Monday, November 30, 2009

How Would They Like It If We Banned Cuckoo Clocks?

I don't support banning things, so obviously I can't support the Swiss decision to ban minarets even though the hand wringing is amusing. As I understand it most Swiss nominal Muslims are from the largely secular European Muslim cultures of Bosnia and Albania in any case, so annoying them for no reason seems pointless at best and vindictive at worst.

It is also trivial, what is more likely to lead to the rise of Islamism- the building of minarets or mass immigration from countries where Islamism is a major force?

That said the whining from various Muslim nations is absurd given their own behaviour towards church building. Egypt has objected to the Swiss ban, this is the same country which has for many years prevented Coptic Christians from building new churches or even repairing existing ones. No doubt the Saudi royal family will threaten to withdraw their secret bank accounts from Switzerland too.

Still it is impressive how Swiss voters can simply override the wishes of their politicians through referenda.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tree Huggers Cause Tree Massacre.

Investigators are trying to determine who drove six-inch nails into hundreds of red pine trees near Backus. They think the vandals might have thought they were saving the trees from logging; about 100 of the 600 trees were slated to be cut down and sold this month. But now the entire forest will be cut down because of safety concerns, the authorities said. Mike Diekmann of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said that if a saw hit one of the nails, “it would explode like a gun going off” and could cause serious injury

Unintended consequences are a bugger aren't they?

Gillette- Razor Of Cheats.

You've got to feel sorry for Gillette, they go to the trouble of recruiting three of the most prominent sportsmen in the world to advertise their razors. They've obviously gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that they've got athletes who aren't merely highly talented but admired for their clean living. So they can't be too happy about the last fortnight:

  1. November 17th, Thierry Henry's handball knocks Ireland out of the World Cup, thus giving Henry a reputation as a cheat.
  2. November 27th, Tiger Woods crashes his car and seriously injures himself in a comical escapade running away from his irate wife (allegedly), thus giving Woods a reputation as a love cheat.
No doubt some hideous skeleton is going to fall out of Roger Federer's closet next week.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Those Climate Emails

Are all the environmental campaigners who are denouncing the leaking of the CRU emails as theft against direct action now?

It is reasonable for the proponents of climate change to point out that unethical practices don't invalidate the theory itself. Some of the world's greatest scientists have been gits of the highest order yet their work remains valuable, the feud between Isaac Newton and Gottifried Liebnitz doesn't show either man in a positive light even though they were both incredible polymaths. The Piltdown man hoax does not disprove evolution

AGW advocates George Monbiot in the Guardian and Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post have both robustly defended the theory of manmade warming without soft peddling the serious issues raised by the emails, Robinson writes:

From my reading, the most damning e-mails are those in which scientists seem to be trying to squelch dissent from climate change orthodoxy -- threatening to withhold papers from journals if they publish the work of naysayers, vowing to keep skeptical research out of the official U.N.-sponsored report on climate change.

Which is exactly right. Unfortunately most of the AGW advocates have twisted themselves in knots to defend, contextualise and explain away the behaviour of the CRU scientists.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Criminal Faces

The idea that facial characteristics give clues to a person's nature has been out of fashion since the Victorian era. Yet I was intrigued to read in my daily tabloid trawl that one of the actors in the Harry Potter films seems to be a bit of a thug. He plays one of a pair of thuggish characters who flanked one of the main villains. Interestingly the other member of the pair has also been in serious trouble.

So the two young actors cast in roles due to their ability to appear thuggish turn out to actually be thuggish. Quite a coincidence.

These are the features associated with criminality by Cesare Lombroso:
  • Unusually shaped ears, occasionally very small but more likely large “jug handle” types similar to those of chimpanzees;
  • Upturned or twisted noses – hawk-like in murderers and flattened in thieves;
  • Large, protruding jaws;
  • High cheekbones;
  • Fleshy, swollen, or protruding lips;
  • Hard, shifty eyes; and,
  • Excessively long arms.
Looks pretty convincing to me and as someone ticks at none of those features I can be trusted.

Victimhood Poker: Oriental Edition.

A South Korean man has been fined one million won ($865; £520) for making discriminatory remarks against an Indian professor.
I've read things about casual racism towards foreigners in Korea before so this is perhaps not a huge surprise, although I don't know how widespread it is. However:

The man yelled racist comments and said "Arab! Arab!" at the Indian man while on a bus in July, the judge said.

The professor felt publically insulted by the comments, he added.

Surely the it is also a bit racist ot consider "Arab" to be an insult? So the Korean simply has to find himself an Arab who is offended at the Indian in order to perform victimhood jujitsu on him.

Dumberer Than Ever.

It must be difficult to lose the services of Fiona Phillips and then dumb down, but apparently GMTV have managed it.

How is that even possible?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Who Are The Monsters? We Are The Monsters

The epidemic of cow violence has shocked us all, some more than others. However what we never ask is why do they hate us? What have we done to provoke their wrath?

Now it emerges that far from the attacks being random and unprovoked it was in fact we humans who started the war.

Let me tell you the story of a classic Whitehall farce, a tale of how the government came within a whisker of advocating bovine genocide.

It all began when officials at the Department of Health decided to part-fund a piece of independent research looking at how health professionals could help combat the effects of climate change.

The boffins came up with a rather courageous idea. Why not kill 30% of Britain's cows and sheep?

Sensationalist bolding is mine. This is what they call blowback and if we want to end this war we must have the courage to end the cycle of violence, we spend ten times as much on bolt guns to slaughter cows as we do on day care centres for little calves! Why wouldn't the cows attack us?

Unsurprisingly Andy Burnham, whose specialness I have often admired on this blog was at the heart of this plan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Can't Be Bothered To Think Up A Title For This Post.

Feminists like to say things like:
Discrimination against men on the basis of gender is so unusual as to be non-existent, so what exactly will a men’s society do? To suggest that men need a specific space to be ‘men’ is ludicrous, when everywhere you turn you will find male-dominated spaces.”
I don't think men are routinely discriminated against, despite the best efforts of the femiloon movement. Then again I don't think women are routinely discriminated against either, because lets face it that were the case surely Women's Studies professors would be able to find more substantial examples of discrimination than this:
Carmen Siering, assistant professor of English and women's studies at Ball State University, said: "With just a moment of critical analysis, feminists can't be too happy about how the latest episode in the Twilight series, adapted from Stephenie Meyer's popular books, represents a young woman and her place in the modern world. In fact, the New film is really just more of the same, only worse."

Making His Mind Up.

The Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth's criticism of Obama's dithering over Afghanistan was probably not wise. However as I said earlier this month the leadership vacuum has put the US's allies in an impossible position. It is almost impossible for the British government or that of any other NATO member to shore up support for staying in Afghanistan if the United States seems to be less than wholly committed to the enterprise.

Either go with the McCrystal plan to increase troop numbers or get out, either decision is better than no decision.

Human Sacrifice.

Human sacrifice has been practiced in ancient Britain, Meso America, Africa, India and the Middle East.

These cultures were sufficiently isolated from each other as to make it highly unlikely that they copied each other.

Therefore cultures throughout history have independently come to the conclusion that ritually slaughtering someone in order to appease the gods is a good idea.

Therefore humans have an innate tendency to consider human sacrifice to be a good thing.

So human sacrifice is a natural human response to deal with challenging conditions.

With the credit crunch and all that we are enduring challenging conditions.

Therefore we should consider ceremonially killing someone in order to satiate the thirst of an angry god.

Nominate the victim offering in the comments below or speculate as to why the practice has arisen so often in so many different places.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Comas & Consciousness

The news that a patient who was thought to have been in a vegetative state was in fact fully conscious for quarter of a century is horrifying.

Currently the procedure for allowing people in that state to die is to withdraw feeding, as it is a more passive form of death than simply pumping them full of morphine or suffocating them with an inert gas, even though the latter two methods are clearly more humane. If we have been starving conscious people to death then this is worse than horrifying.

I Forgot To Even Write A Title For This One.

The Independent asks- "Does this picture show British soldiers broke Geneva Conventions?":

If controlling suspects by restraining their hands is a violation of the Geneva Conventions then yes it does. Of course if this is a violation of the Geneva Conventions then who gives a fuck about the Geneva Conventions?

Ian Blair Reviewed.

Say what you like about the Daily Mail, but no one else can trash someone as whole heartedly as them. When they do this to someone who is kind of asking for it, like Ian Blair, then it is a joy to behold.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Elections Bad For Democracy.

Hugh Orde claimed last week that elected police boards would "undermine democracy".

No really he did!

I'm sure he means that increased democratic control of policing would have negative consequences for the rule of law or something like that because his statement as it stands is absurd.

He also says:

"There will be no votes in protecting people from terrorism, from organised crime and from serial rapists that cross the country because they won't be local and they won't get you votes."

The idea that police chiefs are dispassionate experts capable of weighing up crime fighting priroties whereas voters can't would be more plausible if, in the real world, the police weren't doing things like hiring psychic detectives.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Best Wankers In Spain.

A Spanish region's new approach to sex education has provoked anger by suggesting children be taught "self-exploration and self-pleasure".

Teaching teenagers to whack off is a bit like teaching fish to swim, although I'm sure once Ed Balls realises the potential to increase pass rates we will have a GCSE in the subject in this country too.

I did like this comment:

"Extremadura should be pleased with itself," Pilar Rahola, a columnist in the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper, wrote.

"It may have the most unemployed young people in Spain but they will be the best at masturbation."

I like this story too much to check whether it is actually true, so let's just assume it is.

Friday, November 20, 2009

She Planned It!

This looks like pretty convincing evidence that Harriet Harman's crime rampage was premeditated.

Via Public Interest.

Is Von Rumpuy The Scarlet Whore Of Babylon?

No, but I wanted to use the phrase "Scarlet Whore of Babylon" and link to this post about Von Rumpoy's deeply held Roman Catholicism which appears to influence his political outlook strongly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Although it's traditional to wait for the trial, sometimes you just have to throw away the key while you have the chance.

Quote Of The Day

Macho, manic productionism relies on force, it valorises conquest of nature and other humans. It marginalises the means of reproduction – how societies sustain themselves, breathe, give birth, grow and rest, clean up; how people take care, give pleasure and co-operate.

Beatrix Campbell OBE yesterday.

I have no idea what she's on about either. That particular passage was found here.

Palin 2012?

Anyone who has read this blog since last year will know that I'm not hostile to Sarah Palin, she was an effective governor and a good communicator. Much of the criticism she received was unfair and some of it went into the realm of the deranged (I'm thinking of Andrew Sullivan with his demands that her gynecological records be released in order to prove that she isn't her son's grandmother).

Having said all that the idea that she is a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for 2012 is ludicrous. For one reason above all others- she quit the role she was elected to fill, governor of Alaska, in order to go on a book tour. How could someone seriously ask to be elected president when they have a record of resigning elected offices mid term for no good reason?

I would therefore be inclined to believe her when she says that she that a presidential run is "not on her radar".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unlikely Headline Of The Day.

'I Thought I Was Going To Drown': Katie Price Panics
That seems very unlikely.

War: The Answer To All Life's Problems.

War is doing a better job of species conservation than the WWF, the wildlife charity that is not the Wrestling organisation (although they probably don't do that much conservation either):
Indian Kashmir's wildlife population has seen a dramatic increase after two decades of fighting scared off poachers and hunters from the region, a wildlife official said on Tuesday.
Similarly 50 million people died in World War 2 but it did wonders for replenishing the North Sea cod stocks, so it's an ill wind that blows no good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is This A Repeat?

After the myth of widespread sexual trafficking of women had been debunked last month there was always going to be a fresh moral panic:

Sophisticated networks of older men may be grooming hundreds of British children to be trafficked within the UK for sexual exploitation, the charity Barnardo's believes.

Or they may not, who knows? Best not to worry about it until someone presents some actual facts rather than idle speculation.

I'm not saying that they are definately wrong, but after the fiasco of the sex trafficking nonsense I don't think too many people will be willing to rely upon a report by 'campaigners' that says something "could" be happening or "may" be going on.

via Obnoxio.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Importance Of Punctuation.

Newspapers often use quote marks when covering criminal cases in order to not appear to be actually accusing a suspect of a crime, so much so that it must be so routine that they forget why they are using quotation marks in the first place.

I'm guessing this is why when I saw the Sun in the newsagents today it had this headline:
'Night Stalk' rapist charged
Whereas the online edition currently has this subtly different headline:
'Night Stalk rapist' charged
A small but very important difference. Being called a "Night stalker" isn't the bit that they are supposed to treat as unproven, 'Night Stalker' actually sounds kind of awesome, but the 'rapist' is thus far only an accusation.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Families Are Fair Game.

Having achieved the impossible feat of making people feel sorry for Gordon Brown last week, the Sun has decided to go lower.

The Sun presumably opposes the former drugs advisor David Nutt for his views on the relative safety of alcohol, cannabis and horse riding. Which is fair enough but this is really pretty sleazy behaviour on their part- scouring the Facebook pages of his children to take some pictures and quotes to smear them:

It was not known if the professor at London's elite Imperial College has been privy to his daughter Lydia's Facebook pages.

Photos show her and girl pals cavorting with a bottle of spirits in hand - and were uploaded two years before she turned 18.

Meanwhile older lad Johnny, 26, has posted photos of himself prancing NAKED in the snow in Sweden.

The Sun has photos of people prancing around naked on Page 3 every single day ( and good on them for that)! This is just tawdry character assassination to punish Professor Nutt for having a different opinion than the Sun, his children are not in the public eye and frothing about their trivial or non existent misdeeds is underhand.

Friday, November 13, 2009


One of the greatest single issue blogs ever created- Angry people in local newspapers: Celebrating excellence in the field of local newspaper photography.

Sample post, "Didn't-win-the-lottery anger":

Via Clive Davis.

Not Dead Yet.

Labour have done extremely well in the Glasgow North East bye election. Labour and Brown in particular are more popular in Scotland than in England and Wales but that probably isn't the main factor behind this win. What is probably more important is that in Scotland the SNP are in power so Labour benefit from being a vehicle for opposition to the status quo, if that is the case then they will probably make some kind of recovery in the UK as a whole once they are removed from government next year.

Labour: Still Not Big On Free Speech.

I see the government remains as authoritarian and contemptuous of freedom now as it has been for the last ten years:

Ministers have admitted defeat in their efforts to remove a "free speech" defence from new laws against inciting homophobic hatred.

MPs have voted four times to scrap it but it has been repeatedly overturned in the Lords, who again last night voted by 179 to 135 to keep it.

Supporters of the bill argued that it was intended to target rare and extreme cases, but as we have all too frequently seen the intended target of a bill is something of a distraction. In fact the police have been used to harass people for their views on the matter even in the absence of any actual law and it is difficult to see how that could fail to get worse if there was such a law.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not Taking Crime Seriously.

It sounds like the judge really cracked down hard on this rapist who was convicted of abducting and raping a 5 year old boy 8 days after he had been convicted and released for raping a 7 year old:

"You are a devious and manipulative young man with an unhealthy and completely unacceptable sexual interest in young boys.

"It is likely you will not be released for some very considerable period of time."

He added that it was "highly unusual" for a court to categorise a 16-year-old as a danger to the public but in this case it was merited.

"I have to say I have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in reaching the conclusion that you are indeed a dangerous offender," the judge said.

So he's dangerous and devious and the judge says he won't be released for a very long time. So what is his sentence:

He must serve a minimum of three years minus five days before being considered for parole.

Thank God that this monster will be in his late teens before he can roam the streets again!

How The World Sees Communism.

Interesting survey* at the BBC on how the world views the collapse of Communism 20 years on: Relief at the demise of the USSR seems to be widespread throughout the West even though feelings are mixed in the poorer countries. I'd argue that it the poor countries who have benefited most from the end of communism with the wave of democratisation that has spread throughout Eastern Europe, South East Asia and Latin America being a direct result of the absence of a communist threat.

The survey also asks what people think about free markets and the results are much more mixed:

With more than 40% of the French population believing that capitalism is "fatally flawed", the failure of the French left to win power for 15 years is remarkable.

In Britain only about half that number believe that capitalism is doomed and an even smaller number that the demise of the USSR was a bad thing although if they had surveyed Guardian Towers the results would have been very different.

* and an "interesting" headline!


Spammers have been littering my site for the last week or so. I don't want to reactivate word verification because I find it cumbersome but may have to if the problem continues. I will delete any spam as soon as I see it so they are wasting their time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Experts Better With Hindsight Than Foresight

To mark the execution of Beltway sniper John Allen Mohammed in a few hours, I decided to look up some of the most inept speculation as to the identity of the killer before he was caught. My favourite is Philip Kerr's article that appeared in the Daily Mail on October 21st 2002, 4 days before the snipers were caught:
If the Washington Sniper is taken alive, it is more than likely that he will be not some Al Qaeda terrorist, or even a cackling nutcase like Scorpio, but a quiet, white- skinned male, aged 40-55, who is a stalwart member of the National Rifle Association.

It may even be found that somehow, the key to the whole spree is the first shooting, on October 2 - a single shot fired through the window of Michael's Craft Store in Washington's Wheaton district, that fizzed through a display of silk autumnal flowers, smashed the lamp over the cash register and ricocheted off a shelf of prayer books called Inspiration For The Heart.

OR PERHAPS the answer lies somewhere in the identity of the first victim, 55-year-old James Martin.

Like Martin, several other victims have been fairly heavyset men in their 40s and 50s.

Equally, four of the men had beards; and if I were an FBI profiler I'd be working on the possibility that our man is also heavyset, with a beard, and that he may have shopped at Michael's Craft Shop, where a second shot was fired two days after the first.
Bearded, white, craft shop aficionados are notoriously dangerous.

Monday, November 09, 2009

MPs- Beyond Parody

A group of female MPs has protested at proposals to ban second homes within commuting distance from Parliament on the grounds that this would put them at risk of attack.
Pretend for a moment that this isn't a brazen attempt to play victimhood poker in order to keep their snouts in the trough.

If they are serious then implicit in this argument is that London's transport system is too dangerous for women to use, but that it is only a problem when MPs are at risk.

Meaningless Statistic Of The Day.

A huge rise in the number of children calling to report sexual abuse by women has been revealed by Childline.

Over the past five years, the charity says the number of such calls has risen five times faster than youngsters reporting abuse by a man.

This is a useless figure on its own and the fact that it is being used as the headline figure suggests to me that the useful figures aren't nearly as scary sounding.

Sure enough the actually useful statistics aren't that dramatic, female abusers make up about 1/8th or the caseload of Childline. However even that is misleading because as Esther Rantzen says "we specifically targeted boys, hoping to reassure them that it was not a sign of weakness to ask for help with a difficult or painful problem.". So after targetting boys the number of boys who contacted them rose.

The thing is I'm sure much of what Childline and the NSPCC say is true- that sexual abuse by females is probably underreported due to a reluctance to acknowledge that it exists- however the use of dubious shock stats makes me think that someone is attempting to mislead me.


Dead woman 'threatened to jump'


With the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (metaphorical fall, the Germans are quite good at engineering), the commemorations are portraying it as the trigger for the fall of communism. However the event occurred about two weeks after the Hungarian government authorised multiparty elections, so I wonder whether undue significance has been placed on the Berlin Wall because of it's obvious symbolism.

I remember at the end of 1989 the news seemed to be coming from a different Eastern European capital each week as one by one the old regimes fell like dominos. The Romanian revolution was probably the most dramatic although not as I remember for the events which seem most significant in hindsight- the Ceaucescus on the balcony and their later execution- but for the brief civil war that occurred between the army and the secret police. The Western reporters would be on the streets filming the Army when shots would be fired from a tower by secret police snipers and everyone would react but the snipers would have disappeared by the time the army got there.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Origins Of Sub-Prime

From something that had been sitting unread on my bookshelf for a couple of years, that was written well before the credit crunch:

Dan says the vast majority of junk mail - be it loans or otherwise - is directed at the sub-prime market: "The best thing you can tell a client is that you can accurately identify sub-prime individuals. Which is why, when people are asked to fill in lifestyle surveys, they'll often see questions like, 'Have you ever experienced difficulty getting credit?' or, 'Have you ever missed a mortgage payment?' Those are the sorts of triggers that will identify you as potentially sub-prime."

So an inability to pay debts wasn't merely a flaw to be overlooked, but something that was actually desirable in creditors. More to the point this was generally known before the bubble burst.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mr Bono....

Tear down this wall.

Criminalising Witnesses.

I'm feeling bored and have nothing to write about, I wish there was another incredibly stupid article by Beatrix Campbell OBE to mock.


She applauds a move to punish men who pay for sex with prostitutes who have been coerced, even if they were unaware of the fact. The incidence of trafficking has been vastly and systematically exaggerated as Nick Davies demonstrated last month. Bea dismisses Davies and insists that trafficking is no more of a moral panic than satanic abuse. Or something,

However trafficking does happen on occasion . In fact some Romanian traffickers were convicted this week:

A GANG who trafficked a woman from Romania to work the streets of Manchester as a prostitute has been jailed.

The migrant workers lured their victim - a single mum in her twenties - to the UK after their building work dried up because of the credit crunch.

They promised the woman she could earn money as a dancer but forced her to have sex with up to ten men a night in Manchester's red light districts.

And the case demonstrates the biggest problem with criminalising the users of prostitutes:

She finally escaped their clutches when she appealed to one of her 'punters' and he helped her flee to his house.
Would the 'punter' have helped her if doing so would have ensured that he was charged with a criminal offence?


"My cousin is not a terrorist," said Mohammed Hasan. "He was born in America, he graduated from Virginia (Tech) University. He was proud to be graduate. He was always preaching about the US education system. He was an optimistic person. He loved life."
Note to self: Avoid culturally alienated loners from Virginia Tech.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Obama's Dithering Towards Afghan Exit.

The Afghan war is growing increasingly unpopular, it was only a few months ago that most people supported it, now 73% think we should leave. Gordon Brown has belatedly attempted to reverse that today by making the case for staying, whilst simultaneously signposting a way out*.

Obama's dithering between the two options of escalating the war or winding down the NATO presence is putting other Nato leaders in an awkward position because they need to spell out a coherent position to their electorates. However without an American decision there is only one unilateral decision they can make. They can't promise to stay the course, because if the US decides to go the other way they would have to do a u-turn. On the other hand they can withdraw regardless of what Obama decides and if there is no American decision that is what they will have to do.

* As Dilbert creator Scott Adams points out, Gordon Brown was employing "the cat is on the roof" strategy of preparing the ground for an announcement.


Guess the programme being described (without googling):

The show crossed the Atlantic 18 months after its US launch, but the BBC rejected it because of its "authoritarian aims"

Psychiatrists- As Dangerous As Plumbers.

This New York Times report on the massacre at Fort Hood- "Army Doctor Held in Fort Hood Rampage"- is more notable for the words it doesn't use than those it does. In that sense it resembles the BBC's classic- " Plumber appears on terror charges".

Do they think that readers won't put 2 and 2 together when they see the suspect's name? Not that they should have headlines blaring out "Muslim Nutter Goes On Rampage", but it is clearly worth mentioning that the chief suspect is a Muslim given that the US is fighting islamist organisations that purport to represent Muslims. It could be that religion isn't the shooter's motive but it is legitimate line of enquiry. If reports in other more open newspapers are accurate, then it is highly likely that the massacre was related to the shooter's beliefs.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mouse In Trap.

Bea Does Belfast

Beatrix Campbell OBE, diverts her attention away from uncovering ritual abuse to look at Northern Ireland.

The coverage of the Independent Monitoring Commission's (IMC's) 22nd report on paramilitary activities, vindicates that tradition. Shootings by dissident republican sects at war with both the British and Sinn Féin defined the news. A month ago when US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited Northern Ireland it was the same story: new threat from republicans. So, is peace in Northern Ireland still threatened by the republicans?

No, says the IMC.

As useless as the IMC are it does seem unlikely that in a year which has seen three murders and several foiled car bombings they would say that there was no threat from republicans. Sure enough on pages 11-14 of the IMC report that she links to it goes into detail about a great number of attacks by the Real IRA. This has been pointed out in the comments of the article by someone.

She continues:

In fact, the Provisional IRA has disarmed and disbanded.
First of all the PIRA has not disbanded, the IMC believes they have disarmed though. Secondly she was talking about "dissident republicans", which are those not in Sinn Fein or the PIRA.

She then indulges in a bit of unsourced allegations:
The sovereign government finally established at Stormont was wrecked not by republicans but Peter Mandelson's undiplomatic and undignified endorsement of a unionist agenda and by MI5's messing about with spooks at Stormont.
Peter Mandelson, whom in most respects I can't stand, was probably the best Northern Ireland secretary since Roy Mason. So who is Campbell referring to when she talks about "the sovereign government" and where is their evidence of this great plot? She doesn't even provide a link that flatly contradicts her claim as she did earlier, evidence is not needed.

Jumping forward a bit Bea adds:
These figures indicate some very worrying trends: loyalist gangsterism is rife, dangerous and productive, and dissident sects have murdered members of the security forces
This is evidence that she is mendacious rather than simply stupid. Reading the sentence is clearly supposed to give the impression that the "dissident sects" who have murdered members of the security forces were loyalist gangsters rather than the republican gangsters who she is trying to airbrush out of the picture.

Is there anyone else who is so consistently wrong about so many issues as Beatrix Campbell?

Who Pays The Piper

Curious isn't it, David Milband has adopted a highly critical approach to Russia during his tenure as Foreign Secretary (rightly so in my opinion) and yet soon after his name starts being touted for the role of EU foreign minister he does a 180 degree u-turn, decides that murder by nuclear terrorism on the streets of London is no biggie and that the Merkel-Sarkozy appeasement approach is much better.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I Hate Young People

Not people who happen to be young, but the phrase "young people". Is there anything more irritating than constantly referring to young people as "young people" when done by politicians or other professional busybodies? The phrase grates like nails being dragged down a blackboard. This is the immediate article that prompted this post:
Many of the 300 young people attending the debate, including the young person I accompanied, left home at 5.30am during their half-term holiday to represent the views and opinions of their peers, and they did so with passion and integrity. Young people rely on public transport, and it was this that let them down and resulted in the late start to the debate.
Young people have never been allowed to sit on the formidable green benches before, and I imagine that some were daunted by the prospect.
I have worked with children and young people for many years, and do not consider them to be a helpless group who will eventually grow into citizens.
I saw young people of all shapes and sizes; some were shy and others were confident. None were brazen.These young people are not merely "playing" at politics – they are elected by young people to raise awareness of the issues that matter to them.
It showed that, when given the opportunity, young people are able to forcefully debate, discuss and fully participate in local and national decision-making.

I fear that your article disrespected the many young people of this country who are trying to make a difference and contribute positively.

This is about the "youth parliament", a body made up of the sort of young people who refer to themselves as "young people".

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Musical Interlude

Mentioning US TV a couple of posts ago reminded me of a song that appeared once in the soundtrack of what is my personal favourite show. Anyway as I've never heard the track anywhere else or heard of the band in any other context I'm guessing that few of my readers have either so I thought I'd put it up here. It is called Cuentan Que El and it's by 'Whitehouse':

No Vote On Lisbon

As widely expected David Cameron has announced that there won't be a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty now that it is in force. I always thought this was obvious because it would weaken him greatly if he lost and even if he won it would over shadow his government for at least a couple of years as he tries to negotiate a fresh arrangement.

I still think he should find some EU related topic to have a referendum on in order to satisfy the eurosceptic wing of the party* and the public.

* Within the Tory party probably everyone under the age of 55 is some kind of eurosceptic at least relative to 15 years ago, even if there is a divide between those who want to leave and those who simply want to pull back a bit. There is no longer a substantial body of opinion in favour of ever deeper union.

Conspiracies New & Old

After the Polish Chief Rabbi torpedoed Labour's smear campaign against the Tories' European ally last week the journalists who had been going along with Labour's spin had some explaining to do. For instance Toby Helm:
What I understand is that Schudrich has been under the most enormous pressure from the highest authorities in Poland to retract the remarks, but has refused to do so. The pressure, I am told, came from Kamiński's Law and Justice party, the party of the Polish president.
So could we be seeing the an old conspiracy being inverted to create a new one?
  • Old Conspiracy- International Jewry is conspiring behind the scenes to control the political leaders of sovereign nations.
  • New Conspiracy- Domestic political parties are conspiring behind the scenes to control international Jewry.


The mouse has been caught, I put down the trap without any bait in the hope that the mouse would get used to it (as suggested by Richard in the comments) but it ended up going right into the trap on the first day without any bait at all. I feel bad for the mouse, he should at least have had something to eat before he got evicted.

After taking a picture of him (which I'll put up later) I released the rodent into a lay by a couple of miles from the house.

Monday, November 02, 2009

First They Came For The Idiots....

.... and I did not speak out because I was not an idiot.

Media Concentration Is Bad

In Prospect magazine Peter Jukes compares British and American television drama, something which I have done frequently here. Jukes knows a lot more about the behind the screen workings of television drama so he isn't simply comparing the output but also what goes into making TV drama.

The difference between 1994 and 2008 is startling. Instead of being the responsibility of four network controllers, most drama is now commissioned by one person.

That person is Ben Stephenson, BBC controller of drama commissioning. He has faced mounting criticism since last year, when he made ill-advised remarks about a “limited pool of talent” for television drama


But everyone missed the glaring issue: why are these questions being addressed to only one person? In 1994, I worried about the cultural power of four network controllers. Now you can forget Channel 4 and BBC2: they can make decent one-offs, such as Red Riding and Freefall this year, but both have basically dropped out of adult dramas. ITV has fared no better. In the 1990s the powerful baronies of Granada, Yorkshire TV, LWT and Thames had some autonomy. But their amalgamation into one corporation, followed by a catastrophic fall in advertising revenue, has turned ITV drama into a shadow of its former self. Whatever your view of public service broadcasting (and I support it) the near-monopoly of the BBC in drama commissioning is disastrous.

So maybe a start to rebuilding the quality of British television (assuming that abolishing the license fee isn't going to happen in the near future) would be to make the BBC split the drama commissioning between their different channels and try to find some means of enticing the other channels to get back in the game.

Incidentally is the decline in ITV's advertisng revenues wholly unrelated to the manner in which they have rushed downmarket at breakneck speed, I realise that a multi-channel environment makes their job harder but that isn't the whole explanation is it?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Meet The New Boss.

According to Political Betting the Tory lead with ICM is bigger than Labour's at this stage prior to the 1997 election. Hooray we will soon be able to kick out the authoritarian, nepotistic Labour government with an ,authoritarian nepotistic Conservative government.

It's moments like this that make me just happy to be alive at this hour.