Thursday, September 30, 2010

Told You So

My most viewed post of the last few days has been this one I wrote in May- Ed Miliband's Marriage Problem- in which I predicted that his unmarried status would be a problem, fairly or not, simply because it could make him appear anti-marriage. Sure enough, to much tut tutting, the Daily Mail did run an article highlighting it.

I think a direct attack like the Daily Mail's will make people sympathetic to Miliband and will piss of people in a similar position to him. The greater danger is that every time the government launches an initiative to do with the family or marriage  any criticism by the new Leader of the Opposition will be taken as expressing hostility to the traditional family.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Eds Are Better Than One

Now tha David Miliband appears likely to quit politics the undoubted front runner for the post of Shadow Chancellor is Ed Balls. He has shown himself to be a surprisingly effective communicator and would undoubtedly be better than any alternative candidate at harrying the government.

There is one small flaw with his candidacy- his position on the economy is that the coalition policies are doomed and we shouldn't stop spending until some unspecified time in the future. If he turns out to be wrong, as I suspect he will be, then Labour will find themselves in an untenable position and will all too easily be painted as an unreformed tax and spend party still addicted to Brownenomics. Even if he turns out to be right the government will get the blame for any double dip anyway, regardless of whether Labour supported the policies (look at how Labour emerged unscathed by Black Wednesday).

Labour chose the wrong leader on Saturday but that mistake would be less serious than appointing the wrong Shadow Chancellor and therefore the wrong policies in the current climate. It would be a tactical masterpiece and a strategic disaster.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Aliens Amoung Us

From the Daily Mail- their science section no less:
They claim that since 1948, aliens have been hovering over UK and U.S. nuclear missile sites and deactivating the weapons– once even landing in a British base.
Furthermore, they warn, our governments are hushing the activity up.
Captain Robert Salas, who, along with six others is to break his silence on the subject, said: ‘We’re talking about unidentified flying objects, as simple as that.
The extraterrestrial CND'ers have "even landed in Suffolk" too, although why anyone would assume that a vaguely human creature with a bulbous head and weird fingers was anything other than one of the inbred natives* I don't know.

* Disclaimer: not all people from Suffolk are inbred and many of them have family trees rather than family telephone poles.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Wise words for jobseekers about the importance of looking smart at job interviews, by Leg Iron:
If it's a job cleaning sewers, you want to look smart for the interview. Turning up covered in shit will not be regarded as 'being keen to get started'.

The Famous Mr Ed.

It's too early to say what effect the election of Ed Miliband to Labour leader will have. During the campaign he seemed the less likely of the two brothers to take Labour back to the centre ground and a bit too willing to tell people what they wanted to hear. Labour members seem to believe he is less likely to win the election than Bananaman, which is perhaps why they voted for David. In the short term he will certainly get a boost in the polls and Labour should be ahead in the polls by next week but unless he changes tack and starts adopting a more moderate tone, in defiance of what his party wants, then he will never be prime minister.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dying Your Pussy

I can't actually see what is meant to be so "sick" about this, it's quite cute really:

The fur around her neck has a pattern suggesting she had worn a collar fairly recently.
RSPCA welfare officer Carl Hone said: "The poor creature has been dyed completely pink, except around her eyes and nose, so she looks like she has a white mask on."
The RSPCA think the dying was a sick prank. 
 I am really at a loss to see how it is cruel, the cat seems to be in good health, by the paper's own admission the dye is non toxic and care was taken to ensure it didn't get in the cat's eyes, so what is the problem?

If anything we should be insisting that all cats are dyed bright colours as a health and safety measure to prevent them from being hit by motorists.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weiner By Name.....

The lowlife who framed a colleague for possessing child pornography in order to try to take his job deserves every minute of his 12 year sentence for his crime. The fact that the crime was so heinous and the reward so petty makes it all the more extraordinary.
A handyman who planted child pornography on his boss's computer in a bid to get promoted has been jailed.
Neil Weiner, 40, hatched the "wickedly evil and vile plot" to get caretaker Eddie Thompson sacked from Swanlea Secondary School in east London.
However I do think one aspect of the judge's summing up is a little disturbing:
"You will go to prison for a long time. The prison population is not renowned for being particularly fair or reasonable," he said.
"You will be suspected by many of being a paedophile and, like Mr Thompson, you may find that you suffer, both in prison and on release, for the rest of your life."
If the judge is merely stating that as a fact of life then fair enough, but it almost sounds as if he is relishing the prospect of extrajudicial punishment for Mr Weiner with an implied threat about what prisoners do to nonces. I am not averse to such thinking myself but I really don't think that judges should be doing it.

It's That Bad!

How terrible must the athlete's village in Delhi be that the Scottish team were considering not going? I mean if a country that contains Dundee thinks it might be verging on the unlivable then we should take their word for it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

As Opposed To

This seems to be like saying "Titanic in even more trouble as First Mate quits".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Lucky Escape

The men accused of plotting to kill the Pope have been released as it was just a joke. It turns out that the only time the pontiff's life was in danger was when George Michael got assigned to drive the Popemobile as part of his community service.

Quote Of The Day

One of the 'Top Tips' from the current issue of Viz:
Homeopaths. Save money on petrol by filling up at the water pump. Your car will remember the petrol from your previous fill.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Questions To Which The Answer Is Always No

Andrew Rawnsley asks "Is there a question that you've always wanted Paddy Ashdown to answer, but have never seen him asked?".

Comment That Will Shortly Be Deleted.

Over at Comment is Free the former paid KGB agent of influence, Richard Gott writes:
Everyone who lives in Cuba and those who follow Cuban affairs closely know that the existing economic model has not been working well.
To which I have replied:
Why are the cheques bouncing?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cuban Cuts

It must be hard for the TUC and Labour Party to argue that public sector cuts are proof of the coalition government's right wing ideological zeal, when even the Cuban government are instituting major public spending cuts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

At The End Of The Day, Obviously, We're Over The Moon....

I don't know why anyone is surprised that professional athletes are more interesting in their Tweets than in post match interviews. The reason why post match interviews are so notoriously dull isn't because the interviewees are dull but because the questions that are asked give little room for anything but obvious answers, like "You must be pleased with your win today?"

The only way to provide interesting answers to questions like that is to do what Gordon Strachan does and answer sarcastically so as to highlight the ridiculous nature of the questions:
Reporter: Bang, there goes your unbeaten run. Can you take it?
Strachan: No, I'm just going to crumble like a wreck. I'll go home, become an alcoholic and maybe jump off a bridge. Umm, I think I can take it, yeah.

Reporter: Gordon, you must be delighted with that result?
Strachan: You're spot on! You can read me like a book.

Reporter: Welcome to Southampton Football Club. Do you think you are the right man to turn things around?
Strachan: No. I was asked if I thought I was the right man for the job and I said, "No, I think they should have got George Graham because I'm useless."

Thursday, September 09, 2010

My Compass

I take the Political Compass thingy once every few years. My current score is:

Economic Left/Right: 6.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.33

Feel free to enter your scores in the comments.

It's Different When You Do It

Like most people I have little sympathy for the publicity seeking pastor who is planning to burn some Korans to mark the anniverary of the World Trade Center & Pentagon attacks. The special pleading and double standards that have been revealed are interesting though; opposing the needlessly provocative Koran BBQ but supporting their legal right to do it is a sign of tolerance but opposing the needlessly provocative ground zero mosque but supporting the legal right to build it is a sign of bigotry.

For double standards though Anshuman Mondal is hard to top though, he explains:
The obvious precedent is the burning of The Satanic Verses in Bradford, which precipitated Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa.
To a point, because the loony pastor isn't actually calling for the Koran to be banned.
This was read by western commentators as a reprise of Nazi book-burnings, thereby indelibly associating in the liberal western imagination a relationship between Islam, fascism and totalitarianism. This was, however, a mistaken reading on at least two counts: firstly, there is no equivalence between mass book burnings organised by a powerful state and a street demonstration by marginalised working-class ethnic minority communities desperate to draw attention to their grievance when all previous attempts had failed
But the grievance was that a powerful state refused to ban books that the book burners didn't like, so the comparison is perfectly valid.
Secondly, western commentators took it literally: burning things is a common way of expressing protest in the Middle East and South Asia, especially within the context of regimes that are brutally draconian in policing public protest. In such situations, there is a tacit understanding between protesters and authorities alike that burning things (effigies and other countries' flags, mostly) is a form of symbolic expression that contains rather than unleashes violent sentiment
OK this is fair enough, burning is symbolic, fair enough. Sometimes things can be taken too seriously. So:

It's interesting to compare this to US sensitivity toward flag burning. Attempts to prohibit burning the US flag have a long history, and legislation prohibiting flag burning was on the statutes of 48 states until the supreme court struck them all down as unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment in 1989. Such is the importance of "protecting the flag" to Americans that every sitting Congress since has tried, in fact, to amend the constitution to allow flag protection laws only to be thwarted by the senate.

The Americans take burning things a bit too seriously, I get that.

It is not clear whether Pastor Jones has the burning of The Satanic Verses in mind as he prepares for DWOC's brief moment in the spotlight. It does not matter because symbolic incineration has become part of the lexicon of western media coverage of Islam, replayed endlessly on his television screen. In his mind he is probably fighting fire with fire; that is, he feels he is responding in a language "they" understand. The irony, of course, is that he misunderstands the idiom he is appropriating. It is a dangerous irony, though: mistranslations and misunderstandings can have dramatic effects, as the Rushdie affair demonstrated.

Nevertheless, Pastor Jones has upped the ante. Burning the Qur'an is guaranteed to provoke Muslim outrage. To believers, every word in it is the word of God, each verse is a sign (ayat) of the divine. They therefore treat each copy as a holy artefact. Whatever their relationship to other symbols, they do not take these ones lightly.

Right, so when Islamists burn things that are considered important in the West it is symbolic and should be taken in context however when people in the West burn items considered to be important by Islamists then really they should know better because it will inevitable cause outrage.

Quote Of The Century

Nick M at Counting Cats discovers this gem, from someone who discovered a WW2 grenade:
It’s a good job because the RAF said it was very unstable. They weren’t very happy with me when I told them I’d been holding it next to my ear and listening to see if it would go bang

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Moral Vacuum

I missed the Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks about Chinese communism when they were first made but they are actually quite disgusting:

SUE LAWLEY: I'd love to hear if there are any Chinese voices out there anywhere. If you'd like to put up your hand just to make a quick comment. But in the meantime, I'd like to go to the Archbishop of Canterbury no less who's sitting on the front row, Dr Rowan Williams, who went on an official visit to China a couple of years ago, didn't you?

DR ROWAN WILLIAMS: That's right and the contacts I've kept up since then. But one of the things which struck me there was that we were not talking just about a moral vacuum in general, but a vacuum in what was once before the Cultural Revolution essentially something which guaranteed everyone's welfare. In the absence of that is quite a development of small local NGO's, a volunteer ethos beginning to grow, civil society beginning to spring up. But my question really is how all of that volunteer ethos with its inevitably pluralist assumptions, how that sits with a Confucian approach to society?

As Andrew Stuttaford points out the period that the druid is referring to includes the great man made famine of 1958-1960 where tens of millions of Chinese peasants were left to starve to death by the Chinese Communist Party.

If there is a moral vacuum it is the casual indifference of Rowan Williams to human suffering on a scarcely imaginable scale.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prezza Preaches Privacy Probe Priority, Pronto!

I don't approve of journalists hacking into John Prescott's phone, but everyone must remember they didn't do it to invade his privacy they just wanted an up to date directory of every fast food outlet in London.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Ludicrous Spinning Of The Day

Guido Fawkes tries to play up the effect of his non story about William Hague and his former SPAD:
Well Over Half Query Hague
Well the poll in question actually shows that 46% believe Hague's denial of any impropriety, 12% disbelieve and 42% couldn't give a shit. For a politician to be only disbelieved by 12% of the population is extraordinary and shows that even partisan anti-Tory voters aren't buying the story.

Guido also reports that "Even the loyalists at ConservativeHome have registered a drop in approval. ". Which is true, his approval there has plummeted all the way from 92% to er 91% (which could mean support has fallen from 91.5% to 91.4%).

This absurd misrepresenation makes Staines look as though he is floundering, not Hague.

The Worse Blair

Is it me or is it terrifying that a man this stupid and wilfully perverse was once the most powerful police officer in the UK. You know in charge of important stuff like counter terrorism. Ian Blair conclusion that the lack of donations to novelty candidate Diane Abbott's Labour leadership campaign is evidence of racism has drawn derision.

However we should not let that one statement overshadow the rest of his argument, because the rest of it is utterly retarded too:

Since making its extraordinary pact in May, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has pronounced on many things - money woes, scroungers, bloated and lazy public servants, military mess - but it has said nothing about race and racial integration. The Labour opposition, meanwhile, has been preoccupied with integration problems of its own.

Yes it is almost as though wars in Afghanistan & Iraq and economic disarray are more important than racial bean counting.
The silence is loud and widespread. Apart from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's proclamation that diversity was part of the strength that helped London get through the 7 July 2005 bombings and their aftermath (which it was),
So just think how non-diverse London fell apart during the Blitz....
and some odd mutterings in the press about whether or not it is anti-Semitic to claim that some residents of the Jewish enclaves of north London can be rude, race has disappeared not only off the government's agenda, but out of the public discourse, too.
This is within a month of the government blocking an EDL march in Bradford on the grounds that is racially sensitive.
Concern has been expressed that the coalition's cuts to public spending will hit the poor and women hardest
The famous parody of a New York Times headline springs to mind "World to End: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit".
what seems to have been missed is that these cuts will have just as disproportionately adverse an effect on minority groups.
So presumably minority groups were benefiting disproportionately from spending previously. Don't get me wrong I understand the concern and no doubt London's Brazilian community need spending cuts like a hole in the head but when you cut spending the people who get money spent on them tend to lose out.
Are the Muslim communities that were so alienated by the difficult choices made in counterterrorism policy suddenly going to forget all about it and become cheerful?
I think the absence of a publicity hungry Met Chief will make everyone happier about counter terrorism policy.
And how could London's Conservative-run Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) announce recently that the Met is no longer affected by institutional racism?
Presumably because they believe this to be the case. Given that "institutional racism" didn't require any evidence of its existence in the first place I don't see how evidence of its absence could be provided.
I believe that the MPA was wrong to do so. The Met is, without doubt, still affected by institutional racism,
Plainly it is not "without doubt" as he has just stated that the MPA doubts it.
as are almost all British institutions, and will be for years to come.
What exactly is the evidence for this, because if he provided a definition of "institutional racism" that could be tested then maybe I would believe him. Without a standard to measure against it is an unfalsifiable statement.
In less regulated markets, with more opportunities for lateral entry, the question should perhaps be asked even more fiercely. Just how many black editors and journalists, FTSE-100 CEOs, think-tank chairs and hospital bosses are there? How many black judges and QCs? Or government ministers, not to mention MPs?
Statistical disparities are not evidence of discrimination. The statistical over reprepresentation of Asians in the medical profession is not because whites are discrimintated against, nor the over representation of Blacks among professional footballer. Groups with very different histories and cultures tend to behave differently amazingly enough.
The answer in each case is some, but not many. Institutional racism may have diminished but it is still alive and kicking. Opportunities for citizens from ethnic minorities have improved, but they are not equal to others'.
Yet amazingly some ethnic minority groups have higher income and educational levels than the majority group.
There are at least more minority members of the Lords than the Commons because, wisely, they can be appointed there.)
Says the appointed member of the House of Lords

I am getting bored now because brevity is not one of Lord Blair's strengths so I will skip down to the bottom (so to speak):
Do we think it has all been solved? When the next attack by individuals inspired by a perverted view of Islam is successful, will voices be raised in defence of a minority not yet fully reconciled with a British state?
I hope so, but I can't help but feeling that in planning for that hypothetical circumstance he is concentrating on the less important issue....
Will British citizens of Pakistani descent not be bothered by the apparent unwillingness of people around the world to respond to calls for aid for the flood-stricken Asian country?
Actually donations have picked up a fair bit but in any case I am sure that that those most familiar with Pakistan will be most familiar with why people are reluctant to donate.

It may seem strange to some that this is being written by an ex-police officer. But surrounded by the silence of others, and following conversations with friends, former colleagues and even perfect strangers from black and minority communities, I have concluded that it is perhaps best for these questions to be coming from an unexpected direction.

Unexpected? Given the trajectory of your career and priorities shown up until now this is exactly what I expect of him.

Anyone who wants to make a claim about racism should be obliged to state what they consider proof of racism and how an accusation of racism could be falsified.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Headline News!

Do defecting local councillors usually make headline national news? I don't recall hearing anything like this in the las 13 years, I wonder what has changed.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cringe Inducing Prose Of The Week

One of many excerpts from Tony Blair's book:

I heard an interesting example of this once from, of all people, Nelson Mandela. Mandela - or Madiba as he is also called (his clan name) - is a fascinating study, not because he’s a saint but because he isn’t. Or rather he is, but not in the sense that he can’t be as fly as hell when the occasion demands. I bet Gandhi was the same.

Or this one where as one of the commentators at the FT's blog points out he sounds as if "Middle East Peace Process" is a euphemism for his penis:

The biggest problem with the Middle East peace process is that no one has ever gripped it long enough or firmly enough. The gripping is intermittent, and intermittent won’t do. It doesn’t work. If it was gripped, it could be solved.