Saturday, August 27, 2011

Putin Pics

Yeah, he's still quite gay:
He isn't only playing doctor though, he's also an adorable sailor:
First pic via Julia the 2nd one seen at Harry's Place.

More Libyan Health Miracles

If you thought that the miraculous lifespan of Lockerbie bomber Al Megrahi was an impressive testament to Libya's health service then you ain't seen nothing yet. Hana Muammar Gadafywho was killed in the bombing raid ordered by Ronald Reagan in 1986, has recovered from her tragic death and is now working as a doctor in the country!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Kinky Friedman, musician and former opponent of Rick Perry, issues an endorsement of the man who beat him to the Texas governorship:
Obama has done for the economy what pantyhose did for foreplay.

What The World Has Been Waiting For....

..... Laurie Penny interviews Johnie Marbles (pie thrower).

Marbles claims that:
I think the reason that a lot of people were so negative is that they really thought they were watching a trial, a trial I had interrupted. But a select committee has so few powers. The judge at my appeal compared what I did to contempt of court, but if they had been in a court I wouldn't have done it, there'd have been no need. If we had any real justice in our society, the dock is exactly where the Murdochs would have been. Instead, it was a circus, so I played the clown.
Well no.  If you want "You can't handle the truth!" style theatrics a parliamentary committee is not the place to find it. However by asking dull but critical questions the person being interviewed is forced to give answers. Whilst the answers given may not be explosive at the time that they are given they can become much more significant later on. As James Murdoch has since discovered.

If Johnie Marbles had not decided to turn the event in to the Johnie Marbles show then maybe Rupert Murdoch would be in a similar position now.


Strange headline in the Daily Mail:

Booming 99p Stores ready to double its shops by 2015 despite the downturn

Thrift stores do well despite people not having much money, what a shock.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poor Widows, Cat Food & Property Taxes

Whenever proposals to tax wealth rather than income are made there is invariably a backlash as the spectre of poor widows being evicted from their homes is brought up, as the Economist's Bagehot does here:
But here is my other worry. You could also name such a tax a "force Home Counties widows to sell their homes and downsize tax". This is a blog posting, not a finished print article, so I do not have hard and fast numbers for this, but a fair number of the people living in "mansions" are certain to be pensioners on relatively low incomes. Charge them several thousand pounds a year to stay in their homes, and many would simply have to move out.
This is an emotive point of course even if it isn't rational- the current system compels people to choose to live where they don't want to as well- I wonder if the effect on the "poor widows" is not actually positive.

Anyone unable to pay a tax of 0.5% on the value of a house is likely to be having to be very careful with what they spend. Let's say a 75 year old mansion dwelling widow's budget is a mere £70 a week and it is currently spend like this:
  • £40 Food
  • £14 Heating
  • £16 Cat food.
Now she has to move out of her £800 000 house into a more modest £300 000 property. Using this windfall she now lets herself spend £250 a week- so she now spends it like this:
  • £40 Food
  • £10 Heating (smaller house)
  • £150 Cat food.
  • £40 Bingo
  • £10 Holiday fund.
As you can see her lifestyle has improved considerably as she now gets to go out and meet people and enjoy life and has more well fed cats.

A property or land tax will shift wealth that is currently tied up in houses into the general economy- and  it will be the poor widows who reap the initial dividend. And then cat food manufacturers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

David Starkey On The Riots

In the Telegraph David Starkey reiterates and expands upon his comments about the riots. In doing so he also provides a potential explanation for my question of why there were no riots in Scotland:
Consider the converse. One of the most striking things about the England riots is where they did not happen: Yorkshire, the North East, Wales and Scotland. These areas contain some of the worst pockets of unemployment in the country. But they are also characterised by a powerful sense of regional or national identity and difference that cuts across all classes and binds them together. And it is this, I am sure, which has inoculated them against the disease of “gangsta” culture and its attendant, indiscriminate violence. 
 Which is to some extent related to the idea that it is those groups whose identity has been so thoroughly ridiculed and despised over the years who have adopted the chavvy faux gangsta' identity. I am not totally convinced- doesn't Liverpool have a strong regional culture?- don't other places that didn't erupt also have weak cultural identities like Portsmouth or Milton Keynes?

Culture plays a part but there must be other factors at play like policing etc.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Texas & Job Creation

I linked yesterday to this summary of Texas's record on job creation and growth. With Rick Perry's entry into the contest to become President, Democrats are seeking to dispute the success of the Texan economy. The weakest effort so far must be this from The Centre For American Progress- the Soros funded liberal advocacy group:
Texas Ranks Dead Last In Total Job Creation, Accounting For Labor Force Growth
This seems unlikely, so how have they managed to work this out? The key phrase is "Accounting For Labor Force Growth", the method is astoundingly simply- subtract the total number of people entering the workforce from the total number of jobs.

The flaw in this approach should be easy enough to spot, but just to spell it out:

Imagine if there were 2 states, each with 10 million people in the workforce.

State A- Loses 500 000 jobs and 1 million people move to state B.
State B- Adds 500 000 jobs and 1 million people come in from state A.

Which state is a basket case and which one is thriving? For sane people the answer is that B is doing better than A, but not according to the Center For American Progress, because using their statistic- change in jobs minus change in labor force-  A scores +500 000 and whereas B gets -500 000.

So if Texas scores worst on job creation according to CAP which state tops the table job creators and should presumably be emulated?


The same Michigan that has had among the highest levels of unemployment in the USA for decades- but is losing population quicker than any other state in the nation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dogs That Don't Bark

Also on the riots, Alec Salmond was criticised for insisting that the riots weren't UK riots, but English riots.

The criticism is misplaced, Salmond is perfectly correct. The rioting did not spread north of the border, nor did previous bouts of riots such as those in the early 1980s.

In fact rioting in Scotland seems to be very rare, whilst I am no expert I cannot think of any in the 20th or 21st centuries. This is surprising because the most widespread explanations of riots apply at least as much to Glasgow as to London and Birmingham- poverty, ethnic division, haves and have nots, general level of violence- but no riots occurred.

So why have their been no riots in Scotland either this year or much at all in the last century?

On The Republican Nomination

The Iowa straw poll did it's job of whittling down the field of candidates for the Republican nomination, with only Michelle Bachman, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney & Rick Perry likely to pick up serious numbers of delegates once voting begins in the primary process.

I agree with most mainstream pundits that only Romney and Perry can win the nomination. Both have lovely hair which is a key attribute in a presidential candidate. My preference is Romney because he is a highly effective leader in both government and business- and he can win the votes of moderates and even disgruntled liberals. Also Perry's record of cronyism and lack of concern about executing innocent people are disturbing.

For the last two years Romney's strategy has been to run as the candidate of economic competence for a general election that would be about the dismal record on jobs and growth by the Obama administration. Against the presumed candidates up until now- Huckabee, Palin, Pawlenty, Huntsman, Gingrich etc- he could reasonably claim to be far and away the most plausible man to turn around the US economy.

Rick Perry is the one candidate who Romney cannot play the economy card against with much success for the simple reason that Texas has an incredibly successful economy compared to the rest of the United States. There is a question of how much that has to do with Perry personally or how much he could apply Texan policies to the USA as a whole but politics is partly about being in the right place to take credit for good things that happen. He is also a better campaigner than Romney.

However I am going to predict a Romney win because:
  • Bachman will take more votes from Perry.
  • Romney is a more attractive candidate outside the South, support for him will be strong in the North East of course but also in the Mormon heavy Western states around Utah and the Mid West where his father was a successful governor.
  • He has a campaign network in place from 2008 and will probably out organise Perry.
  • The Republicans tend to nominate from the more moderate wing of the party.
It is a much more intriguing campaign than it looked a few months ago when Donald Trump & Herman Cain were the flavours of the month.

The Punishment For Rioters Is Not Unduly Harsh

The harsh sentences handed to people who have taken part in the riots that swept the country last week- such as the 6 months for stealing a water bottle and 4 years for setting up a Facebook page to encourage rioting*- are in the main justified.

The comparison with other offenders who have stolen greater amounts and received much lower sentences is misleading- the fact that the crimes were part of a much larger picture- nationwide riots- is a huge aggravating factor. Simply by participating in a small way they were spreading fear among millions of people and enabling more destructive criminals to commit their crimes in the ensuing chaos- crimes such as murder, rape and arson.

Riots create a situation where the strong prey upon the weak- they can destroy communities (see the decline of many of Northern cities in the USA, such as Detroit & Newark, after the race riots of the 1960s). They can lead to mass bloodshed.Therefore the legal system needs to punish them to the full extent of the law.

Last week the predators felt little fear of punishment as they looted without covering their faces and set up Facebook pages under their own names. Right now those predators who used chaos to terrorise their neighbours and enrich themselves with stolen goods are feeling some of the same fear that they inspired in others, as they know that if their mug is on a CCTV camera or stolen goods are traced to them they will lose their liberty. This is a very good thing in my view.

* I am assuming that the Facebook page was a serious attempt to incite a riot, not a woefully misconceived prank.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick: Lets Ban Something!

The government has floated the idea of shutting down social networking sites during major riots, so that trouble makers will not be able to use them to coordinate their activities. Needless to say this idea is stupid, knee jerk authoritarianism of the worst kind, as Obo explains here.

When looking at history it soon becomes apparent that riots occasionally occurred before Twitter was even invented- hard to believe I know but when I looked it up on Wikipedia it turned out there have been a handful of high profile riots throughout British & indeed World history. Who knew?

The only difference between people inciting violence by word of mouth or by Twitter is that with Twitter anyone dumb enough to advocate violence (Hello Jody McIntyre) leaves a trail of evidence. Shutting down Twitter & Facebook would make it harder to convict rioters later on.

There is also the small matter of it being a punishment for the innocent as well as the guilty- some people have used social media to instigate violence but many more have used social networks to find out where trouble is happening and avoid it.

All in all the proposal is gimmicky, counter productive and unworkable.Witless authoritarianism did not die with New Labour.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Heroes, Er I Mean Vigilantes.

The double standard between how the media and police react to groups of Sikhs and Turks resisting the riots on the one hand and white men in Enfield is pretty brazen. Whereas a quick google search for - "Sikhs" "Riots"- willl turn up dozens of articles with words like "heroes" & "Fightback", a similar google for- "Enfield" "Riots"- turns up words like "vigilante".

More generally if the police are not in a position to protect the population, what alternative is there to "acting like vigilantes"?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Panic On The Streets Of London, Panic On The Streets Of Birmingham...

I thought this would be innappropriate tonight.

Meanwhile lets hope that some of the rioters manage to kill themselves.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jody MacIntyre

A good piece by Autonomous Mind on the unravelling story of Jody MacIntyre- the disabled student protester who was pulled out of his wheelchair- who far from being a innocent disabled protester who was brutally assaulted is actually a serial thug who has, inevitably, popped up at the Tottenham riots.

He also is being encouraged by Guardian hacks to provide rolling coverage (so to speak) of the event.

The public faces of the student protesters do seem to be spectacularly unlikeable:

Jody MacIntyre- a serial liar caught on camera attacking police who then brazen played the disability card to make out that he was incapable of violence.

Johnie Marbles- Universally reviled twat and self styled comedian who was surprised that assaulting an 81 year old man didn't meet with widespread acclaim.

Charlie Gilmour- The epitome of the spoiled overclass demanding that he be taken seriously.

Alfie Meadows- Poor guy struck with a police baton- or a violent thug who got hit by friendly fire from his own side.

Edward Woolard- Fire extinguisher chucker.

They have managed to earn contempt for the movement they represent not least because of the mealy mouthed apologetics over their actions by their fellow travellers.

One Day Son, All This Will Be Yours

Labour have chosen their candidate to take on Louise Mensch in the constituency of Corby (twinned with Mordor)- a man named Andy Sawford. The name is familiar because from 1997 to 2005 my MP in the neighbouring constituency of Kettering was Phil Sawford- Andy's father who was:
"one of the few avowed republicans in the Commons."
Because hereditary privilege is a terrible thing.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Stop The Millenium

This post makes no sense if you have not seen the films I am discussing or read the books upon which they are based.

This week I have been watching the "Millenium Trilogy" of films adapted from Stieg Larrson's novels (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire & The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest). The films are very good, well paced and with plots that sit together nicely.

There is one quibble that I have though- the investigative magazine that features throughout the trilogy "Millenium" seems to be the most tedious publication ever committed to print. Obviously it is a fictional magazine that I cannot actually read but just consider the following:
  • In the second film the magazine's big story that is going to be the focus of their next issue is that men are using prostitutes. I know this is feminist Sweden but is that really news. There is dramatic talk of them confronting the punters with the kind of bullying prurience that makes them seem like the house organ of Iran's Revolutionary Guard investigating couples for holding hands.
  • It is almost always out of date, despite one of the characters being an ace hacker, the Internet is unheard of among magazine staffers. They have to get their rapidly developing story to the printers a week in advance of printing it in order to get it out.
  • As you would expect of earnest socialist Swedes, they don't believe in being pithy. As the journalists discuss writing up the big story in the 3rd film, you realise that they are talking about writing 30 to 50 pages each. For a magazine this seems excessive- a Private Eye special might run to 20 pages in total, yet they are talking about 200 pages of prose just on one story.
  • Being socialists and Swedes they all come across as being devoid of a sense of humour, so this is 200 pages of an out of date story with no laughs in it whatsoever.
Of course being in a fictional universe, this magazine appears to actually sell to people beyond the friends and family of the staff whereas in reality it would be as widely read as Roundabout Enthusiasts Monthly.

Generational War

The deal made in Washington between Congress & President Obama is a pretty bad one all round. Cuts are an integral part of the deal but the three sections of the US budget than consume the most wealth- social security, health spending and defence- have all been ring fenced so the cuts will hit everything else very severely.

The amount the United States spends militarily is excessive and much of it is wasted as money is given directly to defence contractors who in return create jobs in the constituencies of key politicians.

Entitlements- Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid- are protected in order to preserve the interests of older voters- at the expense of the young. Any attempts to reform them have hit the political buffers whereas efforts to increase them get bipartisan support.

This isn't the only example of government policies that benefit the old at the expense of the young- the housing boom also created a de facto transfer of wealth from the young to the old.

There is no obvious moral imperitive to transfer wealth to older people who are on average considerably wealthier already than younger people (these aren't targeted benefits that help the poorest pensioners but universal ones). It is certainly not a pragmatic approach in a society that is getting older.

However older people actually pay attention to politics and vote- so they are far more valuable than the young- which is why politicians bend over backwards to help older voters.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Being On The Same Side As Idiots

I am against reintroducing the death penalty to the UK for reasons which I have stated before- executing innocent people is inevitable and I don't want to be party to that. Arguments that we would only use it if we were "really 100% sure" are silly because we think we are 100% sure when we lock anybody up. So to argue for the death penalty is to say that the deaths of innocent people are a price worth paying.

In addition I have to say I find many of those on the same side as me to be smug and stupid. Take Ian Dunt from for the first example from google news who manages to combine all the worst traits of opponents in one article:

  • Self congratulation: "The capital punishment argument is particularly unsatisfying because it is so easy to refute."- It is not easy enough for him it seems.
  •  Ignorance: "the US is the only developed, supposedly civilised country which still conducts executions."- Japan is not a developed and civilised country according to Dunt.
  • Bad Stats:  Too long to quote but he cherry picks studies to conclude that all reputable research refutes the idea that the death penalty deters crime when in fact most recent evidence point to a small but real deterrent effect although it is difficult to be certain with the social sciences.
  • Hypocrisy: "Once the deterrent argument falls apart, capital punishment proponents have very little to fall back on but their own sense of emotional outrage"- after sneering at the "supposedly civilised" USA he wants to accuse other people of relying on emotional outrage?
  • Stupidity:  "In 1996, those US states with the death penalty had an average murder rate of 7.1 per 100,000 of population. Those states without had 3.6 per 100,000."- Lesson 1 of statistics is "correlation does not imply causation" and even if it did you could equally argue that the political support for the death penalty is due to high murder rate. In reality the southern states have been about twice as violent as the northern ones since the days when they were colonies and both hanged people with gusto and enthusiasm.
 I hate being on the same side as people like this.

Update: I am now feeling slightly bad about being so harsh on Mr Dunt, so if you come here via a vanity search, then please ignore all the insulting points and just not the facts.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


The Daily Mash reports:

MUSCULAR homosexual Russian men have been giving free titillating car washes in support of their beloved Vladimir Putin.

The handsome, hairy gay men who called themselves Putin's Bear Army showed their support for Russia's prime minister by donning tight denim cut-offs and getting soapy at the event in downtown Moscow.

Self-styled 'Putin bear' Oleg Komarov said: "Putin is a strong and powerful leader with excellent economic policies. He is also insanely hot and droolsome.

"I love it when he takes his shirt off and plays with guns. Of course a gun is just a metal penis, all gays know this.

"One time I saw a bead of sweat drip from his left nipple as he climbed a cliff face. I said 'hubba hubba' under my breath without even thinking about it.

"Vladimir Putin truly inspires me to go out and have anal sex with men."