Sunday, 31 January 2010

Why Why Why Won't These Americans Surrender To The State?

I came across this piece in the BBC which is all about Americans and how they don't recognise their own interest when it comes to the healthcare bill, and how it's because they're being conned by the "stories" of the Republicans rather than the rational facts of how much better off they'd be, the poor dears.

Let's consider what experts they went to:-

Dr David Runciman: A former Guardian Journalist
psychologist Drew Westen: "an exasperated Democrat"
Thomas Frank: "an even more exasperated Democrat"

So, 3 left-wingers. Very fairly balanced coverage, BBC.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Wall Street 2

Just seen the trailer for it and it looks pretty lame. So, here's a message that I thoroughly endorse instead:-

Here's the bit that everyone misses: "Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind." but it's absolutely crucial to the speech. It's not just talking about money.

Dad's Army Board Game

From The Daily Mail:-

A family board game based on the popular TV sitcom Dad's Army has been bizarrely banned from sale on eBay because of its 'association with Nazis'.

The game was described as 'offensive material' by the online auction website which could 'promote violence, hatred and racial or religious intolerance' as it had a swastika on its front cover.

That's pretty crazy, really. But maybe someone at eBay is a little bit sensitive about this, or perhaps too young to understand about Dad's Army, or just don't want to go near it for fear of being sued. In the end, they're a private company and can do what they like.


eBay's stance was supported by Peter Oteng, chief executive of the Worcestershire Racial Equality Council.

He said: 'You can't joke with this because you are joking with millions of people killed.

'It's not a laughing matter at all. It's very serious.'

It's swastikas representing German troops trying to invade the UK, very much like the Dad's Army title sequence, you twat. If you'd seen it you'd know it was a gentle and respectful comedy about the men of the home front.

Something that's really wrong about the way people talk about the war today is that people actually get far more offended about what happened than the people did 30-odd years ago.

When the Sex Pistols first appeared on Granada TV in the 70s, Sid Vicious and Siouxsie Sioux were sporting swastika armbands. Freddie Starr regularly did a Hitler skit. We had Dad's Army, Allo Allo, Spike Milligan's books of wartime memoirs. There was John Cleese's famous goosestep in Fawlty Towers. All of this happened when most of the generation of adults from the war were still alive.

But I guess they had some backbone and could take a joke (although the Pistols was deliberately provocative). People who face death frequently, like soldiers or doctors find ways to laugh about these things because frankly, they'd probably cease functioning if they didn't.

Monday, 25 January 2010

A PJ Quote I Hadn't Heard

As usual, a work of concised genius:-

Ann Coulter to me is someone who says things that I say all the time, but I say them at three in the morning when I’m drunk as a monkey. She says them at three in the afternoon stone sober in bright daylight. -- P. J. O’Rourke

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Programming For Kids

One of the criticisms by geeks of modern computers is that they no longer have programming built in. When you bought a BBC Micro, Spectrum or Dragon 32, the default thing they did was to run the BASIC programming language.

One way to address this is to download Small Basic from Microsoft which is quite a nice, cut down version of the language. It's only for PC, so for Mac/UNIX guys, you're stuck, although one option I'd suggest is getting Python which is not a bad language to start programming with.

Placido Domingo: Tosca

For many years, people have been trading old VHS tapes of the Placido Domingo version of Tosca which was shot at the locations and times of Puccini's Tosca. The good news is that it's now available on DVD as part of a larger set.

What Sort Of Scientists Are We Dealing With?

From the Horse's mouth:-

Dr Lal said: ‘We knew the WWF report with the 2035 date was “grey literature” [material not published in a peer-reviewed journal]. But it was never picked up by any of the authors in our working group, nor by any of the more than 500 external reviewers, by the governments to which it was sent, or by the final IPCC review editors.’

I'm sorry, but I don't think it goes too far than to describe this story as dynamite.

All these scientists who know better about climate change completely missed something in a report which had no scientific basis whatsoever? Every single one of them? Yet we're supposed to make a mulit-zillion dollar decision based on their judgement?

Homeopathy Saves Lives (Well, 1 at least)

From LiveScience,

Last month, musician Billy Joel's daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, was rushed to the hospital in an apparent suicide attempt. She had taken an overdose of a medication called Traumeel, which is used to treat joint pain. The younger Joel, who had been distraught over a relationship breakup, called 911 after taking an unknown number of pills and was rushed to the hospital.

She soon made a full recovery, and fortunately was unharmed by the pills she took because Traumeel is a homeopathic medication, which means that it has no active ingredients. It is therefore is not something that one can "overdose" on.

So, the downside of homeopathic medicines (that they don't work) actually ended up saving someone's life.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

UKIPs Ban on Veils

Hmmm... Lord Pearson seems to be saying "all veils" here. Does this include brides and mourning widows?

Really, ditch this shit. It's a stupid policy.

New Blog Addition

I should have added Witterings From Witney who does some very good posts, but this one about the Conservatives green taxes is pretty damn bloody good. Recommended reading...

Ian Duncan Smith On Alcohol

... or just a fascist little bastard. It's one or the other:-

In an interview with The Times, Iain Duncan Smith accuses the supermarkets of “being as close to immoral as you can get” by selling alcohol so cheaply and of “creating alcoholics”.

I'll give him a little benefit of the doubt and assume he's ignorant. Supermarkets don't "create alcoholics" and if you, as supposedly a responsible politician are going to make such a statement, you should know what you're talking about first.

Alcoholism is a terrible affliction which is psychological. It's not a "disease", but about how someone feels about themselves and they happen to choose alcohol as a crutch to deal with it. It might be about their own chemical imbalances, genetics or about how they were brought up, or a combination of those.

The former Tory leader says that the political parties are “in the grip of cowardice” for failing to advocate a big jump in the cost of alcohol for fear of alienating the voters before the general election. He says the tax should be ring-fenced for spending on the treatment of alcohol-related illnesses.

We already collect more than enough in alcohol tax to deal with its social problems.

“We are into unpopular territory, but to deal with something like alcohol that is damaging the fabric of the nation we need to raise prices. There is a direct connection between the price of alcohol and consumption.”

Again, he's either ignorant of the economic studies which show that price elasticity is not directly related to price of alcohol or he's deliberately a bastard for ignoring it.

Thousands of lives and billions of pounds could be saved each year if people drank less. “Alcohol is every bit as dangerous as illegal drugs, you can argue that it’s more dangerous than heroin because it’s easier to get.”

So, alcohol is as dangers as illegal drugs? So, what's it going to be? Criminalise alcohol or decriminalise drugs? Could one of his constituents please get this clarified?

As for money, well the state actually benefits from alcohol being drunk in terms of taxes. For the drinker, well, they mostly enjoy spending that money or they wouldn't do it (alcoholics excepted).

Mr Duncan Smith says the price of alcohol is one of the main contributing factors to the problems in society. The middle-class social drinker should have to pay as well as binge drinkers and alcoholics. “You need an across-the-board tax. We don’t say that smokers are being punished, we say we’re taxing cigarettes for health reasons.”

Look you stupid bag of toss.... we already pay the tax on our booze. We pay enough for all the damage we do to ourselves. That's the end of the state's involvement. If I decide to take a few years off my life because of a little too much of the Batard Montrachet then that's my problem.

A middle class drinker sat at home drinking is not a social problem. At all. Nor are most binge drinkers. You want to deal with the people who cause trouble? Get them arrested and prosecuted and let law abiding citizens live their life.

I'm fucking tired of the Tory party. They tried to modernise, to look less like the "nasty party" and ended up as a horrible mess of unprincipled, twisted viewpoints comprising the worst of Labour's economic authoritarian against the working man and their own old blue rinse social authoritarianism. They had their opportunity to go classic liberal and blew it, choosing electoral expedience over principle and competence.

Friday, 22 January 2010

No Strangers to Love

A very subtly executed gag:-

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Settled Science Pt 235

Thaindian 9th January 2010

But, according to a report in New Scientist, Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC’s chairman, has hit back, denouncing the Indian government report as “voodoo science” lacking peer review.

He adds that “we have a very clear idea of what is happening” in the Himalayas.

Also, the lead author of the IPCC chapter, Indian glaciologist Murari Lal, told New Scientist that he “outright rejected” the notion that the IPCC was off the mark on Himalayan glaciers.

“The IPCC authors did exactly what was expected from them,” he said.

“We relied rather heavily on grey (not peer-reviewed) literature, including the WWF report,” Lal said. “The error, if any, lies with Dr Hasnain’s assertion and not with the IPCC authors,” he added.

The Guardian, 20th January 2010:-

The UN's climate science body has admitted that a claim made in its 2007 report - that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 - was unfounded.

So, the lead author of the IPCC report, one of these people we're just supposed to trust about AGW got it completely and utterly wrong and defended something for which there was no scientific evidence whatsoever. And we're supposed to make decisions running into billions of dollars based on the quality of what they're producing?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cadbury Takeover - Some Right Emotional Guff

I always like the line from the film Wall Street: "Don't Get Emotional About Stock". It's so true.

But we're seeing it today with Cadbury's takeover by Kraft where people are bringing up the creation of the model village of Bourneville, community awareness and how it's a great British institute being taken over by a "processed cheese maker".

The fact is that Cadbury's today is nothing like it was. It's a large corporation operating around the world. Over many decades it has reduced the number of people in the UK as it is.

But another slightly amusing thing to this foodie is that Cadbury's chocolate is like the processed cheese of chocolate. The chocolate that Kraft currently produces is no worse than what Cadbury's produces (you can exclude Green and Black's which Cadbury also owns).

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Fuckwittery of the Day

From The Telegraph:-

The committee recommend every council should be made to collect food waste separately, meaning a slop bucket in most homes, to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill.

I'd like to think that my Victorian ancestors would want people strung up who suggested a slop bucket in the home when there was a perfectly good way of getting it the hell out of the house. We've got enough fucking bins for all the crap that has to be separated as it is.

That aside, there is no good reason for separating biodegradable waste. The clue is in the name. You stick it on a landfill site and it rapidly breaks down. Job done. The only reason this is done is because of the EU Landfill Directive. If they can channel some off and classify it as recycling (despite the fact it will probably just be left to rot anyway) then it helps get the 5 year tractor recycling target met.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Excellent Value From The Simple Shopper

Gordon Brown will today promise free laptops and broadband access for 270,000 low income families so that they can better follow their children's progress at school.


To make that achievable, he will pledge £300m of investment to help poorer families who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Laptop: £400 (retail)
Broadband: £150/annum

Multiplied by 270,000 = £148.5m

Apart from the fact that this is a bloody stupid idea (if you're a low income family that doesn't have access to a work PC, then you've got time to walk to school), it's also costing double what it should do.

Friday, 8 January 2010

French Tax on Advertising

From PC World:-

A report commissioned by the French Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand urges the introduction of a tax on online advertising such as that carried by Google, which would be used to pay the creators of artistic and other works who lose out to online piracy.

Such a tax could raise €10 million ($14.3 million) a year for creators, estimated the authors of the report, Creation and Internet.

I doubt that the whole of French culture is worth that much at the moment.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Hewitt/Hoon Meltdown

David Cameron must be fucking pinching himself today. Hewitt and Hoon's bit of friendly fire on Brown must be about the best news he's heard all year.

Fuck only knows what they're playing at. For one thing, the unity of the PLP wasn't an issue with the public, but they're opening that wound up nicely. Even if they win, they've got 4 months to establish a new leader, someone the public recognise (and no, I can't see Captain Darling getting it). Which perhaps leaves Johnson (although I doubt it).

Monday, 4 January 2010

Free Speech

James Gray MP on CIF

I strongly support the great British respect for free speech and the right to protest – after all, that's one of the things our soldiers have fought and died for in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is essential that Anjem Choudary should be allowed to express his views – even if they seem to me and, I think, to most people, including much of the moderate Muslim community, almost as eccentric and obnoxious as those of Nick Griffin and the BNP at the opposite end of the spectrum. He must be allowed to speak if he wants to.

But he must not be allowed to do so in Wootton Bassett. Our repatriation ceremonies – and I have attended perhaps two thirds of them – are absolutely apolitical. No comment is made about the war, either in favour or against. We simply turn out in all weathers, and often twice a week, to pay our respects to soldiers who have fallen in service of Queen and country. That's why we are so opposed to the proposed Islam4UK's march – it would be hijacking our quiet, simple ceremonies for political purposes.
I do understand what James Gray is saying here, and to some extent, he's right: the ceremonies are simply a mark of respect to fallen men, not a mark of support for the war.

But it doesn't matter whether something is or isn't political. Free speech doesn't mean that a political response is only to a non-political message. Nor does it mean that people can't hijack something to offend others. Plenty of non-political events have been hijacked by politicians for their own ends.

And it certainly doesn't mean that Wootton Bassett gets a hallowed status that prevents protest.

Bono Talks Bollocks (Again)

From The BBC:-

Bono, frontman of rock band U2, has warned the film industry not to make the same mistakes with file-sharing that have dogged the music industry.

What? Resist internet downloads, then price them too high, then stuff a load of Digital Rights Management protection on so you can't play them where you like, making them a less good option than DVD?

Writing for the New York Times, Bono claimed internet service providers were "reverse Robin Hoods" benefiting from the music industry's lost profits.

No, it actually costs ISPs money. The number of people who pay for broadband just so they can get faster illegal downloads is tiny. According to surveys, the total number of people who ever download illegally is less than 1 in 7.

He hinted that China's efforts prove that tracking net content is possible.

Just staggering. The man who used to play Amnesty International gigs now suggesting we have a blanket internet control mechanism just to keep the record industry in business.

"The immutable laws of bandwidth tell us we're just a few years away from being able to download an entire season of '24' in 24 seconds," he wrote.

That's bollocks.

"A decade's worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators...the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business."

And so is that. The creators aren't being hurt. It's the record companies, the middle men who are being hurt as this Times article shows. Music artists are losing a little recorded revenue, but more than making up for it in tickets to live gigs (the chart also doesn't include things like merchandise and personal sponsorship which also make some artists a ton of money).

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Years Resolutions

OK, here we go...

1. Get fit(ter). I seriously have had a good reason for not doing it this year, but I've no excuse next year

2. Sort my garden out. Again... I had good reasons last year.

3. I will not get into arguments with Apple Fanboys, especially when they just plain lie about Windows. Really, I don't care how much you love it... I'll be spending my money on something better.

4. To build an Android app to do something.

5. To develop something called "Project Winterbourne" that's been burning a hole in my head for 6 months (secret at the moment).

6. To watch far more movies than I have this decade.

7. To listen to all the tracks that I have in iTunes that have never been listened to. That's the equivalent of about 4 days of solid listening...

8. Get some photos published on a stock photo site.

All entirely realistic. Except maybe the Apple one...