Anyway it continues until there is a happy ending and they get divorced.

Self Appointed Experts.

To misquote Tom Wolfe, we are always being told that the dark night of extremism is descending on the American right yet it always seems to land on the left.

The departure of Obama's truthy former "Green Jobs" advisor Van Jones was inevitable and right. As I've said before I believe that the science supports the proposition that global warming is to a large extent man made which probably puts me in a minority in my part of the political spectrum. A lot of the public is scpetical of AGW so it doesn't help that environmentalists are perfectly happy to have gibbering lunatics as their spokesmen (I call this "Michael Meacher Syndrome").

Anyway how did Van Jones come to be appointed as Obama's expert on creating "Green Jobs"? He didn't spend years familiarising himself with economic theory, he didn't run a business, he didn't study to make himself an expert on energy policy and he didn't learn engineering so that he could create energy solutions. In fact as far as I can tell he is a dilettante who bounced around as an activist for whatever far left cause was flavour of the month, before he designated himself as an expert on the environment and job creation, he was a "Civil rights activist" (race hustler), "human rights activist" (anti-police demagogue) and an advocate of "social justice" (not to be confused with normal justice).

In other words there was nothing in his background to support his claim to expertise in the Green economy, in fact in so far as he insisted that there wouldn't be any trade offs to shifting the economy in such a different direction he is almost the exact opposite of a economic expert. Yet on the basis of these non existent credentials he was recruited by the President of the USA. It is like appointing Gillian McKeith as Surgeon General. That is the scandal.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Quote Of The Day.

The Guardian raises the question of whether we should switch which side of the road we drive on, to which one commentator replies:
In a multicultural society like Britain we should be allowed to drive on whichever side of the road we like.

Law & Orde

January 2007- Chief of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde, welcomes Sinn Fein's decision to participate in policing:

"I have always said that no ideology or individual should stand between the public and that service and that the community is entitled to have their public representatives hold this police service to account."

September 2009- Head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Hugh Orde, condemns the idea of allowing people to elect police commissioners because of the dangers of extremists:

Asked whether he feared that a BNP or far-right candidate could seize upon this, Sir Hugh replied: "Yes, that is a risk. If you have a system whereby anyone can stand to be elected as the local police commissioner, you could have any Tom, Dick or Harriet standing. If they can muster enough support against a backdrop of public apathy, then of course it is a risk."

I guess some people aren't entitled to have their public representatives hold the police service to account after all.

Incidentally the chances of the BNP having a representative elected to be a police commissioner is trivial. As it is they gain seats in proportional representation systems because they only need 10% or so of the vote. The idea that they could win an election to a single office is absurd. They do very badly in council elections under FPTP because if voters can vote against the BNP they generally do. They could no more win an election in large constituency for one office than they could win a parliamentary constituency.

Then again ACPO is the Chief Constables' trade union so it is fairly obvious that they will oppose any move to diminish their power.


Hate Speech!!!!

Incidentally in relation to the previous post, I was rereading the first volume of Churchill's "The Second World War" and I came across this quote that would probably earn him a visit from the police if he had written it in 2009. About Mein Kampf:
All was there—the programme of German resurrection, the technique of party propaganda; the plan for combating Marxism; the concept of a National-Socialist State; the rightful position of Germany at the summit ofthe world. Here was the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.
In context he isn't really comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf (since he says nothing about Islam at all apart from that sentence) but context wouldn't be enough to someone him from the wrath of the diversity police.

Damn The War Monger/ Appeaser!

Following the kerfuffle over a column of Pat Buchanan's that some saw as being too sympathetic to poor peace loving Adolf Hitler who was forced into war, I ended up reading the transcript of his recent contribution to a debate on the subject of whether " Churchill was more a liability than an asset to the free world."

Several claims he makes struck me as dubious. Firstly he repeats the old myth about Churchill and the use of gas against the Kurds:

In 1920, as Secretary for War and Air, Churchill, enraged by Iraqi resistance to British colonial rule, declaimed, "I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes to spread a lively terror."

Eighty years later, Saddam Hussein and Chemical Ali would be hanged in Baghdad for doing what Churchill urged Britain to do and what Britain did.

Churchill specifically referred to the use of tear gas to minimise fatalities which is not remotely the same as Saddam and Chemical Ali using deadly nerve agents to create mass casualties and induce panic. Incidentally Chemical Ali has not been hanged at the time of writing.

He also makes Churchill bear the principle responsibility for events where he was at best a bit part player- for example he excoriates Churchill for the Washington Naval Conference, where fixed ratios were established between the naval power of Great Britain, the USA and Japan. Churchill also criticises the effects of this treaty in The Gathering Storm, but at the time of the conference he as not the First Lord of the Admiralty, not the Prime Minister & not the Foreign Secretary, yet in Pitchfork Pat's eyes Churchill seems to bear the primary responsibility.

The bombing of Dresden which is depicted as an assault on an unimportant city of a defeated power, is described as causing fatalities numbering from "from 35,000 to 250,000". Yet the only historians who have concluded such preposterously high figures numbering over 100,000 are the likes of David Irving and other pro-Nazi partisans.

Buchanan's criticisms of Churchill are all over the place as he swings wildly from condemning him for seeking war (with Germany) but also condemns him where he tried to avoid war (with Japan and with the USSR for example).

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Return Of Chucky

The Sun are trying to revive one of the silliest stories of the 1990s- the claim that the killers of James Bulger were inspired by the horror film Child's Play. Apparantly the two brothers age 10 and 11, who tortured two other children, were also inspired by the film:

SICK horror movie Child's Play, which the "Hell boys" watched, has been linked to a catalogue of crimes.

A female relative of the evil lads revealed their mum had let them watch the 18-cert slasher film when they were aged just "six or seven".

I can see the pattern here, they watched Child's Play and just half a decade later they tortured some kids, therefore Child's Play causes children to attack other children because nothing else might have happened in a brief five year period.

I haven't seen Child's Play and I haven't attacked any children- how much more proof do you need of the perils of the evil film?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hate Crime Hoaxes- A Question Of Incentives?

I missed this story when it first appeared, the story of a Muslim 'Community Leader' who was abducted by BNP members. Which is just as well as it appears to be a hate crime hoax.

Although if the police are still using the MacPherson rules in which a racist incident is one where the victim perceives it to be racist then I guess it is still a racist incident regardless of whether it actually happened or not.

Hate crime hoaxes have been common in the United States for years and have also occurred in France and elsewhere. I was going to say that they have spread over here from the US but that probably isn't quite true, because anyone who reads about fake hate crimes being discovered isn't likely to want to emulate them, knowing the possibility of being caught. If they had read about previous hoaxes then they would probably be more subtle about their own versions.

So if the idea of faking hate crimes hasn't spread but has evolved repeatedly in many countries over many years then this suggests that the same incentives to commit hate crimes exist in many countries so that many people independently come to the conclusion that faking a hate crime is a good idea.

I'm guessing those incentives are the cult of victimhood and hyper sensitivity over race and certain other identity groupings which makes it possibly to drown out opposition by falsely linking them to dangerous and violent groups. Plus of course the 'victim' instantly becomes a hero for resisting such hate filled bigots. There are probably other motivations too that haven't occrred to me yet.

{via Julia at Ambush Predator}

Book Review: Scandal- How "Gotcha" Politics Is Destroying America

This is a review of 'Scandal' by Lanny Davis which will be going up on my Amazon reviews page soon. I hope to be adding a few more soon. Incidentally I noticed a few weeks ago, almost overnight someone decided to rate about a dozen of my previous reviews as 'unhelpful'. Which is great because I've always wanted a nemesis who hates me!
Lanny Davis is the former Special Counsel to Bill Clinton during the impeachment process, an experience that has undoubtedly influenced his perspective in ‘Scandal’ where he denounces the culture by which reputations are destroyed simply by the appearance of wrong doing.

The history of what he terms “Gotcha” politics is traced from the vicious infighting of partisans of Hamilton and Jefferson during the early years of the republic, through the “gentleman’s agreement” that followed- whereby personal lives were mostly off limits- to the re-emergence of mutually destructive politics in the tumult of the 1960s and 70s.

Davis is a Democratic party member and whilst he probably criticises Republicans more than his own side he clearly at least strives to be fair minded and doesn’t claim that the sins of hyper partisan ship is limited to one side (he is probably the only Democrat I’ve read who acknowledges that the indictment of Casper Weinberger was flimsy and probably politically motivated and that the smear campaigns against Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were disgraceful). In fact in one of the most effective passages he charts the rise & fall of the Special Prosecutor/ Independent Counsel- as he points out the use of legal fishing expeditions to try to create some kind of scandal didn’t begin with Kenneth Starr investigation into the Clintons (which did catch Clinton perjuring himself which was serious in itself, but was an offence that occured purely because of the investigations into Whitewater and Vince Foster's suicide which were nonsense) but was inherent in the office from the moment of it’s creation in the late 1970s to its abolition two decades later.

Usually the investigations generated a lot of innuendo but found nothing that could be used to prosecute anyone. Interestingly two victims who were prosecuted- the Reagan Labor Secretary Ray Donovan & the Clinton Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy- by Independent Counsels found the evidence against them so feeble that they didn’t even bother to present their respective juries with defences and yet were still acquitted; such was the flimsiness of the case against them.

Towards the end of the book Davis offers some solutions to the Scandal culture, this is the least interesting part of the book as he seems to equate mushy centrism with civility. There is no reason why centrists should be more restrained than more ideologically driven politicians. Although his point about mainstream politicians having an obligation to call out the extremists on their own side.

When Bob Crow Is The Voice Of Reason....

... it probably means that the End Times are upon us, but he is quite right here:
"It defies belief that any individual who has been convicted of manslaughter for the killing of a woman could be even considered as an acceptable candidate for the knowledge and allowed out on to the London streets in a black cab.
I can't really add much to that.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mock The Weak.

Nick Cohen takes on the BBC's comedy panel show "Mock the Week" in his Standpoint article this month. There is much to dislike about Mock the Week, but Cohen picks the wrong target in Frankie Boyle, who for all his crudity and abusiveness often comes up with very funny lines and delivers them excellently. Contrary to Cohen I don't think he particularly targets obvious victims in his jokes. The humour is vicious and doesn't appeal to the better part of human nature so I can see an argument for saying it shouldn't be on at 9:00 in the evening but it is still amusing.

Besides which Cohen misses the more deserving targets. How can any attack on Mock the Week ignore the comedic black holes that are Andy Parsons and Russell Howard though?

Parsons is a kind of trollish looking man who seems as if he ought to be funny until he opens his mouth. Then he tells unfunny jokes in such a way that you can see the punchline coming a mile off. Also every single joke is told with the same rhythm so even if the punchline isn't immediately obvious you can tell it is coming anyway by the change in tone after the painfully contrived set up, (which usually consists of "They're saying that {insert some crap} eh?!").

The nicest thing that can be said about him is that he isn't Russell Howard. His jokes aren't always terrible (many of them would be funny if said by someone else), but he creates such an irritating persona as an attention seeking child who is always acting up to try and win the approval of his elders that he simply makes me want to slam his face in a car door. I wouldn't actually do that to an attention seeking child I must add.

{Via Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata and possibly via Blognor Regis although I'm not sure}

Trumping Property Rights

Since when does a bewigged* billionaire have the right to take your property to help make himself even richer?

Donald Trump has won another crucial victory in his bid to build the "world's greatest golf course" after planners approved his plans to expand the £1bn project onto land which is owned by his fiercest opponents.

The billionaire property developer has been allowed to exploit a quirk of Scottish planning law after Aberdeenshire council gave him outline permission to develop six plots of land he does not yet own, including the 25-acre property owned by Michael Forbes, his most famous critic.

The decision immediately provoked a furious row, with affected landowners promising to take legal action against the council to prevent it taking the next step – trying to seize their land using compulsory purchase powers.

Compulsory purchase powers should only be available in very rare circumstances where essential public services have an absolute need for a particular piece of land- for example building a reservoir may be a justifiable use of compulsory purchase orders because there would be no way that one particular property could be spared whilst flooding the surrounding area and water supply is a public good. A golf course is no justification for simply taking someone's property without consent.

There is something unseemly about fawning over people and granting them special privileges just because they are rich (see also the treatment of Sir Allen Stanford by the ECB for another recent example).

Most Scottish politicians have a reflexively anti-capitalist instinct but they probably believe that by granting special dispensations to big business they are showing how investor friendly they really are. Supporting economic development isn't about favouring the interests of developers over those of other parties but about providing clear rules that apply to everyone and property rights that can be defended in a court of law, even against the likes of Donald Trump.

* Actually it probably isn't a wig, just a combover. No one would buy a wig that bad.

{via Alex Massie}

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It's Difficult To Make Predictions, Especially About The Future.

Long range predictions are always fraught with the danger of seeming very silly and not simply with the benefit of hindsight*. However in the New Statesman, George Friedman of Stratfor, has a go at predicting the next 100 years. Much of it is interesting, although much of it seems preposterous.

However two comments relating to Mexico strike me as extraordinary, when they are in the same article:
The US has room to grow and it manages immigration well.
Okay, that's a reasonable belief. Honest people can believe that the level of immigration to the USA is either good or bad. However when the same author writes:
Many areas of northern Mexico that the US seized are now being repopulated by Mexicans moving northward - US citizens, or legal aliens, or illegal aliens. The political border and the cultural border are diverging.Until after the middle of the century, the US will not respond. It will have concerns elsewhere and demographic shifts in the US will place a premium on encouraging Mexican migration northward. It will be after the mid-century systemic war that the new reality will emerge. Mexico will be a prosperous, powerful nation with a substantial part of its population living in the American south-west, in territory that Mexicans regard as their own
It seems inconsistent to say the least. If the second prediction were a remotely plausible outcome then the USA's current management of immigration is catastrophic. One of the measures of success when considering immigration is surely "Not likely to lead to secession of large part of country".

* That said some predictions made in the 18th and 19th centuries that power would move from Europe to North America & Russia turned out to be accurate for the 20th century.

Quote Of The Day.

IanB at Counting Cats In Zanzibar on the progressive credentials of the Conservative Party:

Well, I think it’s fair to say that it’s the latter. The Conservative Party are, and always have been, interfering, authoritarian, big state social reformists. “Progressives” indeed. There was that odd period where the Sir Bufton-Tuftons fell asleep at the wheel and let some woman drive, and she slipped some economic liberalism in, but that’s all over now and they’ve no intention of letting it happen again.

Shock- Trade Body Supports Stifling Competition!

The Scottish Executive supports a minimum price for alcohol:
A spokesman for the SNP administration said: “The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers all back minimum pricing, and the BMA, Royal College of Nursing, the police, the British Liver Trust, and indeed the licensed trade association, all support the Scottish government’s proposals
The 'licensed trade association' is an organisation which (a) should really be capitalised and (b) is made up of " Hotels, Public Houses, Restaurants, Refreshment premises, Entertainment premises and also Off-sales premises.". In other words all bodies which compete against supermarkets and who would benefit if a minimum price was established to prevent the large supermarkets undercutting them.

They are quite open about existing for the benefit of their members so it is a bit odd for the Scottish executive to refer to them as backing a proposal designed to boost public health and reduce public order offences when that is clearly not something that has anything to do with them.