Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Legitimate & Illegitimate Criticism

The (usually sensible) Tim Montgomerie's enemies list at Conservative Home lambasting the "ill discipline" and "destructive criticism" of various right wing pundits towards David Cameron is ill advised.
There is constructive criticism and there is destructive criticism. There is a time for debate on the Right and a time to either be silent or gun for Labour. At the moment there's too much ill-discipline on our side of the fence.

This close to a General Election is a time for people on the right to weigh their words carefully. Do they really want to help re-elect a government that has taken state spending to more than 50% of GDP? The Cameron-led Conservative Party isn't perfect but this election isn't a choice between a perfect and an imperfect Toryism but between Brown's big state interventionism and David Cameron's alternative.

No one has a duty to represent a political party that just happens to be broadly on the same side of the political spectrum, in fact newspaper columnists have an obligation to give their honest opinion and not simply to wave pom poms in support the blues. What does he think would happen to the credibility of someone like Peter Hitchens if after 5 years of criticising Cameron he then applauds him for 5 weeks? One of the reasons for the success of Conservative Home website is surely its independence from the party it supports, it is no different for pundits.

One of the worst aspects of US punditry is the extent to which they align with political movements, this is not something to be emulated.

As it happens I think that a David Cameron led government will be a vast improvement on one led by Gordon Brown and my vote will reflect that, but if someone doesn't believe this then it is perfectly "legitimate" to say so.

Guilt Tripping The Germans

For the last 65 years the Germans have been easy to guilt trip into paying for Europe by invoking WWII and the Holocaust. Sadly this appears to be changing and they are acting like a normal country again as shown by their reluctance to bail out Greece, so other countries will now have to start paying their own way.

It is for the best though, it has always seemed absurd that generations of Germans born after the war were treated as being somehow responsible for it.

German demilitarisation is probably the next thing to go unless they realise what a good deal they have going on with not having pay for their own defence. The rationale behind demilitarising Germany was that given its size it would inevitably dominate Europe, but since the USA took up it+s role as a world power in 1941 Germany have not been able to dominate Europe even if the Germans still wanted to (which they don't seem to).

Over Sharing

Please shut up:
Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, has denied he is too "knackered" to enjoy a satisfying sex life with his wife, Margaret.
Please, I beg you, be quiet. It gets worse though, there is actually an Alistair Darling sex tape:

He's actually something of a stud.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tony Blair's Botox

I can't be the only person to have noticed his wrinkle and expression free forehead on the news today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Blame Racism

Well if it's racism when particular ethnic groups score below the white average then using the same line of reasoning it must be racism when other ethnic groups get better results.

He's Back

Tony Blair will make a dramatic return to the centre stage of British politics to boost Labour's election hopes.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Me, sarcastically, earlier this month:
according to Home Secretary Alan Johnson the British and American governments are thinking of "ways to flag up when a convicted sex offender goes online", because computers can be made to detect Paedo-fingers when they start tapping at a keyboard.
In the news today:

New research from Newcastle University has claimed paedophiles could be identified on internet sites by the way they type.

With just ten keystrokes, American Professor Roy Maxion claimed to be able to establish the sex, age and cultural background of a user, which could help in the fight against paedophiles grooming youngsters on the internet.

I suppose paedophiles on Facebook usually type one handed but beyond that I am sceptical as to whether this will work.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Icelandic Strippers- Cold & Banned

This is almost a mirror image of the "ban the Burqa" debate:

Iceland has banned striptease shows, making it an offence for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.


"They are closing striptease (clubs) because they think there is prostitution there," said Asgeir Davidsson, owner of Iceland's largest strip club, Goldfinger.

"They think there is organised crime. They have been thinking this for 12 years. They have had the police running around, and they have not found anything."
As in the burqa debate, professional busy bodies want to control what women wear ostensibly on the grounds that the women are being coerced into it, even though such coercion would already be illegal. In both cases it seems more like a pretext to prohibit something that they want to ban for reasons of personal distaste than the true motivating factor.

I have never set foot in a strip club and wouldn't want one to be open next door to my home or outside a local school, so I'm hardly an enthusiast for lap dancing clubs, however unlike the Icelandic parliament I don't consider my personal tastes to be a grounds for ordering other people about.

MP's Son Does Something Legal!!!!

How terrible:

The son of an MP was today exposed as a dealer in the latest designer drug mephedrone, which is believed to have been responsible for a string of recent deaths.

The revelation will prove to be a huge embarrassment to MP Louise Ellman, Labour's representative for the Riverside area of Liverpool.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Is It With Canada?

In most senses Canada is a model country- healthy economy, high standard of living and decent education standards etc. Which is why it's so depressing when Canadians reject the notion of free speech and try to silence mildly provocative pundits like Mark Steyn or recently Ann Coulter. I say they are provocative but to be honest I can't think of any specific bad thing that someone has been provoked to do by them.

Whilst there is always a totalitarian element on the left, and to be honest on the right as well, in Canada they can become mainstream by playing on that nation's big weakness- an obsession with defining themselves against the United States, so totalitarians can justify their intolerance by presenting at a moderate alternative to the USA's "religion of Free speech".

Take for example this Canadian pundit, Susan G Cole (Susan seems like an odd name for a man) denouncing the concept of free speech:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Better Not Be Paying For This.

My local MP has had a complaint made against him to the police for raising the issue of whether to ban the burqa*:
An MP was investigated by police for inciting racial hatred over controversial comments about the burkha following complaints from a human rights association.

Now it has emerged police received a complaint about the Kettering MP a few days after his comments from the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council (NREC).

Electorate Off Message

Labour have launched a campaign to save Sure Start centres from Tory cuts. Labour have no more idea as to whether this will happen than I do as the Conservatives have not specified whether they will or not. I can see the logic in Labour's strategy:
There can be no better way of winning over the electorate than by focusing on beneficiaries who are still crawling – this at a time when a new baby boom is under way and fertility rates are the highest since 1973.
However something I heard today indicates what I believe is a flaw in the strategy, a youngish mother explained to her colleagues that she was going to vote against the government because she had heard that they would close the Sure Start centres where her child went, no one demurred from that position. When a campaign is aimed at people with very little interest in politics, then the message that actually gets through often bears little resemblance to what was intended and can just as easily be the precise opposite of what is supposed to be conveyed.

Best Campaign Prop Ever.

Whilst I would prefer a Conservative victory in the next election I really hope that no voters are going to be swayed to vote Tory on the grounds that Samantha Cameron is pregnant. Are the public really that shallow? Yes, probably.

Can the Browns respond? If Sarah Brown isn't already pregnant it will be difficult for her to be sufficiently visibly pregnant by May 6th to counteract Samantha Cameron, so perhaps Gordon should divorce her and marry someone who can get pregnant on demand and has the gestation period of a hamster- yes he should wed Kerry Katona.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Claim To Lame

I was in a pub today and the person I was drinking with pointed out someone at another table who is apparently member of Showaddywaddy. It's all glamour with me.


Bernard Manning does the Smiths.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Keeping It In The Family

Inbreeding is not a good idea, no matter how pretty your cousins are. The health risks make it a public issue that should be spoken about regardless of the potential for offence:

The dangers of marriage between first cousins are to be highlighted by a leading professor, with a warning that their children are at risk of genetic defects.

Baroness Deech, a family law professor and crossbencher, will call next week for a “vigorous” public campaign to deter the practice, which is prevalent in Muslim and immigrant communities and on the rise.
The Times notes that they are more common in wider society than is widely believed:

Famous first-cousin marriages include that of Charles Darwin who wed his first cousin Emma Wedgwood, of the china manufacturing family. They had ten children with a poor record of survival and health: three died in childhood or at birth and five were ill or disabled.

He was not exceptional: Albert Einstein married his cousin, Elsa Lowenthal; Queen Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert. Of their nine children, one had haemophilia and died at 31; two more were carriers and passed it on to their children.

However this misses the point, the danger with a one off cousin marriage is not actually that severe, however when they occur repeatedly over many generations all sorts of defects appear, it goes without saying that the communities that practice it in the UK did so long before they came here. Repeated cousin marriages can lead to children being born who are more inbred than the offspring of brothers and sisters, a famous example of this was Charles II of Spain, whose Hapsburg lineage was so entangled that he was born mentally and physically incapable and arguably led to Spain's fall from great power status. His family tree looked like this:

The level of inbreeding rose with each generation and that is where the problem lies.

The Times article also makes basic factual errors, as Mark points out here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Misfortunes Of Bloggers

Two things:
  • George Galloway is suing Harry's Place over some ridiculous thing or other. Rumours that he demanded that they pay him in barrels of oil are wholly unfounded. The statement that his lawyers object to was clearly made in jest plus it was after all no more than a direct quote from the constitution of an organisation Galloway respects. David Toube doesn't appear to be intimidated although given that he is aware of the insane rulings of certain libel judges he probably won't be complacent.
  • Elsewhere I see that Julia M has broken her hand and reading of the diffficulties of going through the week with one hand makes all the more impressed with the courage of Abu Hamza.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Religious Exemptions

When the government decided to allow children to be adopted by gay couples, I thought it was a good idea. Almost anything that increases the number of adoptions is good given the outcomes that children in care have.

However Labour being Labour decided that anything that wasn't banned must be compulsory, so adoption agencies were banned from not allowing gay couples to adopt. Forcing adoption agencies to close demonstrated that the interests of the children were far from the minds of whoever drafted the legislation.

So I should welcome the outcome of this court case which has decided that they can choose who they allow to adopt. However I would be interested in seeing the reasoning behind the decision, which none of the newspapers seem to be going into. If it were made on freedom of association and civil liberties grounds then fine, I support it.

However that isn't the impression I am getting from how the reports are worded. If they have been granted an exemption from the law purely because of their religion then this is not a good thing, making different laws for different people depending on their religious beliefs is a dangerous precedent.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ashley Cole Is Not A Paedophile

On "Google news" at the moment there is the following headline:
Cole cheated with girl 4 in US
Thankfully when I clicked the link the headline was subtly yet importantly different:
Cole cheated with girl No4 in States
This is an important difference.

Say Did Something Happen To David Beckham?

I turned on the radio yesterday and was shocked to hear them discussing some kind of tragedy, as I wondered whether there had been another big earthquake or if a much loved public figure had passed it slowly began to dawn on me that they were talking about a football player who had been injured.

Just a bit over the top in my opinion.

And I should probably listen to more high brow radio stations than 5 Live.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fake Statistics Harm Victims.

Baroness Stern has released a report into how the justice system handles rape:
The figure for convictions of those charged with rape as the term is normally used is actually 58 per cent.

'There is concern that the six per cent figure can make victims feel it is not worth reporting.'

Lady Stern added: 'The conviction rate has taken over the debate to the detriment of other important outcomes for victims.

Her point about how the use of misleading statistics like the supposed 6% conviction rate can harm victims is a good one and is probably not emphasised enough. All too often the overwhelming impression is that a lot noisiest commentators (who will no doubt be denouncing Baroness Stern in the Guardian later today) view it as an ideological tool to beat the patriarchy.

This matters because this ideology creates a barrier to actually dealing with the problem. See here for other examples of how ideologues don't have the interests of victims at heart.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Teenage Lesbians Stripped....

.... of the right to go to a dance.

I've seen a lot of comment on this story:

A teenager's battle to be allowed to take her girlfriend to her school prom has divided America.

Constance McMillen has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order the dance to go ahead after her school cancelled it rather than let the same-sex couple attend.
It seems to me that most people who have opined about the matter are just sticking to their preconceived notions.

I'm not like that, when I see a story I actually do some research before sharing my opinion, so I'm going to be googling for "teenage lesbians" for a few moments before commenting.



This is actually taking longer than I anticipated, I'll be back later.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Frying Pan To Fire

So sacked Tory MEP Edward MacMillan-Scott is joining the Liberal Democrats. In his resignation letter (can you resign after you have been sacked?) to David Cameron he says:
You continue to refuse to accept that Michał Kamiński, who now leads the ECR and against whom I stood and won re-election as vice-president of the European parliament last July, has had "antisemitic, homophobic and racist links". You say that you are against extremism at home, yet you propitiate it abroad.
Without going over the accusations against Kaminsky yet again, I'll just say if you are going to pretend to be outraged over antisemitism it would be best not to join the Lib Dems. This is a party whose leader has repeatedly praised Jenny Tonge and allowed her to keep the party whip even after she demanded an investigation into whether Israeli agents went to Haiti to harvest the organs of Haitian earthquake survivors.

Drug Dealers Safer Than Doctors

Like most people I have spent the last two days wearing black in mourning for the tragic passing of Corey Feldman Haim due to taking prescription drugs. Which begs the obvious question whatever happened to the good old fashioned heroin overdose or choking on your own vomit?

Nowadays American celebrities seem to be killing themselves with perfectly legal substances given to them by their doctors, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger & Brittany Murphy all died after taking prescription meds.

I think there are a number of possible explanations for this- American doctors will give really fun/dangerous drugs out to anyone because of the incentives in their health system, the prescription meds thing is a cover story for cocaine overdose or drug dealers have better health and safety procedures than doctors.

I would guess that it's a case of doctors over prescribing drugs, because I doubt that many people in their 20s & 30s really need that much medicine on a regular basis. When the patients can afford to shop around for a doctor who will dish out painkilliers like smarties they will get what they are looking for.

Government Doesn't Ban Something!

The government has for once decided not to ban something, in this case membership of the BNP for teachers, so congratulations to them.

If membership of the BNP doesn't interfere with their work in the class room there is no case to ban it. The NASUWT believes that it would interfere with the job:

"Maurice Smith seems to have focused, to a point of obsession, on the number of incidents," she said. "One incident is one too many. How many incidents would there have to be before Maurice Smith would be persuaded that further action is needed?

"The idea that a person who signs up to membership of the BNP can simply leave these beliefs at the school gate and behave as a 'professional' when they walk into school is risible.

"A principled stand was required. This is a matter of social justice, staff wellbeing and child protection."

Well if the NASUWT believes that it is impossible for teachers to leave their beliefs at the school gate, then fine but if they really believe that behaving professionally is an impossible task for teachers then there are other implications that flow from that. It would make it very difficult to argue that members of a religion could be science teachers or that politically active socialists could be trusted to take history lessons.

The logic of the NASUWT position means that teachers require a much greater degree of supervision and less autonomy. However I have more faith in the teaching profession than their union does though. I'm sure they can act professionally and if they can't and any teachers, BNP or not, start talking about the myth of the Holocaust during History lessons then they can be sacked for that.

In fairness there are some organisations with a track record of trying to disrupt the education of children and promoting political extremism however on balance I don't think I would ban membership of the teaching unions.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Expert Inflation

The best indicator that this is a non story the fact that the indignant expert they quote is "an assistant sociology professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles". If they couldn't even find a full sociology professor to express disapproval doesn't this suggest that nobody really cares?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ban The Web

The government, the BBC and Daily Mail have decided that they critical fact about the murderer Peter Chapman is that he met his victim on Facebook. Indeed according to Home Secretary Alan Johnson the British and American governments are thinking of "ways to flag up when a convicted sex offender goes online", because computers can be made to detect Paedo-fingers when they start tapping at a keyboard.

The focus on the least important aspect of the story, Facebook, is particularly absurd given that Chapman's crimes, including abductions and rapes of women, began well before the internet era. If he was prevented from meeting potential victims on the internet he could just as easily have gone back to the manner in which he found them before the internet. The danger wasn't that he was allowed online but that he was allowed out of prison.

On the plus side perhaps the hysteria about the internet will at least result in parents forcing their children out of the house, thus doing wonders for the child obesity rate.

Escaping The Asylum

Making the Glasgow suicide case emblematic of the broader issue of asylum is unwise for a number of reasons:
  • People who seek asylum from Canada are probably not escaping persecution, despite Canada's free speech problem.
  • People who enter suicide pacts with their son are plainly either nuts or colossally selfish and not potential model citizens.
  • As far as I am aware their motive for suicide is not yet known, assuming that every asylum seeker who commits suicide does so because they are seeking asylum is not a safe assumption.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Counter Terrierism

Operation "Piss off any groups of voters we haven't already alienated" continues with the government's latest plan to annoy dog owners:

Every dog owner in the UK would have to take out insurance against their pet attacking someone under government proposals to tackle dangerous breeds.

Police and local councils could also get new powers to force the owners of dangerous dogs to muzzle them or even get them neutered.

Brilliant, force the owners of Yorkshire Terriers to spend lots of money on the off chance that their pet savages someone to death.

Voting On History.

US-Turkish relations are in trouble over the decision by congress to formally recognise the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that the genocide happened and the attitude of modern Turkey towards it is sinister and dishonest.

Having said all that, there is also something faintly sinister about history being determined by political bodies such as congress. Does anyone seriously believe that a bunch of US politicians have any special expertise to make these sort of determinations?

There is I suppose a case for them recognising contemporary genocides because that may necessitate political action but stuff like this is political grandstanding and is determined more by political expediency that a heartfelt desire for truth.

It would make much more sense to criticise Turkey's present day suppression of free speech over the genocidal campaign than to vote on the actual events themselves.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Fake Statistic Watch.

How many people watch the Oscars? I don't know anyone who does yet the most cited figure for the events ratings is:
This is complete and utter bullshit that narcissistic Hollywood types tell themselves to convince everyone that the world is transfixed by them.

First of all that is more than 1 in 7 of the world's population, and when you consider that many people on the planet are from countries where Hollywood is not the dominant film producer or where English isn't the first language or where televisions are rare or from places in really inconvenient time zones then that eliminates a most of the planet.

Furthermore even in the strongest market for the event, the USA, scarcely more than 1 in 10 of the population watch it.

Finally there is no organisation that provides viewing estimates for international events anyway (even for genuinely popular events like the World Cup the supposed viewing figures are nonsense).

Anyway with only aroung 30 million viewers in the USA it is highly unlikely that the global figure is over 100 million let alone anywhere near a billion.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Friday, March 05, 2010

Labour Sinking

Labour's comeback in the polls seems to be fading in recent polls, this is despite a week when the Conservative Party has been receiving a roasting in the media over Lord Ashcroft's tax status.

If he did promise to become a UK resident for tax purposes but didn't then that is wrong but I find it difficult to feel outraged over him not paying tax on earnings from outside the UK. He is paying tax on his UK earnings and that seems right to me. Ashcroft is an obsession for the BBC, the Guardian and the Times, yet judging by the most popular stories on their websites it isn't an obsession shared by their readers.

Less Popular Than Ever

I see this site has slipped to 109 on Wikio's blog ranking. I think it was around 60 something this time last year.

Fame Through Anonymity

Labour MP Martin Salter writes of Michael Foot:
Prior to his being made editor of the “Evening Standard” at the age of 28, he had already achieved fame from his co-authoring of the pamphlet “Guilty Men”, which attacked Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement.
"Guilty Men" was anonymous so it is hard to see how Foot could have achieved fame through it. I don't know exactly when Foot outed himself as one of the authors then surely it would have been after he stopped working for Lord Beaverbrook, then owner of both the Express and the Standard, as it was his proprietor whose attention he wanted to avoid through anonymity.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Blame Society

Julie Bindel argues that the Yorkshire Ripper should never be freed. So far so good.

She then goes off on one:

If the murders of Ian Banyam, the gay man kicked to death in Trafalgar Square, and Stephen Lawrence, the young black man stabbed to death by racists, are viewed as hate crimes, why are the sex murders of women seen as the actions of individual madmen, rather than an expression of deep-rooted, institutionalised hatred of women?

Actually she isn't wholly wrong, if one does take other individual murderers and use them as evidence of society's hatred of the killer's victims then it does make sense to view Peter Sutcliffe in this way. However this just demonstrates the foolishness of using murderous individuals as proof of society's attitudes. For all her nonsense about making men take the blame for crimes committed by men, she doesn't seem to mean the actual men who commit the crimes should take responsibilty but rather men in general.

The attitude of society to Sutcliffe, as opposed to the attitude of the legal and medical profession, is that he is a deeply evil man who should have either been executed or put in prison with no possibility of parole.

(via Julia in the comments)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Two Foots In The Grave

I was away from computer when I heard that Michael Foot had passed away, my immediate thought was 'how many people are going to make the "One Foot in the grave" gag?'

At the time of writing the number is 34 according to google blogsearch.

Shame on you for your predictability! And your accuracy, the "One Foot in the grave" line should have only been used when Paul Foot died because there are now clearly two Foots (er Feet?) in the grave.

Anyway Michael Foot seemed like a decent enough man who would have been catastrophic as PM.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Zionist Non Plot

Hamas normally blame everything from political setbacks to natural disasters on Zionist conspiracies, yet when faced with an actual conspiracy that almost certainly involves Israel you'd think they would feel vindicated by an actual Zionist conspiracy, but no that turns out to be the one thing that isn't Israel's fault!

He Is Healed!

The Yorkshire Ripper should not be released.

However from the perspective of those who genuinely believe that he was simply suffering an illness- as the courts presumably do having classified him as insane- I can't see any good reason to keep him locked up if his medical team say that he's been cured of murdervitus.